So I've been struggling with a magic system for a while now, but I came up with one based on runes. I know what you're thinking: Bah, runes! How boring.
So I've decided that runes, detailed on to one's body or onto objects, provides a connection to the magic in my world. Every living thing has an innate connection to the 'light', the magic of my world. At the moment this is not common knowledge. This force is referred to as 'the light' because runes glow when in use. A dim light for less powerful runes, a brighter one for more powerful ones. Obviously, the presence of the light means the presence of magic – in my story it is seen that some people can use magic without runes – a minor plot point. Unimportant, moving on: most never reveal their connection, leading the people of my world to believe only a select few hold this power.
Now, the magic in my world is energy. It seeks to be in equilibrium. It flows from high concentration to low concentration, but it has a harder time moving from higher life forms: Humans who expend energy gain it back from others. If a mage in a city casts a spell, his energy level dips slightly, but it is reclaimed from those around him. If my main character, a bounty hunter, kills his target, all the energy from the target flows to the bounty hunter, but this is due to another rune that the bounty hunter has. Usually, it would dissipate into the world around him. Magic-users would feel this, non-users would not.
These runes can be applied in numerous ways, to achieve different effects. – Illusion or combat magic requires runes carved into the person using it, usually resulting in creating a 'mask' over a person to make it so people forget their face, or look like someone else. Combat magic results in increased strength, agility and speed, and in extreme cases, teleportation.
Strengthening magic usually is the result of placing object runes. You can increase the strength of a sword by inscribing a rune into the blade, or a spear by carving into the shaft. It can also be carved into a person to heal things. It is much easier to repair objects than it is to heal lifeforms with this magic.
Elemental magic is much older, is difficult and draining to perform, and requires a strong connection to the light. It is incredibly powerful "create a typhoon, raze a city" type magic. Requires an immensely strong magic user, usually coupled with extensive scarification.
Now, onto the runes themselves: They can be applied to a person in three ways: drawn or painted, scarred, or tattooed.
-Painted runes are temporary symbols. They do not provide as strong a connection. Good for illusion magic and basic healing.
-Tattooed runes are more powerful. It is easier to be more precise in their application, and therefore allows the energy to be more focused. They are usually used by more reserved and adept magic users, but they are expensive, as only a few can apply them. They fade over time, reducing the potency of the connection to the light. Good all rounders, usually used for combat/strengthening magic, though the most powerful magic users opt for the last option – scarification.
-Scarred runes are permanent. They do not fade, and are much more powerful. However, the rough nature of a scar means that the connection to the light is unstable. They work very well with elemental magic, and are good for combat magic. Instability makes for poor illusion and healing magic. A well formed scar is incredibly powerful, but well made tattoos are superior to the average scar.
Besides runes, their are a select few types of magic where words can be used. So far, verbal magic is restricted to healing.
The antagonist of my story is an ancient being who seeks to facilitate a "heat-death" type situation, where all magic is in equilibrium, and none can be utilized to perform any work. A minor issue for him is that the magic is currently tied up… in all living things. He tries to kill the world and release the magic.
Any suggestions? Any comments or queries? Any ideas? Any issues? Any help at all? I'd be grateful for any input!