Writing How to differentiate Magic vs. Psychic Power?

LilTV1155

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Let say that you have two people doing special performance.

One is a mage and the other is a scientist with psychic/ESP power.
The mage and the scientist want to show off - Magic vs. Psychic?

Mage can elevate things, and so does the Psychic.
Psychic can burn things without touching, and so does the Mage.
So they turn to a bystander for their opinions.

But there's one problem: What's the differences between Magic vs. Psychic Power if you cannot see a spell formation or use telepathy and both competitors' power performance look almost the same? In order words, how do you tell when both people are doing their own methods and but the result that come out is very similar?
 

Paul_Tromba

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I think that this is a hard question to answer without knowing the laws of your world. however, based on the information you gave, I would say that it all depends on the method and setup. both can have the exact same outcome but require different steps so by watching them perform you could start to see trends that are unique to themselves. for example, the mage may have to use specific chants or have some form of an amplifier to complete certain forms of mage craft. the psychic on the other hand may only have to understand something and can activate their abilities on command. though they may be limited to a specific type of power. a certain magical index does a really good job of this as both sides can use similar abilities but require different activating conditions. otherwise, the only way to tell them apart would be aesthetic.
 

AKitsunex

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Hmm that would be difficult tbh so its pretty hard to tell without knowing more. Like are there any other details? Habits they would do? Is there a precurser that differs? (For example, closing of eyes, a magic circle, certain body movements, smell?) If there is none then whats to say they arent simply 2 branches of "magic" since as the saying goes "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"
 

Ddraig

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(a) They aren't, they are just different interpretations of a common rule of the universe/phenomenon/potato. For an average rabbit, it is the same thing.
(b) They are different, see Toaru series for example
(c) Decide on bases of chants/etc - like magic will have much more mythological oriented chants/patterns/actions while esp will have a much more futuristic/science-y/pseudo science look
(d) Go DAL/Toaru route and rely on the fact that as Science-side is still growing, it cannot yet match Magic side in pure power. In DAL it is how CR units just fall short of Spirits etc
(e) Flexibility vs Time
 

BlackKnightX

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Let say that you have two people doing special performance.

One is a mage and the other is a scientist with psychic/ESP power.
The mage and the scientist want to show off - Magic vs. Psychic?

Mage can elevate things, and so does the Psychic.
Psychic can burn things without touching, and so does the Mage.
So they turn to a bystander for their opinions.

But there's one problem: What's the differences between Magic vs. Psychic Power if you cannot see a spell formation or use telepathy and both competitors' power performance look almost the same? In order words, how do you tell when both people are doing their own methods and but the result that come out is very similar?
Insufficient informations. I need to know more to answer that question. How do the magic and psychic power work in that world? What’s the nature of the two?

If the answer is just like you describe, it’s indistinguishable, then you already have the answer. You can’t tell, plain and simple.

But whatever it is, does it really matter? Why do I have to differentiate the two anyway? Am I a recruiter from the adventure guild looking for a new recruit and need to identify their class? Then why not just simply ask them?

Like I said, insufficient informations. But if you want an answer with just that much information then; “We can’t differentiate the two.”
 

Cipiteca396

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Psionics counts as a Law, in my setting. It's a recurring theme that appears in multiple distinct facets of reality.

In this case, psionics would be a mechanical or biological function, while mind magic would be the arcane equivalent. On the surface, they perform the same function and have the same appearance.

In reality, they follow entirely different principles, just like the difference between a mage's shield and a kinetic barrier from Mass Effect.

If your crowd is a bunch of commoners, they really won't notice the difference. If they have mana sight, they might see the distortions in the mana's natural flow when the mage works. If they're psionically sensitive(forgot the word) but untrained then they might feel mentally disturbed during the Psionics performance.

You could also just make pretty colors.
 

Biggest-Kusa-Out-There

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The basic difference - without taking your example into consideration - would be biology and the mind.

Magic can be learned by those that have the "talent" or "predisposition" each fiction sets as base. It requires learning and is very obtuse in how it works. A mage can focus on conjuration, divination, abjuration, etc. but not all aspects of magic.

An ESPer is a being that has evolved to develop psionic powers. They are capable of telekinesis, telepathy, clairvoyance, and more due to how the system of psionics works. Once you are able to interact and influence matter, you can do it all with enough practice. Pyrokinesis is an extension of Telekinesis, so is Teleportation and Matter Transmutation.

Magic is more strict in its scope because you have specific definitions like spells, incantations, rituals, etc. Requirements vary to perform each of those (like a catalyst, ingredients, mana density, etc). Magic requires an external fuel (mana).

ESP is not as strict because all psychic powers derive from one another according to parapsychology. The fuel would be nonexistant, but the limit would be your mental stamina, your ability to focus, etc. as there is no set energy that allows ESP to work.

Now, ESP stands for Extra Sensorial Perception which is the very first step in developing psionic powers as you need to see the world you will influence. This can manifest through various means that you can develop in your fiction.

Don't missclassify ESP as superpowers, tho. Superpowers are very limited in how they work and who has them, hence why Superheroes/Supervillains are so "unique". The way they are obtained is also very unique and plot-related, unlike psychic powers.

The movie "Push" tried to mix the two systems (ESP and superpowers) and it didn't do very well.

"Lucy" (with scarlet johannson) did something similar, and it wasn't that big of a hit.

"Chronicle" too, did the same and it was forgotten.

These movies treated psychic powers like superpowers in how they are obtained/classified and didnt have much success.

Magic, however, is very attractive because it needs a solid and obtuse system to work.
 

KoyukiMegumi

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The basic difference - without taking your example into consideration - would be biology and the mind.

Magic can be learned by those that have the "talent" or "predisposition" each fiction sets as base. It requires learning and is very obtuse in how it works. A mage can focus on conjuration, divination, abjuration, etc. but not all aspects of magic.

An ESPer is a being that has evolved to develop psionic powers. They are capable of telekinesis, telepathy, clairvoyance, and more due to how the system of psionics works. Once you are able to interact and influence matter, you can do it all with enough practice. Pyrokinesis is an extension of Telekinesis, so is Teleportation and Matter Transmutation.

Magic is more strict in its scope because you have specific definitions like spells, incantations, rituals, etc. Requirements vary to perform each of those (like a catalyst, ingredients, mana density, etc). Magic requires an external fuel (mana).

ESP is not as strict because all psychic powers derive from one another according to parapsychology. The fuel would be nonexistant, but the limit would be your mental stamina, your ability to focus, etc. as there is no set energy that allows ESP to work.

Now, ESP stands for Extra Sensorial Perception which is the very first step in developing psionic powers as you need to see the world you will influence. This can manifest through various means that you can develop in your fiction.

Don't missclassify ESP as superpowers, tho. Superpowers are very limited in how they work and who has them, hence why Superheroes/Supervillains are so "unique". The way they are obtained is also very unique and plot-related, unlike psychic powers.

The movie "Push" tried to mix the two systems (ESP and superpowers) and it didn't do very well.

"Lucy" (with scarlet johannson) did something similar, and it wasn't that big of a hit.

"Chronicle" too, did the same and it was forgotten.

These movies treated psychic powers like superpowers in how they are obtained/classified and didnt have much success.

Magic, however, is very attractive because it needs a solid and obtuse system to work.
Kusa senpai, you really are a knowledge pool, aren't you? :blob_aww:
 

K5Rakitan

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It's a difference in power source. The mage needs mana, while psychic power comes from the user's own brain. The brain is powered by calories, so you might see the psychic snacking before battle.
 

LilTV1155

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The basic difference - without taking your example into consideration - would be biology and the mind.

Magic can be learned by those that have the "talent" or "predisposition" each fiction sets as base. It requires learning and is very obtuse in how it works. A mage can focus on conjuration, divination, abjuration, etc. but not all aspects of magic.

An ESPer is a being that has evolved to develop psionic powers. They are capable of telekinesis, telepathy, clairvoyance, and more due to how the system of psionics works. Once you are able to interact and influence matter, you can do it all with enough practice. Pyrokinesis is an extension of Telekinesis, so is Teleportation and Matter Transmutation.

Magic is more strict in its scope because you have specific definitions like spells, incantations, rituals, etc. Requirements vary to perform each of those (like a catalyst, ingredients, mana density, etc). Magic requires an external fuel (mana).

ESP is not as strict because all psychic powers derive from one another according to parapsychology. The fuel would be nonexistant, but the limit would be your mental stamina, your ability to focus, etc. as there is no set energy that allows ESP to work.

Now, ESP stands for Extra Sensorial Perception which is the very first step in developing psionic powers as you need to see the world you will influence. This can manifest through various means that you can develop in your fiction.

Don't missclassify ESP as superpowers, tho. Superpowers are very limited in how they work and who has them, hence why Superheroes/Supervillains are so "unique". The way they are obtained is also very unique and plot-related, unlike psychic powers.

The movie "Push" tried to mix the two systems (ESP and superpowers) and it didn't do very well.

"Lucy" (with scarlet johannson) did something similar, and it wasn't that big of a hit.

"Chronicle" too, did the same and it was forgotten.

These movies treated psychic powers like superpowers in how they are obtained/classified and didnt have much success.

Magic, however, is very attractive because it needs a solid and obtuse system to work.
So Superpowers are something obtained due to special events while ESP are closer to innate?
 

SakeVision

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Depends on the rules of your universe. The distinction between the two is for you, the author, to decide.
 

Biggest-Kusa-Out-There

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So Superpowers are something obtained due to special events while ESP are closer to innate?
Pretty much, yeah.

Marvel does it really well, though in a very restrictive way that ultimately works.

Spiderman found his superpower (the spider bite), but mutants are born with it. Neither need to study extensively to understand how to use them. The School For Gifted Children teaches self-control and all the morality and ethics of mutant society in the human world as we see in the comics and movies. There are subjects about certain powers that deal with the same fields, and some mutants teach how to tap into their power (Jean Grey, Storm, etc.), but it's not a hard science like magic can become.

You can think of ESP as a muscle, while magic is a field of study in traditional fantasy.

You can obviously mix the two and come up with something new.
 

LilTV1155

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Depends on the rules of your universe. The distinction between the two is for you, the author, to decide.
Well I may be the author, who is trying to make a clear distinction between several different power usage. But I do need more solid and clearer references or inputs from other people to clarify which one is false and which one is true.

Also ESP can be confusing.
 

Biggest-Kusa-Out-There

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Well I may be the author, who is trying to make a clear distinction between several different power usage. But I do need more solid and clearer references or inputs from other people to clarify which one is false and which one is true.

Also ESP can be confusing.
this explains it a bit better while providing examples and links to other sources Psychic Powers - TV Tropes
 

DesiRable

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The basic difference - without taking your example into consideration - would be biology and the mind.

Magic can be learned by those that have the "talent" or "predisposition" each fiction sets as base. It requires learning and is very obtuse in how it works. A mage can focus on conjuration, divination, abjuration, etc. but not all aspects of magic.

An ESPer is a being that has evolved to develop psionic powers. They are capable of telekinesis, telepathy, clairvoyance, and more due to how the system of psionics works. Once you are able to interact and influence matter, you can do it all with enough practice. Pyrokinesis is an extension of Telekinesis, so is Teleportation and Matter Transmutation.

Magic is more strict in its scope because you have specific definitions like spells, incantations, rituals, etc. Requirements vary to perform each of those (like a catalyst, ingredients, mana density, etc). Magic requires an external fuel (mana).

ESP is not as strict because all psychic powers derive from one another according to parapsychology. The fuel would be nonexistant, but the limit would be your mental stamina, your ability to focus, etc. as there is no set energy that allows ESP to work.

Now, ESP stands for Extra Sensorial Perception which is the very first step in developing psionic powers as you need to see the world you will influence. This can manifest through various means that you can develop in your fiction.

Don't missclassify ESP as superpowers, tho. Superpowers are very limited in how they work and who has them, hence why Superheroes/Supervillains are so "unique". The way they are obtained is also very unique and plot-related, unlike psychic powers.

The movie "Push" tried to mix the two systems (ESP and superpowers) and it didn't do very well.

"Lucy" (with scarlet johannson) did something similar, and it wasn't that big of a hit.

"Chronicle" too, did the same and it was forgotten.

These movies treated psychic powers like superpowers in how they are obtained/classified and didnt have much success.

Magic, however, is very attractive because it needs a solid and obtuse system to work.
You could add a couple of others to that list which WERE fairly successful, though. "Carrie", for instance, also treated the MC's psychic powers like superpowers in how they were obtained/classified (in a relatively unique and plot-related manner) and became a pretty huge hit. And the issues you raise, which limit the popular appeal and relatability of ESP relative to Magic, could actually be resolved or minimized if the author made an effort to do so. For instance, one of the most disappointing aspects of how ESPers and Psychics tend to be portrayed is just how neurotypical they almost always are, with few, if any, mentally and psychological abnormalities. For instance, the closest thing to psionic ESP/Extra Sensory Perception, in real life, is Environmental Hypersensitivity (aka 'HSP'), which is one of the most common hallmarks of High-Functioning Autism and Aspergers' Syndrome. I myself straddle the borderline between these two closely related autistic spectrum conditions; and it's highly speculated that our overly enhanced peripheral perception (to the detriment of central focal visualization and perception) may be their root cause.

"Carrie" succeeded because it treated her ESP conditions as a neurological condition, and delved into how differently she'd be treated as a result, as well as how much it'd impact upon her psychology as a character. Ironically, half of the reason why ESP's so confusing most of the time, and isn't as engaging as Magic, is because they DO treat it like magic- without any limitations, or any fuel or set energy required for it to work, and with no real repercussions from pushing or exceeding their mental limits, besides invariably expanding and improving upon said mental limitations. When of course, IRL, this will inherently send one's level of neuroticism off the charts, and massively increase their risks of developing any number of mood and anxiety disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, dissociative identity disorder, hypochondriasis and psychosis. And speaking from my personal experience, it's what gave me PNES (psychogenic non-epileptic seizures), and reduces my life expectancy by 30yrs due to the exponentially increased and accelerated risk of suffering a fatal stroke.

Writers always seem to treat ESP as a muscle, but it's supposed to be psionic; and the brain is NOT a muscle. Muscles are hyperthrophic- when they're broken down and sustain micro-tears, the body direct more blood-flow and nutrition to them in order to heal, allowing people to continuously increase their muscle mass and strength through intensive exercise and over-exertion. Brains, though, work in the exact opposite manner- and treating them like muscles should just accelerate the rate of cerebral atrophy and mental impairment...
 

Biggest-Kusa-Out-There

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Writers always seem to treat ESP as a muscle, but it's supposed to be psionic; and the brain is NOT a muscle. Muscles are hyperthrophic- when they're broken down and sustain micro-tears, the body direct more blood-flow and nutrition to them in order to heal, allowing people to continuously increase their muscle mass and strength through intensive exercise and over-exertion. Brains, though, work in the exact opposite manner- and treating them like muscles should just accelerate the rate of cerebral atrophy and mental impairment...
What I meant is that it can increase in potency with usage, like a muscle. If it can't then it means no growth or gain of something new, so why add it in the first place?

While your point of neurological conditions is very valid, I expanded my point based on the fact ESPers should be evolved beings, so their minds should work differently than humans, and maybe they work as a neurotypical individual. I think a normal human simply cannot acquire/develop psychic powers because of how our minds work, what with all the subconscious shebang lends itself to be flawed in dangerous ways. Shin Sekai Yori did a very interesting thing with that, and the Hashimoto-Appelbaum syndrome is a very good example of how ESP can be neurologically different, though unfortunately it demonizes them.
 

LilTV1155

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What I meant is that it can increase in potency with usage, like a muscle. If it can't then it means no growth or gain of something new, so why add it in the first place?

While your point of neurological conditions is very valid, I expanded my point based on the fact ESPers should be evolved beings, so their minds should work differently than humans, and maybe they work as a neurotypical individual. I think a normal human simply cannot acquire/develop psychic powers because of how our minds work, what with all the subconscious shebang lends itself to be flawed in dangerous ways. Shin Sekai Yori did a very interesting thing with that, and the Hashimoto-Appelbaum syndrome is a very good example of how ESP can be neurologically different, though unfortunately it demonizes them.
This actually got me wondering. I have been to other webs for information about ESP and psychic or PK. They keep saying that it's the same thing or two different things.

I want to ask for your opinions about this. If the ESP stand for Extrasensory Perception, then wouldn't that abilities be more about detecting things or seeing something people can't see , then why would it be linked with a Psychic that can do telepathy, telekinesis, matter manipulation, and etc.?

It's like people are saying this: ESP is Superpower, but Psychic is a Mutant; BUT somehow Superhero / Mutant can be BOTH?🤔:blob_hmm::blob_hmm::blob_dizzy::blob_dizzy:
Any chance it's a Hybrid that people keep mistaking the power's identity for?

And if that power can't be called Mutant, Superpower, ESP, Psychic, then what is it called? A Mystic? No, a Parapsycher?
 

LostLibrarian

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If you have two powers that look the same, feel the same, and do the same on the surface: don't. It won't achieve anything but annoyed readers because you have to explain the same effect two times. It can also feel cheap if you have a battle and one just gives up "out of nowhere" because Magic is better than Psychic or some bullshit.


If you want to have multiple powers, make a clear distinction in how they are applied and give them different (and visible) requirements.

E.g. just out of my head:
- Psychic Powers need the user's power. Hence they are often weaker and the user tires out faster. But in turn, it only takes a thought to activate their power, because "using your brain" is just a thought. Trained enough, that's really fast. To not make it too overpowered, you can also easily limit the number of targets, because "the user has to think of them all the time" or some blabla.
- Magic powers use, don't know, the laws of the universe. Therefore the users don't tire out, but they need certain objects/chants/rituals to activate it. The strength can then depend on the quality (e.g. money/time of the magic user) and be a lot more deadly in battle. But it'll take a longer time to activate. You can also add stuff like "need stars", "certain landmarks", or whatever for activation, making it less advantageous in everyday life if they are in an area without a river or whatever.

Without much thought, now you have two different power systems with their own strengths and weakness. A battle would now be the magic user trying to set up a ritual (or ambush) while the psychic is on the clock before he'll drop to exhaustion.


Long story short: Make each of your power systems (whether it is psychic,magic/different magic, mutations, etc) different. If your magic system is also a "thought based, gets tired" system, then phychic stuff will just feel like "the same thing".
I want to ask for your opinions about this. If the ESP stand for Extrasensory Perception, then wouldn't that abilities be more about detecting things or seeing something people can't see , then why would it be linked with a Psychic that can do telepathy, telekinesis, matter manipulation, and etc.?
Because you can only willingly manipulate what you can grasp. No matter your powers and strength, if you can't detect the "law/particles/etc" that makes up the basis of the power, then you will also not be able to manipulate them at will. Even if that power would be different, you wouldn't know where to aim it at.

E.g. take Accelerator from Index. He can change the vector of any element (so direction and speed). But to use that, he also need to grasp where those vectors are. Otherwise, he might just aim at "nothing" and reverse that.
 

DesiRable

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What I meant is that it can increase in potency with usage, like a muscle. If it can't then it means no growth or gain of something new, so why add it in the first place?
I know what you meant, and I got what you were saying. I'm just saying that, looking at the way people tend to write their typical ESPer training arcs, they almost always do treat it like training a muscle- mindless repetition of deliberately straining it to the absolute limit of their ability, over and over again for years on end, to increase those limits. Maybe it's an East Asian, cram learning cultural thing; but in reality, that sort of approach is one of the worst imaginable for mind-training, especially if it's supposedly facilitated via the ESP/extrasensory perception route (for which the meditation techniques more commonly referred to as 'cultivation' would be far more suited). Of course there'd still be room for growth and increases in potency, and gaining new skills- that's how minds work, after all. But I'll tell you what minds DON'T do- they DON'T grow, or get stronger, from being deliberately over-taxed to the extent where they start to tear apart.
 
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ElijahRyne

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Let say that you have two people doing special performance.

One is a mage and the other is a scientist with psychic/ESP power.
The mage and the scientist want to show off - Magic vs. Psychic?

Mage can elevate things, and so does the Psychic.
Psychic can burn things without touching, and so does the Mage.
So they turn to a bystander for their opinions.

But there's one problem: What's the differences between Magic vs. Psychic Power if you cannot see a spell formation or use telepathy and both competitors' power performance look almost the same? In order words, how do you tell when both people are doing their own methods and but the result that come out is very similar?
Psychic is faster, but can do less. Mage is slower, but can do more. Specifically, the mage needs to cast some sort of spell, while the psychic just thinks. At higher levels they may become almost indistinguishable from an outside perspective. Yet, the psychic and mage can still see the differences in their abilities.
 
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