Writing How to differentiate Magic vs. Psychic Power?

CheertheDead

Fudanshi of Yaoi-sama
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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?
I don’t see how to differentiate them. This is the same problem with many series when there is nothing to tell the two apart because the world building is not invested as much. If you want your readers to even differentiate them, you need to have solid rule how thing would interact. How the powers would react to each other and to the world.
 

Zirrboy

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Overall, I share the "up to the author" approach, but my personal take would be this.

If you broaden the perspective to "things to explain the impossible", you also get fictional science into the mix.
Sorted from law-based to anthropocentric, you have science, magic and lastly psychic abilities.

Science, even with fictional extensions, follows general laws. Since ones mind has little influence, abilities present themselves as gadgets that need to be prepared beforehand and deliberately activated.

Psychic powers are almost always centered around human concepts and often match the personality of their user. Thus, effects might be overly specific (from a scientific perspective), like being able to create ice, but having no control over water and temperature separately, or generalizing, such as the ability to create "poison", a collective term for all substances harmful to living organisms.

Magic can be almost similar, but the most versions are a mix of the two. Runes are the most science-y of the bunch in execution, but still give meaning to squiggles that objectively have none. Non-RPG magic on the other hand is often controlled by emotion.
You have mana expenditure and separate spells, but those spells implement anthropocentric ideas. How would a "clean" spell know which pigments are stains and which are intentional coloring?
Mana and spells are a RPG magic thing, though, and without them, the line between it and psychic abilities becomes really blurry.
But those usually rely on an external source of power, even if called upon by the force of mind.
 

LilTV1155

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I don’t see how to differentiate them. This is the same problem with many series when there is nothing to tell the two apart because the world building is not invested as much. If you want your readers to even differentiate them, you need to have solid rule how thing would interact. How the powers would react to each other and to the world.
My dilemma in every worldbuilding construction work.
 

CheertheDead

Fudanshi of Yaoi-sama
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The laws of Physics is what decide how everything in the universe interacts with each other.

Magic is
_ the phenomenon that violated the laws of Physics
_ a system created by a consciousness
_ being installed into the universe by a consciousness (intentionally) or being integrated naturally when a universe is formed (unintentionally)
_ being used to make local or universal change that will not cause cascade effect due to causation. Example, moving a planet from this place to another place requires the introduction of external force but this can cause effect to the universe in the far future. Magic is the cheat code that the Creators used to avoid such scenario assuring ceteris paribus (all things held constant).
_ Magic of one system may (heavy emphasis on “may”) not affect the magic of another system

Magic currency (or Currency for short) is what is consumed in order to initiate the magic. They are known in other fictions as mana, soul point, chakra, spirit point, chi, ki… The general rules for currency are, but not limited to:
_ Not interacting with the physical world in any sense. Which means the absence or presence of the currency does not cause any effect on the physical world. Caster exhausting their own currency will not be exhausted physically or die.
_ Does not necessarily needed in a magic system as there are magic systems that do not need to consume the Currency to initiate since they didn’t have one in the first place.

Magic can create two kinds of effect as a result of initiating the magic, physical effect and magical effect.

Physical effect is as the name implied a physical thing. A magic that create a physical light, for example, will make a ray of light that:
_ travel at the speed of light
_ reflected by mirror
_ illuminate darkness
_ blocked by wall, dust, fog…
_ etc.

A magical effect, however, is not a physical thing. Using a magic that creates magical light will make a light that:
_ can or cannot travel at the speed of light
_ can or cannot be reflected by mirror
_ can or cannot illuminate darkness
_ can or can not be blocked by wall, dust, fog…
etc.

The property of the magical light (in the example above) or of magical effect (in general) depended on how they were programmed by the caster during the initiation.

Furthermore, since magical effect is something magical, it can be dispelled by dispel magic or something similar. Physical effect, however, can not be affected by these dispel magics.

Lastly, these thing i mentioned are omniversal properties of Magic Systems. Thus, there are many systems in the local multiverses (and the omniverse). Each has their own currency, some lacks a currency, some have more than 1 currency. Some limit the usage of magic by charge and/or cooldown instead of Currency. They have their own way of interacting with other systems. Some are limited to their original universe. Some expand beyond a large group of multiverses and are dubbed primal systems.

For more specific systems that i am using, you can check the glossary of my fanfic.

This is a more condensed and detailed form.

Since i am only dealing with hard magic systems, there are thing that my rules are ill-equipped for.
 

SirDogeTheFirst

Lord Of The Potatoes
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Feb 11, 2021
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It is a question hard to answer as it depends on your worlds rules.

But for me, telephaty feels more like an extra pair of bluetooth wireless limbs, while magic is converting the mana (or what you use in your world.) Onto something different by chanting or another method's.
 
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