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How to Build Magic Systems With the AALC Method

In the past, building a magic system for a story was a daunting task. There were so many factors to consider: the source of the magic, how it worked, what it could do, how much it cost, how rare it was, the limitations on its use, and how it related to the world around it. But no longer! With the advent of the AALC Method, magic can now be easily and efficiently built into any story. Based on Brandon Sanderson's four rules of magic, Wolf's worldbuilding textbook Building Imaginary Worlds, and Hello Future Me's popular channel, and Worldbuilding For Fantasy Fans and Authors, I was able to discern a process for building magic systems. What is the AALC Method? The AALC Method is a simple and concise way to create magic systems for your story. It stands for “Appearance, Ability, Limits, Costs.”

Appearance is what the magic looks like.

Ability is simply what the magic can do. Limits is what the magic can’t do. Costs is what the magic takes in exchange for abilities.

Magic systems can then be broken into four different types, based upon what type they use: Soft Systems (Appearance), Points Systems (Abilities), Levels (Limits), and Costs. Each type is then broken into different categories based upon how the author uses the magic system in the story.

AALC Author Needs

But what’s extra cool is how the AALC method scales, meaning they build upon the types that came before, so that Abilities are based on Appearance, while Limits are built off of Appearance and Abilities. How does it work? Check out the video below for a more in-depth exploration of the AALC magic system for magic systems. And please subscribe for more worldbuilding techniques, tricks, and tips.


Users of the AALC methodology can build magic systems that are internally consistent and believable to their audience. The methodology is flexible and can be tailored to the specific needs of the story and the author. Additionally, the AALC methodology results in systems that are easier to maintain and update as the story progresses.


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MD Presley is a screenwriter, blogger and occasional novelist… which basically means he’s a layabout.  He has written two books on fantasy worldbuilding, and teaches worldbuilding techniques, tricks, and tips at Forging Fantasy Realms once a week on YouTube. 

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