Magical Location Design: Ravyn’s Guide to Geomancy

In yesterday’s post about creating magical locations based on their purpose, I mentioned the possibility of the purpose being to channel magic, and said I’d discuss it later. “The following day” counts as later, don’t you think?

Like necromancy’s slow shift from “My divinations require a corpse of some sort, preferably fresh” to “OMG FEAR MY ZOMBIE ARMIEZ”, geomancy has gone from “divinations based on looking at the earth and the environment” to letting supernatural landscaping and architecture take shelter under its umbrella. The idea is simple: assuming that energy in some way flows throughout the environment, use landscape and architectural elements to shape the direction(s) and overall flavor of said flows, thereby channeling them into some ulterior purpose. For the setting creator, this can also go the other way, using elements of landscape and sometimes architecture to indicate what kind of energy is flowing through the system and what it’s likely to do without someone’s interference.

As with design by intended mood, one of the best ways of managing geomancy is to start with associations. But instead of choosing an intended emotional impact and coming up with a long list of things with which people might associate it, geomancy works by choosing a flavor of magic, or an overall goal for which the energies themselves are being channeled, and pulling up a long list of associations based on that. Sometimes these things are direct—someone wanting to play with fire magic would probably use lots of reds and oranges, things that generate heat, flickering lights and burning incense, while someone looking for water would probably include a pond full of fish. But coming up with less direct, or more esoteric, associations can provide both a way to stretch the mind and a greater range of options to choose from—that, and it’s often necessary when designing these things for their final effect rather than their flavor. Something that assists with seeing things, for instance, might be channeled through a place where there is no point that the light from a single source doesn’t reach.

Not only that, but geomancy meshes surprisingly well with mood and mundane purpose. After all, the mundane purpose can itself be used as a channeling factor in architectural geomancy, using the very nature of the occupants’ behaviors to further shape the flows of the magic. Similarly, the mood might find itself synergizing with the flavor of magic in use: different flavors of tranquility for ‘holy’ sorts of magic or for a more calm sort of death, for instance.

In the end, not only does geomancy provide a springboard from which to design a magical location, but it can lead to locations that are absolutely spectacular.

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