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What Is Mana and How To Use It In a Magic System

The core of magic and its secrets

By BlankmarksPublished about a year ago 3 min read
What Is Mana and How To Use It In a Magic System
Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash

Mana is the main power source for most magic out there, but what is it?

Well my fellow scholars, I want to answer this question and show how I think it should/could be used in a magic system.

What is Mana

Wikipedia defines it as:

“Mana is the spiritual life force energy or healing power that permeates the universe, in the culture of the Melanesians and Polynesians. Anyone or thing can have Mana. It is a cultivation or possession of energy and power, rather than being a source of power. It is an intentional force.”

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:

“The power of the elemental forces of nature embodied in an object or person.”

There are more definitions that state the origin of the word Mana, and its use but let’s stick with these two.

From what I’ve seen in “fiction” Mana would be closer to the first definition except for the part that it’s not a source of power.

In many worlds, Mana is a source of power that exists everywhere and in everything. In some worlds, to use magic you need to use your inner Mana and the outer Mana in sync.

Others consider the Mana in the universe to be raw and unusable so it's refined using alchemy or the body.

It's somewhat like a second Life force but more mystical in nature. Sometimes Mana is also used with life force to power up a spell.

Mana also needs either imagination and/or a chant in spells.

Finally, there are unique depictions like Mana being a living force with free will or a poison.

Nothing much more to add when it comes to general Mana depictions.

How to use it in Magic System

Generally, Mana is not given any thought in magic systems besides it being an energy source for spells. This doesn't count unique depictions which make the concept of Mana more interesting. Those are not the norm but you can make something unique too.

To help with making Mana more interesting in your story, here are some questions to ask yourself:

Is Mana normal or foreign?

• Is Mana found through harvesting ore or is it all around?

• How does Mana interact with the body or mind?

• How does Mana affect the environment?

• How does Mana affect the Economy? Is it sold? If it’s a force how does it affect someone’s normal life?

Some of these questions I might go deeper on in future posts, for now, food for thought.

Transferring Mana

A unique aspect of Mana and magic, in general, is the way it's transferred to another person.

With other sources of power, you will the energy into another person but with Mana you can….give the other person your blood or baby powder.

Of course, the second option is done only to have spice scenes, but it’s actually a common way to transfer Mana in many stories. Heck, in some universes it, along with breast milk, is a source of life energy.

For the blood part, it’s even more widespread. Even in universes that you wouldn’t think of. It comes in the form of sacrificing health to restore someone’s Mana.

Health=Life Force, blood is another way to depict life force.

So looking at it that way, it all makes.

Mana Restoration

The 3 main ways to restore Mana besides transfer is by; Mediation, drawing it from the air (Mana regain in video games), or by Mana Potions.

Alternatives to Mana

• Prana-

Prana is defined as; “Life-breath, life principle, or life force in Hindu teachings.”

So based on that, I would suggest that Prana be a mix between normal life force and Mana.

So in a world with Prana, Mana, and Life Force exist, they are connected to the point where Mana is not noticed.

• Ether-

Ether is like Mana but usually only a universal force that flows through everything.

Does everything that Mana can do but seems to not have a darker side but more of a divine connection.

Here’s an idea, have Mana be the mortal version of Ether which is exclusive to Gods and divine beasts.

I might use that in the future story too, if I fail at it maybe one of you can make something cool out of the idea.

• Life Force-

Life Force can be a nice alternative or supplement to Mana.

Life Force can boost Mana or as a replacement for spells. The second part is important because that means sometimes it can be the only force behind spells.

This can allow for the introduction of Ki/Chi since they're tied to Life Force. Ki/Chi can still be there when Life Force is a booster but it’s easier to do without mana and wouldn’t be secondary to it.

Well, I think I said my piece. If I made any mistakes or missed something then comment, so I can add it and then credit you. With that, I’m done.


About the Creator


I’m Blankmarks and I love magic and fiction. I’ll write about various magic types and concepts not only for fun but to help writers create new magical worlds. I'll also post short stories, writing tips, and more.

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