The magic of “Dungeons and Dragons” came from the mind of a ship’s captain

“Magic is not real” you say. But different schools of magic used for narrative purposes exist, if only in literature. There is Cthonic magick, the mysterious, cultic magick of the underworld found in Greek mythology. Tolkien’s subtle, understated (and mostly copied) magick, and whatever hot mess we call nonsense they use in Harry Potter. And then there’s Vanilla magic.


Jack Vance loved the sea and creating world-class fantasy and cheerful air.

The dungeon is lit by flickering torches. The stone walls are cold to the touch and carved with strange runes from a forgotten language. This ancient tomb has not been disturbed by the outside world for centuries. A halfling thief has carefully disarmed the traps littering the hallway so that they and their compatriots can reach the resting place of the cursed sarcophagus. All traps except one. As the invisible ax descends to cut the unwitting thief in half, a sudden, blinding light fills the dark passage. The ax stops inches from the halfling’s neck and slams to the ground. A wizard reaches out, his mind now empty of the very spell he just cast. They must study the spell once more and etch it magically into their memory if they wish to cast it again. But their sacrifice was worth it, the party is sure.

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