Magic items (Building a fantasy series, part four)

Magic items tend to be staples in most fantasy, and weirdly, they never played that big of a part in stories I’ve written before. There are a few important ones, but no epic quests that involve picking them up along the way, which means Spectrum Blade will be a little different for me. There will actually be a small number of important magical items and legendary artifacts the heroes will encounter, and since they’re interesting to me, I decided to draw them, too.

I didn’t want to throw in magic items just for the sake of having them, though. So instead, as I developed the outline for Spectrum Blade, I highlighted parts where it seemed a magic item would make a good addition, then I worked out a role for each in the overarching story. Once that seemed solid, I wove them into one of the main themes: Color as a representation of magic. I’ll have a separate post about developing a magic system, but you can probably see a couple things starting to come together for the idea now.

At the end of the plan, I double-checked to make sure each item met a few simple requirements:

  1. Is it a pointless MacGuffin or will it actually help shape the story?
  2. Does its existence help enrich the story world?
  3. Will any of these end up being viewed as a Deus ex Machina?
  4. Are any of them wildly overpowered?
  5. Are they necessary to tell the story I want to tell?

A few passed the test. A few did not. Ultimately, I think there will be six such magical items through the course of the series, but most of them come into play in the first book, and then help shape the rest.

For now, back to the “drawing items” part. My parents gave me a beautiful set of Holbein gouache paints for my birthday and though I’d used them for a doll, this was my first time using them to paint. I’d also never done watercolor painting, so there’s a definite learning curve, but it was lots of fun.

The Molten Dagger from Spectrum Blade

The first item I painted is the Molten Dagger, who gets its name for reasons that should be pretty obvious when you look at it. It’s a pretty useful weapon, and I think it’ll be a fun inclusion in the story. I’m pretty happy with the outline for the first book at this point, so I’m working on fleshing out ideas for the later parts of the series while I put together bits and pieces like this to enrich the first one. Although I’d love to include illustrations in the paperback editions of the books, I feel the images would lose a lot in black and white, so I’ll keep them as something special to see when you visit my website, I suppose. I’ll be putting together an image gallery for Spectrum Blade (Like I have for the Snakesblood Saga) pretty soon.

I’ve filmed the process of painting the two items I’ve done so far, just for fun. Here it is, if you want to take a look:

Next week, I’ll share the other item I created.

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