Vancian Magic is the common magic system used in most editions of D&D. You can go to almost any design circle who is familiar with D&D and use the term with most people immediately understand to what you refer. I find myself unable to describe other magic systems without describing the system in detail: there are no shorthand or pre-established identifiers for non-vancian systems that I know of.

My question is: are there common descriptions or language to describe magic systems without reference to Vancian Magic? Simply naming the categories of magic as "vancian" and "non-vancian" are not enough. (It's like describing all life in terms of plant or not-plant!)


closed as too broad by doppelgreener, Wibbs, okeefe, mxyzplk Sep 7 '14 at 3:07

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ There's lots and lots of magic systems in various novels and games, some of which do or don't have names. The name of Vancian Magic itself is just derived from the name of an author, Jack Vance. Do you have a particular magic system you want the name for, or a particular narrow scope you can limit this to? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 7 '14 at 1:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Relevant wikipedia listing: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_system \$\endgroup\$ – SurrealAnalysis Sep 7 '14 at 1:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's probably simpler just talk about a given system's magic system when discussing them. \$\endgroup\$ – okeefe Sep 7 '14 at 2:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are a large number of kinds of magic systems and theories. You only bother to call them "non-Vancian" when you're a D&D'er. This question is therefore too broad. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 7 '14 at 3:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ What are the names for all fish that are not Salmon? \$\endgroup\$ – Lyndon White Sep 7 '14 at 5:08