The magic system of Athron, developed when world-building Athron, is based on the gaming system I was working on for a time. As a result, it is a rich system that perhaps is too complicated for world-building a novel. So be it. I will still present what I can here.
First, like many gaming systems, there are two different types of magic: scholarly (as in wizards and mages, etc….) and priestly (as in priests and clerics). Technically, I suppose the priest system isn’t magical; it is more prayer-based, but in terms of game mechanics they are quite similar. Anyway, I will start with the scholarly magic.
There are three major skills that scholars can enhance that relate directly to magic use: crafts, rune lore, and alchemy. Crafts refer to spells that are incantations consisting of a series of hand gestures and spoken words that harness magical energy. Rune lore is the study of runes: arcane symbols that are inscribed upon inanimate objects that provide magical enhancements. Alchemy is the study of potions and their making: a wizard with this skill can combine a variety of ingredients to fabricate different types of potions each with a different type of effect. Each of these major skills (crafts, rune lore, and alchemy) exists as a subset of a spell type like fire, earth, water, or wind. That is, there are flamecraft spells, fire runes, and fire-based alchemy. Similarly so for earth and the others. All three of these skills are fueled by energy. If a wizard casts a flamecraft spell, he uses so much energy. If he makes a fire-based potion or inscribes a fire rune, he uses so much energy. A wizard can increase his skill in energy to increase his potential power. A powerful wizard will have great amounts of spell energy at his disposal allowing him to produce incredible works of magic from his pick of magical skills.
Each of the spell skills bestows certain benefits as the skill in question increases. For example, increasing skill in a spellcraft will permit the spell-caster to learn new spells. Increasing skill in rune lore will similarly allow the spell-caster to learn new runes. And again for alchemy. Likewise, failure rates—something which rarely comes up in a novel, but may prove more important in an RPG—are decreased as the skill level increases. Going from this it is clear that a well-rounded wizard will have a formidable array of abilities to bring to bear against a problem; perhaps she has a spell to resolve an issue, or a rune she can inscribe, or maybe a potion to imbibe. Her options are many, and that makes a wizard a potent force in both the novel and the game.