Unlike many other animeverses, magic is fully present in the bleachverse in the form of Kido and Ginto. This enables many new plot twists and interesting endeavours -- sadly though, there are only a few users who make use of Kido in any fitting manner, most preferring rather to use it to spice up attacks and in order to attack from a long range; these are all viable but grossly narrow uses of magic. Of course, many users prefer not to make extensive use of Kido due to the great deal of detail and effort involved in this, other still don't use it because of its incombatibility with their characters; and to introduce the subject, I'll write what exactly is incompatible with magic in my point of view.
Any character which possesses an uncontrolable and chaotically aligned spiritual energy will find that their spellwork has a very high chance of spell failure. Why is it so? This is why, imagine that magic is akin to a computer or other mechanical program; what does these most commonly have; passwords, precisely. Now back to the point, like passwords, energy useage and the other components a spell may have are case-sensitive; this means that if you want to cast a spell it isn't enough simply to feed the spell with something close to, or just above the cost it demands; no, the cost needs to be precisely correct otherwise the spell will fizzle or much more catastrophically, backlash.
Now, when you have Vast Spiritual Power your energy is simply so large and uncontrolled that you have a very large chance of magic backfiring at you, as you easily overload most forms of magic and literally causing them to blow up in your face ---this is why characters like Renji Abarai who have been noted to have low control over their spiritual energy are largely incapable of casting spells in battle; except for a few easy ones.
The Rules of Magic
The greatest problem in regards to magic is how do you apply it, and how do you do so without it becoming ridicolously overpowered? This question is indeed a hard one as magic in a nutshell defies the very laws that regulations and restrictions are based upon; namely the laws of physics - a spell could produce fire under water, fashion items of great power out of pretty much anything; allow non-flying creatures the ability to fly and change reality to accomodate your desires. In short; magic has no known limit and thereby you cannot apply any restriction to it as a force.
Restrictions are thereby imposed not on the spells, but on the caster him/herself --- magic must commonly be brought forth by the use of some type of energy like any other technique or special ability; furthermore, it is quite common for spells to demand incantations and somatic components, ie hand gestures in addition to this. Magic is also peculiar in that it can't be completely defined; it will always be mysterious and in fact, it may not always succeed, and only the greatest of spellcasters can make their spells succeed all the time. Harder still is to get the desired effect.
How to use Magic effectively
Using magic and using it effectively is two different things; if you simply use it to spice up your attacks, provide distractions or as an effort to look extra badass; which probably includes Hado #90 Kurohitsugi in some shape or form, you're not using it effectively, in fact; you might as well throw large chunks of your characters energy-levels out the nearby window. Spells, however powerful they may be are rather limited on their own and can easily be avoided if it isn't too powerful or if you haven't planned ahead.
Its also imperative that you know the exact function and mechanic behind a spell, take the infamous Kurohitsugi spell; unlike common belief, its not the energy spears that pierce the box that makes it so lethal. No, the actual power of the spell is the tremendous amount of gravity that is unleashed within the cube; when it is cast at full power Aizen claimed it to unleash enough gravity to warp distort space and time. Which roughly estimates its full strength to be comparable to that of a miniature Black Hole; suffice to say, you're dead long before you've even got time to be lacerated by the energy spears.
At any rate, there is several other things whom are nessecary to remember; details play an incredibly large part of spellcasting, describe the effects on the environments, your own character and of course, the effects intended for the target him herself --- use flowery language if possible; the more you write the stronger the spell will be interpreted as, remember that.
Think about what you want to accomplish with the spells you cast; use several in quick conjunction and with synergy to work towards that goal with the utmost amount of efficiency; if all you want is to defeat your opponent; attune your spells in such a way as to make it harder for him or her to counter them; and by constantly targetting their weaknesses -- chain together multiple spells if your characters skill level permits it and watch in delight as the opponent, unused to effective spellcasting as he likely is, struggles to keep his head above water.
- Make use of any in-character knowledge your character may have to determine which spells he casts in combat; knowledge is power, after all - and when combined with magical spells you can give yourself one huge advantage.
- Chain together muliple spells trough varied means; personally I find this to be best done with multi-layered incantations, with this I mean that you mold the incantations of several spells together into one in order to effectively "fuse" all the affected spells together into one.
Example: "Ye lord! Mask of blood and flesh, all creation, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of Man! Inferno, pandemonium, sword, laughter, truth and temperance; the sea barrier surges, the beast is stirred, a golden arc, the bell ring as ye move swiftly forward, march on to the south and upon this sinless wall of dreams unleash but slightly the wrath of your claws!" this is the combined incantation of the spells Shakkahō, Ōkasen and Sōkatsui; numbered 31, 32 and 33 respectively; on an unrelated note, the incantation of Ōkasen was made by yours truly.
- If you did as I instructed above, do amuse yourself by finding out how those spells would be if they were fused together with one another; then do just that. Fuse them together! Make it unique and memorable. I'd personally reccomend fusing together Kyokko and another spell if you want to launch a perfect surprise attack - its hard enough to dodge the myriad of energy bullets released from the spell Gaki Rekkō on its own, but if you interweave the Kyokko spell with it, then it becomes at least three times as dangerous, not only do you fill the entire airspace with high-velocity energy blasts, but they're all invisible and the energy they release are masked.
- Be creative and tactically inclined, and most of all: BE DETAILED!
- Study various magical spells, both in and outside of canon in order to get a better view on magic; this includes texts and such outside of Bleach as well.
- Simply cast several spells at once, each of the spells are only as powerful as their numbers would otherwise indicate and simply casting them together without customizing them or to think of any strategy is quite simply; a waste of energy. You'd be much better off using an ordinary technique at that point.
- Don't cast high-level spells unless it is absolutely nessecary. If you don't know how to cast a spell properly and how to make the most efficient use of a spell of that level the only thing you'll accomplish is to tire out your character and remember that magic IS tiring; probably more so than most techniques given the way it is structured. A single Kurohitsugi spell would likely consume as much energy as three Getsuga Tensho; unless you have a good plan or ridicolous amounts of energy, you simply don't waste that much energy just to look cool.
Techniques and Magic, the difference
Most people don't quite understand the difference between a spiritual technique and a spell; this is understandable, both require a certain level of energy, both may have conditions of use and both may either defend, support or attack others, depending upon which spell and technique is used. The difference is quite simple, techniques are science-based, magic is well, magic. I'll list a few points below detailing the differences.
- Reliability: Its a well known fact that Science is a good deal more reliable than magic; this transelates into techniques as well --- you can always trust a Getsuga Tensho to be a Getsuga Tensho and you can always trust it to be used with just as much power as you intended. However, you cannot always trust a Kurohitsugi spell to be perfect, in fact, due to the notorious difficulty of that spell, its very easy to miscast it or to be incapable of bringing out its full potential: There's of course also the fact that spells may not nessecarily always succeed, if you're not very talented or proficient at casting them.
- Customizability: This is one of the greatest differences, a technique may be customized rather easily in comparison to a spell; Ichigo customized his Getsuga Tensho to use it as a means of empowering his sword strikes vastly, this he did on pretty much on a moments notice and he succeeded upon the first try. Spells require much more skill and effort to customize, but to make up for this they're infinitely more customizable than any technique --- only the greatest of Kido Masters are proficient enough to provide spell variations to their favorite pieces of magic.
M. N on Incantations
This is less of a "guide" than more of a strict observation on my part, anyhow - this is quite important nevertheless, I've noticed that usually, when people make incantations for their own spells, they deviate extremely from the incantations already found in canon: first and foremost they are usually very flat and uneventful, it almost sounds like they're preparing to head out and shop in the mall for groceries and not invoking some higher power to serve their cause; the incantations are also typically very short and tell us nothing about the spell in question; which is uncharacteristic of an incantation. I'll include two examples bellow.
Canon Example: "Disintegrate, you black dog of Rondanini!! Look upon yourself with horror and then claw out your own throat!"
Typical Fanon Incantation: "O glorious lightning, strike my enemies now!"
As you notice, the fanon example is vastly different from the Canon one, first, it is a command and not a Prayer; what's the difference one might ask? Well, here's the thing, the prayer part invokes a higher existence when the spell is cast; which is the primary requisite of Kido Incantations, something you should find in all the Canon incantations. Now, the command not only shortens the incantation significantly (thereby hastening the cast time of the spell, and contradicting the general consensus of Kido being drawn out and impractical), but also makes the whole spell lose the "mystical" feel that any spell SHOULD have. That's also why the incantations themselves are so cryptic in the first place. Furthermore, I hate seeing clichès like "Annihilate my enemy" and "Oh, by the gods I purge thee!"
I hope this little snippet of a mini-guide within a guide (Guideguide?) has been somewhat helpful to you.
Right, one of the first steps to become good with Kido/Ginto is to create a character whose primary role is casting spells, hereafter reffered to rather simply and fittingly as "the Spellcaster", I'll now take all of you trough a short process which explains how to best create a Spellcaster character.
- Name: A spellcaster, like any other character obviously needs a name; usually, its best to pick a name for them for which you can easily relate to without difficulties. By this I mean that their name should depict or otherwise mean something, if you're the kind of guy who loves creating new spells, such as myself. This may easily serve as something highly beneficial as you need only look at their name to find a fitting theme to their spells and abilities; next are possible titles, when a character has earned great renown for their magical abilities, they're usually given a moniker in order to make them easier to remember, however, this moniker shouldn't simply be something you find to be "cool", no, it should have a relation to your character; I find polysemy to be highly useful in these contexts as it allows for a great degree of versatility, without being presumptous or clichè I'll go on to explain this with an example, Hiroya's moniker is "Hiroya the Swan" - this is not actually because of his habit of using birds and swans as a theme for his abilities; no, the "Swan" part, is used to describe something else, a quality frequently associated with swans, namely elegance or gentleness - therefore Hiroya's actual title when it is 'transelated' roughly means; "Hiroya the Gentle", or "Hiroya the Elegant".
- Gender: To most, Gender is not a foreseeable issue at all, and its very usual for a roleplayer to have multiple characters of different genders; however, among male roleplayers in particular; it is very common to make the Spellcaster characters all female; this clichèd little convention is something typically reffered to as the Staff Chick: and it is usually seen in most RPG Video Games and all that. Almost without exception, the Sorceress also happens to be a healer and the current protagonists romantic interest. This in and of itself is fine, from an objective point of view. BUT! Statistics show that as one would expect, roleplayers tend to roleplay MUCH less with their female characters than with their male ones, and even if they do, their roles are much less noteworthy; to understand magic and be capable of using it effectively you need to use it very often, therefore I'd strongly suggest you make your primary spellcaster the same gender that you are, as those are much easier to get in touch with than those of the opposite gender.
This may not seem to be of any great consequence for most of you. After all, what does the casting method have to do with the spells themselves? Well, the answer is simply, almost everything -- if you're a spellcaster in the Bleachverse, the method of casting is key. But before I go into detail about this, I'll go into detail about what I deem Kido to be.
I've somewhat touched upon the subject of what the difference is between Kido and Techniques. But looking back, its not nearly concise enough and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth due to my own laziness. To fully understand how Kido is woven we must first understand the basis of a technique. Now, from my perspective, a technique is much more personal than Kido is, its more cooperative for one; and therefore easier to customize and its also much more friendly and trustworthy. This is because techniques draw upon a single or in some cases two sources, either yourself exclusively or you and your Zanpakuto in the case of Shinigami. Since the sources are much more focused, the result is a more controled, refined and orderly ability which is easy to adapt into new forms. That is the basis for a Technique, at least from my point of view. Your own energy is the only thing you need to shape and mold; and in the case of Zanpakuto abilities you get invaluable assistance with this.
Now a spell in the context of Bleach is much different, lets start by stating a few facts: Spiritual energy permeates everything that exists within the Bleachverse, most people are unaware of it, but its most certainly there. Each particle of spiritual energy is a fragment of willpower; and the energy shattered around the human world is the disembodied wills and convictions of the departed. Soul Society, being a spiritual realm has a tremendous concentration of spiritual energy, the air you'd breathe there is permeated with the wills of several milleniums worth of dreams, convictions and desires - and it only continues to grow in a never-ending cycle, when spiritual techniques are employed - the user releases a burst of their spiritual energy along with their own spiritual residue adding more to the fuel.
Since I was getting off-track I'll devote this section to truly state my belief of Kido; unlike techniques, a Kido spell draws power from everywhere in the vicinity in order to reach its potency; most likely encompassing an innumerable amount of fragmented and disembodied wills, convictions, desires, dreams and goals at once! Each and every one of these distinct mentalities both battle for supremacy. The Shinigami must channel their own spiritual energy inside the spell to calm all of the spirits that compose it and get them to work together for the spells intended effect. The Incantation is a medium in this, it works as an invocation, which informs of the spirits of what they are to do with the aid of what seems like total gibberish but is in reality a part of something much deeper. By this virtue a spell is composed of three parts. First you draw upon the forces of "nature" (the initial gathering of energy), you invoke a higher power (the spirits; and this is the incantation part); and finally release it with the strength of pure willpower.
More to come.