Rather fittingly as I write this the sky is being split by lightening and the windows are shaking to thunder.
Right, so what is the difference in Magics?
Well, as I mentioned previously Magic has a variety of different styles and forms in which it appears and is used. Various different authors have created individual Magic systems for their universes, many many more have simply used Magic as a sweeping catch all for anything unusual. Broadly however, these can (and will) be separated into several categories.
More or less what it says on the tin here. Destructive Magic functions by rearranging the matter of the target item into a chaotic state of unrest. Or alternatively, you can blow stuff up with Magic fireballs.
Destructive Magic turns any practitioner into a walking tank capable of annihilating almost anything that gets in their way.
Desturctive Magic is not particularly subtle however. It's use tends to be a last resort and is often reserved for the most dire situations.
Gudguff looked to his companion Mogmush. The barbarian was swilling cider around his mouth and eyeing the half dozen creatures before them. He unlimbered his two handed sword, Cabbage.
"If you've got anything up your Wizard's sleeve, now would be the time for it." He raised his clay flask and drained it before slinging it away.
The mountain before them had a few shrubs and a lot of boulders but much else. Gudguff eyed the denizens who were making their way toward them. They loped with a strange, rolling gait. Gudguff reflected that even Ran Dom McGuffin would have been able to see they were not friendly.
"Right we are then." Gudguff hefted his staff and squinted along the length of it for a moment. The Wizard's eyes rolled back into his skull and his face took on the look of intense concentration that Mogmush recognised.
"I'll have a couple of minutes then." The drunken barbarian muttered to himself as he worked his great sword in lazy circles around himself. He grinned and performed a couple of lunges to warm his legs up that became dangerously pornographic as his loincloth shifted. He briefly thought that he would have liked his armour and shrugged to himself. The first of the creatures was nearly upon them.
As you might expect creative Magic is all about creating things. Now, depending on how realistic your universe is this could give you a lot of fun, or a lot of rope to hang yourself with.
It is a fundamental fact of our universe that matter cannot be destroyed, only rearranged. Equally Matter cannot be created, it may only be changed. So if you have a Wizard who is summoning a ball of energy that energy had to have been made from something else, possibly from the garbage in the atmosphere or the piss in his bladder.
You might not be too bothered about that! It might be that you just want the effect without the balancing side effect, which is fine, it's your world after all!
With a balancing series of side effects to using Magic, everything becomes a lot more interesting. If Magic is unlimited, with no consequences beyond self imposed morality and limits of their power then there would be no stopping a Practitioner. Which is fine for Dark Lords but if everyone is basically a Master of the Universe then what hope do the slopmongers have?
Unless that's sort of the point...but once more, the possibilities are many and the choice is yours!
Are all the Magics so creatively named?
Yes. Yes they are. Now shush.
Summoning Magic does one of two things. At the darker end of the spectrum it is used for the summoning of demonic entities and spirits. This is quite often the realm of expertise of necromancers and the like but not always.
On the other hand it is often a much more literal thing. Meaning the ability to summon objects or people from somewhere else to wherever the Practitioner is at the moment. Which could be very handy if said Practitioner is hungry.
Gudguff's eyes snapped open and he saw horror and wonder unfolding before him.
The trolls were swarming, well, trying to swarm. There weren't enough of them to actually swarm but the six of them were doing a fairly good job. Mogmush didn't dance between them, there was no balletic grace in his movements.
Instead he moved the steel of his sword around him in brutal arcs that would split the leathery hides of the trolls if they were stupid enough to get hit. The monsters grunted and gabbled to each other in a guttural tongue, Mogmush just breathed deeply and exhaled explosively from time to time.
The words of power bubbled away below the surface of Gudguff's mind and he felt them burning to escape. He waited until the trolls had backed away and left Mogmush more or less in the clear.
"Tightyfighty! Lightymighty! Hereitcomes! Buggerbollocksshitey!"
The words poured out of Gudguff's mouth and he realised in a flash of inspiration that he had held onto the spell for far too long. He felt the forces he had taken hold of squirming out of his grasp, he tried to remain in control but it was useless.
The sliver of power the Wizard had intended to use to ignite the troll's hair as a distraction flexed and expanded at the speed of thought. A tiny flaw in reality, the merest chink that Gudguff had exploited to borrow the power, suddenly tore itself open. Rather than a carefully measured trickle of energy to be gently applied what came out was a huge and terrible flood of raw power.
What came out would have turned stars green and made moons melt into cheese. Energy poured out of it onto the side of the mountain and turned six small sparks into something far more destructive.
The trolls paused in their loping scuttle. They looked around, wide goat-like eyes rolling in terror. As one they let out a howl that carried all of the pain and confusion of tortured animals. Mogmush took the opportunity to gorily split one in two. The others turned tail and fled further up the mountain.
Mogmush flashed a grin at Gudguff and made to follow them. He paused and Gudguff saw the big man's head tilt upwards.
"Oh shit..." Gudguff said it in his smallest voice as he followed the barbarian's eyes.
Six glowing points in the sky were expanding. They weren't falling, simply getting bigger. When they had reached the size of a horse Mogmush turned and started running toward the Wizard in a gentle lope.
"I don't know what you've done but I really don't want to be this close to it!" He panted the words as he jogged past. Gudguff didn't waste his breath speaking. He hitched his robes up and ran for all he was worth, his staff swinging in rhythm.
They didn't pause to look back, not even when they heard a sound like the word splitting in two. They leapt and stumbled as they ran, jumping over smaller boulders and scrabbling down scree slopes. In minutes they had covered the same ground that it had taken them the better part of a day to climb.
Gudguff stumbled shortly after the earth began to quake but he managed to keep moving. They stopped running a few moments after the blastwave picked them up and flung them a hundred yards, flattening everything around them and reducing their world to tinnitus and pain.
Once they could move beyond twitching feebly they stood and stared at the wreckage.
Once there had been a mountain but now they were looking at the smouldering ruin of the peak, a vast crater replaced the upper slopes and there was a volcanic glow emanating from it.
"What were we here for?" Mogmush yelled. Gudguff paused and worked out what he had said. He looked from the battered barbarian toward the crater.
"I don't think it matters anymore."
Mogmush didn't hear the words and Gudguff wasn't all that bothered.
Ultimately I prefer to think of Magic as the cheat code to reality. It is people messing around with the fundamental driving forces of reality. Individuals who's will is mightier that gravity and who's egos challenge those of the gods, much like politicians. They can alter the world at their whim (practitioners, not politicians) and change the workings of reality if they choose.
They are subtle, strange and sometimes amusing, Magic is their sea and they are predators and prey both. If you need something doing in your world then Magic should be able to do it for you. For a price...