My friend James asked me about magic in Clout. I'll answer that in a second, but let me talk about James a bit first.
One Christmas in the late 1970's, James got Dungeons & Dragons (the "Holmes" edition) as a gift. He showed his friend Donald, who showed it to me, and my life has never been the same. I don't know what ever became of Donald, but James and I became lifelong friends. When my mom passed away earlier this year, James was the only non-family member to attend the service.
James is good people.
Anyway, James asked me how magic is going to work in Clout.
It won't. That is to say that the first release of Clout will not have a magic system included at all. There are two reasons for this.
Reason 1: The Intended Flavor of Clout
The first reason is that Clout games are meant to be played in over-the-top pulpy fantasy worlds, like those seen in Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian or George Lucas's Indiana Jones. In those settings the heroes never use magic; it is only an obstacle that they must overcome.
Reason 2: It's Your World
The second reason is that defining a magic system defines the very nature of the world. One of the core objectives of Clout is to allow the judge to use the game world of his own desire. You can't do that if the magic system is already defined in the rules. The way magic works is very different between Lord of the Rings, A Wizard of Earthsea, The Dying Earth, and just about any other fantasy world you can think of. Trying to shoehorn one world into another world's magic system changes the world.
Magic in My Current World
There is magic in my playtest world, but it's out of reach of mere humans. In my world only bloodthirsty demons can cast spells. Very brave (and stupid?) humans will often seek out demons and serve them in exchange for magical favors. By definition, anyone willing to serve a demon is evil.
The demons require two things from their human supplicants: favors and sacrifices. Every time that a wizard/supplicant requests a magical favor ("spell") from his demon, the demon demand flesh and blood:
A noble counts as one level higher. So a virgin princess can be sacrificed for a 6-point spell.
The sacrifice must be enough to completely power the spell. Six hens will get six 1-point spells, not a 6-point spell!
The costs of spells are based on it's overall power level. Healing a wound would be 1 point while raising the dead would be 7.
The intent was to create a truly evil magic system. In the game world, it will be clear that most wizards are evil. Maybe there's the good hearted old woman who will only sacrifice a hen to heal her sick neighbor. but the demon knows that it's only a matter of time before the temptation of power corrupts her. Even if it doesn't, her power will attract another supplicant with greater ambitions...
Yes, wizards are evil. It's a good thing that there are heroes to rise up to confront them!