I don't know about you, but I have a really strange Love/Hate relationship with magic in RPGs. See, I very much enjoy my heroic fantasy. I like my noble warriors, my slimy rogues, my hopeful priests, and yes, even my scholarly mages. The problem is, I've yet to see an RPG that is based around having all of that in it that does magic in a way that I particularly like, or that blends mages into the world in a way I agree with.
The common solution for magic is to codify it into a set number of spells, each requiring a specific level to cast, and those are the effects that a magic user can do. It works perfectly fine for a game, and even allows for balance as the most powerful spells are also often the most limited. This makes it harder for the mage to completely overshadow everyone, as they will eventually run out of spells and are often quite vulnerable in the meantime.
The problem I have with this though, is that magic is supposed to be a lot more. Magic is a one word catch all solution that can explain anything. "Why are there Dragons?" "Magic!" "How did you survive that fight?" "Magic!"
So, the other solution is to have magic be able to do almost anything. Like in the stories, right? Well sure, but that is hard to codify. Especially if you want to keep it balanced against the rogues and warriors.
Which, of course, could be the crux of my problem. Maybe I'm just jealous of being outshined by mages while playing warriors. Or the knowledge that my top tier warrior could be killed in a round by someone with a piece of paper. It could be a lot of things.
So, how about you? How do you feel about magic? Do you like it? Do you love it? Or do you tend to stray away from it and keep it for plot devices?