In my fantasy series, a group of scientists from Earth arrives at the closest habitable planet and is shocked to discover that life on the planet is nearly identical to that on Earth. Despite being atheists or agnostics, the first conclusion that the group arrives at is that there must be some sort of pattern or design to the universe after all. They begin to question their own lack of belief, at least until they discovered an alternative explanation.
An experiment while studying local microorganisms leads one of the scientists to discover that he could switch his 'view' of the world and see energy flowing in vivid colors through every particle in the world. Later he learned that he could teach this ability to the other scientists, but not to any of the natives of the planet. Through much experimentation, the scientists learned that they could not only see the energy, but could in small ways use their minds to manipulate it. For example, if they held up a lit candle, they could 'send' energy through the flame and amplify it. The tiny flame could be turned into a burst of fire. The downside was that any manipulation of the energy, or magic as they half-jokingly began to call it, drained energy from the user, leaving them exhausted. This made any regular use of the magic impracticable.
Two decades after their arrival, the scientists realized that there was more to the magic than they first realized. For one thing, none of the scientists appeared to be aging. For another, many things that they took for granted on Earth did not work the same on this planet. If they mixed the ingredients for gunpowder, for example, it would only fizzle or spark rather than explode. If they developed a means of producing electricity, it would only provide the weakest hint of a current. They could only theorize, but they started to believe that the strong presence of this magical energy somehow inhibited or otherwise affected the standards of physics as understood on Earth.
Furthermore, the scientists began to believe that the magical energy connected every atom in the universe and provided a sort of template for life, thus explaining why life on this planet is nearly identical to that on Earth. The magical energy was influencing the evolution of life on each habitable planet. The scientists theorized that the magical connection was not solely physical, but that certain individuals may be more attuned to magic than others. This could explain why the life forms that are different, such as the dragons and dwarves of this planet, show up as legends and folklore back on Earth.
At the time of my first story, only three of the scientists are still alive. They have lived for more than six thousand years on the new planet, yet appear to have aged only a quarter of a century. They have witnessed the evolution of the local humanoid tribes, and have influenced some of them and helped them advance faster than others. The magic is so strong on this planet that scientific progress is severely hampered, and civilization evolves at a much slower rate than on Earth. The scientists themselves became this planet's only 'wizards'.
Hmm, looks like I need to come up with a name for the planet, as it isn't fun calling it 'this planet' over and over. The standard names that such a group of scientists might generally use, such as New Earth, all seem boring to me!