What Defines "Evil" Magic

View previous topic View next topic Go down

What Defines "Evil" Magic

Post by CromTheConqueror on Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:05 pm

This is a small distinction but I figured I'd just post it up to make sure we are all clear on it. When we think about "black magic" we think perhaps of some spell that creates a horde of flesh eating locust that devour a village. However, there really isn't anything distinctly evil about this. A mage using fire elements could still torch a town and burn them all alive. End result is that everybody is still dead. So what's the difference between fire magic that can devastate and destroy in comparison to the dark arts? The difference comes in four forms. Perceptions, variety, stripping of humanity, and temptation for evil.

The first can be described much in the way we banned chemical and biological weapons after WW1. Now, an artillery blast can still blow a man into a million pieces or send shrapnel through his eyes but it still still considered more "clean" then mustard gas. Both create great destruction but our perception of them is different. Someone blowing up a building and killing people in it just doesn't seem as bad of locusts devouring everyone inside of it alive.

Second is variety. Fire could be used to create warmth, light, burn through foliage and a multitude of other things beyond setting people on fire. A horde of man-eating locusts isn't going to really be building homes for the elderly. They are going to be eating people. Magic that has good and beneficial purposes is more acceptable than magic purely designed for cruel intentions.

The third is the most obvious and found in most black magics. This is magic that literally strips away at your humanity. The kind of stuff that requires sacrificing pieces of your soul in order to use. This black magic might give you the power to save your village from some bandits but in the process you are very likely to just turn around and destroy the town yourself when its all over.

Temptation is the final form. The stuff that innately might not immediately turn your heart black and damn your soul but will none the less provide powerful and gradual corruption. Examples would be some form of curse that causes great agony toward the victim. This might be used to interrogate some cruel villain and gain information to save orphan children. But in turn it slowly converts the user into a sadist. Or some form of mind control curse that slowly leads the user into a power trip that leaves them mad for control.

_________________
"One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures." -George W. Bush
avatar
CromTheConqueror

Posts : 404
Join date : 2009-07-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: What Defines "Evil" Magic

Post by GrayWatch on Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:34 am

I hate to rip directly out of a book but...

I think the Dresdenverse mechanics would be a very elegant way of enforcing much of this.
The Dresden-verse mechanics being summed up as

1)In order to use a piece of magic, one must legitimately believe in the rightness, acceptableness, or necessity of what they use this magic for and the manner in which they use it.
2)Use of aforementioned magic strengthens the belief that the use towards which it was put was acceptable, good, right, just, or necessary.

A classical example is mind alteration.
A young magus realizes a friend is acting in a very unhealthy way. Substance abuse, gambling addiction, anything where the magus can reasonably claim that this person is incapable of helping themselves, and that 'official' channels of help will only result in more trouble (albeit possibly short term, or transitory troubles)
So the young magus simply implants a very very mild suggestion in their friends mind. Perhaps a sudden surge of caution when being asked to place money on things, or a slight aversion to the substance.
In either case the deed is done and the choice is made.
And maybe that's all there is to it. Maybe it ends there.

But probably not.

By doing this act in the first place, the young magus adopted the view that she had better judgement than others about what was best for them, and that it was her right to enact that judgement upon their behavior.

If a similar situation occurs, it can happen again, with less hesitation as the use reinforces the viewpoint, and the viewpoint allows the use. And again. And again. Eventually the magus will utterly remove a person's mind or free will, replacing it only with a complex set of instructions and if/then clauses, all in the name of doing it 'for their own good'.

Similarly with soul-eating magics. There you adopt and the view that casting this spell, which is ultimately a shortcut (as you can very likely accomplish the same end in a more time consuming or costly manner that does not cost your soul), is more important than your humanity. You adopt the view that it is acceptable to give up your soul/humanity/conscience for transitory gains.

It ends up not being about arbitrary rules, but rather about vicious cycles, and how they can be very subtle and nigh impossible for the young or inexperienced to spot, especially since many of them start out with legitimately good deeds. As such the old and wise enforce these SEEMINGLY arbitrary rules, which the young rarely, if ever understand.

It's not uncommon therefore, for a magi's personality to be tainted by the magics he wields. The trick is in spotting the mentality behind using those magics, and recognizing cycles that don't lead ultimately destructive mindsets.

That and maybe some arbitrary rules about not doing things which could cause long-term or run-away effects (i.e. don't create a magical non-breathable gas that converts oxygen and nitrogen into more of the same magical gas. You jackass. Seriously how did you think that was a good idea? Hell what use is the gas even?)
avatar
GrayWatch

Posts : 61
Join date : 2009-08-31

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: What Defines "Evil" Magic

Post by CromTheConqueror on Sun Aug 08, 2010 11:44 am

That sort of gradual corruption mentality thing was what I was aiming for. Thanks for explaining it a lot more in-depth.

_________________
"One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures." -George W. Bush
avatar
CromTheConqueror

Posts : 404
Join date : 2009-07-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: What Defines "Evil" Magic

Post by Admin on Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:12 pm

CromTheConqueror wrote:This is a small distinction but I figured I'd just post it up to make sure we are all clear on it. When we think about "black magic" we think perhaps of some spell that creates a horde of flesh eating locust that devour a village. However, there really isn't anything distinctly evil about this. A mage using fire elements could still torch a town and burn them all alive. End result is that everybody is still dead. So what's the difference between fire magic that can devastate and destroy in comparison to the dark arts? The difference comes in four forms. Perceptions, variety, stripping of humanity, and temptation for evil.

First off we have to consider the possibility of even casting "flesh eating locusts". Remember, this isn't DnD magic where I can just speak into the air "feather fall" and then magical floaty feathers are spontaneously created.

The first can be described much in the way we banned chemical and biological weapons after WW1. Now, an artillery blast can still blow a man into a million pieces or send shrapnel through his eyes but it still still considered more "clean" then mustard gas. Both create great destruction but our perception of them is different. Someone blowing up a building and killing people in it just doesn't seem as bad of locusts devouring everyone inside of it alive.

I like this.


Second is variety. Fire could be used to create warmth, light, burn through foliage and a multitude of other things beyond setting people on fire. A horde of man-eating locusts isn't going to really be building homes for the elderly. They are going to be eating people. Magic that has good and beneficial purposes is more acceptable than magic purely designed for cruel intentions.

I like this too, it reinforces the first.

The third is the most obvious and found in most black magics. This is magic that literally strips away at your humanity. The kind of stuff that requires sacrificing pieces of your soul in order to use. This black magic might give you the power to save your village from some bandits but in the process you are very likely to just turn around and destroy the town yourself when its all over.

There's no concrete reason for magic to literally strip away your soul or your morality. Perhaps realizing you wield such devastating power, and the fact that you just outright killed some people, may make you go mad with power, but I don't think there's an actual mechanic to spells that causes it to strip away from your humanity.

Temptation is the final form. The stuff that innately might not immediately turn your heart black and damn your soul but will none the less provide powerful and gradual corruption. Examples would be some form of curse that causes great agony toward the victim. This might be used to interrogate some cruel villain and gain information to save orphan children. But in turn it slowly converts the user into a sadist. Or some form of mind control curse that slowly leads the user into a power trip that leaves them mad for control.

Again, I don't think that there's a specific mechanic within magic, nor should there be, that does this: Rather, we see examples all the time in reality that doesn't need magic to do this to them. Perhaps people could believe this happens?


GrayWatch wrote:
1)In order to use a piece of magic, one must legitimately believe in the rightness, acceptableness, or necessity of what they use this magic for and the manner in which they use it.
2)Use of aforementioned magic strengthens the belief that the use towards which it was put was acceptable, good, right, just, or necessary.

Absolutely not. I mean, this may happen in some (perhaps many) circumstances, but it's not a rule and it's not going to be. People may believe that this happens and it further reinforces their faith (and perhaps, as a placebo effect, their ability over magic), but magic has nothing to do with morality. It's even possible to have, say, some spellbooks detail certain spells that 'can only be cast with a specific belief or morality.' In other words, the authors believed this to be true, and the fact that someone casting it has read this but wishes to use it for evil may have their subconscious mind derail their spellcasting because they would be inherently disbelieving that it would work in the first place, and then it would seem like evidence to believe that it can only be cast by 'good' mages when they explode. However, I don't want it to be a solid, set in stone rule.


A classical example is mind alteration.
A young magus realizes a friend is acting in a very unhealthy way. Substance abuse, gambling addiction, anything where the magus can reasonably claim that this person is incapable of helping themselves, and that 'official' channels of help will only result in more trouble (albeit possibly short term, or transitory troubles)
So the young magus simply implants a very very mild suggestion in their friends mind. Perhaps a sudden surge of caution when being asked to place money on things, or a slight aversion to the substance.
In either case the deed is done and the choice is made.
And maybe that's all there is to it. Maybe it ends there.

But probably not.

By doing this act in the first place, the young magus adopted the view that she had better judgement than others about what was best for them, and that it was her right to enact that judgement upon their behavior.

If a similar situation occurs, it can happen again, with less hesitation as the use reinforces the viewpoint, and the viewpoint allows the use. And again. And again. Eventually the magus will utterly remove a person's mind or free will, replacing it only with a complex set of instructions and if/then clauses, all in the name of doing it 'for their own good'.

No mind-altering magic, at least until we figure out a way to do it that's not incredibly rigged or limit it to people that have Grandmaster-esque control over magic.


Similarly with soul-eating magics. There you adopt and the view that casting this spell, which is ultimately a shortcut (as you can very likely accomplish the same end in a more time consuming or costly manner that does not cost your soul), is more important than your humanity. You adopt the view that it is acceptable to give up your soul/humanity/conscience for transitory gains.

Not so sure about soul-eating magics, or what you inherently mean by that, unless you're detailing Dresden stuff.


It ends up not being about arbitrary rules, but rather about vicious cycles, and how they can be very subtle and nigh impossible for the young or inexperienced to spot, especially since many of them start out with legitimately good deeds. As such the old and wise enforce these SEEMINGLY arbitrary rules, which the young rarely, if ever understand.

It's not uncommon therefore, for a magi's personality to be tainted by the magics he wields. The trick is in spotting the mentality behind using those magics, and recognizing cycles that don't lead ultimately destructive mindsets.

That and maybe some arbitrary rules about not doing things which could cause long-term or run-away effects.

This seems good.
avatar
Admin
Admin

Posts : 543
Join date : 2009-07-14
Age : 25

View user profile http://rokk.forumotion.com

Back to top Go down

Re: What Defines "Evil" Magic

Post by GrayWatch on Sun Aug 08, 2010 10:43 pm

...it has nothing to do with good and evil. And I'm really not sure how you could interpret it as such since the words never appear in my post. I'd qoute your relevant comments here, but the bandwidth exceeded-ness discourages me from doing so.

Anyway! the point!

Right and wrong are perceptions, not absolutes.

The key is conviction, as opposed to morality. Everyone believes they are in the right, when they take the action. Oh they might believe what they do is terrible, or that they'll go down in history as a terrible villain, but no one does an 'evil' act for the sake of evil. Hell even Krasht, Mr. KillCrushMaimRape himself is doing it for the greater glory of his god.

To him it's right to slaughter all these people, because nothing is more important than his vaguely defined divine mission to kill things for the greater glory of...yeah I can't remember.

So believing what he's doing is evil won't impair a mage at all. Believing that it's both wrong and unnecessary will.

The system doesn't make any moral judgments, nor does it impair evil characters from having magic. Indeed morals don't come into it at all, save that if one is normally lawful good, and is doing an act that would be considered Chaotic Evil, they damn well better have some way of justifying it to themselves as being at the least a NECESSARY evil.

The point is that no one is the villain from their own point of view. Which for the purpose of casting, is all that matters.

Rather, what you should be concerned about is that this results in mages who become increasingly obsessive and set in their ways as they become more experienced, and those who are learn without a tutor to guide them away from poor choices early on can easily end up as psychopaths.
Even normal mages will become incredibly stubborn at best and literally incapable of believing that they could be wrong, or that their methods could be inappropriate at worst
In short under this system, the most stable mages in the world will be those who use magic least, or those who vary their use of magic such that all the different obsessions accumulated over the years cancel each other out.

EDIT: Mind altering and soul eating were used as examples becasue A)crom did so and it's good to be working on the same subject matter to maintain coherency and clarity of meanings and b)because both happen to make really easy vehicles and examples for my suggestion.
Also you disapprove of what's in your first qoute of my post and approve of what's in the last, but the last one explicitly and implicitly relies on the first.
avatar
GrayWatch

Posts : 61
Join date : 2009-08-31

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: What Defines "Evil" Magic

Post by Admin on Sun Aug 08, 2010 11:31 pm

Actually, I just disapproved of the first part as concrete rulings. Mages don't have to believe any certain anything to be able to use magic, nor does it absolutely have to reinforce that belief. It just made me think that you were stating them as rigid things where I don't believe they should be at all, but clearly many examples of them would be found.

The last neither explicitly nor implicitly relies on the first. Older generations of mages teach the younger 'arbitrary rules' that are not arbitrary as the younger generations see them, but are codes to follow lest they begin perceiving their craft with malicious intent or otherwise develop psychosis with the amount of power they wield. The last part details that people are susceptible to such psychosis and that people need to watch out for it as it can happen. I agree that people are susceptible, but it's not a rule that people absolutely lose their minds when they use magic, just like it's not a rule that people absolutely lose their minds when they, say, hold a weapon and shoot a deer. Does it happen? Sure, there are many examples of serial killers who use weapons to kill other people. Is it a rule? No. Do people absolutely have to believe that what they're doing is right to wield a weapon? No. Does it help? Absolutely, especially in the case of magic, but again, it shouldn't be a rule.

If you were stating it as a general case, even one that applies to most things, then I certainly find it acceptable and now it seems like that was your tone and I was hasty in believing otherwise.
avatar
Admin
Admin

Posts : 543
Join date : 2009-07-14
Age : 25

View user profile http://rokk.forumotion.com

Back to top Go down

Re: What Defines "Evil" Magic

Post by Spuggy on Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:06 am

The four elements are often used in fantasy to describe the kind of people that use them and are attracted to them. Even if each has the potential for a kind of damage, there is generally a feeling that water and earth mages are more calm and safe than fire mages, whilst someone dealing with wind would be often considered to be somewhere between a the aggression and danger of fire and the usefulness of earth or water.

That said, none of those are really black, or evil. Even fire has a very firm and established place in most mythologies, though it is still further out on the fringes than all other magics simply because of one of its embodiements being destruction. It however also represents life, rebirth, enlightenment, angelic power, etc.

The simplest way is to put "evil" magic more into the categories outside that. Have good divine magic and evil divine magic, or necromancy and soul ripping stuff. I'm not exactly advocating that, just mentioning how it is often done.

With that said, I have a feeling that this conversation may turn down the path of what are the "power sources" of magic. This has already been set down in here. As far as I can gather the idea is that magic is taken from its chaotic form. I'll have to get some clarification whether it is present everywhere or whether there are particular sources for this next part. It can be bound into any of the elements. Personally I don't think we should have so much an "intent" behind the magic as the "form" it takes. This could come from either the well it resides in beforehand or what form it takes because of the spell.

To rephrase, there could be two different ways to classify "evil" spells. Where the power comes from (evil such as sacrifices, tainted locations, etc.) or what form it takes (a spell which causes the skin to wither and die off a person, binding restless spirits to corpses, things that invovle pain as the form rather than the cause, etc).
avatar
Spuggy

Posts : 34
Join date : 2010-05-26
Age : 26
Location : Sydney, Australia

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: What Defines "Evil" Magic

Post by Admin on Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:21 am

Good take on things.

As for the sacrifices and tainted locations and such, those do certainly exist (And I should probably get to writing about how sacrifices aiding magic works, I suppose...).
avatar
Admin
Admin

Posts : 543
Join date : 2009-07-14
Age : 25

View user profile http://rokk.forumotion.com

Back to top Go down

Re: What Defines "Evil" Magic

Post by CromTheConqueror on Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:20 pm

I think temptation isn't so much a cold iron fact so much as it is an eventuality that consistently occurs. Psychology is not magic but it is scientific. Also, I was using man-eating locusts as an obvious and simple example. This is the third time I've seen a analogy or metaphor taken too literally. Obviously as the communicator people need to be clear on what they are saying but as a friendly suggestion Chaos I'd say trying to take these sort of things more in context with the broader picture and less as literal metaphors. And as if to contradict what I'm saying you clearly did do that because you agreed with the two other examples in which I used locusts when I talked about perception and variety. It's just a peeve really.

_________________
"One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures." -George W. Bush
avatar
CromTheConqueror

Posts : 404
Join date : 2009-07-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: What Defines "Evil" Magic

Post by Admin on Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:30 pm

Sorry, I suppose the tone I truly meant was more cautious and making sure everyone's on the same page about the locusts, and then I just dropped the issue later because I had already addressed it in the first quote section.

I can't really judge what exactly is just an analogy or just a metaphor when we're dealing with outrageous things already, and I'm just very cautious that no one gets the impression out of hand. As a general rule, anything that's too outlandish or false I nip in the bud so it simply stays on the record. I'm trying to keep a coherent tone throughout so if anyone reads it no one has to go 'Wait, are locusts possible to make as a spell? Admin/Chaos didn't bitch at them for it, so..." and then invariably lead to a ton of questions.

Don't take it personally, it's not meant as a personal offense. I'll try not to be so literal about everything if you guys keep in mind that's what I'm trying to do. =/

That being said, I do agree with the temptation part, though I'm not sure if you mean it as in it is eventual for absolutely everyone or if it is eventual for many but perhaps not the majority.
avatar
Admin
Admin

Posts : 543
Join date : 2009-07-14
Age : 25

View user profile http://rokk.forumotion.com

Back to top Go down

Re: What Defines "Evil" Magic

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum