… and what’s this going to cost me? (Question 4)

Having seen the ideas thrown around in the comments regarding question 3, I’m setting the answer for scope of power at 5 and 3. To clarify, when an above average spell caster goes up against above average opponents with no magical ability he can reasonably defeat up to 5, but no more. So in this world, there will be no god like magical acts that destroy an army. No matter the cost, no matter the time – that is not possible in this world.

You’ll note that I’ve chosen to set the minimum at a number greater than 1. This is in large part to a recurring idea that has been suggested in your comments – that the magic is too powerful to use in some situations. Applying this literally as some of you have gives us a good example. If the magic will harm three individuals and there are fewer than three enemies, someone else will be caught up in the spell. Harming a friend or innocent may be a cost the magic user is not willing to pay. Which brings us to the 4th question. What is the cost of using magic?

As a very brief primer, I’d recommend reading this article by Orson Scott Card. It will help give you a clearer picture of cost. Ultimately, cost or risk makes magic more believable and it is a grand source of story ideas when fit into the bigger picture. So, what will it cost? In order to answer that question I’d like you to do 3 things.

  1. Brainstorm a list of at least 5 potential costs.
  2. Decide whether the cost must be paid by the magic user alone, or if it can be paid by another?
  3. Post your answers in the comments.

Easy enough. I look forward to seeing your ideas and as always – Have Fun!

About Kirk

I enjoy life and have been blessed with many different experiences. An eye for the underlying truths that surround me accompanies a growing faith in Christ and God that informs my world and reveals small miracles and beauty surrounding me every day. This is the major reason I felt led to start Dance of 2 Companies - a dance studio where I can share all the little amazing things God's taught me through life as a dancer - about myself, about others, about marriage... and most importantly, about Him.
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6 Responses to … and what’s this going to cost me? (Question 4)

  1. southerndreamer says:

    Ooh, I read “Lost Gate” recently and really liked it.
    As for my list of possible “costs”:
    1) Backlash. Sorcerer feels a portion of whatever spell is cast; the larger the spell, they greater the effect up to an including death.
    2) Energy- Magic requires energy and if one uses the concept of qi type energy, a being has a finite amount. Use too much and you can essentially stop your heart and kill yourself.
    3) Energy (alternate)- Perhaps the energy isn’t his/hers, but rather belonging to the universe. Sorcerer channels it. However, like any conductor, there is a maximum heat capacity before things start burning up. Either mentally or physically, there is a cap in place.
    4) Energy (alternate 2)- Okay, so the energy comes from the universe and the mage is skilled at judging how much to channel. What happens to his/her surroundings when energy is removed? Molecules slow down as their kinetic/thermal energy is lost. This could cause a benign chill in the air or literally kill smaller animate creatures in the vicinity. Further, perhaps large are not used in the company of human companions as it could very well kill them.
    5) Finite amount- For every spell cast, the sorcerer must tattoo a protective rune into his skin. Without the rune the spell could hit him as easily as his target. There of course is a finite amount of surface area on the human body. To cast without protection = injury or death.

  2. southerndreamer says:

    *large spells

  3. I’m trying to think way outside the box, so if some are bizarre well, I just fell outta the box. As an aside, I love Hil’s #5

    1: Energy and Component – Must be able to harvest, harness and use living components in order for a spell to work. If any of the 3 is messed up (by rushing or not preserving the correct way) either the spell fizzles and takes some of the caster’s energy or it backfires and not only takes energy but can poison the caster. I’m thinking primarily flowers/herbs/plants here but could be expanded to any type of life force and so backfiring could make zombies or the like if use people parts.

    2. Taking Hil’s #5 and twisting a little (because I had a tattoo one in brainstorming but she posted first) Finite amount BUT can tattoo over each one which would require a steady hand and while the more complex the spell/tattoo, the more chance for disaster if done wrong. Could accidentally combine spells if tattoos are joined which could “spell” disaster and/or cancel each other out. Only one symbol per casting unless combining. Also depending on symbol, if tattoo say a tiger for it’s properties, there is an increased chance that caster would lose a portion if not all of their humanity/or become more like that animal etc. with each tattoo retraced even if perfectly done.

    3. Energy – Each caster would pay for the spell in elemental energy directly corresponding to the spell they cast. Therefore, if using fire, depending on the amount and strength, it would cause a fever in the caster. If the fever could not be brought down, then death or brain damage occurs like with any high fever. If using cold, same thing just temp lowered. Air, breathing. Earth – skin and/or bodily organs affected. If go with Chinese, metal then depletes iron in blood or whatever. Wood… not sure about. HOWEVER, if clever enough and enough time, could do fire but only after lowering body temp as low as can and still have control to do spell. Could perhaps modify this to use a conduit (another person who can’t “do” magic but has power to augment and then could have them pay the cost before the caster (and sets up nasty villain enslaving etc.) Then if conduit dies, caster is affected. But so long as brought back for a period of time, it’s all good.

    4. Finite/limited in a sci-fi way. How about you have to be able to access Fringe science and by casting you connect with your alternate self in another timeline with said party having to pay the cost. Of course who is to say one or more of your alternate selves isn’t going to use you…?

    5. Infinite with a cost to be paid by your soul until such time as karma kicks your ass. Only way energy can be obtained for spells is through breeding embryos/babies for harvesting. Depending on time at harvest, depends on the power for the spell and consequently goes hand-in-hand with the stain upon your soul. Can limit further by making it so you can only harvest your own kind. (sick, I know but taking cloning and twisting) If the child is born, no harvest is possible. Would be determined by taking first breath – once that occurs, no harvest can happen. This means that if you need the energy and you are near pregnant women, well you can tap and harvest and fetus dies. If you aren’t careful, you can harvest someone you weren’t prepared to harvest etc.

  4. southerndreamer says:

    @Anne. Ooh, I like your variation on the tattoo theme. The alternate self thing is pretty awesome too!

  5. Waiiiiitttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt, I thought of another one since we haven’t moved on to the next level yet…

    What if certain kinds of magic were liked to your DNA but in using them it caused tumors to grow? You know like how we hear well guys can eat more carbon (burned stuff) than girls because it supposedly causes cancer if girls eat it, or certain types of people react to certain kinds of chemicals etc. Hilaire, are allergies and such determined by dna? If not, then that’s another reaction that could occur, being allergic or some other such medical thingus when using the magic.

    So could be limited to how long you do magic before you die from tumors or could cause a potential misfire if allergic reaction (sneeze and kablooie and meds alter the potency and actions of magic…)

  6. Pingback: Question #5: How do you do that again? | [My]Cube

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