View Full Version : Permanently unable to draw runes

09-25-2009, 11:37 PM
Hi there,

I have a magic user who channels her magic through runes she draws. Her ability to use magic is taken away as a punishment. I originally planned to hand-wave the punishment as some kind of crippling magic attack, but I'm now wondering if it could be much simpler than that - breaking her hands so she can't draw runes.

I'm pretty unfamiliar with hand injuries, so I'm hoping you could explain some options I have here. I'm also wondering what the character would still be capable of in terms of day-to-day activities - if she can't do anything without help, I might have to go back to the hand-wavery.

Setting is medieval - there is healing magic, but she won't have access to it until she escapes, which could be a month or so later. This is a backstory event, so the character needs to still be crippled when the story starts twenty years later.

Is this doable? Or should I embrace the all-powerful hand-wave?

Thanks very much. :LilLove:


09-25-2009, 11:56 PM
Cut the tendons at the wrist

09-26-2009, 12:06 AM
Runes are pretty simple shapes, so it should be posible to draw them, if one can do much of anything.

09-26-2009, 12:10 AM
If it's some sort of punishment, I would have it where any time she tries to write her runes, she'd be force to feel some sort of pain/black out due to magic. Have it tied to her magical ability and make it feel like her hands are broken/breaking. This way the punishment is even worse because she's otherwise physically ok but knows for a fact that she can't cast her magic. If there's magic in the world, there's no reason why someone can't use magic to inflict a punishment in that manner. And it's a punishment, not a disability, and she knows it because she can almost touch it but can't. And by having it just out of reach in this manner sets up a good conflict when she really has to use it and has to fight through the pain/punishment to do so. And each time she tried to use her magic but failed in the past made the pain that much worse. Psychological trauma is just as painful/conflicting as physical trauma.

09-26-2009, 12:18 AM
Strokes and other brain injuries can leave people incapable of writing.

09-26-2009, 12:25 AM
Could be as simple as a spell with a "disconnect". She can draw them all day long, but they hold no power. They are just symbols on parchment or stone. Her magic is stuck inside a cell in her mind. Behind a wall that won't let it reach her hands.

09-26-2009, 12:27 AM
If her nemesis uses magic to stop her, why not have him constrict her tendons, forming her hands into gnarled fists. She'd have trouble using a fork, but they weren't used in medieval times anyway. After she's free, she can find someone to draw the rune for her, to undo the spell.

09-26-2009, 12:32 AM
Cut the tendons at the wrist

Might work if there's no repair work (magical, if at all, i'd think if this is medieval) but even if they've been severed, movement isn't impossible.

Neurology is one path to take, Oliver Sacks gives interesting accounts that might be of use.

09-26-2009, 12:34 AM
Arthritis, which effects her only when she tries to draw runes He hands curl up and she feels a lot of pain.

09-26-2009, 03:44 AM
I like what Dirtsider said. :)

09-27-2009, 05:54 AM
I'd go with the brain-damage. If the setting is the usual low-literacy medieval fantasy, being unable to read or write won't affect her day-to-day life as much as crippling arthritis. As an alternative, I'd go with the 'magical disconnect', how terrible for her to be frantically drawing runes and knowing that they're just impotent little scribbles.

Rolling Thunder
09-27-2009, 06:06 AM
You could have her tormentor burn symbols or tattoos onto her wrists or the back of her hands that work like magical handcuffs.

09-27-2009, 09:39 PM
I think what williebee said was perfect - simple let the runes have no meaning/magic for her. Imagine the frustration of continuously trying but failing - it would drive you nuts (hmmm sort of like being a writer lol)

Smiling Ted
09-28-2009, 05:59 AM
Strokes and other brain injuries can leave people incapable of writing.

Kurtz is on the right track.
A neurological inability to write is called "agraphia."
This is terrific because she'll be limited in more ways than her runes...and because there are case histories out there with symptoms and strategies that will make your story more solid.
Oliver Sacks *is* a good place to start.

09-30-2009, 04:15 AM
Thanks so much for your comments, everyone. You've been incredibly helpful. My heroes. :LilLove: