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Michael Dracon
04-04-2007, 11:19 PM
For my novel I was thinking of using a killing spell to get rid of one of the bad guys. This spell needs 6 people to perform and normally is lethal to all six of them. I say 'normally' because I want my MCs to survive, at least most of them anyway. The spell is performed by three MCs and three side characters. One of each won't survive.


All good and well, but I started thinking about this some more. I've cheated the rules I've set by having my characters out-smart the ritual. I've also created an opportunity to use this spell again with less repercussion than it should have.

Am I going into dangerous territory here?

Sage
04-05-2007, 06:30 AM
Hmm... depends on how well it's handled. If the entire book is set-up with them planning to do this spell & the plan to sacrifice themselves in the process, I could see a great triumph moment in them discovering a way around it... and even then you'll have some people calling B.S. because you changed the rules.

It will be easier to get away with, though, if you make some other sacrifice from those that live.

Also, how do the audience & MCs know that the spell takes 6 people & that it will kill them (How do the originators of these spells come up with these requirements anyway, ne? "Let's try five. Nope. How about six? Oops, they all died. Write that part down." ;) )? If it's a story passed down, or a spell that's just rumored about, or based off a single use of it where it happened that all of them died, then the characters may just think that's how it works, & you may be able to hint to the reader that the deaths of all six may not be necessary.

LloydBrown
04-05-2007, 08:03 AM
And make it so that, afterward, they realize the two of them didn't have to die after all. It could have been one.

Sage
04-05-2007, 08:25 AM
And make it so that, afterward, they realize the two of them didn't have to die after all. It could have been one.
Ooh! :Thumbs:

Oddsocks
04-05-2007, 12:24 PM
It depends on the situation. If you've established some rule that the six have to die and then you've just thrown it away because it wasn't convenient, then it'll frustrate the reader. If, however a deviation from the 'normal' is accounted for in your magical system/the metaphysics of your world/something similar, it should be ok.

Michael Dracon
04-05-2007, 12:42 PM
Hmm... depends on how well it's handled. If the entire book is set-up with them planning to do this spell & the plan to sacrifice themselves in the process, I could see a great triumph moment in them discovering a way around it... and even then you'll have some people calling B.S. because you changed the rules.

It will be easier to get away with, though, if you make some other sacrifice from those that live.

Also, how do the audience & MCs know that the spell takes 6 people & that it will kill them (How do the originators of these spells come up with these requirements anyway, ne? "Let's try five. Nope. How about six? Oops, they all died. Write that part down." ;) )? If it's a story passed down, or a spell that's just rumored about, or based off a single use of it where it happened that all of them died, then the characters may just think that's how it works, & you may be able to hint to the reader that the deaths of all six may not be necessary.


There is 6 types of magic in my novel universe. This spell needs one caster of each type. In effect it's very similar to crossing the beams in the Ghostbusters movie. Early in the novel it is explained that combining different types of magic becomes increasingly more dangerous as you add in more types into a mix. Combining two is still pretty save, if a little unstable. Combining three is very unstable and is known to drive casters nuts in the past. This is the limit to which most casters are prepared to go. The name 'tripple hex' comes from casters using three types of magic to put a massive curse on someone or something. Combining four is dangerous and has been lethal for quite a few casters. Combining five is almost unheard of. Eventually they'll find out that combining all can produce the most potent results, but is a garanteed kill (well, almost anyway with the cheat) for all casters.

A large part of the novel is dedicated to them finding out the specifics of the spell and trying to find three willing casters to defeat the bad guy. All of this comes after them finding out that the bad guy in question is too potent in magic to be able to be beaten in any normal or standard magical method.

The way I'm currently setting it up the is that the diagrams used for the ritual will self destruct right after the ritual is finished. The force of that blast is powerful enough to whipe out a city block (the casters will cast it somewhere in a desert). One of the MCs will find out a way to take the diagrams with her to another realm at just the right moment. But she's a bit too slow, and a small explosion still occurs in the normal world. This will kill the person that goes to the other realm as well as one of the secondary characters. Others will have lasting results in the form of bad burn marks and a lost limb.

I'm also still trying to find a way for them to fend off any attacks during the ritual long enough for them to complete it. I want it to be a long ritual, just to add to it that it's a complex procedure. It's the only instant-kill spell in my novel universe that can be targetted at magic users, at least as far as the characters know (there is a few more out there, but they can only be used on normal people).




PS: Before someone asks: Teleporting and shielding does exist in my universe. But the former is too slow to escape the blast and shielding cannot be done with all types, so you can't make a shield strong enough to compete with the power of all six types of magic blasting you to pieces. I don't have any type of counter and/or anti-magic. I do have plans for introducing it as the 7th type of magic in another novel, if I ever manage to publish the first.

Also, the trick to go to another realm cannot be used to move all people there and leave the blast in the normal world, again because of speed issues. Taking the diagrams with you is already an innovative use of bringing along items with you to the other realm.

dclary
04-05-2007, 08:09 PM
I would say just remember the end of Ghostbusters.

"I thought crossing the streams was bad. You sad it was bad, Ray."

Sometimes you have to break the rules. These characters know it, but they also know they need to take a risk. Have them all expect to die, with no way of knowing that they can cheat it... But they get lucky... Or maybe the MC who dies absorbs the death energy herself, taking on 5 times more than a person should be able to... to spare her friends.

Michael Dracon
04-06-2007, 01:31 AM
I've been brainstorming a bit more and thought of the following scene:

The person capable of going to another realm will be able to bring just one person with her as part of the 'bring a few items along' rule of going into another realm directly (as opposed to opening a doorway, which would be too slow to cast in this situation).

After drawing straws they perform the ritual and when they finish she'll surprise the rest by coming up with the idea to bring the diagram with her instead of the person. I have now also planned for the remaining characters to summon her as a ghost and talk with her after this all happened. There she'll reveal that she came up with the idea while casting, but couldn't tell because she needed to continue chanting for the ritual to work out.


I just thought of this as well: Since the person who can go to the other realm is now gone there is also no possiblity for them to do this again unless they find another person capable of doing that (along with the remaining casters needed to form a group of 6 again at that time).


So I think I got it covered there. Or did I miss something?

Sage
04-07-2007, 12:17 AM
I like the solution. If you wanted to, you could probably get away with it without the ghost summoning. I'm sure the characters are smart enough to figure out that she left alone, & that since they aren't all dead, she must have taken the diagram too. You could show their shock at her sacrifice--going from one of two to live to the one (as far as she knew) to die. Personally, I think that kind of sacrifice makes the "cheat" of them being able to survive completely acceptable, & makes the scene very powerful.

Michael Dracon
04-07-2007, 12:59 AM
Yeah, I didn't want to do a 100% cheat and have them all survive. And killing secondary characters makes it cheap as well, in my opinion.

Two kills out of six seems to be the best balance in emotions. It's two people to kill one big bad guy. That makes is rather sad. But on the other hand you've still got more than half left, which is pretty good.

Alex Bravo
04-08-2007, 01:36 AM
This is just a thought, but if they know they are sacrificing themselves who will rule? I guess I feel like radicals who tell you to die for what they believe in but they send others to do it, like suicide bombers or Kamikaze pilots.

Could your MCs train others in the magic? But then, of course, you risk people not liking your MCs because they sacrifice others.

Or maybe before the ceremony, your MC changes his mind and realizes he wants to do it himself, not risk anyone else, but his trainee thinks the MC wants to steal his glory so the trainee breaks in during the ceremony and joins in, now there are seven (or more if you have more trainees that WANT the glory) so then the mandated six can die, as needed, and your MC, and others, can survive. Also, you'll be adding an interesting subplot between the trainees and the MCs.

Michael Dracon
04-08-2007, 02:17 AM
I completely understand your train of thought concerning teaching others to do the casting. There is a problem though caused by the rules I've set for learning magic. You cannot teach someone a type of magic you don't know yourself. You can only learn from someone who knows the type of magic or you can learn on your own. The ritual needs a caster from each of the 6 types, and between the 4 MCs they know 3. Finding 3 others is the easiest and fasted method available.

It is however most certainly possible to find others to do the casting instead of themselves. But that would mean finding 6 willing casters instead of 3. That and it would take away the whole self-sacrifice aspect of this story. The MCs, or at least 3 of the 4 are not like that. It would be an interesting side story though for the one to try and convince the others.

preyer
04-10-2007, 08:49 PM
my initial thought was much along alex's: 'get someone else to do it.' there's got to be some magick school around, eh? heh heh.

this sounds like one of those stories where magick systems are just too complex for me. i don't like magick explained all that much. oh, well, that's just me (i like magick to go awry sometimes, too).

it crossed my mind as i skimmed this: russian roulette. after making a deal with whatever deity controls that brand of magick, in exchange for two people dying it just takes, say, five years off everyone's life... but one still has to bite the big one.

so, the orb in the middle the gawd/daemon leaves behind fills with power as the spell is working, and periodically zaps the people, testing their strength, resolve and ability, sucking years away from them in the process, until, at last, it determines who's the overall weakest. naturally the most hated in the group is the strongest, but is poisoned to weaken them, thus making them the target. or something like that. it could happen in, oh, about fifty billion variations.

cool idea? yeah, i like it. the practicality of it? fairly slim. the usefulness as it relates to your story? somewhere hover around nil. still, you wanted an idea, thar she blow. (actually, you weren't asking for ideas.)

is it cheating? well, considering you set the rules, yeah, it's cheating. if you don't want but one person to have to die, why go into this whole side thing where they figure out ways to cheat the devil his due? unless, of course, that's a major point of the story, otherwise it seems like filler to take up space and show how clever they can be, which isn't a bad thing, how clever they can be, but i'd guess that at this point in the story we'd already have figured that one out, eh?

i guess my question is why is it so necessary to have two die and figure out a way to beat the system when you, as the rule setter, can just make it one person? i mean, it's not like you can't change the rules any way you want, lol. you sound kinda like you've written yourself into a corner and somehow feel as if you have to spend twenty pages writing your way out when you don't have to at all. from what i gather you've got ghosts returning from other realms to impart information and i'm wondering if all that's necessary? i want their deaths to be horrible as a result... this is how good wizards are made... a daemon's hand materializing from nowhere to rip them to shreds before dragging their screaming soul to hell. last thing i want is for one or two of them to faint and just quit breathing. bah! what is this, a kiddy story?

every time they get zapped, they should pee themselves. one should really get off on the feeling, too (hey, wizards are freaky people, right?). these guys should suffer for their sin of killing with the dark arts. suffer, burn, get knocked down and have to get back up while their hair is smoking, all the while still having to perform the spell while daemons laugh in the background for the soul food they're about to feast on, probably taunting the others in the meantime. 'you're going to die, you're going to die, you're going to die!' and all that.

*that* sounds cool to me. :) and, yeah, i'd be disappointed if no daemon grabbed one of the girl's rack. i mean, it's only fair that for taking someone's life these guys have to suffer all the humiliation and degradation they can in the process despite their 'pure' motives (and let's be honest, we're not exactly talking about 'harry potter' here). by the end, they drag themselves out of the chamber, tortured to the point where they don't even really care who got killed as long as it wasn't them. it's not as if the walls aren't sprayed with everyone's fair share of blood. such is the price of evil in the name of good, though, wouldn't you say?

or you could just have the main MC flat out lie to them and say it kills two when it only kills one just to test their devotion. that's a jerky thing to do, though. alternately, the spell kills however many people it kills who can't endure the process, be that none or all.

there's two ways to look at it: outright sacrifice, someone knowing it's them; and risk, everyone knowing it *could* be them. with sacrifice you effectively remove suspense, with risk you remove that long emotional goodbye (it's easy to see the previous scene where everyone is saying adios to the chosen 'victim.' you could have it both ways, where you have the person sacrificing themselves not be the person/people who die at all.)

you do understand that i could go all day long like this, don't you? lol.

preyer
04-10-2007, 08:57 PM
oh, the emotional impact of having two die. kill 'em but one if you really want to shock the hell out of your readers. otherwise, it depends, imo. two deaths to accomplish one kill? that's sounds too fair, especially for a bad guy at the level you seem to be talking about: i mean, magick that kills probably really like the dude ~ it might want four souls for the act. plus the survivors' first born. and part of their 401(k) (evil magick is greedy like that).