Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #2-2: No Porcine Blemishes Here

There are a number of choices when dealing with schools of magic in a horror setting. The options start with the author of the setting and move from there to the recipients of the magical skills, the characters, whether they be novel or movie character's or the characters played in a role-playing game. As previously mentioned there are some sticking points or ways in which there is some fundamental semantic confusion about where the ways in which magic is cast ends and the so-called schools of magic begin. Setting those aside, some solid examples of the kind of magic suitable for a horrific setting include Invocation, Conjuration, Summoning, Necromancy, and Alchemy or Alteration. Even among these there is some overlap and defining necessary.

For instance, Invocation is a loaded term with more than one avenue covered by its use as a name for a kind of magic. What the person is invoking can essentially be one of two things. The first is some tangible or discrete-unto-itself kind of entity or being whether it is a god or a devil, a spirit being, or the caster's ancestors. The second is to invoke just power, or the essence of magic itself, to perform the magical act. The division could be made that calling upon some being is Invocation, while calling upon energies is Evocation.

Likewise there is a connection between Conjuration and Summoning. Both involve making things appear. Conjuring something could lend itself to a physical result, or in only an intangible manifestation such a spirit depending on how those are defined. Summoning typically involves the bringing of a living creature, or some kind of being from some other level of existence, to the spell caster. Using that as an anchor, and casting aside the conjuring of spirits to the realm of the Necromancer, Conjuring should be the creation of materials and inanimate objects through the use of magic.

Necromancy--aside from conjuring, summoning, and forcing the appearance of spirits--covers such magical areas as the raising of zombies, binding spirits and entities, and gathering power from death. It is the darkest school of magic and prone to the worst atrocities committed in its pursuit. Desecration of the dead is a must, and eternal torment is their forte. In contrast to the creation of Conjuring, Alchemy is about altering existing things. The prime example of Alchemy is transmutation--turning one element into another, such as lead to gold. Alchemy basically is the chemistry of magic. It should cover magic powders, potions, ointments and anything of a direct physical nature. It would also cover the mystical arts of healing via draughts on through to converting emotional and spiritual energies.

Music: Thin Line Between Love and Hate by Iron Maiden and Ten Thousand Strong by Iced Earth.

Iron Maiden: Brave New World
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Iced Earth: Framing Armageddon - Something Wicked: Pt. 1

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