Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #2-13: Things From Beyond

Previously there has been some discussion of Summoning with a tiny bit about creatures not native to the regular, normal world, or to reality even on occasion. Not all of them only come when summoned by the men and women of magic mastery. A small few are summoned by the uninitiated or neophyte to the ways of the greater possibilities of the full spectrum of reality. Some of these beings find their own way into the mundane world. They can do so under more than one method. They can use magic spells. They can also have innate magical abilities to pass through the veils from one existence to another. Other beings already in the normal world may summon more of their brethren or minions or contemporaries of another species.

A spell caster might use some kind of portal to deliver the desired being or beings to be summoned to him or her, rather than simply force individuals to appear within a summoning circle. Doing this, other unwanted visitors may come calling. Such portals can be magnets for non-corporeal entities on either side of the portal. Malevolent forces can hitch a ride on or within a desired being. Unattended portals let anything through. They might be unattended because a cranky visitor has killed the magic practitioner, or the portal was incorrectly closed, or the spot where the portal appeared has become a weak spot in the fabric of the universe and there will be periodic bleed through from other places. It is through such weak spots that other beings may make their own arrivals.

A weak spot might not be the only precipitator to an otherworldly being crossing the veil of space and time. Many creatures that find themselves suddenly in a strange reality--or come one purpose--are drawn irresistibly by the results of normal if extreme human interactions. Scenes of great violence are one such example. Another is great tragedy and more importantly the intense sorrow that accompanies it. Additionally any of the traditional seven sins in great concentration may be sufficient incentive or catalyst for the appearance of an unnatural being. Some of these creatures may even be born, at least in physical form, as a result of these emanations colliding with other specific conditions such as weak spots, celestial alignments, and such.

Mood: edgy.
Music: Abduction by Bruce Dickinson and Keeper of the Seven Keys by Helloween.

Bruce Dickinson: Tyranny of Souls
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Helloween: Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part 2

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #2-12: Too Doe Nakotae

To life immortal. Necromancy need not only be relegated to the raising of zombies for the continuation of a body. Often enough this dark school of magic is used in the efforts of seeking immortality. The results of necromantic longevity rituals tend to break into two different categories. The first results in a form of vampirism. The second results in a type of revenant. Where horror magic is concerned vampires are not always created from one descendant, or by some kind of virus, unless of course the virus was created by magic. Necromantic vampires also do not necessarily need to feed on blood or on flesh. Some feed on the spirit or essence of their victims. Some feed on emotions, usually with fear being the best tasting if not actually most nutritious emotional food.

When a Necromancer extends his life as a revenant--whether corporeal or not--he does not require exotic ‘foods’ and may not require any sustenance. Such living dead magicians continue to exist by will alone or driven by hatred and other strong emotions, though love may keep him going, which isn’t very horrific unless his undying form is rotted or rotting. A Lich is created when the Necromancer gains his immortality at the cost of continuing to exist in a dried husk of a body or a skeleton. The ritual to turn the Necromancer into a Lich requires storing his spirit in some kind of object that is kept safe from harm, for should the spirit be released the Necromancer can then die. This shares some semblance of the Voodoo ritual where an enslaved person’s intellect is kept in a special jar.

Necromancy is not the only path to immortality. The ultimate goal of alchemy is to discover the secret to ever lasting life. This immortality often includes remaining young and vital for the entirety of their extended life. The act of extending ones life by bathing in or feeding on blood can be either necromantic or alchemical depending upon how things are done. Certainly if a magician is extracting bodily fluids--blood, adrenal secretions, etc--and changing them somehow, concentrating them, then this is alchemical magic. The item or material known as the Philosopher’s Stone is needed for these alchemists to achieve their true immortality. This pinnacle of alchemy transmutes the body so that death never comes and is indeed not necessary.

Music: Black Rose Immortal by Opeth and Who Wants to Live Forever by Queen.

Opeth: Morningrise
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Queen: A Kind of Magic

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #2-11: *Dun-dun* Zombie Love

The last article merely touched upon the zombies of horror’s voodoo lore. As stated those zombies tend more toward the living that are ensorcelled, or conversely, those held just away from the fringe of death. That said, there is nothing stopping any particular zombie from being in rough shape, with unhealed wounds, if not actual rotting flesh. Certainly if they are disconnected from select senses and awareness of being, then they may be grievously wounded and still carry on as long as their limbs remain intact enough. The biggest problem with these kinds of zombies as slaves though is that eventually they will collapse. They are still subject to most of the rules of physiology such as the need for rest and for food. That is why necromancers like to make real zombies, living dead zombies.

The living dead have no need to rest. They have no need to eat. This means that they can work ceaselessly. They do not feel pain. A lot of the time they do not retain any kind of survival instinct; though as with Romeroan ghouls, in some instances they do inexplicable retain a fear of fire. At the other end of the scale, the living dead and their kin, such as walking skeletons, may not need even flesh on their bones, and may not need their sensory organs (eyes and ears) to still be able to sense the world around them and operate within it. This means that the intelligence of the necromancer’s dead creations can have varying levels of intelligence despite their physical makeup. This leads to the two different routes that the necromancer can take in making and using zombies.

Necromancers can animate the dead with simple spells and control them like puppets to do their bidding. These zombies have no intelligence whatsoever, fear nothing, and do not need anything more the limbs necessary to do their tasks--and could even be just zombie limbs. In the alternative, necromancers can raise the dead to a semblance of life via rituals. These are the zombies that can be actually almost smart, depending upon the freshness of corpse involved in the creation of the zombie, or the strength of the ritual. That is of course unless the necromancer is binding spirits, life echoes, or incorporeal supernatural creatures to his corpses for the purposes of making a kind of greater zombie. This of course involves the other aspect for which necromancers are known.

Mood: harried.
Music: The Scorpion Sleeps by Rob Zombie and Zombie by The Cranberries.

Rob Zombie: Educated Horses
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The Cranberries: The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Cranberries

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #2-10: Who Do? You Do.

Any discussion of magic in a horror setting must eventually set upon the one kind of magic that is intrinsically horrific. This particular type of magic isn’t its own school, but more of a subset. It is a small discipline within the framework of invocation magic. This kind of magic is commonly known as Voodoo, which shouldn’t be confused with the religion commonly known as Santeria or other real voodoo beliefs in the real world. Horror voodoo works within a few different veins. Four examples include spirit mounting, curses, voodoo dolls, and zombies. With the exception of spirit mounting voodoo is particularly physical component oriented as far as the casting of spells go. Parts of it also slip into the school of necromancy and others the realm of psychic ability

Spirit mounting is essentially a person allows a spirit to possess them. The spirits range from the possessive’s ancestors, to their gods. This is not very horror oriented, due to the willingness of the possessed, and the goodness of the spirits that are called. Spirit mounting is in line with the Mediumship psychic ability. Alternatively it may be linked to necromancy when they are human spirits. Curses can similarly be more akin to psychic-styled attacks depending on the focus. Symptoms of a plague or disease based curse may be psychosomatic, as can curses of bad luck. They can also be frighteningly real and defy logic and modern medicine. A psychological curse may be beaten by force of will, magic cannot. You don’t need to believe in magic/the supernatural, it believes in you.

Voodoo dolls, referred to as poppets rather than puppets, are common to magic in horror. They require bits and pieces of the person to be affected to be a part of the doll or otherwise attached to it somehow. They were a part of some mystical traditions prior to the creation of voodoo--some tribal, others European. A voodoo doll is always a focus upon which spells are cast, even if such further rituals besides its creation only require concentration and puncturing of the doll with sharp objects or burning it with hot irons. Then there are the zombies of voodoo, which generally are not actually walking corpses, but instead, people held in a state between life and death. Or they may just be the living dominated by magic. Voodoo zombies are always created with the use of mystical powders.

Mood: exhausted.
Music: Wake The Dead by Alice Cooper and Twist My Sister by Murderdolls.

Alice Cooper: Along Came A Spider
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Murderdolls: Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls

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