Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #2-15: In All Things Balance, Or Not

The presupposition has been put forward that in a horrific magical setting there will be a moderate to great discrepancy in the quantity of evil versus that of good. This is especially true as it pertains to non-human beings. What has not been discussed yet is a matter of balance in the quality of power between good and evil, and to a lesser degree human and non-human. In the psychic horror setting there was frequent discussion about the balance of power. The power between the two moral sides was equal for the most part--there were no non-humans, negating that issue. Balance was something considered at practically every stage due to the great flexibility of the powers. This begs the following question. Why is there no talk of balance in the magical horror setting?

Magic is essentially an unbalancing thing. This is especially true of a world where the rules of science and physics hold sway. Since magic is an external force its limitations are not all that limited in terms of what it can accomplish. The actual limitations it has tend to be in knowledge, rather than power--though need not always be. For the sake of drama and conflict there are times of greater power upon which great miracles of light or darkness can be enacted, even when power is normally an issue. These high times of magic are used more often for evil. Good and beneficial acts mostly have low power requirements, or they are geared toward undoing evil magic. The horror nature of the setting also predicates that greater amounts of good energy are required to undo evil things.

The inclusion of non-human beings in a magic horror setting also needs to be inherently unbalanced overall. For them to be less powerful than humans, in the realms of magic specifically, puts them in a role as minion. This has its place, and numbers can make up for a lack of ability. When they are more powerful, such as when they are full-fledged devils, it puts them in the role of lead threat if not actually lead villain. These powerful positions call for them to be powerful, obviously, but beyond that can even require them to be a named individual. This means they are a renowned and specific creature, at least beyond the Earth. This renown on the surface may be as little as the being’s name appearing in an earthly magical tome, or that its name is whispered among those of power.

Mood: relaxed.
Music: Trouble by Material Issue and Lightning Strikes Twice by Iron Maiden.

Material Issue: International Pop Overthrow
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Iron Maiden: Virtual XI

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