Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #2-14: Of Good and Evil

The last section of the previous discussion about things from beyond presupposes that the morality of otherworldly creatures is evil. This is certainly advantageous to the creation of horror, but by no means is it a necessity. Inhuman beings can be starkly good or evil, or they can be more like humans and exist within the grey areas in between to the two. Likewise, horror also can have a distinct preponderance of evil in general. This goes beyond the usual narrative conflict of person versus person, or in many of these cases, person versus the supernatural. In the magical horror setting, more so than the psychic horror setting, the question of morality applies more directly to both the schools of magic as well as to the spells and rituals themselves.

Magic can be thought of as a force of super-nature--beyond nature as we understand it. If magic is such a thing then like gravity or magnetism it is neither inherently good nor evil. In such a framework the morality of magic, and of the spells cast using it, is entirely dependent upon the intent of the being bending the force to his, her, or its will. This need not be the way that magic is approached in a horror setting though. Magic can be something integral to the force of some being’s wills, which doesn’t change its moral dependency on the user. Alternatively magic can be directly a force of evil. It may be born of evil supernatural beings, or is an expression of chaos or entropy, or it may come about because evil is a distinct commodity or force all its own.

Magic need not be a singular force either. It is entirely possible to work with a world/setting view where there are two magical energies, good and evil energies. In such a case it is even more important to consider the power of setting up kinds of resonance between the energy being used, the modes and methods of the rituals, and the emotional state and intent of those harnessing the magic. A physical component such as a ritual sacrifice is then something more than just tapping into a battery. The sacrifice now imparts its qualities to more than just the formula of the spell; it infuses the entirety of the process. This in turn affects other parts of the setting. Following the theory that like attracts like leads to a need for some kind of balance, if only for the safety of the spell caster.

Mood: heavy.
Music: Power and the Glory by Twisted Sister and Children of the Damned by Iron Maiden.

Twisted Sister: You Can't Stop Rock and Roll
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Iron Maiden: Number of the Beast

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