Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #4-2: Arcanis Visicius Domini

Most of the questions, suggestions, and considerations that were a part of devising the setting for a modern magical horror still apply in the horror fantasy setting. The fantasy setting conventions and norms provide extra help as well as disadvantages to crafting the horror of the setting. Even some magic that was discounted is back on the proverbial table. The disconnect that the fantasy genre has with the modern, rational world immediately opens up avenues of horror that would be unwieldy or impractical in the modern magical horror setting. That disconnect also negates the impact of breaking the rational, which is often a major factor in supernatural horrors. In its place is the horror of the inevitable, the persistent threat looming overhead, lurking in every corner.

Magic of any great power or import should be kept out of the hands of the protagonists. This can be achieved by the requirements of magic or by maintaining strict moral lines. Material components and magical knowledge availability is limited not only by the environment but also by the greed for power of the magical caste, the wizards. Magic is nothing more than power in the setting and power is always jealously guarded. Corrupting power and the mad grab for it will direct much of the morality of the spell casters or the magic most commonly used. Beyond that magic can divided into direct black and white moral lines because the fantasy setting is more accepting of such mythos rules. Black magic will have evil requirements as well as evil results.

At the level of specifics fireballs and lightning bolts called down from the sky are fair horror fantasy game. Curses and geasa of terrifying kinds and results can be wonderful plot underliners giving the story a real mythological feel. Geasa is the plural of geas--a kind of magical obligation or prohibition like a taboo. In some cases the person is incapable of breaking the geas because they’re magically compelled. In other cases there are dire consequences to breaking the geas. As a facet of the setting curse bringing and geas infliction lead to other considerations and implications from the level of daily life all the way up to politics. The ever-popular zombie has its fantasy counterpart but requires a different touch. A matter of scale comes into play for this and other magic.

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