U is for Ultion


The Ethics of Magic Use

I’m so excited I got to pull from the Phrontistery for the A-Z Challenge again! This year’s word is ultion, which means revenge or vengeance. (Last time, it was X is for Xenial.)

The use of magic is often tied into the emotions of the one practicing it, and for good reason. It makes the story more immersive, and it ups the stakes of using magic, especially for a character who is struggling with something. And let’s be realistic—if a character isn’t having some sort of emotional struggle, you need to up the stakes of your story.

If magic is tied to the emotions (at times, even the decision to use or not use magic will be a very emotional one for your characters) then it’s worthwhile to look at if intense, negative emotions will influence how magic performs.

Some types of magic might rebound if the intention behind it doesn’t mesh. It might also become twisted, the outcome being a perversion of what it should have been. There’s also the option that the magic simply might not work.

Worldbuilding Exercises:

  • What types of magic in your world might be impacted by the emotions of the one performing it?
  • What is the most dangerous thing that might happen if someone uses magic with ill intentions, ignoring the intended outcome of the magic?
  • In your world, what is the story every magic expert tells their student to warn them from using magic with the wrong intentions? (Think along the lines of a moral tale like The Boy Who Cried Wolf.)

View 2019 A-Z Participant list here.

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