1. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Could use an ear (or an eye)

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Lea`Brooks, Oct 18, 2015.

    My current WIP is a fantasy. I'm hesitant to call it a "high" fantasy, because I'm not entirely sure what that means.. :p Anyway. I took some time away from it due to illness, vacation, then moving. Now that I'm moved, I'm getting back into the swing of things. But as I reviewed my progress, I started to doubt some things.

    I'm not sure some of my ideas work as well as I originally thought they would. There are also some things I thought about adding that may be interesting, but I don't know if it will be too cliche or not.

    I was wanting to bounce the ideas off of someone, but in private. There's too much that would have to be explained, and I don't think anyone would read it all on a thread. :p So if anyone is willing to give me a hand, please shoot me a private message. I know it'd really help me get back on track.
     
  2. Inks
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    High fantasy is typically defined as fantasy set in its own fictional and internally consistent world. I could give it a check, but doing so on the forum might be best since a diverse range of opinions is more helpful than any single response. Fair warning though, I am a bit of an oddball on some things when it comes to fantasy works.
     
  3. Lea`Brooks
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    I thought doing it in private would be easier because it's an incredibly long post, and I thought it might deter people from wanting to help. :p But I'll post it here. It's mostly backstory, less plot, so I'll start from the beginning and post my issues at the end.

    There are three gods, yet to be named. Life, Death, and Spirit. They function like rock-paper-scissors. Each one defeats another. Spirit defeats death, death defeats life, life defeats spirit. They also require balance. If one gets too strong, it can drain the strength from the other two. A long time before my story starts, the world started becoming more harsh. Illnesses, murder, etc. So many people started dying that the Death God came too strong. The Spirit God was receiving too many souls, unable to place them into bodies fast enough to keep up. So then the Life Goddess didn't have as many living beings. This caused Life and Spirit to become weak and Death to become very strong. His very presence killed the living things around him, leaving the others no choice but to entrap Death to restore balance. They trapped him in a crystal then buried him underground. He was strong enough to continue to rule over death, but not so strong as to disrupt the balance, which was quickly restored.

    There are three types of magic in my world, one for each God. Life magic users can heal living things, create out of thin air, repair damaged things, and throw "energy balls," for lack of a better term. Death magic users can destroy, infect, and kill, as well as throw energy balls. Spirit users are the most powerful. They can read the past and possible future, communicate with spirits, raise the dead (by controlling spirits), and throw their own type of energy balls. Magic in my world is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. But if you go days, weeks, months without using it, it becomes that much harder to perfect. There is a semi-secret sect for each type of magic.

    The spirit sect is a mystery to everyone. Since their magic is so powerful, they often go into hiding to avoid being manipulated or forced to doing things they don't want to do. But the death and life sects are fairly well known. The death sect somehow figured out that the Death God had been buried and decided to free him. The life sect decided to help (get to that in my issues). Once the Death God was raised, the Shard appeared -- a giant purple crystal (think amethyst) with the Death God trapped inside (though he isn't visible). No one other than the death and life sects know why this crystal appeared or what it is.

    The Shard immediately starts killing the land around it. Grass, flowers, trees, everything starts dying. Shortly after, the animals start getting infected by it too, something I only refer to as the sickness. They lose their hair, get weird rashes on their skin, and are constantly in pain. They often lash out in fear at the people trying to help them, resulting in injuries. Eventually, people catch the sickness with the same symptoms. During the spread of the sickness, magic strength starts to dwindle, until the use of it disappears all together.

    My MC's father was a member of the life sect. Once the Shard was raised, he realized they'd made a mistake and urged the life sect to destroy it or put it back underground where it belongs. They refused, so he sought out the spirit sect and urged them to intervene (since their magic defeats death magic). They wanted to know exactly what the life sect was up to, so they sent one of their own to infiltrate the life sect and spy on their plans. My MC's father marries this spy to make it easier to bring her inside. Eventually, they fall in love and have my MC, Seren.

    The life sect finally realizes their mistake and decide to hide their involvement in raising the Shard. They disappear to another country, much to the dismay of locals, and leave my MC and her parents behind to monitor the Shard. They also keep in contact with the death sect to work together as problems arise.

    The sickness from the Shard spreads across the world. Food becomes scarce, livestock dies, the people lose hope. Seren's mother dies from the sickness when she is very young. Her father raises her, then catches the sickness himself when she is in her tween years. Instead of forcing her to care for him and watch him suffer, he leaves and places her and their farm in the care of their neighbors.

    Eventually, to make it short, Seren becomes queen, and it falls to her to destroy the Shard, which she does, unknowingly releasing the Death God.


    That's the gist. The issues:

    Issue 1: I haven't figured out a great way to explain why the Life and Spirit Gods don't intervene this time to trap the Death God again, even though they did it the first time. I had a couple ideas, but my husband (who is the person I bounce my ideas off of) didn't like either. The first idea was that the Life and Spirit Gods had a child together, who is unknown to all mortals. She somehow sacrificed herself by being buried with the Death God, helping to restrain his power. So when he is released, she is released with him. She'll then have to do whatever she did the first time to return him to the ground. The second idea was that a specific mortal had to sacrifice themself to trap the Death God. Then I could have him be released and Seren would have to sacrifice herself to bury him once again. But I'm not confident about either of those ideas.

    Issue 2: I want the life and death magic users to seem equal, with the spirit users being superior. But I worry my death users are too bland. They also don't have a physical form to control like the other two. Life has living things. Spirit obviously has spirits. Death can't have the dead, because the dead turn into spirits. So what could they have?

    Issue 3: I can't decide on a proper reason to have the life sect help the death sect. I thought maybe they were just curious, but if they were, once they realize it was the Death God, they would've tried to bury him instead of release him. So maybe they just think it's wrong to restrain the Death God so they want to free him, but I'm not sure that's a solid reason either.

    Issue 4: I thought about having Seren's father train her before his death. He knows that if the life sect finds out he's working against him, they'll try to kill him and anyone he told. So he keeps it quiet, training Seren in hand-to-hand and magical combat so she'll be prepared to fight the life sect or the Death God, without telling her that's why. He'll also tell her stories about the spirit sect as if they are myths and legends, leaving her clues as to how to find them when the time comes. But I was worried this would be too cliched. Seen as a "chosen one" type of thing. I thought it would make an interesting character aspect for Seren later though. She'd either resent her father for everything he made her do, causing her to rebel against structure and combat.. Or she'd embrace it and constantly pushing herself to meet his expectations of her.


    That's all I can think of right now. If you have any other questions or concerns besides the ones I laid out, I'd be happy to hear them.

    Thanks so much!
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2015
  4. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    1) perhaps there are particular rules, which Death hasn't technically violated. Life and Spirit have to go about things in a much more circumspect way to achieve their goal.

    2) rather than just death, perhaps they can deconstruct matter. Life builds, death destroys. Then, there's also necromancy--turning dead people into meat robots.

    3) things have to die for others to live. That's nature.

    4) maybe instead of her father, it's a spirit who teaches her. The spirit of an old spirit mage.

    A couple of other things:
    I think your life/death dichotomy might be too limiting. Nature is as much about death as it is life. Perhaps order and chaos? Order mages construct, repair, and control, all to follow a given idea of how things should be. Chaos mages use destruction, entropy and decay, but also imagination and freedom. While spirit mages are the balance point between them. They are intellect and emotion combined.
    Also, watch that the shard doesn't read too much like a Dark Crystal knockoff.
     
  5. Lea`Brooks
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    1: I could work with that.. Because in the first book, Death isn't even actually a character yet. And I definitely didn't want the process of imprisoning him to be easy, so that could take me into the sequel nicely.

    2: I'm surprised I never thought of necromancy.. I feel foolish now. lol

    3: That's true too. Maybe they think that by Death being imprisoned, it is hindering the world of functioning naturally, when instead his imprisonment is what's keeping the balance... Interesting.

    4: Only spirit users are able to communicate with spirits. And while Seren is a spirit user, that's something I want to keep a mystery until much later. Her magic is the key to destroying the Shard, and much of the book is about how to destroy it. If she knows right away that she's a spirit user, it'll take a lot of that away. So unfortunately, I don't think that idea will work. :(

    I'm only referring to them as life and death for simplicity's sake. I'm going to come up with actual names for them that won't relate specifically to life or death or anything. Just haven't done it yet. :p

    I've never seen the Dark Crystal.. What in particular should I avoid? I looked at the Wikipedia page for it, but they seemed quite different, except for maybe the color, which is easy to change.


    Thanks for the input! :)
     
  6. Inks
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    My responses.
    Issue 1: I haven't figured out a great way to explain why the Life and Spirit Gods don't intervene this time to trap the Death God again, even though they did it the first time.
    *Perhaps both decided that trapping the Death God was a cruel, but necessary action that they are not keen on repeating. Perhaps the way of interacting or being in proximity causes havoc - they are concerned with balance instead of malice. Another way might be possible, and they have not reached a breaking point where repeating the past is required. If anything, they would hesitate to repeat and entrap the Death God again.

    Issue 2: I want the life and death magic users to seem equal, with the spirit users being superior. But I worry my death users are too bland. They also don't have a physical form to control like the other two. Life has living things. Spirit obviously has spirits. Death can't have the dead, because the dead turn into spirits. So what could they have?

    Death represents freedom in many respects - the ability to free those from endless suffering and wash away the sin of the body. They might be best represented by the ability to ethically cull animals for farming and have connections to the processing of animals and their hides. Their place could be one of immense and benign service - and are able to prevent tragedies by the careful and measured application of execution.

    They might also be able to detect certain infections that could kill entire herds and cause disease in persons - they would be on par with Life users because they can detect and selectively remove the problems before it spreads. A Life user might be able to detect it, but this could be a specialty of Death users.


    Issue 3:
    I can't decide on a proper reason to have the life sect help the death sect.

    If balance is essential, the Life sect would be working with the Death sect to try and reign in the exchange system and prevent it from becoming lopsided again. If people are able to sense and understand the system then there is no need for them to be natural enemies when it comes to the actual fate of the world. The Death Sect will be acutely aware that the entire system could break down if left unchecked - they might even beg for assistance.

    Issue 4: Instead of your issue - if he is aware of the Spirit Sect then perhaps he would warn her that they are dangerous as well? The Spirit Sect might be far more powerful by channeling the excess souls and allowing them to draw upon more raw power than they otherwise would be able to. Knowing that they are strong against the Death God and their limitation would be on the balance of Life. The natural bottleneck is something that they might want to rectify when it becomes clear that a lopsided balance will undo the system.

    Perhaps the fate of a Spirit user is that they use up themselves as part of their magics - a Spirit user may end up extinguishing their entire existence if not careful. Spirit users may not want to be known because they will/might be pushed to sacrifice themselves as part of the costs of their magic.

    Just some thoughts.
     
  7. Ivana
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    I was thinking that the answer to your issues number 1 and 3 could be the following: The one who sacrifices himself in order to trap the Death God is the Life God himself. The only way to trap the God of Death and keep him there is to also trap the God of Life. That would also explain why life sect would be willing to help release them both. Or maybe because these two are restrained, and weak, the Spirit God would become too strong (and arrogant). Just an idea :)
     
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  8. Lea`Brooks
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    1: I could possibly make that work... Then that would be something Seren would have to figure out instead of just relying on someone else to take care of it.

    2: That's a different aspect I hadn't considered. Just because my death is more sinister in nature doesn't been all death users have to use it for ill... It could be fun to have them detect and remove illnesses.

    3: That's another thing I've considered, that they are just trying to maintain the balance. But what they don't realize is that by releasing Death, they are messing up the balance even more.

    4: Part of the reason spirit users are so rare is because of their strength (keeping the balance and whatnot). Could be fun to have them burn themselves out with their magic though. I'll have to look into it!

    Thank you! :D

    Yes, this was my original idea, but it unfortunately just created more problems than solutions. Plus, now that I'm thinking about it, I was hesitant to have a God sacrifice themself to trap Death, because then what's the point of Seren? I remember that I wanted her to okay an integral role in trapping him again, so I'll have to look into more. Thanks though!

    This book is hard... :meh: lol
     
  9. ManOrAstroMan
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    Question: are people still dying while Death is trapped?
     
  10. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes. His strength is lessened just enough that the world above can function normally.
     
  11. stampman
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    I'm free to listen (er, read)
     
  12. Lea`Brooks
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    I posted my issues above. :D Quoted here:

     
  13. Inks
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    To highlight point 2 from before - Death users could kill vermin with special magic, thereby preventing the spread of disease. Perhaps they can effectively kill plants and other things infected with various diseases - or even just the toxic elements with their ability. You might have to play with it, but such powers of decay would be excellent for leather-workers, culinarians, doctors, and perhaps even on the battlefield.

    The simplicity of your system is giving me problems - that is the main issue for me in making sense of it. The structural breakdown seems illogical for it does not owe to ideology in a sensible way to me. I do not understand how these groups would not splinter into sub-divisions that are united only by their skill class.
     
  14. jannert
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    So many world mythologies involve seeking 'balance' between light and dark, day and night, life and death, good and evil. And many of the mythological stories center around events that upset these balances. It looks as if you've taken this on, big time.

    I did have one important question as I read through your very thorough description of your world-building. How much of this is your actual story? In other words, do you intend to start the story with the entities in opposition, putting death in a crystal, etc?

    I kind of think that might be a mistake. I'd start with the human element. With Seren. She is our way in to this mythology/religion/worldview. I'd start with HER story and let the background unfold as needed.

    What is her world like? Let us learn, along with her, all this history and mythology. High fantasy deals with 'big' elements, but the best of these books don't stray too far away from what is real and understandable. The best of these books start small.

    Think LOTR. Leaving aside that grandiose prologue that began the movie (NOT the book, interestingly) the movie began with human-like hobbits having a party, and meeting a magician who was just a friendly old man. All the grandiose stuff was background, and throughout the unfolding of the story and the movie, we watched things happen via the characters themselves. Contrast LOTR with The Silmarillion (which was never meant to be published, but was a series of notes written by Tolkien to keep his story 'straight') and you'll see what I mean. Don't write a Silmarillion. That was deadly DEADLY dull, and of ultimate interest only to Tolkien completists. If he had released that book first, it would have died the death.

    I realise I'm evading your questions about how your mythology should be structured. That's deliberate on my part, because these are issues you need to come to terms with yourself. If you start writing Seren's story as up close as possible, the ideas you need may well strike you in the process. I'd start with her. As a girl, as a young woman ...wherever you see her personality strongest. A good idea is to begin your story at the cusp of change. In other words, the moment JUST BEFORE her life takes a turn from the ordinary. Let us see what her life is like before these changes happen, hint at the changes to come, and dig in.
     
  15. Lea`Brooks
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    Oh definitely! That's all just backstory. It starts with Seren, around age 18, before she becomes queen (that's a whole different subject :p). It falls on her to destroy the Shard, so the entire first book is about her magical training, trying to change the way her advisers function, and seeking aid from other nearby countries. I barely even mention anything I've listed here in the first book. It's only speculated that the Shard is the Death God at about chapter 35 of 40, and once the Shard is destroyed, he just dissolves into smoke and vanishes. So you never even see him. Everything else comes in the second book, possibly the third if I have enough content to fill it.

    I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at.. Sorry. :meh: But if I read your last line correctly, you think people would naturally group together based on how strong their magic is? If so, that won't be an issue in my story because all magic is gone. The Shard's appearance made magic disappear, so even the strongest are unable to use the simplest magic. There are other countries untouched by the sickness though, and there is a sort of hierarchy system that developed. Those with the strongest magic are considered upper class, and those with less magic are lower class. Is that what you mean?
     
  16. Inks
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    Sorry, Lea. I really do not know how to explain it better, but I will try.

    Let's say - for sake of the argument - Death users are spread out throughout the world, do they all hold the same tenets? Do they have different views on the application and use of their magic? If the ability to use a type of magic is not defined by choice - then what about the individual's feelings? Can an individual chose to limit their services or is there a certain society which accepts and governs the sects? Is adherence to certain codes required or enforced?

    The whole Life, Death, Spirit system is sort of like a weird rock, paper, scissors thing to me. I do not like the thought of Death users being the stereotypical black mage, but you really have not provided much insight into how society works. Or why the Life sect would resort to killing.
     
  17. Lea`Brooks
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    No.

    Yes.

    Yes, they can limit their services, which is what the spirit users do. They don't advertise their magic because they often don't want to use it for personal gain.

    The sects are private groups that don't allow just anyone to join. They're like a club, so not every life user is a member of the life sect.

    Laws still apply to every magic user, so killing is illegal, no matter how it's done. In fact, most of the things death users can do are illegal, which is why I asked if they were too boring.

    I did say in my original explanation that it was a rock-paper-scissors system. I specifically built it that way. Life is all about balance. There can't be good without evil, darkness without light. And since life is also a circle, represented by living, dying, and the afterlife, I wanted to use that as well.

    Not all death magic users are bad -- but everyone in the death sect is. One of my regular characters is a death magic user, but there's nothing evil about him. Not all life users are good -- in fact, the life sect turns mostly bad because they are trying to hide their involvement in raising the Shard. Their magic isn't what defines them. They are people, just like non-magical beings, who can make their own decisions.

    And I mentioned in my issues that I was struggling to come up with a good reason for why the life sect got involved with the death sect in the first place. I had a few ideas, but I didn't know if they'd be believable or which would work best. I think I've figured that out now though.

    Again, what magic people are born with does not dictate their character. They make their own way.
     
  18. Inks
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    That was I was trying to get at - I do not have enough information, but possible gaps in logic existed for me - so I really could not figure out what direction you were taking. When down to "good/evil" I simply cannot really make any in roads into these labels in a meaningful way - by most definitions I would be far within the "evil" realm because I have spats where I am downright malicious for fun. So I think that my limit of usefulness has been reached here.

    Please us give names to the sects that differentiate them from their magic type - internal conflicts between mages of the same type are fairly common. Years back, me and a like-minded friend ended up drifting apart even within a very niche sub-culture because of ideological differences. Power struggles are common - humanity is a warring species after all.
     
  19. GuardianWynn
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    To issue two I got one.

    Non-living material. Like dirt and stuff. lol it isn't alive and it isn't a spirit. :D lol
     
  20. Lady Marmalade
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    Issue #1: Maybe they're not as powerful as they were before when they first banished the Death God into the ground. It could've taken a lot of power in order to do that and several years to develop that amount of power again, that's why the Gods don't just banish each other on a lark since it takes up so much of their power. When he's released maybe they can't do away with him again because they just don't have the power to do so at the moment and it takes a billion and five years to recharge their energy.

    Issue #2: Zombies? That was the first thing that popped into my head, and that would be awesome. You could argue that zombies take up the "spirit" category but I'd disagree since zombies don't have souls, they're just alive but they don't have feelings, dreams, empathy, or anything that makes up what a spirit is. Plus they embody "illness" which is an element of Death magic.

    Issue #3: Well, maybe the Life sect isn't all that goody goody afterall? What if they knew exactly what they were doing and got some sort of benefit out of releasing the Death God? Maybe the world has gotten boring without the Death God causing chaos, maybe the Life sect is fading out of obscurity because people don't need them anymore, and maybe their lives have grown meaningless without an opposing force to wreck havoc on the world and they want to become great like they used to be in the past. Maybe they wanted to be heroes again, but instead became villains by releasing the Death God. To prove their worth to the public they tried to fight the Death God and be praised for their heroic actions like before but they realized that they were too weak to defeat him and were completely annihilated by a force they couldn't comprehend. Maybe the only true hero left in the world is a girl who has a chance to become even greater than the Life sect ever was. Maybe Seren is the only hope of defeating the Death God to restore balance once again.

    Issue #4: It's good to be aware of cliches, but you can't let them control your story. If you have a good idea then go with it, but make sure to add something to spice it up or subvert the trope. As far as I'm concerned everything has been done before, what matters most is how you tell a story and what kind of ingredients you choose to make your masterpiece.

    Sorry if I'm way off base here but I hope this helps, and I wish you the best of luck in your writing. :agreed:
     
  21. Lea`Brooks
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    That's... actually brilliant. lol All three of them, but I especially like the third. It's an angle I hadn't thought of before. Thank you so much! :D
     
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  22. Lady Marmalade
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    Brilliant? Dawwh, stop I'm blushing :bigtongue:
    You just keep on going with your story, I really like the ideas behind it so far so don't give up.
    And, thank you for making my day ;)
     
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