Sunday, June 9, 2013

Idea Garage Sale: The Item of Doom

So you're in a perfectly ordinary pleasant public park and you get a sudden intense sense of doom and despair. You find an object that seems, by experimentation (!) to be the source.

What does that mean?

In the real world of individual experience, this sort of thing generally means nothing at all. One day the object's there, giving off an Atmosphere of Dread; another day, it's not. Somebody knows more; but it's entirely possible that this person doesn't even know about the Atmosphere of Dread.

The object might have been part of an attempt at a curse ritual; either as part of an actual magical practice (and don't think for a moment that no one is attempting to practice magic in South Texas!) or as an emotional release mechanism. Or it might be part of a game, either a child's make believe or a LARP. It looks like a good place for a LARP, though if you go to a park regularly you'd probably notice if it's often used by people in costume throwing spell packets at each other and hitting each other with boffer swords. In which case, the feeling of dread comes, not from the object, but from the observer; which puts an entirely different spin on events and this is the point at which "storymaking mode" detaches entirely from reality, if we are wise. It is not our business to speculate about the real person who wrote the post, but to start building a character who can be in a story, borrowing this piece of experience as a launching pad.

I've always been interested in the people on the fringes of the story; both in the story, and in real life. If the plot of a fantasy novel involves a storm called up by magic in the real world, I wonder how it's affecting the people who aren't in the story; the neighbors, the people passing through, the mailman trying to deliver the mail in preternatural darkness full of howling storm monsters. And when a storm comes up unexpectedly or has unusual features, a part of my mind wonders who summoned it up, and why, and what dramatic events the people the story are about are engaged in, and in what ways I might intersect with and get drawn into the plot.

What if that thing was a curse object, and in the interim between visits, either the curser repented, or the victim located and destroyed it?

What if, before they could do so, it were carried away?

Whose story is it? That's the first question. Answer that, and it will affect how the magic of the curse works; why the curse was cast; and what the results are. My own inclination is to have an innocent bystander carry it away and make the spell go all wonky, so that the closed circuit of the person who cast the curse and the victim of the curse is opened, and magic begins to ricochet around the neighborhood; and to mount the story on a tripod of viewpoint character - curser, victim, and innocent bystander.

But that's far from the only way to handle it.

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