I’ve just finished playing Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II and reading A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. Both books tackle the idea of having blood magic, which gives me food for thought as I develop the seven main magical systems in my work.
Blood Magic as Evil
In Dragon Age, much of the conflict between Mages and Templars comes from the fact that Mage magic grants them access to the Fade. Blood magic, however, taps into one’s own power reserves in their blood or by others. It seems that most of the stigma against it comes from the oppressors in the form of the Templars and Circle of Mages. Uses blood magic in and of itself does not present danger. It’s the implications of being a blood mage that seems to be the biggest problem. As with most power, abilities can corrupt and the scary blood mages and maleficarum use it to sacrifice and manipulate others.
Blood Magic as Commonality
By contrast, in the Shade of Magic series, blood magic seems to be a means of enhancing magical powers and a way to travel between worlds. Kell, the Antari, uses his blood to open up doors among the three reachable Londons. The inherent danger here is that he uses his own blood in order to enhance his magic. This act poses its own danger, since, you know, the red goop is supposed to
Blood Magic, an Application
In my works, I decided that there needs to be separation of church and state, which for me means separating blood drawn from oneself and blood drawn from others. I’ve already made a distinction between those who can use present elemental magics and those who can create it using magical energy. Nuances are important when drawing the rules of worlds in a work. It helps create internal consistent but also acts as a power-check to prevent yourself from accidentally creating a god-character. Even the greatest have to fall one day and giving your readers a framework to figure out where the weaknesses happen helps draw engagement and makes crucial moments not be so surprising. Plus, undefeatable characters are boring unless it’s an actual video game where your immortality is a mechanic.