Thursday, July 21, 2011

Elessa Chianic and the Magics of Chiadina

Next up! Gods, Magic, and choosing my main character.

Planning a world requires planning how it works. I usually like tying magic to gods, it just has always made sense. I mean, when we hear of magical things happening in mhythology, it's generally tied to some god, goddess or mystical creature that originates from the Realm of the Gods. If I go off of the concept that we need to draw boundaries in order to formulate identity, than it stands to reason that in order to wrap our minds around the concept of mortality (an unavoidable reality) we create stories of what immortality is. By understanding the fiction, we can begin to grasp fact. So structuring a belief system and how that belief system is practiced in each realm gives a better understanding of how each realm operates.

In Togan, it makes sense that the religious leader is closely linked to the herds. The person may or may not also be a secular leader. Because I picked Togan as the place to satrt thestory, and because my main character is not going to spend a long time there, it mmakes plot-sense to join the secular and spiritual in the leader that also commands the group-owned herd of Genn. Since the leader is affiliated with the Genn, it makes sense that his/her title will derive from the animal's name. Hence "Genna-ko."

In the more hierarchical realms, it makes sense to see more institutionalized forms of religion. With magic affiliated with the gods, the Temples become places that someone can learn magic.

I like magic as an inborn trait, generally accompanied with a physical representation of the magic. I have a bad habit of choosing eye-color as a representation of ability. Perhaps this was due to Dune's influence, or maybe just because I love the "window to the soul" idea. Still, if magic is in part a spiritual thing, than a "soul" link makes sense. There needs to be a tie to the divine, though. And divinity need not be perfect--they can be flawed as any Greek god--but the link needs to be there for this to work.

Now, that doesn't mean that magic is kept out of politics. Honing belief into a weapon is a skill humans have perfected many times over. This, again, I think is part of our pattern in constructing our identity based on structuring first what it is not.

The crazy bit of this is that most of the "Not" is so far from accurate that two sides can think exactly the same thing about each other "They eat babies!" --without ever realizing how fallacious their interpretation of their neighbor actually is.

But moral judgments based on fiction is how we vilify an enemy. Governments have to create an extreme "Other" to gain support for war, so propaganda goes out. That includes making war a moral imperative. and if there is a moral imperative to war, it is okay to use religious figures (priests and priestesses) and magic in the fight.

When this is achieved, however, and the people are calling for a moral impertive to fight, the political/socio-economic origins of the conflict are often obscured or wholly disregarded. Politics and economics cease to matter when humans think that war is necessary for the triumph of "goodness." So in the pursuit of maintaining "ghoodness" humans can easily sanction extreme evil, or even their own enslavement without batting an eye.

(This is me planning a plot based on some more academic/intellectual interests)

So enter the main character!!!

Ellessa will be Chianic-- the most powerful of the 4 magics.

born in Togan where there is no one to train her

--pastoral and foraging communities tend to have much smaller populations than agriculture as there is less need for massive numbers of offspring and generally a plant around that can prevent pregnancy, abort a developing fetus, etc--yes, there are natural birth control plants, but human's insatiable appetite for them over the centuries has led to extinctions of these plants. One of my profs in college had lived with a foraging society that still used one of these plants quite successfully. However, they weren't keen on sharing it because they knew their neighbors would descend and steal the rest of the plants, which were becoming endangered as it was. The most famous birth control herb was obliterated by Roman women in ancient times, and was related to licorice--

So Elessa will be sent to Lartien to train with the Priestesses.

Her ability and situation will create a manner to explore plot and story through a character who knows little or nothing, making the exploration of story easy for a half-developed world, and easier to follow for a reader.

The war can mount in the background, and the main character's outside perspective will make the situation more tense. The Lartien government and priestesses will try to use her to achieve their own ends. But the fact that her people, back in Togan, have high hopes for her as a leader make her seek away out of her training.

The Lartien don't make it easy, and she has to find a way out before her training is complete.


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