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In the story I am writing the universe itself was create from a magical storm in a realm known to mortals as The Beyond.

Now it is believed that there is the Realm of Reality in which the story takes place, and The Beyond a plane of existence that shadows the mortal plane. While The Beyond and the Mortal plane cannot see each other or physically interact with each other. The presences of The Beyond can be felt in the air by certain individuals, your mages per say. This energy is referred to as Aether. Aether can be used as both a creative and destructive force.

Your magic users are capable of pulling Aether from the beyond to cast magic. However, in the rules I am setting out, the immaterial of The Beyond cannot stay in the material world for long. This leads to casting magic being mentally draining. The stronger the mind the greater the feat can be achieved.

Also drawing too much power from the Beyond creates a ripple in The Beyond drawing spirits and wraiths of the immaterial plane to try enter the realm of reality and kill whoever is on the other side. This is as the entities of the Beyond view the mortal plain with hate and disgust, seeing Reality as a mistake that should never have happened.

Lastly I have an idea that to keep something made of the immaterial in the realm of reality one needs to use blood magic. The bigger the object the more needs to be sacrificed.

Is this enough of a cost to make the use of magic seem like a believable cost, something that someone needs to value and weigh what is worth?

Therefore, evil would seek to use blood magic to achieve power and make their achievements permanent while those who use magic for good use it for a temporary aid rather than as long term solution.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! We're glad you could join us! When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. Excellent first question! If you could clarify: are you asking if all the costs you describe are a fair balance, or are you focusing on just the blood magic cost? $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 23 at 14:08
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    $\begingroup$ You probably need to clarify further - for example, does "blood magic" have any cost or effect beyond "sacrifice blood, make magic permanent"? If not, just get donations of blood bags - for transfusion into the body if the "sacrificed" blood needs to be fresh. (Currently your restrictions are "drawing mana is mentally draining", and "too much mana being drawn in one place can summon threats", "non blood magic is temporary", with unspecified and unevidenced "blood magic is bad" implications) $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Jan 23 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ Adding some form of material components for "high" magic to be permanent would be a good additional barrier. Although the combination of blood loss and then potentially having to fight afterwards while woozy from blood loss is a pretty big risk. $\endgroup$ – IT Alex Jan 23 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ Sounds like Dragon Age's lore about Mana and The Fade $\endgroup$ – Tardigreat Jan 26 at 2:57
  • $\begingroup$ What if instead of material blood, in order to make something from the immaterial, you must give up something immaterial to replace it in that plane. So rather than blood, maybe a spell costs a happy memory, or an angry emotion, or a bond of family. That way, it's not seemingly destructive, but it still is binding. For that new thing to remain, would you give up being happy in the sun? Well, it doesn't seem like a big price... bond to the sister won't kill her or you... it will just make the pair of you never consider each others sisters again. $\endgroup$ – hszmv Jan 28 at 17:03
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Make the Beyond weirder.

1: Alive, dead, kill and hate are phenomena of the material. Your immaterial creatures are dangerous, but make them otherworldly. They will not kill you. They will change you. They do not hate our plane. They object to it. That will distinguish these entities and their motives from good and evil factions on your material plane.

2: Blood, sacrifice etc. Yes, yes. But if your magic is mediated by a plane that contains entities which consider Reality a mistake, the danger of dealing with such is danger enough. The more you deal with them, the greater the chance they will be able to pursue their own agendas (which might differ entity to entity) on our plane and possibly through the magic user. This risk will be true for people trying to use these forces for good or for evil purposes on the material plane.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for making the Beyond weirder. You could add in a little more otherworldly horror by changing the effects of the attention of the Beyond spirits. Being randomly killed doesn't actually read as a major threat to a plot-relevant character most of the time. I like the idea of them being changed. Make it so that each time they open the Beyond, a little of its thoughts slip into their mind. Soon they become unable to distinguish between which thoughts are their own and which are those of alien spirits. Watch as someone's mind warps before the reader, and others scrabble to work it out in time $\endgroup$ – Ynneadwraith Jan 24 at 11:58
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    $\begingroup$ You have been reading your Lovecraft, @Ynneadwraith! Your comments remind me of the Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward. And I like the idea of plot relevance as the operating variable. $\endgroup$ – Willk Jan 24 at 13:41
  • $\begingroup$ Guilty as charged ;) I figured it would be really neat if the character's thoughts and actions change unknowingly for the first third, then the reader twigs that the affected person is working unwittingly towards some nefarious purpose but the other characters don't, then finally someone realises and all hell breaks loose as they try and stop them ;) meanwhile the affected person is oblivious to their possession ;) $\endgroup$ – Ynneadwraith Jan 24 at 18:59
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Blood as a representation for life force

You could have the blood used in the blood magic act as a link to a persons life force. In this case you can have a person suffer a loss of life force when their blood is used. So it is no longer the amount of blood, but the life force or the person who the blood belongs too that is important. People would be born with a given amount of life force, say between 80-110 years (or whatever values you want). This life force can then be used as reagent for magic in the form of blood magic. It also drains slowly over time as you age.

Using life force would permanently take life force from your total. And the only way to get it back would be to steal it from someone else. Or if you don't like that kind of mechanic you could have it passively regen over time, or even just make it so that what you are born with is what you get, and you can only lose life force.

A basic simplification would be something like "making a sword permanent would take 2 days of life force, while making a magic car stay permanent takes 1 week worth".

With this kind of system the cost is much more real, as using up too much blood magic would result in death. Or it would require you to seriously harm or kill another person to use their life force to pay the cost of using really big magic. It also allows for the moral struggles of people who are close to 0 life force wanting to steal from others. And it removes the case where someone can become super powerful by hiding in a basement and collecting their blood for a few years.

Hope this helps at least a little.

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  • $\begingroup$ When I state blood sacrifice I always meant it to be a high amount of blood. Enough to make it so that those who wish to do something like make a sword real would need make the user lightheaded. However something like creating a rock wall would require more blood than is possible without the caster dying. This would often lead to the caster sacrificing others, willing or unwilling. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Rykin Jan 23 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielRykin does it need to be fresh blood though? could i just draw a bit of blood every day store it up for use later? $\endgroup$ – Jacobr365 Jan 23 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ I want to make it have to be fresh. I think storing blood diminishes any sense of cost. Not quiet sure how to achieve this though. My guess is congealed blood lacks what is required to fill the needs of blood magic. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Rykin Jan 23 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ Though if it is blood that allows the immaterial to exist in the realm of reality. Then it in itself could be the sacrifice. While unknown to the user at the time there small sacrifice of blood could be what is allowing an entity to cross the threshold to reality and stay in the long term rather than being unable to stay if it entered under other conditions. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Rykin Jan 23 at 17:58
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First of all, i love your way in approaching magic.

Now to your question: My answer might be a bit similar to the one Willk provided, but I would take a slightly different approach to it.

Insanity
Draining Aether from the Beyond could make it flow directly through your mind, ripping it apart bit by bit. While simple, easy "spells" are no problem to execute, the stronger the spell gets, the more of the aether passes your mind and may take pieces of your sanity with it. So doing such tricks would need a very strong will and could still be very taxing to your mind. Magic users who went to far with their usage of the Aether would walk the Earth as insane people, maybe even an entity of the Beyond might have taken control over them.

(I gotta admit, i simply like insanity. It has so much potential, as for every insane person you can create the world over and over to the way they experience it.)

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    $\begingroup$ I rather like that. Sort of follows the premise of that you can take from the Beyond. But, the Beyond will take something back too. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Rykin Jan 24 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ The world I'm building has a lot of similarities to yours. In my world, magic is also energy taken out of some kind of para-dimension. And while the magic itself doesn't has the danger of corruption, fragments of souls of the deceased may take part of the mind of anyone. Thus, your scenario sparked the Idea of the combination of both. $\endgroup$ – miep Jan 24 at 21:09
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It's the Sacrifice that counts

It's very common that magic is strengthened by the emotional state of the practitioner.
You could easily make the case that it's the Value of the sacrifice that matters.

The average person values their own blood while they have it, but as soon as they've adapted to its loss (by generating more) then the stored up blood is essentially irrelevant. Blood is therefore an easy source of material to sacrifice harmlessly.

Ritual Sacrifice meanwhile plays off the compassion of the practitioner.
They have to see a person and knowingly give them up.
One loved one is worth a thousand or more strangers to the right person. On the other hand, you could sacrifice your beloved childhood teddy-bear for an extremely powerful world-shaping work of magic if you cared about it enough.

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