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Mana is the life force of the human soul, which allows us to function as we do. As a person gets older, their mana supply increases, which makes them potentially stronger in the use of magic. However, after a certain point, physical age becomes a barrier to how much of it they can actually access. Because their bodies get weaker with time, they are unable to use their mana stock as efficiently without cost to themselves.

Trafficking is a problem in this world. There is an underground network of witch doctors trafficking in humans for the purpose of using them for spells. After a person is killed, their body is dismembered, with specific parts grounded up into powder to use as ingredients.These are called muti-killings, in which an individual is murdered in order to power a ritual to granting certain benefits to a customer, such as luck, power, love, etc.

As stated, a person's mana supply increases with age, but they don't benefit from this after a certain point. Therefore, it would be logical to use older people, specifically the elderly, for these kinds of spells. However, the group always used for these rituals are children, which are targeted specifically for these kinds of crimes.

Why would the mana of a younger person be more useful for these kinds of rituals?

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Mana produced by a younger person is more pure, while, with the progress of age, together with the amount produced, grows also the contamination of mana due to life experiences.

Purity is a highly valuable aspect when it comes to magic rituals. Just remember how many times the blood of a virgin is requested.

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  • $\begingroup$ Older people get greater volume, lower purity mana? Is mana equivalent to workload? Because I have far more of that than I did as a child and it’s nowhere near as innocently simple. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Sep 12 at 6:52
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Because they can't fight back. Children are young and inexperienced. True, the elderly can't use as much magic as a child, but they have vast reserves and decades of experience. There are dozens of magic systems that raw strength will get trumped by skill, because of how little power it takes to counter magic if you use the correct counter magic. For instance, a powerful fire caster could easily get defeated by judicious use of wind magic to remove oxygen from the air.

I'm not saying that every old man is dangerous. But enough of them are to the point where it just isn't worth it. As Terry Pratchett's Silver Horde proves, it's a very bad idea to mess with old and wizened warriors because they have gotten extremely good at not dying over the years.

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Mana doesn't technically become stronger with age - it becomes "stiffer", but also more attuned to the user.

Everyone generates a more or less static amount of mana throughout their life. In children, however, this mana is fluid and unformed. It takes energy for a child to turn it into magic and manipulate it for useful tasks, so the end result appears weaker. But if stolen, it can be more easily processed into useful magic.

As a person ages, their mana "source" becomes attuned to the mind of the user. The mana is created already formed in a way that the user can make use of it more easily, causing it to grow stronger in practice until the weakening of the body becomes an issue. However, this attunement only works for the original user. If stolen, it is harder to make use of since it must be "softened" by the magic thief to be reformed according to their own magic wavelength.

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Energy density and volatility. Ingredients from older people might hold more power, but its harder to release it in a controlled manner over the course of the ritual. Using a lower grade source reduces the chance of failure or even catastrophic backfire.

This would also hint on why older people can't use their full potential. Their subconsciousness limits them to safe levels. Overriding this causes damage.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like the density idea: Aged mana being thicker, and clogging the pipes, perhaps? $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Sep 12 at 8:47
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It's easier to shift.

The mana in a child is weaker, so just about everyone will be able to use it, whereas the target audience of old mana is extremely select and only takes up a very slim share of the market. Who wants to drag a product around for ages, looking for some unicorn of a customer, when you can have something everyone can buy?

Think about books. Bestsellers are not necessarily the greatest pieces of literature; all too often they are easy-to-read books about a popular subject; bland, basic stuff everybody likes. They're not the best, but the ones with the broadest audience.

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Who says it can be split?

Kids could have small ammount. And the droplet of it its an unit, diminute one at that.

Ideal for delicate machinery or activating runes.

Now open the body of an ol' armaestre, his gut bursting with a prominent stone of condensed mana. Radioctive even, the mere prescense of it makes all the lab machinery go haywire. Even the ouija boards get out of calibration.

So you are a provider and need to store the stuff, safely, along with other merchandise.

Grab a tupperware and place all the tiny droplets, adipose tissue impregnated with the good stuff.

Pay yer ticket and good to go. Next!

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  • $\begingroup$ Unless you’re bloody clever and can make a mana step-down transformer. Then you could set up multiple spells to run simultaneously off the same mana supply, as long as you aren’t worried about cross-contamination. Or potentially exploding... $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Sep 12 at 6:57
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    $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs I think Gustavo's point is that extracted Mana is a Quanta, and can't be split. You can't "step-down" or "run multiple spells simultaneously off the same mana supply", because that involves splitting it. Think of it a bit like Children's mana-blobs being Hydrogen atoms, and Methuselah's being Uranium atoms... (Preferably, in the stable/non-radioactive isotopes!) $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Sep 12 at 8:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Chronocidal: I think you may have missed my point. The mana isn’t split, simply used to run lots of things at the same time in a tricky, complicated and insanely risky meta-spell that encapsulates all the sub-spells. Like the difference between heating a hundred people using a hundred hydrogen burners or one uranium based one. The former is nice and easy (and sane). The latter is technically possible, but it’s much harder and there’s a good chance it will just kill everyone involved. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Sep 12 at 8:52
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    $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs How? You can't just direct part of the mana to each spell: the mana is consumed, instantly and entirely, by the first spell - because otherwise that would be splitting it. You would need to cast 1 huge spell that had all the effects at the same time $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Sep 12 at 9:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Chronocidal: Exactly! And such a spell would necessarily be big, complex, and dangerous, even if you’d worked out a neatly scalable framework (the step down transformer) for the overarching ‘super spell’ that you could plug other spells into. It would all be part of the same suicidally complex casting. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Sep 12 at 10:14
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Since mana is related to human soul, I think it would be the lack of negative emotions in the extracted mana. I don't mean impurity here, but the attached emotions that affects the nature of mana itself. If you want to use mana to bring favourable outcomes like good luck, success, etc., Then a mana with positive nature would be more suitable. Children are inherently devoid of negative emotions, even if their actions are horrifying, the feelings behind those are pure. Whereas if you kill adults to extract mana, the mana will be tainted by the negative emotions from being killed, like hatred and vengeance etc. This kind of dark, violent mana is more useful for curses I would say.

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The strength of someone's mana is determined by how much experience they have

My idea here is that an individual's mana is shaded and molded by their experience and learning. A person's mana getting stronger as they age isn't a result of it increasing its raw power, but of the person's understanding, wisdom, knowledge, and personality growing and becoming more defined. This allows their mana to take action more efficiently and more effectively, but it makes it more difficult for someone else to direct.

Mana only likes to be controlled by whoever made it

Normally, mana only acts perfectly in accordance with its creator's will, becoming perfectly malleable to whoever it came from. However, this malleability only persists as long as that person's will exists to guide it. Should that person's mana be taken from them somehow, another person would have a much more difficult time actually directing it.

Mana removed from its owner, by whatever means, has a tendency to act out. This is because mana itself almost seems to have a will. In particular, it seems to have a desire to only be directed by whoever made it - not that it's actually conscious or intelligent - and it will fight against anyone else who tries to control it.

Age makes mana more complex

As a person gains experience, their mana becomes more complex. This is a result of the mana generated incorporating an individual's experience and personality into itself - or more accurately, being generated from a more complex personality.

The more complex this mana is, the more devious it is likely to be in its attempts to avoid being used. Remember that mana's complexity comes from its owner's own experience. Someone who is older has had more opportunity to gain experience, and thus their mana will generally be more complex than that of someone younger.

Children, on the other hand, have virtually no experience, so their mana is incredibly simple. This limits what it is able to do, but this also makes it easier to control. In effect, it is a lower quality, but far more malleable, supply of mana.

This makes children's mana easier to use, and thus more desirable

Children's mana is technically lower quality in that it is simpler and cannot perform a task as efficiently or effectively as more complex mana. This same trait makes it easier to control and direct, as it is less capable of resisting.

Now, when someone needs a ritual done, especially a complex ritual with many parts that could easily be disrupted, they want mana that they can reliably control, and therefore, they want mana harvested from children.

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