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Normally when a mage is on a suicide mission or caught in a dangerous situation, they sacrifice their life force to use more powerful magic that they normally cannot use without dying or crippling themselves. But a mage who is immortal has infinite life force; they have no problem sacrificing their life force without any reciprocation which renders sacrificial magic useless. Using this loop hole ended up being too overpowered and broken.

So how do I prevent immortal mages from using this loop hole?

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    $\begingroup$ This question is unanswerable without knowing how "magic" and "immortality" work in your universe. Please note that the magic tag specifically mentions you need to declare how your magic system works. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Oct 1 '20 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ Are your immortals only biologically immortal (can be killed like anyone else but won't die of natural causes), are they invulnerable and/or unable to die, or are they "respawn" immortals who can be destroyed temporarily but will reconstitute unharmed later? Or something else? $\endgroup$
    – Jedediah
    Oct 1 '20 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ Infinite has a specific technical definition. Having "infinite life force" being the source of immortality for mages means that they can cast spells of unlimited power (e.g. change everything in the universe), non-stop, forever. Better to have their immortality stem from life force drawn from an external source that is neither unlimited nor infinite; if they draw more life force than the source can supply or draw more life force than the conduit between the source and them can support, they drain out their own life force and die. $\endgroup$ Oct 1 '20 at 16:20
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Who says immortality implies infinite life force? Maybe those mages who are immortal do not possess an infinite amount of life force, but rather need no life force to survive. Perhaps becoming immortal requires you to sacrifice your entire life force just like many of the more powerful spells you describe, essentially turning a mage into a lifeless but eternally animate “zombie.”

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As mentioned above, without explaining your magic system in more depth, it is very difficult (some might say impossible) to answer your question. However, might I suggest a more quantile view of a person's life force.

Regardless of how old you are or how much life you have left to live, your life has the same value in the eyes of magic. It is not that you are somehow taking your unused years away from Fate and using them to fuel a spell, for Fate has already decided that you will die in this moment by taking your own life. Nay, it is the magic of crossing the barrier between life and death that you are manipulating.

Alternately, for a more physics-based approach, you can think about a person as a fuel source (I mean, if you set us on fire will we not burn?). We constantly take in energy and return it to the environment, but the total amount of energy in our system is far greater than the amount of energy we are able to tap into before dying of exhaustion. In this way, the amount of energy produced from hypothetically accessing all the potential energy stored in our system at once has nothing to do with how long we have left to live; it is instead measured by our physical mass.

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I think you said it best yourself:

But a mage who is immortal has infinite life force; they have no problem sacrificing their life force without any reciprocation which renders sacrificial magic useless.

Sacrificial Magic by definition is the sacrifice of one thing for something of equal power. Its become such a trope in fantasy novels that it kinda lost its essence and instead just turned lifeforce into an emergency bank of magic power.

So, when your immortal sacrifices 2000 years of their life, it means nothing because that sacrifice is worthless and thus the magic doesn't work. Your immortal can still sacrifice things, but their lifeforce is worthless as a sacrifice.

On that note, if they were to sacrifice immortality itself, that would create one hell of a spell.

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They don't have infinite life source. At any given time, they have no more than a mortal does. What happens is that they can spend themselves down to zero and lapse into a coma until it accumulates again, enough to restore them.

At least for a mortal, spending the final measure means they go to the afterlife. Many immortals have fallen into the hands of evil-doers and enemies while comatose.

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  • $\begingroup$ Kinda reminds me of torpor in Vampire the Masquerade. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Oct 1 '20 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ Never played that but not surprised to hear that others have thought of it. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Oct 1 '20 at 22:10
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I assume that your immortal mage doesn’t get older either. If so, then make those sacrificial magic letting him get older. Maybe he can’t die, but will become too old and worn to live sensibly anymore (like Gollum in LOTR tale), or maybe this is the only way he actually can even die, its up to you.

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