In fantasy worlds, healers can just speak some magic words and people even at a distance are healed without their consent, and necromancers can just bring the dead back to life. If someone raised my skeleton from the dead I'd be very upset with them; who said they could interrupt my slumber?

Anyway, what kind of laws and legal systems would be viable to protect people from being healed and raised without their consent? "Viable" means that they can actually be enforced. For example, most countries have drinking and pornography laws, but literally no-one enforces them.

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    $\begingroup$ Does it have to be the law - or can it be inherent in the magic system itself? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 12:23
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    $\begingroup$ Necromancy, I can understand, but why would anyone not consent to being magically healed of their injuries? Unless the healer is American and is charging thousands of dollars in exchange, I can't think of any rational reason for someone to do that. $\endgroup$
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 12:24
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    $\begingroup$ @F1Krazy They could be devout and the healer of another god and thus the healing could be considered impure. (semi-rational) $\endgroup$
    – Allan
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Viverna! Just FYI: we really don't need to know your personal history or issues! Just stick with the worldbuilding issues --- they're complex enough! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ its worth noting most places have implied consent laws for medical treatment since people are often knocked unconscious in accidents or rendered unresponsive due to illness, it is generally assumed such people don't want to die. that is also why living wills exist. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 0:42

6 Answers 6



It’s why tombs had them : to keep grave robbers out. Perhaps, in your world, it is cheap and common to lay each person to rest with multiple curses protecting their final rest.

Similarly, someone who does not wish for medical assistance could lay one or more curses on anyone who tries without consent.


Magical non-consent tokens.

Standard procedure is of course to ask consent for any magical healing from the person being healed. If they're indisposed (or dead) you ask their next of kin, or their parent of guardian if they're a child. Sometimes that's not an option, and that's where the tokens come in. By default, people are assumed to be ok with receiving magical healing from a certified mage. After all, few people in severe pain would turn away the chance to get better. The people who don't are the exception, and they have to get a token.

A non-consent token is technically a magical item, though it's trivially easy to make. It takes the shape of a small coin, is attuned to the wearers life-force, and is carried around the neck. When any amount of healing energy goes in the body, the token reacts and breaks down the middle - it's essentially a one-use item. This broken token is then admissible as evidence in court.

The basic version of the token is given out free of charge. Any paranoid individuals, afraid of their tokens being manipulated or repaired somehow, can pay a fee to link it to a copy token kept in a safe place. If the original breaks, so does the copy. Technically separate, but often combined, is the "Do Not Resurrect" token. This is nonmagical, and just has the words written on it. This is combined with a note in the medical records.

Healers have to check for these tokens when performing any healing magic on a person without explicit consent. Combine this with all magical healers having to be certified, with certification including information about the tokens. Healers breaking the rules can lose their certification, among other punishments.

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    $\begingroup$ I think this is one of the best answers in the site. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ Seems a bit roundabout. Just make the token ward off magic. This can be specifically healing magic or any type of magic. Alternatively if anti-magic is too hard the token simply attunes itself to the magic and adds a notch to signal a spell was cast. Should the token be brought in proximity of the caster(s) it will light up. This way you can not just identify that a spell was cast but also find the culprit. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 13:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Demigan the idea was to make something simple, cheap and fool-proof. Anti-magic, signalling and remembering mana signatures seem like they might (depending on the setting) be overly complex and prone to being overpowered or circumvented. A legal solutions was sought, and lawmakers don't want to overcomplicate things. $\endgroup$
    – Grollo
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Grollo the OP talks about laws and regulations, which are rately simple, cheap and fool proof. In fact I see no mention of "simple, cheap and fool proof". Also between a charm that breaks and a charm that records a magic instance the second one is simpler and cheaper. The charm that breaks might have broken by an alternative means and accidentally implicate someone, the opposite of fool-proof. It could even be used to unfairly incarcerate magic users by breaking one on purpose and pointing a finger. Better use a simple magical log that can identify who used the magic. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ Even then the token has problems, did the magic user know that person was holding a token? You would need to add that as well so you can't ask for healing and then slap them with the law. This is still far superior to pure law which still needs some form of proof, which in case of magic would often end up with "my word against yours" unless the casting happened in an official setting. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 15:02

Healing and Resurrection spells need information only the receiver has.

In order to heal someone or resurrect them you need information that only that person has, things like mental or soul state. This info constantly changes and can't be predicted, so every new attempt needs that information. When someone tries to heal you or resurrect you you can give them that information, or not, telepathically. Because of this all healing spells are minor telepathy spells.

If you don't have that information that is like doing surgery with lawn darts, you are basically guaranteed to fail. Sure, you can heal the muscles and skin, but if the energy that did that flowed through the wrong part of the soul the receiver is could have a stroke.

These healing spells won't be abused since a bad healing spell does less damage than normal attack spell and costs more. Bad resurrection spells sever the spirit from the body making them not resurrectable.

  • $\begingroup$ "When someone tries to [...] resurrect you can give them that information" I don't think I can give that information to them, while they're still trying. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 3:25
  • $\begingroup$ @infinitezero I presume there's some communication with the spirit of the deceased going on during the process. A quick "No thank you, I'm much happier where I am if it's all the same" would suffice. $\endgroup$
    – Corey
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 4:09
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, basically. $\endgroup$
    – user64888
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 6:19

While I actually prefer the curse suggestion given above, I don't think it's difficult to imagine a legal system that would "just work."

Drinking laws are notoriously difficult to enforce in part because the crime often involves only willing participants, none of whom perceive themselves as harmed. Compare this to something like theft, where there is always an unwilling party who can report it and cooperate with the investigation.

All it requires is a simple ban, an appropriately harsh penalty, and a police force that is motivated to enforce. All three of those are necessary, but once you have them you have a perfectly workable legal solution. And people being people you don't even really have to give a reason why they are motivated to enforce. "This is how it's always been" is more than enough.


Not a "legal" solution, but a solution...

A magic ward/amulet.

(Yes, I did spell that correctly)

There is a long history in folklore of wards against magic. Usually it is against curses and the like, but there's no reason it can't be against healing.

Anyone not wishing to be healed could wear a ward. Similarly, if a person died, the family could put a ward on the body, to guard against necormancy. Optionally, a ward could cause additional consequences - some wards in folklore (citation needed) reflect the effects of the spell back on the caster. This wouldn't be a problem for healing spells, but if (as suggested by The Square Cubed Law), overhealing could have it's own consequences. In the case of necromancy, if it reflected on the caster, the caster could become undead, or likewise be over-healed.


If you're looking for a legal solution then it's simple: enact a law. Just make it so that anyone can come forward to file a complaint about being the target of magic against their will, or in the case of necromancy that someone in their family was the target of magic against their will. Proving it might be difficult, but that's the same with a lot of laws.

Now that you've got a law on the books, the next phase is to add a regulation framework for all mages. Any mage that wants to practice their magic requires a licence, and unlicenced practitioners will be prosecuted severely. Schools will of course have a licence that covers their students, allowing them to practice on the school grounds with the school responsible for any problems that arise.

Then you just have to tighten up the regulation of magic to the point where mages are required to record every magical expenditure, with random auditing and penalties. Proctors will randomly drop in on mages at work, at home, random mana tests, etc. to check their logs against their current mana levels. Any inconsistency will result in the mage losing their licence for a period. Multiple breaches will ultimately result in a permanent bad from performing magic.

Of course manually recording every single mana point spent is just tiresome, and if you're in the middle of a long process when the proctors turn up, you can't just get away with "I'm busy, I'll record it later." That's a fantastic way to end up out of a job when they suspend your licence. So now we have an opportunity to introduce automatic recording devices - pendants, rings or similar - that monitor every spell you cast so that you don't have to.

And now we have them. The mage who casts a Greater Mass Healing in a crowd? He's going down, and hard. He just broke a bunch of laws and is going to be stripped not just of his licence but his freedom. Damned dirty mage deserves everything he's about to get, especially since his 'monitor' bracelet just locked down his mana and shocked him unconscious.

OK, I'm apparently in a dark mood. Let's try an alternate method, a little less autocratic. Let's use some magic to solve the problem.

Every living creature has some sort of magical field - let's call it an aura. With the right tools we can examine this field to figure out how magically capable a creature has, and maybe even figure out what sort of magical abilities they are best at. Schools use this to identify students with particularly high aptitudes in specific disciplines. Every aura is unique at the finest level of detail, more so than any fingerprint.

When a mage casts any spell their aura imprints a signature on the spell's energy. It's extremely subtle, and any significant 'turbulence' in the magic - such as the constantly roiling energy of an elemental damage spell for instance - will disrupt it to some degree, but if you can examine the spell's effect locus (fancy mage speak for the area it affects) quickly enough after the spell ends then it is possible to identify the mage who cast the spell. It's a lot easier if you can capture the signature of a spell while it is in operation, making it quite useful for fingerprinting enchantments and so on.

If the target of a spell also has an aura then the incoming spell's signature is partially imprinted on the part of the aura it passes through. Again, direct damage spells are less likely to leave the aura intact enough to read, but even simple protection spells leave a signature on the target's aura.

Of course an aura isn't just a static field like you might get on an artifact, it's generated by the life force of the creature itself, and the creature's state affects the aura in various ways. One way is that the aura becomes more or less permeable to magic depending on the creature's will. If you want that spell to affect you then your aura opens the door, invites the spell in and makes it comfortable. But if you're opposed? Then your aura - weak, ephermeral and inefficient though it may be - attempts to shut the spell out. Some creatures have the ability to actually block spells with their aura, which we perceive as innate magic resistance. Humans can do the same with sufficient training and power, or with the help of the right spells and artifacts.

The end result of all of this is that a scan of a person's aura can, for a limited time only, determine not only that a spell was cast but what the spell was, who cast it and whether the target was willing, unwilling or indifferent.

Of course this information isn't necessarily public knowledge. It was discovered by a small team of Theoretical Divinators who thought it was kind of nifty, but not really what they were after. One of them made a few notes that went unpublished for years, only being found after he threw himself off a cliff shortly after a divination experiment went wrong and he caught a glimpse of a communal shower in one of the negative planes. Poor chap.

Fortunately for law enforcement agencies around the world, these notes eventually fell into the hands of a young artificer specializing in scrying and detection magics. She eventually figured out that not only was it useful but she could make a tidy sum sell magic items to trackers and magical investigators. Frindley's Aura Loup is now one of the standard pieces of equipment for anyone investigating magic-related shenanigans, and no self-respecting magical police force would be without the related Signature Storage Orb in their office.

So... Mage $A$ casts a healing spell on a group and incautiously includes some innocent bystander $B$ in the area of effect. Now $B$ has been excused from certain activities - like guarding and so forth - due to a wound sustained during a goblin attack some months back, and really didn't want his excuse to suddenly disappear. He complains to Corporal $C$ who, dutiful enforcer of the law that he is, pulls the signature of the spell from $B$'s aura. It is quickly matched with $A$'s signature and a fine is issued. Sadly $B$ was unable to turn up to the court date as he was valiantly lost during the ogron attack the next day, but $A$ was clearly guilty of unsolicited healing and failure to adequately contain a class-3 spell whilst inside the city walls. We trust that he is sufficiently chastised.

Sadly, corpses are not quite so simple. We can figure out who cast the spell, but it's their word against the family that it was illicitly cast. Time to go through the Will with a fine-toothed lawyer.

Comb? Why use would a comb be on a Will? Stop being daft and fetch Mr Vlad.


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