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Eons ago, an ancient demigod was imprisoned by a group of his siblings within a separate realm for crimes against humanity. A cult of witches in the modern day has formed to free this individual, and operates as a shadow government behind the world's institutions. The cult is responsible for the majority of world events that have led to mass death. The purpose of instigating these events is to destroy a magical ward separating our world from the realm of this demigod, which is made up of seven seals which holds reality together and keeps it from shattering.

Each seal is built with increasing complexity. The first seal requires a simple mass genocide to be broken, while A violent act of murder releases a backlash of negative energy in our reality. Steps become increasingly complicated with each seal, requiring rises and falls of various empires, solar eclipses, etc. With each breaking of a ward, the ward becomes weaker until it completely cracks, allowing the Outer God to enter our dimension.

When designing a firewall, the purpose is to keep any outsider from penetrating the system in order to protect its contents. Any weak points are vulnerabilities that can lead to a security breach, giving a hacker increasing access to the inside. This allows an intruder more time to learn and adapt, providing them with more opportunities to enter further. It would be sensible to design a single seal with herculean tasks meant to keep intruders out rather than seven with different degrees of complexity. Or alternatively, make each seal equally as challenging as possible, instead of slowly building up the difficulty with a natural progression.

What would be the benefit of doing it this way?

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  • $\begingroup$ Only thing I can think of is that the entity is actually supposed to be free again at some point, the seals being 'tests' or something, but I don't know how believable that is. $\endgroup$
    – Lemming
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 13:28

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A Demigod Can't Be Perfect

At the core, a demigod cannot create a perfect seal -- that perfection in magic is reserved for true deities. Because they can't create a perfect seal, they have to put a flaw in the seal so that it can be broken from the outside lest the attempt to create the seal fail. Also, as part of the sealing magic, the flaw in the seal has to be related to the sealed being themselves and the caster.

Even if the seal is effectively flawless to the ancient peoples, the fact that it is a theoretically achievable condition is enough.

Because this ancient demigod was committing crimes against humanity, the way to break the seal is not going to be fluffy bunnies. It's going to be bad. So instead of making the conditions hyper specific and possibly fail and cause the seal to break due to no longer having a flaw, they opted to make such over the top flaws that only somebody irredeemably evil would even try to release this thing. Why they did not count on was a shadowy cabal to try to break the seals behind the scenes and not be super obvious about their intentions.

One saw the genocide of their race as a crime so the murder of innocents breaks their seal. Turned up to 11, a genocide of the innocent is the only way to create the materials needed to break the seal. Another of the demigods saw their lands ravaged when the elder demigod caused a volcanic eruption and the ash clouds choked their lands causing famines. As such, an eclipse not of nature is their condition which relates to their seal. The other five seals operate in similar ways.

The Outside Looking In

The seals are also lined up this way because it isn't about people trying to get through the seals. That is the assumption all of us make because we live on this side of the seals, and it is a dangerous one.

The Elder Demigod on the other side is far more powerful than any mortal mage. The seventh and most powerful seal isn't about keeping them and their influence out of our world as much as it is about keeping it in the prison realm. The leaked power from even that seventh seal is held back by the sixth seal, and the other five in sequence. They did not need to be as strong to hold in the power because the seals before them are doing their job.

The weaker seals are also doing the job of hiding and protecting the more powerful ones from examination and destruction by outside forces.

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It's a lesson plan

The desire to break reality will lead to it happening, but the people watching need to understand what that means before it does. And reality is constructed, it turns out, from a set of seven delusions. The breaking of each seal represents the dispelling of one of the delusions.

Your first seal, otherwise known as the Rapture or Shoah, was based on a distinction between Law and Crime. This once was taken as an ironclad distinction, the foundation of a system of "alignments" even in flights of fantasy. And yet, almost overnight, people realized that the two were indistinguishable, and that the most lawful society could be the most criminal society.

The second seal was broken by the invention of low-intensity conflict. Today, people understand that War is Peace, and accept that in their hearts with every policy they make.

Over time, they will continue to broaden their understanding. They will learn that poverty is wealth and sickness is health. Death and life will become one and the same to them. After that, the boundary between past and future will fall, though if you're writing this now I suppose it's before that also. And the last one ... well, let's not spoil the surprise.

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Each seal was an act that was done in the distant past.

The genocide? They did it against a servitor race of the older god. The empire falling? They did it against an empire of the outer god. The solar eclipse? They blocked out the sun, breaking the solar powered death weapons of the outer god.

The actions have different complexity because the great acts they took to restrain their power, with great symbolism, magic, and meaning, were different.

Each act generated a certain amount of power based on what happened, and needs an equal and opposite amount of power to nullify it.

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This kind of seal is inextricably linked to the, for lack of a better term, "pressure" it has to withstand. You can use a weak seal to ward off a demigod (but the seal would be immediately shattered); you cannot seal a weak magician with a divinity-level seal, because the seal just wouldn't "take", and would sizzle away until only a weak seal remained.

Once the first seal was put in place, only a little amount of godhead remained detectable and available to prime the second seal. So, the second seal was necessarily weaker. Even with all the craft and power at their disposal, the ancient warders could not make more than seven seals, nor make them stronger.

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