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In my story, there are two mages. Both are able to change the mind and the appearance of people, including themselfs. The 'good' mage didn't like his former life and put himself into a more likable life, including a new appearance and adjustments of the minds of the people around him, so they don't notice the change. His new life is an average life, but he likes it so much more than his former life.

The 'bad' mage finds out about this and now coerces the good mage to do his dirty work with his magic, otherwise the bad mage will revert the changes and the people will notice what happened. The good mage is so afraid of this, that he complies and works for the bad mage.

Which restriction can I put on the magic of both so that the threat is effective enough? Otherwise the good mage could just revert the reversal and it would be an endless back and forth. Both mages are equally strong regarding their magic and it's no option for me to say that these changes can only be made once. Also neither one can be completely immune to the other one's magic.

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closed as off-topic by Mołot, Pavel Janicek, Aify, James, Cort Ammon Jan 5 '17 at 3:55

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand the question. Can you explain more? $\endgroup$ – kingledion Jan 4 '17 at 13:02
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    $\begingroup$ Presuming the mages live in some sort of civilized society, why not use the classic threats of blackmail, lawsuits, or debt? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 4 '17 at 13:12
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a reason the good mage cant convince everyone the bad mage is changing their minds, and that he never did such a thing? Would the people call Witch Hunters if they found mages were around? $\endgroup$ – Ryan Jan 4 '17 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ One of the fun things about developing stories with magic is that you have a great deal of freedom to define the systems of magic. You also have a great deal of freedom to define what characters will and will not do. Unfortunately, that also means there really aren't answers to your questions. You have to decide what the magic system does on its own. You also have to decide how characters approach things. There's plenty of stories of the bad guys using the good guy's own rules against them, forcing compliance. There's also plenty of stories of those good guys getting pushed to their limit $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Jan 5 '17 at 3:57
  • $\begingroup$ and suddenly breaking their own rules to stop a worse evil. It's all up to you to decide what your characters will do, and what your magic system will permit them to do! $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Jan 5 '17 at 3:58
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Brute force can't the answer here. There are too many risks they can face:

  1. They may not be the only mages with agendas
  2. Those "muggles" can become a threat of their own...

These should place suitable limits on what their magic can achieve. For instance, normal humans may go insane with too much use or a clever human may pick up something is happening and cause a slew of problems (witch hunts, etc.)

Worse, a rival mage who is stronger or a mage guild could wreck havoc on both mages. There may also be witch hunters specialized in murdering them if they lose their incognito.

As for how does one threaten a mage of equal strength? Intrigue and Deception

I'd consider a relationship like Moriarty and Sherlock. The evil mage could be a magnificent bastard and may let his existence be known... but will rarely confront the good guy directly.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I can really make a use of these ideas. There are some other mages in the story I can incorporate and I like the tv trope, though that will require some more thinking. Also I can combine it with the other ideas. $\endgroup$ – NicoH Jan 5 '17 at 11:17
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Consider this - the human mind is a complex device. Changing its contents isn't something you just do without any consequences, even if it's with magic. One minor change? No problem. A major change? The person will be baffled a bit, but ok. After a series of changes, each bigger than the last, the person will have some sort of dementia of amnesia.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's a good thought, but dementia and amnesia are not really applicable to my story so far. But after some changes, the person could maybe become unsure and question the validity of their memories, thanks. $\endgroup$ – NicoH Jan 5 '17 at 11:18
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Obviously the good mage changes the mind of the bad mage to trick him into believing the good mage is doing his dirty work. Gradually the good mage adjusts the bad mage's mind until he completely forgets about the good mage's change of lifestyle or even that he exists.

Sorry, it's that simple. The good mage only has to use guile not brute force magic.

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  • $\begingroup$ Making the changes gradually is something I didn't think about, because I think in my story, it would put the good mage too much at ease. But otherwise it's a really simple and good idea! $\endgroup$ – NicoH Jan 5 '17 at 11:18
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    $\begingroup$ @NicoH Gradual changes can build suspense. The good mage might be uncertain how much has taken at any stage. Also, if the bad mage realizes he is being changed that might undo all the good mage's work. Of course, if the good mage is ahead of him. He might make sure when the bad mage tries to reset his default mind this might increase the amount of change. Good suspense sets the nerves tingling, keeps characters and readers on edge. It's another option for your story. It doesn't have to eb the whole story. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jan 5 '17 at 11:26
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You haven't said that your mages are immortal so I'd say simply the threat of having to always deal with the shenanigans of the other mage is more than enough. How can you ever live a peaceful life if you always have to undo what the other mage is doing. After a while you'd do anything to get them to leave you alone.

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh, yes. I thought about that it's a bit of a hassle, but you're right. I also wouldn't want to change back and forth everything or live with the fear for the rest of my life. $\endgroup$ – NicoH Jan 5 '17 at 11:18

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