C is for Curses

C is for Curses - The A-Zs of Worldbuilding Magic Systems

C is for Curses - words are powerful. #atozsofworldbuilding #AtoZChallenge #amwriting #fantasy #worldbuilding Click To Tweet

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The Power of Words

Fantasy and mythology is full of examples of different types of curses, and indeed, a world with magic almost always has the challenge of a curse that must be broken or prevented. Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Beauty & the Beast are only a few popular examples.

Curses in stories can serve multiple purposes. They may be a punishment (for offending someone/something, trespassing, etc.), a spell that backfired, or even someone just being in the wrong place at the wrong time when someone was doing a powerful form of magic and getting caught up in it.

The ethics of magic usage within your world and the morals of your characters are another consideration you’ll need to take in regard to curses. We’ll talk about laws governing magic later this month, but laws do not always align with ethics and morals.

Worldbuilding Exercises:

  • Does magic in your world accommodate deliberate curses, or are they passive occurrences? Can both happen?
  • Is any magic practitioner able to cast a curse, or is it limited to certain branches of magic?
  • Can a non-magic practitioner cast a curse under certain circumstances? What are some examples of those circumstances?
  • Are certain types of curses (changing someone’s hair color, causing food to become dirt in their mouth) more acceptable than others (sleeping for a hundred years, causing physical harm/death, trapping someone in a location)? When does a curse become taboo/forbidden?
  • Can curses be broken? If not, why not?

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9 thoughts on “C is for Curses

  1. I love curses because normally they call for an act of will of the part of the characters. It might be the decision to cast a curse, or the decision on how to handle a curse you receive.
    It’s a fascinating subject.

What do you think?