Updated: Sep 29, 2020
Yes folks, it's that time again! Time for part three of my four part blog on potential powers in Joss Whedon's upcoming HBO Sci Fi Drama The Nevers!
In part three, we're leaving the mundane behind. These are no simple powers of mind, or body. In this article we'll trip the light fantastic and travel beyond, to a world where ANYTHING is possible. A world where the normal is anything but, in short, a world of magic!
If we're going to talk about magic, there really is only one place to start.
Quickly! Think of a spell! Right now! (no, not freakin' Expelliarmus.)
Let me guess... Fireball? Maybe Lightning Bolt?
Yes, the first power we'll be discussing is probably the most iconic there is, when it comes to magic.
The ability to control the fundamental forces of nature itself. How can you not think that's cool? Or hot. Or windy. It's up to you, you control it all!
While other elements have been added over time, because people have decided to get more complex with it, today we're going to stick to the four basic elements. They're the classics and honestly anything else is vaguely unnecessary, in my opinion.
Fire Control, AKA Pyromancy: The ability to burn everything.
Seen as the most destructive of the four elements, fire has something of a bad reputation, amongst Elementalists. Mostly, because while the other elements tend to be given secondary uses or effects, Fire is most often shown to have no uses other than reducing everything to ash. I think this is a little unfair, though. I'd love to see them highlight some of the non-destructive powers of fire. For instance, cauterizing wounds, sterilizing equipment, or any of the countless other things you can do with fire which don't end in someone's charred remains falling to the floor.
Water Control, AKA Hydromancy: The ability to wash it all away.
While Fire historically has been seen as the destructive element, Water has the opposite problem. Seen for years as the healing element, I feel like people really underestimate the vast damage that a skilled Hydromancer is capable of throwing out. When you consider that the average human being is 70% water, giving someone the ability to control that is going to end badly for their opponent. So, much like I'd like to see a non-violent Pyromancer, I'd love to see a Hydromancer who gives no fucks and is more than willing to kill anyone who gets in their way.
Earth Control, AKA Terramancy: The ability to crush your opposition!
Not going to lie, I've always loved Terramancy, and I feel like people rarely have as much fun with it as they could. Most Terramancers tend to limit themselves to magically throwing rocks around and occasionally lifting a rock screen up, to block attacks. Yay. How thrilling. Truly Magical. I'd love to see someone go all out; maybe use Terramancy to turn their skin to stone, allowing them to increase both their offensive and defensive capabilities in melee combat? Or maybe use their powers to summon mud golems and control their rocky army, instead of engaging in more traditional combat. When you control the very planet we're standing on, you're only limited by your own imagination.
Air control, AKA Aeromancy: The ability to, wait... what was that?
If Fire is the element of destruction, Water of restoration, and Earth of defense, to me Air will always be the element of manipulation and obfuscation. While it's fine to just kinda, blow things over, there are plenty of other ways to do that. Air, and with it, the ability to manipulate sound, make Air magic perfect for distractions, confusion and generally trickery. I'd love them to add a mischievous trickster character, who uses their air abilities to spy on people, trick them and generally troll. Maybe, if they added a character who had a sideline in Blackmail, hmmm.
SO! There we have a few ideas of what you can do with Elemental Manipulation! But that is only one facet of magic, how about we look at a few other abilities they could unleash?
Yup! The mystic art of turning yourself into something that isn't yourself! A staple ability in magical fiction. Because, quite frankly, it's freakin awesome and you'd be a fool not to use it, if you've got the chance. Shapeshifting breaks down into two primary sub-types:
Humanoid Shifting: The ability to look like a person other than yourself. ALWAYS super useful; either for recon, and tricking others into giving over secrets, or just for spreading generalized chaos. Which, to be fair, is fun in it's own way. This is something of a trope these days, as seemingly every show trots out at least one episode where a mimic infiltrates the heroes and chaos ensues. As such, it feels a little played out and I would hope Joss avoids this particular branch.
Animal Shifting: My favourite version of this particular power. The ability for a human to turn into an animal! Has very similar applications to humanoid shifting, in terms of recon/spy-work. Sure you can turn into a person and use their face to gain access to a building, but you can achieve the same results by turning into a fly, rat or any other small animal and sneak in that way. The fun part of Animal Shifting is that once your clever plan INEVITABLY goes horribly wrong and you're left in a room full of enemies, you can turn into a freakin Bear or a Tiger and just murder everything!
They say that magic is simply a tool. That there ARE no good or bad schools of magic, only good and bad magicians. But we all know that's not STRICTLY true now, don't we? There are some magics, which even the most loosely moralled mages get a little bit wary of.
I'm talking, of course, of Necromancy.
Necromancy, magic to raise and control the dead. There are few schools of magic that are seen as inherently evil. But if you were making a list of schools that ARE, this would be right at the top of the list.
Necromancy is the ability to raise the dead, and bend them to your will, placing you at the head of an army on unstoppable horrors. Which is pretty awesome, if somewhat distasteful.
In an era as rife with death and disease as the Victorian age, I can see a necromancer becoming a truly brutal antagonist for a group such as the Touched. Plus, we can't forget that Joss Whedon is an absolute ass, and I can 1000% see him killing off an important character, only to have a Necromancer bring them back and throw them right back at the Nevers. Because who wants a fight that's only painful on the physical level, right?
There's also one aspect of Necromancy that is particularly fun to play with, for a villain.
Namely: The Phylactery.
Through the use of a Phylactery, a simple Necromancer can transcend the bounds of life and death, becoming a Lich; an unstoppable, un-killable master of the Dark Arts. A Lich can survive bodily destruction over and over, and can only be truly killed when their phylactery is irreparably destroyed.
Pretty terrifying prospect for a villain, no?
At first, they seem totally normal. But then after their first death they come back, looking slightly more pale and drawn. Then over the course of many seasons, they're killed again and again, in a variety of fun and imaginative ways.
Each time, they come back, looking more scarred and broken, but still very much "alive".
Until finally, they're just this ragged skeleton, crackling with Eldritch power.
So there we have it, folks. A brief selection of Magical abilities and enhancements I'd like to see, in The Nevers. Don't forget to make yourself heard in the comments below!
What do you think of my selection here, and are there any other Magical abilities YOU'D like to see?
Join me next week for the final part of my series on powers, when things get a little strange and we explore the powers that make you say WTF?