Binding Magic
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Basic Information

Binding magic is the branch of magic - rarely a school - that deals with containing and compelling supernatural forces. This is the sort of magic you need to create fetishes and to tin up evil.

These workings are likely to be in demand with a variety of schools, and may belong to more than one - invocation/summon magic is likely to be an obvious contender as it's a necessary adjunct to their work, alternatively it may be part of charm magic (or enchantment in either of its interpretations), or ward magic, or abjuration. Depending on where it sits in a given setting, bindings may also work on mortals - possibly to the extent that they posses supernatural powers, but it may also allow people to be "bound" from other things, or even "bound" to a geas or other compulsion.

Some of the most impressive bindings - at least to the non-thaumaturges amongst us - are those that force an entity to manifest in a specific form.

This is traditionally a school in which knowing the true name of whatever entity you are trying to compel becomes very useful.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Some settings - notably the Stormbringer setting based around the works of Eric Moorcock - have this as the basis of all magic: humans cannot work proper magic on their own; all they can do is capture and coerce demons into working it for them.
    • He was also particularly fond of the "forced form" binding … the eponymous sword was actually an (offputtingly powerful) demon bound into that shape and his works featured many other demon-weapons, suits of demon-armour and other things made out of re-purposed demons. Or, occasionally, their ideological opposites, known as Virtues.
  • Campaign play becomes a lot more fun when PCs learn invocations without learning the appropriate ward magic and bindings to go with it and mainly succeed in catching something very angry.
  • Bindings to prohibit specific acts could be a significant part of a fantasy legal system - tattoos might be a useful technique for anchoring the binding to the subject.
  • Hilarity usually ensues when bindings are broken or the bound entity discovers loopholes - whether in malicious compliance, creative interpretation or the conservation of effort. Forcing an entity to act against its nature can also lead to trouble.
  • For those of truly towering hubris, this might allow you to enslave - or at least steal power from - a god by making a tool out of one of its idols. Obviously the bigger the god, the bigger the hubris but this would still be a mythic act in most cases, and a good origin myth for a powerful but dangerous artifact or part of the legend of the apotheosis of a demigod or other quasi-divine being (such as a "god-emperor" despot tracing their line to the man who melted down the idol of the tutelary deity of the city that he had conquered and forged it into the throne from which he and his descendants ruled). It could equally be part of a hubris-nemesis arc explaining why the remains of that city are best avoided after the god in question turned out not to be in to bondage.
    • Obviously, if you are animistic enough the difference between doing this and binding a regular fetish may be (close to) nothing.
    • Whilst the theurgic version of this would be to seize the idols of the enemy's gods and place them in the temple of your own god as prisoners. This, of course, can still backfire.
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