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Seven evils

Discussion in 'World Building' started by ascanius, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

    So I have been playing around with this idea for antagonists for a while and need some help. I took the idea of the seven deadly sins and I am embodying them in demigod sort of beings. They are going to be aspects of true evil, evil for evils sake. Im having a few problems however.

    First I am running into problems trying embody certain of the seven deadly sins. lust and anger are easy enough but what about envy, pride or sloth? Its easy enough to create a single person with these traits but I am having difficulty having a being be one of these traits.

    second I don't want what they are based off of to be apparent and on top of that I don't want how they achieve their goals to be visible. What I mean is them leading armies and conquering cites to inflict pain and suffering. What I am going for is the corruption of a persons humanity by breaking that person and polluting their sense of right and wrong and send them out to do the same. Simply put they take what is good and twist it. However I want them to be powerful enough to corrupt entire cities just by warping a persons perceptions and morals until they are consumed by this one trait. A good way to look at it would be a cult leader. The problem I'm having is how do I achieve this. For example lust. I thought of having this character manipulate a persons mind into believing anything sexual no matter what is not only acceptable but intrinsic to every person no matter what. Or with anger to pursue anger because a person can achieve power, self satisfaction, safety etc.

    Third question is more of asking for advice. I started with lust. I am worried about how people will take it if I make her female. At first I though making it both male and female but I worry about people drawing the wrong conclusions the same way if I made the character male and demonizing gays. I think this concern is warranted, but I also wonder if he same conclusions can be made if the character is female. I chose female because I thought it would be an interesting twist to the caring female characters. The other thing I worry about is where to draw the line. I want these beings to have power and evoke a sense of doom and hopelessness in the reader kinda like the way the book "the road" does. However I worry, for instance sloth, about having and entire town like a nazi concentration camp because the people have become so lazy, leaving babies to die of starvation etc.

    One last thing I don't intend for these characters to make many if at all any appearances I jut want their effects to be seen to some extent.

    So far this is what I have plus the rational manipulation behind it, though it is hard to find seemingly justifiable reasons.
    Greed. people become so greedy that they can no longer function as a society or family, unable to help or give even in exchange. The manipulation would be, a person wants or needs something they are justified in having it and keeping simply because they need things to survive.
    Pride. People so full of pride they are incapable of realizing the existence of others nor their own faults. The manipulation is, pride is needed because it give a person self importance and self esteem.
    Sloth. The absolute inability to do anything beyond very basic survival needs food and water. Manipulation, why should a person work when others have more than they need.
    Anger. people giving into anger and nurturing it because it gives them power and control making their lives better.
    Envy. People so full of resentment for everyone that they isolate themselves from family and society. Manipulation, A persons neighbor has traits and items that will make that person better.
    Gluttony. Excess in everything eventually killing themselves due to such excesses. Manipulation, life is short and a person should enjoy everything to its fullest extent.
    Lust. the excess and perversion for its own sake. manipulation, it is something that every person needs and there is nothing wrong with giving in to the needs of the body.

    looking at the above anyone have any thoughts or opinions?
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2013
  2. Filk

    Filk Troubadour

    You've got a great idea here. I think you will be able to work out your kinks. I think that envy would be the biggest challenge, although enviousness could create discord by way of greed. If you desire what someone else has then you will take it. If you wish you were more beautiful, then you could kill the people who outshine you.

    I wonder if these manipulations are of a magical sort. Would the demigods be able to corrupt anyone, or would those corrupted have a tendency towards the sin in the first place? Would the hero(es) of the story have to face them and hold fast to their virtues?

    I don't see a problem with the lust demigod being female. I do somehow like the idea of this demigod being both male ad female, but by being female you are not saying that females are more lustful in general; the bible does seem to indicate that with the temptation of Eve and all. I would recommend you tread carefully in this respect though and you are right to have concern. I also don't think you should worry if the lust demigod is male. Wouldn't the female be bisexual as well? If you are getting at that homosexuality is sinful, then you are heading in the wrong direction. I wouldn't worry about the sex of a sexual partner, but perhaps focus on the age and/or species as the sinful aspect.

    Seeing this story through the eyes of the characters not touched by the demigods would be best I think. To have a thoroughly dissolute character who is the embodiment of one of these sins would not be as effective as seeing this world through the eyes of someone who still has choice and a moral code, although maybe should not be 100% pious either. Hope this helps!
    ascanius likes this.
  3. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    I'm not a fan of the comic Jack, but one thing I like about it is that it made the embodiment of lust a hideous rapist. Lust as female is fine, but lust as beautiful misses the point a bit.

    Personally, I wrote my demons as embodying four sins--wrath, greed, lust, and cowardice. Almost any other sin save willful sadism can be viewed as cowardice if you squint at it right--for instance, sloth for which someone later feels guilt* typically manifests as a fear of action.

    *I based the system around what people feel guilty for, since I didn't want to advocate an absolute right and wrong.
    ascanius likes this.
  4. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

    Envy is one that Im still not sure about. What about this.
    Envy. people focus on the physical abilities and looks of others resorting to killing others. Or they try to become other people, trying to dress and act like them.
    Another idea I had was to have the demigods create rules creating internal conflict within people such as anger. Such as it is bad to hurt a person but giving into anger is encouraged.

    As it stands right now they can corrupt anyone and not through a apparent magical means, its there but the reader never discovers exactly what it is, but more by using a persons fears, regrets, ambitions etc against them. They are beings who are able to gain a persons trust, love, adoration etc very easily. I'm think mostly of how a cult leader is able to gather followers and those followers gather more.

    Hmm, Im just going to make lust both male and female. I think it will keep things more level and less demonizing of just one or the other. I didn't intend to imply homosexuality is sinful, I was just worried about it seeming that way. I was going for more the means, like rape, manner sadism, age, and species. However the last two are well, when combined with the other two very Fd up. I think I have a good idea on how I can write about this through nightmares of one character and simply implying things.

    There is only one character who has been directly affected by one of the demigods and the reader finds out only through a few nightmares. Im not really interested in showing what happened but how it affects her. The others only see the effects of the demigods.

    @feo I wanted lust to be beautiful because of how she would be someone people would trust. They use the people against themselves. However I still like the idea, it could work because people would find the person hideous and the demigod would gain the persons trust by showing them that they are more than their disfigurement then use that trust to corrupt. Heck I could even make it so that each person sees the demigods differently, they are seen in a way that plays off their sympathies. Thanks
  5. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    It depends. Lust could be both. It just depends on whether you're seeing through the eyes of the luster (seductive porn star) or the person being lusted after (hideous terrifying rapist). The first appearance could even be a mask to conceal the second one (sin always looks great until you're in it, then it screws you for all it's worth).
  6. Filk

    Filk Troubadour

    I think your idea for envy works. I know that dress and the poor class being envious of the richer classes in medieval times was a problem. You could exacerbate this to the point of ridiculousness and, as you said, the point of murder. Killing for a nice pair of shoes, or spending your family's food money on said shoes could ultimately disrupt society. Also those who achieved an enviable status (not that they could ever fully be satisfied) could create a social divide. Again, you have a great idea here; I think you have a bit of leeway here.

    One thing I am unsure of is the realm of influence. If it is the power of these demigods that turns people and it seems to happen on a personal level, will there be underlings to these demigods who can turn people as well to create a more widespread effect?
  7. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    I like the idea though I don't think it's going to be envy that's your biggest problem. Envy is quite easy. It's wanting what other people have, and so the twisted people simply cannot go past another person that has anything and not want it. It's total and absolute desire for what they have that they will do anything to get it, including of course, violence. And of course envy can be wanting of things other than physical. So people can be envious of another's position in society. This is a good motivator for individuals to become a rabble.

    It will of course be a close match to greed. But my thought is that greed has no consideration of the other person. It's more basic than that. It's purely about the want. It doesn't matter whether what it is that's wanted is owned by another person. It doesn't matter that the person already has it. Even when he has it he wants more of it.

    Keeping greed and envy separate will be a challenge.

    However in my view it's sloth that will be your biggest problem. How do you motivate a people to attack when all they want to do is lie down and sleep? So maybe they get angry when their desire to rest is kept fromthem. They can't rest until every disturbance inthe world is removed. But to my mind this is weak. It's more a case where the demon wouldn't use violence. He'd simply turn up twist people's thoughts, and let the city slowly collapse from within as people stopped turning up to work. And if his power is strong enough, sooner or later they'd be too 'tired' to even get up and feed themselves.

    Lust is also problematic for leading any organised battle, but could be used to destroy a city. Imagine if everyone in the city slowly began to find one other person desirable. Not just desirable but absolutely so. The object of the desire being completely overpowering. Now imagine if the other person didn't reciprocate those feelings. Imagine the hatred if they knew that said person desired another! Think school boy crushes taken to absolute extremes. There would be rape and violence. The pain of rejection and the fear of that pain would drive people to do terrible things. And I have no problem with lust being female, but my thought would be that Lust would be better as a being that can be either male or female depending on a whim.

    Pride could be used to lead an army, but it would be tricky. Again its better used as a vehicle for civil disobediance / social breakdown. Here the self belief in one's own worth and skills is warped to the extreme where the victim cannot abide the idea that another does not recognise his superiority. Some might kill out of this alone. But take it to the extreme where it becomes about competition. Say two artisans working, both of them unable to accept that their work is anything less than the best, and both of them taking the other's belief as a direct challenge to their status. If neither can back down and accept that the other's work is better, you get violence. And you can also get destruction as people tear down each other's works simply because they consider it an offence that it exists. It is not up to their standards. And don't forget the other side of the coin. Disrespect. The warped could never tolerate the slightest hint that someone does not consider their work the absolute best.

    Gluttony I simply can't see leading an army. But again it could be used to destroy a city through decreased social cohesion. Everyone's hungry all the time, they must eat more, So they will fight and steal each other's food after presumably emptied out the stores. In fact that hunger will be the only thing on their mind. And eventually if you went really dark, it might slip over into canabalism.

    Wrath of course is a perfect vehicle for a general to motivate an army with. All they need to do is give their soldiers the tiniest excuse to be angry. They called their soldiers names so must be destroyed absolutely. But it's again a better tool for breaking down society from within. Two people pass in the street. One imagines the other said something or did something, and suddenly its blood in the street.

    I think your idea of the seven deadly demons is a good one, but I think that you do have to show the demon's at work and be clear about what it is that is that's driving the people. Maybe if you don't want to make it immediately clear you coul have the effects start slowly and build.

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers, Greg.
  8. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    Seems to me the issue with Lust is simple: if these beings stimulate sins in others, Lust wouldn't appear as the sex object, it would be the pimp. Or the madam. --Actually, all of them probably look a bit different to each person who sees them, or at least tailor their form for each overall crowd, so in at least some cases they'd take on whichever gender was more useful.

    Not exactly what you're doing, but take a look at the seven Homunculi of Fullmetal Alchemist, and play some Dragon Age: Origins, because... well, because it's Fullmetal and Dragon Age, they're their own reasons. :)
  9. Kahle

    Kahle Minstrel

    Second the Fullmetal Alchemist and Dragon Age: Origins.

    The first has characters that embody each of the sins, but don't personally suffer from their sins, or so they believe. However, there are deeper levels to the relations of the Sins, and certain characters form alliances (Gluttony and Lust) while some are almost rogue forces (Wrath).

    For the second, most of the sins are embodied in the form of demons that prey upon the weak minds. Hunger demons are more like enraged zombies, rage demons are fiery lava-bodied creatures that attack directly, desire demons take the form of a woman with feminine traits who offer both tangible rewards and goals, sloth demons draw their prey into dreams where they present utopian worlds-trapping the victim in complacency, and the pride demons offer immense power and knowledge.

    As I understand it, your 7 Sins will be embodied in characters who use their power to manipulate others and do not suffer from the nature of the sin themselves. You might want to establish relationships between the characters, or have them interact in some way. Dante's Inferno gives a certain severity to each of the sins, some being more grievous than others.

    Wrath-most people are easily provoked by one subject or another, and submitting to Wrath doesn't always mean physical violence. If someone embraces their anger, enjoys it, and is twisted by it to hurt others out of spite and revenge, then it is still Wrath. Just make sure the motive of spite or revenge is not confused with Envy-there is less logic involved with Wrath; think of a blinding rage and lashing out at anyone and anything, laying false blame. Wrath is the one throwing insults, starting fights, teasing and bullying.

    Sloth-this doesn't need to rely solely on the idea of lethargy and sleep, but rather complacency. For a creature of Sloth to hold a town under its power would be relatively simple-just convince everyone that events are safe and normal. Even the simplest lie can become agreeable under the influence of Sloth. The populace wouldn't need to be enslaved because they would be willing to accept the Sloth's arguments.

    Envy-tease the other characters with their deepest desires-easily tied into Lust, Greed, and Gluttony-appeal to that sense of injured justice. This is a great tension between siblings and best friends, maybe even having Envy pose as the more successful friend to drive the lesser character to extreme measures. Find the secrets held by other characters and offer them satisfaction of A if they accomplish task B.

    Gluttony-this is one of the characters that could make good on an agreement, where they give and give until the characters begin to drown in their excess. The food sweeter, the wine stronger, until the victims are left incapacitated by their indulgences. This also might be a character that can be related to fire, which can consume everything and never be satisfied, only dying when there is nothing left to burn (Thor and Loki visit the Giants, Loki engages in an eating competition with a giant and loses, giant is revealed to be Fire).

    Pride-give a character the belief that they are untouchable, the smartest, best, supreme being. Some of this confidence can also overflow onto other characters, so that they also believe character A to be untouchable (Witch-King of Angmar). There are so many tragic stories of pride (look into Greek plays for tragic pride). The power and knowledge that Pride can offer can be taken with good intentions, but since it comes with the sin's taint, the giver can always corrupt or withdraw their aid.

    Lust-He/She can usually inspire a false sense of love in anyone, whether for the creature itself or for another person (false b/c it was not an original thought, though the individual believes him/herself to be in love). This one can be extremely manipulative of their victim. The goddess Aphrodite was attracted to victims to some degree, but was likely to cast them off. However, if another god interfered with her plaything, she became furious.

    Greed-this one can also involve Scrooges. There are those who covet wealth and finery but never use it for any purpose, good or evil (tie into Sloth?). The victims of Greed concern themselves with wealth to such a degree that it is an addiction-everything in their life is sacrificed for more wealth and material objects.

    Greek and Norse Mythology have great examples of all of these traits, in lessons and the personalities of the gods themselves.
  10. advait98

    advait98 Sage

    I agree, I don't think envy is too much of a problem. Perhaps you could look up some mythological characters who had these flaws, like Megaera of the Three Furies.

    Just to clarify, you're not looking for these seven evils just to be portrayed as a war-causing or war-winning machinery, are you? Or are you looking ttoward more of chaos within society?

    If the latter, then I don't see too much of a problem in gluttony and greed, heck we've got real life examples all over the place.

    Lust... Just two, three months ago, there started huge riots in India after the brutal rape of a young college student, when the whole country came together to revolt against this grave misdeed against the government. It was like the final straw, with constant reports of more of these cases coming in almost every other day. It was not far from the border of anarchy. So maybe your lust demigod, not only does he/she emit a um, abusive vibe, an um, false love kinda vibe, but also have underlying intentions of causing a tumult in the society.

    My views, ignore if you want to.
  11. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

    This is a really awesome thread and really enjoyed reading this! And hey don't feel like you have to use the seven sins, you can always make your own. Maybe sloth coul also be more powerful and cause influence? Maybe an army marching under the command of the sloth demigod (I just imagine a giant sloth with a pentagram on its forehead walking around lol) is really gifted in the arts of sorcery and can influence others into apathy so maybe the defending army isn't very concerned or maybe they are confused or something like that. And I don't really see gluttony being very useful for war specifically but maybe it would appeal to a lot of people so the gluttony demigod could have like a strength in numbers sort of thing. Same with Lust. I can see a lot of people turnig to the Lust Demigod/goddess for reasons other than for fighting and maybe the Champion of this God becomes so beautiful that anone who looks upon him/her is dumbfounded by their perverse beauty? I'm having a hard time organizing my thoughts (I got like no sleep last night) so hopefully this helps a little!

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