Gruesome Magical Girls Worldbuilding

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Gruesome Magical Girls Worldbuilding

Postby Kappa » Wed Jul 23, 2014 5:41 pm

So basically how this came about is that I've been on a magical girl kick lately, I saw one transformation sequence of one girl in one series that looked like it hurt quite a bit, the Jokers pointed and went "ooh", and then my brain grabbed onto this notion of "magical girls, but more painful and horrifying" and ran away cackling into the sunset.

The result is a world where people become magical girls (the "girl" part is totally optional, I'm just calling them that because genre conventions) through the use of roses. Perhaps I should capitalize that to Roses or something, because these are not ordinary roses. You could think of them as magical parasites or symbiotes. They can only grow in humans; when separated, they enter a dormant state until the next time they find a host.

Needless to say, this explanation is going to get gruesome.

From the human host's point of view, it works like this: You pick up this weird-looking cut rose, and for whatever reason, hold it tightly enough by the stem that the thorns hurt you. The rose comes alive and coils around your arm until the flower is at the back of your hand; the end of the stem grows several new stems, all much livelier than ordinary plant life, and those burrow into your arm and keep growing and splitting until there are rose stems throughout most of your body. This doesn't cause you actual harm as such, but it does hurt quite a bit. Along the way, some of the stems re-emerge, and you end up artistically decorated with coiling rose stems that also helpfully provide a kind of swimsuit/bodysuit made of unreasonably durable rose-petal material. (This process may be incidentally rough on whatever you're wearing, but your existing clothes don't magically disappear or whatever.) Then any extraneous damage from the rose invasion heals over, and the stems/vines calm down and quit moving around, so continuing to be occupied by them is only moderately painful. Also, you now have cool magical powers! Congratulations. More on that later.

If you would like to stop being occupied by magical rosevines, just grab the flower head and start pulling on it and trying to unwrap it. It'll come off, and all the vines and the petal-bodysuit will extract themselves and wither away, which will hurt pretty much the same as getting them in the first place did, but once again the last thing they do will be to heal whatever damage they did you, and you will be left perfectly healthy and uninjured and holding a weird-looking cut rose, with all your magical powers gone.


Now, the cool magical powers: Roses come in eight different colour variations. Each one behaves slightly differently when uniting with a host, and each one gives slightly different cool magical powers, although some are more different than others. All roses grant the same baseline accelerated healing - rose hosts can recover from pretty much any injury that isn't immediately fatal.

  • Red/black roses have red petals and black stems, with red-tipped black thorns. Their thorns are sharp, and tend to draw a lot of blood while uniting or disuniting with a host. They grant the host an automatic boost to speed and agility, as well as the ability to manifest edged weapons such as swords and knives; their primary magical focus is cutting. Secondary focuses include healing others and nullifying magic.
  • Blue/purple and purple/blue roses have either blue petals and purple stems with blue-tipped purple thorns, or the reverse. Instead of physically burrowing into the host, the stems of these roses become partly insubstantial and sink into the host's body, causing bruises in all the flesh they pass through, as well as wherever the external vines touch. They grant the host an automatic boost to strength, as well as the ability to manifest blunt weapons such as clubs, maces, and baseball bats; their primary magical focus is telekinesis. Secondary focuses include magical shields.
  • Orange/red roses have orange petals and brick-red stems, with orange-tipped red thorns. These are another kind that unite using insubstantial stems, but instead of bruising, these ones burn. They grant the host an automatic boost to the senses, as well as the ability to manifest ranged weapons like crossbows, longbows, or javelins; their primary magical focus is heat and fire. Secondary focuses include light.
  • White/blue roses have white petals and pale blue stems, with white-tipped blue thorns. They unite using insubstantial stems that freeze the host, causing frostbite. They grant the host an automatic boost to the senses, as well as the ability to manifest ranged weapons like crossbows, longbows, or javelins, and their primary magical focus is cold and ice. Secondary focuses include light.
  • Pink/yellow and yellow/pink roses have either pink petals and yellow stems with pink-tipped yellow thorns, or the reverse. They unite using stems that physically burrow into the host's body, but without drawing very much blood. They grant the host an automatic boost to grace (muscle memory, precision of movement), as well as the ability to manifest polearms like spears, long-handled axes, or glaives; their primary magical focus is healing others.
  • Black/white roses have black petals and white stems, with black-tipped white thorns. They unite using insubstantial stems that cause damageless pain in the host - think Cruciatus Curse, and yes, I do mean to imply that this kind hurts way worse than the rest. They grant the host automatic magical flight capabilities, as well as the ability to manifest wands and staves; their primary magical focus is conjuring objects. Secondary focuses include enchanting objects and nullifying magic.

In case you were wondering about the effects of repeated flower use, or where new flowers come from, I have those things covered! Depending on how frequently somebody uses a particular kind of magical flower, they're eventually going to get some buildup of small stem and thorn fragments in their bodies. (Even the partly-insubstantial kinds leave behind some physical fragments on the way out.) The progression of effects from different levels of fragment buildup is as follows:
  • After only one or two uses, or in someone who uses roses at most once or twice a month, there will be no fragment buildup. Each time the host uses a rose will be as though it is that person's first time, in terms of how the rose's magic reacts - the host will still be able to learn how to use its magic more skillfully, but they won't get any fragment buildup effects.
  • After more than two uses in the same week, the rose will start leaving fragments behind. The fragments are cumulative. It's theoretically possible to remove them using invasive surgery, but they're small and hard to find; the host can sense their presence and get a rough idea of numbers and locations if they think about it, but that doesn't make it much more practical to cut them open and fish the little buggers out. Anyway. In the early stages of fragment accumulation, the host starts to gain greater control over the placement of stems while uniting with the rose, and can alter the design of their petal-bodysuit to include things like sleeves, leggings, or a skirt. They'll also find that they don't get sick anymore - just a few fragments are enough to make the host immune to all infectious disease.
  • From that point forward, fragments continue accumulating. After 20-25 uses in total, the host will find that they contain enough fragments to facilitate transformation even without using an external rose - they just have to focus on it and the fragments will start assembling and growing into full stems. Transforming this way creates no flower heads, so it's possible to tell hosts in this phase from hosts in other phases by the presence or absence of a flower head on the wrist/back of hand. Likewise, they can detransform by focusing; the stems will retract and wither back down to the fragments that made them, instead of exiting outward. People with this level of fragment accumulation will find that they age more slowly, never succumb to age-related infirmities like brittle bones, heart trouble, or dementia, and can't die of old age. Also, they have much greater control over their stem/petal configurations when transforming, and can pretty much design their own outfits to arbitrary specifications (as long as everything they design is made of stems and petals) and alter them at will. Black/white rose hosts sometimes like to give themselves wings.
  • After about a hundred uses in total, the host will find that they are now capable of producing new flower heads. This can be done at any time while transformed, and activates all stems of the relevant type, making them writhe around painfully while the new flower is growing. The flower can be cut off immediately, or if not, it will fall away with a length of stem attached when the host detransforms. Hosts with this level of fragment accumulation will find that they can do some minor magic without fully transforming, and retain their automatic healing even while not transformed, as well as the automatic boosts of the relevant kinds of rose.

By the way, yes, it's possible for one person to use multiple roses, separately or in conjunction. Transforming using multiple flower types at once gives you all of the relevant powers, at the cost of inflicting all of the relevant pains, and all the relevant colours of stems/petals will appear in the resulting outfit.

Fragment accumulation for each of the eight colour variations is separate - accumulating blue/purple fragments won't add to your purple/blue fragment totals. Many of the fragment accumulation level effects are separate per flower type - for example, someone who has enough blue/purple fragments to transform at will but only a few fragments of red/black will be able to transform blue/purple at will, but can only transform red/black using flowers, until they have accumulated enough red/black fragments; similarly, someone who has enough black/white fragments to produce new flowers but has only a few fragments each of yellow/pink and white/blue will be able to produce black/white flowers, but not flowers of the other colours, and they will retain flight while detransformed but not the boosts to grace or senses. On the other hand, things like immunity to illness and old age work as long as you achieve that level in at least one flower, and outfit control works at the highest level you have no matter what - if you have a high accumulation of red/black fragments and no fragments of other colours, and you transform using a combination of pink/yellow and black/white flowers without using your red/black fragments directly at all, you'll still be able to control your outfit design just as easily as if you were transforming red/black.

I haven't worked out the details of weapon manifestation yet, but I think it involves sprouting stems and petals that shape themselves into the form of the weapon and then transmute into hardier materials, and then un-transmute and wither away when you detransform.

I want each colour variation to have at least five magical focuses, and the reciprocal pairs (blue/purple - purple/blue, yellow/pink - pink/yellow) should have at least one or two of those not in common, even though they'll probably be identical for most of them. But I haven't made up very many focuses yet.

I want black/white roses to have lots of really cool and widely applicable magic, but I haven't thought of it all yet. Other kinds can have some cool and widely applicable magic too, but black/white should have lots.

And whew, I think that might actually be it!

edit: Updated/expanded info on flower powers and fragment accumulation levels
Last edited by Kappa on Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gruesome Magical Girls Worldbuilding

Postby Lambda » Wed Jul 23, 2014 6:17 pm

Does anything interesting happen if you just leave the rose in, or do you have to take it out and put it back in to accumulate fragments?

Can black/white hosts make lasting stuff like demons can, or is it more like temporary props and hammerspace?
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Re: Gruesome Magical Girls Worldbuilding

Postby Kappa » Wed Jul 23, 2014 6:25 pm

Well, you will have some difficulty going to the bathroom through the petal-bodysuit... :P But that is surmountable, because I think the suits can self-repair even at early stages if they're not too badly damaged, so you'd just have to... temporarily edit it a little.

I think if you manage to leave it in for a really long time - like, sleep on it, which will be difficult because just being in the transformed state is painful and many people find it hard to sleep while in pain - then when you eventually take it out, you'll have many more fragments left behind than you would have if you'd just been transformed for a few hours. Somebody who lived in the transformed state for a month or something might find themselves starting to achieve various fragment levels even without detransforming and retransforming. But they'd also be going around for a month full of rosevines, and did I mention that magic isn't "out" in this world? XD

Edit to respond to your sneakily edited-in question, you sneak you (<3): At a beginner's skill level with black/white magic, you can only conjure temporary objects that will fade away after a few hours. I think making conjured objects permanent might be a form of enchanting, so you'd need to get good enough to start using the second focus. (I haven't gone into detail on the progression of focuses, either, but a rough outline: To start with, you can use your rose's first magical focus in its most basic ways. If you practice that a lot - progressing to higher fragment levels also helps - you get better at that, and can do more kinds of magic with it, and eventually you become able to choose another magical focus from the list - not necessarily the second one. And as you get better at those, you unlock more, until you have all five.)
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Re: Gruesome Magical Girls Worldbuilding

Postby modrony » Thu Jul 24, 2014 1:05 am

Could you implant fragments and go straight to full power?

I'd make fragments a bad thing so you have a reason to go back and forth between transformed and not.
I'd also make the flowers die inside you if used too much and causing health problems.
Maybe using your lungs for reproduction. Filling them with pollen if you accumulate too many fragments.
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Re: Gruesome Magical Girls Worldbuilding

Postby Kappa » Thu Jul 24, 2014 3:45 am

No.

No, you can't implant fragments that way, because you can't get fragments to implant; if you pull some out of a host or cut them off of a flower, they die and become useless.

No, fragments are not going to be a bad thing; there is already a reason to go back and forth, and it's that being transformed hurts and looks weird and is inconvenient for some purposes.

No, flowers do not cause health problems. Flowers do the opposite of cause health problems. They're painful and gruesome, but they're beneficial, and their most basic benefit is healing all injury and illness.
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Re: Gruesome Magical Girls Worldbuilding

Postby Oraanu » Thu Jul 24, 2014 4:21 am

Kappa wrote:did I mention that magic isn't "out" in this world?


To what extent is magic not "out?" To draw comparisons to other 'verses: Are you envisioning (1) something like pre-Revelation Daevinity, where there are only a few Rose hosts, none of which are motivated to spread the secret for power/profit reasons, (2) something like Aurum under the Volturi, where secrecy is lethally enforced, (3) whatever explanation suffices for why magical girls in most shows are not "out" (and if this is the case what is that reason?), or (4) something else entirely?

Other questions. If a Rose is applied to a dying person who has never before hosted a Rose, how likely is it that the person will recover? Is the threshold "if vampire venom will fix it, then so will a Rose," or is it possible for, say, a person dying of blood loss to be given a Red/Black Rose and die of blood loss before the nifty healing kicks in? Related question, if magic were "out" and controlled by sane people, would hospitals be able to effectively use Roses to treat life threatening illnesses?
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Re: Gruesome Magical Girls Worldbuilding

Postby Kappa » Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:02 am

More or less standard magical girl non-outness, operating along the lines of "well, nobody else has gone public yet, I don't wanna be the first one", which attitude is maintained by a combination of not caring/thinking about it much and nervousness over what might happen to the first few people who go public with the rose thing - whether they might be mocked/disbelieved, or locked up, or killed, or kidnapped for unethical scientific study. (I think in most non-out or partly-out magical girl series the veil is maintained by force of genre convention alone, but "I don't care enough to try this given what might happen to me if I do" seems like a reasonable motivation.)

If vampire venom will fix it, a rose probably will too. There might be things that vampire venom won't fix that a rose can, or vice versa - I'm not intimately familiar with the threshold for what vampire venom will fix - but pretty much, if you introduce a rose to someone who is not already dead, they're probably going to get better unless they happen to be floating in a vat of acid or otherwise subject to significant continuing damage at the time. And they might still get better even in the vat of acid. Blood loss is not a concern once you have a rose on the job. I guess I didn't explicitly mention this, but during the process of uniting with a host, a rose will also heal any major injuries the host has - it doesn't wait to start fixing you until it's all done. This may even include regenerating previously lost limbs; I haven't decided.
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Re: Gruesome Magical Girls Worldbuilding

Postby Shoal » Thu Jul 24, 2014 6:05 am

does it cure things the recipient might not want cured? for example a person blind from birth might find it really hard to get used to sight, and a person who lost it a while ago might be used to it and might find its return an unwelcome upheaval (or might welcome it) but a person who lost their sight recently would probably want it back

also someone who amputated a body part on purpose probably would want it to stay gone but a person who lost it by accident would probably want it back.
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Re: Gruesome Magical Girls Worldbuilding

Postby Kappa » Thu Jul 24, 2014 6:18 am

I think there might be some degree to which the healing can be influenced by strong preferences... some roses might even have a deliberate-body-modification secondary focus. In fact, I'm going to go give that focus to some of them right now. Red/black or the yellow/pink-pink/yellow pair, I haven't decided.
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Re: Gruesome Magical Girls Worldbuilding

Postby Kappa » Tue Feb 16, 2016 10:33 am

My brain randomly decided to pick this one up again, so now I have all the specialties filled out.

Red/black roses:
  • unite physically, drawing blood
  • grant automatic speed/agility
  • manifest edged weapons (swords, knives, etc)
  • primary magical focus: cutting
  • secondary focuses: heal others, alter/nullify magic,TK, light

Blue/purple and purple/blue roses:
  • unite insubstantially, causing bruises
  • grant automatic strength
  • manifest blunt weapons (maces, clubs, etc)
  • primary magical focus: TK
  • secondary focuses: shields, transform objects
    • blue/purple: repair objects, metal
    • purple/blue: destroy objects, stone

Orange/red and white/blue roses:
  • unite insubstantially
    • orange/red: burning
    • white/blue: freezing
  • grant automatic enhanced senses
  • manifest ranged weapons (bows, thrown spears)
  • primary magical focus:
    • orange/red: heat/fire
    • white/blue: cold/ice
  • secondary focuses: light, sound
    • orange/red: scrying, air
    • white/blue: invisibility, water

Pink/yellow and yellow/pink roses:
  • unite physically but bloodlessly
  • grant automatic grace (muscle memory, precision of movement)
  • manifest polearm weapons (spears, glaives)
  • primary magical focus: heal others
  • secondary focuses: shapeshift, pocket-dimensional storage
    • pink/yellow: enhance others, plants
    • yellow/pink: enhance self, glass

Black/white roses:
  • unite insubstantially, causing unmarked pain
  • grant automatic flight
  • manifest wands and staves
  • primary magical focus: conjure objects
  • secondary focuses: enchant objects, alter/nullify magic, skill boosts, shadow
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