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Kngt_Of_Titania

Is Dark Magic Actually Evil?

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I've always asked myself this question when playing FE8. In most Fire Emblems, it's always at least portrayed as evil and vile -- its usually relegated to villains, people usually "succumb" to it, etc. The most egregious example of this is FE7 -- Canas is constantly worried about losing himself to dark magic (although, oddly enough, both his son and his mother practice it as well despite the dangers of it), Nergal's whole plotline is based on him being a gigantic dick immensely powerful dark druid who lost himself to his magic, and 19xx takes it even further by having the boss state that one can only truly master dark magic by emptying their soul so the void can consume them, and then implies that Nergal has forgotten about his children in his pursuit to become strong enough to save them through dark magic. The only thing I never really got in FE7 is that they also imply Athos is almost as powerful with dark magic (at least, in-game), but yet he shows no signs of this deterioration mentioned by Canas or in 19xx.

FE8, however, makes it more controversial. While, on its face, dark magic again appears evil (Lyon is a necromancer, and acts as one of the final bosses of the game), it's not quite as straightforward once you look into it. First, it is explained by Knoll that dark magic is "ancient", and has a long stigma of being evil, which he seems to take offense to. It would then be feasible to say that a demon sealed in ancient times would've been sealed through the use of these dark and ancient magics, into a container known as the dark stone. Now, what happens next is never explained, but considering the stigma, I would theorize that the use of dark magic became strongly discouraged afterwards in an attempt to keep somebody from ever undoing the sealing spell, which then caused the dark magics to be shunned and reviled over the course of centuries. Knoll also explains that dark is the antithesis of light because light represents faith while dark embodies knowledge -- which makes sense, considering light magic is all about healing and impulsively jumping in to a situation, while dark magic is all about prediction, weighing the logic of each course of action, and acting cautiously.

The only problem is that Knoll constantly feels remorse for his research in his support conversations, but yet at the same time defends dark magic from both Lute and Natasha. I think he feels terrible that he messed around with forces that he knew little about because of his own greed for knowledge and his desire to impress Lyon and achieve Lyon's dream of helping Grado. He is directly responsible for the release of the Demon King because he sought to use the power contained within the dark stone instead of releasing its true purpose. Yet, at the same time, dark magics will ultimately save uncountable citizens of Grado because it predicts the cataclysm which will engulf the region years in advance, and Knoll resolves to pair up with Natasha and use their unique talents for the greater good.

Ultimately, FE: Awakening tried to tie up all of the lore from (at least) the NES, SNES, and GBA Fire Emblems together in one story, although I'm confused as to whether Magvel and Tellius are included in this as well (especially considering FE10 said that Tellius was the only continent not consumed by the flood inadvertently caused by Yune's sorrow). If they are all in one world, then dark magic is either universally evil or it's not, but the conflicting lore on the topic is making this difficult.

Any thoughts?

Edited by Kngt_Of_Titania

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Ultimate power corrupts ultimately. Dark Mage is statistically the most powerful magic. If we go back to all the effect it has had it become even more powerful. Invincibility, ignoring defenses, draining health( yes I know this was originally light magic), reducing HP to one, and cutting an opponents HP in half. This all seems pretty OP so I can how it can be corrupting, but I don't believe that it is innately evil.

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I think it's like how Randa said, either that or the definition of dark magic changes from game to game.

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Canas explained that dark magic is a common name for what he would rather call elder magic. I assume that dark magic is not inherently evil, but makes it difficult to maintain your sense of self. And once you lose your self-awareness, you start a descent into madness. Most of us would think of craving power as being an evil pursuit, and in this case, knowledge is power. I think the status of dark magic is fairly consistent throughout the GBA games, though it does not apply to Tellius.

Personally, I see the magic trio in Elibe/Magvell like this:

Anima - Harnessing the spirits of nature

Light - Harnessing faith

Dark - Harnessing the power of the ancient

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It's definitely not innately evil. Lots of recruitable dark mages say that it only has that reputation b/c of mages that used it to be assholes for evil. So no. Definitely not evil.

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Dangerous? Yes.

Inherently evil? No.

Dark magic screws with weak and foolish minds and drives them insane. Case in point Canas' brothers. But some can handle it just fine, like Niime and Ray.

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Canas is actually the sanest Dark mage you encounter. Ray and Niime come close second.

There's also Bramimond case where he loses his identity in exchange of the ultimate power.

Basically what everyone else said...

This is an extremely powerfull and dangerous Magic that gives you a power beyond limits, but will ultimately destroy your soul entirely.

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Ultimate power corrupts ultimately. Dark Mage is statistically the most powerful magic.

I now want a final boss with axes.

Canas and Knoll both point out that "elder" or "ancient" would be a more apt description for it than "dark." So no, it's not explicitly evil. It's the most difficult to harness but also arguably the most powerful, weighty type of magic. As such, many villains who are pursuing as much power as possible use dark magic.

In FE10, a lot of major villains are associated with light magic, by contrast. It was an appreciable step away from villains always using dark magic.

Also, in FE8, the only reason shit went as far downhill as it did is because of Lyon using the Dark Stone after his father died to address that. All of their research up to that point seems to have been plenty successful with Lyon and his aides saving lives with their research.

And the supports between Natasha and Knoll are some of my favorites from the entire series. Some great discussions those two have.

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I now want a final boss with axes.

Technically Ashnard could use them. A mammoth spiked axe would've been an interesting sight, especially if he could throw it.

To add to what Samias said, I'd also consider dark magic to harness the power of the unknown, which is why its results can be unpredictable. Power may come at a price after all.

Edited by Doga Blockovich

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To add to what Samias said, I'd also consider dark magic to harness the power of the unknown, which is why its results can be unpredictable. Power may come at a price after all.

But Knoll suggests just the opposite. Darkness harnesses the power of knowledge, of the known, of the certainty -- it predicts future events, it draws on the power of the individual wielding it. Light, by contrast, is the power of faith; it is, by definition, believing that the outcome will be good, despite the unknown. It would seem to me that light would be more unpredictable since you mess with a power that derives its power by you NOT knowing how it works, since the power comes from outside you, from the mysterious order that governs the cosmos.

And the supports between Natasha and Knoll are some of my favorites from the entire series. Some great discussions those two have.

Knoll: I don't know what it is, but clerics and mages seem to be like oil and water. And we mages can be an enigmatic bunch at times. Shadowy and sinister... Or at least, that's how I've always imagined you clerics saw us.

Natasha: Oh, no! I never-- Well, no. You're right. We had few dealings with the mages. But that's in the past. I have a question for you, Master Knoll.

Knoll: I think I can guess. It's about the Sacred Stones and Prince Lyon, is it?

Natasha: It is. My mentor died...trying to warn us about the threat our Sacred Stone posed. I want to know the truth. What is Emperor Vigarde up to? What is Prince Lyon's role in this?

Knoll: There are as many truths out there as there are people to tell them. Perhaps it's best simply to choose the truth with which you are most comfortable.

Natasha: ......

Knoll: In the eyes of your mentor, I would imagine we must have seemed quite evil. He imagined our magical studies using the Sacred Stone were sacrilege. I suspect he quite loathed the ancient magics he called "dark."

Natasha: You're wrong... My mentor wasn't like that at all! And isn't this war the direct result of all your dark magic research?

Knoll: ......

Natasha: ......

Knoll: Hm... Well, I suppose you are right about that. Your magic stems from faith in the unknowable, the divine presence. In contrast, dark magic stems from knowledge, from understanding. We distrust what we do not understand, and we strive to know the unknowable. Perhaps our disciplines truly are incompatible.

Natasha: ......

Perhaps my favorite support convo from FE8.

Edited by Kngt_Of_Titania

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I prefer the B support to the C, myself. Just for this snippet:

Knoll: Oh, we dedicated years to studying this spell. You see, the greater the disaster, the farther it sends ripples through time. We learned to read these ripples from the future, hoping to save lives. If we could know when a disaster would strike, we could evacuate people. We could save millions of lives.

Natasha: But... It seems so, so blasphemous. That worldly creatures should take control of fate, it--
Knoll: Are you saying that, knowing the future, we should do nothing? We should simply allow people to die in order to preserve "fate"?

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It's definitely not innately evil. Lots of recruitable dark mages say that it only has that reputation b/c of mages that used it to be assholes for evil. So no. Definitely not evil.

You could probably argue that a lot of those traits make it very appealing to the series' villains, though: basically, trading your soul/identity for a power that drains your sanity if you're not careful.

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Like many others above, I've always considered dark magic to be just powerful, not evil. Powerful things do also tend to be dangerous (it's normally what makes them powerful in the first place); as an example, a high-poundage bow is very capable of causing an injury to a non-archer if they try to shoot it. Also, I believe at some point it was stated that dark magic in Jugdral was inherently evil, hence its use by the Lopt sect, but in other settings dark magic's only been as evil as the person using it.

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Is dark magic evil? No. Does it just so happen that most of the users are evil masterminds? Yes.

I guess that two-thirds does qualify as "most," but if you were to take every named dark magic user in any given GBA FE game, at least one third of them would be heroic.

In FE6, there were a total of 6 dark mage bosses, although because of branching paths you were only guaranteed to fight two of them; but there were also Raigh, Sophia, and Niime.

In FE7, we had Heintz, Zoldam, Teodor, and Nergal, but we also had Canas, Bramimond, and arguably Athos.

In FE8, we had Novala and Lyon as villains, and we had Knoll and possibly Ewan as heroes.

Edited by Paper Jam

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According to the designer notes, magic in Akaneia involves drawing from what is believed to be deities.

Since Awakening confirmed all FE games so far are in the same universe, I would say this applies to all of the Dark Magics, especially the Tellius games with the Spirit Charmers.

Edited by The Void

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Wait, when was it proved Elibe was connected to Akaneia?

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Awakening didn't prove that they exist in the same world. Also , when was Tellius connected to Akainia?

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I remember reading a Q&A from one of the developers saying or at least strongly suggesting that FE4/5 and Archanea were in the same world (sorry, I can't find the link -- it's the same one where they explain how the holy weps of FE4/5 imbue their wielders with the will of the dragons who forged them); Elibe is most likely connected somehow (I think that Jugdral/Archanea is the world where the dragons fled after the War) due to the Dragon's Gate.

I found somebody make a wild claim that they can make out Magvel on the FE13 world map, although no proof of it exists. However, the risen in both FE8 and FE13 suggests that they are connected somehow, although as of yet no connection is made between the Demon King and the Dark Dragons.

Edited by Kngt_Of_Titania

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Judgdral, Arachanea, and Ylissea are all three from the same world. Each is at least a thousand years away from the next, however, and Jugdral takes place on another continent all together. Oh, and Valentia-now Valm-is the location of FE2, and is a neighboring continent.

To my knowledge, the Outrealm Gates seem to be the primary connection that these worlds have to Elibe and Magvel. Magvel is separate of Elibe.

Tellius is a bit iffy. I think I remember Priam saying his ancestor's legacy is from across the seas rather than through an outrealm gate, but I'm unsure.

To my knowledge, the only Dark Magic in which the weapon, rather than the user, is evil is in the use of tomes by the Loptyr Sect, and magic specifically channeled through evil being such as Fomortiis, Grima, and Duma.

Edited by Verdant Shade

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To my knowledge, the Outrealm Gates seem to be the primary connection that these worlds have to Elibe and Magvel. Magvel is separate of Elibe.

But I don't remember a reference to Elibe's gate, tbh. Did I miss something?

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Can someone PLEASE show me where it says Jugdral and Akaeinia are connected!!! Cuz if they are......WTF

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there's a developer's note somewhere that states that fe4/5 took place in akaenia's distant past

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