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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:38 pm 
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Because no single color should have an answer to everything.




Isn't white being able to deal with everything one of your big complaints about white? I seem to recall you've routinely commented that white is very OP.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2018 12:17 pm 
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Sometimes I look at what y'all suggest and find myself going "For what purpose?"
I agree that the question of "why" is of utmost importance. A very basic division of the reasonings fall either being evocative or balanced. It's certainly understandable to argue for mechanical balance since it's a game, but you can't rely on that alone. The whole concept of colors and what they represent is premised on flavor. This is why M10 had this "return to form" that was heavily inspired by Alpha. While the color pie at the time was hardly even formed, the evocativeness of those designs was so great that it drew in the players in a way that which functional constructions couldn't have achieved alone. The resonance between mechanics and flavor is crucial IMO.

However, flavor can't trump all in that mechanical balance is important for the longevity of the game. While there are many games that use generic high-fantasy as their spice, there are very few of them that have garnered the attention and reverence that MTG has.

This is a tricky balance that I find very important to keep in mind while tackling with this topic.

Here are some of the problems I've personally noticed with current composition of colors in the pie that are defined by the lack of this balance between the two elements of flavor and mechanics.

  • lacks mechanical identity. How many things can you list that are exclusively white? I find the color's over-flexible removal being one phenomenon/result of this larger issue.
  • lacks mechanical diversity. See this magicmultiverse card thread where in a comment/response I break down the effects red noncreature spells did in two chosen sets and categorized them: http://www.magicmultiverse.net/cards/91526. I did this to two 'core sets', one modern and other much older: 7th edition (2001) and Magic Origins (2015). Given the difference of over an decade, the progress made on this front seems marginally small. A vast majority of red (noncreature) cards fall under the umbrella of "this spell does nothing but deal damage" to such extent that even planeswalkers of all things do it (Chandra Nalaar & Chandra, Roaring Flame). A planeswalker doing explicitly nothing but one thing in a certain way would be quite laughably in any other color barring very specific scenarios like maybe a black 'walker where all the effects cause players to discard cards, but even that's reaching.
  • lacks proper flavor identity. The color is perceived by many as the "smart color". It has a bunch of metagamy/metamagic effects such as unsummonings and counterspells that aren't exactly popular tropes. I think this is in part why if a truly new kind of an effect or mechanic is explored, WotC probably starts using it in blue before any other color (Misthollow Griffin/Coax from the Blind Eternities and Three Wishes off the top of my head). Blue also has this psychic/scifi dimension that isn't setting specific and hardly feels home in the otherwise traditional high-fantasy settings MTG frequently presents. This ties closely with artifacts (which blue has a very strong affinity towards) themselves that are especially pushing these robots, androids, and whatever in MTG which is quite weird.
  • This particular issue I feel has been addressed quite well over the years though it seems to me that there's still some work to be done here: has a monopoly on its own mechanics and tends to easily bend other colors' effects into cards of its own color.
  • has mechanical themes that don't properly resonate with its flavor. The strongest dissonance of that is with the color's anti-flying theme ('I don't fly' and 'I destroy creatures that fly') - as if various birds and flying insects didn't make sense in the color. This is also noticeably in green's lack of proper creature removal, which is doubly so schizophrenic in that it can do so as long those creatures fly. Obviously I understand their mechanical reasonings as drawbacks and weaknesses of the color, but them not properly assimilating with the color's flavor identity is a real issue that should be taken seriously. This is why card's that go directly against the green's mechanical weaknesses still time to time make it print through resistance on their resonance alone: Lignify, Song of the Dryads, Hornet Queen, and Hornet Sting for example. I think this contrast of the idea of the color and its actual functionality comes off strongly to new players especially who see this fresh and have a hard time understanding (I would argue more so than with lack of enchantment removal for example) why a card such as Hornet Sting, that doesn't seem that off from flavor standpoint, is supposedly 'not proper' even though it 'feels' pretty okay. This is more of a site note, but personally, I also find contradictory the idea that the color that supposedly loves lands (both mechanically and in flavor) is pretty good and willing to destroy the said lands.

IMO is quite well adjusted in the current color pie since it has a evocative flavor that clearly expresses the color's desires and weaknesses while also explaining itself mechanically. It has very efficient creature removal and can gain various resources at the cost of life, which may seem like a nonspecific thing but is actually a strong thematic note that goes up and beyond any one mechanic. It can't get rid of artifacts and enchantments, but there are also a plethora of other things that the color doesn't traditionally do such as: bounce, looting/rummaging, ramp, counterspells, clones, untapping/vigilance, and copying spells - to name a few, so the color is hardly 'overpowered' all things considered IMO.

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Last edited by Tahazzar on Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:06 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:58 pm 
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As always Tahazzar, an excellent analysis.

It also elucidates my rationale for moving flying from red to green. The color of earth having fliers is a mismatch of theme and mechanics. The colour of nature not having fliers is also a mismatch of theme and mechanics. The swap would kill two birds with one stone (or kill a dragon and birth a bird?). The only thing that stands in the way are those darn dragons. The people demand dragons. They demand dragons with wings. Things with wings should have flying.
I'd just make dragons omnicolour. You get ice dragons in blue, holy laser dragons in white, evil miasma-spewing dragons in black, etc. I think the idea of dragons breathing pretty much whatever they want to has enough cultural traction for the idea to fly. And if a dragon needs to breath fire then maybe it can be the occasional red dragon. It would be infrequent like white getting trampling angels, either because, with dragons spread amongst colours, fiery dragons are infrequent, or because they're evil/holy/whatever and get shoehorned into another colour.
Or, I've just realized, the problem could be pretty easily solved with flightless dragons. Even Tolkien had flightless dragons.

I'd give red bounce or tapping to broaden its mechanical base and also slacken blue's deathgrip on its exclusive mechanics.

White's lack of mechanical identity is harder to crack. Its thematic rigidity doesn't line up with the flexibility of its mechanics well at all. "It does these things defensively" only goes so far.

Blue's poorly delineated thematic identity is a real tangle. It's the colour of the mind (extending to artifice and sometimes magic itself), and of both water and air. Soo, fluidity? What's connecting thread here? Flexibility, but with carefully laid plans and a strict analytical process? I guess it works in a "examine all possible outcomes" way*, but that's not enough to hang a hat on. The known? Maybe add in some true-naming bits? Double down on the mental aspect. Maybe have a nice biology/psychology/sociology curve with // and mirror it with emotions in ?
I'm at a loss here.

*Quick thought- Red keeps its future open because it keeps as many options as it can open. Blue does the same by examining the available options to better understand the choice and choose better.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:32 am 
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TPmanW wrote:
As always Tahazzar, an excellent analysis.
Hey, thx man :cool:

Response to the points
Some suggestions

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:26 am 
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black supposedly can get anything at a cost, but in reality, it just shaves mana costs off things it already has
for a color about being willing to use anything to do anything they're the most rigid color in terms of color pie

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:03 pm 
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Black is the color most disconnected from it's flavor.

In theory, black's biggest interests are power and ruthlessness.

In practice,

Suffering and Death
Suffering, Darkness, and Death
Suffering, Darkness, Villainy and Death
Death, Villainy, Darkness and Death
Death, Scheming, Death, Death, Suffering and Death
Death, Death, Death, Villainy and Death
Death, Darkness, Death, Death, Death, Suffering, Death, Power and Death
Death, Death, Death, Death, Death, Death, Ruthlessness, Death, Death, Death and Death
Self-respecting individuals that gather a lot of power by unfair, but not overtly harmful ways, and use it for their own goals that aren't necessarily evil and often overlap with other people's goals, and Death.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:54 pm 
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Yeah I love Black and don’t want it to creep into “Early blue but you lose life or a creature for every spell” but it’d be nice To see some actual “This isn’t in black but you paid the right price to get it anyways.”


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:09 pm 
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As Maro says, being willing isn't the same as being able


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:25 am 
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... Suffering, Darkness, Villainy and Death
Death, Villainy, Darkness and Death
Death, Scheming, Death, Death, Suffering and Death
Death, Death, Death, Villainy and Death
Death, Darkness, Death, Death, Death, Suffering, Death, Power and Death
Death, Death, Death, Death...
I don't see the issue. How is it disconnected? Of all the colors, is the most clear and almost paradoxically honest in its intentions. This is why it has been said to be the 'worst villain' in the sense that it's so obvious.

vows to have the absolute power and believes that power lies within the individual. So it seeks to have power over the individual. What's the easiest way to have absolute power over person's life? To be able to snuff it out in an instant at any moment. Sure, it's an objective that could described as cruel, nihilisticly opportunistic, and amoral, but doesn't really believe in the good of morality anyway.

Necromancy and 'death magic' are common in high-fantasy settings so it's obvious would be ahead in those fields, but even if you reduce that idea to its nonmagical representation, is the king of assassination and/or poisoning. You might note that the card that WotC is selling as the exemplar removal spell is called 'Murder'.

While murdering people is an easy way, it also has interest in enslavement as can be seen in reanimation spells. However, IMO should also be much more able to have 'Mind Control' effects as well - such as the one I posted on second page of this thread.

I also agree that tutors that don't extract a price of any kind don't really fit the color.

Regardless, I think what you're saying is that 'death' is a theme that WotC falls into too often with cards. Maybe, though 'death' is such a overarching, permeating theme that you would have a hard time disavowing from it when dealing with . Do they overplay that theme? It's possible. After all, the color's very symbol is a skull so it might skew the ideas about the color subconsciously. Looking at cards of Magic Origins for example, I think there are a couple of cards that are pretty much only about 'death' in this vague sense, but in most others I see death (ie. murder) being used as a mere tool to gain something else.

I think it's pretty easy to notice the cards where the flavor is pretty hollow regarding the use of a 'death/suffering' theme.
Take this gatherer search for example:
Quote:
http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Search/Default.aspx?color=+@([B])&output=spoiler&method=visual&set=["Magic%20Origins"]&sort=rarity+
To me, it seems that you can almost extract this info from the card's illustration alone. If it's something that would fit a heavy/death metal band cover art or whatever, then it might be lacking in the flavor department as far as depth of motivations go. Take Deadbridge Shaman, Blightcaster, Languish, and Revenant. Still, I don't think this is that big of an issue, not in that specific set at least. Around 10% (~4/47) of cards is acceptable IMO if those are cards that people can get behind.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 4:14 am 
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Only 9/50 black cards in Magic Origins are not directly connected to death by flavor or mechanics. Two of them are multicolored.

Yeah, I'd say that the theme of death is overplayed a bit.

And then we have cards like Death Cultist or Damnation, that, flavorfully, don't make sense in black except in the "death death death" sense.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:33 am 
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Only 9/50 black cards in Magic Origins are not directly connected to death by flavor or mechanics. Two of them are multicolored.

Yeah, I'd say that the theme of death is overplayed a bit.

And then we have cards like Death Cultist or Damnation, that, flavorfully, don't make sense in black c]B[/mc] except in the "death death death" sense.
I think both of us are correct in this. I said that around 4 of the cards were only about death/suffering and you say that 40 of them are someway related to death/suffering (I wouldn't count multicolored cards for this discussion since color pairs can also end having ideals unique to that pair). I would only see the cards that, as you say, make only sense because of 'death', as lacking. The cards that have some relation to those themes, but having some other ideas as well, I'm not so sold on as being problematic.

'Death' and especially 'suffering' are such a vague terms that I don't think it's entirely fair to categorize cards with that theme if you are trying to demonstrate how one-sided a color is. While an overarching theme of 'suffering' may be blatant and perhaps stereotypical, they also define the color on a more abstract level. They strongly evoke a feeling, a sense about the color's motivations and/or methods to achieve those goals. That's something that can be iconic on its own. 'Life is suffering' is a very strong motif.

We could look at this from a different angle when we go through cards by looking at their flavor alone - using Magic Origins as the test subject.

With I would say that around 30/47 of them are militaristic or related to warfare tactics
Quote:
http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Search/Default.aspx?color=+@([W])&output=spoiler&method=visual&set=["Magic%20Origins"]&sort=rarity+
Add in 'order' and I think you will already encompass most of the cards.

With we could go with 'aggression' and 'fire/lightning' and have a match of ~32/47
Quote:
http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Search/Default.aspx?color=+@([R])&output=spoiler&method=visual&set=["Magic%20Origins"]&sort=rarity+

With let's say 'nature/animals' and 'growth'. I would estimate around 34/47 having a theme that matches either of those.
Quote:
http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Search/Default.aspx?color=+@([G])&output=spoiler&method=visual&set=["Magic%20Origins"]&sort=rarity+

If we think about this way, I would actually see as having the worst overarching themes. What is the color generally about? How are cards of its color trying to advance their goals? 'Intellect'? 'Deception'? 'Water'? 'Psychics'? 'Technology'? 'Metamagics'? What's really going on here?
Quote:
http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Search/Default.aspx?color=+@([U])&output=spoiler&method=visual&set=["Magic%20Origins"]&sort=rarity+


So definitely doesn't look to me to be the only one unable to avoid this generalization phenomena. Is from your standpoint the only one doing it 'right'?

I mean, are suggesting the destruction of any overlaying, encompassing themes of the colors and have the individual cards be very specific thematically? I'm not sure if that's even possibly given that there is supposed to be common motivations behinds cards of the same color. I would wager it would be quite hard to pull that off without there being some way to categorize the cards of one color with a couple of terms. You can't nullify the levels of abstraction.

And then we would have to discuss whether that's even something you want to do. I think such a thing would make the colors less iconic in a general sense, less recognizable, and harder to understand on a superficial level. New players aren't prone to reading essays about a color's ideals when they start playing the game. For them, it's likely that giving them very general sense about the feelings of each color quickly is not problematic, but engaging.

Besides all that, how would you approach rectifying this supposed issue?

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:01 am 
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What's an example of something powerful or ruthless that black doesn't get that it should?

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:58 pm 
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Mechanically black gets a pretty much every "powerful or ruthless" effect. Thematically, bankers, politicians, social climbers, socially unacceptable/dishonorable tactics (poison, backstabbing), betrayal in general and indifference to others' wellbeing are all things I'd like to see more of in black. They just get overshadowed by the death, death, suffering and death.
I see the argument for death in black. But it often seems to go beyond displaying a willingness to kill. Thematically necromancy could just as easily be white (maintaining life) or green (perpetuating the living system). It seems like zombies are black mostly because they have a bad rap. Is there anything demonstrably evil about them? Anything tangential to death gets lumped in with black too. It's not only overplayed, but reflects the biases of our culture more than any truth from MTG's multiverse.

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*"To YMTC it up" means to design cards that have value mostly from a design perspective. i.e. you would put them in a case under glass in your living room and visitors could remark upon the wonderful design principles, with nobody ever worring if the cards are annoying/pointless/confusing in actual play

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:46 pm 
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You do see necromancy in white though, but with a different light in how they raise the dead and awaken spirits. Which makes sense because white cares about what it's doing feeling like the right thing to do.

Green does not care about perpetuating life to the point of defying natural death—it expressly is pro-life/death as a cycle and dislikes black for going against that. But it has necromancy-like effects as the cycle of life.

Zombies appear in black most often because the people who are willing to steal bodies and animate them despite lack of consent from the bodies and against the mores of society are black. Zombies are not black because animated dead bodies are inherently black. (See: blue skaabs and white mummies.) Zombies are black because they are animated by black mana on most worlds. Necromancers want something and they will eschew law and morality to achieve it. They will delve into magic that other people find taboo or distasteful.

Look at Tarkir, where the Jeskai reject black and green magic because messing with death and nature are taboo, but Abzan embrace necromancy as a way to connect with their ancestors whereas Sultai embrace necromancy as a way to create servants, soldiers, and sofas.

Quote:
bankers, politicians, social climbers, socially unacceptable/dishonorable tactics (poison, backstabbing), betrayal in general and indifference to others' wellbeing are all things I'd like to see more of in black

The Orzhov and the Dimir on Ravnica, Marchesa and her faction on Fiora, the aetherborn on Kaladesh, the azra on Kylem, the elves of Lorwyn, the Esper, Bontu's whole thing on Amonkhet, the ronin and ratfolk of Kamigawa. Some of these do some necromancy, but their various main shticks generally cover what you are talking about. Some of them don't do any necromancy at all.

The really death-obsessed black factions are like Golgari (forcing cycle of life and death) and Rakdos (dying doesn't stop the fun), the necromancers of Innistrad (everyone is death-obsessed and there are blue zombies), Sultai (as a demonstration of ruthlessness), the Returned on Theros (as zombies who willed and fought themselves back to life), the neuroks and nim of Mirrodin (cause the former have to fight off the latter), and various vampires.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:24 pm 
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If you don't mind me asking, what mechanically would you like black bankers or politicians to do? My gut response would be Greed- type effects or life leeching.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:27 pm 
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Downtown Banker
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When Downtown Banker enters the battlefield, you lose 3 life and you create 3 colorless artifact tokens named Gold. They have "Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color."
3/2

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:24 pm 
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neru wrote:
...

Green does not care about perpetuating life to the point of defying natural death—it expressly is pro-life/death as a cycle and dislikes black for going against that. But it has necromancy-like effects as the cycle of life.

Zombies appear in black most often because the people who are willing to steal bodies and animate them despite lack of consent from the bodies and against the mores of society are black. Zombies are not black because animated dead bodies are inherently black. (See: blue skaabs and white mummies.) Zombies are black because they are animated by black mana on most worlds. Necromancers want something and they will eschew law and morality to achieve it. They will delve into magic that other people find taboo or distasteful.

...

That's one thing htat always bugged me about green. They'll preserve the natural system by letting individuals die. Whereas white will preserve the social system by letting individuals die. The natural vs social priority is neat. But then which colour sticks up for the individual? Red makes some for emotional reasons, but doesn't get a lot of ways to defend creatures. Black cares about an individual. Blue calls it a nonissue.
Supposedly it's either white or green, but I honestly forget whether it's the color of predation and devouring or the submit to authority and nuke 'em all color. They both seem like bad fits.

I feel like the whole "necromancy is generally frowned upon thing" is really artificial. That's how we feel in our necromancy-free society, but in a world with real magic, I doubt it would be cast in such a bad light. It works as a taboo in some places, but that shouldn't apply to the vast majority of the multiverse, or fantasy in general for that matter.

If you don't mind me asking, what mechanically would you like black bankers or politicians to do? My gut response would be Greed- type effects or life leeching.

Resource gathering would be a big one. Slandering people or predatory loans could = discard or -X/-X effects. Any kind of disruption really. And bankers would looove proliferate. It would be nice to see some banker/politician/what-have-you vanilla creatures even; they can't all be suffering and death-obsessed bugs, bats and thieves afterall.

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CotW is a method for ranking cards in increasing order of printability.

*"To YMTC it up" means to design cards that have value mostly from a design perspective. i.e. you would put them in a case under glass in your living room and visitors could remark upon the wonderful design principles, with nobody ever worring if the cards are annoying/pointless/confusing in actual play

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:01 pm 
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TPmanW wrote:
That's one thing htat always bugged me about green. They'll preserve the natural system by letting individuals die. Whereas white will preserve the social system by letting individuals die. The natural vs social priority is neat. But then which colour sticks up for the individual? Red makes some for emotional reasons, but doesn't get a lot of ways to defend creatures. Black cares about an individual. Blue calls it a nonissue.
Supposedly it's either white or green, but I honestly forget whether it's the color of predation and devouring or the submit to authority and nuke 'em all color. They both seem like bad fits.
Red is the best fit. If you mean a character that would sacrifice themselves for the little guy, then both white and red, in different ways. Red does not get a lot of 'defensive' moves, but that is because it cares about getting things done proactively. It would defeat an oppressor to end the threat directly.

Quote:
I feel like the whole "necromancy is generally frowned upon thing" is really artificial. That's how we feel in our necromancy-free society, but in a world with real magic, I doubt it would be cast in such a bad light. It works as a taboo in some places, but that shouldn't apply to the vast majority of the multiverse, or fantasy in general for that matter.
We would be discussing counterfactuals at this point, but I don't think that's true. I think the idea of not messing with the dead is not some weird thing that is only true because we don't have magic. Remember in a lot of history and in a lot of places, people did believe there were those who had power over the dead or even just people who wanted to experiment on the dead.


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