"Even the arts you call sorcery are governed by cosmic laws," answered the man in the green turban. "The stars direct these actions, as in other affairs. Not even my masters can alter the stars. Not until the heavens were in the proper order could they perform this necromancy."
Magic doesn't obey human-made timepieces, but follows the cycles of nature and the movement of the spheres. A spell's duration, then, extends from sunrise to sunset, or during a phase in the lunar cycle, or some other vaguely fairytale measurement of time such as one's Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday
or A Year and a Day
or by following a celestial zodiac.
Comes in two varieties
- Magic Has Dramatic Units of Time: Sunrise, sunset, twelfth gong of the clock-tower, the phases of the moon, birthdays, saint's days, Sabbath, etc. Which invokes all kinds of Fridge Logic, such as, what would use something so inaccurate as when the sun sets, especially since the world is round and there's always a sunset somewhere?
- Magic Has Its Rules: Somehow setting limits such as a "Rule of Three" or "Until the Castle Rises Above the Clouds" or "Until the Sun Sets" makes the power work better or at all. So whatever happens needs to happen within the rules instead of at one's convenience. If a rules lawyer is around this sometimes leads to No Man of Woman Born.
If the events happen on their own after astronomical events, see When the Planets Align
. Not to be confused with Cosmic Deadline
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Anime & Manga
- Inuyasha has a instance of being a human when the new moon comes around.
- Placing restrictions on Nen powers in Hunter × Hunter can act as a power multiplier for an ability, depending on the restriction.
- In Nanatsuiro Drops, Tsuwabuki turns into a sheep plushie after sunset and changes back after sunrise. However, when the moon is full, he stays a plushie for a whole day, and during a new moon he stays human all day.
- Angels and Demons who have not been fully trained in all magics in the manga Wish follow cycles. Angels are adult form during the day and chibi form during the night and demons are vice versa.
- Bearskin must wear the bearskin for seven years.
- Cinderella: The magic stops working at midnight.
- In The Dark Crystal we have the Great Conjunction, an alignment of the world's three suns, described as a catalyst for "great change." In the film, the Dark Crystal must be completely reassembled and the Mystics and Skeksis reunited by the upcoming Great Conjunction in order for harmony to be restored.
- Mogwai shall not be fed "after midnight", lest they turn into Gremlins. Nothing is said about when you can feed them again.
- In fact, a lot of people make jokes about this rule when the heroes try to warn them about the gremlins. (The one about "if he's eating on an airplane, and passes through a time zone" is probably the most complex. They actually raise a valid point: the rule is kind of vague.)
- In the silent film The Golem, the Rabbi can only create the Golem while a certain astronomical constellation occurs. The occurence of another constellation supposedly causes the Golem to rebel.
- Ladyhawke: A couple is cursed so that she's a hawk by day and human by night, and he is human by day and a wolf by night. They only get to see each other in the moments of sunrise and sunset then were saved by Rules Lawyering
- In the vampire movie Once Bitten, the lovely female vampire must have blood from 3 virgin males before Halloween each year to retain her youthful appearance. Although she does drink non-virgin blood, this merely sustains her, not her looks.
- While not quite magical, in Once Upon a Forest, the heroes have only until "the moon is full" to collect the herbs and return them to save their friend Michelle. In this case, it might not have been so much the Moon itself as it was an approximation of how much time they had before Michelle's illness reached a point where it would be incurable.
- In Soultaker, the heroes have until their life support is turned off at midnight to reunite with their bodies. And then the movie more or less completely ignores said deadline.
- In Your Highness, the evil wizard needs to perform a certain ritual with a virgin to create a dragon. This ritual may only be performed once every 100 years when the two moons align.
- Changeling: The Lost: if you're lucky, contracts work until sunup or sundown, whichever happens first; or for free if you invoke Food Chains.
- also Pledges, Tokens, Goblins, and the True Fae.
- Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem both have a few powers, usually Blood Magic, that end at sunrise.
- Dungeons & Dragons, around late 1st/early 2nd edition, would often include powers, usually magic items, that could be used "X times per day", but didn't define what the device considered "a day" (e.g., sunset, sunrise, 24 hours from the last use, etc.). This language was clarified in later editions.
- In the Dungeons & Dragons campaign world Ravenloft, adding a fanciful duration or an escape hatch when laying a curse makes it much more likely to take hold.
- A Midsummer Night's Dream: The fairies show up When the Clock Strikes Twelve.
Puck: Now it is the time of night
That the graves all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide:
And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate's team,
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic:
- In Ghost Trick, the ghost Sissel is told that he will vanish from this world at dawn. It turns out that this is a lie to motivate him.
- In Tales Of Wyre, demons and some spells vary in power on a daily cycle: they are at their strongest (or sometimes weakest) when their associated star is overhead at some special location.
- The Little Mermaid: The contract is made until the sunset on the third day. Covering sunsets and the rule of three.
- Gargoyles They are stone during the day and flesh at night, in the pilot they are also cursed into dormancy "Until the Castle Rises Above the Clouds".
- Most magic in Gargoyles has similar limits. According to Word of God, adding any sort of "this spell goes away when X happens" condition, no matter how ridiculous it may sound, makes the spell much easier to cast successfully.
- And other spells are of the first (sun- or moon-based) variety: Demona's Depopulation Bomb in "Hunter's Moon," for example, only works on the night of the Hunter's Moon. Word of God is that Goliath and Xanatos seized it from her, waited a few nights, and destroyed it when the moon started waning. And her Stone at Night curse in "City of Stone" falls under both varieties: It is only effective at night (variety 1), and it is broken for good when and if "the sky burns" (variety 2).
- On Rocko's Modern Life, Filburt has an uncontrollable urge to go back to Kerplopitgoes Island on his 21st birthday, which coincides with the alignment of the planets.