Power at a Price
You mean magic isn't for free?
"All power demands sacrifice."
Power. The ability to influence, create, change, and even destroy. Things, places, people.
It is by nature highly contentious: Some want it and would kill for it, others do not want it, or would gladly give away such a burden. Therein lies the rub. For all its force, blessings, or ability to change, power is not free... of responsibility, consequence, or cost. Some people think the exchange has to be "fair." Be Careful What You Wish For
Drama derives vigor from the quandary of how power, seemingly free of any strings, has inherent costs. Whether they are hideous mutations, social alienation, or even death varies by story, genre, and kind of power. But the underlying basis is the same: Power at a Price.
See also Necessary Drawback
and Weakness Tropes
- Cast From Calories: You'll have to eat a lot of big meals to keep using spells.
- Cast from Experience Points: Magic fueled by permanently weakening yourself (i.e., sacrificing XP or stat points).
- Cast from Hit Points: Magic fueled by sacrificing your current health (i.e., causing your body damage).
- Cast from Lifespan: Magic which shortens the user's lifespan.
- Cast from Money: These powerful powers requires in-game money to work.
- Cast From Sanity: Magic fueled by weakening the user's mental health, whether temporarily or permanently.
- Clingy Macguffin: Throw it away, and it will come back.
- Clipped Wing Angel: Eventually, the "new form" turns out to be a bust.
- Clone Degeneration: You can clone a person, but the clone won't be as good as the original.
- Close Range Combatant: You can handle things up close, but you're useless at a distance.
- Comeback Mechanic: Being ahead of the other players means you make the other players stronger.
- Comes Great Responsibility: You'll feel morally compelled to use it to help others.
- Conditional Powers: When the power comes with something you must (or must not) do
- The Corruption: Uncanny powers are just a symptom of a malignant infection.
- Crazy Awesome: You're insane, but in a cool way.
- Crippling Overspecialization: Really, really good at one thing; really, really bad at everything else.
- Cursed with Awesome: You'll think it isn't worth it, but it is.
- Curse That Cures: A sick or injured character is cured as a side effect of a Curse.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Upgrading your hardware downgrades your humanity.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: A powerful ability with a terrible cost.
- The Dark Arts: Skills deemed forbidden for any of a number of reasons.
- The Dark Side: Easy power at the expense of morality.
- Deadly Upgrade: Eventually your new form will kill you.
- Deal with the Devil: Never obtain magic from malevolent/mysterious entities or tricksters.
- Deus Exit Machina: You are written out of any story that you could anticlimactically solve.
- Dirty Mind-Reading: You can read minds, but you're Squicked out by what you see.
- Disability Immunity: Rather than granting you powers to compensate, you are protected from something that would harm more able individuals.
- Disability Super Power: Power at the price of one or more faculties.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: When you can't judge how much power you're using.
- Drunk with Power: It's addictive.
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Every ability is strong against one type and weak against another, usually in a cycle or in foil pairs.
- Empathic Healing: Your Healing Hands take the pain from another and inflict it on yourself.
- Empty Levels: When the power actually makes your character weaker or increases the difficulty disproportionately.
- Equivalent Exchange: If you want great power, prepare to make a great sacrifice. Nothing is free, you know.
- Everything but the Girl: You can do anything except win over your One True Love.
- Explosive Overclocking: pushing the Phlebotinum beyond its safety limits can be hazardous.
- Eye of Newt: Magic requires magical components.
- Fantastic Fragility: Building in weaknesses to boost power.
- Fragile Speedster: Sacrificing defense for mobility
- Fuel Meter of Power: Superpowers are a finite resource. Don't use them all up.
- Glass Cannon: You can dish it out, but can't take it
- A God Am I: Power will make you think that you're invincible. Regardless of whether or not it's true, you're gonna have a lot of enemies.
- God Job: The power of a god comes with correspondingly large duties.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: Weak in itself; amazing in its applications, but only if you have the imagination.
- I'm Having Soul Pains: Too painful to use this power for long.
- Immunity Disability: Because sometimes being immune to something may be a detriment instead.
- Insert Payment to Use: It'll let you use it, but you have to pay with lifeforce, money, or some other form of currency.
- Invisible Streaker: You can't be seen, but you have to be naked.
- Level Scaling: Power that comes at a price of increased difficulty.
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Wizards take longer to gain power, but gain more power in the end.
- Living Battery: The living power supply pays the cost.
- Logical Weakness: A weakness because of a power that actually makes logical sense.
- Lonely at the Top: The more powerful you are, the more isolated and lonelier you'll be.
- Long-Range Fighter: Great at dealing with things from a distance, useless up close.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: It looks really weird.
- Mad Oracle: The person can see the future can't relate to the present
- Magically Inept Fighter: Strong in physical combat but has weak magic, if any at all.
- Magic Is a Monster Magnet: Using magic draws the wrong sort of attention.
- Magic Knight: A fighter who can cast, but usually isn't as good at melee as a pure warrior or as good at magic as a pure wizard.
- Magikarp Power: This character or ability can be very useful... if you bother to grind for it.
- Master of None: Not bad at any one thing, but not really good at anything either.
- The Medic: You can use magic or items defensively (healing, Spells) but often at the expense of damage output, and your vital role on the team makes you likely to be targeted early.
- Mighty Glacier: Sacrifices mobility for strength.
- A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: You can read minds, but it's very disturbing.
- Multiform Balance: When each of your forms has a power set suited for particular tactics and situations.
- Oathbound Power: You can only use the power as long as you adhere to a specific creed.
- One-Winged Angel: Physical power at the cost of your physical form.
- Only Flesh Is Safe: Offensive powers don't affect living organic matter.
- The Paladin: Good in a battle (especially against The Undead) and has plenty of White Magic power, but lacks offensive magic skills and is often constrained by a code.
- Pent-Up Power Peril: When your power builds up inside you and you have to release it regularly, lest it harm you.
- Power Born of Madness: Madness causes power.
- Power Degeneration: Having superpowers will accelerate your aging and kill you.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: It requires an ethically repulsive component to function.
- Powerful but Inaccurate: Hits hard, when you can land it.
- Power Incontinence: Limited control over destructive or inconvenient powers.
- Power Loss Makes You Strong: The flip side. By losing a superpower, you gain something. Namely, extreme badassery.
- Power Source: They may need to be refilled frequently.
- Power Strain Blackout: You faint after using your powers
- Power-Upgrading Deformation: You get loads of power, but it's because you got ugly add-ons.
- Pride: A high opinion of your abilities blinds you to your limits until you fall.
- Psychic Nosebleed: Overuse or misuse of psychic powers results in physical injury.
- Psycho Serum: The same potion that gives you power takes away your sanity.
- Quantity vs. Quality: The two are always inversely proportional.
- Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: When Reality Warping proves hard to control.
- The Red Mage: Can use all kinds of magic, but isn't the best at any of them.
- Required Secondary Powers: You need more powers just to deal with your "main" power.
- Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Sacrificial Revival Spell: This spell can bring someone back to life, but it will kill you.
- Sensory Overload: The drawback to certain Super Senses.
- Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Inability to regain one's normal form.
- Shed Armor, Gain Speed: Trading armor for speed.
- Shoot the Mage First: High offense and low defense means you're going get targeted more than anyone.
- Shoot the Medic First: The ability to heal allies means the savvy will take you out first.
- Situational Damage Attack: This attack's damage will vary depending on how you set it up.
- Situational Sword: You can't always use it when you need to.