Sorcery And Sacrifice

The Station of Sacrifice is not about punishment, and it's not about taking something away from the would-be sorcerer for balance purposes. It's about providing an in-character reason for why some or most sorcerers (but not necessarily your character, if you don't want) are weird bastards with skewed viewpoints on life. Anyone who's gone through a transformative experience and come out the other side is going to be, on some level, difficult for people who haven't gone through that transformative experience to relate to, and that's part of learning sorcery.

Brigid went through a purifying fire and came out more herself than she'd ever been; but friends who knew her before she discovered sorcery looked at her afterward and were all "Where'd my friend go and who's this person?" if only a little bit.

Ayesha Ura set aside love. Even if she wanted out of the relationship, she didn't break up like a normal person and go through a period of simultaneously hating her ex a bit and doubting her own worth as a person for not keeping his attention, she just up and one day went "You don't matter to me anymore" and that was that. Observers see it and go "How can she do that? I can't do that! She's like a creepy robot!"

The Station of Sacrifice is also, traditionally, badly written and fails to get this across, although admittedly gamers in general are so used to dealing with overbearing, punishing bullshit put in for "balance" reasons that the book would have to fairly beat the reader about the head and shoulders to make it clear the Final Station isn't one of those.

As an expansion to my post about what the Station of Sacrifice isn't, note that that it was originally written as the Station of Choice, whereby the sorcerer had to choose between two possible contradictory futures for herself and achieve one by killing the other — it wasn't actually about sacrifice, but the willingness to be decisive and accept that some things preclude other things.

Later writeups focused more on the sacrifice element, but I think the choice element is particularly important and a good reason why losing your finger or your hand or your arm is a bad example and should probably be ignored. The sorcerer should demonstrably gain an advantage other than sorcery for having made the sacrifice — it's always about giving up something you want that was holding you back from getting something else you want. It's also (almost) always a transformative experience that sets you apart from your peers, and this is doubly so because of the nature of the choice involved. People can imagine, and empathize with, being transformed by fate, being the victims of impartial cosmic action. Sorcerers aren't victims; they're actors on the cosmos. Not only are they different people than they were before they were sorcerers, they're different people because they decided to become different people. Ayesha Ura's complicated love for Chejop Kejak wasn't something robbed from her, and bystanders can't look at her and go "Oh, poor you, sorcery took your feelings away." They look at her and go "Damn, man, she decided to stop loving him. What an ice-cold bitch."

(Of course, cutting off your finger should still work. It's the lazy, thoughtless cheat, like a moment of humility you renege on two seconds after you experience it. Cutting off your finger is what you do when you want sorcery right now and can't be bothered with the sort of introspection you need to make a meaningful choice and a meaningful sacrifice.)

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