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You mean magic isn't for free?

"All power demands sacrifice"
Sindri, Dawn of War

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."

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.

Examples of Power At a Price include:





  • Ambition Is Evil—Trying to climb the social ladder tends to knock everyone else down a rung; therefore, it is evil and shouldn't be done.
  • Lonely at the Top—The more powerful you are, the more isolated and lonelier you'll be.
  • Pride

Psychic Powers

Super Powers


Video Games and Tabletop Games