1. Hi there, Guest

    Only registered users can really experience what DLP has to offer. Many forums are only accessible if you have an account. Why don't you register?
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Introducing for your Perusing Pleasure

    New Thread Thursday
    +
    Shit Post Sunday

    READ ME
    Dismiss Notice

Counterspells

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by Taure, May 8, 2020.

  1. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2006
    Messages:
    1,968
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    13,152
    This is one of those slightly messy areas of canon - which always gives writers a fair amount of latitude. So how do you prefer to depict counter-spells?

    Let's have a look at how they're used in canon:

    So, to summarise, I think that it's clear what system JKR intended to implement:

    1. Counter-spells either undo something that occurring, or prevent/block it from happening in the first place.

    2. Generally, counter-spells are used to undo other magic, but they can also be used directly to stop a specific thing from happening in the first place, like hiccups.

    3. Specific spells have specific counters - such as Libracorpus for Levicorpus, or the counter-jinx for Jelly Legs.

    4. Hogwarts students not only learn counters by rote, but also how to develop counters themsleves (Harry's OotP Charms homework).

    5. While the Shield Charm can block "minor" dark magic, more powerful magic would require you to know the specific counter-curse to block.

    6. Like most spells, Counters can be cast to take effect immediately OR be cast in an object or place to take effect perpetually.​

    However, there are a number of complications to this view:

    - In the event, JKR ended up increasingly leaning on the Shield Charm, to the point that it became a universal defence from every possible harm, magical, mental or physical - with the sole exception of the Killing Curse. We're told twice, once in GoF and once in OotP, that the Shield Charm is for minor jinxes only. But then we see the Shield Charm used to block powerful spells from Bellatrix, Dolohov, and Snape; we also see it deployed by Bellatrix, Lupin and Tonks in serious fights. We see Harry use it to cut Voldemort off from the rest of the Great Hall in DH. We see it blocking legilimency. And we see it blocking physical things. I think it's clear that the Shield Charm evolved significantly beyond JKR's original plans for it.

    - In the event, JKR almost universally relies on "Finite Incantatem" as a spell which undoes more or less everything, with just a few exceptions. This rather undermines there being a system of specific counters for every spell.

    - JKR confused the terminology by also using the word "counter" to mean offensive magic cast in a defensive way - see Hermione's argument with Umbridge, Bellatrix's "counter spell" which took the head off a statue, and (possibly) Dumbledore giving Harry permission to cast counter-jinxes in HBP.​

    In terms of how I use them:

    I like the idea that you need to know specific counters rather than being able to rely on the Shield Charm for all magical threats. In enriches defensive magic.

    However, I also like that powerful wizards are able to cast a powerful general-purpose shield. I feel like the existence of such a spell is important for wizards vs. Muggle reasons.

    Solution: the default behaviour of the Shield Charm is quite limited - it blocks only minor jinxes, as stated in canon. However, an advanced student of defensive magic can imbue the Shield Charm with additional properties. In particular, if you know a specific counter-jinx/hex/curse, you can cast the Shield Charm in such a way that it is imbued with that counter-spell. Or perhaps if you know the Flame-Freezing Charm, then your shield will be imbued with that property to protect you from fire. So the more you have in your defensive arsenal, the more versatile your shield becomes.

    I think this compromise preserves both the importance of knowledge of specific defensive magic and the utility of a powerful Shield Charm.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2020
  2. Arthellion

    Arthellion Lord of the Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2017
    Messages:
    1,502
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    High Score:
    2398
    Best I got for ya mate.

    upload_2020-5-8_10-5-22.png
     
  3. Niez

    Niez Fifth Year

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2018
    Messages:
    153
    Another possible interpretation is that countercurses are used when a hex/jinx/curse is already in effect (Hermione with Neville, James with Snape, etc.). A shield charm still serves as your primary means of defence, but it makes sense to learn the countercurses just in case you or your friends get hit by a particular spell. Doesn't fit with all the examples, but its simple enough.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2020
  4. Garden

    Garden Chief Warlock

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Messages:
    1,479
    Location:
    Florida
    I like your interpretation @Taure

    Truly powerful and skilled wizards may seem like they're only using a Finite Incantatem when they counter all non-Dark magic, but their knowledge of magic imbues that generic spell with the specificity it needs to overcome a given spell. Same thing with the shield charm.
     
  5. Mordecai

    Mordecai Drunken Scotsman ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Messages:
    1,272
    Location:
    Englandshire
    High Score:
    3,485
    I like the idea that there's a good reason to spend time studying theory, rather than just mastering individual spells. The broader your understanding of theory, the more capable individual spells become. Which would lead to your position of the shield charm being more useful for more skilled/knowledgeable casters, and the same would apply to finite incantatem.

    I'd also be alright with a situation where there exist generic counters, but they are resource inefficient compared to using the exact right counter. I think that would then lead into disagreement with your interpretation of canon regarding magic and whether or not it is tiring/finite within a wizard. But in the right fic I could see it being a good little twist on the use of magic.
     
  6. Download

    Download Fourth Year ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2014
    Messages:
    131
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    High Score:
    1918
    I prefer the idea that finite incantatum is a general counter-spell, but many types of spells are designed to be resistant to it, meaning specialised counter-spells must be developed. Obviously there are "prank" spells designed to resist it and very malicious magic resistant as well. I'd also expect that many more long term spells are designed or modified to be resistant. things like anti-apparition or charms you might put on a house (I.e. the Burrow - don't want it falling over because you missed).

    The generic spell but knowledge imbues it comes of as a bit lazy to me. I guess it's not interesting enough for my liking. I do like the idea that one's knowledge allows spell to change, but I prefer only slightly. Sort of like a middle ground between "freeform" and rote memorisation.

    I do like the idea of a general shield charm with specialised ones for more unusual magic, I just wonder how to write it without getting bogged down in the details. With counter-spells you can handwave it, but in a fight there's less handwaving room.
     
  7. Thaumologist

    Thaumologist Dark Lord

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2011
    Messages:
    1,844
    Location:
    Wrexham, Wales
    Best guess I can give for them, is that a 'counter'spell can be dependant on circumstance, as it's more to do with undoing a previous/upcoming spell's impact.

    If someone's been hit with a blood-freezing curse, then the countercurse would be a warming charm, or a blood-coiling curse if you're good enough to avoid killing them. On the other hand, if someone's been hit with a blood-boiling curse, then a cooling/blood-freezing curse would be the counter.

    It's also a bit of a catch-all.

    Levicorpus has a specific counterspell. But a sufficiently well cast Gravitus (made up) would have the same countering effect. An exceedingly well cast Finite would also do the trick, but would require the caster to understand the spell preciely.

    So if you're not a very good wizard (see Neville), then learning the specific counters to your problems works quite well - you don't need to cast them perfectly, but it takes time and effort to memorise the lot of them. A more able wizard, such as Lupin, learns generic counters, and maybe tailors them in each instance. High end wizards, such as Snape, can cast a very generic counter, with Finite functioning in the vast majority of cases.

    Master wizards, such as Dumbledore, might loop back around to specific counters, but not in the same way. Rather than casting the "Anti-Stomach-Melting-Curse Spell", he could get away with casting a Finite. Instead, however, he casts a tooth-cleaning charm he learnt from a small little village high up in the Urals, which discards the accumulated detritus from the mouth through the body; and as a side-effect, actually works quite nicely to clear up hangovers, poisonings, or spells targeting the digestive system.


    This is actually why Dark Magic is so hard to counter - rather than being a spell that imparts cuts something, or imparts the attribute "This thing is Cut"; it also contains an aspect of "This thing is meant to Hurt". A counterspell that only targetted the "cut" or "hurt" aspects wouldn't be sufficient, which is why generic 'counters' in the form of healing spells don't function quite as well.
     
  8. kelkorkesis

    kelkorkesis Third Year

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2017
    Messages:
    107
    High Score:
    0
    >5E

    Jokes aside I was about to write about how 3.5 and pathfinder handled counterspelling for some inspiration. I am still intended to do but need to grab some food.
    -------------------------------
    Edit. Here is the dnd 3.5 / pathfinder stuff about counterspelling. I am going to omit stuff about action economy and spell slots since they are irrelevant for this discussion.

    Method 1.
    • You identify the spell casted by your opponent with a spellcraft check.
    • If you are in a position to cast same spell, you throw it against your opponent and the spell countered.
    Method 2.
    • You take Improved Counterspell feat
    • You identify the spell casted by your opponent with a spellcraft check.
    • Instead of counterspelling with the same spell, you throw a spell from same school with greater power thanks to Improved Counterspell.
    Method 3.
    • You identify the spell casted by your opponent with a spellcraft check.
    • Use a spell with opposite descriptor and equal or stronger power.
    For example, you can dispell your opponent's [darkness] spell with equal or higher level [light] spell. Note that here darkness and light are not specific spells but names of subschools.

    Method 4.
    • You throw dispell magic or greater dispell magic against your opponent's spell
    Advantage is you don't need specific spells, dispell magic is an omnicounter. Disadvantage is dice rolls enter the process here. For method 1, 2 and 3, if you can throw right spell and it is countered without a dice roll. Here you need to make a dispell check against your opponent's caster level.

    Method 5.
    This is not really a counterspelling but a very strong shield effect which blocks almost all kind of spells.
    • You cast Prismatic Wall spell.
    This spell has several layers and each layer offers different kind of protection and has different weakness. Sixth layer, Indigo, stops all spells. Except Daylight, this spell negates Indigo layer. Note that dispell or greater dispell doesn't work on it.

    Method 5a
    There is a prestige class Initiate of Sevenfold Veil which is built around aformentioned Prismatic Wall spell. This class can use layers of Prismatic Wall in different ways and shapes. So our method to stop spells becomes:
    • Pull an Indigo Veil between you and the spell.

    Method 6.
    • Cast Spell Turnin on yourself.
    This spell works for limited amount of spells and not a counterspell but it is a similar effect like Method 5.

    Extra Stuff:
    Archmage Prestige class has this lovely ability you can pick. It is self-explanatory enough.
    And this is why 5E sucks.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2020
  9. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2006
    Messages:
    1,968
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    13,152
    I think one of the most interesting things in the quotes above is Voldemort referring to Lily's sacrifice as a known counterspell. Though rare, he doesn't treat it as odd that an action can constitute a spell.

    This implies that counter-spells are not just things you cast, though there are plenty of those (e.g. Libracorpus). Rather, counter-spells would include symbolic actions.

    Take the anti-apparition jinx placed on a location to prevent people from apparating in. Convention fanfic wisdom is that this is a "ward" that acts as a kind of programmed filter. If you want to permit someone to bypass the spell, you need to adjust the magic to program in a new exception for that person.

    But I think I prefer this view: if you want someone to come to your house, you send that person an invite. The act of inviting them, and their physical possession of the invitation, acts as a counter-jinx such that they can apparate to your property. If they were to try to apparate without the invitation on their person, the apparition would fail, blocked by the anti-apparition jinx.

    I think this fits much better with the nature of the HP magic system than programmable filters. It also leads to much more interesting plot possibilities, such as Death Eaters scouring the country to see if anyone still has possession of an invitation to some party at the Burrow held in the 80s.
     
  10. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Messages:
    7,269
    Location:
    The South
    I gotta admit that I need to think about this more.

    • Did I remember that the word 'counter' was often used in canon as, well, a counter to certain spells?
    • Yes.
    • Did I recall less than half of these instances quoted by Taure?
    • Also Yes.
    • Did I have a good sense of the context in which the word had been used in canon?
    • Not really?

    So I don't know what to think about it. I like the idea of 'counters' needing to exist for many spells, because it makes DADA seem more like what I'd envision a class to be. Instead of charms or transfiguration they learn about how to 'counter' things that might be about to hurt them (or are currently hurting them), be those charms, jinxes, creatures, or whatever.

    Finite is lazy by comparison but I important to have in existence. My headcanon says there are thousands of spells out there - learning a counter to all of them would be very annoying.

    I guess my instinct is to say that just like Protego blocks 'weak' spells Finite Incantatem can undo 'basic' effects. What weak/basic means would increase with the skill of the person doing the casting.

    But yeah.

    I don't know what I think about this because apparently I need to process the unexpected information to see how I feel about it.
     
  11. Glimmervoid

    Glimmervoid Groundskeeper

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2011
    Messages:
    377
    Location:
    UK
    My view is a spell and its counter can be used to reverse each other (they're symmetrical). It will first stop any on-going magic and then reverse the primary effect of the original spell. In this we can separate between true counter spells and lesser counter spells.

    Finite Incantatem is a lesser counter-spell and only does the first part of the above definition. It only stops on going magic. It does not reverse any on-going effects.

    A true counter-spell, on the other hand, actually undoes the (primary) effects of the original spell. If you hex someone to have ever growing beaver teeth, a lesser counter-spell will simply stop the growth. It won't bring the teeth back to normal. A true counter spell (a teeth shrinking hex) will stop the growth and then return the teeth to their normal size.

    This is why a true counter-spell to the Killing Curse is pretty much impossible - for to undo the primary action of the Killing Curse requires nothing less than bringing the dead back to life.

    A spell and it's counter will generally be opposites of each other within the context of the semi-poetic Potter magical system. Metaphor is important here. Stone legs for jelly legs for example.

    ~~~​

    In one of my stories, I expanded this further. A counter spell can be cast in three ways. It's the same spell but changes depend on how you cast it. These are the blocking, reversing and anti forms.

    Blocking allows you to reflex an opponent's spell back at them. It requires good timing. I wanted counter-spells to be relevant in duels and, contrary to the Cursed Child, being hit by even a minor spell should be enough of an impediment the duel is pretty much over.

    Reversing is the basic form I out-lined in the original half of my post - stopping on-going magic and then undoing the effects.

    Anti is rending an object immune to a specific spell/action. For example, you can enchant something with the banishing charm to magic it immune to summoning magic. It seems simpler to do it this way that invent an entirely knew class of anti-magic charms.

    I think this neatly brings together the different kinds of counter magic seen in canon.
     
  12. Utsane

    Utsane Seventh Year DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2017
    Messages:
    241
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    California, USA
    It's just the spell but backwards. And mirrored.
     
  13. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Messages:
    7,269
    Location:
    The South
    Seems a bit too cut and dry.
     
  14. Glimmervoid

    Glimmervoid Groundskeeper

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2011
    Messages:
    377
    Location:
    UK
    Yrd dna tuc oot tib a smees.
     
  15. arkkitehti

    arkkitehti Groundskeeper

    Joined:
    May 31, 2012
    Messages:
    369
    One variation on the idea of counters I had for one story idea is that Dark Magic is simply all the spells that don't yet have counters. Something like the petrification spell they learn in first year would be a pretty horrific curse if it didn't have an easy counter.
     
  16. Zerg_Lurker

    Zerg_Lurker Death Eater DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2010
    Messages:
    937
    Location:
    DLPonyville
    I don't think JKR ever revisited the curse & countercurse interaction during quidditch in Book 1, and I don't think the story suffered for its subsequent lack. Bellatrix' counterspell was clearly a case of counter attacking and returning fire than countering magic per se. Riddle referring to Lily's sacrifice as a countercharm is probably just the shade of an arrogant genius teenager trying to maintain his control and explain a situation he couldn't understand. Treating it as a counterspell proper invites ridicule a la nonjon's "Love shield!"
    I like the added dimension of interrupting casting functioning like counterspells.

    In HBP 28, Snape counters Harry's spells, before he even completes them, likely due to legilimency and how easily read Harry was in his rage. It's not clear exactly how he does it though, aside from flicking his wand at Harry mid-incantation.

    If Harry can't fails to cast the Cruciatus because it's disrupted before it's finished, then it stands to reason that any spell can be interrupted provided sufficient speed or perception. Voldemort casts, "Avada Ke-" and gets slapped with a goofy monosyllabic incantation before he can finish. Shenanigans ensue.

    There's also a fantastic scene in a HP/Dresden crossover long dead in the annals of the WbA where James' spells and death curse are disrupted by Voldemort's dark magics and mind flaying.

    Unlike in Magic: the Gathering, there isn't a resource constraint for spells beyond fatigue, so countering your opponent seems generally less efficient than resolving your own spells. I'm not fond of a system that requires encyclopedic knowledge of spells to counter them in such a loosely structured world as HP. I like the idea of counters existing, but I prefer classes of counterspells. Instead of countering target non-creature spell or enchantment or spell that costs x or less, there could be spells that disrupt transfigurations and conjurations, that stop ongoing effects, or disrupt the caster's concentration and prevent them from resolving in the first place. Dark magic and the Unforgivables would be "unable to be countered," though the caster themselves could be disrupted in other ways.

    I like the richness of MtG's systems, so I'm guilty of wanting to impose some of that onto HP.
    At the same time, I dislike heavily defining the HP system beyond the explicit effects of incantations, even in combat. When you have a high density of spells and counterspells, knowing and performing the precise counter on the fly is a hard sell. As rich as it makes defensive magic, I find it less entertaining and readable than a fluid, dynamic sequence where each caster uses their own magic in response to the other instead of throwing specific parries or repeated, augmented shield charms.

    At the same time, I think there's enough richness and vagueness in how magic functions that you could ignore whole swathes of canon, countermagic included, and still have an interesting result.

    tl;dr blue control players suck thanks for coming to my tedx rant
     
  17. Scarat

    Scarat Third Year

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2017
    Messages:
    91
    High Score:
    0
    I think embedding specific counters into the shield charm and finite incantatum through passive knowledge is fine. You could even create a bridging mechanism within magical theory that allows this in the first place, rather than having it happen automatically; this would explain why sometimes wizards still use specific counterspells (if no bridge has been developed for whatever reason for that specific counterspell or they do not understand the theory behind a particular bridge).

    It might make magical combat uninteresting, but I feel like it's already uninteresting in both canon (even top tier fights seem like they would get redundant, though the style of simultaneous attack and defense is interesting initially) and in many fanfiction interpretations. The development of magic within HP is nowehere near fast enough for wizards fights to be that different from one another at the same tier within the scope of an average story.

    The HP magic system is most interesting outside of direct combat. Your fic, TOHF kind of exemplifies this perfectly.

    Edit: HP fights are probably only interesting to watch after the first couple of times for people who have the technical understanding to understand what is actually going on beneath the surface(i.e. studied wizards). It's kind of like how people get bored watching boxing unless they take the time to learn what is going on on a technical level; then they start seeing the variety between fights.
     
  18. Arthellion

    Arthellion Lord of the Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2017
    Messages:
    1,502
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    High Score:
    2398
    I said it something like this in another thread on power levels, for most wizards, everyone is in the same tier.

    Yeah I’d take a spec ops soldier if I had the choice, but grandma with a gun can kill the SEAL with a solid lucky shot.

    Whereas Dumbledore/Voldemort/Grindelwald are more akin to Star Wars Jedi vs blasters. In a fight between two force users, skill is necessary and blaster fire is an annoyance. Only in abundance is it a threat.

    Harry Potter only really has two tiers. Dumbledore level vs everyone else.

    Your Aurors and fighters might know shields and counters, but ultimately wizard fighting is going to be like muggles with guns. Whoever shoots the other person first usually wins.
     
  19. kelkorkesis

    kelkorkesis Third Year

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2017
    Messages:
    107
    High Score:
    0
    I don't really enjoy this idea. I like the idea that if you are a Dumbledore tier you are capable of truly awesome feats with magic, but this shouldn't translate to combat omnipotency, when wands are crossed there needs to be a limit (not on magic). Or else you can ask why Voldemort didn't solo all Ministry himself after death of Dumbledore. Why collect any followers then?

    So, my power scale has 3 tiers (for combat). Regulars tier, Snape Tier, Dumbledore Tier. No amount of regulars can beat someone on Dumbledore Tier without extreme amount of dumb luck but small number of wizards from Snape Tier (from 3 to 20 for example) together can threathen and beat someone on Dumbledore tier. Same situation holds true for a fight between Regulars and Snape.
     
  20. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2006
    Messages:
    1,968
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    13,152
    I mean, he pretty much did. Literally one Imperius Curse on the Head of the DMLE and Voldemort is strolling into the Ministry to kill Rufus Scrimgeour.

    Canonically, it does seem very much like Dumbledore/Voldemort can take on any number of "normal" wizards, including Aurors. The FB movies lean pretty hard into this, with Grindelwald taking on 10-20 Aurors in both FB1 and FB2 (JKR seems intent on the devaluation of Aurors from elite Dark wizard hunters to police).

    This is not how I like to do things in AU fanfic, but if you're writing a story that tries to keep to canon, I think you're stuck with it.