From a flavour's perspective, perhaps the following?
1) As a black mage, I induced a killing urge in my opponent which he/she can only sate by killing a creature next to him/her (i.e. his control)
2) Induce a blood thirst that forces my opponent to drink from a blood source nearby (his/her creature)
3) Plant a volatile death magic around him/her that causes death to the first creature he/she sees
I would imagine that 1) or 2) fit more to the sacrifice theme
All better answers than the one that Doug gave. Which isn't saying much, because he didn't answer it at all!
Q: Magically speaking, how am I making my opponent sacrifice a creature?
A: Well, you see, you're making him sacrifice a creature.
I mean I don't really care - I understand it's one of those concepts that's hard to relate. But if he's going to pick the question, he could take a better stab at answering it.
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Cruel Edict is so terrible a magick that none dare speak of the actual forces it unleashes. Instead we speak in metaphors and academic language like "untargeted," that abstract the terror from reality in language of orderly "rules." I have faced it twice. The first time, I was alone on a shoreline weaving enchantments and connecting to lands, but I didn't have the time or patience to manage beasts as well. I was being opposed there by a foolish mage who made the Edict. As in a dream, I heard all around me, in no particular language, "This one has nothing I want. I will depart."
The second time, against a much more competent enemy, I had gathered a small menagerie of beasts and men that were sufficient to protect me from his wraiths. I heard that voice again, but this time it said, "Give me that which is mine, planeswalker." The light dimmed, time seemed to slow, as though the very air were made of a thick syrup. I hesitated for what seemed like minutes (it was probably much less), that command repeating over and over and I knew that only blood would make it go away. The words repeated, droned on until I could not make any other thoughts at all, I had to stop it. I drew my knife across the throat of my own bodyguard and as the life drained from him, the last look on his face was that of confusion at my betrayal. Then, "The debt is paid." Shortly thereafter, I was overcome by enemies and forced to flee that place.
While my injuries have healed, I have not fully recovered. I still see that bodyguard's face when I close my eyes and I can still to this day feel the warmth of his blood on my hands despite having washed them again and again. But that is not what keeps me from sleeping.
What keeps me from sleep is the knowledge that, were I to hear that voice in my head again, I would do exactly the same thing.
Jeanisis and Sidar_Jabari definitely covered it better than Doug, on this question. I like the idea of an Edict as kind of a mini-Mindslaver effect. Just like Duress strips away a single thought, Edicts insert a single pernicious mindworm, and there's no escape until you've satisfied its needs.
Interestingly, symmetrical sacrifice effects are almost easier to explain than targeted edicts.
amazing article, amazing story. i really enjoyed reading it.
i think doug did a great job on the edict explanation. you are sacrificing because of the sheer evil power of your opponent. sometimes (take a look at the traps) a spell is more subtle than "i shoot magical energies at you and they do stuff." sometimes it influences the mind or existing objects in a subtle manner. the spell doesn't have to put your enemy in a super evil funk and take over his mind. it can be a slight suggestion...all "these aren't the droids you're looking for," like.
and sometimes a spell represents an event that a mage of that alignment would bring about. a black mage, demon or vampire making you sacrifice a minion is perfectly in flavor for black, and whether he subtly manipulates your mind, threatens you, or merely convinces you with evil logic isn't important to me. it works either way.
that said, the above explanation-by-way-of-short-fiction is well done and also equally possible. i'm a big fan of vague effects that have many possible explanations.
They don't really care what thing pays with its life—they just want you to pay, and to thereby prove your respect of their power.
this is what i've always thought myself, but the whole "you choose, and that's part of the cruelty" is also good and i hadn't thought of it that way.
Really nice article, and wonderfull reading. But I have to say that the answer to the letter was empty. It didn't say anything, really. The point isn't why a black mage forces the opponent to sacrifice, but how (s)he does so. Good that other users managed to answer it in a much better way.
For linking a card to Gatherer without writting the name of said card for readers, use the autocard brackets together with and equal sign and right the name of the real card. Then put the message you want inside the tags, like you would do with autocarding. Like this:
I like storm crow because I really like crows in real life, as an animal, and the card isn't terribly stupid, but packs a good deal of nostalgia and also a chunck of the game's history. So it's perhaps one of the cards I have most affection to, but not because "lol storm crow is bad hurr hurr durr".
Oh, it's a brilliant plan. You see, Bolas was travelling through shadowmoor, causing trouble, when he saw a Wickerbough Elder with its stylin' dead scarecrow hat. Now, Bolas being Bolas took the awesome hat and he put it on his head, but even with all his titanic powers of magic he couldn't make it fit. He grabbed some more scarecrows, but then a little kithkin girl asked if he was trying to build a toupee. "BY ALL THE POWERS IN THE MULTIVERSE!" he roared, "I WILL HAVE A HAT WORTHY OF MY GLORY." and so he went through his Dark Lore of Doom (tm) looking for something he could make into a hat that would look as stylish on him as a scarecrow does on a treefolk. He thought about the Phyrexians, but they were covered in goopy oil that would make his nonexistant hair greasy. He Tried out angels for a while but they didn't sit quite right. Then, he looked under "e" (because in the Elder Draconic alphabet, "e" for Eldrazi is right next to "h" for Hat) in his Dark Lore of Doom and saw depictions of the Eldrazi, and all their forms. "THIS SHALL BE MY HAT!" he declared, poking a picture of Emrakul, "AND WITH IT I WILL USHER IN A NEW AGE OF DARKNESS -- ER, I MEAN A NEW AGE OF FASHION!"
And so Nicol Bolas masterminded the release of the Eldrazi.
"There are some who would say the darkness has no laws. Having fought the darkness and its agents so long I know this is not true, its laws are just more grim and far less rational."-Alyi, Kamsa Cleric
My edict flavor. Of course, the darkness loves this kind choice for laws.
In any event, the main article itself was pretty interesting. A quest for ancient secrets? :3 Now I have an image of a Zendikar Merfolk applying some type of oil in a similar manner to sunscreen to herself.