Created By: Aielyn on May 27, 2011 Last Edited By: Aielyn on September 20, 2016

Exotic Equals Magical

Anything that is exotic or foreign comes with great power

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Alternate names: Exotic Means Magical, Foreign Means Magical, or perhaps replace "Magical" with "Mystical" in any of those.

So, you've just gotten some artifact from your Friendly Local Chinatown, or from some archaeological dig in Qurac or Darkest Africa, or as a gift from a strange woman with a foreign accent. It will invariably have some sort of mystical power.

Similarly, you've just met with the newest member of your team. They happen to be from some exotic country. This inevitably means that they are capable of some remarkable superhuman feat that will come in handy during your adventure, or they have some mighty exotic artifacts in their possession.

(needs more elaboration, etc)

If you can gain magical or superhuman powers for yourself by training under an exotic teacher, then it's Mysteries Of The Orient (current YKTTW title, needs to be updated when it launches with a final name). If it's a foreign word or phrase that holds power, then it's Magical Foreign Words or Language of Magic. If the power is due to exotic technology, then it may be a result of Sufficiently Advanced Alien or Imported Alien Phlebotinum. If it's from outer space, then this is because Space Is Magic. If the powerful item is exotic due to being of an old civilisation, then it is an Ancient Artifact. If the power comes from some foreign religious belief, then it is Religion Is Magic.

May arise in the more explicitly magical variations of Magical Negro. For the local exotic flavour, there's the Magical Native American. Sometimes exhibits itself as the Ethnic Magician, the Witch Doctor, or the old Gypsy Fortune Teller. In Western works, this can show itself as Supernatural Martial Arts.


  • Most of H.P. Lovecraft's works exhibit this, where many, if not most, foreign people and things are, by default, corrupted by the Old Gods, and will likely drive you crazy and try to eat your face.
  • On Gor the Magicians from the Isle of Anango are well-known all over Gor for their magical abilities - everywhere except Anango, where they've never heard of them.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • May 28, 2011
    This one is all over HP Lovecraft's fiction: everything and everyone foreign is, by default, corrupted by the Old Gods and will drive you crazy and eat your face.
  • May 29, 2011
    On Gor the Magicians from the Isle of Anango are well-known all over Gor for their magical abilities - everywhere but Anango. They've never heard of them there.
  • May 29, 2011
    "The Outer Space" counts here too -- Space Is Magic.
  • May 29, 2011
    Not sure if this counts, but Tabletop game Dungeons and Dragons: 4th Edition was considering making a 'Ki' power source that would include Monks, Shugenja and a whole lot of Asian themed characters. Community reaction and internal discussion made them decide that having a basically 'Asian specific' power source probably wasn't a good idea (and instead made the Monk a Psionic class and the Seeker a Primal class, and made the others into variants of similar but existing classes).
  • May 31, 2011
    I think that's not really the same, Shiva Fang, because in that case, it's just an asian-themed power, rather than asian objects/people inherently having power. If the asian characters (and those from other "exotic" countries) were the only ones who had any sort of power, then it would fit this trope.
  • June 1, 2011
    The tropes Magical Negro and Magical Native American should be mentioned. If the author is not black or Native American respectively, they do fit into the "exotic" bit. (Although the trope description of Magical Negro says that he is less often explicitly magic than his New World counterpart.)

    Would Magical Queer also fit? Normally you only define "exotic" as something strange from a different (ethnic) culture and/or country.
  • June 1, 2011
    ^^^ This only means they were about to blindly lift it from D&D/AD&D1 OA (like with almost everything else, eventually). While it was already obvious back in AD&D2 time how this should be threated (and sometimes was); the main reason it wasn't done in D&D3 core was because the less its new psionics system was used, the better it would end for everyone.
  • February 21, 2012
    No, no. "What comes from afar, comes with great power" =)
  • February 21, 2012
  • July 9, 2012
  • September 20, 2016
    This kind of view is often due to not understanding how the "exotic" thing actually works. This trope is why in fiction (and historically?) native people or other relatively low-culture people think of the invaders' guns as "magic fire sticks".
  • September 20, 2016
    Anime Catholicism might count, considering how much christian magic keeps popping up in Japanese works (and the religion is essentially foreign to them, not many {{ Japanese Christian}}s out there)
  • September 20, 2016
    Averted in Golden Sun: While in Xian, the party (from all over the western part of the supercontinent) comes across a kung fu school and can wow the students by knocking over a huge log from a distance. The teacher, however, calls it ki (energy from the mind) as opposed to chi (energy from the body, which they're familiar with), as he's already seen it with Master Hama.

  • September 20, 2016
    Compare This Is My Boomstick for when this is done with a relatively mundane item towards people who are culturally or technologically backwards.