Created By: LiberatedLiberater on October 10, 2011 Last Edited By: 69BookWorM69 on September 5, 2014

Magic Heirloom

Magic is something that is passed on through heirlooms or artifacts

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

Needs a Better Title, Needs More Examples, Up for Grabs

Magic isn't always for everyone. Sometimes, it's an inherent gift, and sometimes, it's something that you discover on your own. But what happens when a person is dying and they can't just transfer the secret on their own? Or if the person doesn't want the secret to get out of a certain circle?

This is where the Magic Heirloom comes in. Someone who has discovered the secret of magic will encode it or infuse it within an artifact of some sort and pass it down to someone who he would deem worthy to inherit the secret.

Compare Witch Species, when magic is inherited through genetics (although it may overlap) and Take Up My Sword, which involves a dying party transferring their powers to someone else. Very likely to become a MacGuffin. May also overlap with Ancient Artifact.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Magi in the Nasuverse usually encode their knowledge in a Magic Crest, which is then passed on through future generations, allowing the knowledge they have gained to accumulate.
  • Alchemy being a science in Fullmetal Alchemist, alchemists encode the secrets to their research in various ways such as ciphers and tattoos. The most notable one is Scar's alchemy obtained from his brother, which is tattooed to his arm.

Literature
  • In theDeryni universe, the Eye of Rom (a large cabochon ruby set as an earring), the Ring of Fire (a ring set with red garnets, used as a coronation ring), and the Lion Brooch (a gold and red enamelled cloak clasp the size of a man's fist). The Haldane potential is set in each heir and triggered in each new king in one or more rituals using these items and occasionally others. Repeated ritual use over the course of centuries has imbued these items with magical power. King Donal also uses a silver bracelet for this purpose in Childe Morgan.
Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • October 10, 2011
    Andygal
    in the Mistborn series both Allomancy and Feruchemy are inherited, it's theoretically possible to inherit both, though in the original trilogy the Lord Ruler had taken steps to prevent this from happening.
  • October 10, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Literature:

    Both the ability to manifest Deryni powers and the Haldane potential (apparently a variant) are transmitted genetically; the trait is dominant, so only one parent needs to have the trait for an offspring to inherit it. Thus, so-called "half-breeds" are just as powerful as full-blooded Deryni. Deryni generally need to be taught to use their powers; carriers of the Haldane potential need no training, but must have the potential triggered by a outside action. This is usually done in a ritual, the specifics of which vary slightly from one generation to the next; certain heirloom objects are used, and new ones may be added.
  • October 10, 2011
    sxizzor
    In World Of Warcraft, the Guardian of Tirisfal's powers (which are themselves the result of a bunch of mages funneling their power into one person) are passed to a new guardian when the old one dies or retires. The successor is usually chosen by a council, but the third-to-last guardian went against orders and gave the magic to her son, who in turn gave it to HIS son.
  • October 10, 2011
    Mimimurlough
    • In Charmed, the magic was inherited from mother to daughter, and then later from Piper to her sons

    • Dragon Age has genetic magic. The more mages brought into the family, the higher chance of producing the mage. It is considered a curse for some
  • October 10, 2011
    CommanderObvious
    In the Ace Attorney series, the Fey family is known for channel spiriting -- a spiritual magic to talk to the dead that can only be inherited by blood. Females in the family can only wield the power.
  • October 10, 2011
    arromdee
    This is basically Witch Species.
  • October 10, 2011
    Koveras
    Laconic.Witch Species: "Capacity for magic is In the Blood." Yes, this is it.
  • October 10, 2011
    LiberatedLiberater
    Should I remove the part that says that it's inherited then? There's a second part of the trope that allows for inheritance through an heirloom or an artifact.
  • October 10, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    I'm putting my example under Superpowerful Genetics as well, since the genetic inheritance part is dealt with in supplementary material.
  • October 10, 2011
    surgoshan
  • October 10, 2011
    BooleanEarth
  • October 10, 2011
    LiberatedLiberater
    Okay, I've cut down the description to the second one - magic is inherited through an artifact, code, or item passed down through generations.
  • October 10, 2011
    BooleanEarth
    Ah, well then my example doesn't apply anymore.

    See also Superpowerful Genetics. Plus, you might want to make a note about how Magic Heirlooms are likely to become macguffins.
  • October 12, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    ^ I agree with BooleanEarth in re macguffins.

    If we're down to objects, then there's still Deryni examples: the Eye of Rom (a large cabochon ruby set as an earring), the Ring of Fire (a ring set with red garnets, used as a coronation ring), and the Lion Brooch, a gold and red enamelled cloak clasp the size of a man's fist). The Haldane potential is set in each heir and triggered in each new king in one or more rituals using these items and occasionally others. King Donal also uses a silver bracelet for this purpose in Childe Morgan.
  • October 12, 2011
    Damr1990
    if we count them as Macguffins then Take Up My Sword/Arm may be related tropes (where the inheritances would not necesarily be between relatives)
  • October 16, 2011
    LiberatedLiberater
    Examples bump
  • October 16, 2011
    deuxhero
  • October 17, 2011
    LiberatedLiberater
    It doesn't have to be a weapon. It doesn't even have to be ancestral, either. It just has to be something that transfers their powers to their inheritors.
  • October 17, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    ^ That's true, plus there's a first time for everything. Early in the Deryni timeline, the Eye of Rom was first used by Camber to trigger Cinhil's Haldane potential (it had been in his family before that), and the Lion Brooch was a personal gift from Michaela to her husband Rhys Michael Haldane which he used to trigger his own potential. These items and the others I mentioned took on psychic energies from being used in this way.
  • October 31, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Bump
  • November 2, 2011
    Ghilz
    The titular cards of Card Captor Sakura, I believe.
  • October 29, 2012
    Discar
    Bump.
  • October 29, 2012
    elwoz
    Does the wardrobe in the Narnia series count?
  • October 29, 2012
    Koveras
    • In the Seekers Of The Sky duology, the Functional Magic is limited to the Word, a short incantation that allows the user to store any object in a parallel dimension and retrieve it at any time. Each major noble family has their own Word, which is passed from parents to children, along with everything stored "within" it.
  • November 5, 2012
    Met
    In The Secret Of Nimh, the magical stone amulet that Johnathan owned is kept by Nicodemus who eventually passes it along to Johnathan's widow, Mrs. Brisby. The stone only works in the presence of true courage.
  • January 18, 2013
    elwoz
    Bump and I still don't know if the wardrobe to Narnia counts.
  • September 4, 2014
    DAN004
    Subtrope to Our Mages Are Different?

    Edit: didn't realize that this is too close to Bequeathed Power
  • September 4, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    ^ Agreed, this is a subset of Bequeathed Power that deals with only magical artifacts. The duplicate / supertrope also encompasses weapons and mind controllers and summoning artifacts. Tagging this as "Already Have."
  • September 4, 2014
    DAN004
    I guess I can simply move all examples to either Bequeathed Power or Take Up My Sword.

    But I just thought: where does "a sword containing the previous wielder's powers" go into?
  • September 4, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Oh, like in Humble Hearts' Dust An Elysian Tail? Um, I'd call that one Take Up My Sword, since that sword at times counsels the main character, motivating him from Reluctant Hero to Heroic Sacrifice.
  • September 5, 2014
    Diretooth
    Possible example with Adventure Time, where the Ice King's crown holds his magical power. (And drives him insane.)
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