A ban on using magic
. Usually in effect just for certain places or circumstances, but occasionally is complete.
When an Antimagical Faction
is in control, a ban on magic is always in effect, since it is an almost inalienable part of their policy. The ban is often prompted by a notion of magic being evil
There is more than one sort of magic ban. For purposes of definition, we will divide them into these classes:
Type A: Partial bans. As noted, most bans are this sort. Subtypes of this:
- Certain schools of magic are banned — The Dark Arts, necromancy, the Light Arts...
- Magic is banned to certain people. This usually means everyone outside a certain class. It may be limited to licensed wizards, people of noble birth, or people of ignoble birth; or it may be allowed to only one or two people. This and A1 may be mixed; there may be schools of magic that are banned to most, but not all, people. See also Super Registration Act.
- Magic is limited to certain times, and will be punished outside them.
Type B: Complete bans on magic. Especially fun if the heroes are magic-users. Note that many situations that look like Type B are really Type A2 — you rarely find magic banned to everyone
unless there is a non-magical way to enforce the ban.
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Anime and Manga
- Fullmetal Alchemist has a Type A 3-part restriction on alchemy: Alchemy used as a weapon against the general law and order is forbidden (much like any weapon). It is also forbidden to transmute gold (to avoid destroying the gold-standard economy), and human transmutation, the act of creating human life or resurrection, is forbidden. All knowledge of the Philosopher's stone is also ruthlessly repressed and probably illegal if people even knew about it. In the two latter cases, it's to keep the military's monopoly on them — or in the 2003 anime, to intentionally make it Forbidden Fruit for sufficiently desperate alchemists.
- Fairy Tail uses a Type A-2 in Edolas - magic is a non-renewable resource there, so mage guilds are outlawed, and the only people who are allowed to use large amounts of magic are the higher-ups in the kingdom.
- In Magic: The Gathering, Chandra Nalaar's home plane operates on Type A: the use of fire magic is punishable by death.
- In the Alternate Universe My Little Pony Fanfic The Son Of The Emperor depending on the country, unicorns are either banned from using magic altogether or allowed certain weaker spells.
- Type A in Warriors of the World - there is a ban on old magic being used within the Kingdom. The law extends to sentient non-humans and creatures as well.
- Harry Potter has a few type A bans: one forbidding the use of magic to students, one forbidding the use of magic in the vicinity of Muggles (although this may count as upholding The Masquerade), and one forbidding the use of The Dark Arts, especially the Unforgivable Curses.
- References are also made to certain magics being prohibited within Hogwarts, such Apparation or using Transfiguration as a punishment for students.
- The Seven Laws of Magic in The Dresden Files forbid killing mortals with magic (you can kill other things with magic, and you can defeat a magic user with magic and strike the finishing blow with a plain old gun just fine), involuntary shapeshifting magic, Mind Reading, Mind Control, Necromancy, Time Travel, and looking beyond the "Outer Gates". A type A, then. The penalty for any breaking of the laws is beheading. At first it's thought to be very cruel on the part of the Council, but later we find that committing certain acts with magic will leave you Drunk on the Dark Side and almost inevitably lead to much worse. The Council answers "yes" to "would you kill Hitler before the Holocaust if you could?"
- The Laws of Ramos in the Deryni works label the use of Deryni magic as heresy, punishable by death by burning at the stake. Particularly true for any Deryni who dares to take Holy Orders as a priest; such an execution is depicted in the short story "The Priesting of Arilan".
- Black magic is banned by the guild in Trudi Canavan's Black Magician Trilogy, looking at the title probably tells you how well that goes.
- In the first book of Septimus Heap, the Supreme Custodian tries not very successfully to outlaw Magyk.
- From the 13th century Heimskringla: When the Aesir had taught magic to the ancient Swedes, they used it for everything. But because magic makes everything too easy, they soon felt that the men were becoming too soft. So they passed a law that only women were allowed to learn magic, and this is supposedly the reason why the Norse ever since frowned upon men practicing sorcery, while it was okay with women.
- In Pamela Dean's Secret Country books, there's a type A1 example. A few hundred years ago, three of the four major schools of magic- Green Caves, Blue, and Yellow- drove the fourth, the Red, out of the inland countries where the books take place. What exactly the Red Sorcerers did to make themselves so unpopular is never really explained, only that they are still considered rather unsavory and that the forces they wield are both more powerful and more dangerous than those available to the other schools.
- In The Belgariad it is against the law to practice sorcery in the Empire of Tolnedra. Which is ironic, because Tolnedrans don't believe in sorcery or magic as a matter of principal.
- In The Elenium, the Elene Church refuses to recognize Styric magic (or any other magic). Especially ironic, since all the Knights of the Church are trained in Styric magic. This gets turned on its head in The Tamuli when a Styric refuses to recognize Atan magic for many of the same reason that the Elenes disregard Styic magic.
- Labyrinths of Echo has almost complete ban of magic around the World's Heart, since using up too much of its power would eventually bring The End of the World as We Know It. Magic used far away doesn't tap this power — which also makes it much harder. Of course, adherents of the ban had to stop near-unchecked magical Orders — requiring War of the Codex that made everyone throw around more magic and thus was counterproductive. So the World of Rod already have slipped past the critical point late in the war and by the start of the series was kept barely "alive" via artificial means.
- A couple of cases in The Wheel of Time:
- The nations of Tear and Amadicia are both type Bs, banning magic altogether (the former mostly out of general distrust, the latter because it is all but ruled by a militant religious order that believes Magic is Evil) and the city-state of Far Madding is effectively one, owing to the fact that it exists in an Anti-Magic field. Tear, ironically, sends a high number of students to the main Wizarding School, if only to get those with the ability to use magic out of the Tairens' hair, and the general attitude is that they don't care what channelers do, as long as they don't do it in Tear; the Amadicians and the ruling Children of the Light have a more direct solution.
- Type A is in effect over most of the world; across most of the Westlands, channeling is at best frowned upon and at worst activel prohibited unless one is a woman who has been trained in the White Tower, though the Tower's ability to enforce this is shown to be much more limited than it would hope.
- The Empire of Seanchan is also a Type A, since its people believe that Magic is Evil, but instead of outright forbidding it they use a'dam to enslave channelers and force them to serve the Empire. Free channelers (marath'damane) are considered dangerous freaks and actively hunted down and collared
- Male channelers are almost always executed or severed in any part of the world, owing to a curse placed upon them by the local God of Evil that causes them to go spectacularly insane after using their powers for a while (the exact amount of time this takes varies) and are nearly universally hated and feared as a result.
- The Earthsea Trilogy has a a quasi-Type A1. While wizards are not strictly forbidden from using forms of magic other than illusion, there is a powerful taboo against it, for very good reason.
- The Kargs also have a true Type A2: all "magic" is prohibited to Kargs and in the Kargad Lands. As it turns out, they worship evil gods who hate magic, which is actually OK.
- The Magic in Ithkar anthologies take place in a huge yearly fair, and unauthorized magic is strictly forbidden within the fair, primarily to keep the trading honest. This provided a helpful source of conflict for the writers.
- In the Curse Workers series, magic has been banned throughout most of the world, leading to the rise of crime syndicates that control an underground trade in magical services. Australia is notable for being one of the few countries where magic is not illegal; it is generally understood that the reason for this is that, due to its origins as a penal colony, many of the first European settlers were people who had been deported from England for the crime of using magic.
- The Federation in The Heritage of Shannara is a type A2 that pretends to be a type B. Official policy is that magic is illegal and anyone caught using it will get the Seekers (the Federation's secret police and Elite Mooks) sicced on them. The truth is that the Seekers (and indirectly, the rest of the Federation government) are a front for the Shadowen, who both use and feed on magic and want to gather all the magic in the world for themselves.
- Type B2 in the Gentleman Bastard series. The bondsmagi of Karthain decided they should to be the only wizards in the world. There used to be other magic-users around, but the bondsmagi coerced them into joining them and killed those who didn't agree. Now they manage to detect most of the people gifted for magic at a young age and teach them, and no other group of wizards exist.
- Allomancy in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy is strictly limited to the nobility. Commoners who use Allomancy get ritually executed by having a hook with a rope tied to it shoved down their throat, so that the hook comes out of the throat and the rope out of the mouth, and then getting hung by that rope (this punishment is explicitly reserved for commoner Allomancers). In addition, if you've got Allomancy there's a chance any of your children could have it, so the government will track down and kill them too.
- And Feruchemy is absolutely illegal, to the point where a thousand-year-long breeding program was initiated just to get rid of the potential for that ability.
- Magic in Fates Road is banned above ground, since having too much of it around causes people to mutate into creatures.
- In The Dark Sword Trilogy this trope is inverted: there's a ban on not being magical (type B!). The vast majority of humanity have at least some inborn magical talent. Those who don't have it are called "dead" and often end up that way for real, if discovered. The shadowy enforcers can stop others from using magic, often crippling them. One country also bans technology, since it allows you to do things without magic.
- The Laundry Files is about an English secret agency that spends almost all of its time enforcing a ban not just on magic but on branches of computer programming and higher mathematics that might lead to magic, because unsupervised amateurs could accidentally summon eldritch things which devour the world. The rest of their time is spent stopping eldritch things from devouring the world, because they don't have the budget to keep track of every gifted mathematician in the UK.
Myths & Religion
- Type B for some, not all, types of Abrahamic religion in general, where Magic is Evil is fully in effect. Expect Burn the Witch!.
- Other interpretations is that a Type A, with certain types of magic being banned.
- The Elysium areas in Vampire: The Masquerade are set up by the Camarilla as neutral grounds where all vampiric disciplines are forbidden. A territorial ban but a type B one it seems.
- In the Dark Sun RPG setting, magic was banned and its users are hunted as it is held responsible for the apocalyptic conditions of the planet. A Type A1 ban. Psionic (common) and Spirit-magic (rare) are okay.
- In both Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 universes the God of anger/war/hate/rage Khorne openly hates magic users, his followers considering them cowards and to be killed at every opportunity. There is no such thing as a Sorcerer of Khorne, and many game mechanics tend to forbid any magic users from following Khorne and vice versa. Magic weapons that let you kill more efficiently are fine, though.
- Both settings also see Type A bans among most races over magic (in WH) or psionics (40K) - anyone who practices them without the explicit permission and control of those in power are hunted down and executed. The reason is because supernatural power in both settings stems from Hell, and even the slightest fumble can be a cue for The Legions of Hell to come in and wreck reality.
- The Emperor of Mankind once inflicted a Type A ban by class (anyone not a Navigator, an Astropath, or The Emperor Himself). The fallout from this directly led to the crippling of the Space Wolves Legion and utterly destroyed/banished the Thousand Sons Legion, and after the Emperor was mortally wounded by Horus the ban was almost immediately ignored by a number of powerful organisations (such as the Inquisition, Astartes and Imperial Guard) who continued to apply it to everyone else... Including, in some cases, each other.
- Type A2 is extremely common in the Forgotten Realms, with several nations and city-states limiting magic in civilized areas to its own mages/police force. A good example is the Cowled Wizards of Amn, whose ban on magic shows up in Baldur's Gate 2 (further down the page).
- This is half the plot of Zork: Grand Inquisitor.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Necromancy is banned by the Mages Guild archmage Traven, and its practitioners are not happy about that. A type A.
- A few hundred years later in Skyrim, the College of Winterhold is much more relaxed in allowing conjurers to resurrect the dead (it was apparently never affiliated with the, now collapsed, Mages Guild). However the local Nord population are a Proud Warrior Race who have (apparently recently if the amount of respected mages in Sovngarde are anything to go by) a strong dislike of magic, making it an unofficial partial ban (many NPCs won't even talk to you if you have a summoned undead or daedra following you and guards will even tell you off for using "Shouts", which everyone knows marks you as The Dragonborn). The only Nord mage in the college has been all but disowned by his family for studying there.
- Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. The Azadi Empire is upholding a strict type B ban on magic in its lands, branding it as evil. However, they also have mages (that they call "thaumaturgists") and their Prophet seems to use magic, and it is speculated that they ban magic because they want to have it all and because they are afraid that someone else knows more about it than they do.
- It is also shown that their so-called technological advancements (e.g. steam engines, airships, ridiculously huge towers) are actually Magitek, as normal technology cannot function in Arcadia (except for bicycles).
- Dragon Age has mixed-type A ban. A2: The Chantry has all but branded magic as evil, and has imposed a strict ban on it. Anyone shown to have magical ability is shipped off to the nearest Circle, under the constant supervision of the Templars. Anyone who doesn't submit to this is hunted down and brought to the Circle or executed depending on the circumstances. A1: Anyone caught using Blood Magic is killed on sight (with very few exceptions).
- And like 40K above, this is a case of Properly Paranoid. Mages have a tendency to attract demons through no fault of their own.
- The Qunari absolutely despise mages. Any mage is put in a special harness that prevents them from using their abilities and has his mouth sewn shut. All mages are named Saarebas, which is Qunari for "dangerous thing". In Dragon Age II, you meet a Qunari bounty hunter, specializing in hunting down Saarebas. If you let it slip out that anyone in your party is a mage (including, possibly, you), he will freak out and immediately attack.
- Baldur's Gate 2 has a type A2 enforced by the Cowled Wizards on the city of Athkatla (but not for divine spells, and only outdoors). It exists to act as a plot point: At the end of the prologue, the wizards will arrest your childhood friend Imoen and the Big Bad for unlicensed spellcasting, which sets in motion the plot. Of course said plot point is a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation: If you start casting spells the Wizards will just try to kill you after a one-strike warning. 5000 gp in the right pocket 'buys' you a 'license' that leaves you free to spell-sling to your hearts' content.
- You can avoid buying the license by killing enough of the guys they send to enforce the ban, but it's usually easier to just avoid casting spells outdoors until you can afford the license.
- In Heroes of Might and Magic III, there is a single scenario called "Heroes of Might, not Magic" which, true to its name, prevents the player from playing with magic-oriented heroes and learning any spells. In-universe, this is explained by all the magic being stolen by a witch.
- In Age Of Wonders 2 : Shadow Magic the human ruler has forbidden the use of any magic, supposedly to prevent the arrival of the shadow demons. Of course, since every faction leader is a magic user, he is also a very big hypocrite.
- Dragon Fable's third Book is all about a group called The Rose. They believe that magic is more dangerous than useful and therefore try to convince the people of Lore to stop using it entirely. When this doesn't work, they force them to do so. So far, the group's pretty successful - even the king, Alteon the Great, supports their cause.
- In Emerald City Confidential, magic is banned for everyone except those who are licensed users working for Queen Ozma.
- The dimension-hopping (and magic-using) heroes of Beyond Reality visit a world which enforces this, because any local magic-user invariably goes violently insane.
- In The Gamers Alliance, Alent is remarkably tolerant of practitioners of many kinds of magic, including The Dark Arts, and can be rather liberal even on experiments which many other societies would consider unethical. However, they have a ban on using Blood Magic due to how destructive it can be in the wrong hands. After the necromancer Razravkar Dominus is framed for murdering an officer of the Anti Mage Police, Councillor Durin Halfstaff ends up using it as an excuse to begin a manhunt for any active necromancers who are arrested in the city, which leads to a ban on necromancy until the killer of the officer can be brought to justice.
- The squirrels in Tasakeru enforce a ban on magic, believing that only the Gods should be able to change the laws of nature. The degree to which the ban is followed varies from family to family; some families are willing to use magical tools and objects enchanted by other mages, and others refuse to use any magic at all.