Master of One Magic

A character that's the best at what they do, and what they do is magic. Well... a type of magic, to be precise. Whether it's summoning, elemental magic, or just plain old moving stuff, they're simply the best there is.

They're often used as Old Masters from whom The Hero must learn his ultimate powers. The Hero may even learn from several of them. Getting apprenticeship from these characters may comprise a bulk of the story. Of course, there's nothing stopping a writer from making The Hero into a Master of One Magic, although they usually claim that title only through sheer power alone.

If there's any magic-user organization that specializes in one type of magic, you can expect the Master of One Magic to be the head of the group. They're often subject to Crippling Overspecialization, especially if they only rely on the magic they excel at when they can generalize their abilities. Also keep in mind that "magic" doesn't always have to go by that name when adding examples. Enlightenment Superpowers, Ki Attacks, Psychic Powers and the like can be counted as well.

Compare The Archmage, a powerful and learned wizard, which a Master of One Magic often is. Also compare The Red Mage, who isn't a master of any one field but has a nearly unparalleled versatility. Poor, Predictable Rock is when someone is dedicated to a single element in a Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors universe.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Sylphiel in The Slayers is a master of healing and protective white magic (she can cast such powerful healing spells as Resurrection), and almost completely inept in other kinds of magic. In the first season, Lina tries to make her cast Flare Arrow, a simple shamanic attack spell, and the spell comes out as a harmless carrot. Later, however, Sylphiel surprises everyone and learns to cast the Dragon Slave.
    • Lina herself is top of the field at black and chaos magic, and is actually the only practitioner of chaos magic in the world and intends to stay that way. This is not a result of her greediness, but of her moral character; since the only two chaos spells she's invented are the Ragna Blade, which exhausts her within seconds of being cast, and the Giga Slave, which will destroy the world if she loses control for an instant. She's somewhat less competent in shamanic magic and inept in white magic. Zelgadiss is the master of shamanism.
  • This seems to be the norm in Fairy Tail. Most mages focus on one school of magic, but are very good at averting Crippling Overspecialization in one way or another. in the main cast alone:
    • Natsu uses full contact fire magic that emulates the power of a dragon, and he's very good at outhinking defenses that would otherwise be a problem for him.
    • Lucy uses Summon Magic to call on a diverse assortment of celestial spirits, each with their own style of magic.
    • Gray can make any inanimate object using solid ice, which gives him a huge number of options.
    • Erza's magic lets her change weapons and armor instantly, and there's something in her Hyperspace Arsenal for just about everything.
  • Louise François LeBlanc de la Vallière of Zero no Tsukaima fame seems to be the poster girl for this. In the ZnT world, mages have elemental alignments that can be stacked (a single-element mage is a Point Mage, one who can use two elements is a Line Mage, three elements give a Triangle Mage and so on). Louise is constantly mocked for her absolute inability at producing a single spell of any element... Until it's discovered she's aligned to the legendary Void element, and she's ridiculously and scarily skilled in using its Explosion spell.

Fanfic
  • Littlepip from Fallout: Equestria has no ability to cast spells like other unicorns, all she can use is telekinesis, an ability innate to all unicorns, but she is very, very good with it, as one of her companions put it.
    Velvet Remedy: "Your special gift isn't being limited to only one spell, it's being able to use that spell better then any pony in the last 200 years."
  • The Pony POV Series inverts this in the case of Trixie — most unicorns specialize in one field of magic or another, usually relating to their special talent. Trixie, however, never exceeded in any particular field, being modestly talented at all of them.
  • In Child of the Storm, Harry seems to be shaping up into this. Like the other Harry, Harry Dresden, he's got an extraordinary and instinctive knack with fire, proving talented enough to impress even his uncle Loki. Of course, the downside to this is that he's Unskilled, but Strong and in general, isn't actually any better than his peers - while he's got more power by some way, and he can use wandless magic, the latter is only thanks to being taught the techniques by Loki: Hermione and the Weasley Twins can use it too. And frankly, the state of affairs is such that at best, he's still a Glass Cannon and has to rely on his wits.

Literature
  • In Mistborn, each of the Mistings in Kelsier's crew is a master of their particular Allomantic power: Breeze in Soothing, Marsh in Seeking, Ham in being a Thug, Spook in being a Tineye, Clubs in Smoking, and Kelsier himself in Pushing and Pulling.
    • Mistings in general are this; since they have only one of the sixteen allomantic powers (as opposed to a Mistborn, who has all of them), Mistings who take their abilities seriously tend to get very good with them. Full Mistborn, by contrast, are much more powerful and versatile, but generally have less finesse in any given power because they're spred thinner.
  • In the Xanth novels by Piers Anthony, everyone can only do one form of magic; basically, everyone just has one innate magic "trick" they can do. Some have the gift stronger than others, however, and the very strongest person in the land is usually made king. One king was a guy who was able to manipulate the weather; he used horrible storms to kill his nation's enemies, and nobody could pull up a tornado like he could. His successor, Trent, was a master of transformation magic. Humphrey was the best there was at information-gathering magic; if you wanted an answer, you went to him, and so on.
  • In Codex Alera, everyone (well, almost everyone) in Aleran society has Elemental powers, though most people have access to at least a couple and the nobility have them all, with single-element crafters generally considered fairly lowly. However, there are certain single-element crafters who show that they can do a lot with what they've got- Isana with her watercrafting is the most obvious example.
    • The Icemen are a race-wide example of this trope. They draw Elemental Powers from the same source the Alerans do, but their variant only allows for watercrafting. The fact that they've spent centuries focusing on this element alone has allowed them to do things with it that most Alerans wouldn't think possible, including large-scale weather control and advancing a watercrafter's natural empathy to the point of being practically telepathic.
  • In Heroes Die, Lamorak is a crappy mage overall, but his Dominate is really good.
  • The Dresden Files: Some people have some magical ability, but not enough to be considered a wizard. Some of those people focus on using one spell really, really hard.
    • Ernest Armand Tinwhistle better known as Binder is a "one trick hack" who can summon up some Faceless Goons. By the dozen in under a minute. And while nothing next to most of the supernatural baddies readers have seen, their sheer numbers make Binder the head of his own personal army capable of standing off forces technically far superior to himself and being a general nuisance enough to earn a good living as a mercenary. Just as long as nobody draws a circle around his lads that is.
    • Mortimer Linquest is an Ectomancer, who specializes in magic related to ghosts and spirits. He's even better at it than most wizards, and can do things like borrowing combat skills from them. We later find out he's served as almost a second Wizard of Chicago preventing all manner of ghostly threats from hurting anyone.
    • The Alphas, Harry's Friendly Neighborhood Werewolf friends, are regular people who learned a "human-to-wolf" spell rather than possessing any of the more traditional curses associated with lycanthropy. Billy (the group's leader) does mention that the spell has a secondary application as a healing spell, and describes it as being similar to transforming into human form.
    • At one point in Ghost Story, Harry's friends have to fight a Kinetomancer, who specializes in force magic applied to physical movement. Meaning he's incredibly fast and strong.
    • The Tabletop Game has this type of magic-user as a playable "class", called the Focused Practitioner, whose main advantage (obviously) is that they get to be very, very good at the one type of magic they practice. The sample Baltimore setting detailed in the "Your Story" gamebook has a character described as a Caffinomancer, a Focused Practitioner whose magic exclusively deals with the brewing of coffee.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Androl is an asha'man with very weak overall power but an enormous skill for portals and travelling weaves.
  • In The Quest of the Unaligned, nearly all mages are born aligned to one of the four elements, and attempting to access any element beyond the one you are born with is impossible. The only exception are the unaligned mages of the royal house, who are born able to use all four elements. And the orahs and hosheks. But they don't exist.
    • An extra on the author's website tells the tale of Kaltin the Fool. Born aligned to fire, he attempted to master water as well, and succeeded...for about two seconds. After that, the conflict between the two elements essentially caused him to explode.
  • Hogwarts professors are skilled in magic in general, but each have a specialty that they are best at.
    • The prime example is Gilderoy Lockhart, who unlike the other professors isn't any good at other kinds of magic (nor what he's supposed to teach). He is, however, extremely good at memory charms, and uses this skill to make people forget their own heroic deeds and take credit for them.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko and Nick Perumov's Wrong Time For Dragons, all members of Elemental clans can only control their particular element. It's not clear if anyone has ever tried to learn to control another element. Presumably, this is not looked upon favorably, as learning someone else's magic means you're not honing your skills in your area. So, Ritor may be the best Air mage in the Middle World, but he knows nothing about Earth, Water, or Fire magic. Ditto for Torn (Water), Anjey (Earth), and Navajo (Fire). The same is true for any members of any of the Totem clans. Totem magic is largely limited to enhancing physical combat qualities, although the status of a first-rank Totem mage is, technically, equal to that of a first-rank Elemental mage. When a third-rank Water mage forgets this and treats Loy Iver (the leader of the Cat Clan and a first-rank Totem mage herself) as someone of lower stature, she quickly reminds him by temporarily putting him under her control with some Cat magic. Averted with Victor, who is supposed to become the master of all four Elemental magics in order to become The Dragonslayer. However, it's implied that his mastery will disappear after his task is fulfilled (Ritor was one a Dragonslayer himself).

Pinball
  • Seawitch implies that its witches are only skilled in magic related to the ocean.

Tabletop Games
  • Specialist wizards in Dungeons & Dragons gain increased proficiency in one of the eight schools of magic, but permanently lose access to two different schools. So a specialist wizard is a "jack of most trades, master of one". There are also the Red Wizards of Thay, who get even more dedicated power with their specialist school but lose access to a third school.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Since it follows on from the precedents set by D&D Pathfinder has a similar situation. However, normal specialist wizards merely find it harder to train in spells from their "weak schools", and can actually choose which two schools they are denied access to. They also gain special abilities cementing their mastery over that school. The "Thassilonian Specialist" archetype/option is a Mythology Gag to D&D, where they function almost exactly like specialist wizards of 3.5 edition D&D.
    • The Summoner class focuses heavily on summoning. They actually lose out on gaining some high-level summoning spells (their spellcasting only goes 1th to 6th level rather than 1th to 9th like wizards, clerics and the like) as spells, but on the other hand they get the big ones of those as spell-like abilities instead, get to cast other summoning spells as lower-level spells and get a permanent customizable summon called an Eidolon.
  • In Mage: The Ascension, the Council of Nine Mystic Traditions is an alliance of nine groups of wizards with different philosophies, which all have an affinity with a specific aspect of magic. The master of each tradition is supposed to be the ultimate authority on that particular branch of magic (although they are all extremely powerful mages in general too, and most of them are masters of at least two or three other spheres of magic in addition to their specific area of expertise).
  • GURPS also has schools of magic, similar to the D&D ones. Since GURPS treats magic in the same way as other learned skills, it is also possible to create a "Johnny One-Spell"; a character who only knows a single spell, but is very, very good at it.
  • Warhammer has plenty of characters of this sort. Indeed, since the vast majority of wizards in the game are only allowed to use a single spell lore at once (though most have several to choose from), specialisation is the rule and breadth of magic the exception. As such any wizard with the "Loremaster" special rule would qualify for this trope, as the rule means that they know all the spells from the Lore of Magic they specialise in (usually seven), rather than the 1-4 most normal wizards get. Notable Loremasters include Balthasar Gelt (Lore of Metal), Mannfred von Carstein (Lore of the Vampires and Lore of Death), High Priest Khatep (Lore of Nehekhara), Tetto'Ekko (Lore of the Heavens) and Vilitch the Curseling (Lore of Tzeentch). Other very powerful wizards who only use a single lore of magic - such as Arkhan the Black (Lore of Death) would also fit. Special mention should be made of Kairos Fateweaver (Lore of Tzeentch) and High Loremaster Teclis (High Magic), who both have the equivalent of the Loremaster rule for their own discipline, but don't really fit the trope because they can choose to be generalists and take spells from all eight of the colour magic lores (in Kairos's case as well as his Tzeentch spells, in Teclis's case instead of his High Magic ones).

Video Games
  • The Master Trainers in their respective magical disciplines throughout The Elder Scrolls series.
  • In Disgaea, this is the case for all magic users; they specialize in one elemental damage type or healing.
  • In MARDEK, Annunaki society is composed of seven Schools, one for each of the Annunaki Elemental Powers (air, water, fire, earth, light, dark and aether). The greatest of each school gets a seat on the ruling body, the Governance de Magi.
  • Z Angband has High Mages, a class which only knows one magic school instead of the normal two, but is very good at it.
  • Amadeus from Trine is adept at creating objects and controlling them. However, he can't cast fireball, an extremely basic spell in the game, which has held him back in his academy throughout his entire life.
  • Mages from the Final Fantasy series tend to focus on the type of magic they are named after, such as the famous Black Mage, White Mage, Summoners and so on. Not to mention jobs such as the Time Mage, who's wholly dedicated to controlling, well, time.

Web Comics
  • Sarin of The Dragon Doctors is a master of Shapeshifting magic.
  • The Erlkönig's magic in Roommates is almost exclusively darkness based, he can wring out an astonishing number of effects from the element (from using shadows as teleport network, to dream manipulation), though.

Western Animation
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Toph and King Bumi are the best earthbenders, Master Pakku is the best Waterbender, and the best Firebenders are Firelord Ozai (until he's Brought Down to Normal) and Jeong Jeong. While Aang is the best Airbender by default of being the only Airbender, he doesn't really count since he can bend all of the elements.
    • Every Bender is eventually one of these. You can only ever learn one type of Bending, unless you are The Avatar.
    • Aang himself does count, actually, in that while he can bend all the elements, he is only really the master of air: with the rest he is powerful but not as powerful as some of his friends, nor does he ever pick up the advanced techniques associated with them.

Alternative Title(s):

Magic Master, One Power Wonder