Our Mages Are Different

How does someone become a mage? Why should someone have the power to alter reality? Obviously, mages use magic — but how does one gain access to magic? Look no further - this page will detail them.

Note that these analogies could be mixed: for instance, it is possible that the innate ability to wield magic is based on bloodline (as with the mage race), but that to develop this innate ability, the mage must use ancient lore (as with the scholarly mage). Also note that this is about how the mage acquires power, not the source of that power: i.e., whether magic is drawn from nature, from the elements, from other planes, from the spirit world, or whatever.

It is also possible that there are multiple kinds of mages in one setting; sometimes they are mutually exclusive, sometimes they can be mixed (see above). When one of them is supposedly rare or unusual in universe, see Wrong Context Magic.

Despite the name, this can sometimes apply to Differently Powered Individual as well; see also How to Give a Character Superpowers.

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    Mages are like... 

Mages are like Artists

Artist-like mages gain their ability based on creativity and imagination. As with being a great artist, being a great mage may require practice and technical skill to some extent, but a sense of artistic creativity is vital. These mages may have their heads on a cloud as a result of their wild imagination. Associated trope: Imagination-Based Superpower, Art Attacker, Art Initiates Life, Magic Music

Mages are like Athletes

The ability of the athlete-like mage to wield magic is based on years of intensive, exhaustive training. In Asian works, may sometimes overlap with the Monks subtype. Associated trope: Charles Atlas Superpower, Full-Contact Magic, Ki Manipulation, Kung-Fu Wizard, Supernatural Martial Arts, Magic Dance

Mages are like Gadget Users

Sometimes they're not so much "mages" as they are "magical equipment users": Their magic abilities come from what they have in their person - be it an accessory, a clothing, a weapon, etc. Depending on the work, said equipments may be so vital to the character that he/she is as good as a Muggle without it; or they already have magic abilities by themselves and the equipments are just there to help them; or (when this is subverted) their magic abilities come purely from themselves and said equipments only act as a crutch. Common with the Magical Girl genre. Associated trope: Upgrade Artifact, Amplifier Artifact, Magic Wand, Magic Staff, Magical Accessory, Clothes Make the Superman, Magitek

Mages are like Chemists

To work magic, a mage just finds and combines the right physical components in such a way that produces the effect they want. This is distinct from Gadget Users in that the components tend to be specific to the spell and used up in the process, rather than reused, and distinct from Mutants in that they have to keep gathering and recombining ingredients, rather than just being exposed to the substance once. While almost any physical materials can potentially work, potions tend to be the most common type. Associated trope: Alchemy Is Magic, Eye of Newt, Insubstantial Ingredients, Sympathetic Magic, Hermetic Magicnote 

Mages are like Gods

In this variant, a mage is not a human being. The mage may take on the appearance of a human, but the actual nature of the mage is divine, whether demonic or angelic. May overlap with the Theurgist subtype if these gods can allow their followers to use a portion of their power. Associated trope: The Fair Folk, Our Demons Are Different, Our Angels Are Different, God in Human Form

Mages are like Lottery Winners

Mages get their ability to wield magic completely at random. Nothing but chance determines who is likely to wield magic. These characters will often have their power level determined by chance as well, though some still need to work at it. Associated trope: The Gift, Randomly Gifted, Superpower Lottery

Mages are like Monks

Mages' most notable feature is their mental discipline and force of will — abilities that might be cultivated through meditation. It seems likely that in worlds where reality responds to sufficiently intense strength of will, these mages might be likely. Associated trope: Enlightenment Superpowers, Clap Your Hands If You Believe, Heroic Spirit

Mages are like Mutants

Magic is acquired by being exposed to some kind of substance/energy. It may or may not cause any adverse effects to the mage's body. It may also overlap with the race subtype if the mutation is passed down to offspring. This one is often the most common way for a non-mage to become a mage, alongside Gadget Users. Associated trope: Super Serum, Touched by Vorlons, Viral Transformation, Superhuman Transfusion, Super Empowering, Mass Super-Empowering Event

Mages are like Naturalists

Here, one can become mage by getting closer to nature. How exactly that is may vary, and overlap with other means: Maybe you're close with a mystical entity pertaining to nature that entrusts you with the power of nature (Cultist), maybe you study hard about nature (Scholar), maybe you find deeper meaning in how nature works and thus become enlightened (Monks). They're not just limited to those, however; e.g being kind and friendly to nature may make them help you in return, or there's an unseen force of nature (often, but not always, confined to a place) that you can manipulate by different means. Associated trope: In Harmony with Nature, Background Magic Field, Sentient Cosmic Force, Nature Spirit, Mother Nature, Wild Magicnote 

Mages are like a Race

The ability to do magic is passed from parents to children. It may skip generations, or crop up unexpectedly on occasion, but it is ultimately based on inheritance. When mages are like this, they'll tend to make an isolated community of themselves, but not always. Associated trope: Witch Species, Superpowerful Genetics, Magic Genetics

Mages are like Scholars

Mages of this kind are studious and resourceful. They know dead languages and ancient history to a huge extent. You can find a classicist-like mage poring through dusty tomes of forgotten lore in a huge library. Expect them to come with Ancient Artifacts. Alternately, or in addition, they're likely to not only understand magic, but to have an understanding of the natural world itself — understanding things like chemistry and physics, as well as the attendant tools to formulate such laws, such as advanced mathematics. Associated trope: Sufficiently Analyzed Magic, Magic Is Mental, Scientifically Understandable Sorcery, Wizarding School

Mages are like Theurgists

"Theurgists" here refers to 2 things: "cultists" and "priests." They share a similar, underlying premise: They draw their powers through worship or contact with a "higher source." Cult mages (or warlocks) draw from evil or dark entities, oftentimes with nasty/destructive powers, or those with unwanted side effects on the user. Clerics (or priests) draw from the verse's God or some other divine being, and their powers tend to be either supportive/healing, or a Holy Hand Grenade.note  In some cases, they may even be able to summon said entities to help. Associated trope: Religion Is Magic, Ritual Magic, Deal with the Devil, Bargain with Heaven, Wild Magicnote 

Oftentimes there'll be discussions about how one type of mage differs from another.

See also Functional Magic and Magic by Any Other Name for "Our Magic Is Different". If magic is something that not everyone can do, but mages still also need special education, that's Training the Gift of Magic. Compare Magicians Are Wizards (when stage magicians are lumped together with actual magic users).


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    Anime And Manga 
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, understanding chemistry and laws of physics seems to be the only requirement for using alchemy.
  • Magicians in A Certain Magical Index are scholars, they gain their powers from learning ancient knowledge but they align themselves with religions so they overlap with priests.
  • In the Lyrical Nanoha franchise, the mages are somewhere between Lottery Winners and Athletes: magical abilities are pretty random (a child of two Muggles can grow up to be a powerful mage, and vice versa), but becoming a qualified mage (not to mention a combat mage) requires years of extensive physical and magical training and continuous workouts to keep yourself in shape. Extensive training and innate magical power are depicted largely interchangeable.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Puellae Magi are formed by a contract with Kyubey, in that they're given magical powers (and a wish) and in return you have to fight Witches (Eldritch Abominations of the verse).
    • This anime is an interesting example. By making a contract with Kyubey, a girl gets a Soul Gem that allows her to become a Magical Girl in exchange for a wish, making them Gadget Users. it is revealed however that the Soul Gem is actually the girl's soul, taken apart from the body. This grants magic but also makes the soul get corrupted with time, making them Mutants
  • In Ojamajo Doremi, the titular character and her friends, Doremi, Hazuki, Aiko, Pop, Onpu, and Momoko, are the Gadget Users variety due to how they were given their magic; they were granted Magic Wands with limited amounts of magic by their mentors so they could eventually become full-fledged Witches and undo the curses they inadvertently triggered. Successfully turning into a full-fledged Witch would technically make them Mutants, but only if they ever got that far and are able to keep their magic. Before then, they have to train and be tested to see if they are eligible to pass to the next levels, making them somewhat like athletes and scholars.
    • The full-blooded Witches themselves, such as the aforementioned mentors and the Ojamajos' "daughter", Hana, are all born with their powers in the form of a crystal ball, making them a combination of Gadget User and Witch Species, moreso the latter.
    • The Ojamajos themselves have turned to various forms of art through out the series as well as a means to an end, making them into artists who create different magical items depending on which series they're in (charms during S1, flowers in Sharp, baked sweets during Motto, and accessories in Dokkan).
  • In One Piece, it's closer to superpowers, but Devil Fruits can turn any of its eaters into "mutant" superbeings. Also, as the power of the fruit is limited only by the user's creativity, fruit users are also akin to artists.
    • For Haki (basically force of will), anyone can get access to and learn it by training (athletes), but it's a rarity for someone to have a special form of Haki named King's Disposition (lottery winners). Nevertheless, if you happen to have it, it too can be trained.
  • Ninjutsu in Naruto is a combination of Inherent Gift and study/training. If you don't have the gift (like Rock Lee), you can't do ninjutsu, but even if you have it, it takes a lot of training to do anything with it. There are also bloodline-specific techniques (called "Kekkei Genkai") that are only inherited by a subset of ninja.
    • Summoning techniques, particularly for summoning living creatures, need a pact signed in blood to be used, making their users theurgists.
    • Practitioners of Senjutsu (sage techniques) are basically Naturalists, mixed with Monks in that they can access nature energy and then use it to turn one's chakra into a stronger form by becoming close to nature; this is done primarily via meditation (i.e being perfectly still).
  • Magic in Fairy Tail is totally mundane and accessible to anyone, but it requires training, making them a mix between Athletes and Scholars. Some are also Gadget Users, requiring items to access their powers.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, everyone has an aura that can be used to achieve supernatural effects by learning Nen. Using basic Nen techniques requires extensive physical training (Athletes) and, since controlling the aura requires a strong will, meditation (Monks). Furthermore, Nen allows everyone to create unique abilities in different categories. You can achieve any effect you want as long as you place restrictions, but the more an ability suits your personality, the stronger it will be, (Artists). Also, people with innate Nen abilities and people who belong to the Specialist Nen category are Lottery Winners.
  • Shamans from Shaman King learn to channel spirits through meditation (Monks). However, other Shamans have a spiritual lifestyle that leds them to interact with nature spirits, like Horo Horo (Naturalist), or spirits of beings considered deities (Theurgist).
  • In Slayers, magic power is a combination of lottery and scholarship. To be a mage, you have to have both natural talent ("bucket" and "pool" capacity for magical power) and a mind to study and master the magical science. Gourry Gabriev, for example, has the magical talents but lacks the mental capacity to master magic, which makes him a muggle.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

  • Aurics in We Are All Pokémon Trainers have aspects of:
    • Artists: Being a skilled Auric is often determined by the creativity of the user.
    • Athletes: Their powers improve through training.
    • Mutants: Kim and Lily got their powers via being transformed by human to Pokémon armbands
    • Race: Their powers are mostly based on genetics.
  • In Magic And Mayhem, there are two types of witches and warlocks.
    • Pact Witches (like the Sanderson sisters) are Theurgists and Gadget-Users. They make bargains for power and need their Book to look up specific spells. They can't adjust or improvise with their spells and have lots of limitations.
    • Natural Witches (like Wendy and her aunts) are Racial and Gadget-Users. The ability to use magic is hereditary and a Magic Wand makes using magic a lot easier. There's a lot more flexibility with their magical abilities.

  • In Star Wars, the Jedi seem to be a combination of Monks, Naturalists and a race: They are already born sensitive to the Force, but need to develop their connection in order to gain special abilities. The Sith also do the same, but by different means.

  • In Lord of the Rings, wizards such as Gandalf are like gods: Gandalf is a Maia (as is Sauron), not a human.
  • The magicians in The Chronicles of Narnia (the Hermit of the Southern March, Coriakin, and Ramandu) have all the classical attributes, with one additional detail: they are always barefoot. Oh, and the fact that two of them are stars.
  • In Harry Potter, the ability to use magic is hereditary and how pure someone's bloodline is seems to be a big deal for some wizards. It is however possible for magic to manifest in a non-wizard child (so called muggle-born). The reverse is also true; the so-called "squib" are Muggle Born of Mages. Mages here are also gadget-users in that they're reliant on Magic Wand to do their magic. Using magic without wand is, consequently, considered a masterful feat in universe, and people who achieved it can be counted by just one hand. Potions are still racial, since they require magic to create, but overlap with Chemist types.
  • Brandon Sanderson:
    • The Rithmatist: Rithmatists are partly random chance, being about 0.1% of the population, and apparently chosen during a religious ceremony. However, to be a good Rithmatist you need to be good at freehand geometric drawing in order to make strong lines of power, and a talented artist in order to make useful chalklings.
    • The Cosmere:
      • In Elantris, the titular Elantrians are Randomly Gifted. The magical process known as the Shaod transforms ordinary humans into Elantrians pretty much at random. The child of an Elantrian is not necessarily one himself. The same universe also features the Dakhor (Cult Theurgists who gain powers via sacrifice to their God), ChayShan (monk-style system that is a picture-perfect Kung-Fu Wizard), and Forgers (a weird combination of Scholar and Artist that rewrite an object's past along artistic principles via intricate runes).
      • In Mistborn mages literally are aristocrats — the noble families are the descendants of the Lord Ruler's handpicked allies who were given nuggets of Lerasium, making them Mistborn. These houses remain noble because there's a chance an allomancer will be born in their bloodline, while it should be impossible for the slave race of skaa. Any skaa who shows allomantic abilities has a noble somewhere in their ancestry, though there's been enough interbreeding that allomancer skaa aren't significantly more rare than among the nobles. Mistings and Mistborn also need to regularly consume metals to fuel their powers, making them a combination of a Race, Mutants, and Chemists. Feruchemists are also a Race, but Gadget Users instead of Chemists. Hemalurgy can be used by anyone with the knowledge of where to insert the spikes and done to anyone, making it a mix of Scholarly and Mutant magery.
      • In The Stormlight Archive, Surgebinders are a strange sort of priest-like mage. They gain power by wholeheartedly embracing the Ideals of the Knights Radiant, thus forging a bond with a spren (a sort of refined, self-aware idea) and gaining a Shardblade and power over two of the ten forces of nature.
      • In Warbreaker mages are scholars; every person has a Breath from birth, but you need a lot of Breaths to do anything significant. Basically, everyone is born with 1 Mana Point, but Breaths can be transferred between people. Magic is treated like a science, where mages are still trying to figure out all the rules to make a successful spell, why certain spells cost more Breath than others, and, given how scarce they are, the way to use Breaths more efficiently.
  • In The Bible, in Exodus 7, both Aaron and the Egyptian "sorcerers and magicians" are capable to transforming rods into snakes (although Aaron's snake is more powerful). The popular explanation for Egyptian sorcerers' apparent ability to perform miracles is that they were demon-worshipers, while Aaron's magic, of course, comes from God. The source of the sorcerers and magicians' abilities is never made clear. It could be demon worship, it could just be sleight of hand and misdirection, or it could have come from alien technology that they found. The Bible doesn't seem to care how they are doing it, only that God is doing it better.
  • In The Dresden Files, mages are generally a race; while anyone can use rudimentary magic with the proper training, the amount of raw power they're able to bring to bear seems to be inborn. Additionally, wizards have much longer lifespans than regular humans. Wizards are also gadget users, since we rarely, if ever, see a mage who doesn't use focus items of some sort, and scholars, who study both magic and science in order to bring their powers to bear more effectively. (As Harry explains it, fire is fire, no matter if you use a spell or a lighter to create it, and if you don't understand how fire behaves you're going to be wasting a lot of energy getting it to do what you want it to.) There is also chemist type magic, in the form of potion creation and thaumaturgy.
  • The Deryni in the works of Katherine Kurtz are a combination of categories:
    • The raw ability is inherited.
    • The use of the powers must be taught, and through practice a certain level of physical endurance must be built up ("Athletes").
    • Each actual use of the powers entails a deep concentration bordering on self-hypnosis, a concentration which must also be learned ("Monks").
    • The Haldanes (and possibly other humans) have dormant abilities that are activated by rituals or other overt actions involving psychic power ("Mutants").
    • Thanks to persecutions and efforts to escape the same, some people turn out to have the powers seemingly at random ("Lottery Winners").
  • Sorcerers in the Belgariad are a mix of Lottery Winner and Monk-the potential for sorcery is present in every human, but unless you're being guided in some way you'll probably never unlock your potential (without vaporizing yourself). Once the power is released that first time, it's probably closer to Monk, since everything you do is by force of will. There's also a touch of theurgy-except for those few with the random gift of sorcery, people trained in magic live normal lifespans unless chosen as Disciple of a god, in which case they become immortal.
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: Magicians are scholars. Before Mr. Norrell emerged on the scene, most magicians were theoretical, researching spells in older books, but never doing them. Mr. Norrell does the spells, but he has to rely on his study of older works to do it.
  • In The Sword of Truth, most wizards and sorcerers are a race and lottery winners, but learn their powers like scholars. The gift is sometimes inherited from one's ancestors (less and less common ever since a major magical disruption 3,000 years ago), and sometimes, it seems, pops on its own (there used to be a time when nearly everyone was a wizard, so there isn't much difference). However, it is possible for a wizard to take an apprentice without a gift, and teach him to use magic, with the process probably using some magical procedures (mutants). The wizards trained that way are, apparently, considerably less capable. Subtractive magic is also theurgic, as it requires a Deal with the Devil unless the wizard is born with the most powerful gift, that of the war wizard.
  • Inheritance Cycle:
    • Racial: Dragons naturally have massive amounts of magical energy, which their Riders can then draw upon. Elves also have a lot of magic naturally and are more likely to become full magicians, but their approach is more like Artists or Scholars.
    • Mutants: Being chosen by a dragon to be their rider gives the human or elf a mark and guarantees that they'll be a magician.
    • Athletes: Using magic is very strenuous and requires training, part of which is making the body stronger since magic consumes the user's energy.
    • Cultists: Sorcerers summon and bind spirits for energy, but that has the risk of the spirits possessing them and creating a Shade.
    • Gadgets: Spells can be placed on items that will draw from the energy of whoever uses it, and magicians can greatly increase their energy by storing it in gem stones or by tapping into a dragon's Soul Jar.
    • Chemists: Wizards and witches use potions and herbs as often as outright spells.
  • In The Dragon Knight, magickians are priests. Their (entirely defensive) magic is awarded to them by a Celestial Bureaucracy called the Accounting Office, as payment for their work foiling the eternal threat of the Dark Powers. Sorcerers, meanwhile, are magickians' Evil Counterparts; their entirely offensive magic is powered by their service to the Dark Powers.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The magic performed by the Red Priests of R'hllor veers close to the Cultist category, as its implied their considerable power comes from allegiance to the Red God. Some, though, such as the shadowbinder Melisandre, come with their own abilities of varying origin.
    • Skinchangers are more random, as it's mentioned that only one person in a thousand is born as one. There's also slight hereditary there somewhere, as having the blood of the First Men allegedly makes it more likely to become on. The series' six Stark siblings, for instance, are all skinchangers.
    • The Alchemist's Guild in King's Landing are likely chemists and scholars, as while their practice is rooted in science, they draw upon plenty of ancient knowledge.
    • The sorcerers of Qarth draw their magic from unknown sources, but drink Shade of the Evening, a type of psychotropic drug, to better understand the mysteries of sorcery.
  • In the Land of Oz real magic seems to be the result of study more than biology. When the Wizard from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz comes back to Oz in a later book, Glinda teaches him "real" magic to replace his stage magic. He becomes one of only three people in all of Oz legally allowed to practice magic. note 
  • In Diamond Sword, Wooden Sword, magic is more like a combination of lottery and scholarship, but the Orders of the Rainbow insist it's like a race or an aristocracy, and only manifests in scions of noble Human bloodlines. Any common-born or non-Human people with magical talent who disprove the Rainbow's theory with their mere existence are persecuted (or, if they are weak Human hedge wizards and thus do not threaten the theory, overregulated with expensive licenses).
  • the Witcher: Magic is something you need a natural talent for (Lottery Winner and Race, it can show up randomly or be inherited), but to control it you need practice and knowledge (a beginner has to master the gestures and similar technicalities like an Athlete, past this stage it's Scholar all the way through). Yennefer describes it as both an art and a science. They tend to behave more than a bit like socialites though. Priests and druids seem to function roughly like Theurgists and Naturalists respectively, although wizards believe they're actually Monks plus some self-delusion.
  • The Wheel of Time uses nearly all of the above.
    • Race, Artist, Monk - Channelers. The talent is hereditary; very few people are born with the ability to channel the One Power, and the book's timeline describes the ritual practice of gentling the potentially insane men who can channel has been accidentally culling the ability out of the general population. Those who have the talent (with the exception of a very few prodigies) must be taught how to channel the One Power, and all traditions of channeling typically require practice, training, meditation and mental discipline to do it safely. And channeling for a particular effect also requires the knowledge of how to 'weave' together the elemental threads of the One Power, and the creativity to alter those weaves to produce a desired spell.
    • Gadget Users - Ter'angreal. Usually associated with channelers, some ter'angreal are magical devices that anyone can use if they know how (this was especially prevalent in the video game).
    • Lottery Winners - Viewings. Only one character in the entirety of the series possesses the ability to 'View' images and auras around certain people that are tied to some prophetic interpretation. Even those interpretations are seemingly random, as the character herself doesn't always know what the images mean, but when she does know it always comes true.
    • Naturalists - Wolfbrothers. Not much is known about how this ability comes into being, save that wolves themselves are able to tell, and seemingly help along the process.
    • Artists, Lottery Winners - Dreamwalkers. Often goes hand-in-hand with channeling, but is not necessary for it. Dreamwalkers have some prophetic powers, and the ability to consciously enter into the World of Dreams and manipulate the reality there.
    • Theurgy - Friends of the Dark. Some high-ranking darkfriends are granted special abilities by the Dark One to serve his will, and the highest among them can directly access and channel his malevolence into spells.
    • Mutants - Mashadar, the remains of an ancient and corrupting evil that spreads hate and mistrust through its avatar.
    • Gods - The Aelfinn and the Eelfinn
  • Journey to Chaos:
    • Generally speaking, mages are like scholars. Everyone has the ability to use magic so the only thing that separates the mages from the muggles is the willingness to sit down and study.
    • Dragon's Lair mercenaries, like Eric, are closer to Athletes because they incorporate magic into martial arts.
    • In some cases, mages are like priests. Lady Daici, for instance, can use silent earth magic because she has lived like a cloistered nun on Mount Daici for years. note 
  • In Discworld certain people have the ability to detect octarine, which means they can see what they're doing when manipulating magic. This often runs in families (Race) although it's also been known to just happen (Lottery Winners). Knowing how to manipulate magic is taught to wizards in universities (Scholars) and witches in mentor-apprentice relationships (Naturalist Atheletes). Using magic on the Disc is surprisingly easy; the trick is knowing enough to survive doing so.
  • The Iron Teeth web serial has mages. They are born with the ability to burn crystals to produce magic. Making and knowing what crystals do requires knowledge and education though, and burning crystals when you have no idea what they do or how they work is basically a flamboyant form of suicide.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • The ability to use magic occurs at random in all races and social classes and usually manifests in some way — if the mage hasn't been formally taught it develops into some kind of latent gimmick, like Blend's ability to remain unnoticed if she so desires note . The direction of one's magic can be influenced by one's surroundings, though: e.g. Bottle uses shamanistic magic because his grandma taught him, High Alchemist Baruk is a scholar, and most squad mages seem self-taught warren-users. There's certainly an individual limit to how much power any mage can channel before it begins to affect him physically. Additionally, mages are limited to what warrens (Paths of Magic) they can access by personal inclination and race, with humans having access to more varied but less powerful warrens while most other races have their own racial warren.
    • High Priests and Destriants (who are somewhat interchangeable with High Priests) are cleric-types who gain access to certain powers granted by their deities. Destriants, who are more associated with martial positions completing the trio of a deity's chosen, together with the Mortal Sword and the Shield-Anvil, tend to gain healing powers, while a normal High Priest's powers are closer to their deity's theme, e.g. shadow magic.
    • Necromancers seem to be almost their own category as they gain their powers through a combination of inborn talent and an agreement with Hood, the Lord of Death, to play a game with him — they steal as many souls away from under his nose as they can manage and get his respect in return. Otherwise, Hood does not look favourably on those who meddle in his affairs.
  • Second Apocalypse: Sorcery is a combination of learning and innate ability.
    • Sorcery can only be learned by some humans, called the Few. Sorcerers are scholars, and the ability to use magic can be learned and taught. All sorcerers belong to one of several rival schools of sorcery, each with their own slightly different specialization. Those who practice magic outside of a school are called wizards and generally get hunted down by the schools.
    • The Nonmen invented sorcery, and a large percentage of their population are sorcerers, though they do not belong to schools. All magical cants use their language.
    • After the Inchoroi arrived from the stars, they modified their genetics using their Organic Technology to gain the ability to use magic, which they tricked the Nonmen into teaching them.
  • Magic in Tairen Soul is usually racial, as one's potential magic power is determined by how much blood of the magical races the user possesses (Tairen, Fey, Elvian, Feraz, Eld, etcetera), and how strong their individual bloodlines are. Elden Magery and Feraz Witchcraft overlaps with Scholar types, as the former requires extensive study and knowledge, while even a mortal can use certain witchspells with the right incantations. Hearth witches and hedge wizards are Mutants, gaining lesser magical gifts from being exposed to strong magic in areas where magical battles took place. Also, the last book reveals that most of the magical races originated as the descendants of mortals exposed to powerful Tairen magic.
  • Builders in The Young Ancients are like Monks, Programmers and Chemists, but most of all like Gadget Users. The skill of magic is, through intense discipline and a meditative trance state (Monks) create a field in which the laws of physics work a bit differently. The more you understand physics and chemistry, the more options you have for telling the universe how you want it to behave (Chemists) while the process itself is described much like programming the universe on a quantum level. Of course, spending hours meditating to get a momentary field that fails the moment the Builder is distracted is inefficient, so the most common practice is to build fields into objects (anything will do, but usually a small metal plate or talisman with a distinctive sigil is used) that anyone can activate by tapping and willing it so. Thus Builders are first and foremost producers of magic devices for the use of all.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Ars Magica, magi are lottery-winner scholars. A magus must be born with the Gift (which is completely random) but then he will spend years of his life in a Hermetic lab developing new spells or seeking out a means of rewriting the rules of magic. This paradigm applies to most non-Hermetic wizards in the setting as well.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Divine spellcasters, particularly clerics and paladins, gain their abilities through allegiance to supernatural forces. This is usually a deity, although archfiends can grant spells in some settings, and other setting such as Greyhawk follow Clap Your Hands If You Believe by allowing them to give their allegiance to a non-personified force such as Order. Divine spellcasters can also lose their powers by acting contrary to their oaths.
    • Wizards and bards are scholars who learn magic through study. They carry spellbooks that they study from and add new spells to.
    • Sorcerers have magical abilities in the blood. They do not require spellbooks, but can only gain the ability to cast a limited selection of spells.
  • Ironclaw:
    • Scholars: Elementalists, Green and Purple mages, and especially Thaumaturgists learn magic through intensive study, while Most Clerics of S'Allumer aren't actually channeling the divine so much as using their own power to cast spells recorded in the holy scriptures centuries ago. The possible exception is the Sacerdotal prayers in the oldest, untranslated, editions.
    • Cultists: Druids and Blessed Priestesses of Lutara make pacts with nature spirits to cast their spells, while Necromancers enslave the restless dead to wield immense power. However some Druid spells, all Blessed weapon spells, and every single Necromantic spell carries a risk of the spirits breaking free and doing other stuff when three sixes are rolled.
  • Mage: The Ascension: Freshly Awakened mages are somewhere between lottery winners and monks, as they have managed to either notice enough of the structure behind reality to learn how to manipulate it, or got thrust behind the curtain of all that is and saw the true face of existence. After Awakening, a mage adopts a paradigm that defines how they see reality and the ability to manipulate it, which may paint them as an athlete/monk (the Akashic Brotherhood), a gadget user (Sons of Ether), a naturalist (Verbena), a priest (the Celestial Chorus), and so many other things.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • Most races have access to psykers, which are, broadly speaking, like theurgists in that they draw power from a greater source. Psykers are individuals who draw power (usually from the Warp) for a variety of effects. In the weird Science Fantasy setting of 40K, psychic powers are treated more as magic, rather than as traditional Sci Fi psychic powers. Without discipline, training, or sheer strength of will, psykers who draw from the Warp are prone to its influences. This can include insanity, mutation, possession, and even damnation.
    • The Eldar, who are like monks, all have psychic potential which is suppressed through rigorous discipline unless they join the Path of the Seer, where use a training system which relies on discipline and focus to cultivate their potential. The Farseers and Warlocks are revered as advisors, leaders, and invaluable battlefield support.
    • With humans, psykers are like lottery winners, in that being born with the psyker mutation is left to random chance, though environmental factors can influence it. Humans don't have a widespread support system in place, which is because and partly the reason for the way that humans view psykers with superstition and justifiable but not-always-sympathetic fear. The various human organizations will sometimes try to recruit unsanctioned psykers for nefarious purposes, or more often outright kill them or try to capture them to hand them over to the Adeptus Telepathica for evaluation, and in the best case, sanctioning and training for service to the Imperium.
      • Unique to humans are also the Untouchables, who null out any psychic powers around them. Harmless on their own, but their power is a tremendous utility used by the Inquisition when they can get their hands on one, and they are congregated and militarily trained as one of the Sisters of Silence, one of the more obscure military services of the Imperium, or as a superhuman specialist assassin by the Officio Assainorum, and there's an instance of one being raised up to an Astartes who acts as cryptkeeper for the otherwise all psyker Grey Knights.
    • The Orks and Tyranids are both like a race. Orks generate a passive psychic field which ramps up with numbers or violence, and its effects influences the world around them (it helps their ramshackle technology work, makes red paint makes things "go fasta") and makes them immune to the effects of the Warp. Weirdboyz, active psykers who draw from this field for their powers, are like lottery winners. As for the Tyranids, even the most humble Nids contribute to their Hive Mind which forms a higher consciousness and acts as their deity. Active psykers are bioengineered and purpose-built to draw power from the Hive Mind for psychic support on the battlefield and to telepathically connect the Nids to the for on-the-ground coordination.
    • There's also sorcery, users are like scholars and theurgists to an even greater extent. Sorcery is used particularly by the forces of Chaos and some radical Inquisitors. While the line between sorcery and regular psychic powers is hazy at best, the common theme seems to be that sorcery willingly draws from the worst elements of the Warp, emphasizes ritual magic, and/or requires forbidden knowledge of the Warp. Most sorcerers are also psykers, though it doesn't appear to be a requirement.

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy VI, Magicite makes "mutant" mages, eventually granting Esper's spells to the person that holds it for a given time. Technically, the original Espers were created in a similar way, as they used to be normal people that were altered by being caught in a crossfire between The Warring Triad.
  • In Elsword, Aisha's three job branches turn her into different kinds of mages:
    • Elemental Master has her study and train hard to master elemental magic; a mix of athlete and scholar.
    • Void Princess is her making a contract with a demon to access dark magic; said demon gives her an outfit that lets her wield dark magic. A cultist mage, combined with gadget user.
    • Dimension Witch uses magical artifacts and enchanted stones that are the source of her space and time magic; a gadget user, with some touches of scholar (she studies on how she can apply said magic).
  • Fire Emblem: Mages are like scholars. Most games describe tomes as simply a weapon type that you would train to use in an academic setting rather than a physical one. Anyone could use magic as much as anyone could use a sword. Further the tomes are often in ancient tongues or sources of other arcane wisdom, and the most powerful mages are typically scholars or Really 700 Years Old so they have had time to learn more about magic. Though some people have natural aptitude for using magic well, it's also incredibly rare to meet someone who can use magic innately without the use of books, staves or other tools.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Typically, mages are scholars, in that mages gain their abilities through lots of study and practice. It doesn't require any particular Inherent Gift; many civilian NPCs will know a low-level utility spell or two, and even a relatively Magically Inept Fighter who doesn't develop their magical stats can benefit from same.
    • Alchemists are chemists, requiring neither a gift nor even aptitude in the schools of magic, and their potions are made by basically combining the natural substances of the world to unlock their magical potential.
    • The Thu'um can be learned by study, but comes naturally to one who is Dragonborn, a mortal born with the Aedric soul of dragon. Being Dragonborn apparently can be hereditary, as Tiber Septim's descendants were Dragonborn, but not always.
  • Minecraft mods: Thaumcraft 4 thaumaturges are scholars, researching the techniques for making magic wands, tools, devices and minions, which they craft using collected magical energy and the refined essence of items.
  • Cepters from Culdcept are a variant of scholars. Their powers come from cards that are pages of the Book of Creation, which are found scattered throughout the world (or, of course, in the hands of other Cepters).
  • In Final Fantasy VIII the Sorceresses are like a Race, being genetically compatible women who inherit the ability to use magic when a fellow sorceress passes her powers upon death. Other humans can use a lesser form of magic called Para Magic which can be used by anyone by a process of controlling energy or by Junctioning a Guardian Force making their abilities closer to mutants.
  • The Dragon Age series is a weird case that mixes the Aristocrats and the Lottery Winners subtypes: magical abilities tend to run in the family, but mages are born into muggle families, as well, seemingly at random. Also, mages are kept isolated by force in most societies due to the fact that they are prone to getting possessed by demons.
  • Mages in Dark Souls all attain their power through study. It is suggested that anyone may become a mage, if they're willing to put the effort in. The different schools of magic each have different requirements though: Miracles are done by studying stories (generally religious ones), and putting one's faith in that story to produce the magic effect; the more faithful one is, the more powerful the Miracle. Sorcery is done through more "scientific" study, is believed to draw on one's own soul for its power, and is strengthened by one's intelligence. Pyromancy manipulates one's "inner fire" and is closely related to the magic flames in the series, and requires no investment in stats to use (except in the third game, where it requires a bit of both faith and intelligence); pyromancy's power is tied to the power of its catalyst, which can be strengthened through reinforcement.
  • In LOOM, magicians are basically artisans who belong to hereditary guilds. Some guilds have reached such a sophistication in their craft that it has become magic: Weavers have transcended material cloth and weave patterns in the very fabric of the universe, while Glassmakers can make scrying spheres and teleportation devices. Weavers' magic is depicted as Magic Music with weaving terms (thread, pattern) substituted for musical terminology.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the Nasuverse, mages are commonly hereditary. Most magi families pass their magic circuits from generation to generation, and in the case of having more than one child, is not uncommon for them to either send them to other houses or keep them out of the loop.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, witches are cast-off aspects of people that gain tremendous power over reality, usually associated with a territory; but stronger witches' territories are subjective to their current location, therefore making them "voyager" witches and impossibly powerful- like Gods and Goddesses, though they share some traits with old-school fairies.

    Web Comics 
  • In Code Name: Hunter, magic requires strong "essence" (willpower, faith, conviction, etc). However, even among those with strong essence, only a rare few actually get magical talent, apparently at random.
    • Of note, mages are powered by the aggregate essence of their entire culture, so a nation full of happy, productive, empowered citizens (like most first-world countries) has much more magical potential than a nation of downtrodden peasants like Astoria.
  • El Goonish Shive is a mixed case: "The most common form of magic in EGS is powered by spiritual energy from the spell caster. This energy can be innate, or obtained and/or enhanced via training. Power alone isn't enough to cast spells. One must train in a specific fashion to obtain access to their spells, or have the power awakened within them by being that are capable of such things."

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender / The Legend of Korra: Benders are a mix of Racial, Athletes, and Monks: Bending abilities are hereditary, and for example Aang's (Airbender) and Katara's (Waterbender) children, Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi, are an Airbender, a Waterbender, and formerly a non-bender respectively (the latter became an Airbender come season 3]]. On the other hand, since Benders control the elements with physical movements, one's prowess in magic is also determined by the skill of one's master and the amount of basic form training. Lastly, to fully utilize the power of the elements, one needs to understand their philosophical nature (controlling earth can be difficult for someone who lacks determination, whereas wind requires certain flexibility and calmness of mind).
    • The Avatar (who can bend all four elements) is a special case in that he/she also has traces of Theurgist and Lottery Winner in him/her: The Avatar's power comes from the spirit of light, Raava, that inhabits his/her body, and the Avatar has all the knowledge and power of the previous generations of Avatars in his/her hands. Who gets to wield this power is chosen by Raava alone, so from the point of view of humans this is completely random.
  • In the animated TV version of Frosty the Snowman Frosty comes to life after a magic top hat is placed on his head. The previous owner of the hat is a bumbling magician who didn't realize the hat had actual magic and spends most of the show trying to get it back.