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Sword and Sorcerer

A warrior and a magic user working together

In any setting where magic has some degree of pervasiveness, the Squishy Wizard is a fairly common archetype. In addition to being physically weak, such characters often need time and concentration to incant their spells, especially in the absence of Vancian Magic. Time and concentration aren't exactly easy to come by when you're being attacked by several enemies at once, or even just one enemy. Even if you could easily take your enemies out with a single spell, if your opponent never lets you fire one off, you're basically helpless. Add that to the "squishyness" and adventuring solo hardly sounds viable.

Fighters, on the other hand, can generally take care of themselves; it's part of the job description. However, hitting something a bunch of times with a sword, even a BFS, sometimes doesn't work, but a blast of fire would be just the thing. To get the really big scores, some magical artillery is usually required, or is, at the very least, incredibly helpful.

Sword And Sorcerer is what you get when these characters team up in order to offset each others' weaknesses. The combat dynamic usually works one of two ways, determined largely by what type of magic the mage uses:

Meat Shield and Glass Cannon has the mage basically acting as artillery; the fighter holds enemies off while the mage charges up, and once the mage is finished, he or she obliterates whatever is left.

Tank and Healer has the mage primarily acting in a support capacity, casting buffs and healing the fighter while the fighter takes care of actually killing everything.

Typically the fighter ends up being something of a Lightning Bruiser, the better to defend the mage from numerous enemies, and relying on his speed and skill to keep himself alive. Often, the fighter will be male, and the sorcerer, female.

If it's a male/female pair (or, occasionally, even if it isn't) expect a Battle Couple, sometimes extending all the way to Mindlink Mates; otherwise, they'll probably be Bash Brothers. When the pair's strengths are combined into a single character, that's a Magic Knight. Also see Fighter, Mage, Thief. Contrast Action Duo. Compare Lady and Knight, the narrative counterpart to this trope.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

Fighter and Glass Cannon

    Anime & Manga 
  • This is the reason behind Pactios in Mahou Sensei Negima!, though it's promptly defied by Negi himself when he decides to walk the path of the Kung-Fu Wizard. On occasion, he will still act like this trope in combination with Kotarou such as the fight against Rakan; the most obvious demonstration being Kotarou buying Negi the 43 seconds he needs to prepare his spell.
  • Saito and Louise from Zero no Tsukaima are a perfect example of a combo; the entire reason Void mages have human familiars is that only a human can effectively defend them while they incant the very long Void spells.
  • Lina Inverse (mage) and Gourry Gabriev (fighter) from Slayers, though Lina hardly needs the help, as she's no slouch in the physical combat department either. Most opponents are either too weak for her alone or too strong for them both, but her protection lags far behind apocalyptic attack spells, so it's still a good idea to have someone covering her while she goes through incantations.
  • Berserk has an arrangement with Guts and his current companions. Guts is the main fighter of the group, with Serpico, Isidro and Farnese backing him up, while Schierke is the mage, whose spells take a while to cast. There's also Puck and Evarella acting as healers when Guts takes on one of the many Apostles of the series.
  • Despite both of them being mages, Gajeel and Levi from Fairy Tail fit this trope. Gajeel is literally Made of Iron and can transform his limbs into anything from metal clubs to blades, while Levi's power is Words Can Break My Bones, but she needs time to write them down. They also fit the other type of this trope; Levi isn't a healer, but she can create iron by writing the word down, and Gajeel can get a power upgrade by eating metal.
    • Still counts since most the "mages" in the series are magic knights and kung fu wizards who put so much emphasis on the physical department that they are only technically mages. Levi; however, is one of the few that fits the traditional mage image.
    • Lucy and Natsu could count since Lucy and Spirit mages are one of those few who fit the tradition mage image. The series tend to have more emphasis on one-on-one battles (typical of the Shōnen genre) but Lucy and Natsu have gone on more quests together and have had more team battles together than anyone else of the main cast.
  • Scrapped Princess has Shannon Casull, a swordsman, and his sister Raquel, a mage.

    Fan Fiction 

    Literature 
  • Archer and Sophie in Demonglass. Archer is a warlock, but not a very powerfull one, however his skills as a fighter, especialy with a sword more than make up for it.
  • Bash Brothers example: Pug and Thomas from The Riftwar Cycle.
  • Though they travel with a larger party, Thomas Covenant and his Bloodguard (First Chronicles) or Haruchai (Second Chronicles) bodyguard. In fact, the Lords (squishy mages) usually had individual Bloodguard bodyguards.
  • Aes Sedai and Warders in the Wheel of Time series; at least, most fall here (especially Green Ajah or Blue Ajah).
  • Tarma and Kethry from the Vows and Honor series of the Heralds of Valdemar 'verse. Tarma is a gruff barbarian warrior and Kethry is a powerful mage; the two team up as mercenaries with the ultimate goal of rebuilding Tarma's Clan.
  • In The Princess Series, Talia is the skilled fighter, Snow is the sorceress. During the course of the first novel they pick up Danielle, who can do a bit of magic and is taught some basic combat skills by Talia, to complete the Power Trio.
  • Ryld and Pharaun from War of the Spider Queen.
  • Caramon and Raistlin in the Dragon Lance novels. See the example under Roleplaying for further details.
  • Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser in the stories by Fritz Leiber. Fafhrd is a figher. Mouser is a mage.
  • In Brimstone Angels, Farideh is a warlock, meaning she can unleash an impressive amount of magical destruction straight (literally) from Hell, but she's not that hot in hand to hand combat. Luckily, her twin sister Havilar is never far away, and she's more than competent with her glaive.
  • In the Gamebooks Wizard, Warrior and you, the titular Wizard can do more stuff, but needs the warrior to protect him or he'll go down easily.

    Mythology 
  • Liath Luachra and Bodhmall, the foster-mothers of the Irish hero Fionn mac Cumhaill, were renowned as being a great warrior and druid, respectively.

    Live Action TV 
  • Merlin and Arthur qualify as this, with Arthur as the Sword and Merlin the Sorcerer, of course. There's the added twist, however, that Arthur doesn't actually know that Merlin's playing this role for him.
    • A straighter example would be Merlin and Lancelot - since Lancelot is one of his Secret Keeper|s.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Fairly adequate approach in Dungeons & Dragons. Traditional parties incorporate (wizard or sorcerer/fighter) an (cleric/fighter) into the party, along with additional specialists (bard, thief, or rogue), "caster+basher" is a minimized variant.
    • Dragon Lance: Caramon, an invincible warrior, and Raistlin, his brother and a fearsome spellcaster. They used to hire themselves out as mercenaries, often fighting back-to-back against hordes of foes. Eventually, though, things got ugly...
    • Forgotten Realms: Fyodor and Liriel Battle Couple; Arilyn "Moonblade" and Danilo Thann for sex-reversed roles. Rashemen traditions approve of traveling witch with a pledged berserker bodyguard, but they usually adhere to the collective magic, so it's more semi-legendary stuff, except maybe dajemma.
    • Greyhawk: Robilar and Tenser were the first examples of this in roleplaying.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering Shadowmoor set most of the "duo" cycle worked like this, with a warrior or soldier and a shaman or wizard.
  • In Warhammer it is possible to create this dynamic on the tabletop for most armies, by keeping wizard and fighter characters close together for mutual protection (especially keeping them within the same regiment of troops, where the fighter can accept the challenges of enemy heroes instead of the wizard). In the background the most prominent example of such a pairing is the High Elf twins Tyrion and Teclis, the former being an exceptional master swordsman, the latter incredibly frail and feeble but also the greatest wizard in the world.
  • In Exalted, this often come to play with Solars (or Abyssals, or Infernals) as Sorceresses and Lunars as Swordsmen (or more derisively: as attack dogs). Solars can become the greatest warriors in the world if they try, but if a Solar Sorceress want to be any good, she better put all those EXP in Occult stuffs.

     Video Games 
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, the final boss fight has Link and Zelda teaming up as this.
  • In Farland Saga, Squishy Wizard Karin is rejected from joining an adventurer's guild because she has no swordsman to back her up, but she soon forces Al into her party, kicking off the plot.
  • If you think about it, Marche and Montblanc from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance kinda fits.
  • Baldur's Gate has Minsc and Dynaheir, teamed together in what's apparently the traditional partnership where they come from. In the sequel Minsc gets quite depressed (by his standards, anyway) when he can't prevent her death, and if given the chance will adopt either Aerie or Nalia as his replacement 'Witch'.
  • In Betrayal at Krondor, Gorath and Owyn. The former is a Bad Ass centuries old dark elf chieftain, the latter is a scrawny human boy magician.
  • The Reyvateils in Ar tonelico series. The Sword and Sorcerer trope is a plot point because the Reyvateils are empowered by their love for their warrior and, in the first game, a Reyvateil without a partner could be discriminated against.
  • Micaiah and Sothe from Radiant Dawn; they also qualify as Fighter And Healer since Micaiah gains access to staves upon promotion. In fact, the Fire Emblem series has dozens of these pairings, and even more can be made through the support systems.
    • Of note story-wise are Ike/Soren from the prequel and Roy/Lilina from the sixth game.
  • Your party in a lot of JRPG's starts out this way, such as in Tales of Symphonia, where your party initially consists of Lloyd and Genis.
    • More Tales of Symphonia: Emil and Marta seem to qualify, as Marta is much more useful casting spells than attacking, especially compared with Emil.
  • Tales of Phantasia has Cless and Arche, and Cless and Mint, as the respective types.
    • Hell, it's more like Cless and EVERYBODY. For the entire first half of the game, your party consists of MeatShield Cless and 3 spellcasters (Mint the healer, Klarth the summoner, and Arche the attack magician). Only after the second half starts (after a faux ending scene) does your party expand to include more physical fighters (an archer and a Ninja, to be precise), and since the archer works best from a distance and the ninja is optional, and even that only in the Updated Rereleases...
  • In World of Warcraft, pairing a tank with an AoE tosser is an extremely effective combo. Without purple gear, a protection warrior will take forever to kill six mobs, and a mage will never survive their counterattacks, but together they can easily handle a dozen.
  • Thanks to the ability to tie units in melee (when engaged by melee attacks, a squad is forced in turn to use melee attacks regardless of what they were originally using) many forces in Dawn of War, particularly at the beginning of the game, will consist of a couple relatively fragile squads dealing damage (the glass cannon) while a tougher melee squad (the figher) ties up the enemy's own ranged forces or keeps the enemy melee occupied.
    • The four main characters of the first game follow this trope as well: Gabriel Angelos (Force Commander) and Isador Akios (Librarian) for the Space Marines / Bale (Chaos Lord of Nurgle) and Sindri Myr (Sorcerer) for Chaos.
  • A common encounter in Jedi Academy is to run into a lightsaber specialist and dark force user at the same time. The game's AI will try to get the "sword" to engage you in melee while the "sorcerer" uses his force abilities from afar.
  • Final Fantasy VIII uses this one. Edea the Sorceress offers Seifer the chance to be her knight. Later, Squall offers to be Rinoa's knight.
  • The Dual Boss fight against Gaol and Magnus in Kid Icarus: Uprising. Oddly enough, the roles are partially switched around: Magnus isn't very resistant and relies more on dodging and rushing, while Gaol wears a bulky armor and mixes her spells with charging attacks.
  • Suikoden Tierkreis has a pair like this as a Recurring Boss. The huge, heavily-armored Nova stands in front and absorbs most of the damage, while Sophia stands behind him and does her best to fry your party with magic. Though in a slightly different take on the usual relationship, Nova is Sophia's father.
  • In Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Jonathan uses weapons to great effect, while Charlotte employs magic. While both are capable fighters and generally can handle their own, Charlotte tends to be more vulnerable, while Jonathan tends to be more damaging.
    • Previously in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, you can also have this team by choosing Sypha Belnades as Trevor Belmont's partner. Sypha is more vulnerable, but capable of dishing out a lot of damage with her spells. Trevor has a more limited range or versatility, but tends to be tougher.
  • Ico is a puzzle game based around a less combat oriented version of this trope. Ico is much more athletic than Yorda and can reach areas that she can't. He also has to protect her from the shadows that frequently attacker her by hitting them with a stick. Yorda has the ability to magically open several sealed doors, annihilating any enemies that are nearby as a bonus. The game revolves around having Ico solve puzzles to get Yorda close to objects that only she can interact with while simultaneously protecting her from anything that tries to attack her.
  • In Atelier Series, this means the Hirelings and the Alchemist. The Alchemist is typically very weak while big, tough Hirelings are readily available, making this trope a necessity. The chemistry between the Alchemist and her Hirelings is even a major appeal to the fanbase, Atelier Elkrone indulge entirely in it without letting the player doing any alchemy.
    • In the more action-y games (such as Atelier Iris and Mana Khemia), this trope tend to be downplayed because your (usually male) main character is capable of defending himself.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Fate/stay night, it is not uncommon for a Master with the Caster class Servant to have this sort of relationship. Since humans are weaker by nature compare to the Servants, the Caster Servant usually buff the Master. It is possible for a Master who can't fight to have a Caster Servant though.
    • In most Grail Wars, the Servant is the Sword while the Master is the Sorcerer — though Nasuverse mages typically have hand-to-hand training, they're simply not in league with the Heroes summoned. Archer with Rin, Berserker with Ilya, and Saber with Iris in Fate/Zero, are classic examples. The Caster and Master pair in Fate/stay night is also an example, the pair in Fate/Zero, not so much.

    Webcomics 
  • Black Mage and Fighter from 8-Bit Theater, before the party enlarges.
  • Being a deliberate Cliché Storm, Adventurers! has this with Karn (Fighter) and Ardam (Glass Cannon) as the starting duo. It's one of the few tropes used that isn't lampshaded.
  • Cale and Richard in Looking for Group. Cale is a badass warrior, an expert swordsman, capable archer, and notable strategist. Richard is an incredibly potent spellcaster and likely the most powerful member of the main cast. While they're part of a bigger group overall, the two of them have this dynamic in battle.
  • Wayrift has many examples of this such as Ben and Leona, Zeb and Tai and Cecil and either of his brothers.
  • The Challenges of Zona feature a Bash Sister combo in Zona fighter and Tula, a priestess who can cast both healing and combat magic. There's also Mentl who's a spellsinger.

    Western Animation 

Fighter and Healer

    Anime & Manga 
  • While they're both technically mages, Erio and Caro from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS are an excellent example, with Erio as the fighter and Caro as the mage. Caro also has Voltaire the Kaiju Ancient Dragon as the ace up her sleeve, of course. And Friedrich as a backup.
  • Yuji and Shana from Shakugan no Shana. Yuji uses the power of the Reiji Maigo to buff Shana before Yuji becomes a competent fighter in his own right.
  • The Master/Servant relationship in Fate/stay night is supposed to be this. But generally the Servants are so above humans that it doesn't mean much. Except for one notable case. The relationship was reversed with Caster and her Master.
    • The fighter/healer team is played totally straight with Saber and Iris early in Fate/Zero.
  • Cassandra and Gaylen, the protagonists of Dawn of the Seeker are somewhere between this and the "Fighter and Glass Cannon" version, as Gaylen is capable of casting both offensive and healing spells (though he notes his speciality is healing and he's actually a fairly medicore battle mage). They're a rarity for examples of this trope in that Cassandra the Seeker is the "Sword" (a fullplate-wearing Screaming Warrior ex-dragon-hunter) and Gaylen is the Sorcerer (a Circle Mage).

    Literature 
  • Beren and Lúthien from The Silmarillion; Beren is a human warrior, and his girlfriend (later wife) Lúthien is a half-elf half-demigoddess with very potent magical abilities. She's not just a healer, and is arguably much more important to their success than he is, but because she doesn't seem to have the power to harm directly with her magic, she probably fits this type better.
  • In Frostflower and Thorn, the former is the healer, the latter, the swordswoman.
  • In addition to the Caramon/Raistlin example above, Goldmoon and Riverwind from the Dragon Lance novels would be an example of this type.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Warhammer Fantasy universe this is supposed to be the raison d'etre for the Swordsmasters, a High Elven organisation of warriors who exist to protect the elven mages trained at the White Tower of Hoeth.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, the spellcaster turning the fighter into an engine of destruction is not only effective, it's often more efficient than DPSing by themselves.
    • It gets a bit bizarre in the 3rd Edition rules, as both clerics and druids, which fill the role of a "healer" are much more efficient if they put their spells on themselves and beat up all enemies with their own hands, instead of using their magic on a fighter.

    Video Games 
  • Tales of Vesperia features Yuri and Estelle in the opening segment. Estelle is quite a bit tougher than your average healer, but the archetype is still there.
  • Sword and Sorcerer pairings of both types are quite common two-person parties in MMORPGs. The Fighter and Glass Cannon pairing usually has a mage paired up with a tank who keeps the aggro off the mage while the mage unleashes hell with his high damage single-target spells and AOEs. The Fighter and Healer pairing has a fighter or other melee DPS type paired up with a healer who uses heals and buffs as the fighter deals with enemies.
    • The Tank and Healer Combo is particularly important, mandatory in all MMORPGs. Granted, you usually have other party members during big fights but there will always be at least one dedicated healer who focuses on the tank.
  • Parties in the Valkyrie Profile series usually have this sort of grouping, and the mages can work both as artillery or support. You can either have the rest of the characters build up a combo to boost the Mage's (already stupidly powerful) final attack, or have the mage buff the frontline fighters to obliterate whatever's in the way. Later games in the series let you do both at once.
  • Heavy/Medic is a common pairing in Team Fortress 2, where, as the names suggest, the Medic heals and the Heavy deals and takes a lot of damage. Similar pairings sometimes seen are Medic/Soldier and Medic/Pyro.
    • The "Demoknights"—Demoman using a variety of unlockable melee weapons—when paired with a Medic are a more traditional example of this trope. Contrary to this trope, a regular Demoman/Medic pair (seen occasionally in normal play, but often used in competitive play) is a Glass Cannon and a Healer.
    • One three part combination that's seem occasionally in regular play, and is pretty much the standard in Highlander mode, is Heavy + Medic + Pyro, where the Heavy and Medic acts as the normal roles of attacker/bulletshield and healer while the Pyro takes a more active defense role to protect both from Spies, Ubercharges, and projectile spamming.
  • Featured prominently in Final Fantasy IV. In the Nintendo DS Updated Re-release, the party can find out through talking with NPCs in Baron that Rosa's parents were a typical fighter and healer pair (Dark Knight and White Mage) who fell in love with each other on the battlefield. The theme continues in The After Years, with the Official Couple of Cecil and Rosa.
  • Blados and Chalis in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. There's a little mixing here as Blados can still cast Shadow Shield and Chalis can use Scornful Caress (a slashing attack).
  • Played straight in a short leader story for World of Warcraft with Varian Wrynn being the fighter and his son Anduin Wrynn as the healer.
  • The Prince and Elika from Prince of Persia (2008). Prince is the resident badass who handles all the fighting, while Elika is unarmed and sticks mostly to support (except in their Combination Attack). While there is no conventional healing in the game, Elika's main job is to magically haul the Prince's ass back to safety whenever he is about to die.
  • Star Ocean: The Second Story allows the player to choose whether the fighter or the healer serves as the viewpoint character.


Switching P.O.V.EnsemblesTangled Family Tree
Support Party MemberVideogame CharactersTeam Pet
Student and Master TeamDuo TropesSymbiotic Possession
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Castlevania: Portrait of RuinImageSource/Video GamesCastlevania Judgment

alternative title(s): Swordsman And Sorcerer; Fighter Mage Combo; Mage And Meat Shield
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