A wizard being called a sorcerer is sort of like having a PhD and someone telling you that you only managed to graduate because you have natural talent.
A wizard being called a warlock is like having a PhD and being told you only managed to graduate because you gave the dean a quickie in the alley behind the movie theater.
It's not uncommon to see a lot of rivalry between magicians in a fantasy setting, be it due to academic pride, competitive spirits, or plain jealousy. This is especially common if the setting has Mutually Exclusive Magic
… and even if it all comes
from the same source.
Much like the rivalry
involved in Magic Versus Science
, magic users will be prejudiced against each other based on their philosophy regarding magic, how they study it, and/or how they cast spells. You'll frequently see mages versus wizards versus witches versus clerics versus shamans versus druids deep breath
versus warlocks versus monks versus psions. Put another way, a wizard of Ritual Magic
will sneer at a bard who approaches magic as music
, casting spells based on poetic rules. And of course both will scoff at the cleric whose magic is based on articles of faith
rather than academic or artistic viewpoints.
Frequently the themes behind the various forms of magic will take one of the various points within Functional Magic
. Magicians who follow Magic A Is Magic A
will be academic, studious, and always "researching"
new spells. Artistic mages usually have some form of Functional Magic
that they tap into
in unconventional ways
. Hermetic Magic
practitioners follow ritual like academic magicians but usually ignore they “how” and “why” in favor of theological explanations or even plain old faith. Expect these mages to be on differing sides of Harmony Versus Discipline
, with some seeking to “control” magic, others to “channel” it, and some to understand and influence it.
Objectively, expect all these magical approaches to be valid in their own right, usually have Competitive Balance
, and at times capable of a Yin-Yang Bomb
when various disciplines collaborate. One frequent representation of this is the Trash Talk
seen when people with opposite Elemental Powers
fight each other. Only very
rarely will these settings reveal there are Red Mages
who combine these varying forms of magic.
This trope is named for the Discworld
book Equal Rites
Mages that ignore differences and mix-n-match supposedly-incompatible varieties of magic are described under The Red Mage
. Compare Magic Versus Science
, and Hard On Soft Science
, since usually one approach will be more scientific
than the other. Of course, if you throw in science as well
, expect all degrees of deadly projectiles to start flying.
For a trope that covers a (usually
) different kind of prejudice among fantasy characters, see Fantastic Racism
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Anime and Manga
- In the first movie to Cardcaptor Sakura, it is revealed that Clow Reed had a rival in the form of a water-diviner known only as Madoushi. She was always trying to outdo him, but he always prevailed, mainly because her power was used mainly for personal gain (thus limiting its potential), and Clow Reed used it for other (benevolent) purposes too. The rivalry is complicated because she had feelings for him, which may have been reciprocated...but she became a threat and had to be sealed away in an alternate dimension by Clow. (In the English dubbed version, she is a former student of his who actually became his girlfriend...and then turned to The Dark Side, whereupon Clow broke up with her and then sealed her away.)
- Dungeons & Dragons has the divisions between divine and arcane magic, between different wizard specializations, special spellcasting methods of bards and wild mages, and more. Additional possible differences are illustrated in the "Controllability" scale (from AD&D Net Wizard's Handbook): Magic is Chaos — Magic is Art — Magic is Science. Most settings are in "Art" position, thus some variation between traditions is to be expected.
- In 3rd edition wizards must endure years of unwavering discipline and intense study before they can cast even the simplest of spells. Sorcerers have no training, just an innate talent for magic that manifests naturally — and which they may or may not care to control. The two have been known to... conflict.
- The same in Psionics, now with the psion, wilder, and ardent classes. The psion develops powers though strict mental discipline that takes years. Wilders use raw emotion to manifest their powers. Ardents recognize basic connections the world and develop powers through the understanding of those connections. And of course, all of these classes tend to conflict with regular magic users.
- Let's not forget Warlocks. Even fewer total known spells than Sorcerers, but infinite casting capabilities — a Sorcerer can cast the same spell more often than Wizard, but still only casts the same amount of total spells. Warlocks can cast and cast and cast until the stars burn out, and never once run out of spells.
- And then there's Binders, who basically summon entities from the empty wastes beyond the known boundaries of existence and allow them to ride in their bodies in exchange for an assortment of spell-like abilities and special powers. It's eplicitly stated that nobody likes Binders — other Arcanists tend to be jealous or view them as mad, while divine spellcasters consider them the ultimate blasphemers.
- And then there are extra options, like Incarnum.
- By fourth edition the differences between wizards and sorcerer have increased, with different spells and benefits. Sorcerers are now more than ever "the arcane antithesis of the wizard, Wielding raw, barely contained magical power" and the magical equivalent of barbarians, with wizards the equivalent of fighters. Even the number of times they can cast spells has changed as all spells in fourth edition are either at will, again after a five minute break or again after a good nights sleep. However the tensions are still there, as the players handbook (2) puts it "More studious arcane practitioners sometimes regard sorcerers as novices who play with dangerous power beyond their control, but the proof of their worth is in the havoc they wreak on their foes."
- Warlocks, which graduated to being a primary class in 4e, have it even worse. Wizards may think that Sorcerers are messing with powers beyond their control or otherwise irresponsible, but they acknowledge that the Sorcerer usually didn't have a choice — they were born sorcerers, or the power just "awoke" after something happened to the Sorcerer. Warlocks, on the other hand, make a Deal with the Devil to acquire magical power and/or knowledge, simply because it's easier. Sometimes, it's with literal devils, sometimes with The Fair Folk, sometimes with the malevolent spirits that dwell in the darkness, sometimes with the vestiges of places and beings lost to time, and sometimes it's with the... forces... that resonate from the stars. Needless to say, while Dark Is Not Evil and it's quite possible to play Bad Powers, Good People as a Warlock, it's a very sinister class and very easy to play as Bad Powers, Bad People.
- Oddly enough, a new subclass of wizards called witches recently come into play, who is regarded as a more primitive form of wizardry. Basically the wizards consider them savages and a few gods became so jealous of their powers that they ordered members of their churches to hunt them down. One wonders why in a campaign setting that magic is so common that most people accept it as part of their world that the creators would still bother with witch hunts, and not for arcane practitioners that either has no control of their powers or sold their souls for it.
- In fact, it's possible to place each Arcane class in 4e on a spectrum of their relationship with Wizarding Schools: Arcanists and Mages were the students who studied really hard for that A, Sorcerers got the A without studying, Warlocks, Hexblades, and Binders cheated on the test or bribed the teacher, Bards were the liberal art students who studied a little bit of everything, rather than focusing their talents in one field, Witches never went to school, instead being homeschooled in Hermetic Magic, Swordmages, Bladesingers, and Skalds (as well as Hexblades and some Sorcerers) practiced swordplay as an extra-curricular, and Artificers were the students who went to engineering school.
- Birthright has magical forces that can be fully understood only by elves, half-elves and blooded humans. They can use True Magic, much like wizards in other settings. All others can only become Magicians and outside Illusion and Divination schools use only minor spells. For the Realm magic even a bloodline isn't enough, it's available only to regent wizards with their own magical holdings.
- Dragonlance has four types of main magic users: Wizards of High Sorcery, Clerics of the gods, Primal Sorcerers, and Mystics. The Wizards do not get along with the Sorcerers a lot of the time because the Wizards see the Sorcerers as infringing on their territory. The relationship between Mystics and Clerics of good deities is more friendly because of the Citadel of Light, which has both Mystics and Clerics working together to help people. Clerics of Neutral and Evil deities view of Mystics often depends on how their deity feels about Mysticism. And Wizards and Clerics sometimes do not get along because a Cleric, the last Kingpriest of Istar, was the one who tried to kill all Wizards on Ansalon prior to the Cataclysm. And since Wizards of High Sorcery are moon-dependent, there are three sorts of them — one per Krynnish moon.
- There's also the "renegade" category, which is where wizards who refuse to acknowledge the authority of the orders of High Sorcery are classified. Mostly, it's a place to file wizardly characters or classes that get imported from other game-settings.
- Forgotten Realms has Spellsingers (AD&D2) / Spelldancers (D&D3) — magic users aren't as strictly bound by rules of Vancian Magic as others, though slower. Netherese arcanists used to have no Vancian Magic limitations. Shadow Magic adepts using a different power source. Dragonmagic and elven High Magic that no other species can use (or survive if they would find a way). Magic of Faerûn sourcebook added gem and rune magic as playable options. Less outstanding variations include Incantatrix (specialist in dueling spellcasters and extraplanars), elven Dualists (specialists limited to two opposite schools), Dukar (same, but spread to more races under sea, tied to Magic Knight orders and implanted defensive symbionts), circle magic of Hathran and Red Wizards.
- The Spellplague damaged magic, but also gave room for a "new" generation of spellcasters as many older casters lost their powers. Among the drow, the new class of wizards call themselves "spellspinners", and they have a rivalry with their more experienced but often weaker ancestors.
- Al-Quadim setting has different types of wizards, including Sha'ir — wizards who use magic via little genie-kin familiar, not strictly limited in almost any other way, like using divine spells (not that it was a prudent option). There are also astrologers, numerologists, Mageweavers, Ghul Lords, Clockwork Mages building magi-mechanical constructs and Jackals stealing spells from other wizards.
- Ideological conflicts between various types of magic users have been a standard setting element since the beginning, particularly between Hermetic and Shamanic magicians.
- Psionics are generally looked down upon for having made up a whole new way to imagine magic works that is more restrictive and less useful than any of the accepted theories of mana with no actual advantages (Although thought forms, their conjured spirit equivalent, are free to summon, summon in one action and, unlike nature spirits, are not restricted to one area).
- Full magicians, who can use both sorcery (casting spells) and conjuration (summoning, binding, and controlling spirits), tend to look down on adepts who are limited to one or the other. There are also physical adepts, whose magic is tuned toward augmenting their body and mind in various ways, which leads to most people thinking of them as street-sams without the chrome.
- Pathfinder, being based on the 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons rules, has the same core classes as that game, and thus the same usage of this trope, but throws a few more on the pile. There are Alchemists, who achieve magic through chemical reagents. Summoners are more in the "calling other beings to serve" camp, and can even have Mix-and-Match Critters as servants. Elementalist Wizards are a variant of wizards who follow Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors instead of the traditional "schools" of magic. And Witches have strange otherworldly "patrons" who even they may not know the nature of, who who channel magic to them through familiars.
- Further complicated by the fact that in Pathfinder wizard schools are almost literal schools, with different skills, abilities, and usually affiliations rather than just a different set of spells, and sorcerers have "bloodlines" which make them almost aggressively individualized: when one sorcerer grows wings and a halo as he levels and the next sprouts a tentacle and darkvision, it's usually a bit hard to get them to express a feeling of camaraderie.
- The Order of Hermes in Ars Magica tends to look down on non-Hermetic magic* as uncivilized, to such a degree that a member can take "Hedge Wizard" as a social Flaw. Consequently, they tend to get a bit peeved when "primitive outsiders" pull off stunts that their own Art can't replicate. Different Houses within the Order aren't immune either: the Faerie based spells used by House Merinita get a measure of distrust, and House Verditius' inability to cast spells without special tools gets them something of a bad rap.
- In Warhammer, it gets justified by different races having to approach magic in different ways due to their different mindsets and how they open themselves up to Mind Rape by an Eldritch Abomination. So short lived humans takes magic, split it up into specialities and study it in an academic and scholarly manner in colleges to make it safe; the hair brained Skaven ratmen use Green Rocks to power magical contraptions and their minor "wizards" are called engineers; Dark Elves and Chaos worshippers make pacts with daemons- if not the Chaos Gods themselves- while High Elves will elegantly weave the winds of magic around them like a tapestry. For the Slann, the most powerful wizards in the world who taught the elves their thing, magic comes as naturally as breathing.
- In addition to the species/racial differences, there also exists an arcane/divine dichotomy throughout, well, pretty much every civilised realm. In Bretonnia and parts of the Empire, for example, wielding arcane magic is grounds for a burning/hanging/impalement/decapitation/other execution method, but the miracles a priest performs aren't a problem (or aren't considered magical). Well, in the Empire using arcane magic without the training and sanction of the colleges is grounds for execution full stop, but certain peasants and preachers haven't quite got that message. In Bretonnia, all arcane magic is banned, but the situation is a little complex- College trained mages visiting from the Empire usually get a pass thanks to politics, and the priestesses of the Lady* technically use arcane magics, but are widely believed to use divine magic. There are no priests of the Lady.
- The Old World of Darkness has had within each gameline various forms of magic, which are usually not mutually exclusive (at least within the supernatural race, wizard magic is not accesible to vampires and vice-versa). However, the societies, conspiracies or organizations that practice them look at each other with nothing but scorn and make learning more than one really hard for applicants.
- The rivalry between the Mages, Tremere, Giovanni and Harbingers of Skulls/Cappadocians in Vampire: The Masquerade is particularly illustrative. The Tremere were formerly Mages and made a vampire copy of their old powers (weak and blood fueled, but still), the Giovanni accuse the Tremere of stealing their necromancy from them, while the Harbingers/Cappadocians did have theirs stolen by the Giovanni.
- Since it runs on a Clap Your Hands If You Believe reality, Mage: The Ascension is fueled by this trope. Magical wars are fought over convincing the Sleepers that your faction's mystical philosophy is the correct one, some factions even claiming that their enemies use corrupted forms of their own mysticism.
- The funniest example being the Sons of Ether, who were a member of the non-player antagonist faction until said faction decided to go with light being a self-propagating wave instead of have a medium (the aforementioned Ether). Because the Sons really enjoyed being able to do things like wind-surf through the vacuum of space, this led to a violent rebellion and them joining the protagonist faction.
- New World of Darkness
- This kind of rivalry Applies on a lesser scale in Mage: The Awakening, mostly with the Atlantean Orders' distrust of the Free Council and the built-in conflicts with Left-Handed Legacies, Scelesti, and Banishers.
- Plus some conflict with other racial magic. A mage tends to initially think a Werewolf's spirit-calling ability is cool, until he figures out how it works and then he's bored with your one-trick pony nonsense.
- "Getting bored" is the most benign way a mage's relationship with the other splats can go. Changelings, for instance, usually avoid mages due to a fear of vivisection or the mages intentionally fiddling with the hedge and calling up the Fae... both of those fears being extremely well-justified.
- Fan expansion Genius: The Transgression, as usual, just adds fuel to the fire with the Magic Powered Pseudoscience known as Inspiration. Geniuses trying to explain themselves usually just gets mages inexplicably mad, and the way magic works is similar to a Genius who's gearing up for a long jump into Illumination. Naturally, both sides make sure that one doesn't get mistaken for the other and given incorrect training, that wouldn't quite end well.
- The Dark Eye treats magic and miracles as completely separate things. The miracles somewhat resembling "divine spells" were even only introduced late in the 3rd edition.
- Magic users break into separate schools depending on how they were taught, including guild mages (academic, logical), elves (intuitive), witches (emotion-based), druids, illusionists, shamans and others around the edges.
- Most of those groups can learn spells, most easily those familiar to their own school, though there are many spells known in more than one, and in addition has special rituals not available to the others—a mage can learn certain enchantments for a staff, a witch can learn curses, and so on. Most groups also have philosophy-based restrictions (e.g. mages have responsibilities to their guild, druids can't work magic while touching iron, lizardmen need a material focus for each spell).
- The bigger schools are split according to attitudes/philosophies further. There are three guilds for mages—white, grey, and black—with one of the main differences being their attitude to demonology. Witches may have greater cohesion, but the sisterhoods, determined by the species of their familiar, which is tied to their personality, have their differences. Druids are split into those focusing on mind magic, and those focused on elementarism.
- The five colors of magic in Magic: The Gathering all have at least one thing in common; They consider their way to be the only right one, two of the other colors are agreeable, if a bit misguided, and the last two are just dead wrong. A prime example would be Blue, the color of knowledge, respects Black for it's ambition and desire for control and White for its diligence and drive for order. Green and Red, on the other hand, are mindless and savage and should either be locked down or eliminated. Of course, this is the abstract version of color philosophies: with actual organizations and people it gets more complicated, but the trope remains in force.
- The rabbit hole can go even deeper when you start getting groups/people with dual color affiliations like the guilds in Ravnica some of which are two colors normally opposite on the spectrum such as White/Black who abide by very strict contracts and will use any means to enforce them or punish anyone who doesn't hold up their end of the contract. They consider basically the entire rest of the guilds as marks to be conned out of everything they own.
- Things get really weird when you mix even more colors. Cards that require all five colors to cast are some of the most powerful in the game since they embody unification and cooperation between all five of the color philosophies. They are also relatively difficult to play due to their casting costs. This symbolizes that making the five colors cooperate is hard.
- Exalted: There are a lot of bad blood between Sorcerers and Necromancers, mainly because Necromancy comes from the undead Eldritch Abomination who seeks to kill the world. But the most hated of all rites would be Autochthon-exclusive Voidtech, which horrifies even the masters of Hell.
- The Warcraft 'verse is full of this. There's the main Priests, Paladins, Druids & Shamans vs. Mages, Warlocks, Necromancers & Death Knights rift, where the former think that all of the latter are reckless and/or evil, risking losing control, gaining the attention of the Burning Legion, joining the Scourge or worse. They are right, but mages think that they are using magic responsibly (and at least a few of them really are), and the former are just luddite fools, and the real villains are Warlocks, Necromancers and Death Knights. Then there's the good warlocks (read: player characters) who think they're strong enough to make a Deal with the Devil without losing control and think that everyone else are naive fools who don't go far enough or lack the willpower to do so. Good Death Knights use their powers to rebel against their former master. Finally, there's Always Chaotic Evil demon-worshipping warlocks and life-scourging Necromancers & Death Knights.
- Fortunately, there New Council of Tirisfal is set out to subvert this, inviting spellcasters from all races and disciplines to work together for the common good.
- The issue with mages isnt nessesary that they are evil, but that their power, arcane, is mostly chaos. Meaning that even if they are good, and does good, they eventually risk getting corrupted. responsibly or not.
- Used all over the place in Dragon Age: the most obvious example would probably the animosity between Blood Mages and Circle Mages loyal to the Chantry; as the Chantry teaches that blood magic is what led to the creation of the Darkspawn, coupled with the fact that blood magic can also be used to control human minds and bind demons to the caster's will, most orthodox mages take a very dim view of its practitioners, labelling them as Maleficars regardless of wether they've used their powers for evil purposes or not. Meanwhile, the power-mad Tevinter Magisters, who permit the usage of blood magic within their borders, are looked on with a mixture of fear and disgust; Circle Mages will collaborate with them for research projects- especially in the more esoteric fields- but that's about as far as they're prepared to trust them.
- Orthodox Circle Mages also have a less-than-cordial relationship with Apostates- mages outside the control of the Circle and the Chantry- viewing them as potential maleficars, from the nature magic-wielding Dalish Keepers to shapeshifters like Morrigan and Flemeth. Even the relatively innocuous Hawke family isn't exempt. On the other hand, many factions within the Circles cooperate semi-openly with apostates, either because they oppose the Templars' control over the Circle or because they simply see apostates as the Templars' problem.
- Even the Circle itself isn't exempt from this sort of thing, having divided itself into a number of different Fraternities with different ideas as to how mages should be governed and how they should use magic... and then, in the Witch Hunt expansion pack it's possible to find a book on Spirit Magic that's been hopelessly vandalized by a proponent of Entropy Magic.
- Heroes of Might and Magic II had a rivalry with the wizards and necromancers in a kind of ancient feud, though this is really only touched upon in the Evil campaign. Heroes V, being a Continuity Reboot, did the same thing, but gave more of a backstory, and it shows up several times in their respective campaigns.
- The whole Wizards versus Necromancers idea was continued in Might and Magic VII; in fact, for most of the middle of the game, it was central to the plot.
- In Heroes of Might and Magic IV this is why the Anti-Villain Protagonist of the Death campaign refuses to expand his kingdom after fighting tooth and nail to get it. He's Genre Savvy enough to realize that ambitious Necromancers have a 0% Approval Rating and everyone else would be gunning for him if he seemed the least bit hostile. He's all too aware that his brand of magic doesn't have a very good reputation.
- The necromancer/wizard split was not the only division in the old setting — interestingly, the part of the description where the wizard sneers at the cleric is averted. Instead, it is the philosophical divisions within the categories of spell-users that inspire rivalry: Archdruids (Druids that have deepened their commitment to nature) and Warlocks (Druids that seek power) tend to clash, Priests of Light (Clerics aligned with the Path of Light) and Priests of Dark (Clerics aligned with the Path of Dark) are adherents to mutually opposed religions, Necromancers by definition are opposed to the Path of Light while Wizards tends to support it...
- In Neverwinter Nights 2 (D&D 3.5 rules) wizard and sorcerers share the same spells and both can run out but warlocks can keep casting an unlimited number of times, but have very few spells. Oddly while there is the odd reference to demon/devils the class text say their power comes from their own souls, not pacts with residents of other realms.
- The Reconstruction combines this with good old Fantastic Racism. Shra can't summon fire or ice from nowhere, so humans tend not to acknowledge that their ability to manipulate what's already around them is for all intents and purposes magic.
- In Demon's Souls, the Miracle wielding clerics view soul arts as an abomination. The pracitioners of soul arts dislike clerics for trying to hold them back and treating them like pariahs. The clerics aren't exactly wrong to dislike soul arts though — it's a dangerous power fueled by the souls of the dead that comes from the Old One itself, and the world is a Crapsack World because people abused soul arts in the past. It's heavily implied that the god the clerics worship is actually the Old One, which would mean that the "miracles" (which are also fueled by souls) are just soul arts with a more "benevolent" flavor to them.
- The description of the Wizard on the Diablo III website suggests that she's an outcast from the mage clans for her willingness to use "forbidden arts," and even calling herself a Wizard instead of a Sorceress is considered crass.
- In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the current Archmage of the Mages' Guild banned Necromancy out of little more than a personal distaste for it. The Necromancers aren't exactly helping their case, given that the antagonists of the Mages' Guild questline are an evil cult of Necromancers called the Order of the Black Worm lead by a twisted lich.
- In the next game, Skyrim, necromancy is more or less acceptable, but a whole another, different type of magic appears: thu'um, the Draconic magic.
- In StarCraft, the protoss are split into at least two factions, the Khalai and the Nerazim, who have serious philosophical differences, including how they use their powers. The Khalai have a kind of hivemind, while the Nerazim oppose it. The two sides have had multiple conflicts over this.
- And recently, it's been discovered that some zerg don't have a hivemind either, and they consider the regular zerg to be "broken".
- Practitioners of the various Bending Arts in Avatar: The Last Airbender would often do this. Being subject to nationalistic propaganda since birth, Firebenders in particular would sneer at Earthbenders, but even Sokka wasn't above saying "fire is a stupid element anyway" when Aang lamented he had yet to master it. Although Sokka's dislike of fire bending may have come more from his animosity towards the Fire Nation than pride in water bending, which he can't even do.
- This is an obstacle that Avatars always have to overcome, as the different elements require different frames of mind and techniques. And it proves especially troublesome for Aang when he wants to find a firebending teacher* .
- In The Legend of Korra, Korra decides to briefly give up her Airbending training due to her difficulty learning it and declares she doesn't need it to be the Avatar. Since Airbending requires patience and spirituality (extremely important attributes for an Avatar that Korra does not possess) she eventually changes her mind.
- Cassie in UBOS wants to train to become a 'Supreme Sorceress', since 'witches get no respect.'