The historical Christian view of a "witch" was a person who literally makes a Deal with the Devil
in exchange for magic powers, often defined as becoming Satan
's concubine. On the other hand, adherents of modern Neo-Pagan religions such as Wicca
naturally take an opposing viewpoint on the practice of witchcraft.
In the modern day, though, either the positive or negative connotations of magic-as-divinely-attained would result in controversy (perhaps due to the ease with which either one may be confused with the other). So, in much fiction, witchcraft has become more of a matter of Superpowerful Genetics
. Either "witch" is merely a particular race of humanity, or a different species altogether. (The distinction is usually a matter of the author's semantics rather than using an actual biological definition of "species", such as the absence of interbreeding). This is a bit closer to a belief among the Azande
of Africa, that an inherited organ (often located near the liver) allows potential unconscious use of magic.
A Witch Species is also mentioned in very early Christian writings describing a belief that witches were tiny creatures that cause sickness in plants, animals and people. In other words, germs. But these writings also dismissed this idea as a superstitious delusion.
The witch's powers are merely a physical trait which you either have or you don't, although those lucky enough to be born into a Witch Species
may still have to work hard for their abilities to reach their full potential.
Note that these characters were originally almost Always Female
, unless male relatives are introduced, and male magic-users generally use learned skills for their magic. In some cases, male witches (frequently called "warlocks") are exclusively evil
. The popularity of Harry Potter
, however, has brought in some Witch Species
boys, although they're sometimes referred to as wizards or warlocks. Complicating the issue of inheritance of witch powers is that Muggle
parents may produce witch children (and witch parents Muggle children
) because the Witch Species traits manifest in Randomly Gifted
Most protagonist Witches tend to be rookies, but the older and powerful ones are depicted as Physical Gods
In Japan, the popularity of Magical Girls
has considerably softened the idea and one is just as likely to see magic powers that are either genetic or learned.
May be the targets of Super Human Trafficking
. See also Cute Witch
. For cases where every member of the witch species is a Wicked Witch
(which is probably true if all Magic Is Evil
), see Always Chaotic Evil
. When members of a witch species produce a child with no powers, it's a Muggle Born of Mages
By default, anyone from a Witch Species
is disqualified from Badass Normal
status (Muggle Born of Mages
not withstanding, and they can still Fight Like A Normal
, as well as be Brought Down to Badass
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Anime and Manga
- In Galaxy Angel (though, as with every trope in the series, it's better explained and executed in the games), the planet Magiic, home of Kahlua, is populated by a Witch Species.
- Each of the four elements of magic in Kaze no Stigma is inheritable, resulting in famous clans dedicated to an element. Magic can also be obtained in rare cases by making a contract with the lord of that element and then having that element be inherited by their descendants, which is how at least the Kannagi family became a fire clan. Specialties also exist within each element, such as focusing on curses, barriers, summoning, or just fighting power.
- Witchcraft is an inherited talent in Kiki's Delivery Service.
- In Mahou Shoujo Tai Alice (aka Tweeny Witches), witches (female) and warlocks (male) are a human-like magic-using species in a magical dimension; witches who can't use magic get exiled to the human world.
- The primary antagonists of Soul Eater are witches who appear to be a race of their own. This is indicated by the fact that at least one is a small child with no parents to teach her magic and that certain witch characters appear to have no desire to be part of the witch culture, but in both cases, these still count as 'witches' and their and their souls are different from a regular human or that of someone who can become a demon.
- Witches in Rosario + Vampire were first born of a monster and a human getting it on. They're considered a mongrel species (among those who even know of their beginnings) and tend to be seen as unwanted in both worlds.
- Not quite confirmed, given that Witches have more in common with monsters than with humans in the setting and that they are referred to as being on the border but never explicitly called a hybrid race.
- In El Cazador, witches are a nearly extinct subspecies of humans who mostly lost their powers in modern times. Ellis is an artificial witch, created in an attempt to restore the magical bloodline. Jodie, on the other hand, is a pure-blood witch but has about as much magical potential as any baseline human. It is also suggested that there were further artificial witches besides Ellis (possibly including L.A.) but they all died/were killed off.
- If you want to be a mage in Lyrical Nanoha, you will first need to be born with a Linker Core organ, the source of a mage's magical power. Having mage parents greatly increases your chances, but there have been known cases of powerful mages being born from non-mages.
- The titular character herself is one of said powerful mages with non-mage parents. Though, this may or may not count considering that her father is a former assassin/bodyguard, while her mother was a baker. Despite her brother and sister being chi-users, she was left out of most of the family business except for baking. It probably wasn't due to her age, because there were martial artists studying in the family school who weren't much older.
- In Sugar Sugar Rune, witches (both male and female) come from the 'magical world', and they use the emotions of humans as a power source and a currency. Love between witches and humans is taboo, and while humans can produce an infinite number of hearts, a witch only has one heart, so if she falls in love with someone and that person takes her heart, she'll die. The witch world also has a markedly different culture from the human world.
- There, Beyond the Beyond has the flowers from the Beyond, who wield supreme magical powers, although other human and Talking Animal magicians exist.
- Sasami: Magical Girls Club has a species of witches that live in an alternate dimension. The Magical Girls are stated to be the product of interbreeding between the witches and the humans, and are almost regarded as a separate race with powers different from normal witches. The show also plays around with the Always Female aspect of the trope by stating that there are Magical Boys but that they are very rare.
- In Cardcaptor Sakura, Wizards and Witches live amongst "normal" people. Supernatural powers and psychic abilities are passed along family lines; some families (like the Li family) are very aware of this and pay great attention to lineage, other families (like the Kinomoto family) less so. Sakura falls into the category of Cute Witch; CLAMP wanted to put a twist on the typical Magical Girl genre.
- The titular witches in Witch Hunter Robin are exactly this. Potential witches are tracked and hunted with the aid of a massive genealogical database maintained by the witch-hunting organization SOLOMON.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica produces a brutal variation on the idea. Witches are a race of Eldritch Abominations that feed off despair. They turn out to have once been humans who made a Deal with the Devil and became Liches known as Magical Girls, then crossed the Despair Event Horizon and became warped by their magic failing them.
- In The DCU, Zatanna's mother was revealed to have been a member of the "Homo Magi" race. However, her father used learned magical skills (Depends on the writer; sometimes he's described as having H. Magi blood or innate magic). Zatanna herself uses learned magical skills (ie, speaking backwards) to tighten her control over her inherent abilities.
- Also in the DCU, Klarion the Witch Boy belongs either to a race of extradimensional aliens who have magical powers, or a subset of humanity that lives in the caves beneath New York City and is descended from Puritans who had "relations" with time-traveling fairies.
- In an interesting variant, in the Starkweather comic, it turned out that Witches were the living descendants of Christ, making the Church's attempts to wipe them out somewhat ironic.
- Storm of X-Men fame comes from a line of African sorceresses. It's used to explain her unusual phenotype (white hair, and Depending on the Writer, blue eyes with epicanthal folds). Believe it or not, the this might actually be partially Truth in Television; see modjadji.
- The Harry Potter Fan Fiction Paradigm Of Uncertainty plays with wizard genetics by introducing a rare incompletely dominant allele that's responsible for wizards having a great inborn talent. Wizards who are heterozygous in this trait exhibit a high level of natural magic, and should two of them have a child there's a one-in-four chance of yielding offspring with what amount to superpowers. Three guesses as to which character turns out to be one of the latter.
- Rule 34 suggests that the most obvious way the gene could promote its own propagation will be or has been exhaustively explored by Fan Fic writers.
- The Backyard Sports fanfic The Secret Life Of The Backyard Kids gives us Jorge and Tiffany, and wizards here are less "special" and more like ordinary people with superpowers. Then robes is foregone in favor of suits and dresses (including a Little Black Dress in one chapter.)
- Star Wars: Power with the Force is hereditary in a great many cases. Given the prohibition against Jedi marrying, the only examples we see of hereditary Force power in the movies are Luke and Leia, but the Expanded Universe increases this (especially with non-Jedi traditions that don't preclude marriage, and the fact that many thousands of years of Jedi history didn't include that prohibition). This is not a guarantee, however, as Jedi Master Ki Adi Mundi's background indicates he had 8 children (male Cerean Jedi are exempt from the restrictions against marriage given the 20 to 1 female to male ratio), but Wookiepedia doesn't indicate any of them were Force Sensitive.
- The Covenant has five families in the beginning, where the boys inherit the magic powers. A daughter from one of these families is never seen, so it's unknown if girls A) inherit the power, B) don't inherit it, but can pass it on to their sons, C) are completely normal, or D) can't be born to these families.
- Also, only firstborn males in a given generation receives the Power.
- All There in the Manual: Only the firstborn son gains the Power, and only his firstborn son, and so on. Daughters, if they exist, have no magic.
- In Practical Magic Sally and Gilly Owens are two sisters with an open secret: they come from a long line of witches.
- In Halloweentown, people refer to "humans" as if they were a separate race from witches and warlocks, even though they look exactly the same. Also, witches and warlocks can lose their magic, which presumably makes them totally normal humans (it's unclear if they retain the thousand-year lifespan).
- The Strigoi from Romanian mythology is said to work on the same basic principle. Instead of biting humans to infect them with The Virus, a Strigoi can become human again, marry, and bear children — who will all go on to also become vampires after death. A Monster Progenitor who proliferates the species by getting to know someone in the biblical sense.
- Kelley Armstrong's The Otherworld books feature both an all-female witch phenotype and an all-male sorcerer one. The genes for the two are in some way incompatible, as well as sex-linked and so both witches and sorcerers only reproduce with mundanes, who know nothing of this according to the Masquerade. However, witch and sorcerer magics have some overlap. A witch can perform sorcerer magic, but she is less capable with it than she is with witch magic, and vice versa for sorcerers. There are hints in Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic that witches and sorcerers may be more alike than they think, particularly the revelation that neophyte witch Savannah Levine is the daughter of a witch and a sorcerer, supposedly impossible.
- Amelia Atwater-Rhodes' books have a genetic, female-only species of witches. These witches can breed with normal humans, but their powers are genetic, so there are a few very specific witch lines. These can work magic, and each line has a different specialty, but witch society as a whole tends to spend most of its time hunting the vampires that run rampant in these books. One witch line carries a vampiric taint. While a witch can be turned into a vampire, turning one into a blood bond (which effectively makes a human immortal but not a vampire) is usually disastrous.
- Then there are the Tristes, immortal witches who are quite like the vampires they so often hunt. They have their own "sires" after a fashion, in which specific trainers and their initiates have varying levels of powers. Also like vampires, Tristes "feed" on energy rather than blood. Their blood is poisonous to vampires, unless the triste consents under specific conditions.
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz introduced this trope, according to Martin Gardner. Apparently L. Frank Baum wanted to avoid religious objections from parents on the grounds that witches are the result of a Deal with the Devil and thus there cannot be good witches, so he made witchcraft an inherent trait and classified witches as good or evil based on how they used their magic, not the magic's origin.
- Jim Butcher's series, Codex Alera, has humans as its version of this. All humans can use elemental magic, and while other races have some degree of magic among them, humans have the greatest and most common access to it. Interestingly, this works as a disadvantage as much as an advantage, since they tend to have trouble thinking about non-magical methods of accomplishing things (meaning, for example, that there exists no technology, beyond maybe ships which, even then, can be made from wood magic.)
- Similarly, though to a lesser degree, the Canim have a whole caste who are just magic users, though seeing as the ritualists are a rather secretive and elitist bunch its unclear whether their powers are hereditary, or just an art they keep to themselves. (We do know it involves blood. Fresh blood. And a lot of it...
- Katherine Kurtz's Deryni are frequently referred to as a separate race of humans, especially by their enemies. They are both male and female, and can and do interbreed with ordinary humans. The word is both singular and plural, both noun and adjective.
- The author even gives an appendix about the genetics: Deryni-ness is a dominant X-chromosome variant, and Haldane "can have powers given to me" is a Y-chromosome variant. This may or may not match depictions throughout the series.
- In Roald Dahl's The Witches, the title characters are a sort of demonic One-Gender Race, and are Always Chaotic Evil at least far as children are concerned - Witches want to eradicate all children. They're uninterested in killing adults, but aren't bothered about accidentally killing them. These demon women are hairless, toeless and have long claws all of which they must conceal from the general public along with some other traits.
- The Young Wizards series combines this trope with an inversion of Deal with the Devil: one third of humans have the genetics necessary for being a wizard, but God grants magic to only 1% of those with the genetic potential.
- And there are ways to gain wizardry in which your genes aren't relevant. Wizards exist to help the Powers that Be keep the universe running; where there is a wizard, it generally means there's some specific problem that person, as a wizard, can choose to become an optimal solution to. Which takes as much work to arrange for as you'd think. Some species are universally wizards; some only need one at a time. For humans, the genetic potential thing serves to simplify administrative work.
- The witches in the His Dark Materials trilogy are a species in themselves. All female. They breed with human men; their daughters are witches, their sons mere humans. A witch species that also has male witches is briefly mentioned, but they are from another universe and never actually show up.
- The Wheel of Time series has female users of the One Power known as Aes Sedai, and their male counterparts who, during the series, take on the name Asha'man; the ability to channel the One Power is passed on by a recessive allele. Because of an event centuries ago, male channelers are doomed to go insane and die horribly unless they are cut off from the True Source, and so Aes Sedai have a programme of 'gentling' (DePowering) and/or killing them. As a result of this, coupled with the fact that Aes Sedai rarely marry, the ability to channel in general has weakened drastically by the time the series is set.
- Christopher Stasheff's Warlock of Gramarye series has "witches" (female) and "warlocks" (male), both with a different sex-linked power set— all really genetically inherited Psychic Powers mistaken for magic. Naturally, the protagonist and his family are major exceptions to those rules, due to partial fake-Faerie blood and magic borrowed from another universe (way too complex to go into here).
- Plus a possible different variant of the effect - Stasheff's witches and warlocks have their powers due to massive inbreeding from a limited source. Rod, though not from Gramarye, was also the product of a massive inbreeding on his own homeworld, and we know at least one of the original settlers there, (who happened to be in Rod's family tree) was descended from someone (Whitey) who may have had similar internal abilities. At the very least, he had strong personal talents and an affinity for the lifestyle chosen by the settlers of Gramarye.
- In the Sword of Truth series, there are people born with "the gift" who can become wizards (and usually have to be taught to at least control it so they don't die from the strain), while others wanting to become wizards can have magic sort of installed into them. There's only a tiny fraction of people (called "pristinely ungifted" among other things) who cannot have or use magic, and also can't be affected by magic either. It's unclear exactly how everything works, but it's implied gifted parents have a higher likelihood of having gifted children, and the pristinely ungifted are the result of a balancing act of a spell that would ensure a certain family would always have at least one gifted male heir. Additionally, any children of even one parent who's pristinely ungifted will have children who are as well.
- The Comyn in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series have hereditary psychic power, largely (though not entirely) due to being descended from the result of a mating between a chieri and a human woman that took place soon after humans arrived on the planet (see Darkover Landfall). The powers require training to be used safely and effectively.
- In Diana Wynne Jones's Witch Week, witches can be male or female — but either way they're illegal and likely to be executed by burning.
- The witches of Andre Norton's Witch World books. Originally all female, and with their magic powers linked to their virginity, that changes when Simon Tregarth is sent to the witch world from our world. He not only has his own powers, but when he marries, his wife doesn't lose her powers and their children are more powerful than either parent.
- This is clarified later in Three Against the Witch World. Originally - before the Old Race migrated from westward - people of either gender might have magical ability. In fact this is still the case, at least for men who are not members of the Old Race (e.g. Riwal in The Crystal Gryphon), but it is rare for a man to be correctly identified as a potential magic user and given appropriate training.
- Discworld takes a strange and sometimes contradictory view on this. It's stated outright that magic has a genetic component: it runs strong in the Weatherwax, Ogg, and Aching families, for instance. However, anyone is capable of performing certain feats of magic. It may be that being the granddaughter of a witch (Tiffany Aching) or the eighth son of an eighth son (most wizards) simply gives the child the right mindset to become a witch or wizard, or increases the magic potential the child has, or causes the all powerful Discworld force of Narrative Convention to have things happen to them that will cause the magic to happen all on its own. Then again, it's more than likely just the fact that it's magic, and that's what magic does.
- It is one of the few cases where the traditional differences between what wizardry and witch magic is like is acknowledged and built into the story, for example, in Equal Rites.
- Then there are Sourcerers - the eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son, or 'wizard cubed', who is inevitably a Person of Mass Destruction. This is the reason wizards are supposed to be celibate. Sourcerers, on the other hand, tend not to survive long enough to breed.
- Wizards and elves of Lord of the Rings are the beings that employ magic most frequently. The D˙nedain exhibit some form of quasi-supernatural powers of insight and will, and occasionally Men of their descendant civilizations are described as having some form of spellcraft. Dwarves appear to have a form of magic.
- A distinction, however, must be made. The powers of the Elves, at least, are not explicitly described as "magic" per se; if anything it comes from understanding and love for the world, whereas the powers of the Enemy are a deliberate attempt to go against the world in making it what you want. Very few Men seem able to use magic mostly because it takes so long to nurture those powers all sapient spirits have that most of them tend to die before they master it.
- Also, in his later view, Melkor, the ultimate evil power, had spent much of his initially vast cosmic strength to incorporate some of his own essence into almost everything. This could be manipulated to produce certain effects, but it was generally a bad idea (after all, it's the power of Melkor you're using).
- It's also worth noting that Elves do not think of what they do as magic, which makes it rather harder to determine whether their magic really has something to do with their nature, or is just due to their knowledge of the world.
- It's also stated that hobbits have a "magic" of sorts, but only the type which allows them to continue living unseen and unnoticed by humans, who rarely deign to notice them.
- It's all, like most of Tolkien, a linguistic joke, that the newer languages lump all of this supernatural power under the single heading of "magic," when the older languages had multiple distinctions for various types, which leads to confusion and muddling of things which is what transforms mytho-history into local folktale.
- Witches in The Hollows novels are an entire race capable of using enzymes in their blood activate magical potions and charms. Other forms of magic can be used by other races as well. They're not capable of interbreeding with humans, despite looking just like them, although many female witches marry male humans and then get pregnant extramaritally.
- Later in the series it is revealed that witches are descended from the cursed and stunted offspring of demons, and this is the source of their abilities.
- In the Night World series, witches are a race within humanity, though you might not want to point that out. Perfectly ordinary-seeming humans may have enough witch in their background to be able to cast spells, and if they do not learn to control it, they may go mad, or they may find the titular Night World. Ones that have not found it are interesting, as they are the only people who do not know about the Night World that its inhabitants are ever allowed to tell. Not that most do.
- The Dresden Files has magical rituals that can be used by anyone, but there's a form of innate magic that's passed down matrilineally (inherited from the mother). The divide usually comes down between wizards (capable of throwing about truly powerful magic) and practitioners (have an inner reserve of power, but usually capable of only minor workings). Such a law is at the heart of White Night, as it turns out members of the White Court are trying to wipe out female practitioners so that inherited magic goes extinct within a few generations.
- Back in 1948, Jack Williamson published Darker than You Think, featuring a witch species that evolved due to prehistoric environmental reasons. However, their abilities mainly deal with shape-changing, making them were-wolves, were-pythons, were-saber-toothed-tigers, and more. In very rare cases, a witch becomes powerful enough to transform into a vampire. (That's a lot of tropes blended together.)
- A TAINT IN THE BLOOD by S. M. Stirling pays homage to Williamson with a similar witch-shapeshifter-vampire species, the Shadowspawn, updating the scientific rationale for their powers. As in Williamson, the genes are scattered throughout the population, ranging from slight traces to terrifyingly powerful concentrations. People with a small degree of Shadowspawn heritage might have psychic powers. Those who have a high percentage but not enough to be true Shadowspawn tend to turn into bloodthirsty serial killers.
- Two from The Death Gate Cycle, the Sartan and the Patryns. Because they were created by the cosmic balance as a means of maintaining itself, their powers tend to be complimentary opposites- Patryn magic is quick, physical, and good for combat, while Sartan magic is more involved and spiritual. Both races are continually at each others throats. Humans and elves from the same setting can learn magic, and it's implied the ability is hereditary, but even an incredibly talented "mensch" wizard will reach only the equivalent of the lowest tiers or Sartan or Patryn power.
- The Enchanted Forest Chronicles features Fire Witches, people born with an inherent control over fire. These people are invariably redheaded, short-fused, and touchy to boot. Shiara from Talking to Dragons kind of breaks this mold, though-when she expresses a wish that she had better control over her fire magic and Daystar wishes she had better control over her temper, Daystar's magic sword compromises by granting both wishes; Shiara has perfect control of her fire magic, but can only use it when she's being polite. The books also feature regular witches, who are just regular human women who learned to do magic.
- The Last Apprentice features Lamia Witches, an Always Female species that usually look like reptilian humanoids. But if they socialize with humans for long enough they turn into beautiful women who are almost indistinguishable from ordinary humans. There are also regular witches, who are women who get magical power, usually from
The Devil The Fiend.
- James Reese's Herculine trilogy has a hereditary witch species whose powers appear to be related to both gender and a unique blood type. They interbreed with humans, but daughters are always witches and sons are human men who may have some slight psychic sensitivity. It is stated that "every witch is born of a witch, and every witch dies a witch's death." They have psychic abilities, and are able to cast spells. Some practice paganism or some other religion related to magic such as vodoun, while others prefer nonreligious magic. Many witches are untrained and are not aware that they are anything other than human, and so are not able to teach their daughters how to use their powers either. However, untrained witches can still display psychic abilities such as telekinesis in moments of anger. It is stated that their powers are related to their blood, and that at some point, they will all succumb to death by massive hemorrhage, which usually happens in old age but can strike some unlucky witches in their twenties. However, their unusual blood type gives them immunity to infectious diseases and a slight healing factor. All witches have the ability to display "the mark of the toad" to identify themselves to other witches, by causing their pupils to change shape and become irregular, and this can also be reversed at will. Unusually, old witches lose their powers with age, while witches new to magic tend to be much stronger. The protagonist is a hermaphrodite child of a witch, and has the abilities of a witch but also has the physical equipment needed to father children on a human woman, producing normal witch daughters and human sons.
- Many of the fairy races in Artemis Fowl are this.
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "A Witch Shall Be Born", as a result of a Deal with the Devil, a Curse on the royal house ensures that a witch will be born every century.
- The War Gods by David Weber has no current version of this, but both the dwarves and elves were this before their cleaving was completed. When the Empire of Ottovar was found the Elves were created out of the Warlocks, people who naturally could perform magic similar to mages, but with no training needed. They weren't as powerful as wizards, but were quite dangerous and since they could pop up randomly, and tended to fall easily into dark magic. Ottovar rerouted the flow of magic in them as part of a deal that gave them immortality.
- The Dwarves now have a decent number of baseline humans in their current genepool, but some of them still have the bloodline gift of stone manipulation that was the highlight of the early dwarves.
- In Cliff Mc Nish's Doomspell Trilogy, there is a LITERAL Witch Species. They serve as the main villains in the books, including a secondary, more brutal race of witches bred for battle, called the Griddas.
- In Mithgar, Mages are their own race, described as physically resembling a cross between elves and humans; the ability to cast spells in innate (and unique- all spellcasters in-series have at least some Mage blood) to them. Though they age (and use of magic accelerates the process), they can regain their youth by entering special trances, meaning that they're immortal as long as they're careful. Black Mages sidestep the issue by forcibly stealing other peoples' energy for their magic. Most Black Mages are also bald, though it's never explained why (and they're the same race as regular Mages, albeit the outcasts and criminals of their society, making it especially strange).
- In Vadim Panov's Secret City series of novels the eponymous Secret City is divided into 4 major factions: The Great Houses of Nav', Chud', Lyud' and the humans (sometimes referred as the House of Chel). Each faction has a unique magic Source. Great Houses contain multiple races with different rules, which merits a detailed listing:
- Great House of Nav', the Dark Court and the most diverse group:
- Nav', main species, MagicKnights: all Navs are magic users and appear male. No reproduction details are known, and they likely obey the Immortal Procreation Clause, as their lifespan counts in millenia.
- Shas', originally artificers, now also merchants and bankers of the Secret City: all members can use magic, but most will resort to artifacts. Shas naturally use the Nav's Source, but can craft artifacts for all Sources and races. Normal mammal reproduction, Shas half-bloods aren't known.
- ─rli, dedicated medics of the Secret City, second only to Healers, but with less rigid moral compulsions. Exclusively male and living in a monastic order. No reproduction details given.
- Masan, spies, assassins, shock troops of the Secret City. Their unique powers are fully inherited, but fueled by blood consumption, blood sacrifice and some cannibalistic rites. While vampire myths indeed come from Masan-related incidents, Masans reproduce as regular vertebrates. note
- Os', the underground dwellers. Osy (Осы) hunt with domestic rat packs, and their partially telepathic control over the rats is their inherent magic. Os' were a Bee People, whose monogamist HiveQueens and Kings ruled the common Osy the same way those rule the rats. Navs are running a project to remove this link and render Os' a normal species, rendering their HiveQueens moot. Regular mammal reproduction, no cross-breeds known.
- Great House of Chud', the Red Citadel:
- Chud', the main species. Chuds reproduce as regular mammals and can produce fertile half-human hybrids. Most male Chuds and half-Chuds can use magic, while pure Chud females are almost incapable of it. Due to this power disbalance, Chuds are very patriarchal; Chud males are very likely to take mistresses from outside their Great House.
- Khvan, mercenaries of the Secret City. Vassal allies of the Chud'. Khvans appear fully human, except for their four arms. Khvans prefer swords and artifacts. Regular mammal reproduction, patriarchal society. No cross-breeds known.
- Daykini, incorporeal spirits who require female humanoid hosts. Technically capable of using Shas, Chud', Lyud' and human females and their respective magic energies, daykini prefer Chud magic energy. Chud and human muggle females will become capable mages after daykini takeover. Daykini have been exposed after a failed conspiracy and placed under a spell limiting them to volunteer hosts. A daykini will retain the host's memories. No reproduction details known.
- Great House of Lyud', the Green Castle:
- Lyud', the main species. Lyuds reproduce as regular mammals and can produce fertile half-human hybrids. Most female Lyuds and female human-Lyud descendants can use magic, while pure and cross-breed Lyud males are incapable of it. Due to this power disbalance, Lyuds are purely matriarchal; Lyud females are very likely to take lovers from outside their Great House or sometimes form lesbian couples.
- Kontz, the entertainers and showmen of the Secret City. Exclusively male with an innate unique seduction magic, also capable of using common spells and artifacts. Kontz often marry muggle women, boys born from a Kontz father are likely also Kontz.
- Moryanas, an artificial all-female species created as Lyud' countermeasure to Masans and Khvans, also capable of telepathic links among themselves. Shape-shifters with a fully human appearance (slender middle-Asian or oriental young women) and a nightmarish battle form. Moryanas are impervious to most combat spells, but also limited to artifacts. Moryanas produce fertile offspring with Chuds, Lyuds and humans, and also possibly with Shas and Kontz males. All Moryana children are also Moryana girls.
- Red Caps, originally Lyud ranged support troops, now petty criminals, cheap muscle and comic relief of the Secret City. Incapable of any own magic and restricted to artifacts, Red Caps possess supernatural accuracy with any thrown projectiles and an equally supernaturally horrible smell. Regular mammal reproduction, no known cross-breeds.
- The House of Chel, a.k.a regular humans. The only species in the setting with Randomly Gifted individuals. Mentioned here for the possible variants: regular humans, regular mages, Chud' and Lyud' cross-breeds, monks (mages using belief), Healers (mages capable of healing magic only, but up to panacea spells), Geomancers, metamorphs, Tat' hybrids (descendants of a former Great House that fully assimilated with humans to prevent extinction), Reapers (fear-triggered berserkers), Inquisitors (innate belief-fueled wide-range Anti-Magic effect), Azathoth adepts (modified humans) and Kitano School adepts (Anti-Magic users, the skill is acquired). The fraction of mages among humans is increasing with the millenia-long exposure to background magic and the increasing share of Chud' and Lyud' genes in the population.
- Galla's adepts are a notable inversion, as accepting Galla and his Anti-Magic doctrine not only removes the person's magic, but will also render their children exempts from their respective Witch Species.
- In Simon Hawke's Wizard novels, humans with the capacity to practice magic get that potential from partial Old One ancestry. Those who are more closely related tend to be more powerful as magic-users, although they still need to study and practice to master their talent.
- In Margaret Mahy's The Changeover, that witches are their own race is implied if not outright stated.
- Played with in Chanters of Tremaris. While some people believe in the mythical "Singer of All Songs" who can sing every sort of chantment, the general assumption is that magic is inherited (islanders sing wind chanments, mountain women sign ice magic, the people of Kalysons let their Power of Beasts die out, etc.) and some people of these lands simply don't inherit magic at all. Later, other characters show themselves capable of learning magic without any apparent genetic component but The Heroine's Magic Dance powers are still exlpained as being inherited from her father, whose race (the Tree People), have the magic of healing.
- In Bras and Broomsticks, being a witch is portrayed as a cross between genetic abilities and being an ethnicity.
- In the Winds of the Forelands series, the local Witch Species are called Qirsi (as opposed to baseline humans, Eandi). They look basically human but are extremely pale, have white hair and golden eyes, and are described as short-lived and physically frail because magic burns up their life energy. Their magic is activated by an act of will and split into various specific powers such as gleaning (seeing the future in a limited capactity), fire, mists and winds (controls the weather), healing, mind-bending, shaping, and language of beasts. Most Qirsi have only a handful of powers, but rare Weavers have all of them, plus the ability to collectively wield the magic of large numbers of other Qirsi and communicate in their dreams (they're also somewhat less squishy than the average Qirsi).
- The Sequel Series Blood of the Southlands introduces a second With Species, the Mettai. An offshoot of the Eandi, the Mettai practice Blood Magic which is activated by shedding one's own blood, mixing it with soil, and then speaking a short incantation to produce the desired effect. Mettai magic is generally less powerful and less efficient than Qirsi magic, owing to these constraints, but is also more versatile- rather than being limited to specialized powers, a Mettai can produce almost any effect, so long as they have access to blood and earth and can come up with an incantation that describes what they want to happen (which for more elaborate effects is a lot harder than it sounds). Mettai have no equivalent of Weavers- but they can also do things Qirsi can't, like summon animals from the earth, so it all evens out.
- In I. Dravin's Xenos most species of the world of Arland are Randomly Gifted with magic, but some work differently:
- Each werebeast clan is technically a Witch Species in itself. Any child born to a couple of the same clan is automatically a werebeast of the same clan. Additionally, all werebeasts are capable of regular magic, although to varying degrees. While the werebeasts are cross-fertile across their clans and with humans, such "halfbreed" children are weak, incapable of shapeshifting and most likely sterile.
- Vampires of Arland are a standalone Witch Species. Only fertile among themselves, all vampires are capable of magic and can learn some unique skills after passing a physical and psychical threshold.
Live Action TV
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The titular witch is a half breed, which on several occasions has proven to make her less powerful than a full witch. However, it does mean that if she ever sees her mortal mother, her mother will turn into a ball of wax. Also, they're immortal, living thousands of years, though the point where they stop aging seems to be completely arbitrary. We've seen witches and warlocks with apparent ages anywhere from pre-teens, to teenagers, 20/30 somethings, and up into their 50s or 60s.
- There are a few episodes where the issue of witches dying comes up. It implies that they may not be truly immortal, but that they may simply age very slowly. This would explain the discrepancies in the apparent ages.
- A literal Witch Species, the Carrionites, appeared in the Doctor Who episode "The Shakespeare Code".
- Charmed specifically differentiates between "magical witches," who are part of the witch species and born with their power, and "witch practitioners" who aren't born with powers but can study witchcraft to limited effect.
- Bewitched. The witches seem to combine this with attributes of The Fair Folk. Tabitha definitely inherited the gene while Adam was more dubious until an episode that showed he was a warlock but had been suppressing his powers. In the Tabitha sequel series Adam was a mundane however, but what do we expect from a series that RetConned their ages.
- The Secret Circle
- Which in this case in Adaptation Displacement. The books where written by a practicing Neo-Pagan who wanted to depicted their practices and beliefs accurately, only with a little exaggeration of how often something Supernatural actually happens.
- In The Vampire Diaries the witches run in families.
- Queen Elizabeth (the consort of Edward IV, not the more famous daughter of Henry VIII) in the BBC/Starz series The White Queen is depicted as an actual witch who inherited her powers from her mother, who claims that they are descended from the goddess Melusine, and that all the women in their line thus have magic powers, or at least the potential for the same. Note that in Real Life, both Elizabeth and her mother were in fact accused of witchcraft, but these accusations were very obviously politically motivated and without foundation (certainly they did not possess actual supernatural powers, which the show depicts them as having).
- The witches from Witch Hunter are girls and women who's powers suddenly awaken. However, it is strongly implied that Valette is young witch Aria Godspell's mother. Not because she is her caretaker, but because her nemesis and Aria's brother Tasha Godspell has dreams in which Valette invokes nostalgic memories of his mother.
- Not to mention that Tasha himself turns out to be one of two mages.
- Tower of God has Hwa Ryun, a member of the Red Witch tribe, a people that tends to give birth to the supernaturally gifted Guides.
Tabletop RP Gs
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- The Sorcerer class in the third edition is an inborn mage, as opposed to the Wizard, who has to nose through his spellbook in order to prepare spells. Many Sorcerers claim to have a dragon or other powerful being as an ancestor, though the truth of such claims depends on the player and the Game Master.
- Warlocks on the other hand gain their powers in the Judeo-Christian manner, but so players could play good warlocks the 3rd edition version stated that the pacts can sometimes be inherited (4E stated that the devils who offered pacts were now dead but remnants of their power could be drawn upon).
- The various types of Hags in the game are species that have the attributes of fairy tale and mythological witches. Van Richten, an in-universe monster expert in the Ravenloft setting, speculates they may be a type of fey, but his out-of-universe editor notes that they've been classified as a kind of ogre in (presumably second-edition) official sources.
- Like the sorcerer, many types of Half Human Hybrids gain some forms of magic from their magical ancestors. Half-Celestial, Half-Fiendish, Aasimars, Tieflings & Half-Dragons are just some of the most common types.
- The Kalashtar of the Eberron setting can also be considered an example of this trope, although their powers are psionic rather than magical. Their links to extraplanar entities are what makes them other than human, and such connections, while not genetic, are passed down from father to son or from mother to daughter.
- In Pathfinder, all Sorcerers have a "bloodline" that gives them the potential to advance in the Sorceror class. In many (but not all) cases, these bloodlines are the results of a Half-Human Hybrid ancestor: even in the others (such as the Arcane, Deepearth or Undead bloodlines) the tendency is inherited (though it may skip generations).
- Eldar in Warhammer 40,000 are all psychic, the 40k 'verse's equivalent of magic. Worth noting that only Eldar from Craftworlds are like this: the Dark Eldar's psyker potential has been severely atrophied over millennia of not using them, due to their fear of attracting the attention of Slaanesh.
- Among the Craftworld Eldar, the ones from Ulthwe tend towards excellent psyker potential, sometimes theorized to be due to the craftworld's close proximity to the Eye of Terror. So, they're like a sub-Witch Species for the Witch Species.
- The increased potential for mutations among human psykers (caused by drawing their power from the twisting and corrupting Warp) means that a fair number could be considered a separate species. A few psyker sub-groups, such as Navigators, actually do constitute a separate branch of humanity.
- Though it varies from edition to edition the suggestion has often been made that 40K humans are on the verge of evolving into a Witch Species, hence all the psykers.
- Psychic ability itself seems to be genetic. People who use psychic powers are born that way, altho it is possible for a non-psyker to draw power from the warp with the right (obviously heretical) rituals and incantations.
- Ork psykers are a sub-sub-caste in the Ork society, called Weirdboys or Wyrdboys, but they have a really short life expectancy (even by Ork standards) because the concentration of Ork psychic energy (the same energy that makes the red ones go fasta) makes their heads explode if it builds up in great amounts.
- The ability for magic is a genetic trait in Shadowrun. How that magic expresses (Shamanic, hermetic or whatever) however doesn't seem to be.
- The genetic inheritance of magic seems to be something that varies from Author to Author. The tradition is chosen by the individual, so that it matches his beliefs and personality. Things get more complex when you throw the different kind of practitioners in the mix (Physical Adepts, Mystic Adepts & Magicians). Magicians are your classic spell-slinger & summoner. Adepts are people who use magic to gain physical abilities mundane people don't have, like superhuman strength, wall running, the ability to alter their facial features, the ability to understand foreign language or reflexes that border on precognition. A magician could have an adept as a child, yet that adept might have stronger magic than his magician progenitor.
- Things get more complex when you consider how many variants of Awakened their are. The vast majority of Awakened can cast one spell, summon one spirit, or perceive astrally. There are awakened strains of entire non-metahuman species. Anyone with The Virus is awakened, as are Drakes. Then you have Technomancers, who take the basic rules of being a magician and apply them to the Matrix instead of the Astral.
- Witch Girls Adventures is all about this trope. Witches are similar to humans, but they are specifically not human. They are kind of like humans, only better. That means they are naturally more beautiful, smarter, more athletic, stop aging after a certain point if they don't want to, and they can use magic. Only females can be witches, but there are Immortals, legendary warriors and heroes who are apparently the male version.
- Touhou features both a type of youkai called "magicians" in the form of Patchouli Knowledge and Alice Margatroid, and a human Cute Witch Marisa Kirisame who merely has it as her job description. The reason for this is based in Japanese mythology and is explained in some of the supplemental materials and Word of God. The major difference between human and youkai witches lies in youkai being extremely long-lived, capable of generating their magic from themselves naturally, and requiring no food since they live on pure magic. (However, as youkai they often get classified as maneaters despite no evidence of this happening.) Marisa, as the only human with no inherent superpowers in the series, however, has to rely upon finding magically-charged mushrooms to power her magic, ages as a human, and is fine sticking to rice and tea, thanks. Humans may transform from a human witch to a youkai witch through research, dedication, and special rites (example: Byakuren Hijiri), while others are born as youkai witches.
- In Final Fantasy VI the people of Thamasa are direct descendants of the Magi from eons ago and are the only people left in the world who have the natural ability to cast magic. To avoid persecution of muggles the people of the village make a point to never reveal their abilities to outsiders.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, sorceresses are women who bear (according to legend) a piece of the ancient god Hyne's powers, and are the only people in the setting who can use magic naturally. While artificial methods of using magic exist, they are less powerful than sorceress magic. Sorceresses are not born with their powers, but they are instead born with the potential to inherit the power of other sorceresses, and pass their powers on before their death - only a woman born with the potential to become a sorceress can inherit a dying sorceress's power.
- The Black Mages from Final Fantasy IX were manufactured in Alexandria as weapons, and are said many times to look just like humans, though we never actually get to see one's face.
- In the Luminous Arc games, Witches are considered separate from humans or monsters. In the second one, the "engagement system" (read: kissing/putting the girl in a wedding dress) implies that humans and witches can interbreed.
- Understandable, as it's stated in Luminous Arc 2 that both humans and Witches/Wizards descended from the Navillians.
- Loom has a guild of Weavers, who (for some reason) can use powerful magic by playing tunes (weaving also enters into it; they have a magic loom that reflects/is the fabric of the universe). It's not clear if anybody could learn to be a weaver, but it seems they're all born in the society. Also, they can do strange things like create new weavers by adding threads to the Loom; this throws the universe into chaos and ushers in the apocalypse, however. There is also a guild of wizards, as referred to in passing in the game, but what they do is never mentioned.
- The Star Ocean series contains species that have a natural ability to use symbology because the have the required symbols written into their DNA, circumventing the usual need to tattoo the symbols on their bodies.
- On the planet Terra of Dark Cloud, there is nothing to prevent humans from learning magic: Seda was a skilled magic user even before his Deal with the Devil, and Monica uses magic armbands like Ruby's rings in addition to having command of some other magic which may or may not have anything to do with her Atlamillia. Witches in Dark Cloud are defined as definitely not human, which is what started the whole mess in the first place. Or did it? As the Dark Genie says itself, it would have been born without Seda's involvement at all.
- Blood Elves would probably qualify in World of Warcraft. They lived so long in close proximity to the Sunwell that it infused all of them with a certain level of magical ability (they can all do Arcane Torrent, even the rogues) and skill over manipulating magic (the enchanting ability.) Lore-wise, they are very heavily into arcane magic and are supposed to mostly be caster types, although you wouldn't know it by looking at the men.
- In the Dragon Age series, mages are born with the ability to use magic, which carries an inherent risk of The Dark Side and can be passed on to their children (even when the other parent is a muggle). When one such individual is detected, they must be brought to the Circle of Mages to live under the watchful eyes of the Templars, an order of knights who consume lyrium in order to increase their resistance against magic. Those who refuse are branded "Apostates", rogue mages who are ordered to be hunted down by the Templars in order to prevent them from using their talents for evil. The Circles also adopt a rather strict policy of celibacy for the mages, out of fear that they spawn more magical babies.
- This set of rules was created by a group of settlers who fled in fear from the magic-heavy Tevinter Imperium region. Dragon Age II explores the inherent problems in such a model: how the Templars have to assume an "guilty until proven innocent" stance for lack of a better option, how that oppression leads some mages to fall to The Dark Side in the first place, which then goes to to prove the need for constant surveillance and oppression by the Templars, creating a vicious circle.
- Though learning magic is the norm in Might and Magic, the eight game in the RPG series suggests that Dark Elvesnote can naturally learn elemental magic to a level almost, but not quite, as good as necromancers and sorcerers, and have some additional magical tricks up their sleeves. This may be partly a cultural trait, but it does at least indicate that a talent for magic is present in every single dark elf that goes adventuring, and there are still those magical tricks.
- An Expansion Pack of The Sims 3 introduced witches as a life stage. A witch is a sim who can use magic, ride on a broom and pass his/her abilities on onto his/her children.
- In Tales of Phantasia and its prequel Tales of Symphonia, all elves have the innate ability to sense and manipulate mana in the form of magic. These abilities are not shared by humans, but they are shared by human-elf hybrids even after generations of dilution.
- Likewise, the Ferines in Tales of Legendia all have the innate ability to use Eres (the setting's term for magic), an ability that only began to appear among the Orerines fifty years before the game's start.
- The "mage" race in the mobile game Unlucky Hero look exactly like humans, with seemingly no distinguishing features, yet normal humans can recognize them on sight. One ancient mage is alleged to have released monsters all over the world in the past, which hasn't made things easy for mages since.
- The witches in Umineko: When They Cry work something like this. It's shown that Beatrice was once a normal human as Yasu, and several members of the Ushiromiya family have (or gain) witch powers. One way to interpret it is that witches are Anthropomorphic Personifications of such things as greed, a time loop or even a murder plot. Also, witches seem to exist independently of the human, so after one gains magical powers, a "Mage" version of the person is created and exists in parallel to the original. The concepts of magic and witches somehow manage not to be the most complicated concepts because it's one of those stories. As the series goes on, though, it's hinted that witches and other magical beings may not actually be real in the first place.
- In the Nasuverse, the ability to do magic is determined by the possession of genetically inherited Magic Circuits - for most forms of magic, at least. However, it's possible for someone with no magic background to randomly have a decent amount of circuits (such as Shirou or Ciel), and within the magus dynasties at least part of the magic circuits - the Crest - will have been literally handed down by the previous head of the family.
- Being born a witch is simply luck of the draw in Serenity Rose. They can fly, have telekinesis, can control the elements, conjure up anything out of ectoplasm, and can shapeshift◊. They also may be immortal, or at least can live for hundreds of years. Witches are extremely rare, and of the 50ish in the world some don't even use their powers; "good Christians simply don't do such things, you know."
- While it isn't entirely clear what the cause of the Spark is in Girl Genius it is well-established that the Spark does run in families. It is also hinted that the style and preferences of the different Sparks tends to run in families, whether this is genetic or due to upbringing is
unknown a matter for horrible and unethical research!
- In Pumpkin Flower those born able to use magic are known as Mancers. Their abilities include dating artifacts and setting people on fire.
- In one story arc of Scary Go Round, Ryan and Amy set out into the woods, because an explorer has offered Ryan ten grand for a new and undiscovered species. What they find is Witchus witchus, the common witch.
- El Goonish Shive draws a distinction between "wizards," members of a Witch Species (of which no women have yet been seen), and "awakened," who have been given personal magic by external means. This is in addition to the inherent magic of Uryuoms and Seyunolus and the Magitek that anyone can use.
- The Raccoonan people in Tales of the Questor have innate access to magic. Their interaction with humans has varied from trying to explain how it's just harnessing a natural force like magnetism, to deliberately playing up a reputation as "witch dogs" with frightening powers. Though there are some humans who can sense or even manipulate "lux" and it seems to have a hereditary component.
- In the Space Opera spinoff Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger luxcraft has fallen into disuse among the Racconans due to technology, but most can still toss lightning bolts when cornered. And they've encountered species with stronger abilities such as female Gestaltians.
- Enchanters in At Arm's Length are a separate race from normal mortals with four arms and natural magic powers. Mortal witches can manipulate magic, but still require magic artifacts to channel their spells.
- There appears to be a Witch Species in the world of Eerie Cuties and Magick Chicks - the cast in the former are all listed by species, and the witches are "witch," as opposed to Tiffany, who practices the supernatural arts but is still listed as "human."
- In Roommates Witch Species means any Half-Human Hybrid or Heinz Hybrid produced by the Interspecies Romance practiced by The Fair Folk who doesn't have enough fae blood / have too much humanity to qualify as The Fair Folk themselves. So magical talent = Fae ancestry.
- The Color Of The Crystal identifies its human looking magic users wizard (Jareth) and warlock (Wallas) and explicitly not human.
- The Global Guardians PBEM Universe includes a subspecies of humanity called Homo magi. Every human user of magic, regardless of its form, is a member of this subspecies, including every mystic hero and villain.
- In the Whateley Universe, witches can be male or female, mutant or baseline human (though the mutants may have a lot of internal power to use), and almost all of them require a lot of training first.
- It's a bit different in Whateley, since there are also actual Wicca, and following that is seperate from being able to use magic. (And anybody can use a BIT of magic.)
- In Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost the curious distinction between "Wiccans" and "Witches" are made, with one being good and the other evil (and both existing in Puritan New England, for some reason). One character the gang meets tells them she is one-sixteenth Wiccan.note She dresses up as a vampire and plays in a local rock band. This becomes important in the climax.
- Winx Club has both fairies (nice) and witches (nasty), who are, with a few very rare exceptions, all female.
- The Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Magicks of Megas Tu." Witches and wizards come from an alternate universe, where technology doesn't work but Functional Magic is commonplace. They traveled to the STU Earth in hopes of helping others. Unfortunately, everyone either distrusted them on sight, or tried to use them for their own ends. What few remained moved to Salem, and we all know what happened there. The episode itself has the Enterprise crossing into the magic universe, where the survivors hold the crew accountable for everything humanity inflicted on them.
- The unicorns of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic are this with regard to other ponies. Only they are able to use magic and all of them are born with this ability. However, studies are required to acquire advanced magic, and many of them end up pursuing entirely non-magical interests, never learning anything more powerful than telekinesis (which is quite useful for species with no fingers).
- On the other hand, though, Lauren Faust confirmed that pegasi and earth ponies have magic in them too (the formers can walk on clouds and moving them because of it, while the latters have a special and unique contact with nature and animals thanks to it), even though only unicorns can control it willingly.
- The official word on unicorns is that, other than telekinesis, they typically only learn magic related to whatever their "special talent" is. For example, one of Rarity's magical talents is finding gems, which she can use to embellish the clothes she makes; Shining Armor is a whiz at protective magic that he would need for his job as head of the royal guards; etc. Twilight Sparkle can Power Copy because her special talent is "magic itself".
- Adventure Time has a Wizard species, which apparently includes females (such as Huntress Wizard). There are also a few female characters called "Witches," who may be one or more species of their own. It's later established that a human could become a wizard, though it requires wearing enchanted clothes designed to turn you into a wizard, such as special wizard robes or the Ice Crown.
- In some Neo Pagan Circles as well as some modern forms of Druidry, some people claim to be born with the ability to do witchcraft, which is not the same as Wicca since one is a Religion & the other is a Practice.
- In Azande Belief witchcraft derives from a hereditary organ said to be found near the liver.