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Entropy and Chaos Magic

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The "useful but explosive" kind. And so is her magic!

"When I sensed this place, the afterglow of so many spells cast all at once, I couldn't make heads or tails of it. ... With thousands of people under your thumb, all interacting with each other according to complex storylines. ... You're even running illusions miles away on the edge of town! Magic on autopilot!"
Agatha Harkness, WandaVision

Magic and powers with a "chaotic" theme. Often referred to as "chaos magic", "wild magic" (not to be confused with the Wild Magic trope) or, more fancifully, "entropic magic" or variants on that name. Sometimes appears in settings with an Order Versus Chaos cosmology, but can pop up anywhere.

It can function in many different ways, but frequent traits include: high randomness and uncontrollability, probability manipulation, and inducing accelerated decay and destruction, depending on how the writers understand the concept of chaos and entropy.

"Entropy" in particular is one of these scientific concepts which appeals to writers due to its cool, sinister-sounding name and its association with decay. In real life, "entropy" is a physical concept, roughly defined as a measure of disorder and chaos of a given system.note  Per the second law of thermodynamics, the entropy of an isolated system can only grow, never decrease; the only way to decrease the entropy is for some external force to do work on it.note  It's closely related to the concept of Energy, due to its transformative nature. Since the universe itself (as far as we know) is an isolated system with no external forces that can affect it, this suggests that eventually it will succumb to "heat death of the universe": eventually all organized systems will break apart.note 

Since this all sounds quite scary, Entropy and Chaos Magic tends to be portrayed as villainous, or at least so destructive that little good can come of its use. If a setting divides magic into 'good' and 'bad' forms, expect chaos and entropy to be sorted under Black Magic.

Chaos Magic also exists in real life. It is a Postmodern esoteric practice that eclectically borrows from older magical traditions in order to create new rituals. Notable Chaos Magicians who have incorporated it into their work include William S. Burroughs, Grant Morrison, Timothy Leary, and Die Antwoord. The other Wiki has more.

See also Antimatter, Power of the Void, and Casting a Shadow.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Flat Escardos of Fate/strange Fake and Lord El-Melloi II Case Files is noted to be a rare practitioner of the "real-life" version of chaos magic. In the series' universe, this should normally be all but impossible, as it would require not only understanding the entire theoretical foundation behind each spell to combine, but also for the user to somehow reconcile and combine incommensurable foundations in order for a spell to be anything but useless. Flat gets around this by being a Genius Ditz who simply doesn't realize this shouldn't be possible.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

  • Bruce Coville's Book of... Monsters II: The Wizard of Chaos involves Cai and Arthur finding a wizard gifted with chaos magic, causing seemingly random effects.
  • The "wild magic" which is the Applied Phlebotinum of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant books.
  • In Dragaera:
    • Elder Sorcery is powered by and involves the manipulation of Amorphia, the physical substance of raw chaos. It's a capital crime in the Dragaeran Empire because (a) Amorphia tends to dissolve everything around it into more Amorphia and (b) any Magic Misfire with Elder Sorcery can create a lot of Amorphia, as exemplified by the deluge that annihilated the old capital city when one guy botched a spell.
    • Dragaeran sorcery is powered indirectly by a vast natural deposit of Amorphia, but is regulated by the Imperial Orb to which all Dragaeran citizens have a psychic link. The Orb's stabilizing influence keeps the Amorphia from going out of control and frees sorcerers from needing to have any Amorphia physically present, a fantastic tactical advantage that pushes the Jenoine Abusive Precursors to launch an invasion to try to learn how to replicate it.
  • The Dresden Files: The initial impetus for the main plot of Blood Rites is when Harry is hired to deal with an entropy curse that kills its targets in strange and unusual ways (something later explained as being caused by the person directing most of the curses being The Ditz). A previous victim is killed after being hit by a car... while water-skiing. Harry manages to intercept and redirect another use of it that causes a frozen turkey to fall out of a passing aircraft and pulverise an attacking Black Court vampire and, just for extra value, cause the cooking timer to pop out and ding.
    "For my next trick, anvils!"
  • In the first book of The Laundry Files, by Charles Stross, Bob Howard investigates a parallel universe where the Third Reich managed to summon an entropy being which caused the heat-death of their universe, and is trying to infiltrate the main universe by manipulating human governments to nuke the portal, which would "create" enough entropy so that it could expand the portal and squeeze through. In a broader aspect, the "magic" from the universe of the Laundry is the manipulation of information entropy: specifically, "agents" of each government/cult are attempting to lower the entropic value of the events that they want to happen while raising the entropic value of events that their rivals want to happen... all without raising the thermodynamic entropy of the universe to prevent entropic beings (such as the one in The Atrocity Archives) from breaking through and wreaking havoc.
  • In Mistborn, this is Ruin's whole schtick, He is a living force of intelligent decay and entropy, seeking only to unmake the world. Appropriately enough, the magic system he empowers — hemalurgy — requires blood sacrifice to work, making it a power that can only be accessed through destruction, and even under ideal circumstances there's always going to be some power lost in the process, despite the user coming out ahead, and when not stored in blood or in a person, a hemalurgic spike will slowly become less and less potent, though it will always retain a small amount of charge.
  • Isyllt, the heroine of Amanda Downum's The Necromancer Chronicles series, is a necromancer and an entropomancer, the latter being a somewhat related but much rarer ability. She can accelerate, focus and control decay; for example, she causes a steel lock to rust away to dust in less than a minute.
  • Old Kingdom: Free Magic, which is made up of all the powers left over from when the Charter was made, most of which are inimical to ordinary life. Notably, unlike the heavily rule-bound Charter Magic, Free Magic has almost no rules at all — so long as you have sufficient strength of will and a strong enough source of it, you can do just about anything (though it's best at tearing things down). Of course, there are side effects...
  • Demons of the first choir in Pact are described as "entropy distilled" and "the antithesis to creation", and specialize in removing things from creation and leaving nothing in their place. There's no way to restore what was lost, and in many cases no way of knowing what was lost at all. It's speculated that the entire universe is itself composed of fragments of things they've devoured.
  • In The Saga of Recluce pure Chaos is basically pure energy, but it has entropic side effects. Chaos mages age faster than normal humans, the wine they drink turns to vinegar before they're finished with it (or even after a minute or two for very powerful mages), books they read fall apart after a few years, and the city where the chaos mage guild is located is covered in a thin layer of fine white dust formed from Chaos energy slowly destroying the stones of the city.
  • In Shadow Ops, entropy is the domain of Negramancy. Anyone with this power is a One-Man Army; the only known person with this power is able to destroy most of a fully-staffed military base of soldiers specially trained to fight magic-users in moments by simply making their equipment and bodies decay in seconds.
  • In a variation, Aornis Hades in the Thursday Next series manipulates entropy to affect chance. Specifically, by lowering entropy in order to cause improbable and fatal accidents. This has the side-effect of causing numerous, unrelated coincidences to pile up just prior to the accident—long enough for Thursday to realize the attack is coming.
  • In the World of the Five Gods series, the demons bound by sorcerers are innate creatures of chaos. One way to keep a demon tame and easier to control is to 'shed' entropy, by causing little forms of decay, rust, or rot. (In one case, a sorceress caused milk to sour and wine or beer to go bad, at this one particular inn, in order to keep her demon occupied. Another powerful but poorly-trained sorceress used the entropic powers to aid in laying siege to a fortress, destroying stored food, potable water, and many of the weapons.) Inversely, using sorcerous magic to undo some form of destruction is extremely difficult, but possible. (A sorcerer mentioned having reconstructed a burnt letter, at great cost.)
  • The Lone Power in the Young Wizards series has the main goal of bringing death to the multiverse by spreading entropy everywhere (he's also responsible for the creation of entropy, by the way), and his powers are wizardly in nature. Conversely, the proper application of wizardry can slow entropic decay.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Ethan Rayne, who worshiped chaos and often used chaos magic.
  • WandaVision reveals that Wanda Maximoff, like her comic counterpart, is using chaos magic. When Agatha Harkness, a more traditional witch who initially assumed that Wanda created the Hex with complicated, multilayered spells, realizes that Wanda created it through sheer force of will with chaos magic, she is equal parts impressed with Wanda's achievement (to the point of bestowing upon her the title of "the Scarlet Witch") and disappointed that she used it to do something as mundane as create a perfect sitcom life for herself.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • There was at least one prestige class in Edition 3.5 called the "entropmancer" who used a "shard of entropy" as its main weapon. They kinda screwed up the whole physics thing there (a "shard of entropy" makes about as much sense as "a piece of temperature"), but the thematic link is obvious.
    • The 2nd Edition supplement Tome of Magic has Wild mages and the Chaos sphere for priests. Both emphasized chaotic spells with random results. Wild Mages later returned as a sorcerer option in 5th edition.
    • After the Time of Troubles the Forgotten Realms developed Wild Magic Zones, where any magic use could cause a random Wild Magic Surge which was often quite dangerous.
    • The Wand of Wonder (several varieties), which had a different effect each time it was used.
    • In 4th Edition, Sorcerers can choose Wild Magic as a spell source, which is described as channeling power from the Elemental Chaos. To go along with the theme, many Wild Magic powers daze or stun enemies or have an effect determined randomly via die roll. Even boons from various Wild Magic features are determined randomly.
    • In 5th Edition, it's one of the Sorcerer options from the Core Rulebook. It allows them to manipulate luck to a certain extent, but in exchange they may suffer a "wild magic overload" that manifests in a random effect that can go from shooting an area effect spell centered on the sorcerer to being temporarily transformed into a potted plant or healing themselves.
      • The Tasha's Cauldron of Everything expansion also brings the "Path of Wild Magic", a Barbarian subclass that causes random magical effects every time the barbarian enters a rage.
  • Red magic in Magic: The Gathering is the most geared toward "chaos", with more cards with random or semi-random effects (mostly governed by coin flips) than any other color. Black has the most cards with "entropy" themes, although Green also gets into the mix with cards themed around natural decay.
  • Entropomancers in Unknown Armies have power over luck and accidents, and gain power by deliberately putting themselves in risky situations. They've earned their nickname of "Bodybags" honestly. They also tend to be one of the scarier wizard schools in the setting. Many a character might hijack a public bus and drive it against traffic, or play Russian Roulette, but few would do it for a lark because it gives them a power boost.
  • Anarchy Mages in Ponies & Parasprites. These characters have sought out and learned from Discord himself. They use a Pandemonium Spark to channel the powers of the God of Chaos in much the same way a Cleric from Dungeonsand Dragons would. These mages have a tenuous grasp of their powers, meaning that their channels can and will go wildly out of control. note 
  • Entropists in Fabula Ultima are mages who draw their power from the churning chaos beyond the stars to cast spells which manipulate probability, distort time, drain life, reflect magic, and blast foes with pure darkness.
  • Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000.
    • The forces of Chaos represent ultimate entropy for both game universes, since the victory of the Chaos Gods is inevitable and naturally puts an end to everyone else. Chaos also happens to be the source of all magic in both 'verses.
    • Some of the spells in the game have specifically entropic effects of the "aging to dust" sort.
    • All forms of magic traditionally come with a random bad result from screwing up a spell/psychic power, ranging from a bad headache to exploding your own head and the heads of everyone around you to mutating into the local equivalent of a Shoggoth.

    Video Games 
  • Warcraft: Several names of demons are based on the word Entropy. Demons in Warcraft III use chaos magic, and also have a number of "chaos" spells.
    • Chaos Knight from DotA uses this.
  • Fall from Heaven
    • The entropy magic sphere is associated with Agares, the leader of the Evil gods, and its spells relate to decay and corrosion. Entropy magic nodes act as a source of Hell Terrain, and any mage who uses the magic will come back to life as a slave of the Legions of Hell upon death, regardless of their nation's alignment.
    • The chaos magic sphere is a flavor 1 chaos type, and is associated with the god of war (in a anarchistic, everyone fights everyone, sense.), who is a fallen, evil god as well.
  • Lords of Magic's chaos faith uses flavor 1 spells.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic IV has a spell school literally called Chaos Magic, and consists mostly of direct damage spells. Heroes of Might and Magic V has an entire school devoted to destructive spells, as well (and it's even called Chaos Magic in the Russian translation).
  • Dungeon Crawl has Annihilations. Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • ADOM features a variety of magicians devoted to Chaos, including the Chaos Archmage, guardian of the elemental Mana Temple. His powers are no more random than those of any spellcasting enemy, but he's much meaner than most of them. Like most of the other Chaos-themed creatures in the game, he can also corrupt your character with a melee touch attack, which produces a series of randomized warping effects.
  • Entropy magic in the Dragon Age series consists mostly of curses and other sinister powers and is closely connected to The Fade.
  • The Optional Boss and True Final Boss of The Reconstruction have "Chaos" as their element, as opposed to a certain optional character with "Order" as his element. Both end up effectively Non-Elemental.
  • Entropy is an element in, well, Elements.
  • In Dungeon Siege III, this is used by Reinhart though the spells are more like Formulaic Magic that focus on DPS.
  • The Secret World has Chaos Magic, which incorporates both increases in entropy and manipulation of probability.
  • Tales of Maj'Eyal : Forbidden Cults has the Cultist of Entropy class, which can do things like inflict rapid aging on enemies, extend the duration of negative effects, and tear rifts in reality. Their spells cause them to accrue entropic backlash that causes damage over time, but their Signature Move is to gift their entropy to an enemy.

    Visual Novels 
  • Aoko Aozaki of Nasuverse is described as being a decent mage who specializes and excels at using her magic for destruction. Not even Alice Kuonji, a much more advanced mage than Aoko, can keep up with Aoko's simple yet powerful destruction spells. This is to the point that even Nvrnqsr Chaos, a self-proclaimed personification of Chaos, thinks her spells go against the idea of order and deems her too chaotic for him to even risk absorbing in Melty Blood. In Witch on the Holy Night, she also becomes the only user of Fifth Magic, of which one of its functions is time travel. She uses it to displace Soujuurou's death by moving it into the distant future when he gets killed five minutes prior to her accessing it, but her sister Touko calculates that doing this is also displacing magic/energy in the timeline, which will lead to the inevitable heat death of the universe. Aoko plans on dealing with it when the time comes.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Ladybug and Chat Noir's powers are chaos-related, although Ladybug's ultimate power (the Miraculous Cure) is an inversion, allowing her to undo the chaos, damage, and destruction caused by an enemy. Chat Noir's Cataclysm is a straight example, bringing all the forces of decay to bear on a single object, reducing it to dust in a split second; some fanworks refer to the effect as "accelerated entropy".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Discord's raison d'etre. He's a chimeric spirit of chaos, and wields powerful magic that he primarily uses to create bizarre items, creatures and events. He literally has to be chaotic or he starts to disappear. He initially appears as a villain but eventually makes a Heel–Face Turn thanks to Fluttershy and the Mane 6 (mostly Fluttershy), although afterwards he retains a mercurial personality and a preference for using his chaos magic to play bizarre pranks and indulge his peculiar sense of aesthetics.
    • When Discord's chaos magic is stolen in the Grand Finale, Cozy Glow tries to use it and is unable to, only able to summon hangry pineapples and rubber chickens. This is spelled out by Tirek, who notably managed to steal Discord's magic himself once but used it more for the general power boost rather than any of Discord's brand of chaos. Later, Pinkie Pie temporarily gains Discord's chaos magic and is actually able to control it enough to make a giant cupcake slam onto the villains, although she quickly goes mad with power until Discord takes his magic back from her.