Follow TV Tropes


Mage Species

Go To

"Witches live among us in secret. Their magic passed down from an ancient race, diluted, half-forgotten, but dangerously powerful."
Dolan Thirty-Seven, The Last Witch Hunter

A fantasy race or species for whom magic, or the ability to use it, is inherent in a setting where not everyone can do it.

This usually means that the ability is present in every member of the species. How well the members can tap into this ability can vary; in some cases, every member naturally seems to be adept at it, other times the ability to use magic needs to be honed. The variation might stem from conflicting historical views on witchcraft — some groups saw them as women who had made deals with the devil, others as the opposite, so the trope of magic being inherent developed instead.

If they are an offshoot of an existing, nonmagical race, being descended from ordinary folk who somehow managed to become empowered is a common origin. In stories focusing on humans, magically-inclined characters might be explained as being part of a Human Subspecies. However, it's also common to have an entirely different fantasy race whose hat is focusing on the mystical.

This attribute could be used to explain the setting's magic users (like Witches and Wizards). Compare Token Wizard (one might think of the Mage Species as the Token Wizard Race for the overarching setting). See also the "Mages are like a Race" type of Our Mages Are Different. Compare Superpowerful Genetics. Contrast All-Accessible Magic, where magic is a skill that, at least in theory, can be learned and practiced by anybody.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Dorohedoro: Magic users, unlike muggles, have a special organ in their abdomen for producing magic smoke, with smoke ducts running along their arms to their fingertips. They also have a tiny devil-shaped tumor in their frontal lobe. Magic users were created by devils, and Chirudama creates a magic user for fun.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU: Homo magi are a Human Subspecies used to explain the powers of some of its mages, like Zatanna, Madame Xanadu, and Traci 13.
  • Nemesis the Warlock: The Warlocks are an inherently magical species of alien, being able to cast spells and perform rituals, turn invisible, engage in mind control, etc. This makes them one of the few forces able to withstand the onslaught of the Termight Empire. Nemesis himself is a formidable Magic Knight who sees his battle against the Badass Normal Torquemada almost as a sport.

    Fan Works 
  • Fantasia Times: Legendbloods combine this with Heroic Lineage; basically, they're a supposedly rare breed of humanity that has access to vaguely-defined magical powers.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya! Odyssey of Dreams: Two notable examples: Ebbrians, a species of Tiff who have greater attunement to magic, and the Fallen Army, a clan of dark magic-wielding Waddle Dees that broke off from the rest of their tribe.
  • The Palaververse: Most intelligent races have a subspecies capable of harnessing magic in a more direct, spellcasting fashion than the rest of their kin — the ponies have unicorns, the caprids ibexes, the sheep black sheep, the cattle longhorns, the corvids ravens and the elephants forest elephants. There are also subspecies that can use less "flashy" forms of magic: takin goats can use Runic Magic and enchant objects, while rooks possess oracular abilities. Donkeys, however, all have a low-key magic they call Cunning. As the post on their nation says:
    The latent magic of donkeys is low-key, manifesting in their relative strength, sturdiness, mental resilience, and unconscious genius for systems and mechanisms.
  • Perfectly Normal: Wizard-kind. Their exact origins are shrouded in mystery, although two origins are possible: one, that they are sort of Fair Folk from another realm that got stuck on Earth, and two, that they were originally normal humans who were exposed to and mutated by magical energies.
  • Prisoners of Fate: The Barians have innate magic, but unfortunately almost everyone around them is convinced that this makes them a species of Always Chaotic Evil demons.
  • The Weedverse: Cat Folk appear to be this, as all known examplesnote  are mages, and the species as a whole has a reputation for powerful magic.
  • The Wizard and the Huntress: While they look like normal humans, wizards and witches are a species distinct from regular humanity, both capable of harnessing magic and cease aging once they reach their magical potential.

  • Hocus Pocus: While the first movie takes the old-fashioned view of witches by implying that the Sanderson sisters made a Deal with the Devil to gain magical powers, Hocus Pocus 2 reveals that this isn't so: a witch has inherent powers, which activate when she turns sixteen. This is what happened to the Sandersons and it's what happens to Becca.

  • The Homo lycanthropus from Darker Than You Think are frequently referred to as witches and believed to be the inspiration for medieval stories of witchcraft. Though their abilities are treated as genetic, it's shown that practice and training are required for them to develop. April relates that her powers first manifested as a form of Sympathetic Magic.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Wizards are a Human Subspecies with their own hidden Wainscot Society unknown to the Muggles.
      • Occasionally Wizard parents will have a non-magical child called a squib, the opposite called a muggle-born also exists though Word of God says muggle-borns usually have a squib ancestor somewhere.
      • Wizards can crossbreed with muggles just fine with the half-blood children being as capable of magic as their wizard parent. Many of the series' most prominent and talented wizards, such as Albus Dumbledore, Voldemort, Minerva McGonagall, Severus Snape, and Harry Potter himself are half-bloods.
      • Some pureblood Wizards discriminate against muggles and non-pureblood Wizards but it's pointed out that the Wizards who pride themselves on being pureblood must have Muggle ancestors somewhere to avoid being inbred. The families that do resort to incest to preserve their "purity" have a reputation for mental instability and occasional physical deformities. It is also established early on that despite what the pureblood supremacists preach, blood status has zero relation with an individual's innate magical power, as muggle-born witch Hermione Granger is one of, if not the most talented student in her year, while pure-blood wizard Neville Longbottom is (initially) so magically inept that his family initially believed that he was a squib.
    • A second non-human species of Wicked Witches called hags exist. Not much is mentioned about them apart from the fact that they're classed as beings, meaning that they're intelligent enough to understand and be expected to obey wizard law, but they're also implied to eat children.
  • Inheritance Cycle: All elves can use magic due to the pact between them and the dragons. This extends to human dragon riders, who gain more elvish features over time (and some humans and dwarves just happen to be magic users). Dragons have innate magical power as well, but it's unpredictable and they can't always do it on command.
  • Konosuba: Whilst any native of the world can potentially wield magic if they have the right ability scores to take a spellcasting class, the Crimson Demon Clan are a Human Subspecies who were engineered by a Hero From Another World in the distant past to give their entire race a natural affinity for arcane magic, meaning every Crimson Demon Clan-member is a fairly powerful magic user. This trait even makes them be considered an entirely separate race option from "Native of the World" in the tie-in tabletop roleplaying game, where their unique Racial Talents revolve around this increased proficiency with magic and their base stats make them excellent choices for the Wizard class. The downside is that they are an entire race of chuunibyou, though that issue is at least more cultural than genetic.
  • Night Watch (Series): The Others are magical beings descended from humans who have tapped into the Twilight, a magical Mirror World to the real one. There are two factions, Light and Dark, who are always in conflict.
  • The Salvagers: Most of humanity is this in the Science Fantasy setting. The majority of humans in the 29th century, have an organ called a cardiodoid which gives the individual one magical talent. Those few humans who lack the cardiodoid and its resulting power are derogatively known as "dull-fingered" and even have issues using certain Magitek important items like prosthetic limbs.
  • The Shadowspawn: The titular race are descended from supernatural humanoids who managed to admix their genes into the human population before being defeated by mankind. The Shadowspawn can assume the form of any creature (the individual, as well as the species) whose DNA they have ingested, which has given rise to the werewolf and vampire myths of Europe.
  • Star Wars Legends: A handful of alien species and Human Subspecies are distinguished by being universally Force-sensitive, such as the Korunnai and the Miraluka. Downplayed with the Devaronians who, while not all Force-sensitive, have a markedly higher percentage of Force-sensitive individuals than most other species.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bewitched: The witches are an inherently magical species, as opposed to humans who've learned to use magic.
  • Doctor Who: Played With in the Carrionites, a race of humanoids whose hat is using words to manipulate reality. Although they are shunned and considered "witches", they consider their abilities "word-based science".
  • October Faction: Warlocks are identical to humans outwardly, but another species and can do magic as a hereditary ability.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Dragons are inherently magical — all dragon breeds can naturally cast spells or use other supernatural abilities beyond their breath weapons. For 3rd Edition in particular, dragons can be difficult to run because they're simultaneously physical powerhouses with a variety of attacks and also increasingly high-level sorcerers. Further, while even most dragons' spellcasting ability taps out at CL (caster level) 19 at the maximum, falling short of what humanoid archmages are capable of, the rare arcane dragons advance more rapidly in caster level as they age. The oldest hex dragons work their magic as 21st-level sorcerers, while tome dragon great wyrms are effectively CL 25. They also have an instinctive understanding of a wide variety of spells — hex dragons know all enchantment and necromancy spells on the sorcerer spell list, while tome dragons know all conjuration and divination spells available to clerics with the Knowledge domain.
    • Sorcerers of other species are sometimes explained as having dragons or other supernatural beings in their ancestry, allowing them to spontaneously cast any spell they know (so long as they've got a spell slot for it) instead of needing to prepare a spell in each slot daily the way a Wizard or Cleric would.
    • Cloud giants have innate magical powers which most other giants lack. While the spells they can cast vary by edition, they usually have the power to make things levitate and summon patches of dense fog.
    • 3rd Edition featured gnomes with a short list of spell-like abilities, 5th Edition reduces said list to minor illusion and restricts the innate spell to the forest gnome subrace.
    • Dark elves have the innate ability to cast a few spells, depending on their level and the game's edition. Darkness is always on the list, as is Dancing Lights.
    • Being part fey, the hexblood get some spells innately and make excellent spellcasters.
    • Kaorti have the innate ability to use spells like alter self or spider climb, and generally respect and admire arcane magic, so that most of their leaders are mages.
    • Warlocks are spellcasters who got magic after making a Deal with the Devil, but in Third Edition they can have inherited their powers and contract from an ancestor who made the deal after being dormant for a few generations.
    • In the Dungeons Of Drakkenheim setting, the ability to use arcane magic requires a recessive genetic trait. Thus, you need to either make a Deal with the Devil or be exposed to a powerful arcane mutagen like Delerium to mutate the trait, or be descended from somebody who had it, in order to become a sorcerer, or wizard. Canonically, only about one in a thousand humans has the trait via inheritance, though Half Human Hybrids (who were largely bred by ambitious dynasties of Sorcerous Overlords) are far more likely to possess it. For this reason, those with the trait to use arcane magic are collectively known as "mageborn"... and subject to persecution and intolerance by the magic-less majority.
  • Godforsaken:
    • Hederar are a goblin-like species whose members each have a single innate magical ability. Most are simple things such as the ability to produce a small flame or a supernatural sense of balance, but they can scale up to being able to conjure violent storms or teleport hundreds of miles.
    • The forlorren wield powerful magic, and their magical powers are so innate and subtle that they don't even realise they are using such abilities.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: All species, with the exception of the Dwarfs, can channel magic. However, only Elves and Slann can attune themselves to more than one Wind of magic at a time — anyone else who tries will typically either die screaming or turn themselves into a gate to the Realm of Chaos. Consequently, they're the only beings who can channel all eight Winds at once and weave them together to cast High Magic.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age: Elves claim that every member of their race had the ability to use magic before the fall of Elvhenan. The DAO game mechanics imply that there is some truth to this, since elves get a stat boost in magic and willpower, even if you don't choose the mage class. They are correct about this belief. Unbeknownst to the modern elves, the reason most of them lost this aspect was Fen'harel's creation of the Veil, an unintended side effect that Fen'harel himself compared to Tranquility.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Altmer (High Elves) are the most magically gifted race in Tamriel. In terms of gameplay, this comes with skill bonuses to the magic schools and a hefty increase in maximum magicka and magicka regeneration, letting them cast more powerful spells with greater frequency. The drawback is that they are also the most physically frail race, with a high tendency to become Squishy Wizards.
    • Out of the races of Men, the Bretons are the most magically inclined. They are the result of engineered interbreeding between the ancient Direnni Altmer of High Rock and their Nedic (human) ancestors. Due to the Uneven Hybrid nature of inter-species offspring in the ES universe, it took many generations but the magical qualities of the elves eventually started to show up in what would become the Bretons. This manifests with increased magical aptitude and inherent Anti-Magic defensive traits, with the drawback of being less physically gifted than the other races of Men. Still, the Bretons are the race best suited to Magic Knight roles in combat.
    • Like their Altmer cousins, the ancient Falmer (Snow Elves) were said to have an exceptional natural aptitude for magic.
    • The Sload, a race of "slugmen" native to the archipelago of Thras to the southwest of Tamriel, are naturally gifted in various schools of magic, especially necromancy and mysticism (particularly the taking of souls and teleportation spells).
  • Final Fantasy XIV: An inversion occurs in the game's lore in which nearly every living being on the planet possesses the natural ability to use magic, which is done through the manipulation of aether. While it is a skill that has to be honed and is dependent on one's natural aetherpoolnote , theoretically speaking, almost anyone can become a mage in Eorzea. The inversion comes into play with the Garleans, who are notably the only sentient race that are completely unable to use magic.
  • League of Legends: The highly spiritual and animalistic Vastaya, from which several Champions originate, are a race of chimeric beings who are greatly attuned to and fluent in utilizing the magic of Runeterra. This is because they are descended from the Vastayashai'rei, shapeshifting heroes of the ancient times. It is mentioned that human interference with the world has affected their magic and in turn their birth rates.
  • Star Ocean: Magic, called Symbology, requires the use of specialized symbols to invoke magical effects. Most species are required to either inscribe these symbols on their bodies or onto a personal weapon, but some are able to skip this step because the symbols are already written on their DNA. The Featherfolk and Nedian races are the most notable examples to have this happen to most, if not all, of their members, while Lemurisians and Expellians with Nedian ancestry have this happen in a small number of individuals.
  • Tales Series:
    • Elves in Tales of Phantasia, Tales of Symphonia and their spin-offs are the only species naturally able to use magic, which is a major plot point in both games. Human-elf hybrids inherit this power at very least up to one quarter of elven heritage, and likely far more diluted descendents. There are a couple of ways for humans to use magic, namely Superhuman Transfusion and Summon Magic, but both of these still require some usage of elven blood.
    • In Tales of Rebirth Gajuma used to be the only ones able to possess Force (basically a unique magic power). However, a year prior to the events of the game, a dying Gajuma king somehow used his powers to grant this ability to some Huma as well. Halfs are said to possess far greater Force than even their Gajuma parents, but their powers also tend to be unstable, which is one of the causes attributed to their high infant-mortality rate.
    • In Tales of Legendia, the Ferines, the people of the water, all possess Eres, the setting's term for magic, said to be the blessing of the Sea God Nerifes. The Orerines, the people of the land, originally lacked Eres entirely, but some started to develop them fifty years ago for an unknown reason.
    • Tales of Vesperia has Children of the Full Moon, some kind of Human Subspecies, who could turn aer into spells without using blastia. Nowadays, however, they are all but extinct. As it turns out, their powers were incredibly dangerous to the world, and their overuse empowered Adephagos. In the end, they sacrificed themselves to shield the world from the monster they created. Estelle turns out to be a descendant of one of the few survivors, and her reckless, if well-intentioned usage of these powers is a source of several problems throughout the game. The Updated Re-release reveals that true Children of the Full Moon are distinguished by their pink hair; the party realizes that they knew someone else with pink hair, but the idea of Zagi being a Child of the Full Moon is simply too horrifying for them to contemplate.
    • Renans in Tales of Arise are supposed to be the only ones able to use Astral artes, which feeds into their Might Makes Right society and their enslavement of "weaker" Dahnans. It makes the existence of Rinwell, a Dahnan mage, all the more puzzling. It's eventually revealed that Renans actually descend from magic-capable Dahnans, abducted by the real natives of Rena, the Helganquil. Remaining Dahnan mages went into hiding, and at the time of the game Rinwell is the only known survivor.
  • The Magician species in Touhou Project is a one kind of Youkai magic users that can be born as, or become from humans by magic. Patchouli Knowledge and Alice Margatroid are both of this species, while the former is a natural one and the latter became on by using "food abandon" magic. Hijiri Byakuren is one as well, through the power of magic instead of the Buddist art of her lifelong dedication.
  • Utawarerumono: While everyone has some sort of elemental affinity, the winged people are the only ones shown to have functional magic.

    Visual Novel 
  • Nasuverse: You need Magic Circuits, an organ that spreads through the body not unlike nerves, in order to convert your life force into magical energy and use Thaumaturgical Foundations (spells). They are hereditary, although they can rarely be found in the offspring of parents without them.

  • In Jupiter-Men, Magite are a Human Subspecies who developed the ability to perform magic while exploring the dimension that would become known as Magi. As a half-Magite, Arrio inherited his mother's ability to cast magic after receiving her book and ring on his sixteenth birthday.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Out of the four Elemental Nations, only the Air Nomads are all benders, apparently due to their greater spirituality.
  • Ben 10: Alien Force reveals that Ben and Gwen's grandmother Verdona is an Anodite, an alien species that is literally made of mana. In contrast to most other species, Anodites can perform impressive magic. Verdona's granddaughters Gwen and Sunny have inherited her abilities; Gwen becomes a powerful magician in her own right.
  • Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series: The Saurians used to be the race that specialized in magic, even though the only one who still does by the time of the show is Wraith. All the others favor technology.
  • The Garfield Show: The Witches, especially Cauldrons, were not mortals who learned to do magic, but rather a separate supernatural race with inherent magic powers.
  • My Little Pony: This is commonly the distinctive trait of the unicorns; while other ponies or creatures may or may not possess unusual traits of their own, unicorns are consistently portrayed as being innately able to create complex and flash spells beyond the abilities of others.
    • My Little Pony 'n Friends: Unicorns have magic of the One Person, One Power sort — all unicorns can teleport, although this takes some practice to perfect, but each individual additionally has a specific magic trick that only they can perform.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: While earth ponies and pegasi are possess "passive" magical abilities such as Super-Strength or the ability to walk on clouds, unicorns are distinguished by being the only ponies who can consciously perform magic spells, an ability they're all born with. However, many unicorns pursue non-magical careers, and can only perform basic telekinesis and magic related to their special talent. More advanced magic requires extensive studies.
  • The Owl House: The primary residents of the Boiling Isles are witches, pointy-eared humanoids who are born with a natural capacity for magic (although biped demons can cast magic as well), channeled through an organ called a bile sac that's attached to the heart. Schools teach witch kids how to harness their magic, and most of them gravitate towards one specific type, since Belos's government outlawed multi-classing. Some witches, like Hunter, can suffer from a genetic defect that prevents them from casting magic, (though in Hunter's case it's because he's actually a Grimwalker), and humans don't have a bile sac at all, making Luz unable to cast magic the "traditional" way. They do figure out ways around this problem, with Hunter relying mostly on his artificial staff and later his Palisman for spellcasting, and Luz figuring out how to use drawn glyphs to channel the ambient magic of the Titan.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series: The Megans from "The Magicks of Megas-Tu" are a magic Human Alien species from planet Megas-Tu, located in an Alternate Universe where magic is common practice, and they are alone in their universe. One member in particular, Lucien, take the form of a Faun or Satyr, and may or may not be the Satan of Christianity.
  • Winx Club: All girls from the magic dimension are born with power over an element and given the choice to be a fairy or a witch, and some (Mirta) can change their position. The exceptions are when their element can only be bad (darkness) or purely good (light, Dragon Fire). However, people usually choose their family's position. To be more specific, since Bloom has the Dragon Flame (the "flame of life"), she would automatically be a fairy; a fairy with power over mundane fire could become a witch.
  • Young Justice (2010) has this in the form of Homo Magi, a Human Subspecies that developed from Metahumans (Homo Meta). The origin of Homo Magi is tied to one particular Metahuman named Arion, the grandson of the original Metahuman Vandal Savage, and the King of Atlantis back when it was a nation on its own continent. The magical Lords of Order chose Arion to become their champion and granted him a portion of their magic power. Part of this magic power was then inherited by some of his children, which resulted in the creation of a separate subspecies of humans who had the power to utilize magic.

Alternative Title(s): Magical Species