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Magic Compass

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Will: How can we sail to an island nobody can find with a compass that doesn't work?
Mr. Gibbs: Aye, the compass doesn't point North. But we're not trying to find North, are we?

A compass is used to point to magnetic north, which allows travelers to get their bearings and find their way. The Magic Compass works on different principles to point to something else. Whether it only points to one specific place or object, or to different things at different times, its use is to lead whoever holds it to something that is lost or hidden.

To be a magic compass, it must indicate a direction. It cannot be something that leaves a trail nor is it a map. Its method of operation should be something inexplicable and/or incomprehensible, quite often artifacts of a wizard or a Sufficiently Advanced Alien.

Forms may take a traditional spindle compass or some object that indicates a specific direction by some means. May also be used alongside a Magic Map, probably by The Navigator.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Black Clover: Letoile can use Compass Magic which forms compasses that let her redirect attacks. When possessed by an elf, her magic is shown to be able to block numerous attacks, find a hiding target using multiple clones, disrupt the flow of other people's mana to leave them vulnerable at her discretion, and fire giant compass needles that border on an Always Accurate Attack.
  • Castle in the Sky: The way to Laputa is shown when Sheeta accidentally activates her pendant which, in addition to activating a dormant robot that absolutely trashes a military base, shines a beam of light in the direction Laputa is.
  • Monster Rancher: Holly has a Magic Stone that she prays to in order to guide the Searchers to their next destination. The Magic Stone's main purpose is to locate the bodies of the Big Good and Big Bad, so the villains sometimes try to get their hands on it.
  • One Piece:
    • Rather than point north the Log Pose, a special compass used to navigate the Grand Line, instead points to nearby islands. This is because islands on the Grand Line have magnetic fields of their own so powerful they make any normal compass useless. Once you arrive at an island, the Log Pose "logs" the island after enough time passes and begins pointing to the next island.
    • There is also the Eternal Pose, a compass permanently locked onto a specific island which can be used to navigate to that island and only that island.
    • In the second half of the Grand Line, the New World, a Log Pose using three needles is used. The force with which the needles move are an indication of the danger level of the island to boot.
    • A non-magnetism example would be Vivre Cards, slips of paper which are linked to a person's life force and can show where they are located. Put the paper on a table or in your hand, and it will move on its own in the general direction of the person it's linked to. Luffy had one for his brother Ace, which he used in his rescue attempt in the Impel Down arc.
  • Ushio and Tora, monster slayer Hyo uses a magical wooden chinese compass called tonkoban which he uses to perform divination and it's how he was able to find Ushio in his introductory arc.

    Fan Works 
  • The Infinity League: The chain of events that led to Ash training to becoming an Aura Guardian began with a friend of Cynthia's giving her a compass that is supposed to point to people with large amounts of Aura.

    Films — Animated 
  • From Titan A.E., the star chart embedded in Cale Tucker's hand reorients its pointer while Cale stands on the precise spot where his father once stood on the planet Sessharrim.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Jack's compass in Pirates of the Caribbean which points to whatever the one holding it wants. Jack being The Alcoholic, it spends a lot of time pointing to a bottle of rum.
  • Inigo Montoya briefly turns his sword into one in The Princess Bride. He knows the secret entrance to the Pit of Despair is in the grove where he's standing, so he pleads with his dead father to "guide my sword" so he can find it. The sword sticks itself into a tree, and Inigo leans on the tree in despair - and, in so doing, triggers the mechanism to open the door.

  • Discworld: Inverted. The Discworld, being "as coreless as a pancake", lacks a magnetic field. A needle of the intensely magical metal octiron will align itself to the Background Magic Field and therefore always point towards the Hub.
  • Orson Gregory in The Dreamside Road has his Thousand-Point Compass, a device with many points, each directing him toward another form of energy, once monitored by the IHSA. Orson followed one of the compass points, day and night, to arrive in Nimauk in time for the Wintertide Festival, and the start of the story.
  • In The Dresden Files, this is one of Harry's most commonly used spells in his job as a detective. However, it can also be weaponised as a remote cause of Your Head Asplode thanks to Sympathetic Magic.
    • Although he can and does use a literal compass as a focus for the spell, Harry's also used various objects as plumb lines (leans in the direction of the target), sensations on the skin (gets warmer or colder based on direction), and even a wind-up toy (walks in the direction of the target) when nothing better was on hand. It's a very versatile field of magic.
  • On Gor, compasses point to the Sardar Mountains, home of the Priest-Kings (the gods of the world).
  • Inverted with the Point Me spell in Harry Potter, which uses magic to make the caster's wand briefly point north.
  • His Dark Materials: The Alethiometer ("Truth-meter") is often likened to a golden compass (hence the name of the first book), having four hands and many different symbols around the edges. It is stated to always tell the absolute truth, if one knows how to read it. A question can be posed by pointing at three symbols with the user-controlled hands, and the fourth will then move of its own accord and point at symbols in sequence to deliver the answer. Since each symbol can have dozens of meanings, most people who can read one rely on extensive reference books and can take weeks to decipher an answer to a single question.
  • The Kane Chronicles
    • In The Red Pyramid Amos throws sand into the air which forms into an arrow pointing to Las Cruces. It even seems to tell him how far it is. Sadie apparently has learned something similar by the second book.
    • In The Serpent's Shadow they find Apophis' shadow using the Book of Thoth, which Carter describes as a combination compass, tour guide, and farmer's almanac.
  • In one of the Lord Darcy stories, Master Sean enchanted a splinter left behind by a murder weapon and used it to find the rest of the weapon.
  • In the Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Demigod Files short story "The Sword of Hades", Persephone gives Percy, Thalia and Nico a flower that points the direction the thief who stole the titular sword is in. It loses petals the closer said thief gets to escaping.
  • In The Scar, when pirates are on long voyages away from the floating city of Armada, they have compasses that always point to Armada to find their way back.
  • In E. E. "Doc" Smith's Skylark Series, it was possible to create an "object compass" which, once attuned to something, would always point towards it.
  • Tales of the Ketty Jay
    • Grayther Crake makes daemon-bound compasses for the crew of the Ketty Jay that always point towards their captain Darian Fray.
    • In the first novel the crew steal maps and a compass that reveals the location of the fabled secret Sky Pirate hideout of Retribution Falls. The problem is they've no idea how to use the compass, so they need to work it out as they're blind-flying the Ketty Jay through mist-shrouded ravines. The compass turns out to measure distance covered—a great help for blind navigation—and reveal the location of nearby magnetic aerial mines.
  • In Xanth, Crombie's magic talent is to be a living example of this trope: if he closes his eyes, thinks of something, and spins around, he always ends up facing the thing he was thinking of.
  • Joshua Cope of The Dream Merchant gains one when he starts working for Gippart. Initially it just appears to be a light up compass that shines a beam in the direction they are going. Josh discovers its other purpose when he laments not being able to find one of the books of Siparti. It's beam shines in the direction of the object being queried about, in this case into Josh's bag, which contains the book in the form of a pamphlet Josh was given earlier in the story.
  • In The White Bone, the titular object is the rib of a newborn elephant massacred by humans. If an elephant tosses it into the air, it lands pointing in the direction of the Safe Place, where elephants can live without fear of starvation or humans. In times of darkness, it starts appearing in circles of boulders or termite mounds. If an elephant finds it, it remains in her possession for exactly two days, long enough to set a course, before disappearing and reappearing in a different circle. Long ago, the Lost Ones were guided by the bone to forested areas where they were unbothered by humans, but now humans are starting to encroach on their home, and they hope the bone will reappear and point them to a new one.

    Live-Action Television 

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Book of Mormon: As Lehi's family is journeying toward the promised land, one morning outside Lehi's tent, they discover an exquisitely crafted sphere-shaped compass. One of its spindles points the direction they should go in the wilderness, but only when they are righteous and trust in the Lord. For example, it stops working when they quarrel and tie up Nephi, and it works when they're working together and praying for guidance.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ars Magica 4th edition supplement The Wizard's Grimoire. One of the magic items in the work is Maris' Golden Compass. It can point to the nearest dry land, the nearest fresh water, and the nearest ship.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • 2nd Edition Tome of Magic. The Elemental Compass glows yellow when its owner is headed in the direction of a planar portal or planar boundary the owner is seeking.
    • The Arrow of Direction can be thrown in the air and commanded to point toward the nearest example of one of eight things: stairway (up/down), sloping passage (up/down), dungeon exit/entrance, cave, cavern. When it falls to the ground, it will be pointing the correct way.
    • Al-Qadim setting spells
      • The Wind Compass spell allows the caster to know when he's facing in a particular compass direction (south, north by northwest, etc.).
      • The True Bearing spell allows the caster to know the direction in which a specific landmark or geographical site (city, town, significant land feature etc.) lies. It only works if the caster has been there before and the location is on the same plane of existence.
    • Dragon magazine #220, "Arcane Lore" article "Sea Magic"
      • The priest spell Home Port allows the recipient to know which way to go to return to a ship's home port.
      • The wizard spell Compass enchants a device so that it always points in a direction decided by the caster. This isn't just limited to compass directions: it can be toward the ship's destination or its home port.
    • Dragon magazine #235
      • Article "Mage on Deck!" The spell Absolute Location informs the caster of the direction and distance to a known landmark such as a port city, an island or a mountain.
      • Article "Arcane Lore". The Land Call spell allows the caster to know the direction to any port they're familiar with.
    • White Dwarf magazine #21, article "Treasure Chest". The new spell Locate Self allows the caster to know the direction of magnetic north.
    • Dungeon magazine #59 adventure "The Mother's Curse". During the adventure, the Player Characters can acquire a magical compass which will allow them to determine the direction to the location of the missing baby they're looking for.
    • Compasses in the Ravenloft setting do point north, but this is presumably a magical effect because the Land of Mists is not a globe, so doesn't have poles. Just what force it is that attracts compass-needles there is a bit of a mystery.
  • The Hole-Delver's Catalog has the Enchanted Lodestone. It points to the nearest source of low-grade zinc.
  • One of these can be found as a treasure in Salvage Hidden Treasures. It decreases the discovery cost of all the subequent treasures by 200£.

    Video Games 
  • James Lee Quatermain's compass in Deadfall Adventures points toward the nearest treasure item, when such an item is close enough. The rest of the time, the needle drifts idly.
  • Phylacteries, in the Dragon Age universe, perform this function. Mages in the Circles of Magi are required to give a blood sample when they're first brought to a Circle, and should that mage escape or otherwise go missing, the Templars can use the phylactery containing their blood to find them.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest has Gwaelin/Lora's Love, which gives numbered coordinates to Tantegel based on the player's location on the outside map.
    • In Dragon Quest III, there is the Sailor's Thigh Bone, which does the above to locate the Ghost Ship.
  • In The Elder Scrolls, the ancient Aldmer, ancestors of the modern races of Mer (Elves), could create "waystones" - crystalline balls that rotate on their axis toward a specific direction. Topal the Pilot, the legendary Bold Explorer and poet who was the first to discover and explore Tamriel during the Merethic Era, had a "north-east pointing" waystone which he used to navigate.
  • End Roll: You find several different compasses throughout the game, and each one opens up a different area.
  • The compass is ubiquitous to The Legend of Zelda games. It generally shows the location of all treasures in a dungeon as well as that of the boss.
  • A Minecraft compass points to the world's player spawn point, and as of 1.16 lodestones can be used to alter the location a compass points to. The recovery compass points towards the place where the player last died.
  • Finding Monkey Island and the ghost ship of the undead zombie ghost pirate LeChuck tends to involve constructing one of these.
  • Nioh: William Adams' compass is a magical stone called Amrita with a Merrow's feather tied in, which led him to Japan. In-game, the compass shows the general location of the next objective, but can be upgraded with equipment or guardian spirits to show corpses and jewels, treasure chests, enemies, and/or lost spirits.
  • Luigi's quest in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door revolves around one of these. According to Luigi, the face of the so-called Marvelous Compass was split into seven shards, and each shard points to the location of the next.
  • In Rogue Legacy you can get a compass which points towards a very secret bonus chamber.
  • Soulbringer allowed you two different compasses at the same time: the usual and a magic one that points to hex stones.
  • One item in Spelunky is a compass that points to the level exit when it's off-screen. It becomes incredibly useful in area 3 which consists almost entirely of rocks and ice hanging over the yawning abyss.

  • Conversed in El Goonish Shive: Sarah and Sam try to figure out the plot of a movie based entirely on the poster. The plot they come up with involves a compass that points to the protagonist's destination and antagonists who have a compass which points to the protagonist (all this being inferred from the poster featuring a woman holding a glowing box). The actual movie fails to live up to their imagined plot perhaps not even having any Magic Compasses at all.
  • In Looking for Group there is a compass that uses a person's blood to locate them.
  • In Mystery Babylon, one of the three gifts which Red gives to Zero is a magic compass. Rather than pointing North, it always points towards Heaven's Champion. It also only functions for Zero, burning the hand of anyone else who tries to touch it.

     Western Animation 
  • Birdman (1967) episode "Meets Birdgirl". When the villain steals some hydrogen bombs, Birdman uses his "atomic compass" (which is "tuned to the wavelength of the bombs") to track them down.
  • One episode of The Legend of Zelda (1989) had Link and Zelda using a magic compass to locate parts of the Triforce of Wisdom, which had been split into three pieces.
  • In Onyx Equinox, the ball once used by the Hero Twins can find gates to the Underworld using the stars and a beam of light.
  • In The Pirates of Dark Water, Ren has a necklace that shoots a blue beam in the direction of a nearby Treasure of Rule.
  • Gargamel and his magically-created clone made one from a magic stone that would help him track down Smurfs in The Smurfs (1981) episode "Papa Smurf, Papa Smurf."
  • Star Wars Rebels: In "Twin Suns", Ezra uses two pieces of the broken holocrons this way, to try and find Obi-Wan Kenobi. They instead lead him to the missing piece of the Sith holocron, which Maul used to lure him to Tatooine.

     Real Life 
  • While obviously not actually magic, some GPS devices and apps (such as those used in "geocaching") work like this.