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Battlemages; Do you use them?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by shangrila, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

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    Basically, as the title says.

    And by battlemage, I mean a strong warrior who either uses offensive spells (like fireballs) or defensive spells to augment himself (like, say, a shield or making himself stronger).

    I'm just curious because, after doing a playthrough of the 1st Dragon Age, I realised that I haven't seen many of these particular mages in novels. Usually, if they're mages, they're kind of weak.
     
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  2. Actually, most of my warrior type characters have some kind of magical ability. I practically never write about muggles.

    For that matter, I kinda dislike the convention of magicians basically being the fantasy equivalent of the stereotypical nerd, who's power comes entirely from studying old books and memorizing spells. Most of my mages are very physical.

    Hence, the line between warriors and mages is often a bit blurry in my stories.

    This was probably originally a gaming convention, actually. RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons needed to balance the character archetypes, out of concern that if people were allowed to play warriors capable of casting spells, or wizards in heavy armor carrying swords, nobody would bother playing a normal warrior or wizard. Things have gotten a bit more advanced since then, but the archetypes remained.

    That said, I think I've read more books that does have this type of character than not - David Edding's Belagarion and Spearhawk books, the Wheel of Time, etc. I dunno, maybe that was just the style at the time I got heavily into fantasy.
     
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  3. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I have one mage who could be called such -- he uses music to direct his magic, and can basically perform any kind of spell as long as he has the right words, the right focus, and enough energy. He has used his powers for both offense and defense a number of times. He's also been a martial artist since long before he even knew about mages, much less received his powers.
     
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  4. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    I'd say the key is gaming's "fireballs, not swords" tradition, plus the older traditions that a wizard was either someone too cunning to need to fight himself or would just suit up and fight like a swordsman. (The ones who did that were probably quite good at it in their own right, like Gandalf, and some had magic weapons or "demonic strength.")

    So most worlds today are either the kind of high-magic that use fireball wizards as the standard, or are lower-magic or subtler-magic and minimize magic in battle at all. Yes there are a lot of variations on the former, but they're still about types of direct spells in a battle; the kind of "battle-mage" who draws physical power directly from magic doesn't show up as much, maybe because it's a complex mix of ideas that takes time to spell out (how's it different from real skill, is he stronger but runs out of energy, what?).

    Plus, magic that comes that close to creating fighting ability seems like cheating the warriors of their own part. As a serious Dragon Age fan, I can tell you it's a bit cheesy when my mage looks up from that training crystal and tells Ser Alister, "Alright, now I'll take that big-ol' Juggernaut Armor you've been training for two levels just to walk in." :rolleyes:
     
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  5. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    You could probably say that all of the wizards in Twixt Heaven and Hell fit the definition of a battlemage. The main character is very physically fit, wears armor, and carries a sword - however, he never uses it. Melee combat is vastly inferior to his own abilities, so it'd just be a waste of his time. It is mentioned that he has had some basic training with a blade but is no match for a real warrior.
     
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  6. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    By your definition, all of my magic users are "battlemages". All of my magic disciplines are combat-applicable, and 3 of them were created with combat as a main or major focus. There are in-world reasons for this of course.
     
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  7. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    The trick is: how much is someone a Warrior-Plus (fighter with a few useful spells he can mix in) or moving into being a Fighter/Mage (distinctly trained in both, probably not the equal of either specialist) or a pure Battle Caster (attack spells but used to fighting at a distance, without the hardiness of a warrior). Or, who's an Enchanted Warrior (Dragon Age-esque channeling power directly into warriorlike skills).
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
  8. gowph3ar

    gowph3ar Troubadour

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    in The Wheel of Time the main character rand can use magic but masters the sword anyways and once he starts the Black Tower he makes all of his Ashaman (Male channelers) learn how to fight with a sword
     
  9. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    All of my Mages can deliver destructive attacks and blasts of many kinds, also counting with defenses that can take on and resist even their own terrible magical powers.

    They have magical swords as well, so by that definition they would be battlemages. However, not all of them are trained specifically for battle... only those that belong to their Military forces receive a special training to face the harsh conditions that are found in battle against other Mages, so those would be the only true battlemages in my worlds.

    In my Joan of England trilogy, the young girls that are trained as Mages are part of a military-style organization that is more similar to an army than to a school, so yes: They could be regarded as 100% battlemages =)
     
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  10. mbartelsm

    mbartelsm Troubadour

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    Miagic is universal and soldiers, in most parts, are required to control two or more elements in order to sign up for duty. They must also train for about a year with the same weapon and armor so that they may become "one" with these objects and prevent magic from affecting them (ie: crushing a person's armor with metal control with the person still wearing it). Most soldiers learn to control metal to alter their weapons and repair their armors on the go, they also like to learn to control fire for offensive purposes. Only a small faction learns to control lightning (plasma and electricity) even though it is very powerful, because of it's difficulty.

    Most soldiers still use armor and swords though, for close combat battles where powerful spells can be dangerous.

    So yeah, I use plenty of battlemages, they make the battlefield interesting.
     
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  11. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Sounds kinda like Codex Alera.
     
  12. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I don't use battlemages per se... my race of Talutah Ooljee (Children of the Moon) though tend to be very physical with magic. The "warrior" types among them; and I do use the word loosely, have the use of "magic"; though not nearly to the same extent as the "druids" do. They can augment their strength, slow enemies, enchant their weapons (typically staves) to ward off a variety of attacks. Generally they are limited to "passive magic". The Druids can do all that, plus has attack magic, though generally centered around natural things. I have a battle scene in which one of my MCs with help from some other druids is defending a clearing. She summons up the very grasses to entangle her enemies, uses the density of water as a blanket that slows others' movements, summons a stone golem and since she's a transmuter on top of being a druid uses air energy from high above and forms it into frozen cubes that are "thrown" at targets (she got the inspiration from hail). Once imbedded in the skin, she causes them to explode, sending chunks of flesh everywhere.
     
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  13. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Most of my mages are wimps, magically speaking. The primary nation of my world recruited and trained a thousand plus of magically talented people for a war against a nation with demons at its disposal. Said recruits varied from as young as eight or ten to as old as eighty. Both males and females were recruited.

    Most were trained in sword and bow, though their skill level varied quite a bit.

    Again, spell wise, not that powerful. Many had only a limited spell range, due to hasty training - they were taught so many short cuts for offensive spells it hampered their ability to learn other magics.

    Offensive magic...most were taught spells that can trip people (throw them off balance, knock them to the ground), disorient (confusion effect), and a sort of weak grenade level fireball type spell...depending on what they showed a knack for at the outset.

    They were drilledl in basic spells to detect, protect, and (if powerful enough) banish demons, with varying success.

    Scrying magic and healing spells were a biggie.

    Most didn't survive the war.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
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  14. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

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    It's good to see it was just a general ignorance on my part. I'd considered doing one myself but, honestly, I worried if they'd end up being overpowered and that's why they weren't used much.
     
  15. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    They can be as powerful as you want, if you make it clear that's what they are and the world makes sense for that. How strong a magical bolt --or explosion-- can they shoot, and/or how good are they at illusions and "freeze a moment while I stab you"? Are they like some game wizards that can only do that a few times a day (or like Gandalf, who I've always thought could do plenty a few times a month)? How fast are the spells, so how dangerous is it for a warrior to see them coming? How intensive is magical training, so how much time do they have to learn to wear armor and fend off enemies who get too close?

    And, how many mages are there in the world, at what power level? Is magic considered weak, or a major arm of the military, or is the MC the first person in generations to have magic that can affect a battle?
     
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  16. "Overpowered" is more a matter of your antagonists being too weak rather than your protagonist being too strong. The important thing is that your hero has something to struggle against. As a general rule of thumb, don't make your hero stronger than the villain. At least not until the actual endgame.

    Also, it's not like your character has to start out knowing magic - he can always pick it up along the way.
     
  17. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    And remember that whenever one side in a war gets a hold of superior weapons, in this case magic, an arms race nearly always ensues. There is a counter for every strategy after all.
     
  18. Sea of Stars

    Sea of Stars Dreamer

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    It depend a lot on the style of magic, if you have to poor over ancient tome in dimly lit libraries for years to learn magic, being a competent swordsman is going to be more difficult. If it is a natural talent, then being well trained in weapons as well as using magic makes more sense.
     
  19. crash

    crash Scribe

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    No. My magic practitioners are more like shaman or Buddhist style monks, all of whom have really pushed themselves physically, mentally and spiritually to the brink of death to achieve their powers. Even then, most of their powers are aimed at healing and spiritual enlightenment, not combat (yeah, I know, I sound like a hippie, but that's how my magic system rolls).
     
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  20. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    To build on Sea of Stars' comment, I think the easiest type of magic to incorporate into combat sequences is magic-as-tool (e.g. magic wands or crystals that anyone can use.) Magic-as-innate-power is a little harder (unless all characters have a power--which, to be fair, is the case in some settings), and magic-as-training is a lot harder (The Order of the Stick postulates that combat magic would die out entirely if it was far harder to learn than fighting with weapons and wasn't significantly more effective.)
     

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