1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

How to arrest a wizard

Discussion in 'World Building' started by skip.knox, Mar 22, 2020.

  1. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    6,520
    4,451
    313
    I was happily tootling along in my WIP, The Falconer, setting out some backstory when I came upon a puzzle. I'm noodling (not to be confused with tootling) it around some, but I thought I'd throw it out for the consideration of others. The situation is as follows.

    On the island of Sicilia are a number of wizards. These worthies conspired to seize control of the kingdom for themselves, neutralizing our hero, Fieto (Frederick of Hohenstaufen). Fieto learned of the conspiracy and countered with one of his own. Using the pretext of his recent marriage, he brought all wizards to Palermo for a big to-do. During the festivities, he dispatched knights to every wizard's tower, taking control then handing each one over to loyal barons. He then arrested the wizards and either executed or exiled them.

    Which made me wonder how exactly one does this. First, how do you arrest--taking physical control--of a wizard? Second, how do you reliably incarcerate them? How do you execute one? Presumably they don't hold still for the executioner's axe. How do you exile them and keep them exiled?

    I can think of any number of answers, including that the answers will vary depending on type of wizard. It's not that the puzzle can't be solved; it's more than there a so very many answers and so many opportunites to create interesting ones.
     
    Night Gardener likes this.
  2. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    2,087
    1,278
    163
    I would render the wizard unconscious through some means. Keep them that way until the sentence is carried out and they either die that way or wake up on a deserted island that's been rendered magically null, effectively turning the wizard into just a person in a bathrobe.

    We're doing something similar in our WIP, where we have a very powerful wizard fighting a battle and turning the tide... until he gets smashed in the head and falls unconscious.
     
  3. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    4,473
    1,518
    163
    depends on how the wizards cast their spells. if said spell casting requires precise verbalization, I'd suggest pepper spray or the local equivalent - hard to pronounce magic words when sneezing. weapons tipped with poison are also an option. That said...

    this seems more like an exercise of raw power rather than an act of law. Normal for the times, which means said wizards would have to know their positions were never truly secure to begin with.
     
  4. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

    1,033
    647
    113
    Nulls are the first thing that comes to mind. Either anti-magic in some way or null people who can go around and be immune to the magic. Like, a knightly order of some sort or a secret society that has discovered ways to make wizards less wizardy. Though with Lowan's suggestion, what if it's countered by their magic? That seems to be a common thing. Unless they just have the mighty thewed barbarian with his magic war paint that negates magic punching them into oblivion. Or just hire Conan to do it.

    There's possibly ways around the magic too. Or someone can take it away from them, bender style. And then Thinker throws in that too. If it's hand and word spell style, break an arm and use duct tape to stop them from talking. The thinking magic wizards might need the knockout powder. Also those must be some pretty epic knights, breaking into a wizard's tower. That sounds like a bad idea on so many levels. They might get eaten by a mighty tome, killed by magical creations or killed in some way by the tower itself.

    So, why not use those super badass knights? Unless these wizard towers are more mundane and don't house carnivorous plants for science.
     
    Night Gardener likes this.
  5. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Inkling

    580
    280
    63
    Yes, drugs seem like a good approach. Your Fieto could slip them something during his party. Unless, of course, they have some magical protection against drugs and/or poisons. Or there could be warding of some sort, preventing magic then or later. Hey, they use that in 'Supernatural' all the time. :)

    I've only arrested a wizard once (as opposed to having them willingly give themselves up) but my wizards are not all that powerful when it comes to such mundane matters and, moreover, he and the king who locked him up were old friends with a misunderstanding and didn't want to escalate things. This didn't prevent him from eventually summoning a dragon to bear him away from the tower where he was under house arrest.
     
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    6,520
    4,451
    313
    I like the drugs. Well, obviously, but I was talking about wizards. ;-) Having some sort of countering bonds feels unwieldy, at least for Altearth. For other worlds, it's fine.

    Anyway, so ok, the wizards are knocked out or otherwise stunned. If I'm going to execute them, I'd best do that right away, before the potion wears off. They may be upset. This, in turn, leaves out any sort of trial, unless we somehow keep force feeding nullification potions.

    I reckon the same could be done for prison; just keep doping them. But expensive and prone to error.

    Exile is even more problematic. They're going to be able to escape, sooner or later.

    All in all, wizards just don't fit well into the usual legal process. If it's treason, that's no problem. Knock them out and execute them. Or else banish them and accept that they may well come back at you. Lesser crimes are more problematic. I'm thinking fines, primarily. The offender would sooner pay than raise the stakes by refusing. But that goes rather off on a tangent. A nice banquet with a nice poisoning should do nicely.
     
  7. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    4,473
    1,518
    163
    In my primary world, the 'Church of the True God' has authority over wizards, including the ones with noble pedigrees. The church prefers mages belong to one or another of its orders, but insists on regular, sometimes intrusive interviews with 'independent' wizards. Mages who violate the churches edicts on the (misuse) of sorcery get manacles stamped with the 'Rune of Null' around their wrists, a glyph that as the name implies, nullifies magical ability. For long term offenders, they get bracelets welded together. The worst offenders face death by immolation.

    Runes of Null were also etched onto weapons in partially successful campaigns against the demons conjured by Traag. The greater demons, though, sometimes possessed sufficient power to overwhelm the Rune, though they didn't care for it at all.
     
  8. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

    411
    301
    63
    It very much depends on the magic system.

    If there is some nullification option, like a specific artifact or ritual, then that is the preferred option in all cases. Just make sure they can't do magic or it has no effect on you and you're good to go.

    If magic is performed by simply thinking something then all bets are off. You must either drug them into unconsciousness or use overwhelming force to run them down. And in this instance you execute them as soon as possible.

    If magic requires saying something / handwaving, then pinning them down somehow / tying hands works (so jumping on them while they sleep is an option). A trial is definitely an option here, as long as they are bound and gagged.

    If magic requires substances or elaborate rituals then it becomes easier. Just deny the mage the substance (or wear them down until the substance is gone) or the time to perform the ritual. A trial is here also an option.

    Another, as yet unmentioned, option is to bring a stronger mage (or more mages working together, depending on the system). It's not the most elegant of options, but it works.

    Exiling a powerful mage is a bit like sending Napoleon to Elba. It might look nice on paper but it's probably a bad idea. Especially if you're just starting out on your journey of world domination just killing them is the safest option.

    There is another side here as well, though it might not apply to your time period just yet. But in a magical society, where mages are common, some magical law enforcement department would evolve. We have guns and long distance telepathy devices in our society. But that doesn't prevent the police from operating and arresting people. Eventually, some kind of similar order would evolve in a magical society as well. Yes, you would get run-away mages that blow up whatever. But they would be dealt with, with overwhelming force, in short order. And minor violations would get fined or arrested.
     
    skip.knox likes this.
  9. Just a thought. If you really don't mind dispatching some/all of the wizards, and if Fieto has the connections/influence, could you have the/a governing body decree, through conspiratorial shadow maneuvering, to ban the use of all magic in the limits of Palermo during the nuptial period. The wizards are not told of this until they've arrived and once they are confined in their towers. The punishment for offense of the decree which has since ben posted throughout the town, is death. In that way, if a wizard uses magic while there, he may be executed on the spot. I know, lots of holes there and it may not fit Altearth, but that's the first idea not already offered that came to mind. :)
     
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    6,520
    4,451
    313
    Thanks to all so far. Just for clarification, Fieto's not out to remove all wizards, just the ones who have conspired against him, which turns out to be nearly all the wizards on the island of Sicilia (there are story reasons for this). He has a couple he trusts, but the rest have got to go. In theory he could call in outside reinforcements, but his political situation is delicate and to do so would be too risky. So he has to work with what he has.

    Leaving aside his specific situation, though, I do see some genuine legal difficulties. Medieval law complicated, but the relevant point here is that there was not one legal system but several, and they overlapped. There was royal law, local custom to which local JPs referred, canon law, and law codes issued by local rulers, including cities. Transferring this to a fantasy setting, I can readily see wizards having exemptions, special laws, even special courts. So if a wizard is accused of assault or theft, all sorts of complications arise. As I said earlier, if it's treason or murder, maybe it's just the quickest path to execution. If it's fraud or counterfeiting or swearing an oath falsely, then what?

    Of course it depends on the kinds of powers the offender has. It would also depend on what sort of powers the justice system could bring to bear. Given that governments were hard-pressed to employ enough judges and police to be even barely effective, adding in magic users feels like it would overwhelm the system. It's in interesting angle, one I've not explored much. I'll have to give it consideration, since I have in mind a series that would involve a team that solves crimes outside of normal channels. But I have this novel to write, first ...
     
  11. Yora

    Yora Maester

    684
    289
    63
    Since iron is often attributed to have anti-magic properties, I used iron chains as my method of choice to detain a wizard. That neutralizes their powers sufficiently to keep them from enchanting their guards.
    Additionally, taking away their paraphernalia might be enough.

    Exiling wizards would work the same way as with anyone else. You can't really prevent them from sneaking back in, but threaten them with severe punishment if they do. If they could be captured and imprisoned before, they can be beaten in a fight again.
     
  12. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    4,473
    1,518
    163
    In my world, the 'Rune of Null' is etched in iron...
     
  13. Alex Reiden

    Alex Reiden Minstrel

    63
    21
    8
    In my work, I have few ways to debilitate a magically-powered individual and other mana channelers from accessing magical power. Most can probably be adapted to any magic system, magical person, or wizard/etc.

    1. The most common for mortals is to simply drain them of all mana so they have no magical source to access.
    2. Some characters use collars that prevent a practitioner from accessing mana to work their spells.
    3. In one scene, a character is enchanted with a curse so that anytime he tries to summon his mana, he gets a splitting headache that debilitates him.
    4. Some characters place mental blocks in someone's head to prevent them from using magical powers, or any other actions they want to forbid.
    5. One character corrupts another's mana, so if he tries to work a spell, the power explodes inside his body instead.
    I forgot to respond the initial question of how to subdue them first. I like this one best:

     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2020
    skip.knox likes this.
  14. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

    1,818
    696
    113
    Hi,

    I'm going to agree with the others. Generally I use three things to counter wizardly magic - manacles of cold iron (iron that's been beaten brutishly with chants cast into it as the beating is carried out), lodestone in the walls of dungeons (lodestones a naturally occurring mineral with magnetic properties) and drugs like witchbane (sort of like wolfbane!) Once you've got a nice dungeon with lodestone in the walls, you can skip the cold iron, and keep feeding them daily doses of witchbane in their food. The problem comes up when they get out!

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  15. Alex Reiden

    Alex Reiden Minstrel

    63
    21
    8
    Heh. Can't believe I forgot the coolest one. In another novel, I have a character that uses a "charged particle stream that ionizes and dissociates manifested electromagnetic radiation attuned to the archons – what laymen call “magic” – rendering it inert."
     
  16. D. Gray Warrior

    D. Gray Warrior Troubadour

    154
    55
    28
    If there is anti-magic in your setting, you could use that to negate the wizard's magic. It might not take away his powers completely, but could at the very least protect the person trying to arrest him. Or the restraints they use are infused with anti-magic and negate the wizard's ability to use magic until they are removed.
     
  17. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    6,520
    4,451
    313
    >If there is anti-magic in your setting, you could use that to negate the wizard's magic.
    I may resort to that, but right now there would be no such thing. That's why iron bands, counter-spells, etc. don't appeal. I won't say they won't work because I can always make them work. But then I would have to deal with the consequences of nullification. How widespread is that? Who controls it? und so weiter.

    This is a good example of how I work. I'm curious about how an issue like this gets addressed in theory, as a piece of world-building, but my main focus is on this particular story. How do I solve the problem of ten wizards of varying talents coming into my palace? They mean no immediate harm to me, but I do to them. I'm going to have to take drastic action; failure or half-measures can only result in backlash.

    That's why poison or a similar approach does appeal. Maybe some other king in some other time and place solves the problem a different way. As the author, I don't feel the need to come up with a universal explanation. But I don't mind noodling it around for a while because sometimes looking at a topic from a world-building perspective yields valuable insight. But I regard everything in Altearth as malleable right up until I click the Publish button. Then I and everyone else in Altearth have to live with it.
     
Loading...

Share This Page