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Magical School or Magical Apprenticeship?


Well, you might remember my other thread. ;)
Now I finally have decided how I'm going to get my character away from home and to the place where she's supposed to learn how to use her magic.

But now I'm facing the next question. I know that there's an organisation called the Alchemist Circle in this country where the young elemental magicians learn how to use and control their powers along with lot's of traditional and ritual stuff. And I also know that this organisation used to have taught the young via a master-apprentice-system in the past.
Back then this has been the privilege of the rich, well-connected, or very lucky but this has changed about a hundred years before the start of my story. A group of very powerful alchemists started challenging the traditions of the Circle and among other things, established a system that allowed everyone with the talent get taught, no matter where they come from.
So far, so good, but there are problems. There aren't enough people good enough to teach everyone anymore, the logical solution would be the establishment of a school system.
This poses some problems of it's own however.
- The sheer number of different elements makes one on one-teaching the more sensible road.
- Elemental magic doesn't surface at the same age for everyone, mostly somewhere between 15 and 25 but much younger and older cases are known. Many of those people have obligations of their own that can't just be left alone for two years of magical training.

Now I'm trying to decide if I should stay with the apprenticeship-system or adopt the school system.
The common answer is of course, what does your plot demand? If the answer to this was clear, I wouldn't ask of course. The plot could work with both options, but the school system would definitly make it eaiser for a foreigner to get her chance. I don't see any sensible reason why any of the Circle members should want to make her their apprentice.
In an earlier version I got a specific person to do it, but this doesn't make much sense anymore in the current setup.
Therefore, the school option would be easier for the story, but suffers from the problems described above.
On the other hand, it is a good way to show how much the persons mentioned above have changed (destroyed as some call it) the alchemist system, which is rather important as well.

What kind of approach would you favour?
I sounds like magic is a far more regular thing than in my book, where it is a persecuted thing. I don't like the school idea, but I also don't like magic to be an easy thing. The few established mages in my story thus far are torn to shreds by the magic they use.


It seems from the info you have provided that using the school system would make the most sense. Of course you could do a hybrid system, where students spend some of the time in group learning and the rest one-on-one.


There's no reason it can't be both -- a school with a mentor system, sort of like having a Masters or PhD supervisor. Common magical theory could be taught in a school setting and a one-on-one approach used for more unique or personalised schools, with the mentor grading the student's progress.
I rather like Derin's idea. Makes for an interesting conflict if your MC's mentor or master is insanely younger than her.

Adam James Tait

New Member
I also agree with Derin.

In my story I had a similar problem whereby I wanted my story to use school (or academy as I call it in my story) education to start with, then once the students were skilled enough for them to go on to private tuition in order to learn further, I solved the problem like this, hopefully this will give you some ideas.

All students start in education at Tier 1, regardless of age, as this is a specific magical education rather than a general education it makes sence that everyone would be starting from scratch if they had a talent for magic, though most people would be descovered to be magical when they are young. Then they progress based on skill and power rather than on age. Tier 2 and 3 are what we call in England Primary School education, Tier 3 and 4 are Seconday School/College education, then lastly they get either a private or public master (teacher/tutor) and are apprenticed. Private masters for those who are upperclass or (highborn as I call them) and the really talented, the rest get given a public master where several apprentices. I also solved the problem of the number of masters by having the senior apprentices teaching the Tier 1 students so as to make sure they do not forget the basics and to allow the masters to concentrate on the higher tiered students.

I hope this helps you.



Thank you for your input.
I've decided what I'm going to do now. ;)
There is a master-apprentice-system but the youngsters have to spend the weekends at a special university being taught theoretical background deemed important for everyone and learning how to interact with other people who have different kinds of elements.
Those who don't find anyone who's prepared to teach them, are taught in groups by the university adepts who also try to arrange something for them.


In history there was always both.
special apprenticeships and in places full schools(colleges).

Some can't afford to or cannot move to the school so they work within the apprenticeship.
Some want 1 on 1 teaching and will seek apprenticeship.

Some learn better in a group.

Supply and demand- if there is a demand for a school, it will be created. If there is few pupils then it will not.
If the school covers a vast area, then rooms will have to be provided, if not then pupils can stay at home.

Maybe basic magic would be taught by trusted mage in town, then send the promising students for indepth study in a formal school. (referal required?)
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There's no reason it can't be both -- a school with a mentor system, sort of like having a Masters or PhD supervisor. Common magical theory could be taught in a school setting and a one-on-one approach used for more unique or personalised schools, with the mentor grading the student's progress.

I like this, and it could eaisly be expanded to a house system if you want to veer away from mentors a little bit more.

In general, I;d say it's up to the required competance level you want your mages to have. one on one would imply a much deeper grasp of the advanced stuff, since more time could be spent learning, whereas a school would give a much more solid understanding of the basics, but skin,p on the advanced stuff. this is based of realworld disputes about the same sort of thing.

you could aos have both, and have i be hotly disputed by the magical comunity which is better. gives you a bit more options for a superior rival (if you ever feel the need for some cliche ;)) without being too bland.


One of my stories dealt with a wizards learning the arts.
He was talking bad about the richer academys compared to his apprenticeship, which also applied to Hogwarts.

Something to the effect of:
"There wasn't any fancy uniforms, enjoying some meaningless sports, or caudled rich kids where I learned magic. Each day you faced the dangers of living in a poverty stricken town, idiot trainees trying to do something they had no buisness trying, and a warrior academy down the road looking to exercise some of their lessons on me and my fellow arcane students. When someone failed, what was left of them was ceremoniously buried."