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Seeking Ideas For Magic-Users In The Early 19th Century

I'm world-building for an alternate history version of Belle Epoque with magic and the like. While I already had some ideas which will be listed below I'm seeking ideas for any more magic users.
On Magic

Magic is well known in this world being used for many things all the way up to the industrial revolution that many countries went through. Magic is so wide and varied it is hard to categorize it for posterity but the few attempts that have been made are as thus:


Elementalists: Users of the classic elements of fire, water, earth, and air. These magic users are primarily used for military purposes in the current year of 1900 and are very effective. With a snap of their fingers or a brief incantation, cavalry regiments will be set ablaze and riflemen will be struck by lightning. Elementalists can also set gunpowder ablaze without the use of fire if they wish, however it has to be visible thus decreasing its effectiveness in combat. The German Empire makes great use of their elementalists or as they refer to them as “Zauberer”. As such a German Elementalist would be referred to as “Zauberer Schmidt '' most commonly in their armed forces. Elementalists and other magic users can channel magic through their hands a stave or a firearm or other objects such as sabers or a broom.


Listeners: Listeners while rare in past ages have become more common with the rise of Spiritualism. Essentially Listeners are magic-users who have trained themselves to listen to the unquiet dead more commonly known as ghosts, phantoms, etcetera. Most Listeners can barely hear the whispers of the dead and most are con men seeking coin from the gullible however there are strong Listeners who either take up an independent business for seances or are hired by the government to interrogate dead spies or question dead soldiers and criminals. The strongest Listeners can bind the unquiet dead to their will and have them spy on their rivals or use them for their knowledge on many subjects. These Listeners known as Binders are the type of Listeners most commonly sought after by governments for their power and usefulness.


Summoners: Summoners are magic-users who summon spirits and use them to spy on or attack others. They are rare due to the fears of summoning and possible possession.


Alchemists: Alchemy being a more scientific magic is often studied and used by industrialists and others in order to advance human industry. Some factories have homunculus workers (see creatures of the Belle Epoque) or develop elixirs that treat symptoms of disease far easier and better than traditional medicine.


Artificers: Magic-users trained in enchanting and making magical items. You could find a rifle covered in magical runes (see common interpretations of magic) or one that is glowing with ethereal energies. Do you want a door that only opens when you speak a magical password? You can get it from an artificer or perhaps a broom that sweeps on its own when ordered? All can be found through the magic of the Artificers.
 
What about an ability to see fairies and other mythical beings? Perhaps an ability to photograph them, too, which only magic users with a specifically magic kind of camera can do.

The the Cottingley fairies could have been real after all.

And there's good old Second Sight: precognition, clairvoyance.

Seeing your descriptions makes me wonder if and to what extent these types of magic are gendered. Or if the magic users themselves are. Are they all male? Female? Both? Predominantly one or the other?

When you compared Listeners to spiritualists and then called them con men, I found that a bit jarring, because in reality, the vast majority of spirit mediums in that era were women. Con women, at that.
 
When you compared Listeners to spiritualists and then called them con men, I found that a bit jarring, because in reality, the vast majority of spirit mediums in that era were women. Con women, at that.
I meant that interpretation of magic rose in popularity with the age of spiritualism. Also, gender means nothing to magic unless a magic user believes strongly enough that it does.
 
I meant that interpretation of magic rose in popularity with the age of spiritualism. Also, gender means nothing to magic unless a magic user believes strongly enough that it does.
But does it matter to the rest of society? That could limit who could be a magic user, and/or what kind of magic they could use.

In reality, only men were allowed in the armed forces in 1900. Only men were allowed in most industrial jobs. The sciences mostly excluded women. For gender to be completely irrelevant to magic users in the armed forces, industry, and science equivalents, the cultural landscape would have to be extremely different. It can't just be 1900 with magic added.
 
Essentially magic is a natural force like gravity except magic itself changes depending on the beliefs of the culture so if Germany believed that wizards could toss fireballs around they could do that. Also magic is much more visible in this alternate earth than it is on ours (in history of course) so people could see all of it and formed their own beliefs on it.
 
But does it matter to the rest of society? That could limit who could be a magic user, and/or what kind of magic they could use.

In reality, only men were allowed in the armed forces in 1900. Only men were allowed in most industrial jobs. The sciences mostly excluded women. For gender to be completely irrelevant to magic users in the armed forces, industry, and science equivalents, the cultural landscape would have to be extremely different. It can't just be 1900 with magic added.
I'm working on that don't worry. Different world different beliefs so women's rights are a thing in this alternate timeline, sort of like the anime/manga/Light novel Youjo Senki being based on WW1 but with magic. Essentially in this timeline women are equal to men because christianity and other religions that blamed women for sin and the like have way less power because magic is visible, unlike their beliefs.
 

pmmg

Vala
Uh....I'd shy away from laying all the blame on one source... but your story, and your thread will derail if you keep that track.

Anyway, I might add Timeshifters as well.

Could also differentiate along the lines of where the magic comes from... Such as Mana users, and book users, and those who draw intrinsic power from items.
 

ThinkerX

Myth Weaver
I'd recommend ditching the elementalist concept. It reflects basic miscomprehensions of the forces at play. Consider a 'earth wizard' splitting a block of stone - the force at play is the one splitting the rock, arguably a form of telekinesis. Likewise a 'water wizard' shifting an ocean current. The one exception would be fire - because fire isn't an 'element' - but 'energy.'

The other point I'd bring up is just how many different types of magic do you really need? Toss in too many types of wizards and you risk confusing the reader - plus if mages are on the scarce side, then where do the more exotic specialists get trained?

I'd keep the list at two or three distinct types of magic.
 

Cambosaurus

Acolyte
You could maybe try having some of the more specialized forms of magic be branches from a main few to keep peoples options open on what they can learn while keeping What they're doing and/or learning easy for the reader to understand. So like, if someone wanted to learn to do a very specific type of summoning that might just be referred to as "advanced summoning" or something similar to that.
 
The other point I'd bring up is just how many different types of magic do you really need? Toss in too many types of wizards and you risk confusing the reader - plus if mages are on the scarce side, then where do the more exotic specialists get trained?
Why couldn't the same wizard practice more than one kind of magic? Not necessarily all of them, but the set up could be that every wizard learns all, or if not all, then most, of those skills while training, but goes on to work in a specialized area.

Some of those jobs could be interdisciplinary, too. Alchemy and artificing could be worked in the same lab, by the same people. An Elementalist employed by the military who's also a skilled Listener or Summoner could draw on those other skills as needed for military use. Etcetera.
 
Some of those jobs could be interdisciplinary, too. Alchemy and artificing could be worked in the same lab, by the same people. An Elementalist employed by the military who's also a skilled Listener or Summoner could draw on those other skills as needed for military use. Etcetera.
I share the same line of thought about this
Magic can be learned in this alternate universe and while I do have plans for people born with unique kinds of magic they don't apply here.
 

ThinkerX

Myth Weaver
Why couldn't the same wizard practice more than one kind of magic? Not necessarily all of them, but the set up could be that every wizard learns all, or if not all, then most, of those skills while training, but goes on to work in a specialized area.

Some of those jobs could be interdisciplinary, too. Alchemy and artificing could be worked in the same lab, by the same people. An Elementalist employed by the military who's also a skilled Listener or Summoner could draw on those other skills as needed for military use. Etcetera.

There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, the wizards in works tend to have multiple 'talents' or 'knacks' - usually two or three or four they're reasonably good at, and another three or five they're not so good at.

Kyle, for example has strengths in Fire, Finding, and Fixing (artifice). He can also manage a teleport spell of sorts, can levitate a penny with a bit of effort, and has painfully learned simple ward spells. Later, he masters a few Runes. Illusions, mind affecting spells, healing, and other 'body magic' are beyond him. Yet, get right down to it, all these abilities are psionic in nature.

'Handsome Jack,' a minor wizard has strengths in Influence (mental magic), illusion, and Runes. Apart from those, he can't manage much past basic protective spells and so-so scrying.

Pelopidas, a scholarly shopkeeper sorcerer, is passable at Divinations (including Finding), Wards, and Telekinesis, including Levitation. with minor knacks for Artifice and Illusion.

My concern was with over-specialization and the source of said wizardry.
 

Queshire

Auror
Feel is important to me when it comes to magic.

Tell me about the fire mage that captured a spark from the cookfire they set up last night to use the conraderie and good cheer that surrounded it in order to weave into a spell to keep his solders' morale high, who keeps a spark of forge fire to give himself that little bit of superstrength he needs in a pinch and who spent the morning with the other fire mages around the horse they sacrificed and burned to ashes to harvest enough destructive fire to rain hell down on their enemies in the upcoming fight.

Or what about the Listener who didn't feel fear when she was a little girl and felt like someone was watching her? Who felt curiosity instead? The same curiousity that eventually lead to her being able to hear the voices of the dead.

On topic though, travel is going to be easier when magic is a thing, so you might also give thought to some distinctly foreign magic. (Which, ya know, is also a wonderful excuse to justify the existence of monks in D&D.)
 
On topic though, travel is going to be easier when magic is a thing, so you might also give thought to some distinctly foreign magic. (Which, ya know, is also a wonderful excuse to justify the existence of monks in D&D.)
Foreign magic could also be a good way to work in extra kinds of magic. There could be some four or five key types that the local mages practice, per the OP's original ideas, and then there could be other types of magic that are practiced by foreign mages. Maybe some cultural exchange takes place: protagonist mage journeys to a foreign country, or meets a foreign mage who's visiting their country, and learns something about the foreign magics.

Not only that, if the setting is an alternate 1900, admiration of the foreign and exotic would fit nicely into the time period. That was right smack in the middle of the run of World Fairs showcasing the new and the exotic. That was also an era of increased, and easier than before, travel, with the railroad and the steam powered ocean liner becoming preferred methods.
 
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ThinkerX

Myth Weaver
Feel is important to me when it comes to magic.

Tell me about the fire mage that captured a spark from the cookfire they set up last night to use the conraderie and good cheer that surrounded it in order to weave into a spell to keep his solders' morale high, who keeps a spark of forge fire to give himself that little bit of superstrength he needs in a pinch and who spent the morning with the other fire mages around the horse they sacrificed and burned to ashes to harvest enough destructive fire to rain hell down on their enemies in the upcoming fight.

Or what about the Listener who didn't feel fear when she was a little girl and felt like someone was watching her? Who felt curiosity instead? The same curiousity that eventually lead to her being able to hear the voices of the dead.

On topic though, travel is going to be easier when magic is a thing, so you might also give thought to some distinctly foreign magic. (Which, ya know, is also a wonderful excuse to justify the existence of monks in D&D.)

I have scenes like this. At one point Kyle remembers being a kid, charged with lighting the fires in the serf barracks each morning. He remembers finding embers and hot spots in ashes and charred logs, poking at them, focusing on them, willing them to catch. He didn't think of this knack as magical until after being found out by a military wizard. By then, he'd been in the army for three years. Same with Finding and Fixing - right up until the Arcane Cohort recruited him, he believed he was just really good at finding and fixing things.
 
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