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What are the differences between mages and wizards?


For a world I created I thought it would be cool to have wizards and mages be different classes/specifications instead of just being titles. And so I came up withe the differences between the two but I'm again thinking of changing or maybe just adding on to it but anyway I wanted to see what ideas and views others had.

Here is one of my explanations for the difference a between mages, wizards, and Warlocks.

Mages are your typical fantasy trope of staff using, and chanting in a different language and reading magical tomes and scrolls. Unlike wizards they are born with a high amount of inborn magic but it does not strengthen thier bodies.

Wizards are prideful of thier strength and usually fight more upclose unlike mages. Wizards also use magical artifacts but also use weapons made of magical and rare materials to enhance as well.

Warlocks are both. Born with tough bodies and a high amount of inborn magic but they are rare and as such are shunned and ostracized when found.


I would have to say yes. Because magic power in general is hereditary then as for mages and wizards I would believe so as for warlock I think I'll think up a way to keep them rare because they would be a bit overpowered in certain circumstances.
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In your world, you can make whatever definitions you want, eh. I don't use the same ones, but then my definitions are for my works.

With the Warlocks, I'd also consider having some of them be highly revered, especially if they might provide protection to the population they are born into.


toujours gai, archie
Sometimes etymology can help. The background for warlock is interesting:

Old English wǣrloga ‘traitor, scoundrel, monster,’ also ‘the Devil,’ from wǣr ‘covenant’ + an element related to lēogan ‘belie, deny.’ From its application to the Devil, the word was transferred in Middle English to a person in league with the devil, and hence a sorcerer. It was chiefly Scots until given wider currency by Sir Walter Scott.

Between covenant and deny, I could easily derive "oathbreaker" as a synonym for warlock. Which could provide a clue as to why they are reviled in your world.


Queen of Titania
While the etymologies behind those words are very interesting indeed, it's always funnier to establish yourself what the differences between them are in your own Fantasy world. I personally like how you have defined them already, with the Warlocks being a more potent combination of Wizard and Mage.

My only question is, why are they ostracized? I think that they would have to be more valuable, more appreciated.

In one of my stories, I have Wizards, Mages and Witches as different magical classes. Mages are the most powerful, but they are low in numbers and this allows the weaker Wizards to counter them. In the other hand, Witches are a very disgusting kind of magical monsters that live underground and rarely venture to the surface world.

In your world, what happens if Mages and Wizards fight each other? Do they cooperate at least sometimes?


Myth Weaver
While I personally like that there might be a difference in the type of magic a Wizard might use as opposed to a Sorcerer or a Warlock or any other type of spell casting brand, I think essentially these words are interchangeable in our world today, most of them have root meaning similar to wise men.

If I am saying they are different, then I would enjoy creating the systems that one lives in, and why it is different from the ones the others live in. In my very non-fleshed out estimation of these types of magic. I like the idea that one might draw from some type of Earthly power, using Mana or ley lines for fuel, where as another might contact other planes (hellish?) to draw their power from, and yet another may find a way to release energies from natural objects. I also like the differences between white and black magic (which appears in many forms in many types of fiction).

Since most of these words those have a cultural context, I would also like to see some kind of culture built up around them.


Personally I tend to think of wizards as the classic staff wavers so seeing them playing the magic knight role is a bit amusing to me.

If I was doing it, personally I would have Wizards be for those specifically trained and studied in magic, basically they're the ones with doctorates in magic. Mages would refer to magic users as a whole, though also more specifically people that use a lot of magic but aren't as specialized or powerful enough to be called something else.

For warlocks, I like the "oathbreaker" etymology. I'd give them potent anti-magic (breaking spells) and highly destructive magic (breaking... well, things) The fear aspect would come from their pure destructiveness and how hard they are to put down.


In my writing I differentiate the two by having Wizards using strictly fire and ice whereas Mages use wind, water, ice, earth, lightning, and fire. The difference between them other then their powers is that Wizards have a much deeper understanding of fire and ice vs the multitude of potential abilities a Magi can wield with the elemental spells.


The only reason classes exist as a concept is for fantasy gaming balance. Warriors do X, Wizards do Y, Mages do Z pick one, is about giving each player a clearly defined,equal role in the party. They don't contribute much to novels. You could just as easily call them all mages, and it wouldn't matter.
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Fiery Keeper of the Hat
One good way to make the terms different is to make it a regional, societal difference to emphasize different styles that might be employed. The "wizards" of one kingdom have a formal education and follow a rigid program, meaning they have fewer but more qualified wizards. The "mages" of another kingdom scrap together their knowledge from local teachers and wherever else they can pick up a tip, meaning that they have lots of mages but few with a higher level of power.

Think about them as social terms instead of class terms and there's a lot more variety of what you can do with them.


I started by making my own game before I began to write about it. And while you may not see any merit in using a class based system, but I find it incredibly helpful knowing every single aspect of what it can and cannot do from mortal beings to the gods and creators. To me that is indispensable. Even if it has little to nothing to do with a majority of a book or two or seven I can take things as deep as I dare to go.

The way I see it magic is a color wheel. It's all color but each hue within it paints something different before black/white is added.

Sure they are the same thing across the world called by different names under a particular classification of illusionists or tricksters. Just like warriors, projectile users, and mounted soldiers are all the same no matter what culture. If you take out the flavor that creates that distinction of the culture, beliefs, style, and religions there is no difference. If there was no difference there would not be Magicians vs Wizards.

Insolent Lad

In my stuff, I mostly use mage, wizard, and sorcerer interchangeably, but for the most part ordinary people are speaking of them who would not differentiate between any varieties of magic-wielders. I tend to prefer sorcerer because of the ready feminine version, sorceress ('witch' carries too many connotations I don't want).

However, there are also shamans and prophets who use the same system of magic but are trained differently, essentially in a religious setting. Again, the ordinary man or woman would not know much about the magic themselves but would recognize they came from a different tradition.


As others have said, your world, your definition.

I can see Mages and wizards being levels of experience or a social class of magic user. Such as an Ivy league wizard or a community college mage. (IMHO both could be powerful, the elite wizard would be more of a "gentleman", because he would be taught more of the Chivalrous arts. Don't confuse "gentleman" with honorable or good. Just because you are taught the ways of honor doesn't mean you will be honorable.)

IMHO Warlock is a battle mage, War-lock a magic user specialized in war.


I read a story once in a writer's group, where "gifted" could do do all sorts of elemental stuff.. Boil water, light a fireplace, spook the cats and such. And "paragons" could only do ONE thing. But with much more power. Like setting a town on fire or something. Swap out "gifted" with mages and "paragons" with wizards and it's similar to your story. My advice would be: Make it your own. We all know etymology, we all know the wizards from Harry Potter. It would bore many people, but new definitions are exciting!
Also. Make it very clear what really separates the two, or three. Or four classes. Some might be born with it, some might use words in the spells, some dont. Social aspects are great to work with aswell. You mentioned warlocks being ostracized, which I like a lot, although there must be a very good explanation for it.

If you do make it your own, I would very much like to read it. I have daydreamed for some time now with ideas around the "class-based magic system" and would like to learn from your story too. There's not much out there, so I would appreciate it if I could read it for my own learning, but would happily give my feedback for it.

Sorry for the bad english, I'm learning ;)
The word 'mage' immediately brings roleplaying games and video games to mind, and games typically have detailed magic systems in which there is some level of logic to how magic works. Thus to me the term is used best in worlds where magic is an everyday part of life. The word 'wizard' has a certain mystical quality to it, and is used best in worlds where magic is virtually unexplained and whimsical. The word 'Warlock' always seemed to have a negative connotation to it, so that's always simply meant an evil wizard/mage to me.


For me, wizards would be much higher on the power scale than mages. Mages would have focused on a particular area of study, like a battle-mage would focus on offensive spells. A mage might also focus on healing. Wizards would have a wider focus and a greater knowledge of magic and be more rare as a consequence.


In my world, mages is the general term for people who manipulate leylines for magical purposes. Wizard is their corresponding level or rank. My levels of Magecraft is from the lowest, Magician, followed by Wizard, and then Sorcerer, with the last rank Adept the most powerful.