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What to call mages

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Sir Tristram, Dec 15, 2013.

  1. Sir Tristram

    Sir Tristram Scribe

    Every great fantasy has its own mostly unique magic system, including better words for using said magic than just either a) calling it magic and the practitioners mages or magic-users and b) better terms for using the magic than "using" a spell. For instance, in the Lightbringer books, the magic system revolves around light, from which a substance called luxin is drafted and the person using the luxin is a drafter. The One Power is channeled or woven by Aes Sedai, Stormlight is used to Bind or Lash (presumably by anyone descended from a Knight Radiant), and ether is bound or cast into various forms by ethersmiths or adepts.
    My system involves the mastery of various elements or essences: light, dark, earth, metal, fire, ice, water, air, wood, time, the mind, and life and death. I could just call everyone with mastery of time, for example, a kairomancer or some such thing, but frankly it gets a bit awkward in prose. Also, saying characters "called upon their essence" or "drew from x essence" sounds clunky and cumbersome. Any suggestions for better terms?
    Thanks, Tristram.
  2. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    Elementalists? Crafters? Like time-crafters or metal-crafters.

    I can't really make any suggestions on what you would call the act of performing magic without knowing what this magic looks like in action. If I saw someone "drawing essence" in front of me, I wouldn't know that that's what they're doing.
    My magic system is based around breathing so, when I write about it, I just have to write about someone breathing a certain way. No crazy descriptions of abstract concepts or anything. Keeping it simple is probably the best thing you can do when trying to describe something as bizarre as magic.
    Sir Tristram likes this.
  3. Asura Levi

    Asura Levi Sage

    I always like weavers, had also used wishmaster (yes, I took the idea from nightwish)
  4. Yellow

    Yellow Minstrel

    If your magic revolves around breathing and breath exercises, I'd look for a word relatd to that to name them. I'd suggest Breathers if that didn't sound corny as hell, but you get my meaning, something that evokes movement of air, inhalation and exhalation, perhaps even speech, as speech might be considered a very fancy form of breathing.
  5. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    I'm not looking for any names, I got that all figured out. I was just using my breathe system as an example of a simple concept that a magic system can be based around.
  6. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    We singularly lack in imagination. We have 4 types of human-based magic-users - wizards, witches, sorcerers, and (of course) mages. Then we have non-human magic users like dragons and Faeries and gods and other monsters. All of them use different, but related, magical systems.

    I said we lacked imagination, not psychotic levels of detail. ;)
    Asura Levi likes this.
  7. Sam Evren

    Sam Evren Troubadour

    Well, you could, as others have said, bend an existing word to your will. For instance the Shapers of Fire and Ice. In that case, one might "shape the fire to his will." The word you bend should probably align with how your see your magic working: is it wrested from the ether, wrestled into submission, or coerced and cajoled?

    Or you could create a word/phrase and infuse it with meaning yourself, such as the example you gave with the "Aes Sedai" from Jordan. If you're developing any sort of language or linguistic characteristic to your story, you might find yourself a term that fits nicely.
    Sir Tristram likes this.
  8. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    I just use magi as the term. I've always liked that word. :)
  9. Sir Tristram

    Sir Tristram Scribe

    @ WooHooMan post #1: good point. Using an essence is usually controlled by a series of gestures or words, though this varies from mage to mage. In theory, though, essences can be wielded without any outward signs. The gestures and phrases are a bit like training wheels, and they also slightly reduce the amount of energy used when wielding an essence. If a mage is Broken, then his/her body is no longer able to channel the essences properly, and thus a bit of the power of the essence is converted to light and heat energy.
  10. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    So, people wield magic through thought? Also, are you saying that there is some kind of power source that the mage needs to be able to tap into? Maybe you can use some word associated with connections.
  11. SM-Dreamer

    SM-Dreamer Troubadour

    I've used the term 'Mystic' to refer to magic-users on occasion. I agree with previous posters, though, that when describing how the magic is used or what else to call them, it would depend on what they were doing. Find a word that fits and bend it to your needs.
  12. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    I think what type of name is best depends on what feel you want for these people. I just use Mage as a general term for mages in my setting. It's not particularly fancy, but then again neither are my mages. Magic is exceedingly common in my setting to the point that people learn it in school jus like chemistry or algebra.

    Different groups and styles of magic might be called different things so as to have a different feel associated with them.
  13. DassaultMirage

    DassaultMirage Minstrel

    Well in my WIP they practice the Erelim Arts taught by the Erelims, hence they were called Practitioners. xD
  14. mbartelsm

    mbartelsm Troubadour

    Everyone in my setting is capable of using magic so I lack a term for magic users, but I use the term Master for someone who is recognized by his ability to use magic the same way one would call someone who's very good at martial arts a Master
  15. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

    When I was making names for my different types of magic wielders I focused on what they did. Blood mages, for example, augment the body through healing or strengthening so they became Augers. Mind mages "decipher" thoughts, so they became Ciphers. And so on.

    I don't know if that helps at all, but it might be a different way of looking at things.
    Sir Tristram likes this.
  16. Hainted

    Hainted Sage

    Auger might be a little confusing since Augury is the ancient practice of predicting the future by studying the flights of birds.
  17. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

    I don't understand why you wouldn't just go with 'mage.'

    Personally, I prefer the term 'wizard' because I think it has a bit more flair. I will sometimes use sorcerer if the person seems a bit more malevolent, seer or shaman if they are from a primitive culture and necromancer if their magic deals primarily with the dead.

    There's no need for a fancy term for every single thing, especially when using the term 'mage' or 'wizard' allows for instant understanding of what this person does.
    Ireth likes this.
  18. Nameback

    Nameback Troubadour

    I came up with an in-world word for my magic-users, but I'm sort of re-thinking that. Right know they're called "Theres," which of course many people might not think to pronounce as "THAIR-eez" despite the Greek overtones of the setting (the singular is "therion"). I also mix in words like "sorcerer" and "mage" for variety's sake.

    I'm having trouble coming up with a good translation, though, which I think owes to my need for a better analogy of what using magic is like in this world. It's about drawing out potential/possibility from the world and forming it into useful abilities. Thinking of potential in terms of threads (like the Greek Fates), I usually describe it in terms of weaving, cutting, spinning, etc. But "Weavers" just doesn't appeal to me.
  19. MVV

    MVV Scribe

    I think that 'magic' and 'mages' is quite alright. It doesn't complicate the reading. But if you want to use a different term, I'd recommend to take a look at various names for 'magic users' used in the history and also in other cultures. Try to think about meanings of these words and try to find something analogous. Or similiar. You'll learn that quite often it's only context that tells you what the real meanings are. For example, many Wiccans refer to doin magic simply as to Labour. Then, mages could be even called Labourers. And interestingly enough, the word 'shaman' has its roots in a Sanskrit word śráma that means (among other things): "fatigue, toil, labour".

    It's also very important how your magic works. In my world, the mages perform rituals to make powerful Spirits help them with what they want. Also, magic is quite frowned upon in my world (another important aspect: how do people generally feel about the mages in your world?). So, in English, they could be called 'conjurers' because they really conjure the Spirits and the word has also a somewhat derogatory feel to it.
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  20. Nameback

    Nameback Troubadour

    I agree, MVV; I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with using words like mage or sorcerer. I think it's even fine to use those words interchangeably with any unique words in the same work. After all, we often have multiple words for the same job in the real world. Carpenter, builder, contractor, artisan, craftsman, etc.

    This thread gave me some impetus to finally sort out a decent name. I went with "entwiners" because their magic is about taking raw potential and shaping it into abilities--which you could conceptualize as linking possibilities to each other. As if an object, like a person, is a sort of hub which is connected/linked/entwined with various possibilities. So, entwining is the act of adding new linkages to oneself (or a target object).

    Of course, there are lots of possible choices for a name that represents this: bonders, joiners, splicers, weavers, linkers, affixers, braiders, etc. But I think I'm on the right track.

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