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Witches

Discussion in 'World Building' started by jvars2, May 9, 2013.

  1. jvars2

    jvars2 Acolyte

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    Hey all,

    I am a new user and wanted to ask you all what you think of witches. What do you think are the basic powers of witches?

    The reason I ask is that I have been working on writing a novel that involves the main character realizing his legacy as a powerful witch called a warlock. He is thrown between a brooding war amongst humans and witches, and both sides seek out warlocks to empower themselves even further. However, I am having trouble differentiating between witches and warlocks, as I feel that restricting too much of the power of a witch and reserving it for the warlock makes them hardly even magical beings.

    The type of powers I was thinking about applying for witches were traditional: ritual-using, potion-making, slight telokinesis, summoning of spirits and what not. Ultimately, warlocks would have the power to use something "active," like teleportation, conjuration, and premonition, making them much stronger fighters.

    The main problem I am having is designing a significant, noticeable difference between witches and warlocks. So, I am wondering if anyone has any ideas on a way one can describe what a fantasy witch is. Thanks!
     
  2. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    I don't think there's any historical distinction between witches and warlocks--the two have traditionally been treated as functionally the same. If you're going to deviate from the old tropes by distinguishing them, you have a lot of latitude with which to do so. (Though I'd question why you need a radical distinction--why not just have your protagonist be more powerful than most magic-users, rather than put him on a different plane entirely?)
     
  3. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    As above it's completely up to you. My thought would be that witches (can you have male witches?) are doing the ritual spellcasting as you've described while warlocks (I always thought they were just male witches, but I'm guessing from your description that you can have female warlocks) cast more naturally. No spells and rituals, the magic simply flows, which makes them faster with a cast giving them the edge in a battle. Maybe too they don't need to study either.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  4. jvars2

    jvars2 Acolyte

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    Feo - I did originally plan on doing a complete deviation and coming up with my own definitions for the words witch and warlock, so that'd be the reason behind this.

    Greg - I like that idea! Makes sense to me, and pretty much follows what I had in mind for the background of the two groups and their differences. Thanks for it, I think it was something I just needed to hear from somebody else's point of view.
     
  5. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    As I understand it, 'Warlocks' are the male form of 'Witches'. Male and female sides of the same coin.

    For your particular situation, I would suggest emphasizing the sex based differences. LeGuin did this with her 'EarthSea'; male and female magic was much the same, but the classic saying was 'weak as womans magic, wicked as a womans magic.' Male wizards tended towards celibacy, with the implication they could loose their power if the engaged in sex; female magicians often took lovers.

    For that matter, my understanding is Robert Jordan did something roughly similiar with his 'Wheel of Time.'
     
  6. AnnaBlixt

    AnnaBlixt Minstrel

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    As for the male version of witch... I believe that most people nowadays will go for the Harry Potter thing and think witch to be the female form of wizard.

    The world "warlock" to me has always had a feeling of being a wizard for war - warlock does bring your thoughts to "locked to war" or "the one that locks a war". For the role you are describing, with the warlock being the crowning piece of the armies in a magical war, I find it very appropriate.

    You could also go with witches being natural creatures, born with a raw force of nature, while warlocks are persons who study magic and aquire their abilities through study, test, contemplation and intelligence. In this way, anyone could be born a witch (even stupid, nasty and wicked ones), while you would need a certain sophistication and intelligence to become a warlock.
     
  7. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Originally, "witch" was the root word for a spellcaster of either sex (it was something like "witcha, male; witcheh, female"). During the Dark Ages witch hunts, the impression grew that most witches were female. "Warlock" was simply a word for "oathbreaker," that witch-hunters mixed into the terminology for male witches. These days, writers all find our own ways to name and write them all.

    I do like your sense of the traditional, limited powers of a Dark Ages-type witch. Here's one way you might distinguish your warlock: maybe witches don't have even slight telekinesis, but the ability to animate objects and raise winds, with very limited strength and speed. Only a warlock can just float something up against gravity and toss it around at will, which can be much more versatile and useful in a fight.
     
  8. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    The witches in my main WiP are sort of like yours. Their magic mostly comes from rituals and, what I call, Cauldron Casting. Good witches are called Wiccas, evil witches are Hags and neutral witches are just witches. Warlocks in my opinion are labels for male magic casters. (In my WiP warlock=evil)

    A significant and noticeable difference between witches and warlocks, besides gender and some powers, is the eyes. For my story, a witch can change her eye color, it sort of acts as a signal to others that she's either a.) powered up, b.) pissed off, or c.) both of the above. Warlocks almost do the same thing. Their eyes have that extra layer, like cats. When they focus, or are angry or whatever, it looks like their eyes are glowing whether or not light is hitting them right.
     
  9. jvars2

    jvars2 Acolyte

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    That's a pretty interesting concept for the eye changing Addison. It reminds of the demons from the show Supernatural, where they designate the different power levels of different demons based on eye color. But your system is pretty different.

    I think that I have etched out a way to differentiate them based on the general ideas above.

    Witches are able to use magic to use rituals, cast longer-effect spells and make minute changes to the world around them. They can imbue objects with magic as well.

    Warlocks, on the other hand, have the ability to more naturally tap into their magic. However, they are limited to a specific skill that they have a talent in, say teleportation or telekinesis. They can learn more skills as their power grows and they understand how to transfer willpower into magic, but it would take a long time. They don't need to necessarily know a spell, but when they do, it is much more powerful. Warlocks are also more susceptible to evil and black magic, as I define a warlock as a witch that has been infected with demon blood. (yes, I do have demons in this WiP as well :p

    This is basically what wordwalker said as well, so thank you!
     
  10. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Do note that there will be a bit of crossover here: a warlock whose main skill is Teleportation, for example, will likely have a degree of skill in Telekinesis. Likewise, a wizard whose expertise is ESP (mind reading and mind influencing) will also likely have bit of skill with metabolic or 'mind over body' spells as well.
     
  11. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    I love the concept of traditional style witches and warlocks, with limited powers according to legend like potions, rituals, summoning of spirits, use of magical animals and so on.

    Actually, I like the traditional witches so much that, for some time, I really considered to write stories about this style of Magic users instead of the really powerful, surreal Mages that are part of most of my stories...

    I have read about other traditional powers of witches, including: Cursing people, selling potions that people get addicted too, stealing souls, causing outbreaks, ruining the crops, creating winds and storms, controlling animals, transforming into animals, turning people into objects/animals, mind control and flying in broomsticks (a classic!) but teleportation and telekinesis powers are not part of the traditional witch powers, I believe.

    From my point of view, a Warlock would simply be a male Witch, or maybe a Witch (male or female) that has become specialized in battles and war. To give something special to your Warlocks maybe they could have some form of purely destructive and flashy power, like lightning attacks or Teleportation, that would be really good =)
     
    Jess A likes this.
  12. jvars2

    jvars2 Acolyte

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    Thinker,

    I actually have been thinking about that from the get-go. The psychic develops a lot of powers very quickly as she learns how powerful her mind is and how to apply it, while others like the MC who has the power of teleportation attain new levels of power very slowly, based on their mastery level. For example, the MC ends up with the power to teleport in the form of astral projection. But I will definitely keep that suggestion in mind!
     
  13. jvars2

    jvars2 Acolyte

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    That's exactly my plan as of now, Sheila! You pretty much described it spot on. Thanks for adding in those details about original, traditional witch powers, as that was what I have been searching for lately. I will probably use a lot of those concepts, so thanks again.
     
  14. Geldor

    Geldor Scribe

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    I have my own version of witches and wizards in my WiP but it doesn't seem to fit so i'm passing it on to you.

    Witches
    In my world witches are a sort of primal being that has control over the world about them. Their primal energy allows them to uproot trees, manipulate their growth and even breath life into them. Also they have a connection to the spirit world which means that they can easily call them to the realm of the living... much like mages in Dragon Age save the possession.

    Warlocks
    Similar to what AnnaBlixt said about warlocks they are men and women that train in the arts of magic to prepare for war. While witches are naturally magic warlocks travel to arcane colleges to learn the arts of magic... although their magic is to do with potions and alchemy that grant the consumer the ability to for example breathe fire. They also need to wear armor as they can run out of potions in battle and are left defenseless.
     
  15. jvars2

    jvars2 Acolyte

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    That's fairly similar to my concept that I have in mind, however there are a few differences!

    Witches:
    Naturally gifted to manipulate magic. Different "race" I suppose than regular humans who aren't capable of manipulating magic. They have traditional powers of a witch: elemental effects (weather), curses, potion-making, rituals, and general witchcraft.

    Warlocks:
    A subdivision of witches with powers naturally leaning toward warfare. Conjuration, teleportation, etc: things that make them much more skilled in a fight than most witches or mortals.
     
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