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Thread: Wizards vs ?(Please help me)

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I have a writers block sort of thing. For my writing (which will probably be rejected by every publisher in the land) I require people with some magical abilities, or do I? They have to be different from wizards. But I still want them to carry staffs (the staffs have no magical power) just because the staff seems like somone like these people would carry, or does it? They are not anything like maiar, they are just regular people who have some kind of obsession with magic (There are also some people who are magicians. Like that kid's uncle in the Magician's nephew, I think the lad's name was Digory. These people, have no actual power. Even if they are very intelligent.) But, the "druids" of my story are enlightened to use magic by selection of the imaginary diety of this world. Unfortunatly, the satan figure of my story used to have this task, before he was corrupted by jealousy. So, there are sorcerers who are more or less evil "druids".

I have a name for these sort of people. But my characteristics may come across as a ripoff of Tolkiens wizards (probably because they are both based mainly on druids). If anyone has any suggestions on how I can improve these people, please answer. Here is a description of these "druids".

Clothing- pants, tunic, robe/cloak(color not mattering), sandals/boots.
Appearance- Normally bearded, longhaired or baldheaded, wear skullcaps ( a medieval hat resembling a beanie)Heights vary.
Weapons- staff, and/or sword, and spells/varying powers.

It seems to me like most people will think I'm trying to copy Tolkien without actually copying Tolkien. But I can't vouch for other people's opinions before hearing them. I'm not rying to do that, It just turned out that way.
Hmmm... OK - even fantasy needs logic (I think) so why do they need to carry staves? Do the staves have any use at all? If not then they are illogical unless there is perhaps a tradition amongst those people - maybe the staves carry the history of each wizard within them or hold their names safe or something. If not, lose the staff unless it is needed for something like a walking stick and give them something else which they can use. Give them yo-yos which they can spin and unravel time or something. Smile Smilie

They could use the staves as weapons but if they carry swords why would they need to? If you have no reason for them to carry staves then it seems they are a device to show the reader that these are 'different' people and seems a bit 'traditional'. He must be a wizard - he has a staff. I'd suggest using something else to bind them together as being seen as different - give them all shaved and tattooed heads or maybe something like a deformed hand like a genetic similarity between them which perhaps has other uses. Make them blind to the world as it is but they 'see' with other senses?

But I still want them to carry staffs (the staffs have no magical power) just because the staff seems like somone like these people would carry

Someone? Probably just a typing error, but you could do something with that... if their "staffs" are sentient and just look like walking sticks... I don't know. But think about the implications of their staffs being called someone. Maybe all the staffs are one being and connect the wizards? Of course, those sound more like sci-fi than fantasy, so probably not the way you want to go, but again, think about possible implications, as you know more about these people than I do. Also, what is your name for these people? And if they are going to be main characters, then what they use their magic for and their own personalities will go a long way towards separating them from Tolkien's wizards.
And check your PM or the Redwall, Narnia, or...? board!
Interesting questions you have there.
Have you read Magician by Raymond E. Feist? It was a book I really enjoyed reading. It has some interesting theories about Magicians/Wizards.
I'm `stealing' some of Feist's ideas concerning Magicians for my own story. His ideas would solve your staves (sp?) problem.

Here is my idea on magic.
Magic needs a focus point, at least, the more complex magic. It's more of a saveguard than actually necessary. Since magic is a quite complex method of energy manipulation. If there is one tiny factor then the whole magiccal field can collapse. If the focuspoint is the magician self the collapse of the field can totally destroy or harming the magician (depending on the amount of energy used). To bypass this unfortunate sideeffect the focuspoint of a spell is often an object outside the magician. It can be scrolls, but they are difficult to carry around if you are in an emergency situation. Staves (sp?) are quite good for being a focuspoint. You can carry it around all the time, it wouldn't look silly for an old wizard to have it, and it profides a good focuspoint.
If the spell goes wrong and the magically field collapses, the staff would be destroyed instead of the magician.
The better the staff is made (type of wood, craftmanship put into the stick), the better the energy focussed on it will pass through, and the spell will be more effective. And if it all goes wrong, the better the energy can dissolve in it and leaving the staff less damaged.

Besides that, staves are quite obvious. If you have all your wizards walking around with one, anyone can see they are wizards. Staves are not easy to lose. Other wizards wear big pointy heads (like Gandalf used to wear), but in a strong wind they can be blown away, but a walking stick isn't that easilly lost.
You can make it a traditional thing, that it goes with the wizard atire, but hasn't got any practical values (except walking with it, but then all your wizards need to be old). Since they are `normal' humans, you might come across a young wizard, and why would he need a staff for?

Because your wizards are human (at least, I remember you saying that), is there some place they are trained? Like Terry Pratchett's Unseen University? Or do they begin as an appreintice of an older wizard?

Good luck with your story, and if you have more questions, feel free to ask.

PS: If you care to use my views on magic, please mutilate it in such an amount that it isn't recognizable as my views posted here. It would be a bit silly to see two different books with exact the same rules of magic.

PPS: Since my views are stolen more or less from Feist, I'm still mutilating them to be the same but still completely different.
This is a good thread, as I am writing my story, well its been emerging for the last few years growing larger and more diverse. The one thing I haven't yet concentrated on but have made a point of noting to do some research on is a system of magic. There are many different kinds of beings in my world and I think primarily for me the focal point would be one main kind of system inherent in that world. These comments have helped me in pointing me in the right direction to lookinto this further.
I have obvious respect for Tolkiens use of magic, or should I say 'art' as that is what it was to the elves. A beautiful idea and yet still somehow can be flawed, but only as flawed as the person utilizing or abusing this gift.
If this threads still going as I think and write about my system of magic I will add more posts.
Happy writing and Peace Smoke Smilie
I would think that what the "wizards" carry is much less important than their magical properties, staves or no. What are their specific powers? Are they shape-shifters? Are they capable of telekinesis? Is theirs a more "practical" magic, like healing powers, etc., or is their power more all-encompassing? Maybe they are bound to an oath of servitude to someone/something, or perhaps they are instruments of another higher being? I agree with whoever said you need to give them definition by naming their kind. That would help you in choosing their characteristics, I would think. I, however, have chronic fear of failure and have not attempted to write a story of my own, though, so I am not sure you should take my advice. But Rhapsody, on the other hand...Where are you, Rhaps? This man needs your help!
Some more thoughts... Questions have been asked about the practicality of staffs- what about robes? Either find a reason why they wear robes, or,like the staffs, get rid of them. I just read an absolutely dreadful book, and the main reason it was so bad was that it didn't have reasons for a lot of the things that happened. There was a giant evil rat controlling hundreds of normal rats, and while the heroes shrunk it to normal rat size with light, there was no explanation of why light had that effect on it or why it existed in the first place. Whatever was behind the thing still exists, I guess. So, find a reason for all the things you have decided about these mages, and make the reasons different than they are for Tolkien's wizards. That will make them seem very different, even if many of their physical aspects are the same. Deathmc had a good point about age- are there young "wizards" and do these "wizards" get older? Is that why some are bald and some have long hair, and why they are only usually bearded? If they are trained or not is another good question- obivously the "magicians" are, but what about the "wizards"?

I also have a question for anyone who comes to this thread- I have much the same problem as ar-edain, but with elves. I do not want my elves to be like the tolkien-elves, or at least not entirely. Any thoughts on potential differences or just definitions of how you think of the tolkien-elves would be helpful. Elf With a Big Grin Smilie
I had a problem with my elves too. They're alot like Tolkien's but less reclusive. In ME the elves were very connected to the Earth, since they were the first non-divine beings to inhabit it. My elves are not even supposed to live in the world I created (I haven't named this world yet). Part of my story is about the elves were put on the moon, which was it's own planet. But the diety I imagined for the story has a servant diety, that of course becomes corrupted. So, the servant diety wrecks the moon, but elvish magic causes it to continue shining. The good diety (The servant has equal power to the higher diety, but the higher diety manages to control him because the lesser dieties main flaw is cowardice toward anything else of godlike power.) Takes the elves off the moon and puts them on the planet. (which is alot like Earth, but has different land patterns, no continental drift, and has a dark opening where the south pole should be.) There are already several other races on the planet (the "master" race of the planet excepts the elves as "distant cousins" because of cultural similarities.

My wizardish people are called druids, unless there evil. An evil druid is a sorcerer. They don't have to be human. They can be humans, elves, half-dwarves, gnomes or members of several races I made up. Dwarves do not have the capabilities for magic, unless they can put it into their craft. Even then, it is very weak magic. All elves have a certain degree of magic. An elvish druid is completely different from a human druid. The robe or cloak is just because many of them travel. (And you definetly want a robe or cloak if your travelling in the northland, it's cold.)The walking stick is for support when walking. The sword is for fighting. As for magic, they just summon it. There is no ridiculous hand motions (Unless they are using a healing spell) and I can use staffs for magic. Some do not travel. As for how they learn magic, they just know. Eventually, they just realize they can perform magic. There is no characteristic that locks them all together. They are as different as pine and oak, which are still both trees. There powers vary too. Some can only heal, some have powers for war, and some do things like talking to animals or changing the current of water or air. None are all powerful and they have no control over life and death. They are mortal, but have a strong will and cannot be killed. that is one of the reasons the two dieties may slect someone to be a druid. Or a sorcerer. The old are normally more powerful, they've had more practice. I don't have a reason for the different hair and beard paterns yet. I'll come up with one. Not all of them carry staffs. (Alot of people that aren't druids carry staffs) A staff or sword is just a travellers preference. Some might even have an axe or a spear. it depends on what there powers are for. If they have powers they can use for fighting, they might not carry anything. If they have a bad leg, they'll probably carry a staff. Or, they might use the staff for some reason. They all have different powers. Some have a wide range of powers, while some don't.
My druid/wizard-like people are called Sages becasue Druids held all the knowledge in the Celtic tribes, and I am tryingt o get as close to the Druids as possible, but the only thing keeping me form that is the magic of the Sages. I wanted loads of magic in my series, and they seemed to already hold a lot of magic according to legends and Roman accounts. I've been researching like crazy on Druids and ancient civilizations. I do, however, have staffs for all of the Sages. Most of them are old and do need it becasue they can't take their horses everywhere they go (mountains mainly and some incredibly dense and dangerous forests). But the staffs are a source of channeling magic/energy. The Sages also have different powers for each. It makes them each different in a clear way, but all of their personalities are different too. As for my Elves, they all aren't pasty-white, and they all have different views of men and dwarves, and each elven city has different views and differnet cultures (which of course will happen to any city becasue there is a certain isolation especially with ancient cultures that didn't have cars or planes or trains to get places quickly. My Elves also differ in looks and skin color in each city. They do hold a large amount of magic compared to Men, Dwarves, and Gnomes (as well as my other creatures), but it is nowhere near the extent of Sage magic. They only have psychic abilities with other beings and with the trees. That part may be a little Tolkienish, but it's accented more in my books. The Elves often speak to each other or others people mentally.
Of course this has nothing to do with you, except show you that what you're doing is fine, but you might need to make sure that each druid himself or herself (since there were female druids) has a different personality. I'm just giving you examples of what I copying ideas from me!
Although we of course appreciate getting answers to our questions, you probably don't have to answer them all here, as that could get time consuming. Then again, it's probably best to have it all written down somewhere, so...
It seems to me like your druids are already pretty different than Tolkien's wizards, except for in physical appearance, and since that doesn't seem to neccessarily be consistent, you are probably okay. Elf With a Big Grin Smilie
You could also have your non-wizard's staff be a tribal/clan-like symbol that he was charged to always carry about with him. It may be the key to some discovery in the future or be symbolic of some event in the past: such as his carrying it, will lead to his being recognized a long-lost heir or something. (Of course that plot has been muchly over-worked) Besides being useful as an emergency weapon, it can fullfil the more mundane task as a walking stick.
Every traveller wants to carry a staff or a walking stick. Bilbo, Frodo and Sam were given staffs when they left Faramir in the book and were very grateful, even Grondy's avatar has a walking stick!

I'm not trying to completely base my druids on celtic druids. Only partially. (I spent over a year trying to get a basic idea for my elves. I'm still working on that idea, and I probably will be for a few more years.) Instead of staffs, maybe they should carry walking sticks. I think i just had a decent idea!