An Introduction | What's In A Wizard? | Spell Categories | Linguistics of Note | Natural Predators | Loose Ends | Concluding Q&A
Just like any important group of people, when wizards go around doing whatever it is they do they make a lot of enemies. The abilities to throw fire around in the air, mix potions, heal people and so on just have a tendency to get certain creatures understandably angry with you.
Of all the numerous mythical creatures, dragons are the fiercest of the fierce. So when you stop to consider that the most well known dragon in the United States is Puff the Magic Dragon, you get a clear picture of the kind of priorities they have there.
In The Hobbit, Smaug is the reigning evil, and sure he's no Sauron, but he does fly and breathe flames. Since The Hobbit is the quintessential adventure novel, it's only natural that readers would expect the characters to face a fire breathing dragon guarding their treasure. When Smaug speaks (as many dragons do) he proves himself quite as diabolical and cunning as any wizard could have been. Discouragingly, Gandalf and Smaug never face each other personally. However, it is Gandalf's conspiracy against Smaug that does eventually end up defeating him, disturbing his indolent lifestyle and angering him into exposing his one weakness. This is an example of the annoying habit wizards have of defeating opponents without actually doing any heavy lifting.
In the Earthsea novels, dragon and man are said to have once been a single type of creature, the dragons choosing power and man choosing knowledge. Kind of makes you think, huh? It may be prudent at this point to mention that dragons don't actually gather their knowledge and power from persistent study the way wizards do, but that they are born with innate knowledge and power that grows on its own (a real time saver). This makes wizards very jealous and goes a long way in explaining why you don't see many dragons around anymore.
Is there even a difference? Wizards definitely think so, and their views on the subject are best expressed by people who spend a small (objectionable) amount of their lives at one time or another pretending to be wizards. Quoting from the Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons Rule book, it is explained that 'Sorcerers create magic the way poets create poems, with inborn talent honed by practice,' while 'Wizards depend on intensive study to create their magic. For a wizard, magic is not a talent but a deliberate rewarding art.' So there you have it. In some works of literature sorcerers are simply untrained or untalented wizards, and in others they are evenly matched mortal enemies. The important thing here is that sorcerers can accomplish the same things as wizards, so it logically follows that they should try to kill each other at any given opportunity.
In most fantasy universes, being a wizard is something only men seem to have the knack for. The explanation for this is sometimes that men and women use different magic. More frequently the explanation is that women just don't get the proper training and opportunities that men have to become wizards, but that's just silly and another instance of how fantasy has nothing to do with reality. So why do witches and wizards want to kill each other so often? A more familiar question with a comparable answer might be: why do men and women want to kill each other so much?
The celebrated manner in which wizards and witches traditionally choose to duel it out was popularised by TH White in The Sword and the Stone. Merlin (spelled Merlyn because it looks more medieval) arrives to rescue an adolescent Arthur from the clutches of Madame Mim, a skilled witch. Instead of throwing chaotic and unexplainable spells at one another, the two conveniently agree on an easily narratable shape-shifting duel. The beginning involves things like Mim turning into a dog after Merlin becomes a cat, and so on. After a lot of this kind of paper, scissors, rock thing, Mim eventually becomes some giant animal called an aullay, because TH White couldn't think of a real animal bigger than Merlin's elephant. Merlin responds by changing into a germ which kills Madame Mim. One may wonder why Merlin simply didn't do this in the first place. Undoubtedly TH White has a very good answer, which he simply chooses to keep to himself.
In summary, you can't take two groups of different genders, who have shunned the opposite sex so that they can focus more on their ability to mess with the fabric of reality, stick them in the same world, and not expect them to throw spells at each other the first chance they get.
Men With Torches and Pitchforks
With all the conditions, accidents, and diseases going around, someone has to be to blame, and since God is omnibenevolent...that leaves the village wizard. When your cow dies of unknown causes, and you know there's some kind of sorcerer-type person in the general vicinity, it doesn't take an idiot to put two and two together. So you're at the tavern later with all your buddies that you've grown up together with, and they get to talking about all sorts of other bad things that happen to them, and pretty soon there's a whole lot of drunken addition going on...and before you can say 'mob mentality', (it's hard because you're drunk) you find yourself standing in front of the local wizard's hut with your trusty torch and pitchfork. You'll show that murderous spell-slinging demon real power... well hmmm... it all made sense back at the tavern anyway.
Alright, so it isn't happening so much as of yet, but come on! They're exact opposites! And they both have super powers! It's only a matter of inevitability. You'd do best to choose your side wisely...before the metal ones come for you.
Some people just can't stop until they've hammered the joke into the ground.
- Wizard Lore - An Introduction
- Wizard Lore - What's In a Wizard?
- Wizard Lore - Lingustics of Note
- Wizard Lore - Spell Categories
- Wizard Lore - Loose Ends
- Wizard Lore - Concluding Q&A