1. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Different words with similar meanings

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Xatron, Feb 6, 2013.

    I know that interpreting most of these words is 90% up to the individual, but i decided to ask anyway.
    i)Wizard
    ii)Warlock
    iii)Magician
    iv)Mage
    v)Magister
    vi)Spellcaster
    vii)Druid
    viii)Sorcerer
    ix)Shaman
    x)Adept
    xi)Alchemist
    xii)Mystic
    xiii)Thaumaturgist
    xiv)Archmage
    xv)Arcanist
    xvi)Hierophant

    All those words are used to describe someone who uses some form of magic in general, but what I want to know is the differences between them. I have been writing sci-fi/fantasy for a few years but this is the first time I am attempting to write pure fantasy without sci-fi influences so I know some but not most of the characteristics of those terms. I would appreciate any help.

    P.S. I hope I didn't put it in the wrong section, since it is word definitions I am looking for I thought word mechanics was the way to go
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Each word has a different connotation. An alchemist is not the same as a mage, for example. An archmage is a leader of mages. Some, like wizard and warlock, mean the same thing. You're just going to have to look up the meaning of each word and see which one fits the best for your particular case.
     
  3. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    As Thirdwind says, a dictionary will get you a long way -- for instance, you will discover that there's not necessarily anything magical about druids or mystics, and you will discover that an alchemist is more likely to be brewing potions and a spellcaster more likely to be using gestures and incantations. But you also need to look at the connotations of the words, which might not be evident from a dictionary. For example, "warlock" has strong negative connotations not present with "wizard", so, although a dictionary might give them as synonyms, the ways in which you use them will differ. There are also associations of culture: if you have druids then you are immediately creating a Celtic context which may or may not be appropriate to your world. A lot of this I reckon you will only get by reading a lot!
     
  4. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    That is the main problem. I have read piles of fantasy books but most of them referred to magic users as wizards, sorcerers, archmages or mystics(or mysts). As for the alchemist example, that's what i thought too (elixir of life, philosopher's stone, transmutations etc) but when i asked a friend of mine he sent me some animated spots with "alchemists" actively using magic like pyrokinesis, forming weapons from the ground and stuff. Dictionaries are contradictory when it comes to this stuff, reading a D&D guide or something is more likely to clear some things up but i don't want to imitate a single world. What i am looking for are the connotations surrounding the most popular terms and the differences in the actual practice.
     
  5. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    To tell you the truth, your best bet is to probably read D&D related fiction, or research some classic RPG games (Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, anything of that genre.)

    Study the different classes. In those games, each class has a certain alignment, which is the same concept as to why someone above mentioned that Warlocks have negative connotations, because they typically possess darker magic.

    Each one has a special connotation, as the previous have mentioned. Though Druids may possess magic, they typically are elemental, or bound to things of nature, whereas a Sorcerer may be able to control the elements, but is not limited to such, and can explore other forms of magic, arcane, dark, necromancy, demonology.

    In some cases, Wizards need to verbalize spells, but Sorcerers only need to gather manna and will it. Warlocks may need to charge an item, or channel through a familiar, such as a demon, or a physical being they control, yet Shamans utilize ceremonies, or the help of ancestors, to charge themselves and take into the world magic for a certain period of time.

    A Magician may simply use parlor tricks and gadgets that seem like magic, and then I've seen cases where the character is labeled a magician, and possesses metaphysical powers, in the same way a Mage might.

    Wizards, Mages, Magicians, and Sorcerers have typically all been the same type of magic user, though their alignment has usually differed. Good, Bad, Neutral, Evil, and their specialization differed, incantations vs verbalization vs gestures vs wands vs staffs vs whatever.

    As for Alchemists, I've only seen them brewing potions, or transmuting things by working with natural elements. Arcanists, that I've read and seen in games, possess arcane power, and utilize mystic concepts, such as inscribing signs charged with power onto a door, and whoever touches that door is thus effected by whatever it's supposed to do.

    Delve into D&D and traditional RPG games. I wouldn't rely on main-stream fantasy, for they throw a lot of these terms around interchangably, which is okay in some cases. I have no problem seeing a Sorcerer called a Mage, and a Mage called a Sorcerer, for there doesn't need to be distinction. Look at David Edding's the Belgariad and Mallorean series (which are absolutely fantastic, imo. Well-written, though easy to read). It revolves around Sorcerers, and they can change into animals, bend the elements, speak telepathically, and communicate with Gods. They aren't classified as shape-shifters, though I do believe at one point, one of the characters casually refers to himself as one, but it's not a classification.

    Robert Jordan took those concepts and turned them on their heads, giving his own name to people who can use magic.

    There's another series called Spellfire by Ed Greenwood (if I'm not mistaken), where a woman can cast spellfire, but she's not called a mage.

    Another book called the Amber Wizard, that I've read, and he possesses all the characteristics that identify a Mage, Magician, Sorcerer, and Wizard.

    In the end, you're the author. Write with authority, present the information you want to in the exact way you want to present it. If you want your character to be a Sorcerer who can talk to trees and communicate with the wind, as would traditionally a Druid, than by all means, do so. It's not the distinction that's always important, but how the story is told.
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I have to say that this is a genre that attracts a remarkable amount of sloppy writing, so I'm tempted to say that alchemists using pyrokinesis is just an example a writer being less diligent than you in their research. But to be fair, there's nothing to say that somebody specialised in one type of magic can't have some degree of ability in other types of magic. I can see how pyrokineses might be useful to an alchemist, so even though it's not alchemy an alchemist might still learn it.
     
  7. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Thank you GoldenGhost, your information is really helpful. I do intend to take artistic license with my magic users but as i have come to know the fantasy genre readers don't take messing up the classes very well.
     

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