June 15, 2011
Remember features a lot of magical characters, more than can surely be counted on one man’s hands alone, so its rather clear that I have something of a fixation on wizards, sorcerers, warlocks, and their ilk. Today, I’ll give a hand to trying to sort out precisely why that is.
First and foremost in a visual media like webcomics, spellcasters offer a lot of visual imagery in what might otherwise be a very mundane world. Compare for example two swordsmen fighting, I could have sparks flash off their swords and shields, do fancy things with the shadows they throw on a nearby wall, but for the most part it isn’t really all that interesting visually, especially in such a detail-sparse style as mine, where things like shading are only thrown in for emphasis and dramatic effect. Now consider two mages fighting, and I can have lightning arc across the room, great roiling balls of flame shooting about, flashes in the darkness as their eyes and hands alone illuminate the battle taking place. There’s certainly a visual appeal to the supernatural in fantasy comics like this.
Next is of course the behavioural. Most spellcasters have spent a great deal of time and effort in learning their craft, and as such tend to have the notion of being informed and aware of things going on, both around them and in the world, so they can be stuffy and pessimistic or they can be chessmasters moving pawns about the place or they can be just about any well-read stereotype you can think of. Add in next those spellcasters who haven’t had to learn their craft, like sorcerers, bards, and many warlocks, people who are quite often born with their magical capabilities, and have literally grown up seeing the world bend around their antics and desires. They can be brash, bold, arrogant, coy, whimsical. The very quality of having access to these magical abilities and how they have such access adds a great deal to the nature of spellcaster character, whereas with the more mundane you tend to have notions of duty, bloodlust, honour, etc. These are by no means true of all characters (indeed a good character avoids such readily-discerned ideas about them), but it becomes easier to imagine certain extremes of nature when nature is willing to step aside for their extremes.
Finally, and perhaps most notably for my purposes, is what it actually means to be a spellcaster with power over magic. Magic is a force that, by definition, defies natural order, shoves it aside in favour of what the spellcaster in question wants. By sheer force of will and intention, a spellcaster can break down the laws of reality as we know them in order to forge what they think reality should be. Considered as an aspect of humanity then, spellcasters are the people who see something wrong in the world and then overcome every single obstacle placed in their path in order to fix it, they are determined individuals and they are revolutionaries. They are the people that stand in the dark alleyways, beset by lumbering, greedy, thugs and ask only “Who the hell do you think I am?”
Put simply, spellcasters are the full might of what it means to be human brought to bear in literal and visual fashion, because they don’t care what the universe puts ahead of them, or else they wouldn’t have started using magic in the first place.
Even then however, there is a distinct separation between high fantasy (Remember’s current state) and low fantasy (More visible in Chronicles of Arcania). Igon is well acquainted with magic, its something he legitimately holds several degrees in and is well-understood and organised, so for him using magic is easy. For Igon, magic is a tool. For Arcanon, the story is very different. Magic in Arcanon’s time is much less understood, much less catalogued, and much less controlled. If Igon wants to make a wall into a new exit, he just uses the formula he learned on day 47 of his academy days, or thinks back to the summer he learned about explosive spells. If Arcanon wants the same thing, he has to really, really, want the wall to be gone. The less understood and rehearsed magic is, the more determined the mage has to be, so again we see parallels of human determination in spellcasters. The less possible things seem, the more determined you have to be to tear them aside.
So I definitely have a fixation on using spellcasters, the past 700 words or so seem to bear that out rather neatly. However, I think given the human element of these characters, something I try very hard to leave in their capable hands rather than mine, their ability to rend reality asunder in favour of their own whims is less a problem of mine and more a quality of their own mentalities.