Magic is a big part of fantasy and even some science fiction. Be they wizards, clerics, or others, magic users are a popular character type. And whether in writing, movies, video games, one of the most popular categories of magic user is the mage.
Mages encompass a wide variety of roles and sometimes overlap with other types of magic user. Traditionally, the singular form of mage is magus, and the plural is magi. Here are 11 types of mage in both fiction and reality.
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Types of Mages
Please note that the following types are classified specifically as mages. Other forms of spellcaster, such as wizards, are often confused with mages but are generally a completely separate kind of magic user with a very different magical discipline.
1. Black Mage
This character class has been one of the most iconic members of the Final Fantasy franchise since the very first game. They’re traditionally short and stocky, with blue jackets and straw hats.
Black mages use curses and necromantic spells, making them devastating in combat but also very weak to physical attacks. A metal band called the Black Mages was created by four game composers and featured mostly covers of Final Fantasy music.
2. Blue Mage
Final Fantasy V introduced a fourth mage class to the traditional black, red, and white called a blue mage. These mages had the ability to copy enemy skills and spells that are used against them, and can sometimes control monsters.
Blue mages are also better in melee combat than black or white mages.
The elementalist, or elemental mage, is a term used in both real life and fantasy to describe a magic user who specializes in a specific element. Depending on the culture, an elemental mage may be a master of fire, air, water, energy/lightning, or earth (Western cultures); or water, wood, metal, earth, or fire (Eastern cultures).
They are often confused with alchemists, but generally do not rely on chemistry to perform spells despite sharing many similar perspectives on the elements themselves.
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4. Green Mage
Found in the Final Fantasy Tactics games, green mages specialize in status effects. In this sense, they share the abilities of a black mage to cause effects as well as the white mage’s ability to cure effects. However, they are unable to heal or use direct damage spells.
5. Mage (AD&D)
In the world of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, the term “mage” is used as a catch-all for any type of spellcaster who does not gain his power from an external being. The basic mage uses spells from a number of disciplines charted on a wheel.
These mages are usually unable to cast spells from the opposing discipline and have a greater affinity for disciplines adjacent to their specialty. For example, a necromancer has bonuses when using spells that control the dead, but cannot (usually) cast healing spells unless they are also a cleric class.
Many hybrid and sub-classes existed in the game as well, such as the anatomist (rogue/necromancer hybrid). These additional classes did not exist in the original Dungeons & Dragons game and are usually significantly altered or replaced for D20 D&D, which adopts much of the lore from the previous two systems into the D20 universal roleplaying system framework.
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Mages are a popular part of Japanese media, prompting their debut in the popular tokusatsu franchise Super Sentai.
In the series Mahō Sentai Magiranger, five siblings discover they are descended from a line of magi and, with the help of their singing mandrake, must protect the world from the evil Infersia. Each magus in the family specialized in a different elemental power and transformed using a magical phone.
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7. Magus (Black Mage Promotion)
The magus is a job type in Final Fantasy that can be obtained by reaching a certain level of proficiency as a black mage. These powerful spellcasters can perform magic beyond the abilities of even the strongest black mage.
Some followers of Final Fantasy games may not be familiar with them, because they only appear in games which have a focus on jobs. Their superior skillsets separate them from their more common precursors.
8. Middle Eastern Magi
The actual term magi actually originates in the Middle East where it referred to a wise man. This type of mage is common in folklore and is often mentioned in middle-Eastern religions. The three wise men mentioned in the Bible were magi.
9. Red Mage
The heavy hitter of Final Fantasy’s mage classes, red mages are able to hold their own in physical combat and cast spells designed to cause massive damage. Their spells are unable to heal and rarely cause status effects, which helps them stay balanced with other mage types.
Fire is the most common element used in red mage spells, but is not the only one.
10. Time Mage
First introduced in Final Fantasy V, time mages are a popular job class known for using spells that can alter time and gravity. Common spells include haste, slow, and Meteor.
11. White Mages
The antithesis of black mages, Final Fantasy’s white mages wear white robes and are skilled at dispelling status effects and healing. The do weak physical attacks, but have better defense than black mages. Dagger from Final Fantasy IX was based on the white mage.