Witch Species
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Basic Information

The concept of a "witch species"1 relates to the … not unpopular … setting trope of a talent for magic being a heritable characteristic and, more generally, that heredity creating a specific subspecies/race/nation of humanity. Note, despite the trope name, a "witch species" is generally still a subset of humanity … if they only look human (which, after all, was good enough for Tolkien), then the trope arguably doesn't apply. (With the possible exception of cases where bizarre fantasy biology allows everything to crossbreed with everything else.)

The "witch" part has nothing to do with pact making, and is generally only used because someone thought it sounded cool - or, sometimes, because the talent only manifests properly (or is inherited through) the females of the subspecies2. No actual witches are typically involved, not least because, if you inherit the ability to use magic, you don't need to make badly balanced deal to get it.

Related Tropes



Game and Story Use

  • Obviously this is a great way to justify fantastic racism … there's no point pretending everyone is equal if some people are definitely better.
    • Of course, racism being racism, that doesn't necessarily mean that the race will be correctly identified - especially if complex heredity is involved.
      • For example, J.K. Rowling's "Potterverse" features persistent problems in the (heritable) magical community over the issues of non-magic using individuals born to magical parents ("squibs") and magic capable children born to mundane parents ("muggle borns" … or worse).
      • Jim Butcher's "Dresdenverse" contains at least the implication that there is a significant maternal heredity for magical talent - it is, at least, a popular enough rumour for one of the antagonists in the series to try to use it to his advantage.
    • The ability to breed for magical talent could lead to all sorts of interesting societies, from a magic-wielding aristocracy to a bureaucratic meritocracy. See magocracy.
    • Conversely, imagine a setting where magic users are seen as "blessed" and herded off into convents and monasteries to focus on their gifts, thus inadvertently breeding the talent out of the population.
  • If magic is an inherent talent, can training help - the default answer is usually "yes" and will lead to wizarding schools scouring the land for talent (As per Rowling's Hogwarts again), but a more subversive "no" will lead to a far more random world, with magic likely to be poorly methodicated and hard to pin down.
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