Encyclopaedia Arcana #19: Fire Magic (Part Two)

Part One of this article described the powers of fire magic:  this part will look at the nature of fire mages, and their place in the magical world.

Why So Much Fire?

Elemental magic is the most common family of magic, and fire mages are the most common type of mage, so much so that some people think there are more fire mages than any other two types of mage put together.  Nobody’s quite sure why there should be twice as many fire mages as air, water, or earth mages, although a simple explanation could be that the particular personality traits that attune a mage to fire just happen to be really common ones.  Another theory is that it’s something to do with fire being a symbol of humanity’s dominion over the natural world.  And some people say that it’s because fire’s the most destructive of all the elements, and humans are really good at destroying things.

Because fire magic is so common, fire mages are very much a known quantity.  Pretty much everyone in the magical world knows a fire mage, or at least has seen one, and their abilities are very well-known . . . as are their weaknesses.  As always, though, there’s enough variation within the type to make sensible mages careful about assuming they know everything about what a fire mage can do.

Nature and Demeanour

Fire mages have a reputation for being spontaneous, passionate, and creative.  If mages are making up a story and want a romantic young lover, they usually make the character a fire mage.  Of course, fire mages also have a reputation for being dangerous, violent, and destructive, so if a fire mage isn’t being cast as the hero there’s a good chance they’re being cast as the villain.

Both reputations have some truth to them.  Fire mages do tend to be intense and charismatic, and they do tend to attract a lot of attention (even if it’s not always the good kind).  On the other hand, an awful lot of thugs, tyrants and killers in magical history have been fire mages, too.  Fire magic is just so very good at causing fear and destruction, and a fire mage always has to fight the temptation to get rid of their problems by burning them.

If there’s one thing all fire mages have in common, it’s activity.  There’s practically no such thing as a passive fire mage.  No matter their interests, fire mages are doers, people of action, and a fire mage with nothing to do is a recipe for trouble.

Mundane Boredom

Fire mages often find that the aggressive nature of their magic makes it hard for them to fit in.  They’re great in high-stress high-intensity situations, but in quiet, peaceful settings they can feel like a fifth wheel.  On top of that, the ability to burn things doesn’t qualify you for many jobs.  It does however make you very good at extorting money from people who do have jobs, meaning that all too often the easiest way for a fire mage to earn money is by violence.

The Council’s traditional solution to this problem has been to recruit fire mages as Keepers, soldiers, or both, presumably in the hope that if fire mages have a place in society and a job to do then they’ll be more likely to expend their energy in ways that are helpful rather than randomly smashing things.  Sometimes it works, but it’s very common for fire mages to drift into predatory lifestyles with high risks and high rewards.  It’s an open secret that many fire mages are involved in illegal activities, and the Council generally turns a blind eye as long as they don’t directly harm the Council’s interests.

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