I wasn't quite sure where to put this - there doesn't seem to be a 'lore' section that I can find, but the general section will do.
So, mages. They're not (legally) permitted to make a profit from their magic. But of course that means there's a healthy black market full of dabbling bookworms who learned a couple of charms and now peddle their meager magical talents in back alleys and after-dark pubs. My question is this: What do we call them?
Essentially, I plan on making a mission centered around such a character, and I need a snazzy slang term for a mage who operates outside the law for profit. The term 'Hedge-wizard' doesn't really cut it, that's more of a derogatory phrase used by more upstanding mages to look down their noses at the common apprentices. I'm looking for something from the point of view of fellow thieves and cutthroats. How do they refer to their more magically-inclined peers who sell them arcane arrows and breath potions?
Worthwhile idea, actually. I think the folk name or nickname for such mages would probably reference that they practice magical arts or at least the process of developing magical items, in a DIY, off-the-records manner. In this sense, they're "home-brewing" practitioners of magic, and they sell off the items they produce to earn a living, via their black market distribution contacts.
"Hedge-mage" does sound a little too G. R. R. Martin. I doubt most of these magical black marketeers would wander the land, sleeping beneath hedgerows, as the likes of Martin's own term "hedge-knight" implies.
So, in order to avoid "hedge-mage", here are some terms that have crossed my mind:brewer-mage
or just brewer
- referencing the fact that they earn a living by secretly home-brewing various magical items (amulets, magi-crystals, etc.) and substances (potions, aqua vitae, alchemical stuff, etc.) at home. You get an unintentional parallel here with drug manufacturers and their illegal labs at home or at various hideouts. Also, brewer
works fine as an argot term here, since it references something secret by using a common, seemingly straightforward term (maybe brewers
could be potion-making black marketeers, while bakers
would be those who "bake" magical items).penny-mage
- a mage who crafts and secretly trades with magical items in order to earn a pretty penny or two, or even a whole lot of pennies potboiler
- in the real world and real history, someone doing "a potboiler" is doing something that is not seen as creatively accomplished, but it's a thing that earns them enough money to "keep the pot boiling", "keep the kettle boiling" (you usually see this in reference to writers or outright hacks, with "potboiler fiction" being seen as low-grade, formulaic fiction, written to "pay the bills")dryer
- for any BM mage that focuses on herbalist stuff. Quite literally a secret manufacturer who has to dry various herbs, mushrooms, etc., on a regular basis. Unlike a socially accepted apothecarist, they do this illicitly, with substances that have been banned or regulated, or are not allowed to be processed without someone being a certified, professional herbalist/apothecarist. Maybe TDM-verse apothecarists need such a certificate, or some accepted higher learning degree, approved by either the local authorities, or authorities of The Empire, or even the Builders.wielder-dealer
- a pun on the folk term wheeler-dealer
, used as a mocking label for various conmen, including actual black marketeers. The wielder-
bit would reference that they do know how to wield some magic
, even if only in a limited degree, related to their black market goods production.
Let's also look at the original etymology of the modern term mage
: It's an ancient Greek term, magus
, derived from an Old Iranian word (and thus related to other forms of Persian). It's been ordinarily used in two different meanings:1.
a Zoroastrian priest (a very Persian cultural element in and of itself)2.
a "magician", a "conjurer", and more loosely and derisively, a "charlatan", "trickster", etc.
I myself have also stumbled upon a third use, that of "scholar" or "wiseman" or "person of knowledge".
In the modern but also historical sense, mages dabble in magic or wield magic because magic is an intellectual or "scientific" art form to be understood and grasped. It's part science, part art, with a dash of mysticism.
To quote Wiktionary: The two meanings overlap in classical usage— both derive from the Greco-Roman identification of "Zoroaster" as the "inventor" of astrology and magic. The first meaning ('magician') derives from the sense of "practitioner of the Zoroaster's craft", and the second meaning ('priest') from the sense of "practitioner of Zoroaster's religion".
This is also why the "Three Kings" of the Christmastide tradition are referred to as the "Three Magi" or "Three Wise Men", etc.
In my own fantasy universe, the history-inspired connection between "mage" and "scholar" is something explicitly noted in the development of both magic and academic learning, and academic science.
Also, the term wizard
comes from an Old English or perhaps originally Germanic term, meaning "wiseman", "wise man", "someone who has wisdom". Again, the connection between knowledge and wisdom, and the wielding of magic. I suppose it's some fairly universal trait in the folklore of various cultures worldwide to associate a sum of knowledge, or knowledgeability about various processes and natural phenomenna, with borderline magical powers. Interestingly enough, some of the foundational works of modern literary fantasy seem to imply this as well: Tolkien's own conception of his wizard from Arda is that their magic is based on their individual knowledge of natural processes, and their knowledge of how to bend those processes to their will (in both overt and subtle ways).
One could mix it with the good old fashioned word that all Thief fans know and create a spell-taffer, or other combinations/kennings.
I think that maggot would fit with sneaky mage-thieves. It has the same beginning as magician or mage and gets well along other slang words - it comes with a negative notion and such.
R Soul wrote some awesome terms that are definitely worth considering.
I've thought of ken
as part of some shorthand too, given that it references someone's knowledge, and as I note above, references the real world etymology for mage
as an extension of that.
I love maggot
as an ordinary street colloquialism ! Simple, to the point, and with no love lost for the guys who provide the valuable goods, outside of their usefulness.
Best slang I can think of currently is:
-Newt-Blinder / Newtmonger (reference to using Eye of Newt)
-Banewright / Jinxwright / Hexwright (various names for curses, portmanteau'd with a name for a craftsman)
something more succinct might be better though.
I nearly overlooked these... I daresay these are rather wonderful. I especially like hexwright.
Edited by Petike the Taffer, 26 October 2018 - 03:10 PM.