Magic: Backhoe

Why don’t we see more evil wizards in Edgewhen?

In heroic fantasy worlds, those who know the secrets of magic are powerful beings. They use their knowledge to oppress others until some brave hero comes to challenge them.

In Edgewhen, magic is usually integrated into society. Magical talent is used in the practice of a certain profession. It may inspire admiration, but it rarely inspires awe.

Why is that?

Because I’m modeling Edgewhen societies on our own. I call it …

The Backhoe Theory of Magic

Let me tell you about my neighbor, Daniel. Daniel owns a backhoe. This should make him the most powerful man in town.

He has the ability to move huge chunks of earth. He can dig trenches and build hills.

The backhoe is a powerful machine. If someone does something Daniel doesn’t like, he can knock their house down. If they go over to Daniel’s house to complain, he can take his backhoe and smash their car.

This would make people angry at Daniel. They might call the police. But why should Daniel care? With his backhoe he can dig an impassable trench around his house. He can push the police cars into heaps and cover them with earth to build an impenetrable wall.

Daniel should be able to establish a reign of terror. His backhoe gives him great power.

But for some reason, Daniel chooses to use his backhoe to dig trenches for people. They pay him money and he uses it to buy groceries. He doesn’t use his backhoe illegally, and he doesn’t build a fortress to fend off the law enforcement authorities. Because he’s not a megalomaniac.

I’ve got nothing against the archetypal mad wizard who uses his power to seclude himself in a tower and plot the downfall of the neighboring populace. I just think that given the choice between brutal conflict and a respected occupation, most people would choose the latter.