Tanya the Realism Mage

After reading some complaints about modern SF and fantasy I’d really like a fantasy magic-user character called a realism mage. I assume this has been suggested before but I won’t let that stop me explaining myself.

Essentially they only have one spell and it is called “Enact realism!” Whenever they cast this spell, whatever they cast it at becomes more realistic. The more often and the more powerfully they cast it, the more realistic the target becomes.

Imagine the realism mage (we’ll call her Tanya because that sounds suitably mage like) encountering a dragon:

Dragon: I fear no mortal!

Tanya: Enact realism!

Dragon: Eeek! I’ve lost the capacity for flight! Just for that I’ll burn you alive with my fiery breath.

Tanya: Enact realism!

Dragon: Um, well it seems that without a overly complex backstory about methane glands, that I can’t actually breath fire and…

Tanya: Enact realism!

Dragon: Eeek! I’ve collapsed in a heap due to my skeleton not being able to actually support my vast weight.

Tanya: Give me all your gold or the next spell will rob you of your intelligence.

Dragon: eep.

As an RPG character Tanya is way overpowered even though her only power is to make things more mundane.

Here’s the thing though. There are people who think Tanya can make ordinary people disappear. They think if a non-white character appears in an epic fantasy Tanya could make them vanish. Well not only can Tanya NOT make such a character vanish she really wouldn’t want to. She can’t make women vanish or trans people vanish or gay people vanish or disabled people vanish. Sure, she can make hobbits and trolls and goblins vanish. She could bring the USS Enterprise to a stop and leave the crew floating in mid air. She could incapacitate or just plain obliterate the Death Star. She can collapse the climate of Westeros or lay waste to the geography of Middle Earth. Her power has almost no bounds.

But she can’t make poverty disappear or a monarchy intrinsically noble. She can’t make people not love people that their peers think they shouldn’t. She can’t sort humanity into neat geographical packages based on their appearance with no one ever wandering out of the scheme. She can’t make gender simple or sexuality straight forward. She can’t make a war have no civilian cost nor can she make it intrinsically enobling.

 

 

9 thoughts on “Tanya the Realism Mage

  1. Camestros, this may be my favourite among your essays. (‘U’ added in honor of you.)
    May I add one more limitation for Tanya? She can’t make women not take up arms in defense of self and home. Women did fight.

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  2. That’s a lot of talk about ennobling noble nobility at the end there, CF. Is it a bit of a jab at a certain authorial feline who apparently has an OBE (“Sir Timothy The-Talking-Cat Doyle'”) ? I’ll confess to a bit of a surprise. I had rather suspected his decorations might have come from Russia via that dry cleaner/money laundering/ front — an OPBS (“Order of Petroleum-Based Solvents”)

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  3. We need her. Brexit? Enact Realism. US election? Enact Realism. Etc…

    Ergo, dragons are real (I shall now disappear in a puff of failed logic).

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  4. The game Tales from the Floating Vagabond actually had that ability as one of the character ‘schticks’ you could have: it was called the ‘Newton Effect’. You could make anything that violated the laws of physics as you understood them stop working as long as you paid attention to it.

    Given that the game ran mostly on Rule of Funny (other schticks included the ‘Toon Effect, where you could run off cliffs and not fall as long as you didn’t look down; the Trenchcoat Effect, where anything that could conceivably fit through the opening on your trenchcoat (or purse or pocket) could be pulled out of it; the Bartender Effect, where as long as you were cleaning glasses and tending bar, no amount of damage in the bar brawl would affect you; etc.) it wasn’t quite as overpowered as it might sound. Especially as many characters with the Newton Effect would actually be unaware of it, and wonder why things just spontaneously seemed to fall down when they looked…

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