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Character Design Brainstorming: The Sorceress

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Sept. 5, 2020
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The Sorceress is a powerful figure in fiction, just like the Priest/Priestess/Clergy.

In works where magic or God are present and in direct communion with the characters, both can perform miracles, or otherwise astounding feats beyond normal mortal limits.

In works where there is no magic or God, they can be masterful manipulators, that use tricks and cold reading and other methods to convince people of their powers even if they don't actually have them.

What is the difference though?

Unlike the Priest or Priestess, the Sorceress' status in society is not guaranteed to the same degree. Depending on the culture and the setup, she can be anything from a holy person to an outcast to an outlaw under persecution. She may be part of an institutionalized religion just as much as she can be a self-taught radical or a recluse that has followed the path of unique, gifted people.

She can be blessed with divine holiness but she can also have made a pact with the devil for her powers. And that can be true or false rumor, depending on your story setup.

And, of course, she is a woman.

Depending on the society design, a powerful woman might be cause for alarm and threat, or for celebration and adoration. She can be the advisor to the king or the queen herself. But she can also be shunned for daring to be anything more than a second class citizen. Either way, however, she will represent the occult, the unknown, and the potential for unpredictability.

Lastly, she can be very young or very old, but nobody can be sure if that is her real likeness or a glamour. She can be as chaste as a vestal priestess or as promiscuous as a succubus.

Her relationship with who she is, how much she embraces it and uses it depends on her personality and her life's history. But there is so much versatility in this character class that it's just too tempting not to use!

Have you had sorceresses in your stories?

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comment

anonymous?

PaulEberhardt at 5:27AM, Sept. 7, 2020

4. Another interesting question to consider: What is the difference between a sorceress and a witch anyway? Is there any? (Hint: it depends. Some traditionalists would say no and would be wrong, I would say yes and wouldn't be 100% right either.) /// If you would like me to elaborate on any of these 3½ subjects, I'll be happy to.

PaulEberhardt at 5:26AM, Sept. 7, 2020

My main character happens to be a sorceress, even if she prefers to call herself a witch. I've given this type of character a lot of thought over the years, and there's a lot I could say - so much it's easily enough for an article of its own. So as not to overtext you this is just my top three of things to consider: 1. If she can do X why can't she do Y? In other words: she needs convincing limitations (else, a character who can do anything will be an invincible Mary Sue by definition). With sorceresses you always need to explain why she CAN'T do something rather than the other way round. 2. What makes your sorceress noticeably different from an ageing underwear model in a Halloween costume? i.e. don't limit her too much and never explain more than you absolutely have to, as any sufficiently explained magic becomes indistinguishable from technology. 3. These two are the trickiest parts and there's much more to them than I made it look here.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 1:28AM, Sept. 6, 2020

But for the record, no! I haven't created any sorceress characters--yet. I do have fairies in one story though, which is somewhat relatable to the meandering rant about this topic that I posted here yesterday😊

cdmalcolm1 at 7:33PM, Sept. 5, 2020

I don’t think that I have a sorceress in any part of my story. I do have a Demon wizard from another planet. He does bring other demons into the world to possess humans. He has a number one follower Succubus that possess a female ninja that knows “dark hand magic”. The combo of her demon power with the female Knowing ninja “Dark hand magic” makes her one of my best underhanded villains. She is the only thing closet to sorceress in my story. But I Don’t classify her as such.

bravo1102 at 5:58AM, Sept. 5, 2020

I seem to vaguely remember doing something with a sorceress or two once. Maybe the ladies in Tales of SIG could fit the bill too with all of their talents even if they're not exactly magical.

Tantz_Aerine at 3:36AM, Sept. 5, 2020

Melpo is the queen of sorceresses.

Gunwallace at 3:14AM, Sept. 5, 2020

Melpo for the win!

bravo1102 at 2:19AM, Sept. 5, 2020

These archetypes sound a lot like the figures of the Major Arcana in a deck of tarot cards.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 1:59AM, Sept. 5, 2020

When I think of sorceresses, I always picture a group of half-mad if not completely insane women living concealed within the deepest darkness of the forest, dancing and chanting naked around a fire in a display of dangerous, but beutiful, magical entropy. The forest witch talking incoherently with a gaze that drills into your soul, unveiling to her your deepest secrets. To her everything is bare, nothing is covering her or anyone from the uncontrollable forces of the cosmos moving everything. It is as if she doesn't even have a "self", something greater is always moving her as if constantly possessed, constantly hearing the voices from the deep. She fears nothing, but knows everything. She is knowledge. She is chaos. She is a force to be reckoned with and you would be wise not to seek her out unless you know, and fully understand, who, or what, you're dealing with.


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