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A society ruled by wizards. Wizards, plural, that is — a king or queen who just happens to be a spellcaster doesn't count, nor does the traditional tower-dwelling Evil Overlord. This is a relatively normal society (for a given value of "normal") that is governed by a magic-using oligarchy. Sometimes there is a Muggle figurehead on the throne, but clearly power lies with the spellcasters.
Can be good, bad, or indifferent. Sometimes overlaps with Witch Species; if everyone can cast spells, the Magocracy is usually depicted as good or indifferent. If the wizards rule over a population of Muggles, on the other hand, they are more likely to be evil. A Magocracy can also overlap with a Magical Society, although it's quite possible to have a Magocracy which is more loosely organised than that.
If laws of magic require intense study and not just a talent, natural limitation may be sharing time between magic improvement and actual ruling. Then immortal wizards break this limit, having centuries to both accumulate knowledge and entrench themselves in power little bit by bit.
Related to Authority Equals Asskicking (more likely ass-fireballing). If there's not just a handful of magic-users but the whole society is influenced, it likely to develop lots of Magitek. If the ruler maintains their power through magic but this is not part of the official political system, see Sorcerous Overlord. For mages who are part of the government but hold only subordinate or advisory positions, see Court Mage.
Anime and Manga
- The Kushan Empire from Berserk.
- Technically, the world of Code Geass has(or had) two magocracies: The Britannian Empire of Charles Zi Britannia, a Geass adept who employed hundreds of other adepts secretly in the service of his empire as agents. The second is the global regime of Lelouch Vi Britannia, Magnificent Bastard and one of only two adepts remaining. He also calls himself a warlock or demon, so this is slightly highlighted.
- Mahou Sensei Negima's magical world is like this, and being a pocket universe that was created by a mage, it's rather to be expected. The real world, though, is more Harry Potter-style "mages in charge of governing themselves and keeping themselves secret, nothing more". They get a little influence by posing as unreasonably talented mercenaries and NGOs, but nothing beyond lobbying and combat work.
- The Time-Space Administration Bureau in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha looks to fall into this mold at first, but there are subtle hints of a subversion in the form of Amy Linetta, who never demonstrates magical ability but is in a position of fairly high responsibility aboard the local Cool Ship. Striker S makes the subversion much more blatant, with numerous non-magically-able TSAB personnel featuring. These include an apparent Muggle commanding a battalion of mages and Regius Graz, head of the Ground Forces branch, is explicitly a Muggle who got his start with the Bureau as a good trainer. The TSAB appears to actually be very egalitarian, allowing those who can lead to lead regardless of whether they measure up in magical combat.
- In Zero no Tsukaima, magical power and nobility are (officially) inseparable; in fact, mages are called Nobles. Of course, that attitude becomes inconvenient when a noble is, say, cast out from their family or the child of two mages is born without magic.
- The Empire in the Star Wars trilogy, and various other Sith states in the Expanded Universe. In the Expanded Universe, it's implied that the Emperor was shooting for being the immortal god-emperor of a magotheocratic empire. The Galactic Republic, on the other hand, is a republic, with the Jedi Council playing an advisory and military role — though note that in Revenge of the Sith, Darth Sidious uses fear of a Jedi coup to force through his own takeover of the state.
- In most stories, the Jedi are essentially an NGO Superpower. Whether and to what extent they are actually answerable to the Republic (or it to them) is essentially Depending on the Writer.
- In the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic, we'll get to see the ancient predecessor to Palpatine's Empire. It controlled half the known galaxy, was run by many Sith, including a Dark Council, and a 1000+ year old Man Behind the Man Chessmaster Sith Emperor.
- Patricia C. Wrede's books Mairelon the Magician and Magician's Ward are set in a world where magic does exist, and Wizards are so influential that the government and society bows to them. Specifically British Parliment had to move out of its building because the Wizards already worked in it, and Wizards are automatically considered social equals of any level in society. It's never implied that the King of Britain is a wizard, but the Russian royalty certainly is.
- The Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter, which only rules over other magic-users. Muggles are explicitly outside their jurisdiction, and the Minister of Magic consults with the U.K.'s Prime Minister on matters which affect both — albeit in infuriatingly high-handed fashion.
- However, Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindewald once wanted the other kind of Magocracy: wizards ruling over Muggles. So does Voldemort, hence the conflict in the series.
- The wizards of Unseen University set up a magical dictatorship in the Discworld novel Sourcery. The results are not pretty. No one seems surprised, as any point in history wizards have been in power rather than being coddled and overfed to (mostly) harmless old codgers tends to result in problems. The only reason it seems to not happen anymore is a social paradigm shift rather than recent wizards being any nicer.
- In the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher, station is based on the strength of your furies, marking the society as magocratic even though everyone can wield furies except Tavi.
- From the same series, the Canim Ritualists want to turn their society into this, but are having really bad luck at it so far largely as a result of getting stabbed in the back by the Vord.
- Corrupt version seen in The Bartimaeus Trilogy.
- Literary example: A pair of novels by Lawrence Watt-Evans, The Cyborg and the Sorcerers and The Wizard and the War Machine, are set on an After the End planet where Psychic Powers are considered magic, whose countries are all ruled by mutant Magocracies. Yet each nation's government is different; some good, some bad, some outright incompetent.
- Another Watt-Evans book, A Young Man Without Magic, uses this trope in a fantasy setting. Children found to have magical talent are automatically elevated to the nobility, and it's a capital crime for anyone else to practice magic. The non-magician emperor is more or less a figurehead. The government is mostly functional but corrupt; sorcerers have so much power that they can get away with openly using spells powered by human sacrifice.
- Though they seem mostly unconcerned with Muggle affairs unless someone offers them money or messes with one of their own, the Bondsmagi of Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastard series are theorized by some characters to actually run the world in secret. The author has implied that the Bondsmagi are happy to let the Muggles run their own lives... unless something pops up which threatens their own power, at which point they step in.
- In Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series, the titular Mistborn sorcerers are supposed to be restricted to the ranks of the nobility. However, illegal interbreeding between classes has resulted in the power cropping up among the peasant race here and there.
- There are passing references to a nation called "The Witchocracy" in China Mieville's Bas-Lag series, but it hasn't been explored in any great detail.
- The Land of Oz is this. It's a benevolent dictatorship ruled over by Glinda the Good and Princess Ozma, a fairy.
- Tar Valon in The Wheel of Time, governed by the Aes Sedai.
- Also, the Aes Sedai (especially the Blue Ajah) tend to meddle in the political affairs of the rest of the world, and many rulers willingly keep the counsel of an Aes Sedai advisor.
- Also in The Wheel of Time, a largely unseen land is Shara, which is only mentioned in passing. However, in The World of Robert Jordan's the Wheel of Time, it mentions that it is secretly a Magocracy with a puppet Muggle leader. If the Muggle leader asks too many questions they tend to have 'accidents'.
- Meanwhile, Seanchan on the other side of the world is a complete aversion, where all the magic-users are enslaved by the Muggle rulers.
- Though part of the reason they developed such a hatred of magic users and got to where they are is because when they first got there that half of the world was ruled by magic-users who fought among themselves for power.
- The Empire of Ottovar in David Weber 's WarGod series. 10,000 years of peace and prosperity founded by the greatest Wizards of all time. The Elves are actually a by-product of their work,taking hereditary warlocks and changing how they use the magical field to give up magic. The Empire was ruled by the emperor as well as the Council of Ottovar who prevented the misuse of magic and researched. Of course part of the backstory of the series is those 10,000 years ended rather badly and there's exactly one wizard left who isn't evil. Suddenly having a Magocracy is a bit of a problem when there aren't any left...
- The nobility in Zero no Tsukaima are all mages.
- Most countries in Doctrine of Labyrinths seem to be run this way, ranging from more or less benevolent to downright oppressive. Melusine in particular is jointly ruled by an annemer (nonwizard) Lord Protector and the Curia, a council of the most influential wizards.
- Inverted in Warbreaker-- while most people in power in Hallandren are also skilled Awakeners, this is because they have used their wealth to buy the Breath needed to fuel the magic. In other words, the magic is like a fancy car or house in our world- not a source of influence, but a definite sign of it. Of course, ultimate power in Hallandren lies in the Court of Gods, who are mostly figureheads, and their priests (though said priests are often powerful Awakeners themselves).
- The elves in the Tinker Series by Wen Spencer have a strict caste system. At the top are the Doma, who, due to a genetic quirk, are capable of using magic from a distance. Violently subverted in the fact that the Sheska, the Doma's personal guards and most elite warrior caste, have the right and duty to kill anyone, especially any Doma, who acts contrary to the good of the society/in a dishonorable fashion. They don't study magic beyond what they need to make it work.
- Katherine Kurtz's Deryni series features a number of Deryni royal families - in fact most royal families seem to have some Deryni blood. The Kingdom of Torenth is apparently a magocracy and the Muggle population doesn't seem to have a problem with it. On the other hand the Kingdom of Gwynedd is a former magocracy and the Muggles had a huge problem with it.
- Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover may also qualify as a magocracy seeing as it's ruled by a caste of psi-gifted aristocrates who practice a sort of magitek in Towers.
- Anne Bishop's Black Jewels series features the Blood, powerful magic-users who effectively rule over the world, including the non-Blood (called landens). The Territory Queens, supported by their Courts (mostly male), control kingdom-sized areas, with the smaller areas (provinces, cities, villages, etc.) being controlled by less powerful Queens who answer to the Territory Queens. The quality of governance ranges from enlightened to vile corruption.
- The Obsidian Trilogy: Armethalieh has nobles, merchants, and commoners, but unless you are a Mage, you're pretty much nothing. The Mages hold all of the high governmental positions, and most of the low ones, too.
- Juliet McKenna's Einarinn series features the city of Hadrumal, which is inhabited only by wizards. It is a kind of magic Athenian democracy, with a vote on an important issue decided not by the number of votes, but by the total magic power of those voting on each side.
- In The Seventh Tower, the Chosen are a society of mages dominated by the most powerful magic users and those who have the best Spiritshadows though it turns out they're actually being ruled behind the scenes by Sharrakor, the most powerful Spiritshadow, who is quite free-willed. Those who don't have magic are called Underfolk, and are a servant caste little better than slaves. From the same books, the Icecarls don't have a central government per se, but the closest thing to it would be the Crones, who are somewhere between priestesses, shamans, and mages.
- In the Riftwar Cycle, the Tsurani Great Ones were above the law, literally able to give any order to just about anyone, with the only people able to override them being the Emperor or a larger group of Great Ones countermanding the previous order. Despite this, they did not actually run the government, though many dabbled in politics. Their status as being above the law ended when Mara of the Acoma demanded that they either run the government themselves (After providing evidence to the entire Empire that they can be outmaneuvered) or stop interfering with the people who were. They ultimately declined to turn the Empire into a Magocracy because they had a hard enough time just governing themselves.
Live Action TV
- The Witches' Council in Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
- Very common in Dungeons and Dragons
- Widespread in the Forgotten Realms: Netheril was full of Magitek, inhumanly arrogant, but mostly non-evil (if not good) Archwizards with magical longevity ruled over Muggles — until their abuses of magic provoked turning the entire region into a barren desert and rose to stealing the power from goddess of magic, killing her, them and damaging the world's magic circuit. Thay and Luskan are evil magocracies (Thay got better later when pro-trade attitude won). Sshamath is a city-state as nice as possible for evil drow. The kingdom of Halruaa in the southern Realms is a good Magocracy, where all citizens benefit from wizardry and Magitek, happy people celebrates holy days, law protects, and... Nightmare Fuel quietly gurgles behind the scene.
- Mystara also had the Principalities of Glantri, a smaller Magocracy with capital like Venice, diverse subdomains like Switzerland, and great hostility to clerics. Glantri and Alphatia both have magic-users outranking non-magicians, though Alphatia honors clerics as well as arcane magicians.
- Both Glantri and Alphatia have their faults. The former is scornful of divine casters and not all that bad on Muggles; the latter is respectful of divine casters and condescending-to-malicious to Muggles, depending on where you are. Herath also qualifies as a Magocracy if you don't require that the ruling mages be humanoids.
- Speaking of which, the Dungeons and Dragons movie features a corrupt Magocracy, Izmer, albeit led by a Muggle Empress. This was, incidentally, based on the empire of Alphatia from the Mystara setting (magical kingdom, young empress, thriving subculture of thieves), which was not quite as corrupt but still had its fair share of internal disputes.
- Not that close a match. Thieves actually don't have it so good in Alphatia, and Izmer is microscopic by comparison.
- The Tippyverse is a hypothetical setting that came into being when the implications of the large scale, long distance teleportation was considered. The premise is based on the use of the 9th level spell "Teleportation Circle" which allows for quick and efficient trade between cities, safe travel that does not risk being attacked by monsters and devastating military strikes. This leads to the centralisation of population in major cities, and the all but abandonment of other areas (as it was deemed impossible to effectively defend settlements against mass strikes from enemy nations using Teleportation magic). To solve the problems of providing the necessary food and water, magical "Create Food and Water" traps were created to feed the populations of these cities. Other magical traps (such as "Wish" traps that create 25,000gp every time they are activated) are created to smooth the running of these cities. High-level Wizards have control, as they're the ones with the capability to create these items, and have enough power to ensure they stay at the top.
- The Chaos Dwarfs are ruled by their evil sorcerers in Warhammer.
- As are the Lizardmen, although the Slann spend most of their time pondering magical secrets and leave the day to day running to the Skinks.
- Mage: The Awakening has the Seers of the Throne, who, while not absolute rulers of the world, have a great deal of power amongst world governments and other organisations, as well as being organised in a bureaucracy. The Silver Ladder has the goal of ousting the Seers and replacing their rule with a meritocratic Gnostocracy.
- The fanmade gameline Genius: The Transgression has two major Magocracies: Lemuria, a group of mostly Chaotic Evil mad scientists who think they rule the world, and The Peerage, a group of mostly Chaotic Good mad scientists who make sure they don't. Interestingly, Lemuria and the aforementioned Seers of the Throne are physically unable to recognize each other.
- Similarly, the older game Mage: The Ascension has the Technocratic Union, though they're in denial and see their power as coming from sufficiently advanced technology. The Order of Hermes (playing magic straight) held this role centuries ago, and would like to return to it.
- Both the Realm and the First Age Solar Deliberative from the RPG Exalted are these, being oligarchic (though the Realm is SUPPOSED to be a monarchy) states ruled by human beings given the powers of the gods.
- Tech Infantry, has, almost regardless of the style of government among various human factions, either Mages or Vampires as the outright rulers, or the shadowy powers behind the throne. Pretty much all of the endless series of Civil Wars that the Earth Federation goes through are really power struggles among different factions of Mages and Vampires over who gets to be the power behind the throne this decade, with ordinary humans caught in the middle or used as cannon fodder by both sides.
- Talislanta has Cymril, one of the Seven Kingdoms, and the city-state of Phantas.
- GURPS has this on it's list of government types, as a subset of meritocracy.
- As a specific example, their Fantasy World of Yrth has the nation of Abydos, which is ruled by necromancers, liches, and the undead. The populace doesn't mind, as the rather ... odd sect of Christianity that the locals follow makes raising the dead a holy act.
- Final Fantasy IV has the Epopts of Troia, a group of white magicians and diviners. Mysidia is also this, although it more theocracy than a typical government.
- Final Fantasy VI has a variation of this; in a world where magic is dying, only the highest ranking officers in the Gestahlian Empire are trained in Magitek technology, using leftover magic harvested from the world's Espers. And then there's just Kefka.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, Galbadia becomes a type of magocracy once Edea puts a lightning bolt through the president's chest and assumes command.
- In Final Fantasy XI, the Federation of Windurst has such a government. It is led by the mystic Star Sybil, with five ministries headed by powerful mages.
- Dalaran in Warcraft. It was the smallest of the human kingdoms, but rather influential. That is, until the Scourge and Burning Legion ravaged it.
- Now after years of renovations it's back, and has moved (quite literally) to Northrend as the new central city in the Wrath expansion. It is the first city in World of Warcraft to float in midair.
- Which lead to a Crowning Moment of Funny during the latter days of the Wot LK expansion: one intrepid gnome player kept asking "Where is Dalaran?" while running around in the zone underneath the city. This led to hilarity high above, until one nice player said: "have you tried looking up yet?". A stunned "Oh..." was the reaction. Forgiveable, as the player was rather new to WoW and his character was barely off the boat to Northrend.
- Warcraft is pretty much full of Magocracies. Another example would be blood elven kingdom, Quel'thalas, where the 'Magisters' are seen in almost every position of authority. Though that may be because every thalassian is capable of, at least, very basic magic - to which they are literally addicted. If you want to stretch it, the Night Elves of Darnassus are ruled by nature wielding Druids and divine magic wielding priestesses.
- The Academy/Tower faction in the Heroes of Might and Magic series.
- The regions controlled by House Telvani in Morrowind fall under this, as all the lords of the areas are high-ranking members of House Telvani, and to be high-ranking in that house you have to be a very proficient magic user (and backstabber).
- The Tevinter Imperium is an ancient Magocracy based on Rome and Byzantium, with the Tevinter equivalent of the Roman Senate chosen from the Circle of Magi with the Grand Enchanter (Leader of the Circle) becoming The Archon (Tevinter equivalent of Emperor) after the death of the previous Archon. The fact that Magi are regarded with wariness and untruthfulness tends to lead the other nations to dislike the Imperium.
- And the fact that they Corrupted Heaven.
- In an attempt to overthrow God. Not to mention that they enslaved everyone else on the continent, had a thing for Blood Magic, summoning demons and Human Sacrifice, created the Darkspawn who then nearly destroyed the world during the first Blight... there is a rather good chance that the reason people dislike Magi is because of these guys.
- Of course, all the aforementioned events are heavily shrouded in myth, and its unclear what is genuine fact and what is extrapolation or simple attempts to defame old enemies. The slavery and blood magic are the only issues with historical evidence. (And the Tevinters still do both of those things.)
- The Legacy DLC actually reveals that the first darkspawn were actually corrupted Magister Lords. However, it's implied that they didn't corrupt Heaven — "Heaven" corrupted them.
- Fenris also points out that Tevinter isn't friendly to most Magi either. Only a few Magisters enjoy any power and privilege — the rest are little better than slaves.
- And the fact that they Corrupted Heaven.
- The Amurites in the Fall From Heaven mod.
- Though Ganon of The Legend of Zelda is typically shown to be a Sorcerous Overlord ruling by himself over mindless monsters and conquered Hylians, he occasionally has a cadre of high-ranking sorcerers at his side — Twinrova, Onox and Veran, among others.
- The Shapers of the Geneforge series. They pretty much rule the world with an iron fist; they come down very hard on anyone who tries to learn Shaping (using essence to create and alter new forms of life) without their permission, or any beings created by Shaping that are less than fully subservient. Even "conventional" mages generally find their studies hampered by the Shapers and their restrictions on magic. Unsurprisingly, more than a few Muggles and intelligent creations have Turned Against Their Masters.
- The Shapers have good cause to be repressive, however. Unrestricted Shaping can lead to catastrophe in dozens of different ways: disease, ecosystem destruction, rogue creations breeding, and individual Shapers going mad with power to name a few.
- Also note that it's pretty much a toss-up whether they're a magocracy or a society of Emperor Scientists, depending on whether they're using Magitek or Magic From Technology.
- Dark Souls has the city state of Vinheim, which is run by the Wizarding School call the Dragon College. You don't get to personally go though, but you do meet several characters from the area.
- Code Name: Hunter has the Astorian Royal Court. Theoretically, only hounds of noble birth can wield magic. Winnifred manages to subvert this by having been born a peasant with the ability to wield magic.
- The Gungan Council has the Sith Council and its many worlds being governed only by Sith, both publicly and in the shadows.
- Played with in the various societies of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- In Ba Sing Se, the Earth King is not an earthbender, and the true power is held by an organization of powerful but extremely corrupt benders, the Dai Li.
- In general a lot of the government/infrastructure jobs in the Earth Kingdom are held by benders, as they literally control the ground on which you stand. The Omashu mail system and the Ba Sing Se trains are controlled by benders, and they keep everything running smoothly. Of course, there is the "bully forces his way to the top because he's stronger" situation in the village from "Zuko Alone", as the leader of the thugs/soldiers appears to be the only earthbender in town.
- The Fire Nation ruling class appears to consist of very powerful benders. The Firelord is considered the most powerful firebender, and he kind of has to be, because if he isn't, someone else could challenge him to an Agni Kai and steal his throne. Azulon was specifically stated to be a prodigy, just like his granddaughter Azula; Sozin was apparently powerful enough to pose a threat to Avatar Roku (himself a Fire Nation noble), and Ozai is the most frighteningly skilled firebender shown.
- Also, for a fascist dictatorship, controlling the populace with force would be important, so firebenders would naturally have authority over nonbenders.
- In the Northern Water Tribe, the benders don't necessarily run the city, but they are highly-respected and appear to control infrastructure in ways similar to benders in the Earth Kingdom. As for the Southern Water Tribe, it's unclear how they viewed benders back in the day, as by the time the show starts there is only one left, who is a teenager and doesn't seem to be shown any special deference.
- This is implied however to be caused by the fire nation kidnapping/killing the benders there due to a lack of defenses compared to the northern tribe.
- Perhaps the reason the Air Nomads were such an egalitarian society was because they were all benders, so there was no ruling class.
- In the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, benders still retain a strong influence over society. Non-benders have become influential enough that they are starting to resent this — the Big Bad Amon is the leader of an organization opposed to benders. We later find out that the government is an oligarchy council is made up of representatives from the five bending nations; North and South Water Tribe, Air Nomad, Fire Nation, and Earth Kingdom. The non-bending community has no representation, and even the Air nomads, which consist of about five people in the whole world, have more say in the government than the thousands upon thousands of non-benders.