Mage Reborn: From Magical Beginnings

When it was my turn to be the Dungeon Master, I began writing a scenario and I got to thinking about this problem. A powerful mage could bring down the city walls and decimate an army, but then had to go and have a rest to learn more spells.
Steve Dean on The Story Behind Novel Made Reborn
Dungeons and Dragons is an online fantasy role-playing game. Image: dnd.wizards.com

For those who haven’t written a story before, the whole creation process can appear mysterious. Well, there are many ways to start a novel. Here’s a brief and specific explanation of how Mage Reborn came about.

A thousand years have passed since the ancient mages removed magic from the world to rid the people of its evil. A youthful, handsome, and virile magician now rises from his underground tomb, remembering only one thing: he has vowed to kill the Emperor. Princess Oleana-tarli, friendless and alone, spends her days having erotic fantasies and teasing her guards. She slips away from her father, the King, as she strives to find, tame, and ride into battle on the back of a mythical swamp monster that appears in one of her less-sexual dreams. Two wizards of the Empire, young and innocent, are setting out on their journey to develop their magic, while they discover their budding female hormones. Kingdom will clash with Empire and the four will meet on the field of battle. The mage must decide whether to use his incredible powers for good or evil in an all-out war between magic and the horror from the swamp.

The origins of Mage Reborn can be traced back to a Dungeons and Dragons campaign spread over several weeks. I was a player at the time, and we were facing a powerful mage. We weren’t doing very well as a group and were beginning to wonder if the Dungeon Master had dropped us into a scenario that was above our level. As it turned out, once we’d finally struggled through to the boss’s lair, the mage soon ran out of spells and tried to flee by flying off. We brought him down with normal arrows and bolts and defeated his evil shenanigans.

When it was my turn to be the Dungeon Master, I began writing a scenario and I got to thinking about this problem. A powerful mage could bring down the city walls and decimate an army, but then had to go and have a rest to learn more spells. This is, of course, how it happens in many role-playing games, not so much in fiction. Something clicked in my mind, and I thought, ‘well, why not?’ What if magic was limited, what if magic users had to ‘save up’ to cast their spells, and their powers soon wore off? And there’s the opposite of that, what if there was a mage who had infinite magic and could do almost anything?

So, I created two young wizards who had barely any power, who were faced with an all-power mage. They were quite easy to invent, but they were like twins at first, young, naive, optimistic and talkative. I changed a few things to make them similar but not identical, as two friends probably would be.

The all-powerful mage was a little bland when I first created him, but I soon realised he had hidden depths. I accentuated these, gave him a purpose, and he really came to life. At this point, I realized an invincible mage was just going to trample all over everybody and that’s no fun. So, I gave him infinite power but no morals, he was, therefore, neither good nor evil until he decided to be either, or perhaps both by turns.

I soon realized when I started writing that if the mage was neutral, I needed a bad guy, or, as it turned out, a bad girl. Princess Oleana-tarli is someone who’s rebelling at what she sees as a prison. She lives a life of luxury in the royal palace but has very little personal freedom. She wants both, so she hatches a plan to take them from her father. She’s one of my favourite characters, both deep and shallow, complex and simple, certainly determined but quite short-sighted in her thinking. She’s also an example of how a character can be developed to order, rather than created by inspiration. I needed a villain, who had to be powerful, have access to wealth and knowledge but was also something of a rebel. So, I just created her with all those things, within the framework of the world I was making.

I just have to say I love dragons, but when it comes to my writing, I rarely include them. I just think they might even be over-used. So, when I needed a legendary beast, I looked elsewhere for inspiration. Firstly, no wings, scales, or long necks or any lizard-like features. David Attenborough provided the base animal, and Michael Crichton provided the finishing touches. I’ll say no more.

When all these elements were in place it was just a matter of writing the story, which stuck to the plan without major incident, which is always nice. The title also arrived early on and was a matter of playing with the word ‘mage’ and things that went with it.

I hope you’ll enjoy the story!


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