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There is more than one sort of magic ban. For purposes of definition, we will divide them into these classes:
Type A: Partial bans. As noted, most bans are this sort. Subtypes of this:
- Certain schools of magic are banned -- The Dark Arts, necromancy, the Light Arts...
- Magic is banned to certain people. This usually means everyone outside a certain class. It may be limited to licensed wizards, people of noble birth, or people of ignoble birth; or it may be allowed to only one or two people. This and A1 may be mixed; there may be schools of magic that are banned to most, but not all, people.
- Magic is limited to certain times, and will be punished outside them.
Type B: Complete bans on magic. Especially fun if the heroes are magic-users. Note that many situations that look like Type B are really Type A2 -- you rarely find magic banned to everyone unless there is a non-magical way to enforce the ban.
Anime and Manga
- Fullmetal Alchemist has a Type A 3-part restriction on alchemy: Alchemy used as a weapon against the general law and order is forbidden (much like any weapon). It is also forbidden to transmute gold (to avoid destroying the gold-standard economy), and human transmutation, the act of creating human life or resurrection, is forbidden. All knowledge of the Philosopher's stone is also ruthlessly repressed and probably illegal if people even knew about it. In the two latter cases, it's to keep the military's monopoly on them -- or in the 2003 anime, to intentionally make it Forbidden Fruit for sufficiently desperate alchemists.
- Fairy Tail uses a Type A-2 in Edoras - magic is a non-renewable resource there, so mage guilds are outlawed, and the only people who are allowed to use large amounts of magic are the higher-ups in the kingdom.
- In Magic the Gathering, Chandra Nalaar's home plane operates on Type A: the use of fire magic is punishable by death.
- In the Alternate Universe My Little Pony Fanfic The Son of the Emperor depending on the country, unicorns are either banned from using magic altogether or allowed certain weaker spells.
- Harry Potter has a few type A bans: one forbidding the use of magic to students, one forbidding the use of magic in the vicinity of Muggles (although this may count as upholding The Masquerade), and one forbidding the use of The Dark Arts, especially the Unforgivable Curses.
- The Seven Laws of Magic in The Dresden Files forbid involuntary shapeshifting magic, Mind Control, Necromancy, Time Travel, and looking beyond the "Outer Gates". A type A, then.
- The Laws of Ramos in the Deryni works label the use of Deryni magic as heresy, punishable by death by burning at the stake. Particularly true for any Deryni who dares to take Holy Orders as a priest; such an execution is depicted in the short story "The Priesting of Arilan".
- Black magic is banned by the guild in Trudi Canavan's Black Magician Trilogy, looking at the title probably tells you how well that goes. Magic is also normally restricted to the upper classes as, unless you are a natural like sonea, you won't get tested for magic and allowed to join the guild if you aren't one of them this has changed in the sequel trilogy
- In the first book of Septimus Heap, the Supreme Custodian tries not very successfully to outlaw Magyk.
- From the 13th century Heimskringla: When the Aesir had taught magic to the ancient Swedes, they used it for everything. But because magic makes everything too easy, they soon felt that the men were becoming too soft. So they passed a law that only women were allowed to learn magic, and this is supposedly the reason why the Norse ever since frowned upon men practicing sorcery, while it was okay with women.
- In Pamela Dean's Secret Country books, there's a type A1 example. A few hundred years ago, three of the four major schools of magic- Green Caves, Blue, and Yellow- drove the fourth, the Red, out of the inland countries where the books take place. What exactly the Red Sorcerers did to make themselves so unpopular is never really explained, only that they are still considered rather unsavory and that the forces they wield are both more powerful and more dangerous than those available to the other schools.
- Part of the premise of the BBC's Merlin: Magic is forbidden in Camelot, under penalty of death. Lest we get the wrong idea, the show often helpfully reminds us that magic users are wrongfully persecuted and that using magic is who you are, not merely a lifestyle decision. The ban itself is type B.
- Wizards of Waverly Place is type A-2. All of a wizard's children will have powers, but they must eventually face each other in the Wizard Competition. The winning sibling becomes a full wizard, the losers are Brought Down to Normal.
Myths & Religion
- Type B for some, not all, types of Abrahamic religion in general, where Magic Is Evil is fully in effect. Expect Burn the Witch.
- The Elysium areas in Vampire: The Masquerade are set up by the Camarilla as neutral grounds where all vampiric disciplines are forbidden. A territorial ban but a type B one it seems.
- In the Dark Sun RPG setting, magic was banned and its users are hunted as it is held responsible for the apocalyptic conditions of the planet. A full-on type B ban. Psionic (common) and Spirit-magic (rare) are okay.
- In both Warhammer and Warhammer 40000 universes the God of anger/war/hate/rage Khorne openly hates magic users, his followers considering them cowards and to be killed at every opportunity. There is no such thing as a Sorcerer of Khorne, and many game mechanics tend to forbid any magic users from following Khorne and vice versa. Magic weapons that let you kill more efficiently are fine, though.
- Both settings also see Type A bans among most races over magic (in WH) or psionics (40K) - anyone who practices them without the explicit permission and control of those in power are hunted down and executed. The reason is because supernatural power in both settings stems from Hell, and even the slightest fumble can be a cue for The Legions of Hell to come in and wreck reality.
- Type A2 is extremely common in the Forgotten Realms, with several nations and city-states limiting magic in civilized areas to its own mages/police force. A good example is the Cowled Wizards of Amn, whose ban on magic shows up in Baldur's Gate 2 (further down the page).
- This is half the plot of Zork: Grand Inquisitor.
- The Elder Scrolls Four: Oblivion. Necromancy is banned by the Mages Guild archmage Traven, and its practitioners are not happy about that. A type A.
- A few hundred years later in Skyrim, the College of Winterhold is much more relaxed in allowing conjurers to resurrect the dead (it was apparently never affiliated with the, now collapsed, Mages Guild). However the local Nord population are a Proud Warrior Race who have (apparently recently if the amount of respected mages in Sovngarde are anything to go by) a strong dislike of magic, making it an unofficial partial ban (many NPCs won't even talk to you if you have a summoned undead or daedra following you and guards will even tell you off for using "Shouts", which everyone knows marks you as The Dragonborn). The only Nord mage in the college has been all but disowned by his family for studying there.
- Dreamfall The Longest Journey. The Azadi Empire is upholding a strict type B ban on magic in its lands, branding it as evil. However, they also have mages (that they call "thaumaturgists") and their Prophet seems to use magic, and it is speculated that they ban magic because they want to have it all and because they are afraid that someone else knows more about it than they do.
- It is also shown that their so-called technological advancements (e.g. steam engines, airships, ridiculously huge towers) are actually Magitek, as normal technology cannot function in Arcadia (except for bicycles).
- Dragon Age has mixed-type A ban. A2: The Chantry has all but branded magic as evil, and has imposed a strict ban on it. Anyone shown to have magical ability is shipped off to the nearest Circle, under the constant supervision of the Templars. Anyone who doesn't submit to this is hunted down and brought to the Circle or executed depending on the circumstances. A1: Anyone caught using Blood Magic is killed on sight (with very few exceptions).
- Baldur's Gate 2 has a type A2 enforced by the Cowled Wizards on the city of Athkatla (but not for divine spells, and only outdoors). It exists to act as a plot point: At the end of the prologue, the wizards will arrest your childhood friend Imoen and the Big Bad for unlicensed spellcasting, which sets in motion the plot. Of course said plot point is a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation: If you start casting spells the Wizards will just try to kill you after a one-strike warning. 5000 gp in the right pocket 'buys' you a 'license' that leaves you free to spell-sling to your hearts' content.
- You can avoid buying the license by killing enough of the guys they send to enforce the ban, but it's usually easier to just avoid casting spells outdoors until you can afford the license.
- In Heroes of Might and Magic III, there is a single scenario called "Heroes of Might, not Magic" which, true to its name, prevents the player from playing with magic-oriented heroes and learning any spells. In-universe, this is explained by all the magic being stolen by a witch.
- The dimension-hopping (and magic-using) heroes of Beyond Reality visit a world which enforces this, because any local magic-user invariably goes violently insane.
- The squirrels in Tasakeru enforce a ban on magic, believing that only the Gods should be able to change the laws of nature. The degree to which the ban is followed varies from family to family; some families are willing to use magical tools and objects enchanted by other mages, and others refuse to use any magic at all.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Fire Nation kidnaps and imprisons any Bender who is not Fire Nation. A type A ban.