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I have a world where the mages are strong enough to defeat great demons, and can use their power to build anything from toothpicks to elaborate weapons. I understand that with all that power they should be the leaders of countries, but I don´t want this in my world, except maybe in a few countries. Then, what would be good reasons that prevent mages from taking control of the government?

PS: My English is still not very good, and I apologize for any grammatical mistakes. Also, I´m from Cuba, so, I will not be able to visit the page very often.


marked as duplicate by Vincent, Logan R. Kearsley, Aify, Community Jul 2 '18 at 17:52

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  • $\begingroup$ Hello, Cantallops95, and welcome to Worldbuilding. Please take our tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have a nice day! $\endgroup$ – Gryphon Jul 2 '18 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ This seems to assume that magical power equates to political power. Why would that be? Literature has a long, rich trope of powerful magic-users living in isolation, being excluded from politics, or otherwise overtly refusing political power for many reasons...except, of course, for villainous magic-users who pursue domination and empire. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Jul 2 '18 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ You might want to look into these two questions: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/7351/… and worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/8432/… $\endgroup$ – DerGreif Jul 2 '18 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ In our world, why do so few scientists ever go into politics? $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 2 '18 at 19:36
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH: And so are mages. If you get in the habit of lying, your spells wind up twisted from their truthful purpose. Also, at least from my personal experience, it's because successful politics requires interpersonal skills (of which good lying is only one) that aren't a lot of fun :-( $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 2 '18 at 23:22

Mages are massively powerful and enjoy using that power to do things no mortal can, why would they want the tedium of running a country? It's hard work administering even a very small group of people, let alone millions.


A single person cannot rule a country directly. They have no time to make every single blacksmith pay his taxes, to judge about every lawsuit between a lord and his serfs.

A king would rely on his feudal retainers, who rely on their feudal retainers, and so on. Such a system could rely on the "common delusion" of legitimacy -- the nobles must believe that being the son of a king makes one fit to be king, because otherwise what qualifies them to be dukes or earls? Or it could rely on the "collective action problem" -- the first one to resist the king would die, even if the king would be deposed in the end if all nobles resist. Or a mixture of both. And of course the king would back a duke against a peasant revolt, because otherwise the whole social order might tumble.

Perhaps mages could form a similar system, with greater mages ruling kingdoms and lesser mages administering counties in their name. But the great mages would soon notice that a decent administrator or war leader makes a better subordinate. And sooner or later the son of a great mage does not become a great mage himself.

So plenty of dynasties in your setting might have started with a mage, but then they became ordinary nobles over a couple of generations.


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