In this world, witchcraft is practiced openly and is respected. It exists in three forms: ritual and arcane. Ritual magic involves using the mana of the world and directing it in a way to suit you (altering terrain, changing the weather, erecting barriers, etc). It requires chanting, numerous ingredients, and a group of people depending on the spell. Although powerful, it takes a long time, and is only active for as long as the spell is performed. When the spell stops, the magic ends.

The second type, arcane, requires the use of your own mana to perform spells. This is the fireball, lightning wielding type that is geared towards attacking. It is simpler and faster than ritual magic. However, it is difficult to control and dangerous to use. More powerful spells require large amounts of mana, and a person can maim or kill themselves if they aren't careful.

The third type is rune magic, which involves giving magical properties to inanimate objects. All runes must be of a certain size depending on purpose, and work with some objects better than others. Some objects can be combined to form new materials, or given properties that would be unnatural for it. Runes are not permanent and must be re-applied periodically.

Witchcraft in this world is exclusive to females, but I want males to be important to this system in some way in order to make it more balanced. How can I go about doing this?

  • prob witches has difficulties in team work, and always arguing with each other, blaming things on their peers. And they simply need somebody more calm and confident, who can keep things organized. IRL, i cannot say about female wizards, but series like this can give you inspiration how it happens - youtube.com/watch?v=JnNJpwf4m7s – vodolaz095 Aug 19 at 11:41
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    @vodolaz095 I'm not sure why witches would have less group cohesion than anyone else. Are you stating that it would be endemic to their profession, or something else? In addition, needing someone "calm and confident, [to] keep things organized" isn't gender specific, like the OP is looking for. A woman could just as easily fill that role...unless you're implying that men are calmer, more confident, and better suited to leadership, which would be inaccurate and sexist. Lastly: you might want to put your answer as an answer, instead of a comment, after you think those things through. – user49466 Aug 19 at 12:00

In Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, women were limited to groups of thirteen when doing magic together. However, if men and women mixed, they could join in much larger groups (13*13=169 maybe?). There, both sexes could do magic, but you could change it so that men might only need to be there. You could make men a requirement for any group, possibly in equal numbers with the women.

In Laura Anne Gilman's Retriever series, demons can be used as familiars. This both makes the magic safer, as the demons keep the magic-users from overdoing things and burning themselves out, and it allows for more powerful magic to be done, as the demons can act as a sort of battery. Replace demons with men in your world. This could be important both with arcane and ritual magic. More power is generally useful. More control/safer may be useful with arcane.

In Jacqueline Lichtenberg's Sime—Gen Universe, Simes could take energy from Gens and do stuff with it. In your universe, you might change this to women taking energy from men. So only women could use magic, but they need men to get the power for it.

You might also consider allowing witches to put runes on men but not women (in addition to or instead of inanimate objects; adding would allow for some jokes about inanimate men). So men could do things that women could not. But of course a man needs a good woman behind him to allow him to do those things.

Another possibility is that men might be immune to magic. This takes them from punching bags to agents of change in their own right.

  1. Some rituals involve sex magic or tantric sex. If the witch leading the ritual is heterosexual, she'll need a man to have sex with. This might be especially important in any ritual about fertility, growth or creation.
  2. You can use people as 'batteries' to draw mana from and men happen to be easier to tap into than women, or men have more mana. Possibly this only applies to certain categories of men: guys who've sworn a vow of celibacy; warriors; fathers; identical twins.
  3. One of your ingredients is fresh male blood (willingly sacrificed) so you need a man to jab his finger with a needle and shed 7 drops of blood into the sacred flame.
  4. Singing is important in the ritual and the more extensive your range of voices in your choir the better your spell will be. So you want some male bass, baritone and tenor voices to go with your female sopranos and contraltos.
  • +1; I feel that especially the singing suggestion was on point. – Liquid Aug 20 at 8:11

Perhaps males could act as the conduit or amplifier for magic, as a conductor rather than a source. They could help direct the magic and make it easier to use, or maybe even store it like a kind of rechargeable battery companion? If the magic is as dangerous to use as you say, they could be invaluable to any respectable magician who wants to keep themselves from harm or make sure their spells are perfect.

Another idea could be to have them be something completely different, like beast tamers or people who can speak to elements/spirits. Basically some other kind of magical guild that does not rely on direct witchcraft.

The easy answer to this is to go hard on the traditional Chinese concepts around Yin and Yang. This would primarily fall into the Arcane category you described.

If it were me, I'd describe a scenario where destructive applications of Arcane magic require an almost irrational level of self-confidence and commitment which tends to come easily to men in any social culture resembling our own, but to which women are generally too self-aware and rational to achieve.

Perhaps females are the only ones who can use personal mana for arcane magic, but males are the ones who have mana in significant quantity, which can be used with consent, or by more nefarious witches, without?

By the way, you should edit the question.

"It exists in two forms: ritual and arcane" then "The third type is rune magic"

As I understand the world, it's basically women can use magic and men can't. How can men still be useful? Ideas follow:

Teamwork

Let's think about some real world teams. For examples snipers work with a shooter and a spotter. The witch is the shooter, but the man acts as the spotter. He can't cast the spell but he acts as the human equivalent of a targeting computer and is thus critical to delivering fireballs and lightening bolts to their targets.

Another example is craftsman. The men can't wield magic, but can learn enough nonmagical skills to be essential to rituals or runes.

Offense/Defense

There is the classic D&D example where the female is the physically weak magic user and the man is the meat shield (fighter or paladin class) to keep the witch from getting killed.

Another idea, men have counter magic. Witches have magic, but only men can use counterspells or cast defense shields. They may have to draw on the witch's power to pull this off, but it would make the presence of men in combat critical. Maybe rituals attract the attention of demons or ghosts and only men can create shields to cloak the ritual for hostile entities.

Magic makes men awesome

The average Joe is basically useless. But when a witch pumps magic into him, he gets new abilities. Sky's the limit here - super strength, precognition, healing, illusions, whatever. The key is that only men can do this, but only when empowered by a witch.

Random thoughts

Men as mana batteries. Men can gather and/or store crazy amounts of mana, which can then be transferred to the witch for use in spells.

Men soak magic backlash. Witches keep men around to soak negative effects of magic. Depending on how dark you want your story to be, this could lead to death and disfigurement easily.

Men as spell components. Men are needed to perform spells. How they contribute exactly is up to you. Just standing around looking cool? Meditation and concentration? Blood or physical matter needed? Sex magic? Straight up human sacrifice for every high level spell?

Women are not creative. Women are basically really good technicians. They learn and execute magic without issue. But for some reason, they can't creatively think about or interpret magic. Only men can do that. Which means that men must study magic, understand it, train the witches, and are the only source of new spells in the world. Lots of questions about why this is so - maybe some ancient god purposely separated these two things. Or it's the result of a disastrous worldwide magic accident.

Only men can do one of the three types of magic. Self explanatory, some type of magic is completely closed off to women.

Lock and key. Men release the restraints on women so they can use magic. Maybe this has to happen every time, every x years, or just once in a witches life. Might require physical contact or some kind of ritual, or something else (marriage?, human sacrifice?). The man should get something from doing this, like money or immunity to the witches magic. Maybe the inner strength of the man dictates how much power the witch can use. So there are men capable of releasing incredibly powerful witches and they are in high demand.

Witchcraft can only be performed by an order given to the witches by a man. The more powerful this "commander" ability is, the harder it is for witches to ignore.

The commanders can be a particular group of men (e.g. royalty or mysteriously chosen guys who'll become royalty when their commander ability is discovered).

This sets you up for an aristocracy where men supposedly rule, but only through their ability to command women. In other words - the commanders' true power is the power of their subjects, and the power of the subject is derived from the authority of the wielder.

Power struggles ensues, peppered with sexual/romantic affairs, along with discussions into equality and freedom. It's a best seller already :-)

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