Master of Magic

Master of Magic is a single-player turn-based strategy game originally released in September 1994 for MS-DOS. The player is a powerful wizard whose goal, along with their computer-controlled counterparts, is to dominate the two worlds of Arcanus (similar to Earth) and Myrror (more magical and with various flora, fauna, and minerals that aren’t present on Arcanus) through military or magical might. In this game, magic is (like Magic: The Gathering) divided into six schools of magic: Arcane (available to everyone), Life, Death, Nature, Sorcery, and Chaos. Instead of the technology tree available in most strategy games that requires you to research technology in order to advance, you spend turns researching various magical spells, until (if the game lasts long enough) you can research the Spell of Mastery and win the game.

You begin the game in January 1400 with a small town populated by one of the races. If you start on Arcanus, you can choose from the Orcs, three flavors of human (High Men, Barbarians, or Nomads), High Elves, Halflings, Lizardmen, Gnolls (like the D&D race, basically humanoid hyenas) or Klackons (insectoid, basically giant ants), while Myrror is populated by Dark Elves, Beastmen, Trolls, and Dwarves. Not all of these races are necessarily present in any particular game, and each one has its differences. While the Orcs can build any building, the High Men (for example) can’t build Fantastic Stables, so they aren’t able to build a unit like the Nomad griffin cavalry. Other differences include population growth (slower or faster than “normal”) and diplomatic relations – some races get bonuses to “unrest” if their city is occupied by another race that they don’t get along with. Additionally, a few races (High and Dark Elves, and possibly Beastmen if I remember correctly) have magical populations that generate “mana” (i.e., power that can be used by the ruling wizard) directly, without requiring construction of religious buildings. Additionally, various roaming heroes may offer you (or your opponents) their services or be summoned via spells that can lead your armies to victory with their various abilities and skills.

I don’t remember now when I first heard of Master of Magic, but it was probably at some point within the last five years or so while reading about strategy games and/or fantasy strategy games. At some point in the last three or four years, I found it via Good Old Games (, which has (or used to have) the most recently patched (March 1995!) version available bundled with DOSBox, which I’ve played on my Linux computer with the aid of Wine (software that allows Windows programs to be run on Linux, not the alcoholic beverage).

At some point within the past month, I had the idea of writing a story set in a game where my actions, as the game player, were in the background of the story. I decided to do this with Master of Magic, so instead of writing from the perspective of the ruling wizard I would write from the perspective of his subjects. After some “random” generation with a list of heights, Myers-Briggs types, hair colors, and possibly a few other characteristics I can’t remember offhand, I’ve concocted (so far) 4 viewpoint characters, including an ENTJ soldier, an INFP scholar, and an ISTP merchant. Due to my playing the High Men, intending to base their religion on medieval Catholicism, and having a variety of viewpoint characters, I feel like I owe George R.R. Martin (author of A Song of Ice and Fire, also known as the Game of Thrones series) some kind of apology. Since I really enjoy his work, maybe no apology is necessary. At any rate, so far I have vague ideas for how I plan to start the story and I’ve played the game for 16 years (1 month per turn). I should probably start writing soon, but I feel like I need a better title than “the Master of Magic story”.


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