Mage Tower

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Orthanc 5248.jpg
"Do you ever wonder why the mages built their tower at Lake Calenhad? Do they have an aversion to practicality or something?"
Alistair, Dragon Age

Wizards often seem to live in towers. Not all of them, certainly, but enough for the tendency to be noticed.

Sometimes these towers are no larger than is needed for a single individual, while other times, they house an entire community of magicians, and may possibly serve as a Wizarding School or the headquarters of a magocracy. Sometimes they're free-standing, while at other times, they're tacked on to some larger building, such as a castle (especially if the wizard is a Court Mage).

This trope probably stems from the metaphorical "ivory tower", which refers to academics who remove themselves from the rest of society to study. A high tower conveys a sense of isolation from "normal" people, which those academics (or in this case, magicians) use to study in peace, much the same way that religious gurus are often depicted praying on mountaintops. In another sense, high towers are ancient symbols of arrogance and hubris. Or simply extreme isolation.

A subtrope of The Tower, obviously. A tower owned by a wizard of evil-ish disposition will likely be an Evil Tower of Ominousness.

Examples of Mage Tower include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Howls Moving Castle: In the Miyazaki adaption, Howl's moving castle is basically a tower on legs. Also, castles are associated with towers.


Disney Animated Canon[edit | hide]


Fairy Tales[edit | hide]


Legends[edit | hide]

  • Merlin, of Arthurian legend, is sometimes given one. Stories which have him living in someone's castle tend to put him in one of its towers, for example. In some stories, his eventual fate is to be imprisoned in an invisible tower, though there are certainly other versions (a cave is probably more common).


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • The tower Orthanc in Isengard during its occupation by Saruman.
    • Barad-dur and Minas Morgul, occupied by Sauron and the Witch-king respectively, might also be considered examples. Though Sauron is actually a Demon Lord that sometimes uses spells, and the Witch-king is an Undead Magic Knight more than a pure Sorcerer or Lich. Saruman is still the best example.
      • Played straight by Sauron before he revealed his true identity after being slain by Isildur. He was known as The Necromancer, an evil sorcerer, and lived in the tower-fortress of Dol-Guldur on the edge of Mirkwood. The White Council eventually drove him out of Mirkwood, but had delayed long enough for him to restore himself in Mordor. He began re-raising his old tower, Barad-Dur, less than a decade later.
    • Actually, considering how many characters in history of Tolkienverse had some magic-like abilities, adding the fact elves just LOVED towers and high places...point randomly into any map of Arda ever made and you are bound to be close to place which was tower containing magical device / wizard / extra-wise man or elf at one point in time at least. Granted, only handful of them could be called "wizard", for various reasons.
  • In Discworld:
    • The centerpiece of Unseen University is the super-tall Tower of Art, which is supposed to be the oldest part of it.
    • In the book Sourcery, the impulse to build a tower is a particular feature of wizards, particularly those engaged in warfare with each other. When a full-scale global disc-wide magical war does indeed break out, the two sides have ensconced themselves in recently built towers, directing magical attacks in the same way that you'd direct a nuclear war. Even Rincewind, who is barely a wizard at all, instinctively tries to build his own tower while sleepwalking, piling rocks on top of each other.
    • In The Last Continent, there's another magic university tower. This one doesn't look much, but is Taller From The Top.
  • The Wheel of Time has the Aes Sedai based in the White Tower. Later, the Asha'man proclaim their own base as the Black Tower, though that was only because they want to cement their image as the Spear Counterpart to the Aes Sedai. They never actually build a tower.
    • To be fair, by the time they get started on building the place, it's nearly the end of the world. They have plans for it.
  • In Dragonlance, the wizard's Conclave is based out of five different Towers of High Sorcery scattered across the continent, each surrounded by an enchanted grove of trees meant to keep out intruders. All five have vastly different and unique designs and layouts, with apartments and laboratories for wizards in residence, vast libraries, cataloged collections of magical artifacts, and other facilities. Even graveyards are present for mages who want to be buried within the Towers. In addition to being the homes and workplaces of the Conclave wizards, the Towers also serve as a magical Cosmic Keystone, keeping magic stable and predictable. When two of the Towers were destroyed during the Kingpriest's inquisition, the surrounding areas were devastated for miles around, and if all five were gone, the entire continent would be swept with uncontrolled wild magic.
  • Telemain the magician from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles has his own rinky-dink version.
  • Patricia McKillip's The Riddle-Master of Hed trilogy has a tower with a spiral staircase that cannot be climbed unless the wizard invites you in—otherwise the top remains just as high above you no mattter how high you think you've climbed.
  • In the first book of The Riftwar Cycle, the Court Mage Kulgan has a tower in the duke's castle.
  • Each of the disciples of Aldur have their own tower in the Belgariad. Its a deliberate and conscious emulation of their patron god Aldur, though the specific styles vary reflecting aspects of the individual sorcerer's personality. Belkira and Beltira have a bridge linking theirs while the hunchbacked Beldin has a delicate and airy looking tower. Belgarath lampshades it while infiltrating a villain's tower by saying that every sorcerer he's met seems to build one - this particular one is upside down and hangs from the edge of a mountain, apparently just because it can.
  • Referenced in A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin, where the villain's organization that's trying to monopolize all the magic in London is called the Tower.
  • In the Earthsea Trilogy, the Master Namer of Roke, Kurremkarmerruk, lives in a tower some way from the School.
  • In The Hero and the Crown, the bad mage has a very very very tall tower. The good one has a one story longhouse/mansion.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's The Black Gryphon, it's implied that Urtho, the Big Good Mage of Silence, has owned several towers in his career, as he reminisces fondly about his first one. His current incarnation, as portrayed in the chapter 6 illustration, is an elaborate and flowing creation with several interconnected spires.
  • Elizabeth Bear's Promethean Age: In Whiskey & Water, Jane Andraste has taken the skycraper headquarters of the Promethean order as her tower.
  • The Wizard Tower in Septimus Heap is a classic example of these.
  • The Iron Tower of Carcë in The Worm Ouroboros, where King Gorice goes to study black magic and summon the forces of Hell.


Music[edit | hide]

  • In the Rainbow song "Stargazer," a wizard telepathically enslaves hundreds of people to build him a huge tower in the middle of the desert so that he, the wizard, may leap from the top and fly. It doesn't work.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • More Dungeons & Dragons examples:
    • DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor. The powerful mage Robert of Dives lives in a lonely tower.
    • Forgotten Realms is riddled with these, functional or otherwise. With time, some of the abandoned towers became taverns; some are so warded thickly that they stay empty in the middle of a town for a few centuries. Some consist only of a few upper levels remaining in their proper place.
      • Elminster the Sage has a tower in Shadowdale. A slightly modified abandoned windmill, really.
      • The craziest is Host Tower of the Arcane—the home of Arcane Brotherhood in Luskan, on account of being made by Netherese survivors on the run from Phaerimm. The building hosts a little magical academy—complete with kitchens, laboratories and all. It branches like a candelabra: the central spire and four side spires at the cardinal directions.
      • The Vorpal Tower, called so because "some force cleanly sliced away nearly a third of the entire structure diagonally across its top two floors".
      • A highlight from Word of Ed:

Centuries ago, in the days of Ortaun and Trustan. it became very popular for wizards to dwell in floating towers of their own making, but rumors that both of those mages could somehow at will either tracelessly enter or move and control buildings to which their spells had been applied ended that popularity. The passage of much time since then has left most of the towers empty of their builders, and forgotten by most of the wider Realms; remote vales in the Sword Coast North, all around the fringes of the High Forest, are claimed by some adventurers to hide scores of such floating abodes, most of them crumbling and well hidden by trees that have grown up around them to overtop them or even thrust through them.

  • Octavius of Tyrvo from GURPS: Banestorm has a carefully detailed tower.
  • This is Lampshaded in Mage: The Awakening, with suggestions on how to adopt it to modern settings (i.e. by making your Sanctum inside a penthouse).

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Dragon Age, the Circle of Magi is based in a tower. At one point, when he considers the stairs he's about to face, First Enchanter Irving grumbles about the inconvenience that this trope causes him, and curses whoever it was that decided to enforce it.
    • Also lampshaded by Morrigan, who wonders what it is with the Circle mages and large phallic symbols.
    • The Circle Tower actually predates the Circle of Magi and was built as an ancient fortress; such towers are used as Mage Towers in the Dragon Age 'verse because they make good prisons.
  • The Elder Scrolls has a few examples.
    • In Morrowind, the Telvanni wizards live in towers, often without any stairs - they use magic to get to whatever level they want, and anybody who can't follow probably isn't worth talking to.
    • In Oblivion with the right DLC the player can get one of their own.
    • The modding community has a fascination with towers, and often holds the official DLC tower in very little regard. Result: dozens of mods that add mage towers all over the place.
    • In Skyrim, Calcelmo the wizard lives in a tower in Markarth guarded by Dwemer traps.
  • The wizard/mage unit-production building in all Heroes of Might and Magic incarnations is some sort of tower. The third installation even had the wizard city type called "Tower".
    • When we get to visit Bracada (the Wizards' country on Antagarich, the continent that Heroes III takes place on) in Might and Magic VII, the region we see turns out to be full of towers, to the point that the only two buildings in the Bracada Desert that aren't towers is the Stable and the School of Sorcery (well, unless one counts 'floating really high above' as 'in', in which case there is an entire city without towers as well).
  • The Wizards' Guild building in Majesty is a nest of towers, and wizards are also able to build ancillary "Wizards' Towers" as glorified Guard Towers which they can garrison and which allow the player to cast spells within their line of sight.
  • World of Warcraft: Whenever a mage or group of mages are based somewhere, you are guaranteed to find one of these.
    • The most notable by far being Karazhan, formerly owned by the wizard Medivh (one of the most prominent figures in the Warcraft and Warcraft 3 eras), which featured both as a mission in the original Warcraft and also as one of the first Raid instances in Outland.
    • The mages tower in Stormwind is probably the second most notable examples, as it's design is unique (All the other mage towers have the same model, more or less). Only one mage is actually in the tower, though. To access the others, you have to pass through a portal leading to a small room (the Portal and teleportation spells also leads to it). Where said room is, no one knows.
  • The Mysidia Tower/Magician's Tower in Final Fantasy II.
  • The Fanatics' Tower from Final Fantasy VI.
  • They serve a dual purpose in Age of Wonders 2. Wizards who sit in a tower will have their domain (spell range) extended, and can cast adjacent to allied heroes. Even more importantly, if a wizard dies, he or she will be resurrected at a tower on their next turn. And if there's no tower to resurrect at...
  • Geffen Tower in Ragnarok Online. That's where novices go to change into the mage class, and is also the same place where mages change into wizards. Interestingly, it sits on top of a dungeon, which is accessible in the tower basement.
  • Abraxas' Tower in the first Vampires Dawn game might count. He certainly has a wide variety of magic available and one level of the tower even has magic darkness spread out that not even this game's Vampires' special vision can overcome. Played completely straight in the sequel, with some witch residing in a tower.
  • The Naughty Sorceress from Kingdom of Loathing lives at the top of a tower, which you have to fight through to get to her. Next to it is the ruins of Fernswarthy's tower, who counted before he died.
  • The aptly-named Mysterious Tower from the Kingdom Hearts series, home of Yen Sid. It's located on a piece of turf floating in the middle of nowhere (though you can reach it via ghost train from Twilight Town), and contains a lot of floating staircases and portals.
  • In Master of Magic, your capital city contains a mage tower.
  • The Tower of the Magi from the Exile series.
  • The Wizards Tower in RuneScape. There is also an evil Wizards tower, and the Mage's guild is set in an even bigger tower.
  • In the iOS game Highborn, you can capture towers to be able to control the Wizard living in it.
    • There is also a tower where the Wizard's Council meets. They're rather afraid to come out because of the dragon trying to eat them, so Enzo has to go up to the tower himself to talk to them. He grumbles about having to do it a second time in the second chapter.

Web Comics[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Ice King from Adventure Time lives in a hollowed-out mountain peak that's functionally identical to a tower.