This time, I’ll be sharing my thoughts about “elite law enforcement units” in fantasy. What I mean is something like American SWAT units and similar special teams in any other country. In fantasy, that will of course have different forms, but several things are shared: when you see them, they should induce respect on sight with heavy gear and reputation of extremely skilled and powerful troops that are used to counter the biggest threats.
Maybe Aurors from Harry Potter series could be used as example, but as you’ll see, for my story I went different way.
Also, this will probably be the first post where I share details from my story – but not about the plot, not yet.
Apart from the elite police teams who are obvious inspiration when it comes to purpose of what I will be talking about, the main inspiration were spellbreaker units from WarCraft III video game. These elven guards were used against support units and their signature move was to steal supportive spells from enemy units to use them on friends, or steal curse from ally and use it on enemy.
The most visible inspiration from them was the name. I later named the troops Magic-Breakers in my story.
Skills and training
To become a Magic-Breaker, one needs to have experience in melee combat. The Magic-Breakers use sword and shield along with plate gear similar to those of usual foot soldiers, with significant modifications I will mention later.
While there’s no hard-set rule, most of those who apply for Magic-Breaker training are warriors with centuries of experience (note: I am talking about elves with natural lifespan of ~6500 years). The main reason is that before they can start training, they need to pass a combat test, after which the magi take over, doing their own tests to see if the candidate has at least some understanding of magic. If not, then that’s where the attempt ends.
A Magic-Breaker trainee starts with basic theory of magic to better understand the forces he or she will be against, after which they undergo training for analyzing spells, going so far they are expected to analyze incoming spells blindfolded. Only if they pass this part, they can advance to the final one, which will teach them the skills they are famous for: manipulating magic.
Magic-Breakers are not magi, and are far away from that. Majority of them does not use any spell of their own, they only manipulate those used by their enemies. Yet, because of that ability, they are often feared by most magic-wielding foes.
As mentioned, their skills are based on manipulating magic around them. Using their deep knowledge of how magic works, they can pull individual strings of a spell to redirect it, fracture it to multiple weaker versions of the same spell that will do much less damage or use the special properties of their armor (more about that below) to block and negate the spell.
Only those who show real understanding of magic and decide to extend their training then learn to have abilities of their own, which are usually of the defensive sort such as actively dispelling already present curses or creating magical shields.
Gear is where their strength is. What might, at first glance, look like usual plate armor, is in fact much more. Every single piece of their armor undergoes a long process where it is made almost impervious to magic, absorbing the hits at cost of draining the power of the protective magic. For that reason, their gear undergoes regular inspections to see if its defensive properties are intact and able to take enough beating for at least their next task. Should they not be, the armor piece is taken to the magi and the protective enchantment is replaced by a new one.
Even with this, the strongest defensive “weapon” is their shield. It carries similar power as the armor, but much more powerful and the magic is done to be flexible. The Magic-Breaker, based on what type of magical attack is coming, can reshape the defensive enchantment to support various defenses, like reflecting the spell back, deflecting it somewhere away or taking the hit directly to let the shield absorb it.
To strike back at those who would dare engage them in close quarters, the Magic-Breakers have standard weapons used by the elven guards and soldiers. In most cases that means swords, but some prefer battle axes or maces in various shapes.
Magic-Breakers are used most to combat any kind of hostile magical power ranging from deranged wizards through demon worshipers and troll voodoo magicians to demons (especially their warlocks) and anything between that. They are usually deployed on request from any other more conventional unit (like the guards) when they can’t deal with the problem themselves.
Being elite units, they are few in numbers but their reputation makes up for it. Just as when you’d see SWAT deployed in reality, you know that when the Magic-Breakers come for you, you’re in big trouble and in the best case, likely to spend at least a few decades in jail.
That’s it from me for this time.
Spellbreakers (and the linked image) are property of Blizzard Entertainment.