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In The Dragon Prince, there are some people who are well-trained in magic, such as Claudia and Viren, and others who don't know how to do it.

Callum notes that he wasn't taught to use magic, and expressed surprise when he successfully cast the Aspiro wind spell. Rayla was especially impressed with this, saying that she didn't know that he was a mage.

Is being a mage and being able to cast spells an innate talent that only some people have the gift to do (similar to element bending in Avatar: The Last Airbender)? Or can anybody do it with the proper training?

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I think they meant you need to have this inner talent to do magic.

You mentioned Callum's and Rayla's reactions. If anyone could do magic just memorizing some spells it would not be such a big deal and Callum would probably already have asked Claudia to show him some tricks.

We see that for Callum it actually feels like a turning point in his whole life - he can't get over the fact that he turned out to be a mage while for all his previous life he thought he was useless. And this one simple spell was enough for him to come to conclusion he was something special.

We also can see neither Rayla, nor his brother trying to do any magic - it looks like they consider Callum the only one responsible for it.

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  • There's a lot of worldbuilding in TDP that has yet to be revealed. For instance, is magical talent a random thing or genetic? (Maybe Soren just didn't get the "magic gene".) We know Callum is the king's stepson, but we don't know his mother's background or who his biological father is. Maybe magical talent runs in the family? Ezran is shown to have a possibly magical talent, even if he's not a mage.
    – miltonaut
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 7:49
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TL;DR: a naked human can't do any magic. Magic, for humans, requires some gear; but with the proper equipment, there does not seem to be an additional genetics/gift requirement.


There are two kinds of magic in The Dragon Prince. The first one is primal magic, which requires a connection to a primal source. For every being in Xadia, this connection is present inside them from birth, and is called an Arcanum. In contrast, humans have no such connection, and require a Primal Stone to perform primal magic. A notable Primal Stone is the glass-like sphere Claudia (and later Callum) carry around during the first season.

The combination of Primal Stone and training does seem to be enough for a human to perform magic, since:

  • in one of the first episodes, Callum tells Claudia he'd rather study magic than combat training, and she doesn't go on about whether some people can or cannot do magic. It's not a definite answer, but it's a hint.
  • Callum could cast a spell right away after picking the sphere up. He does not have formal training, but had a good memory of the incantation and hand move Claudia showed him.

So why aren't there more humans performing primal magic?

  • Primal Stones are extremely rare and so would be magic teachers. Viren is pretty busy, and teaching a bunch of other people (other than Claudia, his direct relative) is probably not something he has any reason to do when only a limited number of people can actually perform magic at the same time. The realm is the only thing that can get one to become a mage, and the realm does not need more than two mages.
  • Common folks have other things to do (farming, smithing, etc); it's probably not even a thing to think of becoming a mage.

The second kind of magic is dark magic, which requires crushing away the magic essence of another being (butterfly, worm, animal horn, whatever). This magic, on the other hand, does not require an Arcanum, only the proper ingredients, and presumably no "magic gene". Indeed, when talking about humans using dark magic, Xadians always seem to talk about humans as a whole, not qualifying it with "predisposition to magic" matters. Granted, that may just be general hate towards humans, but even Rayla never mentioned such a thing, and she's grown a bit more open-minded towards humans throughout the series. As an example, S02E07 has Callum managing to cast a dark magic spell partly from memory (clip).

So why aren't there more humans performing dark magic?

  • Once again, gear and training isn't readily available for most people, who have other stuff to tend to anyways.
  • Dark magic is frightening. Glowing purple eyes, faux-Latin weird spells, all the sound/light show can deter folks to try it, especially if they know the theory behind dark magic (you steal others' magic, basically). Claudia notes in S03E06 that "people usually say I'm the corky one".
  • Dark magic is dangerous for the untrained, as noted by Claudia in the clip above. Also note that after his first (and only) use of dark magic, Callum was in a coma-like state for several days, bordering death. This is also a deterrent.
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Pretty much

The other answers have already pointed out that there are two kinds of magic that are easily accessible to humans, dark magic and magic from a Primal Stone. As indicated in those answers, dark magic seems to be something that anyone can learn: Claudia knows dark magic because her father taught it to her, not becauze she inherited it from him. Similarly, the Primal Stone appears to be even easier to use than dark magic, and there is nothing to suggest that any human could not make use of it. In fact, dark magic and Primal stone magic seem to operate on the same principles: take an external source of power and draw upon it. Dark magic is of course far more disturbing, since it requires drawing the magic from living creatures, killing them in the process, which gives it a corrupting effect.

The more interesting point is that as of the end of S4, it is strongly implied that anyone can learn to perform Primal magic without a stone, albeit that it is much easier for beings with an innate magical connection, unlike what the other answers imply. As we see end of the second season and the beginning of the third, Callum has achieved the insight necessary to use Sky magic without the use of a Primal Stone, as we particularly see throughout seasons 3 and 4 through his extensive use. In order to do this, he had to really understand the nature of Sky magic at an intuitive level. While perhaps anyone could reach this understanding, it would not necessarily be equally easy for anyone.

What is perhaps most interesting about this is that it is seemingly subtly implied that this actually makes Callum better at Sky magic in some respects than many Xadian elves who are born with it. Concretely, Callum is able to manifest wings, which is not something that all Sky mages can do, and he is fairly early in his training. A creature who is born with Sky magic need not ever truly understand it, meaning that they get their powers "for free," but will not reach the higher levels without some investment of effort. And since they do not need to invest any effort, many do not bother. Callum could only attain his powers through a deep understanding of the magic, giving him a bit of a leg up.

Furthermore, apparently the startouch elf Aaravos has access to all six Primal sources. Nominally, he should only have an innate link to Star magic, which suggests that at some point over his long life, he learned how to use the other five. However, this is uncertain, because the Star Arcanum and startouch elves in general seem to be very different from anyone else in Xadia: it may well be that a connection to all six elements is normal for their mages.

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