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In fantasy, light is a faction, guild, force, alignment or path of life associated with good or divinity. Together with its opposite, dark, it is used in literature, films and role-playing games to create a natural conflict that does not need to be explained.
Depending on the story, other terms may be used instead of light, such as 'life' (opposing 'death'), 'white' (opposing 'black'), 'heaven' or 'celestial', sometimes 'order' (opposing 'chaos') or 'sun' (opposing 'moon'), but the principle of a strict dichotomy between good and evil remains the same.
Range between light and dark
Light is not the same as 'good' in the philosophical sense of the word. Characters on the side of light are expected to do good, but they can err. The range between light and dark can be visualized with a slider, where a character's decisions can move them in either direction. In Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven, a reputation attribute reflects the party's current position between light and dark, ranging from notorious to saintly.
In The Lord of the Rings, the wizard Saruman wears a white robe, but he is corrupted by Sauron to join the dark side. Gandalf, initially Gandalf the Grey, whose most powerful spell in the book is the creation of a giant flash of light, returns to life in white after defeating a powerful demon.
Fantasy creatures on the side of light include various types of angels, as well as some mythological animals such as the unicorn and the pegasus. Human characters devoted to their god(s) or to do good deeds, like crusaders, paladins, knights and priests, are also considered to be on the path of light. Some character classes can have opposites on the path of dark, called fallen angel, black knight, dark priest, and so forth.
Light Magic is a specific school of magic in fantasy games and other works. It is generally benevolent, focusing on healing, purification, protection, empowerment or the destruction of the forces of darkness.
Books, films and tv
- Gary Westfahl (2005), "The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders", volume 2, chapter "Light", Greenwood Publishing Group
- Gerald Voorhees (2012), "Dungeons, Dragons, and Digital Denizens: The Digital Role-Playing Game", Continuum
- Roger Zelazny and Neil Randall, "Roger Zelazny's Visual Guide to Castle Amber", Avon Books, New York, 1988, ISBN 0-380-75566-1
- J.R.R. Tolkien (1954), "The Two Towers", The Lord of the Rings, Unwin Books (pocket edition 1966)