TBD

So..How strong is extacly Starswirl the Bearded?

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As the title says.

I don't know about you guys but I'm a bit disappointed of how the comic/show is portraying Starswirl the bearded. We heard talks about how powerful and great he is, just like Gandalf the gray or Dumbledore. Unfortunately that's not the case... here's why

Twilight is able to crack the banishing spell that Starswirl haven't figure out. A bit insulting to a great sorcerer especially how he taught the two alicorn sisters..who princess celestia taught twilight. So would that mean its possible the two sisters could've already surpass their own teacher?   Starswirl is arrogant and thought he is better but in reality he's really not. I'm not a fan of how the show portrayed like that. I would thought he would be wiser than that.

The two sister possibly already or can surpass Starswirl, their teacher. Starswirl left the two in the middle of their lessons and when they are just filly, so over the thousand years without their teacher the two might have self-taught themselves to the point of becoming an powerful alicorn. Maybe it doesn't get to do with his teaching, maybe it's just because they are pure-born alicorn that made them strong. Also they are able to raise the sun and the moon alone, but starwirl cannot alone. But it was not his fault leaving the two, for he got other plan, so I let that aside. But again it shows the possibility the two has or might surpass him

Failed to defeat the Pony of shadow (without twilight's help) . Sure he got some help from the pillers, but even with them it was not enough to stop the pony of shadow. But instead force themselves to be stuck in time with him. In the comic "Nightmare Knights" its shows how the pony of shadow was able to defeat nightmare moon and made daybreaker under his command. This made him the biggest threats in the universe. So would that mean the pony of shadow is by far the strongest being? 

So if the Two sisters cannot defeat pony of shadow but  the possibility that the two has  surpass Starswirl who've been outsmarted by Twilight, Where does Starswirl stand then? How strong exactly he is? 

any thought?

 

Edited by TBD
  • Brohoof 1

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LOL. This is so true. Maybe it depends on the individual. Twilight Sparkle is just that gifted. I think Star Swirl is powerful enough...perhaps all that power can't be utilized?

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Starswirl is incredibly impressive...for his time. Keep in mind, the guy has been trapped in Limbo for what, over a thousand years? It's only natural that in all that time, magic would progress and knowledge would grow. Starswirl wasn't exactly studying, or learning, or practicing while he was gone for all that time, he was just in stasis doing nothing. In terms of raw power though, I'd point out that when Twilight and the Pony of Shadows initially had that little magic struggle, the Pony of Shadows commented "This one is almost as strong as you, Starswirl" implying that even as a unicorn, Starswirl is still more powerful than Twilight.

So, that's the deal. The whole world has had over a thousand years to move on and improve their magical skill and knowledge, while Starswirl was just floating in Limbo, staying exactly the same. It's only natural that when put in the more modern setting, he's not going to be quite as impressive as he once was, though he's clearly still quite the skilled unicorn if he still has more raw power than Twi.

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Two magikarps. Three on a good day.

  • Brohoof 1

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Fair enough assessment I guess.

Starswirl was the greatest wizard of his generation, and had the Royal Sisters as his students (he may have even created the spell that gave them their Wings).

That has gone to his head quite a bit, and he has gotten arrogant and dismissive of other pony's opinions.

then - more than a thousand years pass; the royal sisters grow up, fight, and the banishment happens, Celestia studies magic for a thousand years, then teaches Twilight all she knows; Twilight has the benefit of a thousand years of research, and herself pushes the boundaries of magic (hence being granted her Wings, although I suspect that was more a result of her own growth than a specific act by Celestia)

Starlight Glimmer is HER pupil; She has stronger unicorn magic than even the alicorn magic of Twilight, and while not as learned in spellcraft as Twi, she spends her time as Twi's pupil catching up and in some ways surpassing her teacher.  There is reason to suspect that Starlight is now the greatest unicorn wizard of HER generation, and may be both stronger and better trained than Starswirl himself.

So here is the thing.

Starswirl has returned to a world where he is now a legendary figure (although few ponies living know that legend) but is surrounded by those who equal or surpass him; as he now admits the whole "pony of shadows" thing was due to his poor interpersonal skills, he is trying, not to update his magical knowledge, but to gain that which Celestia herself said he was lacking in.  His magic skills are still formidable; he managed to revert the Table to an image of the Tree almost immediately on seeing it, for example. But the scale we usually see our Ponies at is decidedly not normal - the Everfree, for example, is a deeply scary and dangerous place... except for the main characters in our tale (which reminds me of a Granny Weatherwax quote, as if they are in a forest, THEY are scariest things there)

Compared to your average unicorn, Starswirl is probably still unassailably powerful - because your average unicorn really isn't that powerful at all. This is the problem Stygian faced - he was a "village champion" grade of unicorn, while all the Legends around him were the leading figures in their areas of power. But we aren't comparing Starswirl to your average unicorn, but the overwhelmingly powerful Alicorns and Unicorns of our mane cast - which is why he looks to be lacking.

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If being strong includes being smart, he is weaker than most major unicorns and alicorns. I don't think the show will use him that much since the Friendship University thrown away all his mystery, his archetype as a wise old man is gone. And also that episode surely showed the writers doesn't know what the character is and how to use him. The season 7 finale was exiting because not the pony of shadows, not how the story was presented, but mostly because of the idea of bringing back Starswirl the bearded.

It's good to have a grumpy but intelligently powerful sorcerer as a character like Dr. House, but he's not that interesting anymore since Friendship University. He's a living embodiment and a mascot of illusionary and shallow excitement of MLP lore.

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Heh, did that bit of convo inspire something?

Starswirl was probably powerful, for the time he was from. Eons of progress had been made during his timd in Limbo though so it's not so ridiculous that he's less of a juggernaut now. Also remember that myths and legends tend to stretch themselves to the point of absurdity when given enough time to simmer. What society knew of Starswirl was almost certainly, in part, tall tales. Hey, remember that time Starswirl and Chuck Norris punched a hole through Mars?

Doesn't mean his contributions aren't noteworthy though. A lot of tge best modern magic probably sits on the foundation of Starswirl's formulas and equations. Starswirl is to magic what Einstein is to science. He has his own library wing in the palace after all filled to the brim with his writing. But as I said before, he seems more interested in magic theory than actual practice. He's a wizard, nor a sorcerer. This actually makes a lot of sense with Twilight being one of his only real fans. Surely she was enthralled and inspired by him for his meticulous research and his dedication to the written word, not his ability to kamehamehaha cuthuloid monsters. Had Starswirl been some kind of legendary badass warrior, there'd be a number of foals wearing that costume every year.

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I just want to comment on the power levels bit, specifically that Twilight is "almost as powerful as Starswirl" and Starlight is more powerful. To me that seems innacurate whether you go by the theory Alicorns are more powerful than normal ponies or that they have the magic of all ponies but are not more powerful in a specific sphere (i.e. Alicorn has pegasi, earth pony and unicorn magic but can be weaker than a specific pegasi, unicorn or earth pony). The thing is context and personality . . .

 

POWER

Starlight vs Twilight

We only see one direct head to head confrontation between the two however while both ponies exhausted themselves to the point they were unable to continue it leading to Twilight noticing she'd distracted Dash they didn't reach that point the same way. Starlight is a better combatant than Twilight and tries to dodge/conserve her energy a lot more so during their duel she was generally using less magical energy. We can't say for sure teleportation = x magical units and energy beams = y but we do have a lot of visual depictions during the fight to indicate the relative strength of dfiferent attacks (energy beams that are thicker, shorter but more rapid fire, longer duration and so on). This gives us plenty of visual evidence that during the fight itself Twilight expended more power than Starlight did.

Similarly prior to the fight we can clearly see that Twilight is using considerably more power than Starlight e.g. multiple castings of the time travel spell and moving herself, Spike and Starlight all through time compared to Starlight only moving herself.

Yes they are both exhausted at the end of the battle but to reach that point Starlight put out a lot less energy than Twilight did so while she's a better fighter she's not more powerful. As for her "new spells" I'll get to that in a bit.

Starswirl vs Twilight

This is even more vague we have one attack from Twilight on the Pony of Shadows where he comments that she's nearly as powerful as Starswirl and the fact that he was the only unicorn able to help partipcate in raising the sun without losing his power permanently. The problem here is we have no direct correlation to allow accurate comparison. Yes Twilight's attack was almost as powerful but she is not the type to go for the immediate and lethal response, Celestia's special talent involves the sun and she gave her magic to Twilight. Its hard to figure out where he stands in comparison to Twilight in terms of raw strength. Though personally I'm inclined to give her the edge because her probing shot in an uncertain situation was almost as powerful as him and he presumably went full strength in his attacks at one point in his confrontations with Stygian. However this brings us to. . .

PERSONALITY

Starlight vs Starswirl vs Twilight

This is where we start to see a major difference between the three ponies especially when we consider what was probably the most formative expereinces of their lives.

Starlight was hurt by cutie marks taking away her friend and threw herself into self education to ensure she could create a world where that didn't happen again. She is not as knowledgable as Twilight as shown by the fact that she is learning magic from her but what she does know is largely if not entirely self taught. This means that while she doesn't have Twilight's or Starswirls vast breadth of knowledge of rare magical facts or basic theory she is better at taking what she does know and using it to create something new. She develops new spells and applications of existing spells but at the same time she has not shown Twilights same love of learning obscure facts or her speed in learning those facts she is interested in. Similarly when it comes to combat she is more experienced at using her powers in that area than Twilight because she's a more combative pony and wants to use what power she does have to its greatest advantage.

Starswirl grew up in a time of apparently great unrest and he was one of the main defenses against those threats. This has shaped his personality into the mindset that a threat is best eliminated. He has even more combat expereince and knowledge than either of the other two and what threats he did combat he either killed, sealed or banished whereas Twilight tries to talk them down and befriend them and Starlight lost her fights that we see by being talked down by Twilight. However he's not just a combat pony he did research, new theories and ideas as he developed the foundations of magic and he is obvioulsy one of the most powerful unicorns alive if we listen to the stories about him.

Twilight is interesting not only is she an introvert but a kind one the story of her cutie mark actually indicates that at a very young age she learnt how dangerous her own power is. She was startled, lost control and look at what happens buildings shattered by aged dragons (something we're told from her own mouth only high level unicorns can do and something she as an adult apparently can't), her parents transformed into pot plants (again something as an adult she seems to be relearning how to do on a smaller scale), three experienced teachers neutralized and she is unable to stop herself and requires Celestia herself to intervene and bring the situation to an end. I believe this terrfiied her of her own power and she spent the rest of her time at Celestia's school learning theory but not practice. She didn't start to really purusue actual "tricks" as she calls them until she befriended the mane 6 and started to slowly come to accept herself. Its the same way she was so terrfiied of being seen as a braggart she let Trixie humiliate her friends during their first encounter.

Similarly given how important those friendships are her first response is not combat like it is with Starswirl and Starlight but conversation and when that fails she tries to ramp up her attacks to ensure she doens't hurt her foe too much unless she is given a reason like with Tirek to go all out from the begining. Again look at her second confrontation with Starlight she doesn't go into that with an all out battle It isn't till talking has failed and she's seen two bad timelines that she resorts to a battle.

Then we have her approach to magic unlike Starwirl and Starlight she is a researcher because there is so much recorded information she is spending her time studying and learning that rather than purusuing her own new studies until she gets to Ponyville and even then she's still studying existing things to a large part.

ANALYSIS

So as I see it in terms of raw power its Alicorn Twilight > Starswirl/Unicorn Twilight > Starlight. However their personalities, talents and approaches to problems are very different.

Twilight

Twilight is a researcher she likes to learn new information but she does this from existing books, scrolls and records. She is constantly striving to better herself but does this through the lens of others past experiences as well as her own rather than trying to push forward into new uknown areas except when a subject she is interested in reaches its limits and she can see a way forward or there is a perceived threat/motivation for her attempt that new area of practical experimentation such as Celestia telling her to finish Starswirls masterpiece or her desire to understand Pinky. In terms of pure knowledge she is ahead of the other two because unlike Starswirl she's had a thousand years of history and experimentation to learn from and unlike Starlight she is actually interested in learning for learnings sake. She is the least capable of the three in a direct fight but is the best at talking someone around and convincing them to choose to change and become a friend/neutral party. Similarly when pushed into a fight she doesn't go all out until she feels she has no choice because she doesn't like hurting others and is nervous about her own raw strength.

Starlight

Starlight has the least theoretical knowledge of the three as she is largely self taught until recently and she appears to be more interested in learning practical spells and effects over pure knowledge like lost languages. Similarly she is much more physical and combative than Twiligth is being much more willing to both get into a fight and to go all out in said fight. She doesn't have Starswirls experience in multiple different combat types or his raw knowledge. She is more of a practical sorcerer prefering to learn a spell to achieve an effect or develop one than learn the theory behind those spells. She is more creative and willing to use her magic than Twilight as shown by such events as Twilight needing to nearly snap over fear of dissapointing Celestia of the towns ponies before she resorts to spells whereas for Starlight its her first response more often than not. Compared to Starswirl its a bit harder to judge but she seems like while she has less theoretical knowledge she'd be more willing than him to leap into a new uknown spell by combining the effects of others whereas he would be more likely to research and test it beforehand.

Starswirl

He's the hardest to quantify as we mostly see stories of past deeds rather than him performing new ones. He seems to be a mixture of researcher and warrior but more of a balance between the two. He's a lot more willing to fight and fight to eliminate his opponent than Twilight to his own detriment in some cases and he's more willing to research and develop the theory than Starlight. However he is handicapped by the fact that he was one of the main sources of new magical knowledge in his time. That is rather than being able to study an learn from others he had to work it out himself which is impressive considering he has an entire wing in the Royal library but there has still been a millienium of an entire civilizations developement he missed out on that Twilght had access too. So I'd put her knowledge of magical theory as greater than his currently but unlike her he is more used to developing the ideas and concepts that shape it rather than learning them. Similarly he like Starlight is much more comfortable with his power and willing to use all he has.

Final Thoughts

So there you have my analysis Twilight is more powerful and knowledgeable than the other two but she is handicapped both by not being as comfortable with her own abilities and by being more suited by temperment to studying others works than developing her own while wanting to talk a conflict out rather than defeat an enemy. Starlight lacks the knowledge of the others but is quite comfortable using all the power she has from the get go and is very experienced at combining what she does know to develop new practical spells. Starswirl is a blend of the others strengths but has missed out on a millenium of knowledge and development so is still learning to adjust to the modern era.

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13 hours ago, Senko said:

I just want to comment on the power levels bit, specifically that Twilight is "almost as powerful as Starswirl" and Starlight is more powerful. To me that seems innacurate whether you go by the theory Alicorns are more powerful than normal ponies or that they have the magic of all ponies but are not more powerful in a specific sphere (i.e. Alicorn has pegasi, earth pony and unicorn magic but can be weaker than a specific pegasi, unicorn or earth pony). The thing is context and personality . . .

My theory is that since we don't know anything about Alicorn or where they come from  all I can say or know is that Alicorn is its own species. They are not like a combinations of the three just by mating among the three species or earning it like twilight did.  That being said to be fair, while both starlight and twilight have the chance  to expend their ability and skills throughout the shows, Princess celestria  and luna do not have that chance because the writers keep getting them capture or weaken by an ridiculous reason. But...that would a whole different story going over plot holes. But to me its safe to say that Alicorn might be close of having a  godlike power, due to how  harvesting their power  is such a big deal to Tirek and the Storm king. 

 

but nice work with the power level btw. I do agreed that Twilight is pretty strong compared starlight and close to starswirl. While Starswirl has been trapped over thousand years his skill is a bit rusty. While I think if we were to compare Twilight and starlight it would 10% differences in power. 

Edited by TBD
  • Brohoof 1

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Another thing I just realized about Starswirl. Even ignoring the fact that in his time, he was probably the most knowledgable (if not the most powerful) magic user, many of his heroic feats may have also happened at a different age. He very much seems to be in his final years; an old stallion by the time he faces the Pony of Shadows. He was probably far more capable when he was in his prime; think like the difference between the Ewan McGregor and Alec Guiness versions of Obi Wan Kenobi. Some degree of senility plus eons of exile in a universe with topsy turvy rules would prevent Starswirl from realizing this, and may be somewhat responsible for how unforgiving he was toward Twilight.

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26 minutes ago, BornAgainBrony said:

Another thing I just realized about Starswirl. Even ignoring the fact that in his time, he was probably the most knowledgable (if not the most powerful) magic user, many of his heroic feats may have also happened at a different age. He very much seems to be in his final years; an old stallion by the time he faces the Pony of Shadows. He was probably far more capable when he was in his prime; think like the difference between the Ewan McGregor and Alec Guiness versions of Obi Wan Kenobi. Some degree of senility plus eons of exile in a universe with topsy turvy rules would prevent Starswirl from realizing this, and may be somewhat responsible for how unforgiving he was toward Twilight.

50/50 on that - he seems to have already been advanced in years when he met the other Pillars, and of course Clover the Clever was his student at the time of the founding of Equestria....

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