1. DarkPen14

    DarkPen14 Florida Man in Training Contributor

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    How would magic factor into modern society?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by DarkPen14, Apr 25, 2019.

    I have a sci-fantasy world where magic exists. It's set in roughly our era of time, and I'm trying to determine how this sorcery would factor into our daily lives even if we ourselves were not mages.

    There aren't elves or dwarves or many of the fantasy standard intelligent races in this story, but there are gods, and their agents (Ie, angels, demons), wizards (A group of eight archmages for the eight elemental groups; Fire, water, earth, air, life, death, light, and dark, as well as all others who have the ability to use magic.)

    Humans only rarely have the ability to use magic. Out of the 7.6 Billion humans on the planet, only about 5 thousand are able to use magic. The Eight Archmages are semi-immortal. They will live until they are killed, and age at a much slower rate. Perks of being the ultimate mage of their element. I won't go into detail about how the magic works (Because if I tried to explain the physics and mechanics behind telling the laws of physics to kiss my *ss, we'd be here a while.), but basically the mage in question takes control over and manipulates the forces involved with fulfilling what they are trying to do, which is powered by mana, that exists in everything. I'm thinking that Mana=Dark Matter, since so little is known about it and it is related to the big bang, so it would make sense that the gods and other magical entities responsible for the creation of the universe would have used it as fuel. Each mage only has a limited amount of mana at their disposal at any given time, and when they run out they can no longer do magic until their mana has restored. Their body draws in mana from the world around them to fulfill this restoration, but with training a mage can increase the mana at their disposal.

    I'm wondering how said magic would factor into modern society. What would our cities look like, if we can get a group of mages to build towns in a day? What about household appliances that harness magic? Do you think magic would have military applications, since it is so rare for a human to be able to use it? What would out technology look like that harnesses magic and science simultaneously? A lot of these questions I have a vague answer to, but I feel like a lot of people are gonna have a lot of questions, so I wanna hear what you guys think.
     
  2. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Contributor Contributor

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    Dang, that's a pretty big question!
    Would the mages be building towns? If there's only eight of them wouldn't they have better/more important things to do? Do people fear them and are they good/evil or both?
    I guess if we can harness magic in our household appliances the toast is ready a little faster and the vacuum cleaner runs itself around the house :rolleyes:
     
  3. DarkPen14

    DarkPen14 Florida Man in Training Contributor

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    Maybe I should have been more clear. There are a total of 5000 who can become mages on the planet. Eight of them, the strongest, most intelligent and able-minded of the mages are the Eight Archs, who preside over the Eight Elemental Types of magic.
     
  4. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Contributor Contributor

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    I'm still confused as to how magic would be harnessed in household appliances, using your example? I can't see these 8 incredibly powerful arch mages sitting around a workshop adding magic elements to toasters or washing machines.
    Please excuse my ignorance, its just difficult to get a full picture.
     
  5. DarkPen14

    DarkPen14 Florida Man in Training Contributor

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    Out of 7600000000 people, 5000 can use magic. 8 of them hold the title of Arch, the other 4992 represent the other mages. The Archs aren't doing the enhancements, they are the leaders of the mages.
     
  6. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

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    With only 5000 people able to use magic, there isn't going to be a lot of magitech around, unless they can mass-produce items or someone else has figured out how to harness dark matter.

    What you should be asking yourself is this: What role do mages play in your world? What can they do, what purpose do they serve, and how do they avoid becoming the targets of an arms race? What do these archmages do, besides preside over the other mages? Do they have a way of protecting them? Is there an organization the mages belong to? If so, where is it located, how does it work, and how does it interact with other nations? There's got to be some history there - how did they come about, was there persecution (and/or the aforementioned a+b), or even a war before the archmages gained control?

    Once you've got all that nailed down, then you can start worrying about how society will be shaped by their presence.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
  7. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    Questions at first become:
    How has magic influenced religion?
    Why aren't the mages running the world?
    Who gets to decide who "the most intelligent" is?

    As for earlier stuff, dark matter being used as fuel for the big bang doesn't make sense, as dark matter came after. While a lot of Sci-Fi does use dark matter as it's not-magical resource, dark matter is just the term used to describe the matter that is supposed to be in our universe according to the calculation of how much energy and by extension matter was created during the big bang, but is missing when we calculate the mass of the universe.
     
  8. DarkPen14

    DarkPen14 Florida Man in Training Contributor

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    Yeah, I probably could have phrased that better. According to the theory of the big bang, there was a hyper megadense doohickey of all matter and energy that just started spreading.
    As this is a world with gods, obviously the story of how the universe came to be is... different. There's something of a chicken and egg question with gods and mortals in this universe, as gods created humans, but humans, with enough power of belief and mana and an altar, can create gods. There's a bit of hand waving there

    As to your prior questions;
    Magic has, in the early days of the world, shaped religion. The ability to harness mana was so exceedingly rare that primitive humans thought that those who could had to emmisaries of whatever god might actually take an interest in mortals. This changed over time as the gods slowly began to stop interfering in the lives of mortals, and mages became mages as we often think of them rather than divine emmisaries.

    They aren't running the world because they're outnumbered 1519999+ to 1. Magic isn't just planet busting power, each mage has a limit to how many spells they can cast before they need to restore their mana, and these thresholds vary between mages. The 8 Archs could in theory do it, since if they got together they can rival a god with their combined power, but like all political systems, the full potential is never reached because politicians suck at getting stuff done.

    Within the mage community, intelligence is a reference to their magical ability, IQ, ability to come up with solutions to complicated problems both with and without magic, and uphold the blance of the world's elemental stability. The current set of archmages shaped an entire continent (literally) when the gods pulled a Noah's Arc story and tried to kill humans and start over, which was about 8 centuries ago in the timeline, earning the respect of some gods and the resentment of others. As no one has done anything of that scale or been able to challenge them, they have remained so until the start of the story when Fire pisses off a young god somehow, and is stripped of his magical ability for a time.

    The Archmages operate a pseudo-government within the actual governments of the world, in which they make laws for other mages. All mages are still subject to the mortal laws, but as mortals don't have the capacity to deal with magic crimes, that falls upon the Archs to control the mages.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
  9. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    First, how is magic learned? Is a talent for magic something that someone might manifest at any time? Can it be taught, and how much tuition is needed if so? Can it be learned from a book, or independently figured out by a non-practitioner who understands the theory?

    If it's intuitive, then you'll have mages who aren't part of any sort of heirarchy and are less likely to have any interest in being part of one. You're likely to have more rogues who want to stay below the radar, and pursue their own interests. If anyone can potentially learn magic, then presumably someone is deciding who is "worthy". That implies a much more closed and politics-heavy hierarchy, and also that mages will consider themselves a group apart. There are also going to be mavericks teaching people off the record (and scams).


    Second, what can magic DO? I think that's going to be the most important thing to settle. Here's a list of powers that would be setting-altering or breaking.

    --Time travel.
    --Seeing the future or past. The latter means just about any mystery can be flawlessly solved Minority Report style.
    --Remote viewing. This would have huge military implications.
    --Healing / resurrection.
    --Creating or modifying living beings. Specifically, creating a new Black Death in your back garden.
    --Transmutation. Currencies and precious / rare materials become devalued, and a mage can potentially produce weapon-grade plutonium in their shed. On the plus side, plastic is no longer a problem.
    --Mind control / influence. Suddenly, the numbers thing stops being a problem.
    --Teleportation. Space travel is solved, for one thing.

    The more potential gamebreakers you have in your setting, the harder it will be to tell a familiar plot. Think of Star Trek, where the writers always have to explain why the crew can't just teleport out of a dangerous situation.


    Third, how "above mortal concerns" are mages? Can an individual mage be stopped from spellcasting in a non-lethal way (bind their hands, gag them, lock them in a cell made of antimagicium rock, etc)? You seem to be saying a typical mage has nothing to fear from mortals, but how would they reliably protect themselves against--say--a bomb being put under their car while they're asleep, or a sniper a couple of kilometres away? Or just getting a picture of one of their loved ones in a basement somewhere next to a gunman, with a list of requests paper-clipped onto it?
     
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  10. DarkPen14

    DarkPen14 Florida Man in Training Contributor

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    Magic is a random trait that less then 1 percent of the population has. It's not hereditary, it's a specific mutation. How this manifests differs between mages, but it all revolves around being able to harness mana. There are objects in the story that can channel mana, but they are much more limited in what they can do by comparison to the mage on the corner. A mana fuel cell is a common choice of power, because it draws in mana to fuel what it is powering, but a machine that runs on mana is about as close to magic as a non-mage can harness.

    What magic can do depends on the mage in question; their knowledge of what they are manipulating, their individual mana reserves, which type of magic they have the most affinity for. THere are two classifications of magic within the universe; the material, and the immaterial. Fire, Water, Earth, and Air are the material magics. Life, Death, Light, and Dark are the immaterial. Within this system, all forms of magic are some combination of these magic types. The limitations lie with the mana of the mage in question and if they are alongside other mages to accomplish the same goal. the Eight Archmages can together rival a god in power, but if they are on their own, they are limited to their specific element. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a novice mage street rat might not be able to do much more than start a fire, if he's a pyromancer, blend into shadows, if he's a nethermancer, push rain away from him as an aquamancer, the list goes on. Transmutation would in theory be possible, but as it would mean restructuring atoms, which maybe only a couple of even the archs could do that, it's unlikely. ressurection is technically possible, as long as you don't mind being a zombie. Death mages manipulate souls and death, life mages manipulate the forces of life and life force. If those two got together without killing each other because they'd probably fight a lot, then they might be able to create a zombie so close to a living person that the untrained eye would be fooled, but the person would still be dead and bound to the will of its maker until the maker died.

    If I made it seem like mages have nothing to fear from non-mages, then I gave the wrong image. A trained mage has little to fear from a non-mage. With the exception of the Archmages (cuz their old as balls and everyone they know is long dead and they're holed up in their castles all over the continent) many mages can be dealt with through the means you have suggested, binding/gagging/anti-magic-stuff (Overpowering mana signatures, ie, over-charged mana fuel cells) Another weakness of mages, they get motion sickness that makes Natsu look like a mild stomach ache. Mana is awesome, but it messes with the mage's sense of balance when they are not in total control of what is moving them. A mage can move a rock and stand on that to fly around and be fine, but a car or a bus or even a horse can mess up their day.
     
  11. Maggie May

    Maggie May Active Member

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    Sounds like, super heroes just change the name from super hero to mages. Getting to deep into description, what's the story? Why would I want to read the book? What is happening?
     
  12. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    That's a good point. For fantastic settings, it can be better to come up with the plot you want, then come up with a world that enables that plot, and then start thinking about how to make the setting plausible.
     
  13. poy

    poy Member

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    It sound like you already answered your own question. There's so many variables, the question by itself doesn't have any meaning. If guns were incredibly hard and/or expensive to produce, the world would also look a lot different than it does today. If only a select few have magical potential, that would likely cause a massive economic rift. In your story, you have a lot of "special people". In our world, there's individuals with far more money, power and influence than others, but in the grand scheme of things, they're replacable, and there's a lot of them compared to just 8. A fictional story could have a world identitcal to ours with fictitious people in those roles. Your society is too different in that sense to be comparable to ours.
     
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  14. ILIAD HAEMIN

    ILIAD HAEMIN New Member

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    Yea. You'd have to go back to when those magicians came to power and under what conditions. Then cities would evolve from their "seats of power" and eventually become kings especially since they are fucking semi-immortal.

    Which would in turn give monarchies a huge boost of being favoured by the Gods.

    Basically.... think middle ages with industrialization. Nobility instead of businesses, castes and proffesion families.
     

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