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Thread: How could a fantasy world evolve into the future?

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    Guild Member Facebook Connected schattentanz's Avatar
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    Question How could a fantasy world evolve into the future?

    Hi crowd

    I'm not sure, whether this is the right forum to ask, but frankly, I wouldn't know who to ask else.
    Also, this question cannot possibly demand a "like that, no further evidence needed" reply. It's rather a "let your imagination run wild" question

    Imagine a common fantasy world with humans living side by side with dwarves, elves and what ever else might be running around there.
    Magic, Voodoo as well a deity (and thus para-magical prayers) can be found in this world; maybe even psionic powers, if you want to.
    I'm now wondering, how a world like this would evolve into the future.

    One setting trying an approach has been Earthdawn/Shadowrun:
    Planet Earth in a fantasy setting, when suddenly all magic vanished (Earthdawn), only to reappear to a later time again, thus returning some mythical creatures and magic to the world (Shadowrun).
    This scenario however assumes magic actually has gotten lost. So the development of guns, cars, lightbulbs, computers and stuff has been a necessity or at least logical in one way or the other.

    But what if magic never disappeared?

    Imagine our world in the year 1000 and add fantasy elements. How could the would evolve during the following 5k-10k years?



    Thanks for reading / thinking / posting and kind regards,
    Kai
    CatZeyeS Headquarters - home of free Print and Play games

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      fabio p is offline
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    You might want to check "Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magick Obscura" a beautiful pc - rpg published several years ago, set in an imaginary world during an era that could be called "Victorian" (reminiscent of the nineteenth century western countries) with different races (men, dwarves, elves, orc etc.) and magic coexisting with steam technology; in this world, magic never disappeared but is now in a precarious balance with technology (the two are quite incompatible).
    It’s a really interesting setting that could give an answer to your question.

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      epson is offline
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    I have been thinking about something similar for the past few weeks. It was about a cyberpunk setting in which the legend about Arthus and his knights were reality. (Jesus did not exist in the past of that setting and therefore christianity did not either).

    But to your question. I think it all depends on how easy magic is accessible. If it is very rare (like jedi in star wars) a lot would be the same, except for some elite orders or universities. If it is more common maybe during industrialisation they also found ways to channel arkane power mechanically?

    I am looking forward to see what ideas this thread may produce.

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      Slylok is offline
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    Magic is really just a lack of understanding as to how something works. A wizard or sorcerer is one who has the knowledge of how something works and is able to do it.

    If People who lived in the 1300s were to visit New York or London today they would have no understanding of what makes anything work and would believe them to be magical cities run by powerful sorcerers. I'd imagine if we visited those same cities 1-2 thousand years from now we might think the same thing.

    As scientists(present day sorcerers) keep working to uncover the magic of physics then we may, one day, be able to conjure fireballs seemingly out of thin air and launch them at genetically created monsters that have escaped from the local experiment laboratory.

    To get to your initial question, for Magic such as telekenesis or elemental control etc., to never have been lost from ancient times would mean that people already had the knowledge to do this and passed it down through the generations or they were inherently/instinctually magical without the need to study how to make these things happen. This would mean they were magical because of some genetic mutation which would be similar to the X-men world.

    In the roughly 4 thousand years of recorded history we has humans haven't evolved much. Since evolution of living things is based on mutations i'd imagine that magical people would be the same kind of magical for thousands of years. Thier technological advances would be the most measurable and noteable because the magical species variable.

    I think the X-men universe would be the best example, that I can think of, for your scenario.
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      Raptori is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slylok View Post
    Magic is really just a lack of understanding as to how something works. A wizard or sorcerer is one who has the knowledge of how something works and is able to do it.

    If People who lived in the 1300s were to visit New York or London today they would have no understanding of what makes anything work and would believe them to be magical cities run by powerful sorcerers. I'd imagine if we visited those same cities 1-2 thousand years from now we might think the same thing.

    As scientists(present day sorcerers) keep working to uncover the magic of physics then we may, one day, be able to conjure fireballs seemingly out of thin air and launch them at genetically created monsters that have escaped from the local experiment laboratory.

    To get to your initial question, for Magic such as telekenesis or elemental control etc., to never have been lost from ancient times would mean that people already had the knowledge to do this and passed it down through the generations or they were inherently/instinctually magical without the need to study how to make these things happen. This would mean they were magical because of some genetic mutation which would be similar to the X-men world.

    In the roughly 4 thousand years of recorded history we has humans haven't evolved much. Since evolution of living things is based on mutations i'd imagine that magical people would be the same kind of magical for thousands of years. Thier technological advances would be the most measurable and noteable because the magical species variable.

    I think the X-men universe would be the best example, that I can think of, for your scenario.
    I kinda both agree and disagree with this. I think you're referring to Arthur C Clarke's third law, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" - while that is true, I don't think it necessarily follows that all magic is therefore just advanced technology, or even an advanced understanding of the mechanics of the world. To me, magic is something inherently outside the laws of physics - if you're using physics to generate fireballs then to me it's not magic, it's sci-fi.

    I do very much agree with you that it'd have been around as long as the species - anatomically modern humans have been around for at least 200,000 years, with the precursors for the several hundred thousand years before that being only very slightly different. I always think that magic should be so inherent in the world that it's something all species posess, since there's really nothing special about humans that should give them magic, but there I digress

    On the other hand, I do think it makes sense to work out what influence magic would have had on the development of the human societies - I just think it has to begin earlier. If magic is powerful - such as allowing people to hurl fireballs at each other when they're angry - that would naturally have huge repercussions right from the dawn of time and cause a butterfly effect that would most likely create a completely different society to ours. In my world magic is so subtle and omnipresent that it's used subconsciously by every living being - but can be consciously manipulated to differing degrees (too much detail there to explain briefly though) - which makes it easier to justify a society similar to ours.

    That's the problem I have with a lot of generic fantasy - all the different elements (voodoo gods, elves, dwarves, typical humans, etc) are just put in the world together without any thought of how they interacted throughout the hundreds of thousands of years of history to reach the point at which the story begins. Working out how they interact with each other from that starting point to create the future of the world is better than a lot of stuff that I've seen, but it still neglects the majority of interaction between these aspects of the world, which to me usually results in a world that feels flimsy and weak. Obviously then there's the possible solution of making the world a recent creation, but that can be just as complex and difficult as coming up with thousands of years of history - just look at how in-depth Brandon Sanderson's univers appears to be.



    That was increasingly off-topic so I think I'll leave it there before I go on any more tangents
    Last edited by Raptori; 04-17-2014 at 10:39 AM.

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      Slylok is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raptori View Post
    I kinda both agree and disagree with this. I think you're referring to Arthur C Clarke's third law, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" - while that is true, I don't think it necessarily follows that all magic is therefore just advanced technology, or even an advanced understanding of the mechanics of the world. To me, magic is something inherently outside the laws of physics - if you're using physics to generate fireballs then to me it's not magic, it's sci-fi.
    I agree with that

    So if the species of humans in this world is inherently magic, whether it's due to science or supernatural powers, I think, the evolution of the world would largely depend on what percentage of the species is magical and how long of an evolutionary period were talking about. A world where everyone had the ability to perform magic would advance technologically much different than a world where 50% or less were magical.

    Would there be a need for guns in a world where everyone had telekenetic powers or would a pouch of small round metal balls be enough? If half the population could control fire how would the fire department be different? Likewise with powers of rejuvination and hospitals.
    The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.
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      Raptori is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slylok View Post
    I agree with that

    So if the species of humans in this world is inherently magic, whether it's due to science or supernatural powers, I think, the evolution of the world would largely depend on what percentage of the species is magical and how long of an evolutionary period were talking about. A world where everyone had the ability to perform magic would advance technologically much different than a world where 50% or less were magical.

    Would there be a need for guns in a world where everyone had telekenetic powers or would a pouch of small round metal balls be enough? If half the population could control fire how would the fire department be different? Likewise with powers of rejuvination and hospitals.
    Yeah definitely - and having the magic limited to a certain subsection of the population would probably guarantee huge discrimination and other ethical problems, particularly if it's passed on genetically.

    In Mistborn, a small section of the population can push or pull against metal objects, meaning that they can shoot a coin at someone as if it's a bullet. However, guns (once developed) can still easily kill them, because bullets move at such a ridiculously high speed that they have no time to push it away from them. Though I guess guns were probably developed initially because mistborn/mistings became uncommon, making even primitive guns quite effective - so the question of how common magic is can also have a big effect on whether technology is developed at all. If the number of people immune to slow bullets is very high, it's unlikely for people to bother trying to develop better guns, so the guns that can kill the people who have the magic don't get developed.

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      Lingon is offline
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    Very interesting topic! I'll enjoy following this…
    I know the main question was about magic, but I found this bit to be the most evocative:
    Quote Originally Posted by schattentanz View Post
    humans living side by side with dwarves, elves and what ever else might be running around there.
    That would be quite interesting in a modern setting. Would humans, dwarves and elves live together today? Same rights? Mixing cultures? Would inter-species marriage be allowed? On the one hand, it feels like we all would be pretty integrated, at least in most countries… On the other, maybe we would be too different for that to work. Somebody has probably explored this already though…

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      madcowchef is offline
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    I've made several setting that were magical, but where society had existed starting at a near medieval level for a couple thousand years. Rather than the typical fantasy world solution where there is a fantasy setting that seems to have existed for all time in its current state I assumed that society built up just as fast as it did from the late iron age to the present. The most gifted individuals mentally often went into magical pursuits (that's were the money and the challenge is) so material science suffered leading to limited gains (compounded by the fact that magic can quickly achieve greater results than small incremental improvements is some areas of design). The wealthy, who bankroll the research, sought magic to wage war and look after their health and lineage so military magics and healing (along with fertility) all advanced to closer to modern levels (in my setting healing actually surpassed modern levels for those who could afford it, but with more targeted military magic due to the need to fight dragons specifically). The end result was a society that looked fairly late medieval in its construction, but with a number of the trappings of a more modern world (higher life spans, more belongings for the poor due in part to more commerce generated by magic travel and goods, more destructive warfare, and more mobility).

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      Ilanthar is offline
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    That's a very interesting question. Two of my rpg settings are quite upon that subject and on based on two incredible books/worlds that I therefore recommend.

    First : the world of Bas-Lag of China Mievielle (Books : Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Iron Council) where magic and science mingle, develop and inspire each other continuously. I took a lot inspiration from the numerous ideas for my Eldoran world.

    Second : "Jack of Shadows" by Roger Zelazny, where the night is a synonym of magic and the day of technology. I used that idea for my Nightfall setting : magic can almost occur only at night, and technology needs the light of the day to works.

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