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Dhruin April 21st, 2011 00:49

Rampant Games - The Impact of Magic on Fantasy Worlds
An interesting thought experiment over at Rampant Coyote with Jay Barnson thinking about how magic would really affect a typical fantasy world:

Fantasy worlds rarely take into consideration the full ramifications of the effect of magic in the game world. It’s probably easiest to take the approach that magic is rare enough (player-run magic users notwithstanding) that the effect is minimal on the fictional world that it might still resemble our own.
But would it? Imagine a few situations – which were actually somewhat real problems in eras where superstition and fear of witchcraft were more prevalent:
#1 – You are a farmer. Your livelihood – in fact, your very survival – is dependent upon your crop yield. Suddenly, half your crops sicken and die of some kind of disease, which has left your neighbors (so far) untouched. Your family may starve as a result. You know witches who have the power to do exactly this. You suspect a few people in your village of having that power. And one of them has a grudge against you.
More information.

Irian April 21st, 2011 00:50

And tomorrow: "Circles still round, some guy says!"

coyote April 21st, 2011 23:20

Except for the fact that many people actually did believe in magic in the middle ages and before, regardless of its factual existence. When times were particularly dark, people burned witches and sorcerers because it 1) was a convenient way for anyone of getting rid of uncomfortable neighbours 2) kept the peasants in line 3) was a release valve for the fear and ignorance of the masses whenever something bad and unexpected happened. Unfortunately, many a herbalist and scholar suffered the consequences.

Still, inquisitions did not happen all the time, and there are games like Dragon Age where fear of magic was a central theme. I do not see the problem. And oddly enough, even today many people are superstitious and believe in some form of magic. This is more prevalent in rural areas, but also not uncommon in the city. Fortunately, witch-hunting is outlawed today.

If telepathy were real, some people might be elevated in power, but they would probably hide the reason hence the effect would not be easily distinguished from a completely natural combination of ambition and talent.

Couchpotato April 22nd, 2011 01:05

Very good reasons and you wonder why people who have magic in games and novels become hateful villains. The old human problem just because your different people will fear and hate you,

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