Last time, on Saturday Setups, we talked about different systems of magic. This week, we’re going to talk about the effect of magic on development. This is quite an expansive topic, and I could give many, many examples. But I’ll do my best to keep it short and to the point. The concepts and things you need to think about may vary depending on your world, but the general direction should be roughly the same.
First, let me explain what I mean by development. Development here is the development of society in any area that magic in your world might be usable. If magic can replace an innovation in our world, that’s an area of development. This is important because there are quite a few areas that magic can affect.
Areas of Impact
Alright, let’s dive into the main point of this article. Magic impacts many things about the world your characters live in. For example, if everyone is capable of teleporting wherever they need to go, there wouldn’t be much use for cars or other transportation devices. These are the kinds of things you have to think about. Let’s consider some of the areas that magic can have an impact.
Obviously, I already pointed out one example of how technology can be impacted by magic, but really, the possibilities are limitless. There may be specific areas of technology that simply never develop because magic takes their place. Why use an engine made of metal and parts if you can power a car off a magically imbued crystal? Why bother with a stove if you’re able to boil water with a thought? There are so many things that either society or individuals may never need or use simply because of magic. Depending on whether or not a specific magical ability is wide-spread in society, you may have parts of technology that develop but are only used by a certain subset of people. This could, of course, lead to divisions between classes based on magic too.
Magic can often impact societal development as well. A natural hierarchy can appear depending on the kind of magic most common and the system it naturally promotes. If some people are naturally more powerful than others magically speaking, this leads to a system starting with the strongest and moving down the line to the weakest. Given that it’s human nature to group, categorize, and label, it stands to reason that at some point, those groups and labels might be used to keep one group or another down or even as a prejudice that people justify because of the group they’ve assigned other individuals to. Cliques and prejudice toward those of a lower class or those who are different has been seen in just about every society on the face of planet Earth. So, it stands to reason that magic could end up being a tool people use to divide themselves and to keep the “lower class” down.
Exploration and Science
If people are viewing the world through the lens of magic, what would they be capable of discovering that we cannot? Would they be able to see more of the universe than we do? Would their methods of exploration and their approach to science be completely different? There’s no way of knowing for sure what might be different here, so as the writer, you have to use your creative thinking to come up with things that might change because of the system of magic you have chosen to employ in your world. Since every system is different, no one answer will be right in every situation. The things that have to be altered from our methods and exploration of the world around us will vary based on the magic available, so it’s important for you to think through that one on your own to make sure your changes fit your system.
These are, as I said, only a few of the ways magic can have an impact on a world and those living in it. There are certainly more ways and more areas that magic can impact. But these are the ones I consider to be the most major in their impact on society and your characters. Have another area you can think of or something to add? Or do you have questions about this topic? Feel free to ask in the comments below!