Suppose that, while the British were busy making their empire, someone in government discovered magic and let his colleagues in on the secret.

However, the magic they have discovered is fairly limited. There is no mind-reading, telekinesis is limited to small objects such as pens, and personal augmentative magic such as giving yourself super speed or strength is impossible.

What the government suddenly can do is two things:

  • Control temperature;
  • Repair objects.

For the first: they can affect the temperature of an area no bigger than a football field by no more than 30 degrees Celsius.

For the second: almost no limitations. They can restore any inanimate object to its original state after manufacture, no matter the damage, as long as they are close to the object. No sitting at home creating invincible armies, they have to be in the field. For the sake of quantification, I'll say the repair ability has a 10m radius. In addition, if an object has been completely destroyed (for example, burned completely to ash or completely dissolved), it cannot be repaired.

This is the second question in The Magical British Government series, and in it I'm focusing on diplomacy.

How would this magic affect encounters with other important world governments/monarchs/rulers? Should the Brits reveal their magic or not? What use does it have as a tool for bargaining or blackmail?

  • $\begingroup$ somewhat in the same mindset, I suggest you to read or at least take a look at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Strange_%26_Mr_Norrell $\endgroup$ – Spacemonkey Apr 9 '15 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ I've moved our Discussion to chat so it doesn't clutter the comments $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Apr 9 '15 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ Can you clarify what year range you are looking at here...18th-19th centuries? Or more modern up to WWII? $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Apr 9 '15 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Twelfth "while the British were busy making their empire" so around 16th-18th centuries. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Apr 9 '15 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ Does control temperature imply any ability to put out a fire? $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Apr 9 '15 at 22:27

From a humanitarian point of view, it could prove vital to the third world countries, with the blistering heat and numerous broken devices strewn around the dusty tracks. It could help them develop and rebuild their society.

However, how would you know whether or not other countries had also uncovered such arcane secrets within the safety of their borders? Since the Brits are deciding whether or not to inform the rest of the world, we could never know if the other countries had this or not. This conspiracy theory could kindle the doubt of a lot more politicians and people, and make them think a lot more carefully about the next move.

To play it safe, we should learn more about the full extent of the magic before unveiling it to the world, and discover if the power can be increased. From there, we could decide whether this magic could be better used in a destructive or helpful manner. With the current analysis of the magical powers, it would seem that the powers would be better used to help others.


Following history it might be interesting to note that it wasn't until the Witchcraft Act of 1735 that any arcane activity stopped being punishable by law in the Great Britain. For a list of dates you might be able to spin to the benefit of your story see here.

Keeping to this I doubt this magic would be made public, probably held secret from all but those who need to know. The government would train people in the act and perhaps claim to have invented special machines. These could be presented as black boxes and only have certain trained officials who could use them.

We needn't have it revealed that this technology is magic (though I doubt the other governments would believe it if they were told that). Needing less fuel for a forge would give us an advantage for war, perhaps the temperature is better controlled. There were a lot of engines which used heat (see here for research) and the increased efficiency of these would mean a stronger economy. Your economy is one of the big boosts in any diplomacy. Trade with us would increase as we could offer lower prices.

Exactly where you are between 16-18th century will dictate what technology is available, however having this new source of heat may produce quicker advances in steam technology.

Of course there will be spies, other countries will want to know how you do it and the more people there are who know or more devices that use it the more vulnerable you will be to these.

Repairing objects could be used to restore ancient artifacts, old texts and such uncovered by archeologists (though this didn't really kick off until late 18th century to). Any restored religious artifacts could be seen as acts of God in favor of you and possibly bind other countries to you further (if they are also Christian).

  • $\begingroup$ Technically the Witchcraft act of 1735 did not apply to the UK, it did not exist at that time. It was an act that applied to the Kingdom of Great Britain. The United Kingdom was not formed until the 19th century with the addition of the Kingdom of Ireland. $\endgroup$ – Sarriesfan Jan 7 '17 at 23:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Sarriesfan Good point, noted and edited. $\endgroup$ – Lio Elbammalf Jan 8 '17 at 0:37

If they do decide to reveal them, (and prove that the powers are real), they don't have to say how limited the powers are.

For instance, as a threat, they could heat a small and warm body of water to boiling - and threaten to do the same to the targeted country's entire water supply, turning it into a desert. They can't actually do it, but nobody knows any better.

As another example, (if you can do this, it might be considered an object [that] has been completely destroyed) you could repair a detonated bomb that has all its parts nearby, making it seem as if you've just constructed a bomb from scraps of material.

Obviously, you could use the magic for what it is intended for as well, to help allies repair, rebuild, and provide simple temperature comfort.

The very fact that the magic is not understood and opponents don't know its limits makes Britain much more powerful diplomatically, but also creates fear and confusion.

Note that suddenly lowering or raising a person's entire body temperature by 30 degrees would be a good assassination method.


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