In my opinion, magic can lead to its very own kind of technology, possibly very similar to ours.

If it is a kind of magic where you use one energy source to trigger one other event (like in The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss), then it actually is very similar to electricity and you can imagine a watermill generating a rotating force used to power the wheels of a cart, the barrel of a washing machine...

If it is a kind of magic where you can enchant tiles to react logically together, then it is very similar to a computer and you can imagine advanced sorcerers working on diminishing the size of the logical tiles and augmenting the processing power...

(from https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/134/90)

What and how other technological breakthrough could be replaced with magic (in its most standard ways)?

  • $\begingroup$ Couldn't any technological breakthrough be replaced with magic? $\endgroup$ Sep 17, 2014 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ Probably true, but then i'm interested in the how, kind of the way i'm describing my two examples $\endgroup$
    – Sheraff
    Sep 17, 2014 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - arthur c. clarke. $\endgroup$
    – NotMe
    Sep 30, 2014 at 22:39

1 Answer 1


In my current RPG campaign, based very loosely on the Ars Magica v4 RPG, magic is expensive. Mages must be very careful what they do or risk draining the local magic aura to the point where they can't do magic any more. The more "active" the magic, the more it changes the environment, the more it drains from the auras. Passive effectgs such as detection and illusion are relatively cheap. As a consequence, technology has advanced beyond the medieval, to roughly the 1800s. However, there are some things that the society's current level of technology cannot do unaided, which is where magic comes in.

For example, warriors can operate mecha or aircraft which are purely mechanical within the slightly altered laws of physics & chemistry, however, with magic, a war machine can be made invisible, relatively cheaply in terms of magic cost. From there, another magical item was invented to detect invisible objects - by sensing an absence of air. Since this effect is stopped by magical defences (i.e. the effect cannot detect the air within the magical shield), the protected area appears as having no air, and is thus detected.

Also, there are any number of other spells useful to the operator of a war machine, such as one that detects ground too soft for a mecha to walk upon or an aircraft to land on (a serious matter when an aircraft can weigh as much as 150,000 tons), one that detects sentient minds, and so on. Magical communicators exist that can transmit a voice or image to another communicator in range (about 100km), or to a communicator which shares an arcane connection (out to about 200,000 km).

To make these items easier to use, their output can be passed to another magical item which can create an illusion of the outside world within the war machine's cockpit (as passed to it from a magical optical sensor), and overlay the output of the other sensors and effects.

The PCs are now experimenting with the idea of guided missiles, using a low-powered magical effect capable of moving the stabilizer fins of a solid metal missile with a simple atomic engine to make course corrections - without having to mount the guidance unit on the missile, making the expensive but capable guidance unit reusable.

All these examples of magical technology are derived from the 12th century setting of Ars Magica 4 RPG and its supplements, and then logically advanced about 600 years, while making its use in an extravagant manner very expensive.

This is all very similar to our own technology, though it can accomplish some things even our physics and chemistry based technology cannot, such as detecting human minds. On the other hand, it is expensive and bespoke - there are no production lines, so as soon as a non-magical alternative comes along, it can be adopted by the common people, rather than being reserved to ownership by governments and the very wealthy.


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