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Cryomancy is magic involving the removal of heat from an object by converting thermal energy into magical energy, thereby cooling the object. The conversion to magical energy is not perfect (some small amount of heat is released after removing it from the object or area of effect), however I do not believe this will affect your answers.

  • Food can be cooled from room temperature to just below freezing (30℉/-1℃).

  • Food can be magically maintained at the intended temperature indefinitely. This is done by enchanting the area around the food, not the food itself. The maximum area of effect is a radius of 15'/4.5m.

  • The effects of Cryomancy on food are similar to those produced by flash-freezing. Additionally, if it can be frozen via flash-freezing, it can also be frozen using Cryomancy.

Question: How would Cyromancy affect the eating habits of Medieval peoples?

  • Magic is unavailable to the average person, forcing the employment of mages (much like the average person today not having direct access to flash-freezing equipment). The majority of mages are of equivalent social status as a blacksmith.

  • For the purpose of this question, assume we're talking about London during the 1500’s

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Apr 9 at 17:39
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    $\begingroup$ Isn't the 15th century right in the middle of the Renaissance? $\endgroup$ – Garret Gang Apr 9 at 19:23
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    $\begingroup$ @GarretGang It depends on where you go, the Renaissance happened at different times for different countries. In England, it didn’t start until the late 1500’s, for convenience, its said to have started when the War of the Roses ended in 1485. The height of the Renaissance in England wasn’t until after the second half of the 16th century though. $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris - Reinstate Monica Apr 9 at 21:35
  • $\begingroup$ Well you have basically just invented a form of magic-powered refrigeration, so I would start with the real-life effects (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refrigeration). $\endgroup$ – K. Morgan Apr 10 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ Expect a lot of complaints from Brain Freeze. $\endgroup$ – kikirex Apr 12 at 13:24
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A few first ideas:

  • Food becomes less seasonal
  • Exotic food becomes available
  • Some diseases might become rarer because it is easier to provide a steady diet
  • Famines might be avoided
  • Icecream & cold drinks in Summer, of course

Maybe forget about food, what else can you conserve?! Dead bodies! Okay, also food in some cases. But

  • Could also open up things like autopsies for crime investigation.
  • Plagues might be avoided by freezing areas where they develop. Or by generally advancing medicine.
  • Make hot places more habitable
  • If there is an area in the world where farming food is cheaper this might become a more economic trait since the food can be transported faster. The transport cost might however be the limiting factor here, reducing the impact.

Maybe the general impact is not that high because people already knew how to preserve many foods, of course now you can keep the strawberries without turning them into jam but that might not be worth paying a wizard. Depending on how rare they are.

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    $\begingroup$ Will mages stoop to providing this service to the masses / can they get more money doing something else ~ this service might be too expensive for all but the richest, which means most of your ideas wouldn't happen. $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Apr 9 at 10:47
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    $\begingroup$ @genesis : "Depends on the rest of the world" Yup, I sort of played around with this very same idea for D&D 1st edition many years ago with mages using Ice Wall (4th level spell) to fill ice houses & selling crushed ice from them in summer, their prices were far beyond most of the peasants. $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Apr 9 at 10:58
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    $\begingroup$ ^ accept for maybe the occasional small cup of crushed ice with fruit juice drizzled over it as a (very) special treat, the price for that was more than a days wages for the average peasant or common laborer in my world. $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Apr 9 at 11:01
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    $\begingroup$ @genesis As i mentioned to Pelinore earlier, most mages are of equivalent social status as a skilled worker, such as a blacksmith, if that affects your answer at all. $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris - Reinstate Monica Apr 9 at 11:35
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    $\begingroup$ Salt will become a lot cheaper - it was very expensive because you can preserve food, especially meat, with salt. $\endgroup$ – Julian Egner Apr 10 at 15:07
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This is going to vary based on several factors - for example, how long do your enchanted cold-spaces last? Is this something that a Mage can cast on your Larder once per year, and you use it as a fridge for the next 12 months? Or, does it need to be renewed weekly?

In the former case, you would probably see "travelling Mages" moving from village to village throughout the year, spending a week or so renewing enchantments (private for the well-to-do, or communal spaces for poorer families to share) much like a merchant. In the latter case, nobles (or merchants and farming cooperatives) might keep a couple of mages on staff to ensure their perishables don't, well, perish.

Food storage and preservation is going to be the first big boon - 'fresh' milk, fruit or vegetables for more of the year, instead of cheeses, jams and chutneys. Meat could be kept for longer without salting, smoking or pickling. Both of these will improve the nutritional value of the food (or, rather, remove the requirement to reduce it for storage) and lead to people being healthier

Nobles might also start experimenting with frozen foods and deserts to show off their wealth - assuming that cryomancy was not too cheap or common.

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  • $\begingroup$ It would be closer to the former case in terms of how long it lasts. There is no fixed time the enchantment lasts for but i can easily see a mage going around and fixing broken enchantments. Frozen food is relatively cheap, more expensive than if it wasnt frozen but not hugely so. It would be somewhat common in cities or large towns but outside of them it would be rare. For example, in a small village you may only be able to access frozen food if a travelling merchant or circus passes nearby. $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris - Reinstate Monica Apr 9 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ "'fresh' milk" is why practically everyone used to keep their own goat (at one time) so probably not a lot of demand for frozen milk to start with, not while everyone still has their own goat ~ hire goblins to sneak in at night & steal (other) peoples goats until you have a monopoly on dairy products. $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Apr 9 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Pelinore For 10 months out of 12, sure... $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Apr 9 at 15:48
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You couldn't "Flash Freeze" at the temperatures you're talking about, in fact, at 30 degrees F, you might not even turn water into Ice (the specific heat of water is insanely high. This means that the change of state from liquid to gas or solid will take a long time and some extra energy. Ever have a soda from a cooler explode on you because it's frozen, but when you grabbed it, you could have sworn it was liquid? While it was below freezing, it maintained a liquid state because it hadn't be distubed... the depressurization of the gasses generated the specific heat energy to cause it to solidify and water is at it's most dense state as a liquid... the ice takes up extra space, which causes the fountain.).

That said, Ice was harvested by various methods as far back as the 1750 BCE! By the 16th century, it was a major export commodity of Saint Petersburg, Russia during the winter when the waters would freeze and it was not uncommon for wealthy people throughout Europe to keep Ice Houses to store snow and ice from their property. Alpine Nations and Scandinavian Countries also had Ice Harvesters (as depicted in Disney's Frozen. It was a real trade.).

Manufacturing of Ice was developed in the Americas and made it cheap enough to make proto-Fridges called "Ice Boxes" which would use the Ice to keep the insulated cabnit cool and it was, historically speaking, not that long ago that it existed (My Grandfather's parents were Ice Manufactures).

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  • $\begingroup$ In reference to the first half of your answer, Cryomancy would not just ‘cool down’ the water (like if you put it in a cold place and waited for it to cool), the thermal energy contained within the water is being converted into ‘magical energy’. So essentially, the heat is being taken away from the water, bringing in down to 30°F/1°C in a matter of seconds. (Also, the number used in an arbitrary one, its just meant as a frame of reference and so the question is not too broad). $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris - Reinstate Monica Apr 10 at 12:52
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Unless there are an extremely large number of these mages running around and offering their services very cheaply, I don't think it will affect the average person's life much. The lower classes will likely live much as they normally did, while viewing the occasional access to out-of-season food or frozen food / cold drink in summer as a special treat when a traveling mage comes through town selling wares.

The biggest change I would expect would be an integration of this ability into the system of food-related status symbolism. Food was often used to convey wealth and status in the middle ages, for instance, spices were very expensive, so serving food with a lot of spices in it was a way of showing off your wealth. There is a very interesting series of videos here on what food was like for different classes in the middle ages and what some of the etiquette and expectations were. I imagine the extremely wealthy would have their own mage much like they would have their own chef, and would show off their personal mage's talent in the form of serving cold drinks and treats in warm seasons and by serving "fresh" preserved food that would be out-of-season normally.

On the other hand, if the mages are a dime a dozen, one mage in nearly every family, village, whatever, it would probably have much broader effects. Exactly what all those would be is hard to tell, depending on what other parts of the culture are being changed by having mages around, but if all they can do is freeze food, you would probably have, like others mention in their answers, much less dependence on seasonal food and food that "keeps" easily, allowing a greater variety in the diet more like we see in other cultures that have cold food storage options. The things that would remain expensive are things that remain harder to get despite the cold storage, for instance because they need to be shipped from far away or they take a lot of time and effort to produce.

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I imagine a potentially huge impact on sea travel. Just enchant a section of the ship for food storage, have an on-board mage "Master of Supplies", thus multiplying the range and endurance of your fleets.

On the plus side, no more rotten supplies in the middle of the Atlantic or whatever your Ocean is called, scurvy and other conditions related to bad nourishment are unknown, much longer trade routes, and quicker and cheaper because merchant ships do not need to stop so often to re-supply. War fleets reach way longer into enemy waters, expect to see Ottoman whole fleets breaking deep into the Atlantic, not just isolated pirates.

Some potentially wicked side effects though in this scope. Discovery of new lands to your civilization might be slowed down as ships en route will not be so desperate to find re-supply stops as they were in our timeline, nor Goverments so willing to sponsor re-supply orientated settlements. Having the Portuguese african settlements/factories around Africa as an example, there will be much less of them, but some will still be needed specially for ship repairs and local trading. Of course, less of these settlements might be good news for the locals, depending on the nature of your trade.

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The biggest thing I see changing is the way drinks would be consumed.For most people, the only liquid safe to drink was ale/ beer/ mead /wine. The ability to chill a drink and not have it at room temperature would defiantly cause a stir in the way things happened, making drinks more session-able.

Another thing that comes to mind is the invention of puff pastry. Flour, butter and water is all that is needed, and with the power to chill and set the dough butter based pastries would have a lot of room to flourish.

I guess just about anything you find in your freezer might become the norm. So some variation of a frozen breakfast sandwich, or a chicken burrito, any quick one serving meal that just needs to be thawed would reduce the need to have an in-house cook available all the time for the aristocracy.

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  • $\begingroup$ The first paragraph of your answer is flat out incorrect. Its a misconception that water was not safe to drink in Medieval times. It comes from how rivers and waterways in cities were polluted and caused disease, such as the river Thames. For most people, water was perfectly safe and, just incase it wasn’t, they boiled the water which would have killed off harmful bacteria. Here is a video debunking the misconceptions of the Medieval period youtube.com/watch?v=PFC32MzqHIc $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris - Reinstate Monica Apr 12 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ @liam if the mages were used by the aristocracy, and stuck to the cities where their service might be paid for, the water that they interact with would be that polluted and diseased variety $\endgroup$ – Alex Apr 12 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ True, but as i say, Medieval people knew about boiling water to make it safer to drink (or at least learned about it eventually). Also, it was only really the rivers in cities that were polluted, wells were often safe (or safer) to drink from as the water came from an underground water source. $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris - Reinstate Monica Apr 12 at 19:23
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Actually, I think that having that temperature would not do much. Mostly, that would be a novelty for rich people to have cooled drinks party. It could allow a bit of timesaving for town and city households, allowing people to go to market more rarely for meat, eggs and milk, but we are speaking the difference between daily and twice a week here. Add here the factor that the milk, for example, is not pasterized, so it won't keep well in the magifridge. Now if your cryomancy allowed to store the food at 0F... We are speaking the difference between the fridge and freezer here. As for the economic factors, I wonder how much harder it would be to enchant the bigger volume. If 'magical' costs just scale up in step with the volume, it would be much more cost effective to enchant huge industrial scale freezers then to have individual units. It seems to me, there would be huge storage facilities, owned either communally, or by wealthy butchers (as it was the case with granaries). Such storage facilities would significantly change the patterns of meat (and, as afterthought, vegetable and fruit consumption). Individual households would need to spend less time on food preservation (salting and curing meat, pickling vegetables and so on). It would allow better rationing of meat and vegetables and, possibly, increase the availability of protein and vitamins. That would be a decent improvement to overall health. And, as it was said before, it would really be a big boon for seafaring - but only if we allow magic freezers, not magic fridges. If we allow for the world very similar to ours, we could have the voyages of exploration significantly earlier in the timeline. And that could have some interesting effects. Lesser technological disparity, less population pressure...

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