How do I build a plumbing system in a magic world? Because a lot of stories seem to completely ignore this and I don't want to make my story like that.

The magic in this world allows you to create elements using mana but the most my main character's people can do is make metal stronger through enchantments. They don't have any earth mages or water mages so magic doesn't affect them economically.

BTW I'm not asking how plumbing works. I just don't know how they build it in the simplest of terms. If you can think of a magical solution that's okay too. Also, no dimensional toilets. I don't like the idea of my characters relieving themselves in another dimension.

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    $\begingroup$ If you want to explain how it works in your world, you'll need to explain to us how your world's magic works :) But to play devil's advocate, much of the fiction I've read that takes place in a fantasy / magic setting doesn't have plumbing $\endgroup$ – Punintended Jul 23 '19 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ I feel like the idea has merit for world building, but your current question is overly broad and lacks any detail to work with. - Currently it invites "Take clean water from uphill, drain to downhill, don't drink from water flowing below the drain..." - Please expand details on the magic of your world and what sort of help you need sorting out its impact on plumbing. $\endgroup$ – TheLuckless Jul 23 '19 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ Is there a reason it can't be built the same way as in a non-magic world? Maybe with a little magical help where relevant (levitation spell to pump water or a cleanse spell in place of filtration or what have you.) $\endgroup$ – Gene Jul 23 '19 at 21:17
  • $\begingroup$ Real life plumbers don't have any Earth magic, or Water magic, but they do have metalworking skills. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Jul 23 '19 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ I know nothing about plumbing in general so looking for the simplest plumbing system that works they don't have that kind of magic yet $\endgroup$ – Razorlazer Jul 23 '19 at 21:30

In the modern world, there are places where people go out to relieve themselves in the fields. See open defecation. Water for drinking and cooking comes from wells or streams and is fetched in buckets or pots. No plumbing.

A more advanced form is an outhouse. This is basically a hole in the ground, possibly with a seat above the hole. Outhouses are often covered buildings.

Next, you may want consider sanitation in ancient Rome:

The Romans had a complex system of sewers covered by stones, much like modern sewers. Waste flushed from the latrines flowed through a central channel into the main sewage system and thence into a nearby river or stream. However, it was not uncommon for Romans to throw waste out of windows into the streets (at least according to Roman satirists). Despite this, Roman waste management is admired for its innovation.

When they say "waste flushed from the latrines", they mean that the latrines were built above streams of water.

The practice of relieving oneself in a chamber pot and then dumping the chamber pot continued through medieval times (for that matter, there may be places where people do that today).

The modern flushable toilet was proposed in 1596 but wasn't patented until 1775.

It would be entirely possible for your world to still use wells and either chamber pots or open defecation. If there's no relevant magic, that's quite possible. The next step up is directing streams of water. Just make sure you take out drinking water before bath water and both before toilet water in the stream. Also, remember that water flows downhill, so plumbing will tend to be in areas below water sources. And it won't climb hills in the middle.

Modern plumbing is unlikely unless your people are very advanced (late eighteenth century or later). Before that water was either routed as streams (flowing downhill) or carried in containers.

If you wanted to make a fantasy version of modern plumbing, you might incorporate something like Archimedes' screw to gain height. But that would be labor intensive, as someone would have to turn it continually. A windmill or animal labor might substitute for human labor.

Multiple buildings might be connected by pipes such that water would be fed to them by gravity. Basically, a set of pipes that are lower than a common water tower. When opened, they'd release water under pressure. Your magic might make it easier to build the tower and pipes.

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Status Quo

By and large, magical and non-magical worlds tend to operate under similar Natural Laws. Gravity makes shit and water alike fall from high to low; makes water flow downhill along a slope. This is a Good Thing because magic shit doesn't smell any better than non-magic shit.

Thus, plumbing in most magical worlds will be very similar to plumbing in non-magical worlds. You'll want some kind of platform to squat on to do your business. This platform will be connected to water mains allowing for cleaning and a drain for evacuating.

Magic assisted plumbing, that might be a thing on some worlds or locations, however. In locations of high flux thaumic fields, sometimes it's found to be the case that water in a bason will, for example, spontaneously flow upwards and flood the ceiling. Kind of fun to watch in the kitchen, but damned inconvenient when you're sitting on the throne.

It's for this reason that various thaumological helps have been invented. Quickart's Fast Acting Water Inverter is a well known charm that can be applied to, among other things, toilets and sinks to keep wandering antigravity fields from disrupting the normal flux of the native ley lines. A most practical solution is Haendel's Water Muse, a thaumic flow regulator that ensures dirty water will only flow away from one's toilet. They can be a bit tricky if not properly balanced, as the magical forces imposed upon water through a large toilet drain pipe will tend to overpower the smaller force imposed through a vanity drain pipe. Sometimes with explosive results.

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  • $\begingroup$ "magic shit doesn't smell any better than non-magic shit" and now I can just think of alchemists creating potions to change that... $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Jul 24 '19 at 7:01

You don't want an explanation of how plumbing works...but your magical folks don't seem to have much alternative available but to build on the basic physical principles....

Water and sewer pipes can be made of just about any material. Pipes have been made of masonry, wood, metal, plastic, and many other materials.

Sewer pipes operate on the principle of simple gravity - water flows downhill. Since sewers also contain solids and semi-solids, the downhill slope (called pitch) of the pipe is important. Best pitch is 1/4-inch for every foot of pipe. Sewer pipes must be placed several feet below water pipes, so leaky sewers don't pollute the clean water supply. Sewer diameters must be large enough for cleaning.

Most sewers today empty into a waste treatment plant, because the next town downstream is eventually going to drink it. It typically takes 3-5 days for microorganisms to consume most waste in an open waterway like a river, and for healthy oxygen and ph to resume. If the town downstream is closer than that, they may get sick frequently or seasonally.

Water pipes today operate on the principle of pressure. The easiest way to get pressure is a central water-tower and a single central pump lifting water into the tower. The central tower must be sized for maximum demand, which is usually early morning...or else folks run out of water during their morning ablutions. Higher towers can cover a larger area, but are more expensive to build and cost more to pump. Pressure means small, pressure-capable pipes (but not too small), and pitch isn't relevant. The central source also makes drinking-water treatment easier for everybody. Water pipes are typically buried to prevent freezing, prevent contamination, and to pass under streets.

Clean water treatment consists of dosing the water with a coagulant (like lye to get rid of suspended solids) and a disenfectant (ozone or chlorine to get rid of microorganisms), balancing the ph, etc.

Older water systems that were gravity-drawn (aqueducts) usually fed above-ground only to neighborhood fountains or outlets. Crossing streets and feeding into (the basement of) each house was simply too hard, too expensive, and not convenient enough to bother.

...so it seems like your folks can make better pipes and stronger towers. They can make incremental improvements that make their water supply a bit safer, waste a bit less, pollute a bit less. But no fundamental changes.

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