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Something has gone horribly wrong in Mundus, a fairly standard medieval fantasy world. A rather eccentric wizard was carrying out some research and one of his spells blew up in his face, causing a catastrophic event: throughout the world, every sentient being--humans, elves, dwarves, dragons, even the Gods--suddenly vanishes all at once, caught up in the wild magic and instantaneously carried forward in time by approximately 300 years.

When they emerge, after a brief but intense period of vertigo, they find they're in the same place as they had been, their clothing and anything they had on their person is still intact, but the rest of the world has lived through those 3 centuries the normal way! Non-sentient life (plants, animals, microbes, etc) was not affected (directly) by the spell.

What kind of challenges do they face, trying to re-establish society? They would not have as difficult a time as we would today, as there was less advanced technology to be dependent on, but all of their cities and dwellings would be in ruins to one degree or another by this point.

Note: Just to keep things simple, at the time of the Catastrophe, no one in the world possessed any industrialization or large-scale magic capable of causing significant changes to long-term climate patterns.

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    $\begingroup$ Did they vanish/reappear in the same place in reference to the planet? The answer is trivial if everyone shifted by four hundred feet due to orbital wobble. :) $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jun 15 '15 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre: Yes, they stayed in the same place relative to the planet. Sort of like Back To The Future: same local position and velocity, but suddenly it's a different year. $\endgroup$ – Mason Wheeler Jun 15 '15 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ I feel sorry for any pets, especially those that are confined. More generally, think about livestock, that will establish different ecologies than existed before. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jun 15 '15 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz: Yes, that's definitely worth thinking about! Removing the keystone species in an ecosystem can cause lesser life forms whose populations they kept under control to run wild and experience population explosions. Can you elaborate on this in an answer? $\endgroup$ – Mason Wheeler Jun 15 '15 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ Laughted so hard when I realised that you named your world "world", literal, I liked that :) . Couple of questions, how common is magic?(in different species and what type of magic is their) Do all the sentient species live together and do any of them have special skills, like drarves mining and building? Do your gods interact with the world in any way? $\endgroup$ – Necessity Jun 16 '15 at 11:38
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A fair number of them will die immediately.

  • Any sailors in the open sea will pop into existence above the water where their ship used to be (or worse, where their ship is now, most likely underwater).
  • Some will pop into existence inside the crumpled remains of their home or in the air where the upper floor of a building used to be.
  • Some will suddenly be in flooded cities or trapped in dense forest.
  • Any swimming in a river before might suddenly find themselves swimming under a riverbank.
  • If the gut bacteria are considered non-sentient and left behind, most of the population will have some difficulty with digestion.

Some will benefit from such a thing:

  • Hunter gatherers might find all the game and plants will be suddenly replenished.
  • Prisoners will find their cells rusted away, allowing them to escape.
  • Individuals in debt may no longer have any records against them for their debts.
  • Again if the bacteria/viruses are not transported with their hosts the diseased and sick will find themselves cured (though will have trouble with digestion).

The survivors will begin to rebuild.

As you mention, the less advanced civilizations will fair better, because they rely less on existing infrastructure. For the more advanced societies they'll have trouble with their failed infrastructure. Any information written down on scrolls or parchment will likely not exist anymore. Though many will retain land or titles because everyone still has the memory of their status. Still, many land grabs and bank runs will occur. Cities which required bridges for access, walls for protection, or aqueducts for supplying water will find themselves in a very bad position.

Things will kind of go to hell for a while, but enough knowledge and skills are retained in memory that the rebuilding won't be as detrimental as it would be for a society like ours.

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    $\begingroup$ Ok, why the downvote? $\endgroup$ – Samuel Jun 15 '15 at 23:39
  • $\begingroup$ There's also disease, which would kill a lot of the remainder not quite so immediately. If I swapped time and place with an individual from 300 years ago, I'd probably be killed quickly by multiple diseases that I have no immunity to because in my time they'd been eradicated. The person in the past would probably be killed quickly by multiple diseases they similarly have no immunity to, or which are designed to overcome defenses which we have and they lack. $\endgroup$ – doppelgreener Jun 16 '15 at 6:31
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    $\begingroup$ Most of the diseases have probably gone extinct (or were carried with the humans and haven't changed) since there haven't been any people around for 300 years. The only danger would come from animal->human infestations, but those diseases would probably not change much in such a short amount of time, especially without an ability to propagate in humans. $\endgroup$ – Erik Jun 16 '15 at 7:38
  • $\begingroup$ @doppelgreener Erik is correct. The diseases, except for those which can be shared between the sentient and non-sentient species, would die out if they did not travel with the time jumpers. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Jun 16 '15 at 17:00
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Everyone just reappears right where they were, but everything is in three hundred years of disrepair?

I imagine everyone would just begin the process of rebuilding. I don't know the inner workings of this world, but I imagine a band of warriors from the collective races would travel together to seek vengeance on this wizard; no one is going to be happy with him.

Rebuilding will probably take years; medieval infrastructure is largely based on agriculture. The farms will been overrun with local flora, but they will have to be first priority. Most metal tools and weapons will likely still be useful to some degree. Anything that wasn't built from stone will surely be too ruined to bother repairing. It'll be more effective to simply move the ruins and build a new structure in its place.

I doubt the dwarves will be too negatively effected. If the stereotypes and motifs I have in my head about fantasy/medieval imagery are correct, they like to live in mountains and oftentimes have large pseudo-industrial infrastructure in place that can last centuries of dormancy.

Elves always seem to live in magical wooded areas, I'm sure whatever magical properties their homes had three hundred years ago won't have degraded too severely, given their life spans. Their homes will probably be massively overgrown, but I doubt they'll have too much trouble taking care of that.

Humans are an innovative and hardy race. They'll probably rebuild their society just a little better than it was before. They always seem to be interested in progress.

Dragons would what, reappear on their piles of treasure?

I doubt the gods would be too upset, depending on how powerful they are and how involved they are in the workings of this world. They'll probably laugh at the puny wizard playing with such powerful magic and messing up. As gods they shouldn't have a problem with reversing it, but it's more fun to just sit back and watch everyone scramble to put things back how they were.

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    $\begingroup$ Hmm... actually now that you mention it, I think the dwarves might have it worse than anyone. Mountains are created by two tectonic plates mashing together against each other, and they tend to be seismically active. That means the dwarves' homes have just been hit by 300 years worth of earthquakes, with no one around to rebuild between quakes! $\endgroup$ – Mason Wheeler Jun 15 '15 at 20:36
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    $\begingroup$ As per your comment just above, byproduct of this time jump could be that new beings were introduced! Tree people or Rock people or Water people etc... beings that are the result of people appearing and merging into whatever now stands where they were 300 years ago! $\endgroup$ – Spacemonkey Jun 15 '15 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ Thus, werewolves were born $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Jun 15 '15 at 21:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Spacemonkey Well, then everyone else would be air-people, no? $\endgroup$ – Samuel Jun 15 '15 at 21:52
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    $\begingroup$ @MasonWheeler If tectonics were a problem, dwarves would never have survived to begin with. It's something that usually gets hand-waved when you have underground civilizations. $\endgroup$ – thanby Jun 16 '15 at 14:10
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As correctly pointed by first answers, not all "Time travelers" could to survive. In deed, most of the "travelers" will die, mostly by famine. A 90% or more death toll is expected! But to the survivers the experience will no be too much diferent from a long distances migration, in instance, one like 10,000 years ago humans were obliged to do because the start of the Ice Age.

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  • $\begingroup$ Where is the 90% death toll value coming from? $\endgroup$ – Samuel Jun 16 '15 at 17:04

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