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Alright, so after posting Impact of Druids on Medieval Fantasy Society? (closed) and How Would Shamans Impact Medieval Society? I decided to take a chance and ask this question.

Sages are another Mystic Class, and unlike the others, they have no specialty whatsoever. Their magic is based on understanding; in other words, regular knowledge becomes arcane power in their hands (metaphorically speaking). If this doesn't make sense quite yet, don't worry, I'll explain.

Let's use the relatively well-known Fireball spell as an example. In order to cast Fireball, a Sage needs to understand the principles of ignition (so he can create flame), motion (so he can move the fireball), and optionally, and perhaps combustion (if he or she wants the fireball to explode).

In order to gain this arcane knowledge, Sages can exchange knowledge with other Sages, study nature, or use their Charles Atlas perception to discover fundamental principles (like ignition) and then use that knowledge to cast spells, unless of course they find a spellbook. Spellsbooks are akin to scientific breakthroughs on the individual level, enabling a Sage to learn many spells in a short amount of time.

This means that Sages have an edge in experimentation, since they can use their magical 'sixth sense' to sense the forces at work in their world and therefore learn about them. Additionally, they have high versatility, as they can learn any spell, with only two limitations: knowledge and levels.

As stated before, a Sage can only cast a spell if they understand the principles involved. Also, like with any Class in my Class system (see Role of Rangers In Fantasy Society to get an idea), the max level is 500, and the enhancements granted by a Class go up with each Level. For a Sage, these enhancements concern perception, discipline, wisdom, intelligence, and magical power.

So my question is, how impactful will my Sages be in medieval European society?

Clarification:

  1. I'm asking for the Sage's impact in two specific areas: magic and science. As max-versatility, zero-speciality mages, Sages don't naturally learn spells of a certain Element as they level up, but they can learn spells of any type unlike ANY other kind of Mage, which can only learn spells of a certain kind. Shamans can only learn Elemental Spells (spells that manipulate elements, like fire and earth), Witches and Wizards can only learn spells of one Element and spells that don't fit to an Element (think Enchant Mirror), and Druid can only learn spells concerning the living aspects of nature (animals, plants, fungi, and shapeshifting). As for science, I'm not sure, but it seems like Sages would seriously speed up scientific progress in the Dark Ages. However, the Dark Ages wasn't exactly conducive for gaining or spreading knowledge, so I'm looking for input in this area.

As always, I appreciate your input, thank you so much!

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    $\begingroup$ It would seem for magic, that while the sage CAN learn any kind of spell, they would likely specialize in knowledge. Imagine, for example, that principles were rated in a point system. For a fireball, you need fire level 10 (including combustion and ignition), mechanics 5 (including air movement and kinetics) and biology 1 (how thing get hurt). At level 20 fire/6 mechanics/3 biology they make napalm. Specialization would still allow the biggest effects, but smaller numbers of spells. This is how science/engineering works nowadays, and I'm guessing we'd see a parallel. $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Jan 18 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your insightful comment, @DWKraus! $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Jan 18 at 23:15
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    $\begingroup$ "Their magic is based on understanding; in other words, regular knowledge becomes arcane power in their hands (metaphorically speaking)." sounds like scientists and engineers, frankly. Understanding the principles of something lets them manipulate it. Anybody can use a flamethrower if one is available but somebody with the right chemistry and engineering knowledge can build one from household materials. Somebody with medical knowledge can improve themselves and others with ease. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Jan 19 at 7:20
  • $\begingroup$ Great point, @VLAZ! That's exactly how I want my Sages to work! Mind if I quote you? $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Jan 19 at 14:38
  • $\begingroup$ Go ahead with the quote, I don't mind. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Jan 19 at 14:45
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how impactful will my Sages be in medieval European society?

they can learn spells of any type

Depending on how many of these guys there are, there could be no dark ages at all.

Your sages could learn healing spells. No longer would people die of sepsis because they cut themselves with a rusty tool. And the mortality of newborns would drop drastically.

Your sages could learn freezing spells, so the ice trade would begin centuries earlier. This would allow for feeding everyone with less farms. Sailors wouldn't die of scurvy. Medicinal herbs could be used much further from where they are harvested, saving many more lives.

Your sages could transmute lead into gold, changing the way the economy works. Mercantilism would die as quickly as it arose; The whole economy might change to one based on [Manacoin™].

All in all, with enough effort and motivation you would have a society much like that of Ankh-Morpork, where magic replaces technology for a society that lives up to maybe Victorian levels of comfort, production and knowledge.

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Research Universities Sponsored by Royalty

Having the most sages out of any kingdoms around has almost an exponential benefit. The more sages you have researching/studying different topics, the faster they'll learn and the faster they'll be able to do more complex magic. Thus, essentially every single Royal/Noble would have as many sages on hand as possible and would have to vie for the best research sages to come to their kingdom. Thus, they'd spend lots of money creating good universities and providing the sages with everything they need to study the world. This should have the benefit of speeding along the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods, because those were created under similar circumstances, with rich patrons paying for the daVinci's of the world to create anything they could.

This would have the added benefit of educating non-sages as well. Sages are obviously going to need people to record their discoveries/teachings, so the research universities are going to create more literacy in the areas (instead of just in the Church), and this could also help hasten inventions. For instance, if a non-sage were to think of the Gutenberg printing press a couple hundred years in advance, that would rapidly change the course of history.

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Sages as magic teachers

To me, these Sages look a lot like teacherss/professors, who would know the basic of any kind of magic because they studied a lot, read a lot of scientific books, watched experiments and therefore they know something of every kind of magic.

Imagine them being like a "personal magic trainer", so one who aspires to be a great wizard would start off going to sages until the point sages can no longe teach anything new to them regarding the subject the wizard would like to learn and then they could do their especialization on their own.

Sages are just better?

What's the downside of a Sage? If a Sage can learn any kind of magic, why even bother being only a wizard or druid and be limited to only a few magical elements when you can literally learn all of them? Maybe the time needed to learn everything? But even then, why not be a Sage specialized in Fire control and also be able to control living things making Sages some kind of mix between druids and wizards?

I don't know but I feel like this doesn't fit very well within other classes you described, a little bit too massive/overpowered since it's just a better version of other mages.

Scientific progress

Well, I'm pretty sure it would speed up a lot scientific progress because since sages only need the "theory" of something to be able to reproduce using magic, then you wouldn't spend time building test objects or machines, you could go straight forward to the result part ( even though this could backfire ).

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    $\begingroup$ The downside is that Sages have to struggle and invest a lot of time and energy in to learn just one spell, and the reason everyone can't be a Sage is that there is a Class system. Only 7% of any generation will be Mages, and only 1% of that 7 will be Sages. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Feb 1 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your well-reasoned answer, I was worried one would never come! $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Feb 1 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ Oh I see, they are very rare, that's great then, I hope I helped in someway :) $\endgroup$ – Archerspk Feb 1 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ You did, you really did, thank you! $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Feb 1 at 15:44

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