I'm picturing a world (similar to that of Harry Potter) where some people but not all are able to use magic to change how people perceive the world around them. Unlike Harry Potter and others, the spells don't actually change the reality of the world.

A few conditions:

  1. When the spell is cast, it only affects people who would be able to see the object of the spell if they were to look at it. So, if Bob casts a spell on a rock in Paris, Alice, who's in London, will not be affected by Bob's spell. However, any 'immovable' object that would prevent a person from the seeing the object of the spell will also prevent them from seeing any of the spell's effects. For example, if Alice is on the right side of a ten-foot tall solid wall and Bob is on the left side, when Bob casts a spell on a rock (which is also on the left side of the wall) Alice will be unaffected because no matter how she moves (without changing her position) she cannot see the object of Bob's spell. On a flat plain the only thing that will prevent the spell from affecting everyone would be the horizon.
  2. You cannot cast spell if you do not have a direct line of sight to the object of your spell.
  3. You cannot kill with spells.
  4. You cannot circumvent condition number 1 or 2 by increasing your altitude (with the object of your spell) at the time of the casting which would extend the horizon line. There's a completely arbitrary limit of 100 miles because there's not enough "spell power" to cover more distance.

What would happen if a person who was not present at the time of Bob's casting (Person A) visited the rock Bob cast a spell on was asked to describe the properties of the rock to another person who was not there at the time of Bob's casting (Person B)? Both would share their view of the rock and they would obviously differ. The spell Bob cast changed the color of the rock from gray to green. Person B would say gray and the Person A would say green.

Who would be right? Neither is lying because that's how they see it. You can't say that the rock is actually gray so Person B is right because how would you know if someone cast a spell on the rock and made it gray and Person B was present for that spell but not for Bob's.

How (if possible) would disputes be settled in official settings? Imagine someone reports their car as stolen and tells the authorities their car is black and they find the car with matching plates and the right VIN but the car owner is charged with perjury because the car (as seen by the authorities) is red.

Also, people who are not able to cast spells don't understand how this is possible (magic is fake, just like in our world) and the people who can are not able to tell them.

Thanks for your help!


closed as unclear what you're asking by Frostfyre, user10622, Green, guildsbounty, Aify Jul 22 '15 at 15:40

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ There are some important things that I would need to know: Are the changes permanent? Are they limited to optical properties? Can they be dispelled? Would an optical change do anything at the molecular level? $\endgroup$ – Obie 2.0 Jul 22 '15 at 6:39
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    $\begingroup$ Hello Jake, welcome to Worldbuilding.SE. As Jonah mentioned there are a few details missing. But, IMHO, more importantly what are you asking? What is your question? You should try to concentrate on precise questions. If need be, don't hesitate to make a series of questions, with links between them. $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Jul 22 '15 at 6:50
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    $\begingroup$ I think we should close this question: it contains no actual and precise question and most of the questions has already been answered within themselves. $\endgroup$ – Ephasme Jul 22 '15 at 9:57
  • $\begingroup$ There are three related questions (marked in italics) that all fall under the general question in the title. $\endgroup$ – Jake Jul 22 '15 at 20:19

This would have a fundamental effect on an individual's grasp of reality (at least for those who believe in magic). Unless there is some reliable way to differentiate between reality and illusion then the logical consequence is that people will take nothing for granted as real and question everything (whether this is reasonable or paranoia depends on how commonplace magic is and how likely one is to be targeted).

If this takes place in a modern-day or future setting then technology may play an important role in separating actual reality from its magically-altered counterpart. How does magic affect cameras? If Bob magics the sun blue and Alice views the sun through a digital camera what color is it? What if a software program identifies the color? In any case, if magic-reality distinction is made possible through technology such technology would likely play an integral part in security applications or even everyday life

  • $\begingroup$ That's really interesting. I guess if someone were to look at the picture of the rock then they the color they saw would depend on if they were there when the spell was cast. But if you look at a histogram of the picture then the values displayed would be the same no matter who looked at them. $\endgroup$ – Jake Jul 22 '15 at 20:17
  • This magic would have to be terribly clever to enforce the "cannot kill" rule. What if Alice makes Bob think that the peanut butter sandwich is BLT, when Bob is allergic to peanuts? Would it matter if Alice is malicious or just a prankster?
  • If the magic is publicly known, courts would have to disregard most eyewitness testimony.
  • There would be elaborate protocols with multiple separate observers where eyewitness identification is necessary. If customer Alice wants to talk to bank clerk Bob, then Charlie and Dave have to observe it on CCTV. And they can't just phone Bob, because Alice might influence what Bob thinks he hears.

You have a group of people who can manipulate others with ease. Many of these people will be honest, others are criminal. The percentage might depend on how the mages see the muggles. Do they feel superior? Do they accept an ethics code?


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