In my world, there is a confederacy of citystates, ruled by witches and Pagans. They left to escape persecution from Christians (of my world) in the 13th-14th centuries, though they do not know that Pagans did not completely die out or convert. While magic is used around the kingdoms, the confederacy has a full emphasis on magic, having it be in almost everyone's daily life. This could be whether in infrastructure, technology, career, and at home.

As a result of the magic and technology combined, the confederacy has resulted into being way hyper-advance than other kingdoms and nations. However, the other kingdoms have advances that the confederacy does not, due to not as much magic use. Other than that, could a single, advanced civilization exist and develop among kingdoms that are way behind technologically?

The magic system mainly energy-based, and is uses for healing, surgeries, powering machinery, transferring energy and power, and making objects float/levitate

  • This does not count other advanced nations, this is just 1

  • The population is in the hundreds of thousands

  • The society in the confederacy has higher gender equality and lgbtq rights than the other kingdoms

  • While isolated for a while, trade is opened up, mainly for just importing and exporting goods

  • The confederacy is semi-industrialized; While they are technically not fully industrialized, they have mass-production of steel and textiles, and are closest to the real Song Dynasty in this particular category, and there is only one other semi-industrialized nation, but they are not allies

  • While the society and culture of the confederacy is very different to ours, they have clothes that are a mix of Renaissance-style and modern clothes, with similar fashion

  • The main story this all takes place in is during the 16-17th centuries


5 Answers 5


If there is trade, technology will spread. Think of poor, less developed countries on Earth. You can buy an iPhone there, if you have the money. It is just that most people don't have the money. And iPhones are mostly not made there, which contributes to people not having the money. (They are designed in very rich countries, and assembled in moderately rich countries.)

So in your case, this advanced civilization might mass-produce and export sewing needles, which would then affect textile production elsewhere.


the confederacy has resulted into being way hyper-advance than other kingdoms and nations.

isn't this happened already in our world?

Look at the industrial revolution: while a bunch of countries was enjoying the benefits of machinery, most of the world was still not too far from being primitive, limited to farming, hunting and little craftmanship.

Sometimes that very striking contrast was present (or is it even still present) in the very same nation.


Not without isolation

If their technology is much more advanced then people have a massive motivation to spread tech around.

Suppose someone wants to run a kingdom. They can just go out with some advanced weaponry and take over a kingdom.

Suppose someone wants lots of resources. They can trade advanced tech items with primitives for vast amounts of stuff.

Suppose someone sees witch hunting as evil. They can form a gang with advanced weaponry and rampage through evildoers.

You need strong isolationist policies with no one allowed out to keep the tech level high inside and not out.


Probably not

There is an argument that the Industrial Revolution only came about because of a unique set of circumstances in Britain, with the resultant technological model exported around the world once it was proved to work. The argument goes like this:

  1. Britain had a relative shortage of forests - the ones it had were needed for timber, so an alternative to wood was needed as fuel for fires. Coal was the best available alternative.
  2. The surface coal had been mined out, so shafts were going deeper and deeper and being flooded by water seepage. So a pump was needed to pump out the mines.
  3. When the first steam engine was invented it was hideously inefficient - it used a lot of coal to move only a small amount of water. However, that was OK because it was, after all, located at the top of the shaft of a coal mine, where the coal was cheaper than anywhere else.
  4. Given a viable use case for the steam engine to power pumps at mines, the mining industry had every incentive in paying for R&D to get improvements in its efficiency. After a long period of incremental improvements, the steam engine developed to the point where it was efficient enough that it was economical to use it at places more than three metres from where the coal comes out of the shaft.
  5. Then there was a very profitable thing to do with steam engines, which was power the spinning jenny, which alleviated a bottleneck in textiles production.

There is more to it than that in terms of prerequisite economic, social and technological conditions - see here for a far more complete and better worded explanation - but that's enough to get started. The point is that possibly the unique circumstances in Britain made it the only place that the Industrial Revolution could have taken off. Once the hard work of R&D had been done, however, everyone who could jumped on the bandwagon and started building their own steam engines. That is the point where you want your reality to diverge - for some reason no one else wants to be as economically powerful as your little confederation. There are a few problems with this:

  • A population in the hundreds of thousands is too small to be an isolated island of technology. At the end of being massively depopulated by the Black Death, England still had a couple of million people and it had recovered to pre-plague levels before the Industrial Revolution started. Remember that until your mini-Industrial Revolution is fully underway that you still need 90% of your population as farmers, that leaves only 10% to have depth in every craft, science and in your case magic that your science requires.
  • With a small population and no trade, there is no way to have generated sufficient surplus wealth to fund the entire Renaissance in one limited area, yet these advances and more are required for the desired next steps. The magic powers do not give knowledge, which means that the entire idea of the scientific method and using it to discover things must have happened not just in one tiny area but at an accelerated rate - you want them to have selected 19th century developments in the 16th and 17th centuries! With a much bigger population - maybe, if they were the world's must canny traders and bankers - maybe, with neither - not a chance.
  • The only way that the confederacy can have higher technology than the surrounding areas is if the source of their industrial power is something that cannot be exported. An example would be a magic power source located in the heart of their territory with no equivalent anywhere else. Another example would be a type of magic that can only be practiced by some particular non-cis, non-hetero orientation (assuming that the surrounding areas are dominated by religions opposed to such), but I really hope you do not make your magic system work that way.
  • "While isolated for a while, trade is opened up, mainly for just importing and exporting goods". That's the definition of trade, yes. However, if the confederacy has been isolated for a time then obviously neither they nor their new trading partners actually need anything from each other, unless something has changed recently. (To be really explicit - the confederacy must be completely self-sufficient in everything it needed to get to its current state.) There is also the question of who is conducting the trade - if the social values of one society are widely different to the other then there may need to be some tolerant middlemen. This may delay technology transfer but will not stop it - if you look at the world today, there is lots of trade between countries whose populations generally loathe each other and disagree on fundamental principles such as freedom of religion and human rights.

In summary, in order to have a technologically advanced island nation it needs to have much higher population, enormous wealth before it gained the high technology and an immovable, unique magic power source for its industry in the heart of its territory. Without all of these things the nation will not gain its technological edge or it will immediately lose it.

  • $\begingroup$ Trade almost always starts with luxury items and rare items that can be used to show off wealth and status. For example, silk and rare spices built the various "silk roads". So, when this place opens up, it will be the rare luxury items that the non-technology countries will sell (such as native art). $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 15:30

More Wizards

Magic is rare in the other nations. There are few magic users. The arcane is viewed with skepticism. It is highly regulated. The economy does not depend on it. The state makes efforts to root out any unregistered magic users. Like in Dragon Age.

Your witch-pagan world is made of apostate refugees who have fled from the other countries. Witch-pagan land has an artificially higher number of casters than anywhere else.

True, anyone can use magic if they practice hard enough. But some people are more talented than others. Like in the real world, anyone can learn calculus if they practice enough. But some people pick it up faster.

On top of that, their nation is built near the Badlands. The Badlands is a magical anomaly where three minor positive leylines intersect with one major negative leyline. This leads to a lot of free magic in the air. This Free magic is hazardous to non-casters and untrained magic users, but it can be harnessed by trained witches and wizards to power their rituals.

The result is the new country has ten times the magical potential as the rest of the world. This magic is used to advance the society both directly and by using magic to speed technological research.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .