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Until twenty years before the time at which my story is set, the world was pretty much as our modern-age world is now. Magic was thought to be nothing more than myth and superstition. Alien worlds and travel to other stars and worlds were the stuff of science fiction. Then everything changed overnight when a mountain magically rose from the sea in Port Philip Bay off Melbourne, and the world discovered that magic was very real, and there are many other realms on Earth than the rational realm (i.e. the world we know as modern earth), many other worlds beyond our own... and you don't need to fly through space to get to them.

For twenty years, magic that had previously been though impossible in the rational realm has been becoming stronger, and people in the rational realm have begun to be born with the 'gift' required to perform magic. Without training, these people might grow up to seem just a bit odd, might be able to 'do a trick or two'. However, with training and dedication from an early age (around 5-6yo), these people are capable of acts of magic that were previously thought to be the domain of hollywood fantasies, able to scry at a distance, affect the material world by will alone, heal, read and control the minds of people and animals, create temporary or permanent matter, and fight and defend themselves and others using magically created matter and energies. They can create magical items that anyone can use, though at a considerable expense in time and resources. A newly trained magus might be the match of a platoon of soldiers if they had taken an interest in combat. An arch-magus specialising in combat could be a nuclear-level threat.

Those with the gift to become magi are a mere handful (around 1-10) in a million, and only those trained from an early age are usually successful at it, though some gifted mature students of magic occasionally gain a moderate competence. Magic has been taught exclusively in the magical realms for the last 20 years since the rational realm became aware of it, because that's where everyone who can teach it is located. A few potential rational realm students have been taken to the magical realms for training, and since the course of study for an apprentice or student magus is on the order of 12-15 years, there would be very few magi in the rational realms, they would be quite junior, and since not all magi are interested in combat magic, even fewer would be inclined to consult with rational realm militaries.

Given that background, would it be reasonable to suppose that rational realm militaries would be sufficiently interested in magic to have made the capabilities of magic a subject of study in their military academies, and would it be reasonable to suppose that if a newly-graduated magus applied to enter such an academy, that they might be accepted if they met the other entry requirements?

In order to provide a more specific scenario, for purposes of this question, let us consider only the USA and ask if a US military academy such as West Point would be likely to teach its students about magic even if they weren't capable of performing magic themselves, and if it might accept a newly graduated magus as a student if they were otherwise eligible to attend?

EDIT: I am considering a scenario where the US knows about magic (and has known for 20 years), and has perhaps a half-dozen recently graduated magi in government service. A recently graduated magus applies to West Point, where there are no magi attending, nor have any ever attended as students before. I consider it likely that the US would want to teach future officers about magic, to recruit magi and to have magi at West Point to give the other students first-hand experience with magi and to learn how to integrate magi with the military.

Basically, is this a reasonable assumption?

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  • $\begingroup$ What was it called again? Ah yes, Mahōka Kōkō no Rettōsei has a relatively similar setup with students who should be more in marine squads than doing school contests. Going somewhat further from your concept... Rakudai Kishi no Kyabaruryi which has academies with the purpose of ensuring everyone's safety from rogue mages. Needless to say, Japan has a deep issue with magical students going to school to become either the super police or soldiers 😋. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 14:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena Those scenarios seem to have magicians far more common than my scenario in the US. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, it's more like 1 out of 1000 rather than 1 out of a million. Though don't be misled, since the story takes place in those magic schools, it will always feel like there are proportionally more magicians than there are actually ^^. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena I'm also asking about a school where there have previously been no magicians as students, and magic is not taught, only potentially taught about. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ That is literally part of the real world already. OK, sans magic being real, but the "supernatural" has been explored for military and/or intelligence (strongly related to military) purposes already. Hitler had an interest in the occult, the USA experimented with LSD in order to facilitate extra sensory perception. In response to reports that Russia was also investing time and effort into ESP research. Again, aside from magic/ESP/occult/supernatural not being real, I don't see why the premise would deviate from our world. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 8:12

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We already do

Any military learns much about both the enemy and their friends. Knowing your own forces, your friendly forces and any enemy forces helps with making effective strategies. This is why you can learn about religion, psychology, or even food preferences in the military. It doesn't matter that your general (army) population might not worship x or is discriminated at that, it matters that a friendly force or enemy does

If you add magic to the scene it seems paramount to know this new avenue. What can be used as a weapon? Or distraction? Energy source, hiding, building, development, utility? It has a billion potential uses that need to be explored, used or defended against. People without magical abilities still do well to learn about it. Even without magic they can scout out magical talented, come up with ideas to improve lives or defend against magic.

There's a billion reasons to spread this knowledge and spread it fast.

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  • $\begingroup$ What of the angle with a recently graduated magus wanting to join such an academy? $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 8:00
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    $\begingroup$ @MontyWild I tried to cover all angles with the andwer. A magnus wanting to join such an academy would be welcomed with open arms, if not actively recruited and made sure the magnus will stay and do well. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 8:15
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Yes

I see two possible reasons why the military would accept magic:

  • This reason is not related to military: The human civilization is keen enough to learn and master any possible way to continue advancing, and magic would be a major step in this. The fact that we are starting to try and go to other planets, magic (as said in the question that spaceships/flying is not necessary anymore) would be the first step to colonizing other planets.
  • A more "military" idea would be since magic students are so rare to find, the would probably make up each countries "elite magic force". Most countries would not like the idea of another enemy country having a stronger force than they do, especially since magic is a completely new "weapon" and will open countless doors to new ways of fighting etc. Anything new that humans have discovered so far, we have used to further advance not only in military, but in our way of life. However, we probably will take a while to accept magic as something this dangerous and probably unpredictable is a bad idea to immediately make it a "subject". We have to make sure what we are actually dealing with and make sure we get a good grasp on magic so we can teach it too.
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  • $\begingroup$ In short, any discovery that can potentially be weaponized WILL be weaponized, magic incuded. And I assume that USA with 330m people (and other countries with enough popuation) will devote some efforts into training military or civilian mages. Gaining control of others is already enough of a threat to concern top politicians, but other uses of magic could well be more disruptive to miss the chance at being able to employ them via third party. $\endgroup$
    – Vesper
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 4:17
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Yes

The magic system you describe is exceedingly powerful and I would estimate the impact of an arch magus to be much higher than the ownership of a nuclear weapon. The scrying ability alone could potentially outperform recon satellites. As a result EVERY military that wants to stay competetive would try to aquire both magi and knowledge about magic to maybe even counter it without magic.

But

Since the military of one nation is certainly aware that the other militaries also wants/needs this knowledge and power the places where this is studied and taught would be top secret. Especially at this early stage no one outside the program would know the location of the "academy". Magic proficent kids would probably get abducted most of the time, maybe together with their parents but also without their parents to be raised by the military. You wont risk ths kid growing up with the "wrong" influences.

So instead of academy I think more of something like a secret research facility.

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    $\begingroup$ The places where magic is taught are almost literally out of this world... and attempting to abduct the students would be one of the all-time bad mistakes, well beyond 'Never start a land war in Asia' or 'Never go in against a sicilian when death is on the line.' $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 14:48
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    $\begingroup$ With the abduction I meant that the US-military would start to observe the population of the US and scan for children who possess the "gift" and then get their hands on those children as quick and clean as possible so nobody is left asking where that kid is now. And then proceed to train and indoktrinate those children. And also the militaries would try to spy on, sabotage, steal from or even outright destroy the other modern world magic research facilities. $\endgroup$
    – datacube
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ Still a bad, bad idea, probably way worse than abducting 11 in Stranger Things... probably more like grabbing Charlie in Firestarter. You want to abduct a kid who will end up being able to pick your mind like I pick my teeth and who will find out that they've been kidnapped... and then burn your whole programme down, probably literally. You're far better off to recruit openly and encourage loyalty in the tried and tested ways. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ not if you do it correctly. You would have one department responsible for the kidnapping and be doing that very careful. Fabricate false identities and take them from preschool kindergarden telling them that their parents had an horrible (arranged) accident and that they would now have to be strong and go live with their distant relatives in nevada. When delivering the child there any contact with the "abducting department" ceases and the researchers in the facility are only told that the child was orphaned (which is even technicaly true). The people responsible won't be around in 10 years. $\endgroup$
    – datacube
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 5:39
  • $\begingroup$ That might work... but it would still be very risky. Magi are good at ferreting out secrets, and if even one facility member had suspicions, it might blow the whole operation. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 5:43
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would it be reasonable to suppose that rational realm militaries would be sufficiently interested in magic to have made the capabilities of magic a subject of study in their military academies

Yes.

Even though they will not be teaching magic, they will be teaching about magic.

"Hey, there are this kind of guys that are Wizards. You are unlikely to face one, and you should generally don't worry about them.", "Magi need at least X time for a spell. If an enemy start doing a weird dance and saying unintelligible things, shoot him immediately.", "Any suspected Wizard shall be gagged so they can't perform magic", etc.

Depending on the actual knowledge, this may not be a subject by itself, but just a chapter on a more general one (with perhaps an elective going more in-depth).

The next step, what useful things they could with a wizard in their platoon, is probably not taught (or even written down), since they won't have wizards in the army.

and would it be reasonable to suppose that if a newly-graduated magus applied to enter such an academy, that they might be accepted if they met the other entry requirements?

I find odd that a magus that spent the last 15 years at another realm would choose to do that on graduating, when he will have so many opportunities that are probably better (even working as a contractor for the army would be likely preferable).

Would a military academy and/or the army accept a magus (actually knowing he is a magus) ?

Probably. It's too good an opportunity to pass up. However:

  • He will probably face the mistrust of other students and the teachers/officials.
  • He may need a custom curricula
  • They could think he is an spy
  • He will have "alternative ways", which may anger his superiors and ruin their methods. E.g. they march to a remote location, leave the students stranded in the night, to survive and be able to return on their own. The magus teleports back to the HQ.
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  • $\begingroup$ The whole 'teleporting back to HQ' thing would get him reprimanded for leaving his unit... but I do understand. Also, while a lot of magi often use words and gestures, it's not always necessary, and some don't need them at all, but again, I understand. +1! As for why a magus would do this, how about if he wants a career of military and public service? $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 2:46
  • $\begingroup$ @MontyWild: I did some assumptions. Whether words and gestures are needed will depend on your world. Plus, the knowledge of the army about magic may be quite limited. If it's not an individual exercise, he might teleport his companions as well. He could derail an exercise by asking an imp to guide them instead of using a compass. They are asked to carry bags full of rocks, and he stores them in a Bag of Holding... I think he can be quite problematic. 😀 $\endgroup$
    – Ángel
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 3:03
  • $\begingroup$ Public service can also be achieved in other ways. I don't see why he would want a career of military. He is probably more inclined to a career in wizardry. Moreover, he is probably not too attached to his country, given he has been living in a foreign world for most of his life. I would think of reasons like a promise made to his grandfather, being coerced by the government to join the army, or just he was asked to do this by the Wizard Council, to discover if the army might be considering to attack the magical realm. $\endgroup$
    – Ángel
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 3:08
  • $\begingroup$ For story reasons, this magus needs an army background. I'm trying to work out if it is believable that he be able to get one in this manner. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 3:14
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I don't think so. It doesn't make much sense in described settings.

West Point prepares new officers. Students prepare to become officers in conventional army. They are not teaching each other, enrolling a mage has no educational value. There is no reason to teach them about magic either. They don't study nuclear physics, they learn weapon systems based on it, how to use them and how to survive the consequences when on the receiving end. The same would happen with magic - new tactics to mitigate new threats as they become known. Possibly, not even that - methods of using magic would be an area of top secret active research, there is little reason to reveal a new magical tactics to cadets who may wash out from the academy.

Note that navy and air forces have different academies, West Point doesn't train them. Different education programs. Why would it train mages?

Military mages would have separate institution or, more likely, be a small part of a larger system devoted to study of magic in general. Any ability to violate laws of nature would be extremely interesting for industry - free energy or other resources, previously impossible materials, processes and devices. There would be intense international competition and secrecy around these research efforts.

According to description there are few, if any, seriously dangerous mages. There are ~3.7 millions births per year in US, so its 3 to 37 gifted kids per year assuming total screening (and remember, you can't vaccinate Americans if their life depends on it). Considering mages represent unknown threat at least up to nuclear level their access to magical education would be strictly controlled by the government. At this point most of of them would be either lab rats in very comfortable cages or enemies of the state on the run. A lot of parents would opt out of screening to avoid that.

Military mage threat level is at most "at nuclear level", US has thousands of nuclear warheads. They are cheap, the only reason the state doesn't build more is that it doesn't need more. Mages are not that important for military until research determines new specific, potentially game breaking capabilities that fundamentally change military conflicts. When such capabilities discovered military tactics, research, production and education would adapt accordingly.

For twenty years, magic that had previously been though impossible in the rational realm has been becoming stronger, and people in the rational realm have begun to be born with the 'gift' required to perform magic. Without training, these people might grow up to seem just a bit odd, might be able to 'do a trick or two'. However, with training and dedication from an early age (around 5-6yo), these people are capable of acts of magic...

It sounds like a gradual process - "begun to be born". And there are 1-10 per million gifted after 20 years. West Point admission ages 17 to 22. If magic emerged 20 years ago and gifted kids "begun to be born" after that there are likely no age appropriate candidates for West Point.

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  • $\begingroup$ Actually, nuclear physics is in the current West Point syllabus. I checked the syllabus just a few days ago. And are new magi not able to want to become military officers? Besides, magi aren't trained in the US, though they may be US citizens. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 12:14
  • $\begingroup$ They may learn some very basic theory to understand tactical implications of the technology, no one expects them to actually use this knowledge for anything else. Heck, I learned nuclear physics in university even though my specialty had nothing to do with it. US citizens trained outside of US government control would be the enemies of the state, the same way nuclear scientists trying to quietly build nuclear bomb for personal use would be. It is blatantly obvious. You ask for contradictions in your settings, but get irrationally defensive when they are pointed out. $\endgroup$
    – D'Monlord
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 19:26
  • $\begingroup$ "And are new magi not able to want to become military officers?" - they may want it, but it is up to the government to decide if they would. And the government would have 1000% better usage for them then becoming a platoon commander which is pretty much completely useless waste of talent. $\endgroup$
    – D'Monlord
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 19:28
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We've had this since civilisation started.

Many Religions have militarised throughout history. We even have some now. There is no real difference except the magic is real. Complete with schools, training facilities and all the rest.

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