First of, a little parenthesis about how my magic works :

  • Magic is a calculable energy contained in some alloys and people. It can be manipulated in about the same way as electricity (with conductors and isolation)
  • Magic energy can be used as an energy in the same way as oil and is really powerful at that.
  • Wizards (people who can create magic themselves and contain it without their body) can transfer their own magic energy into magic batteries.
  • Wizards can cast spells, those are some sort of mathematical formulae one must known perfectly to be able to cast. Spells can be designed by non-wizards and some of them are too long to remember perfectly.
  • Wizards produce a way greater output of energy than ores. Therefore, they are the one producing most of the energy. Ores are used for all magic related contraption. Such as weapon and batteries.
  • Wizards can pass their energy to other Wizards
  • There is a way to create weapons simulating spells, using magic energy as ammo. Wizards can use them without ammo, providing their own energy instead.
  • Wizards have a limited amount of magic energy per day, it regenerate faster when sleeping and doesn't regenerate much while doing some effort or when starving.
  • There is a way to forcefully extract magic from Wizards, but it is painful and can lead to death.

In my world, Magic and Wizards are rare. (About 1 % of the population produce magic energy) Sometimes, you stumble upon bad wizards who keeps using their awesome skills to bother people, by setting them on fire or making them fly at high speed. Those guys need to be punished but how are we going to keep them in ? Even better, how are we going to put them to good use ?

My goal is to create some kind of prison that allow us to :

  1. Keep our little mages in the prison
  2. Keep our little mages secure (Need a way to deal with fights between inmates)
  3. Allow our little mages to have a degree of freedom similar to the one of a regular prison.
  4. Make money using our little mages (Enough to be self sufficient would be awesome)
  5. Keep in a reasonable amount of little mages (150 ?)

And then here is our means :

  • About 10 wizards collaborators on site (qualified as battle mages, spells makers or other skills wanted)
  • Any number of non-mages collaborators and guards
  • Classified weaponry and spells

Here is few solutions I have already considered :

  • Keeping our mages sedated. Violates #3 and certainly #4.
  • Keeping our mages on crack at all time so that they cant think of spells. Somewhat violate #3 and may be bad for #4
  • Forcing them to deliver all of their magic energy under a pain spell. Not a solution as they could still use their magic to retaliate and they could still work together to amass a reasonable power. May then be problematic for #1, #2 and #3

So here is my questions, what can tactics can I use to make this prison ? To narrow it down, Here is some precise question :

  • How should I arm guards ?
  • How should I build the prison (material) ?
  • What should I do with Wizards that keeps making trouble even in prison ?
  • (Bonus) Ideas on how to suppress the usage of spells ?
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Is there a spell to create an antimagic zone? $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Dec 14, 2016 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ Ditto @Frostfyre . If there's anti-magic runes it's easy. IIRC this was used in one of The immortal Nicholas Flannel books by Micheal Scott. $\endgroup$ Dec 14, 2016 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ Sadly, no. There is ways to disturb magic that was cast but not prevent the cast itself. EDIT : I'll specify that each spell has his own dispel. The spell formula is the base for the dispel formula. $\endgroup$
    – Dastardly
    Dec 14, 2016 at 14:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Then just have a small army of Wizards whose only job is to null any spells cast by the prisoners. $\endgroup$ Dec 14, 2016 at 14:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Blacksilver, while that's an interesting use of the 10 wizards I mentioned, It would be quite hard to find more than 10 of those guys (and costly). I would prefer to find a way not to have to fight with the prisoners all day. $\endgroup$
    – Dastardly
    Dec 14, 2016 at 14:22

6 Answers 6


This is mainly going off the 'magic works a bit like electricity' thing.

neutralising magic

I'm guessing that for any magic sufficiently powerful to be useful, some energy will be detectably leaked into the surrounding environment - much like how using electricity would produce an electromagnetic field that would be very difficult to hide while still causing some interesting effect. If there are magical 'conductors', presumably they can be used as antennae for a magical device that detects the use of magic. As long as there's no effective cap on how complex magical effects can be, I suppose a magical device could be created that functions like a (limited) computer. While the energy is stored in a wizard, it is difficult to remove, but I'm guessing that when casting spells the interesting parts don't happen in that inaccessible internal battery. In that case, the act of casting a spell should be detectable before the spell actually takes effect. Further, with enough of those magic sensors around, you could probably tell the difference between different spells from the different readings (a bit like Van Eck phreaking). If non-wizards can understand and invent spells, and the process is described in scientific/mathematical terms, it seems reasonable that (unless the process is really hard) a magical computer could work out on the fly the counterspell for a spell it detects being cast and thus prevent any spell being any use, or at least compare what it detects to a list of known spell 'signatures' in order to counter most common spells that inmates might want to use.


I see two options, other than just really thick string ones, but they depend on details of how magic works. If magic works sufficiently like electricity, and there are magic conducting materials, then walls made of an earthed conductor or a conductor connected to a prison wizard absorbing magic from it might be able to absorb magical energy. If wizards control magical energy 'in about the same way as electricity (with conductors and isolation)', then the presence of the walls might make it too hard to effectively control. Trying to zap someone would be like putting the positive terminal of a battery in a water tank with an earth wire in it and expecting the power to flow to another positive terminal (a fellow inmate) or a bit of floating plastic (a guard). Alternatively, the walls could be made out of a metamaterial that disperses magical energy directed at them, if that would be possible to manufacture.

Either way, the guards could be equipped with armour using the same technology - either constantly earthed to the walls with magic conducting cables or boots, or with magic dispersing plates on them.


On the subject of guards, to me the obvious weapon is a portable version of the system for painfully extracting magical energy from wizards, since it serves the double purpose of a weapon and a way of making hostile inmates less dangerous. It does depend on the possibility and practicality of the process being portable. Other equipment could include something to detect the use of subtle magic like illusions or aiding the theft of cell keys.

Dangerous inmates

Solitary confinement of some kind seems like a good start. They still have to be prevented from using magic against guards (and possibly themselves), without resorting to the dangerous option of frequently extracting their energy. I suggest giving them their food and water in such a way that they have to expend magic to get at it. Perhaps to get a drink they need to lift a fairly heavy sluice gate that they can't physically reach. Alternatively, drug them with something that prevents them from concentrating (but not like crack). A sedative of some kind. In extreme cases, maybe even keep them asleep.

Making money

Allowing the inmates to use magic in order to use it to make you money is quite dangerous. Just follow the example of for-profit prison systems that already seem to do okay without wizards.

That's all I can think of. I hope it's something like what you were looking for.



As Leon mentioned in a comment, there is no null-magic zone spells. If there was, it would be so easy. We could just put them all over a normal prison and be done with it.

Non-magic solution

Have magic-detecting automatic turrets mounted everywhere. Enough that they couldn't be taken out all at once. Instantly kill any prisoner that tries to cast anything.

Magic solution 1

Have a small army (10) wizards whose only job is to null any spell cast by any prisoner.

Magic solution 2

Use walls that are resistant to magic spells, i.e., they can use magic but it won't help.

Magic solution 3

Make them imprisoned forever by default. The only way they can get out is if they make x [whatever]s. Unfortunately, making a [whatever] requires all their magic for the day. If they don't make their [whatever] on some day, they have to make 50 more. (Best combined with one of the other solutions)


One of the best ways in my opinion for magic energy control in the prison would be making everything cost magic energy: You want some food? Then fill me X amount of batteries (maybe different amounts for different mages) and you will get your food.

Also make the enforcement duration be based on magic energy (nunmber of days * magic potential of the specific mage to make it fair).

This would make it so that mages who arent donating are basicially starving and so dont have much energy and are donating constantly to get out of there and thus have even less spare. You will still have to adress the issues of gangs and other forms of supression of specific mage groups though, as there could be a black market for magic energy developing in the prison.

Selling the magic energy is a viable money source aswell.

(My answer does not adress general riot prohibiting and security measures, aswell as weapons for the guards. All of these things are necessary though as a big group of mages could still just not donate and break out/use other mages. Its only a way to deal with your "normal prisoner")

  • $\begingroup$ Quite smart, but the prisoners who would be using the system leave them without much magic energy. Making them vulnerable to those who didn't, It may cause trouble. It is still an interesting idea. $\endgroup$
    – Dastardly
    Dec 14, 2016 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Léon Donnet-Monay As recovering your whole magic budget probably takes more then just one day, the prison could notice the change of magic output of the specific mage and ask him, why he is doing it and observe him. That might solve that specific problem. $\endgroup$
    – C.Fe.
    Dec 14, 2016 at 14:53

This is somewhat similar to what C.Fe. said, but with slightly different approach.

I couldn't see it in the original post, but perhaps there is a way to measure the magic energy levels of wizards. Multiple sensors throughout the prison, including each single wizard cell.

When it is time for meals, exercise, or any other time where a prisoner must be allowed out of their cells the sensors in the individual cell must read under 0.1 kiloWhizatts (or whatever a low unit of magical energy is) or the door simply doesn't open. From their cells, they can then channel their energy through a conduit which allows them to drop their levels and get out of confinement.

This would keep the prisoners that are around other prisoners all around the same low levels of energy, and those who chose to store their power are essentially willingly starving themselves and staying in solitary confinement, preventing them from endangering the prisoners who do comply with the rules.

If those wizards' magic energy levels are detected to rise to dangerous levels, then the wizard guards are sent to painfully extract the magic from them.

The energy can be used to power the facility as well as creating batteries/ammunition for resale to keep the prison self sufficient.

Edit: Now that I see that magical energy can be measured, but for more accurate reading one needs to have needles in them, I'm envisioning somewhat of a permanent prison bracer containing the prisoner's information, which monitors the wearer's energy levels. If the low enough it will act as a key to give the prisoner access to shared facilities.

In the event that a prisoner gets to a shared space and somehow manages to convince enough prisoners to transfer their power to them and increase their power, it would trigger an alarm on the bracer. If it gets to critical levels before the wizard squad could intervene, it could:

a) Trigger the pain spell failsafe in the device or b) Teleport the wearer to a special detainment area where Wizard guards await. (if that's possible with your magic)

  • $\begingroup$ I think I like your idea even better then mine. In a comment on the original question the author sas that measuring the level is possible, but for percise measurements needles need to be used. Two options now: 1. live with it not being very percise 2. Having personal permanently attached magic level meter (or a combination of both, given by how dangerous the imprisoned mage is) $\endgroup$
    – C.Fe.
    Dec 16, 2016 at 7:41
  • $\begingroup$ Why don't they just send their energy to a buddy? Their buddy doesn't get to eat but gets a bunch of magical energy for use in breaking out. And he hopefully will break out everyone who helped while he's at it. $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2016 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ Except the only time they'd interact with others would be if they all had lowered their power levels low enough, since they can't get out of their sealed cells if they hadn't lowered their power. Sure, if everyone was at 1% power and they all gave their power to one guy, he could do some damage. But he'd be as powerful as one mage for 100 people drained, that's why you have the wizard hit squad. Also, with the additional information that they can get more accurate readings with needles in the body, I'm thinking a Pipboy like bracer on each of the prisoners that would monitor them. $\endgroup$
    – Malcreos
    Dec 16, 2016 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ I like this as a general answer, but you might want to include some fail safes for things like prisoners who manages to hoard food in his cell, (so he can cap off in isolation) or what to do about prisoners with the technical knowledge to tamper with the bracer. Having enough power to blast your way out of jail is not the same as having enough power to saughter some key components in your bracer disabling it. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Mar 26, 2020 at 18:54

Give each inmate a spell collar the dog collar will cause the word immense pain if he tries to use magic in any way. Also higher trained Wizards to serve as prison guards they will follow the prisoners in all public places ( dining Halls, basketball court, prison yard) they can perform any counterspell needed.


Have the cells of each prison built with the door having a smart spell formula in it. In order to leave their cell they need to activate the sigil. It siphons enough to open the door and then will continue to drain until the magic reserves of the Wizard reach normal person levels. (think diabetic test needle in the door to get accurate readings). The extra siphon goes into batteries for selling.

How should I arm guards ? With this method, Normal guards with light armor and batons

How should I build the prison (material) ? Cells need to be Magic Insulated, Normal everywhere else except specific escape points (front gate, delivery dock)

What should I do with Wizards that keeps making trouble even in prison ? Everything a normal prison would.

(Bonus) Ideas on how to suppress the usage of spells? Have the Wizards do hard labor when outside the cells, bonus income and it reduces Magic Regen which should keep them to minor spells at most or have them revisit the cells at regular intervals.


You must log in to answer this question.

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