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Specifics: the magical ability is genetic, very rare (about one in ten thousand people will be born with it), and no mage can be too strong (no destroying mountains, drying lakes etc.). Also, the nature of magical spells is fundamentally different from any technology or natural phenomena (i.e. laser beams or lightning), even if the effects can be similar. In other words, think Harry Potter kind of magic (not literally, but close enough).

But there is a third group of people, who have a genetic ability to resist any magical effect (be it physical or mental). Their numbers are approximately the same as for people with magic. In other aspects, they are normal, with no special abilities.

Let's call the groups mundanes, mages and insulars (the third group).

Some of the effects:

  • Mages would find it very hard to harm insulars with magic (some ways are still possible - for example, setting fire to a house would kill an insular if the magical fire causes an ordinary one. Dropping a large stone on them should work as well);
  • Mages would find it hard (almost impossible) to help insulars with magic. For example, no magical healing would work on them, be it spells or potions; no teleportation, etc;
  • Insulars would probably benefit more from living in mundane society, however the mage society wouldn't be able to hide from them with mental magic - they will see through any such disguise. So to hide from insulars, mages would have to completely separate themselves from the mundane society.
  • Mundanes who know and fear magic would either want to employ insulars to search for and fight mages, or hate and fear them as well, becasue insulars are better protected.

Question: In a modern setting with total population about the same size and the same level of technology/medicine, how would the three groups coexist realistically?

We assume that around Middle Ages everyone knew about magic, or at least suspected.

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    $\begingroup$ And the book will be probably called Insular Mage, and be about the super special girl who was born both a mage and an insular ;) $\endgroup$ – Yuriy S Feb 19 '17 at 1:01
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    $\begingroup$ Can I Summon a stone to appear next to insular'head, flying at 100mph? Can I Summon a needle that will stitch their wounds in no time? Can I teleport their clothes away? Or parasites from their guts? $\endgroup$ – Mołot Feb 19 '17 at 10:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Molot, at this stage the restrictions like that are still flexible. I'm trying to decide what will work (and look) best. One possibility is to have a kind of field which works at a small distance, protecting from magical projectiles (they loose their speed if it was given by magic), etc. Stiching wounds with a magical needle wouldn't work in this case either. However, if such a field existst, then insulars could actively break enchantments, wards, etc. just by approaching them. Thank you for the questions, you made me think harder $\endgroup$ – Yuriy S Feb 19 '17 at 10:47
  • $\begingroup$ Seems similar in someways to a Golem from the D20 system. $\endgroup$ – John_H Feb 19 '17 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ Making people think is what I really like :D And yes, indeed, breaking wards etc and disabling magic vehicles was kinda behind my comment. It would affect their coexistence a lot. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Feb 24 '17 at 10:59
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Due to Insulars, Mages wouldn't be able to hide and create a separate society like in Harry Potter, so it could go a number of ways:

1) Insulars band together and control everything by twisting mundanes into fearing Mages. They could easily convince mundanes this is true by a few examples (like mundane rulers in the past being influenced by a mage) and then proving mages can't manipulate them thus "proving" that they should lead. In this case, Mages might be hunted by mundanes and Insulars much like vampires, Werewolves, etc. are in those types of fantasy.

2) The ingenuity of mundanes (much like regular human history just add some extra elements) allows them to create an egalitarian society where all three have their place. Insulars would probably work in conjunction with Mages and mundanes to manage the criminal Mage population like a special police. It's quite likely that Mages would have a slight economic advantage due to their abilities, however, it would be kept in check by insulars who make sure they don't exploit (not all exploitation is necessarily criminal) the mundanes and society as a whole similar to say anti-monopoly laws we have in place now.

3) Mages rule via systematically eliminating the Insulars as they're born by exploiting their weakness to the mundane. This is the least likely outcome as older Insulars would (hopefully) have found a way to prevent this though this could be an interesting story since you could the insulars and mundanes would rise up against the Mages (though then this could lead to the first case and unlikely the second.)

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    $\begingroup$ 2) is a great possibility. I always loved a 'special police' kind of stories (like Thursday Next for example) $\endgroup$ – Yuriy S Feb 21 '17 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ @YuriyS Yeah, I agree, though I haven't read those, but I believe the Hallequin? Chronicles that's on Amazon is like that as well. I've read a couple hundred books since I read most/all (not sure if it's complete) of those books so I could be wrong and am mixing it with another book/books. $\endgroup$ – rangerike1363 Feb 21 '17 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ I accept this asnwer at this stage, because so far it is the most complete and organized one. Of course, all of the answers are very useful $\endgroup$ – Yuriy S Feb 22 '17 at 19:07
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Keep in mind that these ideas are from a tabletop Game Master (mainly D&D), writer of fiction, fantasy, and voracious reader.

A few notes of observation. In a world of mages, the mages would be able to tell who has magic and who is mundane. Those who possess the insular quality would be "blanks" to them. Just as the "mundanes" would fear magic, those who are insulars would be feared by those who control magics, as they would be wildcards in the equation for whatever schemes they have.

Another thing I would note is that the mages wouldn't really know the populations of both mundanes and insualars. Why? Because in the medieval era there wouldn't be testing everyone to determine if they are mage, mundane, or insular. People would probably find out accidentally what their skills are and seek likeminded people to be with. Or in the case of insulars, simple disappear into mundane society and only when circumstances arise that would cause them to showcase these special talents, they would come to the forefront.

A third thing I would probably have in effect is that certain insulars can, with sheer force of will lower their resistance - but this would be a special individual such as the main protagonist. The benefit to doing so would allow them to be affected by magic(s) they wanted to, while still having resistances to the magic(s) they didn't think would do them good.

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    $\begingroup$ I disagree with you on that last paragraphe. The whole thing that's interesting about the insulars is that they're unaffected by magic, beneficial or detrimental. The power to control their resistance should be reserved for a very, very special person. In this case @Yuriy S has said that person would be a girl who is both insular and mage. $\endgroup$ – AngelPray Feb 19 '17 at 2:37
  • $\begingroup$ @AngelPray I edited the answer so that the last paragraph is a bit more specific towards the protagonist of the story. $\endgroup$ – Jesse Cohoon Feb 19 '17 at 2:40
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    $\begingroup$ My comment was intended as a joke, based on Divergent and many such books. But thank you for your contribution! $\endgroup$ – Yuriy S Feb 19 '17 at 3:01
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    $\begingroup$ Actually, your idea about an insular who can switch off their resistance is great. And such a person will still be vulnerable, if they switch off their ability at a bad time, or trust the wrong mage $\endgroup$ – Yuriy S Feb 19 '17 at 3:07
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    $\begingroup$ Another great point about recognizing insulars - even an insular themselves would need to be sure some magic was really attempted on them. For example, a mage could trick a mundane into thinking they are an insular quite easily, by just pretending to cast something at them with some visual effects $\endgroup$ – Yuriy S Feb 19 '17 at 3:19
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I recon the most important factor in this is the power of the mages. If one mage can easily fight off a village of mundanes, there's not that much need to hide. If they risk considerable injury when taking on an angry mob with torches and pitchforks, they might want to hide their magic.

If the mages are powerful

The mages can just enslave everyone, and the Insulars would potentially be leaders of a rebellion, or strong agents. But the Mages could easily pressure the Mundanes to get rid of an annoying Insular (either mind control them, or threaten to harm them or people they care for). Or if the Mages are even more powerful, they'll likely behave somewhat like the Greek Gods, living on a mountain, seeing humanity more as a pet or a game. Much like we see birds or similar critters.

If the mages are not powerful

The mages would therefore be in hiding. They'll generally try to lead a relatively normal life, probably with a significant amount of 'luck' where convenient. Or they might live a nomadic life, enjoying their powers and the world, moving on if people get suspicious. Generally people take a lot of convincing to believe something new, so Mages can probably stay in one place for quite some time. Insulars would likely be the first to notice something odd. But, they might just shrug it off as something they imagined.

There might even be a thriving mage community (like in Harry Potter). Insulars would obviously notice various signs. Most that speak up would likely end up in some asylum, that is, until one manages to undeniably expose the Mage community.

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If technology developed alongside magic, I can see a world where Insulars and Mages coexist.

In this case, magic just provides alternative solutions to problems (need to get somewhere: fly or drive; need to hurt someone from a distance: zap with spell or shoot with gun). In this case magic can make quick, one off changes to the world but would not benefit from economies of scale. You might be able to summon an item but summoning 100,000 items would be harder than tooling a factory to produce them.

Unless Mages are prevented from using technology, Insulars are going to have a distinct disadvantage. If a Mage can carry a gun, the Insular isn't much more of a threat than a Mundane. Insulars would have to relay on the slower healing times of real medicine.

However, Insulars would make great cops and first responders. If some idiot Mage summoned demon, send in the Insulars. If some mage is growing senile, give them an Insular caregiver (who will not get turned into a toad).

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Given the amount of insulors there are it is still possible for magic to remain hidden from the General Public as long as they take some precautions

Picture Harry Potter but slightly more cautious, more like the American magic Society in the Harry Potter prequel. The Magicians who have good much more involved in the mundane world wear hats in the early days they would have their agents seduce and marry into royal families. Or become leaders of religious institutions. And more modern times they might install double agents in both law enforcement and politics.

The main goal of these people would be to keep magic hidden from insulors. This doesn't mean that they necessarily have to kill any insulators they find ( in extreme cases it might come to that) it could be as simple as is discrediting them or blackmailing them should they try to reveal the existence of magic. If they persist then they can get some doctor to brand them as insane. Then they can rave about magical they want it will just make them look more insane. Also remember that just because magic can't influence the minds of insulors doesn't mean they can't influence the minds of anyone they talk to. How dangerous would an insulator really be if you could make anyone he talked about magic to forget the conversation that had about magic with them.

Doing magic in public would be highly illegal. Wizards be trained not to rely on their mind wiping spells since those won't work on insulator instead showing ways to conceal spell work so if they do get caught the insulor won't be tell for certain who cast a spell only that a spell was cast.

In this system most insulors probably never encounter Magic and those that did would live on the fringes of society it'd be that weird conspiracy theories or that end of the world nuts.

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  • $\begingroup$ "The latest insulator threat has been neutralized, sir!" - "Good, now we need to deal with the most dangerous enemy!" - "Sir?" - "The Semiconductors, Jeremy, the semiconductors!" $\endgroup$ – Yuriy S Feb 24 '17 at 5:15
  • $\begingroup$ @ thanks for catching that I hate the autocorrect on my phone seems to work worse with this site $\endgroup$ – Bryan McClure Feb 24 '17 at 5:35
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They would coexist in the way that mages would be good or bad aiding people or using them. Moguls would be everything on the spectrum and people who can't be affected would become criminal masterlord that magic trick won't work on or successful businessman that can resist magic in handling or negotiations.

Source: Your mind trick won't work on me - Jabba the Hut.
Jedi mind tricks don't work on me, im Toydarian. - Watto the Toydarian
Nom, nom, nom delicious nutrients - Ysalamirs of Myrkr

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