In a world where magic is inheritable and most people possess it, what would some of the expected economic and social roles of those without magic to be?

---Background Info Below---

The inheritance pattern is a simple matter of possessing the gene or not. Zero copies of the gene results in an inability to use magic. One copy of the gene results in the ability to use magic. Two copies of the gene results in the ability to use stronger, more varied magic. Mutations can and do occur where the gene will appear or disappear where it normally shouldn't, but the population ratios stay relatively the same at 25/50/25.

It is almost impossible for a person possessing two copies of the gene not to be aware of their magic (for a multitude of reasons), but a person with only one copy might not be aware of their magical aptitude. Alternatively, (for those possessing only a single gene) their magic might help them in mundane ways which leads them to believe they are simply more lucky than their peers. Regardless, about half of those with a single gene are aware of their ability to use magic (usually through family awareness).

A final note in the inheritance aspect of things is that while ability to use magic or not is determined by possessing the gene, the type(s) of magic that a person is inclined to is also inherited. It is entirely possible to learn other types of magic, but with much more difficulty. Thus, people possessing certain types of magic may be perceived as more genetically attractive.

A final few notes for the topic in general include...

  • That those without magic are at least capable of utilizing magical items.
  • Magic is well thought of and considered desirable.
  • That a person's magic can become stronger with training. However, a lack of training and/or the lack of someone/something to give guidance to that training will result in weaker magical abilities.
  • That those with two copies are perceived as having significantly more potential than those with only a single copy despite the actual difference being smaller (double copies are perceived as true wizards, single copies are perceived as one trick ponies).
  • Magic can be used for just about anything, but magic of the grander more reality breaking variety tends to be impossible for most and difficult for the especially capable.
  • $\begingroup$ What can the magic be used for? $\endgroup$
    – Chris M.
    May 2, 2017 at 17:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What are the economic & social roles of people who can't do computer programming? $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    May 2, 2017 at 18:16

3 Answers 3


The economic and social roles of the non-magical would be to do whatever it is magic can't do, can't do well (or better), or is prohibited from.

For example, if magic doesn't make you more creative or intelligent you will find non-magical people pursuing scientific and creative careers as artists, designers, engineers, doctors, and scientists.

If magic alone can't ensure the assembly of safe, soundly-built products and structures, non-magical people will be carpenters, welders, and fabricators.

Magic may be prohibited from legal and political professions to prevent any unfair advantages from being used. Conversely, magic may be so advantageous that it creates an entire magical "trade" of being legal and political professionals.

If nothing else, you will find non-magical people performing skilled services for things that non-magical people will still need: electricians, plumbers, mechanics, contractor handypersons, landscapers, and so forth. The existence of non-magical people means that there will still be scientific and technological development.

Edit regarding the social role of non-magical persons:

With the bulk of people either having very limited magic or no magic at all, it's unlikely that they would become some sort of second-class citizens. More likely the "truly" magical would become celebrities of a sort, a source of solutions where none can be found, while society runs on the labor of the "normal" people. Limited magical ability would become a sort of "talent", in the same way non-magical people show certain exceptional abilities in a specific skill. This also assumes a modern, democratic society.

  • $\begingroup$ Good answer from the economic side. The social side of the question isn't addressed though. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2017 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ I'd be happy to make edits, but I have further questions. Is magic something that has always existed, and always been hereditary? $\endgroup$
    – Chris M.
    May 2, 2017 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ Magic has always existed, but it didn't enter into the human gene pool until they obtained the gene from elves (interbreeding). This first occurred over 1000 years ago, so the general human populace isn't aware of that, rather most of them simply know that the ability first showed up long ago and only the descendants of those with the ability seem to be able to possess it themselves. Elves therefore understand magic much better than humans, but they generally don't interact with one another. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2017 at 20:09

The real world provides plenty of examples; including on the social front. For example, my youngest brother is a state level champion at pool; and I believe his touch and perceptions at the pool table are part of his genetic nature: He could run a table, standing on a box, when he was six. When he was nine I took him to a lake (he liked sailing), and in a side house on the lake they served meals, sandwiches and had a pool table. Six college kids were there, doing some personal tournament; my brother wanted a chance to play. I bought those kids a beer to let my brother in; he beat all six of them in a row; and ran the table on two of them. He's a natural and even he can't explain it.

We see the same thing in chess: Many that make it to the upper strata were prodigies as children. And music. And mathematics; and art, and singing, and olympic level swimming.

Why would "magic" be any different? On the sports front, only a few hundred people are going to play professional basketball, football or baseball, and tens of thousands of kids want to have that career. What separates the pros from the wannabes? Only a little of it is work ethic, mostly this is inherent talent, inherent hand-eye coordination, inherent muscle fiber construction. In the end the pros may have put a lot more practice and work into the game, but that was because their inherent talent was paying off, and the wannabes gave up when they realized working hard wasn't making them good enough to compete in the upper echelons.

The same could be said for many academics; it takes a certain level of inborn talent and ability to understand to become a professor, and probably 90% of the world was just not born with it.

The same could be said for many actors. Not everybody is a good actor; conveying emotion on screen is a gift. So is the attractiveness quotient required to play a lead in a romantic comedy, or the looks to be a convincing villain, or other character types.

Many singers have voices (and ranges) that are unique to them, and compelling.

On the social front, genetic magic should play out like any other genetic advantage such as stunning beauty or prodigy level chess playing. Some will become celebrities, or leaders, held in high regard. Some will turn their magical ability into fortunes; others less so, or they become famous in a niche, like the world's best horseshoe player. Or for the single-copy crowd, maybe they are just crazy accurate at darts or billiards or poker, and it wins bets and earns them a lot of beer and pub laughter. Kind of like real world genetic talents, for telling jokes or remembering sports statistics.


In a world where most people have magic being without magic is like being handicapped. True you probably could still perform the same things magic person does but a magic person will be able to do it faster and with better skill, and with greater effect. Worst yet being disabled has sometimes carried a negative stigma with it.

Worst case scenario you're not magical humans are forced to come beggars unable to keep a job against their magically enhanced competition.

Best case scenario your non-magical gifted people find a way to turn the disabilities into strength. Like a blind man becoming a cook because his sense of taste is so Superior to others and can still see. So you're non magically gifted might be able to find some way to use his non giftedness to his advantage perhaps for example being on gifted makes him immune to certain kinds of wards.


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