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The energy that powers magic exists outside of time. That's why it seems to be able to defy time - showing visions of the future, transporting objects instantaneously, creating light or heat or cold out of nowhere (that part of space was or will be much hotter or colder at some time - the heat just gets moved in time, thermodynamics are preserved).

The problem is that because it does not move temporally, once magical power is used up, it is no longer available at any time - even in the past, at the time it was used. It does not change through time, and is no longer present, and so it is as if it had never existed.

That makes it devilishly difficult to remember that a spell had even been cast. Thousands of years ago, it was a plentiful resource. Somehow, we remember that. Over the years, Earth's supply has been reduced to practically nothing by magic users, whose spells have been forgotten. Because the power behind them never existed, the results of the spells have become how things always were.

Perhaps there was a catastrophic magical event - the equivalent of the Atom Bomb - which used up all the supplies at once. Perhaps it wiped out an entire continent, which has now never been.

How would we discover this? Perhaps we land on another planet, only to find fresh stocks of magical energy. Perhaps an astrophysicist theorizes it must have existed in order to explain cosmic inflation or baryon asymmetry. How would we work it out? How, in the age of science, would we discover how to use it again? What would we do with it?

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closed as too broad by L.Dutch, sphennings, Frostfyre, James, Vylix Aug 25 '17 at 20:36

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ you have a basic problem, is using up magic erases it from the past, then it was never used in the first place and never actually did anything, so how is it different then never existing in the first place. it has a built in paradox. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 25 '17 at 0:34
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    $\begingroup$ Your description reminds me of the CHIM from Elder Scrolls. It was used to transform the jungles of Cyrodiil to forests retroactively, so now it's what's always been there. As for your question, maybe have some material or object that is immune to these changes, like the Voyager during the Krenim crisis, which stood unaffected by their time-erasing weapons. However, if magic was used in creation of this object, it will create a paradox. Maybe have some other form, pool of magic? $\endgroup$ – IllidanS4 Aug 25 '17 at 0:36
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    $\begingroup$ "Because it does not move temporally, once magical power is used up, it is no longer available at any time": this statement is self-contradictory. If it doesn't move temporally then there is no before and no after, there is no movement -- it cannot change. It cannot be used up. There is no "once". Consider mathematical theorems or algorithms as examples of objects which exist outside time -- you cannot "use up" Pythagora's theorem or Euclid's algorithm, because for them there is no time, hence no change is possible. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 25 '17 at 1:00
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    $\begingroup$ Because it transcendent space-time, you can't possibly say "it is used up on earth, let's go to mars to find some magic". $\endgroup$ – Vylix Aug 25 '17 at 3:00
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    $\begingroup$ Obligatory suggestion to read The Magic Goes Away by Larry Niven and mine it for ideas/suggestions. That depicts a version of our world where magic is a finite (and almost depleted) resource... but meteorites (and, by implication, other astrophysical bodies such as the moon) still retain magic. Also it's just a danged cool book, in my not so humble opinion. $\endgroup$ – Ghotir Aug 25 '17 at 13:55
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During the ancient times, a group of powerful sorcerers convened, determined to solve the problem of how to record something that has been changed throughout time. They channeled mighty energies to tap into the very source of the magical field, in the hope of maybe recording their knowledge there, but instead of accessing the timeless space, an intricate device appeared before them, called the Ark of Time from now on.

This device came from very distant future, where the population tried to solve the very same problem as these sorcerers, but with the advantage of science. Using a strong magnetic field, an artifical time dilation, or some phase shift-inducing thing, they created an object that was able to resist the effect of magical time erasure, and record information stored inside there forever. As these people also knew magic (which was not depleted yet), they connected with the past and sent the object back, to assist the people of that era (or maybe to hide the Ark from some enemy who sought to abuse its powers, and they had no choice).

That's how the knowledge of magic survived, even though it was erased from time. Primitive civilizations got in possesion of the Ark after the event happened, maybe even revered it, and its secrets were spread as mere rumors then. Time passed, catastrophes happened, and the Ark was lost, maybe under the sea, or covered by volcanic material.

Then, archaeologists from the modern era happened to discover the object and unlock the records which, thanks to the genius of its creators, survived over the ages uncorrupted.

The creators from the future were technomancers basically, and they constructed the device in a way to make it immune to even the depletion of magic. They also predicted that such an event may happen, and therefore they also included information on how to restore the timeless magic field, through bare science. Creating a wormhole with certain parameters, using electromagnetic rays of specific frequency etc. allows you to scientifically access the universal source of magic and replenish it with new energy. It would probably took a while, but would be feasible for the people of modern era. This was all predicted by the wise creators.


A thing to point out - the energy level of magic changes over "time", so it is not fundamentally timeless, or constant. However, adding a "second" time dimension to the universe could explain this. With each new "grain" of this time, an universe is born and ends in an instant, being same if the level of magic wasn't changed, or slightly different if it was (if a spell was performed). The Ark would then exist in this "alternate time dimension".

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Clever idea. Worth considering a common "God problem." Does God exist inside of time and move freely or does he exist outside of time and poke the continuum to make things happen (thus everything happens at the same time from his perspective)?

The answer to that philosophical debate is usually: It doesn't matter because the manifestation is the same either way. God appears to be unaffected by time. Magic existing and eliminating itself from existence has the net effect that it never existed. This is how it is handled in Michael Crichton's Sphere (the book I haven't seen the movie). We watch the disappearance of the magic then at the end of the book it never existed.

Option 1: The Remnant.

Your much better option is the Star Wars or Dr. Who approach. While it may feel cheep some of the best literature chooses a protagonist who sees, hears, or posses something the rest of the world does not. Making them interesting and allowing us to see the world through more informed eyes. This is often in modern day called a "Space Opera".

Star Wars. The force doesn't exist anymore because all users died out. We know it existed once from legend but it doesn't matter nor do we understand the effects because no one uses it. Oh! Except this one guy who somehow survived the force genocide.

Dr. Who. Very similar but this time it's a survivor. Maybe the magic was used up by one wizard who discovered the secret of immortality. He basically used all the energy of the earth to give himself life. In the process he also erased all other magic users from existence. Sort of a philosophers stone now. He has limitless power bought at the life of everything. Now your informed character can be the antagonist that some informed cult is hunting down or a protagonist that perhaps wishes to pay penance by restoring life to humanity but doesn't know how.

Option 2: Artifacts or Secondary Effects.

I was impressed to learn that archaeologist identify an ancient city or town by a few simple indicators. The one that caught my attention was the Right Angle. A single right angle tells them that something about this site is human made and unnatural. While no human remains were found, no actual structures, no pottery or tools, a single rock cut in a right angle says everything they need to know.

Magic while never existed was not actually undone (If it was catch 22 it would have undone it's own undoing...). So perhaps their are "pieces of eden", Assasin's Creed floating around that everyone knows is from a past "technology" perhaps even magic. Or maybe their is ancient indestructible structures that are damaged and still around like "elder glass" in Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.

Option 3: Writings (much simpler)

Tomes are likely gone but what about the stories. While they may be dismissed as folk tales they likely still exist and there is probably someone crazy enough to believe them.

Option 4: Void Fish

In a D&D podcast "The Adventure Zone" they have a creature that makes everyone forget something existed until you drink it's pee (episode 5 or 6 I think). Weird but the idea is maybe this fish or artifact ate the magic and contacting the artifact gives information about it's existence.

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You will never know

Your premise of how the magic works is similar to a (space)time-travel:

Once a spell is cast, the things changed to what the spell do from the past. They were always were.

It is simply done.
(Although I'm questioning that changing things in the past should change other things, too)

Because of how we, human living within the world in 4 dimension, obtain information is limited to information contained within the spacetime, it is therefore impossible to obtain information outside the spacetime, or even understand it.

except your magic is not really used up. Then you can use the magic to obtain the information. If you understand how to use a spell that does that.

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