@that-gay-jedi requested that i talk some about material conditions and their effect on worldbuilding so here’s something I’m thinking about
One area where the conditions of day to day life never seem to be fully considered in their impacts on the worldbuilding: magic systems.
I’d have to do more research to support this theory, but I think that this is one of the major ways that D&D has shaped how we Do Worldbuilding in fantasy. Most magic systems, in the way they are shown to us, have a lot of very combat-focused applications. Even if it’s not all fireballs, lightning bolts, and more classic D&D wizard type stuff, physical/elemental type magic is explored from the angle of “how do I hurt/kill people with this” or “how do I destroy things with this”
But. If you’re in a roughly pre-industrial fantasy world, and a portion of the population that’s at all significant has magic, or can learn magic, that affects the natural world, the oldest and most widespread type of magic or method of using magic likely isn’t going to be for warfare, and even when writers question the combat-centered magic, they usually go for like, exploring how magic is incorporated into the arts or something
Which is great. But in most pre-industrial societies, like 90% of the population is rural farmers. What I’m saying is, where is the farm magic.
The first spells to be developed, the oldest and most well-known spells, should really be like this:
- banish slug
- repel frost
- loosen dirt
- magic scythe
- separate chaff
- repair horse
- castrate bull
- summon scarecrow
- peel sheep
- direct moisture
What farmer even today wouldn’t find loads of uses for magic? Charms that keep patches of ground above freezing. Magical explosions that disseminate seeds instantly all over your fields. Shade spells to protect your plants from beating sun.
If magic can summon demons or familiars or make constructs to do stuff for you, you bet your ass that stuff was used by farmers long before it was ever used for fighting. The most culturally important use of necromancers isn’t creating soldiers to form undead armies, it’s reanimating your dead mule so he can still pull your plow. Farmer warlocks will summon demons from hell to haul manure for them.
If you have wizards in a fancy wizard private school learning how to create a shield of frost, that knowledge had to come from somewhere, and the answer is probably thousands of years of farmer wizards learning how to magically protect their crops from extreme heat and cold.
I want to see side notes in worldbuilding about how every spell used for combat is basically a repurposed farming spell.
This spell for summoning a magical suit of spectral armor that shatters weapons? Yeah, that was originally developed for chickens so foxes would shatter their teeth when they tried to bite them. It was used for centuries before someone thought of trying it on a person.