Thursday, August 29, 2013

Magic's Impact on the Economy

Magic impacts every economy it exists in.  Can it be traded tangibly?  Can it be sold as a service?  Is there a small amount, pushing the value high?  Has so much magic entered the market that inflation has occurred?  These are all questions you should at least consider in the back of your head.

There are plenty of examples to be given on this subject.  If magic is rare, expensive, and potent, the richest of the rich will stay wealthy and increase in power.  If magic plays a large role in the lower classes, the economy will likely level off considerably.  If magic is used widely, everyone benefits, not unlike modern medicine.  The list goes on.

A wizardly court is a great asset for any country.  Not only are they key in defense, they can boost production as well.  The nobles will likely monopolize magic use, but the plebeians may work less while producing more.  In most cases, they'll stay poor, especially if feudalism or something similar is the political system in the country.  Communism has a low chance of springing up.

Magic based around the poorest, such as farmers with enchanted plows or miners with gold-finding instincts, throws the economy for a loop.  The chances of a communist system developing are fundamentally much higher.  Again, everyone benefits, they just start from the bottom and move up.  Few works meet this example, to my knowledge.

If anyone can cast a spell, you've essentially created modern technology.  The economy is objectively better than it would be without magic.  Beyond that, much is the same.  The Prince is rich.  The pauper is poor.  Both are cooler than usual.

Politics have overwhelming effects on the equation.  In most fantasy stories, feudalism is used as the base, so I took it as a given.

Don't include magic in any work without giving thought to how it impacts the world you're writing.  If you fail to do so, your in-world economy will lose credibility very quickly.

6 comments:

  1. A really cool take on magic in a world. It is something every writer should think about. The fact that something like magic can shape things at will, has many repercussions both small and large.

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  2. What an interesting post! You raise some really good questions for writers wanting to incorporate magic into their stories.

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  3. Hmm, I can't say I have ever thought of magic's influence on the economy but you are right. It does have a far reaching impact. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You're welcome. It's the nitty-gritty aspects that make for a truly spectacular tale.

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