1. #1

    Level of Fantasy Inconsistencies

    In movies and literature does fantasy inconsistencies bug you?
    As an example, if a world is supposed to be highly magical to the point where magic literally saturates the world and everyone can use potentially use magic to some degree, does it make sense for the world at large basically be medieval fantasy still?

    To me that just doesnt make sense. Things like Lord of the Rings makes sense because while magic does exist with Sauron, Gandalf and the like, it wasnt wide spread and widely used.

  2. #2
    What movies and literature are you thinking of? In all of the ones that come to my mind, magic is always relatively rare.

  3. #3
    This is mostly in a homebrew D&D world my brother has been working on
    But in a general sense as well

  4. #4
    The Unstoppable Force Orange Joe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apolyc View Post
    In movies and literature does fantasy inconsistencies bug you?
    As an example, if a world is supposed to be highly magical to the point where magic literally saturates the world and everyone can use potentially use magic to some degree, does it make sense for the world at large basically be medieval fantasy still?

    To me that just doesnt make sense. Things like Lord of the Rings makes sense because while magic does exist with Sauron, Gandalf and the like, it wasnt wide spread and widely used.
    Most advancements are based on a need. If magic fills those needs there is no real need for advancement.


    IE if magic is used as heat and can just stay in an area you have no need to make modern doors and windows.
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  5. #5
    Yeah, what he said. If you were in some sort of Hogwarts situation where magic could do literally everything that electricity/modern transportation can...you wouldn't need to invent those things.

    The justification for why normal advances in technology would take place could be as simple as: magic is limited. Either in capability or quantity.
    Last edited by s_bushido; 2021-05-28 at 01:39 AM.

  6. #6
    The Unstoppable Force PACOX's Avatar
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    What Orange Joe said, societies design themselves around needs.

    Take MCU Wakanda for instance. The most developed nation on the planet but a military that's only designed for perimeter defense and covert ops. No helicarriers, tanks, etc because it didn't any real border threats. No need for a large standing military with fancy vehicles because it only fought unconventional wars. It would be crazy to say Wakanda could not have developed a war machine/arsenal greater than other other nation in the the MCU, but it doesn't have one because it's society didn't need one.

    Another common work of fiction that bothers to address the issue is Harry Potter. A universe for kids so it probably didn't even need to address the issue but the in-universe explanation for the lack of technology among wizards is that muggles invented things that the magical world could solve with magic. You don't need an electric vaccum when you can enchant a broom of whatever for you. Wizards don't need guns when they have hexes, curses, and literal death spells. Planes? Brooms, teleportation, some can even fly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by s_bushido View Post
    Yeah, what he said. If you were in some sort of Hogwarts situation where magic could do literally everything that electricity/modern transportation can...you wouldn't need to invent those things.

    The justification for why normal advances in technology would take place could be as simple as: magic is limited. Either in capability or quantity.
    You used Harry Potter too? I should have hit refresh before posting.

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    I Don't Work Here Endus's Avatar
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    Also bears noting that rapid technological development really isn't the standard. Most human societies, historically, have gone centuries (or longer) with minimal real improvement. Some incremental stuff, but generations normally went by without any new innovations.

    The modern era post-Industrial-Revolution is a pretty unique circumstance in human history, with the last couple centuries being an accelerating cycle of technological improvement. And really, most of that can likely be laid down to the pressures of the Colonial Era in the West piling into nationalist capitalism in the late 19th/early 20th, resulting in WWI; once that cycle got started, the constant pressure of massive warfare affecting not just militaries but civilian populations drove a lot of that advancement in ways that simply weren't present over such long periods in the past.
    Last edited by Endus; 2021-05-28 at 01:53 AM.

  8. #8
    Inconsistencies are annoying, but what constitutes an inconsistency is probably up for debate. Your example is not really a case where I see such an inconsistency, just looking at the socio-economic and scientfiic development of the last 300 years, it's easily explainable why a world with magic might be stuck in late medival development stages.
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  9. #9
    I'm just riffing here but maybe it has something to do direct and indirect consequences. Like in most fantasy settings magic using will have direct consequences, the user has to make some sacrifice to themselves or something else to conjure up something. In real life the consequences of scientific advancement are less direct like we have all this energy that we can use like wood and oil burning but the consequences are only seen later down the line like resource scarcity and global warming.

  10. #10
    Don't bother me at all. Stories mean to create drama. Everything serves that goal.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Apolyc View Post
    As an example, if a world is supposed to be highly magical to the point where magic literally saturates the world and everyone can use potentially use magic to some degree, does it make sense for the world at large basically be medieval fantasy still?
    You're seeing medieval as a timeframe. That's an error in perception. If fantasy magic can cure cancer in Hobbiton, how "medieval" would you perceive it?

  12. #12
    I Don't Work Here Endus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowferal View Post
    You're seeing medieval as a timeframe. That's an error in perception. If fantasy magic can cure cancer in Hobbiton, how "medieval" would you perceive it?
    Especially if, say, magic can trivially cure cancer, but those who possess the magic reserve it only for the "deserving", whether that means aristocrats, or those who make a sufficient "donation", or what have you.

    Just because the local priest can cast Lesser Restoration to cure a disease once a day (let's say), that doesn't mean he's going to cure a disease a day. It doesn't even mean he's interested in doing so. It means that the King could arrive as a supplicant to seek out the favor of the local priests, to perhaps be invited in to be blessed, and have the Gods cure his condition.

    People think of clerics with healing spells like your local GP, and they should be thinking of it like the Oracle at Delphi. A real place and person that really existed (though their powers are mythical, not real). The Oracle wasn't like the fortune teller at the local fair, reading palms for a $20. There were rituals associated, and entry was by lot, though donations would improve your chance at earning a slot.

    A huge portion of the Industrial Revolution is systemically connected to the shift away from aristocratic institutions towards individualism; a feudal society simply would not reflect the same base principles regarding innovations.

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  14. #14
    Immortal Stormspark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orange Joe View Post
    Most advancements are based on a need. If magic fills those needs there is no real need for advancement.


    IE if magic is used as heat and can just stay in an area you have no need to make modern doors and windows.
    This is the best way to say it. If magic is ubiquitous to the point where it makes everyone's life better and provides the necessary convenience, there is no reason for advanced technology to develop. I might expect to see the occasional magitek device for niche scenarios. But overall, if everyone is happy, there's no overpopulation, things like medicine are taken care of, I could see such a society changing very little over long periods of time.

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  16. #16
    I am Murloc! Selastan's Avatar
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    Only place it really bothers me is in the Elder Scrolls. We have had an empire that has existed for thousands of years STILL using the same technology as it did before. This isn't a matter of a few hundred years, there have been civilizations on Tamriel for TENS OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS and those oldest civilizations weren't any more or less advanced than the ones we see in the Fourth Era. Nords still use axes, plate armor is still around, and no one has invented plumbing. Nothing has evolved.

    By comparison, 2000 years ago the Roman Empire was in its prime, we didn't know how to make steel on purpose, and no one knew what bacteria was. 2000 years ago in the Elder Scrolls...you have Elder Scrolls Online, where everything is EXACTLY THE SAME. There is no big cataclysm that reset the world, you even have unbroken family lines and buildings that never stopped being used. There isn't the excuse of magic doing everything because your average peasant can't really do magic. You figure SOMEONE would invent a flushing toilet, it's not like everyone keeps a tome of 'empty shit bucket' on their shelf.

  17. #17
    I Don't Work Here Endus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selastan View Post
    Only place it really bothers me is in the Elder Scrolls. We have had an empire that has existed for thousands of years STILL using the same technology as it did before. This isn't a matter of a few hundred years, there have been civilizations on Tamriel for TENS OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS and those oldest civilizations weren't any more or less advanced than the ones we see in the Fourth Era. Nords still use axes, plate armor is still around, and no one has invented plumbing. Nothing has evolved.

    By comparison, 2000 years ago the Roman Empire was in its prime, we didn't know how to make steel on purpose, and no one knew what bacteria was. 2000 years ago in the Elder Scrolls...you have Elder Scrolls Online, where everything is EXACTLY THE SAME. There is no big cataclysm that reset the world, you even have unbroken family lines and buildings that never stopped being used. There isn't the excuse of magic doing everything because your average peasant can't really do magic. You figure SOMEONE would invent a flushing toilet, it's not like everyone keeps a tome of 'empty shit bucket' on their shelf.
    There's a couple things to remember.

    First, advancement prior to the modern era was INCREDIBLY slipshod, and not an expectation. The cycle of advancement the world has been in since the Industrial Revolution, that's the aberration in human society.

    You mention 2000 years ago, with Rome. But that's two specific points in time. Consider the birth of the Roman Republic around 2500 years ago, and the end of the Roman Empire some 1000 years later. There were some innovations over that period, but there's a lot of constancy throughout the period, too. Or consider paleohistory; Homo Sapiens emerged about 200,000 years ago, and there were essentially no major innovations we can detect until the emergence of agriculture about 12,000 years ago. That leaves a good 188,000 years of people pretty much exactly like us, genetically, not advancing or changing much at all.

    And second; innovations are often cultural, not technological. Rome had running-water bathrooms. We've found them. And where did Europe go from there? Back to no running water, using chamber pots or latrines. For more than 1000 years. And even then, they didn't take off, they were luxury items. Widespread flushing toilets are very modern; I've known people who grew up relying on wells, not running water, using an outhouse not a flush toilet.

    You say people would invent flushing toilets, but the reality is that the shit bucket works pretty well, so why bother?

    I agree that fiction often expands the timelines nonsensically because bigger numbers are SPOOOKY. But the idea of technological stagnation, that's something that actually happens.

  18. #18
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    Depends on the nature of the story.

    The Chronicles of Narnia is not a story where "worldbuilding" is important, so I'm not bothered when new stuff is introduced/retconned into the setting out of nowhere and treated as if it was always there.

    In a series that tries to build up a very detailed setting and tries to make those details plot important, like Trails or FFXIV, I absolutely will scrutinize the inconsistencies. The metaphysics/mechanics of aether and the soul were coherent in ARR and early Heavensward, but by the time of Shadowbringers they're just making shit up as they go along and retconning old lore left and right and there is no point trying to rationalize any of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by caractacus View Post
    I'm just riffing here but maybe it has something to do direct and indirect consequences. Like in most fantasy settings magic using will have direct consequences, the user has to make some sacrifice to themselves or something else to conjure up something. In real life the consequences of scientific advancement are less direct like we have all this energy that we can use like wood and oil burning but the consequences are only seen later down the line like resource scarcity and global warming.
    This is a problem with the Trails series.

    In Trails, society has invented magitek, called "orbal technology", or "orbments". In order for characters to cast "spells" (called "arts) in Trails, they use a small handheld device called a battle orbment, which are very cheap, mass produced, and sold at your local general goods store. Orbment spells that the player can use in gameplay are also used by characters in cutscenes, which raises a lot of questions. For example...

    • Why don't farmers use an orbment to cast Chrono Drive (time acceleration spell) on their crop fields to get faster harvests? That could increase the number of crop yields per year. They could also cast water spells onto their crops, thus circumventing droughts (drought and famine in an increasing issue in the East).
    • If healing spells exist, then why aren't they used at hospitals? There are hospitals in the series that we visit and people seem to sleep in bed with casts on waiting for the bones to mend or receiving medicinal treatments, when they should in theory be able to just be cured by a healing spell. And so on.

    The series is also very inconsistent on what warfare looks like. Due to the development of battle orbments, the series early on implies that warfare has evolved from massed armies to small special ops squads where each member is a specialist in something. But we see multiple different nations training their armies, and yet everyone is just being given the same standard issue rifle and trained to do the exact same thing. No specialization. And when wars break out later in the series, we see soldiers lining up in massed formations... when earlier on we saw orbment spells being used to blow up densely packed groups of soldiers, so why are armies still doing this?

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  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Selastan View Post
    Only place it really bothers me is in the Elder Scrolls. We have had an empire that has existed for thousands of years STILL using the same technology as it did before. This isn't a matter of a few hundred years, there have been civilizations on Tamriel for TENS OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS and those oldest civilizations weren't any more or less advanced than the ones we see in the Fourth Era. Nords still use axes, plate armor is still around, and no one has invented plumbing. Nothing has evolved.

    By comparison, 2000 years ago the Roman Empire was in its prime, we didn't know how to make steel on purpose, and no one knew what bacteria was. 2000 years ago in the Elder Scrolls...you have Elder Scrolls Online, where everything is EXACTLY THE SAME. There is no big cataclysm that reset the world, you even have unbroken family lines and buildings that never stopped being used. There isn't the excuse of magic doing everything because your average peasant can't really do magic. You figure SOMEONE would invent a flushing toilet, it's not like everyone keeps a tome of 'empty shit bucket' on their shelf.
    On top of what @Endus said, your timeline is just off. Right off the bat, where did you get the TENS OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS from? Only 6950 years have passed since the start of the Merethic Era to the events of Skyrim. You couldn't have gotten that from the Dawn Era (and other than that, we're already out of eras), as it doesn't use any dates due to the fact that during the Dawn Era time didn't even work in a linear manner.

    And even that 6950 years is generous, because more than a thousand years of the First Era was subject to the longest Dragon Break, where time was once more working in a non-linear fashion. That "period" is flat out described as "timeless time" by in-universe scholars and even the Elder Scrolls themselves, i.e. fragments of creation from outside time (and space) cannot be used to see the events that happened during the Break. The only reason why people within TES universe are even aware of there being an additional millennium of history that no one can remember is because the oversoul of past emperors within the Amulet of Kings was immune to the time fuckery and as such was the only entity that could remember it happening.

    Even the 2000 bit is wrong. Even if TESO happened right at the very beginning of the Second Era the time span between then and the events of Skyrim would only amount to 1530 years. But TESO happened in the 582nd year of the Second Era. Meaning that less than a millennium has passed between then and Skyrim. 948 years, to be exact.
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