[Putting this in CS because it assumes an RPG-like environment.]
If magic really worked like in RPG’s, what would be the most practical specific application of it?
In the Middle Ages, the answer, without a doubt, is protection during childbirth. The possible classes of spells include:
– Engineering enchantments (magic weapons, devices, etc.)
– Curses/personal enchantments
– Offensive magic
– Defensive magic
In addition there are world-class affecting spells but we have to assume that they are rare since very few people can summon angels or cause earthquakes in RPGs.
I say childbirth is a more practical application than curses or offensive magic, since death from it was more common than death from violence, and if you violently oppose someone with spells at a distance commonly seen in RPGs, they can counter that by cracking your skull open And curses are seldom powerful or plentiful enough to be useful against anyone but the most important AND weak entities.
There certainly can be some practical engineering applications of magic: you can probably bootstrap a computer given enough spells. But this would be time-consuming or draining of personal power in most systems, or both. Other practical engineering applications suffer the same drawbacks. I am interested in hearing other suggestions for magic in the realm of devices, though, if you think your device would not be too draining or expensive or timeconsuming to make.
Now we come to defensive spells. Generic subclasses of these include:
– Geriatric/oncological/physical therapy.
– Disease prevention/cure.
– Curing/preventing trauma.
Now, geriatric care has possibilities, and in the real world I suspect that RPG-like spells would do quite a bit to cure chronic conditions and/or heal nagging injuries. But also, at least in D+D, there is an upper limit to your lifespan so it still wouldn’t let you live forever.
Disease prevention and cure is another story. In the middle ages and even sometimes today, infections happen so quickly that they swamp anyone’s attempts to stop them. The black plague for instance would spread so fast that the healers would run out of curing spells far too quickly to be of use.
Curing/preventing trauma suffers the same drawbacks as offensive magic, namely you are often opposing someone else’s will, and it’s harder to heal someone when your opponent makes sure they are dead.
So preventing injury and disease during childbirth is the best practical application I can think of for RPG-like spells in the Middle Ages. It is:
– Unopposed by others (unless you posit an Evil Force that causes it)
– Predictable (so you can have resources ready when you need them)
– Constant (so your spellcasters won’t be swamped)
– Easy (many systems have spells of the same power readily available to low-power characters)
– Very useful (death during childbirth was a huge killer, although perhaps not as much so as in the late Renaissance to pre-Lister, when infection from doctors was much more widespread)
What say you? Anything specific, easy application that could beat it?