I was reading this manga about a Japanese girl exploring magical Britain. And I realized that I’ve always wanted to write something like it. So that there is magic, without any explanation but with a lot of new world to explore. And a curious character that goes on adventures using the magical items available to him/her. (btw, the manga passes the test 1. are there more than two women characters? 2. Do they talk to each other? 3. Do they talk about anything but men?)
But with my analytical mind, I just cannot think about a magical world without first defining a global reason to have magic, a global principle, if you wish. And some of my friends from humanity side of life seem to have the same problem. So below there are some unwanted speculations on the nature of magic (what I really want is to stop the lengthy explanations and just run away and explore!)
What is magic, anyway? It’s something that we can’t do, but we can easily imagine. As simple as that. If you can’t imagine this done, there is probably no spell in D&D spellbook to do it. If it can be done with sufficient elegance without a spell, then somebody already invented a device to do it, so it’s become part of technology (e.g. cellphones, medicine, frozen food + microwave, street lights).
So magic is an encyclopedia of human desires. Everything, vastly different in nature, that we ever wanted from the world, but couldn’t get because grumpy physicists said “impossible”, has became part of “magic” in the pop-culture. E.g. adding power to a punch when there is no muscles, materializing a bottle of water when there is no store, getting a beautiful prom night dress when there is no money, and getting someone to notice you when there is no courage. And knowing your future. And winning a ton of money in casino. Healing someone by laying your hand. In some cases, it’s just having any power whatsoever over the surrounding world to feel yourself significant.
This brings us to a first candidate who will promise and eventually grant us with magical abilities: the free market. If this is what humans desire, someone will make products that give them the feeling that they have it. Imagine magic “plans”: you can have unlimited magic for 1000$ a month, or pay 100$ per spell, or have a discount if just want to enjoy magic for your night out with friends (299$ and unlimited spells for the night).
Boring people are going to ask: how is it gonna work? Who is going to pay for this? It is possible that magic will become a luxury, the same kind as gold rings, so certain Los Angeles women will turn broke but buy spells for more expressive bitching on the road, in the house or inside the bar. The technical side is not possible before the virtual/augmented reality will become our everyday experience. After working a little bit in that area, I doubt it is possible at all for it to become popular. What would make ALL the people wear some sort of google glass, or virtual reality helmet, or just a mounting device for their smartphone in front of their head? Everybody’s already used to holding a smartphone in their hands, and biologically it’s more natural for us, because hands have more control when they are actually holding something. (than controlling the screen by nerve pulses or voice) It’s like you can’t play computer games without a mouse, and controllers of consoles are only for arcades. I’m having a lot of trouble with the touch screens today, when sometimes I accidentally close an important window.
Anyway, suppose the glasses actually replaced the smartphones. Moreover, suppose the drones became widespread. Then, a magic spell would consist of a computer graphics effect shown to everybody who is looking the direction of casting. And a drone that would rush to the place and make the effect actually happen. The computer graphics and the actions of the drone are done in the augmented reality way, so you don’t actually see the drone. What kind of spells will be available that way?
I expect the most of spells you can get for free on spellstore will be the buying spells. You cast a spell, a magic effect is shown to you and a “loading..” bar. When the bar reaches the end, the drone brings you what you’ve ordered, and money is subtracted from your account. Every food chain will have its delivery this way. You can also get medicine, toys and pranks (I remember there was a special shop for that in Harry Potter), instant costumes and even a chair.
The battle magic is also simple: your personal drone is your protector. You don’t have to pay for emergency 911, but if you want to have a duel with your friend, that may cost you a new drone. The transportation magic is harder: we will have to wait for self-driving cars. When you cast “going through walls” or “teleportation”, you start seeing a movie while a car gently picks you up with its robot arms and brings you where you want to be. As an option, you can actually explore what’s on the other side of the wall in “google maps” mode while you’re being carried there. Or enjoy your stay in a parallel (virtual) universe with friends and random strangers while you’re being teleported.
The magic crimes will be rare because everything you do with magic is videotaped. The magic users should be held liable if their actions caused harm, whether willingly or unwillingly. It is likely that magic will only be available in big cities, while in the country people would rarely see a magic user. The grand theft of drones will be common. A very familiar cases of bugs and malware in spell operation will be the most common complaint. The unregistered drones will rob you now and then.
Finally, for the charm and love spells, we have to dig deeper into the social structure of the future society. The big city will be overpopulated, with all the mechanical and accountant work already done automatically. Most people will work in service areas, with more surprising new jobs emerging to create new work places. Service will be incredibly cheap by today’s standards. Also, humans will compete with each other in a new way. If, for example, a waitress is very successful in getting tips, other waitresses around the world start to borrow her manner of speech, her lines, even her voice and her appearance. This becomes possible because of the constant recording of everything she (the model) does by gadgets around her. But the output part is still far from real life. The other waitress that wishes to model her, has to first pay a small fee, then she sees on her glass the instructions (“stand straight”) and lines (“good news, everyone!”) appearing to her, so she can imitate her model. A bigger fee will turn on a voice-changing gadget to make our newbie waitress sound more like her model, and a computer graphics to make them look alike. In this way, people who are not fit to be waitresses at all can still do the job. Or it can be even a drone.
Now suppose you are talking to a girl behind help desk (or advertising something) and like her a lot, but she is not being herself, she just models some more successful girl. But the model girl is married to someone long ago, so you’ll never meet her. Still, you can pay for that model to be around you on dates, and computer programs will suggest your actual date how to behave to be more like your crush. What girl would agree to do something like this? Not many, but in the movie “her” there was one character with that kind of job. Maybe the police will arrest them as prostitutes from time to time.
For a less controversial scheme, if you are arguing with your parents a lot, you can download the model of a “good son”, and let it make the voice and the graphics, while you are peacefully watching movie and shut off your parents’ conversation. Or if you and your new date are not getting along very well, you can both download models for each other, and then gradually switch them off as you get to know each other’s demands better.
Thus, if you want to cast a love spell, in fact you either download a model for yourself based on his/her preferences, or download a model of your crush and install it on someone in your friend zone.