SIM: The Magical Community

3 Nov

Another piece of background …

The Magical Community

The magical community does not have, despite the efforts of some political figures, a coherent existence in any real sense of the word.  There is no overall unifying authority and, given the nature of magical society, it is extremely unlikely that any will arise.  The handful of magical aristocrats who remember the days of the empire, when they ruled magic, are heavily outnumbered by the remainder, who prefer to savour what independence they have from the rest of the world.  Magical society, therefore, tends to be touchy, challenging and insistent on respect, even when such respect is undeserved.  It is also, in a curious paradox, an association that stretches right across the Allied Lands and beyond.

Geographically, there is no magical ‘country.’  A map of the magical community would look like flecks on paint, scattered over the rest of the Allied Lands.  The majority of magicians live within estates – often centred on a nexus point – magic-heavy towns and beside their mundane neighbours.  The magical community is more of an collection of bloodlines and schools – and a handful of townships – rather than anything else.

The community rests on four poles.  First, the magical families and their bloodlines, carefully tended to ensure newborn magicians add their diversity to the whole.  Second, the quarrels – associations of magicians linked together in blood-brotherhood.  Third, the guilds, which serve as alliances and unions of magicians in a specific line of magic.  Fourth, and finally, the schools, which impart a degree of shared community and cultural understanding into the ever-growing community. 

The sexism so prevalent in the remainder of the Allied Lands is rare amongst magicians.  Female magicians have full legal rights.  To treat a sorceress as somehow lesser, or to assume her husband speaks for her, is to court death.  The magical society is also quite accepting of homosexuality, although there is an expectation that powerful magicians will have children to ensure their genes are passed down to the next generation. 

As a general rule, magicians are prideful and touchy.  A magician is entitled to demand respect within his domain, even from more powerful magicians (who, in turn, are expected to refrain from deliberately undermining their host).  To enter a magician’s home is to commit oneself to behaving; the magician, in turn, must extend formal guest-right to his visitors.  (A magician is legally within his rights to do whatever he likes to an intruder.)  Magicians may enter employment, apprenticeships and patron-client relationships, but only under very precise contracts that detail precisely the obligations of each party to the other.  The idea of outright servitude is abhorrent to magicians, at least when they’re the ones in servitude; it is rare, to say the least, to encounter a magician willing to become a servant. 

Navigating magical society, therefore, is quite difficult for an outsider.  Magicians are often achingly polite, but also willing to push and jostle people to assert their strength and test the newcomer’s strength.  It is quite easy to give offense and quite hard to apologise.  A magician can issue a challenge to a duel at any time, although the challenged party has the right to determine how the duel is fought.

Magicians rarely admit, openly, that anyone has the right to judge them (unless in very specific circumstances).  There are few magicians, therefore, willing to enforce the rules outside their domains, let alone serve in a magical police force.  (The White Council’s Mediators are the closest they get to an outright law enforcement body.)  Those who openly break the rules, from bad manners to meddling in dark magic, are normally shunned by the remainder of the community, rather than stopped.  A handful of magicians believe dark wizards – as opposed to necromancers – should be stopped, but the remainder of the community fears setting precedents that might eventually be used against them.

Magicians assert, if pressed, that they mature slower than mundanes.  This may or may not be true.  It is also a reflection on their society, an acceptance that a childish mistake need not haunt an adult for the rest of their live.  If a child – or someone legally a child, such as an apprentice – commits an offense, they don’t have to face the full consequences.  Cynics assert it is a way to keep children and apprentices under control for longer than mundane communities, but it serves a valuable purpose.  Newcomers to magical society can learn the rules before it’s too late. 

As a general rule, magicians are highly educated.  They could generally read and write well before the New Learning reshaped the world.  They were also told horror stories about what happened to young magicians who made mistakes, including ‘The Magician Who Made a Foolish Oath’ and ‘The Witch Who Got What She Wanted,’ both warnings of the dangers of entering obligations with other magicians. 

The magician community exists slightly apart from the mundane one, under the terms of the Compact (actually a collection of agreements between magicians and aristocrats).  Magical families enjoy near-complete independence from the mundane governments, as long as they refrain from any kind of political interference.  Magicians who do interfere, directly or indirectly, are regarded as having broken the Compact and can therefore no longer claim its protection.  Just how far this goes has never been truly tested, with both magicians and mundanes careful not to put too much pressure on the relationship.  As a general rule, magicians who are closely involved with mundane affairs – Queen Alassa, for example – are not considered part of the overall community and therefore free to honour their obligations to their people.

Magicians generally look down on mundanes, even the newborns and those dependent on the mundane community.  The belief in magical superiority is not altogether unfounded, given the use of magic to make life easier for magicians and mundanes alike.  The average newborn, moving from a village to a magic school, will move from poverty to what might as well be a wonderland; hot and cold running water, magical lightning, etc.  It is unusual for mundanes to have any legal rights in magical communities and homes, although magicians who prey on mundanes are generally shunned by their fellows.  A magician who kept enslaved mundanes in his home would be looked down upon, which wouldn’t always translate into freeing the slaves.  In general, few magicians within the greater community care enough to bother.

Politically, there are three different factions within the community.  The Isolationists believe that contact between magicials and mundanes is bad for both sides and therefore they should separate themselves as much as possible, for their own good.  Given the power, they would seal off magical areas and encourage the development of a parallel society.  The Integrationists believe that magicians and mundanes should live and work together, on the unspoken assumption there are no real differences – besides magic – between the two.  The Supremacists believe that magicians have the de facto right to rule mundanes, on the grounds of superior power, and magicians should become (more of) an aristocracy.

Given the absence of any real government, and the pressing need to fight the war against the necromancers, the political strife has been largely muted.  Now the necromancers are gone, that may be about to change …

11 Responses to “SIM: The Magical Community”

  1. Brian G November 3, 2020 at 1:14 pm #

    Very interesting read! Gets me excited to read more SIM. What’s going on with Little Witches? The last update said to expect it in October. Hope you’re doing well.

    • chrishanger November 4, 2020 at 11:46 am #

      It’s currently going through the first edit. Hopefully, that will be done this week and then it will go for the second edit.

      Chris

  2. Allan D. Mitchell November 3, 2020 at 3:46 pm #

    Ditto Brian G – when is Little Witches/ October date is past..

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 3, 2020 at 3:57 pm #

      IIRC The October Date for Little Witches was when Chris was going to write it.

      Chris has finished it and hopefully it will be published this month.

  3. Reader November 3, 2020 at 5:38 pm #

    Magical lightning? I think you meant something else here…

  4. Puffin Muffin November 4, 2020 at 5:11 pm #

    That’s very interesting, but wouldn’t it have been fun to have a sorcerous equivalent of the Pope? Imagine the potential for politicking and corruption!

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 4, 2020 at 5:16 pm #

      The Pope?

      The Magical Community isn’t a Religious Group (organized or not organized).

      What you’re thinking about is a New Emperor.

    • chrishanger December 2, 2020 at 3:44 pm #

      Maybe another book

      Chris

  5. Steve Clark November 4, 2020 at 10:12 pm #

    Chris continues to develop the SIM world and this is the next logical iteration. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

  6. Ermine Todd November 19, 2020 at 10:17 pm #

    Thinking of the society itself, how much was shaped by Emily’s trip to the past? Did her own perspectives of equality for male/female practitioners of magic carry forward? Are there any secret quarrels that may have been started by her that will now recognize her?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 19, 2020 at 10:29 pm #

      Well, to be Fair to people of Whitehall’s time, they had good reasons for teaching only men to use magic.

      The type of magic they knew about would prevent women from bearing children so they only taught men.

      Of course, that type of magic limited how many children men could sire and caused many older magicians to go insane.

      And we did see Emily showing Whitehall (and his people) the problems with their type of magic.

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