In my previous post, I talked about how resolved the issue of how to price real estate for when my players want to buy not build. Along with sharing it here, I posted links on facebook and other chat groups I frequent.
One poster posted an interesting comment about the lack of profit motive my post implied. One part stood out as a reminder of how I view the Majestic Fantasy Realms.
Without any profit there is no growth and they would stay in the Middle Ages forever.
Over the decades, even before the internet, sometime I got into debates over how a fantasy setting would work, especially with my friends who knew how I ran the Majestic Wilderlands. One thread of the conversation was the impact of magic. Some who I talked to believe that magic would guarantee prosperity, create what we would now call a post scarcity society.
My counterpoint, that the Industrial Revolution wasn't just about about technology but also ideas of how people can organize themselves or conduct business with each other. Without those idea, all what would happen with magic is the lives of an elite few would get better while the rest of the populace would have marginally better lives like the introduction of the horse collar allow formally difficult to cultivate lands to be brought under the plow to grow food. I usually pegged the average effect of magic at 20% better.
But it was just a guess based on instinct on what I read about history.
Then a few years back, I read a book that I felt gave my opinion a little more weight.
It called a Farewell to Alms: A brief economic history of the world.
The thesis as far as my post goes, is that prior to the industrial revolution. Improvements in technology or society only resulted in a temporary increase in prosperity. With more food and better living condition, the birth rate rose. Within in a handful of generations, the population grew to the point where living conditions were no better than before, except now there are more people.
One main reason is that the pace of technological and society productivity prior to the industrial age could not keep pace with the birth rate except in brief burst. Like the introduction of the horse collar allowed areas with thick heavy soils to be cultivated easily greatly expanding where crops could be grown.
In this regard magic is no different than technology. The spread of using magic throughout a culture would bring about a temporary prosperity, which will bring about an increase in birth rate, which over time would bring everything back to the way it was except now there are more people.
That is until conditions are such that ideas, technology, (and magic since we are talking fantasy) come together to form an industrial magical revolution. Where productivity increases outstrip birth rate for decades and centuries.
As I been saying for years to friends, the Majestic Fantasy Realms is set in the time period before all that happens. But it nice that my guess has better foundation in fact.
It is a good book and I recommend it highly. It also goes into why the first industrial revolution happen which may provide inspiration for a different kind of fantasy campaign set during that time. If that interest you I recommend getting Susanna Clark's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell. A story of English magic set during the Napoleonic Wars.