So to go into detail a little further on last night’s little thought, I keep thinking about fantasy world design with traditional D&D magic, and how utterly illogical they are.
My main point is that the presence of long-lasting magical effects would pretty much always result in something that is no longer a feudal society.
You can throw around the handwave of “but it’s FANTASY” all you want, but the fact is every society faces pretty much the same problems: food preservation, sickness, transportation, and war. Humans invented agriculture so as to allow food to be created literally while they were sleeping; medicine, because people get sick and die over the dumbest things, like a small infection; transportation, because sitting in one place eventually exhausts its local resources; and war, because fuck those other guys. The first 3 also serve to make war more efficient: moving troops and their food, and healing their injuries.
So your average fantasy world (as shipped by whatever edition of D&D is current) has spells for all those things, yet every game world is pretty much late feudal in structure. What total crap.
(SIDEBAR: Yes, I am aware of Eberron, which is I think the first mass-market not-dumb-feudal setting. Sadly I have yet to meet anyone who actually plays it.)
Anyway, I think the “fix” for this is to simply disallow any spell or effect that does anything that persists. It fixes every problem!
- No stupid “colleges of Magic”. Magic effects happen as a result of some unknown, unquantifiable process. There is no correspondence course to learn how to shoot lightning bolts from your butt.
- Great and mighty empires happen mostly as a result of conquest, not superior economics, which is what happens when you can preserve food, acquire resources, and keep your people healthy.
- Trap-laden holes in the earth are now essential means of guarding treasure, as you cannot simply ward them with impenetrable force fields.
And so on. The exact definition of “instant-only” is a little fuzzy at times: obviously “continual light” is out, but “cure disease”? In my mind, “cure disease” is not instant, but I suppose opinions vary.