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    Default Is magic what makes world dominance possible?

    Greetings, all!

    In fantasy, is magic what makes world dominance possible? Nonmagical medievalish weaponry doesn't rule the world (either ever or for very long), and the closest thing a nonmagical medievalish society has to weapons of mass destruction are poison and disease.

    Deleting from the scene any creature or force that only exists because of magic, as well as all magic items and spells (and psionic powers and other things that are not extraordinary), what sort of situation does that leave us? It seems that, at most, a person or nation would be able to secure the territory around them but not have absolute hold. The Roman Empire is the Earth's example, and even though Rome conquered the known world at that time, the empire did not last.
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    Default Re: Is magic what makes world dominance possible?

    No. Plot is what makes world dominance possible.
    Even with a level 20 wizard, you have limited spell slots, meaning you must divide up your ruled state in to pieces for sub-rulers to govern. Else, even as a wizard, it's just a bunch of tedious work to check in on every region and make sure there's no rebellion or whatever. Divinations make it easier, but as mentioned, it requires spells. Not to mention there are ways of negating Divinations (I think Mind Block does).
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    Default Re: Is magic what makes world dominance possible?

    I suppose it depends on what you mean by "dominance". Who's doing the dominating? A person? An organization? A nation? What is the line? Is it considered dominance if it's not so much that everyone is dominated by one group, but rather all a part of that group? Because in our current age, we've practically achieved world dominance. Not so much by pushing other people down, but just by everyone being friends. I mean, sure, sometimes friend get annoyed at eachother, and every group has their bad apples (I'm looking at you NK) but for the most part our world is approaching globalization, and what's world dominance if not that? The only thing is that nobody's dominating other people, it's people that are dominating the planet.
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    Default Re: Is magic what makes world dominance possible?

    Depends on your definition of 'last'. I think the Romans were in control for quite a while and the Greeks before them.

    The main problems of medieval realms I can think of right now are the same as the ones nations can struggle with today: (i) logistics and infrastructure need to be constantly perfected to facilitate trade and military; (ii) once you're doing well, overpopulation strikes, which will cause a redistribution of abundant resources, making them not so abundant again, this is kind of a circle; (iii) mass migration can cause a problem: thousands of people (if not more) show up at your realm's doorstep, coming from a nasty place and demand a piece of the action; (iv) politics/corruption, people operate the realm to look after number one first, a realm will only do well so long as its interests coincide with that of its ruler(s); (v) dependencies, it is inevitable that a realm will eventually come to rely on some resource, traded or produced autonomously, that will be the target of enemies internal and external, think of grain shipping for the Romans; (vi) and probably many more...

    Magic could solve some of these problems, depending on how high-magic the setting is, but magic itself would then become (v) and magicians would take the stage under (iv).

    While world dominance is 'viable', it should be rare (and never eternal). But I have to agree with SangoProduction: world dominance is there if the plot requires it.
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    Default Re: Is magic what makes world dominance possible?

    It depends on what you're asking.

    Resource Issues

    One of the main things that makes world domination difficult (hell, anything difficult) is that achieving and maintaining it requires an expenditure of resources...and those resources are not infinite: the planet we live on only remains at the relatively comfortable (read: life-sustainable) temperatures it achieves by essentially leaching the energy leaking out of a nearby star; that resource is the closest humanity has to an infinitely renewable resource, and but even that's going to die someday (it's only considered infinitely renewable because it will outlast our entire species by several orders of magnitude). Assuming a D&D world runs on RAW completely, there's multiple sources of infinitely renewable (or essentially infinitely renewable) resources available in the Core rulebook. You know how clean water is a thing that isn't universal in our real world? There's a cheap item in the DMG that produces an infinite amount of water at will, at various levels of pressure, and it's small enough to carry on your person easily. It's like a water bottle that only produces absolutely clean water...and can also act as a fire hose, if necessary. With the magic available to you, you can bypass most of the resource issues. Spells per day is an infinitely renewable resource as far as the rules are concerned.

    Are your plans thwarted by a lack of funds? That's okay, there's numerous ways to make money off of your spell slots! A 1st level wizard with Int 11 can make 25 gp per day literally casting spells for money, and that's the dude who sucks the most at it. A 20th level wizard, assuming no bonus spells are spent, but all regular spell slots are, can make up to 36400. And that's the most straightforward way of going about it: your spells might have other ways of making money even without directly selling them; anything permanently created can do the trick, as can calling creatures from other planes to provide services that make you money (granting wishes, creating permanent objects, etc.).

    But taking over the world requires time, you say! It can't be done in a single day, no matter what you do! That's where you're wrong my friend: in the real world, we get lots more done every day than we're actually capable of doing...because we built machines to do that stuff for us. Well guess what, Mr. Wizard: there's a whole creature type for that, and you can craft them yourself! It takes a bit of time to create one, but then you've got an extra body. Of course that also takes time, so you still couldn't conquer in a single day, you say. Not to worry, there's quicker ways of getting extra bodies to do your bidding. In fact, three entire schools of magic are built on the backbone of spells that do precisely that: Conjuration, Enchantment, and Necromancy are minion factories if you use them right. Okay, so you've got loyal minions, but they only have one day too! You can't take over the world by tomorrow, not as long as there's parts of the world more than a day's worth of travel away from you and your minions. Okay, fair enough: you only have so much time to work with. If only there was a way to Stop Time, or act with Celerity of any level, you could have more actions in the day than normal. Alas, even with such things, you'd eventually run out of spell slots, and those wouldn't come back until tomorrow. If only there was a way to make sure tomorrow wasn't tomorrow, a way to give yourself more time with which to act! If only...

    Oh wait, there's a spell for that.

    In D&D 3.5, a powerful enough wizard has access to an infinite army of wish-granting genies that are magically-forced into servitude; they also have Time Stop, Teleport Through Time, Mindrape, Dominate Monster, and so on. At the highest levels of power, at the highest levels of optimization, there is nothing a 3.5 Wizard can't do...

    Competition

    ...in a vacuum. This is what makes world domination difficult in a world with magic: everything you want to do, there's someone else trying to do it...and another person trying to prevent it from being done. And one of the unfortunate truths of magic is that defense is easier than offense: blasting is terrible and reliable debuffing is tricky, while buffing, counterspelling, and generally avoiding/mitigating/reducing/undoing effects is far easier than getting them to stick in the first place. It's literally one of the designer intentions in the system, and the wizard is just as chained by this part of the system as the fighter is.

    Hell, the T -1 build in my signature (Khepri) can simply overwhelm you with NI attacks dealing NI damage if you fail the DC NI save; her offensive round is "everybody I don't like in the multiverse needs to start making saves; they can stop making saves when they roll something other than a natural 20". And yet, it's far easier for her to defend herself: she can Dispel/Disjunction/Counterspell/Contingency anything someone tries to use to inconvenience her; she has every immunity in the book (including "immunity to death by HP loss"), +4*NI to all saves, NI Fast Healing, NI DR/-, NI HP, NI readied actions, etc., etc., etc. Hell, if Khepri somehow met a clone of herself, she'd faile the save .000625% of the time, and even then only if it wasn't a Fortitude save...and even if it's Ref/Will, she's immune to everything anyway, so whatever.

    There's always a bigger fish, there's always a stronger weapon, there's always a more powerful wizard. In a realistic D&D world that runs on RAW, you can never take over the world because it was taken over long ago by the first wizard to abuse a Candle of Invocation for infinite wishes.
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    Default Re: Is magic what makes world dominance possible?

    The Roman Empire lasted for nearly 500 years. It expanded as far as it could maintain its self given the technology of the time. Rome did as well as it did thanks to the engineering break through a it came up with. Roads, aqueducts, etc... So I would say it did pretty well.

    Without magic, technology is the determining factor in how well any centralized government can maintain control over a large area. The farther away, the slower the response rate, and ultimately is the limit on what they can hold.

    The only thing that can help transcend these limits is faith. If you indoctrinate enough people and get them aligned to the same tenants and goals, then you don't have to micro manage and govern as much, as the populace is answering to a religious creed, not a centralized government.
    Last edited by Bonzai; 2015-11-04 at 11:59 AM.

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    Default Re: Is magic what makes world dominance possible?

    It all depends on size/scope. If you make a bunch of gholems you do not need as many guards in your gold vaults. Magic is the technology of the fantasy world. Divination and magic that can send messages does what telecommunications and spying on your people does in the modern world.

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    Default Re: Is magic what makes world dominance possible?

    Yeah, I have to say... it's not the weapons that rule the world. It's the infrastructure and organization of aligned men and women who wield them.

    Rome ruled much of what it knew of the world. Alexander did, too, though he knew a different part of it. Genghis Khan ruled most of Asia and Europe, as did his son, and his sons only divided it up because their father didn't want to pick just one to rule.

    The phrase, "The sun never sets on the British Empire," occurred because Britain ruled not only more overall land than any prior empire, but had its holdings literally scattered across the globe such that part of the British Empire was always in daylight. And to this day, on paper, at least, the Empire and its Dominions still encompass huge swaths of the world. (Technically, Australia and Canada, amongst others, are Dominions, not independent countries. I know that's not how they actually RUN, but on paper...)

    And of course, there's the United States of America, which is only not dominant because it chooses not to be, right now. (Whether you think this a good or a bad thing, the USA has been deliberately taking a back seat to other powers in recent years.)


    World domination is mostly about whether you can extend your ruling infrastructure around and across the world. You don't NEED magic to do it. But I'm sure it helps, especially if you want that...personal touch. When the Emperor can literally show up at a moment's notice, can scry out what is going on anywhere in his Empire, and can exert direct overrides on the wills of people who would oppose him, it makes him a lot more directly influential.

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    Default Re: Is magic what makes world dominance possible?

    As an addendum to what Segev said - Consider the 3F: Fear, Fealty, Favours.

    So, as long as you can keep these three up, you're the top dog, no matter the might of your military or your personal magical powers.
    Last edited by Florian; 2015-11-04 at 01:01 PM.

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    Default Re: Is magic what makes world dominance possible?

    Ravenloft is official content and circumvents magic with science making all spells available as Ex abilities at a marked up price(for the power source). This allows you to achieve dominance on par with a Wizard given enough funding.

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    Default Re: Is magic what makes world dominance possible?

    It also depends on what you mean by "world dominance." Historically and in the contemporary world, there are a lot of different kinds of dominance.

    Direct and Absolute rule: The french kings would be good examples of this, as would Napoleon when he ruled France. They were the direct head of the state and could tell anyone in the state to do pretty much anything they wanted and have any who defied them killed.

    Direct and limited rule: The monarchs of England or to a lesser degree, President of the United States would be examples of this. They have titular authority over all of their subjects or citizens and enforce laws etc. They have some limits to their abilities, however. In the case of the President, he is (theoretically) unable to simply make up laws and apply them however he wants. (In practice, the administrative state and executive orders muddy the waters in this regard). The Stuart monarchs of England decided to defy Parliament on questions of finance and taxation and ended up losing the throne as a result demonstrating that their rule was limited in scope in fact as well as in theory.

    Practically, there is some overlap between both kinds of direct rule since rule that is theoretically limited can be expanded by aggressive rulers and rule that is theoretically absolute is still limited by the ability of the ruler to command the loyalty of his servitors. There are almost always constraints on even the most "absolute" rulers where they are likely to provoke revolt or assassination if they exceed those limits. Machiavelli noted that a prince who took his subjects' women or money (beyond reason) was likely to provoke revolt--a man is more likely to forgive the murder of a brother than the loss of an inheritance.

    But beyond direct rule, there are other kinds of domination. While the Roman "empire" lasted a long time and the United States are often pointed out as dominating the western world, in both cases, much of the rule is indirect. Romans ruled much of their empire through client states and local kings who paid them taxes or tribute for protection and recognized the extraordinary rights of Roman citizens rather than ruling them directly. The Roman emperor didn't write the laws of those client states (though he might limit them and prevent them from, for example executing anyone without the consent of the Roman governor). Even so, the Romans controlled those parts of the empire and made the point very thoroughly if their client states rebelled. Likewise, there is a lot of indirect dominance in the modern world. The piece of the Crimea that Russia recently sliced off of Ukraine is probably an example of indirect dominance (it is ostensibly independent of Russia) that approaches direct rule. At the other end of the spectrum, various middle eastern states are often described as client states of the US, Russia, or Iran, but the control is not terribly extensive. The recent civil war in Syria has been described as strengthening the hold of Russia over the Assad government, but prior to the civil war, it would not have been inconceivable for Assad and Syria to change their alliances and find another world power to back them if they had a serious disagreement with Russia.

    At the edge of client state dominance, there is also dominance where a power can inflict its will if it really wants to, but generally does not. Examples of this are usually found on the frontier. At the time of Julius Caesar, Roman influence in Gaul was of this variety. Rome did not officially rule, but if your tribe/city annoyed the Roman commander, he could (as Caesar demonstrated) march his army into your lands and kill your people till you stopped whatever annoyed the Romans. When Caesar actually did this, he ended up bringing Gaul into the empire in a much closer fashion. On the other hand, Caesar's expedition into England demonstrated that while Rome could mount a punitive expedition if they felt like it, they did not really rule England in a meaningful way (at that time). Later on, the British Empire's dominance of much of Afghanistan was of the same variety. They could mount a punitive expedition if you raided their clients too much as Churchill's history of the Malakand Field Force recorded, but they did not rule those tribes in any meaningful way when they were outside of musket or mortar range.

    Real world dominance had all these varying degrees and while magic such as geas, mark of justice, or long duration charm/dominates might make vassalage and client state style dominance easier and summon/gate spells might make punitive dominance easier, the real world demonstrates that it is not necessary for dominance. And magic does not seem likely to change more than the borders of how much absolute personal rule is possible and how tightly client states may be controlled. In fact, the very fact of magic making it easier to accomplish tighter personal control might end up making it more difficult to establish lasting dominance like the Romans did. Alexander's empire fell apart after his death and a while a sorceror king might use magic to hold an empire together and exert somewhat more absolute and direct control than Alexander did, the empire is even more likely to fall apart after his death.

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    Default Re: Is magic what makes world dominance possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by SangoProduction View Post
    No. Plot is what makes world dominance possible.
    Even with a level 20 wizard, you have limited spell slots, meaning you must divide up your ruled state in to pieces for sub-rulers to govern. Else, even as a wizard, it's just a bunch of tedious work to check in on every region and make sure there's no rebellion or whatever. Divinations make it easier, but as mentioned, it requires spells. Not to mention there are ways of negating Divinations (I think Mind Block does).
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    Default Re: Is magic what makes world dominance possible?

    Magic also makes it harder to dominate the world. A single man isn't much good against a nation, but a single paranoid wizard could undermine your whole planet-empire through scry and die tactics.
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    Default Re: Is magic what makes world dominance possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Magic also makes it harder to dominate the world. A single man isn't much good against a nation, but a single paranoid wizard could undermine your whole planet-empire through scry and die tactics.
    Oh no. Scry and die calls people's attention to your existence and gives them a reason to use magic to find and kill you. It's also a much fairer fight than what I'd do. Use divination to discover as much information as you can about leaders, effective military strength, and defense measures. Then start leaving large numbers of harmless traps and hints to wild goose chases that go nowhere. Assuming the ruler of the world is magic you don't beat him with matching magical force he can counter. You become as hard to find and kill as possible and then annoy him until he does something stupid. Then and only then do you punish him for it.
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