forum Any ideas on how magic could be executed in a science fiction setting?
Started by @Manduin

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Apart from technomancy and augmentations which could be compared to magic, how could other types of magic generally found in fantasy settings be used in science fiction?

@Yamatsu Earthbender

People end up having magical powers that end up being explained through science in some way, kind of like Quirks in My Hero Academia. They could eventually grow and evolve, along with our understanding of them.

"So you can shoot water out of your fingers?"
"Nah, I actually take moisture from the air and condense it into a stream from my finger."
"Yes, I basically shoot water from my fingers."


^^^ yes, giving it all a pseudo-scientific explanation, which leads to flaws in the power that seem natural. Like as Yamatsu mentioned above, with the water example, if there’s no water in the air, then there’s no power to be shared.

@Yamatsu Earthbender

Raccoon-sized dragons that don't breathe fire, but eat garbage and fart loudly and need to be shooed away from dumpsters every morning. The most successful ones are often too fat to fly.


You could also think about genetics. For example: a mother could have magical abilities with lightning while the father has magical abilities with plant live. A punnett square (a concept taught in biology) could explain why the child could have magical abilities with both elements, one element, or no magical abilities at all. I believe JK Rowling used the same concept when it came to the wizarding world: pureblood, halfblood, mudblood, and squib.

@Katastrophic group

kind of late to the party, but depending on what type of sci fi, if you had a symbiotic life form that acted like magic that could work. it could act as magic for certain people for energy in return like traditional magic or smth. Microscopic magic things?

@Katastrophic group

yea! I dont really watch star wars often, and the prequels less often, but I remember those being tiny organisms making up the force. Something like that then definitely fits into a sci fi setting if you want to use aliens or other life forms in your world

@Katastrophic group

well, fantasy often has other worlds or realms, and magic can be a substitute for electricity. I know DnD has some sort of technology powered by magic, as does Skyrim with its ancient Dwemer technology found around the world. so that covers both "other planets" and technology, and fantasy can have other strange races from those worlds to constitute as aliens. So it could fit, but the aesthetic would be very different


hey what if you just flipped this topic around and did sci-fi in a medieval fantasy?

I actually never thought of that. Mastermind.

@Yamatsu Earthbender

A piece of alien technology (or a whole spacecraft, even) crashes on the beaches of Norway, and the Vikings brave enough to explore it find technology far beyond their wildest dreams. They believe it's a gift from the gods themselves, perhaps the fabled ship of Vanaheim. They take everything they possibly can out to prepare for what they think is Ragnarok, but really they end up conquering the world and scaring off a few alien invaders that try to take back their stuff.

@Yamatsu Earthbender

The ship of Vanaheim is the one that's overturned and used as a mead hall until Ragnarok comes and it's turned back over to sail into battle. The toenail one ferries hordes to do battle with the gods.


Magic can generally be executed in six ways: Runes, Rituals, Speech, Movement, Thought, and objects or some combination of any of them.
Putting it in a modern or sci-fi setting just requires you to make it more advanced and adjusted to the society you want.
I always thought of it as like magic could be used as a form of micro technology. Like phones have chips with microscopic runes which allow them to work the way they do today. For the phones to work you have to pump mana into them.
 In combat, armies can complete rituals to perform a powerful attack. Or maybe a set of military officers put together a spell that has a lot of complicated parts that involve a conglomeration of smaller spells.


I'm tempted to give the cliche "It's just science we don't understand" answer, but I think it's interesting when it's made clear that they are different things, but have certain areas of overlap, e.g alchemy, sentient robots, stuff like that.


In all seriousness, there is heavy magic/science usage within the Destiny universe. Yeah, it's a video game, but it's lore section is incredibly extensive and very well thought out. I like to use it for ideas whenever I'm trying to think of an "unorthodox" mechanic. has a collection of all their lore (it's alot).


I'm tempted to give the cliche "It's just science we don't understand" answer, but I think it's interesting when it's made clear that they are different things, but have certain areas of overlap, e.g alchemy, sentient robots, stuff like that.

I think the 'It's just science we don't understand' answer is reasonable, because if it exists at all, then there's science behind it. but that still shouldn't be used as a crutch or an excuse


There's a book called Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by LessWrong, and it does a great job of trying to explain wizardry from the HP series in scientific terms. One might have to read up a bit on scientific theories to really understand it's beauty though. Basically, in this story, HP is a child prodigy at science and is absolutely baffled at how wizards are stuck in the middle ages. Armed with the methods of rationality, he sets off to test the boundaries of wizardry and take over the magical world(through science).

Simple experiments should be done with magic, limits and boundaries should be set and tested definitively. Except for the fact that you're not supposed to exposition dump all of that, so the base line should be making sure your magic system is consistent and not self-contradictory on the outside.