The Sliding Scale of Magic Versus Technology

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Mostly in fantasy/sci-fi works, one thing is very evident when it comes to Magic and Technology:

The level of technology is inversely proportional to the amout of magic available. In a work that is filled to the brim with magic, it is very unlikely that it will advance anywhere past the Dung Ages. The only exceptions to this are Magitek, where technology is powered by magic, and a situation where the Muggles don't know about the magic, and thus have advanced.

This exists in several types:

  • Medieval magic: Magic is virtually everywhere, or at least very common. In contrast, the technology is Medieval, or the users of the advanced technology don't know how it actually works (see Clarke's Third Law).
  • Renaissance magic: Magic is uncommon, and the technology may be between Renaissance or Victorian.
  • Waning magic: Magic is rare either due to energy, supply, or lack of talent. We find ourselves either in the modern day, or a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

There are also outliers on the scale:

  • No magic: There is no magic at all. However, there is no constraint on technology, which may be primitive or modern.
  • Magitek: There is plenty of magic and technology, and they work together to what appears to be modern tech.

Not to be confused with Magic Versus Science.

Examples of The Sliding Scale of Magic Versus Technology include:

Anime and Manga

  • This is particularly evident in the anime adaptation of Dungeon Fighter Online, where in Cabensis' world, magic has been sealed, and as a result, technology reigns, while in the main world the story takes place in, magic is plentiful, and as a result, they are stuck in the Dung Ages.


  • Star Wars falls firmly on the strong technology. In the name of a science fiction series, it has its own unique type of magic called "Force" around.


  • The Bas-Lag Cycle by China Mieville has the tech level is late 19th/early 20th century, with magic being present, but not omnipresent.
  • Also evident in The Chonicles Of Narnia, where they have been in Medieval Stasis for longer than mankind has existed on Earth.
  • Discworld offers another, less common example, with a world that has magic, but very little, and much more technology than other magic-related stories.
  • The Ship That Won by Anne McCaffrey has a pair of travellers discovering a planet with magical activity. It is then discovered that the magic is really advanced technology but the users have forgotten how it works.

Video Games

Web Comics

  • The Wotch only has rare elements of magic in a modern society. This doesn't prevent magic from fixing broken video game consoles.