Mages and Booze

OberonLordofSylva

Troubadour
One minor issue in my worldbuilding that I've been struggling with is how alcohol and other suppressant substances are treated legally. In a world where everyone can use Magic, a bar brawl is a big threat that can potentially level villages to dust. Mage Duels and Gladiator Games are a thing in my world, the former being a literally universal way to solve problems, but those formal matchups have restrictions and accommodations attached to them. Informal Mage Duels are a problem, and alcohol seems like a likely scapegoat at the very least. How would a government that recognizes that access to combat Magic is essential for the health of society go about regulating the use of that Magic? How are Informal Mage Duels handled and punished? How is property protected against collateral damage? Is insurance involved? My setting is very modern so feel free to throw modern ideas at me so long as you explain them.
 
How would a government that recognizes that access to combat Magic is essential for the health of society go about regulating the use of that Magic? How are Informal Mage Duels handled and punished? How is property protected against collateral damage?

What about...via magic?

Dunno. Think of Congress passing legislation, but make them all mages instead. Imagine the large, convoluted rituals, the extreme reach and power of those spells.

This could go all the way down to the local level, with local councils and maybe even neighborhood watches, home owners associations, and so forth.

I guess the question then would be in whether family units and informal tribal units....heck, even labor unions, would be allowed to cast such group magic, or could do so but would suffer penalties if their magic interfered with the spells cast by authorities.
 

Malise

Scribe
My Suggestions

How would a government that recognizes that access to combat Magic is essential for the health of society go about regulating the use of that Magic?

- You can treat combat Magic like how Americans treat gun control. To make it more realistic, you can have Combat-Magic rights groups that insist that all wizards need to have fireball spells to ensure that there are "more good people with fireballs, than people without". Those Combat-Magic rights groups can just so happen to lobby the government.

How are Informal Mage Duels handled and punished?
-Honestly, with equally aggressive magic police. Technically, magic assault can still be categorized as assault.

How is property protected against collateral damage? Is insurance involved?
- Make it a law that lawsuits against magic-created collateral damage cost a lot more than physical fights. However, I do think that most magical damage insurance shouldn't be treated as separate from regular property. However, magical health insurance is a territory left unexplored in most urban fantasy.
 

Almyrigan Hero

Minstrel
Since alcohol is (as you stated) a suppressant, I think the answer basically writes itself: intoxication would suppress magic. The gooier your mind gets, the less powerful and focused your spells become, until eventually they're less potent than just punching someone in the face would be.

Regulating the use of magic could go one of two ways: very gently, if there's also a spell that officers could use to make you forget your more dangerous spells, or very brutally if there isn't. Since they aren't tradable physical objects, like guns or explosives, it would be far harder to prevent people from obtaining them; and literally impossible to confiscate them. Serious offenders would either need to be locked away permanently, lobotomized, or flat out killed. The risk of letting someone with a skyscraper-toppling spell walk free because they're probably reformed just isn't worth the risk.

Insurance for severe magical damage would probably be treated in the same way as for natural disasters, but with the caveat that the system could be exploited intentionally. I'm no legal eagle, but there's probably room for interesting thought experiments. Very... VERY niche, but probably existent.
 
I like Almyrigan Hero 's solution if you want to prevent them from happening and it fits with your magic system.

Other than that, maybe stop thinking of magic as something separate from society which needs special rules. It's like any other aspect in your society in that it will have rules and regulations. What those are depends very much on your society, which makes it harder to answer from the outside.
- I can imagine a society based on the USA might accept that people have the freedom to use magic and that the government can't interfere (after all, if everyone can legally carry a gun, how do you prevent drunk people from shooting everyone in a barfight?).
- Another might have a very strong social stigma on getting drunk and see it as causing shame for you and your family if you get drunk. You would try to do everything you can to honor your family and maybe even the bartender would step in before you get drunk enough.
- Yet another society might have regulations in place about mixing in magic supressant potion into alcohol before it can be sold.

How are they punished is again a society question. But I would imagine in the same way we punish people today. It depends on the level of damage you cause. Destruction of property? You pay the damages and get a fine. If it's very serious you might get a prison sentence. Injure someone? Again, pay and probably prison. Kill people? Definitely prison. Not much difference from walking around swinging a baseball bat.

How to protect properties depends on your actual magic system. Perhaps a bar will have a device which prevents spells from being cast (or offensive spells from being cast). Or maybe there's some shielding on the place which reduces the impact of spells. Or maybe it's just accepted as a fact of life.

In a modern setting there would definitely be insurance involved. You can insure your property against magic damage just like insuring against firedamage or natural disasters. Some of those insurance policies might be mandatory for the owner of the property. And some of those will be more or less expensive, depending on your property.
 
Maybe they'd have laws about magic and alcohol similar to the laws most countries have about driving and alcohol: no using magic when your BAC is above a certain defined limit. If you're caught doing that, you get a fine. If you do it and destruction results, the penalties are greater, just like for a drunk driver who causes an accident.

I've taken a different approach to that in my story about mages: there are no legal restrictions on drinking and no legal restrictions on doing magic under the influence, but only a small percentage of the population can use magic, and the most dangerous kinds are both very complex--no way could anyone accidentally blow up a whole town, let alone do it when drunk--and very heavily regulated by the mages' guild. The worst problems that ever do occur as a result of mages getting drunk are brawls between mages, which are essentially the same as non-magical brawls except that magic allows for some more fighting techniques. It's not really any bigger a problem than ordinary people getting into a bar fight. The mages' guild takes a dim view of brawling, but it happens now and then, and usually the mages involved just get reprimanded.
 

Saigonnus

Auror
Maybe the ability to do magic neutralizes the ability to even get drunk in the first place? The more powerful the mage is, the less they are affected by drugs and alcohol. Like the magic burns away any toxins that enter their blood. No drunk mages, no drunken brawls; and no destroyed towns.
 

OberonLordofSylva

Troubadour
What about...via magic?

Dunno. Think of Congress passing legislation, but make them all mages instead. Imagine the large, convoluted rituals, the extreme reach and power of those spells.

This could go all the way down to the local level, with local councils and maybe even neighborhood watches, home owners associations, and so forth.

I guess the question then would be in whether family units and informal tribal units....heck, even labor unions, would be allowed to cast such group magic, or could do so but would suffer penalties if their magic interfered with the spells cast by authorities.
Very good idea! Family Units as you call them(Houses are my preferred term) having unique heritage and the quirks to show for it goes along nicely with the idea of Houses having access to unique spells. Kinda like Kinjutsu in Naruto....
 

OberonLordofSylva

Troubadour
I like Almyrigan Hero 's solution if you want to prevent them from happening and it fits with your magic system.

Other than that, maybe stop thinking of magic as something separate from society which needs special rules. It's like any other aspect in your society in that it will have rules and regulations. What those are depends very much on your society, which makes it harder to answer from the outside.
- I can imagine a society based on the USA might accept that people have the freedom to use magic and that the government can't interfere (after all, if everyone can legally carry a gun, how do you prevent drunk people from shooting everyone in a barfight?).
- Another might have a very strong social stigma on getting drunk and see it as causing shame for you and your family if you get drunk. You would try to do everything you can to honor your family and maybe even the bartender would step in before you get drunk enough.
- Yet another society might have regulations in place about mixing in magic supressant potion into alcohol before it can be sold.

How are they punished is again a society question. But I would imagine in the same way we punish people today. It depends on the level of damage you cause. Destruction of property? You pay the damages and get a fine. If it's very serious you might get a prison sentence. Injure someone? Again, pay and probably prison. Kill people? Definitely prison. Not much difference from walking around swinging a baseball bat.

How to protect properties depends on your actual magic system. Perhaps a bar will have a device which prevents spells from being cast (or offensive spells from being cast). Or maybe there's some shielding on the place which reduces the impact of spells. Or maybe it's just accepted as a fact of life.

In a modern setting there would definitely be insurance involved. You can insure your property against magic damage just like insuring against firedamage or natural disasters. Some of those insurance policies might be mandatory for the owner of the property. And some of those will be more or less expensive, depending on your property.
Thanks! Just goes to show that I need to look at the bigger picture. I'll definitely be including your ideas when I build my settings Justice System.
 

OberonLordofSylva

Troubadour
Since alcohol is (as you stated) a suppressant, I think the answer basically writes itself: intoxication would suppress magic. The gooier your mind gets, the less powerful and focused your spells become, until eventually they're less potent than just punching someone in the face would be.

Regulating the use of magic could go one of two ways: very gently, if there's also a spell that officers could use to make you forget your more dangerous spells, or very brutally if there isn't. Since they aren't tradable physical objects, like guns or explosives, it would be far harder to prevent people from obtaining them; and literally impossible to confiscate them. Serious offenders would either need to be locked away permanently, lobotomized, or flat out killed. The risk of letting someone with a skyscraper-toppling spell walk free because they're probably reformed just isn't worth the risk.

Insurance for severe magical damage would probably be treated in the same way as for natural disasters, but with the caveat that the system could be exploited intentionally. I'm no legal eagle, but there's probably room for interesting thought experiments. Very... VERY niche, but probably existent.
In my Verse, Magic is less about intelligence and more imagination and willpower. The stupidity granted by alcohol and other suppressants increases both of those qualities, meaning booze makes a Mage better at Magic and not worse. Good idea, just not for me!
 

OberonLordofSylva

Troubadour
My Suggestions

How would a government that recognizes that access to combat Magic is essential for the health of society go about regulating the use of that Magic?

- You can treat combat Magic like how Americans treat gun control. To make it more realistic, you can have Combat-Magic rights groups that insist that all wizards need to have fireball spells to ensure that there are "more good people with fireballs, than people without". Those Combat-Magic rights groups can just so happen to lobby the government.

How are Informal Mage Duels handled and punished?
-Honestly, with equally aggressive magic police. Technically, magic assault can still be categorized as assault.

How is property protected against collateral damage? Is insurance involved?
- Make it a law that lawsuits against magic-created collateral damage cost a lot more than physical fights. However, I do think that most magical damage insurance shouldn't be treated as separate from regular property. However, magical health insurance is a territory left unexplored in most urban fantasy.
I'm loving every part of this! Just having the Battle Magic Activists in the background goes a long way in handwaving things I'd never thought could be handwaved! Plus it adds genuine realism. Cops were my answer to everything at some point, but my dad pointed out how stupid it was. His primary point being that there wouldn't be enough officers to catch everybody. Magical health insurance is actually a plot point, one of the characters gets stabbed in the chest by a giant sword and once the adrenaline wears off he realizes he's missing a lung and his friends rush him to the hospital. Granted medicine is a tad bit more advanced in Terra Sola than on Earth so he doesn't die.
 
Cops were my answer to everything at some point, but my dad pointed out how stupid it was. His primary point being that there wouldn't be enough officers to catch everybody.
That's only stupid if you have everybody get caught. In reality, cops are the answer to all kinds of lawbreaking, and they don't catch everybody. Real world systems aren't perfect. Why should fictional systems have to be?

That said, if cops are the answer to everything on paper but they don't catch everyone, other, probably less formal, systems will spring up to fill in the gaps. There could be neighborhood watch groups, vigilantes, community self policing... a number of possibilities.

It all depends on how you need it to work for storytelling purposes, of course.
 

Miles Lacey

Maester
Huna laughed as his fireball slammed into one of the tables at the other end of the Tavern.

The man in the suit and fedora at the neighbouring table put down his newspaper and stood up. He brushed off some ashes from his lapel then walked towards the mage.

"Back off, friend," Huna exclaimed as he sculled another glass of cheap kava. "Don't wanna hurt you."

The man in the suit flashed his badge. "Police," he said with a smile. "You're under arrest for SWI."

The mage dropped his glass. "Uhhh...."

"That's Spellcasting While Intoxicated," he said as he slapped the magic neutralising cuffs on the flabbergasted mage's wrists. "Luckily for you, that's all I can charge you with. That heretical crap you were bellowing is Branch IX business. Nothin' to do with me."

The mage was escorted out of the Tavern.....

The police can't be everywhere so the likelihood that a drunken mage firing fireballs will be arrested by a uniformed police officer is unlikely but a society where undercover or plain-clothed police officers, informants or secret police (in this case Branch IX of the Ministry of Internal Security) could be lurking anywhere creates an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty that keeps people in line.
 
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