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Cocoa

The social effects of an inverse-inheritance genetic magic system

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I've seen a lot of magic systems over the years which rely on direct inheritability, with strong magic users being prone to producing children with strong magic, and weak magic users passing only weak magic on to their children, if any. The most common logical end result I see of this, at least in societies that value magical power, is magic slowly becoming concentrated into exlusive bloodlines as strong mages try to have children with other strong mages.

That got me thinking about the potential opposite; a system where magic is hereditary (so you still need to be descended from someone with magic to use it), but your own magical power tends to 'wash out' that of your children. A strong mage will always have children with weak magic, the combined power of two sufficiently strong mages might snuff out the spark of magic in their descendants entirely, and two people with nigh-nonexistent magic might have a child with unrivaled power. What do you think the social effects of such a system would be like, where mages are actively disincentivized from having children with other mages (particularly powerful ones) if they want them to be powerful?

Edit: For the sake of streamlining things, let's also say that a mage + a pure non-mage would produce mage children with about half the strength of the mage parent. That way 1) the setting presents a reliable way to produce extremes of magic by 'breeding low' over several generations and then 'breeding high,' and 2) you don't just have powerful mages having children exclusively with non-mages to get around destructive interference.

Edited by Cocoa
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That would honestly be something really cool, and I'd like to see it.

On consequences it seems likely that two types of families would rise up, as well as a strong breeding program.

In all likelyhood two mages would still be encouraged to have children as the resulting childs weak powers could be turned around and make for an extra-strong mage in the next generation.

Countries would likely try and stagnate different families have powerful mages at different times so that the whole country isn't weak at once.

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6 minutes ago, Frustration said:

That would honestly be something really cool, and I'd like to see it.

On consequences it seems likely that two types of families would rise up, as well as a strong breeding program.

In all likelyhood two mages would still be encouraged to have children as the resulting childs weak powers could be turned around and make for an extra-strong mage in the next generation.

Countries would likely try and stagnate different families have powerful mages at different times so that the whole country isn't weak at once.

That makes sense. Though I do gotta say, I don't envy people in 'gap generations.' All of the knowledge that your family had you for the purpose of producing powerful heirs, and none of the benefits of being a demigod yourself.

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33 minutes ago, Cocoa said:

That got me thinking about the potential opposite; a system where magic is hereditary (so you still need to be descended from someone with magic to use it), but your own magical power tends to 'wash out' that of your children. A strong mage will always have children with weak magic, the combined power of two sufficiently strong mages might snuff out the spark of magic in their descendants entirely, and two people with nigh-nonexistent magic might have a child with unrivaled power. What do you think the social effects of such a system would be like, where mages are actively disincentivized from having children with other mages (particularly powerful ones) if they want them to be powerful?

You will have clans using a breeding program passing the torch to nephews.

33 minutes ago, Cocoa said:

Edit: For the sake of streamlining things, let's also say that a mage + a pure non-mage would produce mage children with about half the strength of the mage parent. That way 1) the setting presents a reliable way to produce extremes of magic by 'breeding low' over several generations and then 'breeding high,' and 2) you don't just have powerful mages having children exclusively with non-mages to get around destructive interference.

So if you do this, you breed yourself with a strong mage and then breed your child with another such child to produce a strong mage. You just skip a generation. And you introduce harems of muggles for your strong male mages to produce middle grade mages.

A genetic trait always introduces a pressure for polygyny and cousin marriage because your family becomes more powerful by sheer number of descendants. This tendency will be checked by the limited number of strongly magical women, if you need two strong mages to produce strong offspring. You have just removed that constraint.

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Imagine a caste system, but rather than directly inherited castes, you inherit the opposite caste based on your magic power. Those who happen to be in a low magic generation of their family will be a lower caste, but also encouraged to have more children. In very serious countries, there might be laws prohibiting inter-caste marriage, so that magic strength isn’t diluted into half as strong people.

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