I’ve explored the untapped limits of magic but there’s more to explore.
If society or civilization was based on magic, how would it look?
What are the general stages magic goes through in fantasy?
I’ll break it down like the Kardashev Scale for technological civilizations.
For this, I’ll be ranking these based on worlds I’ve seen, both individual mages and society.
Also remember, this is in general and not every magic system or world may fall under here. The more unique hard magic systems might not fit under anything.
I wrote the descriptions with typical study-based magic worlds in mind. The general overview and examples show what I was going for so non-study-based magic worlds can still fit.
Without further ado let’s begin.
Chants and Religion / Type 1
Society is just learning how to use the force of magic. There are few mages and the ones there don’t have much knowledge.
Since civilization is in its first stages, religion would be deeply connected with magic.
Because of this, mages would be stuck with chants and reliance on spirits and gods for magic.
Since there’s so much to learn about magic, many mages would have no time or desire to increase physical strength.
Either due to culture or magic system limitations, mages can’t overcome their common weaknesses.
Finally, most mages would be glass cannons in war but far behind what’s possible. The big spells would need rituals, prep, or a group to cast.
- Dragon Age [1.5]
- Lord of the Rings 
- Chants needed
- Staff/Medium Required
- Reliance on Gods or Spirits
- Low Physical Ability
- Highest Level of Power: City [May need many mages]
Perfected Mages and Magic Tools / Type 2
This is when a society starts to use magic tools. The cities become more modern, closer to a less dirty industrial revolution.
The mages themselves should have overcome their weakness by now.
They would’ve found the true meaning of chants or have learned to better control magic without it.
Through the use of enchantment magic or other means, mages aren’t glass cannons anymore.
Finally, staffs still help a mage but no longer needed to use magic or channel energy.
All of this helps the mage become a more well-rounded fighter.
Arcane knowledge is at a point where common people know something about it. Knowledge is no longer held by the few but is now shared with everyone.
Because of that, not every mage needs to dedicate themselves solely to magic. Some mage will now have time to study other things, this can lead to classes like magic knights.
- Black Clover [2.3]
- City of Dead Sorcerer 
- Misfit of Demon Academy [2.2]
- A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special [2.8]
- Kingdoms of Alamur [if not 2 then 1.7]
- Chants Optional or unneeded
- Staff/Medium Optional
- Mid-High Physical Ability
- Highest Level of Power: Country
Modern High Fantasy / Type 3
Despite the title, not every world that fits here takes place in the modern day. But, the magic advanced to the point that it might as well be.
At this point, staffs don’t have much of an impact on a mage’s power. The staff might even get in the way of a magical fight.
The staff’s decline might also be because of convenient magic tools and greater physical strength.
If enchantment magic keeps getting better, eventually mages could fight barehanded just fine.
Centuries of studying healing magic would lead to an immortality spell. The next step after that would be transcending the need for a body.
Not everyone would want this but the higher powers would find this idea appealing.
If this takes place in the modern-day then there would be something like mana plants, a parallel to nuclear plants. This is only possible if something like mana exists.
If it does then mages would be able to harness amazing amounts of energy, peaking with using all the energy on the planet.
Not every mage could do this but the elites and leaders would have this ability.
That’s all only what I can think, Type 3 could be capable of more.
Also, I want to make sure to mention just because a magic society takes place in the modern-day doesn’t make it Type 3.
Harry Potter and City of Dead Sorcerer do but magic itself had nothing to do with the general state of society.
So most Urban Fantasy stories don’t fall under here.
- Fairy Tail [Shocking I know but they check most of the boxes and have a higher tech level, if not 3 then 2.9]
- I am the Sorcerer King [3.6]
- To Aru 
- Staff/Medium unneeded
- Immortally is possible
- Early stages of creating a Non-Physical body
- Can fully harness all the mana on the planet at its peak
- High Physical Ability
- Highest Level of Power: Continent
Interstellar / Type 4
We’ve come to the part where many civilizations fall off. I’ve seen few if any society reach this point but it’s possible.
There are many mages in “fiction” that have the power and abilities that hit around this level.
If a society can get somewhat close to that level of power, then they’d be Interstellar.
The only story I can think of right now that’s getting close to this is “I am the Sorcerer King”.
This civilization’s magic would be nearing godly levels. At this point, they can do almost everything with the crazy amount of energy they can use.
Thanks to spells like:
- Environment Alteration
Colonizing worlds would become easy. If one mage can put a base on mars within a year, imagine a society of them.
- None I can think of
- Can fully harness all the mana on any celestial body
- Some form of Immortality more common
- No longer stuck with one body
- Can space travel and colonize other planets
- Very High Physical Ability
- Highest Level of Power: Solar System
Individualistic Gods / Type 5
The conclusion any mage would strive for, to have ultimate knowledge and power.
At this point, it wouldn’t be a society but just a group of talented mages that reached this pinnacle.
Society would peak with Type 4 but some would reach Type 5.
These mages would either form a group to play God in another reality or go solo in search of one of three things:
- Traveling to get ever greater magical knowledge [Depends on if there’s more to learn]
- Entertainment [In whatever form that might take, playing God included]
- To pass on their knowledge and life philosophy [Rarer and depends on if they can even do that]
There are more reasons but these are the main common ones. Unless they have a strong personal reason to keep going, these Gods would struggle against boredom.
They still have a survival instinct so few would peacefully die so they need to find another reason to live.
- Dies Irae
I based these ideas on what I think would happen at this level and Umineko with its cast of witches. Dies Irae is more unique so it doesn’t fit perfectly.
- You are a God
- No longer need a physical body and all the problems that come with it
- Physical Ability Irreverent
- Highest Level of Power: Universe and beyond
Looking back, you can tell that in order for a society to get to Type 4 they need to be in an ideal condition.
But it’s still fun to look at that ideal, the upper limits of magic.
I’ve only seen individual mages reach Type 5 but if one can do it then so can society and that’s what I wanted to explore.
Tell me in the comments, does the story you’re writing fall under any of the types? If you’re not writing a story then does any story you know fall under anything?
You can use decimal points if a story doesn’t check all the boxes as I did.
And if there are any mistakes please let me know so I can perfect this system.
With that, I’m done