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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    Before modern refridgerators, ice boxes were the norm.

    There have been attempts to collect and store ice for centuries, but ice boxes were a common thing in the 19th century.

    The process is essentially cutting blocks of ice from a river or lake in the winter and storing it underground or insulated in straw and the like to be used in the warmer months.

    This mildly confused me. I never understood why this only became common place in the 19th century.

    I don't see why people couldn't store ice in an underground pit lined with straw much early than the 1800s.

    I guess we high quality steel was more widely available in the 19th century than previous centuries and steel saws were used to cut ice, but it still seems somewhat primitive.

    Would it be appropriate for a fantasy world to have ice boxes be common, at least among the upper classes? If the only limiting factor is finding a saw that can cut ice, even a tiny bit of magic should be able to help collect ice so it can be packed in straw or buried for use later.

    If low level invokers can attack people with frost damage, it shouldn't be that hard for a low level caster to flash freeze ice which they could then sell to high end taverns to make cold drinks

    I suppose you could also magic to make a small room eternally cold.


    My main concern is that t wouldn't feel realistic to a medieval like world because they didn't have anything like ice boxes.
    Last edited by Scalenex; 2021-04-17 at 02:16 AM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or other magical refridgerators?

    I would assume that the main limiting factor would be transporting the ice and maintaining a facility for nothing but holding ice in the summer; both processes seem fairly labor- and capital-intensive, particularly because it can't function as a cottage industry (an organization needs to harvest and store in one place enough ice that it doesn't all melt by the end of April). You'd also need a class of people wealthy enough to pay for their portion of the ice harvesting and storage scheme but not wealthy enough and possessed of enough agricultural land that they could just have fresh produce or send retainers to fetch snow from local mountains.

    I'll add the caveat, though, that this is all post hoc speculation on my part; I'm not well-read on the intricacies of the ice market. I read in a book as a teenager that there were pre-modern ice and snow harvesting schemes, particularly in Rome, though I will caution that the book tended a little to the sensational. If I recall correctly, such schemes were necessarily of comparatively small scale and elite-centered.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    Well, isn't this a monster of a topic.

    Were the iceboxes around?

    Yes, we have them confirmed in bronze age, and they were probably around for as long as farming-oriented societies. It also bears mentioning that they were often in a form of an ice house, a pretty large structure, serving an entire town's needs. That said, however...

    What do you need them for?

    If you have a nomadic or hunter-gatherer society, iceboxes aren't all that useful, since you keep moving around.

    If we take our standard agrarian pre--modern society, they still aren't as necessary as today. Thing is, the perishable food you need to refridgerate the most is largely meat. Vegetables and fruit can be stored without any refridgeration in cellars, provided you know how - it usually involves using some form of moisture control (sand, where I'm from, there are probably others). You can easily store what you need for a year, and that is as long as you need, since harvests in moderate climate are annual.

    Storing the meat can be done by smoking and salting it, but more importantly, it can also be done by keeping livestock. You don't need to refridgerate your chickens if they are running around - it is actually counterproductive in several cases, as live chickens will net you eggs, while frozen ones will net you zilch.1

    So, seeing as you can easily and cheaply store your foodstuffs in a rural settings, you don't really need iceboxes. Sure, having them would be nice, but the added expense is not worth it.

    It is only once you move to cities, that you start to have a real need for them, since you can't exactly keep a large flock of sheep in the main square. As long as the city is small, you can just buy what you need, but as the city expands, this importing process may start to take several hours to several days, and it is at that point you need an icebox for fresh meat - especially once you consider that you may buy the meat on one day and prepare it on another. This is probably why you see them explode in popularity in 19th century.

    Iceboxes as luxury items

    Sure, people with enough money will pay for the luxury of having ice in summer, but that will only get you the icehouses we already see, and only in some areas. As long as wealth isn't culturally shown through ice in summer, or can only be shown in such a way seasonally, you will see less icehouses, if any. England didn't have them until 17th century.

    Alternative refridgeration

    All that said, there are still things that are best enjoyed cool, like beer, for one. Well, for those, you have a ready-made source of cooling, available in every village - the well. Well water will be only a few degrees Celsius above zero, usually 5-10, and for most of the things you need, that is enough. Keeping bottles of beer you want to drink soon in the well to cool them is a time-honored tradition.

    You can do something similar with a running stream.

    If you want to transport these beverages, you put them in a crate padded with straw on the inside and give the straw a good soak in this cold water once every few hours. We were able to keep a few crates of self-made beer adequately cooled this way when it was ~40C outside.

    Applying this to fantasy

    The bottom line is that you will only see magical refridgeration if it is affordable, at least to your average city-dweller, and you will have to drive the prices down hell of a lot to make the pre-modern farmer take to it instead of smoking and salting. It is convenient, but very much a luxury, especially in a world without supply chains that last days if not more.

    If you have enough spellcasters, you could well have a few of them travel from place to place and filling up their icehouses (or maybe the priest/herbalist every village had at least one of has actual magical powers in your world), because at that point, the expense of having rural refridgeration is literally just building another barn - albeit a more insulated one.

    Caveats

    Keep in mind all of the above is extremely broad - you will have a ton of regional, cultural and other differences to this, not the least of which is the ease with which you can store the ice. Novgorodians will definitely have an easier time of it that people in Venice, and while Venice and Bern are in roughly the same lattitude, Bern is higher above sea level, and so forth.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    We tend to think of technology as absent in fantasy settings, but what is usually absent is a need to employ technology.

    You want ice? Ray of Frost your ice tray. Better yet, buy a tray that rapidly turns liquid water into cubes of ice.

    Imagine a Cone of Cold effect placed permanently on a warehouse. Who needs to wait for lakes to freeze?

    Mechanical refrigeration was first used to bring fresh fruits from fields to tables, so shipping barrels enspelled to preserve freshness wouldn't even need cold effects.

    The idea is, let magic replace technology. Put those wizard-school dropouts to work crafting useful but glamorless cold-storage boxes and such.

    Magic item:

    Cold Stein
    Pour any liquid inside this wooden, pewter, or glass mug and it instantly becomes a pre-determined temperature between 33F and 55F.

    Ice Chest
    This wood or metal chest is small enough to be portable and large enough to hold several days worth of unpreserved meat and fish. Any water-based material, even salt water will freeze solid in a few hours, while alcohol will not.

    Wagons, huts, and even rooms in a castle can be made with cold or freezing properties.

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    I would see a couple cases where people would likly use magic iceboxes.

    First is as a luxury item. It could well become a status symbol to serve chilled drinks or iced desserts on a hot day.

    Secondly would be as a commercial basis. The issues of building a cellar or icehouse is that they are both significant investments in time and space and also not very mobile. Magic can get around both. They can be smaller and much more mobile. Look for where fresh veg or meat could not be placed in a cellar. Like when it is on a wagon or ship.
    And that could be a useful thing. Bringing fresh fruit/veg/meat to areas that would otherwise be outside the zone that could easily produce them.
    Also it would provide degree of economies of scale as you'd only have to enchant once and not for every house.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    This specific question is tied to a broader question about how magic impacts a setting when it is common, even if it is extremely limited in potency.

    A handful of iceboxes, or magical lights, or elevators, or any number of other early industrial age devices are mere curiosities used by the wealthy and or the magical. By contrast, if those devices/effects can be produced en masse and spread throughout society they become transformational. If you have one or a few such magical technologies you get a schizo-tech world. If magic extends to producing magical technologies that influence a large number of facets of everyday life you have a magitech world (or if the source isn't traditionally recognized magic you have a X-punk world, where X is whatever the thing that powers the technologies happens to be).

    Now, it's critically important to recognize that it takes very little in the way of society transforming technologies to turn you medieval fantasy world into something that is no longer a medieval fantasy world. In many cases - especially with medical technologies - it only takes one.

    For example, the ability to put an icebox on a ship, as suggested by sktarq, is a way to eliminate scurvy in sailors. Congratulations, you've just transformed the medieval maritime economy in a profound and complex way.
    Resvier: a P6 homebrew setting

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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    The fantasy world need not be medieval. As Gygax mentioned, high fantasy is what you get when a society develops with magic instead of technology.

    It need not be less advanced, but it will advance differently. As an example, our middle class evolved in Western Europe as a result of the shortage of skilled tradesmen following the Black Death. If there had been reliable clerical magic the ravages of the plague would not have happened and tradesmen would never have had the value that allowed them to become mobile enough to travel to where their skills payed more, forcing their local employers to bid higher to keep them.

    So, if the fantasy world never has a worldwide plague it might never have a shortage of smiths and stonemasons. They remain skiled serfs. But upward mobility might be available to spellcasters who make themselves more valuable by creating luxury items for the lords which the peasantry can't afford.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    We tend to think of technology as absent in fantasy settings, but what is usually absent is a need to employ technology.
    [...]
    The idea is, let magic replace technology. Put those wizard-school dropouts to work crafting useful but glamorless cold-storage boxes and such.
    That's a misunderstanding of what a technology is, albeit a common one. Technology is, at its core, a better way of doing things. It can be more efficient, faster, less wasteful and so forth.

    Technology is driven by demand, and there always is demand of some sort. Farmers want to plow more efficiently, so they develop a plow, ships want to sail for longer without restocking, so they ditch rowers in favor of sails and so on.

    Magic is not opposed to technology in any way, unless the setting explicitly states otherwise, it's just another tool in the toolbox, right next to chemistry and physics. What mix of these tools is developed depends on a lot of things, one of the chief ones being how good magic is. If it is widespread, cheap and efficient, it will put the other tools to the sidelines for a while, until you hit the ceiling of what you can achieve with magic and the other tools will be leveraged to exploit loopholes.

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Secondly would be as a commercial basis. The issues of building a cellar or icehouse is that they are both significant investments in time and space and also not very mobile. Magic can get around both. They can be smaller and much more mobile. Look for where fresh veg or meat could not be placed in a cellar. Like when it is on a wagon or ship.
    And that could be a useful thing. Bringing fresh fruit/veg/meat to areas that would otherwise be outside the zone that could easily produce them.
    Also it would provide degree of economies of scale as you'd only have to enchant once and not for every house.
    The issue is that these will still be luxury items for rural communities, since their own apples are way cheaper than imported oranges. You will probably see a lot more of them in cities, though, and probably as part of celebrations of some sort. My country has oranges as a traditional Christmas food - in central Europe.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    Now, it's critically important to recognize that it takes very little in the way of society transforming technologies to turn you medieval fantasy world into something that is no longer a medieval fantasy world. In many cases - especially with medical technologies - it only takes one.
    Not really, unless the magic is overwhelmingly generally applicable, like cure to all diseases. Even then, it will not alter social dynamics that much, unless it somehow cracks the status quo of power balance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    For example, the ability to put an icebox on a ship, as suggested by sktarq, is a way to eliminate scurvy in sailors. Congratulations, you've just transformed the medieval maritime economy in a profound and complex way.
    Except that it won't. In medieval Europe, it won't change a thing, since Mediterranean sailors can stop and restock as often as they want and transoceanic voyages aren't a thing because of factors other than scurvy.

    Once you move to colonial era, it will make things a bit more convenient, but not by much - once the cause of scurvy was identified, navies were able to successfully mitigate it. Ship food will be a tad better, scurvy a bit less prevalent, and the ultimate sailing capabilities of ships, i.e. how long and how quick they can sail and how much cargo they can transport, will remain unchanged.

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    As an example, our middle class evolved in Western Europe as a result of the shortage of skilled tradesmen following the Black Death.
    Not really, there was a healthy middle class already in place since migration era ended - whether you define middle class socially, legally or as a function of wealth.

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    If there had been reliable clerical magic the ravages of the plague would not have happened and tradesmen would never have had the value that allowed them to become mobile enough to travel to where their skills payed more, forcing their local employers to bid higher to keep them.
    Again, no, there already was a massive well-documented movement of skilled tradesmen, most prominently German miners, starting in mid-13th century. There was also a general trend of people from France and Germany moving to "frontier" areas (Outremer, Hungary, arguably Italy) in search of better living prospects - both as mercenaries and as settlers.

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    So, if the fantasy world never has a worldwide plague it might never have a shortage of smiths and stonemasons. They remain skiled serfs. But upward mobility might be available to spellcasters who make themselves more valuable by creating luxury items for the lords which the peasantry can't afford.
    Stonemasons and smiths were rarely serfs, especially skilled ones. Upwards mobility was available to all social strata, albeit not in as large a jump as serf-to-princess in one generation fairy tales would make us believe.

    This idea of skilled labor only being appreciated after Black Death needs to die a fiery death. What Black Death did was to make the already expensive skilled craftsmen even more expensive, and widen the gulf between them and rural farmers, who only start to become serfs in large numbers after the plague.
    That which does not kill you made a tactical error.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    Just adding my two cents . . . I don't see why they couldn't. I would make them a magical item that seems very different from the modern appliance. There are some good ideas in this thread on how to do that.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    You don't need magic for ice in a large part of the world. In Iran they had yakhchal structures to make and preserve ice. The wealthy could, and did, send for ice from nearby mountains. Preserving winter ice into the summer is far, far older than the 18th Century. And in a fantasy world there's absolutely no problem with having a spell caster who, among other duties, is required to keep the icehouse cold. These are demonstrations of wealth and power even more than they are conveniences.

    But selling ice to taverns? Now you're moving into industrial production and that's a big paradigm shift. You're assuming:
    -Magic can be learned by a (relatively) large number of people.
    -People who learn magic are willing to profit off of selling ice.

    Which is fine. It's just making magic very common-place. And if people are willing to use magic for that, then what other industrial purposes are they going to turn magic towards? Now you've got a world in which magic is a commodity which can be used to replace labor AND science. No need to learn how to do chemical reactions if magic can do the job. There are a lot of possible ramifications to that and a lot of speculative fiction has been written on the subject.

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    Stored natural ice has been used for a long time.

    The advent of the "icebox" came about in part because of the rise of the train, which allowed bulk ice to be transported long distances in winter and stored locally in a much wider radius from good sources of block ice.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scalenex View Post
    My main concern is that t wouldn't feel realistic to a medieval like world because they didn't have anything like ice boxes.
    If people wanted realism out of their fantasy stories, they would consider most fantasy absolutely unacceptable.

    Look at most medieval fantasy worlds: they are usually a rough approximation of what the authors think Europe looked like between the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the beginning of the Colonial period (often backporting elements of the Modern age in this supposedly Medieval setting), but the authors rarely wonder how society would have evolved if there had been actual, powerful wizards running around, dragons and chimeras and other mythical monsters mucking about, and all the other stuff. The fantastical elements tend to be inserted into this pseudo-Medieval matrix without truly altering how it works or looks. It's absolutely not realistic. Dragons aren't realistic, magic isn't realistic, and if they were real they would have changed the way history progressed.

    In general, realism is an awfully boring thing to concern yourself with: if we really cared for realism, Indiana Jones would be scorned as pure hogwash, most action movies would be disappointments because the way they treat bullet wounds is unrealistic. What is important is verisimilitude: that it looks real, that it feels like what you're describing could have actually happened. And for the general audience, certain breaks from reality are not only acceptable but also make for a better story: the hero can still fight even with a bullet in his shoulder, high falls aren't nearly as lethal or dangerous as they should be, stuff like that.
    If you drop modern airplanes in Middle Ages France but don't have the people react to those incredible machines, that would feel to many like a break from verisimilitude. You could still preserve some of the aesthetics of Medieval France and be successful, but that requires integrating those two elements in a way that the average spectator can look at and think "yeah, that works"

    When it comes to fantasy, the question you should ask: do I want this element in my fantasy world? What ramifications could it have on the setting, on its culture and society? Does it alter things, in what way?

    How would commonplace iceboxes change a pseudo-Medieval society? Would they alter the balance of societal power? I'd be inclined to say no, iceboxes on their own won't change the way Medieval society worked. But would they impact the economy? If they do, they could also change the social and political landscape. But right now I can only imagine them making storage and refrigeration a bit easier and more efficient. But assuming you want to have a quasi-feudal society, I don't think this would really change modes of production and economical scope. If we take feudalism as the starting point, introducing iceboxes would be a nice novelty but won't rustle the status quo that much that your world stops looking like Medieval Europe.

    As an aside, feudalism was not the only system in place during the Middle Ages, and in any case most fantasy worlds feature an hodgepodge of social and economic systems that wouldn't stand up to close scrutiny. But most people won't scrutinise your world to that degree, and most likely won't care as long as the world itself is interesting and fun.

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    Iceboxes for low to middle class houses and small non-agricultural businesses. Magical preservation for the government, the upper class, medium to large farms and ranches, upscale restaurants, magical organizations, and merchant enterprises.
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    One question that has barely touched on is: Does the magic system of the setting naturally support magical refrigerators? (You don't need fantasy elements to create an ice box.) For instance if we assume that the best ice magic is just create icicles (and this time don't throw them at the enemy) then you could have traveling ice makers who come by about twice a summer and fill up the icebox then move on. But for a magic refrigerator you need much more continuous source of a magical effect.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    That's a misunderstanding of what a technology is, albeit a common one. Technology is, at its core, a better way of doing things. It can be more efficient, faster, less wasteful and so forth.

    .......


    Magic is not opposed to technology in any way, unless the setting explicitly states otherwise, it's just another tool in the toolbox, right next to chemistry and physics.
    You're using a very new definition of "technology" that is younger than many of the people on this form. While the new definition is useful and more technical, that doesn't make the majority of people using the term wrong.

    The traditional and descriptivist definition denotes tangible toos and the techniques to create and use them; it connotes industrialization, mechanization, science and the second industrial revolution.

    Being that we're discussing fiction, we also cannot dismiss differences for being only stylistic. We do not tell fictional stories to convey ideas in their simplest form. Does magic fit the new definition of technology? Yes. Is high fantasy magic radically different in style to modern, realistic technology? Also yes.
    Last edited by Quizatzhaderac; 2021-05-06 at 12:08 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quizatzhaderac View Post
    You're using a very new definition of "technology" that is younger than many of the people on this form. While the new definition is useful and more technical, that doesn't make the majority of people using the term wrong.

    The traditional and descriptivist definition denotes tangible tolls and the techniques to create and use them; it connotes industrialization, mechanization, science and the second industrial revolution.

    Being that we're discussing fiction, we also cannot dismiss differences for being only stylistic. We do not tell fictional stories to convey ideas in their simplest form. Does magic fit the new definition of technology? Yes. Is high fantasy magic radically different in style to modern, realistic technology? Also yes.
    The "better way of doing things" definition also very much gets into the assertion that processes, concepts, and such can be "technology" and thus proprietary, which bugs me to now end.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    One question that has barely touched on is: Does the magic system of the setting naturally support magical refrigerators? (You don't need fantasy elements to create an ice box.) For instance if we assume that the best ice magic is just create icicles (and this time don't throw them at the enemy) then you could have traveling ice makers who come by about twice a summer and fill up the icebox then move on. But for a magic refrigerator you need much more continuous source of a magical effect.
    I guess with the way my magic system is set up, creating a box or a room that is always cold inside but resource intensive.

    It would relative easy to magically freeze water and make ice. Any invoker can do it.

    Hypothetically, if I was a feudal lord that paid an invoker to join my army/castle guard, 99+% of the time I don't need him to make things go boom, so he can make ice during peace time.

    Maybe in this setting, a lord having ice on hand all the time is a way of showing off, "I have a loyal invoker on my staff!" Most warlords and nobles cannot afford to keep an invoker on hand 24/7. A lot of invokers are hired for a single battle or military campaign.

    I also have a low level spell that creates a small amount of fire, water, earth, or air. Maybe I could expand this definition to let a conjurer make ice.

    I suppose I can mix and match magic and mundane. Someone who wants to have ice and cold storage year round could harvest natural ice in the winter and hire an invoker to shore up the supply during hot summers.

    Of course some invokers and conjurers would refuse to make ice for commercial use because they feel it's beneath them. Or dangerous. A good time to attack an invoker is immediately after he or she depleted his daily spell allowance making harmless ice.

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scalenex View Post
    I suppose I can mix and match magic and mundane. Someone who wants to have ice and cold storage year round could harvest natural ice in the winter and hire an invoker to shore up the supply during hot summers.
    That seems to me to be best solution. Just use an icebox and get an invoker to freeze some water in it on occasion to.

    As for the social issues... of the jobs an invoker could have ice making actually sounds like it could be a fairly respectable one. It is dependent on the society of course. Also murdering an invoker after a long day's work making ice sounds like murdering a solider after a day of exhausting training. Or even an athlete if the invoker is not particularly militant. Again I don't know your setting but it feels like paranoia.

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    I say it should have. Fantasy ice cream for the win!

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scalenex View Post
    My main concern is that t wouldn't feel realistic to a medieval like world because they didn't have anything like ice boxes.
    People were keeping iceboxes in deserts at least as early as 400 BCE. Like so: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yakhch%C4%81l



    So let's say we're playing a game like D&D 5e.

    Shape Water:
    So, you can freeze some water, but it magically unfreezes in an hour. However, for that hour, you have a cooling mechanism (since putting stuff next to your ice makes that stuff colder). You can use this cooling mechanism in combination with some nonmagical water and something like this to make large amounts of real, nonmagical ice that will last.
    Last edited by LudicSavant; 2021-04-29 at 10:43 AM.
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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    Quote Originally Posted by LudicSavant View Post
    People were keeping iceboxes in deserts at least as early as 400 BCE. Like so: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yakhch%C4%81l



    So let's say we're playing a game like D&D 5e.

    Shape Water:
    So, you can freeze some water, but it magically unfreezes in an hour. However, for that hour, you have a cooling mechanism (since putting stuff next to your ice makes that stuff colder). You can use this cooling mechanism in combination with some nonmagical water and something like this to make large amounts of real, nonmagical ice that will last.
    That is awesome!

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    sandmote's Avatar

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    I'd actually say this is likely to be a false dichotomy, and what you'd really expect to see would be mundane ice houses in some areas (likely deserts, where there's less nearby water to freeze), magical icehouses in wetter areas or where there's no place to source ice, and magical refrigerators used by nomads of means and the nobility of agrarian societies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    Applying this to fantasy

    The bottom line is that you will only see magical refridgeration if it is affordable, at least to your average city-dweller, and you will have to drive the prices down hell of a lot to make the pre-modern farmer take to it instead of smoking and salting. It is convenient, but very much a luxury, especially in a world without supply chains that last days if not more.

    If you have enough spellcasters, you could well have a few of them travel from place to place and filling up their icehouses (or maybe the priest/herbalist every village had at least one of has actual magical powers in your world), because at that point, the expense of having rural refridgeration is literally just building another barn - albeit a more insulated one.
    I assume magical refrigeration would be easiest to set up for small containers, so there could be a market for wealthy travelers to chill luxury goods for their personal use or to show off with. For instance, if a duke needs to travel between the seat of his court and a religious center a magical refrigerator would let them stock up on oranges (or whatever else is for special occasions) at one location and have the supply last the whole trip, even if the animal feed, servants' food, and most other ingredients are being picked up locally to keep shipping costs down.

    Edit:
    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    For example, the ability to put an icebox on a ship, as suggested by sktarq, is a way to eliminate scurvy in sailors. Congratulations, you've just transformed the medieval maritime economy in a profound and complex way.
    This fails for the same general reason I expect mundane iceboxes wouldn't go away. Massive transformations like this never actually happen due to a single technological leap. Even if they're due to a particular invention (ex: the printing press) that technology will still depend on additional factors (ex: the language being used has a small number of letters and the material written on is easily movable) to have a major impact.
    Last edited by sandmote; 2021-05-02 at 09:01 PM.

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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    Repel Vermin used to be a cantrip, but a permanent, or at least decades long version can't be more than a level 2 spell. A mage could make a living selling vermin-proof lockers.

    Who needs ice?

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Repel Vermin used to be a cantrip, but a permanent, or at least decades long version can't be more than a level 2 spell. A mage could make a living selling vermin-proof lockers.

    Who needs ice?
    Are microbes considered "vermin"?

    (Plus some foods deteriorate slower in the cold regardless, such as many types of fruit.)
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Flumph

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    Default Re: Should fantasy worlds have iceboxes or magical refridgerators?

    I mean there is a spell for this, gentle repose also perhaps if you hit it purify food and water one could argue that the bacteria that are eating the food would be considered impurities and so would have to start again from scratch thus extending the food's storage lifespan. So there are options if all you are looking for is to preserve foodstuff for a time. Now cold on top of that would probably help too. But since mold won't be repelled etc.
    One of the biggest keys about an icehouse in this setup is that one could use an instant spell to create the ice which is generally just a mile cheaper than creating auto-spell traps, continuous magical items etc. Hence why I could see it being a pretty reasonable investment for a village. But it would probably still be a low to medium level luxury.

    Plus ice is also useful in chilling drinks for example.

    The real key would come where ice is hard, and fresh food is hard. And those are usually either cities or mobile. As someone who has commissioned boats with "gentle repose" holds I very much know the premium that fresh fruit can command
    Last edited by sktarq; 2021-05-14 at 05:13 PM.

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