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The Magic Versus Technology War

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Thomas: Did you know they don't even have cell phones?
Thomas' Friend: Do they even know what a phone really is?
Atsuko Kagari: You guys are the ones who are behind the times, not knowing how amazing magic is! We can do so many things; it's way cooler than your cell phones!

In traditional fantasy, the available technology (as opposed to magic that just works like technology) is generally depicted as being relatively primitive, roughly equivalent to Real Life sometime prior to the development of modern firearms. In Science Fiction, just about anything, from the paranormal to the supernatural to Sufficiently Advanced Aliens with technology that acts like magic, is allowed, except magic. In the rare fiction where magic and advanced technology exist in the same universe, they rarely get along. In some cases, they merely interfere with each other for unexplained reasons. Sometimes it actually comes to blows, and that's where this trope comes in.

To be this trope, a series needs to have as one of the primary conflicts, an actual shooting war between a faction upholding magic and a faction upholding advanced technology and science. Typically one side is using magic spells, cavalry on dragons, etc., and another prefers technological weapons like guns, tanks, Humongous Mecha, etc. Note that "Advanced Technology and Science" is a relative term. It may be as little as Industrial Revolution-era (compared to the standard Medieval European Fantasy), or even higher than modern times. A good rule of thumb is at least one "age" of technological development over that of the Magic-using civilization. The distinction will be made a lot more clear if the scientific principles are explained and comprehensible enough, if still unrealistic to contrast with the completely alien principles of magic that allow things to happen based on intent.

Sometimes the science side loses the war or destroys itself, in which case it nearly always features as a lost civilization, leaving behind the ruins of at least one Advanced Ancient Acropolis filled with Lost Technology, Superweapons, and Deathtraps.

Note that No Tech but High Tech is typically a built-in assumption in this concept. Technology, by definition, is the practice of using knowledge of the world to create or modify tools to achieve specific purposes; that is, any tool use that isn't purely instinctive counts as technology. A gun, a shovel, and a sharpened stick are all technological contrivances. These plots, however, only recognize advanced tech (typically anything postdating the industrial revolution) as "true" technology; anti-tech factions will rarely take issue with crossbows, carts, or pickaxes, and when magic and technology directly interfere with one another only a certain set of advanced tools will have or receive any such effect.

Often tied to a Masquerade. The war could be the result of The Unmasqued World; the Masquerade can serve to protect an Endangered Species or avert a Genocide Dilemma. Expect to see a Corrupt Corporate Executive, Evil Sorcerer, Mad Scientist, or Wicked Witch. Compare Science Is Bad, Magic is Evil.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Princess Mononoke, firearms users are at war with the 'gods' of nature. A twist in that the ultimate enemy is neither technology nor the gods' power; it's anger and hate.
  • In Tweeny Witches, the conflict between the witches and warlocks is this as well as the battle between the sexes. Warlocks (barring a few holdout rebels) had turned away from the path of magic and focused on technological advancement, this jump was so great that they went from Clock Punk to The Jetsons in decades. This schism led to men and women of this world going to their separate kingdoms and only occasionally meeting to have children (the baby would then go whichever parent matches their sex). When it came to actual battle, magic's Clap Your Hands If You Believe power is such a big trump that the warlocks were losing even though the witches were low on spell ingredients.
  • In Wolf's Rain the Nobles' science fails to open Paradise, although it is responsible for creating Cheza. She and the wolves search for Paradise by apparently magical means.
  • There is a scene in Negima! Magister Negi Magi where a robot army is attacking the school, and the students are armed with magic wands and staves to defend against them. Cue a two-page spread of wizards fighting robots. However, the creator of said robots is both a wizard and a scientific genius, and some of the weapons the robots use might be Magitek in nature.
  • In Vampire Wars, vampires are descended from an alien race that gained immortality and intergalactic travel using Religion is Magic. For the last few thousand years, they've been at war with a race of technologically advanced atheists.
  • Invoked in Dr. STONE, where Senku Ishigami faces an ordeal with the entire world's population having turned into stone. Believing that this isn't an act of random fantasy, he sets out to fight back and rebuild civilization by using science as the only logical tool against the seemingly magical phenomenon.
  • The OVA of Magic User's Club pits 5 magic-using high schoolers against the high technology of an alien invasion that already defeated the world's combined militaries.


    Comic Books 
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: The Magic Wars storyline, in which the forces of Sorcerer's World Zerox attack the rest of the technology-using galaxy.
  • In Fables, the Fables retake the homeland thanks to assault rifles and a healthy supply of 500-pound bombs. Subverted, as they do so in an airship powered by Flying Carpets and make judicious use of the Magic they can muster. So it's more a judicious use of magic as well as modern technology trumps magic than a straightforward "technology beats magic".
  • The short-lived Manifest Eternity was to concern a technologically-advanced human-led empire which, after having conquered its own universe, finds itself a target for conquest by an empire of magical beings from another universe.
  • In Hellblazer, the protagonist John Constantine wins his battles using this trope. He once defeated the god-demon Nergal by trapping him inside a computer, before the computer opened a gateway to Heaven where angels ripped Nergal apart.
  • Age of Ultron: In the Alternate Universe of Earth-26111, Wolverine killing Hank Pym before he could build Ultron results in a war down the line where the balance is tipped in the favor of magic. In the ensuing Asgardian- Latverian War, the magical forces of Morgana le Fey and Doctor Doom are victorious, with the only people holding out being a small group of La Résistance led by Tony Stark and an army of Iron Man drones against masses of magically-powered Doombots. This universe is Ret-Gone by the end of the storyline.
  • Saga focuses on the natives of the science using planet Landfall at war with its magic using moon Wreath.
  • The Atom: The All-New Atom first arc centers around a war for Ivy Town between tiny alien civilization the Waiting and ancient magic god M'nagalah.
  • In Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, Emperor Palpatine pitted Darth Vader against multiple combatants with technological enhancements, testing to see if he should use them to replace his Force-using apprentice.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • In the Italian branch comics, Magica is depicted as having far vaster magical powers than the US version and often needs specific counter-magic technologies to hold her off. The only one who can compete with her one-on-one without magic in a straight fight is Paperinik... And that's because he carries enough anti-magic gadgets to tire her down as she overcomes them, as even he prefers not to fight her openly but rather take advantage of his car's greater speed to take her by surprise, recover the Number One Dime if it's been stolen, and run.
    • This reappears in Paperinik New Adventures on more than one occasion:
      • Easter mage Ahrimadz once came to Duckburg to unleash a demonic invasion from another dimension in retaliation for the expansion of the Western culture wiping out the culture of his home country and turning him from the respected figure he had been raised to be into a relic of the past. While Paperinik is equipped with far more powerful weapons than usual and supported by an AI commanding a battle drone, Ahrimadz manages to overcome him (partly thanks to having diffused a mist that slowed them down), and is only stopped when the monks of Dhasam-Bul intervene.
      • The Evronians are once mentioned in passing as having attacked the planet of the Space Mages. They won... But the Space Mages still managed to turn the Evronian commander into a frog.
      • The rogue AI Two at one point possesses the body of a combat droid from the 23rd century and faces a future version of Everett Ducklair, who has by now mastered the magics of Dhasam-bul. Thanks to his immense analytical abilities and the more advanced technology of the droid body, Two is able to counter all of Everett's spells with ease.
  • In Doctor Strange, the science-aligned Empirikul, lead by The Imperator, hops between dimensions and planets to purge them of magic and murder their sorcerers. The Imperator successfully cripples Earth's magic sources, but Strange and his fellow sorcerers manage to escape and seek out the world's last remaining artifacts in hopes of mounting a counterattack.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • In Ralph Bakshi's Wizards, there is a war between the mutants and demons of Scorch, armed with machine guns, lasers, tanks, artillery, and fighters, and the elves, fairies, and dwarves of Montagar, armed with Medieval weaponry (swords, bows and arrows). Slightly subverted in that the technological side is actually led by an Evil Sorcerer whose main weapon is a magically-enhanced Nazi propaganda machine and whose generals he has summoned from Hell. Also, the fantasy creatures rarely use magic in battle and have no problem with using guns when they ambush a Scorch convoy. And the war is ended by the good wizard using a gun to kill his evil brother.
  • The Flight of Dragons deals with this element in a way, although the inevitability of the arrival of technology disempowering magical energy is the true force behind the war, which is entirely magical. The forces of magic become involved in a civil war over whether to destroy man's faith in science through fear and superstition or seal the remaining magic away behind The Masquerade where science cannot harm it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • D-War:
    • The evil snake-demon-demigod thing is about to kill the protagonist and ascend to godhood, and is coiled near the top of an LA skyscraper with ominous stormclouds rolling in as it moves in... and then a flight of AH-64 gunships appear, blowing away the magical stormclouds with their rotors and opening fire on the snake. It manages to kill one of them, but their response? "Switch to Hellfires". The formerly unstoppable avatar of destruction actually screams in pain when it takes a hit from an anti-tank missile, and the Apaches don't let up.
    • Also a much smaller example: earlier in the movie, the small-scale Reality Warper villain is temporarily incapacitated when the protagonist runs into him in a car... by accident. He recovers quickly, but when he's about to finish the hero off, he gets hit by another car.
  • This was key to The Cannon Group's Hercules and its sequel: The films' Big Bad, King Minos, is determined to not only conquer Earth but eventually eliminate the gods (who represent magic) via science (i.e. Humongous Mecha). He even claims not to believe in the gods in the first film — but nonetheless is willing to do Hera's bidding in hopes of being rewarded for his support. (It's possible this is faulty writing and the intended meaning is that he doesn't support the gods' doings but is willing to serve them until he can overthrow them).

  • The Darksword Trilogy: Unusual in that the mages are terrified of human non-mages (effectively viewing them as the undead), the sides aren't depicted as evenly matched, and the war is about ending rather than completing the division between them. It's also one of the few times the magical society is ultimately shown as being clearly in the wrong, albeit through excision of their historical records.
  • In Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Odin's quest was all about this, with the "old school gods" (like Oestre, Anubis, Horus, Anansi, Coyote, and so on) representing magic on one side, and the "new gods" (like Television, the Car Gods, the Technical Kid, and so on) representing technology on the other. Turns out, it's all a big con job on the part of Odin and Loki.
  • Mark S. Geston's The Siege of Wonder takes place in a world divided into scientific and magical power blocs, each of which is trying to use its type of power to defeat the other.
    • The seven-hundred-year war is implied to be fairly cold. The kingdoms of magic operate in dimensions that are untouchable to technology but are consumed by constant gainless infighting. The technological states spend three centuries reducing magic to scientific principles and formula, which not only gives them the upper hand but causes the kingdoms to consume themselves in fear and desolation. The novella doesn't depict either side as being heroic or righteous but instead focuses on the misery and coldness of a world where magic is literally and figuratively dying.
  • Roger Zelazny has a couple of examples:
    • Jack of Shadows takes place on a planet that has a magical night side and a scientific day side. At the end of the book the planet begins to rotate, destroying the status quo.
    • Changeling is a pure incarnation of this trope. As an alliance defeats an evil sorcerer, they exile his newborn son to another plane (Earth) by exchanging it for an engineer's infant. Both end up in the original world as pawns of forces insistent on expressing this trope as thoroughly as possible. It's pointed out by several characters that the only problem with technology here is that for the war to happen properly, somebody had to make a Face–Heel Turn.
    • The sequel, Madwand, appears to mostly be about other things, but a dimension traveler does mention that the events of the previous book provided the momentum to shift the world even farther, towards a Lovecraftian realm. The conflict there is smaller in scope and plays out entirely in the magic end of the scale. There's enough unresolved problems and Sequel Hooks promising further development of the trope and further involvement of technological Earth. Sadly, third book was never written.
  • David Weber and Linda Evan's Hell's Gate series is a war between people who use technology of around 1910 and "psionics" versus the people who use magic and magitek exclusively. Word of God says the next book (when it eventually comes out) will introduce a third purely technical side.
  • InterWorld, by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves, takes place in a continuum of parallel universes, with a purely scientific society at one far end and a purely magical counterpart at the other fighting over the totality of existence.
  • Phil Jimenez was working on a book called Otherworld for Vertigo Comics, where a group of friends are whisked away into a war between two worlds — a traditional fantasy world and a post-singularity culture. It ended when he was slated to do illustrations for Infinite Crisis, though.
  • Mary Gentle's Grunts! involved Orc Marines armed with machine guns and helicopters as one force in a traditionally magical Good vs Evil Final Battle to Decide Everything. The Magic vs. Tech aspect comes into early on - the orc marines' weaponry, not being magical has no inherent defence against even the simplest of spells to make it stop working. It becomes imperative that the orcs find a way to nullify the effect of 'fail-weapons' spells on their firearms.
  • The Amtrak Wars series by Patrick Tilley is set hundreds of years after a nuclear war has divided the United States into the underground Amtrak Federation and the above-surface 'Mutes', who are on the technological level of American Indians, but some of them also have telekinetic and telepathic powers. The Amtrak Federation are engaged in a genocidal war to retake the surface, and despite pushing a racial agenda are secretly using genetic engineering to try and acquire the Mutes' powers and resistance to radiation.
  • The Sidhe series, by Kenneth C Flint, is a retelling of the legend of Lugh Lamfada and the magical Sidhe against the mutant Fomorians and their leader Balor being forces of Technology.
  • In Eric Van Lustbader's Pearl Saga, this war was over quickly, and magic lost a century ago. Now there are only a tiny number of magic users helping La Résistance.
  • Octavia Butler's Patternmaster concerns a conflict between the psychic Patterners and the Sphinxes, who use technology.
  • Magehunter have the titular character being a hunter of hostile mages, who prefers using weaponry against magic. Notably, his trusty flintlock pistol, which is used to execute mages and take down the evil sorcerer Mencius with a Silver Bullet.
  • The second book in the Myth Adventures series has the king's advisor encouraging his majesty to hire a magician to fight the inbound army, rather than use soldiers. The country's general then flatly refuses to aid the magician, because he would rather the kingdom fall than have a precedent established that magic is better than military force.
  • In Noob, the two factions from the MMORPG the characters are playing are in such a war. There's however a twist in that the technology side has no problem with having magic users among its troops just in case something makes the technology stop working. The magic side, on the other hand, has a technology level that enables some players to have Steampunk-level weapons (versus Science Fiction-level stuff for their enemies). This also the case in its Spin-Off Neogicia.
  • The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara: This happens in the second book, Antrax. On one side we have our band of heroes, who include a warrior with a magic sword, a boy who wan warp reality with his voice, a Druid, a seer, and a shapeshifter. On the other side, we have the titular supercomputer, Antrax, with its drone tanks, lasers, and wronks (undead cyborgs slaved to its central processor).
  • Discussed in Night Watch (Series) as one of the reasons for the existence of The Masquerade. There are way too many humans compared to the Others, and humans now have the technology to match what most Others can dish out, and no Other can survive a nuclear blast. There's also nothing to stop Muggles from using magical amulets, so all it takes is a single Other who is sympathetic to humans to arm an army with bullets capable of piercing most magical defenses or, better yet, send in the drones.
  • In The Pillars of Reality, the Mages and the Mechanics are the world's dominant powers, one using magic and the other machines. However, it's more a cold war than a direct conflict, with members of each Guild taught that members of the others are just frauds and posers who aren't even worth challenging.
  • Shadows of the Apt takes place in the aftermath of a revolution, many centuries ago, in which the technology-using Apt slave races overthrew their magic-using Inapt masters, at least in the Lowlands. The Apt invention of the crossbow was the inciting and deciding factor in the revolution, although magic had been fading from the world for a long time even then, and was never as simple as slinging fireballs around and such. The Apt have been the driving force in the world ever since, although Inapt nations such as the Commonweal and the Spiderlands remain major players.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Most of the story of is about a conflict between the Science side consisting of the psychics/ESPers in Academy City and the Magic side consisting mostly of religious groups such as churches. It actually resulted in World War III at one point.
    • The actual situation on the ground gets considerably more complicated, with the Science side possessing the support of the Anglican Church and the Magic side supported by the Russian military, which is fairly technologically sophisticated but totally outclassed by Academy City.
    • When GREMLIN enters the picture after WWIII, we have one large anti-science faction, one large science faction, and one large pro-science magic faction, and other shenanigans at the same time.
  • The plot of Gate is kickstarted when a fantasy army invades Tokyo. Then the JSDF pushes back.
  • Anti Magic Academy The 35th Test Platoon has the conflict between the anti-magic and technology-using Inquisition versus the witches. Complicating the issue is that the Inquisition makes use of magic as well: its elite agents are equipped with Relic Eaters, magical artifacts which counter other magic.
  • In High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World, the prodigies use their modern knowledge to kickstart a revolution against the Freyjagard Empire. While the imperial nobles use spells and dragons, the prodigies introduce modern weaponry to the commoners from rifles to missile systems. This is downplayed in that the prodigies have at least two mages among their allies and the empire is developing firearms, albeit ones that are more primitive than the ones used by the prodigies.
  • Our Last Crusade or the Rise of a New World: The Empire, which has advanced technology and weapons, is at war with the Nebulis Sovereignty, which is ruled and populated by witches.

    Live Action TV 
  • One of the central themes of Emerald City, as the clash between the Wizard's technology and the Witches' magic moves towards an inevitable confrontation.
    Glinda: War is upon us. A clash... of science... and magic.
  • In Lost in Space, magic and technology exist side by side in several episodes. In "Princess of Space", a planet desperately needs to find its rightful Queen so she can command the royal scepter and put the civilization's ever-more rebellious robots in line!
  • Once Upon a Time: The latter half of Season 2 introduced an order of Muggle Knight Templars who are actively hunting down and killing magic users and destroying magical items using scientifically-crafted weaponry and modern technology. The two operatives that managed to make it to Storybrooke almost destroyed the entire town. Subverted in Season 3 when it was revealed that the operatives were not using scientific weaponry and technology. It was a form of magic powered by belief. Their technology could disable magic because they believed it disabled magic.
  • In Ronald D. Moore's unaired pilot 17th Precinct, a police procedural set in a Magitek world, the basic premise of the show was a budding war between magically assisted normal life, and a fringe cult of believers in something called "science".
  • A constant theme throughout the Power Rangers franchise, where the villainous faction would usually use magic in their schemes to invade Earth while the Rangers who fought them would depend on scientific weapons and 'Zords' to counter, though a lot of times, their technology would be born of magic.

    Eastern European Animation 
  • There is a nice Soviet cartoon called "Ivashka from the Palace of Pioneers"note , where a technologically skilled boy is kidnapped by Baba Yaga as a dinner for her guests (mind-controlling cat Kot Bayun, armored skeleton Koschei the Deathless and dragon Zmey Gorynych) — and uses his bag of gizmos to make short work of her and the guests within minutes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Spanning over thirty years of story, Magic: The Gathering is no stranger to this concept:
    • Generally, any time Phyrexia shows up you can guarantee this technological menace is opposed by less technologically advanced spellcasters.
    • In Shards of Alara the highly technologically advanced Esper is pitied against the Arthurian Legend-esque Bant, the Aztec-like Naya, and primeval Jund.
    • The core theme of Neon Dynasty is tradition vs technology, reflecting real-world schisms in Japanese media. The former is represented by enchantments (proper magic) while the latter is represented by artifacts.
  • Warhammer 40,000 sometimes presents this, with the Imperial Guard, the most Real Life-like army, fighting Chaos sorcerers and cultists with tanks, artillery, and riflemen.
    • In the backstory the war between the Necrons and the Old Ones was this, starting as the biggest case of Screw You, Elves! in fiction.
    • The Order and Disorder grand conflict of the setting can also be seen as this: on the side of Order, the Necrons and Tau are purely technological (sufficiently so for the Necrons) while the Eldar and Imperium are relatively methodical and disciplined about their use of magic - and they use technology just as much if not more so than magic. The races of Disorder, by contrast, go full bore on magic (most of Chaos), Clap Your Hands If You Believe (Orks), soul-eating and general messing with of souls (Dark Eldar), and sufficiently advanced Organic Technology (Tyranids).
      • Not exactly, the Dark Eldar are almost as pure tech as the Tau since they had to drop psychic powers almost completely. The Necrons arguably have a form of magic whenever they start hauling out the C'tans to manipulate reality and while the Tau themselves don't have magic, they have allies who do.
    • Happened in one encounter between Chaos forces and recently-awakened Necrons on a tomb world. The aspiring champion recounting the incident said that his cultists summoned demons to fight the Necrons, but found to his dismay that even demons couldn't stop even the most basic Necron warrior from self-repairing what should have been fatal damage.
    • Happened in one encounter between Necrons and Chaos forces on a demonworld. To the horror of the Necrons, the reigning Daemon Prince could turn its body into a gateway to hell and dump its enemies inside. No surviving Necrons and plenty of shiny, metal skulls for the Skull Throne.
  • Averted in Pathfinder, where's an increasingly greater advance in technology in Golarion, including the application of mixing magic with technology. There's even a young goddess named Casandalee who achieved her apotheosis when she was just an A.I. program in a damaged starship that crashed in the country of Numeria. Additionally there's the Technic League which is an association of wizards and artificiers who're obsessed with possessing and controlling the alien technology of Numeria. Plus there's a goddess named Brigh who's sphere of influence is innovation and one of her church's tenets preventing the destruction of new technology.
  • Averted in Starfinder which is a follow-up game to Pathfinder and set in a future where the planet Golarion is missing. Technology and magic plus the integration between them have further advanced to the point where spaceships can be by tech, magic or both.
  • Averted in Warhammer, where every technologically advanced faction (dwarves, Empire, Skaven) uses magic to a degree since even the Steampunk dwarves use rune magic (less powerful but more reliable than the Winds of Magic). The Empire is less advanced (though they do have gunpowder weapons including cannon) but use magic just the same. Only the Medieval Stasis kingdom of Bretonnia plays it straight since their tech is limited to cavalry equipment and longbows to go with its magic, but that's due to their ruling class being staunchly against it (also they're secretly manipulated by Wood Elves, not exactly the most welcoming of technology).
  • The NAN War in Shadowrun, sparked by the US government ruling that corporations could seize reservation land under eminent domain and interning protesters in "re-education camps" in the 2000s, and facilitated by magic returning in 2011. Though in their case the dichotomy was more a matter of infrastructure than ideology, the fledgling Native American Nations didn't have many factories or supply lines, while the US Army didn't know what to do with magic yet. By the game setting (2050s-2070s), almost every faction uses a mix of magic and technology.
    • Some magical effects don't affect technology, and having too much cyberware in your body destroys your Essence (an important stat for magic wielders). On the flip side, powerful technology can warp the local mana, and there are evil Toxic Shamans who draw their power from such warped sources.
  • The Ascension War in Mage: The Ascension, between the Traditions and the Technocracy, is kind of like this, except for the part where the "technology" used by the Technocracy is actually magic of a sort.
    • More specifically, in the Old World of Darkness, everything ever is magic due to the fundamentally alterable nature of reality. "Technology" just happens to be magic that the vast majority of people in the world believe in without question.
  • Rifts has a few examples: The magic-hating Coalition and its wars against the Federation of Magic and Tolkeen, and the Cold War between the tech-hating Empire of Japan vs the ultratech Republic of Japan.
    • The Japan issue is really a subversion. Despite the New Empire's dislike of the Republic's technology, they actually get along very well with each other, and will readily rush to the other's aid. The New Empire simply feels the Republic is merely misguided, and will eventually come around (though the game itself says an eventual merging of the two is far more likely). Part of this is said to be the Japanese reverence for one's ancestors, and given that the Republic is a section of Japan that was warped hundreds of years forward in time just moments before the End of the World as We Know It, they may count in a very literal sense. The technological power the New Empire really has beef with (and rightly so) is the Otomo Shogunate, the former big player on the block before the Republic came back - and even then it's downplayed by the Shogunate readily using magic, including techno-wizardry, and hating the Republic almost as much as it does the Empire for stealing its thunder.
  • This is the entire point behind the independent Dungeons & Dragons / d20 Modern Post Cyber Punk / High Fantasy / After the End campaign setting Amethyst. Magic was the reason the world went to hell. The Bastions, isolated cyberpunk cities that consider themselves the last humans on earth, are understandably hateful of magic. Magic also causes electronics to turn to dust for no reason, which makes the conflict worse. However, magic also was what saved the world. It's complicated.
  • Completely averted by the Phaeron in the game Vor The Maelstrom. To the horror of everyone else, the Phaeron are the reigning masters of super-science and sorcery (only one other race uses both, and next to these two races all the others including the purely technological humans are about as primitive as cavemen are to us). This Magitek and Magic from Technology tandem is the reason why no single faction has been able to withstand the Phaeron by themselves.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition mini-campaign "Tale of the Comet" allows the player party to get involved in one of these as the "Magic" faction. It revolves around a dying alien race called the Rael being pushed to the brink of extinction by an Omnicidal Maniac Artificial Intelligence called the Overmind discovering the party's world... and discovering that magic is actually super-effective against the Overmind and its creations. The Rael subsequently beg the spellcasting natives of this world for their help in breaking through the Overmind's defenses and terminating it.

    Video Games 
  • This is the root of conflict between Hammerites and Pagans in the Thief series, except that both sides use magic, with the Hammerites specializing in fire magic, and the Pagans specializing in nature magic. The key difference are their goals: the Hammerites want technology to spread and see magic as a stepping stone for that, whereas the Pagans want nature to triumph over civilization and use full-power druidic magic. The Mechanists are even more technocratic in their worldview and religious teachings than the Hammerites, to the point of wanting to wipe out all organic life in the City using Necrotic Mutox, AKA Rust Gas.
  • In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, you find a record of such a war on the planet Bryyo. It had much the same effect as a nuclear holocaust— the Lords of Science were all but slaughtered, while the Primals degenerated into savagery and lost most of the magic they once had. Only then did the last Lord of Science learn to combine technology with magic like the Chozo had suggested to them and manage to stop the planet from literally falling apart. (and create one hell of a landscape) And then, thousands of years later, something else arrives...
  • The Machina War in Final Fantasy X. Both sides eventually created a superweapon of magic or technology. Only one side ever used theirs, since both Superweapons were overpowered and capable of ruining the world and only one side was losing bad enough to use theirs. Ironically, the spiritual superweapon was never intended to be a doomsday weapon in the first place. Though the technological superweapon WAS constructed as a doomsday device, it was too difficult to properly use and unlikely to win against than its spiritual counterpart either. Being able to rebuild itself even after absolute destruction as long as it's not spiritually banished gives it the edge against pure technological weapons...
  • Dragalia Lost: While the world doesn't appear to be really technologically advanced, the world is actually shown to be in Medieval Stasis because the magic side "won" the First War of Binding, which is in this case the dragons, aligned toward magic, mana, and nature, against the once technologically advanced humans, who were damaging the world with their creations. The humans unwittingly unleashed a powerful extra-dimensional being known as Morsayati, and this all ended up with the establishment of the Ilian Church to put aside all technology in favor of sticking towards religion and respect of the dragons and their role in protecting nature and mana.
  • Rise of Legends is all over this: Vinci are Steampunk European (mainly Italians), Alin are magical Arabians, and Cuotl are Mayincatec with Ancient Astronaut alien gods thrown in.
    • Note that Alin vs Vinci happens mainly in the opening cinematic; the campaign is principally Vinci vs Vinci, Alin vs Alin, Cuotl vs Cuotl, and Alin AND Vinci vs Cuotl, making it more of "Science and Magic vs Sufficiently Advanced Technology".
    • The ending, though, implies that the Alin are looking to expand Westward into the weakened Vinci principalities. The sequel, presumably, would fit this trope.
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura conflict between mages and technologists is unavoidable due to the setting's nature. The deadliest conflict between the two sides took place two thousand years ago and led to Fantastic Nukes being dropped on Vendigroth, by Arronax, consequently completely wiping out this civilization and setting back technology by hundreds of years.
    • The closest thing to an actual war known is far more recent, however. The Kingdom of Cumbria preferred magic, the Unified Kingdom led the world in technological development. They got into a war... and because the UK's technology could be used by all its recruits while Cumbria could only afford to give magic to elite troops, Cumbria lost badly. The Vendrigroth incident wasn't really a war, either. Vendrigroth had only gotten so far as designing potential precautions in case Arronax was serious about his threats when Arronax lost his temper and single-handedly wiped them out too quickly for them to counter-attack.
  • The free RTS game Glest features two opposing factions, simply called 'magic' and 'tech'. In this case, though, the 'tech' faction is the one making use of swordsmen, knights, catapults, etc, in addition to motorized zeppelins and bipedal war machines, while the 'magic' faction is almost exclusively limited to various spells and summoned monsters.
  • Total Annihilation: Kingdoms is built on this trope, but interestingly in two different ways. The vanilla game consists of two kingdoms who follow the old proscriptions against magic except in extremis (as a magical war destroyed a primordial civilization) and instead have invented gunpowder, against two other kingdoms who freely use magic.
    • The sequel, Iron Plague pits all four kingdoms against a fifth republic that has strong Steampunk technological bent and a ban on all magic beyond using it as a power source. The ending is a very awkward peace treaty signed after it is revealed that the four immortal royals' father had vanished to found the republic and chose to die naturally of old age.
  • This has happened twice in the setting of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. The first was a battle between the weapon-smithing-based Lilties and the magical yukes. The latter won, the Lilties only real defeat before their empire collapsed. Some Lilties intended to learn magic and specialize in both fields, but it was never a wide movement. A millennia or so later, it happened again. This time the Lilties were far better equipped, and the yukes were driven to near extinction, and magic banned in most areas. The Lilty technology in this case classifies partly as Magitek, due to using crystals for power, but is not considered to be magic by the population.
  • In Spellcross, here the conflict has nothing to do with worldviews and everything with a fantasy invasion of modern Earth. Orcs versus marines, tanks versus golems, booyah. It does become a aversion as your H.Q. mentions in your middle missions, humanity must learn to incorporate magic themselves as even with their improving mundane technology they simply can't keep up against the supernatural forces of the enemy who themselves are accessing human technology.
  • Mousehunt has Zugzwang's tower, where Mystic mice and Technic mice are battling each other, locked in a never-ending game of chess.
  • In The Longest Journey two parallel worlds exist: the scientific Stark and the magical Arcadia. A balance is kept so that no technology goes to Arcadia and no magic goes to Stark.
    • In the sequel the conflict between magic and science is heightened: Stark suffered a magic "invasion" disrupting its technology and starting chaos, while a new empire brimming with technology (of the steampunk variety) is bringing unrest to Arcadia.
      • Actually, the Collapse in Stark is due to magic going away. It's heavily implied that most of the advanced technology (e.g. FTL, antigravity) is impossible with pure science and was the result of magic bleeding in from Arcadia through cracks in the Barrier. Once the Barrier is restored by the new Guardian, it's back to using old tech for the people of Stark. By the same token, pure complex technology is impossible in Arcadia due to laws of nature being in flux. Thus, even Azadi technology is reinforced by magic, although you may be arrested for suggesting that.
  • Happened in the backstory to Dragon Age between the magic-using human nations and the gunpowder-armed qunari. Humanity won, but it wasn't easy, and the qunari maintain a foothold.
    • Recently the Mage-Templar war has broken out. While calling the Templars a "technology" faction isn't completely accurate, what is clear is their hatred towards magic and reliance on good old steel and shield.
      • Ironically, in some ways the mage faction seems to be more technologically advanced than the templar faction...considering that one of their members created an apparently easily portable and concealable Magitek bomb that could destroy an entire cathedral.
      • Additionally, the Templars get their resistance to magic by ingesting a magical substance called lyrium, which is also used by mages to inscribe runes and craft artifacts.
  • Immortal Souls: On one side, all manner of "shadow creatures" powered up by supernatural strength and abilities. On the other side, bog-standard-human Church Militants who make up the difference with Powered Armor and Energy Weapons.
  • In the BlazBlue universe, there is the ongoing conflict between the Novis Orbis Librarium and Sector Seven, who respectively use Magic and Technology.
    • There's also the conflict in the back-story between the Librarium and the nation of Ikaruga, which didn't use technology per se, but still was opposed to magic: the war was a Curb-Stomp Battle and Ikaruga was effectively annihilated, with only a small Racial Remnant left.
    • Also, several characters make use of technology, magic, or Magitek to fight. There's one or two who don't use either of them.
  • This seems to be one of several fronts of Final Fantasy XIV conflict. The citystates of Aldernald in Eorzea, who can access Aether and thus use magic, are in conflict with The Empire of Garlemald, whose citizens and their native soldiers cannot use magic and have thus upped their technology to compensate (with Magitek to replicate the effects of magic, as well as drafting the people of occupied area to aid their thirst for conquest). And the Eorzean Alliance takes issue with their solution of ending the Primal thread currently plaguing the realm (consisting of the genocide of the local beastmen species, in spite of their sapience and that not all of them are enthralled to the Primals anyway). The heroes also have access to their technology, but only because their actions led a leading scientist to become a Defector from Decadence, and as a result of the technology gap, its spread is limited to a few.
  • The plot of The Krion Conquest entails humanity summoning a witch to combat robot invaders that are vulnerable to magic.
  • Sundered has such a conflict in its backstory. On the one hand, the Eschaton are an underground society of Eldritch Abomination-worshipping cultists who wield sorcerous powers gifted to them by their alien gods. On the other hand, the invading Valkyries are a faction of scientists and soldiers armed with lasers, Deflector Shields, robots, and powered armour. They both lost, and the protagonist ends up exploring the ruins of their civilizations while being attacked by their remnants.
  • ELEX takes place on a world similar to present-day Earth. However, an asteroid struck the planet and caused the old nations to collapse. The asteroid brought with it the element Elex, a precious and limited resource that can power advanced machinery, give people magical powers and re-shape creatures into new and different life forms. Currently there is a war raging over control of this substance that includes the Berserkers; a group of warriors who have renounced modern technology and purify Elex into Mana to wield magic and restore life to nature on one side. Another faction in the war is the Clerics of Calaan; a heavily industrialized religious police state where consuming Elex is forbidden and is instead used to power highly advanced weapons technology including plasma weapons and mechs.
  • Disgaea: Hour of Darkness has the Earth Defense Force versus Overlord Laharl's Netherworld. The EDF is equipped with space fleets, soldiers in Powered Armor, robots, and cyborgs, while the Netherworld has monsters, magic, and the occasional firearm. Players can optionally choose to retaliate and invade Earth as an alternate ending, a scenario that plays out naturally in the story of Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten.
  • In Kirby Star Allies, Hyness, before fighting him, describes a conflict between two groups of Ancients, one which Hyness was a part of who used magic, and one who used technology. The technology users seemed to have won out and banished the magic users to the edge of the galaxy after they stopped a galactic crisis.
  • Stellaris can pit Spiritualist empires with Psionics against Materialist empires with Robotics. Armies of Jedi-esque psionic warriors against armies of killer robots and cyborg soldiers.
  • The Elder Scrolls has an Elves Versus Dwarves version of this in its backstory, where the Dwemer (Deep Elves) and Chimer (the ancestors of the Dark Elves) had been warring for centuries. The Chimer venerated the powerful Daedra and were skillful warriors, but they were few and the Dwemer had the technology to build robot armies and even Humongous Mecha, so the Chimer usually lost. Then the Nords invaded Resdayn. Despite being just an Iron age civilisation against the Dwemer's late Information age civilisation, the power of their Thu'um was decisive and the Dwemer were forced into an Enemy Mine with the Chimer to drive the invading Nords out.
  • Acknowledged in Evil West by vampire noble Peter D'Abano. The vampiric Sanguisuge are faced with eventual extinction by the growing numbers of human and their advancing technology. While the Sanguisuge are individually mighty and has inborn abilities such as Glamour (the casting of illusions), the humans have Steampunk and Tesla Tech Timeline equipment which puts them on equal footing and D'Abano correctly predicts that humans will eventually be able to invent something to break through the vampires' glamour. This is why he's looking to use emergent sciences to alter vampire evolution.
  • The central premise of The Unholy War. The space-faring Teknos invades the homeworld of the Arcane with the intent of harvesting the planet for resources.
  • Noita: You play as a sorcerer going down a cavernous mountain and using magic against your enemies. There's an enemy faction, the Hiisi, made up of strange humanoids with guns, jetpacks, and robots, who are just as aggressive towards monsters as they are towards you. And if you can translate the runes and glyphs it tells the tale of how Magic and Nature were born from the eggs of a loon, Magic wanted to give a soul to the creations of Nature (animals and substances), breaking the laws of Nature and putting both in conflict. In the last egg Technology was born, giving the creatures of Nature the ability to use devices and machines. In other words, the game is a conflict between the Monsters (representing Nature), the Noita (representing Magic) and the Hiisi (representing Technology).
  • Panzer Paladin: Demons from the Netherworld invade the Earth with their spirit-corrupting mystical weapons, hell-bent on taking it over, and humanity's hope lies in Earth's technology — an android and Humongous Mecha duo made with immunity to corruption thanks to their mechanical nature.
  • Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits: The most valuable natural resource in the setting are Spirit Stones, magic crystals which humans use to power machines and monstrous deimos use as spellcasting components. This, paired with the mutual Fantastic Racism between both races, results in members of each race attacking the other on sight.
  • Averted in Silverfall where the conflict is instead between Technology versus Nature. Both competing ideologies incorporate magic, one is a steampunk technomancy while the other is fantasy druidry. Also there's general magic (like throwing a fireball at someone) that both factions can freely use.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Downplayed example: while the announcement trailer highlighted Keves as being technologically advanced Keves where Agnus was magic-oriented, this essentially amounts to one side having blue lasers and the other side having green lasers. It's immediately made clear that there's no philosophical backing behind the war at all and both "nations" only actually exist in the form of their armies, who are forced into fighting by the Flame Clocks. Both sides use ether to fuel their equipment and employ Humongous Mecha which differ primarily in aesthetics.
  • Last Armageddon subverts this trope: while it seems at first a group of magic-using demons must defeat technology-using alien invaders, the demons are revealed to be the creations of humanity themselves.
  • The PC-98 Touhou games have a bit of this - in particular, Touhou Yumejikuu ~ Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream features two characters on opposite sides of it:
    • Rikako Asakura is one of the few inhabitants of Gensokyo who values science over magic, and gets called a heretic by Reimu for it. (Interestingly, she's actually a fairly capable magic-user, but abstains from using it due to her preference for technology.)
    • The Final Boss, Yumemi Okazaki, hails from Another Dimension where a Grand Unified Theory has been found, explaining all natural forces - and Yumemi's been laughed out of academia for daring to suggest that it doesn't explain magic. Thus, in order to prove that magic is real, she's traveled across the dimensions to Gensokyo and instigated the events of the game. (While she is of course defeated, she did succeed in emulating magic via her own tech, which is implied to be no mean feat.)

  • Played with in Errant Story. The main countries vary widely in their relative reliance on magic and technology, but are more or less at peace with each other at story time, although the characters do their best to fix that. However, when the very magical elves stray into the territory of the long-departed, but non-magical and very technological, dwarves, a More Dakka situation ensues.
  • The Court (technology and "etheric science") and Forest (magic, though no one ever calls it that) in Gunnerkrigg Court are basically in this situation. Thanks to cooperation-encouraging mediums like Annie and her mother, it's mostly a cold war at this point, but the two groups were not nearly so peaceful with each other in the past (Coyote dug out the giant ravine between the Court and the Forest in an attempt to stop the fighting).
    • The cold war escalates when Coyote is killed by his own creation, Loup, who goes on to bridge the ravine and throw small waves of troops at the border. At this point, it becomes a war between excessive progress and stagnation, as Loup has literally put the forest in stasis so he can do whatever he wants without interference from his own subjects, while the Court has been breaking ethical laws to fight back and keep the defense grid running.
  • Even if it's not the central focus of the comic, Juathuur shows this trope clearly: Sev'vil wants to use technology to effectively give magic powers to everyone (instead of only juathuur).
  • In Jupiter-Men, the Rochambeau War was an interdimensional war fought between the two most powerful factions of ex-Primari: the Magitte and the Mechi. While the Magitte possesses the unique ability to manipulate the forces of nature with magic, the Mechi developed extremely advanced technology. Both factions hate each other and consider the other abominations, and their attempts to take Prime for themselves nearly destroyed it, necessitating the creation of the Star Seed by Mother Nature to repel both factions and regulate the flow of cosmic energy.

    Web Original 
  • A centuries-old conflict between magic and technology is a major plot point in Suburban Knights. Ends up parodied, as the anti-technology crusader turns out to be a massive hypocrite.
  • The Salvation War. On one side, you have the forces of Earth using modern military weapons and tactics against the hordes of Hell and Heaven, using their powers, great strength, and pitchforks. Turns out the ability to fire lighting at will, regenerate most wounds, bench a Hummer, and run 30 kph without breaking a sweat means squat when your enemy can rain death on you before you can even see them.
  • In The Blackrock Chronicle, Rythian has took it upon himself to seek vengeance for Sjin and Duncan Jones' destruction of the old Tekkit world. Unfortunately, through his actions, he caused Duncan to place a nuke under Blackrock Stronghold in his Duncans Lab series. After Zoey Proasheck almost dies when Duncan's nuke explodes, they have formed an uneasy truce, which thus far appears to be working out.
  • Played with in TitansGrave: The Ashes of Valkana. After an undisclosed disaster wiped out the Saurian empire, a religious leader call Prophet Dhawan arose who declared that the disaster had been caused by the Saurian's foolish attempts to combine magic and technology, and only by segregating the two could the survivors prevent another such catastrophe. Thus, a war was fought between the segregationists loyal to the Prophet and the integrationists who refused to believe her dogma, which ended with the Prophet imprisoned and her armies defeated.

    Western Animation 
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, Section 13 has its agents fight magical creatures with high tech arsenal. These weapons proved to be not very effective, and as Uncle said it "Magic must defeat magic".
  • In Transformers: Beast Machines, the heroes are partially organic, mystically inclined robots trying to restore organic life to Cybertron, while the villains seek to make it a purely cold and logical world of nothing but machines. This theme was previously to a lesser extent in Beast Wars II, wherein the heroic, technorganic Maximals fought against the evil, purely technological Predacons. Robots in Disguise flipped the Beast Wars II conflict, by featuring heroic, all-robotic Autobots fighting evil, technorganic Predacons.
    • However, it's slightly subverted in that, at the end, Optimus realizes that he misinterpreted his instructions and is not supposed to make an organic world. Instead, he is expected to turn Cybertron into a technorganic paradise.
  • Averted in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. Magic users and psionics like the Queen, Mogul, and Niko freely use technology or use technology to focus it. The Circle of Thought (Niko's people) don't embrace it and consider it inferior to their mental powers, but they don't hold it against anyone for using it, either.
  • In Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends, the Banshees use nature magic while the Vampires are pro-technology, and there is a blood feud between the two races going back centuries.
  • The Equalists vs Benders conflict in The Legend of Korra has aspects of this; not everyone can use the magic of the 'verse (bending), only those born with it. However, technology can be used by anyone and is advancing rapidly. Now those non-benders who consider bending oppressive and unfair have begun to use technology to fight back. Granted, benders have bending-powered technology too, but the difference in capabilities between magitek and normal tech has, at this point, been largely diminished.
  • Played in the episode of Phineas and Ferb, "Nerds of a Feather". Phineas and Ferb head to the Tri-State Area's annual sci-fi and fantasy convention where a duel between the fantasy fans and the sci-fi geeks ensues.