In this world, everyone has magic, but differing levels of ability. The average person (AKA couch potato) can do barely anything with magic; lighting a candle, tiny static shocks, or lifting a pencil through telekinesis are all possible, but nothing bigger than that. However, other mages are more powerful than others because of a property called Impact.

Impact determines how powerful one's mana is; someone with high Impact can use less mana to have the same effect as everyone else or put as much mana into the spell as a regular-Impact individual to have a greater effect. If this doesn't make sense, let's use the fireball spell: a mage staple.

A high-Impact individual's mana is more efficient than a regular person's, so they can expend 1/3 the mana cost of an average person and still get the same result. If they were to put that extra 2/3s of mana into their fireball, the result would be a much stronger fireball. Essentially, high Impact allows you to do more with less.

Now, Impact is not set in stone from birth, it's determined by physical fitness (which one can improve) and force of personality (not so sure you can improve that; if you can, please let me know). Since anyone can improve their Impact by taking better care of their bodies, my question is: Will my society be highly invested in physical fitness?

Things to consider:

  1. If everyone can increase the efficiency of their mana by reaching and maintaining a high level of fitness, the result should be an extremely fit and healthy society. In this world, magic may not be helpful when it comes to getting a pencil when you can just walk over and grab one, but in many areas magic is ore helpful than natural methods (moving large rocks, correcting bad drywall, so on and so forth). The idea is "magic makes life easier, except when it comes to the little things."
  2. Assume an alternate version of our modern world here, identical but with everyone having magic. Yes, I know that's implausible, and that magic would have affected culture if it was introduced early on. In this case, it's a relatively new phenomenon, but about everyone's used to it now (like cellphones). Tech level is identical to America.
  3. When strength increases, Impact increases, but only to a certain extent. Some mages may then turn to steroids or take up bodybuilding to gain a slight edge over the competition-or all mages will do so. I'm not sure how willing people will be to take advantage of this, however.
  4. Less physical fitness means lower Impact. This means developing (or in other words, third-world) countries will be more vulnerable to attack, due to the malnutrition such areas suffer from.

As always, I appreciate your input and feedback. Thank you!

  • $\begingroup$ Our world rewards the physically fit but we don't build society around it, and you haven't given any reason to suspect your world is different in that regard. $\endgroup$ – rek Jan 22 at 0:55
  • $\begingroup$ @rek, my thinking is thus: "If everyone can increase the efficiency of their mana by reaching and maintaining a high level of fitness, the result should be an extremely fit and healthy society. Who in their right mind would pass up the chance to make their magic more powerful when doing so gives the more athletically inclined an edge over them?" $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Jan 22 at 1:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The ability to walk up a flight of stairs without having to stop and rest for a minute is more valuable to most people than the ability to light a candle or levitate a pencil case, yet there are lots of people who find this to be a challenge. Also, you have not specified the tech level of the society. $\endgroup$ – KerrAvon2055 Jan 22 at 1:10
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, @KerrAvon2055, I will add the tech level. You make a good point as well. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Jan 22 at 1:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Come to think of it, people who do physical labor for a living would have high fitness and therefore impact. It might therefore even be considered a symbol of wealth and status to have the lowest impact possible, much like having tanned skin was once considered a mark of the working classes who had to work outside all day and pale skin was a privilege of the wealthy; see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_tanning#Cultural_history for a starting point. $\endgroup$ – GrumpyYoungMan Jan 22 at 2:23

It Depends:

This answer assumes a first-world country. Lack of existing tech in nations without extensive infrastructure might make magic the new thing like cell phones displacing construction of conventional phones.

Like most questions involving how people think, there are a lot of variables that go into this. 90% of people won't need to be able to throw fireballs. In fact, being able to suddenly and freely kill lots of people will be highly disruptive to society.

If everyone CAN do all these things, the most out-of-shape apathetic couch potato can do all these things - IF they are willing to pay the price. If you already have a society with modern technology, then there is no personal compelling interest to be terribly fit. You aren't going to starve, and while you may not be able to drop the biggest fireball, you can do it. Lots of jobs will require no magical skill at all - software engineers don't need to type telekinetically, and tractors will still probably plow fields better than spells.

I DO suspect there will be specialty jobs that will require people to be able to blast out wattage all day. These will be jobs akin to construction or military service - ones where raw power is more important than subtlety. In these fields, there may be a motive to be really buff. Armies may even require extreme fitness regimens and compulsory drug doping to maximize effectiveness. But even here, a dozen regular guys with minimal training and effort can outcompete all but the most highly trained professionals. After all, they can ALL do it.

So overall, I doubt people would feel any more motivated to be fit than they do today. Magic might even make people lazier, since they can do it with magic instead of strength.

  • $\begingroup$ That's a good point; I really need to nerf the average magic-wielder. I'll change that now. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Jan 22 at 3:17

Nope. Not necessarily

Some people are lazy or simply not motivated

People in our world has tons of chances to improve themselves. But not everyone uses those chances. Working harder, exercising etc. can all benefit a human being in our world but not everyone has the willpower to stand the process.

Some people are genetically better

Some people simply has better genes. They get fit easier and digest better. And some people has worse genes. Which makes them more prone to diseases. These people has a disadventage compared to people with better genes.

I do not think it would be any different then what we are now. A lazy human won't excersize to be able to turn a switch etc. He would just still be lazy.


I'd say no. Physical fitness as pretty obvious benefits in our society. More fit people can perform physical tasks that others cannot. Things from the obvious winning boxing matches down to ordinary mundane things like being more able to move furniture in your house. More fit people tend to live longer, which I would think would be a strong incentive. More fit people tend to be more attractive to the opposite sex. Etc.

And yet, despite all that, there are plenty of people in our society who are not very physically fit. Hey, I'm one of them. Why don't I go to the gym and work out every day to get some of those advantages I just mentioned? Mostly because I think exercise is boring. I'd rather be playing a game or posting on Stackexchange or taking a nap than exercising. People have other things they enjoy doing more. Or they prefer just lying around doing nothing.

A lot of why we're not fit is that we eat too much. To many people, the pleasure they get from being thin and fit is not as great as the pleasure they get from eating. I heard a fashion model once say that she stayed thin because, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." Good for her ... but if I thought that way, I'd weigh at least 20 pounds less than I do.

So in your hypothetical society, there would be one more reason to be physically fit. I presume that would be an incentive for some, and so the overall level of fitness would be higher. But how much higher? I'd guess not much. I suppose it would depend on just how useful these magical abilities are. Being able to levitate a pencil would be handy, no doubt, but it's not that much trouble to walk across a room to pick one up when I need it. Etc. What level of magical abilities could the average person really hope to achieve? Like, maybe if when I was 15 I had dedicated myself to practicing basketball every day for 4 hours a day, I could have become a professional basketball player and made millions of dollars. But probably not. If the prospect of winning the guy or girl of your dreams is not enough, and the prospect of living longer and staying healthy is not enough, I don't one more advantage would make that big a difference.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.