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This question is a follow-up to Increasing Impact: Fitter Society? and focuses on a property called Dexterity, which determines the focus and precision of spells and rituals. High Impact individuals are like hammers, High Dexterity individuals are like scalpels.

The higher one's Dexterity is, the harder it is to interrupt or interfere with the casting of their spells and the performing of their rituals. Regular people can, once in shape, shoot fireballs regularly, but those with high Dexterity can fire a bolt of flame that exerts force on impact and may penetrate the target instead.

Like Impact, Dexterity is not set in stone from birth; it's determined by physical agility and organization, both of which can be increased with effort. Since organization is so useful in the professional world, and it's practically impossible to succeed without it, would Dexterity prompt my society to be more organized?

Things to Consider:

  1. 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.
  2. 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."
  3. The more clumsy and/or disorganized someone is, the lower Dexterity they have and the less efficient their spells are. Thus, everyone has incentive to work on their dexterity, since if you want to use magic to make otherwise difficult tasks (like drywalling or getting gum off your clothes) a breeze, it's best to have at least mid-level Dexterity, otherwise there are chances of accidents.....
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    $\begingroup$ "if you want to use magic to make otherwise difficult tasks (like drywalling or getting gum off your clothes) a breeze" I don't know about the inhabitants of your world but IRL I'd pay people to make otherwise difficult tasks for me. Or ask some friends for help (then pay them in beer or equivalent). I don't have to be good at a task myself in order to finish it. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Jan 22 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ That's a good point, but doing it magically would be better for your wallet, and I'm pretty sure most people will want to save as much money as they can. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Jan 22 at 20:20
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    $\begingroup$ And yet plumbers still exist. People can do the same job themselves and save up the money. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Jan 22 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ An even better point. You know what, I just realized what's causing the confusion with my last two magic-related questions. My idea is that magic is an easier way of doing things in general than science, akin to Harry Potter, and I haven't made that clear. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Jan 22 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ Downvoted, simply because the use of a perfectly good word, with an established meaning, for an utterly different concept. Nice concept, but please make up your own word for it, or use an obscure real word, not something that everyone knows to have a different meaning. $\endgroup$ – PcMan Jan 23 at 7:14
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More efficient but less organised.

Organisation is the process of making it more efficient to do a task in the future. I'm presorting now so that future tasks are more efficient, gambling that there is a net gain. For example:

  • I may sort my dirty clothes into whites and coloured every time I strip so that when it's time to do the washing, I don't need to do the sort then.
  • I may sort the backorders for my online store by the supplier we're waiting on, so when a delivery arrives I can find all the backorders that may be resolved at once.
  • That 3D computer game your playing has had some very complex maths to divide the geometry making up the world into manageable chunks and precalculate what can be seen from where, so that when your playing, it can decide what to draw faster.

These have a counter argument that they're less efficient even in a non-magic world:

  • some people find it faster to sort in bulk than one at a time. In that case, keeping two piles uses valuable bedroom realestate.
  • when a customer calls and asks for their order to be cancelled, I need to do a lookup by name, which involves searching multiple places.
  • After a few years; Some newer graphics cards could render the entire world in one draw instruction at real time frame rates anyway. The presorting becomes a waste of time (and takes up more space in the game binary).

If you introduce high dexterity into the world, people become accurate at doing complex, precision tasks. I would argue that with high dexterity, someone can complete a complex task with high accuracy even as the amount of pre-sorting work becomes less, such that:

  • a rapid bulk sort of colours/whites could be accomplished much faster, 2 hands at once, and it would look like a blur.
  • flicking through a pile of papers to find the right one would look like flip-book-animation. Keep them all in one unordered pile. Customer cancels? "Flii---ii---iii--pppp-that one.". Package arrives? "Fli---ii----iii---ppp these 6".
  • Or with the 3D graphics example - if you make the computer really fast, you don't need to presort and divide the world into chunks to get any speed up.

Why would one bother with the presorting stage if high dexterity means the final task is fast regardless?

I'd argue that the world will become marginally less organised as dexterity increases, as the payoff for organisation is lower.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thinking back, I have to thank you: I never thought of someone drawing upon their magic to increase their natural traits, and you made some good points. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Jan 25 at 14:14
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I began writing this before I saw @Ash's answer; I apologize for the overlap.

At first, I found it difficult to imagine Dexterity having anything to do with Organization. In my personal experience, I've observed that disorganized people just don't find the present time or present space very interesting. They can have far reaching, creative visions about the future however, as well as rich hypothetical past chains of events—and I would even say they are in a way more dextrous because they prefer not to commit to ideas (which pluck them out of the hypothetical and put them in the "present") and can flexibly switch foundations as needed.

So, I wondered, what dimensions akin to Impact and Dexterity would I associate with Organization? Definitely keeping in mind that you may not want to add a third dimension, but it helps me to go down this route anyway. I imagined words like: Steadfastness, Resolve, Honor, Loyalty, Guardian, Defense.

But okay, suppose it's not practical to add a third dimension. Then it's a little tougher, but I can think of 2 ways.

  1. Refocusing what Dexterity means in your world. You can continue to call it Dexterity, but in your storytelling keep reinforcing it with the notion of deftness (edit: ha, exactly like @Ash's "efficiency") and similar. I think doing so would nudge your readers / participants to think of the word Dexterity in the acting context that you yourself seem to imagine, rather than the thinking context where some would find Organization a questionable effect.

  2. Refocusing what is important to Organize in your world. The other direction would be to emphasize domains where Dexterity does help Organization, while shying away from contexts where that isn't so clear cut, thereby, just as above, forging the arc of meaning you desire. For example, shying away from mundane office desk jobs where dextrous minds typically aren't likely to succeed, and instead talking about, say, an on-site director of the construction of a makeshift emergency tunnel: requirements are constantly changing, there are so many unknowns, yet this person is deftly recalculating supply and demand, reassigning human resources, and making it happen!

In summary, going by (popular) type theories but also my personal experiences, Dexterity isn't a word that evokes Organization in my mind. But you absolutely can convince your audience using compelling examples. You only need the audience to believe in the portion of your world that matters to your story.

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  • $\begingroup$ Great job, thank you! Yes, Dexterity means magical deftness, and there's more than one dimension to begin with, I'm just covering them individually, one at a time. The next one will be Agility. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Jan 24 at 0:34

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