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This is a question in a series; it was preceded by Impact of Dexterity: More Organized Society and Increasing Impact: Fitter Society?. Impact determines the power of one's magic, Dexterity determines the focus and precision of spells, and Agility determines the speed of casting and mana regeneration.

In turn, Agility is determined by energy levels, processing speed, and reflexes. People with high Agility have one or a mix of the following traits: energetic nature, high processing speed (quick thinking), and razor-sharp reflexes. People with low Agility have reverse traits (low energy, slow thinking, dull reflexes).

Each of the previous questions have assumed people will try to improve their stats; my reasoning is

  1. The military, law enforcement, and criminals will often use magic
  2. Everyone has magic, so everyone can create magical protections; Agility is therefore useful for bypassing barriers (or stopping a bypass attempt), successful surprise attacks (hitting the opponent before they wise up and shield themselves), hitting the enemy before they hit you, and fixing your shield before you get hit.

My question is: How Would Agility Affect Society? Specifically, is my reasoning correct (people would try to improve their Agility) and if so, how would people increase their Agility?

If the question needs narrowing or clarification, please let me know. Please remember that Agility is determined by energy, processing speed, and reflexes, so working on any of these will increase one's Agility. As always, I appreciate your input and feedback.

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  • $\begingroup$ Agility wouldn't be just good for defense. putting up defenses before the spell hits is nice but, putting up an attack spell faster than someone can create a barrier is better. Protection and Assassination would be the opposing sides of the spectrum on this one I think. $\endgroup$
    – IT Alex
    Jan 25 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting idea, IT Alex. I see your point; an arms race would likely form, incentivizing Agility development. Those focusing on Assassination would likely go for Dexterity (for lethal precision) while Protectors would focus on Impact (to keep attacks from getting through). $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 25 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ Are all magicians just wild west gunslingers? Being "faster to cast" only matters if you're duelling somebody at high noon or equivalent. An actual assassin wouldn't really give the target the opportunity to retaliate. That's how our world works. I doubt magic will change this much. Conversely, trying to protect from being killed is rarely a matter left for the time you are being killed. Preparation comes before that. In magical terms, you'd likely try to prepare protections in advance instead of trying to very quickly cast a spell on the fly. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Jan 26 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ VLAZ, as always you've made a good point. In the case of an assassin, most people don't stand a chance. However, in a situation where you are attacked out of nowhere (read: taken by surprise), or when your protections need fixing, you need good Agility to survive. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 26 at 14:08
  • $\begingroup$ You know, Sanderson already covered all of this in his Mistborn series. Atium makes one think and react extremely quickly (as well as see the immediate future), and in the second Mistborn trilogy one of the characters is able to slow time around him (ie quicken himself to an extreme degree, both mentally and physically). Another is able to do the opposite, something usually regarded as useless until it's not. You should read his books if you're interested in this, he created an entire society around these powers! $\endgroup$
    – Blindy
    Jan 27 at 19:34
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Quick Thinking

In general, your thinking speed can be improved by training. In your particular world, for example, casting spells competitively or forcing your brain to think tactically(not strategically) by playing games or solving math problems, for example, could be a reliable way to sharpen your brain and get it used to thinking quick. Some people are naturally going to be better at that than others, but save for the rarest of cases, sheer effort usually trumps sheer natural talent.

Energy Level

Mostly by changing your diet and your lifestyle, you can become more or less energetic. I've recently stopped eating sugar, and, on top of losing almost 40 pounds, I also find that I can get through the day with a lot more disposition to do stuff that needs doing in general, instead of just when I eat. On this note, however, sugar does make you more energetic for a while, so it could be a viable tactic to ingest a big quantity of sugar to temporarily greatly improve your agility. The cost of this, however, is that when you experience the sugar crash, your agility would be severely hampered for a couple of hours. In a life or death scenario, maybe it's worth it, who knows?

Reflexes

Reflexes are involuntary, instant movements, such as retracting your hand without thinking when you touch something hot, or when the doctor taps your knee and your leg moves, that are "hard-coded" into your muscles and are not processed by the brain at all. Thus (Or at least as far as I am aware) there is no general training that improves all of your reflexes at the same time. What can be improved with training, however, and what I suspect you meant in the first place, is reaction time. There are several ways to improve reaction time, such as:

  • Repeating the same motion over and over(The motion you want to get better at): This builds muscular memory, which is (sort of) an user-generated reflex. Your muscles get used to performing a certain set of motions in a certain order, and after a while, instead of having to give each mental command to your hands with intent, just giving the first one in the chain is enough to trigger all the other ones. This training is only good for the thing you're training and may even be detrimental to other motions - just ask any musician that made a mistake when playing because their fingers moved sort of automatically, but to the wrong chord. Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes permanent.
  • Not drinking alcohol: On top of hampering your decision-making skills, alcohol has been shown to severely increase your reaction time. Don't chug and cast, kids
  • Ingesting water frequently: Even a few hours without water can cause a significant increase in reaction time, too.. Remember: Every good mage is a water mage
  • Runnning on uneven ground: This might sound weird, but running on uneven ground forces your brain and body to adapt to all sorts of stimuli, quite literally, on the run, so your reaction time, especially related to movement, increases. If you want to live thinking on your feet, you better make sure that your feet are good at thinking, no?
  • Being phyisically fit in general: As with everything related to your body, having a healthier body leads to more efficient processess. Here's a piece of wisdom: You'll never cast a spell in 1 second if you can't run for 90

I think that's about it. You might find that of the 3 things you've described this far, this one is the hardest to improve. You could even make this one be the thing that sets the mages that are simply competent from the ones that are truly masters of their craft. Hope this helps!

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    $\begingroup$ Hope this helps? Are you kidding? This is AMAZING, thank you so much! Agility won't be the only thing that sets truly good Mages apart, however; Wisdom and Will will be just as important. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 27 at 1:42

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