Remembering those who have been lost

This post is about spells to hold and recall memories and emotions in Ars Magica. One of my characters has the Lost Love flaw, where he is haunted and deeply affected by the death of his wife. It is a difficult theme to bring into a typical quasi-fantasy roleplaying setting. It is also a theme which is challenging for groups to contend with – it is a very real emotional state which I’m sure nobody wants to trivialize. Heck I was nervous taking the flaw for the same reasons. How can a play-by-post game treat the subject respectfully? I think these factors contribute to the aspect of the character not really being played often.

When I was reading the source books looking for material for a new character a description of a spell guideline jumped out – the ability to change a memory or emotion into a physical object (Ars Magica source book Houses of Hermes: Societies, p70). This is strikingly apt for a character who is haunted by a lost loved one. Here is a way to use the game mechanics to reinforce the character’s loss in-game.

Further the section of the source book also does not have a named spell for the guideline, just the guideline itself (Muto Mentum Base 5 to alter a memory or emotion into a new form) and a reference back to a more powerful variant in the core rules. Excellent. The effect as I imagine it is similar to that of the “pensive” as presented in the Harry Potter books – a way to withdraw a memory from the target’s mind, but still allow them (and perhaps others) to view it, to experience it.

If enchanted into a device, a memory or emotional device of an event could be made quasi-permanent. The user of the spell need never miss a detail of something important and always have it ready for analysis.

Our Foremost Memories Consigned to Stone

Muto Mentum 20 / Terram, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

The target touched has a significant memory of their choosing transformed from their mind into a small stone curio. The form of the curio object will be influenced by the caster’s sigil, the memory, and the desires of the target, but may be no larger than a 1 foot cube of stone. Shape and elegance should be challenged with a Finesse roll, at SG’s discretion.

As per HoH:S p.70 the owner of the memories can recall the memory accurately in full detail by holding the curio, and others may well also be able to access the memory.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, Terram free)

As written the guideline and effect implies that the memory is no longer easy for the subject to recall (I’d argue it is removed totally). This is very useful in the idea I have in mind for my character – a Magus who removes his most harrowing memories at the start of each day so he can be productive, but who is certain that they will return at nightfall, so he can continue to honor and remember his lost love.

I chose stone as it is a strong substance and my character has a beginning score in Terram. The core spell mentioned above which turns the entire mind of the caster into a bird uses Animal; and uses it without “paying” the magnitude of an additional form – no neither did I in this spell design. The spells are sympathetically related.

And an effect to view the memories.

Our Foremost Memories Perceived

Intellego Mentum 15, R: Touch, D: Concentration, T: Individual

Allows the caster to perceive the memory which was transformed into an object. If the object was not transformed then the spell has no effect. Requisites are required at cast time for the form of the object which contains the memory.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +1 Concentration)

Then two similar effects, for emotions rather than memories. Interesting to ponder what removing doubt, fear, guilt, or love might do to a character.

Our Foremost Feelings Consigned to Stone

Muto Mentum 20 / Terram, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

The target touched has a significant emotion of their choosing transformed from their mind into a small stone curio. The form of the curio object will be influenced by the caster’s sigil, the memory, and the desires of the target, but may be no larger than a 1 foot cube of stone. Shape and elegance should be challenged with a Finesse roll, at SG’s discretion.

As per HoH:S p.70 the owner of the memories can recall the memory accurately in full detail by holding the curio, and others may well also be able to access the memory.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, Terram free)

Our Foremost Feelings Perceived

Intellego Mentum 15, R: Touch, D: Concentration, T: Individual

Allows the caster to perceive the emotion which was transformed into an object. If the object was not transformed then the spell has no effect. Requisites are required at cast time for the form of the object which contains the emotion.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +1 Concentration)

Placed into an enchanted object, the effects could be set to use the Device Maintains Concentration modifier, and a few uses, so that a large number of objects could be created and maintained by an enchanted device. The Intellego effect to view the memories or emotions would be very aptly enchanted into a scrying pool or mirror.

winters-grave

The Grim Mask

A mask which appears as the face of a human skull, which when worn alters the wearers outward appearance to suit their desire. The mask’s standard alteration is to make the wearer appear skeletal, atrophied, and garbed in a ephemeral black cloak (akin to the grim reaper). The masks creator had a dangerous predilection for macabre overstatement, and it is rumored that the mask was taken from his dessicated corpse.

Illusion of the Reaper

Muto Imagonem 5, R: Personal, D: Concentration, T: Individual

Enchanted device level 10: Form Mask (+N to ),

This effect transforms the wearer image, sound, and smell to a form they desire when activated. By default the mask will transform the wearer into a resemblance of death.

Device maintains concentration +5. Activation trigger is to swipe the mask from temple to chin with a finger.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +1 Concentration)

And then to cancel the illusion.

Void the Illusion

Perdo Vim – This effect to cancels any illusions currently active on the target.

Activation trigger is to swipe the mask from chin to temple with a finger.

(Base N, +1 Touch)

 skull-mask

Chain, Chest, Curse: Combating Book Theft in Medieval Times

typhoonandrew:

An interesting article on securing books against theft in medieval times. Chains, curses, and heavy chests all used to protect books.

Originally posted on medievalbooks:

Do you leave your e-reader or iPad on the table in Starbucks when you are called to pick up your cup of Joe? You’re probably not inclined to do this, because the object in question might be stolen. The medieval reader would nod his head approvingly, because book theft happened in his day too. In medieval times, however, the loss was much greater, given that the average price of a book – when purchased by an individual or community – was much higher. In fact, a more appropriate question would be whether you would leave the keys in the ignition of your car with the engine running when you enter Starbucks to order a coffee. Fortunately, the medieval reader had various strategies to combat book theft. Some of these appear a bit over the top to our modern eyes, while others seem not effective at all.

Chains
The least subtle but most effective way to keep your books safe…

View original 1,207 more words

Making an Object Immovable

Terram is also for generic effects, in this case two spells for making objects immovable. The Ars Magica sourcebook Transforming Mythic Europe (p125) has a section on creating motive power, even almost covering spell levels into equivalent horse power. That section uses a Base 2 for the spell effects as it is designing spells to rotate gears which can be considered slightly unnatural, however holding an object mid-air is highly natural which needs a Base 3.

For most purposes the first spell will be more than enough, as I thought the effect could be used to hold doors closed, block areas, create impromptu stairs, hold aloft torches, etc.

Object is Stubborn

Rego Terram 10, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

The object touched becomes almost immovable, and if moved will seek to return to the spot where it was initially placed. The object can be placed to float in mid air. The spell ends prematurely if the object is moved more than a pace from the position it is placed.

The object can be slowing shifted by an exceptionally strong person or many people (combined strength of greater that +5), or a stronger magical force (higher than Base 3) can move the object very slowly. The force of resistance is equivalent to one horse power. Casting requisites are required.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +2 Sun)

The a longer duration and more powerful version.

Object is Immovable

Rego Terram 20, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Individual

The object touched becomes almost immovable, and if moved will seek to return to the spot where it was initially placed. The object can be placed to float in mid air. The spell ends prematurely if the object is moved more than a pace from the position it is placed.

The object can be slowing shifted by an exceptionally strong person or many people (combined strength of greater that +50), or a stronger magical force (higher than Base 4) can move the object very slowly. The force of resistance is equivalent to ten horse power. Casting requisites are required.

(Base 3, +1 for increased strength, +1 Touch, +3 Moon)

Thoughts on relative complexity in Creo spells

A quick post to highlight an explanation of my impression of relative complexity in Creo spells in Ars Magica:

  • Standard (+0 mags) – These items have little or no complexity in function or moving parts. e.g. Mounds of matter, swords, chairs, walls, crossbows, armor. A simple hut or room. A simple pattern or symbol can be included in the item.
  • Slightly Complex (+1 mags) – a few moving parts and a few different materials in construction. e.g. a Cart with tack and harness. A simple small boat with sail and oars. A building with a few uniform rooms and floors. A full suit of armor and weapons for a warrior.
  • Moderate Complexity (+2 mags) – many features which move independently from the whole, many compartments, or sub-functions. Many different materials. e.g. ocean going ships. A moderate sized building with multiple rooms, hallways, walk ways including doors and some features.
  • Highly Complex (+3 mags) – Fully formed towers will inconsistent internal structures, with as many complex features as desired. Complex machinery. This is about as complex as a spell can get. e.g. Conjuring the Mystic Tower.

I raise this as many Creo effecs in the game add a “complexity modifier”, and it seems to be used more and more as a punitive measure to make creating things harder.

Very short range teleportation effect

A rework of the Wizard’s Leap, down to the lowest guideline of teleportation; of 5 paces. As a level 10 spell it is learnable by almost every Wizard, and certainly low enough to be spontaneously cast by mid-powered magi. A useful spell to keep in mind.

Why? Well that is certainly enough distance to get out of a smallish fight. It’s absolutely not a substitute for travel but might get the magus over a tough obstacle like a wall or past a gate. I’d advise mastering it if it’s going to be used frequently, or needs to be fast cast; just remember that teleportation errors could be nasty. 

And for occasions where the caster can see their destination, such as behind a door, there is always simple Perdo Imagonem or Intellego effects to grant the information. 

Wizard’s Step

ReCo 10, R: Personal, D: Momentary, T: Ind.

The caster instantly transports himself up to 5 paces away. The destination must be visible to the caster.

(Base: 10)

Conjure a few more Boats

In a spells post recently there were two spells for acquiring a boat. In that post I mentioned creating larger vessels. As a post here with those spells, and also a short discussion of the complexity in Creo effects and the difference in spell level for permanent vs non-permanent effects.

There is also no reason why the same spells below can’t be reworked for any wooden crafted item, such as buildings, carts, etc. Ships are simple in terms of being discrete things, but a variation could conjure almost anything.

Conjure the Merchant’s Dream

Creo Herbam / Terram 50, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Ind

This spell temporarily creates a moderate sized wooden boat, one or two sails, oars, and running gear suitable for twenty travelers and their gear, and requiring a crew of four to operate properly. The ship will have a modest cargo hold and a few small cabins. The ships draft is designed to allow it to sit high on the water, so it may use rivers as well as oceans for travel. The spell requires a finesse check to determine the quality of the boat.

(Base 3, +2 treated and processed Herbam materials, +1 Touch, +3 Moon, +2 increased target size for a moderate boat, +2 complexity, +1 Terram)

The spell would certainly be lower level if placed into an item so that the item could maintain concentration. It also may be better for a Rego Vim spell to be cast to maintain concentration, and reduce the spell level down by 10 levels (+3 Moon becomes +1 Concentration, altering the level downward to CrHe/Te 40). Sure, that adds a requirement on a second high level spell, but it also saves the spell bordering on a ritual.

There is a larger ship, designed as a proper ritual.

Conjuration of the Dawn Treader

Creo Herbam / Terram 40, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Ind, Ritual

This spell permanently creates a large wooden boat, multiple sails, oars, and running gear suitable for fifty travelers and their gear, and requiring a crew of nine to operate properly. The ship will have a sizable cargo hold, multiple decks and internal cabins for crew and guests. The ship is not suitable for travel on small rivers, but may use larger ones. The spell requires a finesse check to determine the quality of the boat.

(Base 3, +2 treated and processed Herbam materials, +1 Touch, +3 increased target size for a large boat, +2 complexity, +1 Terram)

Interesting that the larger ship is a lower level spell due to the magnitudes of increased Duration in the temporary version, although the lower is a ritual so requires vis.

merchant_ship

Conjuration of the Titan’s Barge of War

Creo Herbam / Terram 45, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Ind, Ritual

This spell conjures a permanent monumentally large ship, suitable for transporting incredible amounts of cargo or acting as a vehicle for war. The ship created is clearly unnatural and fearsome as no ship in history would be even close to this size.

The ship is outfitted for war, and contains defensive structures, armaments mounted along the hull, and also a large ram. It is designed with multiple sails, oars, and running gear suitable for its size, and smaller boats to use for short commutes.

Due to how large the ship is a crew will have to learn over many weeks to operate this ship properly. The ship’s draft is so deep than it cannot be docked in most ports. The spell requires a finesse check to determine the quality of the boat.

(Base 3, +2 treated and processed Herbam materials, +1 Touch, +4 increased target size for a large boat, +2 complexity, +1 Terram)

It is worth mentioning that an official Ars Magica product Hermetic Projects already has a ritual spell for conjuring a full ship, although it uses a Target of Structure in the book, which has then been errata’ed to Target: Individual. It also used a +3 complexity modifier which seems incredulously exorbitant. The reason (I think) such a high modifier was chosen was to reflect the “build” process of crafting a ship identically to a real ship. If the ritual forgoes the idea that the ship is perfectly constructed to manual methodology, then it can take simplifications in design and form, which in turn reduce the complexity of the spell. A +3 complexity modifier should be saved for spells like Conjuring the Mystic Tower, thus the spells here have been designed with a +2 complexity modifier (see a summary of complexity below).

Remember too that the spell has already “paid” for the spell to construct a treated and finished herbam product in the cost breakdown. That payment should already include the complexity of conjuring finished items instead of raw plants. The degree of complexity beyond this should be for items which have increasing ornate detail, many moving parts, stress points, and other plainly obvious or beautiful features which take significant thought and planning.

An explanation of my thoughts on relative complexity:

  • Standard (+0 mags) – These items have little or no complexity in function or moving parts. e.g. Mounds of matter, swords, chairs, walls.
  • Slightly Complex (+1 mags) – a few moving parts, and a few different materials. e.g. a Cart with tack and harness. A simple small boat. A building with a few uniform rooms and floors.
  • Moderate Complexity (+2 mags) – many features which move independently from the whole, many compartments, or sub-functions. Many different materials. e.g. ocean going ships. A moderate sized building with multiple rooms, hallways, walk ways including doors and some features.
  • Highly Complex (+3 mags) – Fully formed towers will inconsistent internal structures, with as many complex features as desired. Complex machinery. This is about as complex as a spell can get. e.g. Conjuring the Mystic Tower.

roman_warship_by_radojavor-d55uf49