Borrowing a Talisman in Ars Magica

This is a quick aside to point out a clever idea that came up on the ArsMagica forums this week, apparently an old one, but new to me. In Ars Magica a Talisman is a very powerful magical device which allows it’s owner to extend beyond the normal limits of enchanted device creation, and grants special powers within the game.

Generally speaking a Talisman is something that a wizard will never want to fall into the wrong hands, but after they die I’d kind of assumed that the talismans were useless because of mistakenly thinking they were usable by the creator only. This is not at all the case, and as such others can inherit and use the talismans (forum discussion). The powers might be usable, but the bonuses to rolls which talismans also grant cannot be, unless a tricky magical effect is also used; as designed by Doctor Comics. Smart chap.

Doctorcomics wrote:

The effect Jonathan’s character was given was, as I recall, a Creo Vim effect which created a “magical shell” around him. The talisman perceived this magical shell as the talisman’s owner.

The Writ of Nestor

Most of the Wand’s powers (everything except for Ball of Abyssal Flame and Eyes of the Cat) were designed to take advantage of the rules for Talismans; these powers are Personal Range and originally worked on both the Wand and Nestor himself, the Wand’s creator. Subsequent wielders of the Wand can activate these powers, but because the Wand is not their Talisman, these Personal Range powers do not work on them, only on the Wand.

To remedy this problem, not only for the Wand but for other Talismans which have been preserved after the death of their creators, House Tremere relies on Talismanic Writs. A Talismanic Writ is a single-use charged item, traditionally a scroll emblazoned with the name of an archmagus. When it is read, the Writ creates a magical shell around the user which makes him appear to be, for the purposes of a Talisman, the named archmagus. A Writ only works for effects in the Talisman with a level equal to or less than the Writ’s level. Talismanic Writs typically have Duration Moon (+3 levels). A Writ of Nestor is 15th Magnitude.

Darn cool idea. A spell which makes the device think the wielder is it’s original creator, thereby unlocking all the powers. I’d probably rule that would need to be a discovery of some sort, but would certainly allow it.

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