Stat Boosting Rituals, Part 7 (Improving Items)

Continuing from Stat Boosting Rituals, Part 6, … to discuss making physical items better. It is something very left of center, and is based upon the idea that an item can be made closer to its ideal perfect form.

Considering that repeatedly cast powerful rituals can change the stats of a person, it stands to reason that other objects can also be improved in the same manner. Animals are an obvious extension of the Corpus and Mentem guidelines, so why not also objects?

Each type of object needs a separate ritual, as its generally bad spell design in the Ars setting to try to affect many very different types of objects with the same Creo-ish effect.

A reason why this type of transformation has probably been avoided is the Vis cost vs the silver pound cost to buy high quality items. High quality items can be commissioned with silver, and casting any ritual is expensive in vis, and Magi tend to save it for serious matters.

Ars Magica’s City & Guild source-book (p.70) has rules for the quality of items: Shoddy, Standard, Superior, Excellent, and then Wondrous.

Reviewing those rules gives two advances for an item beyond Standard craftsmanship, without becoming Wondrous. I’m excluding Wondrous items as they are akin to enchanted devices and are designed as one of a kind items for specific people. It is reasonable to state that they are beyond the capability of a ritual to improve a normal item into. Wondrous items are also very rare in actual play I’ve seen.

An aside – the City & Guide book also stipulates that magically enchanted items must be of Superior quality, else they suffer penalties to the lab total (see the inset box p.70). A rule that I’ve not seen often enforced, often hand-waved. That means troupes will need to decide if a typical magical device is Standard or Superior, especially if casting this style ritual after the item has been acquired and enchanted.

The difficult choice is to assign a baseline for objects. For living creatures the base starts from level 30 to make an attribute average (meaning +0), and scales per magnitude beyond. Lacking a better argument, that’s the method for items too.

New suggested Creo spell guidelines, with Forms appropriate to the item to be improved:

  • Base 30, to improve a crafted item from quality Shoddy to Standard.
  • Base 35, to improve a crafted item one quality level, up to Superior.
  • Base 40, to improve a crafted item one quality level, up to Excellent.

Practically the base 30 is a waste, and the base 35 might be useful to cast with a circle target on all items (such as weapons, as a level 40 final spell effect) in the covenant armory. Conversely if the ritual is invented using Target Circle then there is no reason to not cast it on every item available.

The Perfect Sword

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

The targeted swords are improved in quality by one category, to a limit of Excellent. Any type of sword may be affected by the ritual, and the requisite allows for any non-Terram based components to be improved.

(Base 40, +1 Touch, +0 Momentary, +0 Circle, Ritual)

Practically if a Magus was enhancing their prized sword from Superior to Excellent, and also upgraded a selection of other weapons by spending 9 pawns of vis – I’d allow that. It’s a fairly high expense compared to the game mechanic gain.

The same effect could be reworked for any item such tools, armor, books (which opens a Pandora’s Box of rules from the Covenants source-book on quality), to gain the positive skill and combat bonuses which Superior and Excellent items bring.

A meta-game consideration I’m pondering is what happens when the item is made “better” using these rituals and it is already enchanted. Superficially I think it shouldn’t matter – as it is the same item after the spell is cast. My reasoning is that a person can have active enchantments in a familiar bond or a longevity ritual and still be improved by magic. The same applies here.

Another consideration is the use of Finesse for conjuring items using Creo. A troupe will need to decide if Finesse rolls are needed, and I’d suggest that they can be hand waved due to the high base level used in the spell; especially when compared to crafting an item with Rego magic, which certainly do need Finesse.

Then lastly while the ArsMagica rules are being broken by this there is the consideration that the rituals might also “pay” for complexity to affect metals, gems, or other steps in materials magnitude. I’m ignoring that complexity, as it places the ritual level far beyond reason. If it were required I’d alter the base level down from 30 to 20 to account for another baseline at 15 which repairs all damage to an item (from Magi of Hermes source-book). If the base then starts from 20, then a metal item is improved by a level 30 ritual anyway due to the +2 mag cost for targeting/creating metals.

See my Ars Magica grimoire for hundreds of other new spells.

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