A story in an Ars Magica game I’m playing in has a toy maker who crafts animated dolls inspired from Geppetto and Pinocchio. I couldn’t find a nice matching Faerie power in the books so decided to borrow from the Animae Magic rules (from HoH:MC p.92-95) which are very close to what I had in mind. Writing this up means it might break all sorts of rules but it will do it consistently which I think is important, especially if the characters need to interact with the toys themselves.
Animae Magic creates a faerie from normal materials, and that faerie is then unleashed upon the world. The toy maker NPC is not meant to be able to create complex intelligence and life with his creations (which is something that Animae magic can actually do!) so this power is designed to be a less powerful version of that major virtue.
Greater Power: Animate Toy (+3 Supernatural Fae)
Geppetto, by Bill Willingham (Vertigo Comics)
The targeted toy is granted simplistic animation and behaviour which must reflect its form and purpose. Toys are often playful, and can never be imbued with complex intelligence. Animals are playful, humanoids mimic a narrow set of acts, such as a fighting knight, a travelling messenger, a hunting dog, a singing bird. The toys may defend themselves, or even attack others if they are crafted with that intent.
This power must be used upon a physical toy which has been primarily crafted by the caster, must be of high quality, and must be made up of materials primarily suited to the Form of the base guideline used. When the animation ends the toys are still high quality and fully functional as toys, and are suitable for re-enchantment.
The enchantment duration of the animation is non-standard, designed so that the duration starts from the toy being triggered by unwrapping or being unboxed, and ends according to the effect design. This supports the toys being used as gifts.
Animated toys have a Might score equal to the extra power used in the enchantment, as noted in each effect design. Base cost to use this power is equal to one fifth the final enchantment level calculated as (MuHe Base 4, +n for Might Power, +1 Touch, with Duration variable to the toy maker’s desires) rounded down.
(Animae Guideline: Muto Herbam base 4 to alter a wooden item into a Faerie).
Playful Pup (MuHe21) (base 4, +1 Touch, +3 Moon, +1 level for Might: 1) This effect animates a small toy puppy to behave as a playful, happy, and highly obedient young dog. Cost: 2 might to cast.
Carnival of Delights (MuHe25) (base 4, +1 Touch, +2 Ring, +0 Circle, +1 complexity, +5 levels for Might: 5 each) This effect animates all the toys within an arena to dance, skip, and play like their shapes. Cost: 5 might to cast.
Child of the Carnival (MuHe31) (base 4, +1 Touch, +5 Until, +1 levels for Might: 1) This effect animates a child sized doll to flutter about playing and dancing. The D: Until is used here to dictate “until the toy leaves the marketplace”, so that the toy will provide entertainment to the caster. Cost: 6 might to cast.
Wooden Shield Grog (MuHe40) (base 4, +1 Touch, +5 Until, +1 levels for Might: 1, +9 for +18 Pen) This effect animates a 5 feet tall wooden soldier to guard the owner and defend them from harm. The D: Until is used here to dictate “the owner arrives back home safely”, so that the toy will protect somebody on a long journey. however different soldiers could have different Until conditions. Cost: 8 might to cast.
These example powers roughly present descriptions which could be from the Faerie Supernatural Virtue: Animae Magic.
The Animate Toy power is more limited in scope than the Animae supernatural virtue as the item must be first crafted, and the animation must match the purpose. However the ability to hold the duration from starting is very non-hermetic and quite powerful, and would typically need to be designed as an additional power involving Rego Vim magic. The intent is to create a power which thematically reflects the gifts which would be created by a faerie toy maker – therefore this is a very deliberate break from Ars Magica guidelines for the sake of a faerie story.