Discussing a portable floating laboratory

A laboratory is a fundamental tool for every Magus in Ars Magica. As such there are variations and rules in abundance for how to detail and personalise a lab (Covenants source book, p 106). Just to be slightly odd I thought detailing a few aspects of a floating lab might be interesting. Typically to find a structure for a lab isn’t difficult but finding something which is suitable as a portable and floating lab is harder, it’s either constructed purposefully by understanding mundane craftsman or conjured.

If constructed the sourcing becomes a challenge only in resolving how the building is designed for flight. The Magus comes to acquire the stonemasons, labourers, and materials of the build in context of their covenant resources.

If conjured the sourcing probably requires a bespoke spell for the shape and size required, so it adds seasons of work or vis to be spent if another Magus is supplying the solution. It does however grant the owner exacting design choices and options which would be very difficult for mundane craftsmen to complete.

Rather than a conjured room or tower which is then enchanted, I suggest taking a lead from the floating castle in Legends of Hermes (p.121), by using a massive sheet of stone as the base with a Rego Terram effect, say one pace thick by 30 paces across. That requires a constant lesser enchantment as ReTe28. This allows the stone sheet to move at the speed of a running horse. Then if it is commanded in the same way as The Flying Castle of Thomae then another constant lesser device of CrIg9 is needed to send the colored light as control commands.

A 30 pace wide disk is far more than large enough for a single lab and likely could hold a small tower, or many ancillary buildings too. The disk itself will have the same abilities and failings as listed for the flying castle. It’s plausible to have the disc far smaller than 30 x 1 paces to make a smaller block, especially if the next task is adding a multi-story building. It could be about 15 paces wide and still hold a huge lab, and reducing the blocks diameter makes it easier to fit into a lab for enchantment (note though the Ars rules allow for an outdoor lab, so it’s plausible to create a place to enchant this easily). Perhaps a block roughly 15×2 paces is better as it makes for an incredibly sturdy base.

That said, a special spell might appeal for the creation – particularly if that spell also allows the lab to have a hermetically powerful shape. There is also the option to conjure both the disk and the building to rest upon it in one solid structure.

Slab of Stone

Creo Terram 20, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual, Ritual

Conjures a solid stone disk 30 paces wide by 2 paces deep which is perfectly flat and made from a hard stone.

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

Note: This spell is technically only CrTe10, however as every ritual has a minimum level 20 there are options to boost the level and not impact the amount of vis required to cast it.

These might be (+1 mag for extra cosmetic detail) a set of repeated runes and marking decorate the slab, (+1 mag for size) add 9 more equivalent slabs atop the first, each joined to the last with a sliver of stone – perhaps to be then used by stone masons for other purposes or sold, or (+2) add more stone mass and also shape a dwelling with the extra material, in effect creating the lab as one solid mass.

This concept is conjuring a full lab from scratch, which is better overall than just a disk to build upon, as the goal is to create a place for the magi to work, so anything beyond that work space is superfluous to the need.

A simple spell to conjure a lab is approximately a Creo Terram 20 Ritual ( an example of a simple dwelling from a previous blog post) and can scale up due to complexity and size to a specialised construction such as:

Laboratory of Spherical Perfection

Creo Terram 30, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual, Ritual

This spell conjures a 14 paces wide perfectly spherical room set upon a stone mount. Outside and below the main chamber, many ancillary rooms adjoin the sphere, allowing for servants quarters and storage. Inside the spherical chamber is the main floor set at the widest point of the sphere and two additional living spaces or work spaces above and below the main floor, joined together by balconies.

In the original version of this ritual the internal surface of the sphere was decorated with thousands of panels, each later enchanted to reflect the stars above. The composition and internal detail may be set by the caster.

This ritual allows for up to 1000 cubic paces of stone to be used in the construction materials, and for complex internal details such as flooring, stairways, gutters, and storage; including decorations or fine finish with sigils and arcane markings where desired. The sphere structure and support utilises approximately 650 paces of material.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +3 size, +3 complexity in shape)

As a standard Size +0 lab is 500 square feet (equivalent to a circular room just over 25 feet wide), this lab’s primary floor of provides almost 2500 square feet of space on the primary floor which is equivalent to a Size +7 lab. The two 650 feet of space on each of the twin sub-floors provide an equivalent working space of a Size +1 lab each, and inner design of the sphere may establish these as areas for specialisations for particular activities (a gallery, scriptorium, library, spell circle), or separated labs or living quarters.

Either a standard lab or massive construct will guide how the next steps in the lab design proceed. A very large lab gains the Empty trait for not having the space utilised which makes the lab slightly more unsafe. However this is useful if the wizard intends to consume the space quickly by installing new features.

Then how to conceal the lab? Well or a non-moving lab you can use Insulation for the Dedicated Halls (PeIm25), however this lab moves so it needs a new spell.

Insulation for the Wandering Laboratory

Perdo Imagonem 40, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Structure

No images, sound, smells, or touch are permitted to enter or leave the targeted structure, granting the “Well Insulated” lab virtue (+1 Safety, +1 Aesthetics).

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +3 Structure, +1 moving object)

Then enchanted into a simple artefact as,

Charm of Concealment – PeIm44 (+3 Environmental Trigger, +1 for 2 uses per day). This small silver mirror inset with a clear glass (+4 bonus) lens is to be mounted on the interior wall of the targeted structure.

To make the Lab fly the Legends of Hermes book (p.123) has a reference enchantment called The Flight Disk (ReTe33) – can’t repeat that spell here, but it needs a modification for either size or structure, becoming ballpark ReTe43 effect when enchanted.

As a stranger option, a Muto/Rego spell could transform an existing structure and to give it the ability to move as the caster desires.

Reshape as the Hut of Baba Yaga

Rego Herbam / Muto 45, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Structure

The targeted wooden dwelling is reshaped to match the hut in the stories of Baba Yaga. The structure is structurally reinforced and grows large chicken like legs with which it may walk and act under the direction of the caster. Requisites may be required if the dwelling has major non-herbam features.

(Base 10 to control a plant item without direct control, +1 complexity, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +3 Structure)

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