This blog post is a broad pondering the meta-physics of the forms of magic in the Ars Magica role playing game.
Instead of considering the metaphysical thinking in the medieval period – which is where Hermetic magic is meant to get its roots I started to think of a way to consider and compare the forms. This idea does not at all match to what I understand of the basis of Hermetic magic in the setting or the current guidelines. As I said, this is a pondering.
It came out of thinking about why it is easier to change some things into other things (it’s easier to change a person into an animal). Why?
What if there are a set considerations for all things:
- Intangible vs Tangible things (eg. the mind vs trees)
- Living vs Non-living things (animals vs rocks)
- Changing vs Fixed things (water vs rocks)
- Sentient vs non-Sentient things (people vs rocks)
…then it might be possible to look for how many steps from each other they are.
- Animal (Tangible, Living, Fixed, Non-sentient)
- Aquam (Tangible, Non-living, Changing, Non-sentient)
- Auram (Tangible, Non-living, Changing, Non-sentient)
- Corpus (Tangible, Living, Fixed, Sentient)
- Herbam (Tangible, Living, Fixed, Non-sentient)
- Ignem (Tangible, Non-Living, Changing, Non-sentient)
- Imagonem (Intangible, Non-Living, Fixed, Non-sentient)
- Mentem (Intangible, Living, Changing, Sentient)
- Terram (Tangible, Non-Living, Fixed, Non-sentient)
- Vim (Intangible, Living, Changing, Non-sentient)
And each step of difference creates a “hermetic” magnitude of difficulty when changing one to the other, or using one with the other.
Ok fine. To what purpose?
Well if Ars Magica had its time again I think it would make sense to break away from the thinking of the medieval period in the backbone of the magical laws.
Because Hermetic magic should be (and is) flawed just as the representation of the divine in Europe the setting is flawed, and many other parts of the setting use contradictions as levers for stories.
Don’t get me wrong – in the setting the characters would still try to leverage their mindsets, learnered philosophies, and all sorts of esoteric thinking in using magic “in story”, but out of story the magical meta-physical laws would be slightly different. This introduces a deliberate contradiction between the in-story beliefs and the “actual” truths.
Essentially – The magi are watching the shadow play on the wall of Plato’s cave and believe they see the real truth of magic – this demonstrates why some types of magic can do things that Hermetic magic cannot. It adds depth to the already existing contradictions in the setting and sourcebooks.
…just a ponderous post. Happy gaming.