Crafting the enchanted object for Initiation to Bjornaer Sensory Magic

Part of the Sensory Magic initiation process (HoH:MC, p.27-28) is the creation of a magical device in the shape of the Bjornaer’s Heartbeast which is imbued with five senses.

The Initiate must craft an object in the shape of his heartbeast and enchant it with the ability to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell.

This task is totally undefined and very open to interpretation. I thought to write out a few potential ways to create the object and discuss some of the options. While trying to complete the initiation requirements in blog-post form I have a few goals:

  • Meet the requirements of the initiation ritual minimally and simplistically, to demonstrate how to not waste vis and time.
  • Meet the requirements beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • See if any of the designs for the invested spells or effects might be reused for a similar purpose later.
  • See if any odd or weird options arise while pondering this design task.

From the outset of sketching potential solutions there was a large discrepancy between the options and the real answer is to set the requirements to what is reasonable for the character and the saga. There is no point getting overly prescriptive or pedantic in most Ars games because the gameplay is more about the interactions than the consumption of vis and seasons. The vis and seasons are a point of consistency in requirements for Magi, because almost everything else they do is totally subjective.

Therefore the goal should be an amount of seasons and vis which represents a sacrifice, and allows the story to continue.

Frankly with that in mind I’m tempted to recommend the most basic version be the default and move on (option one below). As anecdotal support for this a Bjornaer magus named Lexora (Through the Aegis, p.45) has the Sensory Magic virtue and also the flaw Weak Enchanter, which makes it implausible that Lexora created anything in the lab beyond the most basic magic item. So consider: she would struggle even with the simple “method one” version.

I’d also encourage the reuse in the lab, so if the Bjornaer can craft something which they can craft again to good use that’s a potentially good solution. Continue reading

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Bjornaer mystery spells

One of the most intriguing and rarely used style of spell in the Ars Magica RPG are those introduced as Sensory Magic (from Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults, p.27-31). The source book contains very apt example spells however custom spells are rare. An exception is the book Through the Aegis, which has four Sensory Magic spells, relating to a lion heartbeast.

Until very recently I didn’t understand how they might be used (now a little more so).

The Sensory Magic (SM) mechanics allow the magus to target people who perceive them in one way or another instead of the Magus perceiving the target. SM must deliver the magical effect via a sense, and it has both very specific limitations around the magic being linked to the bestial style of the magus, and the style of effects possible. A major limitation is SM spell effects may not be placed in enchanted devices.

Being a House Bjornaer mystery virtue also means that any SM spells are likely to be only known by a sub-set of House Bjornaer; which again limits their adoption by players.

E.g. A spell based upon a peacock’s beautiful plume which is cast by the Bjornaer upon themselves might allow them to seduce or impress those who see them. The presence of a peacock is used as the basis for the glamour, as relates thematically to the effect, and also reflects the spells delivery.

Wonderfully specific uses, and dangerously powerful as the spells do not need to be recast when the targeted creatures around them change – as it is by their presence that the magic may affect them.

Evasion of the Alley Cat

Rego Corpus / Animal 5, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Texture, Sensory Magic

Those who touch the caster or their personal items find their hand, limb, or mouth uncontrollable. This grants the caster a significant bonus to resisting grappling or constriction attacks, and grabbing the caster is all but impossible. The spell is designed to affect beast and people alike.

(Base 2 – to loose control of a body part, +1 Diameter, +1 Texture, +1 Animal)

Flavour of the Dripping Toad

Creo Mentem / Animal 10, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Flavor, Sensory Magic

Those who taste the caster or their personal items are rendered confused, unable to take clear action for the duration of the spell. This spell is designed to affect beast and people alike.

(Base 4, +1 Diameter, +0 Flavor, +1 Animal)

Lilt of the Gentle Songbird

Creo Mentem 15, R: Personal, D: Momentary, T: Sound, Sensory Magic

Those who hear the caster’s voice are sent to sleep.

(Base 4, +3 Sound)

Revulsion of the Pungent Skunk

Rego Corpus 20, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Scent, Sensory Magic

Those who smell the caster or their personal items are find themselves struck with vomiting and ill-health, and may recover only after purging their bodies.

(Base 5 – to invoke vomiting, +1 Diameter, +2 Scent)

Poise of the Magnificent Peacock

Creo Mentem 35, R: Personal, D: Sun, T: Spectacle, Sensory Magic

Anyone who sees the caster will be more inclined to be attracted and impressed by their manner, dress, and poise. This greatly influences reactions in suitable scenarios by granting a +3-6 bonus to the caster for suitable rolls.

(Base 5, +2 Sun, +4 Spectacle)

These spells are part of the free new spells compendium for Ars Magica.