2 questions about Shape and Material bonuses in enchanting

Have been arguing about this and haven't come to a satisfactory conclusion.

My question is where do the following substances appear on the Shape and Material bonus table:
Amber, Clear Glass, Jade, Jet.
Hard/soft stone, semi-precious gem? What would be an example of Soft Stone?
Apparently Clear Glass is very difficult to produce in the time period.

The other question is as follows:
Take a plain cloak. Apply needlework with different thread to make the accurate design of a spear or sword.
Now enchant the cloak. Can the enchanted cloak take advantage of the enchanting bonuses for being a cloak, an item of clothing, a spear/sword shape?

Err have you downloaded the large, collated pdf file of S&M boni from Atlas games website? It has a lot more irtems than the one in the core rules. I believe the materials you mention are all found on this list.

Soft stone? Soapstone?

I do believe that symbolic representation is fine, IIRC one of the books mention a brooch in the shape of a shield is good for the shield bonus.

It is by no means a problem to get high boni, except for certain Arts. The limiting factor is that the S&M bonus is capped by MT
Except that boni need to be different to stack. At least that's our interpretation. Several things give bonus to Terram. but only the highest apply. But a bonus for Terram does stack with a bonus to 'affect stone'.

There's a link to S/M pdf's on the Atlas 5th ed page (in right-hand margin), one by shape/material, one by "bonus".

by S/M: atlas-games.com/pdf_storage/ ... yShape.pdf
by Bonus: atlas-games.com/pdf_storage/ ... yBonus.pdf

(Clear glass requires not only high-grade sand but also the very best pearl-ash, which is the tough thing to produce. Then techniques, which are only found in Venice (and perhaps Arabia?), and are closely guarded state secrets - literally life and death stuff.)

(As for whether "depictions" of Shapes can count as those shapes... I want to say that's a "ysmv" ruling - but I won't swear to it. I want to say that there are canon examples where rings bear such symbols and are then enchanted as those shapes - but I could be confoozled.)

I think that's in the description regarding casting components for Potent Magic (TMRE)...

I think this is a Troupe thing but I would be very hesitant about it. A shield-shaped brooch is different than a sewn-in spear, one is the actual shape and the other is just an addition.

I would not count painting et al (something that could be removed, if you would say) as potential focuses. otherwise I can see magi running around cvovered in blankets with lots of stuff sewn in.

OTOH the "classical" magus does just that, with the constellations and symbols in his robes. Since (IIRC) celestial magic do provide S&M bonuses, that might be a reason why magi dress so funky.


I would treat all of these as semi-precious stones; they are all worth money and used decoratively.

I don't think you can use the spear/sword shape. The Rusticani (HoH: S) can use symbolic representations to get half the normal S&M bonus, as part of their Hermetic Virtue, but other magi can't. You can enchant a miniature sword and get the sword bonuses, but that is more restrictive since you still only have one possible shape; whereas a symbolic representation allows an object to have more than one shape.


Sometimes you can combine some forms, though, no? Like a sword, that can be used as a cross, or a round helmet that can get the bonuses of a bowl.


I don't think the sword and cross bonuses would apply, as it is not the purpose or true shape of the object. A mini sword might get sword and jewelry, but not cross. A cross is a distinct shape, has proportions special to it, and should be easily distinguished.

I might be wrong, but I thought that swords were used all the time as crosses by the knights that used them? praying in front of their sword (cross) to ask for God's guidance et al.

Seconded. Indeed I was (am) under the impression that the rather characteristic hand guard popular with medival european swords were specifically chosen to make the sword a "metal cross".

Also note that the shape of the cross is specifically non-specific (if that makes sense)

Genuflecting (crossing one's self) also counts in Catholicism - but I doubt if that would count as "a cross" for Hermetic purposes. What is "holy" (or expedient) is not the same as what is arcane.

Sorry, forgot about this, meant to finish...

The precious/semi-precious divide was once an accepted one in gemology, but is not as clear (or at least not universally agreed upon) today.

(partially cribbing from Wiki, here...) Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds - these are "precious", sans doubt. Pearls... probably, at least at this time period. To a lesser degree opals, amethysts, aquamarines, perdots, even cats eyes - precious. (Not today, but then - modern mining techniques have changed availability and so have changed perceived value.)

Beyond that... not so much, apparently. Note that a remarkably large and desirable semi-precious stone might sell for much more than a low-grade precious stone - it's not purely economic in distinction.

As for "soft stone", unless you're in the field or otherwise familiar with "stone", a list might be largely meaningless, but there are stones that can be carved quickly and easily with a pocketknife-type tool (as opposed to only with a hammer and chisel, and over long time of sweat and much effort). Chalk is common (and the most commonly known), but soapstone, pumice, tufa - there are others. Limestone is "semi-soft" - sometimes included, sometimes not. The main diff is that these stones do not weather well, and break very easily if treated roughly.

Amber, Jade and Jet are semi-precious stones. They may be "soft", and they may be "stones", but they are not classed as "soft stone". (Slap anyone who made this arguement, and tell them for me to stop being sophists.)

Glass is neither a stone nor a gem - it is something entirely different and in a class by itself. (Obsidian, which is sometimes called "volcanic glass", is a semi-precious stone - but is not "glass" in this context. One is a naturally occurring stone, the other is a man-made alchemical product.)

Yup, thats what I should have said - its not the fact that its not similar or sometimes used for that in the setting, its more about what it is essentially. Like most things, if you're happy to grant the bonus then go for it. :slight_smile:

A crossguard is still a cross. That is not a YSMV thing. It is that by definition. Large stick and short stick crossed at a 90 degree angle. I cannot enchant a cross drawn in the air by my fingers, but it certainly would count as a sympathetic connection there. No biggie since you can stack more bonuses than you can shake a stick at in ArM5 anyway, as has been shown hundreds of times in this forum. JUst another small thing.

In the same way, the shield of a giant in the shape of a boat that you (a simple human sized being) can use to navigate could get the bonuses for boat and for shield without problems. I cannot see the conflict or the problem there if the relation is obvious. And a sword as a cross is as obvious to the average layman and people of medieval Europe as it gets AFAIK...


My suss is that "a cross" on the form and effect table means an object specifically created in that shape, and as a device for worship; be it stone or wood, or whatever. It item was designed and built to be a cross. I can see how a "Sword" might be argued that it grants "Cross" given the setting, but that is a stretch in my opinion and not an interpretation that I am happy with.

The example of the shield/boat you gave is one that I think is clearly not appropriate in my opinion too. Perhaps I am just stricter in my view on when the F&E bonuses apply. If the shape of the object is a boat then it is a boat; not a shield. If the Giant's shield was designed and crafted to be a shield (as you'd expect), but it happens to have decals and markings of a boat, and also happens to float, then it is still only a shield and not a boat.

What happened to the consideration to the realm of forms, plato type view where items have essential nature from which the physical world draws the shape and focus from?

My saga will vary on this point. I'm happy to disagree, and ignore that interpretation of the rules.

There is also a difference between a partial sympathetic bonus from a something improvised, and the Shape and material bonuses in enchanted devices. There is no way I'd give a bonus to a character for just outlining a cross in the air. That is far too weak and temporary.

I agree.

Depends on context, of course, but I would totally fine with a sword held as a cross getting some-sort of S&M bonus for being "a cross" (or counting as "a cross" for a focus).

So, an application where it might apply would be if you were enchanting an effect into a knight's sword that was activated by presenting the sword as a cross and, say, warded the knight against the infernal. That seems interesting and flavourful and "realistic". And it is hardly abusive.

A sword being wielded conventionally to hit people probably shouldn't count as a cross.

Agreed. However, presenting the cross to the demon and saying "hello Mr Demon, this is the cross I will put through your body" could work to get some nice anti-demon effects as well. Stabbing a demon in the chest with a downward motion of a "cross" with both hands saying "amen" has too much movie scene potential to pass over :wink: Damn, I hope we had thought of that back when we (accidentally) opened a portal to hell in the middle of our covenant in a past saga.

I was being extremist and a little cheeky with the shield/boat case :wink: but the point still stands: you can have several form bonuses in the same item. sword/cross. Round helmet/cooking pot. Staff/spear, (Large)Cloak/(small)tapestry, .... If the players are somewhat creative I think rewarding them is nice.


Creativity is all well and good, but there is always a point (a very subjective point, admittedly), where "creativity" stops and "let's just ignore the rules" begins. Different for everyone, but it's there, nonetheless.

Yes and no.

Are two crossed fingers "a cross"? If you cross your legs, one leg over the other knee at 90 degrees, is that "a cross"? I'm sure that somewhere two of your hairs cross at 90 degrees... so...? Any crossroads at right angles? Any two random items that meet at something close to 90 degrees? Just grab any text off the shelf - there's sure to be a lot of "t's" and "x's" in there, and even some "f's" - and all of those have crosses - hey, books are hella holy!

Let's take some different examples - jewelry has a S/M bonus. If one takes a rock, ties it to a string and ties that around their neck - is the rock/string then "jewelry"? What if it's just an old vine worn as "a necklace"? Just because you can use a treebranch to move hay does not make it a "pitchfork". Just because one thing looks like another does not make it that thing.

Just because something can be used "as if" it were something else does not make it the same as that other thing, not in a significant arcane sense. It takes a significance to achieve that, and not a coincidental or purely linguistic one.

In my opinion, two items that are merely "crossed" do not make "a cross" in this context. Not a holy, religious cross that is appropriate to the "cross" S/M bonus, to ward away the supernatural and banish demons.

Now, there are some instances where there is more than "resemblance" or "replacement" going on. The two swords crossed and used to pray - that I think could have more significance. But a crossguard, something that is an innate part of (almost?) any sword?... just a coincidental name, no more holy than any right-angle "crossmember" on any building or tool.

But ysmv.

LOL - +1, IBT! :wink:

The point is that swords were used to pray. A powerful symbol of the might of God on Earth that gives you strengths to battle Evil. The Church was quite keen to remark the fact that swords were crosses worn by those that should be protecting Christendom (and the institution of the church, coincidentally... or not :wink:). They were used as "field crosses" and are a symbol of God.

But yes, where the frontier lies is up to anyone's saga. :slight_smile: I clearly prefer mine with more symbolism and sympathetic connections than you. The funny thing is that my gaming mates do not oblige as much and do not tend to search for them, treating magic in a much more mechanistic way. I find that to be a real pity.


Xavi' made a good point on the use of crosses in Knight's swords; I'm convinced that it would apply. There might need to be an understanding that it is the knight's sword that gains this bonus, not a mercenary's sword? Or perhaps it is more to do with the bonus being applicable to the character in question?

So a knight might be able to use almost any sword in that manner, but a jew would never gain the bonus. I love these topics.

Unless you are using a sword appropiately you gain no bonus. If you mass murder the civilians of a local inn, and then come across a demon and try to get a casting bonus because you are using a sword held as a cross, you are more likely to catch divine flak than get divine help. :wink: And true. A jew would not gain the bonus, but he might get the bonus out of a totally preposterous use of thowing a Star of David in a shuriken manner against a demon while invoking one of the names of god or an adequate passage from the Old Testament or Torah. :mrgreen: Symbolism in a setting like this one is very important to make it adequately mystical. At least for me