2 questions about Shape and Material bonuses in enchanting

Yes, shape bonuses depend on partly "perspective". So you can sometimes change the shape bonus, somewhat, by using the item in a different way.

A stone wall is never going to be pair of trousers.

But, I'd be OK with a giant's shield being "a boat". If its floating in the water and someone has raised a mast and sail over it, it seems hard to explain why it wouldn't be a boat. It wouldn't get both the bonus for "shield" and "boat" at the same time, however.

Indeed. I think that the point of these rules, from a game-mechanic perspective, is precisely to encourage a player to get her character to do "flavourful" things like use a sword as a cross.

The clue is in the name. It's a "shape" bonus. It's the shape that is of arcane significance. The bonus accrues to things that have the requisite shape. Not things that necessarily are the thing in question.

If we are considering "cross", then the piece of Roman carpentry erected at Golgotha and used to crucify Jesus is the thing in question.

The pieces of wood displayed in a church, maybe above the altar, have the shape of "a cross". A piece of jewelry might have the shape of "a cross". A sword presented the "wrong way around" has the shape of "a cross". A crossroads, indeed does have the shape of "a cross" (the clue's in the name "cross"road). Two crossed fingers raised to ward off evil are likewise "a cross".

All of these, and others, are valid items to accrue the "cross" shape bonus. However, some of them only have the right shape under certain circumstances. A sword used in the normal business manner is not "a cross". So, whatever application you have in mind will only receive the "cross" bonus if the sword is used like a "cross" --- this might limit how it can be activated or something (this is something that the player can creatively sort out). Two raised, crossed fingers could be valid --- but are probably too transitory to be suitable for enchantment (but might be suitable for a "cross" casting-time focus). On the other hand (umm...literally), if you chop the fingers off a long-suffering grog and then lash them together to form a cross, then sure that bloody fetish could be enchanted as a "cross".

RL - I disagree that every instance of the word "cross" is by default appropriate simply because of the use of that word. Not everyone who wears a red coat is a redcoat, not every white house is the whitehouse, not every "cross-x" has a "cross" included. Are "crossbows" then all sacred and holy? cross hairs? cross hatching? cross winds? Any architecture can have a cross-piece - is all architecture that employs cross-pieces then holy and appropriate to these bonuses and arcane applications? If my t's are crossed, does that make my writing holy and S/M appropriate?

No, surely not. Because the word "cross" has multiple meanings, and multiple uses - and not all overlap. A "cross", as used in the S/M list, implies something holy. Not everything that meets at roughly 90 degrees is holy, even if it is "crossed" and so "a cross". The two are not the same, even if they use the same word. Significance, usage, intent - those make the difference.

I can "shape" my hand like a mask over my face - but that does not make my hand a "mask" for purposes of S/M bonuses. (I would suggest that the word "shape" is merely the best term - "thing" or "item" being equally or more inappropriate. "Thing/material bonus"... nah.)

Xav - Respect for adding "symbolism" - that is clearly suggested by many parts of the Rules, but not something easily quantifiable. However, I, myself, would agree that the larger symbolism, the significance, is what's important, as opposed to merely imitating the form for the moment or by accident.

(Some "vampire" films show a desperate person crossing two sticks or even their fingers to ward off a vamp - some of those films allow that to work, some don't. With some, it depends on the "faith" of the person creating the "cross " - if you're going with "symbolism", many more elements come into play.

However, even then, what is "holy" would not necessarily be what is "arcanely significant", or not enough to meet Hermetic needs.)

As I said above, it depends on the "significance", and significance is not merely coincidental - so if a pious character regularly used the "cross" of his sword as the only cross available, that could achieve that significance. The same sword used by an impious knight who merely wanted to appear as if they were praying all the time - not so much.

Any two sticks tied together are not "a cross" just because they are tied together - but the same two sticks tied together and used as a cross, perhaps by someone with a vow of poverty - that's entirely different.

The question is not whether the things are sacred and holy or not. The question is whether the things have a cross shape. That is the arcane significance. That's why it is a "shape bonus". It's not a "holiness bonus".

Cross-hairs --- yes they are shaped like a cross, so they would get the shape bonus. Architectural features that look like a cross? Yes, shaped like a cross, therefore cross shape bonus is applicable (a cross shaped window, would be a cross, say).

Crossbows, crosshatching, and crosswinds would not get the shape bonus. These things are not shaped like a cross. Here the name refers to the orientation not the shape. A wind doesn't really have a shape at all. Architectural features that are merely cross pieces, in the sense that they go across --- a beam, say --- is not shaped like a cross either.

Nor would a cross (i.e angry) person get the shape bonus.

The cross shape is indeed holy (except when upside down!). But that just explains the particular shape bonus(es) that a cross shape gives. This is why a cross shape provides bonuses to warding the infernal and the supernatural and so forth. The holiness just affects the content of the bonus.

This is the point where you are going wrong, I think. It's a shape (in the shape and materials list). It just implies that the thing needs to be shaped like a cross. It's a shape bonus.

Similarly, to get the "arrow" shape bonus a thing just needs to have the shape of an arrow. It doesn't need to be a projectile, it doesn't need to be sharp, it doesn't need to be weighted for accurate flight, it doesn't need to have any of the properties of an arrow --- except the shape. So, an arrow emblem shape made of bricks in the courtyard of the covenant, would be a suitable shape to receive the "arrow" form bonus. A suitable effect might, for example, be one that is activated when a person touches it and casts a Moon duration effect on the target that allows them to know the direction back to the covenant (uses the arrow shape bonus for "direction").

I have been informed that I did not pass on the question correctly.

I was supposed to say it was needlepoint, outlined in gold thread (from cloth of gold).
Being a full length cloak, the neddlepoint sword would be about full size, and a needlepoint spear about half-size.

Also they want to ask about a variation, sewing on a shed snake skin/leather, in the shape of a snake. Even unto adding amber chips as eyes and a mummified snake tongue. Don't recall what bonus they were hoping from that.

But reading the thread now it raises more questions than those being answered.
I can imagine them asking for a cloak broach (to hold the cloak closed) in some form providing a bonus, such as a shield with an embossed cross.

And here I thought a Talisman in the form of a charm bracelet might be excessive.
Though I do like the idea of the shield bracelet from the Harry Dresden novels.

Thank you all responders.

Iv - It should be clear at this point that the Rules are not perfectly clear on the topic. This is not uncommon in Ars - not because the editors are not competent or not aware of the omission, but because they don't want to define things too narrowly. Anyone who thinks about things at this level has the appropriate tools to make their own interpretations - and since opinions so clearly vary on what is "best" and "right" and "correct", that allows individual Troupes to tweak these details to fit their preference. And that is good, and that is right.

There are rules for compound items on page 97 (col iii) - that's where "amber eyes" come into play and can get the "amber" bonus, all kosher. (The downside is that if things get "detached", they are gone for good - so losing a brooch from a cloak would break one enchantment/bonus or another, depending which item carried off the "enchantment" and which was ruled to be the "lost piece".)

(Note that only one "shape" and one "form" bonus can be used at any one time for a lab-bonus to enchant an item. Some Verditius Virtues may allow more, but not for the average mage. If it's a talisman and you're talking about attuning those bonuses, that's diff.)

I'd think that, in the spirit of magi with symbols on their robes, that if such an image were made with great care and artistry (rather than a quick sketch, etc), then ruling that it's "good to go" would not be at odds with the spirit of the rules, and certainly not with the flavour of AM. Some SG's might want more, some might allow less, but I think few would say "that's just wrong" (except for their own Saga, which you ain't in.) :wink:

The more mystical connections, the better the rationale, and the fewer objections one will find in consensus.

If the choice of the term "shape" is misleading - and I'll admit it seems to be - I ask you to ignore that for a moment and think of how these bonuses came about. "Shape" is parallel to "material" in that list - and you can't play the same sort of word-games with "material". Gold paint is not gold (even tho' you could call it "gold" and it looks like gold), and emerald glass is not emerald (even tho' you could call it "emerald" and it looks like emerald). In exactly the same way, everything that can rightly be called "a cross" is not always a holy cross, even tho' you can call it "a cross" and even tho' it looks like one. It goes deeper than that - it has to.)

So... the next (and obvious) question - why do I i suggest that the cross has to be "holy" in some way?...

No, actually, that is the question - for "crosses", at least.

A cross does not get a "holiness" bonus per se, but that's the aspect of magic that the bonus is applied to, so same difference in the end - for crosses. Other shapes/materials get different bonuses - because they are appropriate to that bonus, not because they are coincidentally the same shape as something that is significant to that bonus.

Your logic is that because any cross is a cross, it gets these bonuses. Not because a particular example of "cross" is/not holy, but "just because it says "cross" in the S/M list", and so any cross-shape is adequate to qualify and equal in the eyes of this bonus. In this you completely ignore the rationale for these bonuses, the mystical connection that established them in the first place, why the item labeled "cross" in the list has those bonuses, and not others, and why other "shapes" do not share those bonuses.

My position is that the "cross" shape is not picked at random, but because of a greater significance - in this case its holy aspect (and in the case of arrows, the "aiming/direction" aspect, etc) - and that if a random "cross" shape has no relation to a holy cross, then the aspect of magic that was the rationale for the bonus in the first place, the mystical relationship of that "cross" to the bonus, is absent - and so no bonus.

If you look at the rules to create S/M bonuses (in Vulgar Alchemy, Mysteries Revised, p 32 et al), it talks about the "associations" between the shape/material and the bonus, and the "appropriateness" of these association. These are not random - a mage could not get the same bonuses found for a cross in, say, a toadstool (or not as easily - btr, anything is possible). But the more "appropriate" the connection, the easier to establish the bonus.

But in establishing that, not every cross is equally appropriate - so why would they be after that connection is established?

If a toadstool had a bonus for "poison", then there is absolutely no (defensible) reason to expect a footstool to have the same bonus, or a toadstool-shaped stone, even tho' all have the shape of a "stool". Yet your "a shape is a shape" logic would have them be one and the same for purposes of the bonus.

How are "crosshairs" appropriate to warding against the supernatural? How is a common architectural feature appropriate to banishing demons? Aside from an accidental similarity to a holy cross, they are not. A holy cross is appropriate - but those aren't that, despite sharing the same all-too-common term for their shape.

It's not a word-game though. Something that looks like + has the shape of a cross. It's quite simple. There's no word-game involved.

Yes. To get a material bonus an item needs to be made of the relevant material. No question. That's because it is a material bonus.

Yes, not every cross is a "holy cross". But the shape bonus is for having the shape of a "cross". Nothing more. The shape is what is significant.

A footstool doesn't normally look anything like a toadstool, however. So, they don't have the same shape.

I suppose if you did carve a footstool to look like toadstool, then sure it would have a posion shape bonus. The Toxic Ottoman would be end of many a relaxing magus.

Not sure, that "crosshairs" is a valid concept in character, anyway. But if it was, it would receive a Shape bonus to warding against the supernatural because it has the shape of a cross. That's the point behind a shape bonus. There is arcane significance in the shape.

You are merely fixating on your mis-application of the term "shape", and ignoring my points on "appropriateness" and "significance", which was the bulk of my post. If you want to discuss this, then respond to those points, don't just repeat what you've already said. If not, nm.

The critical point is that I don't see why you are trying to apply concepts like "appropriateness" and "significance" to the shape bonus.

I can see what you are trying to do (I think), effectively you are trying to say that the "shape" bonus is really something like an "essential nature" bonus. You are trying to say that the item has to have some essential "cross" features other than just the physical shape. Correct me if that is not your position.

I suppose that sounds like an OK HR. Although it seems to me like a bad idea, as it just creates arguments and ambiguity about whether a "cross"-like thing has sufficient "cross" features to count (or equivalent for other shapes).

However, the RAW is quite clear that the shape bonus it is about the physical shape. Whether the item has the corresponding physical shape (or not) is the criteria. This is also seems much easier to adjudicate in play.

Don't see why you can't, it'd count as a compound magical item though, so you'd have to follow the associated rules and limitations.

Yep, spot on. My interpretation (which I 100% acknowledge as not RAW, and perhaps not Xavi's position) the shape bonus should apply the flavour of "essential nature" far more than it applies a base shape. This is because I think it is inappropriate to give a bonus based upon the happenstance of an object having a few shapes in its structure (ie. a house with cross beams). Essential nature and Intent are critical. To me that better reflects the mythic setting, more than the literal reading of the term "shape".

I think that you are being far too generous in suggesting any "cross" within an object allow the shape bonus, but its horses for courses. We can happily have different points of view, and I'm content with that.

So include intent of the object's design, and the intent of use in the object, and you'll be in line with my thinking. It is critical to differentiate an object that was crafted specifically to get a shape bonus, and one that is happenstance. Function is important here too.

Yup, I see the RAW as guidelines more than rules, and I'm not afraid of having discussion around the table on this type of thing.

So... by the strict shape RAW... a basket woven in a cross-stitch: In your rule it can get the "cross" shape, because there is technically two pieces of material within that object that overlap at approx 90 degrees to another, thus forming a cross. Imho that is is a bad idea.

So, supposing a magus has a sword enchanted as his talisman, and it has the aforementioned crucifirm shape. He has attuned both a bonus for sword (harm human & animal bodies) and cross (harm supernatural creature). He is casting DEO while fighting a demonic animal.

Which of the two boni will he get? IMHO he'll only get one, not both! It is either a sword used to strike with, as swords regularly are. Or it is held as a cross.

The harm humans and animals does not apply; its a demon, unless it is in a fundamentally human or animal shape. :wink: In any case only the best of any bonuses apply; apply one only, they do not stack.

Per ArM5 p. 98 (last paragraph of talisman section) "only the highest bonus applies".

[edit2] - because I'm an idiot who misread CCH's statement

My interpretation is more IBT's but I do like the symbolism aspect. I'm just always leery of jumping over the rules to make something cool. A knight who prays to his sword, uses it as a crucifix... that sounds neat and symbolic. A pagan magus picks up a sword and wants the bonus, not so much.

I think this is going to be my First Rule on Shape/Material Bonuses...

Thank you, I'm going to quote it again and again and again. :laughing:

Now I know that I need to challenge Richard Love to Muto Terram if we ever get down to certamen :laughing:

And even then, especially at the time: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_of_St._Peter :wink:
(So yes, you can have your inverted cross and use it to banish demons!)

About the materials, isn't it written somewhere (Covenants?) that you need something of excellent quality to be enchanted as a talisman (and maybe item)? If yes, to some extend, this may alleviate some of CH concerns: 2 sticks held together wouldn't count as a cross. 2 sticks carefully assembled by a skilled artisan to, actually, make a cross, would, OTOH. So, somewhere, there's probably some "intent" to have a cross. No accident, there.

Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying - thank you.

A 4-leaf clover is an iconic shape. Let's say a mage uses Vulgar Alchemy to get a bonus of +5 for Luck (perhaps hard to apply, but go with it). This makes sense - shamrocks are lucky, the SG and Troupe approves.

A liver is an entirely different and distinct item. Let's say a mage uses VA with livers to get a bonus of +5 for Blood. And this makes sense - liver = blood, very medieval, all good.

4 leaf clovers can now be used for Luck, and livers can now be used for blood. This is how Vulgar Alchemy is supposed to work - well done!

BUT... (...wait for it!...) both these items have "4 lobes". I don't accept that, because of this coincidence, that a liver should give a Luck bonus, and a shamrock could then give a Blood bonus.

You seem to believe they absolutely should, simply because they share a "shape", ignoring any deeper significance or appropriateness, the same significance that was used to judge and create the Bonuses in the first place.

The fact is that the word "cross" happens to refer to both a specific object and a common shape. What is the "shape" of a bandage? Of a drum as opposed to a cask? Of cloth shears as opposed to shearing shears?! Of a "container"?! The "shapes" are in fact not of necessity shapes - but they all are very specific things.

In the Shape/Material list, there are, in fact, not all that many things that can easily be considered distinct and unique "shapes", and far more that must be "things" (even if those things have a recognizable shape - most iconic, significant "things" do). And those "things" all have an appropriateness to the bonus they supply. I believe that when the word "cross" is used, it's not referring to any roughly 90 degree intersection of straight lines, but of a specific object. And that's where we differ.

Your saga, your rules. A cross is still a cross. if semantics get in the way of playability or fun, semantics are dumped BIG time.


Exactly. Which is why any random cross-shape is not the same as a holy cross. That would just be semantics. Glad we agree. 8)