A few questions about sahirs

Hi all,

I'm new to boards and, since I'm not sure where to introduce myself, I'll just add a quick "I'm Dani, hi to everybody, nice to be around". Now that that's out of the way, I'd like to delve into this post's reason to exist:

I've recently started a new ArM campaign set in Constantinople, and one of the players decided he wanted to play a Sahir from tCatC. Not having really read the rules for sahirs throughly, we both started perusing the rules. They seem really interesting, and I must say I really like the way sahirs work. But I think there are some fine points that elude me, and I'd like to get them right from the start, to avoid any backpedalling or adjusting down the road.

So I wanted to throw a few questions your way, to see if you can help me figure them out properly. I know most of this might be quite obvious, and might even have been asked before. I've done a couple quick searched at the board and didn't find these particular questions, nor am I fully sure what the right answers are, so here they are anyway. I'll use "sihr" as the summoning art for all the questions and examples below, just to cut it short.

First off, my main concern is regarding invocation of spirits to fuel the sahir's formulaic naranjs.

As far as I understand it, a sahir needs a spirit to be bound for him to be able to cast formulaics, which he does through sihr. So far, so good. But then I saw there are basically four ways for a sahir to have a handy spirit, and it's kinda confusing me:

[]Through direct sihr summoning[/]
[]Casting a summoning naranj[/]
[]Casting the seasonal summoning called "Seeking and scouring"[/]
[]Using one of his khuddam[/]

Now I understand the seasonal summoning khuddam thingie just builds some benefits that he gets when he summons those spirits through other means and/or uses them for his naranjs, so that one's out of the way already. My confusion lies mainly with the differences between direct sihr summoning, summoning naranj and seeking and scouring. I'll thus pose two main questions regarding those (barring that I've misunderstood any of the above; if so, please let me know).

First off, I realize why there's a summoning naranj and a direct sihr summoning distinction, since the naranj has some benefits to reward you for your troubles learning it. But one of those benefits puzzles me: it says that it does not cost vis. But, as far as I understand it, the summoning naranj still requires that you bargain with the spirit after summoning it, which means that you forfeit the vis cost, but also can't use a generous vis gift to lower your bargaining easy factor. Is that correct, or am I reading somethign wrong? Because, even though I admit to not having played it yet, it still seems that this kinda outweights the benefit you get from the summoning naranj as opposed to the normal use of sihr without a naranj...

Secondly, and I admit I might not be correctly understanding it so far, I find it puzzling that the seasonal summoning seeking and scouring does not use sihr (or any other summoning art) at all, but rather solomonic storytelling. And also, it doesn't produce a summoning total, at all. I have the strong feeling I'm missing something completely evident here, in the lines of seeking and scouring still needing a summoning roll after being used or something like that, but the description says that seeking and scouring does summon the spirit for you to bargain with, which kinda leaves you with no summoning strength to use for bargaining, and later on for naranj casting if the bargain is successful.

Can you please lend me a quick hand here? I'm pretty sure there's some small though vital point I'm missing that easily clarifies this, but I've re-read the whole thing a couple of times, and still don't have a clear grasp of the matter.

First, I must plead Serf's Parma, but I believe that Summoning Naranj are near instantaneous. As you say, the sahir must still bargain with the jinn to get it to serve him, but since he knows exactly what jinn he's summoning, its Might Score, and its personality, the player should have a substantial edge in the bargaining.

Seeking and Scouring aren't part of Sihr because it's really sort of a Field Expedient method of summoning: Basically, by using Seeking & Scouring, the sahira sends out a summons for any jinn within the area that can be affected by her summoning art. Being a Seasonal Activity, it's not especially useful in pinch, but it does tell the sahira what sort of jinn are in the area and lets her woo them a bit. Perhaps receiving an Arcane Connection or even their True Name...

Yes, I understand that, but I still think getting the penalty for not having gifted any vis is harsh, and if vis is simply not computed in the bargain easy factor, then not being able to boost your negotiation with vis is also kinda harsh (though less so).

But once you have the jinni there, at the end of the season, you can bargain with him, can't you? But you don't have a summoning total to compute your summoning strength for the bargain and, in case you strike a deal, subsequent naranj. Or did I miss something about seeking and scouring, and it's not meant to work that way?

Well, IIRC you can still offer Vis to the spirit in question. It's just not a necessary part of the summoning as is the case with Seeking & Scouring for example. Also, you get a significant Penetration bonus out of the deal!

Yeah I suppose you could. Or, if an unintelligent Jinn was summoned, you could unceremonious stuff it into a Solomonic Binding... It's true that there's no SS to help with your Laboratory and Casting Totals, but I suppose that can be put down to the fact that you're not using Sihr nor are you actually summoning the specific Jinn in question, but rather just using the expended Vis to trawl for nearby jinnis.

Right. So, how do you think it should be done, then? No bonus/penalties if no vis involved, and +1/+2 per pawn (depending on it being right type) if there's vis involved, with no minimum amount required? In other words, setting the "standard" amount required to zero. You think that's the right way to go about it?

So, to sum it up: a summoning naranj is meant to be the "normal" mode for getting your naranj-powering jinn, "raw" sihr is meant to be used for jinni you find during adventuring, and seeking and scouring is meant to be used to get a "feel" for the spirits in the area and gather some intel. Did I get it right?

Once again, sorry for being so dense, and thanks a ton for all the help and feedback.

Hi Dani! Nice to see you. Hope I can help.

Much of the wording of summoning naranjs is there to allow for other means of summoning, like using Methods and Powers, elementalist hedge Arts, or even Hermetic magic. Unlike other summoning arts, which might cost fatigue or vis, summoning naranjs do not cost fatigue or vis. Sihr doesn't technically cost vis either, though: you offer the vis to the jinni during the summoning, and this affects how well-disposed it is to you. You are right that with Sihr as his summoning art, the sahir must still bargain with the jinni, or force it to serve him in some other way, and thus you can still offer it vis if you want to boost your bargaining total, or if the penalty for not offering vis would be too great to convince the jinni to help you otherwise. Another advantage of a summoning naranj is that you always know exactly how offered vis will affect the negotiations, since you know its Might Score and therefore can calculate the standard offering. But the point of the summoning naranj is that it is quick, it gives a hefty Penetration boost, and it doesn't cost anything to generate the Summoning Total.

Note, when using Sihr, you can always spend the vis on the Summoning Total instead of offering it to the spirit, relying on the boosted Summoning Strength to help you overcome the penalty to the Bargaining total. However, if you botch the Bargaining roll, that vis is lost. Plus, you know, it's just nicer to let the spirit use that vis, instead of spending it to force it to serve you. But this is an interesting distinction that helps describe the kind of summoner you are playing. :slight_smile:

As others have said, Seeking and Scouring are used for finding more spirits. After a season, your sahir with Sihr for his summoning art would produce a jinni that he could either bargain with (Seeking) or imprison (Scouring). If it's willing to wait or unable to leave, the sahir could then formally summon it with Sihr to incorporate into his magic. The sahir could also take an Arcane Connection from it to allow him to summon it later. But although it says the spirit is summoned, it's not actually summoned in a way that Solomonic Magic can use. And remember, you also have to have another spirit there in the lab powering the effect for the season, since Seeking and Scouring are seasonal activities.

Hope you enjoy the game! I'd love to hear more about how it goes.

You indeed did, thanks a ton for the feedback!

Ok, that clears it up quite nicely. If you summon the jinn with a naranj and no vis, you still get the bargaining penalty for offending the jinn because you didn't make a proper offering. Thanks for the clarification. :slight_smile:

Now, that's the point I was clearly missing. I knew it must've been something pretty straightforward about the whole concept that I wasn't getting. Seeking and Scouring doesn't count as a summoning, as far as Solomonic bargaining/binding/whatever is concerned. That makes everything fall into place quite nicely. I finally feel confident enough about the whole thing to run the sahir part of the campaign.

Oh, I'm sure I will. I've been SGing it for many years, since (very late) 2nd Edition, and so far 5th Edition is the one I like the best, so this is kind of a sure bet. :wink:

I've rounded up a first sketch for a sahir magic character sheet, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

And yeah, I know, ArM3 looks and all... What can I say? Nostalgia running rampart. If people like it enough and find it useful, I might rework it to give it an ArM5 feel.

Sahir magic character sheet (PDF in a ZIP, 574 Kb)

Edit: fixed link

Since the thread exists anyway:

A few situations use the 'Highest Solomonic Art' of the character, most notably Enchanting Khadim and Al-Iksir.
Can Solomonic Sihr be used for either of these?
I think I know the answer, but I'm uncertain enough that I'd like to make sure.

Alas, no. While Sihr is often considered the equivalent of a Solomonic Art by those who practice it, the seal of Solomon has only five points.

I figured as much, especially since it's "sorta" included already, via the summoning strength that is appearantly part of any Sahir Lab Total.

Another quick question. When summoning a jinni, the appropriate amount of taqa to offer is the magnitud of its Power (CatC46), at least when using Sihr (nothing is mentioned for summoning naranj). When bargaining afterwards, you get a -2 bonus for each taqa above the standard, and a +2 penalty for each taqa below (CatC47) (signs are inverted because this goes to the Easy Factor).

But the example in the first paragraph of page 48 reads: "For example, when summoning a jinni with 10 Might (Imaginem), a sahir who offers 2 pawns of vis will have his bargain modifier reduced by 4."

Why? I mean, the jinni's magnitude is 2, so 2 taqa (pawns of vis) should be exactly what's required, and should therefore not modify the Easy Factor.

What did I get wrong?

Hmm, that doesn't look like something you got wrong, that looks like something I got wrong. :slight_smile: I think it should read "For example, when summoning a jinni with 10 Might (Imaginem), a sahir who offers two additional taqa will have his bargain modifier reduced by 4. If that vis is not Imaginem vis, his bargain modifier is then increased by 2." Likewise, if the initial offering is the wrong type, it will affect the Bargaining Total appropriately.

Mmmhh... since we're talking taqa offerings, there's an additional detail I wanted to ask about.

The summoning naranj description says one of its benefits (as opposed to using sihr without a naranj) is that it doesn't require expenditure of taqa. But if he offers no taqa, his bargaining easy factor gets penalized, which is incidentally the only penalty for not using taqa in a non-naranj sihr summoning. So, if I read everything correctly and my conclusions are right, naranj and non-naranj summoning require (or don't require) taqa just the same.

Now I know naranj summoning has plenty other benefits over "raw" sihr, as pointed out earlier.

But I'm intrigued by page 34 , where it says "Unlike using their summoning art, this naranj only takes a moment and does not cost any fatigue or vis." I'm puzzled because it seems this is all correct, except for the part about vis.

Which makes me think maybe you don't get a penalty to your bargaining easy factor for offering too little taqa when summoning from a naranj? Or am I over-thinking the whole thing?

That's right. Sihr doesn't cost vis, and it doesn't force the jinni to serve you, you still have to convince it to do so. Offering vis is one way to improve your chances-- or rather not penalize your chances-- but it's not required. The convincing process is a separate roll.

I can see why you'd think it works that way, and why it would be cool if it did work that way, but I don't think it can. The confusion might come from the fact that the taqa offering is first mentioned during the summoning process, rather than during the bargaining process. This is to alert the GM to the fact that the player should decide how many taqa he is going to offer before he sees whether or not the summoning is successful; it isn't a hard limit because during the negotiation the sahir can freely add or subtract from the offered taqa, up until the die is rolled. But this taqa isn't actually a cost of the summoning; Sihr only requires time, no fatigue or vis.

Then I'd say the description for the summoning naranj is kind of misleading. The part that reads "Unlike using their summoning art, this naranj only takes a moment and does not cost any fatigue or vis" kind of seems to imply that sihr requires fatigue and vis. That's actually what was confusing me: how that sentence seemed to imply that, but the description of sihr didn't.

All is clear now, thanks a lot for your thoughtful and detailed explanations, you've really cleared up everything that was confusing to me about solomonic arts. Hope I was not too much of a pain. :wink:

I'm pretty sure that the intention was to say that if the sahir's summoning art normally costs fatigue or vis, it doesn't when cast as a naranj. However, I realize now that I can't think of any summoning art offhand that actually requires vis! The only version I can think of is a Hermetic magus who must cast the summoning as a Ritual for some reason (maybe a divine Method and Power combined with Holy Magic?). Can anyone else think of examples? Anyway, the idea was that the summoning naranj allows the sahir to put the summons into a handy formulaic spell instead of whatever complicated process it uses otherwise. So I would suggest that when using a sahir with other crazy summoning powers, it also doesn't cost him Confidence or require Warping or whatever. The character is able to summon the spirit, so the naranj streamlines that same process into the equivalent of a formulaic spell.

Very glad I could help! Don't worry, and feel free to ask again any time you have a question.

Thanks a ton, the meaning behind that description of the summoning naranj is quite clear now. :slight_smile:

If I happen to have anymore question regarding sahir I'll be sure to post them here. Alas, I want to seize the opportunity to congratulate you on a job well done. The Cradle and the Crescent is an awesome sourcebook, and I'm utterly in love with it. The sahir magic system is absolutely gorgeous as well, and fits the theme wonderfully IMHO. Please, pass along my most sincere congratulations to the rest of the team involded. :smiley:

A new question just poped to mind while explaining the seasonal summonings. In page 38 it specifies the amount of vis a sahir can extract from an aura in a season, which is quite in line with what an Hermetic magus can extract from a source of vis in a season.

Now, the key thing here is, an Hermetic magus has to have a source of vis, whereas a sahir only needs an aura, according to RAW from CatC page 38. Is that correct? A sahir doesn't need a source of vis to extract vis, he can just syphon it out of any aura, and that's it?

There's nothing in the official errata regarding this, but it feels a bit overpowered, so I just wanted to make sure. Thanks in advance. :slight_smile:

Err.... a hermetic magus extracts vis from an aura as well...

Xavi