A wealth creating scheme a day for January

As it's a new year, let's try another set of things as I skipped November due to a heavy workload.

Wealth creation - it's something alluded to in Covenants, and frequently a focus for player character magi so they can live well beyond the means of an average covenant. So let's create some examples, and think of pitfalls, ways to make it seem less obvious to mundanes, and cost it up.

Day 1 - fake mining
I will look at real mining later, but a fake mine is easy - have a place that looks like it could have ore, but then magic up the finished item.

Base metal in terram - 1 cubic foot is base CrTe 5. As a ritual using vis, the minimum level is 20, so using base 5 + 1 range touch (create a block of metal at touch range) allows 2 magnitudes for size, that is 100 cubic feet. To use metric measures, that is 2700 litres. You can use densities in g/cm cube and that will give you mass in kg/litre. As we are creating 2700 litres a time, you will get 2.7 metric tons x density in g/cm3

Common metals - lead 11.34, iron 7.87, copper 8.93 - this gives
30.6 tonnes of lead
21.2 tonnes of iron
24.1 tonnes of copper
Multiply this by the values in City & Guild and you see you have over 1000 mythic pounds of metal for 4 pawns of vis, with a ritual a CrTe specialist can research the moment they have a lab set up.

Now, the Ore mountains in the Rhine Tribunal have specifically been set aside by the Holy Roman Emperor for people to prospect, and anyone mining lead, iron or silver there can produce it tax free. Across Europe, you can research what metals were mined and produce fake mines and people may not suspect anything.

For real discretion, you will probably need an illusion of the sound and smell of smelting coming from a building so people believe all smelting is occuring where you are directing them to.

5 Likes

silver is also 10.49 g/cm^3, and while you only get 1/10 the volume, 2.8 tonnes of silver is still quite a bit. copper of course is used for coinage as well, and by ancient roman denominations being worth 1/2250 the value of silver by weight (in modern day 1/100), you will come out ahead by "mining" silver.

This leads us to DAY 2: PRECIOUS METALS

Alas, the CrTe guidelines ramp up sharply beyond base metal - Precious metals (gold and silver) are a base of 15, with a base individual 1/10 of a cubic foot.

Therefore, at level 20 (minimum for a Creo ritual) you get 15 + 1 magnitude touch - 1 base individual of precious metal! This is one-thousandth the quantity of base metal. Gold and silver are immensely precious though, so how does this work out?

One-tenth of a cubic foot is 2.7 litres. With a silver density of 10.49 and a gold density of 19.30 for the pure stuff, you get a decent weight - 28.32kg of silver, or 52.1kg of gold. I don't know if the mythic pound should be an avoirdupois pound of 454g or a troy pound of 373g, but City & Guild uses the 454g pound as standard. Assuming the 454g pound, you get 62.4 pounds of silver (which is 62.4 Mythic pounds, minus whatever commission your moneychanger takes) or 114.75 pounds of gold (which according to C&G is worth about 10 times its weight in silver).

Therefore, at level 20 you get
silver about 62 pounds
gold 1147 pounds
lead 1896 pounds (60/ton)
iron 2544 pounds (120/ton)
Copper 4820 pounds (200/ton)

Extra levels of magnitude on the spells add 5 levels of spell to research, 1 extra vis to cost, and scale up by another factor of 10. While base metals offer both utility (you can make useful stuff out of them) and the opportunity to make stacks of money, you will end up needing storage space (as you can't sell it all at once), to keep the storage dry (as base metals will corrode or tarnish unless you're in a desert), and the ability to transport a weight of goods. Gold and silver are much more easily converted to cash, but being so precious are a much bigger target for thieves and potentially more likely to attract mundane and quaesitorial attention.

Hard decisions for a magus with dreams of hiring an epic workforce for his dream project eh?

Now you may have noticed the much higher prices for finished goods in the City & Guild chart at the end of the book - this gives me opportunities for more schemes later this month.

2 Likes

also worth noting that depending on region gold trades silver at rates ranging from 12:1 to 20:1 by weight. Platinum can also be produced as a precious metal- it has a density of 21.4, but it never had an established exchange rate until far more modern times, though it was used in jewelry, primarily because it was so rare and difficult to work with that it was never minted into a currency.

Interesting how base metals actually are worth more than the gold and silver equivalent levels. Can they (lead copper...) be made using smaller batches and spell levels?

You get stuck because the minimum level for a Ritual is 20.

1 Like

it really depends on the market- 4820 pounds of copper at the Roman exchange rate is worth 2.14 pounds of silver, so at those rates you are better off making silver or better, gold
at modern exchange rates 4820 pounds of copper is worth 4.82 pounds of silver, so again- better off going with precious metals. if you use the D&D exchange rate a 4820 pounds of copper is worth 482 pounds of silver, but that's just one more area where D&D is really broken... however even with D&D exchange rates it is worth 48.2 lbs of gold, so even there making gold at 1147 pounds is far more productive.

Definitely better off with a few extra magnitudes and doing gold. Of course, you can get some ridiculous values out of other things, too, instead of going straight for metals. Those CrFo rituals may be showing up in coming days.

1 Like

I've got very behind haven't I? Work has been busy, so it may take a while to get the full load done.

DAY 3: THE MAGIC TANNERY
The ReAn base guideline level 3 "treat and process items made of animal products" from Covenants (page 50 in the rego crafting section) is useful to treat animal hide. A level 4 spell (base 3, +1 touch) will turn cowhide into leather without needing all the smelly dung and urine that makes actual tanning so unpopular.
As the spell is level 4, you can turn out an unlimited use lesser item at level 14 (+10 levels for unlimited uses), so within reach of a starting Animal magus for a mere 2 pawns of Animal vis.

An additional level for greater complexity should be enough to handle the softening process required for suede.

Looking at the sidebar on page 49, the trouble is that tanning is usually time-consuming, taking weeks or months. The finesse roll will therefore be mundane difficulty +6 (for something that can be done in one month) or +9 (three months) so you will probably spoil a fair proportion of hides and will probably need a real specialist working on this.

1 Like

DAY 4: THE MAGIC DYEWORKS
Using the same guideline ReAn 3 “treat and process items made of animal products” for silk and wool with the dye needing an Aq requisite +1 touch +1 Aq requisite for level 5; or ReHe(Aq) base 5 “treat and process items made of plant products” for cotton and linen +1 touch +1 Aq requisite for level 15.

These spells allow you to turn textiles and dye into dyed textiles, and to save cost the magic can hold the dye fast without needing the more expensive grades of mordant used in mundane dyeing. (See the rego crafting sidebar on Covenants p49 where it discussed bleaching skins to parchment without needing lye as an example).

This leads us on to two more wealth-creating schemes....

DAY 5: MAGICAL ALUM PRODUCTION

You don't need alum in order to make dyes hold fast with magic, but the mundane world does. Venice tries to keep its advantage by keeping a monopoly on Chios (off the coast of Anatolia) and what City & Guild lists as superior alum. Other sources of reasonable alum include Milos in the Cyclades and Egypt's Western Desert.

You could create this as a base rock - CrTe base 3 + 1 touch gives 1 cubic pace at level 4, so to get to level 20 ritual minimum you can do 10,000 cubic paces for no extra cost in vis. Alternatively, you could sneak into an alum mine, take an arcane connection and teleport rock away.
Using the guidelines in Transforming Mythic Europe page 107, it is base 4 to teleport rock 5 paces, +5 magnitudes for up to arcane connection distance. For range, this means either +1 (you touch the rock and teleport it to where you have an AC to) or +4 magnitudes (at AC range, you teleport the rock you have an AC to), and you will need +1 part target (ripping a chunk out of a bigger piece) giving the spells:

Send the ores home: ReTe 35 (base 4, +5 magnitudes for AC distance, +1 touch, +1 target part) send 1 cubic pace of rock out of a cliff to wherever the magus is holding an arcane connection to - this can be used in a magical mining device.
Steal the ores remotely: ReTe 50(base 4, +5 magnitudes for AC distance, +4 Arcane connection range, +1 target part) a mage holds an arcane connection to a vein of ore or a cliff-face, and steals 1 cubic pace of rock from it.

(This can be repeatedly abused for any form of ore, and I may come back to this)

DAY 6: MAGICAL COAL PRODUCTION

Coal is a base rock. It's also a superior fuel source, handy for keeping houses warm, forges fired up, kilns heated, and very useful in ironworking.

Creating the earth's black wealth - CrTe base 3 + 1 touch gives 1 cubic pace at level 4, so to get to level 20 ritual minimum you can do 10,000 cubic paces for no extra cost in vis.

Another handy ritual someone with a Terram focus in stone can do!

Bituminous coal has a density of 1.3 to 1.4, while anthracite has a density of 1.5. Alternatively in imperial measurements coal has a density of 78-97 lbs/cubic foot, so minimum 21,060,000lbs or 9,572 tons. Coal is superior fuel, selling for 3 mythic pounds a ton according to C&G so you’d best develop good transport.

Given you've just created a massive slab of coal, perhaps you need help breaking it up? Maybe a PeTe (base 2 weaken dirt +1 stone +1 touch +1 part) level 5 to turn a cubic pace from solid into coals. This could be enchanted into a pick (for the shape bonus) which has a dual use for turning rock into cobblestones for paving, or turning rock into handy sling stones for magi of the School of Vilano.

1 Like

and if the coal is going to be used right away duration:moon should be plenty and save on the vis expenditures

I'm reviving this thread as I will slowly add to it, following the recent threads on Magical Industry
and A Brief History of Eels

Day 7: Vermin for fun and profit!

See Art & Academe p30 – the spell “A plague of frogs” adjusted to eels creates 1000 eels from a pool of water 1 base individual in size using CrAn 20. You could create mice from damp earth (very small bits of meat for desperation? Maybe with magic to kill you could get enough for food). You can get scorpions from dry earth for weapon or crunchy snack use. Overall, eels for smoking or preserving in jelly is probably the most edible. Creating bees sounds good, but as you have to use cattle corpses to create bees you might as well just create the beef in the first place.

You could turn plant matter into caterpillars – if you get silk moths, this could start your farm. Wikipedia says to get 1kg of silk, 104kg of mulberry leaves must be eaten by 3000 silkworms. (Thinking of silk from invertebrates, there’s also sea-silk, from Pinna nobilis, the pen shell – a bivalve that sometimes has pearls and is edible. It secretes a silky thread to anchor itself to rocks in the intertidal zone).

Sericulture was common across the Byzantine empire, in 1147 during the 2nd crusade Roger of Sicily attacks Corinth and Thebes and captures their weavers and equipment, and establishes silkworks in Palermo and Calabria. Sack of Constantinople in 1204 drives a lot of artisans to leave the city, many to Italy and some to Avignon.

Dies Irae has a section where some spider-obsessed magi weaponise this to create spiders from the air to attack covenants with. Another potential military usage would be creating scorpions from dry earth, although good luck to anyone in Hibernia or Loch Leglean trying to get the earth to be as dry as the North African deserts...

I do not believe that medieval philosophers would view the formation of silk by silkworks is considered to be the form of spontaneous generation of resources the way rats or eels were seen.

The theory of spontaneous generation relies on the writings of Aristotle and Pliny, who refer to silk being made on Kos. This comes from a north African/mediterranean moth, not the species from China that is the modern silkwork, introduced to the west in Justinian's time. This innovation occurs after the ancient authorities were writing, so we would have to speculate what medieval philosophers would think.

Which presumes that the word of the Greek philosophers was being accepted over the evidence of their own experience. I doubt very much that such a level of pig headedness would prevail (though I do not doubt it's existence) in the age, but the other question then becomes which is the correct answer for an ars magica universe- and whether the answer to that depends on whether you are talking hermetically or naturally. A world where it is known that silk is an animal product of insects the same way milk is an animal product of goats or cows and yet magic treats it as spontaneous generation where plant can be transformed to silk by rego could lead to some very interesting questions and basis for experimentation... (perhaps to see if grass could similarly be transformed into milk without the use of a cow to undertake a "living craft operation"

Day 8: Timber

Using CrHe guidlines (such as base 15 raise to maturity in a day) to mature acorn to oak is elegant. A spell of level 30 (15 base + 1 touch range+2 sun duration) will do this if cast after dawn.

Following the rules in Coventants, here's a spell to help - The Mystic sawmill – ReHe base 5 “Process and treat items made of plant products” to turn a tree trunk into useful bits.

Now, freshly grown wood needs seasoning. Do you use a CrHe 2 “preserve plant product from decay” in a place with PeAq “destroy water” (such as on a barn or a drying shed) to keep it dry and slowly season the timber, or ReHe the timber directly with high finesse roll (as it’s at least a season to properly “season” wood, and sometimes a year)?

Timber is 5lb/ton for standard grade, double for superior, half for shoddy.

I's make it a ReHe with an Aq requisite that adds to magnitude.

It takes a long time but very little skill to season wood. The finesse roll would be a base of 3 with +9 for a year's worth of seasoning (the standard where I live to be able to sell wood as firewood), though there are websites indicating 2 years of seasoning for oak...
on the other hand, you could cast repeatedly for shorter periods. I don't think the PeAq method would work becaus ethere is more to seasoning wood than it simply drying (I know the lumber company where I used to serve on the BOD kept freshly cut trees "under water" or essentially being wetted by a sprinkler system. However that was freshly cut trees, I believe the seasoning is done after cutting... and from what I found in a quick search the point to seasoning is to dry the wood slowly and carefully rather than quickly, suggesting that the ReHe method may be the only one that truly works.

On the plus side oak should be unquestionably ranked as superior wood, and if you grow enough at once you could set some aside to be seasoned the normal way and be sold in future years.