I was writing up an Augustan in order to see what their magic could do for a solo game I'm running. Examining what they're capable of, it occurred to me that an Augustan may wish to create small animations that are capable of being used discretely.
However, I'm unsure if an Animation small enough to be moved would count as "Mobile", which would disallow the use of rites on targets other than the animation. Otherwise, it could be possible for a clever Augustan to have an animation that they place on a table and use to target a room with an effect.
So I'm curious about people's takes on this subject and also any cool animations that have shown up in your games!
A deadly toy maker! The rules seem to support it. Might be fragile, and risky to leave it somewhere as a spy or thief, though.
Cool concept to exploit, following.
Man, now I want an Augustan toymaker with either Faerie Friend or Plagued by Supernatural Entity (for a rivalry) with one of the inhabitants of the Faerie Toy Market on Devil's Lane (Mythic Locations 103-115). Just competing over entertainingly ridiculous and/or dangerous toys.
I always take the opposite approach, and go for big statues of human size or bigger, like a wooden Trojan horse.
Rival Magic p62 gives the Formula for animation base magic might (10 + Size + Material Base Points)/2
Now the example given of a human sized statue as 0 makes it clear that you are using the absolute size, so a butterfly (size -14 or -15 if I'm remembering the table from Hermetic Projects) made of silver would have base might (10 +-14 + 6 for silver)/2 - or 1. As page 64 gives "Limit on effects inscribed" as "ease factor may not exceed twice magic might", this limits you to installing level 2 effects.
Therefore, animations much smaller than a modest sized animal (eagle or badger?) will need precious minerals or gems (and the attendant huge vis cost) to have enough might to receive the effects you need. On the other hand, giant things made of wood use relatively modest amounts of vis to open and will have enough might to take the effects you want.
Anyway, this is why my Augustans use big wood and stone statues (base metals at a push) and leave the fancy materials to those who are very rich in vis.
I was imagining mouse (-10) or rat-sized (-8) animations, as per the table in the corebook. These would, by necessity, have a much lower Magic Might than standard animations- however, if they're intended to be mobile and lack instilled rites that may not be as much of a problem as one might think.
A wooden mouse sized animation of a small person could have up to (2 + Int) points of abilities. Properly trained, they could have Legerdemain (Lockpicking) 5. With some kind of small tool, they could be used for espionage and sabotage. Other, similar, animations who are sufficently Stealthy could be used to steal notes or texts from rival Augustans.
Armed with some kind of receptacle of poison, an animation with Stealth or Legerdemain could be used to assassinate people without needing much magic at all- though an Augustan expecting to use such a thing could cast something like "He entered among them, veiled in shadows" to help the animation.
If immobile animations can be made in portable form, then you're very right in that those intended to host effects would have to be made of very valuable materials. A rabbit sized animation made of silver with a semi-precious gem like an agate would have a magic might of 12. This would allow it to hold up an effect up to ease factor 24. A structure target version of "We wandered uncertainly, in a dark fog" or "He entered among them, veiled in shadow." could be very useful- an Augustan could carry such a thing in a large bag and use it to fill a building with shadows or fog- which could be very useful when paired with stealthier animations.
Otherwise, you're very much right that larger animations made of cheaper materials are much more effective- but I think there's an interesting place for smaller ones.