Automata - Again

OK, I know this is a bit like going back to a carcrash. Please bear with me.

Has anyone found a good use for automata, as written?
right now, I can see 2-3 potential applications, depending on just how stupid they are - and how much they need to be micromanaged.

If a combat automaton must be micromanaged to the level of "Hit that man! Hit that man again!", they are essentially useless.

If a combat automaton can be given a more complex order "hit that man until he's dead!" it has a use, though it is limited.

If a combat automaton can recieve and obey an order as complext as "Guard this room - kill anyone but me or this apprentice who enters!", they can atleast make decent guardians.

Combat applications of guardians are limited though, as their skill is limited by the skill of the magus-creator.

Automata can "learn" abilities, either Craft, Profession or Martial, appearantly.
The best application of this that I can see, is building an automaton with Profession: Scribe.
This also sidesteps the potential problem of having outsides copy sensitive books, eg on Arts or Parma Magica. However, would this automated scribe need a score in the relevant ability/Magic Theory, like an ordinary scribe? It should copy exactly, without false reasoning removing elements of the text because it doesn't understand what it copies - it never does anyway.

Automata have a Might score - which might be the best choice for that elusive trick of granting MR to an item. It'll be horribly expensive in Vis, but might well be the best hermetic way to create that chest with a Might score.
It might even be possible to enchant said chest with something to help it protect it's contents but then we're back to the above discussion of just how much micromanagement automata need.

First, the "good" use of them is the historical use of them, marvelous toys and entertainment, no small thing in a world without books (for fun), TV, or the Internet. They are more of an Ends then a Means.

As to 1), well, it is fuzzy, but the canon does say that "but some can perform tasks that are more complicated and follow intricate orders."(Mystery Houses, P.129). Given that the rules allow you to raise stats, I would say that the Int stat (yes, canon says Automata have no intelligence) is used to determine how intricate the orders it can follow are. An "Int" zero walking broom can fill your tub. An "Int" five artist (with suitable skill level) can paint your chapel.

As to 2), fuzzy. I would not allow it to copy books that require Magic Theory, but I would allow it to act as a stenographer, even if that required Magic Theory.

I'm just after RAW here - which means automata have no intelligence :frowning:

While I won't disagree on the whole scribe/bookbinder idea (I would still give MT 1 for the scribe as well as Artes Liberales for the alphabets and languages for the words.), this is far from the best I would consider. We are talking about a Verditius after all, aren't we? Let's say you have a Verditius with Craft: X at 6. Lets say Mr. Crafty works on Leadership to make it a 4 (specializing in the lab) - definite effort but very attainable. Now Mr. Crafty builds 5 automata with Craft: X at 6 and uses them as forge-companions, for 5x2=10 bonus in the lab (serf's parma). Having a +10 to every lab total to enchant a given class of item seems like a big boon to a Verditius. Sure, Mr. Crafty's familiar may give more, but this is on top of the familiar (though maybe only 4+familiar, depending on how troupes play). There has been a lot of investment to get this bonus, so it should be a fair bonus, but it's still a really nice bonus. And then there's the coolness factor of having all these automata in your lab helping build some item.

Hmmm... Have to check. Could you make two automata to repair automata? (Two so they could repair each other.) I always found the break-down thing to be the most annoying part.


Ah, but canon does not say that Automata do not have an Intelligence stat. They do not have intelligence, and so (canon) cannot "powers that
the thing can then cast on others.'; "Lacking intelligence, automata cannot maintain concentration". This is oddly specific, yes? I think what is going on is that Automata have an Intelligence stat, but are not self-willed, and that stat is much like the cunning stat that animals have. This would explain "but some can perform tasks that are more complicated and follow intricate orders."(Mystery Houses, P.129). Canon seems to say there is a range of complexity to the orders Automata can obey, and lacking any other stat that fits the bill, Intelligence (but not at a self willed, PC level) seems to be it. Again, canon says that the maker can raise the Automata's physical and mental stats.....

true, It does however specify that they have physical attributes and the value of these.
The word physical is use explicitly.

It also gives no hint as to what they are.

I'm afraid this is not terribly useful to me.
I'm trying to figure out what RAW say I can and cannot do, not what sophistry might allow.

I thought about that as well, but it seems like a terribly expensive way of doing so, both in time and in Vis.
Building 5 Automata means atleast 15 seasons as I recall, as well as significant amounts of vis (both for the basic automata, the Skill-bearing enchantment and for the Tie the Thread that Bind ritual.
And as i recall, I could get the same bonus from other enchantments from about 100 spell levels, for a total of 10 pawns of vis and certainly less time as well as either saving the XPs for leadership or being able to get other help in the lab

Nice one - I'd have to check about that.

I was just looking for something to use them for besides this - it is a major secret after all.
Well, was anyway.

Actually it does not.

No mention of mental attributes of what their values might be.
The word these refers back to physical characteristics, not just characteristics.
So we must assume that the "mirroring" mentioned refers to the guidelines.
Besides, if a thing of stone had an intelligence score, we'd improve on that using CrMe anyway, not CrTe.

I see no reason to assume automata have an intelligence score (implied or not) nor even a cunning score - either of which would have made them immensely more useful!

Ah, it does say. "Every automaton has the physical Characteristics of an average member of the species it is a facsimile of (0 for humans)." Mystery Houses, p130. The next sentence, "The magus may raise these, mirroring the effects of Creo Corpus and Mentem Magic." certainly implies that they have mental stats, and they can be raised (Otherwise, what the heck is the Mentem magic doing there?). If I had to guess, I would say that all the mental stats start at zero (actually zero, needing a magnitude to give it a stat of zero). The examples given also point in that direction. A songbird that sings almost magical songs? What physical stats cover singing? Communication or Presence (both mental stats) would seem to be what is needed. Simulacra? " It looks, smells, and sounds like a real thing rather than a facsimile."; "Raising the
magnitude one level allows the magus to make the automaton look like a specific animal or person.". How do you sound like a specific person if you do not have the same Communication stat? What good a guard with no Perception stat (Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe canon states that you cannot make a roll if you lack the stat in question)?

See above.

You're guessing and making assumptions. Vespasian pointe out he wante pure RAW, didn't he?

This has me puzzled too, but without further comment from the author or mr. Chart, I don't see how we can consider this RAW

...which is why this mystery has so often been declared useless.

RAW is that Automata stats can be raised with CrMe. RAW is that Automata are useful. Given that they would be useless for most uses if they have no mental stats, and given that only mental stats can be raised with CrMe, it seems to me that RAW is incomplete, but favors the idea that Automata can have mental stats (but not Free Will/Intelligence). As the creators have said so often, it's your game. If your saga is one where Automata are useless, go for it.

At the same time, I'm really unsure of any advantage in raising the Mental Characteristics since "Mental Characteristics are ignored for Abilities that require them..."


No. Re-read.

Mirroring does not mean using.

"The magus may raise these, mirroring the effects of Creo Corpus and Mentem Magic. The required Form depends on the automaton’s base material.". For the purpose we are talking about, it seems quite clear that it does. If only physical stats could be raised, the way you are suggesting, then the statement would say "mirroring the effects of Creo Corpus". Mentem magic is mentioned in the section discussing the raising of stats. It seems clear that mirroring in this case means that Creo (base form used in building the Automata) is used in place of Creo Corpus and Creo Mentem, to the same effect that they would have. CrTe is used instead of CrCo to raise a Gold Automata's strength. We all agree (I believe) that is correct. It seems clear to me that CrCo is also used/replaces CrMe (as it clearly states in canon) to raise a Gold Automata's perception.

What makes you assume that automata are useful for building a guard?

HoH: MC allows automata to be enchanted with abilities, but only a limited range of abilities.
Specifically Craft or Profession Abilities, as well as martial abilities.
It does not include General Abilites, so from pure RAW, how can it have Awareness?

We have no value given for their Perception (not even implicitly 0), so while I'd love to have an untiring guard in the for of an automaton, I don't see it as supported by RAW.

Again, academic (nor arcane) abilities aren't on the list of abilites explicitly included, which I suspect (purely guessing here) is why Vespasian wanted to avoid them

Strictly speaking no, as the text indicates "A magus can spot..." and keeps using the references to "magus".
Though that might be lack of imagination from the author. Though I could certainly see the usefulnes of this!

The only reason I can see for arguing about that, is the discussion of just how clever they are - can you raise their Int score to make them accept more complicated intructions?
I think Saxonous shoot himself in the foot a bit there, by not reading

Are you sure you're fully focussed on Verditius Automata (HoH: MC, p. 129ff)?

[quote="Saxonous"The examples given also point in that direction.[/quote]
What examples? I honest can't find any. Yes, there are example effects, but the CrIm singing I would write off as essentially recordings.

It looks to me as if you're confising the subject with the Awakened Devices of Heron (ancient Magic, p. 75ff), which has an excellent example songbird and which are clearly intelligent.
Ofcourse, this chapter also points out that the Mechanica are sentient devices, implying rather strongly that automata are not. And in the end, sentience is what Intelligence implies in Ars Magica - this is the difference between Intelligence and Cunning, essentially, as far as I can tell.

indeed if I though Automata possesed intelligence, I wouldn't have bothered starting this thread - their uses would have been obvious! But the impression i get from HoH: MC is very strongly one of non-thinking machines - they even have to have a 'cease' command specifically built in if one wants them to cease labouring!

Though brawl is allowed as is music, so I don't know for sure where the cut-off is.

Yes, there is an implicit 0: 0+roll=roll, the former being with Perception 0 and the latter being for automata. However, it does seem odd to raise its Perception and have that Perception do nothing.

Good point. That makes the phrasing actively mentioning Craft and Profession skills very curious.

Oh callen, you of all posters here usually know the difference between an implied value and an effective value.
Automata have no implied value for mental characteristics - whch would mean they actually had mental characteristics, which I contend they do not.

Because mental characteristics are ignore, they have an effective value of 0, which is not the same at all.

If you can have craft abilities, then the only drawback to making an automata with C: Automata is the requirement of the C: Automata virtue. I haven't spotted a way to give an automata a virtue, but I suppose you could run it through the initiation?!
(Trust me, I've been looking into this. I was wondering if an automata could make automata (von Neumann automata))

It's a supernatural ability, so you might be able to squeeze that in

I've been down that road too, but you need to cast a ritual to tie the pieces together.
And that is something I'm not comfortable with.

The Profession and craft abilities are pretty all encompassing in there scope. Covering most skills necessary to succeed in a field. Therefore I think Automata with abilities like Profession:Sailor or Craft:Blacksmith should be able to do work within their field with reasonable oversight. The mental tasks required would be accomplished about as well as an average person -Stat+0- with the equivalent skill level, though with less individual initiative. Pretty good for say a crewman or apprentice/shop helper.

As far as giving an automaton the craft automaton ability. By RAW no way, for my saga I'd say thanks for the story seed.