Automatic counterspelling talisman


In our current game, we have the following enchantment project for the defensive talisman of one player. It seems quite potent, and we could really use veteran players insights on the subject.

On Arm5 p83, it is said that a magus can automatically recognize the hermetic Form of a spell being cast with firm words and bold gestures (it needs a roll if the words or gestures are subtle or in other circumstances).

The goal is to make a independent object that is capable of detecting casting in the same way, and react accordingly.

Here are the details of the object enchantments :

The first effect is

InIm 21
It gives the independent item sight and hearing (Arm5 p112). This effect aims specifically at detecting the forms (Auram, Aquam etc.) gestures and words at range.
Base 2, +1 Concentration, +5 sustain concentration, +4 vision, +1 for 2 uses/day

The second effect

InVim 25
The effect is directly inspired by “Know the power” from Through the Aegis p108. It collects the informations from the first effect and dispatch them to the next effects.
Base 3, per/mom/ind +10 unlimited +3x4 linked trigger

The next powers are still to be finalised but could be anything from creating defenses in case of physical attacks (herbam, terram…) or trying to cast a wind of mundane silence to act as counterspell (in case of mentem, vim, …)

I think our concerns about this item technical legality can be summarized by two points :

  • Can an enchanted independent object do the same thing as a magus on Arm5 p83 ? (recognizing spells being cast)
  • If the answer is yes, then the next question is : are the guidelines we used there sufficient or do we need to use other effects to achieve the same thing ?

Any other comment is of course very welcome.

(By the way, we already thought about binding a spirit or ghost that could more or less do the same task, but we think that it has its own problems)

Thank you for your insights


I will qualify this by firstly stating that I am not a veteran player by any definition, so others may have more informed information for you

First thing I would say is that even if the spell to give an item sight were correct (which I do not believe it is) you would have the problem that the item could not understand what it is seeing - the item itself doesn't have a mind so it can't interpret and react to what it is seeing. For something like this you'd be looking, if I remember correctly, at the Bjorner mystery of Sensory Magic (In HoH:MC). I've not played with that particular mystery but I remember something about it being able to detect things from touch, so maybe sight as well?

I seriously doubt you can have an item do as magi do and determine technique and form as a spell is being cast unless there is something in sensory magic that will let you do that - and that would mean this mage would have to be Bjorner - again, something to check into and get other opinions on I think

You might be able to do something with a constant InVi detecting magic being cast, which triggers a spell to determine the form and technique (or could that be rolled into one?) which triggers the correct counter-spell, but I'm pretty sure that would mean it would be indiscriminately trying to counter every spell cast, though i dont think it could counter instant spells as they would cast before the item could finish triggering the counter-spell? (not sure and I have no books to hand so I can't check)

That my thoughts on it anyway, not sure if it's useful but looking at sensory magic might give you more information on what can be done with that, and so what normal magic outside of that mystery can do

Hi, I'm the author of the stuff in first post, that my friend was kind enough to translate, so I'm probably not the most impartial. Thanks to provide an opinion.

I believe spells with some degree discernment exist : "Ascertaining the absence of image" p111 of Legends of Hermes for exemple.

After reading Sensory magic, I don't believe It would apply nor make any difference.

I also point out that in the example in first post the imaginem spell isn't suppose to do the "thinking", that's suppose to be the job of the InVi spell whose job is to find gestures (the gesture for the arts) and words (the words corresponding the arts) as information provided by the first spell and trigger the defensive spell when he does.

That's difficult to understand without reading the spell p108 of Through the aegis.

Base lvl is probably off for the InVi spell this might be base 4 + 1 magnitude complexity.

I don't have Through the Aegis yet, though I think that is for the second spell and is really a separate issue, but I do have the core book. Sight of the Active Magics is Base 5, +2 Techniques and Forms. I really don't think this should at all be manageable with a Base-2 InIm effect. Dropping a full 5 magnitudes like that just sounds overly abusive.

Well I can see your point, but the effect you're referencing should be compared to the second spell, not the first. The first is only here to provide vision and sight to the object.

So that would be a drop of 4 magnitude if you consider the first post of a drop of 2 if you consider the revised proposal I made (we went through a lot of different versions, base 3 is what's provided in Though the Aegis, but the guideline isn't provided and we believe the information to gather from the spell was much easier in the book example than in this one.)

Here is the relevant part of the spell :
The InVi spell in Through the aegis is base 3, is triggered by 4 other spells (Sense the scale of Divine/Infernal/Magical/Fairy power that measure intensity of the the auras) and "It's sole purpose is to gather the information made available by those effects and made them available to subsequent effects that may then be triggers by this effect".

As for the reduced magnitude, there are drawbacks of this methods (assuming it works) it can only works if the talisman you can actually "see" and or "hear" the magus spellcasting.
The usual InVi base 5+2 magnitude works on any spell including those cast at range arcane, those without gesture and voice etc...

For a Mage to do this they not only have to see/hear the other person casting, they also usually have to succeed in a test involving a stress roll to determine the form (base on perception & Awareness) - page 83 of the core rules. The InVi spell cannot determine what spell is going to be cast as there is no magic to detect. The test for a mage to determine what is about to be cast is not them sensing the magic in the area, but knowing what the hand signals and words the other mage is using mean (there is a really interesting episode on the Games from folktales podcast about what the logical conclusions of this are and why this is possible (Episode 3 - What do your hands say in Mythic Europe)

The point I should have made is that an object cannot succeed in this test as it has no ability to perform it - it has no mind, no ability to think and so has no way of understanding what it can see.

As for "Ascertaining the absence of image" from legends of Hermes, I would disagree - that spell is only detecting the absence of one particular thing in the room the device is in and triggering an effect - it only has to check if an image (in this case smoke) is not present in any part of the room it is in. It does not have to read anything or determine information.

Having thought about this, what you are looking at here is similar to a problem with magically copying books, in that Intelego magic cannot read or understand - as explained very clearly in Transforming Mythic Europe (page 99-100). My thoughts on this again would be that though you might be able to give the talisman sight, I don't see how it can interpret in any way the actions of the caster and determine the arts being used to then trigger the correct follow up spell.

Oh, I misunderstood. You meant "detecting the forms' gestures and words" (with the apostrophe, not a comma), right? In the absence of either of the two marks, I'd thought it was a comma. Got it now. So it's not seeing the Form at all, just interpreting the gestures/words to match them up appropriately. That sounds fairly good, then, at least for exaggerated gestures/words.

I'm now confused by the second effect. Maybe that's not having Through the Aegis. Why is it not constantly monitoring the InIm effect? What are the four effects that trigger it?


From the page 83 you quote "If the caster is a hermetic magus and is using words and gesture that she can hear and see, she may determine this automatically" That's when I believe the item would work.

In my understanding, there isn't the same amount of thinking involved in reading and in finding predefined specific shapes or sounds in the images and ambiant sound received by the objet and triggering an effect each time you find them.

I'll have a look at the ressourced you describe thanks !

@Callen : Sorry for my English :confused:

I'm glad I'm finally understood :slight_smile:.

My guess Is that the spells to sense aura only trigger the InVi spell each time the intensity of the aura changes. I didn't think about it but for what I want to do a constant effect might be needed.

Your English is far better than any of my non-English languages. It just happened that in that case the single mark makes a significant change in the meaning.

I suspect you'll want a spell that continuously monitors the vision/hearing spell for the appropriate visuals/audibles. Then the counter-spells will have linked triggers to this spell.

Of course, this may only work with exaggerated voice/gestures. You might consider following the first (reduced to only vision) with a constant Sight of the Active Magics. That would pick up on all sorts of stuff even without words/gestures.

I understand why It would not work for quiet and subtle, but why not for Firm and Bold ?

That's me forgetting the naming. I was thinking "firm" and "bold" were the terms for exaggerated. But, looking back at it, I'm wrong. Those are the terms for normal. I would think firm, loud, bold, and exaggerated would all be fine. (Now I'm using the proper terms.)

To me understanding, even slightly, a sign language (which this is from what I understand of casting) is the same as understanding a spoken language, which is impossible with magic. The only way you can understand what someone is 'saying' in a language you do not understand is using mentem magic to, essentially, read their mind. Thats why I'd say this is not possible

I suppose a lot of this will come down to how hard your SG thinks it is to read what someone is casting, if there are easily detectable signs or words that dictate forms. Personally, I'd say its unlikely but YSMV

As for the appropriate guideline for the InVi spell , any opinion ?

Base 3 ?
Base 3 + 1 magnitude for complexity ?
more magnitudes for complexity ?

We're coming back to the question we asked in the OP indeed : "Can an enchanted independent object do the same thing as a magus on Arm5 p83 ? (recognizing spells being cast)"

Edit :

Well i'll consider it, but we're talking lvl 46+, not something I can do right now.

Oh, also, how are you going to make sure it doesn't dispel your own spells?

Initially, my idea was to concentrate on the object to stop if from perceiving until i concentrate on it again(in that case I probably need way more uses per day.).

With your suggestion to make InVi a constant effect (using conc +5 lvl for concentration by objet) I might as well put the additional uses on this one (say +5 24 uses a day) and concentrate to stop this effect...

We also contemplated the idea of using additional magnitude to ignore my spellcasting but i'm not sure it's legal.

[edit : Also I just Realized ! My magus is from Theban tribunal and my sodales aren't. I can probably simply cast in Classical Greek !! To have it Ignore my spell-casting]

I like the Concentration solution better so that your sodalis can cast spells when working with you. Also consider things like the following: you get knocked unconscious, your friend tries to use magic to heal you, the healing gets dispelled, ...

I intend to keep the concentration option, casting in Greek would just gives me even more freedom than my Sodales.

It's not very difficult to bypass it if you know how it works anyway.

IMO, because of the wide variety of constraints here, you really do need/want an InVi effect here, unless you're imbuing your Talisman with some kind of sentience.

I'd note that there's no 'active decision making' in triggered spells, they're effectively 'programmed'.

  • You would need additional requisites for Forms and Techniques on the InIm spell to identify the words/gestures of various TeFo combinations.
  • You are, after all, imbuing this item with the knowledge of forms and techniques the creator of the item has and making the responses appropriate. This will end up drastically increasing the complexity of the effect, to the point where an InVi substitute is preferred, unless you're looking only for a specific subset of TeFo combinations.
  • Non-standard language choices are used for some magus' spells (e.g. if the spell is in Ancient Greek and you only made the talisman trigger on Latin words. Note that members of House Ex Miscellenae especially often have at least some spells in another language, and the Theban Tribunal uses Ancient Greek instead of Latin, as you've noted - meaning if you encounter another mage who casts in Ancient Greek and tailor it not to trigger to that...)
  • Additionally, the talisman will not function if it does not have LoS to the magus casting - for example, if the talisman is under a shirt, or the caster is behind the magus.
  • Subtle or Quiet Casting options make this useless.

All in all: you really want an InVi effect here, especially if you're trying to craft more 'general purpose' defenses. You'll still have the 'talisman needs line of sight to the effect' issue, though, but general-purpose 'reactive' magical defenses are always going to need much higher effect levels. (Part of) the reason the Parma Magicka was/is such a huge deal.

If you're looking for general magical defenses, really accept no substitutes - I'd crank up the Parma, and get a few enchanted items that help you avoid more ignominious sources of death. A high level Wind of Mundane Silence on command would be a great one for a talisman, though - helps with all the more indirect magical ways you could die.

1/The level of the InVI enchantment is around 45-50, My magus can't produce a lab total high enough to enchant is.
2/The whole debate, isn't if there are better options, there are ! The debate is "Can a spell recognize casting from its predefined forms' gesture and sounds. Some believe it's possible some believe it requires true thinking and can't be accomplished by a spell.


What requisite do I need for an intelligo imaginem spell to see and hear ? You mean additional magnitude for intricacy ? Or maybe you didn't realized yet I actually use a secondary Intelligo VIm spell to identify specific words and gesture from the "data" coming from the intelligo spell ?

See response above, I actually use an intelligo spell to do this. Do you In fact suggest the guideline I should use for the secondary spell is Base 5 + 2 magnitude ?

I'm not so sure about the Ex Miscellanea bit, It actually requires integration into Hermetic theory to use a different language. If that's not Hermetic magic I can't dispel it cause I don't know it anyway. To my knowledge only Greek tribunal made that integration. I play In scotland, the only magus casting in Classical Greek are those coming for me from the Theban tribunal, I assume no one except maybe from my story flaws, I find It rather interesting.

Indeed, I just can't enchant better options yet.

I don't plan to stop using my parma, but it's not that hard to bypass by aiming, to penetrate with low lvl spell (those easy to counter…) I'm not trying to make something foolproof, I'm trying to increase my defense before my character is 60 and can actually make a proper intelligo Vim spell to detect magic. Also I like the intellectual challenge these spells represent : how to resolve a problem with the ressources you have NOW not in 15 years.

I appreciate your advice, but you're not directly contributing to the original question :wink: