Circular Devices and T:Circle/D:Ring

R:Touch, T:Circle and D:Ring spells require the caster to draw/trace the encompassing circle at the time of casting. An obvious extrapolation is that, when such an effect is produced by an enchanted device, the device - possibly moved by the user - should draw/trace the circle.

How this is accomplished is obvious with something like a staff or a plough; it is far less obvious if the device itself is circular in nature, and it's meant to produce effects within its "intrinsic" circle: for example, an enchanted bowl or circular fence meant to affect things within their perimeter. I'd say that such a device inherently satisfies the requirement to draw/trace the circle that it embodies (i.e., it traces itself by merely existing) but I've seen different opinions. This thread is to get a sense of what the forum thinks about this, as well as to collect pointers to relevant information (if any) in the various books.

Do circular items automatically count as "tracing/drawing" the Circle they embody for the purpose of generating (at R:Touch) a T:Circle/D:Ring effect?

  • Yes, they do.
  • No, they do not - the user must still somehow trace the Circle.
0 voters

Note that the question seems fundamentally the same as the following: can a magus shapeshifted into a snake, who's resting with his body forming a perfect Circle, use his current shape to cast a T:Circle/D:Ring spell without moving?

EDIT: I realize now the "no" option was ill-phrased, but I cannot change it without invalidating the poll. What I meant was No, they do not: such devices must still somehow move to trace themselves, under their own power or aided by some external agency such as the user. I never intended to imply that the user can "stand in" for the device in terms of the requirement of tracing/drawing the circle.

When the circle already exists, the spell caster must still trace the circle. This requirement does not disappear just because it is an enchantment rather than a spell.

For enchanted devices, the most common case is that the user must draw/trace the circle for the device. This very much includes the case where the device itself is circular and that circle is traced, as well as situations where a circle is drawn on the ground or similar.

In some cases, where you have some type of device that can move on its own, the device can draw/trace a circle, but this is an exception rather than the rule.


It does not disappear. The question is whether the device satisfies the requirement - tracing itself - by merely existing.
The same could be argued of a spellcaster who first creates a Circle with his arms, and then casts - silently and without gestures - a T:Circle spell affecting whatever he is encircling. Or a Bjornaer who does the same with its snake body!
One reason why I voted for yes is this. One can certainly satifsfy the "trace" requirement by adding some sort of "sliding cursor" - self-moving or moved by the user - that activates the device just by going around it. But these cursors feel very unmythical to me, so I'd rather make them unnecessary!

This is absolutely not RAW. When "translating" a spell into an effect produced by an enchanted device, the rule is that (unless explicitly noted) the device takes the place of the casting magus. Thus, range is calculated from the device and not the user, R:Per affects the device and not the user etc. So the requirement that a magus trace a circle when casting a T:Circle/D:Ring spell becomes a requirement that the device trace a circle; the user can't do it for the device (though he can certainly "help" the device do it). So, unless you admit that an immobile circular device inherently traces itself even if immobile, a user can't satisfy the "drawn a circle" requirement by drawing the circle himself on the immobile, circular device.

While your yes/no handles it, your prior statements leave out a possibility for a circular device. Is there a reason the activation of a round device couldn't involve the user running a finger or similar around the circle the device makes?


Yes. The most obvious is a device with an Environmental or Linked trigger. And there are other situations when the user may not want/be able to trace the Circle himself.

Additionally, while I'd allow an activation such as yours (it's mythically very appropriate) it's not obvious that it follows the RAW, unless you admit that the device can trace itself by merely existing (and thus the "run the finger around the circumference" is just as valid a trigger action as "clap your hands"), because in that case it's the user tracing the Circle, while the device is immobile.

Hmm. Now that I think of it, I seem to recall some magus in some book (MoH perhaps? Or maybe some player saga?) with a ... chain? as a talisman, which could create T:Circle effects. But (again, my memory is very fuzzy) I seem to recall that the talisman did not draw the Circle the way you'd do with a stylus, it arranged itself into a Circle, and then produced the T:Circle effect. But I'm probably misremembering stuff or conflating different memories into one.

No, that need not be the case. Consider that with the device the caster's concentration and the caster's Finesse are become those of the user. And Circle/Ring are even a little more lenient in their wording:

A ring must actually be drawn while the spell is being cast.

But I'm looking more at

The ring may already exist, for example as a band laid into the ground. In this case, the magus must trace the full circumference of the ring, moving no more quickly than ten paces per round.

I don't think there is really anything in RAW going against the user tracing the circumference of a circular device to use the device's inherent circle. But that is definitely not the same as saying the device merely existing is sufficient on its own.


A definite no for those cases.

The ring may already exist, for example as
a band laid into the ground. In this case, the
magus must trace the full circumference of the
ring, moving no more quickly than ten paces
per round.

You must actually trace the full circumference of the circle with a finger or crayon or whatever. Merely existing does not constitute tracing itself.


I do not think that's relevant at all - for example, Range is calculated from the device, not from the user.

Sure, and if the item is circular, the ring is drawn while the spell is cast (as in "exists as drawn", rather than "gets drawn"). So, that requirement is fully satisfied by assuming a circular item "traces itself". Thanks for pointing it out!

The issue is that, unless otherwise noted - as is the case of e.g. Finesse - the enchanted device and not its user replaces the magus for all purposes. So, it's the device not the user that must trace the circle. If you assume that tracing requires movement, it's the device that must move.

I don't think a thing existing counts as tracing itself. Is a human being constantly tracing the shape of a human body on himself? I don't think anyone would agree with that; if somebody said they were tracing the shape of a person on themselves, the only reasonable interpretation of that statement is that they are using a finger, tool or the like to trace their own outline. I see no more reason to conclude otherwise if he were to first MuCo himself into a ring of flesh, and try to cast a Ring spell on everything encircled by his body.

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You might want to reread the rules on Range. E.g.

Sight: ... A magic item uses the wielder’s sight

The item may not have any line of sight to the target, so long as the user does. So we know Range is not necessarily from the device rather than the user.

So, basically you're saying that you're asking for opinions of others on interpretation here, and you're flat-out refusing a reasonable interpretation that does not actually contradict canon anywhere. There are many places the user is checked rather than the device, and this one is not explicit either way. And you've even just contradicted canon above in your insistence of some things being specifically from the device rather than the user. I'm fine you don't like the interpretation for yourself. But that it seems like a poor approach to ask for opinions and then just say some are flat-out wrong by fiat.

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So a 13' long snake can ignore the speed limit?


Well, a magus with a 10' staff talisman can trace a 20' diameter Circle without moving.

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Not without moving. Might be staying in one place, but he won't be completely unmoving while tracing the circle.

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Sure, but as I said before: unless otherwise noted, the enchanted device "stands in" for the magus. In this case (R:Sight) it's explicitly noted otherwise. If you assume that the user can "stand in" for the magus in general, you run into all sorts of troubles (e.g. grogs as fatigue batteries).

And nowhere does it state that the user, rather than the device, can "stand in" for the magus for the purpose of tracing/drawing a Circle/Ring. So, the user cannot do so, though it can assist the device in doing so. I never assumed this was in question when I asked my original question. Though I realize now the poll question was ill-phrased, my fault, I should have written something like "No, they do not: such devices must still somehow "move" to trace the Circle, autonomously or powered by some external agency".

Pfff. I could argue yes, without moving, but having only the staff move. But let's not nitpick. What I was trying to say - in reply to @Tugdual - is that it's not a great boon for a magus to assume he can draw a large circle quickly by "embodying" it (thus bypassing the speed limit) because a magus can bypass the speed limit just by being big or having a long talisman. It might shave a round or two for circles a few dozen paces in length, but being/becoming that big (or having that big a talisman) does require a non-trivial investment and comes with its own drawbacks.

I agree the two cases are essentially the same. I disagree on the conclusion: for me embodying a Circle counts as drawing/tracing it.

Once again, this is not just an issue of how one reads the text. My main concern is that there are ways in which you can add with little effort "tracing" to an enchanted device (or a casting magus) that's "embodying" a circle. For example, you can just have a little cursor that automatically runs around the circle, or the magus can just have a MuCo spell active that automatically "flashes" a drawn circle on his flesh. Unfortunately, all these solutions are utterly unmythical.
That's why I'd rather go with an interpretation that does not ask for them.

To sidestep the metaphysical discussion for a moment, I think this must be impossible, because otherwise there is no reason to use any other parameters for a constantly active area enchantment; one of the main downsides of ring/circle spells is that you must make concentration checks to cover large areas, not a problem if the enchanted item automatically succeeded. Additionally, this item could cover an arbitrarily large area for no size adjustments, recall that you need not open the entire item, the few pawns for a small shaft of wood is sufficient for a ring encircling the city of London, for example.

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Don't miss the forest for the tree, you know what I'm hinting at here.

Well, sure, you need not spend enough vis to enchant the whole ring, but it must still fit in your lab; you'd need a lab large enough to fit the whole of London!

In general, large items - a few dozen paces in diameter? - can save you a round or two when tracing, but they become very hard to move and to use on circles other than the ones they embody. I feel this is a reasonable tradeoff. Incredibly large items (ones encircling a whole city, for example) are effectively impossible to create barring exceptional stories, Virtues etc.

Though the issue you raise about Concentration is the first one I find somewhat convincing. We do know that the tracing large Circles requires concentration, and that the user's Concentration "stands in" for that of the device. So... hmm. I'd need to think about that.

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I'd say it would be possible if the device had uninterrupted constant duration, but that is not what you are really asking, is it?
It also seems rather important, that »tracing« necessarily involves movement: a magus would need to slither a bit to trace the ring.