Circular Devices and T:Circle/D:Ring

Does it? This is a subtle issue with English.
One can say that a road/valley/riverbed traces the border between two regions, can one not?

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Honestly, I have a sense of what you may be hinting at, but I'm not quite sure.
I suspect you are saying that a very large magus, if allowed to "trace" a circle by embodying it, can "trace" such a circle very quickly - in fact, more quickly than a magus who had to walk it out - implying that should not be allowed because it would be unbalancing.
If that's the case, I disagree, because achieving a size of a few dozen paces requires a significant investment and only shaves a few rounds off large circles; achieving a size much larger than that is effectively either impossible or a legendary feat in its own right (being able to trace large circles quickly is only a minor side effect compared to being able to turn at will into a 1-mile-long wyrm).

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Ah! But roads do run! And the circles do not. Check out the verb 'trahō' for further info. I'd say that otherwise the verb doesn't even apply to stationary objects. Besides, those things are usually associated with journeys, walking and drawing.
Not many reasonable ways to say this otherwise, and too much trouble to only prevent munchkinism.

Hmm. Even without looking at roads, I'd say that a line can e.g. trace someone's profile in the sand.
In general I believe that the verb "to trace" can be used without actual movement for long things that are static, but conceptually follow a certain path (again, note: follow without moving). The same goes with the verb "to draw". Which is, if you wish, the whole point of this discussion: can something or someone embodying a Circle be considered to be drawing or tracing it, despite being static?

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Keep in mind that this is different in ArM5 than in ArM4 (which is the framework you seem to be using, from another thread). In ArM5 a "constant" effect is a D:Sun effect that gets recast by an environmental trigger every dawn and dusk.

So, yes, this is what I am really asking - in ArM5. Asking whether one can create an enchanted Circular container that produces a constant ... Circular Ward against Stuff with R:Touch, T:Circle, D:Sun, 2uses/day, +3 Environmental trigger (or, in fact, D:Ring, 1use/day) is one way to phrase my original question.

I think the wording in Ring is pretty clear - the ring must be physically traced when the effect is activated. It's basically a Necessary Condition tacked onto a Duration.

How this tracing is done is clearly described - it has to be done at touch range, and it has a speed limit, and requires concentration if the ring is large. So this isn't some loosey-goosey set of circumstances. It even restricts the Range that the spell can be cast at!

The intention seems to be clear - that there's an interruptible action that must be performed (tracing or drawing a circle) to activate the effect. Now, maybe the designers didn't consider a self-activating Ring device, but it seems more likely that the designers didn't want to restrictions of Ring/Circle magic to be bypassed easily. You could build a self-tracing ring (with a rail and a moving ball, for example). It's extra work (seasons/vis), but it fulfills all the requirements.

Going by back-story, Ring/Circle magic is a product of the Ex Misc group of Columbae, who have a necessary condition that they must physically mark their targets for their magic to work. This symbolically aligns with Ring magic, where you're 'marking' your target by drawing the ring.

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D: Ring is the same level of effect as D: Sun. There is no need for T: Circle to use D: Ring. You could use D: Sun with an environmental trigger and two uses per day to make the truly constant item you ache for with D: Ring. Is the point of this whole conversation to suggest that using D: Ring on enchanted items designed as a circle should somehow be the standard practice for constant items, because you're hoping to save 4 levels on the enchantment and therefore vis, while achieving an area of effect?

If you really insist on making items that use D: Ring that are shaped as a circle to self-trace so the user doesn't have to do it, do it the right way, with a linked trigger to trace the item. I would suggest a low level rego craft spell, which incidentally would have the advantage of letting you turn on and off your circle at any time, by drawing the circle and then repairing the item to its previous state.

But a suggestion that an item should be able to bypass the requirement to trace the circle seems like a gamey way to allow large-scale effects while saving time and vis to me. I would ban it at my table, and I certainly don't enjoy the thought of a magi shape-shifting into a 6.28-mile long snake to empower instant, no risk T: Cir, D: Ring effect on a mile radius circle either.

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"Trace" can be used statically, but I'm afraid I don't believe that's the intended meaning of the word in the rules.

I could believe some kind of enchanted device that traced a circle invisibly when activated, but that wouldn't (in my opinion) be a free result of it being shaped like a circle. Maybe a ReVi requisite to push the magic round a circle?

I disagree with this game balance argument.
For two big reasons. First because, 4 levels is not that much; furthermore, if you put no environmental trigger in, the effect once dispelled remains dispelled until manually reactivated - if you do put an environmental trigger in, you are saving a mere 1 Level. Second, stuff that works with D:Ring can usually already be created "semipermanently" and without vis via formulaic or spontaneous magic - alternatively, you can bring it into being with a portable device that can create thousands of self-maintaining Rings all over the place. Making it a little easier for a device to maintain a single Ring if anything helps, rather than hinders, game balance.

No need. just incorporate into the Circular Device the tiniest mechanical cursor that's kept rotating around the Circle via a first magnitude D:Ring Rego magic cast spontaneously without fatigue. Or similar contraptions, that are utterly unmythical. That's one of the reasons removing their need is better for the game.

Again, it seems to me, particularly after this discussion, that it does not bypass the requirement. According to standard English a Circular item traces a Circle (statically).

How so, and how large? Certainly no larger than your lab, unless you are using some special Virtue.

So, you are running a saga in which magi can casually shapeshift into 6.28-mile-long spawn of Jörmungandr? If that's the case, I suspect that being able to easily trace large Rings is the least of the power-creep issues you have to deal with. Besides, if your magi can casually shapeshift into said leviathans, your interpretation is just imposing on them the tiniest onus: slither a tiny bit forward with your massive body set up in a CIrcle, and presto, the Circle has been dynamically traced on the ground.

I'd rather say that, when the rules were written, nobody thought about the edge case of a circular caster.

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I'm merely saying that the word "trace" in that context means an act: something like a finger that moves round the circle till it gets back to the beginning. I see room for debate about what can be done by enchanted devices, but your post I am replying to introduced other definitions of the word "trace", and I think that only muddies the discussion.

It's trivial to enchant arbitrary large items in your lab by simply shrinking them with spells or enchanted items

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I'd say it's not trivial to shrink arbitrarily large items by an arbitrarily large scale factor.

But let's assume it were trivial. Then look: once you have your huge Circular Ring of Doom, and you've placed it around the city of London, it takes just a little spin - make it turn clockwise by an inch - and presto, it has traced a Circle around London (just look at the deep furrow it's leaving on the ground) and can then work its nefarious magic. What I am saying is that requiring dynamic tracing does not really make things that much more difficult, but it generally does make them less mythical and more mechanistic.

I do (think I) see what you are saying. But I am countering: I disagree movement is implied to be the only way to trace a circle, even though it's certainly the first way that comes to mind.

Furthermore, even if you require a "new" circle to be made at Touch range by "moving", you can draw a very small circle in the sand by just making an "O" with your thumb and forefinger, and pressing it down. The idea that you have to touch sequentially all the points of the circle - one after the other - may be the what first springs to mind, but I do not see how the text implies it is the only possible one.

I think ultimately I don't actually care very much about the various in-game arguments. Imo this is clear munchkinism, use it if you have to I guess.

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It may not be explicit, but I think it is quite clear that is what was intended.
Attempts to read the text in other ways strike me as not only far-fetched, but also as bad rules-lawyering.
You know what you want the rules to say, and then bend the words into a pretzel trying to fit them into your interpretation.

No, I don't think there is any reasonable way of reading the rules where tracing a circle does not involve drawing/following it start to end with your finger or a pen or a stick or whatever.
If you want it to work otherwise, make it a house rule rather than trying to convince yourself it is supported by the official rules say.

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30 voters - 77% against. As clear a consensus as you can get on this board on things that fall somewhat in a grey zone.

No need to make it a houserule. It's the literal reading of the rule - I have checked with multiple people whose mastery of the English language is without question, and who do not have a view skewed by "I've always played this way, so it must be what was meant".

I find it strange that you think that the only way to draw a figure is to follow it from start to end with a pen or stick or whatever, without ever lifting the drawing tool. In fact, there are many figures that cannot be drawn that way, while in fact they can be drawn in other ways. I suggest an experiment: try asking random people if a 3-foot long snake, starting in an appropriate position in the sand, can draw a 4-foot-long circumference by moving only 1 foot. I am sure the vast majority will say something like "sure, it just has to start curved a little like a C, and slither 1 foot over the "missing" part of the circumference!"

I was trying to understand why a majority of the forum instead wants to houserule it as you say. Most will say that it's to avoid munchkinism, but I have so far not seen a single example of where going with the rules as written creates any significant imbalance, compared to going with your houserule. In fact, it's the opposite: going with your houserule induces munchkinism, i.e. unmythical but technically legal behaviours, that effectively cancel the effectiveness of your houserule.

However, this discussion seems to be getting unproductive. Every time I ask why not read the rules as they are written, I get the same answer, and every time I offer (the same) counter, I just get the original answer reiterated, without my counter being taken into account. So I guess that, unless someone is willing to offer some new insight, I'm dropping out of this, puzzled.

No need to make up what I think. I don't think that, nor have I said that.
But I do think that the intention behind the rules for drawing a magical Ring/Circle is that you have to draw it that way, and that this is the obvious way of reading those rules.

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Look, I'll try one last time. The only passage I can find about limitations on how to draw a magical Ring (if there's another, please do point it to me) says:

The magus may use magic to [draw the ring], but that magic must not have a range greater than Touch, and the magus must physically trace out the ring. The magus may not move more quickly than ten paces per round (five feet per second) while doing this.

I honestly fail to see how that passage says that a magus who wants to draw a Ring in the sand must move the tip of a pen, stick, or whatever, around the Ring - without ever lifting it. There's nothing saying that he can't just take a bucket, invert it, and stamp a Ring into the sand. There's nothing saying that he can't just spread his feet wide, and then use R:Per ReCo magic to turn himself by 180 degrees (not 360!), thus tracing the Circle with both feet.

The only somewhat ambiguous point is the speed limit. Does a magus who's sitting on the sand and quickly draws a small Ring by a flick of his finger move? At what speed? The most conservative reading of that limitation is that no point of the magus must, at any time, be moving faster than ten paces per round - so a magus must be really careful not to blink too quickly. It feels a bit too unmythical to me, but even that does not come into play in these examples, or the slithering snake one.