Communication - A better "Thoughts within babble".

Thoughts Within Babble (TWB) is a core rule book level 25 spell that allows the magi (personal range spell) to understand all that is said.

While useful, TWB doesn't help two people understand each other. I was thinking of ways to adjust TWB, however, they all had some limits. I am asking if there is a good communication spell or other mechanisms (apart from having a translator companion) without the limits I am noticing.

The ideas I came up with.

1. Touch range TWB version.
Issues - The spell is now level 30. The target gets a warping point. Also, spell is concentration. One must have a decent concentration spell to maintain both spells. As TWB states "Perception or Communication stress rolls are needed for difficult exchange", that would arguably make concentration harder as well.

2. Target Circle or Group TWB version
Issues - Is this possible? The spell says the target is hearing. Is ring or group an option? In "Magic Senses" in the core rule book it does say "It is possible to grant magical senses to many people at once, but this requires Muto Mentem magic, with Intellego Form requisites."

If it is possible, do the spell modifiers for targets stack. ie +3 for hearing and +2 for group for +5, or do we take the higher of the two?

Also, personal range ring spell doesn't work, it would have to be touch range, which brings us in to warping again. I appreciate if dealing with mundanes a one off warping may be acceptable, but if there is another way, I'd like to know.

Making a TWB item to give to a person might work, however, they would need to concentrate to make it work or again, level goes in to warping territory. TWB is mostly for dealing with mundanes as most magi know Latin, so the concentration element is a blocker.

If it's just for between the mage and another person, you can use the InMe base 15 from the core book. Make a spell like Tongue of the Fishes (Hooks, p.79). You've got base 15, +1 Eye, +1 Concentration. You don't even Warp the person. Now, it's not super subtle, but at least you've got the communication going.

I suggested once this:

You just hit the issue related to sensory spells extended to more than one target.
I invite you to read Sensory spells & group

More specifically, David Chart comment.

And further clarification between single target (but not the mage) and multiple targets, especially if you don't understand why granting new sensory ability to one target is so different that granting it to a group (answer, during playtest, it was overruled even if it was logical and consistent with the main rule).

In a nutshell, once a spell targeting a sensory attributes, the only way to grant it to more than one person with a single spell, it becomes a MuMe with requisit and basic level based on the initial Intellego spell, plus an added magnitude. So usually, the group spell version will have to deal with one or two requisits (+1/+2 magnitudes), plus additional RTD modifiers.


Thanks Ezechiel357.
It is looking like mass communication is going to warp, and be a challengingly high level with requisites.

Similar to the items OneShot mentioned above,,you could also have an invested devicemwith two effects. The first reads the wearer's thoughts (InMe) when he speaks, while the second has a linked trigger and projects the words (CrIm) in a specific language the enchanter knew when he enchanted the device. Both powers have are D:Mom and Unlimited uses. Haven't run the numbers, but that may keep them below the treshold for warping.

A SG who lets that work is kinder than me.
It would take an incredibly trusting non magically inclined human to uses the item. If that human uses it, I can't see it going well.

The moment the mundane holds it and it says "What sort of half baked idea is this?" or "Read what I'm thinking? Crap! Don't think about my affair, don't think about my affair."

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Well, if the item just translates what has actually been uttered (Base 5), this is not a problem. That's what Thoughts Within Babble does, after all.

Now that I have my books before me, the first effect would be InMe Base 5, +1 Touch. Add 10 levels for Unlimited uses and you have a level 25 effect.

Second effect would be CrIm Base 1, +1 Touch. Add 3 levels for a linked trigger and 10 levels for Unlimited uses and you have a level 15 effect.

It is a bit costly vis-wise (5 pawns for the effects and 5 pawns to prepare the item) and takes 3 seasons (1 to prepare the item and 2 for the effects), but it causes no Warping and can be reused. It only works for a single person at a time.

I could see a Verditius offering such items for sale. There are economies of scale (time-wise) in enchanting the effects in several of those at a time, particularly when one has the lab texts for those effects.

That shouldn't work, because the item cannot translate: it does not know any "specific language the enchanter knew when he enchanted the device". And no Herrnetic enchantment can teach that to it: see in particular TME p.98 There is No Art that Covers Knowledge.
Some devices created with Mechanica of Heron (AM p.75 ff) might be taught, though - so there may be a chance of some big Breakthroughs in the future of the Order some time.

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I agree. The most a spell can do is to allow a person to understand in his/her mind what was said to him/her because the spell reads the surface thoughts of the speaker, thus get the meaning of it and convey it to the "listener".

In "Legends of Hermes", Fortunata's chapter described how she managed to get texts written in dead language translated: she would raise ghost speaking the dead language and force them to read, then she will use a Sun duration version of Thoughts within Babble to understand what the ghost would be reading, and writting down what she was understanding, thus "translating" without ever speaking the dead language. But a no moment would any of the ghosts or a spell speak in Latin. The "translation" is in fact an direct understanding of the meaning, happening in the mind of the spell's target.

Games in which some PCs work magic and others don’t eventually must confront the question “if magic can do everything a non-wizard can do, why play anything but wizards?” A solution many games land on is to make magic incapable, or at least very poor at, the things which other classes excel at, thus creating a reason to bring those other PCs along.

The most obvious example of this is in traditional dungeon fantasy games, in which the wizard is bad at healing, because that’s why we bring the cleric. But there are other examples. A spell to Find Traps exists in some systems, but not in others, because even though a spell that reveals traps feels perfectly within the bounds of a wizard, it steals the portfolio of the rogue.

Ars Magica does not care if your wizard can murder a hundred people in an instant. But it does care if your magus wants to successfully interact with other people. That’s the main thing wizards are bad at, and while we can explain this with Hermetic Theory, the out-of-character answer is: the game is telling you to bring a Companion, this is what Companions are for.


I agree, however, unless you have a companion with a large selection of languages, if the saga crosses many language area, the companion cannot meaningfully communicate either.

So what so moderately savvy companions do? They hire interpreters - as most diplomats, far traders, navigators and traveling scholars do. :nerd_face: