Copying Books en masse using Rego Animal and Arcane Ties

Ok. My players are hitting upon a scheme to use quills all from the same goose, enchanted with Rego magic, an array of writing tables/lecterns with exactly placed blank pages/books.

The idea is a mage copies a book, but the rego magic causes the other quills to follow the exact same motions, and thus multiple copies are made at once.


It seems to me I read somewhere that this won't work.
It seems a bit of an easy way to imbalance things and warp the setting away from what it should be.

SO, is there some reason this will not work?


SG fiat, for example :wink:

Or you can say that you need tpo control the ammount of paint in each quill and how much it drops from each quill. The differences in the exact roughgness of the parchment also infgluences how the quill moves.... etc etc.

You can play a little bit the "killer Storyguide" her eif you do not want this to work well. It is better to discuss with your players the issue than doing that, though. In several sagas the "hermetic xerox machine" has been in use and it directly made the universe of Ars Magica untenable as written 95% of the time. better ask your players if they want an easy walk in the park or a challenging game and work such stuff with them. The setting is much richer if you are not the only one doing this stuff. :slight_smile:



I would personally do a few things:

First, I'll talk to them out-of-character, and clarify that it's modern thinking that may upset the setting, and suggest backing off the idea.

If this isn't accepted, I'll suggest that we'll allow it but with side-effects - they will have poor quality (mass produced items are never as good as precision tailor-made ones; in this case, minor differences in texture, quill shape, ink density, and so on aren't taken into account). I will clarify that foreign covenants will not want to purchase such degraded copies, insisting on hand-crafted high-quality copies. I will also clarify that (IMS) the cost of producing a high-quality copy is utterly negligible; there are plenty of good mundane scribes used by the covenants, and the point of the book trade is to find good deals for your works, not the difficulty in copying them. Money is cheap, for magi, and so is hiring mundane scribes and teaching them Magic Theory 1 so that they can copy magical books.

At this opportunity I'll also clarify that magi (again, IMS) don't waste their precious time on scribal work. That's what scribes, and apprentices, are good for. Magi are busy making deals to trade more books, learning, harvesting raw vis, making pacts with forest spirits, and so on. They only copy the most secret of books, ones no mundane should ever lay his eyes on - things like Infernal Lore, the Parma Magica, or books teaching Mystery secrets. And it is best NOT to mass produce them, but rather to carefully make sure every single copy is well accounted for and is carefully guarded.

If neither option seems acceptable, I'd suggest that perhaps it isn't wise to game together if we don't have the same vision of what we want the game to be like.

I discourage this final option. It is better to have a compromise than no game at all. Instead of using tyranny :laughing: or fiat, simply ask the player not to do this. Explain why it makes you uneasy, and 99% of the time players do cooperate if presented with this sort of honesty.

Perhaps mitigate the project with some agreed upon limitation? Limit the number of copies that can be made at once to his Finesse score. But in any case, other than it *feels8 like he is getting away with a lot, he really isn't. Don't over think hings and try to calculate tha "x number of magi may be doing the same thing, so it wrecks the setting". Just deal with one magus doing it, and the impact will not be as drastic as you fear.

Here is an alternate idea. Let him magically mass copy a book or two, then use his activities to generate a story hook. Maybe a demon takes control of one of the quills and slips infernal information in one of his copies. Maybe another magus wants to steal his magic quills. Maybe some Hermetic Patron wans many copies of his opus made and distributed, but his enemy seeks to prevent him from gaining aclaim, and targets the players.

Please look to the Arts and Academy but using magic to perform craft or profession is low quality work requiring Int+finesse roll with a -6, -9, -12 or -15 penalty to the roll depending on the exact detailed.

And producing the lines and lines of individual "letters" that make up writing require a high level of detail.

It does break the game world, or can. So, let's see if we can't find some flaws in their premise...

Ink, and ink flow.
Variations in the quills will cause ink to flow and be used at different rates. Even if the act of "dipping" the quill in "identical" inkwells were mimicked, ink would dry and flow from the quills at subtly different rates, small variations (think chaos theory) would multiply and blotches and errours would appear.

Unpredictability of the parchment.
Parchment is not paper, it's not "standardized", even if you tried. It can be very high quality, but it's not perfectly flat - the feathers would run into problems with the variations and the irregularities, ink would flow differently, feathers would wear out and dull at different rates.

Feathers -
Again, different quills wear and write differently - thicknesses, sharpness vary, subtle, invisible differences that all add up. Even magically "identical" feathers would be affected differently by the variations of the actual parchment (which is not identical). And "sharpening" a writing quill had to be done fairly often - duplicating that, as an ~EXACT~ duplication between the quills, would be another challenge.

Illumination and "registration" (aka alignment)
One of the key elements of medieval books was illumination, using color to highlight different aspects. Even today, using all our best printing techniques, problems occur and colors are mis-aligned, pages slightly off from "center". If we can't do it with steel and laser measurement, how can they be expected to do better with wood, a compass and a divider.

IF there are possible solutions to these problems, I won't suggest them. Writing a book, making sure every letter of every word of every line of every page is correct, is no small undertaking - and, especially with magical texts, it can be assumed that the smallest errour can create a huge drop in quality.

I do think this might work for one page, or certainly for short passages, if the "information" is all that is needed - covenant records, or tallies of stores, that sort of thing. But to achieve - no, to guarantee the precision that is expected and needed for academic texts, Hermetic or Mundane, it could be a stretch.

You're the StoryGuide - get large, get in charge, just say "no".

It is magic, after all - it doesn't have to make sense.

It won't work, because the crafting of a book is itself a mystical act of connectedness between the mind of the scribe, the ritual action of writing and the surface of the book. You can't game it, in just the same way that if you animate corpses to follow your movements and cast a fireball, they do not themselves cast balls of fire, even if they were gifted before they died. Writing magical books is a spiritual process, rather than a purely mechanical process.

There seems to be a lesser limit of magic involved here, because known spells which aid writing do not provide a magical photocpier. "Autodictation" and "Thoughts Distinctly Burned" ("Covenants", page 96, and written by me, just as a point of reference for players who are very rules lawyerish) are obvious choices for spells to do this, but each has an Individual target. Why not a group target, when it is an obvious thing to do? Because it simply doesn't work.

I would like to expand on part of this because of the simple fact that the above certainly isnt a made up thing, there´s a bunch of serious problems with it.

CH is fairly thorough but doesnt take it "full course" when it comes to the quality of parchment...
Where the copy parchment is lower than the original, you either get no text, very thin lines, or worse still, you get ink drops from the movement of the quill without touching the parchment. Ink drops that may look like badly written text, thin lines that may seem to form other words than they´re supposed to.
Where the parchment is higher than the original, you risk having a quill broken, or ripping through the parchment, or get lines where on the original the scribe merely moves the quill rather than writing something, possibly also giving you again, ink blots as well.

At the very least, i would treat any "magic xerox" created copies as if written by someone with the "Incomprehensible" flaw AND roll 2 dice for each copy, one for maybe 50% risk of the copy being totally unreadable or destroyed, another for a lesser risk of the quill having been broken during the writing, and possibly a third to see if the copy gets an even lower quality beyond the "Incomprehensible"...

Now, there ARE ways to get around most of the problems, however, that means at minimum creating perfect versions of all items involved, parchment, ink and quill and writing stands(to make sure they are exactly the same looking)...
Anyone want to do that? And that may still not be enough to guarantee ok copies, it might just raise the chance of getting a full quality copy, perhaps 1 for every 10 lowered quality ones.
Come on, step right up ladies and gentlemen, who wants the wonderful opportunity to pay 20 or 30 vis to make one good copy? :wink:

There would be ways to achieve that without vis.

There are always ways... 8)

I like this answer the most.