I'm pondering another high magic setting, different to my old Nathas setting and of course using the wonderful Ars ruleset.
I've got an idea in my head that I can't work out by the rules and figured I'd ask you lot.
I want to have a mystery like automatons, where an inanimate shell is given motion, somewhat the Verditius mystery, but more useful. The big difference is that I want a character to be able to make a limited copy of their own mind/spirit to guide the automaton. But i am not sure if this is possible under the rules.
I'm imagining a process
craft body with mundane craft skills
enchant with three effects (at least)
a. move shell
b. grant perception
c. grant power of speech
make copy of a mind/spirit
mystery ritual to bind the spirit to the shell and give it control over the effects from 2.
Is there anything like this in any of the books? In particular is there any facility for using mentem to make a copy of someones mind. I'm pretty sure you can't "make" spirits, but how about mental constructs?
You can "make" a simple mind, though it's not easy: the corebook gives +6 magnitudes of extra complexity to make an illusion of a person with a reasonable reasoning ability.
Of course, copying a mind (with memories, personality etc.) is much, much harder. In general even just copying/creating certain types of knowledge seems beyond the ability of Hermetic magic (see the discussion in A&A).
Donning the Mask of Another (MuMe 35, R:T, D:Y, T:I,ritual) (HoH:S p.97) is a spell used by Tytalus magi to "create a persona from the identity of another (...) The caster acquires the full memories and personality of the donor". I think the persona can be transferred to the automaton instead of the caster. Of course it still needs the "simple mind" effect to work.
As it was said, transferring skills and competencies is beyond the scope of Mentem magic.
However, Mysteries are beyond hermetic magic, so if you want, it is not impossible to consider certain ways to replicate or imbue skills set into automaton.
For the sake of game balance and preventing abuse, I would suggest you a Mystery: Splitting the Mind.
It allows the caster to transfer part of his conscience, and specifically part of his knowledge to an automaton. It gives the magus knowledge of the following Enchantment: ReMe Gen Sharing the Mind, enchantment, Self. Transfer part of the magus mind to an automaton, and up to Level xp in chosen skills by the magus. The magus loose those xp and his skills drop accordingly. The automaton is gifted with the skill, but not by any creativity. He cannot produce original work on its own - he can follow instruction, manual, blueprint if gifted with appropriate skills, but nothing more.
Supernatural skills cannot be transferred.
If the caster disenchant the automaton, he retrieves his skills (xp). If in the meantime, he improved again his skills, he does not learn anything new, so retrieving memories does not allow to become better than he was prior to the enchantment.
A variant of the Sharing the Mind could allow to transfer knowledge from other person.
It can lead to several interesting stories:
Tremere master getting ritual killed and part of their knowledge transferred to an automaton to keep serving the House
Skill-napping, a group of dangerous magi, willing to plunder the memory of other skilled person with a very powerful version of the enchantment (level 70+).
A group of Trianoma mage trying to solve the problem of teaching to several students by having automaton teaching the basic skills to several apprentices at the same time (no gift penalty).
A cult looking at discovery a new Mystery: Splitting the Gifted Memory, a ReVi allowing to transfer gift related abilities, whether Arts, Supernatural abilities or possibly even spells. But what is the consequence for the Magus transferring part of his gift... So obviously, they won't experiment on themselves, but try to trick somebody of doing it.