Creo Terram for improvement?

No. He's refering to a problem that has bother me for years, but I've been hesitant to bring it up, because I'm unsure how to phrase it:

What does unnatural mean?
The word appears in far too many guidelines for my taste, so it matters.

Does it mean something not found in nature? Because then baked bread certainly is unnatural. it is artificial.
Does it mean something that violates the laws of physics as we understand them? Say, a pegasus flying with those tiny wings?
Perhaps it merely means something that could exist in nature, but does not? Perhaps a green rabbit?

Wootz steel does not occur in nature, but it can exist without violating the laws of physics. Does this make it natural or unnatural?

Fair enough, I agree that natural, along with essential nature, is used in far too many differing contexts within the body of published material.

However, in the context of Creo, there's nothing - other than the fact that it might give a bonus to quality - unusual about high grade steel. To be sure, any steel is an alloy (mixture) but so are many other referenced Creo examples (poison gas, for CrAu, for example). I'm pretty sure that all the references we've seen to using vis to create real food do actually refer to baked and cooked edibles, not some sort of amorphous protein glop.

Walls of iron or sorcerer's towers are subjectively much less natural than a lump of metal that, after all, can be and has been created in the real medieval world.

In the context of ArM5 Creo and of this thread, the opposite of natural is artificial, not unusual.


So you're saying a magus can't created steel, bronze, or other alloys unless he's trained in smithcraft? A layperson who's seen Damascus Steel is no less knowledgeable about it than he is about any other steel a smith forges.

Does he need to know the recipe for each food that he creates? The mixture of components in the slippery oils or poison gasses used as examples in the core book?

I think you're making a special argument here that would, if generalized, run against the grain of many, many, published Creo examples.

I just listed above - - the main rules we have about the knowledge that gives the necessary familiarity to Creo something artificial. A&A p.70 box is very demanding, and ArM5 p.77 is lenient for the simple things. We need to interpolate here, without losing sight of the specific rules existing.

Provide one - and please not a quick or legacy spell design just adding stop gap magnitudes for complexity. We discussed that on Mass-Produced Reagents already.


Since you asked, Conjuring the Mystic Tower, right under CrTe. You can call it legacy if you want, I call it probably the most famous spell in the game across all editionsm rivaled only by Pilum of Flame, which is also pretty unnatural when you think about it - a fire that acts like a blaster from Star Wars.

You're right that such a progression is not stated explicitly. When you read the guidelines for most or all Creo, it's pretty clear that the more complex and unnatural the creation (see for example CrAu for such a use of unnatural), the higher level the spell.

Which is after all the fundamental way Ars Magica magic has worked since first edition. Design the effect and assign a level based on the perceived difficulty. All these other subsystems are just icing on the cake.

How's the following for an overall approach:

If a magus cannot explain, how the making of a better or more complex artificial thing differs from the most basic one, he always creates the basic thing. And the greater the difference is, the more specific that explanation needs to be.

This is an interpolation of mine - but it might encompass many explicitly ruled cases I have seen so far.

So, if a magus cannot explain the difference between making steel and making iron for a farrier, he will Creo the badly carburized medieval run-of-the-mill iron all the time - and will be happy with it.
If a magus cannot explain the difference between finely and roughly ground grain, he will always create cheap bread.
And so on.


You are reading things into it that I did not write. Please take a look at The Spell of Wrought Iron on page 51 of Covenants, which handles creating a type of iron/steel from pig iron. Refer to C&G about the relative difficulty of different crafting and then back to HoH:S and Covenants to convert that to Finesse difficulties to figure out the difficulty for making crucible or wootz steel instead. It will require some judgement, but as I said, it's already handled perfectly well by craft magic.

Also, what happens if the alchemist uses his concoction for alchemical steel on crucible or wootz steel?

We had that already here: .

That increase of spell guideline difficulty depending on the degree of something being more and more unnatural is basically tied to individual Forms.
It is not tied to Creo, and not tied to an increase in an effect's artificiality, which comes on top.

It is important for ArM5's very open magic system in Mythic Europe to avoid simply replacing or substituting technology by adding magnitudes to spells. This is not always fully respected in the core book, which had to quickly cover ground and provide all those legacy spells needed to start play presto. But with increasing number of books this concern moved more into focus, and the problem areas were addressed one after the other: magically creating items beyond usual medieval technology, magical processing of the meaning of words, magically creating intelligence (no strings attached) and so on.

Craft magic and its limitations are crucial in this context.


We're going to have to agree to disagree here.

In my opinion, the solution to overly available magical effects is to control advancement within the Arts system, not to add additional complexity to the game with subsystems.

You are most welcome to your opinion here - and I can imagine you running a saga according to it.

But as long as Mythic Europe has very powerful elder magi, like GotF p.58 Caecilius or F&F p.64 Dama, just controlling advancement within the Arts does not protect it sufficiently from magic-driven technology increases. You would have to kill off all magi - especially PCs - once they reach their 60s. This is possible by removing Longevity Rituals and revising aging, some Virtues and some non-Hermetic wizards, but it results in a very different Order of Hermes.


I'm not contradicting you, but could you point out why?
Where is this explained?

The 2nd and the 3rd paragraph of ArM5 p.77 Creo (Cr) "I create" build up that dichotomy.

So it is an essential part of the first and most basic explanation of Creo. It is also central to a thread like this, all about creating highly artificial things.



I have bad soil and want to turn it into good soil.

ReTe craft magic works if and only if there is a technological process suitable for ME by which this can be achieved. Otherwise, MuTe is required, since this soil is bad and not good, similar to the way transforming a white sheep into a spotted sheep is MuAn rather than something else. Alternatively, one could argue that CrTe is required, since this particular transformation is actually an improvement; vis can make this improvement instant and permanent. A magus does not need agriculture or any other skill to make the ReTe spell happen, in sagas where it is permitted to happen; knowledge of Terram and Finesse serve instead. Of course, the magus would need any raw materials needed to make the soil more fertile, and the ReTe spell might then be something like ReTe(Aq,An,He). I doubt that SotA in ME allows this application of ReTe.

Note that particular kinds of bad soil might do very well with ReTe or similar interventions. Is my soil too rocky? Destroy the pebbles or grind them to dust! Etc. I can use a peasant skill like agriculture to decide if this is true, but I can also use Intellego.

What about a Damascus sword?

Again, I don't need to be a swordsmith; ReTe is sufficient. But I do need raw materials. Note that I consider the text in Covenants (iirc, but it was somewhere) about needing carbon to be a botch, since carbon does not exist in Mythic Europe. :slight_smile:/2 Mundane craftsmen need to heat, quench, fold, whatever, but magi do not worry about getting the right mix of oxygen, carbon, sulfur, vanadium, etc., and can skip these mundane processes through a magical one. OTOH, magi do need the right kind of high quality iron to start with, and do not know how to add oxygen, carbon, etc to ordinary iron to make just the right kind of alloy for their steel.

A magus might not even need to know that Damascus swords exist to create an equivalent sword or better, to the limit of what is possible. Terram covers intimate experience with iron, Rego covers manipluation of iron, and Finesse covers exquisite craftsmanship with ReTe.

I'm sure others disagree, but that's how I see it.



It would seem to me that the best way to make good soil from poor soil using Re is to remove the worst parts of the soil. If you look at the soil as being a mixture of different component soils (probably in some medieval-renaissance discussion of humors of the soil) then this should be doable, at least with magic if not with craft magic.

This would indeed work... for a very small number of cases. For soil whose best parts aren't all that good, no. Since soil is not alive, it does not have humors to balance. Now, if you knew the components to add to and subtract from some particular soil to make it good, and had that material, then sure. But I'd default firmly to No: Medieval folks made swords, but not soil (other than by draining swamps, irrigating, fertilizing). You want good soil from bad? Creo.

You'd end up with less soil (or at least the 'removed bad parts' would be off to the side), and after a few repetitions you'd have no good soil left. If you had very deep topsoil this could go on for quite some time, but this isn't so much improving the soil as much as it is bringing the good stuff up. Possible, but ultimately limited.

The agricultural process was reasonably well understood; peasants knew that taking from the land depleted it and they had to make an effort to renew it - fallowing fields, crop rotations, manual fertilization.

Creo magic can facilitate fallowing a field (letting it grow wild-ish and plowing the resulting vegetation into the soil); CrHe magic could force-grow a crop in a day (1 warping point on the plants, no big deal), and it could be plowed into the soil the next day. Rego magic could then accelerate the rotting process that would normally occur over months and you could effectively fallow a field in a single day (though most fallow fields allowed animals to graze and poop on the fields).

Intellego magic could make crop rotation as good as possible. InTe can tell you what the soil lacks, and InHe can reveal what a plant does to the soil it grows in.

Rego magic can speed manual fertilization and even the processing of manure.

Also, don't neglect another aspect of Rego; relocation of soils to where they are useful. Soil on steep hills in difficult to work at best but still quite fertile. Exchanging the soil of your depleted flat-lands for the rich hill soils allows you to effectively fallow your fields while still using them!

These are all true, my point was simply that the soil of ars magica is not necessarily the soil of our world in terms of how it works, and magic is not limited to mundane methods, provided it matches the philosophae as to how things work there.

silveroak makes a good point. Remember, this is a world in which bees really do spontaneously appear from dead cows. Don't necessarily expect modern science to rule soil dynamics. What did the medieval farmers believe about what made soil good? That's probably the way things work in Mythic Europe. ... -07-01.pdf

This has a nice overview of philosophy of soils from the Greeks and Romans (chapter 2.2). They knew adding manure and green manure improved soil fertility, and Pliny the Elder argued that soil fertility declined with use and could not be restored (others disagreed).

Nobody knew about irrigation causing salt accumulation in soils, so presumably that's not a thing in Mythic Europe. Pliny's argument comes the closest to explaining the effects of it, so it is probably 'correct' in Mythic Europe; soil that is farmed loses fertility over time and fertilizing it just slow the inevitable. However, farmers can turn to supernatural means to restore soil fertility. Since this isn't a natural process, it probably isn't governed by Rego magics, but like healing, should be governed by Creo.