CrForm-rituals are rarely a waste (or: On 'horses for mages'

Salvete Sodales!

In contradiction to some background texts I am under the impression that in a world ruled by the spell guidelines the creation of various mundane stuff by Creo-magic should- be rather common. At least such a usage of Vis isn't really a waste if the magi spend a bit of their intellectual potential on the rentability of their spells. Here are some examples:

  • Magical creation of animals: A CrAn 20-ritual creates a single mammal of size +1 (150 kg, pony) or less. By increasing the target to group you produce a group of animals with about the same mass as 10 animals of size +1 (either 10 ponies or 5 horses or 2 war horses or 100 sheep or 50 wolves). By raising the group size one level you multiplie this by ten. If this is a business the magus engaging in it probably is from a Mercurian lineage, so for 3 pawns of vis he produces ~50 pounds worth in sheep (the horses only gain their high value by training), and for each additional pawn spent he can increase this amount by ten. If the description of 'The Wizard's Mount' can be generalized the animals created also have the advantage that they aren't affraid of the Gift.

  • It is even worse with crops: CrHe 1 creates a plant product. So for a level 2(Range: Touch) ritual you can create a single grain of wheat. But for a level 4 ritual (target: group) you get a group of grains of wheat of the volume of ten herbam base individuals, and this means 10 cubic paces. The minimum level for a ritual is 20, so there are 4 steps left to increase the size of the group, so this spell sounds realistic:
    „The Tribunals' Famine prevented“ (CrHe 20 R:Touch, D:Mom, T:Group, Ritual): This ritual creates 100000 cubic paces of wheat. If the problem of transportation and conservation is solved this should feed about 300000 people for a year. (Base 1, +1 Touch, +1 Group, +5 size)
    With Mercurian Magic this costs 2 pawns of Vis (and Herbam is probably rather common and cheap), increasing the size four steps further and investing another two pawns certainly results in more wheat than Mythic Europe can eat within a year.

  • Let's turn to CrTe. I am less concerned with the creation of wealth (in form of silver, gold and gemstones) than with the edification of buildings. The 'Wizzard's Tower' is level 35 and already an impressive building, three sizes more certainly result in an impressive castle for 5 pawns of Vis. Alternatively young magi planning to found a new conveant should get themselves a version of this spell with T: Group. So they get 10 towers – probably one for each magus and some for other uses for the same amount of Vis. Also 'The Laboratory of Bonisagus' (CrTe(Vi) 45) is a waste of Vis, but if you build a conveant from scratch a level 55 version providing enough material for ten labs doesn't sound as bad, and as likely as not there is a Mercere or Verditius magus who has pushed the level further and provides other magi with lab equipment – lets say for one pawn of vis per set.

  • Magi loath to spend even a single pawn of vis on such mundane goods still can easily improve their fortunes with CrAn and CrHe spells. The spells to let animals and crops mature within a day can provide numerous harvests as well as numerous generations of lifestock within one year. Due to the higher base levels these effects are by far less impressive, but with the use of circles and big rooms as targets a conveant harbouring a Creo-specialist should still be able to triple its income from agrarian sources.

The effects of these spells on the economy of Mysthic Europe differ widely from those of gold and silver created by magic. Those gain their worth by being rare, and a major increase in the amount of gold will result in inflation and perhaps even a complete collapse of the monetary system. But sheep, grain and sound buildings have some worth because they are useful in themselves.
Nevertheless a Europe where magi use spells based on these ideas would differ significantly from the historical setting. Famines would be unheard of, so the population would be probably bigger. And it wouldn't be as agrarian. This would ruin the setting, but has anybody an idea to prevent it beyond a arbitrary decision by the storyguide that in certain cases the spell guidelines do not apply?

Alexios ex Miscellanea

I see nothing wrong with this. If it became a problem (suddenly a Covenant starts being depended on to feed all the peasants in the Tribunal) there are story ways to effect this.

One, nobles want to seize the production of that food, to ensure their own larders are stocked. Now the wizards risk being charged as Court Wizards.

Angry farmers and Burghers begin a campaign of sabotage against them. How? Rumor. "Don't eat that food! It was created by wizards!" would be enough in almost all cases.

Just as magically created silver got out of hand and caused Tribunal rules to be made for it, magically created food and animals would have the same issue, if it got out of hand.

If the magi keep the magically created stuff within the Covenant, or spread it far and wide, there isn't likel to be much of a problem.

Plus, repeatedly casting the same spell tends to have risks. For starters, it would be easy to say that generations of people feeding on magically created food might start getting Warped. Second, Rituals are always risky to cast. Inevitably someone will botch the casting. After the first botch (and it will likely be spectacular) you'll see the wizards suddenly saying "Maybe we should just let the peasants grow the food.".

Creating 100-500 kg of silver will not influence the economy. The people mined gold and silver, too, and it had no big effect. Creating silver could be even a good effect to economy in certain contries (England?) rarely issued leather money because of the lack of silver.

Hermetic magic is indeed capable of creating vast mundane resources with raw vis, and of making mundane artisans rather redundant. [My own calculations say wheat production is slightly more expensive, but this doesn't change the situation drastically.] I don't generally consider it a problem, however. I am not worried that Mythic Europe may turn into a magical-based economy. I welcome the possibility - if that's where the players want to head to, more power to them!

I like the idea that magi don't really need mundane society around them if they are willing to pay the price in raw vis, and use high Finesse to replace artisans. This allows for insular covenants with literally no contact with mundanes, and provides an option for the PCs and saga to work around mundane matters using magic rather than meddle in mundane swine.

At the same time, raw vis is valuable, and should be in your saga too. Most magi and covenants would not want to devote raw vis, or risk spell botches, to further such mundane trivialities as supplying food, equipment, or so on.

As I see it, wizards are generally content to use raw vis sparingly, just enough to create sufficient resources that can be maintained by the mundane covenfolk. They would probably create a Tower, or the entire covenant, by magic; it's faster, and creates high-quality labs and protection, which is important. They would create a herd of animals, a magic item to distill salt, or so on. Rarely, they would devote a yearly stipend of raw vis to maintain such resources, but that is all. That is enough to sustain them in comfort, they just don't need to waste more resources and time on doing more. This is why Mythic Europe looks like it does right now - lack of wizard's interest to change things.

The only issue comes in times of trouble or unique circumstances. Magi can indeed feed a kingdom in a time of famine, create an entire city, or so on. Why has no magus provided wheat to the king? Perhaps some tried to, but their plans were foiled by hateful bishops, superstitious mobs, Infernal corruption, or even Divine retribution (famines are God's punishment, after all). Retrofitting history into Mythic Europe is always a problem.

You also have to look at ability.

Some of these spells are easy and some aren't.

How many magi in any particular tribunal will have the ability to cast these spells.

I know in our covenant IMS, we have a few talented magi but magical agriculture is, at the moment beyond us.

So of the magi that CAN cat these spells. How many WOULD. And how many of them would be inviting trouble from enemies (everyone has enemies, or the SG isn't doing their job :smiling_imp: ). Making lots of grain or herds of cattle to sell on and feed your neighbourhood could get you in real trouble if your enemies bought it to tribunal as interfering in the affairs of mundanes.

Sorry to be contrary, but there was a -massive- effect from the mining of silver. Silver continually pours eastward from Medieval Europe to pay for the luxuries of the east. Byzantium -exists- because of the eastward flow of silver. Venice -exists-, as a power, because of the eatward flow of silver. That is to say, whenever you see anywhere in Europe that trades spices, you need to remember that the only thing that Europe has that the Chinese want to pay for all of these spices is silver. And North African gold, which they buy with -silver-.

Silver is the very breath of the European monetary system.

Before the discovery of the silver deposits that led to the foundation of Freiburg, and then the C13th silver towns (that is, in the game period) silver was so short across Europe and real people actually discussed what to do if there wasn't enough silver and the trade routes stopped working.

Europe exports its silver to Asia. Across all of Europe, that averages 14 tons per year through the early C13th. There are only 4 towns, in all of Europe, that mine more than a ton of silver per year. If you make just under half a ton of silver, you are certainly going to be noticed.

You are right that there was frequent recourse to leather money in England, which was odd because England was so awash with silver that the price of silver is consistently lower in England than it should be. This is because , basically, the people buying English wool didn't have another trade good to swap it for. Tha is, England wasa bulk commondity trader, trying to negotiate with luxury commodity traders. You can't actually flog enough cinnamon to the English to pay for the whole woool clip, so England became too much flooded with silver, which may have led to a certain foolishness with mercenaries among its upper classes.

England in the game period has very little silver. The key sources in the C12th are in the Pennines.

  • From Production and economic impact: Northern Pennine (English) silver in the 12th century, by Peter Claughton.

Then production falls away until the Devon mines open in 1292, which is why you have King John and his leather money.

In the game period, the money in circulation in all of England is about 250 000 pounds (45 tons) so if you really do make 500 kilos of silver you are effectively making about 2% of the money circulating in all of England, including money that is circulating in the sense that its is being kept by noblemen for a rainy day. There's no mine in England which is able to produce 500 kgs in a year. If you make even a fraction of 500 pounds of silver you are the largest producer of silver in the British Isles.

The kings of England and Scotland regularly give each other a hard time over a mine in Carlisle that produces only 400 pounds a year, of which they get to keep 10%.

David Chart noted that the increase in the money supply of England from 1150 (80 000 pounds) to 1220 (250 000 pounds) demonstrates the sort of problems that magi can create.

You seem to be assuming that the Order are altruists. I see no reason to suppose this is the case. There is theoretically enough food to feed every starving person on the planet right now, and our collective governments choose, instead, to allow large numbers of Africans and South East Asians to die, because to do otherwise would lower, somewhat, the quality of life of people in the West. I see no reason for the members of the Order not to be similarly callous.

You are right, though, that the mere existence of the Order wrecks feudalism. The Renaissance can be pegged to a series of bumper crops they had around Florence for two decades or so, allowing them to build up sufficent surplus to develop a mercantile and artisanal class. The difference in fertility is about half a percent, averaged over twenty years. To get from subsistence feudalism to the Rennaisance takes -very, very little- if you assume some method of saving and accumulation. I presume members of House Jerbiton create little Renaissances by accident, just by turning up in a tiny town and spending some money. It's entirely possible for a travelling king to accidentally create an artisan class in a village just by travelling through it occassionally with all of his hangers on spilling a bit of money into the economy.

Was it not so, that in most villages you couldn't just get some trademen, since the baron-overlord has to grant you the rights to have, for instance, a large force of construction workers?

When you have a large flock of sheep, waiting to be sold for a hefty profit, the local baron will give one of his towns the stockpiling right for sheep. This means that all your sheep first have to be sold to that town, so they practically set the price. Now when you see that as attacking your caravan and use some CrIg to prevent those brigants cheating you out of your flocks, then you are interfering with the mundanes.

As with all things in Ars Magica: it will cost you a lot of stories to get wealthy, but if you want to focus your stories on wealth, most SG's will make the covenant more wealthy.

I can surely image the fun a covenant with a few Jerbiton, Mercere and perhaps a Verditius would have conquering the Venician market. There is a lot of stories in there, much politics, backstabbing, meeting important trading partners, evading the church, etc. Add a civilised Tytalus and you've got all the cheating and cursing that makes a good game.
When your sage is not about money, it doesn't really matter if your covenant makes a few extra pounds each year. Just give them a +1 to health (and perhaps aesthetics) and don't make too much of a fuss.

All rituals are stress dice. Twilight kills more magi than old age. Therefore... older magi like to cast the big fat rituals less...

I interpret these to mean that mastered Ritual spells are cast with a stress die, but (barring stressing circumstances) without botch dice. Otherwise, I have a real problem seeing magi regularly casting an aegis...

Old magi cast mastered spells. Almost exclusively.

hmmm, so that's what we've overlooked.
Our twilight-prone Criamon just fluked our Aegis last session... :open_mouth:

It was because of being pelted with invisible rocks and clubs by the evil fairies, luckily she was just knocked unconscious and didn't actually botch. It did cost us 8 more Vim Vis -> those fairies are going to pay in hard currency! (oh wait, I'm the fairy frien :unamused: d)

Besides all this: Covenants RAW states that 1 pawn of Vis is worth 10 silver pounds (also if used to cast cost-reducing rituals), so 10 pawns per year would yield the same income as a normal covenant/barony/monestary (it will surely not feed Europe yet).
10 pawns per year costs 50 build points in Vis sources, which is half a spring covenant if I remember correctly. You cannot completely rely on Vis, it's just a nice way to invest in creating a stable source of income/food for future years.

Covenants says no such thing. Indeed, The Riches that are Rightfully Mine(d) (p. 61) grants 2000 Mythic Pounds for 6 pawns of vis. The effects vary considerably. Covenants recommends 1 pound per pawn in invested items, and 5 pounds per pawn in Ritual spells for cost-saving measures, but again as rough rules of thumb; it doesn't have specific recommendations for magical creation of wealth otherwise, that I was able to glean. Hermetic magic can be far more effective than 1 pawn per 10 silver pounds, as Covenant's own spell demonstrates.

The relation between wealth and raw vis is something that each saga should determine for itself. Covenants adopts a "low-magic" approach: encouraging the use of the 2 silver-pounds per magus per year limit on magically created wealth, emphasizing the broad economic footprint of a covenant, setting "rules of thumb" granting very few pounds per pawn... I think the idea is to encourage stories related to the covenant's wealth, which become meaningless if the issue can be solved with just a bit of raw vis. That's fine and all, but it isn't RAW, and it doesn't mean any troupe that chooses to play otherwise is doing anything wrong or even anything against the RAW.