Do magical items have an innate tendency toward perfection?

Gang, has anyone noticed that magic items don't wear out in Mythic Europe?

For example, even excellent swords actually don't last dozens of years in the real world, particularly if you actually fight with them. Every time you hit a bone, or a piece of armour, or a parry, you lose a bit of the weapon. Sharpening is a reductive process. How is the grog captain's sword in Calebais (which is carbon steel) not just a pile of rust?

How come the Robes of Dusky Dawn aren't dust?

All these covenants have, like, magical shovels and trowels and things, but real trowles and shovels don't last forever. A well-maintained shovel lasts perhaps five years, and then, again, sharpening wrecks it.

So, are these magic items kind of healing themsleves, either by being drawn closer to perfection, or because they have an animating spirit?

I would say so. The meta-game reason is, I guess, that once we create or acquire in-game assets we have a strong sense of ownership and we want to keep hold of them.

Of course, City & Guild then backs that up with the damaged goods rules and magic items do get some protection from damage based on the magnitude of effects they contain. Neat idea.

You sharpen shovels? No wonder they break (and, you know, it sounds vaguely creepy, in a "The Shining" sort of way).
I have a 20+year old snow shovel, that I never sharpen, and it's still in excellent shape!

I don't sharpen shovels, but eventually the shafts do break...

but if you work on the assumption that magic deals in the real of platonic ideals then yes, magic items are inherently more perfect.

If you use a shovel on turf, the edge matters.

Magic items will wear out if steps aren't taken to preserve them; many players use Mu(Form) effects to make talismans resistant to wear and damage. Other items should be made in a manner that wear isn't much of an issue; there's little need to make a sword that can shoot fireballs when an amulet or ring will do the job and basically last forever. Magic shoes are a really bad idea without magical reinforcement; leather shoes don't last long at all.

Far better to use a durable magic item to alter expendable items like weapons and shoes. This doesn't help if you really want the S/M bonuses from the items, but broken magic items are expensive to have fixed (Verditus) or replace.

Yes, but do, we as troupes/players/storyguides enforce some kinds of breakage or wear and tear on magic items?

I know I don't. My rationale is the amount of time spent making it, which, granted ignores the fact that a sword develops a nick and needs to be ground and sharpened. My experience with sharpening and nicks in steel is chisels and planes. It takes a long time to wear a tool out. I'd suspect that medieval swords would suffer from catastrophic breakage long before they've been worn out...

In my experience, players making stuff that's vulnerable to wear and tear enchant it to resist such. Well made swords (which they must be to have enchantments) can last for decades (even generations).

I'd probably require a lot of combat botches to result in a broken enchanted item.

Deterioration of enchanted devices, items of quality and such is a non-issue in all campaigns I have ever seen. This is for one reason: introducing it requires the placet of the troupe.
It is about tracking one more type of things, discussing one more type of issues, making one more type of decisions - and it is neither fun nor leading to interesting stories.

I envision that Timothy Ferguson noted this, and asked for an in-game reason to get that topic out of the way once and for all.
I am not aware of such a reason in ArM5 rules so far. I can imagine people just being careful and protective with these valuable things - but there is a limit to that.

We could decide, that enchanted devices exist not only in the mundane world, but also as specific (RoP:M p.22f) vestiges in the Magic Realm. If we then conclude, that both the mundane item and the vestige need to change together, we can rule out the tedious mundane wear-and-tear altogether, because the Magic Realm is free of it. But currently this is just a rationalization a troupe might use to rid themselves of utterly unproductive 'homework'.


Here's a thought (completely unsupported by RAW, of course...) If items warp, and this represents them growing more magical over time, this could represent the opposite of decay. The more it magically warps, the closer to it's ideal physical form it becomes and therefore resistant to damage or wear.

Stories are full of items that somehow are shiny and sharp after centuries of disuse, that somehow stand out from the normal decay of time. It's one way to show them as special and different.

Weapons should wear out very quickly compared to objects like tradesman's tools. A good chisel or hammer might last generations if properly cared for but I cannot see how a sword would be regularly used over many years and not wear out with a handful of years. Yes it might break totally, but it would have a chipped and battered edge too. It is a consideration that grogs wouldn't last regular battles either. I like the idea of grogs resourcing from the battlefield too, which might be where the victors get some of their replacement gear from. I'd say the upkeep cost for grogs includes the upkeep on their equipment, and for weapons this would include replacement.

Soldiers should have learnt how to fight properly so that their blades are not brutally chipped and gouged by the opponent (the drill sergeant will whip the fool who parries edge to edge), but mishaps happen all the time.

I don't track this in-game as it isn't enjoyable to do so, and it devalues the investment in the magical device; so purely meta reasons unrelated to the paradigm. If the group wishes to track each arrow and damage to gear for non-theatrical purposes then more power to them, but its a degree of detail I don't think adds significant value. It reminds me of buying iron rations before a dungeon crawl, which is not the flavour of Ars.
Adding a HR which allows for enchanted items to be more resilient is a good idea, at the very least to further encourage magi to create them.

"This is my great great grandfather's sword! Sure, the binding has been replaced a few times, and the quillons got replaced once, and the blade has been replaced a few times as well, but it's my great-great-great-grandfather's sword!"

This is often the case with family heirlooms that have seen constant use, be they swords or hammers or whatever. The item exists more as an idea than a specific set of molecules - much like a person, really.

This is pretty much how I view magic items; provided the item itself never breaks in use, the item remains. Over time it might get practically every part of itself replaced, but the magic isn't on the molecules, it's on the mythic concept of 'this sword' or 'this boat' or whatever.

Those needed constant maintenance (trade tools). That's how blacksmiths stayed in business. There is, of course, a big difference between a 'damaged' item and a 'broken' item. Enchanted items are made from superior grade of goods, so them actually breaking should be a rare occurrence.

The example given for enchanting only part of weapon states that separating pieces ruins any enchantment that relies on the object's shape as a whole. Just don't enchant parts that are likely to need replacing, or reinforce it with a MuTe enchant to make it almost indestructible. Magic items are only as permanent as you make them.

Fair point, but a weapon will be exposed to far rougher treatment than a craft tool; or perhaps to say it another way - a tool will be exposed to "appropriate" levels of stress and use. Even with proper care a sword which is regularly used in serious battles will not retain its quality over a long time as it will be exposed to punishing levels of stress and use.

I've used medieval style weapons which were created with modern materials and they need constant care and still get minor damage from reenactment activity. The reenactment activity was play-fighting, nothing like trying to kill other equally well equipped soldiers. I just can't see a weapon surviving in the Ars time period more than a decade at the outside maximum.
"this was my fathers sword, look at all the battles he was in..I better get a new one."

According to City & Guild, enchanted goods get a bonus to their stress check die equal to +1 (superior quality, minimum) + (magnitude of the total of instilled effects) + Ability of user. A greater invested sword will have a potential of 150 levels of effect, or +30 on stress checks vs damage. Given the target is 15, it's only taking any damage through use if you botch. Greater devices are incredibly durable, it seems.

Also, it states that Hermetic items retain their enchantment even if damaged, only losing them if broken.

Of course magic items stand up to wear - consider the time and resource put into them.

If they did wear out, the system would have to be changed to reflect wear - magic items would have to be cheaper.

That would tend to be a bit mundane - magic items in stories don't seem to suffer from age.

In the games I've played we've never taken this in account, but after thinking about it for a while, a thought came to my mind.

You can't easily reforge an invested device without basically destroying the enchantment (or relying on a Verditius mystery). If you "sharpen" the tool, it will eventually wear out since all you're doing is taking material out of it. But you can use Rego magic to "craft" things that could be made by hand, out of their source materials. This method can also bypass some issues that limit mundane handywork, as long as you're not altering the nature of the material. So, for example, to fix the edge of a chipped enchanted iron sword, you could use a ReTe spell that "reforged" its blade using extra iron as a source. You'd basically add the missing metal to its edge and meld them as if you had reforged it, but you wouldn't require to melt the blade and reshape it.

Now the question would be if you'd allow this method to work with any material. You can take two blocks of metal, melt them and make a single one, but you can't take two pieces of leather or wood and "melt" them to make a single piece. Minerals could pose an issue as well, it's not like you can take two diamonds, melt them and make a bigger one. But you might use CrAn or CrHe magic to temporarily give "life" to the wood and/or leather and allow it to regrow, for example. Or add a permanent Creo effect to the device that would simply regrow any damage that didn't destroy it.

In any case, I like the idea of treating the "warping" of enchantments as the reason for their resilience.

If your magical sword gets a nick in it, just Muto it to clay, work the material back into the position, and give the clay a sharp edge, allow the Muto Terram effect to expire, and presto chango, no more nicked sword, and no loss of material.

You could make it a single spell. MuTe with Re requisite, turn the sword to clay and then fix the shape. The Rego requisite would be there to imply that the Muto effect only changes the material of the sword, while the Rego effect reshapes it into a permanent form.

But that idea makes me wonder. Does that work with other materials then? If I Muto two leather pieces into clay and meld them together, would they remain that way?

if you Muto a wounded arm into clay and reshape it so that it's not wounded, would that work as well? I would argue that you shouldn't be able to fix it "by hand" that way since you'd have to know the exact structure of the tissue you're fixing with magic, even at cellular level. But you could do that with Rego magic. After all, the rules for Rego crafting magic specifically state that you're not subjected to some of the limits that would get in the way of a mundane artisan, such as time, size or lack of proper tools.

If it's something that a sword smith could fix, far better to use ReTe Craft Magic (and far, far better to have an actual sword smith fix it); if it isn't something a sword smith could fix, use CrTe ritual magic to magically repair it. Clever use of Muto can certainly make repairs easier, but handing it to a skilled professional to fix it is still a good idea.

Muto magic can't heal wounds, period. Only Creo magic can do that (though Rego magic can do surgery). Creatures that have been turned into things via Muto magic typically return to their original state unless parts of them have been separated or they've suffered damage consistent with their form. Someone turned into an animal can be wounded normally, while someone turned into water might be immune to most physical damage - but would be in trouble if he was split in half and the spell ended before he could recombine.

I'll toss another monkey wrench into the works.

The main rulebook (on page 99) gives various bonuses for how long the magic effect in an item lasts. In particular, the rules call out 1 year, 7 years, and 70 years. Now, it occurs to me that if you get a bonus for limiting a magic item's life to 70 years, the implication is that without that limitation, the magic item would last for longer than that.

If all magic items wore out after a few years, then everyone would limit them to 7 years of life and multiply their excess lab total by 5. Even if the devices wore out after decades of use, people would then limit every item to 70 years and multiply their excess lab total by 2. Since we know that this doesn't happen, we can assume that magic items are pretty durable and last significantly longer than 70 years.