exchange of two minds, my confusion with

I have a few problems wih the spell "exchange of two minds" (arm5 pg 152).

The spell description states that the spell switches the minds (but not the souls) of two creatures. The spells duration is a year.

Problem 1.

Why is the spells duration 1 year rather than momentary? Suppose two people each have a rock in their mouth. If we wanted to exchange these two stones we would use a momentary rego terram spell (perhaps with a corpus req?). It seems weird to suggest that the exchange of two stones (or other material objects such as hearts, blood, etc) would be anything but momentary (that is permanent, until otherwise affected). Now I think within the context of ARM it is safe to say that the mind is a non-material object, something akin to Decartes notion. So why can't a rego spell move two non-material objects with a momentary duration, in the same way one would move two material objects (e.g. stones)?

When we turn to arm4 we find that the exchange spell (pg 112) had the capacity to be permanent. So unless there was a change in metaphysics from arm4 and arm5, it seems that we could have two minds switch indefinitely: so long as we create the effect within the mechanics of arm5 rules.

Problem 2.

One of my players wants to be able to indefinitely exchange minds (as in ARM4). Is this possible? Can this be done via a hermetic breakthrough. If so,what would that process look like: e.g. a new duration, or is it a breaking of a hermetic limitation,etc.?

Problem 3.

In true lineages pg 112, when discussing Guorna it states:
"she designed a ritual that would move her spirit to a younger body..."

Is this meant to be the same spell as exchange of 2 minds? If so why did they not say mind rather than spirit? Is there a difference between a mind and a spirit or are they the same? What is the difference between a spirit and a soul?

Problem 4

Whats the difference between a soul and a mind?

As the spell indicates, there is a difference between the two. My commonsense view is that the mind is our conciousness plus our cognitive and emotive mental features. Thus, when the spell is cast the characters mind (consciousness plus cognitive/emotive features) now inhabit the new body. If that is correct, and the soul does not transfer, then what has not transferred? Also, why should I think that whatever has not transferred is some part of me? What I mean to say is, when I think about who I am, I think of my mind. Anything that would remain is just not essential to who I am.

When I attempt to think about what a soul is I am clueless. Now we might want to say the soul just is our mind. But that is not an option in ArM5 core rules (as I understand them).

Problem 5

Ok, real trouble now. When I read A&A confusion occurs.

pg 31
"The mind as nourished by the sensitive faculty, is the link between the body and the soul."

This supports the distinction between mind and soul. But then we read...


"The principle difference between the mind of an animal and that of a human is the possession of a soul, which is unique to rational beings such as humans, angels and demons. The soul PROVIDES both reason and intellect."

Does that mean that reason and intellect are part of the soul and not part of the mind? If so then the result of the spell in quesion would be a magus incapable of reason, that doesnt seem correct. Also, I am unclear, do fairies have a soul (I seem to recall reading somewhere that they do not)? This is important because even though they may be whimsical they cerainly can reason and have intellect: fairies can add, solve problems, make judgements, etc. If that is so, then we have a case were a soulless being has intellect and reason.

pg 32

"Hermetic magic cannot affect the functions of the soul - REASON and INTELLECT -even though they form part of the thinking mind."

I always thought that reason and intellect where functions of the mind, not the soul (whatever that is). This passage totally confuses me about the relationship between mind and soul. I just dont get what the author intends here. It seems open to a wide range of interpretations.

Problem 6

Suppose God removes the soul from a living magus: what happens? Does he die? Or, is he a mental vegetable? If he can still think and reason then I have no idea what he has lost? Whatever he lost, if he still has a functioning mind, then it seems he has lost nothing really important.


I am not attempting to reject the medieval paradigm. I am just trying to make sense of it as presented in the source books.
I appreciate any help here.


I'm at work and don't have my books, so I'm shooting from the hip here.

I suspect this is a game balance reason to keep people from bypassing the longevity/aging rules. The rubber band effect is odd, but I believe this has been mentioned in other threads regarding teleporting. I'm not sure the outcome there but it seems reasonable here, imo.

I'd call this a hermetic limitation, but I can see arguments going any which way. Play it how you like.

Background fluff. Probably the same-ish spell, prehermetic and whatnot, but essentially the same.

The spirit is that which is left over after the soul leaves the body--it's what ghosts are made of (I think). To argue circularly, the mind is that which Hermetic magic can affect with Mentem. The soul is that which (vanilla) Hermetic magic can't affect.

Your soul is what has not transferred. What your soul is is some kind of immaterial animating force, but past that I'd be rambling.

Your soul is very much essential to what you are. It's that part that lives on in Heaven or Hell after you die. I assume there is some kind of thinking going on that remember who you are/were prior to the afterlife--otherwise the punishment of Hell doesn't make much sense. But then, I've never too smart regarding that part of things.

On the whole, you seem to be thinking too much like a modern person. Medieval Christians (and probably others too) were at least fairly concerned with the welfare of their souls. Thus, the importance of religion/church in medieval society.

I read this as the soul is the source of those things, not those things. Much as the sun provides nourishment to plant, the sun is not nourishment (it's a big ball of gas floating in space). The mind then uses these things to do the things the mind does. Much as a plant then grows fruit, gets bigger, and all that.

I assume the magus' mind would get its reason and intellect from the soul of the body he entered. I also assume that if your original body dies, your soul is released into the afterlife, and your mind dies in the other body as well, i.e., you' re dead. I might be remembering that last part from previous editions.

I have no idea about faeries. I haven't had time to digest the new faeries book.

Without a soul you die, unless God says you don't.

Again, I'm rambling without reading my books. Hopefully some of this helps.



thanks for the reply,

I would like to also hear from others as well, the more input the better.

As far as my not mentioning the religious significance of the soul, that was because I am primarily interested in how the mind/soul interracts... I kind of took it as given that there was religious significance to not having a soul. That seems pretty noncontroversial.

Ok. you said

"I assume the magus' mind would get its reason and intellect from the soul of the body he entered."

But wouldnt that mean you magus would use the mental characteristics of the host body... that doesnt seem correct to mean. Wonder if you could comment on that?

What about fairies? Do they have a soul, because if not then we have a case of soulless minds that can reason and have intellect. That would mean that having a soul would not be a necessary condition for having reason and intellect and would suggestt hat those capacities are (or could be) part of a mind and not a soul.

Finally, just to be problem one I talked about material and non-material bodies...really what I shold have said was material and non-material substances... that seems more accurate...

thanks again.

Soul is a pretense the authors used against permanent mind changes.
The rest are just blah.
Only the writer of that spell remembers the reason. Your post is a good base to make some erratas. Send the link to David if you wish.

The more literature you read, the more interesting the game gets. It is at least originally based on a combination of Plato and Aristotle's paradigms.

For more on what is the soul vs the mind you'll want to read Aristotle's De Anima

Much of the medieval paradigm about the mind has been digested and put forth in the two supplements 'Art and Academe' and the societies book (I forget the title). The former goes into detail on the mind and the latter goes into detail on species and perceptions. The latter would not answer any of your questions.

Faeries do not have souls. Humans have souls. The Soul is the source of free will, the ability to choose one's destiny.

Faeries do not have souls.

You cannmot prove that faeries can reason, merely that they can simulate reason. There are good reasons to suppose that they can't: they just pass the weak Turing Test you are giving them.

There are very good reasons to suspect that faeries cannot make judgements, and that they merely follow instincts in ways that look like judgement to humans.

Faeries arguably never solve problems. They either create problems for humans to solve, or just steal the answers from human minds. Many lack any spark of creativity themselves.

They -look- like us, but they -aren't- ike us, and there is good reason to suppose they look like us because we are -prey-.


you said

"You cannmot prove that faeries can reason, merely that they can simulate reason. There are good reasons to suppose that they can't: they just pass the weak Turing Test you are giving them."

Im not so sure I can agree with this. If faerie can add, create a trap for the players, make a judment about the best way to respond to a given situation, etc... then I think that this is good grounds for holding that they can reason. Also, A weak pass of the turing machine would be something like the eliza program. In my view Faeries would offer the strongest pass of the turing test. Much stronger than anything AI engineers have developed and are likely to develop in a long time.

When I read game material on the Fay, they come off as being persons. They are self aware, they have goals and preferences. They understand themselves to be existing in the world, etc. They have minds. I read nothing in the material that is specific about the fay that would suggest otherwise. Aside from the Sections on about the mind/soul in A&A, could you point out anyplace that specifically refers to the Fay that would suggest that they do not have minds in general and reason and particular.

Of course, a less persuasive argument can be made. It seems to me that a lot of people consider the fay to have reason, beliefs, values, etc. It also seems to me that a lot of people would find it unsatisfying to have the fay be little more that a Clever Hans. (although, I could be wrong in how I read the ars magica community).

ANyway, even if you are correct that the fay have no mind/reason/intellect, because they have no soul, how do we explain their behavior.

ex.. A fay sets a trap for the magi... he wants to get a magic item. In order to set the trap he has to consider the number of magi and their likely behavior. he sets the trap and then waits.

If you are correct then the fay in question did not cause these events via its reason. so how did they happen. perhaps the total arrational behavior of the fay turned out to simply appear reasonable? That seems unlikely. another explanation could be that some ensouled mind with reason controlled all the actions of the fay. While this is possible, it overly complex. Also, we would need to apply this explanation to all of the seemingly rational actions of all fay. Which would mean one or more ensouled beings controled the fay. That seems way to complex.

It seems to me the simplist explanation is that the Fay can in fact reason.

Final note, I am not trying to reject the Ars magica canon. It just seems to me that the much later material in A&A conflicts with the older material on the fay.


Another argument to support the view that the Fay have reason and intellect.

Many Fay have an Intellegence score, as opposed to a cunning score.

As far as I can tell, if you have an INT score then you have the capacity to reason, make judgments, etc. etc. In short, if you have an INT score then you have reason and intellect... Any Fay that had an InNT score would then have reason and intellect: therefore one can have reason and intellect without the soul (assuming we accept the notion that the fay do not have a soul).

Also, the idea that their apparent "rational" behavior is merely instinct or a mirroring does not stand up to complex fay behavior.

Fay x "I want your shiny ring"
Magus y "You cant have it"
Fay X "How about a challenge, Let us pose a series of riddles to one another. If I lose then I will give you this VIs; however, if I win then you give me your ring."

Any explanation that says Fay X is not rational and lacks reason would make the whole situation absurd. There is no way that instinct could account for the advanced linguistic behavior of Fay X!

From my brief read of the faerie book, faeries act in a specific role in stories/conflicts. In your example, the faerie might be in the role of "riddle master"

Fae: Give me your ring
Magus: no
Fae: how about a challenge...
Magus: no

The faerie wouldn't be able to continue without going back to "how about a challenge..." since its role is the "riddle master". It won't be able to reason out other reactions like "How about a trade", "how about you teach me to make my own", "Tell me where you got it and I'll buy one myself" or "I'll buy my wife flowers for her birthday instead". While playing that role it will be perfectly rational and everything necessary to play that role but get the faerie outside its "script" and it can only improvise so much.

On the other hand, I completely buy your INT argument. Especially since Ars doesn't have a "Got Soul" checkbox.

This is no problem, just check whether the faerie is carrying a sign that reads "NOT A BOT".



Even if Faeries are not flexible, and even not creative, there is still room for reason and intellect.

The Idea of them being scripted also sounds plausable... although I never have them be that inflexible. The more inflexible they appear the more of an automaton they appear.

One note/confession should be made here. It was only about halfway through these posts that I realized that realms of power Faeries is now available... I have not gotten to that yet. I have been basing my arguments on various other ARM5 books as well as earlier editions of arm... especially the original book on the faeries. I suppose now I have to get the new one. However, if the new ropF says they have no reason and intellect I will be very disappointed... that seems to be a huge shift in canon from earlier editions.. one I think that most players would not like.

I have never been a big fan of faeries and stories about them...but for others they are the meat and potatos of their gaming experience. When I discussed this topic with my gaming group they had a less than diplomatic response to the idea of fay having no reason/intellect.

I appreciate all the feedback given, and to some extent my original questions were answered.

But, I have to say that I am surprised by peoples (lack of) reaction to the sub topic about faeries. I guesss my players and I are not normal arm players. I had really thought that there would be at least a handful of people that were bothered by the idea of Faeries having no reason/intellect. That is not to say that I was trolling or anything....just thought an interesting discussion might arise about the Faeries. Oh well...


perhaps the moderators have PoF all of the Merinita online :laughing:

Oh my!!!

I just thought of a new problem.

If faeries dont have souls,

Then if your are fairy blooded, then you?

a. have no soul?
b. have half a soul?

This is a serious question.

On a lighter note, if faeries lack reason and intellect, then mating with them would be like mating with fancy disney animatronic puppets :open_mouth: :laughing:

Salvete, Sodales!

concerning souls of the faerie-blooded:
Just have a look at RoP:F, p. 107. There is an insert titled 'Faerie Blood and the Soul': Basically this is a good question and in ME people don't know for sure, some are worried, others don't care, some think the human part of the ancestry is sufficient.

concerning the question of mating:
This worries many people, too. House Jerbiton's negative attitude towards faeries is described in HoH:S, p.44, and there sex with a faerie is considered as a type of bestiality. Sure, this probably isn't the only position held in ME. But for the actual feeling, I think most faeries can at least simulate reason and intellect very well and seem halfway normal in the things they do, so the sex partner will probably not feel like somebody who is bedding a puppet. Anyway, who knows what Verditius magi dream of and which kind of Automata they build? :laughing:

Alexios ex Miscellanea

There is, to my mind, another slightly more worrying problem with the "reason and intellect derive from the soul" thesis - it means that any non-humans with Magic Might cannot have an Intelligence score, or at least are incapable of reasoned decision making. Reducing everything to functioning simulacra may have been satisfying to self-superior philosophers, but it smacks to me of, "Yes, the natives do have a certain base cunning, but they're incapable of real feeling or thought." I'm sure its very prevalent in the setting, but making it true leaves a bad taste in my mouth. That said, I'm quite happy for faeries to be only capable of limited reason within their assumed role - they are explicitly borrowing their shape and behaviour and being limited to it is thematically appropriate.

For my two pawns of vis, I just assume that this is one of the bits the old philosophers got wrong, and that the soul is the source of immortality (from the perspective of the soul and eternal reward in heaven) and morality, and also that the "soul" is a term describing some greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts property granted by the Divine rather than a discrete, measurable quantity. True, this is just my pet theory, but it allows me intelligent dragons, whilst also neatly meaning that a dragon cannot see anything inherently wrong with eating a person nor can they be tainted by sin for doing do without Infernal intervention.

I might be wrong but I think that the "reason and intellect" that comes with a soul are not the practical logic used in everyday life(there is a mark on that tree, it looks like one of a bear, thus there is bear in that forest) but the ability to use abstract logical (and theological) concepts. At least it is the feeling I got from Art&Academe, ROP:Faeries and ROP:Divine.

You've hit the nail on the head. The connection between the intellect and the soul are the flashes of inspiration that allow you to just know things, without having to reason them out. This is the state that beings of pure intelligence - angels, for example - exist in all the time. They never have to reason, they just know or don't know. By implication (given that real medieval philosophers did not in general accept the existence of non-Infernal and non-Divine intelligence) magical spirits are treated the same way. Non-spiritual magical entities are akin to humans and/or animals, depending on whether they have Intelligence or Cunning. Whether this means that magical entities have a soul is a question for theologians, and not one that matters rules-wise.

That is, magical creatures can reason. Magical spirits don't need to - they understand something fully, or not at all (this is the true meaning of 'grokking' something, in Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land)


Someone used Grok in the true and proper way!
Mark Shirley is a true Philosopher :slight_smile: