Finesse rolls and automatic enchanted items.

I was toying around with a covenant that has fully phased out its mundane staff and replaced them with enchanted items, and I ran into an impasse. I can't seem to find if/how a fully automatic device can attempt finesse checks for rego craft magic.

According to the entry on using enchanted devices, all targeting rolls use the wielders finesse. extending this to all finesse rolls seems reasonable and appears to be the consensus. But that still leaves the fully autonomous devices.

Do they either

  1. Require constant supervision, using the supervisors finesse.
  2. Require some initial activation and taking the finesse from there. (this seems to be the approach taken with the Superb Scrinium in transforming mythic europe, but that is still activated)
  3. Have the finesse score of the creator baked in at creation.
  4. Have no Finesse score, leaving a machine that barely ever works.
  5. Simply not work, automatically either failing or botching all finesse rolls.

This is my first post here so please point out and forgive any faux pas.

I think my read would be the first, combined with number 4 if it's unattended when it activates, assuming it's left in a state that allows it to activate when unattended; ie within range of both a valid target and Target

As far as I know, phasing out your staff with enchanted devices isn't mostly possible. You can phase out your costs with enchanted items, but I don't think you can easily phase out your staff. Finesse items don't have a Finesse score without someone to activate and direct them. The closest thing hermetic magic has to replace staff with enchanted items are automatons (see Verditius chapter). You would typically give them a skill, rather than Finesse. And even those, don't think and they need some amount of supervision. They certainly won't go on their own cleaning all rooms, doing the laundry and replacing the bedsheets.

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  1. Have very many devices, each doing only a single simple task that doesn't require Finesse.

For example:

  • An item that cooks a meal only cooks that single meal from a single set of ingredients -- baked beans with lamb, onions and herbs. You can vary the herbs, or use garlic instead of onions, but when you replace the lamb with some other meat it is still cooked as if it was lamb (so either over- or under-cooked).
  • An item that washes clothing just does that, wash a single piece of clothing using a piece of soap and water. You then have to take the washed item and hang it to dry.
  • An axe that chops firewood only chops a tree into logs for the fire. Not planks nor furniture.

You end up needing a lot of different items, and the magi need to move them and activate them. They are not autonomous.


While not able to completely remove all of your staff, going with a form of Arthur's suggestion can significantly reduce the total you need. The cost savings from Enchanted Items can directly reduce the need for Craftsmen, which indirectly reduces the need for Servants, Laborers, and Teamsters. Not taking any Specialist will have a similar reduction. You can further reduce things by going with a minimal Turb (say only Shield Grogs and a couple of guards at minimum).

What you cannot reduce is the number of VIPs (Magi, Companions) and their required Servants/Teamsters. Every Magi requires a Servant unless you want a "Pauper" reputation and you will need a lesser number for the Companions (60%). Any Turb you have will require 1 Servant for every 10. You are also going to require some mix of Laborers and Teamsters (somewhere around ~60% of the number of Servants at minimum).

So say you have 5 Magi and 5 Companions, with 5 Shield Grogs and 5 Guards. You would also need 10 Servants and some mix of Laborers/Teamsters. Lowest would be 6 Teamsters. That would put you at 36 total people, which is a pretty damn small Covenant.

My Covenant isn't a good example because we actually have more people than we need and there are a lot (592 adults, 249 babies/children). However we are way larger than we need to be, since we have a lot of cost savings from enchanted items that are not being used. 19.25 ppy (pounds per year) of Provisions cost savings, 99 ppy of Consumables cost savings, and 34 ppy of Building cost savings from enchanted devices are not being used.
[Side Note: If you are wondering what these are, they are all in my "A Covenant's Collection of Enchanted Items" thread]

All the unused cost savings could allow us to reduce our population by a great deal. In fact our unused savings from enchanted items are almost equal in Points of Inhabitants to our actual total Points of Inhabitants. If we doubled our total population the only cost would come from Wages and the shortfall of Provisions.

Going the opposite way, we could cut 100% of our Consumable Craftsmen. 71% of our Building Craftsmen, and 27.5% of our Provision Craftsmen from our wasted cost savings. That would have further knock on effects of reducing Wages, needed Servants, needed Laborers, and the actual maintenance cost of those three (Consumables, Buildings, Provisions) by a lot.

Most likely we could half our total population and still support all the combat forces, Specialist, Companions, and Magi. If we dropped 90% of our combat forces so we only had Shield Grogs and a couple of guards then we could most likely drop our total population to ~20% of what it currently is, roughly a one to one ratio of VIP/Combat to Staff. If we dropped most of our Specialist (the ~80% we use for book copying, teaching children, and medical) then we could get down to ~10% of our current population.

While we would not do this since we like having the spare capacity, someone wanting to go the other way could get by with very little support people for their VIPs (Magi, Companions, key Specialist) and combat forces.

I had a covenant down to minimal servants by having just one trained very well in Finesse. If you're willing to train up a few grogs and have them train each other, while not entirely eliminating the need, you'll have need for few.

I believe it's 5. Maybe 4. Finesse is required whenever there's a level of needed skill in a creation - if the item just does a simple thing over and over, no finesse is needed. Like Arthur stated, you can just have a simple items that each do a basic task, but you can't have, for example, a magic pot that takes whatever ingredients and then cooks a unique meal out of it - It has no brain to make decisions.