Finesse vs Complexity

Is there any guideline in the books about how to adjudicate between when an effect is Finesse-driven or when its Complexity-driven?

It seems that the rules are terribly vague about this. TM(RE) p27 has a spell that can memorize an entire book with +4 complexity magnitudes, bypassing an Art of Memory or Magic Theory roll of TN 21+.

Twinning the Tome (HoH:TL, p101) allows you to copy an entire book with +5 complexity magnitudes.

However, what then is the role of Craft magic (HoH:S, p68)?

Would it be correct to say that anything that can be Finessed can achieve the same result with +complexity magnitudes?

I am not familiar with any such guideline, in general. There are a few specific cases in the spell guidelines/example spells, but not a general rule.

I personally prefer to keep things up to Finesse, disallowing increasing complexity with magic. As I see it, magic can always bring about functioning things, but cannot create things of great art without Finesse. So you could increase the complexity magnitude to create a highly complex structure that will stand on its own, but to make it beautifully or elegantly or with very fine details or so on you'll always need Finesse.

That's just to keep Finesse handy there.

As defined, Finesse seems intended to adjust a spell to achieve a particular end - either targeting (to put it ~exactly~ right there), or Creo a particular form one imagines. "Art" is a function of the individual mind, and Finesse covers that - as it does when an end result might vary (an ornate wooden bridge with a pinecone motif, vs a crow motif, etc).

But say the spell is ~designed~ to achieve a certain exact effect - a Muto Corpus (perhaps with an InIm requisite) designed to perfectly mimic another person, an ~exact~ copy. I would think that a higher powered spell could more perfectly achieve that end, with no limit to the exactitude achievable - and the extra magnitudes are additional "complexity", no?

You can play it that way. I would, however, maintain that raw magic just isn't precise enough to make exact copies like that; it copies the Essential Qualities, not the accidents. You need Finesse to finely direct your magic like that.

But that's just an excuse. What I'm really for is preserving a useful role for Finesse, makingit an important ability. This is a metagame reason, that has nothing to do with the logic of how magic works. Indeed, you can 'justify' how magic works one way or the other. I view this as a metagame choice that is to be justified - if at all - in retrospect. Such justifications are easy regardless of the choice.

I can understand that, and take a similar approach often myself.

But "exact results" is not the death of Finesse.

For any Rego spell, for any Creo spell that is not narrowly defined, Finesse determines the exact results - the exact orientation, the cosmetic elements that are variable within the overall end result.

And perhaps a copy of a living being is not a good example - there are "artistic" and biological variables (such as hairstyle, for one, or recent wounds) that would always require Finesse to mimic, as they have nothing to do with Essential Nature or Form of the target.

A mage creates a spell that cuts stone for a wall. Take a large boulder, ZAP, and you have one dressed stone - great. Finesse could create a stone 50 cm square, or 55 cm square, or 55.5 cm square, as needed - so the stones are all (hopefully!) the same size. The more exact, the greater the Finesse roll, each time, every time.

But a spell with an extra magnitude of complexity could be designed to duplicate, exactly, the size of a "model" stone - so they are all identical, no Finesse necessary. There is no "art" involved in this, no judgment need be involved in the process - there is a model, and the magic copies the model, done.

"Finesse" might conceivably add something to the final product - a symbol or carving, or orient how the block is carved from the boulder, but the spell, as designed, achieves one specific result, one of many that otherwise Finesse would have been necessary for. And if the mage wants a stone slightly larger or slightly smaller, Finesse won't help - because that's not how the spell is designed.

Complexity should not cover all the variables of Finesse: no "+4 complexity for extra control over final shape/color/location" - but to achieve precision of a specific final result (that can be Platonically precise), I would think it's appropriate.

I like your distinction, but why doesn't an excellent sword count as a platonic ideal? Wouldn't it be possible to create excellent swords by simply increasing the complexity?

That would be my take on it, yes. Or you could use Creo to make an existing sword better, and that should e reflected by the magnitude, not a Finesse Roll. Finesse was much more important back when you had to Aim spells. I am not a fan of the "no targeting needed" and "no natural resistance" of 5th edition.

(agreed on the aiming - seems a bit too easy now, just point and shoot.) :confused:

"Complexity" seems to be a bit of a semi-official blanket term - it's used in canon, yet never defined or officially addressed - it just "appears" here and there. It seems to cover extensions of the core Te/Fo guidelines, when they leave off before reaching the desired result.

Yes and no - a Platonic sword would be the perfect form of the sword - whatever that means. "quality" does not enter in to it - it would have no flaws, but would not be exceptionally sharp, as that is not (necessarily) what is expected.

As MM points out, to perfect something, Creo would be involved - and additional magnitudes, tho' I would think not of "complexity". And there would be a limit to how "sharp" a sword can be, but not to how additionally complex a spell can be.

A CrTe spell could create a sword. A complex CrTe could duplicate one. A very complex spell might perfectly duplicate it, with forging and heat shading in the metal and such. Finesse would still be needed to duplicate wear and tear, nicks and mars. Additional complexity could make it perfectly/optimally sharp, but it would take PeCo to make it supernaturally lethal.*

(* Or, possibly, a ReTe, to make it hit harder?)

I'm not quite sure what to say, actually. In a lot of ways I don't agree with you at all, I do believe the platonic form is supposed to be perfect rather than mediocre. On the other hand it is the only attempt at justifying these rules I have ever seen, and with all likelihood I will have to justify those rules several times tomorrow to my players. And I will probably use the distinctions set up by you. So in a lot of ways you could also say that I agree. At least until I run into (or come to think of) something better =P

If it helps any, I use the simple rule that a quality sword adds +1 to attack and +1 to damage. In the one saga, we have Spanish swords made with Toledo steel.

(Serf's Parma - I don't know what the rules in Art & Academe are for quality weapons)

Why, thank you! But the rules for excellent weapons (and other excellent things) are actually very clear. And the specific guidelines for creo and rego creating things are also very clear. The problem is really why some guidelines require finesse and others require extra complexity magnitudes. One of my players character is very good at finesse but not so good at anything else, so the distinction matters a lot in actual play.

I think I know what you mean - which is why I added "whatever that means". Platonic Forms deal with an "ideal", and whether or not an ideal sword is one that does the most damage or not is arguable. (It could also be one that handles the best, or has an edge that lasts the longest in an extended combat - many yardsticks for "ideal", and some will contradict the others.)

Realistically, being merely physically "sharp" negates the purpose at some point - the razor edge blunts faster than a "working" edge, anyone who's ever sharpened tools will tell you that.

That's why I give a bonus of +1 to both attack and damage. The weapon is better balanced and holds an edge longer. A Toledo/Damascene sword is more than just quality craftsmanship. The quality of the steel is better than steel from, say, England or Germany. Mind you, it takes a smith trained in the techniques of working this particular sort of metal. The end result is a superior quality sword, closer to the Platonic ideal of "sword".

Sorry - we're getting off topic.

The Platonic Ideal of Sword may or may not incorporate the Platonic Ideal of "Sharp" - the two work well together, but are not the same thing.

But the question is whether "Complexity" could be designed into a spell to more perfectly duplicate a specific sword, with every subtlety and nuance, whether sharp or dull, or whether "Finesse" is the only way to achieve that. And to what degree each?

We are not trying to Creo a platonic ideal, something from the caster's mind, but perfectly and without judgment duplicate something less, something concretely mundane that is modeled in front of the caster.

You are right. I have come up with a solution for our group that I will use tomorrow. I'm not sure that it's for everyone, but I think it's an OK middle way.

#1 A spell can be designed to incorporate complexity magnitudes that replaces the need for finesse. Designing such a spell requires a very small breakthrough with one breakthrough point per complexity magnitude. The spell that creates a stone tower is thus unhermetic (in the sense that aegis of the hearth is unhermetic).

#2 If such a spell is not used finesse has to be used instead.

I'd say complexity adds to the level of detail and other complex forms, and finesse to the quality. Making a very simple cruciform sword would not be very complex, but getting the pommel weight, the distal and lateral taper and the grip shape just right will require great finesse. (and I prefer my swords simple and cruciform)

That's a good one too. This explains the difference between "creating a block of stone" and "creating a block of stone hollowed out to form a tower". But with a bad finesse roll, your tower won't be very well build.