Folk witch longevity rituals: clarification needed!

According to HMRE, a Folk Witch can create for herself (only) a Longevity Ritual "using the same rules used by a Hermetic Magus". More precisely she uses "her Healing Ability Lab Total for this activity". This leaves at least two open questions.

Question 1: if the Folk Witch is unGifted, does she divide the Lab total by 5 (because that's what a Hermetic magus does) or by 10 (because she's unGifted)? EDIT: ok, my bad for not realizing that anyone with a supernatural ability (not necessarily the Gift) qualifies for the /5; and I guess all Folk Witches have at least one supernatural ability, barring some exceptionally strange circumstances.

Question 2: if the Folk Witch does not know Healing, does she still generate a (lower) lab total without adding the corresponding term, or is this activity outright impossible for her?

"A Longevity Ritual made for another magus or a character with a Supernatural Ability functions just as if made for you (–1 to aging rolls for every 5 points of Lab Total)." (AM5 p. 109) The gift is not required. You can fully divide by 5 for your companions if they have but 1 supernatural ability.

"An unGifted folk witch is capable of performing most laboratory tasks (she may brew potions, make fetishes, etc.), but only if she has the corresponding Virtues." (HMRE p. 38) So if the folk witch doesn't have the gift, and no healing supernatural ability, there is no lab activity based on a healing lab total that is possible.

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Alas, when you have used a house rule for so long that you forget it's a house rule... Ok, this is clear.

Well, this is far less clear.

When HMRE talks about laboratory tasks in that context, it refers to two tasks that specifically target one mode of operation of the witch's supernatural ability. For example, a witch with Dowsing does not simply have Dowsing: she has to enchant a dowsing rod or make a dowsing potion. And if you look at the description of, say, "Dowsing Rod Binding" you read: "If she has the Dowsing Ability, a folk
witch can enchant a rod in her kitchen" (the same goes for Shapeshifting skins, Flying brooms etc.).

But longevity rituals do not fall in the standard uses of Healing. f you read the Healing description, it does not say that it enables a folk witch to make longevity rituals. And if you read under Longevity Rituals, it does not say "If she has the Healing Ability ...". So it's not clear if in this context it should be read "without Healing you can't generate the total" or if instead the text "For some activities there is no Supernatural Ability added to a folk witch’s Lab Total." applies.

I guess the same applies to Familiars. Could a folk witch bind one without having Animal Ken?

While I do agree Hedge Magic book is not the best-written book, I think it is fairly self-evident that you need to have a relevant ability in order to generate a Lab Total for an activity that falls under its curfew.
The only Supernatural ability I've seen that allows you to generate/contribute to a total without yourself having it is (Faerie) Ceremony.

Folk Witch Longevity Rituals are reliant on Healing. If you are a Gifted Witch, you can just do it. If you are an unGifted Witch, you need to have the Healing Virtue in order to have the associated power in the first place. Thus you also cannot bind a Familiar without Animal Ken.

Hmm, but if it were so self-evident, why say so explicitly for every Lab activity save a) longevity rituals and b) binding familiars? Which incidentally are the only two activities that are never mentioned in the relevant ability description?

Sorry, at this point I am confused as to what the source of your confusion is.

"A folk witch can bind an animal to herself as a familiar. This is a laboratory activity and takes one season. In order to bind an animal, her Animal Ken Lab Total must exceed the Binding Total" (HMR p. 42.)

"A folk witch can create a Longevity Ritual for herself using the same rules used by a Hermetic magus (see ArM5, page 101). Use her Healing Ability Lab Total for this activity..." (HMR p. 41-42)

Familiar binding for Folk Witches is explicitly tied to their Animal Ken ability, and their Longevity Rituals are based on the Healing ability.

That Animal Ken itself has no description of this possibility on its own is because it was first created for the Core Book, a variation that a Hermetic Wizard might learn/be born with. It is worth remembering that any Supernatural Ability that Folk Witches have WILL be different from the base, as they use their own methods, grounded in their own theory of magic. No other practitioner of Animal Ken (or other abilities) can do with it what the Witches can.

As for Healing, its merely the case that its use is split across the chapter; you get its more immediate usage (Incantations method) first and then the rest that is covered by Lab Activities (Potions & Longevity)

If you think its unclear if UnGifted Folk Witch can create Longevity Ritual or bind a familiar without having relevant Virtues, here is a quote from the Corebook:

"Characters cannot use Supernatural Abilities unless they have at least one experience point in the Ability. Only characters with the relevant Virtue, or The Gift, can put experience points into Supernatural Abilities." (Core Book p.62).

There really is no need to keep pointing out you need an ability to use a certain Lab Total, merely enough to establish the outline/precedent. I mean, there is even the quote on page 38, as outlined by Temprobe.

But as said, Hedge Magic book is not the best written at times, no denying that, but you can often enough infer things from what you have.

Yes, but you see, there's the problem. It's not clear if crafting a Longevity Ritual for a Folk witch is using the Healing ability, or is another activity that benefits from Healing, in the way that casting (Hermetic) Ritual spells benefits from Artes Liberales and Philosophiae (so they are part of the formula) but does not really require them. Remember that a Folk Witch Lab Total formula has the "supernatural ability" involved in parentheses, meaning it's optional unless otherwise explicitly required. And requiring it is explicitly spelled out for everything other than familiar binding and longevity rituals.

Let me be clear: I do lean towards your view, but I am playing the devil's advocate because I hope for some more convincing argument. Or at least a wider consensus :slight_smile:

...What? No, just no, where are you getting that? A lab total, by default is based on an Art combination, or a Supernatural Ability in traditions that utilize them (such as Folk Witches, Vitkir, Sahirs, etc). Without them you cannot perform the activity, they are a must. There is no particular reason parentheses are there other then a placeholder as (insert your Supernatural Ability here).

The only Lab Activity that Folk Witches can do that explicitly does not involve a Supernatural Ability is Vis Extraction and they have to explicitly point that out, as its an exception to the usual usage of the term Lab Total.

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The parantheses are there because "For some activities there is no Supernatural Ability added to a folk witch’s Lab Total.", not to indicate it is optional
For example Vis extraction or increasing the lifetime of an arcane connection makes use of a Lab Total, but with no Supernatural ability involved.

Also, "An unGifted folk witch is capable of per-
forming most laboratory tasks (she may brew
potions, make fetishes, etc.), but only if she
has the corresponding Virtues."

In the case of brewing a longevity potion, I'd say the corresponding virtue would be Healing.

Note that it's a longevity ritual not a potion; rules (and V&Fs) for brewing potions do not apply to it.

Just as for Hermetics, it might be a longevity potion. Longevity ritual is just the general term, and doesn't have to involve any actual ritual.

There are examples in the Ars Magica Line where adding a Supernatural ability to a total is optional.
Since we are talking about hedge wizards, consider Sahirs (from tCatC), which are often unGifted.

They can perform a set of lab activities, whose totals are based on one of their abilities. Yet it's very hard to imagine that a Sahir always needs the ability to perform the activity. For example, consider Initiating the Arts (tCatC p.42), the process by which any unGifted Sahir obtain access to one or more Solomonic Arts. This is based on Solomonic Travel, regardless of the Art being initiated. But we know most unGifted Sahirs do not know Solomonic Travel. Do you assume that only those who do can Initiate other Sahirs in any Solomonic Art?

It may be. But it's definitely not a "potion" in the technical sense "potion" is used in the Folk Witch chapter of HMRE.

And such are explicitly stated as such, additions to a standard total. In this case you are not "adding Healing to your Lab Total" in leaue of Philosophae or Artes, you are using your "Healing Ability Lab Total"

True, but doesn't really matter for this discussion.

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It is relevant.

Because you brought up "brewing potions" as an example of what you explicitly can't do without the relevant Virtue. If creating longevity rituals counted as "brewing a potion" - a specific technical term that refers to folk witches employing the "potion method" with their supernatural abilities - then you'd be right, there would be no question that you can't do it without Healing.

As it stands, however, creating a longevity ritual is something different from "brewing a potion", even if the ritual can take potion form (meaning that, for example, other witches at the Sabbat can't help). Hence it's not obvious (to me at least) that you need Healing to do it. A similar example comes from Sahirs (tCatC). As I said, unGifted Sahir initiations are based (for all the Solomonic Arts) on a Lab total involving Solomonic Travel. Yet, from how the entire Suhhar Suleiman is described, it would seem remarkably strange if you needed Solomonic Travel to initiate someone in another Solomonic Art, instead of just getting a bonus from it.

EDIT: on a careful re-reading (I had last perused this section long ago), it does say explicitly that the initiator does not need Solomonic Travel to perform initiations. So this weakens my point somewhat. Still unconvinced, despite leaning towards "no, a witch without Healing can't create longevity rituals".

I should have said longevity ritual then - because my point was about longevity rituals whether they be in potion form or not.
The Folk Witch longevity rituals use their Healing Lab Total, which means that if they are unGifted they need the Healing virtue.

"An unGifted folk witch is capable of per-
forming most laboratory tasks (she may brew
potions, make fetishes, etc.), but only if she
has the corresponding Virtues."

For sahirs, I believe they too need to have the Abilities included in their Lab Total to perform such labaratory activities - except for a couple of cases where they specifically mention that the Ability is not needed. (Opening the Gift; learn summoning spells)
That it is needed to mention where the Ability is not required strongly suggests that generally the Ability is needed for lab activities.

It also seems (I've not checked throroughly) that for sahirs, when the ability is required, the requriement is stated explicitly. Which is at it should be done: state explicitly, for formulas that involve a supernatural ability, but are relative to an activity that is not the standard use of that supernatural ability, whether the ability is necessary for the activity or merely a bonus.

For folk witches, this does not seem to be the case. All other lab activities (including those cited as examples for the need of the relevant Virtue in the passage you mention) explcitly state that the specific supernatural ability is needed. For longevity rituals and familiar bindings, neither of which is a "core" use of the supernatural ability involved in the formula, the requirement is never stated. I think there's latitude for some doubt.

If Supernatural Abilities in Lab Totals become optional additions, as you're arguing, that means that literally anyone under the sun can practice any brand of magic the moment they get a most fundamental basics perspective magic system works (analogous to tradition's Magic Theory, or Magic Lore).

Any mundane, no initiations performed, no inherent abilities or the Gift. But sure, watch them perform this very magical activity involving powers they do not possess. Everyone now can prolong their lives or get familiars.

In the Solomonic example; say we might have an UnGifted Solomonic Alchemist, who might have no capacity for Solomonic Travel at all, but watch him pull off a Travel-based magic just like that, nevermind that he can't wield such magics at all! The whole premise would be ridiculous.

That is the whole point of initiations for the UnGifted, to actually give them the capacity for a specific brand of magic of a given tradition, which alters their essential nature to be able to do that. If any given lab activity is based on, or associated with a Supernatural Ability or Art, its a non-negotiable aspect of the activity.

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The initiating the gift example given earlier instead explicitly states that Solomonic Travel isn't required, so this observation wouldn't be correct.