Hermetic engineering: reliable and safe telecommunication

In which I attempt to design a telecommunication system that could reduce message delay between magi considerably.

Problem description

The main criteria was to eliminate direct arcane connections to a magus.
With some secondary considerations the system should:

  1. Either be fully automated or simple enough to be operated by a grog, preferably one with little to no training.
  2. Not be prohibitively expensive
  3. Be (reasonably) secure against eavesdropping.
  4. Be reasonably scalable.
    4.1 I would not accept anything that requires O(n^2) magic items.
  5. Not be misconstrued as scrying.

Using a pair of items I came up with the following:

Far-reaching chalk

This hemisphere of glass just large enough to require two hands to lift has an indent in the top sized for a dialing disc.

all of the effects would be activated by touching the chalk and saying "connect", additionally, move the board can be activated by touching the chalk and saying "notify", in this way you cannot covertly start to spy on someone.
Share the diagrams
CrIm 10
R:touch, D:Conc, T:Ind
Creates outlines similar to chalk drawings on the target, to be used through the intangible tunnel provided by the dialer or by the magus themselves.
(Base 3[1 sense, can be controlled], +1 touch, +1 concentration, +5lvls item concentrates)

Move the board
Creates the sound of a hand bell being rung.
Each chalk chimes in different pattern, allowing attendants to identify which board needs to be moved.
CrIm 2
(Base 1, +1 touch)

See the diagrams
displaces your sense of sight to the target.

InIm 8
(base 1, +1 touch, +1 conc + 5 lvls item maintains concentration)

Dialing disc

A small wooden disk, with a piece of slate fixed to the centre, the slate is a fixed arcane connection to the a blackboard used by the system.
Dial the connection
As level 10 intangible tunnel + levels to make the Tong concentrate.


The general setup is to have a fairly large area, with several adjoining rooms.

A grog will monitor the central area, when a bell rings the grog would check the corresponding blackboard for instructions to move the blackboard into one of the rooms.

I would assume that since your vision is moved to the blackboard, that you could see the blackboard and at least the immediate area, so you would see what you are drawing with the chalk.

Room for further improvement

This solution can still easily be used to spy fairly effectively, it also requires several seasons of lab work per new connection, although that could be reduces with a competent magus.

Additionally, the requirement for a grog to be present does put a hamper on the actual confidentiality of the whole situation, I was thinking about a way to simulate the grog with some sound activated movement enchantments, but that felt clunky and proved expensive.

Closing words

If you see any blatant rule breaks, please point them out. Same goes for any possible improvement, I have a feeling that someone has a considerably better solution floating out there.

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My Verditius magus made paired simple enchanted wax tablets, each with a Rego effect that used an Arcane Connection to its matched tablet, so that what is written on one is transcribed onto the other. As with any wax tablet, you smooth the wax after reading the message, and it's ready for reuse. His sigil manifesting makes it obvious when a tablet has received a message.

Since they're simple enchantments, it's only one season to make a pair as a neophyte Verditius, and they're so useful that the other magi are willing to do the tedious fixing of Arcane Connections.


That is a delightfully cheap solution, but the main problem with it or a similar one is that you are leaving arcane connections presumably to your sanctum lying around.

Do you have the text of your effect somewhere? it might be an interesting starting point for a more elegant system.

If you had a tablet that could write and read from a distant tablet, while only having an arcane connection to it but not the other way (via some PeVi) effects.
Then bringing a pair of those tablets close enough together that writing on one would also appear on the other would create essentially a circuit switched phone system.


I made it as a Rego Craft Magic application, and our group decided that wax fell under Animal. I'm away from a list of guidelines but we went with Base 2:
ReAn 15: base 2, +4 Arcane, +0 Momentary, +0 Individual; +5 levels for 24 uses/day.
An Arcane Connection to the paired tablet is encorporated. So, you write a message on your tablet, activate the effect, which is then copied onto the paired wax tablet. The user of the other tablet does the same to write back to you.

Each tablet is an Arcane Connection to the other, so there's a vulnerability if someone gets a hold of one. But it's usually a Redcap or companion who has it, so the wizards don't have to be paranoid about getting Intangible Tunneled, or whatever (and they don't really trust the wizards to use them effectively, anyway.)


As far as I've read, Arcane Connections can exist only to living creatures or to places. If it is possible to create an Arcane Connection to an object, then many things become feasible, so I'm certainly open to evidence of such.

Otherwise, I think the most likely route is something like To See As Others See, the spell from True Lineages. That let's you use a parrot as a cellphone (I think.)

According to Covenants p.98, a library's catalogue serves as an Arcane Connection to each book in the library as well as to the collection as a whole.


Mercere Portals must include Arcane Connections to each other, not to the location where they are placed.

They can be built by different magi in different locations, but both sides of the paired set must include an arcane connection to the other. (HoH:TL p101)


I think the main issue is that to have a network implies a large number of objects which can selectively reach each other. The actual function on the OP system is very unclear, especially in why it needs to be so complicated or how moving enchanted objects to other rooms is supposed to affect their operation.

The main method of actual communication is to put two blackboards in the same room, and let the magi draw on them remotely.

The reason that it is (relatively) complex is that I don't want any user of the system to have an arcane connection to another or the manager of the system to have a connection to a user.

Moving the boards is essentially the same as tuning to a different frequency to talk more privately over a radio.

If you could point to other parts that need clarification I would be glad to clear things up.


Okay, so you have a sending device and a receiving device. The sending device for reasons that are unclear is a glass dome and chalk, the receiving deice is a chalkboard. You obviously need both a sending device and receiving device in order to communicate since these are not enchanted for two way communication like the wax tablet method. Why you would need two chalkboards in the same room is unclear.
If you move the chalkboard to another room however, it changes nothing except which her chalkboard is in the room with it (again purpose unclear). It does not change any arcane connections, so the same sending device and receiving device remain connected to one another. So what exactly is actually accomplished by moving the chalkboards? I get that you are saying it is like changing teh frequencies or channel, but how?

The materials are essentially arbitrary, chosen only for looks and the correct capacity.
There is no chalk, it is named a chalk because it functions as a chalk, the name might need improvement.

The reason for having two devices in the same room is so that they can see each other(which was one of the assumptions that I made that I would like to be verified, does using a sense at a distance allow you to see from the target and see the target itself?), which would allow for a two way connection since you draw your message on your board and read the response from the others.

Moving the boards is not supposed to actually affect the arcane connections, it just keeps your drawings out of the public eye while making sure that the person you are trying to contact can see them.

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This seems very similar to our Tablets of Warning.

If the problem is keeping people from having Arcane Connections to each other, then can't you just set it up so you have a room out in the wilderness, or in someones covenant if they're providing this service, where you have some sort of thing to write on, for example a clay tablet. Both of the people who want to communicate have an AC to this tablet, for example a little ball of clay, but the tablet is not an AC to the clay balls. Then, they could just have an AC range effect to read what is on the tablet, and another to write on it.

This would require either the people at each end knowing these spells, or having an invested device with these effects, but who you use them to communicate with is interchangeable, since you could have an arbitrary number of clay balls. The only real problem is that there is still the possibility of someone spying on the shared tablet, wherever it is, but that's the cost of avoiding a security risk in the form of other mages having an AC to your home.

That is essentially what my solution is, but with the added benefit of being able to communicate with multiple people at once and not needing to have a tablet for each pair of magi that want to talk to each other.

If my danish doesn't fail me, those also have the same problem of needing an arcane connection from one tablet to the other, which my solution avoids.

They are indeed designed to be ACs to each other. Not to the magus/maga/grog carrying them.
They are also specifically designed as paired devices, because handing them out to grogs has proven very useful. Cost/benefit varies.

Okay, if I am understanding your "design" properly the fist issue is that chalkboards do not see- you would need an InIm effect to enable the two chalkboards to see each other. At that point you can just as easily use a touch based effect so the two surfaces will only "see" what they are pressed against, and you can simply place pairs of tablets against each other, the relay what they see to their arcane connection linked devices.

I didn't hava the time to read all the thread, but it looks like @PDust struggles to be understood. I try to write up what I get from his ideas in slightly different and more structured way.

(1) I take two pairs of wax tablet and stylus each. Each stylus is an AC to its wax tablet.
(2) No other ACs are needed.
(3) These ACs are only stylus to tablet, not the other way around.
(4) Two magi hold each the stylus to a wax tablet.
(5) The wax tablets are lying close together in a well lighted room.
(6) Each magus casts two spells:
(6.1) Spell 1 (R: Arc) to write and erase text on the tablet he holds the stylus to.
(6.2) Spell 2 (R: Arc) to see the surroundings of that tablet.
(7) Then he also sees the other wax tablet, and what the other magus is writing on it.
(8) Setting up the room with wax tablets requires a few helpers. These helpers can sometimes be magically affected by the magi holding the styluses - so some Hermetic decorum is needed here.
(9) Having several such rooms might allow helpers to form pairs or even groups of wax tablets ad hoc, as ordered by the holders of their respective styluses by writing on the tablets. But that would require the helpers to monitor some of the communication.
(10) Control of the rooms is anyway the determining factor of assured identity and privacy in this kind of communication.
(11) But the basic scheme allows for fast and far ranged communication between magi, without having ACs between them.
(12) So this might be a revolutionary idea by some maga, reducing Redcaps to 'switchboard operators'.

Is that @PDust's basic concept?

EDIT: Imagine an agitated magus using his stylus to just cast an R: AC CrIm spell to yell into the room and order the helpers around. :nerd_face:

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Yes, this is essentially what I was trying to get across, thank you for summarizing!
The only differences being that there is an effect that creates a noise to call the helpers which will then read messages from the tablets instead of an effect directly commanding them.

The edit was essentially the reason that there is a spell to call the helpers, so that if they get lazy with checking for requests for movement an impatient magus does not just use the arcane connection in their hands to incinerate the poor things.

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You're missing a target for see the diagrams, probably room is what you want, also a few uses per day

I was messing with this idea some, and I think it's more efficient if you centralize the enchanted items, thusly:

Each connected Covenant receives a large(let's say 1ft×2ft or so, it mostly doesn't matter) sheet of wood, painted white, with a wax tablet mounted over half of it(edged in black). A peice is taken and fixed as an arcane connection, and retained by the switchboard operator.

The main item involved in this scheme is a pair of mirrors mounted a few inches apart, facing eachother, joined on one side with a shelf/cubbyhole stack to hold arcane connections, it has two instilled effects(i havent worked out vis capacity stuff, probably this is cheaper as glass mirrors):

poll the image
When a command word is spoken and a specific shelf is indicated, this effect pulls the image from the touched(through an arcane tunnel) wax tablet, and puts it on mirror 1(each cubbyhole corresponds to a grid position on the mirror) continuously
base1(sight at a distance) +1touch +1conc +0ind +1creo | +10 any/day
total: in(cr)im 14

Send the results
When a command word is spoken and a specific shelf is indicated, this effect pulls the image from mirror 2, and puts it on the white painted part of the touched (through an arcane tunnel) wax tablet arrangement, continuously
base1(create sound) +1touch +1conc +0ind +1move | +10 any/day
total: crim 14

You'll need one of each of these:

somewhat tangible tunnel
base0(5wide tunnel) +4arc +1conc +0ind | +5 24/day
total: revi 10
Note:creates arcane tunnels and sticks them to the arcane connections

unceasing chatter
base3(sustain5) +1touch +2sun +2room | +1 2per +3environ
total: revi 24
Note: sustains the tunnels, and also maybe other effects so all of the networks don't end at sunrise/set

For each attendant, you'll also need one of these as lesser enchantments:

sustain wand
base3(sustain5) +1touch +2sun +0ind | +10 any/day
total: revi 20

Finally, you'll need some way to notify the attendants that you want to be entered into a conversation, probably each Covenant receiving a wand with this effect is sufficient:

dial in wand
base1(create moonlight) +1touch +1conc | +6 50/day
total: crig 9

I guess you don't have to do the weird 2 mirrors facing eachother thing, I think it was nessisary for a previous draft, but for this one just a flat panel is probably fine

Also you could use a very similar scheme to make a system of "radios," I guess it's more like a conference call, but you could probably use a muim effect to get the blocking effect where only one person can speak at a time, so that's kinda neat I think. Also you could make a version that operates at arcane connection range(and is therefore way more chill in wizard war/on a march etc) but this version is way cheaper lmao. Also you could fuse the audio and video versions and get video chat lmao.

In summary: I think your scheme requires 6ish pawns of items per connected covenant(including one fixed arcane connection) with no enchanted items, but some specially constructed rooms and a few attendants at the coordinating Covenant. While my scheme requires 2 pawns of items(including 1 fixed connection) per connected covenant, with a reasonable amount of infrastructure costs at the coordinating Covenant, notably, almost all of the enchanted items are at the coordinating Covenant in my scheme, which has some advantages, and you could potentially skip some of the vis cost by using arcane connection preservation magic and unfixed connections. Overall though, I think my scheme is about half the cost in vis, though it does trade off having all of the significant infrastructure in one place for having persistent arcane tunnels.(you could do a more expensive version that requires fixed connections on both sides but doesn't have the persistent arcane tunnel)(also you can do an even cheaper version that doesn't have the persistent arcane tunnels, or any enchanted item in connected Covenants, it's just always on, probably better for audio versions for use as radios)

Sorry for multi-posting and editing everything constantly, there's a weird touch offset on this site using my phone for some reason

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