Hermetic understanding of the fork

Brass is an artificial thing, an alloy. Do no brass items exist in the world of forms?

How would I know? I have never been there.

Items crafted from brass (à priori) do not exist, just like items crafted from any other material.

Whether brass exists, as a material, is less clear. Does brass occur naturally? Has the alloy been designed more or less consciously, or does it just happen to appear more readily in nature than the pure metals? I don't know that much about metallurgy. I would say, though, that a designer alloy is an artificial thing, while a randomly occurring alloy would be a natural thing. YSMV.

There does not seem to be any empirical argument that pure metals exist in the World of Forms, rather than ore and alloys. This is in contrast to the horse argument, where one could appeal to natural selection. However, from a Mythic Perspective, I suppose 1000/1000 pure silver would be a Form, while even 930 sterling silver would be considered inferior. Similarly, iron is a plausible form, while iron ore might not be. Either way, this feels like house rule territory. The World of Forms has to be designed, as an integral part of your game world. There is no way around it. We do not have any empirical evidence to guide us, and rationalist philosophers have come up with contradictory philosophies.

I am not particularly fond of the distinction betwen artificial and natural things in the game world, and with respect to the interpretation of Creo in particular. I would much have preferred a more Platonic idea of Forms, and including Ideal Forms of artificial things.

That said, I can see why the distinction is made. Craft magic would have been a lot simpler, since there is no finesse roll required to match a true Form. And accepting artificial things in the World of Form would only make the design of this World even more challenging.

copper exists in nature, but tin does not, having to be extracted from ore. Therefore, one would suppose that bronze, an allow of tin and copper, would not exist naturally either.

AFAICT, lvgreen is right here.

Creo magics can give up to +5 based on that species "average" score"

You can selectively increase an animal's stats to produce a horse that's, for exemple, faster than other horses, but completely average in other aspects.

But if you increased all of it's stats, it would be better in every way.

Compare with a human. You may think that Str - 5, Int +5 is a better academic, whereas a perfected human would have +5 in both attributes. The academic was already "perfect" in regard to hr intelligence, so it didn't change, you just bolstered her Str to be equal to that of the strongest human.

With an animal, it would be the same, save with, for example, "average" strength +2 and "average" int -4.
You could better it for either of these attributes, but it you went the whole 9 yards, it'd end up with Str +7 and Int +1.

Also, note how easily we (or I, in this occasion) fall back on the stereotype of the dumb brute, which sucks.

It does suck, but if you are spending vis to augment medieval infantry while valuing and trying to preserve intellect for less violent pursuits it is usefull.

Hum, I believe we may be talking about different things here.

AFAIUI, you're talking about increasing someone's stats. This doesn't make them worse in other respects and, as you note, it makes perfect sense to not waste your vis needlessly.

I was talking about the cliché that if you're strong, you're dumb, and conversely.

But whatever :slight_smile:

And again in the real world it is a nasty stereotype, but in a game situation where people tend to min max and play ballance means you are unlikely to be both it is much more of a useful guideline.

Agreed. It's common to see magi with a -1 or even -3 strength to up the intelligence, stamina and other stats seen as more important for a magi. The corollary, the fighter type who needs some strength, quickness, etc, what gets thrown away, communication and intelligence.

The search for balanced characters in RPGs means stereotypes of smart and scrawny, big and dumb occur. It's unfortunate, however, it would be hard to have the kind of defined roles allowing everyone their time to shine if we had the strong guy also flinging spells and speaking like the bard.

Well, for that, you have Flambeau magi :sunglasses:
(Marko, if you read me... :wink: )

As of this writing, the poll results have been stable for several days at 40 votes, almost evenly split (21-19).

So I wonder if @David_Chart might consider this for clarification. Can a magus tell the "apparent function" of a Terram object - if someone familiar with that type of object would be able to tell at a glance - using the InTe 2 guideline? I.e. that forks and spoons are tools to handle food, that a horseshoe is meant to protect the hoof of a horse or similar animal, that a tombstone is something to mark a tomb etc.? It seems a fairly important issue for magi specializing in Intellego, and from the poll's results it also seems completely unclear.

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Also, if @David_Chart weights on this, he should know that this is an offshoot on the Translating unknown glyphs using magic thread, in which it was argued whether, or not, that same guideline could be used to translate carvings into an unknown language, on the basis (If I understood correctly) that someone with appropriate skills (knowledge of the language in question) would be able to do that.

So this has repercussions far beyond the "fork" question


I would have thought that the easiest clarification for the ReTe 2 guideline was to specify that the approriate skills had to be possessed to the spell caster.

Do what works for your saga.

I don't have time to read the whole thread, so I may well be missing something important. But, since I have been asked to contribute, I will.

I would say it definitely would not be able to interpret the glyphs. I am not sure whether we ever made it explicit, but that was a constant policy: Hermetic magic cannot translate writing.

I would also tend to say that the guideline could tell you what the fork was made of, that it could bear a load, that it could conduct electricity if that was a thing in Mythic Europe, and so on, but could not tell you the socially-defined function of a fork. The guideline is for properties of a thing, and how people choose to use something is not a property of that thing.


A sidenote: the argument was not that Hermetic magic could translate the glyphs, but that it could reconstruct the function of the object bearing the glyphs - e.g. a warning sign, or a tombstone, or a milestone - which would indirectly provide clues about the meaning of the glyphs.

Good to know - so thanks for answering.
That aligns with the view of about half the participants in this thread.

I'm in the other half of the camp, and my gaming group will keep on playing that way, but a clarification is very hepful in any case: in this way we know that we are playing with a houserule. So we can explain that to newcomers in the group before problems crop up, and we can take the appropriate view of other material in the line.


Thanks for the clarification, I remembered badly (probably influenced by the topic's title ^^)

OTOH, your answers were also not as clear, even disregarding that if you've got 2 stones with glyphs, if you can't read the glyphs, there's no way to know wherether it's a warning or an elogy.

To take just 2 quotes:

Actually, reading the last one, I fail to see much difference between this and that:

=> I am under the impression that things may not be as clear to you and your troupe as you may think
=> You may want to discuss and clarify this with them

@The_Fixer I appreciate your concern for my gaming group, but it is all very clear to us. I had hoped to make it clear to you as well, but I evidently failed. Let me try one last time and then I'll give up.

a) understanding is only the first part of translating. The second is, if you wish, "putting into words".
The latter is clearly beyond Hermetic Magic: one cannot enchant a device to provide a Latin description (written or spoken) of what's in the enchanted device's room. So translation is clearly beyond Hermetic magic regardless of whether the first part of it (understanding the text) is.

b) InTe 2 provides information of one property of an item. You may disagree on what is the "property" of an item, but being a warning, an eulogy, or a love letter seems to fit the breadth of one property, while the full set of details of a longish piece of text does not.

So, my troupe and I assume that:
a) a magus who only speaks Latin cannot cast a spell based on the InTe 2 guideline targeting a ... stone tablet inscribed with a love letter in Arabic, to produce a love letter in Greek.
b) a spell cannot, in fact, translate the letter into Latin, even if someone had carefully told the magus all the details. The magus can of course work out the correct words on his own, and magically inscribe them.
c) the magus can tell that the stone tablet is a love letter via the spell, because that's one property; the finer details are beyond the InTe 2 guideline. This is the only point where we disagree with what David Chart wrote - but note that he was being more tentative than on the "no Hermetic translation" and he was specifically addressing that guideline.

The rule guideline for InTe 2 says learn one Visual property. Sort of along the lines of micro-examining the Venus de Milo and realising what colours it was originally painted, or detecting the illegible glyphs once carved into a stone before it was worn smooth.

The rule guideline for InTe 4 says learn one Mundane property. InTe 2 can't tell the weight of a stone, nor its hardness, but InTe 4 can.

If the maker of a Terram item, or the user, could somehow impart the intent or purpose of item (from the realm of Mentum) into the item, that would probably become a Mystic/Spiritual property of the item.

To learn the magical properties of a natural item (which I assume would be the equivalent level to Mystic/Spiritual properties) is InTe20.
InTe 25 for artificial items, like statues or other carved items.

My disagreement is that InTe 2 can not possibly be strong enough to detect the maker's intent.
InTe 25 might be, if the intent was somehow mystically embossed into the stone (a really skilled smith could supposedly put intent into the items he smithed, so maybe a really skilled stone carver could also do it).

PS as someone who has been trying to learn to read Japanese, personal experience has taught me you can't get understanding of a written message's intent, until after you can first read it in the native language. (And not just read a few words and guess the meaning of kanji from similar ones - that can lead to a total misunderstanding of the message's intent). And Hermetic Magic can't read any written word, otherwise you could translate.

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I agree. InTe 2 cannot detect the maker's intent. If he tried to make a comb, and ended up with a fork - i.e. something that someone with Etiquette 6 in 1220 would visually recognize as a fork, and not as a comb - than a spell based on the InTe guideline would say "tool to handle food".

Again, that's a non-sequitur. See my post above.

Ok I'm sorry but I am leaving this thread. All of my troupe seems to understand this pretty well. A bunch of others in this forum seem to understand this pretty well. But several others ... well, I am obviously failing to get the point across, sorry!

I suspect it is much less you failing to get the point across as the point being incorrect by RAW and, as you said, effectively a house rule.

If ezzelino was obviously incorrect on RAW I don't think this thread would exist. By RAI, sure, but the current wording of the InTe 2 guidelines are very open to interpretation.

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