How about LESS arts?

So as I eagerly await my copy of Art and Academe, I was combing the archives for dribs and drabs of the treasures within, and saw the suggestion that, if you're going to allow Hermetic breakthroughs to create new arts, then there should be 7 techniques and 12 forms, for aesthetic reasons. The biggest problem in this is the forms, each new form creates a hole in a magus' magic resistance that he needs to waste seasons of study covering, and having more techniques to spread his xp between isn't very exciting either. A mystery cult using a Form that can punch through a magus' magic resistance may find that some consider stamping them out easier than learning the form to defend themselves.

If you want a stupidly vast Hermetic Breakthrough that (almost) all magi will seek out hungrily to increase their own power, reduce the number of Arts they have to split their power between. 4/9/13 is a perfectly magical set of numbers as a goal.

I toyed with a drastic reworking of all arts except aq/au/ig/te (those four seem inseparable and unassailable), but it didn't work out. After much consideration, I feel Mentem is the form most ripe for dissection ("Milord! The Mentem masters are attacking!" "Release the magical beasts, they're immune to their powers.")

First, those spells that affect ghosts and spirits get moved to Vim.
Second, those spells which can be effected by altering the humors of the body, such as Rising Ire, or Pains of Perpetual Worry, get moved to Corpus.
Third, those spells that affect language, the memory, and the imagination, get moved to Imaginem. ("Milord, Jerbiton has come to assist!" "Exactly as planned.") Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie ends up here, because while animals can deceive, only the gift of language allows a person to lie.
Fourth, Imaginem gets renamed to represent its broader power.

I'm honestly not sure what to do with the "Transparent Motive" and "Conflicting Motive" spells.

There's a hole here, which creates a new Lesser Limit, the Limit of Free Will, that supersedes the Limit of True Feeling. You can overwhelm a person with emotion, you can numb his will, you can make him forget all his allies, and you can make him believe you are the only trustworthy person in a world of liars, but at the end of the day he has free will and makes his own decisions as to what to do. The only spell in the core book this affects directly is Enslave the Mortal Mind.

(As an aside, in the new system, I think Weight of a Thousand Hells and Visions of Infernal Terrors should be renamed, because they sort of impinge on a person's ability to choose between good and evil. As "Shackles of Despair" and "Curse of Unknown Horrors" they make decent Corpus and Imaginem spells under the new scheme.)

The Techniques are a lot harder. The more I try to stuff them into 4 arts, the more I end up with one or two arts superior to the others. Ironically, I can fit them into three arts relatively cleanly:

A positive art (Succuro, bless, weal), containing all of Creo and those aspects of Muto that could be considered blessings.
A negative art (Vulnero, curse, woe), containing all of Perdo and those aspects of Muto that could be considered curses.
("Oh no! The Muto masters have arrived!" "Hold them off, lackey, the great work is almost complete.")
The separation between these two is sometimes story-driven. Prime example, the spells Beast of Outlandish Size and Beast of Miniscule Proportions. There are plenty of negatives to being huge, and plenty of positives to being small, but at the end of the day Outlandish Size says, "the new beast... looks much more impressive," and Miniscule Proportions says, "the beast appears to be the runt of the litter," making the first a positive, and the second a negative.

Finally, a "communicative" art that lets you ask questions (intellego) and give orders (rego). I know this looks like I just threw the last two arts together and came up with a justification for it, but at first I was really resistant. Intellego looked unassailable as an independent art. The inspiration for this was seeing Ware in the unified virtue/flaw index, and, not actually owning RoP:F, I started wondering what it could do, and considered the different words derivative of Ware... aware, of course, but also beware, which seemed to unite it with warding, a Rego function, and suddenly it made more sense than I was originally ready to give it credit for.

A few guidelines may find themselves orphaned. That is, there might be a rego guideline that now makes more sense as either a positive or negative guideline.

But that's 3/9/12, which I do not consider magically stable (trust me on this, I'm not just the president, I'm also a client.) If only there were one more art I could throw in... I'll spare you all the ideas I had, and give you my final result: Every mage gets a free major magical focus, in addition to their other virtues and flaws. This is their "Thirteenth Art" on which all their other arts depend. This has these benefits:

A. Being a major virtue, it is sympathetic with the Techniques, creating a 1/3/4/9/12/13 scheme that is very magical.

B. It resolves a personal crisis of mine. Whenever I read a book about anything magical that doesn't have to do with the Order, (Hedge Magic, Rival Magic, the Divine... I'm still obsessed with making something out of Ars Notoria) it reads like a menu of ideas for magical powers, and I just bubble over with plans. But when I read the main book, it's like looking in a refrigerator. All the ingredients are there, but I don't know what to make. A book like the Mysteries is more like a spice rack than a recipe book. The three Houses of Hermes books were really my savior in this regard, but... moving on. By forcing every character to decide first, "What is my major magical focus?" the rest of character creation becomes much easier. If nothing else, you can make your Major Magical Focus a copy of something you read in one of the other books, "Oh! Oh! I'll be a hermetic philosophic elementalist!"

I realize this is all possible already without handing out a free virtue, but it's sorta buried in the back of the fridge next to the vegetable dip, which is kind of a barrier for idiots like me who can't think outside the box. This would be an interesting Breakthrough all by itself, turning the granting of an arbitrary Major Magical Focus, chosen by the recipient, into a Mystery that is initiated at the end of apprencticeship, using the Gauntlet and the Oath as an ordeal.

C. It introduces some exciting new hermetic virtues and flaws. Of course there's "Weak Focus," which turns your major magical focus into a minor magical focus, or "Empty Focus," which means you have no focus at all (Meaning that becoming a generalist is a conscious choice). At first I thought this would defeat the purpose of having a free focus, but then I realized that the flaw occupies 3 of your 10 flaw points, and the virtue you replace it with takes up 3 of your virtue points, so it's not a perfectly even trade, which made me happy.

More importantly, there's "Puissant focus," which would allow your focus to cover an even broader area than a regular major magical focus. For example, "All those abilities formerly covered by the Mentem form," or "All those abilities formerly covered by the Muto technique." ("Milord, strange news!" "Yes, lackey, I know.")

The real problem with all this is it is much too much. My players would never commit to a saga that long. Heck, I'll probably vanish from the forums here as soon as some other system takes their fancy. But as a mental exercise it has amused me for several hours, which makes the price of the books all worthwhile. I'm hoping to share some of that amusement with you.

PS: Some spell guidelines may need to be adjusted for balance reasons. cough ¬.¬

Not read your whole post since I am late for work (will answer better later) but if you are reworking the whoile thing, go for magical numbers. 4 is not a magical number. Magical numbers are prime numbers. IIRC you should be much more "magical" using 3,5(unsure about this one), 7 and 13. Those have always been considered to be magical

The 4 elements can be dumped together as raw forces or elemental forces. Sounds strange, but then a minor focus will ensure the use of one of the elements over the others.


Well, frankly, I prefer the current system. It works more intuitively for me - the Techniques especially. But anyway...

When it comes to the Techniques, I think the current set of "verbs" is excellent. If I were to reduce them, however, I would simply unite Muto and Rego. ("My Lord, a magical storm is coming!" "Ah, but is it a stormed summoned by magic or created by it?" "Ah?!") A change that is natural persists, a change that is unnatural has to be sustained by magic. Thus a moved object ("Rego") would remain in its position or perhaps fall down when the spell ends, while a piece of stone changed to mud (being still stone in its Essential Nature) would revert to stone.

Regarding Forms, I would reduce them to the four elements and the three spirits (Herbam, Animal, and Mentem).

  • All things would be considered to be made up of the four elements, and driven by (at most) the three spirits.
  • Herbam means the vegetative spirit, and affects health, growth, and so on. Even a stone would have a smattering of vegetative spirit - that's what keeps it existing. Decay can be achieved by destroying something's vegetative spirit - so to cause a wound, you cast Perdo Herbam.
  • Animal is the animating spirit, and affects base desires, emotions, perception, and so on. Probably includes memories too. Each animal is dominated by a single element (some are "sanguine", some "fiery"...), and so can be controlled and affected by a single elemental Art. So Rising Ire is a Muto Animal spell.
  • Mentem is the intellect, and includes reasoning, knowledge, and so on. Incidentally, I like your new Limit of Free Will, so affecting someone's reasoning would be limited. So Posing the Silent Question remained an Intellego Mentem spell.
  • Corpus is no longer. People, and most objects, are collections of the four elements and driven by their spirits, and can be affected bodily by such spells. A Perdo Aquam spell can cause dehydration, a Perdo Herbam spell can cause a wound, and so on. A human has a balance of the four humours, however, so in principle all four are required. It is possible that some humans are more aligned with a particular humour/element, however, and their various aspects can be affected by the appropriate element alone. Dangling the Hanging Puppet, for example, would simply be a Muto Terram spell - affecting the Terram aspect of the person (weight) to move him.
  • Imaginem is no longer. This is a hard choice to circumvent. Changing the images emitted by a copper coin, is simply Muto Terram. Animals are dominated by one element, as mentioned above, so again changing their image is easy. At any rate, making illusions regarding complex objects is inherently more difficult - although may still be relatively easy, level-wise. Affecting the species themselves, e.g. blocking sounds, is a point I'm not sure how to deal with under this paradigm.
  • Vim is no longer. Instead, affecting magic is a battle between wills, represented by the art of Mentem. Angels, demons, faeries, and daimons are actually pure spirits, after all, and their magic is a manifestation of their will. The bodies, when they take some, are of course composed of the four elements and can be affected normally - except that they usually lack a vegetative or animating spirit (Mentem can be used instead to produce analogous results).

That's my musing on how to reduce Arts to 4 and Techniques to 7, anyways.


If I were looking at simplfying the arts, for Forms I would have: Elements (including aquam, auram, terram and ignem), Life (animal, corpus and herbam) and Spirit (imaginem, mentem, vim)... those being the three broad categories of things in natural philosophy.

For techniques, it would depend on my goal, game mechanics-wise. If was just looking to simplify the system, I would adopt the Method/Power model instead of the Technique/Form model... and have Incantation as my method. OTOH, if I continuted with the natural philosophy model I would have the following: Generation/Destruction (also includes Growth and Reduction, essentially creo and perdo), Alteration (muto and some rego), Motion (rego). I would remove Intelligo as an art, replacing it with the rules for Divination from Mysteries, revised.

There shall be but one Art: [size=150]Will![/size] , which you use to impose your desire/s on the Universe (the 4-Realmiverse?).

OK, 3 relevant posts, so 3 semi autonomus answers :slight_smile:

  1. TBOX

I see a lot of effort just to remove a single Form (Mentem). I do not really like the end result since I think it is too much hassle for the gain. Adding together the techies is perfectly fine :slight_smile:

Thanks for bringing forward the debate since it has been nagging me for a while as well :smiley:


3 techies and 7 forms are amost the combo. 3 and 7 are magical numbers for sure, but 10 is not. Pitty, but close enough! Maybe considering the 4 elements as a single ability? That would put us in 3 techies and 4 forms. 3, 4, 7 and 12 are all magical numbers. However, maybe the 4 elements in a single form is too much…

For me memories should be Mentem for sure, though. I did not understand why you put them in Animal.

Imaginem should fall under Animal, don’t you think? I would see not much problem doing that

3. LuciusT

This is the approach that I like the most, even if it ends up wioth only 6 Te+Fo. Maybe if we do not remove Intellego from the combo we can still maintain the 7 as the magical number.

However, the transformation of intellego into a much more arcane thing is something that really appeals to me. Still, it would render the classical posing the silent question and similar spells totally unusable, and I like that kind of stuff in the background :slight_smile:

Just some random thoughts :slight_smile:


I wanted to let more responses come in, so I could absorb and reflect, but I've never been able to resist replying when I have something I want to say.

Reverse order.

Xavi: In your first post you said 4 wasn't magical? I find it highly magical, but you need to pick one if I'm going to comment. :stuck_out_tongue:
Honestly, Mentem was trivial to dissect once my second plan fell through (more on which later), I've always felt that the ghosts/spirits thing should be Vim, and that Corpus should be more in line with Animal in what it can do. The original split into corpus was, "Any spell that it would make sense to cast on a completely mundane Animal." The humors thing was just flavor to tack on to it. The "Everything else, move to Imaginem" was spawned completely by Societates' Jerbiton and Mysteries' dream magic.
Otherwise, I agree with you, adding together the techs was fun, destroying mentem looks like a hack, even though I feel it's a just redistribution.

Ravenscroft: Yes, yes of course! That is the plan! But we must proceed one breakthrough at a time, and slowly accustom the order to their ever growing power.

LuciusT: So sorry ( -.-) I just don't have much to say on that. I'm a critic and there's not much to criticize.

YR7: Uniting Muto and Rego was one of many unions I considered, but it makes the combined technique incredibly powerful compared to the others, unless you can shift some of the guidelines back to creo/perdo/intellego. I'll ponder it.
I understand exactly where you're coming from on the rest of the post. My first plan was to eliminate Imaginem, it always seemed to be an afterthought to me. The problem is the Illusionist is too strong a character archetype (for players, not the mythic paradigm) not to have it. It's like how all but one of the Folk Witches drawn in Hedge Magic are pretty darn sexy. We need to have appeal to players that aren't history buffs. Admittedly these are all house rules, but marketability is one of those constraints I set for myself to make things more interesting. (The Psychic is another such archetype that's not Mythic but does appeal to players, and I think that's what split Mentem off from Corpus in the first place. I'm very unhappy with myself for uniting the Psychic and the Illusionist into a single Sensitive form, and that is also something I'm continuing to ponder. It's resolved a little by the natural split of my techniques into +/-/comm... the Psychic is communicative, the Illusionist creative/destructive. Another thing I've "always felt" is that Intellego is a bit of a schizophrenic technique, separated from the others... Oh, hey, Lucius, there's a comment on yours!)
My second plan was to do the vegetative/animative thing, but I couldn't quite remember the philosophy (come ON, Art and Academe) so I looked it up online, and there are five souls: vegetative, sensitive, appetitive, locomotive, and intellectual. Uniting some of them into an Animating principle is something I never considered because of the predisposition that article I read set upon me, so I gave up. There were too many, some were far more powerful than others, and their domains seemed too orthogonal to the four elements, it created some "But what does THIS verb do?" problems where a technique had very different meanings whether you were talking Aq or Sensitive. It was like two magic systems instead of just one. I think Aq/Au/Te/Ig actually imply He/An/Co if you're going to keep your techniques intuitive. (Hey, that's 7! But it leaves a lot out...)

Thanks, guys, these are the kinds of responses I was hoping for!

About number 4, reviewed my Sumerian :slight_smile: I think it is magical.


Actually 10 IS a "magic number". Its just commonly treated rather differently.
Like say how the Bansenshukai consists of 9 volumes and the "extra/additional" final volume.
10 gets special treatment like that in a number of places.

Not necessarily.

Because his "animal" was really rather "animae".

Anyway, IF i wanted to reduce the number of Arts... One possible version:
Intellego, Vim, Imagonem, Mentem can be made a single Etheral Form.
Animal, Herbam, Corpus is the Form of the Living
Elements are joined as the Elemental Form.
4 Te(unchanged), 3 Fo.

Positive(Create, Find, Improve), Negative(Destroy, Hide, Worsen), Neutral(only naturally possible changes, ~Re, this can also be made part of the preceding 2 Te) and Morph(~Mu) as Techniques.
The Living Co,An,He
The Elements Aq,Au,Ig,Te
The Void Im,Me,Vim
3 or 4 Te, 3 Fo.

Another version of Forms:
The Light Elements(Ig,Au)
The Heavy Elements(Te,Aq)

Well, i´m playing around with Ether as the Form for unseen but notable energy, ie. gravity, electricity, heat, magnetism, possibly even inertia and weight as an extension of gravity...

And one of the authors noted somewhere the potential for the Form of Fortunam, basically covering luck, and the Technique of Tempus, covering a Forms place in time. Although personally i think it would be better with Time as a Form, or you greatly risk a severely overpowered Tech..

There are many ways to reduce the number of Arts, but i see no reason to do so however.

All of your input has started a torrent of thought, so I'm going to think out loud. For some reason I got stuck on the overwhelming power of my suggestion for Imaginem. The new imaginem is loosely based (Like I said) on Jerbiton and dream magic, but also on the "Sensitive power," the full powers of which are overwhelmingly vast. Including the external senses, sight/sound/smell/taste/touch, and the internal senses, memory, imagination, estimation, and the common sense. I arbitrarily limited the internal senses to memory and imagination, although Aura of Rightly Authority affects the sense of estimation, the ability to judge a thing. Common sense, in this context, is the ability to associate an object or event with other, similar objects or events. Basically, "But what do these two things have in common?" It's an interesting power, but it doesn't really suit itself to the techniques.

The Limit of Free Will derives from the rational power, covering the intellect and the will. We can't create a limit of intellect, or there'd be no way to boost (some?) mental stats (unless you're into that...), so I stuffed that into the new imaginem, then created the limit of free will.

If we can get rid of a different art... maybe join Corpus and Animal... we could split the two up again... aq/au/ig/te, he/an+co/external sense/internal sense, vi. (which brings back Mentem and Imaginem...) Following the example of the Elementalist tradition in Hedge Magic and uniting he/an with the elements creates a barrier to entry for people not used to the medieval mindset. "Animal/Vegetable/Mineral" is a graspable concept for modern players, and necessary for Merinita and Bjornaer who are not also elemental masters. (That marketability thing again) Now the problem is that external/internal senses sweep across both animal and corpus. If you wanted to affect an animal's memory, would you use internal sense? Does that make Internal Sense too powerful a form? (Lord knows combining internal/external into a single form pushes the limits of power for a form) If it does affect animals, there's no unique form to express a person's unique status. Introducing the limit of Free Will makes humans unique again. Enslave the Animal's Mind might exist, Enslave the Mortal Mind does not.

If internal sense does not affect animals, why should an internal spell be Re(An+Co) (in this theory we've united them) for animals, but ReMe for humans? This is the split that made me hate Mentem as a form in the first place.

What about the emotions? Do they go into the internal sense, or do we use the Humor rubric which I just denigrated and stuff them into an/co? They're a part of the appetitive power, but the appetitive power often gets pushed into the sensitive soul. This is more a balance issue than a philosophical issue. Those internal senses are huge. Also it raises the specter of there being nothing to distinguish a Magus focused on nature (he/an) from one focused on people. Let the nature magus have at least the power to affect emotion, and they're more sensible as a unique archetype.

Following up on that, what ARE the most important Magical Archetypes? The Elementalist, both generic and specialized. The illusionist, the psychic, the nature magus are the ones I mentioned so far... and like I said, I don't think outside the box much, and I'm at work without my books, so I can't peruse them for the other major types. Spirit summoners are Rego, mostly ReVi, alchemists are a kind of muto (positive/negative) master, warding specialists are Re, diviners are In.. so far every specialty that is covered by a Form is safe by uniting an/co and moving emotions to the union, leaving Me and Im split. And I still think spirits and ghosts should be moved to Vim, leaving Mentem strictly the internal senses. Maybe rename Vim to represent the broader coverage. (And An+Co needs renaming)

The train of thought has pulled up to the station for a moment, and I've neglected my job too long already.

Less Arts to split experience between, bringing us closer to Ultimate Cosmic Power, as well as creating a firmer magical structure wrt # of techniques and forms.

Also, attacking my pet peeves for the existing arts. Can't forget that.

I think that if I was going for simplification, I would go for Five Forms: Aquam, Auram, Ignem, Terram, and Vim; which kind of aligns to the five classical elements. Affecting people and so forth (which is currently Corpus, say) would just a matter of looking at which humors you were affecting, and using the corresponding elemental Form.

As for the Techniques, I think I would either keep the existing five.

On the other hand, I like the current 15 Art system too.

If you end up changing the number of arts up or down during a game through breakthrough or some other means what happens to the vis.

If for instance you shuffle around the arts like was suggested in the OP so that Muto effects end up split between an expanded Creo and Perdo, how would a Magus with these new arts deal with muto vis. Would he be able to use pawns of generic Muto with either technique. Or would half the Muto sources yield vis compatible with one of the new arts while the rest made pawns that could only be used with the other.

Also if you added a new art, like for instance a Luck form would hermetic magi suddenly find new sources of vis they never noticed before? Or would vis associated with other arts suddenly behave as Luck vis to Magi with the new art? If the later is the case can these mages still use this vis as though it's associates with luck as well as the art other magi usually connect it with.

A player chooses, whenever he encounters a pawn of muto vis or mentem vis, whether he will consider it to be succuro/vulnero or co/im/vi (to follow the model from my original example, which I grow less happy with with each post.) He then uses it as normal.

If he sees another magus use "vulnero" vis to cast a "succuro" spell, because said magus is actually casting a muto spell with muto vis, he feels the same way that any other magus feels upon observing someone use one of the Grigori's secrets from Ancient Magic, which allows you to use, for example, Terram vis on Corpus spells. Admittedly, the Magus remembers a point in the past where he was able to use Vis that way, and may regret the switch a little, but sacrificing that power was a part of the Ordeal necessary to Initiate himself into the new arts.

In short breaking up the arts like this practically demands that one accept that a person's training is more important in determining what the vis can be used for than the nature of the vis itself.

This raises a tricky philosophical question that I feel compelled to answer. What, then, is the true nature of Vis? There has to be some reality that your training is forcing you to interpret as good for a specific purpose, even if that purpose wildly diverges from other people's purpose.

I have an answer for this, too, however it requires a disclaimer. The "true" nature of Vis is a more philosophical question, and on top of that a philosophical question about a fictional world for which there is no universal reference point. Hence, I am going to give one plausible theory, but I want to be clear that I see no game benefit for believing one way versus another on this question (by comparison, I can see game benefits to rethinking the arts, if sometimes only subjective ones), and I may or may not respond to any discussion about it, because it could quickly spiral out of control.

I propose there are, in fact, a near infinite number of types of Vis. For a short list, see the Shapes and Materials table in the main book. Let's take Red Coral as the example. It's +10 vs demons. It can help with your enchanted items. If you are particularly potent (represented by the potent magic virtue), it can help you with spells. OTOH, if it is particularly potent, it contains a pawn of Red Coral Vis, which can be used in any spell that affects demons.

What Bonisagus did with his magic theory, and with his division of the Arts, is to create sympathy between different types of Vis and allow them to be used interchangeably, in a very similar (possibly exactly the same) way as the Grigori secrets in Ancient Magic. So, for example, Demons are sympathetically related to Daimons, despite the first being infernal and the second magical, so if you are sufficiently studied in Magic Theory, you can use Red Coral Vis to affect Daimons in addition to Demons. Bonisagus tried to create a web of sympathies that made any particular kind of vis as useful as possible, and ended up with the 15 arts. Bonisagus' theories are so ingeniously clever in their simplicity and elegance that the entire Hermetic order is suffering from a crushing case of hindsight bias (thank you for teaching me that term) and can't really think in terms of "red coral vis" at all now, except as a quaint relic of a bygone error blighted with ignorance. No, they see it all as Vim Vis.

Suddenly I wonder if there's a "reverse" table of shapes and material bonus, which shows all the shapes and materials that aid a given effect, rather than all the effects that are aided by a given material.

This can become a nightmare, as there's now vulnero-muto vis and succurro-muto vis. So, those pawns of muto vis you brought along, when your sodales wants to use them, were they vulnero or succurro?

Rival magic, Soqotrans sorcerers. Cinnabar is equal parts creo vis and perdo vis, and myrrh is vim vis and mentem vis used indiscriminately. I cruised the entire chapter hoping for an answer, and it's profoundly silent on the issue. So... my idea has been thought of before (at least to the extent that the use of vis is dependent on training), and its flaw has defeated better minds than mine.

I'm a huge fan of "ignore it." Just work the saga so that either it never comes up or you're free to dice for the exact conversion.

Different people using different sets of Arts will SEE the Vis based on their Arts.
The Vis isnt changing, the magi´s interpretation of the Vis is.
The Vis will always be the same sort to all practitioners of one variation of magic.

When I think of it in terms of being able to create archetypes familiar to immigrants from other RPGs, I get a lot of respect for the forms as is. As much as I hate the co/me split, it does seem awkward for a great mindbender to have powers over the human body. Which also explains Imaginem's presence, given illusionists. Finally, making Mentem an "internal sense" form that affects humans and animals equally destroys the Nature/Animal Magus, since they tend to be Dr. Dolittles. At this point I threw up my hands, declared the designers geniuses, and walked away for a few hours. But then I noticed the Necromancer, studying both co and me, has great power over living creatures that he doesn't really want. So barring introducing more forms, there's no way to support all archetypes equally. Someone's always going to get "shafted" with off-focus powers.

So another possibility would be combining mentem and corpus into a Person form, then moving ghosts, spirits, demons, and daimons into a brand new Spirit form, then move all metamagic into Finesse, Spell Mastery abilities, and Mystery Virtues, thus ditching Vim. Final tally: aq/au/ig/te/he/an/co/sp/im.
I do agree in a way that imaginem is kinda orthogonal to the other forms, but while forcing a necromancer to have powers over the living, or a mentalist to have powers over the body, doesn't actually weaken them, forcing an illusionist to be a perfect generalist does, which is what they'd have to be if an illusion of a coin were ReTe, for example. Pushing Im guidelines into an/co/sp might be possible, but then either illusions would have a triple requisite, or they would only affect (pick one) animals, people, or spirits.

Also, after much careful consideration I think the aq/au/te/ig/vegetative/animal/rational seven deserve a gold star for being platonically ideal (pun intended), if not necessarily friendly to existing archetypes.

Yeah pretty much.

Its very hard to come up with a set of Arts using anything like the same system that really works better.

Spirits as a separate form deserves a closer look though.

And yeah, necromancers are one of some very few archetypical sort of characters for which the system partially breaks down. They REALLY need to have a "necromancy"-ish Focus or they become more generalist "life"-magi than most want them to be.

Another good option is to force the character along necromancy lines by having a suitable Restriction, such as "Target Must Be Dead".

Heh... Mmm true... Although that is an extremely wide restriction to have!
At the very least i would change it to "Target Must Be Nonliving", as otherwise you would be unable to target the elements, Vim and Im at all(well, mostly)...