How does "The Shadow of Human Life" CrIm(Me) 40 work?

Greetings all!

Exactly what the title says, the spell is from Core p. 144.
Things to consider:
•What is the extent of its simulated intellect?
•Can it be given new orders?
•Who can give it new orders, just the Magus who created it? If so, how can the image distinguish the magus from others?
•Can it be fooled, in that another person can impersonate the creator magus (be it by mundane disguise or illusions or simple fast-talk) and give new orders?
•Can it perceive and interact with other such images?
•How far can it move away from the magus/place it was created?
•If a magus learns the spell, can he use it to create multiple different images/characters with each casting, rather than just one?
•Is it actually a mind, with which a Mentem-savvy magus could potentially interact with?
•Can it relate events which it has witnessed, at least to some extent (does it possess memories of some sort?).
•Finally, by what mechanism does it perceive? It occurs to me that just by going CrMe, you could create a free-roaming sort of ghost, invisible, to spy, or to guard; and with higher Me intricacy make it even smarter. Hell, could you make it permanent with a Ritual?

Thanks in advance for the discussion. Answers may beget some more questions!

Best look up:

Think of the program ELIZA written to pass the Turing test and try to imagine, how medieval people would react to it.

It has no mind in the sense of A&A p.31 The Human Mind, and obtains its specific programming from the caster - either at casting time or, if he concentrates within spell range later. But it needs to have some external senses (A&A p.31) linked to its programming.


I would assume much more than that.

It lacks a soul. So there are a few things it wouldn't understand even if told. So it wouldn't have a will of its own so much. However it would be higher functioning than an animal.

I mean otherwise wtf is the point of an 8th magnitude spell.

If you have A&A take a look at particulars of the human soul. Or research more on the theory of mind at the time. Aristotle would say it lacked Nous, Anaxagoras would disagree.

Basically can it actively think vs only reactively. I would place it somewhere between, with Executive Function issues. Definitely not free will, possibly a limited will if you played with it enough.

Extent of its intellect - not a lot, it is described as "It functions as an independent human, albeit a stupid one"

Who can give it new orders - as the spell description says "(as in Phantasm of the Human Form)" and that spell description on the same page says "Under your direct, unspoken command, the person can move about, speak and behave as a human does" - therefore I would say the original caster gives it commands and doesn't need to speak.

How can it distinguish the magus from others - the same way your concentration duration spell knows if you get distracted.

Can it be fooled? Well, as it functions as an independent human a clever person could try and hack its instructions by persuading it to interpret its orders differently. Can someone else give it orders - not from the main book, but in Legends of Hermes there's the new guideline to allow people to activate a magic item as if they were using the normal command but without needing to do the usual "say the magic word, rub the magic ring" bit so someone will probably argue that someone familiar with this spell could devise a custom ReVi spell to allow you to give another magus' image instructions.

Can it perceive and interact with other images? Yes, and as it doesn't have an inbuilt InIm effect to allow it to discern images it will treat another image as a human being to interact with.

How far can it move away? The imaginem rules don't list any changes to the usual rules, so it could move just as far as any other autonomous spell, just as if you'd used Rego to animate an object to move around.

If a magus learns the spell, can he use it to create multiple different images/characters with each casting, rather than just one? Your saga may vary - depends on how specific your troupe says illusion spells must be. If your troupe says you must define the illusion exactly, each casting will create one that looks the same. If your troupe says the spell must describe the rough type (ie "a human", "a horse") and you make a finesse roll to see how detailed your creation is, than you can vary it about.

Is it actually a mind? The spell description says "has limited freedom and simulated intellect" - so it probably depends on your troupe as to whether a simulated intellect counts for purposes of mentem or not. I would lean towards not.

Can it relate events? I would say the "functions as an independent human, albeit a stupid one" would allow it to have limited memory but possibly miss out details that you might consider important unless you specifically order it to look for them.

By what mechanism does it perceive - MAGIC. You'd need to look through all the guidelines in different books and see what has been allowed in terms of creating minds, and talk your troupe round into allowing you to cast your ritual of "Create artificial intelligence". It probably helps if you're playing Ars 3rd edition and everyone is looking out to see if your covenant is an ancestor to Hermetic traditions or The Technocracy :smiley:

It's a simulated mind, it percieves through the same senses a mind would. Mentem would work on it, otherwise it wouldn't be a simulation.

Sure. Just like Animal magic works on ArM5 p.144 Phantasmal Animal.

You might wish to look up simulate.


Thank you all for your answers and references, it looks like your YSMV territory.

I would probably say 'Mentem wouldn't work on it because it's a simulation and not a real mind', but if you were running the saga, I certainly wouldn't disagree. the fact it has (Me) prerequisite adds a lot of strength to that interpretation. Definitely a grey area....
Ignes.Festivus, the only reasonable answer is for your magus to go mad, and obsess over finding out the answer himself through rigorous murderous human experiments.

Yep, was thinking of branching off into memory research, and human experiments are definitely in order to accomplish a Breakthrough! :laughing: Madness is just insight gained!

How do similar spells work?

Look at the Shadow of Human Life Renewed. In the case where it is a simple automaton, or a deficient person that cannot learn through experience, do Mentem spells affect the individual?

Look at the Wizards Mount. Does the created horse have an animating force or spirit (see vitalism) or is it fully explainable by chemical and physical phenomena?

Why are humans separated into Corpus and Mentem while animals only need Animal?

If you can answer these questions for your saga, you will have the answer for Shadow of Human Life that satisfies you.