Ideas welcome: City model as AC

I have this idea, for an ongoing saga, set in Constantinople.

My Jerbiton Magus aims to better keep surveillance and crontrol of the city, and thinks about building a scale model of the entire city and immediate surroundings. Using bits of the buildings, cobblestones, twigs from trees, water from Bosperus and streams etc. These would be ACs to that place, right?

But my problems are with fixing these ACs! I like the idea of having the model contain a shard of stone from all major buildings, and splinter of cobblestone from each road and square. This way he can affect each area by itself. But this project is not possible, since in involves hundreds of individual ACs, and if it takes one season a piece to Fix them???

Any good ideas and suggestions?

I know using a simpel map would be enough for The Inexorable Search, and a detailed one would be quite good. For tracking a person. That you have an AC to.
But what I want is to use spells like Sense the Feet that Tread the Earth and/or Summoning the Distant Image. And then follow up with other spells, either special Range:Arcane or ones cast through Arcane Tunnel.

Or could the city model be viewed as one single - yet composite - AC? I'm not against spending multiple seasons for this, but not one per AC.

Off the cuff, I'd say this approach is fun and creative, and merits reward. I'd let it be an arcane connection to the city.

However, I'd also have it be fairly fragile. If a building burned down or was destroyed, or an important building's 'spirit' was altered (a church that was in use at the time of the AC being made falls into disuse in favor of a nearby cathedral) I'd have the AC be broken, and need to be diagnosed and corrected before it could be re-fixed as an AC.

Just my thoughts...

This is a cool idea.

I'd absolutely let it count as a 'symbol', for at least a penetration bonus.

In terms of casting spells with range Arcane, my recommendation would be:

Say you have a cobblestone from the local tavern room. You spend 1 pawn of vis to fix it. You then can cast any spell, as long as it includes at least the tavern room as a target.

So available options:
Target the common room with target 'Room.'
Targer the entire inn with target 'Structure.'
Target the whole city with 'Boundary.'

However, you can't use a target that doesn't include the tavern room. Thus, you can't target one of the guest rooms with Target 'Room.' just as you can't target the city hall with target 'Structure.' These two examples are outside the Arcane connection you procured.

Hope this helps :slight_smile:.

Treat the model as a magic item that always provides an AC to the areas modeled.
With a single season extra for fixing all ACs into the model.

Actually, you don't need to fix each and every connection. Some may last naturally for years or decades. And this map modle will need to be updated regularly anyways. It takes much less time to obtain a new pebble from the palace garden once a year (less than a minute), than it does to spend a season "fixing" the pebble (only to discover three years later the rock garden is taken out and replaced by bushes).

I like this idea. Indeed, I like it so much, that I'd allow the impossible - let the player bind all the arcane connections together as one, in a single season, as an arcane connection to the city. The model serves as both arcane connection to the city and a symbol of it (as said above). I'd recommend to the player to invest the model with an InVi spell, that will physically change the model to match the city as it changes, maintaining the symbol and arcane connection. However, should the city suffer a major change (like a fire destroying a quarter, or conquest by Muslims), the model will cease to reflect the city and the arcane connection will be broken.

In principle, that should require a Minor Breakthrough or something, but it's too cool to pass on.

Thanks for the good input. I'm glad people like my idea.

Good point about not necessarily having to fix all ACs. Stones from specific places last a long time, and things might change in the meantime, so the model and ACs might change. This was also my original idea, however since I also had imagined using bits of trees for groves and gardens, water from the strait or streams etc. And such ACs last only a realtively short while.
This can be remedied by either spending some time one self - or delegating it to a spy - to keep tabs on the city, and collect new ACs after the necessary schedule. One thing I'd like to include, is to not only have AC to a certain building, but also a symbolic representation of the inhabitants; coat or arms for nobles, model of goods or tools for merchants or craftsmen or guildhalls, saint symbols for various churches etc.

For balance of things, one migth say a city model, which can both act as Symbolic Representation, and contain various ACs, is complex enough to warrant a seasonal activity. At least one season. First for scoping out and mapping the city, for collecting ACs and for crafting this model and integrating all the ACs.

I don't think that allowing all the ACs in the model to be fixed in one season is a good idea.

What if someone makes a model of a covenant? If the model include ACs to all the magi in the covenant, can all the ACs be fixed in a single season?

Basically, I think that the rules already cover this situation.

The model is a symbolic representation of the city, which can therefore be used as a sympathetic connection. I think it would be fair enough to let it be used as a symbolic representation of anything depicted in the model --- so it is a sympathetic connection to the gate, the castle, etc.

If the model happens to be made out of Arcane Connections (like stones from the gate, castle wall, etc). Then sure the model is also an AC to those places, but each of those ACs has their normal lifetime and if you wanted to fix them, they would need to be fixed individually.

Otherwise, what's to stop a character sticking all the ACs he has to a ball, claiming it is a model of the earth, and fixing them all in one season?

I'm not talking about having an AC to every single person in the city with this model. But to all (well - many) parts of the city. If I wanted to do the same trick for a covenant, I'd build a model of it, with a stone chip from each sanctum and room, giving an AC to that room. To take it a step further, I could collect an AC from each magus.
But I do see the balance-point of not allowing more than one AC to be fixed in a single season, to limit potential abuse.

But I'm not interested in ACs for Penetration purposes, but for casting Range:Arcane spells!

And I can live with that, since most of the ACs desired have a lifetime of years or decades. Those lasting only a short time, would either be limited in use, must be refreshed frequently, or simply spend the time - and vis - to fix them.

The GM's handwaving! That's what going to stop this potential abuse. That is not a model, that is a poor excuse.

Can you picture the Beggar King in Paris (L&L) with something like this, using his minions to keep all the arcane connections up to date (without fixing them)?


Actually with something like this, the reason i said make it a magic item is exactly that, make it an item that updates itself.


Aaaw you meanie! :mrgreen:

So I've been thinking about this. It certainly is a cool idea. But the implications for ruling that you could bound multiple AC's a season is a bit troubling. I like the idea of keeping the rules as is and using non-fixed arcane connections that need periodic 'replenishing'. I like this idea because of the regular story potential... like gathering vis isn't usually played out for every vis source for every year, but on occasion you can make an adventure out of one such outing.

Now, that being said, the obvious answer would be to obtain an object that was an AC to the whole city. Does such a thing exist? It opens up the question of parts. If I fix a hair on a human as an AC, I could still scry on his or her bellybutton. That is, I'm not limited to the spot where the hair came from. Why is this? Is the hair so tied up in the persons individual person that it works for the whole? What about a stone from a room? What about a stone from a castle? Is it just that the part the AC comes from must be a part of a contiguous whole? If that's true, then it must be understood that 'boundary' is just as valid a target as 'individual'. Are AC's limited that can be described as 'individual'? That leaves out scrying on rooms.

I think, for my use, what I'd rule is that an AC could be to a whole city, but you'd have to prove to me the relevance of the connection to the whole. So, maybe a typical brick from a building downtown doesn't make sense, but a chip from the conerstone of the first building?... maybe. How about a stone from the boundary wall? What about the monument in the center of town that was dedicated at it's founding?

This is just a hunch of an idea for me right now. Still thinking about it (and hearing other ideas).

Either way, I'd give an added complexity magnitude or two for any effect that tried to scry on a 'part' of the 'whole' that the AC is linked to.

Create a new Target, "City"(urban area/village/town/etc)?
While not commonly useful, its useful enough. Mmm, IIRC we used that at same magnitude as Boundary.

I don't like the idea of "fixing" AC's at all. What's the point? Just to soak up more vis from the players? If there's too much vis in your campaign, give out less. An AC should be an AC as is, no extra enchantment required.

A hair comes from a person, or animal. A cobblestone comes from a street or road. A stone from a castle comes from a particular place: the outside of the west wall, say, in which case you can scry with a particular view from that wall. It's pretty ridiculous to assume that a chip from any part of a castle is an AC to the entire thing, every room inside and every perspective without. A splinter from the wooden floorboard of the tavern common room gives you an AC to that room only.

What's the big deal?

It sounds fairly useless to have an AC to an entire city. What could you do with it? Scrying on the whole city seems mostly useless, unless you could use the one brick to zip around like GoogleMaps, and that is totally absurd. You could cast Curse of the Unportended Plague with such a broad, general AC.

I like the idea of the model and the AC's. In fact, I wish I had thought of it when my troupe ran a Venice campaign. I think the easiest answer is just recollect AC's as necessary. And if you insist on using this "AC fixing" idea how about restricting each fixing-thing to all the AC's you have for each quarter of the city?

As I understand it, this is to prevent things like players taking a spoon used by someone, a hair dropped somewhere, a chair he sat upon, and using it 10 years later as an AC.
Not a question of restraining vis, but a question of "magical realism": something you've been briefly associated may be an AC to you, but after a few weeks in your lab, it'll more probably be an AC to you or your lab, unless you do something to prevent it.

My group solves this problem by simply restraining the parameters of what is and is not an AC. A spoon used by a magus is not a connection to him, or else why would a talisman be specifically referred to as an AC. Same with the chair he sat on. Not even invested devices made by the magus are an AC to him (except, of course, the talisman). A single hair is also not enough to do the trick; one needs a "lock" of hair, which we defined as somewhere around 15-20 individual hairs. This may not suit everyone's style and rule definitions, but in the past we came up with these restrictions to prevent just the sort of arcane connection hunting you're describing.

The fixing concept works too, but as it is there are way too many projects on my mage's slate and way too few seasons to do them all. If I had to spend a season just to use an AC I would never use them, and that's no fun. Just curious: what's the average amount of time off you guys spend between stories? My troupe tries to do one story a season or thereabouts (so each magus usually has 1 story per year or so).

That means there will be few or no permanent ACs, and will sometimes make it hard to use ACs before they expire.
Of course, that isnt automatically a bad thing.

True, but how do AC's expire, that don't normally decompose (like a magus' severed finger, which could be preserved with a fairly simple spell?) Hair doesn't really rot, and a stone chip from a room won't turn to dust (normally) for aeons. Sure, if you tear down a structure and build a new one any AC's from the previous one would only be able to scry on your rubble pile, wherever it is?

It's not the object that decays it's the object's connection to the target which is lost over time.

Cast off flakes of skin decay in hours, frequently worn clothing decays in days. A letter composed and written by the target might decay in weeks, a strand of hair months, a lock of hair years, a lost finger decades, only truly profound connections such as between a familiar and a magus (both ways) or from a talisman to the crafting magus are truly permanent. (Also an arcane connection that has been magically "fixed" in the laboratory is also of indefinite duration)

The problem isnt physical destruction, at least not primarily.
Over time a connection simply weakens and is eventually gone. Take a stone from a place, its AC to the place will eventually be replaced by an AC to the place where it is currently. If it was chipped of a rock, its connection to the rock will last for a long time, if its a pebble that have "merely" spent a few decades in roughly the same location, the AC will not last for long...
Likewise, a piece of hair or a nail from someone will loose its AC much faster than a cut off finger or even blood will. In the case of a finger, the AC may even "outlive" the finger unless preserved somehow.