Intelligo?

Hello all! I'm new to these forums and new to Ars Magica. I've played various other RPGs, but found the free form spell casting (and idea of commanding grogs) quite alluring. But I have a couple of "noob" questions I was hoping you could help answer. Or at least point me in the right direction.

I understand that Intellego lets the Magus perceive or understand, but what exactly does that mean? What does that accomplish mechanically? I understand the freeform aspects of the system intentionally leave things broad, but I'm unaware of what can actually be done with this. (I've read spell entries for specifics, but I'm looking for the general idea.....however a little more specific that "to perceive")

Thanks!

Hi and welcome =)
I've also played many RPG games, and to my tastes, Ars Magica is the best I've found so far.

Of the 5 techniques, Intellego is the one used when doing magic related to effects that "perceive", and the system intentionally leave things broad. You already got that right.
I would add that the rule system leave it to each Troupe to define what it preciselly can do mechanically.
However, I found it hard to define a general idea of Intellego powers in other words than "to perceive". I understand that's what you are asking for.
I could talk about what it means for me in our saga, but in the end, it's summed up by looking at the spell exemples and Guidelines for Intellego in the core book.

In my opinion, Intellego spells can do (if you are powerfull enough...!) anything that your imagination can produce. If it is related to perception/understanding, and is not beyond the limits of magic, it's Intellego.
You need to design the mechanics of new spell you invent, the guidelines gives you the BASE level, and the spell exemples give you ideas as to how the spell really works in play.
I would advise to take great care to make new spell definition interesting for your saga, as they will shape your play experience.

E.G.: Warring Shouts : An InMe spell that give you the magical sense of hearing violent thoughts. The Guideline is "reading surface thoughts", the Target is "Hearing", Range and Duration as you desire. The effect is that you hear shouts coming from people who are having violent thoughts or intentions. This spell prevents ambushes, etc.

Intellego spells either enhance your existing senses or give you senses that you didn't already have.

Traditional uses include seeing through objects, clairvoyance, mind reading (perceiving thoughts/feelings/whatever), analyzing magical phenomena, and the like.

Intellego spells are about obtaining information. The way you gain this information in-character is actually a cosmetic, secondary consideration and I would advise your troupe to approve spells that do so in any interesting, fun way - but it's up to the group to decide what spells to approve.

Information is very useful in war. You can use Intellego spells to locate your enemies, to warn you of incoming missiles, to spot an ambush, to identify a trap, to perceive weaknesses in your enemy (physical as well as magical), and so on. You could, for example, use a volley of Intellego effects to gauge the Magic Resistance of an enemy wizard to various Forms, thereby exposing which areas he is weak in and will be more susceptible to magic. Or you could use Intellego to discover things that will aid your Penetration, such as the person's astrological birth date.

Information is also very useful in social contexts. You can use Intellego to tell when someone is lying, to pick an answer from another's mind, to figure out how much money is needed to bribe him, and so on.

Let's face it, information is generally useful. You can use Intellego spells to gain any kind of information, from the location of a vein of silver in the ground to the detection of wizard's casting sigil in the magical traces left where he had cast his magic.

The way you gain this information is a bit arbitrary, and again I recommend being flexible here. You may talk to the plant, or hear a person's thought as if they were words, or see a person's emotions as if they were cog wheels in his brain, or get a foul taste of betrayal in your mouth, or have a vision of the enemy forces crossing the bridge, or so on and so forth. Be creative, make your spells get the information in fun, interesting ways.

Above all, remember that just like any roleplaying game Ars Magica works just like you, the group of players, decides you want it to.

Cheers,
Yair

The important part to understand in Intellego is how the Targets work. Some are standard Individual/Group/etc, and some are "Senses", as explained on pages 113-114.

If the Guidelines state something like "Learn X about the target" or "Gain a knowledge of X" or "Speak with X", or if the Guideline refers specifically to a "target area", then it's probably going to be the former - you target an individual or group (or boundary?), and learn or gain that knowledge. But if the Guidelines are "Sense X" or "Locate X", then it's probably one of their 5 senses that the caster is changing.*

(* And only 1 sense/spell, as described on p 114.)

Altho' the Latin is "I perceive", think of it more as "I find out about" and you'll have it better covered.