Item effects being triggered

Hi guys,
I have been working my way through some slightly older topics and in the The Speed of Magic thread some people were talking about multiple item effects happening at the same time, or sequentially. This got me thinking and I would like to put some ideas to you.

Scenario - I am a blind, paranoid magus. I reason that any person invading my sanctum will create a light source, so I keep my lab in darkness and have devices triggered by light.

  1. I have numerous (different) defensive items in my lab, each with a single effect and an environmental trigger about light. When they detect light they immediately activate their effect. (different effects, such as hail of darts, walls of flames etc.)

  2. I have 1 device with several independent effects each with an environmental trigger (detect light).

  3. I have 1 device with an intellego spell and use it as a linked trigger for all the other effects in the device.

So, what happens in these 3 different scenarios?

For 1, I would say that all of the effects trigger at the same time.
For 2, I would also say that each effect triggers at the same time (they are completely independent of each other)
For 3, I can see arguments stating that they activate in turn, or that they all activate at once.

I would argue that for 1, they might all activate in the same round but do not activate at the same time. Due to differences in location, possible intervening objects, et cetra the species would not all reach the individual objects at the same moment so the triggering would be ever so slightly staggered.

For 2 and 3, that depends on how you interpret the limitations on activation. I would be more inclined to say that 3 activates all of its effects at once since only one trigger (the InIg spell) activates all the effects, while for 2 each effect is an individual activation.

2 requires an Environmental Trigger (+3) and possibly In and Ig requirements for each effect. 3 requires a Linked Trigger (+3) on each effect but the InIg, along with having the the InIg effect with an Environmental Trigger. 3 is a more complex and difficult total enchantment, requiring more effect levels and time.

EDIT: Linked Triggers are also used when one thing activates multiple effects at once. Environmental Triggers are more often read as to be limited to one activation per round, though YSMV.

Ask your troupe whether this is possible in your saga. It is tmk nowhere stated, that it is.

In RPGs, you can always find loopholes breaking the story, if you allow everything not explicitly ruled out.

If you do not allow the result of an ArM5 p.99 Linked Trigger to trigger several effects, and make sure that an effect can provide a result and thus trigger another effect only after it was successfully cast and took effect, you can do away with the most dangerous kinds of pom-pom-wands, maxim wands and mitrailleuses in Mythic Europe.

Personally my take would be:

  1. All the effects happen roughly at the same time. It is unclear if there is a variance in trigger time due to the different distances from the light source. In Mythic Europe light may have infinite speed (this was argued by several prominent thinkers such as Euclid and Heron of Alexandria) in which case the distance is irrelevant and it is truly simultaneous. Or it may be finite in speed as was proposed by Alhazen in his works on optics and later by Roger Bacon in which case there will be a slight difference. Either way light is so fast that practically in game terms they trigger all at once.

  2. I would say that the trigger condition is detected all at once, but that the effects cannot trigger simultaneously and would sort of queue up and happen sequentially (how the order is determined I don't know, perhaps due to variations in fluid vis in the environment, astrological factors, etc. in game terms randomly determined. Alternatively the order is decided on effect enchantment and fixed.).

  3. The same as above. They are all triggered at once, but happen in a random sequence.

The reason I go for the sequential effects is simply that it is the simplest way to make things still obey the RAW when actively triggering an item. I tend to think of the item itself as a caster, or maybe as a supernatural being activating an innate power. In that context the item itself is limited to one action per round the same as anyone else. But that's not the only interpretation possible by any means.

I think simultaneous triggering of distinct items by an environmental condition is fine as it requires a lot of effort to make and set up. After all, if those items were mundane traps attached to a single tripwire we wouldn't expect them to wait their turn and go in sequence would we?

That said an argument in the reverse based on what I said about treating items as if they were beings activating a power is that if it were a bunch of magical beings waiting in ambush they wouldn't get to all go at once but one at a time in initiative order. Perhaps due to magical environmental variances there is a slight variance in how fast effects activate - not so much as to delay into the next round, but enough that they don't happen exactly simultaneously either. That's maybe more fun too, as it gives very fast characters a possibility to react before being bombarded by every single effect.

In this case the Linked Trigger would be an InIg effect with 2x/day, D: Sun, and Environmental Trigger that "Activates" when it senses light (hopefully of more than minimal brightness so it won't fire off everything when you open the door).

Limiting the "Activator" for Linked Triggers to some form of Intelligo effect, while it does not stop all of the madness from pom-pom-wands, maxim wands, and other such crazies, does increase their difficulty and reduce/remove some of the most abusive ones. Groups I play with have normally limited the "Activator" effect to trigger varies Linked Triggers based on differences in its sensory effect.

For example InMe of sufficient level can understand speech (rather than just listening for a command word). Combine this with a Mu and varies Form requisites to "Awaken" the effect so it has a "memory", allows you do do things like tell it "Trigger Effect A if this happens". Along with a magnitude or two of Complex (on it or triggered effects) lets it follow extremely complex commands.

One I have used is In(Mu)Me(Te) as the "Activator" effect for my Enchanted Lab. It is primarily an InMe to understand my speech, the Mu and Te is an "Awaken" enhancement allowing it to remember commands and sense things. This was needed to cover lab activities, air quality/temp, room light/temp, position of lab equipment, and things like spills. It triggers things like an enchantment giving a breeze with temp ranging from cool to warm, room light from no magic light to cloudy day, ReTe that controls/moves the varies lab equipment and tools around, and a PeIg effect that extinguish all fires in the room. All of them except the fire extinguisher are D: Concentration/Item Maintains effects to allow them to be tweaked while active. Hey, I like my voice controlled AC and lights.

My problem with #2 is this specification for Environmental Trigger:

The item is only sensitive to major magical features of the environment.

I wouldn't consider the presence of some light to be a "major magical feature of the environment." That's pretty different from sunrise, sunset, and aura, etc.

#1 should be OK or there are going to be some really serious game problems. How many effects can one sunrise trigger? Does anyone play that a "constant" effect has a gap in it because there are other "constant" effects or similar in the same region? Meanwhile, an interpretation that such an Environmental Trigger is limited to one per round will mean you will have effects activate this evening as a result of this morning's sunrise; as that cannot agree with both Sun Duration and "constant," that must not be the case. RAW statements about "constant" and Sun Duration require Environmental Trigger to be able to activate more than one effect per round.

#3 should also work. We do know that the same sunrise/sunset that shuts down a "constant" effect also puts up another copy immediately, and that you can link a MuVi spell to that and that the MuVi spell must go off between the two. So canon has demonstrated paired effects with one linked to the other and intended to work together going off in the same round. But this is different than two different effects both linked to a common third thing. As for simply having two different effects linked to the same "constant" Intellego effect, we have canonical devices for which that is the case. (We also have in canon one effect linked to be triggered by multiple different things by paying for Linked Trigger multiple times or by paying for Environmental Trigger and Linked Trigger, though this is a different issue.) I'm not aware of anything that shows ordering or if you can get more than one per round in this case. Canon does show you can set the ordering by using cascading Linked Triggers, though.

MuVi metamagic might be a special case, though. The exception that proves the rule kind of thing.

Letting many effects trigger and happen simultaneously in a single item is probably a bad idea in terms of gameplay. Any moderately skilled magus could enchant an item to fire off a dozen low level ignem spells (or other damage dealing effect of their choice) all at once with pretty high penetration and instantly incapacitate most foes with a pile of light wounds. Powerful Verditii could churn out items like that with ease. Breaks the game world a little bit.

Although if you did allow those sorts of items wizard wars would take on a sort of wild west gunslinger vibe, which could be fun in itself...

I'm actually not convinced the Environmental Trigger is needed in this effect - would you allow "light falling on the object" to count as a standard trigger? That's not quite the same thing as "light present anywhere in the room" - I think you'd need a linked InIg Room effect for that - but in most cases it's going to be close enough.

I know for sure Environmental Trigger won't work. As for light falling on the object, I always return to here to check:

A trigger can involve a command word or phrase, moving the item in a specific way (for example, waving or pointing a wand), a stance to be adopted, or anything physical that you can imagine. Most enchanted items cannot read thoughts, so the trigger action must be physical, not mental. By default, the trigger action must be performed by someone holding the item, although intention does not matter.

While something physical, light falling on it is not something performed by someone holding the item. Some people might not like that argument, so here is another: Why do I need +3 Environmental Trigger for the item to feel an Aura affecting if feeling the light doesn't need any bonus? After all, the light is a lesser environmental feature than the Aura is by magical item standards, so detecting that it's in an Aura should be easier than detecting if it's illuminated.

Ultimately, for me the difference between your two would be InIg at Personal v. InIg at Touch/Room, both using InIg and Linked Trigger.

Sorry I wasn't clear - I agree Environmental trigger shouldn't work. I did have a similar discussion on using Environmental trigger for a fire in the room (Muto Vim and target effects' Frequency modifiers in enchanted devices) - in that case Troy was able to show a canon example of it being done. I reckoned it was a mistake in the example, but things then got sidetracked before any resolution.

I'm not convinced that standard triggers have to be performed by a person holding the item, just that that's the default if you don't make them otherwise. I'd argue the counter to your second point is that light is easier to detect than an aura mundanely. Even for most magical beings, it's easier to tell whether it's light than whether you're in an aura (where you usually have to rely on deduction). We know that magic items have some way of detecting sound (or they wouldn't be triggerable by command words), so them having some way of detecting light doesn't seem that implausible.

If you change the InFo effect to In(Mu)Me(Fo) you get an Awakened object able to understand the meaning behind spoken words and see/hear/feel things.

While awakening things is normally a MuFo(Me) effect, it is a Base 4. Understanding the meaning behind spoken words is an InMe Base 5 and arguably the more important depending on how you want the item to activate. Combining them to get an Awakened/has Senses & Memory object that understands the meaning behind spoken words could be written as In(Mu)Me(Fo), In(Mu)Fo(Me) or Mu(In)Fo(Me). I would argue for the In(Mu) part being needed for the sensor/activate Linked Triggers part.

The Enchanted Item can now see and hear, understand exactly what you mean when you tell it to do something, and remember that it is supposed to blast anyone but you (oh and my apprentice... the maid to!) who enters the room.

Adding InMe to a spell so it understands spoken commands or MuMe so it is awakened let you do all kinds of interesting things.

We never did get very far in that talk. Before it was sidetracked I was planning on pointing out the effect had Ignem as part of it, which would make fire something that was part of the spell and allow the Environmental Trigger to be activated by fire. Without that Ignem part I do agree that a fire should not trigger an Environmental Trigger.

Or more broadly, the things that fall under the Form of a spell/effect should be able to activate an Environmental Trigger.

Look up the Guidelines precisely. You'll find, that with Hermetic magic you cannot create in an item an intelligent mind able to understand a language.

The Herbam Form at least can provide senses and a consciousness to a plant. ArM5 p. 137 Muto Herbam Guidelines has:

Level 4: <...>
Awaken the consciousness of a plant (Mentem requisite)

But that is it.

In particular, an item would need an intelligent mind (best read A&A p.31f The Human Mind), before ArM5 p. 149 Intellego Mentem Guidelines can be applied to it:

Level 5: <..>
Understand the meaning behind spoken sounds.

You are not creating an intelligent mind in the item, you are awakening the item. There are straight InFo spells that allow you to speak with even unawakened (mundane) versions of things like rocks, fire, plants, etc. EVERYTHING already has a mind, it is just normally not awake. If they did not then the InFo spells would not be able to talk to mundane things at all.

Awakening something is a specific Highly/Completely Unnatural Change with Mentem requisite.

Muto Herbam is actually written up differently from most other Muto Forms by only citing "example effects" within its guide instead of "effect type (example effects)" and having the effect type levels of natural/superficial/slightly unnatural/highly unnatural/completely unnatural within its guide.

There are two other Muto Forms without guides written as "effect type (example effects)": Corpus and Mentem. Muto Corpus makes up for this by having a very large text box and being focused on shapeshifting. Mentem is all kinds of borked and required clarifications in not one but two books.

Muto Herbam never got a clarification, has very little text box, and only a few example effects. But if you look at example characters you will find spells with Muto Herbam base # effects that match nothing in raw. Guidion is full of them. His base 3 Gigantic Growth makes sense, it matches the base 3 example of change plant guide example. But then it also has a +1 Unnatural modifier. The very next two spells "Razor Thorns" and "Blades of Grass, Leaves of Cutting" are a base 4 with no matching example and do not have the +1 Unnatural modifier even though they are clearly an Unnatural changes to the plants. The you have his his "Single Root System" effect, which is a Base 4 and clearly Unnatural effect but no +1 Unnatural modifier. That leads to an Unnatural Change to plants is base 4 (change plants base 3, +1 Unnatural).

Atlas did not define it very well at all and forces players to guess at things for MuHe effects that do not exactly match on of their examples. You will find things like the Iron Bond Tome guessing that the Awakening something is a Highly/Completely Unnatural change.

Is there anything explicit in the Rules that supports the Form making that difference, or are you more working on the basis that that feels right?

The only thing explicit in the Rules is the little text box in the Core. I was working on the basis that that feels right because all other published effects I have seen are triggered by something related to the Form of the effect. I had spent hours going through books before we got sidetracked and hopefully won't have to do it again.

Edit: Dang misspelled word.

This is the kind of differentiation I did miss in your posts above. And what your 'awakening' would mean in general, you can see e. g. from ArM5 p.141 Words of the Flickering Flame and p.153 Stone Tell of the Mind that Sits.

And it cannot be made into an intelligent mind understanding human language - because by ArM5 p.62 Abilities languages are Abilities, which by HoH:S p.68ff Memory cannot be taught by Hermetic magic so far. Also because by ArM5 p.80 The Limit of the Soul:

Hermetic magic cannot create an immortal soul, ...

and by A&A p.31 The Human Mind:

The principle difference between the mind of an animal and that of a human is the possession of a soul, which is unique to rational beings such as humans, angels and demons. The soul provides both reason (ratio) and intellect (intellectus). ...

13th century scholars try to figure out what the soul really is - and in 1220 Mythic Europe have not come very far with it yet.

Anyway, HoH:S p.68ff Memory, ArM5 p.80 The Limit of the Soul and A&A p.31 The Human Mind limit, what Mu(Me)Fo can do about the minds for certain Hermetic Forms.

The more general guidelines are further exemplified and detailed in the spells derived from it in ArM5. And there Muto Herbam goes furthest. Certainly "completely unnatural" does not mean "everything wild a player comes up with".

The weirdest example in the books I have seen so far is Covenants p54 box Lesser Device: The Marvelous Hound, which in passing qualifies the dog wearing that collar to get "the intellect of a grog". This clearly contradicts ArM5 p.80 The Limit of the Soul and A&A p.31 The Human Mind, as quoted above. Is this just an erratum waiting to happen, a magus full of himself, contemptuous of grogs and overstating the worth of his work, or the well hidden (HoH:TL p.27) Hermetic Breakthrough already achieved and waiting to turn Mythic Europe upside down?

The InFo effect/spells serve as a translator effect. Without a translator effect as part the spells that allow communication with rocks/trees/fire then you could not communicate with them unless you learned the language of rocks/trees/fire.

The InMe part to understand spoken words is to improve the translator effect from having to touch the object and concentrate to being able to speak and the self-concentrating effect translates the words into what the object understands.

The overall goal was never to create actual sentience or reason (à la "the intellect of a grog") but to allow basic memory and serve as a trigger for effects. I never said anything about creating one and even pointed out that that was not what I was doing. This is somewhere between "Stir the Slumbering Tree" (you want the senses and improved speed) and "Converse with Plant and Tree"/"Words of the Flickering Flame"/"Stone Tell of the Mind that Sits" since you do not need the object to move under its own power and any mental attributes above cunning (on the very stupid animal level) and perception are unneeded.

The actual goal is to awaken the object enough for it to get senses and be alert, to have a translate spoken words to object speak effect, and use it to activate Linked Triggers. Some of those might be "if/then" such as "If there is a fire, then activate FE-E" but none of them will require reasoning.

Or long story short, you are arguing with me about something you thought I said rather than what I was actually trying to say.

Although my current Magus might actually argue with you (in character) about how smart his awakened rosebushes are.

So we made it from:


The potential of such a translator effect depends on the capabilities of the awakened mind receiving that translation.

This is the really important issue for you.

Giving senses to an object by awakening it is only spelled out for living plants. Your troupe needs to allow it for other targets, especially complex and composite ones - perhaps after reading with you AM p.76ff Heron's Art: Mechanica and p.80 box Major Hermetic Virtue: Awaken Device. It also needs to allow single "activators" for multiple effects, and an "object speak" of the enchanted device capable of understanding and parsing the specific commands of your magus.
"Awakened" natural stone might e. g. - because of ArM5 p.153 Stone Tell of the Mind that Sits - not be the right being to locate, follow and target "quickly moving things (such as people)".