Items of Quality

I have a player who has this lovely virtue. Since she tends to enter battle armed and armoured, this is obviously of tremendous benefit. But as SG, I'm pondering how far items of quality go. I've got some examples that will illustrate what I mean.

Sword +4 harm a person. Obvious and listed as an example in the virtue description, adds +4 to attack
armour +5 to protect the wearer, also obvious and seems non-controversial

helmet +6 to affect vision. I like the idea of a "Helmet of Vision", but would this work? Helmets aren't tools that help you see, so should the virtue affect it?

Earring +7 to affect hearing. Same problem as the helmet, earrings aren't tools to help you hear, but again, I really like the idea of an enchanted earring that does this.

How far would you let this virtue go? Do these items seem legit? Anyone else got any good examples of Items of virtue?

It's either or I'm afraid.
Each Item of Quality may provide only one bonus.

I'm reminded of the Helmet of Many eyes from Another Game.

Not a tool, nor used by a professional in his/her trade. Does not qualify to be prepared as an IoQ. The helmet is debateable, but the earings? No.

I was once asked about a IoQ bag - the hunter/poacher wanted the +5 trapping things within and then use it to catch rabbits.

I've seen both a crown (technically a ducal circlet I suppose) given to a weak young lord in return for the land the covenant stood on, and even a Sail of Quality.

I would let it go all the way. I mean, really, do you want your game to be nothing but wands of I Kill You So Dead (Pen 60)? Ars Magica has many, many ways to run amok before we get to any Mysteries.

The standard is that it is an item that would be used by a professional in his trade. Does a warrior use a helmet when he's at war? Yes, certainly. Then the bonuses on the S&M table can be brought out for it.
Again, the earring and hearing bonus. Would a courtesan who sells the secrets she acquires use earrings? Would a female spy?


I basically agree with Vespasian's position. Only one bonus, no bonus for the "earrings of hearing", no bonus for the "helmet of vision". An item of quality should be something used by a professional in his trade for the activities for which it provides a bonus. So, an hourglass is used by a bunch of professionals in their trade, but that is not free license to have hourglasses of quality provide a +3 bonus to any task in which moving faster helps -- say, combat.

However, I would allow a helmet of quality that made the wearer braver in battle (+4 affect wearer's mind/emotions), because wearing a helmet does improve the courage of its wearer in battle (yes, this is a bit stretched, but I think it's on this side of the line).

A few other reasonable items of quality would be:

A coin of quality gives a +4 bonus to influence people through the lure of profit if appropriately displayed (+4 induce greed).
A comb of quality gives a +5 bonus for seduction etc. (+5 beauty).
A hat of quality gives a +4 bonus to a surprisingly large number of tasks related to "affecting one's image" -- from disguise to looks-based-seduction.
A rug of quality gives a +3 bonus on any rolls of its owner where it's important to impress, or provide comfort to, those upon it.
A mask of quality gives a +7 bonus to disguise.
A bow of quality gives a +5 bonus to attack rolls.
An elegant pendant or other adornment with an emerald of quality gives a +4 bonus to seduction rolls.
Boots of quality give a +5 bonus to all rolls related to walking (this probably should include running).
A saddle of quality gives a +7 bonus to riding.
Panpipes of quality give a +3 rolls when attempting to influence emotions by playing them (a favourite of characters with Enchanting Music).

I really don't understand why a bonus for earrings is fine when rugs, hats, combs and masks are allowed. I'm failing to find any distinction. I even provided examples of professions where the bonus could be useful...

Because a mundane rug can be used to impress or provide confort, whereas a mundane earring does not affect your hearing. Well, your courtesan could always call that ear trumpet an earring...

As Tugdual said: you can't use a normal earring to enhance hearing. But you can use a normal rug to enhance comfort or impress; a normal mask to disguise yourself; a normal comb to enhance your beauty; and a normal hat to change how you look to others.

Remember that these items should be used by professionals in their trade in an appropriate fashion to gain the bonus. In other words, the bonus works for activities that could be meaningfully mediated by a mundane version of the item. But you can't use an item of quality to achieve a bonus to one activity if it's used by professionals for entirely different tasks. Thus, even though earrings -- and jewelry in general -- are used by many professionals to impress with their appearance or to induce desire, earrings of quality can't give you a bonus to hearing rolls, and jewels of quality can't give you a bonus to movement rolls (despite the +2 "move self" bonus).

Believe it or not, but I actually considered those exact cases before making my reply above.

My reasoning was that they might be wearing earrings, but are not using them.
The reasoning is partially to ensure that that particular requirement has any meaning at all.

..yeah, I wouldn't allow any of those either :smiley:
Not the earring, not the rug, and not the hat.
The mask.. could be argued (actor).

As an aside, armour of quality (with appropriate prep work)
Chain full = 12
Quality gear (made by skill>5 IIRC) = +2
High quality steel (A&A) = +2
Item of Quality with maxed philosophiae =+7
Total Protection is 23.
Then you can add +3 for eg bears fortitude, +3 for doublet of impenetrable silk variant

At this point, most attacks do nothing, and you can add things to reduce encumbrance/load.

Oh, and if you can invent plate, your soak is even higher.

Quality is +1. Excellent can be much higher, and would be capped at +(Ability/3, rounded up).

Where is that in A&A? That's one of the books I haven't read as thoroughly. I've spent tons of time on C&G and love crafters, so this is something big for me that I've missed.

Item of Quality could be up to +10 if you want (and can get a Solomonic Alchemist to trade with you).


Sorry, not near my books at the moment.
A&A its somewhere near the recipe for concrete i believe.

Alchemical Steel, p76

Not allowing Earings to enhance hearing is being too restrictive for no good reason other than being harsh for the sake of being harsh. Killer DM syndrome. The rules allow it, it is thematic, and there are those who claim earings naturally enhance senses anyway (some accupunture theory or some such).

This is where I disagree

Not sure about this, but not in actual disagreement.

er... yeah. Some people believe in Homeopathy as well. Don't believe everything you read. Especially on the internet.

The requirement is that the item (not the bonus) be used in the course of a trade. So again, a courtesan with earrings? Check. Does this mean that almost any S&M bonus can be exploited via Items of Quality? Sure. I don't have a problem with that. However, if the Verditius can't come up with the profession that could make use of it, he can't draw out the bonus...

Well I've witnessed rings put through other body parts enhance sensory stimuli. :wink: I would certainly give a courtesan a bonus for one of those piercings, Even if it was't enchanted.

Usually I apply the family feud test. If I think out of a hundred average people at least a couple would list it as a tool associated with a particular trade then go for. But the item has to be used more or less directly in the ability it enhances.

So a crown is used to impress so it can improve leadership. As can a banner or a baton for that matter. Though a baton is used to direct not impress.

So while a courtesan uses jewelry in her trade she uses it to look better not listen to people. Also I would probably nix using a coin of virtue to enhance a merchants skill unless he actually spent it. (Though a coin of virtue circulating around providing a bonus to whoever spends it every time it changes hands sounds awesome to me.)

As cool as items of virtue are though I feel a lot of people forget that you can actually design effects to give you bonuses for a lot of tasks. It is thematic and within the rules to put a InIm or maybe even CrIm effect on an earing that gives you a bonus to listen checks. Or a InMe effect that improves folk ken. Just like you can use MuCo to improve your soak rolls.

Right, I've heard the arguements and many thanks indeed to you all for your input.

I think for my saga I am going to rule that an item of quality can be anything that might be reasonably used by someone in the pursuit of their activities. This allows for the enchanted earrings, the watchman's helmet and so on. My reasoning is thus. I've been through the form/material bonuses and there really aren't a lot of applicable form bonuses that would work otherwise. It takes a season to make, is limited to philosophiae score and I really, really like the idea of Items of Quality as skill boosting magic items (since its quite hard sometimes to set a bonus from magical enchantment effects).

Also, I am particularly drawn to this line in the description of the virtue
"First select a tool or item that would be appropriately used by a professional in his trade"

It then specifically lists an inn keeper and his broom and a courtier and his clothes. I'd add a watchman and his helmet and a courtesan and her earrings to that.