Limits of Creo

A magus is experimenting with Creo, trying to overcome the limit of creating without Vis (a Hermetic Breakthrough IMO). I'm coming up with a variety of experiments that a medeival mindset magus might try. The magus will only be using the standard Range, Durations and Targets (alternate ones would be ideal, but would require special virtues or breakthroughs). My question is what will the results be?

  1. A magus fills a barrel of water with magically created water with a duration of Sun. He puts a fish in the water and lets it stay there for the duration (for the experiment's purpose he casts the spell just after dawn). At Sunset the water disapears and the wizard quickly transfers the fish to a barrel of normal water. Assuming there was nothing else wrong to harm the fish (and it was a normal fish), is the fish dead and/or dying at Sunset? It subsisted on magical water the entire day and now it's disapeared from the barrel and its own body. Or would it possibly survive to be transferred to the barrel of normal water?

This experiment is done because it is easier than trying to make a chamber or container that is air tight and supplied with only magically created air and putting an animal in it. It could still be done though, just requires more magic, the first experiment requires a typical barrel and just a spell to create water and a normal fish.

  1. A magus invents an item with unlimited uses per day. Every time it is triggered it creates a small amount of grain that lasts for a Diameter. The magus puts it into a sealed container and puts a mouse in there that has been trained on a similar device to push a trigger and receive food. The hungry mouse triggers the item, gets the grain and eats it. A Diameter later the food is gone and he triggers it again. Will the mouse eventually starve? The food keeps disapearing, but it always has a steady source that it can immediately eat. My assumption is yes it will starve eventually (perhaps if it falls asleep). Even if it gorges itself, it will not gain any weight nor get the chance to receive energy and nutrition, nor will it excrete, or if it does the scat will disapear as well.

  2. Similar experiment. A magus feeds a mouse magically created grain with a duration of Moon for three straight weeks at the start of the Moon. The magus makes sure that during the first three weeks it only eats magically created food. The last week the magus ensures that the mouse is well fed on only natural food. The Moon duration comes up, does the Mouse die (I assume a mouse will starve if it goes 3 weeks without food)? The food is already through its system, so its scat will disapear. But will the sudden disapearance of 3 weeks of eaten, processed, and excreted food kill it?

This I don't know. If it doesn't kill it, then there might be a way to reduce the grocery bill, at the likely cost of Warping the eaters.

What are some ideas?

While it is well-known that fish must be in water to live, who said they consumed it? You can plainly see that the water is still there. Rego craft magic can similarly emulate elements that are recovered after the "work" is done (e.g. to bleach something).

"Magically created air" really means "air that is magically kept fresh". No vacuum.

There has been much discussion of that topic (search for it). I hold that either the grain will not satiate the mouse's hunger at all, so it'll keep on gorging itself even while the eaten grain still exists...

... or it will have accumulated hidden supernatural hunger and be able to devour two weeks' worth of food in a short amount of time. If the food is not readily available, it'll starve.

If find that either solution produce situations that fit better with traditional faerie tale motifs than just having them die.

I'm still not decided, but I would probably apply the first solution (non-satiating food) to magically created food, and the second (hidden hunger) to faerie glamoured food (which is considered "real" while the glamour lasts).

Qcipher, you are for to modern for those Mythic Europe peasant minds.

A fish needs to water because it has to swim and if you take it out of the water, it dies. So the fish will survive with ease, just as when you empty the bucket with the fish, fill the bucket with water and put the fish back in. (assuming that you can fill buckets quickly)
The air is the same thing: people need air to breathe. If you have magically created air, you can breathe. If that air disappears, normal air will be in the room, so you can breathe. After some time the 'normal air' will get a bit stale.

On the magic food: I like the idea that it does satiate, but doesn't nourish. Which means that you feel full and it helps against direct hunger, but the hunger quickly returns. You can have a wonderfull party or delay your hunger during the afternoon hunt. (This is the effect of drinking 2-3 glasses of water before a meal. If you don't take in some real nutrients aswell, your body will recognise that the satiating effect of a full stomach is not to be trusted and rely on other parameters. This effect kicks in after about 2 hours.)
With this take on magic food you will not last 2 months on magic food alone before you want to grab something different.

OK I can see that I might have too modern of a view on the respiration needs of fish. I didn't think it'd be too much of a stretch to assume though that anything that lives in the water actually breathes the water (including things that we know don't breathe water; the whales and doplphins). Is it known in the bestiaries that fish died when out of water because of some other reason than suffocation? The fact that they're gasping could lead a medieval mind to assume it's breathing normally I suppose.

I think though that people back then did believe that fish breathed water. In which case the first experiment would be valid, but possibly interpreted differently. I did probably assume too much regarding one thing though. The whole reason for using the fish rather than a mouse in a vacuum chamber would be because it's easier to do that than make a vaccum chamber. The problem with that is of course (as was pointed out) the medieval mind wouldn't conceive of the vacuum in the first place. So we'll scratch experiment 1 probably.

But bear in mind, this isn't a peasant mind, but a Bonisagus Magus with a high intelligence (+5) and the Genius descriptor. Someone like that will push against the boundaries of known beliefs and ask questions. His goal after all is to break a lesser Hermetic limitation (creating permanently without vis).

So the food one is an issue of contention then. Warping I'd figure would be a problem that would be different possibly every time it was attempted. But I figured there would be some standardized results aside from the random Warping.

My idea is that the food will sate while it's there, and if it disapears in the belly will not give the opportunity to provide nourishment and hunger returns. If it is allowed to process through the system (up to excretion), then I'd say nourishment is given, that will be taken away once the magic is gone. Similar to a binge and purge perhaps. So if done on the short term, a meal or two is missed and sudden weariness and hunger might hit. If done in the long term (the Moon experiment) I'd think the person would probably die or be struck with sudden excrutiating hunger, lose actual body levels and long term fatigue suddenly, and likely die without a difficult Sta stress roll. Someone that actually consumed enough magic food in that time frame to grow fat would lose that fat immediately. Needless to say if the food's duration was a Year the person would die on the spot of severe malnutrition and probably look quite horrid.

Warping affects could be those addictions mentioned, inhuman obesity or skinniness, as well as other strange afflictions known to come from food.

That is a perfectly reasonable houserule interpretation (and the one that I, myself, naturally lean towards).

However, the problem with allowing magical food to nourish is that it's been shown (in another thread) that it's not a stretch to feed all of medieval Europe with magical food with Moon duration formulaic magic*, which is ample time to digest and excrete.

(* While we're here...

First, we'll start with 3 tough interpretations, aimed to avoid complete abuse.

  • 1st) Let's say that a single person needs 1 kg of food/day to survive (even tho' they actually can live on much less).

  • 2nd) Base amount for Herbam is "a plant roughly one pace in each direction" - combining that with the CrHe Guidelines, let's say that's 1 kg (2.2 pds) of edible material, (even tho' it's arguably more.)

[*] 3rd) From Targets & Sizes (sidebar, p 113), for Creo, each additional magnitude multiplies the amount by x10 (!). Let's be hard-assed, no-fun SG's, and say it only gives half that..., no, let's rule that each additional magnitude only gives x4 the amount. (Hah! That's sure to stop 'em!...)

Also, note that "Target: Individual" would create a single item - one dried fruit, or one grain kernel. We want a mass of things, so we need "Target: Group". (This is not one of our "tough interpretations", but the RAW from this same section, sidebar p 113, col 2.)
+1 = 4 kg/9 lbs
+2 = 16
+3 = 64
+4 = 256
+5 = 1024 kg (which is close to 2,250 lbs)
[color=darkblue]CrHe 45 - Ton o' Food
Creates over a metric ton of a processed raw food. Food lasts for moon duration, 2-4 weeks depending on moon cycle, allowing it to be transported and saved over this period...

Ignoring loss and waste, this feeds roughly 70 people for the minimum 2 week duration, or over 1000 for a day.
(Base 2*, +1 Touch, +3 Moon, +2 Group, +5 quantity)

* Note that we are not creating a finished meal, a magical MRE - only the raw food that one could then cook to make a meal.[/*:m][/list:u]
Much depends on your players, and what you think they would do with such a ruling. At a ton/casting, a single mage could spend about 20 minutes once a week, comfortably cast this spell 11 times (resting from fatigue each time, then walking away), and easily feed a population of 1500 with high-quality food. Every crop merchant in the area would be threatened as free/cheap food flowed from the magic men.

For those who need the reference, London's population was about 20,000-25,000 in 1200. That's about 20-25 castings/day - with all our hard houserules. Note that if we used the same strict interpretations of starting mass & etc, but used the RAW (x10 mass/magnitude), a single casting of this same spell would produce 100,000 kg of processed food.

This is the important part of spell design, and one that so many SG's fail to take in to account - to follow their decisions to their natural, extreme conclusion. I've made the same mistake, and almost always regret it. A player makes a good "logical" argument, based on RL and the rules, and it's late and so I say "sure"... and it's always a mistake to rely purely on "logic" when interpreting magic rules.

So, this "breakthrough" is a reasonable one to strive for - but be careful about what you, as a SG or Troupe Player, inflict on your game world.

Here is one of the inconsistencies of Creo that will intrigue the character. I'm fine with them myself, it is the Art of magic not the Science of it of course.

Magically created wine makes you drunk, but when it disappears the drunkeness is gone and there will be no hangover.

The Creeping Death (Societates spell page 34) creates an Asp for a Diameter. Magic resistance will of course protect, but if bitten the poison must be endured and if not, an Incapacitating wound is scored. When the Diameter is done, the damage will stay from the poison (right?). The actual points of impact from the fangs would not likely cause even a Light wound, it's the poison that is so dangerous. Why does the poison continue to damage the person?

Drunkeness doesn't actually cause any body harm as far as people know and the medieval paradigm. The alcohol is in you and you are drunk, it is gone and you are fine.

The asp bite is actual tissue destruction, you can see the damage and though the poison vanishes, the dissolved and damaged flesh is still dissolved and damaged.

Neither case has any kind of regeneration or healing factor build in.

I would say that it does not continue damaging the person. They damage is already done. The game rules don't take this into account, but a real snake bite would need to be drained of venom or it will indeed continue to inflict harm.

Think about Acid. If you are sprayed with acid, even if you wash it off right away the damage is already done.

Alchohol, though modern sience understands the effects of drunkeness causes damage to brain cells, I don't think that was a consideration in 1220. You are drunk because the drink is in you. Once it is gone, so is the drunkeness.

Let me clarify, the posion doesn't continue to damage the person, it doesn't cause more wounds or affects. The Incapacitating Wound though does not heal with the disappearance of the poison.

So the damage is long lasting from tissue damage, not the continued presence of the poison. Similar to Pillum of Fire, the fire is gone, the wound remains. I can accept that.

Regarding the drunkenness, I wasn't referencing damage done by the wine, but rather the state of drunkenness. The drunkenness persists because the wine is in the system. My comparison is that the poison remains in the system and keeps the person poisoned.

OK then, I'll continue to look into these.

Because there are, in fact, several types of "poison". And it's important to understand that, at a layman's level at least. It's easiest to break them down into 2 basic categories.

One type, like alcohol or "drugs", represses or blocks functions - opium is like this, or hallucinatory mushrooms, or beer, or whatever. They are a poison - they stop something from working properly, even if that system is "feeling pain" and the result is deemed helpful. But when the drug, or "poison" is removed, so is the short-term effect of that substance.

Others, like snake venom or some berries/plants, actually do harm - they destroy or damage one internal system or another. As has been mentioned, that harm is not removed when the poison wears off.

Some poisons might block one's ability to move, causing short-term paralysis, while other, more dangerous/serious ones, might destroy same, causing permanent paralysis. When the poison is removed, one ends, the other does not.

If one were bitten by a deadly asp, and in the throes of death, and the poison were magically removed... the process of death would be aborted. Whether "damage" had been done or not would be a decision for the Story Guide (based, I'd hope, more on the story needs than on an attempt to simulate bio-chemical reality) .

From a gaming PoV, the first is for forgiving SG's and/or less dire encounters, while the latter offers more serious challenge for the players/characters.

Mice fed with magic food for a day develop severe hunger...
Though I had realized this when reading the RAW, I only now had a sudden idea for a sory seed:
A magus nourished a colony of mice for long enough to let them survive but feel severe hunger when the last spell stops and releases them shortly before this in an enemy convent's granary... :smiling_imp:
If done correctly, it will be almost impossible to find the culprit: No spell used on the mice directly, low magnitude spell. And when using a spell to obscure your sigil all investigators will be at a loss. So the victims have to search and find the place the mice were held (most likely not far away from the convent as magical transportation of the mice would be too difficult and obvious.)