Living talismans


In Magi of Hermes we can find Gwindon, a magus that made a talisman for nhimself out of a living tree. My question is if this living talisman can be expanded to include other living (or similar) beings. Can you have a wolf talisman? Or a faerie talisman? Perhaps a dragon talisman? And what about a shield grog talisman? Would certainly make for a change!

I have a feeling that binding creatures with Might or free will (humans) might not work (essential nature and all that jazz), but maybe a mundane animal or an awakened plant might be options.


Why not? I don't see any rules that enchanted items need to be inanimate. But why? Enchant your shield grog? Great, now he got seduced by the evil witch. Or he gets sick and dies. Blarg. Dragon talisman? I do hope it doesn't fly off. Maybe you could make a business out of it. Selling magic enchantments to people...

That said, this is one of those cases where the GM should feel well within his rights to throw a book at you if you try it. (Figuratively speaking)

I can't remember whether there were any mechanics described to cover how that was achieved or not. I suspect not, but it's one of the very few bugbears I have with the system; it's really hard to do something off the beaten track.

I mean, unless you have a storyguide willing to say, "Boy, that's cool, let's go for it" you end up spending a lot of time and energy on Integration and Original Research in order to do something slightly unusual. Now don't get me wrong, I think both those mechanics are very useful and I've used both in both the work I've done for the line and in my my sagas. But questions like this just kind of hold things up and have people reaching for books to find out whether there's a mystery or a hedge tradition that does that. That's fine, that's what the books are there for, but I wouldn't wait for a book to come out detailing how to open a grog for enchantment.

So, I wouldn't worry too much about trying to design a mechanic that is entirely balanced and rational and of the kind of thing that could be applied across the Order - you're doing something unique and extraordinary! Make it happen.

For what it's worth...

You're essentially talking about a familiar in all but name, so you could leverage those rules. Or, I'd set living matter one step above precious gemstones, which should give you your based number of pawns that you'd need to use, and I'd probably impose an extra pawn needed for each point of Might Score if the intended talisman has a Might Score. You get no cord scores, but you can give the talisman "powers" in the form of device enchantments. I'd just make it gain at least one warping point per year for being opened for enchantment plus another for each constant device effect, etc.

I would point out "Awakened Devices", from Ancient Magic, allows the Mage to create a magic item which is a character in it's own right, which can be the Mage's Talisman, and can be his Familiar as well. So there is at least one canon example of a Familiar/Talisman, and one that is quasi-alive as well. I would make the player find or research that or a similar Mystery. If you don't want you game going in that direction, let the player find a lab text that shows how to do this one thing, but is not enough for the player to pick up the virtue, which is what seems to have been done in Gwindon's case.

That's the route I followed for my Verditius in my last saga. It's been a while since that ended, but I'll take your word on using them as familiar/talisman. That's a great tip, but again relies on gaining the required Virtues. And that's fine. There's no restriction to saying that it's a rare thing but someone is prepared to teach them if following that whole storyline is too onerous.

I've seen twice the ending of this kind of ideas... Not good end:


You could use the Merinita mystery of Animae magi as an inspiration.

Awakened devices are not hermetic. They are magic items though. However, since they are not hermetic devices you cannot turn one of them into your talisman without integrating them first, since you need to open the item up for enchantment yourself. So nobody can go to Thebes, take the magical dolphin there and turn it into a talisman. Pity, but true.

I was trying to make a more general question: Why can't you take a regular living wolf and open him up for enchantment? :slight_smile: Talisman or otherwise.

Well, the easy answer is; you can. That's what making a Familiar is all about. Now, the wolf does need a Magic Might score, but that can be added* with a Creo spell, comparable to "opening" an item. So it seems that some animals just come "pre opened".

  • Does a Creo spell that creates a animal with magical might give an existing creature magical might, or summon one from the Magic Realm? Who knows?

The familiar rules say that creature needs to be inherently magical (or something similar, I don't have my book here to compare). Many of us have decided that this means the creature needs a might score, I think that this is open for interpretation.

Creating a creature with magical might may be an expensive proposition as there needs to be a bond between the magus and the creature. While one would think a created creature would be somewhat more likely than a creature encountered in the wild to be positively inclined towards the magus, the gift still works against this. It might take several castings before a creature with an appropriate disposition is produced.

For the record, most familiars IMS have never had a might score. They are fine specimens of their species, but not necessarily magical.

We are not talking familiar here anyway, but creating wolves that cast POF (or whatever) intead of wands that cast POF. Creating a magic items that is alive. :slight_smile:

The talisman becomes a lot less cool when the wolf dies a few years later

You only need to enchant it with prevent decay and animate zombie :slight_smile:


Well, Xavi, nothing in the rules says that the materials "opened" for enchantment must be dead/inanimate. But enchanting a living wolf with POF does not give the wolf the ability to use the enchantment, which is what I think you implying. What point to a living wolf you have to pick up and aim when you want your POF? So, once again, if you want a magic item controlled by itself, you need the Familiar rules or the Mysteries: Awakened Device or Automaton. Don't see a way you can do it without picking up a Mystery, in canon.

No, I know that the wolf cannot activate himself. Or maybe he could if you stated that the trigger was a howl, for example, or a certain word a grog can say being the trigger. Hmm... I had not thought about this auto-activation thing, but it might be possible. After all, a living being has a 5-sense active "intellego" effect already active all the time.

I just used POF as a sample of "typical magic item for high fantasy": from POF wand to POF wolf :slight_smile: I would prefer other effects on a living item.


I can now completely see an animal focused Bjornaer magus doing this for his or her talisman. They can't have a familiar so this is the alternative they come up with to fill the void left by not having one. Also, if they initiate sensory magic, the self activating triggers like the howl of a wolf become much easier to target.

AS an added bonus, keeping the memory of one's dear departed pet alive by something akin to the living corpse from projects is heartbreakingly sweet and unspeakably awful at the same time.

Just remember that you (explicitly) cannot use Sensory Magic when enchanting items.

But I suppose you can use sensory magic to activate items.

Agreed. Creepy and lovely. Tim Burton would love it.

Should work - was just offering a reminder of something I know I've forgotten atleast once.

You know there is the example of Inscription on the soul which is a minor(? serf's parma) virtue that allows the enchantment of a living thing as one's talisman. This would argue against being able to do this without a virtue.