Mages have no money worries

Ok, forgive the brain aching mathematics, but I'm scratching my head as to where I may have gone wrong. But as I've worked it out, Mages' are likely to be insanely rich.

So here goes, first Lex Hermeticus, according to HoH:TL (page 87) whilst the Stonehenge Tribunal has a ruling on the amount of magically created silver, there is no ruling on Gold (elsewhere or at the Grand Tribunal level).

Now the maths.

An individual Terram spell creates 1/10th of a cubic foot of precious metal. Gold has a density of 19.3 grams therefore a cubic foot of gold weighs 1093.04 Lbs. So a Magi could make 109.3 Lbs of the stuff. Gold has a value ratio of 10:1. This is therefore the equivalent of 1090 Libra (or Mythic Pounds). That is enough to buy a Castle (Covenants, Page 71) and still have change! Incidentally casting the spell with silver only nets 65 Libra.

The Spell would have to be cast as a Ritual (level 20) and therefore require 4 pawns of Vis.

It seems the only limitation is the possible risk of creating a precedent and the risk of a prosecution before the Tribunal. However, that flows from Interfering with Mundanes and comes about from using the money not creating it. So why on earth would a Covenant really go to the effort of having sources of income? They could just cast this Ritual once and live of the proceeds for years.

It therefore seems an incredibly over powered spell.

Yes. :smiley:

You have to take it as implicit that Magi are materially rich or will be. They might start out poor, but eventually they get materially rich. It's almost a convention of the game. Gold coins did exist, but they tended to accumulate in the hands of the rich (nobility) because it was such a vast sum of wealth. Certainly silver represents a lot of wealth, too. It is entirely reasonable, within the paradigm to find people who will not accept a trade with silver, because they can't spend it easily anywhere else. Silver is used primarily as an abstraction for income. You're not actually getting silver, you're getting some good worth that amount of silver, generally. Eventually the covenant will begin hoarding silver and gold, just like the nobility does, though, and will be able to execute transactions of greater scale, involving those currencies.

So, they buy the castle, but they don't have the industry setup, and can't pay farmers who can't feed the grogs...

The true currency of the Magus is time. It's not even vis, it's time to do the things that they want to do and need to do. Making that ritual will take time from someone, a season not spent doing something else that is likely more important to the magus. And then he has to cast it every now and again to make more money, which is tiresome. And then there's the chance of botching with 4 pawns of vis, which if you play strictly, is 5 botch dice.

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Congratulations, you've recreated the Touch of Midas (ArM5, p. 153, top of first column), possibly in a slightly more optimised version.

Now, where are the "brain aching mathematics" please? The above is really just multiplications.

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Magi can also ritually create salt (valuable, and a useful trade good), or coal (as base rock, and comes in HUGE quantities). These require vis, so rather than Creo, you can instead use Rego Crafting and a ton of finesse to turn wool to cloth, hides to leather goods, metal to finished metalware etc. and earn a ton of cash. You could dig a canal or build a road and charge tolls. You can use herbam to move trees around and change the forests to your whim, or burn them to charcoal with Ignem. As a mage, there's a ton of ways of earning money. It all depends on how you feel like earning it, how you're going to exchange for what you need, and how much of a bastard your storyguide will be when enforcing the consequences.

Autumn covenants never worry. Spring covenants need to find a way, and winter covenants spent their stockpile and have to rediscover the lab text for how they did it first time round.

Ah, but the coin of the Realm (for Mages) is Vis, and so all these methods make Mages poorer, not wealthier......

True. But "spring covenants find a way" (great line BTW).
Let's say you use vis to turn a forest to charcoal so you can sell the charcoal for cash.
No matter how much cash you get its probably not going to be enough to buy another X pawns of vis.

However, if you pick your forest right it had magical animals in it, and you can now harvest them for vis.
Or the local Fae were having a party (not initiated by the magi because that would be bad) in those same woods...
Or the verditius just spends the covenants yearly vis inckme making an automated vis gathering and magical being distillation device and sets it loose in the realm of magic. I'm sure the merinita will help get it there when they hear about plan B and arcadia...

There's always a way. Personal favourite way to make cash is to write a really good mundane skill book on something advertise and wait.

I think Ars Magica has such a flexible magic system and such powerful wizards that it's a given that magi will find a way to earn money, if that's what they're after. But the real question is - what kind of stories do you want to play? Personally, I'm not attracted to stories about being short on money or money-making schemes, so I'm inclined to just let such things be established in the background or take a minor place in the saga. But of course, if you like to always have complications and to have such - literally - mundane concerns take a prominent role in the saga, you can invent complications and restrictions on the magus' ability to make money easily. Personally, I prefer to focus on high-adventure, or high-magic shenanigans.

I agree with what's been posted above. Acquiring reasonable levels of mundane wealth is no big issue for wizards, unless there are some extenuating circumstances. That's the reason why Covenants by default are assumed to have a comfortable source of income.

There are three types of mundane wealth-making adventures I've seen in Ars Magica.

  1. Acquiring wealth under extenuating circumstances. Say, freshly gauntleted wizards want to found a covenant in the middle of the desert, hundreds of miles away from any human settlement.

  2. Acquiring prodigious amounts of wealth without breaking the local economy. Say, raise Richard the Lionhearth's ransom.

  3. Acquiring wealth when you are not a magus. Say (and this is typical in my sagas) you are a servant of a bunch of wizards who leave to you "the easy stuff" (like procuring a hundred silver pounds/year) while they spend their precious time on "the real stuff" (slaying dragons, summoning forgotten gods etc.).

Thanks for all the comments. I guess my confusion arises from the Covenant creation system. Its quite complicated, involves sources of income and the need to use Boons to obtain more than one source. This focus on creating minimal mundane wealth suggested obtaining funds was not easy. That however, appears not to be the case. It seems to me the only reason for having a source of income like that (or multiple sources) is to have a "cover" for the magically created income.

Fair point. I had not showed my "working out" (has flash back to school days).

Given the helpful reference to Touch of the Midas it is perhaps worth me showing the working, because I cannot understand why that spell yields a significantly smaller amount.

Here goes:

  1. Individual Terram spells yield 1 Ft^3 of Metals or 1/10th Precious Metals.
  2. Gold has a density of 19.3g per Cm^3. So this has to be converted into Ft^3
  3. 1 Cm^3 = 3.5146667 x 10^-5 Ft^3 or put another way there are approximately 28317 Cm^3 in a Ft^3
  4. So 1 Ft^3 of Gold weighs (28317*19.3)/1000 Kg = 546.51 Kg
  5. There is 2.20462 Lbs per Kg. So this equals 1093.04 Pounds.
  6. An Individual Terram Spells would yield 1 tenth, hence 109.3 Lbs.
  7. Gold has an approximate 10:1 value compared with silver. This is therefore 1093 Mythic Pounds worth.

Admittedly this is just a series of "multiplications" and not exactly too tricky, but well, some people loathe maths no matter the complexity.

I also admit I had missed the Touch of the Midas spell and could have saved myself all this bother by looking more carefully. However, that spell yields significantly less as its based on 6inch diameter sphere. That is out of keeping with the Spell Guidelines and I'm not entirely sure why that would be.

I'm guessing I am just being a bit too literal about the whole thing and that in reality the Magi will be able to become obscenely wealthy. As to the comment that as Vis is the coin of the Hermetic realm, there Magi in fact become poorer, I see this to a point. But given that it would only take a few castings of this spell and some wise investments for the Magi to be as wealthy as Kings, I would think the fairly modest Vis cost (for a life time of mundane wealth) would be a wise investment. I guess that however, depends on the scarcity of Vis in any campaign.

IIRC, it's a legacy spell. Also, spells don't have to create the maximum amount up to the the limit of the guideline. It's entirely possible that a magus invented the spell to create just enough gold for a project he had in mind, and not anymore...

I think the Covenants system goes like this.

Since making wealth is not that hard for wizards, and most troupes who play Ars Magica aren't really interested in petty accounting, just assume that most Covenants have a comfortable source of income. Somebody set it up when the Covenant was created, and in the absence of accidents it keeps going.

However, there may be accidents! That's one reason why it's useful to know what the source is. If the source is that you created enough gold to last you for a century, and you are slowly spending it, the accident might be that someone steals it, or that some rumor spreads that yours is faerie gold so nobody wants it anymore etc. Is your source wine from magically grown grapes? Some evil demon might spread a disease over your vines, or some rival winery might try to wage a commercial war against you.

Also, if you want a source of extravagant income -- because you want priceless lab materials, or because you are supporting a veritable army of artists, or whatever ... then things start to be trickier. Basically, because you start making ripples in the local economy. That's what happened in Stonehenge, canonically. A bunch of covenants thought: let's make a bunch of silver once, with a big ritual, and then we'll have all the money we want for decades. The result was such an influx of silver into the local economy that inflation exploded and all sorts of bad things happened. Not that it can't be done. But it's trickier and requires stories or boons.

Finally, you might think it would be nice to tell stories about how young magi work up a sustainable source of income. What might take a mundane merchant -- who specializes in making money -- years or decades to accomplish, your magi might do in a few seasons of work, or a few stories, despite their inexperience in the field. Much easier, but not exactly automatic. If you think it's worth telling stories about, take a Hook saying that.

You may be mistaking Mythic pounds of value with british pounds of weight. Touch of Midas creates about 80 pounds of gold -- as in 35 Kg, not as in 80 Mythic pounds. It should be compared to the 109.3 pounds you get at point 6. Sure, it's a little less, but not significantly less.

I think you may be underestimating how tricky in medieval times is to be "as wealthy as a King". Even if you start with literally a mountain made of gold, you'll encounter problems if you want to translate that into lab equipment, high quality weapons, etc. Because thieves might try to steal it. And greedy kings might decide to bring you to trial so that they can take it all away from you (this was actually pretty common). And the local bishop might think the mountain of gold is something demons conjured for you so that you could tempt the souls of his flock etc. etc. And even if you manage to prevent all that, you'll need to spread it far and wide to avoid busting the local economy. And you'll need to find the merchants that get you that precious Venetian glassware or Damascene steel in exchange for your gold. Etc. etc.

I hope I've conveyed the sense that making gold or goods is much easier for wizards than for mundanes, but translating that into "usable wealth" is something else entirely, and it requires stories. Or boons, i.e. the benefits of stories without the fun.

Also, I hope we've not come across as too agressive in answering you. Your post count is relatively low, and so you might not be aware of how inflamed discussions on the forum get at times -- but there's no real animosity behind it. Thanks for starting the thread!

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There are an infinite number of ways for Hermetics to make money easily and almost as many ways to for the magi to get into trouble-I mean-create stories doing it.

It is fair to say however that the base rules underestimate the ease with which some Ars players can create vaste wealth. Or the game just leaves it SG's and troupes to rein it in. Or have fun letting it play out.

That being said brute force CrTe is only the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to the Individual/Group target rules you can get vast amounts with other arts. You can get tons of animal and plant products with just a group target and no size modifiers. Not that significant when your talking about leather or firewood, but if your talking about creating bolts of silk, peppercorns, or pearls in multi-ton lots it gets more impressive. Of course they don't necessarily spend as easy as gold, except maybe the peppercorns.

Then there are all those ways to make money without spending vis. There are even ways to do it without using hermetic magic. It's pretty easy to make a companion super wealthy. A Wealthy Capo for instance is described as having kingly wealth I believe. I actually had a player who realized well into the game that their characters personal vis source was also a personal wealth source. Once a season she cried a perfect teardrop shaped diamond filled with a pawn of creo vis. Once the vis was harvest of course you still had a perfect diamond left over.

Then their are all the story events during a saga that can provide wealth wether the SG intends it or not. In my first ArM5 saga our covenant killed a dragon and got a DnD sized hoard to deal with. I believe the SG's point was just how much we didn't really have any use for the money and the trouble that came with it. More recently in a game I was running a lab botch caused the Magus's lab equipment to grow to gigantic size. My intentions was to destroy the lab and nearly kill the magician in an interesting way. Instead we had a nice little adventure seed of taking three wagon fulls of broken but high quality glass to Venice for "recycling".

There is also possible the story element of the common beliefs of the people at that time. Sure mechanically you can do lots with magic, but all too very often I assume there are social and moral hinderances that stop every maga from simply zapping up a pile of gold and living a life of ease.

Firstly they live in a time when they truly believe in hubris and for that matter that a Dominion god does exist. If one experiences greed, all to often the proverbs and stories tell, that such greed becomes a punishment. Demons are attracted to slothfulness and greed and desire for luxuries. A good person is supposed to live without such flashiness and obsession with finer things.

So as far as game goes as you see the mechanics allow for you to be a wealthy as kings; and in the previous post so many describe the game consequences of making such a mound of wealth; however when considering how I play my characters, I simply imagine that they would not see it as a "proper" use for their magic and would see it as unethical and simply being a cheat.

There are many reasons to proscribe against using magic in such a way, however if the story is a wizard obsessed with jewels and gold and using them in his magic and then showing them off, then by all means I would definitely see that magi as having such a spell.

Part of the reason is that the medieval economy simply did not work that way. Unless the covenant is located in a city, or creates its own trading network (which would count as an income source by Covenants rules), trying to simply buy everything it needs is going to be difficult.

Take a covenant located in a remote Magic Aura in a forest or mountain somewhere. Cast your ritual, you have gold (or silver, or some other form of portable wealth). Now, where do you go buy your food ? It's going to be a long way away, with no good road (or your covenant wouldn't be remote). And remember, once your average peasant has tithed to the Church and his Lord, he does not have that much of a supply to sell, so you'll need to go to at least a market town. Preferably a big one, maybe a full city, so you don't destabilize the local economy. You'll have to arrange your own transportation, including a sufficient escort both ways once it becomes known that good and coins travel that lonely trail. Most foodstuff are perishable, so you'll need to arrange regular trips year round unless you like living on bread and beans... and at that point you are halfway up to creating that trading business that could blossom into an income source.

It's simply easier in the long term to set up your own peasant village tithing directly to the covenant. That is, after all, how the lords live. And it's right here, so you can use your magic to give them a little hand when needed, and that means the covenant has all the food it needs within walking distance.

Pretty much the only place in medieval Europe where you can reliably buy food and other necessities, year round, is a town. There your idea would work pretty well... but we all know how most magi hate living in a city, between the aura and the social effects of the Gift.

That said, all the rules in Covenants are optional. The whole book is. If you don't want to bother, you can just say your players have access to such and such level of wealth, and need to find a way to make more if they ever want to buy something too expensive.

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Additionally, gold coins weren't really used in any circulation until 1252, with the florin and then ducat. (Which is probably why the Stonehenge ruling is about silver.)

If you're passing around gold coins in 1220, you're going to draw attention. Do you really want attention? Attention brings people who are going to distract the magi from doing what they want to do, and force them to deal with people they really don't want to deal with.

What are you going to have on those coins? If you have them look like Roman coins (aureus, solidus, or tremissis), then a local lord is going to try finding the source to make sure this wasn't a hoard discovered in his lands, which he'd claim as his.

If they look like local coins (and no one's really circulating gold in 1220, unless you're in Constantinople), then there's the issue of "minting" coins without permission.

If they look like foreign coins, you'll have locals wondering if they're legal for use (although English merchants did use the Byzantine hyperpyron). Magically made coins will look perfect-- no wear, crisp edges, perfect striking. That's going to get people curious, too. An influx of coinage is going get people talking and potentially disrupt the economy-- when Mansa Musa undertook the Hajj, he gave away enough gold to destabilize Egypt's economy for 10 years.

Sure, you can make a pile of gold. But without the proper precautions on how to translate that gold into the material goods needed to run a covenant, you're going to have a wealth of problems.


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1204 lbs, you multiplied by 2.

And yeah, most of the modern day problems of getting rid of a million dollars in small bills exists in Mythic Europe. You'll need some creative accounting to spent it discreetly.

You are correct that I have equated Mythic Pounds with a pound of Silver, but is that not accurate. City and Guilds (p.143) describes a MP as equal to 20 shillings or 240 pence which is the same as a Pound?

True, but thats if the covenant mints them into coins. Depending on where they are, would it not be simpler to just sell the Gold as a commodity. City and Guids (p.141) even gives the same exchange rate of 10:1. Assuming I've equated pounds of silver correctly, they'd be nothing to gain by minting. As you point out Leonis that woukd attract a lot of attention, would take a lot of time and would gain no extra profit. I guess the question then is how much gold they can sell before that attracts attention.

I was just pointing out that the discrepancy of what Touch of Midas produces, and what you thought a spell with the same parameters could produce, was not that high. If you were surprised by the fact that "your" spell could produce over 1000 Mythic pounds, whereas Touch of Midas produced only 80, I was pointing out that Touch of Midas produces about 80 pounds of weight in gold, vs. the maximum you computed which is slightly more than 100 pounds of weight in gold.

As for translating weight of gold and/or silver into value, that's very very tricky. Yes, the pound of value has its origin in the pound of weight (in silver), but the fluctuations even by 1220 are large enough that saying a pound (of weight) in silver is worth a Mythic pound is a very rough approximation. As for the gold-to-silver value ratio, I'm not really sure what it was in 1220 -- silver, while less valuable than gold, was comparatively scarcer and thus more valuable than it is today.

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Don't ask me how accurate this is, but according to the internet the value of gold in 1200 AD was 10 times that of silver. So if a pound of silver is worth a mythic pound then one casting of the spell would create gold worth 800 mythic pounds.

If we use the prices given (by the internet) for 1200 AD, 17 shilling 3,5 pennies, we get 829,44 pounds. Close enough for me.

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