Magical Senses - Part II

A few days ago in the other Magical Senses thread I wrote this:

We've had some more discussions about Magical Senses, which aren't really relevant to the other thread (hence this new one), but that quote serves to set the context.

So, Zeroth Question: Is my above conclusion correct? Is it the case that what a Magical Sense gives to the target is simply an augmentation of one of that character's normal senses with the effect of a specific Intellego spell?

Assuming that we're all agreed on that, there are a number of further questions that have come up.

So, First Question: given that what is being affected is the physical senses of the target, shouldn't there be a Corpus requirement? In fact, I wonder why magical senses aren't a MuCo effect, perhaps with an Intellego requirement.

The Second Question is that of whether Intellego effects can take any other form than enhanced senses. I think it's clear that they can (Librarian's Parma I have lent my 5th Ed. rulebook to one of the other players, so I'm relying 4th Ed. and memory) Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie for example, produces an effect that is visible to all so it's clearly not an enhanced sense. What, then, is the advantage of enhancing a character's normal senses, rather than just casting a 'normal' Intellego spell?

The Third Question is that of whether magical senses are a spell -- that is, whether the process of bestowing magical senses on a character is a spell (that can be learned and mastered). It seems to work like a spell, but I don't see many examples of spells that create magical senses in the RAW, available to be taken as formulaic spells by new magi. Some varieties of magical senses are so of such obvious utility to all magi that it's surprising they're not on the reading list for the first day of apprenticeship (e.g. some way to sense raw Vis -- yes, it's only InVi1, but as a magical sight (so it has some range and directionality) new magi who are not Intellego or Vis specialists will have trouble sponting it with even momentary duration).

The Fourth Question is that of the form that magically sensed intelligence may take. If a character has his hearing (say) enhanced to detect the presence of water (an InAq1 effect) and he comes to a stream, what does he hear? Is that under the control of the spellcaster? Is it a fixed effect (perhaps related to the spellcaster, as is his sigil)? Is it just that he hears the running water in the stream more clearly (if so, what happens if he finds quiet water instead of a stream)? For that matter: What does Vis smell like? Sound like? Note that the answer to this one probably isn't important, and StoryGuide's fiat is as good an answer as any, but it'd be good to know if we've missed something.

Carrying on from that, the Fifth Question concerns the effect that the magical sense has on the target. Does the magical sense interfere with the character's non-magical senses. If our water-hearing character (supra) fell into the sea, would the spell deafen him? Can a mage cast a magical sense on enemies to confuse their senses (an offensive use of Intellego)?

The Sixth Question is that of whether all things can affect all senses. The sense of smell can normally detect only things that have an odour, so non-volatile substances don't have a smell and can't be sniffed out. Does the same apply to magical senses? Can you, for example, smell silver with an InTe magical sense (a la Probe for Pure Silver)? I'd say that as the magical sense comes from an Intellego spell it should be able to detect whatever that spell can detect, and that the sense affected is immaterial -- but it would be quite satisfying if the 'cheaper' magical senses of smell and hearing were actually more limited in this way than the 'expensive' sense of sight.

... and finally. If magical senses don't give the effect of a D&D clairvoyance spell, how do you achieve that in ArM? Perhaps that really is a MuCo effect, but that's not even hinted at in the RAW.

Despite the effort that I suspect that you put into that question It still isn't sufficiently completely clear to me to give you a yes or no answer regarding what I read the rules as saying. (you know, the truth :slight_smile:)

Magical senses spells route magically derived information through one's normal senses. shiver of the lycanthrope allows one to detect shape changers with your sense of touch. Piercing the faerie veil allows you to see faerie reigio boundaries through your sense of sight. They don't alter your natural senses as much as they push an additional set of information through them.

Eyes of the eagle is a confusing case where the particular information magically routed through your sense of sight is what things look like.

No you're not altering the physical sense you're adding a magical sense to it. You certainly could create a creo corpus spell that gave you better sight (look at eyes of the cat) or develop a muto corpus(animal) spell that literally gave you "the eyes of the eagle". This isn't what magical sense spells do. Magical sense spells give you magically derived information through your senses.

To my knowledge everyone else believes this is clear as well. A non sense based intellego spell takes information from a target. Something like Posing the Silent Question grabs information from the target's mind without routing it through any of the caster's senses. Magical sense spells have the advantage of being range personal more often than not. Other intellego spells rarely are amenable to range personal. (Cast Posing the silent question at range personal and ask: "what are you thinking")

Confusion can come in with intellego imagonem spells such as Prying Eyes that give the caster image information without routing it through the senses.

There are some spells in there. I've already mentioned shiver of the Lycanthrope, Piercing the faerie veil, and Eyes of the eagle. Eyes of the bat is a particularly useful one. This is probably a legacy issue as snse spells are new with fifth edition and the spell list for the most part is not.

In regards to intellego vim effects that detect vis the level 5 spells that tell you how much vis you have and what art your vis is aligned to both would give negative results if you don't have any vis at all.

Finally, I've never found it rewarding to restrict new characters to the spells from the books. These are examples I don't consider them a list of the spells commonly used throughout the order. (Back of the envelope calculation : the order is about 400 years old, it has had a rough average of about 800 magi in it and a typical magi invents a new spell about once every five years: so 64,000 spells ?)

You haven't missed anything regarding this matter that I've seen. I just try to make the results as cool as my lame little mind can imagine.

None of the provided spells have any sort of allowance for confusion caused by information overload. I have suggested information overload on this forum for a spell that allowed a blind magician to recieve visual information through their sense of hearing. I think that your information overload spell is rather cool sounding. There is a spell on the Soceitas book that overwhelms a target with sensory data but it is naturally a creo imagonem spell rather than intellego.

Normally lycanthropes don't have a particular feel and Faerie regio boundaries are invisible. I don't think that it is logically consistent to restrict target smell spells to naturally odoriferous things. (You'd never be able to truthfully say "I small a lie")

In the intellego imagonem guidelines there is a level 1 guideline "use one sense at a distance" and a level two guideline, "use two senses at a distance". I think that this guideline should be higher to make the game match my personal tastes regarding the difficulty of distant scrying but there you have it.

Gazing into the Crystal Isocahedron
InIm 10

Range AC, Duration Concentration, Target individual

The caster perceives his surroundings as if his eyes were at the location of an object to which he has an arcane connection to rather than in his head.
base 1 +1 concentration + 4 arcane connection

Maybe because intellego allows you to filter the information you're receiving.
Hum... Something like superman's senses: he may have superhearing, he isn't overloaded with every sound on the planet, as he should be. Intellego probably works this way, giving you the information you need and nothing else. After all, this is "understanding" magic.

Nevertheless, I appreciate the trouble you've taken to reply. We can worry about little details like truth another time, though!

Right. That's exactly the point that prompted one of the questions in my post, though: Are human senses capable of receiving the extra information as well as the information that they would normally receive? Does the human target of the spell have to concentrate on either the magical sense -- perhaps by deliberately ignoring the mundane sense -- and if so does he have to deliberately ignore the magical sense in order to get full benefit of his normal senses ... if so, is this something that comes to one with practice.

Alternatively, if it is all handled automagically by the spell, then surely the spell must be altering the human senses (or at least the sensory centres in the brain) ... and in that case surely the spell should have a Corpus requirement?

OK, we're perhaps taking this a bit too far ... the sensory centres of the brain are rather out of paradigm. I just wanted to show you where the reasoning was headed.

Actually, I thought that was clear, too. I asked it anyway because it's not unknown for everyone to think something is clear BUT to understand different things by it. That doesn't seem to the case here (Phew!).

I had wondered about that, and I think you're right.

Of course, yes. The point was, really, that we were surprised not to find a pregenerated Detect Magic spell (say a level 10 Magical Sense; InVi1 Per,Mom,Sight) that could be learned as formulaic.

Good point, but players new to the game will expect the rulebook to give a reasonable selection of useful stuff -- enough to make the game work, anyway. Nobody wants to be dropped in at the deep end, making up their own spells when they haven't yet played the game and worked out what qualities are desirable in a spell (this isn't Fantasy Hero, after all).

Fairy nuff.

Interesting ... thanks.

Lycanthropes normally have a feel, it just doesn't reveal that they're lycanthropes. That's not a good counter-example.

I wasn't (quite) suggesting that sense of smell should only apply to naturally odoriferous things ... I can well imagine that magical or psychic auras might have properties that could be detected by a magically augmented sense of smell. The book does say (IIRC, Librarian's Parma, still) that magical sight doesn't work in the dark and that a magical sense of smell might only work downwind -- if you have to be downwind to smell it, doesn't that rather strongly imply there must be some airborne 'scent' involved?

As for smelling a lie, I think you can do that without magical senses. You might smell the fact that the liar was nervous -- sweating -- the stink of fear, and all that.

One (quite reasonable, by some standards) answer would be that the magical sense depends on the mundane sense. That is: a character can only use his magical sight to tell that the jewel around that other character's neck contains Vis if he can see the jewel with his mundane sight. If the jewel were invisible he wouldn't be able to see the jewel or the Vis. I'd say that that would be very much in-paradigm, but I get the idea that it isn't how most people have been playing those rules.

It would address the questions about sensory overload, though. One's senses wouldn't be overloaded, they'd be working as normal but with greater subtlety. One wouldn't be seeing confusing overlaid images of Vis as well as a jewel, for example, one would see the jewel as normal but with additional "highlights" (in a broad sense) revealing the Vis.

Ah, yes. I'm making my usual mistake of looking at the specific spells for guidance, rather than reading the guidelines. It is odd that the InIm guidelines talk mostly about scrying-type effects but there don't seem to be any specific scrying spells in the InIm lists.

I see from the 4th Ed. book that those guideline costs were higher then, too.

OK, I've got my book back.

On the face of it the above explanation fits the description given in the section on Magical Senses on pp113-4 almost perfectly.

When you look at some of the spells that use senses as a Target, however, things are not so clear.

  • Clear Sight of the Naiad and True Sight of the Air, for example, allow you to see things that are not normally visible (because they're obscured by mist, smoke, mud, etc.), rather than just showing you properties that would not normally be apparent of things that you can see.

  • Eyes of the Bat gives bat-like sonar ability which isn't just a matter of hearing things that would normally be inaudible, but also requires the ability to process sounds in a way that humans normally can't. It's more about how the brain works, than the ears (or air). If I were designing a spell like that I think I'd expect Mentem to be at least a requirement, if not the primary form.

I suppose one could argue that an understanding of sonar and the workings of the sensory centres of the brain were outside the ME paradigm, but then surely the idea that a bat uses sound to 'see' in the dark is also outside the paradigm -- to be in-paradigm you would have to rework the spell to be vision-based (as its name) as it was thought that bats did, literally, see in the dark. (cf. Vision of Light's Heat.)

  • Thoughts Within Babble is another spell that lets you hear things that aren't strictly audible. Being able to hear what someone meant to say when they misuse the language is a neat trick -- and certainly mentem-based -- but it clearly demonstrates that there is more to Magical Senses than is spelt out on pp113-4. (Should it also enable one to tell when the speaker is lying, I wonder?)

It looks as though my neat rationalization quoted above doesn't quite cut it.

So, going back to my own questions from the first article in this thread:
0. Yes, my conclusion was correct. Magical Senses are essentially just a new class of spell target that applies only to Intellego spells, and the benefit that they bring is exactly akin to the benefit one might gain by casting an Intellego spell.

I think this could be made much clearer if the section on Magical Senses were moved to become a sub-section of the section on Targets which currently precedes it. This would also make it clearer that Magical Senses are a special case of spell target.

1. There shouldn't be a Corpus requirement, because that's not how the rules are written. Making sensory enhancements a Corpus or Mentem effect would have been an alternative approach, but that's not where the Game Designers took the idea.

Interestingly, though, the RaW say that granting Magical Senses to many people at once is not simply an extension of the spell to affect "Group" instead of "Individual", but is a MuMeIn effect. I can certainly accept treating Magical Senses as MuMeIn, but I can't see the logic in treating the spell cast on individuals differently from that cast on groups (apart, perhaps, from game balance).

2. Yes, the same effect can be obtained by a normal spell.

3. Yes, granting Magical Senses is a spell, and can be learned and mastered and cast formulaically. The RaW contain several examples of such spells (some of which I've mentioned here).

4. The way that the magically gained intelligence is perceived is unimportant. It may depend on the spell or on the caster (as in
Verdan's version of Touch of the Pearls) but can be anything that seems fun and in-paradigm.

5. The jury is still out on sensory overload.

6. It seems clear that the intent is that anything that might be sensed magically can be sensed with any of the senses. It's in-paradigm, after all. That still leaves the question of what (say) the smell of silver is like, but see (4) above.
I notice that Hunt for the Wild Herb requires the subject to have a sample of the plant being sought, whereas Probe for Pure Silver and The Miner's Keen Eye do not require a sample of the material in question. I think I'd rule that the subject merely has to be familiar with the material being sought in each case, and doesn't need to have a piece (I might even lower the difficulty by a magnitude if the subject does have a sample).