Not all magi are power-mad lunatics working on schemes to take over the world. Not all magi are even interested in continuously improving themselves.
Magi are human too.
So, I would imagine that a substantial proportion would make toys for all the reasons that real craftsmen make toys or real scholars wrote fictional tomes. That is, principally because they are fun.
If you think about a modern example, early mainframe computers were expensive things that required huge amounts of capital to purchase, had limited run-time that had to be shared amongst tasks, and required highly trained specialists to program and operate. And yet, games were written by these highly trained specialists and were run on mainframe computers.
lol that is the type of character I love to play, totally learning enough magic to make life easier, but that's it.
It's interesting that you mention games and mainframes. Many of the games were math games and what not. There was also a big preoccupation with chess and originally tic tac toe.
I can see magi creating puzzles, learning games, etc. When you think of the level of effects for some things, a highly skilled Verditius magus could make many of such items in one season, using a minimal amount of Vis. Or at least have lab notes to give to an apprentice.
On the other side of the coin, Vis is so prized that the cost of making some items may be too much to warrant.
Well, I guess because computer people are maths nerds. I was actually thinking of the game Adventure.
Maybe, but if it is what the magus wants to do, then I'm sure that he can find the vis to do it. Even in a vis poor saga there's nothing stopping a magus spending a few seasons tracking down the vis, and inventing the effects to make an animated game board, for example.
In some respects, I think it is more realistic that a magus would spend some time doing such activities rather than inventing yet another effect for bothering faeries, or yet more years reading about Corpus or whatever.
In my last saga, we had a Verditius mage who wanted to be a toymaker. This desire had caused problems during his apprenticeship, by a master who had no mirth and therefore continued to belittle the mage and cause problems later in life. The PC mage usually made non-magical toys carved from wood or made from metal. He was always carving something and handing out his toys to children in the nearby village or where ever the group was traveling.
The other PCs often thought the Verditius was a bit addled and simple, but he was powerful in a fight and would not stand for any threat to children. Toy making was a very big part of his character. However, his toys were always mundane. Despite his plans, he never really got into making magic items because the players were not good at understanding the benefits of seasonal actions or advancement.
I tend to agree with the comment earlier; many magi simply aren't power-mad. Player characters, sure; players might feel it's a waste of their time to not become more powerful each season or something. I honestly expect NPCs to occasionally even just waste seasons to take a break. Making toys isn't much of a stretch.
House Jerbiton especially I expect to have a lot of toys and fun spells and such made, because they explicitly aren't focused on the overpowering advancement that's typical of player characters and power-hungry reclusive types.
That it was called an 8-ball is billiards reference but the toy itself as a ball that you asked a question, shook up and then looked at a little window to see what it displayed. It had answers like "Yes", "No", "I don't know", "Ask your mother", and "Try again". I don't remember what they all were but could see someone making a toy like that.
leaden soldier/crusader figurines that move in formation at the apprentice's direction. The parens may have created a rudimentary "mind" for the opposing army of demons etc, but maybe the Parens has an arcane connection to the set and can take over the enemy army to up the difficulty level, or hand it off to a seargent grog to challenge the apprentice and hone his leadership and command skills early.
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