Magus with a detachable hand

I'm working on a Corpus-focused magus and I was thinking that a delightful spell-effect or talisman would be his own hand. I can envision the hand sneaking around on its own, grabbing things, spying, and teleporting back to the Magus and reattaching itself. The thing is, I'm having a bit of trouble deciding how to begin. It seems like a talisman would be a good start. Any suggestions?

See Timothy Ferguson's article on "The Divisible Men" in SubRosa #13. It describes a hedge tradition from Eastern Europe that can detach body parts that may be a good starting point.

The hand could be tattooed or wear rings that carry various powers / spell like effects.

Inscription Upon the Soul Mystery (using your body as a Talisman, a bit more than just tattoos holding magic) may be adaptable.

Weird but somewhat cool concept.


There was an article for Verditius Longevity Devices By Mark Lawford - body part replacement in Sub Rosa 14 too.

A plethora of animation effects would do the trick.

  • to animate in a manner to person simple commands (ReCo), probably akin to either animating a statue, or a corpse. It'll need the capacity to see and hear; not sure which guidelines to recommend for that (Inellego ?).
  • to avoid rotting (CrCo)
  • intangible tunnels...

derail - What about a familiar if the hand was an awakened device (RoP: Magic)?

Thanks for the tips, I'll look for those two Sub Rosa issues. I had also considered the familiar route, I'll check RoP:M for details.

It's a classic concept in the fantasy canon, esp for the "creepy/evil sorcerer" type. But tough to do w/ pure Hermetic Magic.

The easiest way might be to handwave a (major?) Virtue to simply allow it.

Haven't read the above articles, but via core Hermetic magic, I think it would take a combination of:

  • Rego and Intellego, to control the hand at distance and have senses connected to it
  • some Creo, to preserve both the hand and the now-handless mage
  • some Muto, since it's not a "natural" change

I was considering actually severing the thing, through some sort of PeCo, Preserving it with CrCo, then enchanting it with InCo and ReCo so that it could move around, sense things, and then reattach itself. Of all the Techniques, Mu may be the least necessary.

I envision an eye made of amber built into the palm of the hand as its way of 'seeing'. Maybe with some special abilities for when it is attached too ...

This reminds me of the Eye of Rhynn and the Hand of Kwll from Michael Moorcock's first Corum trilogy:

Have you considered an axe?

Yeah, one way or another, that would get around any "unnatural" detachment problems. :laughing:

So, a mage chops off his own hand and makes that into a talisman - very doable.

"on its own" in what sense? It has no separate intelligence, so operating with independent volition is going to be tough. Making one's hand into "a familiar" (or something like) is problematic. The hand is not "a creature" in any sense of the word. A virtue (or a Mystery?) might be the best road there, altho' a Breakthrough (see HoH: True Lineages, Bonisagus Chapter) might(?) do the job as well.

But if controlled by the mage, that won't be too hard for a Corpus mage. ReIm (Range: Arcane) for the senses. Add an InMe (R: Arcane) effect so the mage could control it with his mind, and then have all effects Linked to that (see p. 99, col ii), so Range:Self (on the hand) is all that is necessary).

Maybe multiple rings (more than 1 on each finger?) with Shapes/Materials for each effect? Or tatoos, or lacing items into the flesh and bone with wire - any of those could work.

I would use ReCo to detach it. Perdo makes something worse, while using Rego might get around this with a more precise cut. But in any case I would handwave this part of the process as successful without having to roll or calculate any total for it.

Great idea BTW :slight_smile:

That's just a partial definition for Perdo. But regardless, I don't think it's a very challenging argument to say that removing a hand makes the "corpus" worse.

But Rego could do the job as well. And if the Finesse roll were high enough, it might even seal the stump of the arm, ala any good Chirurgeon.

And that's the bigger challenge, to be able to avoid from dying immediately after the hand is removed, whether ReCo, PeCo, AxCo or whatever. Not that that's hard either, but more important in that it's kinda a dealbreaker if not addressed adequately. :laughing:

This all sounds good. So I'd need ReIm and InMe effects to maintain sensory awareness over the hand, a CrCo effect to preserve it, and a ReCo effect to be able to move it around. As it would be a Talisman, all of these could be Range: Self. Additionally, I could weave other effects into it, and other Shape/Materials for additional attunements.

I'd consider using Muto for separating body parts but keeping them alive. Your taking a thing that can't normally function away from the body and making it able to sounds like muto. There is a spell that does this with the casters eyes on page 84 of MoH. It's Eyes From The Wizard Torn it's target Part Mu(In,Re)Co(Im). The In Im is because it lets the character see through the eyes the Re is so they can fly about.

Yup. True :slight_smile: However, I would say that the idea might not deserve such a harsh or realistic treatment; even if reality would force it, it is a good idea, and limiting it in such a way might not be desirable. We create items with gems inside the wood without forcing the magi to roll for finesse. Aw a consequence I would not firce it in thiw case either. The magus is already receiving a flaw for it, so more negative stuff might be too much.

This is what I thought he wanted to do at first. A detached hand is dead (even if preserved). Either works, just differently (and more complex in the case of detaching a living hand which survives to re-attach).

But a hand that is still "alive", just "somewhere else", avoids the need for several of the spell effects listed below - no need to animate it, and no need to include "touch" in the senses used at a distance.

Ultimately, there are several ways to achieve the end result, depending on the exact flavour desired and abilities of the mage.

Mmmm - yes and no.

The "magical item" would have many effects, yes. And many of these would only effect the hand itself, so yes, R:Personal. The problem is that if the item is in the next county, how does the mage activate and control any effect in the item?

The answer is via "Linked Trigger" (p 99, col ii). InMe Base 15 "read surface thoughts", +1 D:Concentration, +4 R:Arcane, +5 levels to maintain that concentration, +1 level for 2x/day (Sunrise/Sunset) = InMe 46. High level, but it's much more powerful than the standard (allowing "concentration" to activate a held item at R:Touch). But it doesn't all have to be done in 1 season, and you get +5 to enchant that into a Talisman, plus any S/M bonuses.

Now the "item" can sense whatever the mage is thinking, 24/7. That all that is necessary for any effect. So any other effect in the item can take "linked trigger" (for +3 levels) and all the mage has to do is Concentrate to activate that effect - done.

The next effect is to allow the mage to use senses thru the item. Again, these have to be R:Arcane (since it's the mage's senses that are being shifted, not the item's), so that's Base = (# senses - let's say 3 - Vision, Hearing, Touch). So that's Base 3, +1 D: Conc, +4 R:Arc, +5 levels item maintains Conc, +2 levels 3x* uses/day, +3 levels Linked Trigger = InIm 30, and the mage's senses of vision, hearing and touch are all connected to the hand as well.*

(* Note - the mage could turn this off, but could only turn it back on # uses/day - that's usually at least at Sunrise and Sunset. If the hand is in a noisy environment, or is being hurt, or is cold, they could cause unwanted distractions, and the mage will not be able to "filter out" those sensations without turning the Concentration off - and then is limited in how many times he can turn it back on. 3 uses/day gives 1 extra "on switch" in such cases, or if the hand runs into some anti-magic effect. More uses/day might be desirable, but that would take it over Level 30 and use "40" worth of room in the item.)

The next obvious effect is to be able to manipulate the hand as a hand should move - and that's now simple. Base 10 (control movements), +0 R: personal, +1 D:Conc, +0 T: Ind, +5 levels Item maintains concentration, +1 level 2x/day, +3 Linked Trigger = ReCo 24.*

(* You could go up to a total of Lvl 30 and not take up any more "room" in the item. There is no canon effect that would be above Base 10, but a SG might(?) allow some other effect to be combined (simple levitation?), or allow an "improved" movement that added speed or strength - "Thing" in the Adamm's Family moved far faster than most hands could "run". :wink: )

To teleport the item depends on how far is desired. I'll offer the lowest "Long-range" option, 1 League: ReCo Base 25, +0 R: Pers, +0 D: Instant, +0 T: Ind, +3 levels Linked, +2 levels 3x uses/day (why not?) = ReCo 30.

Note that the hand is, by this point, just like any other magic item - a wand or staff or ring - so it could shoot fireballs, summon a pack of skeletons, or turn a man into a newt- any effect that you can put into any item, you can put into the hand. Likewise, if you cut off and kill the hand, it's functionally like any other object you might use as a similar magic item - a golden hand, a branch of wood, a dead animal, a crystal ball. The only diff is the Form that allows it to move/etc, and the innate Arcane Connection, and the "fluff" that using one's own hand provides.