Maintening slave magi alive without mundane ?

HI there,

For a moment, let's pretend that, for some reason that a group of powerful magi (we call them the conspirationnists as to NOT refer to them as Diedne survivor, because that is not so obvious) have the desire to enslave most other magi they encounter, and turn them into tools for their grand plan. Their mean tool will be something between magical creature, animated magical item, dark faerie and golem, that is called the Shrike. Independant from them, but sharing their goal, he would have been working for centuries, in the shadows. (Maybe he has even started by enslaving them... because you know, Skynet style.)

They (have) develop(ed) powerful items for it:
1° multiple ReMe "enslave" type item with a permanent duration, each of them will be used on ONE particular magus prisoner. This item doesn't penetration since it will be used when the parma magica is down. I'm considering adding a bit of penetration (hitting the +20 for +40 penetration) just to cover the familiar innate might (which would still be active at sunset/sunrise on the magus) and Form mentem. This item allows the Shrike, to control all his "slaves" into doing what he wants... that is mostly : "make me another item"; "Redo that item X that some members of the Order have broken during our last confrontation"; "extract vis for your other enslaved colleaga's", etc.

2° the slaves being prisoners in a remote, inaccessible locations (under the earth, in a cavern which no one know that it exist) where they are teleported by our Shrike at the time he enslaves them. There, there are a lot of laboratories located in a underground inversed tower (think calebais-like). In the central empty column , there is a gigantic (magically floating) diamond, which is a fixed arcane connection to our Shrike. It is the heart of the system. Most of his magical best defenses are not weared by the Shrike, but use that Diamond as AC so that in case of combat, those items can't be destroyed even if the Shrike is put in bad shape.

When the magi do what they asked (see 1°) they create mostly items. Some will just use AC range, with the diamond, other such as offensive items to be used on the foes of the Shrike will have to be "given" to the Shrike. For that, they can teleport such new item if it has to be used by it : a wand of fire per example would be useless at arcane, but using a teleportation spell with the fixed AC, the enslaved magus can have his creation teleported to the Shrike.
Since the Shrike enslave all magi present there, he can use magus B (teleport expert) to gather items made by magi X and Y who are not able to teleport their creation to him.

Let's pretend vis is not a issue: the Shrike having a power to teleport vis he finds (on his enemies' bodies or in the wild) to the diamond, where his enslaved magi can just take it.

I face with 3 issues:
3° those magi need to eat
That's a big problem.

First, if any magical eating with a permanent duration item could be used at the price of unravelling the effect of magical eating in case the item is broken, is possible, i certainly would go that way, because that would make a remarkable dilemn: PCs couldn't be able to "kill" the Shrike, because doing so would destroy the feeding-item, which will kill all the prisoners of the Shrike.

But that brings us to the digestive issue.

I know that magic can't create food from nothing: like all creation from nothing, it requires Vis, or duration.

  • Vis means ritual, meaning not possible by item (unless one of the enslaved prisonner could do that - folk witch or mystery - but that would require more ressources (integration with folk witch, spirit to sustain ritual item? for mystery [i'm no more sure about that mystery thing]).
  • duration means that during the duration "food is real". But obviously that brings two issues:
    i. reccurence of creation of food: one item creating food A with duration X can, with multiple uses, create food B with duration X. If uses are infinite, that can create a lot of food. Correct? But all this food lasts only for duration.
    ii. from which point is the eaten food "transformed" and its disappearance no more an hindrance? after 1 day? 10 days? 30 days? (two first possibilites allow the use of moon. Last is too long and problematic).

Second, if item is not possible, I guess a "enslaving workers" would be good too. (Or maybe better, use one of the enslaved magus to control the flock of grogs so that they do food. That reduces the number of items required: only magi are thus controlled by the Shrike, and one magus is in charge of the grog controlling.) In that way, maybe have that magus, or another, be in charge of vis casting food could work too.

Anyway, before that system could be put in place, a temporary solution would be needed anyway...

4° they need to have material

Obviously teleportation of item encountred by the Shrike would work, but that would be time consuming and he has an Order to eradicate.
He could ask some enslaved magi to create the gathering items, but those magi would need prior material.

Again, ritual magic to create lab content is a possibility, but there is the first step: how to let one magus develop that ritual if he has not material.

Obvisouly the laboratories in their prison will be set up by the conspirationists, so maybe I can use the "initial" package. How long would last an un-maintened with ingredients lab? does Covenants have an answer? i don't remind it.

5° do they need to sleep?
Enslaved, they can work, but I guess at some point their bodies will just go out of energy and they will fall asleep. Since the enslaving power is permanent, it is not a problem, but could the enslaving power remove the need for sleep, at the price of some advanced aging process? do you have any clue on this matter?

Thank you for your ideas!

Food: I beleve the RAW is ambigous. I suggest considering magical food to be non-nourishing - it may create the feeling of nourishment for a while, but ultimately it doesn't help with Deprivation. I you follow this route, then making "magical" food would be impossible. However, if raw vis isn't an issue then this shouldn't be either - just use a momentary CrHe(An) Momentary Ritual to make edible perrmanent food in large quantities, and preserve it with ReHe(An). It would take specialist magi to do it, but it's possible. Alternatively, arrange a mundane means of supplying your magi with food (and water) in return to them selling magical items or casting Ritual spells or whatever, in some (or several!) remote regions of Mythic Europe.

Material: This can be a serious problem, depending on what your magi need. I would suggest simply employing some Venetian merchants that are good at keeping their mouths closed and not asking unnecessary questions.

Sleep: They need sleep. Period.

Food: invent a spell which allows the targets to gain nourishment from dirt, or other local abundant raw materials.
A Creo ritual above is simpler and less creepy.

Or a ReHe(an) spell which allows them to summon (teleport) the food to their location.

Is there a reason, why the enslaved magi themselves shall not find edible mushrooms growing in their labs, to tend them, cook them and eat them?


Considering the volume of raw food any level 20 CrAn or Herbam can do, I believe casting these rituals (a few times for varieties) will be enough to sustain mages for ages.
You will need a magical item to preserve the food (or an enchanted room) and one to cook food (ReHe/An) - I believe there is one in Covenant.
Since mages will be eating the same food over and over, they might develop a profound dislike for this food. Once they are back in their "normal" covenant, there sodales might notice it.

ReTe35 (if using the same guideline as Corpus) allows you to transport instantly to a location you have an Arcane connection. Casting requisit are needed to insure that everything travels. Considering that most item will be Terram and Herbam based, possibly will a little bit of Animalem, it should be possible to have a magical item enchanted for TP. It requires a specialist in TP to reasonably craft it (since you want to include both casting requisits in the item). But once this is done, any henchman of the Shrike can do shopping - even stealing if it is not an issue.

Finally, regarding sleep, it is explicitly stated as a lesser limit that Hermetic magic cannot restore energy.
A few ways to tackle it:

  • Covenant has rules for doing extra hours to get a small bonus on labtot. It includes as well consequences for the magus (penalty on aging check, permanent fatigue level - for the duration of the activity);
  • Witches can brew potions restoring fatigues - however, to cover a full seasons, you would need very large quantity of potions - impractical. Integration is a possibility, but I shy away from this solution, as it looks to much like Deus Ex Machina. If you allows so much leeway with this enemy resources, why bother with playing the game :smiley: . Alternatively, allows integration of it, but it starts to leak into the Order of Hermes and people will be eager to find out who invented it. It could be possible that inconsciouly, a "slave mage" leaked the information (sending a tractatus to a sodales for example), but does not remember doing it so does not take "ownership" for this amazing breakthrough. A Bonisagus PC, or possibly Guernicus find strange that nobody take credit for it and wonder if this new technique is not corrupted.

One Shot, I gues that mostly because in my first idea the Shrike doesn't care about mundane things.
Once the magi are "enslaved", he will order to "eat each day at X am, midday and X pm, sleep during that and that time, and work on projects on the list according your specialities". If food is not provided by a system, it could mean the Shrike would have to manage, and as a construct, he has no understanding of that human need.

He knows humans must do things called "eat" and "sleep" but not really what it means.
Hence the two possibilities:

  1. he has an automatic tool to gather food [acting without him noticing it if possible] and tools
  2. the conspirationnists must have provided a mundane troup.

Reading your comment, I think that havin a sub-routine in the Shrike to enslave one of the magi in the role of "magus catering service" and another (or the same) as "magus logistic service" with some mundane may be the way to go.

For the sleep I understand correctly that it will prevent 100% use of magi (otherwise they will die). Rotating hours of works (team A during day, team B during night) could be better and reduce the number of labs, or increase the number of magi working efficiently each season while using the same number of labs.

Even if the conspirationnists are gathering most of what I understand to be the threats to the Order (the Spider, Pralix after the betrayal of Hariste [not sure of the name], remaining archmagi Diedne, the Infernal ...) [i'm still working on that point, since PCs didn't discover all of this] I'm not willing to give too much "breaking rules" magic to them.

Since we are now in part 0, "the Shrike is free... or so we think" I am still not working under pressure as for "how" all the ideas I have in mind will come to existence in our game.

(Read only if the background of my idea interest you, it's not really relevant for the question I asked)

What is certain is that all started by a Vision that one magus had from the future [the end of the order against an army of demons using magical items, under the orders of "big recurring name"], that he knew that it was a glimpse of the future, and that he knew he was the only one to stop it. He saw that "big recurring name" was overpowerful against humans, making them kneel without exception, and decided that only an artificial being, uncorruptable could stop that vision to happen...

He has sold his idea to the Verditius leader of his covenant under false motives; and the leader, a specialist on the automata and heron's breakthrough, would have let his hubris work at full regime. What better legacy than to see the "Shrike" idea as a mean to protect the Order: indeed, a magical construct would never stop working, hunting enemies, killing them, even if Renounced, without pity nor remorse. The leader's name would have then become the new reference, because the Code of Hermès would never be the same again with a "Shrike" organisations of entities making the Code true in all part of Mythic Europe, without need for magi to ever bother chasing traitors.

Foolish maybe, but altruistic (because that would have saved his sodales lives a lot!) was his ideal to have no more sodales of him die during Marches or during the hunting of demons or dangerous magical creatures. The leader would then make all magi of his covenant part of that idea, each of them working in his special field of expertise.

But distrust between them would have make the Shrike to have 3 protections where only 1 was awaited, and one of them would have played with powers he was quite unaware were given by a not-so-"pure" being.

So the Shrike, thought as a mortal weapon, his "perfect" magical defense (thought: never was it confirmed) flawed (and if it happened, it was totally NOT on purpose in reality!), fixed by the intervention of a suspicious magus about the work of the first magus on the magical defense of the Shrike (because the first magus is a "I'm a magus and the world is all about me and you have to respect rules while I do whatever I want because I'm me" and the second is a "We live in society with the Mundanes we have to protect because we are more powerful, and with power comes responsability) , but unknowingly from all, was then again "fixed" by another magus who would have thought that to prevent the [supposedly] left flaws in the initial "perfect" magical defense, he should have bound a faerie which he would have empowered with vis and vitality (from his future victims who would have been endangering the order of the Order). But that second fixing faerie was maybe not a faerie, and the fixing entity was maybe well under the orders of "big recurring name".

And what gave "big recurring name" the idea to use demons using hermetic magical items in full force against the Order? none other than the Shrike.

Speak about a self fulfilling Vision.

Maybe one day the Shrike will be freed from the control of the minion of "big reccuring name" but until that moment, "big recurring name" does what he does the best from the creation of the order: he works from the shadows. As to be hidden in the shadows, he invests all his power in the Shrike becoming better and deadlier, enslaving and capturing magi who will then be working on (first step) more Shrikes. When that will fail (because the leader was a true genius who did something nobody could do again) he will certainly decide to empower his demonic minions...

(Source Themes: Hyperion from Dan Simmons, Terminator)

I could even speak about the SUmmer versus Winter raging war, in which the PC directly intervened without even knowing the war was raging (by killing Elsa, Queen of Winter and "not molesting her" by letting her vis under the hands of the King of Summer...), which has been used by the "big recurring name" to find powerful allies (the Summer) .

Well it's a themed saga about plots into plots and magi doing great things who backfire because of plots they didn't unravel.

You could solve the food issue more or less by having a "circle of accelerated cycle of life" or something like that, an area set with multiple spells with circle/ring duration/target. Using the guidelines for CrAn and CrHe, you could have an area in which you got cattle and crops reach full maturity in a single day. An aditional ReAn spell would ensure that they breed daily as well, and ReHe would gather the seeds from the plants and plant them again.

Now, I'm not sure if this accelerated growth requires the animals/plants to nurture at an accelerated rate or just as usual (and blame the obvious difference of matter consumption/growth to a flaw in Hermetic theory). Personally, I find more entertaining to require the animals/plants to nurture at an accelerated rate, as this would give more complexity and make the idea more interesting. So add spells to make the animals eat faster and fertilize the crops with their manure and water from a nearby natural source.

And finally, another set of spells that would "gather" the products: milk, eggs, meat, vegetables, fruits and spices; process them into cooked dishes, and relocate them in a dining room where food doesn't spoil and that gets rid of leftovers.

Would that work?