Manipulating Hermetic Magic - Fate Control

Hello all, me again with another question on shifting and changing Ars Magica.

Before I actually get to my question I would like to provide a note on why I keep on asking various questions that seem to basically be a wish to break the system and change the entire game's philosophy. I am a GM/ST/SG at heart, I am a storyteller who works best by analyzing certain facets and figuring out ways to twist them into other concepts. Some of my questions have been directly related to something I might want, while other times they are just a "hey is this a nifty thing" sort of concept, which I would never actually implement in a game.

This particular thread is presenting an ability for Hermetic Magic to effect, control, and create 'Fate'. In a mechanical sense I am considering Hermetic Fate to be similar to the Fortunam Art of the Learned Magicians in the Hedge Wizard book. And why the book itself says that this is not directly accurate, I will use the idea that Tueor guidelines are similar to "Rego", Succurro guidelines are like "Creo", and Vulnero guidelines are like "Perdo. With all three arts being related to the category of Fortunam.

Now, I am not interested in creating a sixteenth Hermetic Art, I like the philosphical balance of Five Techniques and Ten Forms, I think its pretty cool and pretty sweet. So, if I was to allow 'Fate Magic' to be a part of Hermetic Theory I am going to try and find a way to fit it in with the various Arts that already exist. Also as a thought, though I am not against story ideas, i am not going to present story seeds, adventure thoughts, or even breakthrough rules for providing fate magic to the Order. This is more of a sort of after the fact point.

My idea is not to have an actual 'Fortunam' Art but rather roll in fate magic into the other ten forms. The concept is that the Art in question is who the target it. So, as a very base example, to do something like "allow a player to re-roll a failed roll" I would use the base Level listed in Tueor Fortunam and I would have it be a Rego Corpus magic, since a mage is part of the Corpus art. Even if I was to have this sort of magic be a breakthrough or whatever I would probably add +1 or +2 magnitude for unnatural activity, but still.

Besides the question of is this even theoretically make sense, I really want to know if such sorts of magics division actually occurs in Hermetic Theory. What I mean is, its not what is being done but its who is being done with it that matters. It would add a bunch of new guidelines, but it adds them to existing Arts. I think it could be kind of cool if modifying and expanding Hermetic Magic in this sort of way was in theme in certain senses to greater Hermetic Magic.

I would really enjoy hearing others opinions on this thought experiment.

Hm. Well, for background info: generally speaking, any magic that discusses fate or destiny will have to answer to the Limit of Time (can't effect things in the past or future), which in turn is likely derived from the Limit of the Divine (only God knows the true fate of Man, I guess)

That's why Prophecy (which is Fate by another Technique - Intelligo, instead of Creo/Rego/Muto/Perdo) is beyond the scope of Hermetic Magic. The best they've got so far is Hermetic Divination (TMRE, pg. 58), which basically says "if everything were to stay as we know it now, what is a reasonable conclusion for the future?"

The other oracular ability that I'm aware of is Infernal - The Serpent's Oracle (RoP:I, pg. 38), which may grant "immediate knowledge of the consequences of one specific action."

EDIT - one way of getting around this, I suppose, is to phrase your alteration/understanding/destruction of Fate in terms of "what do I need to do in order to achieve X?" So rather than saying "I want the fate of my enemy John to be that he dies in his sleep in 3 years", the statement could be "what actions do I need to enact in order to increase the likelihood of John dying in his sleep in 3 years?" At this point, it has nothing to do with fate or destiny. Rather, the magi is using the realm of magic as a sort of Supercomputer, looking through all the possible outcomes, and showing you the one that is most likely to bring you your desired outcome.

Of course, in this particular case, the outcome may simply be "study perdo corpus and create a spell that does that." The magic gives you the most direct answer possible, which likely isn't the one you wanted. At which point the magus realizes an early awareness of GIGO (Garbage in, Garbage Out) - or more in paradigm, "be careful what you ask for".

Targeting is the problem. Fortunam magic relies on affecting the target's surroundings in ways that explicitly break the limit of Arcane Connection. If you had a sufficient breakthrough to get past the targeting problem, you still probably wouldnt be able to make general purpose luck spells without absurdly high requisites. You might, however, be able to make more specific luck spells. For example, you might be able to make a MuMe or ReMe spell that granted luck in social endeavors, or a ReAn spell that added extra dice to animal handling botches. Unfortunately, this is a lot of work for effects that could generally be accomplished more effectively with conventional Hermetic magic, which is probably why nobody has bothered to try to integrate them.

That could very well be why Hermetic Divination doesn't have a FoTe score - it's simply a normal Ability that you roll against, as though you're doing improvisational Intelligo magic, with no Form.

In looking at that, the integration is likely something along the lines of a major virtue that grants the following: "you may perform any type of spontaneous Intelligo magic, using your full Intelligo score, as a simple roll Int+Intelligo roll. However, Penetration still applies, and if you wish to use an associated Form, you must perform hermetic magic normally (ie, normal ritual/formulaic/spontaneous)."

Using those kind of rules, I suppose you could add in additional levels of difficulty for determining (EDIT) a Fate Path; alternately, use requisites. So, if wanted to identify a way of destroying someone's fate, you'd use the standard Divination rules (but using Intelligo instead of the Divination ability), but with a Perdo requisite.

Thanks guys for the comments, I appreciate the thoughts.


Yeah, I definitely can see how the Lesser Limit of Time could effect any sort of magic like this. Especially if it is something that manipulates the future based on actions one take.

Though I cannot help but notice that mechanically most of the powers that the Fortunum Art effects is based on Die Rolls, ability modifers, and the bestowing of virtue and flaws in various kinds. But yeah I definitely see issue with effecting other's in a long term sort of way.

That said, maybe one could consider this like Muto - the magic only exists while it is being sustained, so longer duration spells have higher requisties because one has to in a way fight the essential nature of the target.

As a sideways note, while I understand why the game designers might have restricted time magic, I find that the removal of the ability to at least scry the past to be kind of sad. I think it would be awesome if magic could exist enabling magi to see what has gone on before. Though I could see some sort of mystical dividing line between 'present' and 'past' from a supernatural standpoint.

Actually, as an interesting point that seems obviously but I hadn't thought of, I should look up the various Mystery virtues to see how they implement the various mystical effects that break and bend normal hermetic magic. It would provide a pretty nice starting point to research.


Makes sense. I guess part of my 'problem' is how I seem to mentally downplay the issues related to Arcane Connection, which I think I need to stop doing, lol.

But yeah, targeting and effecting others is something that would need to be worked on.

You mention using conventional Hermetic Magic, but nothing in that magic can provide Virtues or let one reroll, or even provide boosts to abilities. I think its such magic - letting magic actually directly enhance Hermetic activities - that could be a nifty method of magical development.

I guess thinking about it is not really Fate manipulation so much as directly effecting a target's capabilities and abilities. Its doing it in a more limited sense than a lot of other methods but it could have its uses.

Well, all Hermetic magi possess Artes Liberales so they can, theoretically at least, design and use astrological inceptions to foretell the future. That's not really applicable in most cases, but it is 'something' I guess...

Your right, it isnt really affecting fate at all. However, thats exactly how the Fortune line of spells work. They dont actually go back in time and make your opponent forget to tighten down one of the straps on his saddle so that he has a better chance of botching his charge attack, they just unhook the buckle or decay a little piece of leather. Hermetic magic could easily do small effects like that, but it cant react to future events that the caster doesnt know about. For example, Hermetic magic could just turn the saddle into dust (or the horse, or the rider for that mater), but it couldnt cast a spell on a target that will affect the next knight that tries to ride him down. Once you manage to overcome that targeting problem, using this new power to have the tiny and unreliable effects seen in Fortune magic would be kind of a waste of potential.

"Real" fate magic that actually distorts statistical probabilities would probably fall outside the limit of time, and thats one limit that no sane game should try to break.


Such things are highly interesting to me as it represents the 'natural magic' of the world. This is similar to the normal alchemy and then Mythic Alchemy listed in Hedge Magic.

It says that normal people have the ability to provide prophesy, but such actions are random and not entirely under the person's control. Which would be different if an actual Gifted individual was able to have such abilities.


Ahh, I see what you mean and it really is a good point. Its actually a really good representation of the Limit of Time and how such magics and rules work. Very very cool.

I do agree that the time travel aspects and the knowing the future aspects of the Limit of Time are features that I would never allow to be broken. That said, I could totally see magic existing letting one look into the past - though the method might be something like a not-entirely Hermetic ritual, like Wizard Communion and the like.


I guess my main thing is that I really like the idea of letting magic be used to let people reduce botch dice, re-roll a failed roll, same for contested roll, and to enable a 0 to be counted on a 10. I think it would be nifty if Hermetic Magic could make their people better able to perform tasks and actions with lower changes of failure.

In a way this is simply Rego magic (with a Perdo equivalent representing a reduction in such effects), as simply skill can be used to gain these abilities (though the Perdo equivalents would probably have at least an increase in magnitude, it is not as simple to effect the negatives of others). In effect is like how healing magic is something that is innately Creo, but Creo Herbam can heal a plant and Creo Corpus can heal a human body. With a particular virtue - maybe we can call it the Hermetic Arete Virtue - we can create new Rego and Perdo guidelines to do such a thing. Its not so much effecting Fate or the like, rather its affecting one's excellence and capability.

(The only common thing with 'fate' is that mechanically I am copying the ideas for the Fortunam Art as it represents the sort of things using already created guidelines.)

Hmm... what form would fate and luck type spells fall under? If its none, that would mean that magi don't have form resistance against it right? Just their Parma? And nothing at all if their Parma is down?

You could either say that its the Form being targeted - so something that effects the body of the magus might be Corpus. Or you could say that its a form of magic than it would be Vim.

Sounds functionally similar to Coincidental magic from oWoD's Mage: the Ascension line. I usually model that as low-level spont magic with the no hand/no gestures virtues, mixed in with the minor virtue that allows you to perform an ability and cast magic at the same time. (whose name escapes me.) So while a lvl 5 Rego Corpus spell can't teleport you, it certainly can make that Acrobatics roll for you. And because you don't roll for /5 sponts, there's no real magical botching involved. (Or else that's the point of the spell: to prevent an Acrobatics botch.)

The issue with doing that is that it requires a minor virtue for each Ability - which seems a bit expensive, IMO. Of course, that's only required if you want to cast an effect AT THE SAME TIME as you perform an ability, as opposed to casting right before you do it. If you don't mind having people see you wave your arms around and shout in Latin, then no problem.


You make a very interesting and cool point that I hadn't thought of. I really like the idea to use low level basic magic to enhance certain mundane effects. I mean, as you mention, Rego magic can do anything that a normal human can do, and a normal human can have +? to ability rolls, so theoretically such a thing is technically possible with magic. Corpus would effect the physical abilities, Mentem would be used to enhance the mental skills. I really like this and I could see just making it a natural part of Hermetic magic with no extra virtues needed. Or, I could see creating a minor hermetic virtue that enables access to guidelines that provide +1 to I'm not sure maybe +3 or +4 bonus to ability checks.

I really do like the idea behind such basic magics. I think it adds potential without being ungainly and game breaking.

For what it's worth:

tC&tC p157 has this: ReCo base 10 to give +3 to a physical action that's an athletics, ride or swim specialty.
AtD p117 has ReCo base 10 too, to "allow the character to perform minor supernatural feats related to Athletics".

Thing is, these are from Powers, so may not be replicable by Hermetic Magic, although the first one seems much more likely (it's from Mythic Blood, whereas the later is a vampire faerie power)

This is actually an awesome piece of information, and I totally appreciate you providing it for me. It basically shows how Hermetic Magic would theoretically work with such magics - its Rego and then the Form of what is being targeted, so Corpus as its a human body. Even though these are from powers and not technically an actual Hermetic effect, its close enough for me.

It also means that ReMe would probably handle giving bonus to mental actions.

So yeah, thanks for posting this, its a great piece of information. :slight_smile: