Mechanica of Heron: breakthrough and developing a new Hedge Tradition

Hi Sodales!

In my game I create a Gifted Companion, despite having the Gift she refused to learn Hermetic magic (she had personal problems with authority figures), met a powerful magical being and he taught her the technique of forging and constructing magical items similar to the "Mechanica of Heron" (I use the same rules for simplicity).
It is possible, using the research rules, that this Gifted Companion can expand the functioning of the "Mechanica of Heron", including more hermetic forms and the Intellego technique to supernatural ability, or even create a unified theory, similar to Magic Theory.
I want to see how to do this.
I have another question: can "Mechanica of Heron" use non-hermetic and non-ritual Durations, Targets and Range (limited to +2 magnitude)?
Thank you for your help!

Expanding the scope of Mechanica of Heron would require a separate Breakthough, and so will creating a Mechanica Magic Theory. I believe the rules for this can be found in HoH: TL, in the Bonisagus chapter, as well as in the Hedge Magic book.


And doing the breakthrough to create the magic theory to start with, without having a magic theory to work from, is going to be the harder part of that endeavour.


I read the Hedge Magic book and saw that formulating a (Hedge Magic) Theory has many benefits, what kind of benefits would Mechanica de Heron have?
Add "Mechanica Magic Theory" to the total?
Allow laboratory rules similar to Hermetic Magic?
Upon completing the "Mechanica Magic Theory" would you divide the effects into skills functioning in a similar way to the Techniques and Forms of Hermetic Magic?
Any ideas?


Creating a Mechanican Theory would require 60×2 breakthrough points since you're not using a Theory to do so. It's really unlikely you'll see any significant progress in a Saga -- although it'd be a great font of stories seeking Insight sources!

May I suggest that you instead try to recover Hero's lost work on optics? There's at least one book -- Catoptrica -- as a source of Insight, and any designs or examples of such devices would also be Insight sources. Adding Imaginem to the Forms a Mechanican can use is probably only a Major Breakthrough which... eh, it'll still be rough getting there.

(It's a bit perplexing that Mechanicans can't already use Imaginem effects, since we're told to use the Automaton rules from HoH:MC to instill powers in the automaton's simulacrum, and giving it a voice is... a Creo Imaginem effect.)

Keep in mind that since your Gift hasn't been Opened, you won't use the Twilight rules (or similar ones for other Traditions). Which means no chance of beneficial (or not) effects but mostly that you'll very quickly start accumulating Flaws from Warping. Original Research will be particularly brutal. It might be worthwhile to find someone very skilled to Open your Gift to their tradition to at least use their Twilight-equivalent rules; choose one with good longevity options (e.g., sahir).

Also, you'll want Inventive Genius, Cautious Sorcerer, and probably Wealthy.


That brings a cool idea to mind, what if the order of Solomon had fully developed the work of Heron and the Mechanican Theory. And as usual hermetic mages are playing catch-up.


I love your idea Hyalus, I want start with experimentations and using the Covenant funds (normally prosperous Magi don't care much about money, only Vis).

My main question is: what Mechanica Magic Theory gives to the researcher? I want suggestions about this first...

Am away from books, but Magic Theory has several built-in benefits:

  1. It makes further Breakthroughs easier.
  2. I can see it adding to Lab totals to make Mechanica.

I'd agree on a Mechanica Theory reducing Breakthrough totals needed and adding to Lab Totals. Mechanica is already quite broad and powerful, so I'd be wary of going further than that.

Splitting off Techniques and Forms (presumably Accelerated Arts) would definitely be over-the-top. And probably each such Art would need its own major Breakthrough in addition to the Hermetic-level Breakthrough for the Theory.


I think step one of any attempt to create a Magical Theory is to gain a small Might score so that you don't have to worry yourself over aging or warping. Otherwise it's a multi-generational project, never mind Bonisagus (highly likely there was some higher power intervening, and hermetic magic is outright highly similar to the original magic taught by the Watchers, which probably helped).

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What I think about the effects to Mechanical Magic Theory (or Mechanical Theory, what is better?):

  1. All future Breakthroughs becomes more easy (as Itzhak Even write);

  2. All Breakthrough Points go to the new ability Mechanical Magic Theory (at least 120 XP);

  3. Mechanica of Heron ability is "break" in Arts (I've already thought about how to organize the Forms, however, I haven't yet thought about how to organize the Techniques, I just don't want to be the same as the Hermetic Techniques and Forms):

  • Ygrá (Liquids): Governs the form of all liquid matter.
  • Aeriódis (Gaseous): Governs the form of all gaseous matter, very similar to Aurum, but does not deal with climate and similar aspects.
  • Stereá (Solids): It governs the form of all solid matter, but due to a problem with the "Mechanica of Heron" it only works with elements derived from the earth (stones, metals, glass, earth, sand, etc.), it needs a Minor Break to affect wood ( living or dead) and another for matter that was once alive (bones, without distinction of Animal or Human).
  • Aithérios (Ethereals): It governs everything that exists in ethereal form, what we know today as energy. It works in a similar way to the hermetic form Ignem and some aspects of Aurum, more specifically the part with lightning.
  • Syneídisi (Conscience): Governs the effects that deal with the human mind and consciousness. I still don't know how to differentiate it from the hermetic Mentem form.
  • With new Breakthroughs more forms can added, like Living (to affect living Animals and Humans), Magic (to affect Magic) and Image (similar to Imaginem).

All names come from Greek using Google Translator.

  1. All Techniques are Difficult Arts, all Forms are normal arts. I imagine having three to five techniques, maybe similar to Learned Magician.

  2. The "new" Lab Total of Mechanica of Heron is: Int + Mechanical Magic Theory + Tech + Form + (Lesser between Artes Liberales or Philosophiae) + Aura. Now the Lab Total must be equal or higher than Mechanica Item Level instead higher ((Level / 5, round up) x 3).

Any suggestions???

I do not believe that a breakthrough to develop a Theory ability should also give separate Arts. Those should (each) be separate breakthroughs.

And if you're making up new Arts, they should be different somehow than the Hermetic Arts. They'll need their own Guidelines distinct from the Hermetic Arts. And I'm pretty sure that some of Heron's designs used wood in them.

If you go down this route it could end up very overpowered in comparison. As the rules now stand the ease factors are for adding one (difficult) Ability; this is why it's against ease factors and not effect level. Creating a Theory now adds a second (difficult) Ability -- the capabilities of Mechanicans are significantly improved.

Turning the Mechanica Ability into Arts is effectively adding a third Ability -- and an accelerated one at that. Even if you're now working against the effect level... haven't you just recreated Hermetic enchantments with some quirky rules and a few extra things that can be done?

For this you really need to sort the known Mechanica into categories to group them into Arts, and then assign guidelines for those. Verb-Nouning but in Greek is already the Theban Tribunal thing, anyway.

I am thinking in just "breakdown" the actual effects of Mechanica of Heron, don't creating anything new, just organizing. The normal effects of Mechanica of Heron replicates Creo, Muto, Perdo, Rego, Aquam, Auram, Ignem, Mentem and Terram, my idea is just organize the actual effects in Arts and I think that, studying and establishing Mechanica Magic Theory, would allow us to better organize the effects in specific areas.

Mechanica of Heron don't works using Herbam Form. And I agree with you about this, my ideas is just my first drafts.

I don't think this is very strong, you should consider that, initially, Mechanica of Heron only allows you to make lesser enchanted items and automatons. And Artes Liberales / Philosophiae works in place of Shape & Material bonus, Mechanica of Heron don't receive this bonus, this is similar to Verditius Magic.

I think using in Greek because the Companion comes from Theban Tribunal and her mother is a Maga from the Order of Hermes (more loyal to the family).

Sorry, seems I left out a bit of my thinking in there: if you're now using Int + Theory + Technique + Form + Aura for totals, it's either (1) now too high of a Total to use the ease factors as given for Mechanica, or (2) a limited re-tread of the Hermetic Arts (with One Special Thing) if you just use the Hermetic guidelines for what Mechanica can do.

And the Hermetic guidelines aren't very good at modeling what Heron's Mechanica should be able to do. This is fine when it's just being used as a source of Insight for Hermetic magi. But it will be lacking if someone is using it as an entire magic system. For example, Mechanica should certainly be able to make wooden puppets that dance on their own, or craft an auto-ballista that shoots wooden spears. Just re-naming Terram because Mechanica duplicate "Creo, Muto, Perdo, Rego, Aquam, Auram, Ignem, Mentem, and Terram" doesn't get you there. Mechanica should also be able to launch stone boulders or metal spears or whatever. You probably don't want to add a pseudo-Herbam Art because you don't want the "grow a tree" guidelines, but some of the other Herbam guidelines should be in there.

You're probably better off with Forms of "Solids", "Liquids", "Gasses", "Plasmas"(/Fires). It makes more sense for a mechanism that can pump water to also be able to pump quicksilver. And separate the "make sounds" effects into their own Art -- the Theurge's Trumpet uses Auram which is... okay, but a weird choice when you want to toot a trumpet or have your automaton speak or sing intelligibly.

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Agree, if we are looking at a new magic system, then first off get back to what mechanica are supposed to be able to do. Wipe the slate clean, don’t try and shoehorn in the Hermetic system.

For instance they can:

Change states or temperature of things
Create / change sounds
Create light
Operate tools / weapons
Locate things within a range
Move independently

But the more important aspect is the limitation of what they can’t do. It seems to me that the limitation is around the magic capabilities being around an extension of the theme of the form. For example a mechanica for putting out fire, doesn’t build a building, They’re magic is less about something happening ‘WAVES HANDS” and more about the doing the activity to do the thing.

To be fair in one regard;

Magic Theory or Magic Theory equivalent is the usual means by which a Tradition is able to conduct research and advance. But it is not strictly speaking necessary as a separate new ability. We have some examples of this.

First: Solomonic Magic does not have an actual Theory ability, yet they are able to conduct research and achieve breakthroughs via a different set of experimentation & stabilization rules from the norm.

Second: Ancient Magic appears to run off the assumption that some Traditions had all the knowledge they needed as part of their actual Supernatural Ability itself. For example, a Canaanite Necromancer could assist a researcher for an Insight Check using his Canaanite Necromancy Ability in place of a (Hedge) Magic Theory.

Likewise, we do have some additional precedence in "Magic Theory" equivalents taking on an unusual form. Gruagachan and Trollsynir use a Language as their (Hedge) Magic Theory, and it explicitly provides them with same type of information a Hermetic would get from their own Magic Theory; thus are able to do research and advance.

Mechanica of Heron would be fairly close in example to Canaanite Necromancy. At least to me, it doesn't sound like the sort of magic where you can just fling stuff at the wall until something sticks, its fairly academic in its theme, requiring you to possess Artes & Philosophae in additional the magical processes of the Supernatural Ability itself.

There were actually a set of Artes Mechanicae, for the "vulgar" arts corresponding to the Artes Liberales: vestiaria, agricultura, architectura, militia/venatoria, mercatura, coquinaria, & metallaria. They'd be a good inspiration for a Mechanica Theory similar to these examples.