Mechanica of Heron: can this be done?

Well, I am not sure about this :slight_smile: However, besides the mention that it must be "a simulacrum of a living creature" I do not see why it can't be a simulacrum of a supernatural living creature. It will gain Might as a result of the process, so it being magical is not necessarily a problem IMO. YMMV, though :slight_smile:

The problem here is that Mechanica of Heron is not really developed to be used "as such" IMO, but only as a rough system designed as a benchmark for you to adapt to Hermetic Magic. So, it has some rough borders. The fact that F&M bonus is not present in the formula for Mechanica, for example (you get the same lab total building an Aeolipipile from brass, rope and driftwood as you do from building it from gold and sapphires (none of those is the best combo, BTW) is an example of this. I was unhappily aware when I designed Belcher and found that Shape and Material did not play much of a part in the formula (only Might total). I do not have the Mystery Cults book, though, so I might be missing some stuff that appears in the Automata chapter for house verditius.


As you say, you may never get the answers you see unless Jeff Kyer happens to swing by and comment, but I like discussing Non-Hermetic stuff with you so here are my thoughts on the matter:

A. Based upon the examples given, as well as my own personal preferences, I would suggest that Mechanica must be constructed in an appropriate form/material combination – if the form is not compatible with the effect then the item cannot be built.

B. I’ve no idea, but reversed integers have plagued Ars Magica formulae before and it does seem strange. Perhaps you could submit the matter to Mr. Chart as errata…

C. Perhaps Nightingale has improved its own Might over the centuries using the Advancement mechanics in RoP: Magic?

D. I’d imagine the Mechanic could choose whatever whichever applicable Material he/she preferred since the increasing the anima’s might in this way raises the Cost and Awakening EF without substantially increasing the item’s power.

Good luck with your investigations into this rare magical lineage, fellow Seeker!

Thanks for the answers

This all derived from the "non-hermetic Order" that Yair posted a few weeks ago. I really liked the idea and am unofficially working on what I think the order would look like in that case. Pity I do not have HoH:MC or RM. In that project the Mechanics are the benchmark I would be using for Verditius, I think (removing some of the limits on what arts and ranges they can use).

A. Form & Shape bonuses. Right. I tend to agree with you. In that case, would you apply F&S bonuses to the formula? (limited to Mechanica level, as usual for hermetics and MT) I would, but that means that mechanics (even weak ones) can achieve some impressive lab totals even when not minmaxed.

Igneus is quite a straw man here, having puissant Mechanica and 5 in philosophiae and artes liberales, but even if he had a 3 in each and a Mechanica of 4 with no puissant, he would be adding quite some impressive lab totals: the F&S bonuses usually can compensate those 4-5 points that he would be losing from being a non-maxed character.

B. Anima Might score. Will have to ask. I find it strange that a massive bear is MUCH more powerful than a small bird. However, the Size and Shape of the bear will allow him to have a lot more powers than the bird, so it might not be strange that he also has a higher might. Food for thought. The Nightingale makes no sense in either case

C. Might of the Nightingale. Might be that the nightingale has improved his might over the centuries, but most of the time he has been living at the palace in Constantinople. That is not what I would call a Magic aura if you ask me... Besides, ROP:M was not out by a far stretch when Ancient Magic was released, so I doubt such mechanic was even thought about.

D. Material for enchantment. I suppose that most Anima will have 3 powers: move, communicate AND resist damage: If their material is expensive (gold, silver...) it also tends to be weak. Not a clear answer, since we only have a single example of an Anima, and retro-engineering the system from a single example that we are not sure is RAW, is complicated.

I guess I will have to check with the line editor. He will probably have no idea at all about what we are talking here, but we can only try :slight_smile:

In any case I find the creation of Anima really easy. Too easy in fact. I t might take a while but it is not a quyestuioin of ability, just time spent enchanting the Anima into shape. The problem with Anima is not the formula, but the cost. A Mechanic of Heron needs to be the cousin of King Midas to ply his trade. Even a fire quencher cart costs 1 pound of silver!!! Let alone the more sophisticated effects listed:

  • Fire quencher cart: 1 pound (4 effect - 3 cart size; minimum 3)
  • Aeolipile: 1.3 pounds (7 effect - 3 size)
  • Thunder maker trumpets: 1 pounds each (4 effect - 3 size; minimum 3). If you need one for each kind of powerful character in the theater, you can invest something like 10 pounds here easily.
  • Nightingale: as written, it would cost 29 pounds of silver to enchant!!!! And that is without taking into consideration the construction cost, that would rise sensibly as well.

The effects that I (well, Igneus) designed:

  • Staff of the Naffatum: 3 pounds (6 for the effect + 3 for easily carried)
  • Flames of Alexandria braziers: 1 pounds (3 for the effect)
  • Ride of Helios ring: 3.6 pounds (5 for effect + 6 for small size)
  • Crown of light: 2.3 pounds (4 + 3 for easily carried ) [we determined it is illegal since it is an Imaginem effect, but hey]
  • Disk of Archimedes: 1.6 pounds ( 11 for the effect - 3 size - 3 additional time to employ) [This is too classic to be illegal!]
  • Belcher (Anima): 6 or 14, depending if you add size or substact it. (medium size (-4); brass, base metal (5); + phil (5) = Might 6 or 14)

As you can see, lose change :laughing:

I can see a Mechanic being extremely frustrated for being unable to ply his trade to its full potential. That, or he needs to have a ready source of massive wealth at his disposal.


No problem.
Those Hyperborean Priests can supply as much Gold , Silver and Gems as needed.
And at no cost in vis!

Edited the cost. Cost is 1/3 of the Mechanica build points, not the full build points. It is still an expensive trade, though.



Well, second assault at this :slight_smile:. Some items I have designed as options for the mechanicians. It is assumed those are old items, so I am talking in past tense (when I remembered that :stuck_out_tongue:).

In the next days I will try to come up with Belcher, the Anima I presented in previous messages. I will post them in Gremlin44's amazing non hermetic thread once the items pass the forum's filter :slight_smile:

Now, let's see if I did my maths right :slight_smile:

1. Lightbringer
POF baton.
Range: Voice. Duration: Momentary. Target: Individual.
A (rather bulky) brass baton with the head of a dragon at one extreme. The dragon head has its mouth open, ruby eyes. The baton is profusely decorated. The baton shots jets of flame using an improved naphtha mix. It deals +15 damage to the target at voice range. After running out of charges, the baton needs to be recharged before it can be used again.. This is a time consuming operation, but not overly complicated. Igneus created this item because his patron demanded him to accompany him in an upcoming military campaign. Being a total toad in close combat, Igneus decided he would need some kind of combat capabilities to survive. The best way to keep enemies at bay is playing with their fear of “the mighty wizard” (and roast them if they get too near). Igneus had to experiment to create this item, and the result is that the results tend to be so spectacular that he attracts the attention of everybody at Voice range each time he uses Lightbringer (minor flaw).
(B10, Mom, voice +2, Ind), (+11) Penetration 22, (+4) 12 uses/day
Magnitude 7. Easily transportable (+3)
(Difficulty level: 24)
(Cost: 8 pounds)

PLAN B: Another possible design for Lightbringer
Lightbringer is a elaborate brass armband that contains a reservoir of Greek fire. A shooting mechanism links the armband to the fingers of the user’s hand. When the string is pulled, an orifice in your armband opens and Lightbringer shots a jet of greek fire at the target, igniting it. Igneus created this item because his patron demanded him to accompany him in an upcoming military campaign. Being a total toad in close combat, Igneus decided he would need some kind of combat capabilities to survive. The best way to keep enemies at bay is playing with their fear of “the mighty wizard” (and roast them if they get too near). Igneus had to experiment to create this item, and the result is that the results tend to be so spectacular that he attracts the attention of everybody at Voice range each time he uses Lightbringer (minor flaw).

Inspiration for the second potential design form of the Lightbringer: Image in SR #3 p.14 (Societas Flambonis)

2. Flames of Alexandria
Braziers of eternal flame without fuel.
Range: Pers. Duration: Sun. Target: Ind.
The Flames of Alexandria are a pair of braziers on a tripod that have an eternal flame without fuel. This is not obvious at first sight, since the height of the tripod means that the braziers are above the eye level of the observer. They illuminate a whole room with a light equivalent to a cloudy day. Igneus built 2 pairs of those braziers, 2 for himself and 2 for his patron (2 seasons in total). A pair of them can be found still working in the council chamber of Castra Solis, but nobody has bothered investigating them. They are just assumed to be Hermetic by casual observers.
CrIg24. (base 4, Sun +2, Room +2, +1 2 uses/day, +3 environmental trigger)
(Difficulty: 15)
(Cost: 5 pounds for the pair)

3. Crown of Light
Aura of Rightful Authority crown.
Range: Touch. Duration: Sun. Target: Room.
The crown of light is a crown that uses mirrors, transparent jewels and reflective gold and silver to project the light of a candle around the wearer in an awe-inspiring display. The wearer appears to shine and appear god-like, and people tend to be willing to follow his lead, assuming him to be their natural superior. The crown also prevents the wearer from moving fast, since the candle and mirror displays need to be moved with care, so he must act regally whether he likes it or not. After each use, the mirrors and jewels become dirty with smoke and need to be cleansed, preventing repeated use of the item. Being designed for awe inspiring entries and processions, this is not a major problem; the effect remains even if the candle is consumed and the light recedes.
(base 4, Touch +1, Sun +2, room +2. 1 use/day)
(Difficulty: 18)
(Cost: 6 pounds)
No books here, so my calculations might be wrong

4. Focus of Helios
Archimede's burning mirror
Range: Touch. Duration: Momentary. Target: Group.
This huge enchanted mirror gather and concentrates the sun's heat into a narrow beam which can be used to ignite distant objects. If the item’ user succeeds on his Aiming roll, the target becomes extremely hot and may ignite flammable objects, like ships. After each use, the mirror needs to be recalibrated and focused again. The Focus of Helios can only be used in clear days, that fortunately are quite common in the Mediterranean.
(Base 10, +1 Touch, +2 Group; +10 unlimited uses/day). -3 Additional time to use, -3 wagon sized
(Difficulty: 15)
(Cost: 5 pounds)

5. Wings of Ikaros
Wings of Soaring Wind
Range: Touch. Duration: Conc. Target: Ind.
A pair of wings made of wax, brass, wood and eagle feathers attached to a rigid leather jerkin. It allows the wearer to fly, even if it is a tiring experience to do so (you need to flap the wings with your arms), and not overly comfortable. The wings have Daedalos’ warning to Ikaros written in the jerkin’s chest, as a reminder to the user about the dangers of hubris. Igneus designed it to accommodate the Lightbringer in a special compartment in the chest to be able to “play dragon” and shot jets of flame to the ground while making low flights. It is extremely vulnerable when doing so, though (risk of crashing and of being shot down), so he tends to avoid doing that. To fly the Wings, the wearer uses Athletics.
(Base 5, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, +2 highly unnatural, +1 Rego req. +5 item maintains concentration. +2 3 uses day)
(Difficulty: 24)
(Cost: 8 pounds)

6. Fireplace of Wonders
Range: Touch. Duration: Conc. Target: Ind.
A big fireplace that can change the color and shape of the flames in it by an ingenious system of wind pipes (lots of them) and powders that can be blown into the steady fire, shaping it in any form the controller (using a series of levers) wants. It is extremely useful to make impressive fire displays and to illustrate moods or stories in the area. It is specially popular with children, and with visitors duringtroupe representations. It tends to be used to tell stories. Given its extreme flexibility it has been used even to draw maps. Without constant maintenance the wind pipes that manipulate the fire become chocked with soot and the item stops working, though.
(Base 4, Touch +1, Conc +1; Item maintains concentration +5). -3 cart size
(Difficulty: 6)
(Cost: 2)

7. Breath of Aeolus
Structure chamber of spring breezes
Range: Touch. Duration: Sun. Target: Structure.
A big face of a blowing titan (Aeolus) set in a wall of the underground area of the patron of Igneus. An ingenious water system behind the statue keeps cooling the air and keeps it cycling, so it does not become stagnant.
(Base 1, Touch +1, Sun +2, Structure +3; 2 uses/day +1, environmental trigger +2). -3 cart size
(Difficulty: 9)
(Cost: 3 pounds)

8. Bathtub of Cleopatra
Using a series of canalizations linked with a boiling cauldron and other canalizations linked with a cold water (or another liquid, like milk) tank, this bathtub regulates the temperature of a big bathtub to a nice warm state. The amount of heat can be regulated by a canalizations system and a few shutters that can be opened or closed from within the tube itself. This was one of the first projects made by Igneus. These bathtubs were fairly popular among the nobility of Alexandria, and the apprentice Mechanicians created a lot of them to practice their art and get easy income and patronage.
(base 3, +1 touch, +2 sun, +1 size) -3 cart Sized
(Difficulty: 6)
(Cost: 2 pounds)

9. Sting of Apollo.
Touch range BOAF
Range: Touch. Duration: Mom. Target: Ind.
The Sting of Helios is a magic item carried by Belcher (read below). He can sting people with his tail, like a scorpion. When he does so (successful attack roll), he introduces an alchemical mix into the blood torrent of the hapless victim. That mix imbalances the humors of the victim heavily towards the choleric humor in a few seconds. The imbalance is so strong that the victim combusts spontaneously. Igneus had to experiment to create this power, and the result is that the victim always raises his arms to the sky and curses Apollo before combusting.
CrIg30 (Base 25, +1 Touch; the humour imbalance is cosmetic). 1 use/day. No penetration
Magnitude 6. Hand sized (+6)
(Difficulty: 24)
(Cost: 8 pounds)


  • a mechanical boat that can swim upriver (Aq)
  • a thermae that can grant living conditions bonuses (Aq)
  • an alarm system that sends the wannabe robber running for his life (Me)
  • A trumpet to rally friends at voice range (Me)
  • Belcher

Belcher (Anima)
NOTE: I considered that the SIZE of the material should be taken into account when calculating Material bonus to Might. So belcher is Might 12, not might 7.
By the time Igneus creates Belcher I assume that his lab total (Int+Mechanica + AL/Phil + Aura) will be 21 (3+(7+2)+6+3)

I will post the design process, since it is easier to understand than posting the final product.
Take in mind that I do NOT have HOH::MC, so I have no idea on how the Automata of the Verditii work.

SEASON 1: Construction
Igneus enters his workshop and sits at his table. He starts drawing his design for a small brass reptile with drake features. The design has a segmented body heavily articulated to be fully flexible, 4 legs and a long sinuous tail. Igneus designs a whole system of strings so that it is fully functional and introduces a small bells and hollows box in the chest of the creature and a small naphtha siphon in its stomach. Both features can be opened for maintenance. The head resembles that of a dragon, with a long snout. After a days designing the creature, he goes to his assistants and talks to the best metalworker in the team. He wants the creature constructed in brass, steel (the claws and teeth) and precious materials. His team sets to work under his supervision, and after a season the design is ready. The process of forge and blending has created a magical container with a Might of 12, but not any particular features except that it radiates magic.

[i]Might= size + size & material + Phil or Artes lib. = -4 + (5x2) + 6 = 12
(Cost: 12 pounds!!!!)

I have used brass as the material. There are bits and pieces of other materials, but most of the drake is made of brass, so I considered it the base material. Other stuff like the precious gems in the eyes, the gold and silver in the connections and the steel claws and teeth have not been taken into account[/i]

SEASON 2-5: Awakening
Now Igneus sets to work on the creature. The product is already magical, but he needs to awaken its inner awareness. Its Anima. Igneus sets to work and enshrines himself in his workshop. His patrons, students and workers are quite curious at what he is doing, since only a few workers are permited into the room, and they talk about constant calibrations on the small toy they constructed. Some people think Igneus has turned mad, but those “in the know” await the results with trepidation. This is going to be Igneus' masterpiece.

Awakening total = 21. Difficulty 12 (9+3)
9+1+1+1 = 4 seasons to Awaken the Anima

SEASON 6: Instill powers (fire breath)
After a whole year in which Igneus has hardly been seen outside his lab, he starts to talk to the drake. According to his helpers, the drake is as unresponsive as ever, and they think he might be crazy. Still, they are paid their wages and keep working for “the madman”. Some of them have The Sight, though, and urge the others to keep working, since they perceive something stirring in the creature.

During this season they work on the siphon mechanism, calibrating it to the desires of Igneus.

At the end of the 6th season of work on the construct, the drake exhales a torrent of flames, and this is celebrated jubilantly in the workshop. It seems it has not been for naught!! After the second torrent of flames, one of the workers nicknames the creature as “Belcher”. The nickname sticks and Belcher is born.

Breath of the Dragon
R: Voice, D: Mom, T: Ind
The jet of flame that belcher can shot causes +5 damage. He can decide to spend 3 charges, and shot a more concentrated shot that causes +10 damage, but he tends to enjoy shooting fire for longer periods. After using this ability, his voice becomes much rougher due to soot until the voice box is cleaned properly.
(Base 4, +2 voice, +2 flexibility; +4 12 uses/day. +1 Penetration 2) +3 size
(Difficulty: 18)
(Cost: 6 pounds)

SEASON 7: Instill powers (movement)
During the seventh season, all workers talk between them AND with the drake, since by know they have figured that it is conscious of its surroundings. They are somewhat careful when approaching it from the fron, though, since it seems to have a mischievous tendency to try to ignite their clothes from afar. During this season they work on the movement mechanisms of the creature. By the end of the season everything seems to be in place, and Igneus performs the final adjustments while the workers wait outside. After a while they see a jet of flame coming down a window, a shout of “Eureka” and a really fast brazen drake shots itself between the startled workers pursuing a fleeing cat. The scene of havoc that follows is something best forgotten since it ended with the kitchen converted into a battleground. It took a while to recapture the drake. The children of Igneus’ patron love the drake. Their cat not so much.

ReTe20; +3 small size
Difficulty: 15

SEASON 8: Instill powers (speech)
It is difficult to control a young Anima drake that shots flame and has just discovered the wonders of running around, scaling walls and hunting pigeons and sparrows (even if he sucks at it and cannot eat his few kills anyway), but Igneus manages to do so. The first thing he does is NOT recharge Belcher’s siphon, so that he cannot shot flames. Belcher is somewhat crestfallen as a consequence, but behaves better, and is given small doses of naphtha for his enjoyment when he behaves. By mid season Belcher is able to emit sounds, and by the end of the season he talks profusely in Greek and Arabic, with a very technical vocabulary (metalworking) and an awful accent. At this point, Igneus takes a break from his 2 years of dedicated attention at belcher and returns to his more normal (and less expensive!!!!) activities of teaching and acting as an advisor for his patron.

Difficulty: ????
I have no idea about what base guideline I should be using here; the nightingale uses Auram for his speech, though.


CrIm sounds best.

Unfortunately it needs to be CrAu. Mechanica can only use the 4 elemental forms and Mentem (don't ask me why such weird art combo), and a maximum range of voice (hence the weird range for the disk to burn ships). It is strange, since there is at least one official Imaginem mechanica (the theater of heron) but hey.

Soooo... it needs to be Auram. There is a sample Anima that uses Auram to talk, so that is also official. :slight_smile: It does not list the level of the effect, though, so this is why I am asking.

No more comments? :slight_smile:


Oh, that's why. Thanks!

My thoughts on the proposed Mechanica

  1. Lightbringer – This item looks fine to me. I personally prefer the first iteration, but this is qualified by the fact that I haven’t seen the illustration referenced and thus might not be able to fully appreciate the idea. In any event, the Arm Band version might be a good application for “Alter Mechanica”, sacrificing Penetration to reduce the Size to “Hand-sized” so that the device will be more concealable.

  2. Flames of Alexandria – The header and level calculation disagree as to whether Target is “Individual” or “Room” (I vote for the latter). It’s not a problem per se, but I am a bit curious why Igneus decided to divide the effect into two braziers (to avoid a “Size” penalty?)

  3. Crown of Light – Assuming that you’re trying to mimic “Aura of Rightful Authority”, the Base parameter should be increased to 5. You’ll also probably have to reduce the crown’s “Size” to a manageable level. I’d humbly recommend adding “Additional Time to employ” to reduce the cost as well – as you say, it won’t be a problem in ceremonial use.

  4. Focus of Helios - I’m still not completely confident that this effect would work as desired, but it doesn’t seem unbalanced or broken though – my confusion stems purely from whether “Heat” would be reflected in the medieval paradigm.

  5. Wings of Ikaros – These seem to work fine. I’m not entirely sure how “Wings of the Soaring Wind” was supposed to work either though so this comment should, perhaps, be taken with a few grains of salt.

  6. Fireplace of Wonders – Seems to work perfectly.

  7. Breath of Aeolus – Because the effect creates wind indoors, +1 magnitude for “Slightly Unnatural” may be warranted for this effect.

  8. Bathtub of Cleopatra – Seems to work perfectly.

  9. Sting of Apollo – Seems to work perfectly.

Other Stuff to do – The boat, alarm and trumpet all seem feasible. I’m less certain about the Thermae, however, since it appears to be a (prohibitted) Corpus effect and because I can't find a guideline to accomplish the proposed effect.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll take a look at the Belcher stuff and get back to you ASAP...

In the absence of any official ruling your interpretation seems reasonable and corresponds to the similar rules used for constructing Animo. The magpie used in the Craft Automata example is interesting, but doesn’t really clarify anything regarding mechanica construction since she’s too small to warrant a Size Multiplier even if they are supposed to be used in the formula.

Season 1: Looks fine. Making mention of the need to build up the creature’s Might should probably be made though even if it does take only a single season for an advanced mechanician such as Igneus.

Seasons 2-5: This part seems OK.

Season 6: This part works fine. The effect itself is very useful.

Season 7: This part seems fine. The little story’s becoming entertaining too!

Season 8: I’m not quite sure either. The example magpie described under Craft Automata uses a Creo Imaginem effect for its songs, but here’s what I’d recommend for lack of anything better.

Feigned Speech
Creo Auram 30
Range: Personal. Duration: Concentration: Target: Individual.
Using a syrinx connected to a series of shuttered vents, this device is able to approximate the various sounds required for human speech.
I’m not sure how well I described it above, but I conceive of this device piping air through a multi-part device resembling a harmonica or panpipe. Thus it doesn’t produce species magically, but instead creates a magical wind that mimics the action of a musical instrument to produce real species.
(Base 2, +1 Concentration, +4 Unnatural; +5 Maintains Concentration; +10 uses per day)
Difficulty: 18, +3 Small
Cost: 7 Mythic Pounds.

Note: As I mentioned above, I tend to err on the side of caution when adjudicating spell guidelines. If you do decide to use this effect you can probably reduce the unnatural modifier to +2 without any difficulty (Level 20, Difficulty 12+3, Cost 5).

Thanks for the feedback :slight_smile:

The little story is there to help me envision what a Mechanician's workshop would look like. I started working on the final results when it struck me that if I had knowledge of Mechanica of Heron I would probably have no idea on how to attack feathers to a wooden frame (or what kind of wood for the frame to use in the first place), or how to create small silver strings to pull brass segments. So expert craftsmen were obviously required. This also caused me to give Igneus a leadership score of 4 (workshop) just to be able to coordinate the team. I imagine a Mechanician would be the master of the workshop, but that the work is done by experts. It is not like he can Muto and Rego stuff to modify themselves like Hermetics do.

The wage of those workers (both skilled and unskilled brute force to construct some stuff) might explain why some of the creations are so expensive. The kitchen scene is actually something that happened in our saga when we were visiting another covenant.

I will edit the above 2 messages with your suggestions. I like the pipe tubes for the talking :slight_smile:

About the comments:

    It is the image of a cloaked Flambeau casting a POF (I guess). He wears an armband that looksto be made of leather. I imagined a quite more bulky armband, but with a similar concept for the "misterious cloaked figure throwing fire". I agree that the first iteration sounds better.

    The only reason there are 2 of them is because it sounded cooler to me. The effect can certainly be created with a single brazier.

    Good points. Will take that into account

    I will leave it as it is then, since it seemed to be kosher enough for other posters as well. This HAS to be possible with Mechanica of Heron. Archimedes was a mechanician by all terms. Leonardo Da Vinci will be (in a few centuries) as well.

    Wings of the soaring wind might be a legacy spell, but works well enough for me as a reference :slight_smile:

    This is just a Structure Chamber of Spring breezes. I simply upped the effect to structure, so I don't think that I should be changing the base effect. Unless we consider CoSB to be wrong according to RAW.


REM - End of the World
Texas - Summer Son
Smashing Pumpkins - 1979

And we keep spinning qround mechanicians. Reading Sundered Eagle and looking at Crete and the hypodrome did no good to change that :mrgreen:

Daedalos (2000 BC aprox.)
Archimedes (287 - 219 BC)
Virgil* (70 - 19 BC)
Heron (10 - 70)
Theon (335 - 405)
Hypatia (355 - 415)
Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 - 1519)

* I know Virgil is not supposed to be a mechanician, but he strikes me as a fairly good mechanician out of his stories in the Virgilian Brotherhoodmore than as a different magic system. Mechanical traps and designs can achieve the same effects than the Virgilian methods in most cases.

Neat list. I've been thinking about the Mechanicians a lot too and have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the "Mechanica of Heron" ability probably represents, but a single facet of Heron's magical knowledge - No other extant traditions are built around a single supernatural ability afterall...

Other appropriate powers I thought might be appropriate included: Mythic Alchemy (preferably the modified version on page 101) and maybe some version of the Arithmetic Magics described in TMRE... Oh and Inventive Genius, of course! :blush:

Mechanica of heron is not a single existant tradition, though. We are talking like it was, but this is not the case in the RAW :slight_smile:

Other traditions based on a single ability are:

  • Canaanite Necromancy (Ancient Magic)
  • (IIRC) the guys from the canary islands only use one ability to cast their ritual magic IIRC
  • It could be argued that Hyperborean Hymnists also use a single ability. You can be a hymnist with a single Chant after all (and be a match for a young hermetic covernant depending on what you decide to take and your access to vis).

Your suggestions are very good, though. I tend to agree that those would give more scope to the character. To be a good mechanician you also need high levels of philosopiae and artes liberales, though (so you would read something like 7 alphabets :laughing: )


You’re correct that the mechanicians are not a contemporary tradition as of 1220 and I suppose I could see magical practices becoming more sophisticated over the centuries, but with the possible exception of the hyperborean hymnists, I don’t feel that the treatments given in Ancient Magic are meant to describe the featured magical traditions in their entirety, but rather to highlight certain eclectic tidbits of lore that hermetic magi might find tantalizing.

  • Canaanite Necromancers: While an impressive ability in its own right, Ancient Magic also describes the necromancers as being capable of binding familiars and producing enchanted items neither of which seems possible with just their namesake virtue.
  • Meceny: In addition to clearly not being a gifted tradition, the meceny would seem to possess a form of Focus Power relating to weather – perhaps granted by ancestral spirits. Alternately, the spirits might be using their powers on the Guam’s behalf.
  • Hyperborean Hymnists: I don’t view the hyperborean magic as being based upon a single ability, but rather eight (Azai, Ceremony, Eloure, Iao, Oai, Pentiterouni, Psyrinpheu and Semesilam) though naturally the ungifted members of the tradition would only know a few.

Ultimately, however, my main reason for wanting to expand the breadth of the mechanician’s magical knowledge is related to their power level. By way of example, let’s examine the Lab Total of a fairly typical beginning Mechanician who has expended no more than 3 minor virtues and 135 xp (75 on Mechanica, 30 on each of AL & Philosophiae) on improving his magical abilities.

Int 4 + Mekanikos 6+2 (includes specialty) + AL 3 + Aura 3 + Inventive Genius 3 = 21
The hermetic equivalent being 21/3x5 = 35th level and in just 1 season, not bad for a beginning character!

Int 4 + Mekanikos 6+2 (includes specialty) + AL 3 + Aura 3 + Inventive Genius 6 + Die 6 = 30
The hermetic equivalent being 30/3x5 = 50th level! Experimentation can really pay off!

Additional magical abilities added to the mechanicians’ repertoire would act as XP sinks, reducing the potential for abuse. Additionally, the new abilities, might allow for the creation of otherwise prohibited items such as Heron’s Theatre. Finally, it might possibly explain why the ancient mechanicians kept Laboratory Texts which would otherwise seem to serve no purpose whatsoever.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with this chap, but he's somewhat of a contempory source for the Saga and some of his wonders are Mechanica under a different name. Maybe the Line of Al Jazari ARE extant Mechanicians

NB they've recently corrected a lot of the info above on this chap, but he is a decent jumping off point for Arabic Mechanicians


Too true about the Cannaanite necromancers :slight_smile:

About the hyperboirean dudes, I thought you had to be gifted to use these, but I might be wrong. In fact I think I am :slight_smile: Still, with a single ability (and ceremony at 1, true) you can work perfectly OK. More powers just increase your abilities, but are not needed there for a complete use of the hyperborean mechanics. Also, take in mind that the 7 names of light is what it remains (what the ghosts know), but it is explitly said that there are hundreds of other abilities that used to exist. A god is a god after all :slight_smile:

Now, on the real subject, the mechie guys:

I just got hold of HOH:MC. I dived straight for the Verditii and their Automata and quality items.

I am utterly unimpressed. I was expecting much more than that. The Augustan brotherhood whipes the floor with the verditii for inspiration any day of the week. The reference in AM to the Automata powers is also highly disappointing, since the guidelines are sketchy at best. It is clear that Automata are not the most elaborate part of the veridtius chapter. :confused: What I noticed both here and in the augustan brotherhood is that size adds to the might of the creature in both cases, so I calculated belcher's might wrongly, and the timing as well. Given the reduction, Belcher is created in a single year, not 2, and should have a might of 7 not 12.

Now, the augustan brotherhood is much better given their animo totals and approach. I will be digging there in the next weeks :slight_smile:

I have to say that your starting mechanician is Archimedes or Leonardo Da Vinci, not an average mechanician :slight_smile: Int 4 and inventive genius is not your everyday total. I always found that inventive genius and good teach should be Major since they are too easy to abuse, but hey. Igneus is a fairly accomplished mechanician by the time he constructs Belcher, and he does so having the lab total of 21 that you use for your starting character. And that includes a magic aura, something you passed over in your sample character :slight_smile: So yes, you can abuse the system if you want to but that breaks suspension of disbelief to me, so I prefer not to :slight_smile:

Other skills/powers that could apply:

  • Alchemy
  • Mechanica applies to normal devices, not Anima
  • Have another ability that only applies to awakened mechanica. Call it The Spark, Animae or stuff that does things. Whatever :slight_smile:

Take in minf that I would say that Mechanicians are mostly teachers, not lab-obsessed crazed lunatics like most PCs. They also have to pay for their mantenance, and their trade is EXPENSIVE. So, their time is likely to be devoted to the classics, AL and philosophiae much more than in Mechanica of Heron. They are also likely to invest some time in Magic Lore and Enriching items. And their philosophiae and Artes Liberales is likely to find them wanting to develop some periapts.

So with:

  • mechanica (normal items)
  • philosophiae (reagents)
  • artes liberales (divinatory stuff)
  • magic lore (enrichment)
    [i]- Alchemy (optional, but fairly standard given the sundered eagle Crete entry; that is a mechanician at work to me :slight_smile:)
  • Animae (optional)[/i]
  • Teaching

It is quite a spread of abilities already, and a very expensive one, so that will require some funding (probably the patron flaw). I would say they can devote 2 seasons maximum per year to their trade. They are not removed from society after all.


Funny, I used to have exactly the same misconception (maybe not a misconception then?), but when I was rereading the rules for my grimoire last year, "Performing the Hymns" page 103 seemed to make it quite clear that characters could be initiated into the required virtues. As for the "lost" names, I took that as mere background fluff, but an alternate interpretation is that the seven beautiful names described in the chapter represent a single facet of hyperborean magic devoted to Apollo Phoebus and that the lost names relate to other Apollo's other aspects or even to different Gods altogether.

You're right again! Perhaps I should have said typical PC mechanician? :laughing: