Minor Magical Focus: The Extinction of the Oracles

In our sagas, a Magical Focus must meet two requirements: it must be sufficiently narrow as per ArM5 core rules (in particular, a Minor Focus must be narrower than a Techinque + Form combination) and it must be something with a clear theme that can be succintly described. The latter condition, which we think is implicit in the ArM5 core rules, is an aesthetic requirement meant to avoid ugly munchkinistic hodgepodges of unrelated things; a few extra words that specify clearly what "borderline" stuff will fall within the focus or not, so as to avoid later disputes, are ok and even encouraged.

A player in my saga cleverly proposed a Minor Focus that I feel is really pushing these limits, though I can't quite say it breaks them. So I am turning to you for opinions. Do you think the following meets the two criteria above?

The Extinction of the Oracles: any Perdo Vim effect that could be enacted by sufficient time passing. This excludes from the focus e.g. the destruction of supernatural effects of indefinite duration, that of most Auras, that of magical items not subject to expiration, and that of ageless supernatural creatures and their Permanent Might (but specifically not of their Temporary Might). Technically (just a little) narrower than the whole Perdo Vim, and with its own (somewhat contrived) theme. Hmm.


I think it is reasonable. Instead of the weird contrived name, I can think of it as a minor focus in Aging. This is legitimate for Corpus, so why not for Vim?



....although temporary might would not be included, since the mere passage of time does not have an effect.

So that might not be what he's looking for.

OTOH, my version could theoretically provide resilience to the ravages of time.


Things my version would allow:

  • Causing ACs to expire, unless permanent

  • Causing spells or magical effects to expire, if they have a duration based specifically on time. This would not affect spells of durations such as Conc, Fire, Perm, Ring, and not spells whose duration seems to be based on time but are actually based on some occurrence in the heavens, such as Sun or Moon or Season. This would also not affect a being that spends temporary Might to sustain a 'permanent' effect, or an enchanted item that does the same, because these are based on Sun. Rules for this should be the same as dispelling something; no new guidelines!

  • Causing a being whose Form is Vim to age, similar to the way PeCo works on people. This would only affect the few Vim beings that aging affects.



This was one of the things that the player was keen on including, and that make sense if you think that temporary might is constantly shed even if not used, and regenerated (like, say, hair). It just "appears" to stay constant.

But yes, you could see it as a focus on "aging the supernatural". I still think it's a bit contrived as a theme. I do not think the name itself is contrived (it's a reference to a famous work by Plutarch).


That makes complete sense to me, in a way that utterly doesn't.

What does make sense to me is that the player wants it.

But there is absolutely nothing in the game that suggests that temporary Might erodes with time. It goes down only when used or taken away, and for most beings replenishes with time.

I suppose this is about where I agree that the player's idea is contrived.

It's contrived in the sense that I expect the name of a focus to describe what it does. This focus is not (specifically) about casting Perdo spells on Oracles. Perhaps I should say "obfuscated" rather than contrived. But I mean both. I haven't heard your player's explanation of how the title is relevant to the effects, but am utterly confident such explanation will support both characterizations.

If a focus cannot get close to the gist of it in its name, so that most people can get the idea, it probably isn't very, um, focused.

So I can have a cool Major Focus in Aging, which includes turning grape juice into wine or fine vinegar or rancid yuck, aging beef or turning into maggots, and so on. It might take some exploration of the theme, but the idea of aging as "throw some time at it, for better or worse" seems pretty tight to me. I can pretty easily decide whether something makes sense. Wine? Sure, that's in theme; it's Rego and requires Finesse, as usual. Growing old and decrepit? Sure. Falling asleep from being awake too long? Maybe, but it feels a bit further from the central theme. Having a plant grow from a seed? Ok. A sword rust? Not if the sword is made of obsidian. Losing a leg? Losing temporary Might? No, because these things do not happen just because of time.

Of course, there are foci that would include stripping temporary Might. This doesn't really sound like one of them.

But if it works for you....



Well ... the fact that it called, you know, Temporary Might :slight_smile:
Really. I do not think it's possible to distinguish by the RAW a "model" where Temporary Might is ... Permanent, until spent, and then gets regenerated (what you are positing) from one where Temporary Might is constantly generated and simply dissipates after a day if not used/harvested (what my player is positing). Though I may be wrong, and I'd be interested in any counterproof.

It's contrived in the sense that I expect the name of a focus to describe what it does. This focus is not (specifically) about casting Perdo spells on Oracles. Perhaps I should say "obfuscated" rather than contrived. But I mean both. I haven't heard your player's explanation of how the title is relevant to the effects, but am utterly confident such explanation will support both characterizations.
Uhm. Well, at our gaming table we all immediately got it from the title (but that's probably because of a common cultural background). The Extinction of the Oracles is a work by Plutarch where (simplifying things a lot) the author observes that the supernatural is fading from the world, and one of the theses posited is that the gods are dying; or more precisely, that the "true gods" may not be dying because they are immortal and eternal and unchanging, but the intermediaries through which they enact their miracles on the world are mortal (albeit long lived) and are dying of old age. So, for us it worked as an evocative, but fairly precise way of saying "the focus covers killing the magic that can be killed by time".


Was waiting for that... :slight_smile:/10

If it's not possible to distinguish, then it is not obviously part of the theme.

But from within the world, an astute and diligent observer of beings with Might would notice that the exercise of supernatural power temporarily depletes their ability to exercise more supernatural power until they have recovered, but that time alone does not. They would notice that this is fundamentally different from human fatigue.

So within the game world, Temporary Might is not temporal at all, except in its recovery. And said observer would notice that time is sufficient for recovery, but not strictly necessary, since there are other ways to recover this capacity. A more accurate name might be Transient Might, or Reservoir of Might.

(A better mechanic could also divorce Might from Temporary Might, and give the latter a name that did not include the word Might. This would clear up various rule ambiguities, and allow the possibility of powerful beings with limited shots. Decoupling Might from build points would also be helpful. But that's a tangent worth its own conversation.)

Someone might then argue that this capacity is 'constantly generated and is constantly dissipated.' But the same argument can be made for everything in existence, thus 'proving' that nothing is eternal. I suppose this might be true in AM, since God is said not only to have created the world but to continually sustain its existence.

At that point, it is easy enough to agree, and therefore ban the focus because it has become exactly equivalent to PeVi.

IIRC, it covers lots of other topics too, but if it made sense for you, that's what counts.

Still, the danger of a title like this lies in the assumption that Plutarch is right, where he is wrong within AM cosmology. The true gods are not true and not gods. They are not dying of old age. They are created so not eternal. Throwing time at most supernatural beings does nothing to them.



I'm probably not explaining my point well enough. I'll try one last time. If I fail, I'll just give up.
There's a baker, and there's one particular loaf of bread he makes that you like.
He never has more than one of those loaves. If you drop by and he has none, he tells you to come the next day.
Perhaps the baker bakes a new loaf every day, and at the end of the day, if he's not sold it, he throws it away.
But perhaps the loaf keeps well, and the baker never throws it away, baking a new one only when the previous day he's sold the old one.
Potentially, the really old one.
I like to think the bread is fresh. You like to think it keeps well. But I don't think we can tell who's right.


I understood exactly what you meant, and responded to that, but not clearly enough! :slight_smile:

Since you cannot tell who is right, and since this logic can be applied to everything in the world that seems permanent, choose to apply it or choose not to apply it.

For example, there's a bird in my yard, and it always looks the same. I never see more than one of these birds. Is this the same bird or is it a completely different bird? I like to think the bird is fresh, recreated every instant faster than you can blink, or coming for the first time to my yard after the previous bird has flown away or been eaten. You like to think it keeps well. But I don't think we can tell who's right.

So, for everything in this class, apply the same logic.

At which point, either the focus is invalid because the bird, bread and magic remain fresh, or the focus is invalid because I have the right to assume that everything that seems fresh but can be replaced has been replaced, bread, bird and magic alike, and therefore the focus is exactly equal to PeVi.

Is the bird example silly? Why is Temporary Might more similar to bread than to a bird? (It's neither a bread nor a bird, but argument by metaphor cuts both ways. Indeed, it is seemingly more enduring than either.) Why is an observer of a bird justified to assume that it is the same bird, but an observer of the bread not justified to assume that if someone didn't take the bread, the bread remains the same loaf?

I'll stop now, noting that you are the OP, professing discomfort with the focus seeming overly contrived.



Ah, I see now what you mean.
Ultimately, it's an issue of deciding the cosmology of the game in ways not clarified by the RAW.
Note that, in principle, birds can behave differently from Might Points (indeed, birds and hair do behave differently).

I think there's a fundamental difference at work.
It's definitely simpler to assume that if there's always one bird, that bird is the same.
But we know that Temporary Might is regenerated when lost (unlike birds). Thus, although assuming constant generation and destruction does entail "more stuff" going on, it is simultaneously simpler than "regeneration on demand" because it does not involve conditional action (IF Temporary Might < Might score, THEN regenerate Might).

All the supernatural beings don't regenerate their temporary Might at the same speed.

Let's ses a poor little midget with 20Might who can only create 5 temporary Might points per day. I do hope he can keep the old temporary Might points. If he cannot, he will starve at 5 if he spends more... So he would be screwed...

And I think that creating temporary Might is not a free processus (maybe spiritually bothering) so a powerful being would do it only if necessary, and hold good old temporary points.

If not, faery life sucks.


You're still missing my point. Our dumpster dive into wacky metaphysics didn't help clarify something that I thought is obvious: The idea that Temporary Might goes away even when not used is something that you are totally making up, and has absolutely no support in the rules which say something very different. Naturally, a focus that's based on this contrivance is going to feel uncomfortable; hence your original post.

I'm throwing in the towel.



[standard disclaimer]it's your saga, do what works for you, et cetera[/standard disclaimer]

I would personally consider Temporary Might to be out of theme. It's just not something that is depleted with time in standard ArM. Yes, you can build a model that works that way if you want, but that's a very.... modern way of thinking about it. It's almost at the level of using differential equations. It doesn't work, it doesn't gel with the setting, not for me anyways, and isn't suggested by the rules or setting material. Temporary Might stays fixed (unless used), so it's not affected by the passage of time.

Now, another interesting case was brought up above, things like Sun duration effects. Are they affected by time, or by the movement of the heavens? It makes Mythic sense to say the latter. I really like that idea. But it kinda robs the focus from it's main shtick. So - I don't know.

Anyways - cool theme, and I agree the name works pretty-well. I would approve it as a Minor Focus, but with the above changes what remains of it is greatly diminished.