Moving near instantly fast vs teleportation

While working through the Fan Grimoire, I had a thought when I came across the first teleport spell. In my saga we allow two different interpretations of the varies "Transport the target instantly" spells.

  • The target is teleported up to the distance. This is only the targets body and talisman without requisites. Pure RAW and the default for all published spells (except maybe 'Gift of the Frog's Leg', though the only Movement Base 10 is the Transport Instantly one).

  • The target moves near-instantly up to the distance. This allows carrying things, but is limited and thus generally covers much less distance. Going around obstacles reduces the total, no getting places you couldn't fit (so no getting through small holes or out of a locked cell). We do allow things like running up walls (things that could not support you) and short leaps, though that uses up more of the distance than straight teleport would. You have to see where you will end up, so no "here is Seven Leagues, have fun" or AC teleports.

As an example, if you are 2 paces from a wall with a ledge 4 paces up, that is 5 paces away for teleport so Base 10 is enough. However with the fast movement version it is 6 paces away (2 to the wall, then 4 up) and so you would end up hanging from the ledge by your hands.

Spells must be designed specifically for one or the other. No selecting at time of casting.

Just wondering if anyone else has used something like this in their Sagas.


Yeah. in short

1)TELEPORTneeds an ac and requisites for things carried (including clothes). botches send you somewhere unintended
2) fastmovement doesn' need these. it may fail if you're shackled, though.

IIIRC, it quite balanced oout

  1. Formulaic Teleport with clothes without casting requisites, and without finess roll thanks to an ancient pact made by the Mercurien cult with the Hermes "God".
  2. Formulaic Teleport with casting requisites & finesse roll to not end-up in a tree or rock. Easier if you know well the place i.e your lab
  3. Ritual Teleport without casting requisites or finesse roll.
  4. Formulaic fast movement, with Concentration unless you just want to travel in a straight line, but travelling is in rounds, and requires perception and finesse rolls. Players don't use it currently but some faeries travel this way.


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I don't like the high-speed travel option, for three reasons, one, for anything but AC, you should be able to see your destination to map the trail you will follow, second, considering the speed of movement, very high Finesse roll should be required, third nearly speed of light does not fit the Medieval paradigm. Too much handwavium.

Moving at a high speed is ok, but maybe the speed of a running horse, or a bird of prey, and finesse roll on each round. At least, that's what I would require from my player if they wanted such option.

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I'd disagree.
I agree it doesn't fit the medieval paradigm. I consider it would fit the mythic europe paradigm. There's enough magic things that can move ridiculously fast, to justify a magi crossing England in a minute, etc.


We allow both too. See TME, p.107 for a related discussion.

In the minor Edda, if I recall correctly, a Norse god has a footrace against Thought itself, and barely loses. So, I think that exceedingly fast (supernatural) travel is perfectly in line with the Medieval paradigm.

As for Finesse and the ability to choose your destination/trajectory "as you go", I think it really depends on what one is trying to accomplish. Literally taking one giant leap across the Mediterranean sea to land on the far shore a few heartbeats later, or from a mountaintop in the Urals to one in the Alps, should not be too difficult. Moving across the streets of a medieval city even "just" at the speed of the fastest winds would require huge levels of Finesse and/or extra magnitudes for Complexity.

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I highly recommend everyone keeping the high-speed travel option, even if not nearly speed-of-light fast nor for long distances. It is used by at least four different canonical spells for very-fast, short-distance travel, iirc.

As for fitting in the Mythic (and medieval) Europe paradigm, why not? It had been debated between finite speeds and infinite speed going back to Empedocles, Aristotle, Euclid, Ptolemy, and Heron. And we Hermetic know magi are aware of those greats. Of note, about 200 years before the game setting Alhazen Ibn al-Haytham and then Abu Rayan al-Biruni argued for a finite speed. In 1267 Roger Bacon published Opus Majus, which also argued for a finite speed partly based on Alhazen's work; while this is after the setting start time, as he'd been strongly influenced by Alhazen, Alhazen's work must have been known in Europe significantly prior to 1267.

High speed movement is in the medieval paradigm, true teleportation is not.

The Church did decide this.

Your saga may vary.

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In any meaningful way,

does not exist. Just like there is no single paradigm of modern physics, or a single paradigm of our current world.

By Aristotelian physics, adopted in Thomism, time and space are continuous. So should be movement. This is also the cosmology of Mythic Europe - and luckily in 1220 it is not yet known to the world.
Anyway, changing places by Hermetic magic never was covered by Aristotle or Thomas, just as many other magical effects.

Hermetic magic is tied to Mythic Europe's cosmology by ArM5 p.79f Limits of Magic. There are further limits of Hermetic magic cleverly written into the rules to keep Mythic Europe working - like: no Hermetic computers or translators, and the limits on Mentem in HoH:S and A&A.

But there is no rule tying Hermetic magic to a general "medieval paradigm".

As far as I know, there are no canoncial spells using the "Transport the target instantly up to XYZ" guidelines that are described as anything but instant transportation. Can you find any? I couldn't. From my perspetive, hermetic magic allows for instant travel, and it allows for controlling a body to accelerate it, but it doesn't allow for extremely high speed near instant travels. I know some creatures have such powers, and so do hedge tradition, but I think this is one of those areas where hermetic magic can be improved on rather than a default option.

Gift of the Frog's Legs (ReCo 15, ArM5 p134) uses an instant transportartion guideline to let the target make big leaps. (See TME p107 for confirmation that it does use such a guideline)

I mentioned this in the OP. It is the only spell I know of that does though.

Seems like errata material to me. I don't see how you can jump 25 feet using a guideline that transports the target instantly up to 5 paces. I find it more likely that they used Base 10 "Control a target's motions" and the error is with TME's interpretation. Or the spell is non-standard, but usually the base book specifies it.

Leap 15 feet vertically or 25 feet horizontally. 15 feet happens to be exactly 5 paces.

Unlikely to be using the "Control a target's motions" guideline since the caster doesn't control the target's motion with that spell - the target remains in control of their motions.

In addition to Gift of the Frog's Legs, which as ErikT points out is explicitly noted in TME to do exactly this, we have

  • Jump of the Lynx (MoH p.124). This is even noted to have been built off of Gift of the Frog's Legs
  • Tossing the Brawling Brute (C-tBC p.75). If you compare this, it uses the same base and the same distances as Gift of the Frog's Legs.
  • Topple the Brutish Band (C-tBC p.75). This is noted to have been built off of Tossing the Brawling Brute, and so also uses the same guideline as Gift of the Frog's Legs.

Since Gift of the Frog's Legs uses the instant transportation guideline and all these use the same guideline, they all do. There may be more effect that do as well.

I do know of an error in one spell where it either needs another +1 for increased speed or to be switched to the instant transportation guidelines for Terram; both of those end up at the same magnitude. I don't know if this was put into the errata, but it was mentioned along with the two variant fixes. Depending on how this would be fixed, it could be a fifth.

Perhaps you're right. Perhaps they wrapped up the instant transport guideline with how long of a running jump someone can expect to make to end up with 25 feet. I'm not sure. I'm not convinced I think such spells make a lot of sense at higher levels though.

If you look at the spell further, if you jump 15' up over a horizontal surface, do you think you just float there forever? Or do you drop 15' for a total of 30'? Similarly, if you teleport 15' up, do you just float there forever, or do you also end up moving 30'? Does this mean we need a bigger guideline to teleport 15' up?

As a rough estimate, if you suddenly move 15' along a jumping path not straight up, you can reach about 25' away. It may not be perfect, but it's close. So this is all extremely consistent.

Edit: Note, 25' is a nice number of feet, but I would have preferred 24' so it would be 8 paces.

I'm having one of those librarian moments when I know where my citation is but can't get to it.

There's a detailed description of the Church's view on how saints moved rapidly to other places in an edition of Fortean times with Nessie on the cover making a shape of the number 500 (or was it 300?). Similarly, demons don't teleport, they move with supernatural swiftness. So much so that when some saints lives say they can teleport what they mean is they can walk through closed doors (literally, tele port).

I remember it because there was a playtesting issue around requisites for teleportation spells Very Long Ago.

Phillip effectively teleports in the Bible (Acts), so the discussion of if he moves instantly or moves through the intervening space rapidly is an old one. The general answer I've seen is that just like Ezekiel, no, he is physically carried through the space by spiritual forces. This was certainly the later view when other saints were pulling the same schtick. You even see it today int the guy who used to teleport a lot in life, Nicholas of Myrna. Does he teleport at Christmas? No, he travels ridiculously fast through the intervening space. Exactly how he does this varies by country ( David Sedaris has a great essay on this) but basically, saints don't teleport. They just move very quickly through space, as do demons. Angels either move swiftly or just project a semblance of their presence.

I'm not saying that banning instant teleportation makes for a better game, but I am saying it's not something that turns up a lot in period stories, and so for theme it may go the way of pockets

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I'm sure David Sedaris's essay can't hold a candle to Linda Harden's. :wink:

Fortean Times, right? "The Church's view"? What about bilocation, then?

There is the plain text from Acts (2.39-40, here NIV):

39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

But how would that miracle "of the Spirit of the Lord" be relevant to Hermetic magic in ArM5? So I would suggest to drop the argument.

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