New Breakthroughs: Items with Abilities

Salve Sodalis

I do not remember if in the new edition the are some rules regarding the ability to instill Skills in a magic item, but I think this could be an interesting Major Breakthroughs. Now let me expose my idea!

With this Breakthroughs it is possible to instill in a magic item a Skill owned by its creator. The item is not able to learn and improve this Skill. Furthermore Magi are limited in the entire process by their Score in the instilled Skill. If an user knows the same Skill instilled in the magic item, he does not add the two Scores together but he will use only the highest.

In order to create a magic item with an instilled ability a Magus has to choose the Skill's Score he wants to instill (limited by his own Score in the same Skill) than he has to calculate the cost in Experience Points. A Sword with a Score of 3 in Single Weapons costs 30 EP. A Magus with a Lab Total of 40 could create it in 3 Seasons

Do you like my idea? Any suggestions?

Potential for overpowering certainly, but might be fun to have.

Might want to limit instilled score to half that of the makers score though. And maybe add a Virtue that allows using the full or higher part of the score.

Let me disagree. I do not think its is too powerful because the Score is limited by the owner's Score and the new user uses only the highest Score without adding them together. Furthermore such an item is a greater magic item, not a lesser (so it needs to be opened with the expences of vis).

Added note: A Magus needs the same amount of vis to create the item as the Score he is instilling (ie: Single Weapons 3= 3 pawns of the most rilevant vis, like Terram) Then it is possible that a Magus gains a specific Virtue after he stabilizes the unknow and surpasses the linit!

Could it works with these little modifications?

I'm not worried about Single Weapon 3, but rather

  • Parma Magica 7 (Be safe at night!)
  • Artes Liberales 4, Philosophiae 6 (Ceremonial and ritual casting at its best)
  • Finesse 6, Concentration 8 (Magic made easy!)
  • Leadership 5, Magic Theory 9 (buy our Bonisagus brain crystals, ideal for you and your many, many lab assistants)
  • Enigmatic Wisdom 8 (and our patented Criamon pills!)
  • Latin 5, Profession Scribe 4, Magic Theory 1 (turn your cleaning maid into a professional scribe)
  • Latin 4, Teaching 7 (make the most of anyone's skills)
  • Penetration 6, Ball of Abysmal Fire Mastery 5 (Multiple Casting, Penetration Mastery, Fast Casting, Quick Casting, Still Casting, die! die! die!)
  • Whistle up the wind 7, Nature Lore 9 (You too can play with Ex Miscellanea toys)

I'm exaggerating a bit on the levels, but once your breakthrough spreads, such things will be created in the Order, and traded. You've just short-circuited over half of the game system. Especially with Leadership and Magic Theory, which let you have a much bigger lab total, which let you make bigger skill-granting items, and so on...

I think that there are rules for instilling abilities into Automata in Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults.I do not think that extending them to other devices would be that hard - at most a minor breakthrough, perhaps not even that. From a "game feel" point of view, swords that fight on their own, brooms that clean by themselves, and cooking implements that cook marvelous meals are certainly perfectly in line with the "feel" of mythic Europe.

As for the criticisms of Fruny, keep in mind that these are abilities possessed by the object, not passed to its wielder. So, you could not instill parma, because using parma requires the gift, and an item (or automa) does not have it; nor would a leadership score help in the lab - it's the magus who must lead the research, not his magically enchanted crown etc.

All these are essentially Automata.

That's not what he's implying when he's talking about using the highest of the ability of the user and the ability of the item. Either the user can use the ability because it is "contained" in the item, or he cannot. In that case, Magic Theory is no different from Cooking.

That doesn't preclude sticking "Pointy Hats Of Magic Theory +7" and "Starry Robes of Latin +4" on your apprentices rather than bothering with teaching them for N years until they become useful.

As a bonus, these items stick around forever, so they will accumulate and accumulate and accumulate. You don't even have to train people over and over and over.

You need to go back and reread Metodicus' proposal again. He suggests quite the contrary, that the ability infused into the object would be usable by its wielder at the level of the infused ability (as an alternative to the wielder's own score in that ability).

Thus Fruny's fear is quite valid. Boots of Riding Skill for every magus (or fighting grog, and presto instant cavalry capable of outmaneuvering the King's own).

Spectacles of Second Sight: A great stocking stuffer the Quesitor in your life

Incense of Intrigue: One whiff and you'll win every debate at the next Tribunal meeting.


Especially if the Chinese ever got hold of the manufacturing rights. :wink:

In other words,

Item uses the skill at owner's command = Verditius Automata.
Item uses the skill at its own initiative = Mechanica of Heron with Awakened Anima (although IIRC, they must be taught the ability)
Item grants the skill to the user = Over My Dead Body.

There are two things worth mentioning here though - the first is that even with a lab-text, such a device will still only imbue the crafter's skill. As such, whist they'd be a useful crutch for an apprentice, you'd still need a master to craft them and magic items do get destroyed in lab accidents and the like. I'd expect a dip in overal Magic Theory levels in the order over a hundred years or so, but that'd be followed by a resurgence in both MT and original research as people had records of what was lost. Secondly, such items are definitely prolonged and powerful magical effects and so the warping would be immense. Given the side-effects of prolong shape-changing, the mind-and-body effects of adopting a skill should become evident as Minor flaws granting personality traits at the least. Do you really want your apprentice to become as foul-mouthed as the Tribunal's least favourite Bonisagus?

I quite like the idea, though I agree it does change the setting a bit, and for balance purposes I do think it should be limited to half the crafter's skill. A sword which grants anyone the ability to wield it well, or a blacksmith's hammer which makes wonderous horseshoes are good, mythic items. As for Arcane Abilities (fluffy around the edges as that is becoming), it is already established that gaining such abilities is as much about becoming attuned to the magic as knowledge, as exemplified by the difficulty for an Hermetic magus in learning new supernatural abilities. As such, no item could grant them.

Such an item would also be a good story hook - practising whilst using it would allow a character to train up to the level of the item, for instance, and finding a master swordsman training with the rusted hilt of a gladius dug out of an old Roman ruin in Stonehenge Tribunal could prompt a lot of fun, as well as making for a very cool Companion.

Hmm, you are right. I wonder how I missed that. Oh, well...

The snarky humor with each example is more entertaining than the actual proposal.

You gotta be careful when you propose new things, comrade. Keep in mind your Magi aren't the only ones who get to benefit. Even little things can make a big difference.

Anyway, I think you should have a look at the Items of Quality Mystery Virtue, which are close to what you're looking for, albeit not quite.
In short, you spend a season and a pawn of Vis and you get an item that gains one of its Shape/Material bonuses as a bonus to all rolls with the item in that particular effect and so long as it's used in an appropriate manner. A sword with +4 harm human and animal bodies, for example. A shield with +5 protection might be a handy thing to give your shield grog.
It's limited by the Verdi's Philsophiae score, but any Verdi worth his salt should have a decent one.
Curiously, despite their ease of production, you can only make one at a time.

Rereading all your very useful replies and keeping in my mind Fruny's fear, I notice that this discovery is not so easy as I thought and now I agree with Direwolf75, Jachra and their wise words about game balance

Furthermore I realize that this Breakthrough essentialy is very close the Verditius Inner Mistery Items of Quality (I wrote this reply before reading Jachra's reply). But this Breakthrough could be useful and interesting for the sake of a good story. I am imagining if Verditius Magi discover that Magi from other Houses are able to create items similar to theirs, It could be a very interesting story to tell!

Let me gather all proposals (plus some new):

  • Major Breakthrough (add a New Virtue, maybe Enchant Ability Item)
  • only Martial and General Abilities can be instilled (not all but only bodily ones)
  • Score limited to the half (round up) of its creato
    -a wielder uses only the highest Ability not adding them together (so if he know the same Ability instilled in the item at a higher Score he will use his own Ability Score and not the item's Score)

In any case I realize as already said that this discovery is not so useful as I initially thought.

As a final note let me say that I appreciate very much your beautiful way to discuss in this Forum: intelligent, neutral and mature. In all the italian forum this topic (like many others) would be degenerated in a useless flame! Thank you all (it is not a joke, I am serious) :slight_smile:

I think dispermitting any ability that's supernatural or not wholey physical is a good idea if you want to go ahead with this. Maybe make it possible to produce more than one in a season, but that threatens to utterly eclipse Items of Quality (which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it just forces Items of Quality users to put their efforts into areas you cannot.)

IF it was still limited to 1 per season, I'd recommend dropping the 'half score' part. Who cares if you can outfight the king's cavalry if you need 20 seasons to outfit enough grogs? And even if you had such a force, would it matter in the long run? No more than my covenant's troops, mounted on their Tremere Wyverns. ;D (Dangerous territory, ya know!)
Not to mention, it's predicated on having a magus with a decent score in the ability required!

Wasn't there an example in True Lineages - a covenant with sea-turtle amphibious cavalry? :slight_smile: