Non-Hermetic Art Vis

Just an idle curiosity...
There are 15 types of Vis in the world, each corresponding with the 15 Hermetic arts. These are found in places, things and events that have nothing to do with Hermetic magic.

But before Bonisagus's theory was developed and the 15 arts were invented, did those 15 types of Vis already exist waiting to be discovered? Or was pre-existing types of Vis fixed into certain patterns?

A non-Hermetic mage, for example one of the Learned Magicians (HMRE pg 84) has different arts. Would they have access to "Tueor", "Vulnero" and "Succerro" Vis?
Would they just perceive Perdo Vis as Vulnero (I harm) Vis?
What about Arts that have no Hermetic equivalent, like Fortunam Vis?

If it exists, could a Hermetic get hold of a non hermetic form of Vis like Fortunam Vis and use it in a ritual or as a source of study? Or would they not be able to perceive it as usable Vis?


As the rules are written, all vis is aligned with one of the 15 Forms.
One can argue that this is why Bonisagus invented those 15 arts, but in actuality it is because the writers of the game wrote it that way out of convenience back in the day.

For the various types of hedge wizards, like the Learned Magicians, there are typically rules for which types of vis they can use for their own Arts.

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I was wondering something similar recently, but my thought started in another direction.

My basic assumption is that there are only 15 types of vis, indeed. This kind of implies that hermetic magic is the "correct" system. Or at least has the basics correctly defined. But:

For example, at the beginning of the Order Vim was divided in 4, one for each Realm. What about Vim vis? Would you have "faerie Vim vis", "infernal Vim vis" and etc (do not confuse with tainted vis)?

For Learned Magicians the question is a bit easier to answer, because they can use Perdo for Vulnero, Rego as Tueor, Vim as Magicam and Fortunam... I imagine that just as Intellego Vim can reveal information about vis, according to the hermetic framework, Succurro Magicam spells to detect vis would give information in a way that conforms to a Learned Magician understanding of magic (so, if examining a pawn of Perdo, he would probably identify it as Vulnero). But then, to give an example, what does he sees Animal vis as? "Unflavored"? And for Vim, is it really that Vim can be used for Magicam and Fortunam? Or maybe there should be 16 types, but hermetic magic can't distinguish between Magicam and Fortunam?

I understand that Elementalists can distinguish between "elemental vis (fire, earth, water or air)" and "non-elemental vis", and can convert non-elemental to elemental (with a poor conversion rate).

I can't recall much from how other hedge traditions see or perceive vis. But I always wonder why we can't just make it a standard that you can train certain supernatural Abilities using vis. For example, a hedge witch with Entrancement should be able to improve her abilities studying from Rego and/or Mentem vis, and a weather warlock with Whistle Up the Wind should be able to improve it studying Creo or Auram.

But back to the main topic, my vision is that there are "probably" 15 kinds of vis, but each tradition sees these types as appropriate for their tradition. Vis that doesn't conform to the tradition is probably seen as "formless" (whatever this means for that tradition) and is often useless.

You actually do currently by RAW. Vis has both a Realm and an Art. A Magi using Vis from a Realm other than Magi can have some interesting (and possibly very bad) side effects. Faerie is the easiest and often any possible side effects it might have are ignored by most groups.

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That's actually why I said "do not confuse with tainted vis". =9

I was alluding to the fact that, according to Legends of Hermes, initially each of the four realms was dealt with separately by hermetic magic, and the Art of Vim was only unified after Conciatta's research. Reading again the relevant passage of the book it seems that Vim could only deal with the magic realm, not with the other three.

I was wondering if magi at the time detected vim vis as 4 distinct kinds of vis (magic vim, faerie vim, divine vim and infernal vim). Do not confuse with faerie tainted vis, infernal tainted vis, etc (vis from a particular flavor, tainted by a particular realm).

Ah, I got you. It is an interesting thought experiment but not something that has a cannon answer.

Was about to point this out, glad you found it first, but (IIRC) also that before Conciatta the experimental premises they attempted, which mostly failed, were to try to create separate arts for each realm.

With the rules as written, it would seem yes. But keep in mind that it is also a rules convention since it is assumed Hermetic Magic will be the primary focus. Every other magical tradition gets shoehorned in on how they use vis to fit the 15 types already written.

But what if they didn't? What if every magical tradition that used vis was able to identify a pawn as one of their forms or techniques? Like a Learned Magician might find Imaginem vis and identify it as a hard to use subset for Salutem form effects. Or a Gruagach might find Intelligo vis and identify it as something that his Give technique can use to grant Perception based virtues.

Or if the saga is based around non-Hermetic casters, you could use the fact that certain vis seems useless as inspiration in using original research to expand the capabilities of a tradition to encompass what the Magic Realm has clearly shown has purpose.

Or maybe it just lump it all under their interpretation of Vim, since it doesn't interact with their magical tradition in other ways.


My understanding of it is that each tradition has some use for any concentrated supernatural power based on the fact there is a virtue allowing one to see vis, yet there's no mention (afaik) of inert or useless vis in neither hermetic, nor hedge sections.

However, not all of those uses are equal and for a vis that has no favoured ability assigned, tradition only has some way to convert it into usefulness with rates being so abysmal that they don't see regular sources of no-favoured-ability vis as containing any noteworthy quantity of vis-with-favoured-ability.

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It is my understanding that Vis arguably does not have an "Art". It has a certain association, and when viewed through the lens of Hermetic theory/magic, it will seem to conform to a Hermetic Art.

Take for example a pawn of Vis, aspected towards plants/wood.

A Hermetic wizard would see this as Herbam vis.
A Learned wizard might well see it is something else. Especially if it is also aspected with something like fertility or luck (Fortunam anyone?).

Humans tend to understand things it terms they already know and (think they) understand. Magi are human. More or less. Presumably they do too.


That could be a cool way of handling vis, but it is not how it works in the game.
In the game, vis always corresponds to one of the hermetic Techniques or Forms.

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Yeah there's obviously a Doylist vs Watsonian element here.

The Doylist reason is because the creators came up with the concepts of Vis and Arts before the Hedge magic traditions and don't want to needlessly complicate the rules with a million types of Vis.

I'm just exploring the Watsonian reason. which is probably that people perceive Vis differently through the lens of their specific tradition.

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That may well be RAW, however, every supplement book, every tradition, there's always an element of how much do the authors include in RAW? As house rules go, suggesting Learned magician see vis differently to Hermetics seems fine.

I'd think it would definitely show as usable magic. There seems to be obvious overlap, Perdo = Vulnero, but maybe fortunam for Learned Magicians show as Vim or maybe Muto for Hermetics.

I'd argue without knowledge of the Learned Magicians style, Fortunam vis would identify as the relevant hermetic vis. With some levels in Learned Magic lore, it would be an interesting idea now the Hermetic knows the difference, to study a fortunam vis to see how it differs from Vim vis.

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Actually, it kind of is. Try to go through HMRE and/or Rival Magic.
Notice how many traditions can use Vis - and the SG/troupe need to figure out what types of Vis can be used for which Hedge Arts.

This view of Vis is based purely on elements from HMRE, though obviously such was never directly written.

Yes, because the books are always written by someone more used to thinking about Hermetic magic. Because we all are.

As an example, the Storm Wizards in Against the Dark use vis derived from ice high up mountains, and can refine it themselves in magic auras. To quote the "Ice harvesting" section of AtD p130

"Hermetic magi would, of course, identify this magical ice as Auram vis, and from the perspective of Hermetic magic storm wizards seem able to extract Auram vis from mountainous magical auras. In fact, any Auram vis will serve to power the Storm Calling Ability, but a storm wizard would be unlikely to believe a Hermetic magus who made this suggestion".

Rival magic is good for this as well, as the Amazons perceive the vis they can use in a different way, and the Soqotran magi use their magical incense incredibly efficiently but may not realise that other forms of vis exist.


I think that, by canon, Bonisagus correctly identified 18 types of vis. The profound discovery that vis of one Realm can be substitute for vis from another created a major virtue, allowing possessors to collapse all of the Realm Vim Arts into one single Vim. Integration of that discovery in the following years now allows modern magi to learn that single Vim through simple instruction - essentially, they all get the virtue for free.

There were no Realm Vim Arts to start with.
In Bonisagus original theory Vim was only used for manipulating spells and enchantments. Not for anything that was directly part of any of the Realms.

The first advancement was to use Vim for detecting Magical auras, and other effects involving the Magic Realm. For affecting other supernatural beings you had to use whatever Form that being was aligned with. (Herbam for forest faeries, Animal for infernal dogs, etc.)

Then, eventually, Conciatta figured out how to use Vim to manipulate all four supernatural realms.

I'd say that vis always belongs to the Magic Realm, but can be tainted by one of the other realms.

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I am firmly of the opinion that the magic realm is not divided into 15 types and that magical beings do not meaningfully fall into 10 form categories either.

In my opinion treating magic like this is a diegetic feature of the game. That is: we are taught this way of looking at things by the rulebooks for 2 reasons, one in-game, one out-of-game.
In-game we do it because that is how hermetic magi see the world, and being able to talk about the world of the game around gaming table the using language that would not be out of place inside the game is a major feature of ars magica. Thus it is necessary for the players of hermetic magi to perceive the world of the game in the same way as their characters do.
Out of game we do it because it is a useful tool in designing magical characters, vis sources, etc. If the rules said either: "how we perceive reality is subjective and the world has no known underlying rules, do whatever you want" or "hermetic magi have it all wrong here is the true answer" we would have a thoroughly unsatisfying experience with it. The first option because it provides no useful input on what to do and the second one because it provides a specific framework that is the true one and in the process rendering hermetic magic provably wrong within the framework of the game.

stepping out the hermetic framework I think there is a good argument that a magical being could be associated with e.g. luck and thus be definitively a fortunam but not a magicam being, even though a hermetic wizard would perceive this being as a being of "vim". Despite vim not being able to affect chance I might add.

There are many magical beings where it is very hard to definitively say that they belong in one category and not another one.

I recall once reading that to a hermetic magus both Fortunam and Magicam vis appears like vim vis, but that they also appear to be different types of vim vis, without the magus being able to tell what the difference is.
The garden of Herrison explicitly states that a Stirps looks different from other vis of the same Art, but that hermetic magi are unable to tell why it appears different until they have learnt about what a stirps is.

For me this is enough evidence that hermetic magic is not necessarily a reflection of how the magic or mythic europe truly is but rather a pretty good system for understand what the world can do and how to act upon the world in a powerful and effective manner.


So hermetic magi look at a rainbow and say:
Ah, I can clearly perceive 7 colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet

Whilst elsewhere in the world a folk magician might see that the same rainbow has the five colours of red, yellow, green, blue, and purple

Both are imperfect descriptions of the underlying division of the electromagnetic spectrum by refraction of light through water droplets, but both are equally valid interpretations.

A hermetic magi would never come across Vis that they can't recognise, they would just put it into one of the seven buckets they had.

Makes sense.

Although realm Vis is outside of this metaphor.


That is a pretty accurate analogy to my point yes (as a matter of fact the perception of color has been demonstrated to be susceptible to the culture of the perceiver).

Realm vis is outside of the metaphor yes.

In reference to some of the above comments about Conciatta of Bonisagus and her contributions to the art of Vim. It is not true that before Conciatta there were 4 different versions of Vim, one for each realm, neither is it true that Conciatte unified those 4 forms into one. There was only ever one Vim form. Conciatta expanded the scope of the form considerably. The four different forms of Vim was an alternative approach to getting magic to work on the three remaining realms beside the magic (see the sidebar in legends of hermes p. 15).

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