Non-ritual magically created experimental philosophy

In Art and Academe there are some rules describing theriacs that can restore fatigue levels. Theriacs are items created in a lab as a seasonal activity using the medicine ability. The neat thing about them is that they aren't magical, they work on (Ars Magica setting) natural principles.

It's pretty likely that any magi exposed to these things would want to magically create a whole truckload of them and thereby skirt the limit of energy.

Now the authors and play-testers of Art and Academe were foresighted enough to include guidance on page 70 of that book for how to do this and they made it reasonably challenging.

In fact while the description of Rego craft magic in Covenants page 49 says (emphasis mine)

In contrast to the covenants text, Art and academe tells us that reproducing the results of experimental philosophy with creo spells explicitly requires a finesse roll. This is reasonable as perhaps roughly right isn't at all close enough for these sorts of concoctions and exploitation of these things could certainly be powerful enough to make games less fun, especially for the players of the mundane scholars.

They also require that the caster have the formula for the creation present or memorized and a unique spell is required for each "recepie". This all seems very reasonable to me.

Yet the Art and Academe rules go on to say when using creo magic "the spell must be a ritual". that seems less defensible. Page 77 of the core book tells us

If you take that text as the governing principle that our caster could create a duration sun theriac with creo magic, then drink it to recover a fatigue level or two until the spell ends. When the sun sets/rises and spell ends the character would lose the fatigue levels that the theriacs had previously granted.

Does this seem more likely to be a matter of an oversight by the authors, perhaps they just intended to remind the reader of the impermanence of non-ritual creo magic. Or do you think their intention was to add yet another restriction on the creation of experimental philosophy materials? (Naturally I'd especially love to hear the thoughts of Matt Ryan or Mark Shirley on this)

More importantly which option do you think would be more fun and why?

Since Finesse rolls for re-creating Formulae are always >9, you'd always need a roll, no?

To me, the restriction "the spell must be a ritual spell" in A&A p.70 box Replicating Formulae with Hermetic Magic resolves two kinds of problems, which otherwise would come up.

No A&A Theriac lasts indefinitely. And many effects of a Theriac, like those to grant bonuses to a recipient's recovery rolls, are one-off effects. Also Rego-crafting Theriacs requires the ingredients, like the gold of the A&A p.77 Tonic of Gold, at hand. So Creo-ing Theriacs with limited spell Durations and without vis is ... smelly.
I can't say, whether the A&A authors saw an abuse in Creo-ing temporary Theriacs and therefore required, that "the spell must be a ritual spell". But certainly they closed loop-holes before these even hit the eye.

Temporarily Creo-ed components of stuff to be ingested can have all kinds of unwanted and dangerous after-effects on the individual partaking in it. ArM5 p.77 Creo (Cr) "I create" just gives food as a simple example - but Theriacs are medicaments, not food.
As "the spell must be a ritual spell" is clearly written, troupes don't need to ponder about such after-effects for Theriacs disappearing in the body after they have affected organs, muscles or bones. There would be no reason, though, why such after-effects would be limited just to the Theriac's main effect stopping: after all, the experimental philosophers who invented the Theriacs did not take Hermetic magi tinkering with their A&A p.69ff Formulae into account.


Used theriac can be considered equivalent to a Moon-duration healing enhancer or food. Once it's used, its effect is done, and its disappearance into ether won't change anything.

So with that said, I personally think that the ritual requirement only applies if you need a reagent to become part of a permanent object. So I don't see why, for example, you can't create the Lapis Minor with Creo and use it to deadulterate gold. On the other hand, cement or alchemical steel might get really messy when the reagent disappears...

I'm not a fan of the idea that items created by non-ritual Creo are less than real, in any sense other than being repelled by magic resistance. I reluctantly accept that food and fatigue restoration elixers are thusly limited through some complex application of the Law of Energy, but I don't want to go further.

Let the Lapis Minor have the effect and let it be permanent, just as a magical fire creates heat and magical poison kills. Trying to figure out how to reverse the effect is too messy. It's not as if using Creo to make reagents is notably more game breaking than using Rego to mix up the same reagents anyway.

That's not the Limit of Energy, that's the Limit of Creation. Anything that isn't permanently created disappears when the duration ends.

I agree that the Lapis Minor's effect is permanent - never said anything to the contrary. On the other hand, if you create cement with Moon duration, then you have a problem when that ends. It has nothing to do with being "less real" and everything to do with the substance you used to bind dirt into stone disappearing into thin air.

No, I'm applying the Limit of Energy in an effort to make the game interpretation of the Limit of Creation make sense.

As per Am5 pg. 77, "Magically created things last for the duration of the spell, but their effects last indefinitely ... Things washed with magically created water stay clean". Use that water to put out a fire and the fire doesn't burst back to life when the duration of the spell expires. A magically created campfire warms those who shelter around it; they don't suddenly drop in body temperature to cancel the accumulated heat when the spell expires. Food is an exception. There used to be a popular opinion that Moon duration food nourished, since it would be metabolized before the spell expired, but the game authors have indicated this is not RAW. Why?

The real explanation is the out-of-game one. The authors don't want Magi feeding all of Europe using simple spells. This is reasonable enough but how to square with an in-game rationale? I suggest as an explanation the Limit of Energy, since creating food leads directly to creating bodily energy, which is forbidden. By extension, creating fatigue restoration medicines is also forbidden, which I think is a beneficial result for the game.

Beyond this, I prefer to consider non-ritual creations to be "real", but temporary and subject to magic resistance. Anything else is complex and arbitrary beyond my preferences for a game. There are other canonical exceptions - AM5 states that "people made drunk with magically created alcohol instantly sober up" immediately after the passage I quote above - but since these don't make sense to me and don't seem necessary to the game I tend to ignore them.

Technically a reagent is a substance that causes a chemical (or alchemical) reaction, not the product of the reaction. The cement reagent is the power that makes the earth gel together, not the resultant material. I agree it seems a little silly for this example or for alchemical steel, but I think that's the literal reading of the reagent rules.

The difference is whether the substance itself is required for an effect. Created water which puts out a fire does not have to stay on a fire for it to stay out- nor does water have to stay in clothes for them to stay clean. If you water a plant however and the water vanishes from inside the plant cells the plant will be in trouble. Similarly medicines (including the herbal varieties) have to be in the body to work.

But Moon duration would solve that.

maybe for water, certainly not for food, for example. Even with water you are bending the borders between medieval and modern paradigms in terms of how long that water is retained by the body. Just because at one point it was decided that moon duration "fixed" the problem in an earlier edition does not mean that the solution was considered acceptable in the current edition. As thing stand anything that must be consumed for enduring effects (unlike, for example, poison, where die, and stay dead) requires vis.

I didn't say it was "acceptable" in the current edition. In fact, I explicitly said it wasn't allowed in 5e. I'm even happy with it; the point about not feeding all of Europe with magic is a good one.

The point was, it doesn't make much sense in-game. I don't think people in the middle ages imagined that food or water stays in the body for a month. We can all observe basic bodily functions.

I don't disagree, but we do need to remember that "observable facts" carried much less weight before the Age of Enlightenment than they do today.

[size=85]Poilitical snark supressed. this is not the place for it.[/size]

sure they observed bodily functions, but that doesn't mean they drew the same conclusions. even from a modern perspective protein that has been absorbed by the body and utilized will cause problems if it disappears a month later. Medieval philosophy was far less imperical and saw the functioning of the body as a balancing of humors- if you add the element of water and then a month later water vanishes the question of whether that is water which has passed through the body or not wouldn't be part of the thought process. A month later you would suddenly be very thirsty.
Of course in theory this could still let you delay dealing with fatigue- create an elixir with month duration, avoid the penalty for being fatigued while casting your next spell then take a nap a month later...

The water affects your humors and then passes through your body. Whether the resulting urine stench vanishes two weeks later or not is unlikely to reset those humors, unless we're an an exceptionally holistic universe.

If we are so holistic, then a person warmed by a Moon-duration campfire should reset to a colder temperature when the spell expires, even weeks later. Metal melted by a hotter magical fire should unmelt. It would be a nightmare to track within a game and would probably lead to all sorts of abuses by players who learn to work the system.

no, because the heat from a fire is not the fire infusing itself into an object. remember this is a world that is not only pre-scientific method but pre-calculus, pre modern medicine or even a modern theory of medicine. The water becomes part of your body, it doesn't "pass through". The fact that your body also leaks water doesn't make it the same water. The same way that the water in the lake is not the water in the stream, even if water from the stream feeds the lake.

I thought the reagents became infused in the material they were altering. I think of it like adding gelatin to water to get jello. If the gelatin ceases to be there suddenly, no more jello.

Do you have a source for this? In the absence of strong evidence that a sizeable proportion of Medieval Europeans actually believed something contrary to our understanding of reality, I'd generally lean towards the current understanding. This is particularly true when it comes to something basic like this. Every child who's peeked at his own poop and seen part of his dinner in there realizes that food passes through the human body.

It could be. It seems to vary when I look at A&A. Cement seems a good candidate for that approach but the Lapis Minor certainly isn't and Alchemical Steel doesn't sound like it either, being described as "a purified form of iron" rather than the alloy we might expect it to be.

Do I have a survey of belief for medieval Europeans? no.
On the other hand this is quite literally the way the bloody rules are written. On the other side of the same observation is that when people stop eating they weaken and die, so obviously something does not just pass through...
and in point of fact after food is absorbed, most of the mass of it is lost through respiration, and similarly water is lost through perspiration and respiration, which are certainly not a part of the medieval paradigm. for all intents and purposes food does become a part of you for far more than a month, if not in the same quantity that you consume.

Fair enough. There's no reason for us to argue about it. We're both in favor of the rule, after all, we just differ as to in-game justifications for it.