On the trisection of the Forms

The Kosmokrator of Beasts has granted to three PC magi dominion over the Animal Form. One was granted dominion over large animals, one over small animals, and one over animals that are neither large nor small. A major magical focus seems about right in scope to cover a third of a Form (33-34%), since by RAW anything less than 50%, and at least 20%, qualifies. As a SG, you have to choose the size below which animals qualify as small, and that above which animals qualify as large, so as to "split" the Animal Form in three parts as fairly as possible for your three players.

This is tricky, in that there are many considerations involved. Larger creatures are rarer; at the same time, a bonus with dragons might be worth more than a bonus with bees (maybe). It's also clear that -- as for all Virtues and Flaws -- the relative value of one focus vs. another is somewhat saga dependent. Just do your best assuming a saga as "average" as you can imagine... or maybe your current saga. Once again, your goal is to choose the "small" and "large" thresholds so as to make the three Virtues as equally valuable as possible.

The above is just a warm-up! In general, this thread is about how to split Forms along a quantitative axis in three "equally valuable" parts for the purpose of a major hermetic focus (or perhaps potent magic). Finding a good axis is part of the problem. Such an axis should:
a) cover the entire Form. Temperature for Ignem does not qualify: Ignem is also e.g. light vs. dark.
b) be meaningful, if potentially a little fuzzy, for game characters. Size for Animal or Beauty for Corpus certainly qualifies. Damage Modifier probably does not.
c) have a clear, quantitative representation in Ars Magica mechanics. Size for Animal or Corpus certainly qualifies. Beauty for Corpus does not, because Presence does not quite capture it.

I'll edit this post listing concisely the proposed axes in the thread, and the proposed splits. You are certainly encouraged to express your view on how to split an axis proposed by someone else. Splitting Forms in this way might not be to anyone's taste; this thread is not about discussing whether you'd allow it in your saga (go here for that) -- it's about coming up with "reasonable" axes as per a) b) c) above, and splitting the Form in three as equitably as possible for the PCs.

Large animals, small animals, animals neither large nor small (ezzelino)
large: size +3 or more; small: size -3 or less (ezzelino)
large: Size+3 or more, possibly less; small, size -3 or less, possibly more (YR7)

Large folk/bodies, small folk, folk neither big nor small (ezzelino):
large: Size +2 or more; Small: size -1 or less (ezzelino)

Old, new, neither new nor old (ezzelino):
old: a score years or older, new: a year or newer (ezzelino)

The greater supernatural, the lesser supernatural, the supernatural-in-between -- basically supernatural "weight": magnitude for mystical effects, might magnitude for Realmed creatures, level for auras, perhaps highest Art/5 or highest supernatural Ability/3 for magicians? (ezzelino)
greater: magnitude 9 or more, lesser: magnitude 3 or less (ezzelino)

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I'm sure I read about this split somewhere before but I can't remember where I saw it, or even if I dreamt it.

Those plants created to help man (Food/Lumber/Medicinal Herbs)
Those plants created a a scourge by God (Poisonous plants)
Those plants that are just there (Weeds/scrub)



That's very neat!
And although it's a bit "off" from what I originally meant, it really matches what I wanted in hindsight.

Now, I guess you can really cover all the Herbam Form with it... but my one issue is: are the three parts more or less equally valuable? It seems that "those plants that are just there" is quite a bit less valuable as a focus than the other two, particularly the first. Very very neat though.

I agree that it is a bit off, and maybe you could split useful plants into edible plants and building materials and just ignore the "it's just there" ones as if nothing else they are useful for fuels.


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As your knowledge of herbalism increases the third group shrinks and the other two grow, aside from plants that are in both of the first two categories (harmfull if used wrong, beneficial if used correctly)
I prefer division by grains and grasses, vines, flowering plants, bushes, trees, and root plants.

I kind of don't like division by size - I see why you're choosing them, and I think you can balance them in the thirds, but I really dislike the thematic feel of 'The middle third'. Major Magical Focus: Kinda Average. The numbers work though.
I would instead go for 'Beasts of the sea, the land, and the sky'. The problem is the beasts of the land feels too useful, since there's major magical foci within that category already.

This division I like for thematics, but it does feel like everyone will want the first one, unless they're trying to be edgy and cool, and will choose the second one. Wood and lumber and food covers more than half of what people WANT to do with Herbam. The only thing they're missing is clothing, which is still inside that field, I suppose.
Trees, bushes, and roots could also be a theoretical split: Woody and tall, middling and shrubby, small and scrubby. the last would include most small garden plants.

Ignem would probably be Fires, Heats, Lights?

Men? Women? Neither (diverse and children)?

And yeah, let's have a debate on sex vs gender and on when exactly a boy becomes man and a girl a woman!

This has more flame war potential than anything I've read on this forum since back when my head was all hairy.

peasant, noble, craftsman, clergy, wife?

Animals are already split into four groups - the Bjornaer will get cranky if you collapse it down to three!

I'd go with beasts of the air, beasts of the waters and beasts of the land for the split, I think. This sort of parallels how Zeus, Poseidon and Hades divvied up things? How worms fit in might be up for debate as all or none?

Phlegmatic, melancholic, choleric, sanguine.

Yep, that's 4 of them.

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James 3:7

For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind.

Quod scripsi, scripsi


I would divide Ignem into Fire, Cold and Light.

I know that the if you were to divide Ignem up among 3 players like that then the person getting light would be less powerful than the other two. That to me is, after some consideration, not as big a problem as it might seem.

Vim I might divide to say that which rules over magic (as in hermetic magic and friends), that which rules over beings and that which rules over static or natural phenomena (auras, regiones, vis, etc).

Aquam I would divide into Salt water, Fresh water and other liquids.

Terram into: stone (including precious stones) and base metals metals and noble metals.

Mentem into Spirits, thoughts and emotions.

As a general remark I will say that all of these divisions are somewhat arbitrary and could probably be remade in an equally valid (or invalid?) way. They also do not divide nicely into equally powerful groups and I think that trying to balance it is an excercise that is doomed to fail, but not one that is necessarily useless to pursue anyway. Balance is however outside of what I am comfortable trying to achieve.

Legends of Hermes, Herisson's Garden. The three tribes are:

  • The Curtilagium (kitchen garden) tribe, who provide nutrition and medicine to men and beasts
  • The Venenarium (poison garden) tribe, created to punish man for original sin
  • The Hortulus (little garden) tribe, which provide tools, raw materials and / or aesthetic pleasure.