Original research: Hermetic Viresculture (LoH p70+)

Dear Sodales, Venustus Rusticus, my humble Verditius farmer is working on Herisson's Viresculture. Since he found the garden of Herisson, it will take him a few years only to learn Hermetic Viresculture.
His end goal is not the culture of virtus - although it will cover all the expenses of his future researches. What he would like to grow is a plant that bear fruits (or leaves) that contains a magical effect.

Herisson's chapter described that he was working on a breakthrough to make lesser enchantment in plants, that could multiply later on. What Oleg (Venustus Rusticus) would like to achieve is plant that does not multiply, but grows parts that can be used as single use spell.
Typically, an apple tree giving apples granting Purification of the Festering Wounds (CrCo 20). Oleg's covenant is a Mercere House for old RedCaps, and considering his caring nature, he wants to provide all kinds of services to make the life of the resident more comfortables so he is not looking at the potential "militarisation" of his research (that's for later story seeds).

The way I would see it, to design the enchantment level, take the normal effect and add modifiers for the number of magical fruit the plant will have per year. The enchanted effect should be limited to touch range (either it is consumed and the person eating it benefit of the effect, or it is eventually thrown.
What would be reasonable enchantment modifier to control the number of fruit per year ? Could I take the same table as the frequency use (removing unlimited obviously), or multiply it by 2 ? 3?

The benefit I see from this kind of culture is:

  • that you give a single use magical item, so if it is lost, damaged is limited. It can probably be traded;
  • instead of entrusting a lesser magical item to a grog who will in charge of using it, you can give to several grogs a single use items.
  • you don't have to spent season in a lab.
    The trade off versus a lesser enchanted item is that it is only one uses, whereas a lesser enchanted item can potentially have unlimited uses.

Questions I have: how long can a harvested fruit be kept ? Since it is magical, I would be tempted to say forever... it might lead to abuse, but I haven't explored that yet. Should it be a minor or major breakthrough after being initiated in Viresculture ? Is there a risk it could lead to broken things (here we are entering the area of "it depends on your saga", but I still would like to have people feedback) ? I believe the potential for brokeness can be kept in check by limiting the effect to lesser enchanted item (thus the whole preparation of the plant needs to be completed within one season), combined with adequate modifiers for the number of "servings" per year.

I believe it fits within the Mythic Europe paradigm as plants granting special ability when fruits are consumed is a common trope.
Looking to have your feedback.

I think "plain" Hermetic magic can already achieve what you are looking for.

  1. Make sure you have a fruit tree from which you can harvest fruit leaving the stem on the tree. I'd rule that the stem is an Arcane Connection to the fruit, probably one lasting "Months", say, until the next fruiting season.

  2. Enchant the tree with a R:Arc, T:Group, Unlimited Uses effect that repeatedly cycles through every "arcanely connected" fruit, targeting fruit-and-anyone-eating-it (which I would definitely rule as a well-defined Group) with the magic you want cast on the eater - say, Purification of the Festering Wounds. Remember that if a member of a Group is in range, the whole Group is in range, so if you have an Arcane Connection to a member, you can target the whole Group, so long as it's a Group. Then, whoever is eating the fruit from the tree will be included in the T:Group, and affected (assuming the Form is appropriate, e.g. a mundane squirrel won't be affected by a CrCo spell). The fruit will be targeted too (in fact, will be targeted every few rounds, when its turn comes to pass) but will be unaffected since the magic is of the wrong Form (CrCo vs. CrHe).

Compared to R:Touch, T:Ind you are paying +3 magnitudes for R:Arc, +2 for T:Group, and effectively +2 additional magnitudes for Unlimited uses. Also, the number of rounds one has to nibble a fruit to make sure the magic takes effect is equal to the number of arcanely connected fruits, which limits how many it's worth having "out" at any given time. Not exactly cheap or easy, but it can be pulled off as a Lesser Enchantment (you'd need a CrCo lab total of 110 to complete that Purification of the Festering Wounds in a single season, but that's the kind of thing Verditius magi are good at). You can lower the enchantment level by 3 magnitudes, from R:Arc to R:Touch, by combining it with an Intangible Tunnel, though of course then it's no longer a Lesser Enchantment.

From what I recall of the rules in RoP:M, vis can do this already - that is, if you don't render it down for its magical-enhancing capabilities, many forms of vis already have a single-use spell within them. (or a long-term, low-level enchantement).

EDIT - or is that explicitly stated in LoH? It's been a while since I've perused that book. Anyway...

As such, I think the answer is "if you can get a fruit tree to grow vis, you can already get the fruit to act as one-shot spell items." Serf's parma regarding how long such fruit would last, though - although I would imagine it would last as long as regular herbam vis.

The next question, of course, is "how do you grow a plant such that you can control what the produced spell is?"

That was exactly the purpose of Hérisson after his breakthrough of the Viresculture. In his garden, he has collected very rare magical plants that have magical effect. He was using them for Insight in his second breakthrough that he did not complete. So they can be used to pick up his research were he left.

What my mage would like to achieve is a slight tweak to this research: instead of having the plant acts as a magical item, it is the fruit that would be acting as one use effect. So obviously, I have to follow the path of Original research. Thus my questions were: if you already have Viresculture, what king of breakthrough I am looking at ? Minor or Major. Then the second question, mechanically, how should I "cost" the number of magical fruit a plant will grow per year ?

Hm. My first thought is to say "Minor, because vis already does that. (ie, you can have either an enchanted item or a one-shot spell, depending on the vis type.) You're just looking for ways to grow the vis slightly differently - like changing the soil or where you plant it or how much sun it gets, as with grapes or tea or coffee".

However, in looking at my own metaphor: it's still grapes - you've just made it taste slightly different, and the differences can really only be identified by a connesour (or at least someone experienced with the food item in question.)

So, my next thought is to use the Muto Vim guidelines - the Minor/Intermediate/Major changes, and map them to the different insight requirements:

Minor - make superficial changes to the original vis plant; 15 insight, and can be implemented immediately. The equivalent of changing the soil content/sunlight/water that the plant gets.
Intermediate - change the guideline within the TeFo of the plant, or add/subtract 1 magnitude: 30 insight, and must be done 2x. The equivalent of breeding the plant for desirable traits.
Major - change the TeFo or +/- 2 magnitudes; 45 insight, and must be done 2x. The equivalent of hybridization.

This means that you'd need to have several types of varietals in order to get the different effects you wanted. Now...whether this type of OR/Insight would stack with each other...I'd say probably. So it's a Major Breakthrough for Hybridization, but you can work up through the smaller 2 breakthroughs to get there.

Regarding the game mechanic: my intuition is suggesting that it be based off of the potion/one-shot rules: figure out the minimum Lab total for the spell, and then gain +1 per year for each 5 levels you have left over. Note that this is significantly less game-greaking than the Learned Magicians "Quick-Charge" items, which allow you to charge up an item in a day. However, this is the gift that keeps on giving for the life of the plant, so it's probably a bit better long-term. (Unless, of course - as you mention, the fruit goes bad after a while.)

In terms of how long they would last...I'd say "as long as the fruit naturally lasts - better put it in the fridge." That is, the fruit can be preserved by either natural or magical means. Magical Jam! Magical dried apples! Magical bread! This would suggest that certian plants (such as nut trees) would be more popular than, say, strawberries.

I like this approach. It allows intermediate reward for what would otherwise be a long and dry process.

When you say it need to done x2, is it to integrate it into magic theory so other mages don't need any virtue to use it ?

Yep. So if you wanted to do a full integration, it would be "just" a major (45+45) breakthrough to teach someone else. However, to do it incrementally, it would probably be something like the following:

15 - get the minor, and it's teachable (15 total)
15 - get the intermediate, but as a virtue (30 total)
30 - get the intermediate, and it's teachable (60 total)
15 - get the major, as a virtue (75 total)
15 - get the major, and it's teachable (90 total)

Although now that I think about it a bit more - to keep in theme, a Major change that changed the Form of the enchantment probably wouldn't be achievable under current Hermetic magic, as that would be very close to "making vis do something different than its form lets you." Rather, you'd have to go back and grow a different varietal that uses the new form of Vis...unless someone integrated (say) that Gregori magic that makes Vim/Terram/Aquam all the same, for example.