Peering Into the Mortal Mind: Thorough Probing & Translating

I have a couple of questions about how the Intellego Mentem spell Peering Into The Mortal Mind works.

The spell description says that you can "thoroughly probe and understand the contents of the mind of the target."

The scenario I have is this: an apprentice has uncovered and reported evidence that basically accuses one of the magi of her covenant of diabolism. The Quaesitor that her parens has summoned to investigate and cast out the diabolist (Iudicium, from Heirs to Merlin, an old and powerful Mentem specialist) plans to cast this spell upon her to ensure that her mind has not been tampered with, that her parens (who is also a Mentem specialist in her own right, but nowhere near as powerful) has not planted false evidence in the apprentice's mind to implicate the diabolist.

Question 1: would this spell allow the Quaesitor to sift through the apprentice's mind and find the evidence for the diabolism, examine it, and determine if it is a "true" memory or something that had been planted or rewritten?

Question 2: Some of what the Quaesitor finds are memories of conversations that the apprentice had in a language that the Quaesitor doesn't speak. Will the Quaesitor be able to understand the conversations, or will he have to cast another spell to "translate" the conversations in his own mind? (My gut tells me that he would understand them, because he's probing and understanding the conversations as the apprentice recalls them, and since the apprentice knows what was said, the Quaesitor would too).

Question 1: Unless a memory has been planted into a mind through a Momentary Creo ritual, it is limited to the duration of the spell that planted it, and that spell will show up as active on the person if investigated with InVi magic, which a quaesitor would most likely do first (detecting active magics is only a base 5, easy enough). So if the parens used a spell like Memory of the Distant Dream, either the spell is still active and therefore quite noticeable, or the memory is gone - at most the target will remember remembering it, and the quaesitor should be able to spot the difference.

If the memory was created with a Momentary Creo ritual, then this becomes more difficult, but the traces of a ritual spell linger a long time. If the quaesitor is good at magic, he can detect them years after the fact (see HoH-TL p.71 and 74; InVi base 15 will detect them up to one year after the fact, add a magnitude per extra year).

If the quaesitor cannot or does not use InVi to check the apprentice for magic, he might still discover the memory as false by pitting his Intelligence + Folk Ken versus the Intelligence + Finesse of the creator, to spot discrepancies. Or this might also be a good use of the Acute Sense spell mastery (HoH-TL p.71), a specialty of quaesitors.

Question 2: The quaesitor will be able to understand the conversation, because that understanding is part of the memory he is probing (since the apprentice understood them in the first place).

But casting that spell is scrying, and the quaesitor should have serious presumptions of a breaching of the code (and not only a minor) to dare try it. If he has solid presumptions, he may probe. But see the example spells of in HOHTL (which peer metals and stones) to see an actual example of how this process go, then you may adapt it to humans. (BTW, I always have figured strange that in momentary, you get the ful content of a mind, and I usually impose a duration for the spell to effectively work; otherwise you have to recast it since momentary only covers 6 seconds of probing).

Possibly, or not at all, depending how the Quaesitors in that Saga work. If a Q has the right to probe (parallel to "probable cause" for police searches), then it's kosher. If a Q cannot scry on a mage any more than any other member of the Order, then I'm not sure how they use magic to uncover Code Breakers - even casting spells on mundanes would be a breach. There is most likely(?) far more latitude for Q's to do this while pursuing the truth of an accusation.

That's is how the InMe Guidelines progress, RAW. If the Level 25 effect is to "Learn all the information you wish", then that's what it does, bam!

What it does not do is allow a mage to then wish for additional information based on the information they just received - the spell is over, please try again later, kk thx. So a Q can answer a laundry list of unrelated questions with one casting based on suspiciouns, hunches and experience, but cannot, in that same casting, pursue any information or thoughts that they did not expect or specifiy. Subsequent castings could do that (one step at a time), but a duration of "Diameter"* makes InMe spells far more flexible.

(* Diam is far superior to Conc imo, as the questioner is often distracted during this process, with personally considering and often reacting to the information, and often sharing it with others and consulting on what questions to pursue next, or casting another of their many Intellego spells to further understand the mind of the suspect.)

Possibly, but only if the implanted memory were contradictory in nature to something else found, and the Q noticed that contrary evidence. So, if the apprentice "remembered" (falsely/magically) committing the crime, but also remembered (legitimately) feeding the master's familiar at that same time, this would be a clue to the probing Q that something was amiss. The obvious problem is that while the spell allows instantaneous probing, it does not guarantee complete and perfect comprehension for the prober - that is, stuff can be missed if you aren't looking for it.

But there is nothing in InMe that identifies magic, so that's not a distinction these spells can make (not without a Vi req, at least).

However, as EK points out, Q's are not fools, nor are they unaware of these possibilities, and a veteran will have many, many additional spells to avoid being duped in just such a way. InMe spells that seek emotions and motivations, InVi spells appropriate to each of the Realms, InVi that detect X* "further information*" on an effect, and then other spells for Y* and Z* information and back thru the entire alphabet of variations, as needed. Some will tell if a spell was Hermetic (or of any other magic that the caster if "familiar with"), and those can be a big help, but there are other details that can be equally important - sigil, details of Tech and Form, etc etc.

(* "Further increases in level will yield further information..." (p 158, end par ii). Rather than have a massive Level 10 spell, Q's are more likely to have multiple level 6's - or whatever. And unless they are archmagi Quaesitores, their spell list will probably cover the basics and then specialize on one area, so they can cover that sort of challenge completely - general deceipt, demons, fae, missing magi, talking with the dead, etc., since there are just sooooo many possibilities. Imo, anyway.)

(Note that, depending on what the situation was and whether a permanent mind-wipe solves the problem for the guilty party (or adequately frames an innocent party), a PeMe spell to erase memories might not be noticed, as it may be small magnitude when cast, momentary, and the damage is done.)

If the apprentice understood them, then the Q will understand the meaning. If, however, the apprentice heard the words but did not understand them, the Q is out of luck. If the apprentice heard and remembers but did not understand them, then they are open to translation by any means the Q can muster.

However, it is not (RAW) possible to translate words themselves with a spell - a mage can InMe the speaker (just hearing the words is "sensing" the speaker), or they can InMe someone who is listening and does understand those words, but they cannot cast, for instance, a MuIm or InIm or InMe spell on the words themselves (or the non-comprehended memory of words) and change them into something understandable - without knowing what to change them to, they have no basis for the final product. True translation is a bit of a bitch under Hermetic Theory.

Well, that's why there is investigation and forfeit immunity. But there is also "lost of quaesitor power", a punishment for abuse of such investigation powers.

Thus, yes, Quaesitors may indeed scry more easily than anyone. But with great powers come great responsabilities and you may want to reread the fate of the quaesitor who, after he abused unwillingly of his powers, prefered to give up his title rather than to be deprived of it by his primus.

Just as an aside , isn't the apprentice property of his/her parens and not a legal hermetic entity , pre-gauntlet?
Said parens is responsible for any actions taken by the apprentice ; won't they be guilty of scrying?

not if the apprentice didn't use magic to get the information.

Regarding the Quaesitor/Scrying issue.

Quaesitors have some latitude to use scrying magic to look for crimes, as long as they don't abuse it (so if they discover any unrelated activity, they must keep it strictly secret). And if they do find evidence of a crime, then the criminal has forfeited his immunity to scrying regarding that crime and they can use the evidence.

Also, an apprentice is not a mage and not under the protection of the Oath, which means any mage can scry on him as much as you want, as long as he is not using said scrying to peer into the actions of an actual mage, as witnessed by said apprentice. At most you need the permission of his parens, and in the described situation the parens is the one who actually called in the quaesitor, so I think permission will be forthcoming.

The issue above was whether the quaesitor can legally do the scrying, and how much evidence/suspicion they need before doing so without breach of the Code. Possibly it would depend on the alleged crime itself, and practically speaking politics are involved - more powerful or respected suspects would invite harder evidence and less personal accusation or mere circumstance.

But you are correct in that the Parens would be legally responsible for any crime of their apprentice. (Not sure if the Order would then draw a distinction between "guilt" and "responsibility" here - the end result is much the same for most intents and purposes.)

This may be a narrow hair to split in the opinion of the Parens, but it is a valid distinction - in theory, at least*. The sort of thing that may become subject to a matter of opinion in a Tribunal...

(* The same as scrying to see where a horse has been lately, which becomes a violation if the horse was being ridden by a mage or one of their agents at the time. )

The others have addressed the memory in another language and specifics for checking the memory, I thought I would address the scrying.

First off, a mage and his/her direct servants can not be scried with InMe spells without their permission (HoH: TL p62). That said, the apprentices Paren is the one that called the quaesitor so would very likely give permission to limited forms of scrying such as frosty breath of spoken lie and similiar. That said, posing the silent question would be better spell than probe the mortal mind because the latter means that all the magical secrets of the master that the apprentice worked on are compromised and Queasitor can be held as guilty in that case.

Most tribunals would be very supportive of a mage that rightfully called in the queasitors and then had the queasitor steal their magical secrets or learn them when they aren't against code. The Queasitor probably should first make sure there are no active spells (dispelling any there are and then get a frosty breath testimony and then go investigate the actual diabolist.

I ran a mage that... well, had "secrets". Not a committed Code-breaker, just an amateur scofflaw - but it gives an example of passive* effects that a Quaesitor might encounter.

(* as opposed to Mentem effects actively cast directly upon the Q to manipulate them, their memories and direction of investigation.)

This mage simply used the following...

o CrVi - Shell of Opaque Mysteries - not me
o MuVi - Shroud Magic - not my sigil

Both of these could be moderately large with a Range:Personal

o PeMe - that destroyed memories, but not permanently - only with a duration of Moon. (This created some interesting reactions when the spell ran out and the caster suddenly "remembered" what he had magically forced himself to forget...)

Plus solid scores in Charm, Etiquette, Guile and Intrigue, as well as Artes Liberales (debate), Code of Hermes and Org Lore: Order; fast-talking and schmoozing never leave magical residues...

That last effect was admittedly exceedingly dangerous, and was Mastered to avoid botches, which, with PeMe, might either prevent the caster/target (one and the same) to either permanently forget the information, or never be able to re-learn it or something connected to it - perhaps an Ability, perhaps a Spell, perhaps almost anything. Or worse, depending on the SG's mood and the scale of the botch. :cry:

And those are just a few of the possible effects - this mage wasn't trying to overthrow the Order (well, not exactly), just had a Dark Secret and was serious about it keeping it.

How come?

Emotions are natural and need a duration. Destroying memories is like destroying earth. A duration will just prevent earth to fill the gap, it won't make the earth come back (unless you have harmless magic).

The idea was that memories are observed to be naturally subject to temporary loss, ala drunkenness, amnesia or (mild) senility. Perdo seems the best Technique to temporarily simulate this natural effect.

But if that doesn't fly for your Saga, then a MuMe effect that changes one extended memory (or series of memories) into another, a seemingly insignificant and unrelated one. Memories of a meeting of a secret cabal become the memory of eating a plate of cheese, or memories of planning the murder of a mage become memories of a thunderstorm. (Arguably better if the emotions of the new memory fit the old memory itself - Quaesitores can be crafty that way.)

Hm. So, if I'm reading the room right, it seems like the Quaesitor casting Peering Into the Mortal Mind upon the apprentice, even with the mater's permission, would not be the most prudent of decisions.

Perhaps the mater, upon being informed by her apprentice that Magus X is a diabolist, would perform the spell herself to ensure that the apprentice is interpreting her observations correctly and that the Magus is indeed what the apprentice claims. She would then summon the Quaesitor and apprise him of her findings. The Q would, in turn, cast various InVi type spells to ensure that the apprentice is not under any kind of magical manipulations and then question her about the charges, perhaps using combinations of Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie and something akin to The Penitent's Confession to get at the truth. Does this sound more reasonable?

And if Magus X is marched, be sure that the apprentice, who will have been gauntleted by then, is available for testimony at the next Tribunal to validate the Marching of Magus X?

A decent Quaesitor with a good mentem score and focus in Folk Ken could probably use InVi magics to confirm the suspect isn't under any magical influences then go ahead and just ask. Perception + Folk Ken + Mentem Form Bonus will probably be quite effective, and the Q. isn't in any danger of breaching the Code.

When your mundane lie-detection is at stress+12, spells like Frosty Breath are just for show. On average you'd be a better lie detector than Frosty Breath anyway.

Putimng your mundane nose in the stuff of magi can carry problems for you as well. Be careful not to sniff too much.


I wouldn't use form bonus in such way. They are specifically said for soak rolls.

But yes, the better quaesitor are those who can find a major criminal without any spell. Awareness, intrigue, folk ken, charm, guile, bargain, leadership, prof: actor, prof: torturer (for the more scary one ^^) are your friend abilities

Resistance, not soak. You don't soak deprivation rolls, but air deprivation is resisted as part of the auram form bonus. You don't soak diseases, but these are examples for corpus.
Mentem's form bonus lists 'rolls to resist deception, temptation or persuasion.' Core rulebook, can't remember the exact page - the one that discusses form bonuses.

Then you use corpus form bonus as a bonus to athletics? it's your resistance to fall and fatigue...

A bonus to resist fatigue, yes. Not as a bonus to the sprint or the climbing roll, but as a bonus to not get fatigued out of it. It is in the RAW. We have never used that part of the rules, but it is RAW.