Reasonable ruling?

So my character is 34(it is spring) and for the last 6 years or so I've been trying to create a spell and I finally succeeded last year and I cast it the first time early this spring.

The spell is called calf to creature it is lvl 30 creo animal and what it does is mature a touched animal to maturity over the course of the day.
I have 17 creo and 10 animal, but I also have puissant creo and lesser focus aging, which our storyteller has decided applys. So I was just barely able to make this spell in two seasons, after much training.

A little background we are in the year 1011 Ireland and the primary kind of money is cattle (hence why I made the spell, we have been in debt since the start by a large margin).

So the spring comes around and I get the chance to use the spell, and the storyteller decides that it increases the build points we have in animals by 50% great! But only once.

So any new animal resources we earn will also be increased by 50%, but aside from that the wealth increase we received from this effort was 38 build points, and understand this is using 10 years of slowly gaining animal resources as a base.

I am more than a little disappointed by this outcome.

Just to clarify the 50% increase is one time only, and assumes that I cast the spell on all the calf's every year just to maintain it.

Touch of midas is lvl 20 and produces infinite free gold. A lvl 30 version increasing size would set up a covenant up for a long time I would think and yes that costs vis, but only 6 once and then you are set for decades. So I feel quite gypped.

However this is the first time playing ars magica so I ask is this a fair ruling?

I haven't read the rest of your post. I promise I will try to do so when I'm less tired.
Right I just wanted to point out that Touch of Midas is a ritual. Each casting costs 4 pawns of Vis (Terram or Creo).
That that's neither infinite nor free, unless your covenant has access to a lot more Vis than I'm used to.

we have a 15/year creo source, so 4-6 vis once, is kinda whatever.

Injecting lots of gold into the economy causes runaway inflation. Which screws up the local economy and is really bad all around. Most of the Medieval economy is tied up in food production, shipping is hard and nobles often have controls on a lot of things there isn't a huge surplus of production you can suck up. Worst of all the above problems can lead to the LAW showing up in the form of Quaesitores because you damaged the local economy. As a final note that spell does not actually produce anything really useful unless you want to use gold in the next enchanted item.

Now the calf spell has a bunch of advantages. Most importantly, it actually makes something of value. If you get locked out of markets your cows are still mooing. You can eat them, burn their poop, and use them for leather. If you sell them into the local economy, food prices drop and people will move from food production to other production which betters the economy.

Also you never have enough vis.

Its questionable to say if the degree of return from your investment of time is balanced within the setting or not - as that should be saga related. As presented it sounds a little less than I'd expect; but I'm not sure how I'd rule the effect that spell has on build points and income off the top of my head. It is a good question. Your SG probably has a rationale. A counter consideration is that the choice of how to solve your money problem was your own, and very suited to the setting; but the length of time it took to research and create is not a rule for the return income as a 1-to-1.

Did you have a counter suggestion for what it should have provided? How it is balanced?
Did you discuss it out of character before investing the years in-play?
Did the SG offer their rationale?

And if you're considering using Touch of Midas or any raw wealth generating spell more than once, please also consider over time the Vis cost becomes very inefficient. i.e. If you cast it twice, you perhaps should have used a higher level variation with +10 levels (which creates 100 times the volume!), which only costs 2 more pawns to cast. Yes, it might need to be invented over a season as well, which might be worth paying some vis to avoid. Casting 3+ times is wasteful.

I know that the base midas is inefficient, which is why I suggested a lvl 30 version in my post, it is there if you read it. That's why I say it would cost 6 vis. Note that a level 30 midas is the same as my spell.

You have a 15 pawns a year creo source? A) I want to move to your covenant and

B) Cut your damn costs. A creo ritual to create enough grain for you, your coven folk, your cows, sheep and chickens, your mundane grogs, and the local dragon is entirely feasable, and allows you to essentially cut that cost. A similar one to make tallow and another for string means you've enough candles to be seen from the lunar sphere. Another one to make wool, maybe, and you've enough wool to make warm clothes for your covenfolk and your magi for several years :stuck_out_tongue:

A couple of things to consider :

  1. While you have cut down on the time and resources it takes to get cattle from birth to the "ready for market" stage, you haven't altered the basic birthrate or the number of cattle your covenant can support. So you may not have eliminated the true limiting factor. Increasing the births/year and increasing the herd's size on top of rapid maturity are probably the next steps needed to further boost (re)production.

  2. The benefit of what you can get away with may be limited by the credulity of the locals outside the covenant/the mundanes the covenant does business with. If they "know" your lands can only support 1,000 cattle, but you're selling 2,000 cattle/year and still have a full herd, people will gossip and you have a problem. The SG's ruling may reflect that.

  3. The key to getting around 2) is probably some efficiency, vertical integration and a little chicanery. A magic dagger with a kill animal effect (PeAn base 30) and a variant of Swift Knives, Invisible (PeAn 40, pg. 96, Covenants book) to make for quick processing from cattle to raw material is an idea. If you turn said raw material into the leather, vellum, meat, etc. in covenant and sell the products, you can increase your profits as well (vertical integration). The chicanery comes into play with things like shipping - using shrinking effects to ship more than what you appear to, preservation spells for meat, etc. you can sneak more out with much less chance of detection by mundanes.

  4. Luxury/premium goods are another thing to aim for. High quality vellum and uterine vellum could be profitable for you, for example. They're in demand by the Church and the Order for quality manuscripts and your spell easily allows unmarred hides to work from, as well as good "age control" of the hide (by timing when you cast the spell during the day). Shrinking and transporting quantities under controlled conditions (to prevent moisture damage, etc.) might require enchanting some chests (and good relations with the Redcap network?). If a lot of vellum is sold within the Order, you can avoid the interfering with mundanes problem of high volume commerce. Meat would be unusually tender because of the lack of toughening because of prolonged exercise - you simply need to preserve it that way.

Your SG's ruling gives you a good first step, even if you see it as being something of a lemon. The trick is to make premium lemonade. :wink:

Land is the limiting factor in the end, this spell will allow you to increase beef production (mature the calf before slaughter) and increase the birthrate, but the sustainable herd size is still limited. As I see it the spell should have two effects- boosting income by making calves cows for slaughter or sale, thereby increasing profit for that year, and allowing you to build the herd more quickly if you have underutilized land. So if you are buying land every year to expand your herd upon, I would expect the use of this spell would increase the rate of growth as well, but it would not do so on its own.
I would also recommend enchanting the spell so a grog can handle routine castings.

I have now slept, and read the whole post. It also looks like I derailed things a bit for a while, sorry about that.

To be honest, yeah, I think the ruling is fair enough. I also think casting it on each and every calf is a background activity, cast while relaxed. So simple dice only, meaning no rick of a botch.
..which really reduces it to "I cast this spell on every calf to come along." "Great! Just remember, if you're away from home for more than a year or so, no benefit." "Yah, sure, whatever."

I'd also like to strongly recommend this one. Now you don't even have to be present.

Consider if the spell Calf to Creature is more efficient as Touch/Sun/Circle cast on a circular pen for the animals. This way you mature all animals put inside. And with a Circle of Beast Warding the pen doesn't even have to be very sturdy.

Fair is in the eyes of the beholder. Ars is a game of negotiation of all players within the troupe about the kinds of stories to be told. It appears that the covenant has the Indebted Hook, can't tell if it is major or minor, but it is a hook and therefore stories need to be told about the hook, or resolving the hook. What I would be looking for, as the SG, is the work of multiple players to reduce that debt, not just one. I am playing in a saga where we owed our liege covenant (Normandy) over 180 pawns of vis, with stores of about 130 and an income of about 15 per year. All of the player characters undertook stories and seasonal activities for the benefit of the liege that forgave portions of that debt, until it was entirely gone. The nature of our debt, being vis, prevented us from magicking our way out of it. I think it's entirely fair, from the point of the SG, to ask that other player step up and sacrifice to wipe out the debt, there is a meta-story if the entire covenant pulls together and sacrifices seasons of lab activity to resolve a hook, but I'd still like to have a story or two to resolve the hook.

Also, raising the Arts up to the sufficient level to invent the spell in a couple of seasons shouldn't necessarily count as a benefit to the covenant, especially since at least one of them is a preferred Art. So, your character has derived benefits in the pursuit of his Arts that the covenant won't necessarily realize. The actual measurable service to the covenant is the two seasons spent inventing the spell. Does that make sense?

Jonathan beat me to the line.
He made the two points I was going to bring.
Covenants don't have Virtues and Flaws, they have hooks and boons. Although it looks similar from far, in practice it is different.
Being in debt was selected by the troupe or impose by your SG as a story plot. "Hungry" magi are always motivated to go on adventures. I used this hook very efficiently to drive a good third of my last campaign. And each time my players were finding a way to better their situation, they were having a real sense of achievement. So having such hook removed or heavily reduced by only inventing a spell in two seasons by a single magus would really be downplaying the interest of such hook.

As it was said, you character spent 6 years to be able to invent this spell, but these 6 years will mostly benefits him. Considering that he has a focus in aging, leveraging Creo would have been something you would have done no matter what for powerful longevity potion later on. So really, you only paid 2 seasons for it. Your PC might have want to follow other interest instead of focusing on this spell, but it justs means that his priorities were rearranged to accomodate the reality and needs of his covenants.

Is it worth 38 build points ? I don't know the math behind it. But it is an improvement.

And as it was said, the spell makes them grow faster, which means they can be sold as adult sheep a few weeks after their birth. It does not make them breed more as usually there is only one mating season per year. Would you give them the birth and breeding rate of rats, that would be something else.

By the way, it is an elegant spell which works well, without raising suspicions and not infringing the code.

Whether it is fair or not is something that only your troupe can answer.

For me, the critical thing is that the player shouldn't be surprised or disappointed by what the spell does. That is, the SG and player (and troupe) should discuss and negotiate what the game mechanical effect of the spell is before the character even starts inventing the spell (or equivalent). Especially for activities that occupy a lot of the character's time. If the player is surprised by the game mechanical effect of a spell effect he has designed, that means there is a miscommunication between the SG and player.

Also outcome will be dependant on the animal you are casting it on. Pigs achieve sexual maturity in 6 months and have 1.5 to 2 breeding seasons per year, based on gestational period not season. Cows have a calfing season which does detract from their reproduction lasting from 45 days to 120 or in some cases a year with a 285 day gestational period where a cow goes into heat every 21 days when not pregnant, so if using the spell to accelerate reproduction you could be moving from one calf every 330 days to one calf every 285 days. The calf would normally require 10 to 12 months to reach sexual maturity, so obviously the spell would greatly reduce this aspect of the generational waiting period.

So, to summarize: it's either completely reasonable, or completely unfair, depending on what the rationale of the GM is. :slight_smile:

Serf's Parma - this may be just the group I played with, or it may be an actual rule - but major and minor Hooks can be broken up into "plot points" - a number of obstacles that you must overcome in order to resolve the Hook. I think it's something like 10 for a major, and 3 for a minor. So if you have a minor "no defensive fortifications" Hook, that's the players saying "we would like to have a couple of stories about dealing with the fact that we don't have fortifications". The Rego Terram specialist can't, for example, just design a "create castle" spell and cast it. If he did that - well, OK: good for him. Note that the actual plot point wouldn't be resolved by simple game mechanics - generally, there should be an actual (short - maybe just a couple of scenes) story about the magi casting it, and the reactions of the covenfolk upon seeing a castle spring up from the ground, or something. But once that's done: cool. There's your plot point resolved. (Cure video game success music!)

You still have two plot points to deal with before getting rid of the Hook. So once that castle is created? The local lord becomes wary of this new military fortification in place. Appeasing him is another plot point. And maybe a local farie doesn't care for the feng shui of the building (whatever that is: faries are always talking about weird stuff.) Dealing with that is another issue. Once you've resolved that: OK - you've got more possible opportunities for storytelling from the local Lord and the anachronistic farie. However, you CAN resolve the "No fortification" hook.

Similarly - if your troupe has been telling stories about being in debt, and your character has come up with a clever way to not be in debt: cool. However, it's not going to resolve the major plot point of "being in debt" overnight. As others have mentioned, you've succeeded in resolving one point in the metagame - you now have nine more (or however many your GM has in mind) to go.

You may just want to ask your GM if this is what they're doing - or something similar to it.

Two things, this isn't 38bp per year. This is 38bp once. Maybe I didn't make that clear. This has not increased our income this has generated 'money' worth less than the cost of a lab. Also this isn't thousands of cattle we are talking, this is a couple dozen, so basically I got a dozen cows once.

Also about the indebted thing we didn't really choose it, here's what happened: We finnish the magnamarta (if you don't know what that is it doesn't matter just insert there; 'we start the game') and we immediately found a covenant, we ask a much more experienced mage a favor to create us a tower. He agrees we provide the vis which we received as part of starting our covenant. He asks for an apprentice given to him within 10 years. No problem we find him one in like a year (we were super lucky). Where the debt comes in is our Storyteller decides that although we magically created our towers we still must pay the full price in build points 380bp as this covers things like maintenance and furnishing and what have you. So although we didn't need to build 3 towers we need to pay for all costs associated with building them.

You guys are right in that increasing my creo is not really a sacrifice on my part, one of my virtues literally does two useful things. Increase the potency of longevity rituals, and this. But my main point was not really that the time invested should yield returns per say more that the expertese needed to create a spell that is lvl 30 and quite specific is high, and the power of a lvl 30 spell should be worth more than 38bp once.

BP aren't really a one time thing, unless by that you mean they will vanish is not maintained. Maintenaince for a herd means sufficient land/fodder and shepherds/ranchers to tend them. If this is met, the only way you would lose the BP is if you sell all the cattle you grow, instead of culling/selling the natural excess each year, and that is a decision you make, not your ST.

Honestly, I would ignore the BP. If you still have a herd, gain a yearly income from selling the excess, and get milk/cheese from them in the meantime, what does it matter that your spreadsheet says 300 or 338 BP?

Same for the towers, although there you obviously get into maintenance issues (you DO have access to a mason or carpenter, don't you, either as covenfolk or contractor?)

Yeah we have an architect/mason as grog.

I realize bp are ongoing, however everything you buy is also ongoing, grogs coven folk, maintenance etc. We had one grog that cost 24bp. Obviously that is ongoing. I can't ignore the numbers as that is what buys our grogs. Considering most of Ireland wants to kill us (hyperbole) that's important.

Well I've been talking with my storyteller and we have changed the effect to a 20% increase per year, up to certain limits such as land hands and fodder. This is more what I expected so I'm very happy.

Thank you all for your input.