Request for Enchanted Device assistance (Pencieve)

Hello everyone

After a long break from Ars Magica our group finally came together for a session this saturday!
One of the Magi in our Covenant wishes to create something similar to Dumbledore's Pencieve (silver liquid flashy effect is not required :smiley:), that allows the Magi to review the memories of anyone willing to (or forced to) participate.
One of the caves in our mountaion valley Covenant holds a water pool - built be the previous owners. A small opening mechanism allows water to flow from the surrounding mountains into the shallow pool, through a small figure-head.
The young Intellego specialist in the Covenant, Alane of Ex-Miscelleanea, is pondering how best to achieve the given through the use of this old artifact, and has so far gotten to:

The Shallow Pool of Deep Thoughts - Invested Item

  1. Intellego Mentem 30 (+ Uses/day)
    By staring at the figurehead and concentrating on a specific memory, the information from that memory is made 'readable'.
    Base 20 (Base 25 would learn everything also hidden - so is a bit too much, while Base 15 would read the surface though - but with insufficient complexity
    Eye, Ind, Mom (If the figure-head is not valid for Eye target, then just se Touch instead.
  2. Creo Imaginem 15 (+ Uses/day, +5 Concentration)
    Creates a flowing imagery of the memory in question, in the small 1/1½ pace oval pool.
    Base 3 (Three senses, Sight, Hearing and Smell)
    Touch, Ind, Conc., +2 for moving image

This design holds several vague interpretations, and has at least a few loose ends in terms of working with the memory and interpreting it as an image.
Can you guys help us make it work?
Completely different takes on the desired effect are also very welcome.

You can do the CrIm part as requisites since that's simply part of how the first effect operates.

You might consider a CrMe effect along the lines of those in the Guernicas section of HoH:TL. This could come first and trigger the In(Cr)Me(Im) effect.


Thanks for the quick reply Callen.
And thanks for reminding me about the spells from the Guernicus House section. Alane should consider adding the following:

1: All is Clearer in Hindsight Creo Mentem 15 (+ Uses/day)
Refreshes a specific memory in the mind of the subject. As long as a fragment of the memory remains, the subject can concentrate upon it, and it is completely refreshened. The memory in question can be no more extensive than about two minutes in length. The perfected memory can be relived and studied for details within the duration of the spell. Reviewing the memory in this way creates a new (imperfect) memory that does not fade when the spell ends.
Base 5, Eye/Diameter/Individual
Triggered by staring into the eyes of the pools' figure-head and focusing on a specific memory.

You're absolutely right about the possibility of the two powers being combined into one. I deliberately kept the two powers apart though, as the Magus is very green and all those requisites in a medium level power would be too much for him (to invent in anything less than a full years lab work).
Assuming the subject has already been affected by the power above, we might have a different situation, though. Since the memory is already made stable and available in the mind of the subject (who is cooperating in the process of sharing said memory); we don't really need an Intellego Mentem power to 'sneak around' the subject's mind for information. Thus we might be able to move straight on to:

  1. Pool of the Living Memory Creo Imaginem 15 (+ Uses/day, +5 Concentration)
    Creates a vivid imagery of a memory that the subject is concentrating upon. The scene is depicted in the surface of a pool of water (up to the size of a person). The quality of the image reflects the quality and level of detail of the given memory, so that near-faded memories will amount to no more than blurry colours and shapes on the surface of the water. Often used to communicate memories vividly and accurately to others, as well as to review acute details of ones own memories through the use of All is Clearer in Hindsight for a more 'tactile' feedback and to review disturbing memories that would otherwise break the subjects concentration (here the enchanted item maintains concentration instead).
    Base 3 (Three senses, Sight, Hearing and Smell), Touch/Concentration/Individual, +2 for changing image
    Triggered by pulling the lever that allows water to flow into the pool.

Would this be possible? Should I include an Intellego requisite somewhere for 'forwarding' the information, or perhaps a +1 magnitude for added power complexity?

Creo Imaginem, without any Mentem or Intelligo requisite, is certainly enough to create the illusion of a scene from memory (under the control of the owner of the memory, so if he gets distracted the illusion collapses). Intelligo would only be required if someone else (including the device) was pulling the information from his head. You might want to add an extra magnitude for intricacy though (see Phantasm of the Human Form, AM5 p.144), to get all the details right.

In the spirit of making a pensieve, you might take a look at the Muto Mentem guidelines Base 15 : Make a spirit or mind visible (Imaginem requisite) and Base 25 Male a mind or spirit solid (Form requisite).

Depending on whether you think a memory is better expressed as Part of a mind or is its own Individual in Mentem (and easier to affect than a whole mind: if making a mind visible is Base 15, same base as utterly changing a mind, then making a person's memory of an event visible should be the same as utterly changing a person's memory of an event, or one more than making a major change to same: Base 3), you might have spells like:

Pool of the Living Memory, MuMe(Im) 30 or 5
Makes a memory visible as an illusion.
Base 15, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, +1 Part, requisite is free
or Base 3, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, requisite is free

Water of Memory MuMe(Aq) 50 or 25
Collects a memory in the form of water, enough to fill a small vial. As long as the memory is in water form, it is gone from the mind of the donor (although he may be told about it, or even watch it with magic, and thus form a memory of the memory).
Base 25, +1 Touch, +3 Moon, +1 Part, requisite is free or
Base Base 5, +1 Touch, +3 Moon, requisite is free

Note that Pool of the Living Memory probably needs separate effects to create illusions directly from a person's memories and from memories in liquid form

Thanks for the great input Halancar, and for confirming my theory about not needing a second (now actually third) spell.
My '+1 magnitude for added power complexity'-hunch has also been conformed by looking at Phantasm of the Human Form.
Thanks for the tip - it is now more appropriately phrased as: +1 magnitude for intricaty :slight_smile:

Also, nice ideas about how to approach a more accurate copy of Dumbledore's Pensieve.
I don't know whether the Magus wishes to make it work in the excact same way as the Player's source of inspiration, but now we certainly have a take on it - just in case.

Comments/Corrections etc. are still more than welcome, but i now consider my questions answered.
Thanks for your help.

I was leafing through HoH-S looking for something else, and I realized that it gives the guideline for turning a memory into a solid object: Base 5, with a requisite for the Form of the object (HoH-S p.70, in the text for 'Other Tricks of Memory'). Looks like my calculations got it right :wink:

Spot on Halancar :wink: Thanks

I'd make it clear to the Players that an "open ended" CrIm effect like this, to be able to create an illusion of "anything", should have magnitudes added for flexibility, but since this effect is specifically tied to the InMe effect, that's discounted in this specific instance by SG rule.

Also, depending how much detail that CrIm is going to produce, it will need + Magnitudes for fine detail/etc as well as the motion, etc. For instance, if it can present readable books, then it needs that level of refinement, etc.

Also, note that if the subject didn't notice something, that "something" will not be represented. So, for instance, if the subject opened a page of a book but didn't read it, then that page of the book would be a blur, etc. Sim w/ faces in a crowd, etc etc. (Unless you ascribe to "unconscious memory" - but I don't think that's the model here.)

Obviously the first spell cannot be used to get information, that the mind doesn't know anything about.
What it can do, is make information accessible, that were otherwise overlooked or 'forgotten'.
The spell discription follows the rules of the HoH spell already printed, but a few clarifications would not be out of the way.
I agree that this spell is already extremely usefull, and that the SG should not be overly generous with his interpretation.

Regarding the second spell I've already added +2 for moving image, and +1 for intricaty.
Would you like even more '+ Magnitudes for fine detail/etc as well as the motion' Cuchu?
I wasn't aiming for a way to browse through another Covenant's Summae and study it from home at a later point, you know.
For reading the title of a book, or a sign at the Captains Quarters i guess this level of detail is enough.
But for prolonged reading exercises, i would assume that the uneven surface of a pool of water, and the short spell duration alone would make this very impractical.
So, no - that's not what the spell was designed for...
I guess it could be adapted to suit those needs though.
But a longer duration, a more even surface, and a more practical location (such as inside your lab) would probably be required - along with +1/+2 magnitudes for fine level of detailing.

I missed the "intricacy" thing - all I saw was "Touch, Ind, Conc., +2 for moving image", but - yes.

A CrIm to represent "the memory" should (have the potential to) be crystal clear within areas of focus, and quite vague if well outside those. Changing/moving images require +2 magnitudes, check. "Making clear words"* is only +1 magnitude (p 144, CrIm guideline insert, col i, par 2), but adding "very intricate" images* is +1 magnitude more (col ii top). To represent an appropriate degree of clarity, I see at least 4 extra magnitudes required btr, and imo 5 would not be unwarranted, adding +1 "for complexity" given the specific effect (and its overall usefulness!).

(* I would hazard to say that the diff is one of clarity and distinction - of cheap AM radio quality music vs. high-end digital quality, of hearing a crowd from outside a door vs. using a shotgun microphone to zero-in on each voice individually. Without the "very intricate" aspect, the words might be clear but any subtle emotion behind the words would be entirely lacking, etc. Having "intricacy" but not "clarity" would achieve words as in a dream, conveying emotion but not understandable beyond that. (Parallels with different senses/situations becomes less easily explained, but should not be impossible to imagine.) So both clarity and intricacy are needed to replicate human memory - assuming the subject's memory caught all the fine details, which won't happen every time.)

I'm not sure I'd agree that is possible - to retrieve from "memory" something that was not remembered. "Overlooked", yes - if it was remembered and simply not conscously registered as important at the time. "Forgotten"... that's more problematic, and brings very modern concepts of brain function/memory/remembering into the mix.

The first problem is that a typical CrIm "image" puts no emphasis on what the original viewer was focusing upon, and if it is to represent "memory", then that emphasis/focus is needed, perhaps unavoidable. Within that area of focus, images should/could be very sharp indeed - outside that focus, not so much, tapering off to mere blurs and fog at the edges of the field of vision/etc.

For example, you are currently looking at your computer screen (or smartphone, or whatever). You see these words, read them - they are your focus, they are clear in your mind (and hence your memory). Peripherally, without changing your gaze, you may have been (partially) aware of the (relatively) distinct quote at the top of this post. If you didn't read it, did you notice if I had changed any of the words? (I did.) Do you ever truly notice, much less "remember" clearly, what ad is being shown in the advert section on this page, or at least anything more than the main large-font headline, meant to grab your attention? Could your "memory" retrieve any of the words in the post above this one, or of the administrative text in the margin to the right? Would your memory know my listed "Location" or the date/time I posted this before you specifically glance at it? Can you even "remember", without looking, what the first two words in this paragraph are? (They're pretty easy...)

But they weren't important to the meaning of that paragraph - and yet you do remember the gist of that passage. So "memory" is often a generalization, while details deemed "unimportant" at the time of perceiving are discarded in favour of a broader, more generally holistic memory with significant landmarks sprinkled throughout.

You remember dancing with someone. Do you remember the entire dance, step by step, the music note for note, the crowd next to you face by face? Or does it blur with a few key snapshots or short poignant moments representing the larger whole?

Add sound and smell, and again the mind and memory can be quite selective over what is clearly perceived and what is overwritten by concentration on other things.* And to represent all that, both in clarity and obscurity, does not seem to be to be a basic task.

(Lastly, we could discuss "false memories" or flawed ones, where the viewer "remembers" something clearly and honestly but is simply wrong - but that's more a question of InMe than CrIm, and opens a very modern can of worms.)

Now, it's quite possible that the later, arcane viewer might notice something that the original viewer did perceive and remember but simply did not recognize as significant - a face that they did not know, or a gesture that they did not recognize, or a glance full of subtle emotion and great significance. It is this added complexity that supports the additional +1 for complexity that makes it +5 mags total, imo.

(* One mechanic you could use is to consider the Awareness and Concentration Ability of the original viewer - the better the Concentration, the better the main focus and the the less clear "other" aspects would be, as they are more efficiently screened out. Higher Awareness would call attention to changes in that "background blur", but would not (necessarily) sharpen it if it remained constant and un-remarkable.)

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Thanks for that lengthy, but very relevant, addition to the memory issue. Some of your examples are very relevant in terms of discussing this. The spell might be a bit too usefull as it is, but i can't see why throwing in an extra magnitude, would really mean that much, though.

I like the flavour of the 'tunnel-perception' when diving through the memories. I also ensures that the spell is used for what it was originally designed for; to confirm information or recall details. Rather than making players' notes and roleplaying obsolete.

Please note that i said overlooked and 'forgotten' - as opposed to overlooked and forgotten. To be more clear I'm reffering to situations where you know something, but you just can't seem to recall it. Situations like, what was the name of that blond girl from 2nd grade, who always knew the answers in math. You know it, but you can't seem to remember. If someone tells you her name, you know that it is right (and bang your head against a wall). You even know her last name know, and suddently you remember what her parents were called. Who won the European Soccer Championships in 1992? You don't remember right now... But if given 5 options, your'e sure to pick the right one. So I'm talking about situations were you just need some context in order to get your mind properly wrapped around the matter.

If your Magus has promised to go walk your the familiar dog for a fellow Magus each monday, but suddently one monday cannot remember what he was supposed to do this monday morning (being so caught up in his own work). Would you then make it impossible for Creo Mentem magic to help him recall this, since it is something he has 'forgotten'? I know Hermetic magic has limits, but this is power equivalent of a Post-it :wink:

Bah, you ain't seen "lengthy". :wink:

Some of these concepts did not seem to warrant a throw-away reference, so... .. but thanks.

What you're talking of is, in part, the diff between "active memory" and "passive memory" - the diff between recalling a vocabulary word cold vs. recognizing what the same word means when used in context. Or remembering song lyrics cold vs. "singing along" with the original music (which is always easier).

The other part, as you point out, is archival memory retrieval, where the information is not actually "forgotten" but merely long unused and currently not being dredged up from ancient storage and disconnection. Often difficult without a proper trigger, but far from impossible.

And I had thought of some useful and interesting applications when the target and viewer were the same person - reviewing memory at a later date, without the distractions of the original moment and with new information to apply, and perhaps looking for specific missed elements, could indeed afford increased insight and new observations. More, if the viewer were the one supplying the memories, those memories might well be jolted by a visual/aural representation of them, and further memories thus tapped by the process of the vivid presentation of others.

In addition, there are always situations where the Player does not remember something that the Character should - especially in Sagas that have had a lot of RL time pass since "just a moment ago" for the Character. This is common if there are multiple threads occurring "simultaneously", and the first to be RP'd is now weeks (or months?) old - or simply if the saga takes a holiday break etc. This device could allow the SG to wave a hand and neatly explain a vivid recap of events, or for Players to request one.

Again, very nice observations Cuchu :slight_smile:

This was precisely what I was originally aiming for. Our group only get to play once every 2 months, and if you skip a section... Well, you really need this spell! :wink: There is always some kind of recap before play starts, but it might be fun to do that as a relive of the events In-Game - rather than just a couple of random comments based on scarse notes that have long gone cold.

For something like that, you could simply insert a magical pool or mirror into the Covenant - no need to explain how it's built (or not in precise detail), it's just "there", as much a SG device as a Character beni.

I guess you are right, as it is more or less a story element.
Nevertheless, i would like it to be enchanted - as I'm sure it will be used for other services as well.
In our Saga we don't focus on optimal character/Covenant builds, so spending a few seasons in the lab to create this, would just be cool :wink:
Respect from your fellow Magi, is much more important than relative Certamen power or a high Penetration score... at least until you get an enemy that is a real Magus :slight_smile:

When I run a game on line, I often insert a "bard/librarian/scholar" type character in with the Player Characters. Mostly a muffin, just able to defend themselves. This character always has a remarkably accurate memory of recent events, and comments on important points regularly. :wink: