Ring of Disguise

Hello all,

The Muto Specialist is looking to create a lesser enchantment: A magic ring (electrum?) that will allow her to change her appearance, voice, and smell to whatever she wishes. She's also dilly-dallying with a "gain the appearance of the last person I came in contact" aspect to the power (I'm assuming this would be a Complexity increase of a magnitude?). Overall, she's sort of wishy-washy/uncertain on how best to make the ring.

However, her lab total is only 52, so the effect has to be level 26 or less in power.

What's the best options for her?

What similar items have you made?

I did a brief search for such items in Magi of Hermes, but came up with nothing. If anyone has any thoughts, or knows of any examples to throw her way, please let me know!



Looking exactly like a person is usually a Finesse roll, but additional magnitudes "for complexity" are often substituted for that. If your saga allows this, I'd agree that this would be that sort of case.

In theory, the item should have an Intellego component if it is going to generate the different effects - to know what that last person looked like - but some SG's will shrug this off as too demanding. For me, the difference between Ars Magica magic and "another-game-that-shall-not-be-mentioned", is that the latter does "stuff", while AM has building blocks - Muto changes, and Intellego gives information and "perception". Without "perceiving" that last person touched, there is no Hermetic way to get the effect - a ring can't see or remember like a mage can. Meh - in the end, "consistency" is the only truly important consideration, that one spell works more or less like another.

(In that other game, you'd just say "sounds like a 3rd level effect to me - works fine!" and you'd be done. Less satisfying imo, on several levels.)

Regardless, we know that MuIm Base depends on how many sense the mage wants to fool - Appearance, Sound & Smell are Base 3, but if her Lab Total isn't up to par, then either work on that or drop one sense and tough it out.

(Note that if she changes clothing (likely) then Touch might come into play at some point as well. Butcha can't always have it all.)

Base 3, +1 Touch, +1 Concentration, +1 Intellego req, +1 for Complexity = 15 Base Mu(In)Im Effect.
+5 levels for Item to maintain Concentration
+3 more for environmental trigger, so it can do that itself at sunrise/sunset, and we're at Level 23.
+# uses/day (for how many different changes/day it can make, including being renewed over Sunrise/Sunset).

Sounds like with a Mu(In)Im Lab Total of 52, she's got 5 changes/day plus one sunrise/sunset continuation, np.

If the ring's power was limited to granting the appearance of only the last person she came in contact with (that is, the maga doesn't have any choice in the matter), then I'd be tempted not to add a +1 magnitude for it. Let's say the ring grants the appearance of the last person, other than the wearer, who touches the ring (handshake, for example); just say "Law of Contagion" and call it even. Plus it would make for a great detail in stories.

(Note that if you include a +1 Intellego requisite, then that will probably lower the Lab Total of a Muto specialist quite a bit.)

I would say CrIm or MuIm base 5. Range : touch, Duration : Concentration, item maintains concentration, 24 uses a day. Total effect lv 25. Seems pretty clean.

I can see that, but my reasoning is that without the effect, without the complexity, the effect is based off of how familiar the maga is with the person she's copying.

This avoids that challenge and obstacle entirely. Yes, it's more limited in that it can't reproduce any effect, but while that's a game-play balancing factor, it in turn is balanced by the caster being able to leave the ring somewhere or send a ring in the mail, have it returned, and they can later use its power, never having seen who it last touched. For me, it's about Hermetic magic first, and then "feels about right" second.

Yeah, so? Not my problem.

If they wanted a MutoCorpus, that would probably lower their lab total too. If they can't meet the bar that's set for everyone, it's really not the SG's job to lower it just for them.* :wink:

(* Unless we're talking existing or potential relationships - then it's an entirely different discussion!) 8)

I think it also depends on whether the information needs to come from the item or the wielder of the item. It should be possible for the item user to provide the information. There is plenty of precedence for this. For example, a "wand of fireballs" doesn't need to have Intellego effects for targeting, the wielder of the item provides the information required for targeting. The item just provides the fireballs.

In this case, an effect that disguises the wielder, with (the wielder making) a Finesse roll to look like a specific individual should be fine.

On the other hand, if you do want the item to be able to memorize the appearance of a person (so you avoid needing to make the Finesse roll), then an InCo effect based on the level 5 guideline "Sense a specific piece of information about a body" (with an appropriate range) should be fine. The disguise effect can then be linked to the sensing effect. Of course, this makes it an invested device, rather than a lesser enchantment.

Thank you all so much for your input and dialogue.

I lean towards needing Intellego for the "last person touched" issue, and warned her that such a requirement would put her outside her lab total.

I'm curious about another thing. I'm assuming that levels for complexity should be used for powers in devices that would use Finesse if a wizard were simply casting a spell. Thus, Joe the Companion does not have or need to us Finesse when utilizing the "Amazing Disguise Ring".

Now, looking like someone specific is one thing, but if a ring just makes you look like someone you describe, or a random someone, what is used to gauge that? Complexity magnitudes for "random person" - though that would seem to need to know where you were, or default to "generic French peasant" or some such - would it not ? A Profession: Storyteller roll for a ring you describe things to? I get the feeling that I'm starting to go off the tracks a bit...

Given my druthers, I think I tend to overcomplicate the magic design process and make it a little too clinical and a little less magical.

Judging from some of the examples in Magi of Hermes, one of the things Finesse can cover is 'describing something in terms that a magical item will understand'. So it's still a Finesse roll to tell an item how to do something that would normally more directly require Finesse.

As far as I know the RAW is that if an effect requires Finesse, then the user of the item needs to make a Finesse Roll when he uses the item. So, Joe "the Companion" may well be useless at using a complex magical item. (Joe can always be trained in Finesse)

Probably, the reason that the RAW does not actually allow magnitudes of complexity to substitute for Finesse rolls is that this is not a good idea in all circumstances. For example, effects which require Finesse often bypass Magic Resistance. It wouldn't be fair if an item with such an effect could be designed to also bypass the Finesse roll.

The levels of complexity are specifically to avoid the need for the Finesse roll. The ring "memorizes" the last person touched - the caster no longer has any control over that, whether it's a mage, Joe t C or an automatic environmental effect that no human triggers. (Which is also where the In req comes from.)

So, without complexity, the ring receives Finesse instruction from the wizard, and needs no intellego component? It's a crafting of the magic as it is cast by the ring?


The effect in the ring happens according to the direction of the person using the ring. So whomever is using the ring makes any required Finesse rolls. This could be the wizard who made it, or it could be Joe "the companion", or it could be "mad" Margaret "the alewife".

Unless otherwise defined*, the effect is at the command of the "activator" of the device.

If a wand, the activator might choose a direction, location or specific target (small "t") for the effect. If a healing device, they might choose one wound over another on the same "patient". If the effect itself has different options, the "activator" chooses among those available. If that requires Finesse, then be glad anyone can use Finesse untrained (if with the usual penalties etc.)

  • If pre-defined, then that's locked when the item is created. Examples are CrIg spells that light or heat a specific spot in a room (rather than any item in range), Rego teleportation devices that have a specific destination, or a CrIm "talking head" that might have a specific message any time it's activated. In each case, almost identical items could have been created that allow choices in those details of the final effect - but these, including this MuIm ring, don't.