Sapient Items

Hi all,

I've been chewing on this idea for a while now, and I believe I've come up with a way to create a sapient device (capable of reason) fully within the rules, but I thought I'd bounce my idea off the community to spark discussion and see if I've overlooked anything. I'm basing this solely on the main 5th edition book, not any of the supplements, as I haven't examined them closely.

My thinking is that magus could open a sapling for enchantment and enchant it with Stir the Slumbering Tree. I can't find anything in the rules that make a distinction between living and dead wood when opening items for enchantment. The sapling could also be shaped into a staff using a MuHe or ReHe spell (whichever makes more sense). Mentem spells could then allow it to interact with the outside world.

Any thoughts? Am I crazy? I just have always liked the idea if sentient, sapient items in fantasy literature, and Ars Magica's magic system being the flexible, versatile wonder that it is, I thought I'd give it a shot. If anyone has other thoughts on how to accomplish this, I'm all ears.

For what people are saying about Mages of Hermes (the last book in the line) there is a magus there that has a tree as his talisman. As such, it seems that this would be perfectly kosher stuff :slight_smile: You are not creatingintelligence, just awakening a spirit that was sleepy so not big problems.


Yup, cant see any real problems with the rules as written. And it can be a neat addition to a game as well, nothing bad from that point of view either.

I like the idea as well, and of course in a game with "magic" in the title anything is possible. My troupe disagrees with me, ruling that living beings can't be enchanted (so no enchanted flowers, grapes, etc.), though my first maga learned Diedne magic that allowed her to enchant living plants. I am outvoted by the others though. I like your idea and regardless of the RAW I'd say do it, just consider the implications: if a sentient being can be enchanted as a device, it follows that people can be enchanted as well. Can my favorite companion also be my talisman? But then this gives me even more sinister thoughts....

There are familiars as a counter example.

Thanks for the responses!

Familiar's definitely seem to fit the idea of enchantable living things. That said, being able to enchant any living thing as a greater or lesser enchantment could be game-breaking-ly overpowered. The human body can hold a lot of vis for something so cheap (in terms of quantity available). Can we come up with (or is there already) an in-game justification why a magus can have only one familiar and one talisman? If that justification could also be used to say that living things can only be enchanted as familiars or talismans, then we end up with a cool possibility that has a reasonable limitation that maintains it's uniqueness and doesn't corrupt the setting (at least I think so). If living things were easily enchanted then much of the benefit of enchanted items goes away and the setting would not look the way it is represented in the books.

The enchanting of both talismans and familiars are highly personal experiences. Might we generalize and say that to enchant a living thing requires a strong personal connection and willingness on the part of both parties, and thus only talismans and familiars are options? Perhaps creatures with might scores can be familiars, and creatures without might scores can be talismans? As for enchanting humans, the only case I'm aware of is in The Mysteries supplement, where you can make yourself your talisman using Inscription of the Soul - Minor Mystery virtue.

Given that a talisman is basically an extension of yourself, I can see why enchanting any human other than yourself as a human talisman might be problematic, as your trying to make another self an extension of yourself. You could probably make the same case for making any living thing your talisman, but given something as limited as a tree or animal I'd say calling them "another self" is being generous, especially with something like a tree that's not even conscious/awake until after you enchant it. I'm just putting out ideas. Any thoughts?

You can do that.The smallish problem is that you cannot fully control your magic items: they might decide not to activate the powers, for example, or to use them against you. And the fact that they will be warped heavily in a very brief time.

THere are quite a few cons in enchanting living things.

Humans also have free will, and that might prevent the enchantment, in the same way that it prevents the tie up of humans as familiars (I think this is correct, but I would need to check it, so smurf's parma up)


If you're looking to make the job possible but more difficult you might look at the animae magic Merinta mystery.

Another (IMO better) thought is that using stir the slumbering tree won't let the item use any other powers that are enchanted in to it. The staff is alive and the staff is enchanted with leap of homecoming but it's a piece of wood and not bright enough to figure out how to use the power. In order to allow the item to cast it's own spells you'd need a vim and a mentem requisite raising the level by 10 (or more if you want to add complexity).

Warping is an interesting point. Familiars do not warp from bond enchantments because of their might score, and the maga does not because it is her spell. Would a tree with a might score work as a talisman? Does having a might score entail having a mind already, or would Stir the Slumbering Tree still work as intended?

If the living thing to be enchanted does not have a might score, I could see a talisman being an extension of yourself as counting any spells put on it as designed for/cast by subject, avoiding any warping from short term effects. Constant effects however still present a problem. Any idea's of how to circumvent this?

On a related note, when Stir the Slumbering Tree expires, does the tree fall back asleep? Could you awaken the tree only periodically/at need rather than constantly to prevent warping?

I suppose you could fake having an intelligent item by creating a normal talisman that awakened and transformed/merged with/had an arcane connection with a tree that you could then wield. Then if your tree went insane from warping you could just get a new one, but that seems both cruel and a rather ugly workaround.

To allow an awakened tree to use other powers you've enchanted, I would think all you would need is for all the other effects to be linked to a personal range InMe spell, since both you and the talisman count as personal. Thus you can trigger them, and so can the talisman (it can read its own mind for triggers). If this feels like too much of a stretch just extend the range of the InMe spell to touch and limit who it works for so other random people can't use it. Having an arcane connection to the tree and using arcane connection range might work too (though that gets expensive).

As far as having your living enchantment not cooperate, well half the fun of sapient items is that they can be grumpy or rebellious at times, thus presenting interesting story opportunities :slight_smile: