Sensory Magic Initiation

I'm at the stage where I'd like the Bjornaer I'm currently playing to start delving into the house mysteries, and I want to start with sensory magic. However, I'm not certain how to meet the initiation requirement.

According to HoH:MC, "The initiate must craft an object in the shape of his heartbeast and enchant it with the ability to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell." That seems elliptical to me. Does the item need to, e.g., see as a human sees, or can it be enchanted to see one kind of thing (stone, say)? Does it need to have those senses all the time, or just for the duration of the initiation? Can a mindless object be said to actually see anything? And so on.

Assuming that it can remain inert, needs senses similar to a human (or, perhaps, the animal that it resembles), and that it needs them permanently, this is what I've come up with.

  • Tongue of an Eagle InIm 15; Personal, Sun, Taste (Base 1, Sun +2, 2/day and environmental trigger +4 levels)
  • Skin of an Eagle; InIm 20; Personal, Sun, Touch (Base 1, Sun +2, Touch +1, 2/day and environmental trigger +4 levels)
  • Nose of an Eagle; InIm 25; Personal, Sun, Smell (Base 1, Sun +2, Smell +2, 2/day and environmental trigger +4 levels)
  • Ears of an Eagle; InIm 30; Personal, Sun, Hearing (Base 1, Sun +2, Hearing +3, 2/day and environmental trigger +4 levels)
  • Eyes of an Eagle; InIm 35; Personal, Sun, Vision (Base 1, Sun +2, Vision +4, 2/day and environmental trigger +4 levels)

Since that's 125 levels of spells, the figurine would require 13 pawns of Vim vis to open (which would also require my maga to have a Magic Theory of 7, as well as a fairly large or expensive figurine).
Then, each spell would have to be instilled, requiring time and Intelligo and/or Imaginem vis totalling another 13 pawns.
As far as time goes, I'm thinking of making the effects only last a year, so that my maga can finish it in a reasonable time frame, though I'm not certain if that would invalidate the item's use in the initiation.

Does that seem right? Is Base 1 sufficient for all of that, or do I need to use a different base level for any or all of those effects? Is there a better way to do this? Suggestions are definitely welcome.

I would personally read that as a MuTe(An), to mutate the (stone?) object into having animal-like organs. In that base, it would be a MuTe(An), base effect 4 (radically change dirt) +1 for stone, +1 for MuAn requisite. Also, you could probably combine all the effects into a single effect, with + magnitudes for complexity. +4 magnitudes for the other 4 senses, +2 sun duration. So, Base spell of 40, with additional fiddly bits.

Your math is wrong for the enchantment levels, I think.

Base 1, +2 magnitudes for duration, +1 to 4 magnitudes for target, +4 levels (not magnitudes) for frequency and environmental trigger.

So levels 7, 8, 9, 14 & 19.

InIm seems to be the correct Te/Fo according to the Range : Sight definition in ch. 9 of the core book.

Where I'm a little confused is the use of magical sense Targets - the spells target a sense the item doesn't actually have to create the sense.

Quite, and considerably so.

I reckon, that Bjornaer do not care about scholastic natural philosophy like in A&A p.31f The Human Mind, which wrt senses also applies to the animal mind. In particular, they do not care to create a common sense in the object.

Likely, Bjornaer - latest after taking care of the last followers of Myanar (HoH:MC p.76ff, p.102ff) - know of the favorable properties of plants wrt animation and awareness of their surroundings (see e. g. ArM5 p.139 Lord of the Trees and Calling the Council of the Trees).

  • Taking a small, living plant or mushroom,
  • making it by ReHe take the shape of your heartbeast (think Bonsai),
  • and endowing it with InIm effects like ArM5 p.144f Prying Eyes or HP p.84 Fingers for Eyes
    should spare the Bjornaer Initiate all Mentem magic, and all fiddling with ArM5 p.113f Magical Senses requiring mundane senses first.
    A plant the size of a walking stick should suffice. Finding a plant naturally resembling your heartbeast might give benny points.


Thank you! I was adding the levels for the frequency and trigger first, then the magnitudes for duration.

That's a sticking point for me, too. I think KevinSchultz and One Shot are both onto something.

(edit to add)
That said, HP p. 82 has Hearing the Tearing, which allows a bell to hear Intangible Tunnel-like effects. Though, I'm not sure I understand the level calculation for that spell.
Base 5, +2 Sun, +3 Hearing, +3 detailed information, +4 constant effect
Why is it base 5? Shouldn't it be base 1 for one sense?

I really like this idea. It fits my Bjornaer so much better than the standard enchantment I was thinking of. Thanks!

It's listed as an InVi effect - thus, I'm assuming it's using the Base 5 "Detect active magic," (AM5th, pg. 158). This is an example of Intelligo magic that doesn't have to be linked to a sense. Rather, it's using Voice as the constant range of the spell - pinging the surrounding area to see if it detects a Tunnel in the area.

So it is. One of these days I'll learn to read. :blush:

I'm not sure I agree with that explanation. The effect is definitely granting the bell the ability to hear something ("This effect enables a bell to hear..."), despite the fact that bells don't have any normal hearing for the magical sense to be linked to. Also, it's definitely not using Voice for the effect's range, as neither the bell nor the magus using it is required to make any noise--a point that I think is valid despite Hearing having the same effective range as Voice. It seems less "pinging the surrounding area to see if it detects a Tunnel...," and more "listening for the sound of a Tunnel." Really, what's stopping InIm from being used instead of InVi to create an effect that allows the bell to hear sounds near it (e.g. in order to peal whenever it hears a door opening)?

Unfortunately, the HP p.82 Assassin's Bell has its problems.

The Assassin's Bell is clearly not a person and as a bell has no mundane senses, so it cannot be the recipient of an ArM5 p.113f Magical Senses effect. Still, HP p.82 Hearing the Tearing is such an effect. So you can either request errata from Atlas Games or ask your troupe for a resolution of this contradiction.

Making Hearing the Tearing an InVi 49 R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Room (Base 5, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +2 Room, +3 detailed information, +4 constant effect) effect resolves this contradiction, but limits the use of the bell to within rooms. Yes, most of the time it would stand in the lab anyway - but during an expedition caused by a wizard's war it quickly becomes useless, unless your wizard applies a trick like this.


But which is the error? Is it really so bad that a device could use Sense spells? IMHO it would be a shame to prohibit devices from this. A lot of Intellego spells would be impossible to do by device.

Note that Through the Aegis in the Collem Leonis chapter there is a device 'The Mask of the Predator' granting an effect like Eyes of the Bat.

Is this different, because it grants the wearer a sense directly, compared to an object sensing things and then sounding an alarm?
An Intellego spells somehow relays the information is senses to the mind of the caster. An Intellego Vim wand to determine if a silver coin touched is pure silver, how would this even be possible if you don't use some kind of abstraction to allow the device-user to get the information?

Look at the Intellego spells of ArM5 core book, look at the In Vi spells: Some use normal parameters like Touch/Mom/Ind e.g. 'Sense of Magical Power' while others use sense parameters e.g. 'Piercing the Faerie Veil'. Why? Should all Intellego spells not use sense parameters? Maybe, some things would make more sense then, while I'm sure there can be found examples where is does not.
But the issue is not whether all Intellego spells should sue Sense parameters, but whether a device can. And IMHO, it should.

Exactly. An ArM5 p.113f Magical Sense can only be bestowed upon a person with mundane senses. Changing that in HP should lead to an erratum of the ArM5 core book.

Intellego spells and effects with different Target parameters work differently, of course. Therefore also my proposed change to HP p.82 Hearing the Tearing: an erratum to HP is certainly lighter than a late erratum to the core book.

You are most welcome to your opinion. So would you like an erratum of the core book? Or rather a decision of your troupe?


OK, just re-read the description - no, it makes sense. The entire setup is described in "Listen to the Bell" (HP, pg. 83), where it explicitly states that you can enchant an inanimate item with magical senses - as that's the whole point of those trio of spells:

  1. Hearing the Tearing - is the Magical Sense.
  2. Clarion Call - is the linked trigger to the magical sense, and is acting on information that it discovers.
  3. Listen to the bell - allows the magus to tap into the senses of an inanimate object...which they don't usually have, unless they're enchanted.

So...yes. Adding any sort of sensory effect to an inanimate object grants it magical senses. If you want to be technical about it ("how did it get the sense to enchant to begin with?") - consider that magical items have base senses by default- otherwise, they can't perceive their trigger/command phrases. (AM5th, pg. 98). Spells like this are likely hooking into those, and allowing them to perceive something other than "Activate Fireball" or "tap/tap/tap", or whatever the command-phrase is. By default those senses are limited to the wielder of the item, but it's not actually required. Thus, magic items already (for example) have the sensory ability to hear someone across a room say "activate lights", or whatever. This seems to expand on that ability. (So, to be technical, it's a "magically-created mundane sense.")

Note that for us, granting us (for example) the ability to hear all sound around us is redundant - as humans can already do that. However, it is possible (although silly) to create an enchantment to do this. But a magic item can only hear its command-phrase. Thus, we have an example of granting what we would consider a "base" sense to an object that already has it, albeit a much more simple version.

This is still only confusing the issue. By ArM5 p.113f Magical Senses as written,

is referring to an impossible condition.

So this idea makes a magical item a person with mundane senses?

You can go to your troupe with such an explanation, though, and might have them approve your item. Above I called this "fiddling with ArM5 p.113f Magical Senses requiring mundane senses first". A clean way to such house rules would be new Target parameters for Magical Senses for Devices, that can take up your idea and restrictions your troupe considers necessary.


Going back to the OP, I've wondered what was needed for Sensory Magic Initiation myself. This is what I proposed to my SG:

InIm base 5 (use all senses at a distance as per ArM p145), range personal (the object), +2 magnitudes duration sun, target - as vision is the biggest of the magical sense targets use +4 magnitudes, total 35, with +4 levels for 2 uses/day and environmental trigger so it's on constantly - total InIm 39. A small, wooden item (size modifier 2, material modifier 2 so holds 4 pawns) will do the trick. This approach does require you to be reasonable at In and Im, so I like the suggestions for enchanting plants or using MuTe that people have suggested.

No, I have no idea why Bjornaer rituals require you to make an inanimate object that can perceive things with no requirement that it actually does anything with what it perceives. It's one of those initiation things - it makes as much sense as drinking a yard of ale or crawling through a tunnel lined with food to me.

Something like that was my first thought, but the rules on Intelligo granting senses explicitly state that a spell can only grant one sense at a time. It seems like the same restriction ought to apply to enchantments as well.

It looks to me like an attempt to be thematic with the initiation sacrifice, without much thought being put into how one would make such a thing. And yeah, a lot of the initiations strike me as things that a fraternity might do to new pledges.

On the other hand, a reasonable understanding of species might be in order if one wanted to use them to carry magical effects. shrug

Short answer: yes.

Longer answer: the latter books in the line, such as Hermetic Projects, were written with the idea of clarifying some of the fiddly bits of AM5th. (HP also clarifies how to make flying objects, for example.) This is likely one of them. Ie, this IS the errata you are asking for.

For example, (Serf's parma), I believe ReVi Watching Wards can also have Intelligo effects designed within them, in order to sense the environment more efficiently, and in order to trigger other effects - which is the exact same scenario we're talking about, here. If that's the case (and I can check later on when I get back home), then that's evidence that spells have base senses, or at least have something you can hook additional senses into, by default. And Watching Wards aren't just rituals - you can have non-ritual versions, as well. (I believe either MoH or HP has an example of one.) Thus, that suggests that even regular spells can have sensory effects built into them as triggers.

EDIT - OK, just remembered that we're talking specifically about Sensory magic, and not just Intelligo effects; when I get home, I'll check to see if I can find any specific examples of that.

Omissions in earlier books were indeed resolved in later ones, and of course many extensions of the system, also many new spell guidelines, introduced.

Some significant examples are:

  • HoH:S p.113 box Wards and Penetration following up on forum discussions, finally being decided by the line editor
  • AtD p.59 box Leap of Homecoming and Regiones
  • TME p.107 box New Guidelines for Instant Transportation (see also errata for that)
  • TtA following up MuVi errata on p.75 box Alexander of House Ex Miscellanea's Wizard's Vigil and, redundantly, p.137 box Ferra of Bonisagus' Day of Communion
  • TME p.101ff The Superb Scrinium implicitly replacing, but not invalidating HoH:TL p.101f Twinning the Tome with its unsatisfactory big "+5 intricacy" modifier

AFAIK none of the many, many later additions to the system, however, have ever tried to sneak in errata to core book ArM5 without saying so. That would also be a hack student's way to introduce corrections, and unworthy of ArM5.

HP p.82 Hearing the Tearing uses T: Hearing, and doesn't follow its description on ArM5 p.113f Magical Senses. The HP p.82f Assassin's Bell and Listen to the Bells don't even mention this contradiction, and certainly don't make it an issue: so it is clearly an oversight. And these may happen everywhere.


Counter-example would be Impede the Impertinent Interloper (HP, pg. 109) - Perdo Vim anti-magic wards are officially a thing; previously, I believe the consensus of the Core rulebook was that that's not how non-instant Perdo worked. Another example would be the clarification of ReVi Suppression effects in A Day's Grace (MoH, pg. 102), and the ability to create non-ritual Watching Wards with conventional Hermetic durations (The Patient Spell, MoH, pg. 113)...and, as I look through that section, apparently the limitation on MuVi is that you can't do more than 10 levels of change, rather than "1 MuVi spell, up to 10 levels". (ie, if you can, you can cast 2 MuVi effects on 1 spell). There have been a number of updates that haven't been officially called out in entire sections or in callouts.

Now - are some of those typos or house rules that the authors accidently added to the canon? Could be - I believe the Perdo Vim ward thing was something that the playtesters mentioned that they "forgot to pull out" - however, it's canon now. And absent any sort of errata, it seems to be here to stay. (And frankly I'm fine with it, as it adds a layer of magical defense and consistency that wasn't there previously.)

So, in the Intelligo example, we have a somewhat vaguely-written core rulebook, and an explicit example from a book. And frankly I would partially side with you: "a magical item is a person" is true only in the vaguest of technical senses (limited sentience and personhood - ie, it can sense it's environment, and react to it), and one that obviously wouldn't be accepted by a mideval ethicist. However - from a pragmatic sense, the ruling solves a number of irritating problems, and other than twisting the core ruling into near-incomprehension (but not outright breaking it), I'm fine with calling it "an official clarification". If you can get Atlas to make an official ruling, then I'll be happy to concede. Otherwise, the update is right there in print form. Magic Items have senses, and you can hook into and update them. Who knew!

I don't have much time. So I only do your first example now.

You talk apparently about TME p.109 Impede the Impertinent interloper. The spell uses an uncommon D: Ring T: Circle for PeVi, and then apparently a standard PeVi Guideline

I don't know, what exactly you "believe the consensus of the Core rulebook was" about "non-instant Perdo", and where you derive it from. Is ArM5 p.119 PeVi 15 Agony of the Beast with its D: Concentration a "non-instant Perdo", that shouldn't exist?

Please elaborate your example further, with all the right quotes and a precise description, just where TME with Impede the Impertinent interloper sneaks in an erratum.

Introducing just a clarification with a new spell is something quite different and legitimate, and happens a lot in ArM5. And occasionally oversights happen as well.

For now I see the following:
A T: Circle spell

and hence has problems affecting effects not yet present at this time. Impede the Impertinent interloper tries to circumvent this by its phrasing:

So the spell's author defined the magical effects it prevents indirectly, as affecting the underlined entities above. This may be a clarification, an extension or even an overextension of ArM5 PeVi guidelines. But it doesn't look like a sneak erratum.


P. S. with a minute more time:

Which makes such probable result of an oversight at the verrry most a weird spell like HoH:TL p.73 Aura of Inconsequence. But obviously not an erratum of core book ArM5.

This is just a quick note to thank everyone for their input, which gave my troupe enough to resolve the problem to our satisfaction. We're going with KevinSchultz's interpretation for pragmatic reasons: it lets us handle this weird issue quickly and easily.

That said, I'm enjoying following the interesting back and forth this has caused, and it's reminded me of how much is left unsaid in the rules. For example, how do automata (HoH: MC pp. 128 - 131) sense things? Nothing in the rules for their construction mentions anything about senses. And yet, they can, if crafted for the purpose, perform complex tasks like weaving or fist fighting. shrug