Sniffer dogs looking for Vis

I was thinking about searching for vis and then suddenly an idea hit me.

Make a dog collar enchanted with an effect to let the dog smell vis and train it like a modern sniffer dog.

Or you could make a collar for detecting magical creatures and train the dogs for hunting such creatures.

Has anyone played around with similar ideas?


Would it work if you put the collar on a grog? Also how does the grog explain that to the village priest...

I guess it would if you found the right grog, but I think dogs tend to be better at tracking by smell than grogs.

As for explaining I guess there are some members of the Inquisition that liked using the tools of the trade on each other for pleassure.

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My current character's familiar has this trick. She's a doggie - and a Good Dog, obviously.

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As I recall, the covenant of Lambaird in Hibernia breeds magical dogs with this power. So if you’re in the neighborhood, you can buy the dog instead of the collar. But I think it’s a great idea.

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Just looked it up.
Their hounds have Magic Sensitivity and are neutered before sale.
So while the we could get dogs from Lambaird I guess it's better to find a solution that does not mean we need new dogs from Ireland every few years.

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Well, you can’t blame them for protecting their business. But! Magical creatures don’t have mundane lifespans, so treat your dog well and he’ll be sniffing out vis for you for a century!

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The book says that the line of vis sniffing hounds decend from the familiar of one of the mages.

Also CrAn to make the dog whole again.

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How is this easier than creating your own "see vis" spell and wandering around for a season? I assume this is how most covenants locate their initial vis sources. After that, it gets a lot more tricky (vis appears on this day at this location and vanishes minutes later, that sort of thing), which is something no doggo/grog with a magic widget will help with.

In other words, a covenant generally finds the easy to find vis sources nearby, and anything after that is probably story fodder. I don't think many storyguides would let such creations become a significant contributor to the covenant's vis supplies, though it could become story fodder.

According to the book they do remind buyers that any offspring belongs to them and they apparently would go to war to protect their hound monopoly.

I don't see how they get the idea that any offspring belong to them- that isn't how any economy has ever worked.
On the other hand you can irrevocably neuter a dog with a low level longevity ritual.
As to the why- because it frees up the mage for other things while allowing a grog to use the dog to search for vis.

Cow and calf extended a couple of generations.

I guess it's all in the sales contract.

Cow and Calf is modern copyright law justified with hand waving to justify intellectual property in an age where there was no intellectual property. It doesn't apply to breeding animals unless, as noted, the animal was on loan instead of having been purchased (and even then it only applied to the cow, not the bull)

What isn't hand waving in a roleplaying game about wizards?

But I prefer my hand waving with at least a nod to actual history compared to pure fantasy.

And the idea of "I'm selling you this animal but all its offspring are mine" is so far from a nod to history that the faerie realm would kick it out and sent it packing...

The "Cow and calf" ruling isn't something made up by the Ars Magica authors. According to historical tradition it is an actual ruling from 6th century Ireland, although like many similar traditions it was probably invented much later - the oldest written references to said ruling appears to be from the 16th century.


Note that the ruling was "To every cow belongs her calf". This is true, but if you sell the calf you've sold the calf. The monastery in question hadn't sold a copy to Columba. He just showed up and made one intending to keep it. Once you've sold something, you've sold it. Nobody expected to get the offspring of a cow they sold to someone else unless it was a condition of the sale.

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Sorry but I have to side with @silveroak that it is hand waved IP.

The link you provided is to a myth attached to an actual battle, copy/pasted heavily from one story source and disputed by the two research sources. Additionally the 16th century is in the renaissance (and the later half of it at that), which has a highly different mindset from the medieval period. A myth dating to the renaissance is not a valid historical reference to copyright law existing before what is arguably the creation of the myth.

The "Cow & Calf" is very much an attempt to insert modern copyright and IP into a setting where no such thing would actually exist.

Now if you want to assert that the order came up with copyright anachronistically because of mags claiming that people copying their works that they were still selling were depriving them of vis, and therefore magica power, then it fits right in, but the idea of an eternal copyright derived from an at best tangentially related account is just hand waving to justify retarding the market in the name of advancing it.
A ruling (possibly on a tribunal by tribunal basis) that a book cannot be copied until the original author had stopped selling copies for x number of years would make far more sense.