Talisman Components

I'm playing a character who intends to enchant his talismanin the very near future.

My character is a heavily intellego focused Guernicus his strongest forms are mentem and corpus. In the next few years his intention is to learn a fair amount of Herbam because the covenant has a good supply of herbam vis and he in going to enchant a wooden staff as a talisman (+3 affect living wood, +4 affect dead wood, +4 control things at a distance).

The character is quite pious and fear of damnation is his greatest motavator. the character is also obsessed with unraveling a mystery regarding the destruction of a covenant 20 years ago.

I was originaly thinking of creating a Staff of hazel witha rock crystal in it.

Thus opening the possibility of, if needed, attuning the following shape and material bonuses;
+3 affect living wood,
+4 affect dead wood,
+4 control things at a distance
+4 destroy things at a distance
+3 project bolt ot missle
+2 repel things
+3 healing
+5 clairvoyance
+3 divination

I had thought to open up the bonuses for clairvoyance and divination immediately and perhaps the dead wood bonus.

But upon looking over the enchantment rules I found the following in invested devices,

p97. "May not contain more compoents than your magic theory score "

Now the character has a magic theory score of 6 with a specialization in enchnated devices and puissant magic theory. In addition to the 2 elements above he could also incluse seven other components into his talisman.

And if, in character, understands the talisman creation parameters he probably would (better safe than sorry). So What else would the character wish to put in his talisman?

My first thoughts would be that he might include tey to include red coral in it (+10 vs. demons but his restriction flaw would prevent hm from ever being able to use it) and shod the foot of the staff with iorn (which would be practial even if it does make the Merinita uneasy.

What else could be included without being silly?

A metal filigree wouldn't be too bad (lead, silver & gold are in the 5th ed. book, I seem to remember some more in the WGRE). You'll probably want lead for the warding bonus. You could also hang bells for warning, though it might be pushing it a bit. How about some feathers?

Incidentally, I wonder if for things like "human skull", a symbolic representation would be acceptable (e.g. carved gemstone). If you don't need "the real thing", the rock crystal fittings could be shaped appropriately (I think "animal claws" were in the WGRE).

One warning though, you're not just limited by the number of elements you can put in, but also by the number of pawns of vis you can use to initially open the device (before you even make it your talisman).

Gah!! I just reread the taisman rules I had misinterpreted the bits on the end o the first column and the begining of the second column of page 98. you need to open an item for enchantment before you can make it you talisman. after this you can add vis in a piecemeal fasion. I had previously thought that you could add the vis a bit at a time from the begining.

The written rules are far more balanced.

I do not believe I understand the Talisman rules at all. Hopefully, this is a stupid question, and someone can explain why.

If I wasn't looking to put enchantments into the talisman, but rather just to use it for attunement bonuses, could I just use 1 pawn of vis to open it? And if so, why wouldn't I? (And then spend more vis when I wanted to put actual enchantments in it later.)

No. You have to use the right number of pawns of vis, based on the size and material of the talisman. You do have some options; you can open the cheapest part of a multi-unit talisman, for example, but that loses you the material bonus for the other bits.

The pawns of vis required to open an item aren't a maximum, they're a simple requirement.

Great. Thanks.

Now, looking at Preparation for Enchantment on page 97, and considering compound items. I'm confused by the example. It says that the staff with iron shoing and a quarts crystal could cost either twelve pawns (the highest individual piece) or twenty five (the combined sum of all pieces).

Why would you spend the 25 instead of 12?

I would infer that if you only spent 12 pawns you would only get the benefits from the quarts Shape and Material bonus. But if that's true, why is it repeated as an option in a compound item.

Does the question make sense or should I try it again?

I think I understand it, but I may be wrong.

You would spend 25 instead of 12 in order to be able to put lots and lots of powers into an item that isn't your talisman; in the case of a talisman, to get the material bonus for the whole item.

In a compound item, you do get the shape bonus for the whole item, but you only get the material bonus for the bit you actually opened.

Okay. I think I got it.

Now to book mark this for when my character is ready to open his hoe talisman.

Hang on there a second.... :slight_smile:

The maximum number of pawns you can invest in your Talisman is the Total of your TWO highest arts: Creo/Vim Scores of 10/10 would enable you to invest twenty (20) pawns of Vim into your device. {This IS different than other methods}. You may invest as many of these pawns at a time as you wish...ie 5 pawns this season, 4 next season, 11 some other season. You could also add all 20 at once to the device....
You can put as many components as your MT into building your device (as you stated). Each component can give you an attunement bonus like you have stated...
Remember: You can attune one bonus into your device in a season....this is in ADDITION (bonus) to the power that you (partially) invest for that season...

The rules for Talismans are niffty, but you have to take note of the exceptions...

when you begin the talisman, you have to be able to open it: either as a simple device or a compound device. If it's a compound device, the cost to open it is Either (the sum of the Vim cost of each component) or (the highest Vim cost of any single component) [ArM5 p.97], and most likely exceeds 2*MT !

If you open the talisman as a simple device, you can use the Shape AND Material of the magically opened part, and the Shape bonus from any physically attached part. So if you opened just the Crystal, you'd get "crystal" (material) "ball" (shape) and "staff" (shape) but not "wood" (because you did not open the material part).

In later seasons you can open more spaces in the talisman, but there is no provision to enchant more components and claim the material bonus from them.

Senior magi (with a high MT score) may even feel driven to destroy an earlier Talisman, and craft a new one to make one with more enchanted components as a compound device.

the maximum number of pawns you can use in the lab in one whole season, is limited to two times Magic Theory score

the Art based calculation for Art-specific Vis is only applicable to casting spells (including Rituals)... Lab work uses different rules.

the limit of Highest Technique + Highest Form is the limit on the total capacity of the Talisman (which can be opened bit-by-bit), not the limit on the number of pawns handled in a single season.

Just in case anyone not on the Berklist missed this.

The Talisman rules violate a whole bunch of rules...it even says that they do...
Of course, even IF you couldn't put it all in during one season, no big deal...you can open it over several seasons...

no... you can re-open it and expand to have more open spaces, but only after you have opened it initially, before you made it into your Talisman.

The biggest limitation on what you can get as attunements, is what you can open in that first season, when it's just a plain object being opened, and not yet become a Talisman.
Once it is a Talisman, you can add more enchantment spaces, but can't open other "bits" to make them accessible for attunement; you can only attune the shape(s) you started with, and the material(s) you initally opened. And if you can't manage a compound device with all the materials you want, you must either remove materials from the Talisman, or make a Simple (single Material!) device (which can have multiple shape bonuses, and hence, over time, attunements).

ArM5 p.97 Preparation for Enchantment col. 2
"it is possible to enchant only part of an item. For example, you can enchant a ruby on the end of a staff".

"it is also possible to prepare a compound item... there are two ways to do this..."
"either prepare it with a...sum of the pawns for each component, or with a number of pawns equal to the highest required by a single component".
The example staff has a highest single cost of 12 (the quartz), or a sum totla of 25 (for staff, iron and quartz).
[and a limit on number of components equal to MT score]

"it is not posible to partially open a single item"

"an item that has ben prepared for enchantment is useless until it is attuned as a talisman, or..."

p. 98 Talisman Attunement
"you can only attune an item as your talisman if you prepared it for enchantment yourself".

... so you can make a compund device with up to (MT) components.
You are limited to twice MT pawns of vis in a season of Lab work.
You can open the compound device if the highest single vis cost of any component is within your 2*MT limit.

the following only apply once the item has been attuned as a talisman:
"the capacity of a talisman ... depends on the power of the magus...equal to the sum of highest Technique and highest Form..."
"capacity of a talisman may be opened a bit at a time".
"in addition...open your talisman to one kind of attunement based on the shape and material of the talisman, every time you prepare it for enchantment or instill an effect".

Well, as Neil Taylor pointed out onthe Berk list (and as I now see, much to my chagrin, that Caberet pointed out here as well), a compund device can be opened by investign a number of pawns equal to that needed to fill the component witht he highest capacity.

This puts my magus back in the position of having no in-character reason not to include nine components in his talisman.

So far I can imagine

a staff of coiled oak and hazel with a quartz rock crystal and a bit of amber between the coils. The staff is shod with iron.

This leaves four more components to add without making the staff look silly. I'm looking for suggestions.

I can imagine the iron having a divit so a gem that one can not see could exist between the wood shaft and the iron base. The specific gem could suite the strengths of your magus. I suppose if the items are small enough, more than one could be placed in this divit.

Urien is right in his statement above.

I am in a hurry, but here quickly the relevant quotes needed for clarification:
ArM5 p.98: "The maximum number of pawns of Vim vis that may be used to prepare a talisman (scilicet: for enchantment) is equal to the sum of the magus's highest Technique and highest Form. Unlike other items, the capacity of a talisman may be opened a bit at a time."
So a talisman is explicitly exempt from the restriction on project size given by ArM5 p. 91: "The amount of raw vis that a magus may use in a single season is limited to twice his Magic Theory score. The magus cannot successfully integrate any more vis into a single project." (And likely also from the optional Berklist restriction of three times Magic Theory instead of two times.) It is not exempt from the restriction on maximum number of pawns of vis used in a single season of labwork.

Kind regards,


let's be clear here:
firstly there are two stages to investing a talisman (and we got here talking about the first)
stage 1: prepare a normal, ordinary, non-talisman device by opening it for enchantment.
the amount of Vis required is determined by (and limited by) the Size & Material of the item (and if Compound, buy the choice of Highest or Sum option).
stage 2: (after you have attuned the item in stage 1) an actual talisman has a greatly increased capacity for investment, in pawns of vis and enchantment spaces.
Instead of being limited by Size & Material, and instead of being limited by the Vis you could handle in the first season, you gain a new limit on pawns invested of Max(Te+Fo), and can open that investment in any number of stages and in variable amount.

the stage 1 requirement places limits on what you can choose to make into a talisman

correct - once it is attuned, its theoretical maximum capacity increases.

(p.94, not p.91!) it does not say that - it says that the limit is increased above the Size & Material.
The p.98 quote does not say "project size" it says "capacity"

I can't work out what this last paragraph meant, as you contradict yourself.

I have always read the 5e text as meaning that you are still limited to 2*MT in any one season (or the Berk *3 limit)

You can add more pawns to a talisman, in any amount from 1 to 2*MT, up to a sum total (since you started opening it from a mundane state) of max(Te+Fo), and you may do so any number of times so long as the total limit is not exceeded

The 5e writing is not perfect, and shows traces of (a) being edited from 5 starting material, and (b) traces of what are presumably edits between playtest versions of what became 5e.

Capacity is not explicity defined, but is referred back to. The consistent interpretation is:
capacity for instilling effects (aka investment spaces) = number of pawns used to prepare item
capacity for preparation = Size factor * Material factor (from Material & Size table)m or a sum of S*M factors for "sum option" Compound Devices

most devices must be fully prepared in one season, where you are limited (as always to a Project Size of 2*MT pawns), but talismans can be reopened repeatedly to higher final limit. When you re-open the talisman and invest more pawns of vis, you increase the capacity for instilling effects

Project Size limits all Vis expenditure in the lab:
preparing a device for enchantment
instilling an effect
creating a longevity ritual (*but not apparently re-creating one, which takes "no significant time")
opening a familiar bond

editing changes mean that it is unclear whether this limits Study From Vis, which is no longer a Lab Activity. Prior to Study From Vis moving out of the lab, there were no season-long vis activities which were not in the lab...


That's exactly what's not the case, because of ArM5 p.98: "The maximum number of pawns of Vim vis that may be used to prepare a talisman is equal to the sum of the magus's highest Technique and highest Form. Unlike other items, the capacity of a talisman may be opened a bit at a time."
The ellipsis 'prepare' is resolved unequivocally by going backward on p.98 until finding the previous use of 'prepare' in: "You can only attune an item as your talisman if you prepared it for enchantment yourself."
So from the rules as written we must conclude that preparing a talisman for enchantment is different from preparing other items for enchantment.

Just that you have to prepare a talisman before you can attune it.

I don't contradict myself.

But perhaps you understand it better this way:
ArM p.98 sets a different limit of "maximum number of Vim vis that may be used to prepare" a talisman for enchantment, but at the same time also makes clear in the following phrase that "the capacity of a talisman may be opened a bit at a time".
So with Magic Theory 4, highest Technique 10 and highest Form 10 a maga can prepare a talisman for enchantment whose Size and Material require 20 pawns of Vim vis to prepare, but needs 3 seasons to do so.

So do I.

You are hinting at some errata in the making for this rules complex?

Kind regards,