That Which We Burn, So Do We Remember

My Verditius magus has been tasked with designing and building a device that will allow access to certain documents only where four out of the six magi agree.

Imagine a locked box where any four keys together can open it. The magi could put documents into it and be reasonably sure that they will be kept safe.

But that's a little mundane. So I wanted something that destroyed the documents as they were put in but also had the ability to project an image of the destroyed documents when the four "keys" were inserted and the document owner's name was spoken. Imagine the magi standing around the "altar", keys inserted into the locks and glowing green documents, pieces of the images breaking off and drifting like smoke, appearing before them.

The idea is easy enough to think up but it's not so easy trying to make it fit the game rules.

Just how do you destroy something BUT store its image? I had thought of a CrIg to burn the parchment and I could then read back the ashes, learning all mundane properties of what was burned and then trigger a CrIm effect to display the document.

I can't see a decent guideline for "remembering" something into a device.

Any ideas?

Awesome Idea!! :smiley: I like it might very well think of ways to steal it :smiling_imp:

I think your suggested forms already seem reasonable - especially since as the effect you are describing could very easily lean upon the InIg Tale of Ashes spell coupled with some CrIm.

Thanks. But the InIg (CrIm) is the easy bit. It's the whole "Burn something to ashes but let the device remember the link between the name and those ashes". I can't find any guidelines that seem appropriate.

Setting an Arcane Connection is a seasonal activity. I had thought about some kind of Ring duration effect that changes the device in some way, adding the ashes to the device if you like.

Tricky to make it fit the rules...


OK, I can see this requring some pondering. Hm. a very complicated way, with limited memory, would be using ReVi "spell bottles" and multiple devices.

First (a box with key slots and slot for bottle)
-- Trigger operation on forth key and presence of bottle (InTe)
-- Place document or item in device
-- "Read" the item (InTe, with requisites)
-- Project image of item
-- Destroy item

Second (bottle)
-- InVi(Im) to sense image creation effect
-- ReVi(im) to bottle effect that creates image(triggers off of sense image effect) Bottle is constant effect.

Third ("reader")
-- InTe effect to sense keys and bottle
-- Triggers InVi(Im) effect that discerns contents of bottle (sketchy on guideline, but seems reasonable)
-- CrIm to recreate image -- concentration duration

Alternate Third device could use a PeVi effect with a concentration duration that surpresses the bottle. I''m unclear as to weather this might work but you could bottle the image or effect in another bottle if the PeVi effect "spills" the original bottle or not. If it does, then you will need a second bottle to pick up such a spill for later reuse.

Anyway, the bottles fould be made as charged items maybe to cut vis costs and speed production. Specifying that only documents written on continuous scolls of a particular length would cut down on requisites for reading effects.

Another, perhaps cheaper, way to do it would be to use real bottles. Consider:

Each bottle would change the document into a liquid (MuTe(Aq, and other req)) and store it in that state at constant duration. Each bottle will need at least four keys (InTe) to open (MuTe) and then simply pour out the liquid into a shallow dry sink and the document/item would reassemble itself since the essential nature has not been changed.

The bottles would be reusable and transportable.

Sorry if this is overly complex. Haven't spent a lot f time making items yet.

Hope this helps.


You know, I originally wanted to do something with Aquam as our covenant sits on the Isle of Oxney and we're surrounded by water. It just felt fitting.

The magical problem is that I want a single device to "remember" some items/connections/ashes - whatever - and to recall them later. The items are not known at design-time and the recall should not end the spell effects.

I could envision a number of items, perhaps one effect to "remember" or store an item and another to project the image. But I can't get a single device to do it without bending the rules and giving it a "capacity".

Hmm. OK, I see the challenge. Off the top of my head, I can't see it done without some sort of capacity.

I don't have my book with me at the moment, but I seem to remember that a Perdo Vim effect with a duration (perhaps concentration) would only supress a spell but not eliminate it. If you have the Creo Imagonem effect contained in a ReVi bottle with constant duration and then use the PeVi effect to supress the bottle while the doc is being read/used, you might be able to get the effect you want.

I'm thinking, though, that this would actually be a good research project. The question I have is whether this Verditius of yours has been initiated into the alchemical Mysteries. You troupe may agree that IF he has, then setting up a stand-alone system to automatically fix an arcane connection to a particular item might constitue a minor breakthrough (not unlike automatic vis extraction).

Another minor breakthrough might be a CrVi effect that creates an arcane connection where none existed before. Imagine a device that could do that in a very short period of time instead of spending a whole season on doing that regularly. Your Verditius would be obscenely wealthy in a short time after new of the device gets out (or the subject of certamen matches and wizards wars ad infinitum, but, hey, that would make a good story hook right there!).

So, kind of a long winded way to say that I don't see a cheap or easy way to do it without spending a lot of time in my books.

Wish I could offer more.


Why not use a greater invested device using intellego vis?

In the 4th Ed Grimoire revised there are details for devices to "learn" skills and abilities using Intellego vis. Each vis experience point could actually be used to remember a document, or a single page.

Invest 3 or 4 pawns of Intellego into it and you can keep a number of different documents.
The device would need three different effects:
One to store the image, an InIm effect would do, storing a "keyword" and the image of the document in the Int vis.
One to destroy the document, triggered when the Int vis was activated.
And finally one to create the image of the document when the four keys are used and the keyword spoken.

In this way, you can always add more vis as time goes by, or just add in lots at the start.
You could even set the device so that the intellego vis part was inter-changeable.

I would have a hand with open fingers, and you put the Intellego vis into rings. The ring with available experience points goes on the first finger, the document onto the palm of the hand. A magus touches the thumb and commands the item to activate, along with the keyword. E.g. "Memorize Oath of Covenant". When the magus takes their hand away the item activates, "reads" the image and stores it into the ring. The document ignites and burns to ashes. (Maybe a perdo effect to make it un-readable?)

When the document is to be reviewed it is placed in the palm of the hand, the 4 rings placed on each finger. A magus touches the thumb and the says activation word and keyword e.g. "Restore Oath of Covenant". When they stop touching the hand the document will appear floating in the air. It will last until any of the rings are removed.

In the lab, a suitable lab total will be able to recover a list of keywords from a ring, but it would be almost impossible to recover the images without having all of the rings.

(I appollogize for not listing any spell levels, but I have not yet made the full conversion to 5th ed.

I, too, think this is a neat idea.

CrMe Base 5 allows you to "create a memory in another's mind." Of course, inanimate objects don't have minds, but I don't think extrapolating from this guideline is inappropriate. I would handle it by simply tacking on an extra magnitude or two to account for the unnaturalness of holding a memory in something without a mind. Something like:

CrMe 24 (Base 5, +2 Sun, +1 unnatural, +4 levels constant)

I take it that such an effect would have to be constant. If it weren't, the item would "forget" the moment the duration ended.

Sorry that I have very limited time to make a more fulfilling answer. I do think that if you keep all the ashes in the chest then I dont think it should be a problem to call up a single sheet of paper or document, but to balance things out you might add a mangitude due to complexity besides the one for the requisites to create the apparition (CrIm).

It's a hex document viewer!

Yeah with a hashmap to associate the document object with a name reference.

Why not approach this using the Hermetic Architecture minor mystery virtue? (page 97 TMRE)
Compound Component Devices are part of this.

So, to continue the modern computing analogy, stop thinking RAM, and start thinking ROM. (And while these terms are modern, the idea of hiding something in secret code is not.)

You don't need some mystic magical holding spell, you need a magical data library in hardcopy, only not accessible to uninvited mundane eyes (even with magical assistance).

The device "burns" the image into memory - something that is more complex than microfilm (ie, it's not simply "shrunk"), but still "readable" and permanant (like a CD/DVD), so even a huge Dispell won't erase the source data (just disrupt the retrieval system). Then, it's just a matter of accessing the data, and presentation.

Arguably, this could require a (minor?) magical breakthrough via research- but, hey, what better excuse to bump Magic Theory a bit?

It might take some small Vis to power a truly "permanent" record, but if the documents are valuable, and/or can be input en mass, that could be worth it. Alternately, the research could come up with a way to power the ROM device initially, and then that would maintain the permanence.

Cr/Mu Imagonem is the obvious choice to turn a document into something that cannot be read visually*, but only via the proper ("proprietal"?) magical spell. Perhaps with a MuVi to truly encrypt the final resulting data so only the designed partner-spell can retrieve it. Starting Level 1, plus about +1 level of magnitude for legible letters, +1 more for subtle details, and +1 last for Muto'ing it into something indecipherable.

(* Possibly, a Terrem element to inscribe the final "information" onto a permanent metallic (gold?) or gem-like surface? This could be permanently embedded for safety, or removable for convenience (and plot complications?) Heh, "data-crystals"...)

Then, a different but more simple CrIm to render the data visible on demand, perhaps with an InIm function to help with searches, and a MuVi aspect to compliment the security/encrypting function of the encoding spell. It's a PGP microfish viewer, ala Order of Hermes.

(NB! -
As a SG, I'd warn to take due consideration before allowing any magical recreation of Hermetic texts. The idea of a Xerox machine that can instantly copy (or even just "store") high-level Arts Summa
en mass[i] could explode a Saga, not to mention the logical leap to a Spell that does the same!

A device that literally "burns" a hard-copy into a magical one might(???) be more reasonable- ymmv.

You don't need any other rationale than Game Balance- Magical Texts are "just different"- it simply doesn't work. Opinions differ as to why...)

In all honesty, I hadn't intended an analogy to modern computing. I'd actually intended my CrMe suggestion as something akin to the Art of Memory spells in TMRE - something in the way of a free-floating locus of a memory palace. This is the closest published analog to I could think of to "'remembering' something into a device."

(My 100th post after only a year and a half. Furion, watch out!)

Turn the document into light (Muto Anim probably with an Ignam requiste? Or would that be Imaginem?) It's not really destroyed, it's more like... encripted, to borrow someone elses computer analogy. Trap the light in the box and instill a prism with an effect of being able to read the light if all 4 keys are activated. The prism could project the document onto the wall. Does that sound plausible?

I think I've cracked it.

I've been thinking a little too literally about durations and the like. This may well count as a new duration (along with the required breakthrough...) but let's assume a Muto effect with a "Ring" duration. I understand that the item is transformed all the while it is within the ring. Once it leaves the ring, the effect ends and the item returns to its original form (physical restrictions allowing).

What if the device itself was the "ring"? Is this a new duration or is this an "interpretation" of Bonisagus' intention?

This is the missing link, I think. With the "Device" duration, any effect on the items as they are put into the device will remain, allowing us to recall the transformed items and/or get and display the images of them.

Even if this is a new Duration, my Verditius has inventive genius and we have a Bonisagus lab specialist... Don't know how long it would take to invent a new Duration but at least we'd be using a new set of rules that we haven't tried yet.

What do you think?

So you want to trap the pages in the ring like trapping a genie in a bottle?

Yeah, something like that. Except that the device will be large and imposing, with a touch of the dramatic.

Make it a T: Circle, D: Ring spell that affects its contents. And there you go with your Magical Circle of Doom! :slight_smile:


I'm not sure this counts as a new duration. It sounds more like a conditional duration, like faerie magic. Still pretty cool though.