The Diedne's Feast - 'trapped' magic item

The PCs will discover a hidden cave which seems to have been used by the Diedne as a hidey hoel during the Schism war. Although most of the supplies have rotted, they find a large table, laden with food. Underneath the inch of dust and bat poop, the food is still edible! The PCs may also notice a ReAn ward in a circle around the table, this is simply to keep small animals and insects away from the food.

The food on the table does not spoil and the table magically refreshes its anything that is eaten or drunk every sunrise.

So here is the sting. The food is not created momentarily, it is created with a Duration of Year (or maybe Year And A Day). Following the guidance in the Creo description:

I am thinking that after a year where the majority of the PCs food came from this table, the effect of having the food wear off should be more than just 'extremely hungry' after all, the food is no longer in their stomach but has been partially assimilated into their body.

I think it depends on how you explain the Creo technique.

For instance you might rule that Creo does not in fact create the food, it only gives a "food" form to surrounding matter. Thus when it is assimilated in the body the matter form is transformed from whatever the food was (Animal I presume) to Corpus. Then the original Creo Animal spell ending has no importance.

I have a couple of problems with this item, although it's certainly possible to create such an item. My problems are story and understanding the limits of the Ars Magica magic system.

Why does such a device exist? Why would Diedne, who are on the run for their lives or fighting for their lives, create such an item? Any magus with a decent magic theory should know that food created on this table is of limited duration, as devices cannot perform effects that are rituals, and only rituals can make permanent items.

Read the OP again. He knows this - but deliberately challenges and debates it.

Read MY post again. The PCs should reasonably know that the device isn't capable of creating food. I said decent, but really it isnt necessary to have a decent MAgic Theory as this is a basic axiom of Hermetic magic! Items cannot mimic rituals. And items created with magic are not permanent without Vis. If both are axioms of MT then PCs should automatically know that the food on the table isn't permanent.

I mostly agree. Also, if I am not wrong, this effect would not be possible with Year duration, since that would make the effect indeed a Ritual...

(As a wild side note, I was thinking the situation would be completely different if the table was maybe created with a Diedne variation of Hermetic Empowerment, for instance, and produced permanent food...)

Thank you Lasse for trying to keep the thread on subject.

Jonathan, Galdric. My game, I can do what I want.

I am looking for advice on applying a mechanical effect within the existing rules structure, not a debate on the metaphysics of the setting. The PCs are unlikely to discover the backstory so it is largely irrelevant to the original question.

But in brief:
The Diedne wern't always at war with the Order
Diedne aren't reknowned as item crafters but trade in magical items was rife in the early days of the Order
I see the table as the result of a mage's Original Research into items that can permanently create stuff (a Major or even Hermetic level breakthrough). The table did not acheive this but it does push the boundaries by allowing a longer duration than Moon to be used in an item (a Minor breakthrough). The research was never circulated (perhaps the magus was killed duringt he war by the Diedne who took the table) but the PCs could study the table and gain breakthrough points towards rediscovering the technique if they desire. The Diedne discovered the table was flawed and left it behind as a 'trap' (it is after all too large to lug around when 'running for their lives'.

Ok backstory done, back to the question. How to apply the effect of having the material that makes up your body disappear. And could it be cured?

Indisputably you can do what you want.

You're making a trap that operates by using a hermetic principle, while violating another hermetic principle to create it.
Jonathan, Galdric (and I) are trying to help, by pointing out how the item is in discord with standard hermetic theory.

As an experimental item, or parhaps the creation of a magus with the long-lived magic virtue, it could work, but that's about it.

A forum such as this must by necessity assume strict RAW unless otherwise noted, which is why the back story may be irrelevant at your table, but must be noted here - otherwise the possible range of replies will deviate from what is desired.

Now, finally, for your actual question, what will happen should the characters draw their main sustenance from this device?
Hard to say, RAW does not trivially provide an answer. The deprivation rules is probably where you should go.

If they'd eaten nothing but from the table, I'd probably let them die slowly from thirst and hunger - give them a few days if only the food came from the table, an hour or so if they drank nothing not from the table.

Ofcourse, I'd also expect my players to spot the violation of hermetic theory and avoid something like that, so there's that :wink:

PS: a question in return: does the table have a penetration value included?

My preferred solution is just to have the character be really hungry. As in - needing to eat as much as he would in a year's time. If not enough food is provided, the character will suffer Deprivation (starvation) at the usual rate (whatever that is; I don't remember), until it is. He also effectively suffers a Compulsion to eat, from the hunger. This leaves plenty of room for roleplaying opportunities.

The other alternative is instant death, as the character suddenly hasn't eaten in a year. But I think that's more boring, and less Mythic.

What is this, the BerkList?
Those two statements are inconsistent. My game, I can do what I want. Sure, no doubt about it, and your players can walk when you start taking that attitude.

If you're interested in applying magical effects within the rules structure, and you hold your players to the same standard, your players should immediately spot that this effect isn't possible with hermetic magic (or see below). Permanent items and spells with a Duration of the year must be rituals, page 80 (Limit of Creation) and page 112 (Year Duration) of the Main Rule Book (MRB), respectively. The note about items not replicating ritual spells is on page 96, paragraph preceding the Types of Enchanted Item section.

What you propose below is technically outside the scope of the rules, since you can decide whatever breakthroughs you want for your own saga, of course, but those breakthroughs are, by definition, beyond the scope of the rules and are largely saga and troupe dependent.

And it fails as a trap, since any magus should understand that items can't replicate ritual effects based on their current understanding of magical theory and they should immediately identify it as a 'trapped' item, not after a year has passed when they start falling ill. It is completely inconsistent for characters to not know this, since they themselves can't produce these effects and the Limits of Magic should be part of any basic Magic Theory instruction.

All questions about whether the characters believe such an item is possible aside, if they consumed magically created food for a year, it is a YSMV issue as to the effect of consuming said food. Does it leave people hungry? Does it sate them, only to disappear at a later time, when it has been incorporated by the body, creating wounds that must be healed? Only you can answer that question. IMS, if characters consumed magically created food for a year and it wasn't created with vis, they would be dead within 24-72 hours. I'd drop them to Incapacitated, and would require a spell like Incantation of the Body Made Whole to restore them. There's no basis for that decision, other than the fact that I simply wouldn't create something that screws with the players.

You may find my turn of phrase "screws with players" a bit objectionable, but by RAW, such a device cannot exist under current Hermetic Theory, and any SG who places it in their saga, and waits a game year for the players to figure it out is screwing with players, IMO. If these are new players to Ars Magica, I would show the table filled with food, and if the players didn't let their characters realize it (for whatever reason), I'd throw in a freebie saying something to the effect of: "this effect isn't possible based on your current understanding of Hermetic Magic Theory, so for it to exist, it must be a different kind of magic, or based on some breakthrough." After that, if they consume the food and don't ask for more clarification, my hands are clean, and they've given me license to pull the rug out from under them in a year. That's when I'd go the route above, of requiring Incantation of the Body Made Whole, and then exacting some serious price for casting that spell on all the magi, and the enormous vis cost of those rituals.

Mmm.. One thing which does not quite dawn to me...
Why would mages suffer any ill effects? Or at least as radical as described.

You eat magically made food, this becomes part of your body. Magical effect runs out and parts which were made by that food disappear.That would be bad, if your body was mostly made of magical food which JUST DISAPPEARED, but then you would have to eat huge amount of food at once and then stop eating.

Does not work like that really. Either you eat regular food during the period which magical food is in your system, which does not disappear. Or you eat more magical food which has "expiration date" later than first batch. So at no point should large part of body of the mage be made up of "magic" about to disappear.

Or course, this depends also on how long food would remain in existence, but it would change little. Short time and there is no yet time to consume much magical food, long time and also expiration of spell is prolonged.

Good point actually.
A year ends on the Sunrise of the 4th Equinox or Solstice after it's asting.

So that would rome... 3 months of "food" from your system at a time?
Unhealthy, but probably survivable.

Unless you also drank from the same device - loosing 3 months of liquid is bad.

Well, most of the liquid you drank would disappear from some random creek down the way you came. Amount of liquid inside human is pretty stable. And it requires you to drink only water from the device.

You can't really retroactively remove energy produced from magical food either, which should be what most of the food we have eaten should go to.

Just a thought but this device doesn't have to be Hermetic in origin. The Fae can make devices, as can the infernal and presumably the divine. Maybe some kind of morality lesson about avoiding the curse God levied on humanity (toiling in the fields).

Anyway, agree with the last posters that you'd have a maximum of three months food from the table in you at expiration date but that you'd get this every three months.

Nor would you be losing anything ingested in the last 9 months, so only long term stuff, muscle and bone would be affected at a guess (i'm no doctor but......).

Still, I'd think that fatigue and pain would be the very least of the magi' symptoms.

That's true, but it was a state goal of the OP, that this work within the rules (which I interpreted to be rules for Hermetic Magic). When you get into other realms, that's beyond Hermetic Magic.

A Year duration still requires a ritual spell, so the table cannot produce food that lasts for a year[1]. At best, it can do it for Moon duration.

When the food begins "disappearing" from the body after the expiration of the spell, I'd require something pretty powerful to restore it. Of course, all this is entirely saga dependent, what happens to someone who subsists on magically created food/drink for a significant period of time is up to the SG and the troupe. There's room for lots of interpretation.

Why can't one retroactively remove energy from magical food? It's magic, right? And why can't that be represented by the body to begin wasting away before one's very eyes, as it consumes itself to recover the lost energy?

[1] Going into different realms is fine, but gives the SG a much broader leeway in determining the duration of the effect.

In my view, removing energy retroactively after it has been used for motion etc, is same as creating water by magic, drinking it, letting it pass through body completely and then demanding that body must still lose equivalent of that water when spell expires, despite magically created water no longer being within the body.

Or creating magical stream of water which moves sand, but demanding that once water disappear sand must return to location it was before being affected by magical water. Magic disappears, but any effects it has had on "real" world is permanent, unless explicitly stated opposite. Items moved by Unseen Porter do not carry themselves back where they were once spell is broken.

Of course, your story, but if I was player in your game and you started making such rulings of retroactive energy removal, I would demand you to be consistent and rule that effects of ALL magic are 100% dispelled, retroactively, when spell is over.
Now, what magical food or it's byproducts are in body of person when spell ends, that is another thing. Those can disappear, and will cause weakening of tissue and exhaustion from sudden loss of glukose etc. But retroactively, no.

Magical food consumed was metabolized, energy used and waste disposed. If we start to retroactively removing it from person, we would have to ask if energy which was used to pick up a stone and place it on table being "fake" means that stone is still on the floor.

I'm not the one who said my story, my rules.
I said what would happen would be up to the SG and the troupe.
Players in my sagas wouldn't be doing this in any event. I'd explain what would happen beforehand and then if the player chooses they understand the risks.
Some guidelines, character consuming magically created food will either be constantly hungry and receive no benefit from the food up front or will suffer on the back end. The max duration the item dewcribed can do is Moon. Moon duration lasts until the new and full moons have set. Therefore characters subsisting on that food from the day after a full moon until the next full moon will begin feeling as if they have not eaten in 2 weeks.
If you want a saga were you can subsist on magically created food not created by a ritual,mthat is fine but it isn't supported by RAW. Metabolism has no place in the mythic paradigm.

Neither has retroactively removed energy produced by food place in mythic paradigm. Old world understood the equation of food = energy well enough. And that once you had eaten, it would only affect you so long.
If you read my posts, you notice that I do not go into detail of how long the effect would last, merely pointing out that it is not necessarily anywhere near as disastrous as you make it to be.

Furthermore, you body does not store "two weeks of food" in it. Most of food you eat is burned well before that time into energy. It does not violate mythic paradigm either.

Only things created by magic can be lost, and even they only if they are still part of the body. Else you simply lose energy gained from the food, very bad really, and what has not yet passed your body. But you cannot lose 2 weeks of food because your body does not store two weeks of food within it in any form. Unless you gorge up and gain lots of fat. In which case it is instant liposuction.

No, I do not see subsisting on magical food good idea long term unless you can mix it with multiple sources with different expiration dates, but as stopgap measure or with varied expiration I can see it work well enough. Just far too much hassle compared to simply having plants and spelling them into maturity overnight and then proceeding with that.

I admit, I do not remember seeing guidelines regarding magical food, but basic RAW is that for duration of spell everything created works just like normal equivalent, perhaps better if we take into account the principle of magically created things being "perfect".

There are two places in the rules which might apply to this discussion.
The first, you discount, because of your understanding of food becoming energy, and being used by the time the duration expires. The first spot discussing food and Creo magic on page 77 under the Techniques: Creo section, "[M]agically created food only nourishes for as long as the duration lasts, and someone who has eat it becomes extremely hungry when the duration expires. The tends to support your view that the only effect is that one becomes hungry when the duration expires. The second item which might be applicable is The Limit of Energy (found on page 80): "Hermetic magic cannot restore one's physical energy." Which suggests that people cannot derive sustenance or nourishment from magically created food.

And there, I think you have the basis for the arguments, that people sustained on magically created food are either constantly hungry (Limit of Energy) or they suffer for it when the duration expires. The only issue is how the "cost" of consuming magical food for a duration is "paid." Do characters realize the penalties up front, imposing long term fatigue penalties on the front or the back end? This is largely a YSMV issue, and both options have support under the RAW.

While I'm well aware that the body doesn't store two weeks of food, I would impose a penalty that is equivalent of not having eaten for two weeks if they've consumed food created with Moon Duration and both the full moon and new moon have set, and they started the first day after the new moon. I'd put them at least at a-3 LTF and require immediate infusions of real food and rest to restore their fatigue levels. In other words, IMS, I would warn the players (before choosing the course of action) that they may subsist for a period of time on magically created food, but that they would suffer penalties when the duration expires. After such a warning, it is then incumbent upon the players to determine how they wish to solve the problem at hand, in this case, the problem of being out of food. The players then bring all their resource to bear and solve the problem as they see fit.

You make a comment about varied expiration. I will also point out that creating a processed plant product is only Base 2 while bringing a plant to maturity in Sun duration is Base 15, so the minimum spell level is 30 (Base 15, R:T D:Sun). While creating food is considerably easier at 10th or 15th level (Base 2: R:Touch, D:Sun T:Ind/Group).