The Eye of the Sky - an enchantment to harvest auram vis

Looking for feedback on the follow custom item, which is intended as an auram vis catcher:

The Eye of the Sky

This item is fashioned from an Opal, a Semi-Precious Gem that was opened for 12 pawns of vis. This device was enchanted to capacity. Creating this device as is would take a minimum of 5 seasons, possibly more.

Effect #1: Understanding of the Airborn Device
InIm 25
Req: Auram, Mentem
R: Per, D: Sun, T: Ind

At its basic level, this effect allows the Eye of the Sky to use the following senses as well as an animate creature could: Sight, Hearing and Touch. These senses are enhanced in the following way: The Eye of the Sky may see in the dark as clearly as during daytime, and it may see as clearly in the distance as an eagle could (good enough to spot the movement of a small bird two miles away). Likewise, the sight for this item is not obfuscated by aerial phenomenas such as fog, smoke, airborn dust or cloud formations. As part of this effect, the Eye of the Sky gains very basic sentience in regards to its surroundings, enough to interpret danger from the senses it possesses, as well as remember geographic features it flies over in order to better calibrate its movement. Sight enables most of its movements and its vision-range powers, while touch and hearing were added as extra senses to better perceive danger from potentially camouflaged airborne entities, such as an air elemental.

Base 3, +2 for two additional sensory enhancements, +1 auram requisite, +1 mentem requisite, +2 Sun
Effect level 29 (25, +1 for two uses per day, +3 environmental trigger - sunrise/sunset). The opal confers +5 bonus to the lab total since this is an effect granting Sight, so the InIm(Au,Me) lab total to enchant in a season is 53.

Effect #2: Confer Locomotion
ReTe 15
R: Per, D: Sun, T: Ind

This effect animates the Eye of the Sky which is then hurled through the sky at a speed equal to that of a very fast bird (about 20mph). The typical flight pattern follows this typical setup: Towards the sky until it reaches about two miles of altitude - high enough to allow for sight of most auram phenomenon above the ground. The Eye of the Sky will then move in a spiral pattern away from its point of origin - typically the covenant. After a day of flight, this spiral brings the enchanted item flying roughly 16 miles away from its point of origin. After two weeks of flight, the device is flying roughly 65 miles away from the central point, and will then again hurl itself towards the sky and start making its way back towards its origin - at a higher altitude this time. Should it detect danger in an area that seems to be directed at it, it will fly away from the danger until the danger has passed, at which point it will resume its normal flight pattern. Essentially, this allows the device, in a typical season, to scan the air within 65 miles of the covenant, at an altitude of up to 10 miles in height three times per season, provided there is someone to activate its flight capacity again after it comes back. Auram vis sources that are geographically located in that area are likely to be found and harvested, even if partilly mobile as auram vis is bound to be. Vis sources traveling on auram phenomenons such as clouds that can span entire regions may be hit or miss, depending on how close it traveled to the point of origin and the time of migration. At the end of a month of flight, this device will wait in the location from which it was launched until Confer Locomotion is activated again.

Base 3, +2 metal or gemstones, +2 Sun
Effect level 19(15, +1 for two uses per day, +3 for environmental trigger - sunrise/sunset and phases of the moon, to ensure the item comes back) The opal confers +4 bonus to the lab total since this is an effect to enable travel of the item, so the labtotal to enchant in a season is 34.

Effect #3: Locate Vis
InVi 15
R: Per, D: Sun, T: Vision

This effect allows the Eye of the Sky to detect vis at vision range. There is no penetration built into this effect, therefore this vision spell will not detect vis carried or part of a creature with magical resistance. The lack of penetration was intended to be a safety feature so it wouldn't seek out magical creatures. The linked trigger is also intended as a safety feature to prevent the device from randomly locating and harvesting vis that may be transported by grogs or companions on covenant ground while the device is inactive.

Base 1, +2 sun, +4 Vision
Effect level 19(15, +1 for two uses per day, +3 linked trigger - confer locomotion) The opal confers +5 bonus to the lab total since this is an effect granting Sight, so the labtotal to enchant in a season is 33.

Effect #4: Harvest Auram Vis
ReVi 25
R: Sight, D: Mom, T: Ind

Built in with a linked trigger to its power "Locate Vis", this effect allows the Eye of the Sky to harvest vis its sight perceives. The sight range built into this effect, and the eagle distance vision, were intended to allow the item to gather the vis potentially from 2 miles from the source, thereby reducing both the need to fly towards the vis (which could be a problem if the vis is part of an auram phenomenon that is quicker than the device) as well as reducing any risk from proximity to potentially hostile auram elementals that might exist in an airborne magical aura generating auram vis. Fundamentally, there is nothing that limits this power to harvesting only auram vis despite the name. However, given the flight pattern of this device which is at high altitude, the vis detected by this spell would normally be in the air, the majority of which is likely to be auram vis. Due to the basic awareness built into the first effect in this item, the item will retain some understanding of where and when it harvested the vis. This vis is stored a small golden band that was bent arround the opal, but which is itself not enchanted in order to allow it to contain the vis - up to ten pawns. The vis is then typically harvested in the laboratory through vis transfer before the device is sent hurling back towards the sky again.

Base 10, +3 Sight
Effect level 30(25, +3 for Linked Trigger, +2 for up to 3 uses per day) The opal confers +5 bonus to the lab total since this is an effect at Sight range, so the labtotal to enchant in a season is 55.

Effect #5: You can't catch me, ah ah!
R: Per, D: Con, T: Ind

This effect has a linked trigger with Understanding of the Airborne Device, to enable the gem to become invisible when it perceives danger.

Base 4, +1 Conc, +1 moving image
Effect level 15 (10, +3 linked trigger, +2 for up to 3 uses per day) The opal confers +2 bonus to the lab total since this is an effect granting invisibility, so the labtotal to enchant in a season is 28.


Love this, although becoming invisible won't help you against air elementals!

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Probably not against an air elemental but hopefully it might protect from a random encounter with a bird of prey, dragon or magi seeing something shiny fly.

I suggest you take a look at Covenants p77: The Lightning-Bringer. It bears some resembelance.

I went and did, and it's an interesting vis source to be sure that is pretty flavourful. The thing is, with the hint towards non-hermetic techniques, it's something that has to be inserted in the background of a chronique and isn't something a player can act on. It can hardly be a ingame project (unless the magi cares to attempt a breakthrough for the sole purpose of increasing a covenant's vis income - there are easier ways).

I started designing the above item after wondering how I would go about looking to increase the vis sources of a covenant to include Auram. While some vis auram vis sources are likely to be tapped (things like the the recurring lightning strikes described in Covenants), I came to the conclusion many auram vis sources would never be found by the order because they would be hard to reach, because the clues would be distant from the ground and wouldn't be brought back as rumors to the covenant, and also because if a magi located the vis through luck while flying, he might not have the spells available to catch the vis at a distance and might lose the opportunity, because unlike something physical than can be easily moved, or other static puzzles to be figured out, letting the wind fly by is an instance where going back to your lab to design the spell you need made you lose the quest. How does a magi catch the vis transported in a cloud or carried by the north wind's breeze in the last days of the Fall? How does he even get the story hint to look in the first place if the phenomenon isn't localized like a regular lightning strike? Terram, Animal, Herbam vis cab ne relatively easy to figure out. Auram vis... if it never drops to the ground, probably it keeps moving about until its absorbed by a flying creature of might.

I can definitely see the point that Auram vis is more likely to be un-noticed or un-available than ground-bound vis. Your plan here is interesting.

I'm curious what you think the sources of auram vis are that they won't be easy to find, though. As a storyguide, if my players went looking for a source of Auram vis, I'd probably let them just find auram vis. For vis to be generated, something significant needs to occur, and if its significant, people will probably notice. Sure, the cows birthing a pink calf for Animal vis is probably more likely to be noticed by commonfolk and talked about, but I still think the strong windy breeze that catches gossamer filaments in the high trees of the mountain would be seen and talked about by some people. For vis to generate, magical things must happen, similar to how for magical auras to generate you must have a glorious location.

As for the item itself:
For my reading of the rules, I wouldn't allow the first power to give it a form of sentience and decision making. Any assessment of danger would need to be 'programmed' in when you design the item, for instance, anything coming fast at you, anything solid, X distance of a lightning storm. I don't believe a +1 Mentem Requisite really covers the creation of sentience. I'd want a separate Creo Mentem power, my brief scan of the book didn't find a good baseline to use, so there'd be a lot of discussion first. Your invisibility power has the same 'percieve danger' problem in my mind. That said, if your saga allows an item to decide when to activate its own powers, then the rest of it works.
My home games interpretation of creatures and vis also says that the vis isn't detectable until the creature is dead, the vis is a congealing of the Might upon the creature's demise. We'd never thought of the fact that the vis might exist even if the creature is alive, hidden behind its magic resistance. Its an interesting idea, and I might bring it up for another saga, but not in the middle of our current one. :slight_smile:
Depending on the pattern of its flight, you may have to worry about the item stealing vis sources of others if their sources are near you, but I imagine you wouldn't have made this if there were any covenants with Auram vis sources next door.

I think this varies from storyteller to storyteller. I tend to have a semi-simulationist approach to world building. I took a location detailed in an ars magica book for the immediate surroundings of the covenant, and tweaked it a bit. And from there, I used google maps and started expanding the area, checking villages, mountains, natural reservces, bodies of water, churches and monasteries, ancient ruins, sunken ships, etc. that were within a few days of travel by foot from their location. And I added a few places that were not on google because well, regios and legends and stuff. There was an expectation that my PCs who were setting up the covenant would be doing some exploring in order to secure resources for their needs. And as I add location, I determine if there's an aura, any relevant lore, important history elements, I write down whether there are mythic elements or possible story seeds, if there's a vis source, etc.

So my players can decide to spend time to explore areas, pay attention to a storyline, or they can ignore it. If they go out to hunt for vis, I ask them how they do it. If I don't like the answer, or if they look in the wrong place, they will come back empty handed. So if they tell me, well, I'm going to hunt for a magical animal in the high aura forest, or a bird in that seasonal breeding ground we spotted, and they have a Per+Hunt of 7, their odds are high. If they tell me they're looking for aquam vis on their island, and I determined that the local sea and river are outside of a magical aura, tough luck. If they surprise me, I go with my gut or a dice roll. Skills can help. For example, Artes Liberales (astronomy) combined with area lore might help the characters figure out possible locations with tethers or legends, and therefore auras. On the other hand, if they don't explore their area for auras, I'm not going to have the vis source jump in their lap and it will remain a background element of the game until they have a reason to explore the place. Fast forward a few decades, if they ignored the location, nothing else happens, perhaps another covenant snatched it, or it's tapped by hedge wizards or infernalists. For some places, stories will dynamically bring them to the area. Sometime, they find things hidden in plain sight, because they're looking for something else. For other places, if I don't think there's any reason for the covenant's attention to be brought there, they will not find it unless they take the initiative to tell me they want to explore that island 10 miles offshore that they see from the beach.

As an example, they have a source of imaginem vis which is in a marble quarry of exceptional quality, turned failed business with the fall of constantinople due to the lack of purchases for a few decades because of the instability. How did they get the vis there? Not because I brought them there. They were looking for business opportunities in nearby towns. I told them what different areas were known for, and when they explored one of the places, I gave them more detail. They wanted to purchase and restart the quarry to increase their income to fund the covenant's expansion. The vis source they found was accidental, and mostly because they checked to see if the quarry had an aura, which wasn't strong enough for me to attract their attention to the particularly vibrant air. I just described it as high grade marble. If they hadn't cast a spell, they probably would have gained a good income source after a period of business start-up, but the vis would have ended up shipped in major urban markets. So back to why auram sources are hard to spot... again, a remarkable breeze down the hillside, a regular lightning spot, etc. might all generate gossip. But I don't think a cloud would generate gossip. And I don't think all auram vis accumulates in physical items either. This means specialized spells to catch the vis. For example, their aquam source, they need Distilliation of the Purest stream to get the full yield. If their solution is to have grogs with buckets getting water when the vis pops up, the result might be gathering 25% of the vis, and 75% will dissipate as the river flows to the sea... If they dam the river to prevent the vis from going to the sea, they might destroy the tether, and therefore the vis source...

On the other hand, my storyteller does it very differently. I've often went out looking for magical locations to explore, hoping to find vis. I've often managed to find a story hook, which he might well improvise. I very rarely found an actual vis source. Very often, the vis source I would find on stories he brought to the covenant, and in which the covenant had few choices but taking part in the story. Of course, this doesn't mean that the vis source was handed for free. I could fail to see it if I did not look. But I do believe a device that is mechanically built to, say, harvest all vis sources with a given distance of the covenant would succeed, unless he really felt there were no vis sources that could be detected by the actual enchantment or spell I designed.

That's because, as far as I'm aware, the base book doesn't cover the creation of a virtual sentience through Mentem magic alone, but often grants sentience to other effects by adding mentem requisite. A big example is The Shadow of Human Life with its +6 Mentem requisite. I don't think the effect I designed is anywhere near that one, and the complexity is probably due to the fact that adding intelligence is way tougher than creating the base illusion. Other examples include permanent Creo Animal rituals from Hermetic projects that include a +1 Mentem requisite for magical animals with an Intelligence score rather than Cunning attribute. From the base book - stir the slumbering tree is a level 25 effect with the mentem requisite not adding complexity, to give the tree the consciousness of a human. Now look at the actual effect I design, what does the "intelligence" in the item actually do? 1) Sense interpretation to detect danger 2) A basic understanding of geography and memory of where and when it triggers its powers. How does it interact with other effects? Essentially to let the item know when to fly away, and to recalibrate its movements based on whether it was on auto-pilot or if it moved away from its regular path due to perceived danger. The item has no curiosity, doesn't interpret orders, doesn't make complex decisions... arguably this "intelligence" is at the cunning level, and with less autonomy than an animal would have, because it's still programmed. The requisite guidelines in the base book (p. 115) pretty much states that a requisite normally adds a +1, unless the added effect would be sixth magnitude or higher. Is animating a rock with cunning-like sentience and some memory but no autonomy at personal range a level 30+ effect to warrant adding +2 complexity (or maybe 25+ because if the effect is tougher for the requisite than the base effect, then it should be higher otherwise it's a disguised free requisite), while animating a plant with a human consciousness at touch range merely a level 25 effect? Happy to discuss calibrating the effect.

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The item doesn't decide anything. It's a linked trigger. If it detects danger, the effect turns on. It's not that different from most linked triggers that are typically activated through the results of an intellego (form) effect. I think it's more useful to focus on whether the power it's linked to detects the danger as intended because if it does, this effect should be fairly straightforward...

Instead it interprets its souringings. It will but measure a bunch of parameters that a nearby Gifted character(if such is present) may interprets and derives meaning from based on his/her understanding/limitations.

If you want to give your enchanted items a hint of inteligence you should imprison a spirit or ghost for that job. Mentem magic can do that if its that kind of ghost/spirit. Now it might be a tad too risky to imprison an air elemental in a device you mean to fix right next to your lighning rod but I digress.

Unlikely, as there is nothing in the device to transmit information. The point is having a device that moves for an entire month without being attended. I mean, it could be interrogated through spells such as Dream of the Artifice, but that's beyond the scope of the enchantment itself.

I don't know. How would you build that using regular magic? I'm not aware of anything that involves binding a spirit or ghost into an item to provide an effect that doesn't require a mystery virtue, and I would rather stick to standard hermetic theory for effects that don't need a mystery to be enabled.

Yes, a lack of user interfaces makes that task more difficult. Impossible? No. Those enchantments are clearly meant to communicate with each other.

The same way necromancy has always worked: get a spirit(ghost, here an elemental), get a vessel(corpse, here the material part of your device), stick them together, give it a purpose, profit. Making a body dance is the corpus part, summoning the ghost is mentem. I'm sure there have been discusions here about this. If you want to stick to the core rules don't create magic that interprets instead of executing.

Executing: "Fetch me that!"
Interpreting: "Make a decision, based on understanding." Aka intelligence.

Medieval scholars will be far from designing complex decision trees from simple commands that would make a self driving drone work.

You may wish to re-read the base book before you say this can't be done under the core rules.

R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Ind
Req: Mentem
The human image created (as in Phantasm of the Human Form) has limited freedom and simulated intellect. It functions as an independent human, albeit a stupid one, capable of interpreting general orders in new situations.
(Base 2, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +1 intricacy, +6 Mentem requisite, for a very elaborate effect)

you claim that your needs will be met by a lesser version of this +6magnitude mentem requisite, but in fact you describe a far supperior product, one that would break(at the very least bend) the limit of the divine. let me elaborate:

alexa is basicly an extremly complex TSOHL without the body of light. it can follow simple instructions, and can understantd lines. what she cant do is derive meaning from them. a simulated intellect is exactly what one can achive via programing in modern times so the TSOHL's interpretation of general orders will be fairly limited: "pass the salt" is a concrete thing this mind can comprehend. anything more is bit of a strech IMO.

have you ever tried programing?
if not then here is a crash course :wink:

now that you understand general state based actions more than anyone in the middle ages, please give a general rule for what is "danger" for me. if you cant then we can say it is up to interpretation. moreso since, according to Augustine of Hippo, the soul is responsible for any higher funcions such as deriveing meaning from information. in the setting of mythic europe this it with with reservations. faries and demons and other mythical beings obviously posess some sort of self awarness. please be responsible and do not temper with divine limitations even(and doubly so) if it is tempting.

but also just do whatever you want, I'm outofhere. have a nice day :smiley:

You're comparing adaptable AI with something that is less flexible and smart than a modern day bird. My definition of danger is instinctual and basically boils down to something flying fast towards you and stuff like tornadoes. Migratory birds follow far more complex seasonal flying patterns than the one described above. Again, I've stated several times this effect isn't intended to reach human consciousness-level, but is basically cunning and geographic awareness. There comes a point where if you imagine a soul and a complex AI, you're imagining effects I don't even see a point to enchant in that device. It's not a self-driving car having to deal with street lights, speed limits, curves, uneven terrain, dead angles, streetside bystanders, playing kids not paying attention, as well as other cars driving a few meters away at 100 km/h that might forget to put their turning lights on. It's flying in a mostly empty sky where the main obstacle it will encounter are flocks of birds. I'm using Mentem because it felt more appropriate and closer to other designed enchantments than using an Animal requisite.

And yes, have a nice day.

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