thoughts on a "Magic Thing"

Ever since reading RoP:Magic, I have been wanting to see Magic Things in Ars settings. But so far there is only the woolen cloak from RoP:M.

I was hoping for something like the Archancelor's Hat from Sir Pterry's "Sourcery", or maybe something like Dr Strange's Cloack of Levitation. the only potential Magic Thing I could think of was the Robes of Rosy Dawn, but that might not fit into my Saga. So I have begun working on an idea that I haven't yet punched numbers into.
Problem is, it may deviate too far from Ars canon, so I was hoping for a critique.

My uncertainties are:

  1. Did the Picts have Shaman/necromancer type magicians?
  2. Do non-Hermetics have the equivalent of Familiar bond cords?
  3. Can a magician make such a bond cord to an enchanted item? Said enchanted item being the skin/hide of a beast.

My concept is something worn by the leader and most puissant magic user. So perhaps something that started pre-Order of Hermes.
A Pictish shaman type, whose ceremonial robes of office is made from the skin and antlers of a stage (harkening to the cave painting called "The Sorcerer", and perhaps the Gundestrup Cauldren)

This non-Hermetic ceremonial garb is enchanted to aid in the spirit aspect of shamanism. In effect, the wearer can make something resembling a Silver cord from a Familair binding to the cloak, that also gives its cord bonus to rolls involving spirits, while the cloak is worn.
The last of the original Tradition wearers is recruited into Dav'nalleus' army, and gets slain by a follower of Pralix, who takes the stag robe as a battle trophy.

The victor learns how to bind the cloak via the quasi-silver cord, and brags about his magical puissance. Is challenged by other magicians, who win and take the cloak. Eventually prestige and tradition means that the cloak is a contest prize, to the winner of Certamen matches. Each winner binds the cloak via the quasi-silover cord, and perhaps adds other enchantments. Probably recorded in Tribunal Peripheral Code.

During the Schism War, the cloak is finally dosed in enough magic to become a Magic Thing.

So what powers would it have?
What I would really like is that (similar to the Arch-chancellors' Hat) it can call up the ghosts of any of the previous Magi and wizards (those that left ghosts that can be summoned) who had used the quasi-silver bond cord.
But I am rather unclear where to start - Is the ghost summoning a Lesser of Greater Power, or even a Ritual Power?
How would I even design the quasi-silver cord ability?

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first off that is a really cool magical item in its own right and having it be a thing of magic is even cooler. You should absolutely make that item if you feel like having it in your saga.

I would handle the quasi-silver cord just like binding a familiar with a lab total and everything, perhaps decide beforehand on a specific labtotal to use, ReMe or ReVi is probably most appropriate for an item that is used in binding ghosts and spirits. Make the quasi silver cord work like the actual silver cord, or maybe the expanded silver cord from theurgical spirit familiar.

One of the most important things when designing an item of magic is that you make it a character. That means it must have a personality and dont make it too cooperative either. Perhaps the item will only use its powers if it feels like its "owner" has earned the right to use them or if the item feels like the powers are being used for a proper purpose. A cloak like the one you describe should be proud of its long history and of how many august mages have worn it.
I would be tempted to rule that it has a non-hermetic power that allows a magus to attune it as his/her talisman or bind it as their familiar as it fit the same role in a story as an especially cool familiar or powerful talisman, or both at once.

Having the item you describe should also come with a reputation both hermetic and likely also when interacting with spirits. Perhaps spirits are really impressed with a magus that is capable of forming a bond with such an esteemed item that they are positively minded towards the magus from the start. On the flip side having that cloak should also invite all sorts of people trying to claim it for themselves both youngsters looking to make a name for themselves and established magi with an interest in spirit magic coveting such a precious item, and even some seekers looking to investigate its many potentially new powers for integration.

Of course not all things of magic need to have non-hermetic powers. They do all need to be characters though, and as such should have personalities and minds of their own. That is probably the single most important thing to remember when creating a thing of magic. This also means you should consider what stories you want to tell with them just as you would when introducing any other character.

As for your specific uncertainties:

  1. Who knows? as far I know almost the entirety of our knowledge about the picts are roman account of barbarian savages that painted themselves blue with woad and some of the big political lines (e.g. names of kings and alliances with other peoples).
  2. The familiar bond was integrated into hermetic theory based on a bond that existed between Merinita and a magical deer. How she came to this knowledge is unclear. Maybe she invented it maybe she learnt it from someone else. Its definitely possible that she knew how to bind a familiar from a pre-existing magical tradition and if so said tradition might very well still exist.
  3. By any reasonable reading of RAW the answer is no, not in the canon. However the idea is not very far fetched all of the rules necessary to implement it already exist, all you need to do is to handwave it by saying: "a hedge tradition invented it" or "a magus made a hitherto unknown breakthrough that allows it" or even "its magic it developed on its own, magic works in mysterious ways" all of which are IMO kosher ways of handling Ars magica.

The Plaustrum Pertinax, in TME(page 113), is another Magic Thing.

You mention Pictish, so what about some sort of lost Gruagach technique that allowed a fetch to be created for/embodied in an object? Your (fetch enhanced) stag robes (which could also be tattooed on the skin side?) could then maybe possess Give (Form) based Powers it could use on its wearer/owner. The geas/conditional based restrictions of Gruagach magic shows up in the loses power/no longer works for the current owner when defeated in a specific challenge? Also, a fetch's behaviour could certainly model the Cloak of Levitation schtick.

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I love magic things. I even posted 2 magic swords, an awaken lab and a nasty mirror a while ago right here,
Caledfwlch, Mythic Sword
Gram, Dragonslayer Sword
Excitavit Locus, awaken Laboratory
Sólstafir, Speculum Labyrinthum, a Magic Mirror
My take on Magic Things is that there are a lot of them, and they can be created by a lot of stuff: great auras, magical activity, botches, whatever. The way I see it, there are many magic things laying around, but most of them hadn't been noticed.

I'd go the easy way with that quasi-silver cord thing: wouldn't a grant virtue: Major Potent Magic: Ghosts suffice?
With that and a few useful powers for ghost and spirits, the cloak would be quite useful (if cooperative, or nasty otherwise). Think that magical beings' powers don't need to follow hermetic guidelines (and suffer its restrictions). Some powers to grab arcane connections to ghosts and spirits can be quite handy.

About Lesser / Greater / Ritual power, I'd go for Greater: it's the most efficient, unless you want to have permanent powers, which would work through Ritual Powers.

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While that would be great after it was a Magic Thing, I was thinking it gave similar bonuses before it was a Magic Thing.
Hmm,... unless it was a Magic Thing before Pralix's forces looted? Will have to think upon this.

Yes, I am envisioning it as Proud. My background story has it being won in battle over and over (first War against the spider, then scheduled Certamen, and awakening in Schism War), so the cloak is sure it is worthy and valuable.
OTOH, it is tired of "weak" magi capturing it, only for the indignity to lose it again. It wants its current owner to keep it for a while, and is liable to call up ghosts of the powerful to train its current owner. Might never be satisfied - a sort of Tormenting Master. A Psychopomp that leads...

I keep thinking it might have Fear, either of battles, or unknown spirits.

[Edit] The more I think about it, the more likely its Pride won't express that way. Unless the wearer can truly demonstrate they are worthy, the Magic Thing is unlikely to be bothered to lend its power.

Thats what I suspected.

Yes, I believe a few Hedgies have something similar to Familiars. I will need to reread the bit about Hedge Witched.

Perhaps rather than an actual Familiar bond, perhaps the cloak was enchanted with buff spells that gave the same bonuses as a Silver cord.
And being a non-hermetic enchantment that probably behaves differently to Hermetic ones, perhaps the owner needed to ritually attune themself (make a fixed arcane connection) before it would work on the user.

I will have to check all those other links to Magic Things, and get access to a copy of Transforming Mythic Europe.

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I didn't read this close enough the first time.
I was kind of expecting something more immediately useful than Potent Magic. Perhaps granting the virtue Puissant Mentem or Special Circumstances: Ghosts would be of more immediate use than Potent Magic - the ability to spend Seasons re-inventing your ghost related spells to take advantage of Potent Magic.

And the way I was envisioning the original hedge enchantment, it would only buff the wearer while the enchanted cloak was being worn.
After it becomes a Magic Thing, would the granted Virtue only work while the Magic Thing was being worn?

That depends. The item is mechanically easiest to conceive as a magical creature with might score and all (as well as a traditional magic item). You can give the cloak the power to temporarily grant a virtue and then have have cloak revoke the virtue whenever it is not being worn. Mechanically there is no difference between the cloak only being able to grant the virtue to someone who wears it and the cloak choosing to only temporarily grant the virtue whenever it is worn. That distinction is added by you in the flavor text.

The silver cord does the following:

  1. adds to rolls involving personality traits.
  2. adds to rolls for natural resistance towards mental magic.*
  3. adds to rolls to resist mundane verbal trickery and intimidation.
  4. can free you from mind control with on a stress roll of dc 9- silver cord score.

*I assume this is things such as the intelligence roll to identify implanted memories and to recovery deleted memories.

The list of benefits from the silver cord is so extensive that simulating it with virtue is going to be tricky at best. If you want to go that route I would suggest that you chose only a subset. the virtues Clear thinker and Strong willed could provide a bonus similar to what you get out of no. 3 on the list and perhaps also a bit of no. 2. giving the cloak the ability to use a power that mimics the spell Unravelling the fabric of Mentem only on its wearer and only on mind control spells could mimic point nr. 4 on the list. You could probably find virtues and spells that simulate other aspects of the silver cord.

But my question here is "why try to simulate the silver cord with various virtues and spells?" why not give the cloak a power like:

The cloaky cord: (Here would go some numbers about power type and level and penetration and such.) Range: Touch, Duration: Concentration (cloak only concentrates on a person it is touching), Target: Individual. (The R/D/T's here are purely a mechanistic abstraction that gives the result you describe).
This power mimics the effects of the silver cord with a bond score of +3**. The cloak can use this power on its wearer once the wearer has established a bond with the cloak (pun intended). This power is outside of hermetic magic and thus goes beyond what can be achieved with hermetic magic. The silver cord score granted by the cloak does not stack with a silver cord score from a familiar. The silver cord granted by the cloak is visible to second sight as a celtic torc laid around the neck of the wielder of the cloak. (the thing about the torc is purely stylistic).

** you can replace the number 3 here with any number that you think fits better.

I was thinking in Potent Magic mostly because of the +6 bonus to casting. Redesigning spells to get full benefit of the virtue is problematic because the virtue may well go away at some point. When? Ritual powers tend to give the virtues temporarily unless the item kept's the might to trigger the power permanently spent. They also tend to grant the creature (well, thing) the option to withdraw the virtue and regain that might.

But my logic of "why meddling around with stuff when you already have this" gets beaten by Euphemism, which would be "why wonder around when you already know what you want?"

Totally agreed. If the power is a Greater Power I'd go as far as accepting a default +6, or letting other item's power boost that number when triggered.

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While you can make that number as low or high as you want, I'm going to point out the difference between a +3 cord and a +6 cord is 75 additional lab total.

I was looking for something more closely resembling the Archchancellor's hat from Sourcery, and only mentioned Dr Strange's cloak of levitation as another fictional Magic Thing. Perhaps I should have used Harry Potter's Sorting Hat instead.

For thematic reasons, I had been looking for a Magic Thing that had experiences in battles. The two big occassions that the Order of Hermes had War, was Pralix' campaign against Damain-Allaidh, and the Schism War. Both of which happen to overlap in the same two Tribunals.

The ability to summon ghosts of non-Hermetic practitioners, such a Gruagachan, that can be forced to Teach the living helps improve its value.

After all of the above, I am thinking that my enchanted stag skin cloak was originally enchanted to give the wearer bonuses that happen to be similar to those provided by a Hermetic Familiar's Silver cord. And due to hand-waving inefficiencies in non-Hermetic enchanting, the buff effect only works when the cloak is worn, and bonded.
I will say bonding is putting a spot of fesh blood on the cloak, and then fixing the Arcane Connection. The cloak by now is rather spotty with old blood stains.

Of course, I could always arrange that a Mage (or some other hedge wizard) fixes the most recent arcane blood drop connection to a non-Mythic Companion type character. I will have to design the Magic Thing's personality carefully.

Grant Minor Virtue (Item(Spirit*) Familiar) with the Restricted Power Flaw (only works on owner) - see page 33 of RoP:M under Magic Thing from previous page and page 50 of RoP:M?

Material Anchor power, RoP:M page 103?