Transcribing the spoken word

Apologies if this has been covered but I couldn't find anything in the archive...

I'm trying to create an item that allows a disembodied spirit (currently bound into a decapitated head) to write a book.

Now unfortunately I don't want the spirit to be able to directly effect the item, so no telekinetic control of a quill here, although that is the obvious answer.

What I'd like is to be able to directly transcribe the spoken word. I realise that editing is going to be needed to remove the swearing, curses, ums and ahs etc, and figure that this will take a season or so, but I'd like to be able to get the knowledge from the entity written down so it can be shared.

I just know someone is going to come up with Automata as an answer here.... :laughing:


Don't think an automaton is needed, really. There are two variants I can think of.

I get the impression that the spirit is unwilling to share its knowledge. If that's NOT the case, an item that lets the spirit cast something like 'Autodictation' or 'Thoughts Distinctly Burned' (both from Covenants, pp. 96-97) would be the simplest way.
The other is a sequence of linked effects: InIm to detect when the spirit speaks, probably with a Mentem requisite, a +2/+3 complexity level increase, or both in order to comprehend what it's saying. (I'm looking at "Eternal Repetition in the Bottomless pool", here: there's a +2 "accepts commands" level increase, which would require at least minimal comprehension.) The second effect would be, again, "Autodictation" or "Thoughts Distinctly Burned", triggered by the first one.

You might say that! It's the decapitated head of our former covenant head, who turned out to be an enemy of the order.
My former apprentice bound her into her own skull (not using the Verdi mystery, as we don't have it yet, plus he's an ethical necromancer, nominally Corpus, now branching out into Mentem). We're working few effects to make her willing to talk, but the possibility exists that she'd try and use anything we get her to write down as a means of revenge.

(We actually bound her into her own skull so she couldn't get away, but for some reason the Qs didn't want to see our evidence, or at least not for very long. They certainly didn't take it away... Then again, a box of heads probably isn't on the list of things acceptable as evidence at Magvillius.)

She was an expert at Intrigue, and I for one would like to extract that kind of information out of her, never mind her Arts, spells, etc.

Oh, and yes, I have an idea involving a shelf of heads and a song... the song varies day to day, but 'Candyman' (not the Christina Aguilera one) and 'Land Of The Dead' by Voltaire are my current favourites for messing with the Qs heads when they come to investigate the necromancer...


There appears to be a problem: try to find an effect which makes magic comprehend, what someone is saying - as opposed to a maga controlling a spell she cast by talking (as in ReTe 15 Autodictation, Covenants p. 96f), or the maga understanding what someone is saying by magic (as in InMe25 Thoughts within Babble, ArM5 p. 149). Tethered Magic (HoH:TL p. 107) would indeed be pretty trivial if there were such an effect.
Tmk there is also no way described in the many ArM books to have magic perform a translation between written and spoken word, or between different languages, both written and spoken.
Unless you find some of these effects in some more remote corner of the rules, the best way to write down what your severed head says is putting scribes to work in the room it is in (just like the Liber Gregis was compiled in the box on Grogs, p. 6).


Hire a scribe (preferably with Magic Theory and not the faintest of heart) and have him write down what the head says. Way cheaper and more efficient than an enchantment.


What if you had a Muto Imag spell that changed the spoken sounds into species of vision, say blue words glowing on a piece of parchment Then cast a spell on the medium of the book to Rego Te or He depending on your ink source to trace and follow say any thing on the paper the color blue.

Not sure of the mechanics because I am super lazy right now, but it seems easy enough to cast both spells at Sun duration and since the second spell is Rego actual ink, then it is permanent.

No problem with any of these spells - as long as the magi casting them control them for their entire duration.
Think of this: Who decides how the "blue words glowing on the piece of parchment" shall look and read? And who would control the craft magic mapping these "blue words" onto the parchment? Wouldn't you have two casters occupied for a day, just to replace one scribe?

Also consider, how the Durenmar library would work, if automatic transcription and translation would be possible IYC.



I agree that having a book duplicate itself would be some wonky magic breaking the system and soul of the game using scribes, but that is not quite what is happening here. The spell, could be cast on a room for a sun duration. Any words spoken in that room, for the duration of that spell, would have their species of sound be Muto into a species of sight. Perhaps a level of complexity to make them appear as blue words on the paper.

The other spell is simply cast on the ink itself, with the simple task of having the Te ink or He ink, which ever source for ink your covenant uses, cover any words that appear in blue. Making that happen should be easy enough with the complexity of it being incorporated into the spell.

These spells could also be used as a method of espionage! :laughing: haha ha.... Imagine you hide this quite cumbersome arrangement of paper and ink into some massive cabinet with enough lattice work to allow light to enter so the species of blue can be read by the spell on the ink.

I am very well aware that these spells have issue and may if you cut to the bare wick of RAW may not be allowable. It simply depends on interpretation at this point as I can't see in the books where either of the spells wouldn't work. Though I freely admit as I always do, I am shite for inventing spells. For some reason me and the Ars system just don't click. I always miss something or do it the hard way or what have you, :laughing: Hhahaha

To my understanding, the spell you envision does not work as you plan, because while MuIm magic can transform echoic species to iconic species, it does not consider in that process the meaning of either species in the context of spoken or written languages.
The consideration of its meaning must instead come from the caster, who hence needs to understand the echoic species as spoken language and control the MuIm magic to form written language of the same meaning with the iconic species.


I have seen weirder stuff taken as evidence. If nothing else, the pan-hermetic agencies (quaesitors and merceres) tend to need a very hardy stomach in order to cope with all the unsavoury people hanging around under the Code. A box full of heads would be considered quite standard IMS if not pleasant. One of our all time favourite covenants (one I improvised on the fly and did catch the troupe's fancy) was one in an enchanted forest where the trees BEGGED you to burn them in order to escape that cruel world where the magi were torturing them. The animals did the same, and we had to keep our trigger happy (real life) couple from obliging. seems that having melodramatic trees was quite something that did rise their attention. Anyway... going way out of track here...

What about a plain ReMe Room version of Coerce the spirits of the night and either the iron-hard mundane writer or a major item that InMe the room for sound and ReIm the sound into itself (recorder item) for later reference?


For some reason I am thinking about Ovarwa and his unnatural speaking dragon. :laughing:

OMG. True! It just hit me that Ovarwa is trying to talk through Igack!! Or maybe Ovarwa IS Igack!! IT WAS THERE RIGHT FROM THE START!!! How couldn't we all see it?

Looks like we need the eleventh Form now: software, 'soft where' or perhaps Merx Mollis? :slight_smile:

I suppose we just disagree with the fantasy aspect of Ars. I like to see magic be capable of doing what so ever the mind wills, and thus if you create a spell that indeed transform the sound of words to the sight of words, I want to believe that the magic will do so as long as you incorporate that specifically into the spell. Now it will not create sentence breaks and will probably spell it phonetically, but those can be compensated for later.

Honestly having a scribe write down dictation is a much more reliable and story focused way of doing the task, but the cumbersome spells and papers and inks moving is WAY more magical and fantastical!