What qualifies for ReTe 1 "natural movement"?

The first two guidelines for ReTe are ReTe 1 "move earth in a natural fashion" and ReTe 2 "move earth in a sighty unnatural fashion". Slow "telekinesis" of objects qualifies for the second guideline (see Unseen Arm). But what qualifies for the first?

It clearly allows the caster to make something happen that would not on its own - or what's the point of using magic? I think the following examples would all qualify:

  • Lock or unlock a ... lock.
  • Trigger a crossbow.
  • Unfasten a buckle.
  • Guide a moving projectile to a target it might reasonably hit on its own.
  • Control the outcome of a toss of dice.
  • Increase or decrease the amount of dirt picked up by shoes, or by someone shoveling, to the point where one might be mildly surprised but not cry out "impossible".
  • Increase or decrease a burden to the point where one might be mildly surprised ("it feels way lighter than I would have thought!") but not cry out "impossible".
  • Keep something moving (e.g. a wheel) at the current speed, even against a force that might otherwise slow it (but not stop it instantly).
  • Increase or decrease the speed/force/action of some existing movement "somewhat".

Ideas? Actual examples from the books? Some elegant formulation?

1 Like

A natural movement would be something that would be a movement that an item is designed to make or something that could actually "just happen". Triggering a crossbow falls into both of those, since the crossbow is designed to fire a bolt when activated and sometimes the mechanism "slips" on them due to wear, poor design, or slight misalignment.

A throw of dice coming up with a certain result is something that could "just happen" on any throw. So them coming up with a specific result is a natural movement.

The Key of Theodorus (C&G, p.78) is a Base 1 spell which opens a single lock.

Autodictation (Cov, p.96) is a Base 1 spell that causes a stylus to write on wax boards.


Hmm. Based on this a spell to make a sword fight on its own would qualify too, right? I'm not disagreeing, just testing the limits of this formulation.

I suppose you could, though the sword would have no real force behind its actions. The Base 1 seems to have very little force behind it, maybe an ounce or so. The Base 2 can exert a pound or two of force from the things it can manipulate. The Base 3 can exert force equal to Str +5.

1 Like

Hmm. The Hermetic Generans from TME exerts force equal to Str +5 at Base 2.
Anyways, this is proving quite helpful, thanks!

1 Like

Hummm, the type of movement required might subtract from the force. So something moving freely through the air would result in the lower level of force, while something moving within its design would have the higher.

So Base 2 would generate Str +5 force within its design (The Hermetic Generans) and a step down the scale at only a few pounds when free flying through the air (The Unseen Arm).

1 Like

swords are not designed to fly, so to me base 1 could only make a sword fight on its own if it is in a situation where that might be a natural movement for a sword to take- say a sword dangling from a chain might swing over towards a given target.


Or if it is in the hand of a training dummy or suit of armor on display in a castle corridor?

1 Like

If it's a wooden dummy, you'd need ReHe, and not ReTe.

1 Like

keep in mind as well that fighting isn't really an action, but a complex series of actions in response to events within the local environment.

1 Like

only if you target the dummy to make it swing the sword.

the spell in question targets the sword to make it swing itself.

My question is more about whether or not a sword swinging itself while attached to a dummy would be considered to me more natural than a sword swinging itself through the air.

1 Like

if it swings like a pendulum, sure.

So "natural movement" can be defined as?

  • a ball/cart rolls
  • an unsupported stone falls, and a dropped sword may or may not be angled to cut something when it lands.
  • a pendulum can swing
  • a stone that has been thrown, can skip across water.
  • vertical ice skates can slide across ice.
  • a horizontal latch can slide open or closed if it smooth enough
  • tumbling dice land on a specific number


1 Like


A 'natural fashion' is probably something you could observe happening in nature.

For example, sand will form dunes under the influence of wind, and collapse under the influence of gravity. A rock might start rolling down hill if the earth beneath it gives way to its weight. A ball might roll along a level surface if pushed by the wind. Loose soil might be carried into the air by wind or eroded by water.

Now, something like a crossbow MIGHT naturally fire on its own as the string slips off the trigger, or a latch might give from repeated buffeting by the wind. Items perched precariously on a shelf might fall. Nails might be pulled out of a wall from the weight of whatever they're supporting. Woodpiles often collapse over time as the wood decays and slides around. A rotten tree limb might suddenly fall from the tree atop someone.

If, in the viewing, it looks like a (possibly freakish) natural occurrence, then it's a good candidate for the ReTe1 guideline. Giving a bit of steering/course correction to an item already in motion is probably another good candidate - like a dropped item skittering across the floor to where you might desire.

IMO spells like Autodictation fall well outside this guideline, as styluses do not move naturally across wax tablets of their own accord. However, the Central Rule of spell design takes this sort of thing into account, as the effect is rather minor (a stylus of only a few ounces moving in a small area), so lowering the base guideline is easily justified.


If I may?
If I could look towards a cousin to Ars Magica, I'd look at Mage.
ReTe 1 is coincidental magic :wink:

1 Like

Also keep in mind that the discussion here is for this particular guideline, not a comprehensive review of what can be done with ReTe:1