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Vis (Latin for "force, power, strength"; pronounced wees) is the the name magi give to the essence of magical power. They speak of three kinds of vis: fluid, raw, and processed or "cooked" vis.
When the word "vis" is used without an adjective, it almost always refers to raw vis: magical power given physical shape. Raw vis is the manifestation, or some would say the residue, of pure magic.
As the stuff of magic, Raw Vis can be used in powerful ritual spells and allows magi to do magical feats that would otherwise be impossible. Magi treasure and trade raw vis much like mundanes do gold.
Raw Vis and the Arts
Raw vis is always associated with one of the 15 Arts, and to achieve or support a magical effect, spontaneously as well as while performing lab work, it usually takes vis of the kind, that is Art, the magical effect is based on.
Uses for Raw Vis
- Raw vis is required to create an enchanted item or talisman
- Raw vis is required to cast any ritual spell
- Vis can increase a magus's Casting Total for spells, which helps with Penetration
- Vis can improve a magus's performance in certamen
- Magi need raw vis to create a Longevity Ritual
- A magus can study vis to gain experience points in the Art with which the vis is associated
Raw Vis as a Commodity
In game terms, vis comes in distinctive measurement units. The smallest useful quantity of vis is called a pawn. Larger quantities are measured in rooks, and queens, with 10 pawns equivalent to 1 rook, and 10 rooks making a queen.
The value of a pawn of vis varies but is at least equivalent to several pounds of silver: enough to buy an entire farm or to pay the wages of a master craftsman for a year. Certain members of House Mercere make their living by brokering vis trades among magi: see page 87 of HoHTL.
Exceptional Raw Vis
Realms of Power: Magic introduces some exceptional forms of raw vis.
- Lesser Enchantment Vis
- This rare variety of raw vis acts like a naturally-occurring lesser enchanted device.
- Spell-like Vis
- This exceptional raw vis can be expended to create a magical effect similar to a formulaic or ritual spell.
- Dedicated Vis
- Dedicated vis is especially useful for one type of activity, either casting spells, studying in the laboratory, or enchanting items.
Holy vis, associated with the Divine Realm, is more unstable and can draw the attention of angels and cause miraculous, unintended, effects. It is unclear whether raw vis drawn from Divine creatures constitutes holy vis, or ordinary raw vis.
Raw vis can become tainted by the Infernal Realm, making it perilous to use. Hermetic magic cannot detect infernal vis. It is unstable and dangerous to use, but can be very potent, especially in the hands of someone associated with the Infernal Realm.
This section needs to be written.
Fluid vis is pure magical energy without physical form (in contrast to raw vis, which manifests in physical objects). Magi manipulate fluid vis to power their spells. Although fluid vis is important in the fictional magic theory of the game, it is rarely referred to in the rules and is used mostly for flavor. For example, an unusually high concentration of fluid vis causes a magical aura.
Processed vis is the magical energy that has been woven into magical items. Once the vis has been used processed into an enchantment, it can't be converted back into raw form. Processed vis cannot be re-used for any other purpose.
- ArM5 p. 80, 82 (spellcasting), 94 (lab), 165 (lab), 190 (vis sources), 192 (in creatures).
- RoPM p. 7 (fluid vis), p. 119.
- Exceptional Vis, RoPM pages 119-123
- Vis trade and loans are discussed in HoHTL 84-87.
- The Price of Vis, Covenants page 69
- "Raw Vis," Ars Magica Fifth Edition, p. 80
- Realms of Power: Divine, p. 69, "Benefits"
- Realms of Power: the Infernal, p. 18, "Inferal Vis"
The history of this page before August 6, 2010 is archived at Legacy:vis