Interesting thoughts for the magi who must use casting tools in Ars Magica!
The gestures used in spellcasting in Ars Magica are not arbitrary, as they are in some other roleplaying games. We know this, because a magus who sees a rival casting a spell can deduce its effects from the gestures, and cast a counterspell for protection. This means the two magi share a semantic framework: the symbols they are using are intelligible to each other. In The Mysteries, we learned that spells work by communicating with, or creating then commanding, airy spirits. This is why the gestures are mutually intelligible: there’s a vocabulary built in the foundational nature of the universe, and the magi are using it.
So, if this axiom is true, what are the casting tools doing? There are several options.
Are the tools entirely arbitrary? Superficially they appear so. If you want to make a casting tool that lets you fling a ball of fire, it can…
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