In Ars Magica 4, I would like to spontaneously use my sense of touch at a distance. I use Intellego Imaginem at level 5 to create this effect as described in the guidelines on page 140 of the core rulebook:

Intellego Imaginem
Level 5: Use one sense at a distance. Memorize or perfect your memory about an image you have encountered. Be able to discern your own false images.

When I touch something do I receive any information other than the texture of the object?

  • Do I feel pain when touching a strong acid?
  • Do I feel the pain associated with petting a cactus?
  • Do I feel the warmth of a fire or the chill of ice?

2 Answers 2


I believe that the answer to all yours questions is "Yes". Imaginem is about perceptions, including tactile/haptic sensations. The 5th edition Houses of Hermes: Societates book devotes a chapter to illusions and senses and the medieval concept of Species (SPECK-ee-ays, more or less), which are particles that convey sensation.

Look at these two Imaginem spells (5th edition, but the essence is unchanged from 4th), emphasis mine::


A source of heat, such as a fire, seems to lose its heat and drop to the surrounding temperature. It still, however, has its normal beneficial and harmful effects (that is, glowing coals still cook meat or burn a person’s hand, though they do not feel hot).


Makes an image of a fire (up to the size of a large campfire) that dances, illuminates, crackles, and (apparently) warms.

What this shows us is that Imaginem spells can change the perception of a sensation, without changing the underlying effect. So the same can be applies to Intellego spells - you get the sensations of fire or thorns or acid, and you'll probably feel the pain, but no actual damage will be done. Very much like Dune's nerve-induction pain-box - the pain is there, but only as a sensation, not as actual damage.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This was a very helpful answer. I believe that this answer agrees with both the rules and the general idea of the 13th century mindset towards the senses. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 18:14

Touching Fire is not Being Burned

No, no, and yes, respectively. For the pain, obviously, your flesh is not being seared or punctured - you'd feel a liquid, more or less viscous than water, maybe it has little bubbles or something. Your body has to actually be harmed before you 'touch' pain. Note that the sensation of touch is not the same as actually touching the object or liquid - it wouldn't deform around an invisible hand or anything. Traps or spells or creatures that detect even the faintest touches wouldn't detect anything, as they aren't actually being touched.

Heat and cold - you would be able to feel that the object is cold or warm, you would not personally feel cold or warm on your flesh. I.e. your hand wouldn't burn or feel burnt from touching a furnace, but you would feel the heat of the furnace, as that is 'touch' based.

To expand on this, by my understanding of specii, pain is a haptic sensation from the destruction of flesh, which to my knowledge of specii and how it was viewed at the time, is still correct. You got the pain sensation from being burned, not from feeling something burning hot. If you divorce the 'feeling hot' from the 'destruction of flesh', you don't get the pain, just the intense heat. Notably the sensation of intense heat would make you feel pain by our modern understanding of neuroscience, but, Ars Magica.

The description for the DnD 3.5e psionic power Touchsight would be a useful guide for the sort of information you might receive. No colour, no nature of items automatically - you'd have to get the shapes and work it out from there what was going on. I'd include a Per check to make sense of what you're receiving, get useful information, just as from your normal senses. But perhaps with a higher threshold if you don't keep this sense active much.

Also, a blind mage who uses a Sun duration InIm spell to do this would be a cool character to play.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure how good a comparison Touchsight would be, given that Ars Magica uses rather different physical laws and concepts of the senses to D&D, but this is otherwise a good answer. +1. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 3:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your answer Jack! I will need to research specii further. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 18:18

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