Another variation for creating dwellings in Ars Magica is the idea of carving them from the rock, rather than conjuring them. In this way the caverns, rooms, hallways, etc, are hollowed from the foundation materials and no elaborate vis expending ritual is needed.A carving spell could also convert a cliff face into a separate tower too, as the spell would be effective above ground or below as long as the right sort of materials were present.
A darn good idea, however implementing the spell should come with some significant pragmatic limitations.
Given a large enough mass of rock, unearthly patience, and a lot of time a skilled artisan could hollow an internal city from bedrock; perhaps akin to the Mines of Moria from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Or just a little humble storage or extra meeting space for a growing covenant or cult. Or perhaps given a large enough boulder, a simple dwelling or blind could be crafted.
Firstly due credit – The source idea for this post was a thread about Carving a Mystic Tower raised on the Atlas Games Ars Magica forums, where in turn an old 4th edition supplement The Sanctuary of Ice originally mentioned the spell effect in passing. I hadn’t considered a carving effect when proposing alternatives and extensions to the CtMT post I wrote earlier.
Beginning with how the spell might function, there are several key considerations.
- How does the caster identify a suitable area of effect which will be structurally sound? Probably with Intellego magic, to determine what size area they have to work with, and where the structural load is, so as to not threaten the strength of the surrounding area.
- Should an Intellego component be mandatory? I’d say so, unless the scenario is darn simple, like a very small space in an area which has no other load or foundations.
- Can the carving be done in very small segments? Sure, subject to the time the caster has, it is very reasonable to only carve small segments at a time.
- Which magical Arts are appropriate? Perdo and Terram obviously. I’d support Rego too, as a way to emulate the work performed by skilled miners, with a darn significant complexity modifier to the Finesse ability check.
Structure of the caverns would need to follow the natural strengths of the surrounding material, and you’d probably see many areas where the foundations just couldn’t be tunneled through without affecting the structure above. This will mean curving chambers and odd shaped rooms.
The size of the area of effect it a major factor. It is more complex to tunnel a long extended area than a shallow alcove. Typical magnitudes for complexity can handle this scaling up well.
The spell needs to be either cast in partnership with an Intellego effect, or have an Intellego effect built in to verify there is no negative effect on the strength of the surrounding materials.
There is also the major consideration that many places just would not be appropriate targets for the spell. A solid mass of bedrock is the ideal target, and anything less is going to have either only a fraction of the benefit, or be totally inappropriate for the spell.
A simple approach for these sets of spells is to design them as individual parts of a more complex set of spells, and allow the interaction to build to a complex outcome. Firstly I think it makes a lot of sense to separate the spell to find and plan the carving effect from the spell which performs the work. That adds a requirement that the caster have the Intellego spell active when they are casting, and that makes good practical sense.
Here are two variants of the carvings spell, for different size results.
Hollow the Mystic Vault
Perdo Terram 25, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Part
The stone mass targeted by this spell is destroyed in a manner consistent with the caster’s desires, typically in such a way to create hollows, rooms, or internal spaces. The spell does not allow for a sophisticated level of detail, and is limited to simple sets of interconnected geometric shapes. A maximum volume of up to 10 cubic paces of stone can be affected at one time.
(Base 4 Destroy rock or stone, +1 Touch, +1 Part, +2 size increase, +1 complexity)
Hollow the Mystic Mausoleum
Perdo Terram 35, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Part
The stone mass targeted by this spell is destroyed in a manner consistent with the caster’s desires, typically in such a way to create hollows, rooms, or internal spaces. The spell does not allow for a sophisticated level of detail, and is limited to simple sets of interconnected geometric shapes. A maximum volume of up to 1000 cubic paces of stone can be affected at one time.
(Base 4 Destroy rock or stone, +1 Touch, +1 Part, +4 size increase, +1 complexity)
Then the caster will need a way to determine where to tunnel. Initially the Intellego spell was designed as Duration: Concentration however this did not seem to reflect the complexity and “what-if” style design choices the caster would be making from the information provided by the spell.
Survey the Foundations of Mound and Mountain
Intellego Terram 25, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual
The caster understands the current earthen formation across an area of natural earth and stone, and comprehends formations, features, structural stress points or weaknesses, use of foundations, and gains a detailed understanding of the ramifications of excavating within the area.
The time taken to understand the scope of an area varies with the areas size. A small area a few paces across is immediate, up to a fortress sized area which will take hours to fully comprehend.
The spell is intended to be used as part of the design of new structures, however it may also be used for a variety of other purposes, such as tracking where an underground stream travels, or where to best place sappers when attacking fortified walls.
(Base 10 for all the natural properties of an object, +1 Touch, +2 Sun)
More custom spells can be found in the New Spells for Ars Magica page.