The many wonderful ways to blind somebody in Ars Magica

This post is another set of spells for Ars Magica which are all concerned with blinding an opponent. As I wrote these effects up they caused me to ponder what should be allowed as Muto spell effects, and where the domain of Perdo and the other techniques crosses over. The seven spells below demonstrate there are certainly “many ways to skin a cat” in Ars Magica’s spell mechanics.

I think “destruction” magic (Perdo) is an easy first though when a target is to be blinded (akin to the Perdo Corpus spell from the core rulebook Incantation of the Milky Eyes, ArM p 133), but there as so many other wonderful ways to get a result in Ars Magica’s spell system. As shown below a temporary blindness is actually far easier using different Arts, which is a good consideration when either casting spells spontaneously or casting spells where the target might have magic resistance.

  • A Perdo spell is obviously effective, and very permanent. It could be destroying the eyes themselves, or aging the target to make them blind.
  • Muto is good as it can be used to change the target’s body, however it will expire given time.
  • Rego Corpus could be used to hold the target’s eyelids closed, also with a maximum duration.
  • Rego could also be used to control another item to physically strike the target’s eyes, thus blinding them. This is less effective as it needs a targeting check and may incur magic resistance. As “called shots” or “hit locations” are not used in the combat mechanics this becomes a harder spell effect to define, and would certainly need a very high target number for a Finesse skill-check.
  • Another more indirect method could be to surround the target in darkness, either by conjuring a sphere of darkness or destroying all light. The Well Without Light spell on Ars p.142 is a structure wide effect doing this, and there are smaller demonstrations in the article below.
  • Or perhaps even surround them in a dust storm of box; so not even directly around them so that any resistances to magic do not protect them. Wreaths of Foul Smoke and Circling Winds of Protection already cover these style of effect and can be a good base, see Ars p.125.
  • Then the more strange, like animating a blindfold, or even teleporting a blindfold onto a target. I’ll skip those effects for now.

Remember that the intent or breadth of usage in game for Ars Magica is irrelevant; rather the difficulty in the spell level comes from the spell guidelines and how easy or hard they dictate an action is to effect. If a clever effect is low level, but can have broad reaching implications, then it is entirely valid. It seems that Perdo is potentially the worst at blinding somebody, which is somewhat strange given the core rules supply a spell to do just that.

The following are example spells for blinding, using each of the techniques above. These effects primarily use of Diameter as their duration as I’ve always felt that it is better for combat purposes than Concentration, and more economical than Sun.

Blinding with Muto for Corpus and Animal

I initially picked Muto as the Technique because I’m concentrating on those effects at the moment. The blinding effect as Muto alters the target’s eyelids so that they are sealed closed. Changing the target as if they were born that way.

The Muto base effect level might be debatable, and I settled on the Base 5 guideline for Muto Corpus derived from the Muto Animal rules for an unnatural change in a beast. It might be Base 2 form MuCo because the degree of change is the same as other spells of that power which alter the target to grant vision, or a sense of smell. It appears less powerful that the Base 3 Muto Corpus guideline which effects the target’s entire body; but the words used in the guidelines do not reflect the style of spell I was going for to blind the target.

Interestingly there are some effects which are constructed in a similar manner without the Target:Part +1 increase when using MuCo Base 2, which might instead use the Base 3 instead. The final effect level is the same.

I see this effect being similar in style to giving somebody webbed fingers, except the position of the skin happens to seal over the eyes. The eyes work, and the target could cut the skin easily without harm. This effect is meant to temporarily disable, not permanently harm. The effect needs to be modified to T:Part as it is just effecting the eyelids of the target.

As a rough comparison of Muto and Perdo for both Humans and Animals, to try to determine the baseline for the Muto effect:

  • Muto Corpus, Base 2, grant a minor ability. This seems the most appropriate in the Corpus set, but also does not actually fit the description. It is a stretch. More likely a Base 5 should be used.
  • Muto Animal, Base 5, change animal in a minor way so that they are unnatural.
  • Perdo Corpus, Base 20, to destroy a major sense in a person. Or 15 to destroy a minor one (probably means touch or taste). The core rules contain the definitive blindness spell, so I don’t need to re-list it here.
  • Perdo Animal, Base 20, to remove a major sense. The guideline is strict enough to say that Perdo isn’t the way to do this cheaply, but it is permanent. See The Falcon’s Hood on Ars p 119.
  • Rego Corpus, Base 2, to make a target lose control of a body part? Or Base 5 to hold them motionless. Or 10 to control their motion.
  • Rego Animal contains no specific guideline, but the other aspects of Rego are identical to Rego Corpus, so it follows that it will be also be Base 2.

Firstly a spell effect for blinding a human opponent.

Hera’s Indignant Blessing

Muto Corpus 25, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Part

Use Muto magic to seal over the target’s eyes, effectively blinding them. The targets eyes are still present, but cannot be opened as their eyelids are sealed over.

The spell name is a reference to Teiresias, who in one story was blinded by Hera for answering a question which favoured Zeus over Hera. The physical change in the target is no more complex than a minor ability (like Eyes of the Cat).

(Base 5 to change a person in a minor way so that they are unnatural from the Muto Animal guideline, Range to Voice (+2), Duration to Diameter (+1), Target to Part (+1))

And a version to blind animals with Muto is basically the same. I can see the Animal version being used on either the mounts of opponents or creatures themselves if they are hostile.

Blessing of the Kitten’s Eyes

Muto Animal 25, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Part

Use Muto magic to seal over the target’s eyes, effectively blinding them. The targets eyes are still present, but cannot be opened as their eyelids are sealed over.

The spell name is a reference to a baby rabbit, a kitten which are born with their eyes fused closed. The physical change in the target is no more complex than a minor ability (like Eyes of the Cat).

(Base 5, Range to Voice (+2), Duration to Diameter (+1), Target to Part (+1))

This is the two basic forms covered, and it demonstrates to me that while Muto isn’t the best source for blinding. A Magus with a high Muto might start there, however the Rego examples below are so much more effective and straight forward.

Blinding with Rego for Corpus and Animal

With Rego Corpus a temporary effect is simple and effective, as is a group version. I knew I liked Rego Corpus for a reason. It is a spell akin to the Curse of the Unruly Tongue using Rego Corpus from Ars p.134.

Blind the Ogling Fool

Rego Corpus 5, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Ind

Causes the target’s eyes to close for the duration of the spell.

(Base 2 to make a target lose control of a body part, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter)

And for those times when a mass of opponents need to be dealt with, a variation designed for groups of up to 100 members. Two minutes of blindiness should be all that is needed to rend the morale of any fighting force.

Blind the Ogling Horde

Rego Corpus 20, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Group

Causes the target’s eyes to close for the duration of the spell.

(Base 2 to make a target lose control of a body part, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter, +2 Group, +1 larger group up to 100 members)

And should 100 standard sized targets not be enough, perhaps a version scaled up to encapsulate a legion.

Blind the Ogling Legion

Rego Corpus 30, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Group

Causes the target’s eyes to close for the duration of the spell.

(Base 2 to make a target lose control of a body part, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter, +2 Group, +3 larger group up to 10,000 members)

With a variation for longer duration punishments and at greater range.

Blind the Watchful Scout

Rego Corpus 15, R: Sight, D: Sun, T: Ind

Causes the target’s eyes to close for the duration of the spell.

(Base 2 to make a target lose control of a body part, +3 Sight, +2 Sun)

And a variant of the first effect for animals,

Blind the Speeding Destrier

Rego Animal 5, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Ind

Causes the target’s eyes to close for the duration of the spell.

(Base 2 to make a target lose control of a body part, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter)

Blinding with Ignem

Perdo Ignem is used when creating darkness or a shadow, which means an effect to surround a target is shadows and darkness does not require Imagonem (images) at all. Imagonem could arguably be used to create the illusion of a barrier around somebody too though (is a black coloured sphere too different from a spherical absence of light?). The advantage Imagonem has an over the effects above is the lack of dependence on the Form of the target.

The Well Without Light spell is broad reaching and I doubt it is taken by many characters as it’s use is improbable. More likely to be used is an effect for combat purposes which darkens a room rather than a structure, and for far less time.

Solar of Darkness

Perdo Ignem 15, R: Touch, D: Diameter, T: Room

Removes light from the target room. Only spells greater than level 15 can create or manipulate light within this area for the duration.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +1 Diameter, +2 Room)

And an effect which is smaller in application, and can be centered on a person or object.

Extinguish All Light

Perdo Ignem 5, R: Touch, D: Diameter, T: Ind

Light is removed from an area 3-5 paces across for the duration of the spell.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +1 Diameter)

As the base effect for Ignem is a large camp fire or hearth fire, the area of removed light is also this size, estimated to be 3-5 paces across. This effect can also be moved about, as the RAW example of The Lamp Without Flame (CrIg) creates light which can be moved if placed on a portable object.

To make this effect more useful in battle it could be designed as Range: Voice, or have a greater duration, such as D: Sun, each adding a magnitude.

Blinding with Imagonem

Imagonem effects present stranger options. Firstly the concept of a non-moving blindfold which has been written before in the Net Wizard’s Grimoire as Conjuration of the Insubstantial Blindfold (CrIm10) by Erik Tyrrell. That blindfold spell is a very simple and effective method of distracting an opponent. It could be reworked with the duration dropped from Sun to Diameter for a Creo Imagonem 5 effect, which is wonderfully easy to cast.

Conjuration of the Insubstantial Fleeting Blindfold

Creo Imagonem 5, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Individual

The image of a blindfold is crated around the head of the creature, and will move with the creature. Credit to Erik Tyrrell for the spell concept.

(Base 1, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter, +1 Moving image)

Using a lower power base effect may potentially allow for better magic resistance penetration too.

Blinding by using clothing

Lastly controlling a scrap of material over the target’s eyes is all but the same outcome as blindness. It does not need to be present long to greatly hinder the subject, and will irritate.

The Unwanted Mask

Rego Herbam 15, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Individual

The target clothing moves to blind the wearer, shifting in place for the duration to cover the eyes. This effect will have varying results dependent of the clothing of the creature to be affected.

(Base 4, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter)

Read these and many more strange spells in the collected new spells for Ars Magica page.

Spells to mitigate warping in Ars Magica

When I initially thought of the effect I was planning to see it used on the friends of my Magus character, so they suffer less effects from the application of short term powerful transformation spells. The wider blog post and subsequent spells grew from this concept.

Ars Magica’s spell rules for Warping dictate that a target of a powerful effect (roughly magnitude 6 or higher) will recieve a Warping point each time a spell is cast upon them, and a personalised spell will mitigate this warping. Typically the personalised version of the spell is created in as a lab exercise.

As a storyguide I’ve previously guided players to assume that a spell with Range: Personal is always considered “personalised” for the caster because I assume that part of the task of learning the effect is also learning how to design it for themselves. This means that by default all other spells are never personalised. It is plausible that a spell could be designed at another range but still be personalised for the caster, as there is an argument to be made that any effect can be designed specifically for the caster, but that should not be the default and certainly not unless agreed in advance.

Given that Muto Vim spells can radically change almost any singular aspect of a spell (purpose, range, duration, target, sigil, effect power, splitting, etc), it seems probably that a Muto Vim spell could also be able to change another spell so that it is considered personalised for the other spell’s target, or personalised for the caster.

Note that the RAW indicate that the warping occurs on first application of an effect and also each season/year it is in effect. This means that this first set of spells is a partial measure to avoid Warping, as it can only mitigate the initial application of the spell.

Further below in this post I’ve written about potentially mitigating the long term effects, but that is not being suggested by these first two spell designs.

Inhibit the Egregious Deviations of the Warp

Muto Vim Gen, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This spell alters the target spell so that it is considered tailored for it’s target for the purposes of any warping it may cause. This spell may alter any effect which is equal to the Muto Vim spell’s level.

(Base of a Significant Change to less than or equal to spell level +1 mag, target own spells as +1 Touch)

I’m happy with this spell concept. It applies a plausible effect which is not overpowered in the setting and not unbalancing in the game. This spell must be learnt above level 30 to have any purpose at all, more likely level 40+ to be broadly effective. That does not seem unbalancing, given how much effort is required to design a high level effect.

The logical variant is to personalise spells which are cast by others, where the Magus will be the target. Through cooperative casting (see the Vim guidelines) one caster’s first spell effect will not warp the target Magus because they cast the spell below in unison.

Inhibit the Selfish Deviations of the Warp

Muto Vim Gen, R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This spell alters the target spell so that it is considered tailored for the caster, as if the target spell was designed for the caster to not cause warping. This spell may alter any effect which is equal to the Muto Vim spell level less one magnitude (spell level -5). It is designed with Range Voice because  it must be cast cooperatively with another wizard to limit the warping effects of their spells.

(Base of a Significant Change to less than or equal to spell level +1 mag, target own spells as +2 Voice)

I think the second effect is the more powerful, because it may also be used in place of the first, although at a slight disadvantage in effective power level. When using these effects they are not useful to learn at less than level 30 and 35 respectively (due to the rules for warping with regard to mag 6 effects), so it is far more likely that either of these effects will need to be learned at level 40 or higher. That will be at least a challenge to many characters; a goal not a quick means to an end.

Base of a Significant change is due to a change in treatment of the target which can be considered a change in target according to the Ars guidelines on p158. Continue reading

Ars Magica 5e last products

Atlas Games has announced that they have set a sunset on the Ars Magica 5th edition game, which coincides with the resignation of the line editor David Chart, and the announcement of the last few books due for publication in 2015-16 and some tie-in products with Ars Magica flavour through 2016.

The community response was mixed, although generally very supportive. Some commenters in the official forums spoke of their disappointment, and the fact that the game is now dying by default. Here is my short post from the forums on the subject:

The idea that a game is dying because it has announced it’s last (future) books is reasonable for big games, but probably isn’t the right model for Ars. A big game like DnD will do that as we’ve seen.

I think the Ars situation is different because the most of the active online community is already on the forums, and every book can be purchased just as easily from an online retailer than from a store. Sure small shops might needs special order, fine, get it online. Ars is a very very niche audience, so the market is not going to fold up much smaller than it already is. 5th edition games will still be played for a long while after today – consider how long it took to migrate from 4th to 5th edition. Consider too that the game has a very large body of work, and that the body of work has never depended on publishing module series books (like A1-4, D1-3 in the dnd days).

To be frank – the publishers really also need (a) time to let 5e settle and continue to be played after the book releases, (b) time to prep any 6e work, (c) time to assess if they wish to continue the line from a profitability perspective.

Atlas have worked darn hard to keep Ars going, give them their due.

The Cursed Gift of Daedalus

I’ve liked the idea of a flying companion in Ars Magica for a long time, and only now have a write up. This effect is the classic: “grant a man wings of a bird” and as such is such a wonderful match to the imagery of the Icarus and Daedalus legend. Daedalus certainly paid for his hubris is a most vicious way, and while his crafting of waxen wings wasn’t his only great achievement in the legends (i.e. the labyrinth was a wonder too), it is one that he is most famous for.

The Cursed Gift of Daedalus

Muto Corpus 30. R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Part, Req: Animal

Grants the target a pair of wings and the ability to fly.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +1 Part, +1 Requisite)

Obviously the MuCo5 guideline requires Target: Part to be effective, and Sun is a desirable duration as Concentration is just too risky. As a story suggestion – an Athletics ability check might be used for maneuvering at the story-guide’s discretion.

Rubens,_Peter_Paul_-_The_Fall_of_Icarus

Milestone unlocked: 102 spells for Ars Magica

Aside

It’s been a while since I started blogging spells for Ars Magica – in fact several years. Recently I published my 102nd spell which I’m proud to have reached. If Ars blogging was a game an Achievement icon would have pop’ed onscreen, ding! All the spells can be found on this page.

library

Transformation into Gargantuan Creatures, Part Six. Special Powers

Continuing from Parts One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.

Part Six – Special powers and other effects

There are a number of powers and abilities that monsters have in the myths and legends, and the approach in this blog post has generally been to look at the physical form benefits, and ignore the special powers. Adding powers into the existing transformation spells is not within the flavour of Ars Magica Hermetic magic, as each effect really should be it’s own spell. That is problematic for a transformation effect which is already high level, but the rules are the rules.

(a) CamouflageThere are some suggested guidelines in the Muto Animal section for how to do this, but it is mostly adding more magnitudes of power into spells which are already very high. A previously written up spell named Disguise of the Chameleon (MuAn 10) does this for creatures assuming they are typical sized and also changing to a static colouring. Perhaps the trick here is to allow a true shifting set of hues to blend the creature.

Disguise of the Gargantuan Chameleon

Muto Animal 20. R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Individual

Allows the caster’s to changed animal based form to shift to match it’s background. Size is limited to affect up to size +7 creatures.

(Base: 5 change an animal in a minor way so it is no longer natural, +2 Diameter, +2 additional 6 size increments)

(a) Soaking Damage – Mechanically speaking it is not a true gargantuan creature unless it can soak up a lot of damage and keep moving; so a very high Soak score is needed. The ideal way to do that is to add a resistance of a sort for common weapon types, and also dramatically increase the Soak score itself.

To increase soak, we look to the Muto Corpus spell guidelines and design this effect, based upon +1 Soak per magnitude:

Gift of the Herculean Fortitude

Muto Corpus 45, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Individual

The caster gains a bonus of +8 to Soak.

(Base 40, +1 Diameter)

A bonus of +8 to soak in combat is a monumental number. Consider that combative creatures tend to already have Stamina (say +3), their natural armor (say +3), and then size adjustments – an effect which grants a +8 bonus is making that creature all but immune to most normal weapons.

hercules-slaying-envy

A lightning bolt (which can inflict +35 damage) will still fry whatever it hits; but weapons are kind of moot when the creature gets a combined soak of +14. So it feels about right, and then make the creature +6 size ranks larger and the Soak is +20. Whoof!

(b) Fire Breath – this is a popular power for dragon forms so its included here. There are a number of ways to create a fire breath like effect, and for the sake of brevity I’ll only demonstrate one.

(c) Huge Armor and Arms – if the transformation might also make use of equipment or armor, then transforming what the caster already has is a viable approach, or as an alternatively have them shaped from the environment at the time needed.

Humility and Versatility for Cormoran and Jack Alike

Muto Terram 40, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Ind

This effect allows the item touched be resized up to the desires of the caster, up to eight times each dimension, and thirty-two times the mass. Requisites are required for the Form of the target. The original item may be no larger than a small hut.

Note that a weapon effected by this spell will be resisted by the MR or Parma Magica of the opponent. The spell is named after the desire to use the same equipment for Jack the Giant Killer and a foe Cormoran.

(Base 4, +1 Touch, +2 Sun,+2 affect metals, +1 to affect an object ten times larger than a large chest, +2 for extra quadrupled)

As a base from Object of Increased Size which doubles each dimension of an object, with an eightfold increase in mass, the effect allows for gargantuan equipment and weapons. The rationale is that the base effect doubles the size, so each magnitude also doubles; 1 mag is double which is the base spell, a further +1 mag is four times, and +2 mags is eight times the length and thirty-two times the mass.

What is “unnatural” in Creo and Muto?

What is intended by the term “unnatural” material in Ars Magica’s magic system, with regard to Creo of unnatural items? Well a long while back the 5e line editor clarified the intent, and I found it the other day while reading a tangential forum post.

David Chart wrote:

The intent was for “unnatural” to have the same meaning in all guidelines. You can Creo flammable water. However, since it isn’t natural, you can’t use vis to make it endure; it’s only sustained by the magic, like Muto. There is no form for it; that’s what makes it unnatural. It wasn’t written as requiring a Muto requisite because you aren’t changing anything; you are bringing something into existence with those properties. Looking at it now, the magnitude boost is probably too small, however.

I don’t think this got heavily playtested, because looking at the rules shows that they aren’t as clear as they should be. That probably indicates that I and all the playtesters thought that the meaning was perfectly clear, without actually agreeing on what that meaning was. But since no-one saw a problem, no-one raised it for discussion.

Great answer and fair enough. Considering the implications of this statement, they directly match to the behaviour of spell effects that are traditionally in the purview of Muto, but also may be performed with Creo with an increase in spell level. IMHO Creo was never restricted to only creating things that were “real”, as we know when spells can create mythical creatures and all sorts of wonderful things outside a peasant’s mindset.

This does give Creo a wider scope than I first thought though to give it, which is a nice enhancement to it’s role intertwined amongst the 5x techniques.