An Imaginary Lab in the Familiar Bond

The Crown of Hermes magical device (Covenants p.121) allows the wearer to have an imaginary lab within their mind to perform their magical investigations, limited to particular activities like studying arts and inventing spells. I’ve never seen this device used in a game but it is a very interesting option for a Magus who travels a lot or with strong Mentem Arts, as they can have a lab anywhere. When combined with the lab specialisation rules the lab might be on par with a standard lab for some activities.

A primary advantage is how portable it makes a lab. A Bonisagus Seeker might get a lot of use from it when they are frequently traveling, likewise a Mercere Magus, or a Magus who wishes to remain untethered. One of the primary downsides of the device is the warping it inflicts (even though it might be designed for the wearer).

So what if the enchantment was performed on a familiar bond instead a normal device, as the familiar bonds do not cause warping (as per Ars Magica p.168)?

Modifications would need to allow for casting upon the wizard, and perhaps also the familiar could share the experience, and preferably an effect which can be used more frequently if desired. It becomes an invested power of the bond as:

Imagined Laboratory of Hermes, Invested

CrMe/InMuRe 58, Base 35, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, +1 extra target. Then mods for +5 device maintains concentration, and +3 for 6 uses per day.

In this version the spell affects both the Magus and the familiar, allowing them to work together. It could also be made as (CrMe/InReMu 53) by only affecting the magus but being controlled by the familiar – which might make sense if the familiar was to guard the body of the Magus while the spell is in effect; although typically a magus wants that familiar in the lab to gain their skills. Those additional uses allow for interruption now that the effect duration is concentration.  Continue reading

A spell to Burn Down a Castle

This is a quick spell to burn a building down from the inside. In the design I wanted an effect which would allow a pyromancer to immolate parts of a building but not others. Picture a staircase and rooms burning, which directs the panicking inhabitants down the only “safe” passage. Nasty!

It means adding a dual-target adjustment in the spell design, to grant the flexibility and control desired. I thought about creating the spell as Diameter instead, but thematically liked the idea that the magus can at will cancel the effect, and once several rounds have passed the building will continue to burn even though the spell has expired.

Immolation of Harrenhal

Creo Ignem 40, R: Touch, D: Concentration, T: Structure

Heats an entire structure, or a sub-part chosen by the caster, and everything within it to melting point, which creates a devastatingly dangerous environment for the inhabitants and materials. All items including typically non-flammable items will catch fire, and likely continue to burn after the spell expires.

(Base 10 to melt an object, +1 Touch, +1 Concentration, +3 Structure, +1 Part flexibility)

This and over 505 other new spells for Ars Magica can be found here.

An anchor becomes a saviour

Based upon Supple Iron and Rigid Rope (Ars p154), this spell makes use of the Terram generic materials examples to float items like wood.

Floating Anchor and Sinking Oar

Muto Terram 15, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Part

Makes a buoyant object sink or a sinking object buoyant. Casting requisites of Forms appropriate to the materials affected are required.

This spell was invented by a Magus who hated swimming and loathed the idea of drowning at sea.

(Base 3, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter, +1 Part)

I took the same Base level as Supple Iron and Rigid Rope and upped the range as it’s probably more useful to make an float after it’s just gone overboard; or likewise sink. Then Target: Part so that clothes and other things can be selected on a variety of target’s. Diameter should be plenty to sink or rescue something.

All the new spells for Ars Magica can be found here.

A boat stuck in ice

A few spells inspired from Snow White for Ars Magica

Here are some spells based upon Snow White (as best as I can fit them) for Ars Magica. Some of the magical effect from the story are detailed in the core rules; such illusions, transformation, scrying, and forms of divination.

The Queen’s poisoned apple could be written many ways. A straight wounding poison, an extended sleep spell, and a faerie sleep spell. The trick with hermetic magic is to create a poison which knocks the target unconscious rather than wounding them. A Creo spell shouldn’t be able to replace the process for creating potions although by creating specific poisons within another substance is a work around. YSMV. My thought is that a toxin can wound, fatigue, sleep, or other effect; and the trick is really getting the target to eat it.

This means proposing a new Creo Aquam guideline for a fatiguing toxin instead of a wounding one. Not a huge leap.

  • Creo Aquam Guideline: Base 5, to inflict 1 level of fatigue if a Stamina check is failed against a difficulty of 3.
  • Each magnitude adds an additional fatigue level. Optionally each magnitude also increases the difficulty check by 3.

Draft of Weariness

Creo Aquam 20, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

The draft of toxin conjured inflicts a fatigue level if the imbiber fails a Stamina check vs 3.

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

Which means a low powered spell matching the poison-apple using fatigue would be as below, noting that the higher of the two base effects is chosen; Base 1 CrHe to create a fruit, and Base 5 for the poison.

Fruit Created for Suffering

Creo Herbam / Aquam 20, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

The food conjured is tainted with a powerful magical toxin which inflicts a fatigue level on anyone who eats it if they fail a Stamina check vs 3. The spell may create a single discrete item of unprocessed food, such as fruits.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, Herbam requisite free)

Fruit Imbued with Suffering

Muto Herbam / Aquam 20, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

The targeted food is tainted with a powerful magical toxin which inflicts a fatigue level on anyone who eats it if they fail a Stamina check vs 3. The taint becomes harmless when the spell expires.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, Aquam requisite free)

The base for altering Herbam is MuHe3 however as the base for the toxin was CrAq5 that was used, which rationalised the free Aq requisite.

All the new spells for Ars Magica can be found here.

Autumnlands – a good read

Autumnlands is a comic that I wasn’t sure about, but quickly liked. The story starts simply and gets more fantastic and magical as it progresses. After reading the first collection there is certainly more going on in the backstory that will be revealed than the initial story gives you – and I’ve several guesses that I’m keeping to myself for now. The wider story arc called “Tooth and Claw” plays out in issues I’ve not yet read but am looking forward to. Weird magic (floating cities, rituals of summoning, muto corpus / animal based hybrids in Ars Magica, lightning spells), beasties, rapid melee with swords and spears – what’s not to like?

Autumnlands by Image Comics

Gift of the Bear’s Strength, and Hybrid Transformations using Muto

Thank you to Theomund for the comment on another post which started me thinking about the limits of what Muto Corpus / Animal spells can do, and what the guidelines imply. Initially the suggestion was to use the gorilla as the base animal, however I’ve used a bear in the naming as I think bears are more prolific in medieval Europe and the bear has a very high strength star in the Book of Beasts.

To begin an answer – the MuCo2 baseline which is commonly used for minor transformations an abilities seems far too low to allow for a wholesale change. A full transformation into an animal is MuCo10, and birds or fish is MuCo20, and the themes of Ars Magica seem to imply that moving to a know form (wolf, bird, etc) is easier than a partial or unknown form. So I think a Muto Corpus 15 base is better to represent this type of hybrid man/animal transformation. The transformation might grant a few new attributes or adjustments as long as the additional powers or aspects are very similar and thematic. Further additional magnitudes should allow even more strange abilities, such as combining attributes from different animals.

This is aligned with Gift of the Bear’s Fortitude, which uses a MuCo15 base, which transforms all of the target’s body to grant a combat mechanic advantage and does not use an Animal requisite.

This is very similar to what  I suggested for the Monstrous Transformations of Behemoths and Dragons and also in a Discussion on Muto Transformation Magic in an earlier posts:

(based upon the appropriate guideline for land or sea/air animals) … A few similar thematically alterations only cost +1 mag, but many will cost another +1 mag. So the extra +1 mag allows for say 12-15 powers, where the limited one allows for a few.

This means that once the base level has allowed for an animal transformation, an additional magnitude should allow for a strange transformation (making a rough new MuCo Baseline of 15 for partial transformations), and then a further magnitude should allow for a good spread of physical abilities. I think it’s logical to use the same spells as a guide for a hybrid form; as that is basically what the Behemoth was.

Aside – There has not been a Muto Corpus spell which adds to a stat, probably as it is covered by Creo Corpus although the Ars Magica system seems to allow for many different ways to achieve an end.

New Hermetic Baseline – Muto Corpus 15 – Allows a partial transformation of a human to a land animal, granting aspects of both the animal form and human form. Requisites are probably needed.

New Hermetic Baseline – Muto Corpus 25 – Allows a partial transformation of a human to a sea or air animal, granting aspects of both the animal form and human form. Requisites are probably needed.

A spell transforming with an aspect of animal strength might be as follows. This uses a “partial transformation” of MuCo/An15. This is a useful spell as it allows the target to continue to use human sized weaponry and armor against targets, and not suffer a limitation of striking MR due to an active spell (discussed here).

Gift of the Bear’s Strength

Muto Corpus / Animal 30, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

Changes the target’s body to gain the broad musculature of a bear which enhances their frame, increasing Strength by +3. Equipment and clothing are not altered by this spell and may no longer fit suitably.

(Base 15, +1 Touch, +2 Sun)

A spell to transform into a hybrid creature might be:

Form of Hulking Werebear

Muto Corpus / Animal 30, R: Personal, D: Sun, T: Individual

Transforms the caster into a chimeric blend of man and bear, resulting in a large bipedal hybrid. The humanoid form increases in size by 2 to a maximum of Size +2, retains rudimentary humanoid head, hands and feet, although the gross shape and size change causes most equipment to be difficult to wear. Replace all physical attributes with those of an adult bear (Strength, Stamina, Dexterity, Quickness, and Size) and average Perception, Awareness, and Communication. The bear’s natural claw and bite attacks are halved in effectiveness. Equipment and clothing is not altered by this spell.

(Base 15, +2 Sun, +1 additional attributes and bear themed abilities)

Related link on Ars forums http://forum.atlas-games.com/viewtopic.php?t=32533, and other custom spells for Ars Magica can be found on the new spells page.

 

Quick example of how to improve a Magi’s lab in Ars Magica

I was initially baffled by how to spec and then alter a Magi’s lab in Ars Magica. These are my cheat notes for how it works… 

A basic rule is for every improvement you want it to make in a lab it probably requires an investment of a season to make the change, and first an additional space. The remaining space is represented by the size less the consumed space, and the process of Refinement adds more space to a lab by reorganising the current content. Essentially the Magus can reorganise the content many times but there is little benefit unless the new space created will be used for something significant. 

This means that a season is needed to refine a lab first, and then whatever enhancement. So most improvements need two or more seasons. In more detail…using an example helps. 

Firstly, a brief description of the initial lab should be written. This fluff allows a common view point for the starting conditions and a basis for expansion.

“The laboratory of Zharkune the Necromancer is located below the ground in one of the Covenant’s cellars. This is accessed by a secured stairway from an antechamber on the tower’s ground level aside the main corridor. Both the antechamber and the downward stairwell are secured by heavy wooden door, the inner door bearing Zharkune’s sancta marker. Inside  the cellar is cold and dark, with no natural light which insulates the lab against outside noises. The lab is standard size, with a two small storage chambers to the north, a side reverie for reading, and an unused but furnished sleeping chamber to the south, as Zharkune also keeps a larger residence in the upper levels of the tower. The ancillary chambers are not considered part of the lab proper, but could be converted for use in the future.”

The second task is to set the initial conditions of the lab, and those are based upon the construction, physical environment, and resources of the covenant. Some labs will start very plain with no special features, but many should start with altered characteristics. Further if the covenant has pervasive aspects like a regio or in an extreme temperature then this should be accounted for.

Laboratory of Zharkune the Necromancer – Starting characteristics. 

Working scores: +2 Safety, +2 Aesthetics, +1 Upkeep, -1 Health, +1 Terram, 

Attributes:

  • Well Insulated (behind two doors and underground): +1 Safety, +1 Aesthetics.
  • Subterranean (cellar): +1 Upkeep, -1 Health, -1 Aesthetics, +1 Terram. 
  • Guard (who protects the outer door): +1 Aesthetics.
  • Superior Construction (a conjured tower): +1 Safety, +1 Aesthetics

Laboratory of Zharkune the Necromancer – Modified characteristics. 

After a brief year (a season of refinement and a season to invest each of the two properties) Zharkune’s lab has become specialised to his tastes. 

Working scores: +2 Refinement, +2 Safety, +4 Aesthetics, +1 Upkeep, +1 Health, +1 Terram, +1 Corpus, +1 Creo, +1 Warping, 

Additional attributes:

  • Specimens (human body parts): kept for study and for reanimation. +1 Upkeep, +1 Aesthetics, +1 Corpus.
  • Preserved (a magical storeroom): which keeps content immune from natural decay. -1 Upkeep, +1 Warping, +2 Health, +1 Aesthetics; +1 Cr.

Advice for lab creation

A common example – a covenant tower created with a magical ritual or sources from some other supernatural source should start with the Superior Construction quality.

Also if the wizards have the option it is far better to create labs which are larger than the standard; meaning a positive size attribute due to initial construction. This is because each new aspect or quality which is added takes up a virtual point of space which is directly linked to size.

Then the players should discuss is any characters wish to gain highly customised aspects (such as a bottomless pit or sentient lab) as this will guide the flavour of the lab going forward.

lab1