Simple Enchanted Items for Ars Magica, part 1

The Ars community came together on the Ars Magica forums “Let’s Make Apprentice Created Enchantments” thread to contribute low powered devices and potions which could be manufactured by an apprentice. Many might be useful as covenant labour saving devices, which reduces the covenant expenses.

All powers are limited to a maximum power of level 15, which is achievable by an apprentice character and costs 2 pawns of vis to invest. There are great ideas in the forum thread, far more than an average game needs! Go read them.

Sometimes I’ve added contextual notes or added an alternative as I could see these items as basis for quick and dirty items readable on the hermetic market, or the types of low power devices which might be sold through proxies to mundanes.

Below in no logical order are my contributions and a few extra ideas thrown in for good measure. This blog post covers the items added in the first few weeks, and I’ll follow-up with a part-two to show all the madness I end up contributing.

(ps. Have a look at the other new Ars Magica items created over the years too)

Chalk of Observation

This chalk is a simple potion which moves part of the visual image of the affected object one pace. This can be used to assist targeting foes on the other side of walls.

Rego Imaginem 5 (Rego Imagonem base 2, +1 Touch, +1 Diameter, +1 Part)

… the idea is to draw a circle on a wall and move the image of that bit aside to target spells to the other side. It could be used to move the image of a soldier aside too, which should add a defensive bonus.

Marksman’s Bow

An ornate carved and decorated bow of ash and yew with highlights featuring dyed green and red leather, which is enchanted so that arrows fired are unerringly directed by the bowman.

When activated by command word arrows can travel as far as the bowman can see, and cannot miss, however the arrows are now resisted by MR. When activated the arrows inflict +10 damage. Bow shape grants a lab bonus of +5 for “destroying things at a distance”.

Rego Herbam 15 (Base 3, +3 Sight)(+5 levels for 24 uses a day)

I love this item for standard covenant grogs. It only requires 2x vis to create and makes an archer an excellent opponent against other mundane troops.

If this project did not have a level-15 cap on the powers then this would be better with additional penetration and no additional Vis cost, as:

Rego Herbam 20 (Base 3, +3 Sight)(+2 levels for 3 uses a day, +8 levels for +16 penetration)

This version has less uses per day, however it now is able to wound Might 15 supernatural foes as well as mundanes. That might not kill a demon or monster outright but it will cause it damage which in turn reduces how effective it is in battle.

Or a third version might be made as single use arrows as potions which do not require vis. That would change the lab bonus downward, but allow an apprentice to craft a handful of arrows which cannot miss. That’s powerful to a mundane archer.

Rego Herbam 10 (Base 3, +2 Voice, +1 to boost to +15 damage)

This version has the range reduced too, so that the arrows are very easy to craft as single use tools and inflict +15 damage. That won’t outright kill with a single arrow, but a few shots will incapacitate an ordinary grog.

Sailor’s Thirsty Desire

This thumb sized crystal is enchanted to instantly distill fresh water from either saltwater or an impure source. The effect emulates the work of evaporation, which will remove almost all sizeable contaminants and salt on up to 100 gallons of water (a full barrel). To be effective the user must succeed a moderate Finesse check vs 9. Crystal grants the lab total a +5 bonus.

Rego Aquam 5 (Base 3 to change water to steam, +1 capture and move back, +1 Touch) As a crystal potion this might be dropped into a barrel when used to activate.

…this item is arguable because the degree of difficulty performing Finesse ability check for evaporation is debatable. It seems plausible.

Faerie Poker

This cast-iron fire poker has been enchanted to reduce the magical potency of faerie creatures. If the effect penetrates the faerie’s MR it loses 5 points of might. The poker is limited in power so it acts more as a deterrent rather than a true weapon. Iron adds a +7 lab bonus.

Perdo Vim 10 (Base effect, +1 Touch)(+3 levels for +6 Penetration)(+2 levels for 3 uses per day)

The poker is cheap and easy to craft due to the +7 lab bonus. This could also be a single use potion shaped as iron knives instead of a fire poker, to be struck/thrown, as:

Perdo Vim 10 (Base effect, +1 Touch)(+5 levels for +10 Penetration)

… or just as easily designed to reduce Might from a demon or magical creature instead of Fae. It’s a basic Ars concept but worth repeating here as it is a very plausible lab project for a junior wizard.

Seal of Illusory of Habitation

A small cube of polished silver with an inner core protecting powdered cinnamon. While activated the seal emits periodic footsteps, taps, and murmurs that emulate the sounds of activity. Practically this is a totally ineffective as a form of defense, but might be useful to make a burglar return at another time.

The cinnamon adds +4 to the crafter’s lab total.

Creo Imaginem 6 (Spell base effect 1, +1 for Touch, +3 Moon)(+1 for 2 uses a day)

… simple, but potentially easy to replace with a Ring/Circle spell cast spontaneously.

Comb of Resplendent Grooming

Crafted from antlers fitted with a silver handle, this comb has been enchanted to groom the body hair of the target to a neat and respectable result; subject to a very easy Finesse check for overall effectiveness. When activated by holding the comb left handed just so, the target’s hair is trimmed to their desire. The comb’s designer also envisaged using the comb to collect arcane connections, and so included a minor amount of penetration in the device. This has never been performed.

Comb grants a lab bonus of +7.

Perdo Corpus 10, (PeCo base 3, +1 Touch, + 0 Momentary, +1 Part) (+2 for 3 uses a day, +3 for +6 Penetration)

Brush Offcuts into Soap

A heavy brush of oak and boar’s bristle is enchanted to transform a block of wood into a block of soap 1/10th its original size once per day. The soap block can then be split and used till its remains revert back to the original form. Variations on this effect might create any manufactured herbam based product such as oils or perfumes.

As a wooden item the enchanter is granted a +4 lab total bonus to affect dead wood.

Muto Herbam 15 (MuHe base 3 change a plant product, +1 for a manufactured item, +1 Touch, +2 Sun) (1 use per day)

Baton to Command an Attentive Handcart

An oiled oak baton inset with palm is carved with caricatures of dancing carts, chairs, and tables. When activated by lightly tapping the baton to a moderate sized wooden object, the user can control it’s gross movement. Designed to assist movement of large loads using wooden platforms, carts, or tables. Palm grants a +3 bonus to animating wood.

Rego Herbam 15 (Base 3, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, +0 Ind) (+5 maintains concentration, +5 for 24 uses a day).

An Embarrassing Splash of Colour

A small hazel wood box with a hidden heart of mercury allows the user to change the colour of all the target’s skin, clothes, and possessions to a garish hue of pink. The item serving as an arcane connection is placed within the box when activated.

Designed by an unapologetic master to use upon his apprentice when summoned or as punishment. Mercury core grants a Muto +3 bonus to lab totals.

Muto Imaginem 15 (base 1, +4 Arc, +1 Dia) (+5 levels for 24 uses per day)

Charm for a Disguised Doorway

This small charm is attached to a doorway or portal. When activated the effect creates an illusion over an entryway, archway, or portal to conceal the area making it appear the same as the surrounding wall visually and by touch.

When crafted into a lesser device the design of the illusion must be set for a specific place as the device has no ability to perceive the walls around it. Designed as a constant device.

Variants of the device can protect pathways to groves, or a any number of other concealing effects.

Creo Imaginem 10, (Base 2, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +0 Ind, +1 larger size)(+1 for two uses per day, +3 environmental trigger)

…I really like the idea of hiding the entrance to a storage room.

Gaze of the Perceptive Watchman

This helmet is enchanted to grants the wearer the sharp nightvision of a cat, able to see in all but total darkness. Activated by putting on the helm.
The Helm grants a +6 lab bonus, although this will be limited back down to the apprentice’s Magic Theory score.

Gaze of the Perceptive Watchman – As per Eyes of the Cat (Ars p.131) (MuCo/An 10), (Base 2, +1 Touch, +2 Sun), with +5 for 24 uses per day.

…which is from another item designed a while ago.

Pendant of the Smiling Negotiator

This copper pendant of a closed smiling mouth protects the wearer from supernatural effects intended to discern if they are lying, up to level 20 + stress die (no botch) when activated.

Copper grants +3 “deception” bonus to the lab total.

Perdo Vim 15 (base (gen taken as 10), +1 Touch, +1 Diameter)(+5 levels for 24 uses per day)

… I wanted to make this item with a snake head and tongue but that would make it a device never to be worn in normal medieval public life – who wears a snake around their neck? The discussion also pointed out a few major objections to this item, so please consider it “troublesome”.

Image by Steve Pilcher, Copyright Pixar, from the Pixar Art Collection. It looks like the hero from Brave using a sword and shield instead of a bow.
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Crazy magic item – Hat of Many Eyes by d20monkey

I regularly enjoy d20MOnkey and this week there is a cartoon about starting up a tabletop session. Props and hats galore. As tribute to that webcomic I present the Hat of Many Eyes.

D20monkey’s great image for the hat of many eyesHat of Many Eyes – a tall bulbous brown leather hat (or is that fur, or both? yuk) which has been “treated” with ointments and solutions to retain peak moistness, elasticity, and shape of whatever foul creature was used to craft it. The hat is covered in palm sized green eyes with yellow highlights, which periodically blink and weep. The hat appears altogether unnatural and disturbing.

When activated the wearer may concentrate to shift their perspective to any direction around them. Inside the rim of the hat is a clear glass lense set in a silver frame, which grants a lab bonus of +5.

Intellego Imaginem 16 (Base 1, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +3 Special Range (based upon Room +1 as used in Sight as through a Plethron Distant from MoH p.101))(+1 levels for 2 uses per day)

This could also be made as a small clear glass lense worn as jewelry or a nick nack if the hat is just too repulsive/silly, “Charm of the Watchful Parent”. Enjoy you day folks.

Broken use of T: Room in my Ars Magica spells

Bit saddened because it was pointed out a day or so ago that T: Room cannot be used with Creo when something is created in Ars Magica. Whoops.

I kind of knew this, but didn’t mentally click to the impact. Darn it. This means that a few of my custom spells are wrong, and need to be fixed. Mostly I hope that converting from a target of  +2 Room to +0 Individual with +2 size will not break the spell size calculations. In some cases a complexity modifier was needed when thinking about the way the spell works.

ArM5 p113, Targets and Creo wrote – “The target of a Creo spell that actually creates something is the thing created. The target is thus always Individual or Group. A spell to create a part of something is either a healing spell or a Muto spell, depending on the part created. A Creo spell with target Room cannot be used to fill a room with something. Instead, use target Group with an appropriate size modifier. The Creo guidelines for each Form give the level required to create different kinds of thing. The size is determined using the standard rules for target size.”

My affected spells are:

  • A Pleasantly Warmed Sancta (CrIg15), reworked as +0 Individual, +2 Size.
  • Warmth of the Cozy Solar (CrIg15), reworked as above.
  • A Pleasantly Warmed Tower (CrIg20), reworked as +0 Individual, +3 Size.
  • Every Hearth Both Comfortable and Warm (CrIg30), reworked as +2 group, +1 non-standard as the spell is now conceptually broken.
  • Immolation of Harrenhal (CrIg40), reworked as +3 size and +1 complexity in shape.

The master list of new spells and each related blog post has been fixed. It also means that the mistake I made with Room is the same with Structure. Fixed those too, Grumble.

Copyright Magic the Gathering (I guess one of the card illustrations?) Is this a mana cube?

I’m not sure if this cube is floating, burning and falling, or what.

House Rule for Casting Forcelessly

In Ars Magica Casting a spell forcelessly is a deliberate act by the caster to inhibit their own spell power/spell strength so that they do not risk unintentionally cast a spell on another Magus. I’m not sure what a useful real life comparison might be – however it seems like the wizard is seeking to use enough of their knowledge and power to successfully cast the spell, but absolutely no more. Seems not without some risk.

Is that like quickly physically lifting an object up off the floor only one handspan? Or filling a bottle to the brim but not letting another drop spill? Do it fast but don’t go over.

Sounds like something which should require a basic Finesse check to do properly. Even rated as an easy task (say target value 3+) introduces the potential for mistakes and risk.

(As a counter – Ars Magica is a roll heavy game so perhaps KISS applies)

Perhaps if the Finesse check fails, the Casting Total is calculated normally minus the caster’s Penetration score. Sure, the magus didn’t mean to use a little extra force, but magic is fickle and sometimes hard to control.

On a botch (and this is a skill check and not a magical botch) perhaps the spell is cast as normal including the caster’s penetration skill. Whoops eh?

Images copyright Blizzard Entertainment – WoW BfA (which is what I’m doing to stay sane when I have some spare time and need to explore. Happy killing folks)

Reduced Might Stripping, a House Rule for Ars Magica supernatural opponents

Aside

A great house rule to limit the impact of might stripping spell effects on supernatural creatures in Ars Magica – Multiple applications of Perdo Vim do not stack, specifically for reducing a creatures Might or affecting an Arcane Connection. Once damaged only a more powerful spell will inflict more damage. Makes the famailiars tougher too.

Found via a discord group I’ve been chatting to. Clever idea!

An Avalanche spell from Disney’s Mulan

Another snow based new spell for Ars Magica, for a snow, ice and winter magus which is now languishing in a pbp game which never took off.

Avalanche

Creo Aquam 30, R: Sight, D: Diameter, T: Individual

A massive drift of snow is created a spot designated by the caster, as a circular pile roughly 500 feet wide and 200 feet at it’s highest.

(Base 3 to create snow, +3 Sight, +1 Diameter, +3 Size)

Adminitedly it is a spell with very limited usage, inspired from the avalanche scene in Disney’s Mulan (my kids are big fans).

This spell is part of the free new spells compendium for Ars Magica.

Mulan avalanche image - Copyright Disney

A tricky MR question for ArM

I saw a tricky Magic Resistance question for ArM today, and I find it a frustrating demonstration of the MR rules, and a potentially exploitable rule.

RacconMask wrote – How does this react with Target:Part? If I take (for example) a javelin or spear, and cast a Target: part spell to control the butt of the spear’s haft to attack flawlessly with Rego… does that get magic resistance when the un-controlled tip stabs in? Thinking here of an ‘invisible swordsman’ ReFo spell that only controls the hilt of a weapon.

Grumble. It is a great idea as it demonstrates again how MR in ArM can be complicated. Truthfully it is no different from enchancing a soldier with a spell to increase their toughness, and insisting that they use normal weapons. Which is to say the players at the table need to understand a simple rule – When a rule is exploitable it can be used by everyone, and the GM has far more resources. Do you really want your enemies to react in the same way?

As long as the exploit is applies consistently and it feels congruent in the story, let the players exploit. Then hit them with it.

This is the same for Parma Magica burning spells. They look great on paper, and are exceptionally dangerous, but they also will likley impact the players far more once the NPCs adapt.