304 spells today

Today’s blog post with more Necromancy spells bumps up the total number of new spells for Ars Magica to over 300. I’m hunting for inspiration for more from all over, still holding to the goal to get 400 published by end of the year and have added steady since having 250 spells posted in late March; although that target is getting hard to hit. I’m also finding that writing about Ars Magica characters or events is distracting from just globing together spells; so the material posted is scattered between observations, spells, characters, and items.

I’ve got some very problematic spell ideas in draft at present, which need work and are potentially controversial, probably leading to observations on new Ars spell guidelines.

Necromancy spells, part 7

The following spells are not strictly necromantic, but may be very useful additions for wizards with that inclination.

Animated corpses may also be a useful tool of reconnaissance, by making the animation a vehicle of remote exploration. An interesting similar canonical spell to start as a base is Arachne’s Tuition (Magi of Hermes, p 101) which allows the caster to assume control the targets body.

Assumedly the control allows the caster to perceive with the targets senses as well as control their fine motion; otherwise the caster is really going to struggle to perform crafting style activities with any degree of accuracy. This is the same desired effect, except on an animated corpse under the control of the caster which still should be a valid target. Corpus is corpus after all.

Assume the Dominant Sentience

Rego Corpus 25, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Individual

This spell allows the caster to directly control a target touched, and is designed for use with an animated corpse but will function with a living target as well.

To maintain control beyond their reach the caster should have an arcane connection to the target, so it can move beyond his presence and still be controlled. The caster can pause and resume the control of the target.

(Base 4, +1 fine movements, +1 Touch, +3 Moon)

I’ve altered the duration to Moon to a greater allowance for prolonged activity, and added a requirement for an AC if the corpse is going to be maneuvered beyond the casters presence.

This effect might be best either in a device using Concentration or via a Rego Vim effect to maintain it. It’s also possible that the spell could be invented as a Sun effect and recast even if the corpse is beyond the reach of the caster by using an Intangible Tunnel. Again this is one of many potential variations.

Magi may also wish to watch what a corpse does while animated without directly taking control, and maintain that view. Such a a spell would be:

Experiences of the Shambling Servant

Intellego Imagonem / Creo 15, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

The caster can see, hear, smell, and feel at the location touched. The spell is intended to be used with an Intangible Tunnel or on a target creature touched.

(Base 4 to use four senses at a distance, +1 Touch, +2 Sun)

Another odd effect for moving corpses around without raising suspicion or ire. Arguably the baseline to shrink a corpse is lower than to shrink a living target, due to the difference in other guidelines when working with living or dead materials. It seemed safer to keep the level the same as a living target and allow the spell to affect a body regardless of if it is living or dead.

The Diminutive Advisor

Muto Corpus 25, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

This spell shrinks a human down to a fraction of its normal size, down to size -11. This ensures unobtrusive transport is possible and makes the target almost threat in ordinary combat.

The spell was designed with corpses in mind, but can also affect living targets.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +3 for shrinking 9 more sizes ranks)

There is a spell in Houses of Hermes: True Lineages which allows a Quaesitor to gain a visual impression of the target from a scrap of material. Here is a necromantic version which is essentially creating a specific corpse assisted by an arcane connection.

Semblance of the Trespasser’s Corpse

Creo Corpus / Intellego 20, R: Touch, D: Ring,  T: Individual

This spell uses a small amount of human remains to conjure a fresh corpse which appears as the person does.

(Base 5 to create a corpse, +1 Touch, +2 Ring)

After opening a grave it’s desirable to close it up neatly. A spell simple in concept but difficult in design as it could be achieved in several ways and is likely to be better used as an adhoc spont spell (I had trouble deciding how to get the right outcome for this spell).

An illusion with a longish duration might also achieve the same end.

Restore the Restful Earth

Rego Terram / Herbam 4, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This spell makes an area of earth smooth and clear from any signs of disturbance, including restoring the grass and topsoil in the correct patterns.

The spell can also be used to superficially transplant earth or plants into decorative patterns.

A finesse roll of 6+ is needed to properly conceal a significant event, such as a grave being disturbed.

(Base 2, +1 Touch, +1 complexity)

Illusion of the Undisturbed Grave

Muto Imagonem 10, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Individual

This spell makes a large area of ground or flooring look unchanged and like its surroundings, and if cast before an excavation is performed will retain the perfect undisturbed appearance. The caster must succeed a finesse check, particularly to mimic a very specific appearance.

Intended to hide the nighttime activities of grave robbers, the spell will also conceal holes, traps, or significant markings.

(Base 1, +1 Touch, +3 Moon, +1 size)

Lastly a spell intended to turn foes upon each other during a monstrous outbreak, potentially to be cast upon members of the same fighting force to incite panic.

Aura of Ghoulish Malice

Muto Imagonem 15, R: Voice, D: Sun, T: Individual

The target appears rotting, horrible, and befouled; essentially appearing as if they are the walking dead. Many very obvious changes are made in the subject’s appearance, sound, and smell. This includes hallowed eyes, rotting or wounded flesh, pasty skin, gravely and broken voice, moaning, bent posture, and swaying gait.

It is impossible to gain a normal reaction while under the effects of this spell, as the changes are so gross and pervasive.

(Base 3, +2 Voice, +2 Sun)

These effects, like all the others I’ve pondered are part of a new spells compendium for Ars Magica.

Necromancy spells, part 6

The Ars Magica Hermetic Projects sourcebook contains a robust section which deals with aspects of Living Corpses, Necromancy, and details of binding ghosts (p96-118). Many of the more flamboyant spells that a Magus might develop later in their necromantic career are present in this book; so much so that repeating material here would be basically copying it. Hermetic Projects is one of the best Ars Magica books for deep investigation into how wizards might advance special interests.

Amongst other “creepy and dead” things it covers huge animations of human corpses, animating zombie armies of many sizes, conjuring human corpses in large numbers, and the creation of permanent quasi-sentient undead animals and humans. It is great material to aspire to.

Aside from that material which I was going to post variations for, here are a few ancillary spells which may be useful for Ars Magica Necromancers.

There is a fair rationale for an experimenting necromancer to use Ring and Circle version of these spells for their investigations. A set of niche effects, but perhaps worthy for devices within the necromancer’s lab.

Circle to Conjure the Remains of Man

Creo Corpus 20, R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Individual

This spell creates a corpse of up to size +1, with an appearance subject to the desires of the caster. Matching to a specific individual is possible with a successful Finesse check of 12+, with an optional familiarity adjustment between +/-3 depending on how well the caster knows the subject.

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

Circle of Walking Servants

Rego Corpus Mentem 25, R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Circle

Turns all corpses in the circle into a nearly mindless servants that can follow your simple verbal commands faithfully but unimaginatively. Unless the corpses are preserved with Charm Against Putrefaction or the equivalent, the bodies will decay normally, but even a skeleton can be animated.

(Base 10, +1 Touch, +2 Ring, Mentem req free)

Circle Against the Putrefaction of Man

Creo Corpus 5, R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Circle

The human materials within the target circle remain fresh, and are protected from rotting and purification.

(Base 2, +1 Touch, +2 Ring)

All these zombies are dangerous if there isn’t a way to deal with them (especially those not in circles). A typical undead ignores fatigue penalties and may also ignore some wound penalties depending on how the damage is inflicted. It would be very difficult to use pain as an attack on an animated foe. Dust to Dust (PeCo15) is the core rulebook spell for destroying a corpse and it is very effective on animated dead.

A variant to ensure a necromancer never gets the drop on a magus might be crafted to destroy both animal and human corpses and also to destroy a group of targets.

Dust the Unwanted Remains

Perdo Corpus / Animal 30, R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Group 

This spell destroys a selection of human and animal corpses, up to 10 size +1 corpses which are not controlled by an independent spirit.

(Base 5, +2 Voice, +2 Group, +1 Animal corpses)

As a level 30 effect it is significant to learn however most animated dead do not have any magical resistance so it is likely to be effective.

These effects, like all the others I’ve pondered are part of a new spells compendium for Ars Magica.

Shackles for Unfriendly Wizards

I was trying to design a set of magical shackles based upon the Perdo Vim effects which limit casting totals, but then a new thought occurred to me. A sufficiently powerful Mentem spell can change the targets memories completely, or limit use of a power or ability.

A spell which temporarily rewrites the targets memories so that they forget they’ve learned magic, or perhaps prohibits access to how to use those skills will be just effective. Unfortunately that level of memory alteration is also a effect base 25 and means a spell utilizing that effect will be exceedingly high.

As an alternative the spell Blessing of Childlike Bliss does exactly this (Ars Magica p.151), so is perfect. When placed in an enchanted device to neutralize a magus it might look like:

Shackles for the Non-compliant Magus

Perdo Mentem 50 Enchanted device.

The wearer of these shackles has their metal capacity reduced to that of a child, akin to the effect Blessing of the Childlike Bliss. They cannot cast spells, and will problem solve and reason like a child.

(Base 10, +1 Touch)(+14 levels for constant effect, +21 for +42 penetration)

These effects, like all the others I’ve pondered are part of a new spells compendium for Ars Magica.

Spells to assist with Vilano’s Sling

A few months ago I wrote up a spell to carve out of raw rock the projectiles which are handy for use with an Invisible Sing of Vilano spell, then found by coincidence a link recently that talked about the Romans using carved sling ammunition with sayings like “This is a Hard Nut to Crack“. That’s darn sardonic wit.

A wizard using the Invisible Sling of Vilano frequently might have a little trouble carrying and gathering the ammunition. Generally a story guide won’t care too much unless the amount of projectiles is large. Servants can do it, or the magus can walk the battlefield.

These are some niche spells for a dedicated (or perhaps lazy) magus to use along with their Vilano spells.

Sight of the Perfect Bullet

Intellego Terram 15, R: Personal, D: Concentration, T: Vision

Thus spell highlights visually to the caster any stones in their sight which are suitable for the caster’s purpose. Despite the spell name the spell will find any serviceable sized stone to match the caster’s requirements; not just sling stones.

(Base 2, +1 Concentration, +4 Vision)

Stones as Insects

Rego Terram 25, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Group

The stone materials touched are made to float around the caster in fluctuating rotating pattern for the spells duration. Up to 1 cubic pace of materials may be affected by each casting.

(Base 3, +1 for stone, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +2 Group)

Gathering a Bullet to Hand

Rego Terram 5, R: Sight, D: Momentary, T: Individual

The targeted stone flies to the casters hand, or to a place they designate within sight.

(Base 3, +1 for stone, +1 Sight)

Gathering a Bullet by the Bagful

Rego Terram 15, R: Sight, D: Momentary, T: Group

The targeted stones flies to the casters hand, a container, or to a place they designate within sight.

(Base 3, +1 for stone, +1 Sight, +2 Group)

For these and over 250 other new Ars Magics spells see the list of spells.

a roman sling stone

Spells for creating groups of animals

Here are some spells which demonstrate how to create animals in Ars Magica. The core rulebook spell The Wizards Mount (CrAn35) illustrates creating a horse, however it does not make clear the way the guidelines might be applied for smaller or larger creatures, or how to handle big groups of creatures. Here is some extrapolation.

The size calculations for how many of a particular size creature are interesting with the magical paradigm of Ars Magica. Individual creates one item, group creates ten times as many but also mentions that it creates ten times the standard mass of the standard amount, and that the base mass of the creature is a factor.

e.g. A base 15 spell creates one animal up to size +1, which can be extended by the Target: Group to up to an equivalent mass of 10x size +1 creatures.

This means that creating a swan is a level 15 base effect but creating a very large number of swans is very easy as they are so much smaller than a size +1 creature. As a swan is roughly equivalent to size -3 creature, a Target: Group version creates 200 swans (Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults p.39 has a table of animal sizes).

The rough rule of thumb for creates sizes is a difference of +3 between two animals means a ten fold increase in mass, which is equivalent to a +1 magnitude in spell power required.

The mass of a standard animal using Target Group is:

  • 1 animal of size +4
  • 2 animals of size +3
  • 4-5 animals of size +2
  • 10 animals of size +1
  • 20 animals of size 0
  • 40-50 animals of size -1
  • 100 animals of size -2
  • 200 animals of size -3
  • 400-500 animals of size -4
  • and do on.

If for whatever reason the wizard might desire, a very large amount of animals could be created by adding additional magnitudes to the spell designs. Here are some worked examples:

Conjuring the Flock of Honking Swans

Creo Animal 30, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Group, Ritual

This spell permanently creates a very large flock of swans, up to 200 individual animals.

(Base 15, +1 Touch, +2 Group, Ritual)

You might think that swans was an odd choice, however swans illustrate the different size class calculation well and have some useful hermetic uses. Continue reading

Necromancy spells, part 5

When creating and controlling dead creatures there is also the option to design a spell effect which creates and controls them with the one spell. The first spells in this set of blog posts used the two separate spells as there are two separate guidelines, but it need not be so.

As the baseline effect for directly controlling a dead animal is base 1 and creating the animal corpse is base 10, the control magic can be added to a creation spell with only a small increase in overall level. That is a significant saving if the caster desires to combine effects, particularly if the effect was going to be enchanted in an item.

Conjuring the Obedient Deceased Donkey

Creo Animal / Rego 30, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

This spell creates the corpse of a small donkey (size +1), animates it, and allows the caster to mentally concentrate to control it’s actions. The animation lacks any cunning or capacity to act independently, and commands from the caster will be followed literally. Appearance, size, and condition of the body is chosen by the caster.

(Base 10, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +1 Rego)

Such a beast could power a grindstone in a mill every day and never tire. My preference would still be to have the spells split for the times when the necromancer wants to animate a body they have acquired rather than created. I suppose a human zombie could also be used in the same way as an animal too.

The human corpse baselines are controlling as base 10 and creating as base 5. It is similar to the Animal magic scenario with the arts reversed. However a humanoid servant probably needs a basic intellect to be able to act as any type of servant, so a Mentem requisite is added.

Conjuring the Deceased Obedient Slave

Rego Corpus / Creo Mentem 35, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

This spell creates a human corpse (up to size +1), animates it, and allows the caster to mentally concentrate to control it’s actions. The animation has a dull intellect to act independently, however commands from the caster will be followed unimaginatively. Appearance, size, and condition of the body is chosen by the caster.

(Base 10, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +1 Creo, +1 Mentem)

Now onto stranger things: the animation of body parts.

Animation of the Creeping Hand

Rego Corpus 30, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

This spell grants an unnatural motion and dull intellect to a severed part of a human body so it may perform tasks as commanded by the caster. The body part is granted the ability to follow very simple instructions, and does so unimaginatively.

The spell is commonly used on the severed hand of thief, but might be used on any body part which could conceivably move under its own motion.

(Base 10, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +1 Mentem)

Now that I look at the standard spell for animation a corpse and this one, the only difference is how much of the body is present. I’m not sure a separate spell is needed at all. Animating a hand to climb and crawl feels different from an entire corpse, but it really is just more corpus material.

Aside – Do troupes even want to answer meta-physical zombie questions? This spell is plausible if the story-guide rules that the bulk of a corpse must be present, or perhaps the head must be intact on the corpse for the more traditional spells to work.

And lastly some of the most thematically distasteful spells I can think of for a necromancer in the medieval setting – the construction of bespoke horrific human corpses for later animation.

To begin old materials and parts can be reworked to a new purpose.

Crafting of Shells and Strings from the Remains of Man

Rego Corpus 15 / Muto, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Group

This spell uses human remains as raw materials to construct strings, bone plates, splints, sockets, and many various segments and components which can then be used in human taxidermy or construction of automatons. The Muto requirement allows the materials to be made temporarily malleable during their transformation.

A finesse check determines the quality of the conversion, with 6+ required to convert raw materials into a prepared state. Suitable raw materials must be on hand for the spell to be cast successfully.

This spell was invented by Zharkune of Bonisagus who recognized that a necromancer’s arts could be expanded by a less conservative approach.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +2 Group, +1 complexity)

Assembly of the Monstrous Humanoid Fiend

Rego Corpus 20, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Group

This spell constructs a range of prepared corpus materials into a large multi-limbed fiendish looking monster. A set of base raw ingredients must exceed the volume of the finished form and this is best achieved by having at least one reasonably complete human corpse and many extra components of various types.

The default configuration for the fiend is a size +1 humanoid with four arms, reinforced limbs and torso, sharpened teeth and claws, and a bone carapace over the body. The appearance and construction of the final form can be altered by the caster.

A finesse check determines the quality of the construction, with 9+ required to form the basic construct and a 12+ for a high quality outcome.

The additional strength of materials adds a +2 bonus to the soak score of a typical animated corpse. The corpse may also wear and wield armor and weapons.

If the optional group combat rules are used in the saga, then the additional limbs allow the animation to function as if it is an additional combatant in an untrained group.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +2 Group, +2 complexity)

For these and over 250 other new Ars Magics spells see the list of spells.