A few customised Mentem spells for speaking into the mind

Here are two new Mentem spells, well one reworking of an existing effect, and one new spell for Ars Magica wizards. 

Firstly the reworking of Whispering Fingers (CrMe5)(see Apprentices p.48) changing from Touch/Conc to Touch/Sun. This spell is intended to be used through an Intangible Tunnel, and then to minimise the amount of concurrent concentration effects the wizard has to maintain. Casting a level 10 spell saves recasting every few minutes when concentration might fail and stacking concentration effects can be arduous. 

Given it is a level 10 effect it is exceedingly quick to learn. I can’t see an experienced magus using the spell as they probably have a concentration enhancing effect, but that’s not a reason to not consider it. 

Whispering Thoughts

Creo Mentem 10, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

This spell lets the caster speak directly into the target’s mind for the duration. 

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +2 Sun)

Then I started to think that speaking into a targets mind would be very handy but also very obvious and obtrusive in most circumstances. 

So here is an alternative spell which allows the caster to speak to anyone they encounter (mentally) regardless of any accent or language barriers, and have the recipient not recall anything untoward at the time. It uses the same Creo Mentem effect base as above and and also changes the memories with Muto. 

The handy thing about this effect is while the target might suspect something was odd as soon as the effect wears off, they won’t always work out what it was. Well, unless somebody next to them tell them…

Thoughts From Babble

Creo Mentem / Muto 15, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Individual

This spell allows the caster to speak directly into the mind of the target, and also obfuscates the memory of the target so they remember that the caster speaking normally, and in the target’s native language.

(Base 3 for words, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter, +1 Muto sub effect)

The spell is useful for those times when the caster needs to communicate and does not speak the target’s language. Common enough for Magi who travel frequently.  hearthstone by blizzard, perhaps go play.  

Revival of an old spell – Illusion of the Standing Wizard

Back in the older editions of Ars Magica there was a spell called Illusion of the Standing Wizard. The intent was to allow a magus to appear to be standing around not doing much while actually casting, stealing something, or some such.

The rationale in 5th edition ArM is to use Rego Imagonem to make the image do something slightly away from the body. Just like Image from the Wizard Torn but without the complexity of viewing through the image, or of the image having to match the caster’s movements.

Illusion of the Standing Wizard

Rego Imagonem 10, R: Personal, D: Sun, T: Individual

The caster can change what their images appears to be doing, separating their physical actions from their appearance. The image will not reflect the caster’s actions unless it is returned to overlapping their body, or by concentrating. The image can move up to 1 pace away from the caster.

(Base 2 for a pace away from the body, +1 for an additional sense, +2 Sun, +1 Changing image)

Carving a Mystic Tower

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.

Example spells,

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.

Comic: This Is Why Cursive Is Dying Out

A great comic by Jim Benton. See more work on GoComics and his book. Found via IO9.

Ars Magica spells for curing befuddlement and insanity

Perdo Mentem ha a selection of spells for impairing or harming the mind, but no listed spells to recover from these effects. There are new implied guidelines to be found among the spells beyond the core rulebook.

Is this their stages of madness?

The Shattered Mind, a Call of Cthulhu card game. Awesome.

New Creo Mentem Guidelines

Base 20 – Cure or offset a malady or confusion, requiring a ritual to be permanent.

This was chosen as it is equivalent to a serious aging crisis, a disease, or a malady in the Creo Corpus spell guidelines.

Base 30 – Cure or offset insanity, requiring a ritual to be permanent.

Quoting Kid Gloves who said it well on the Ars Magica forums who found a reference to curing insanity – “Tales of Mythic Europe makes reference to curing Olivia of her insanity (p118). The text makes reference to a CrMe ritual that is the equivalent of healing an incapacitating wound to restore sanity, which would in turn allow the magi to get something resembling sense out of the ghost.”

This leads to two sample spell effects using those guidelines. One for the befuddlement, confusion, and memory degradation effects, and the other for the most severe mental malady – insanity.

Unbind the Beguiled Mind

Creo Mentem 25, R: Touch, D: Mom, T: Individual, Ritual

Permanently restores a mind from maladies and confusion, caused either naturally or unnaturally.

(Base 20, +1 Touch)

Restore the Shattered Mind

Creo Mentem 35, R: Touch, D: Mom, T: Individual, Ritual

Permanently restores a mind from severe maladies and insanity, caused either naturally or unnaturally.

(Base 30 which is equivalent to restoring an incapacitating wound, +1 Touch)

Both spell could be made as non-ritual, but would then not cure permanently, and also need additional levels of power to account for their longer non-permanent duration.

Ref: forum discussion.

More custom spells can be found in the New Spells for Ars Magica page.

Suggestion for Wards in Ars Magica

“Wards” are not simple in Ars Magica, as many spells have straight forward effects using the guidelines while others are totally different. A ward in the core rules can be a protective and/or entrapping circular drawn circle which prohibits based upon intent, a more simple barrier, a personal shield against all elements of a form, or a damage absorption shield. They may be made by inscribing a pattern in the dirt, caved from stone, or even by circling a piece of long chain.

Expressed elegantly in a tangential discussion about Circular Wards in the forums, it was said:

John Prins – …not all wards operate the same either. Ward Against Heat and Flames is only effective to fires doing so much (+15) damage, while Ward Against Wood is basically infinitely powerful against any amount of wood. Wards vs Supernatural creatures are scalar (can be of any level), while wards against mundane animals or people are fixed and absolute.

If I was a hermetic magus, I’d be asking questions like “If this spell can keep an infinite mass of wood away from a target, why cannot another spell affect an infinite amount of wood in a different fashion?” It would make more sense if Wards had to deal with Size modifiers; you basic Terram ward could keep out a cubic pace of stone or a cubic foot of metal. A ward against animals would keep out animals of +1 Size or lower.

There are no separate specific spell guidelines for how to design each type of “ward”. This is exactly the type of House Rule clarification which I think every Saga needs. I suggest strongly a separation of terminology is needed so that wards are logically separated into different sub-types, each with their own guidelines.

The are problematic questions when considering Wards:

  • How do wards know what is acting upon them, or trying to break them? An intellego component?
  • Does it matter how much warded material attempts to pass? Or how quickly it is traveling?
  • How is magical resistance resolved when a creature with MR crosses a warded area?
  • What shape and size are the default wards?
  • Why can some wards in game completely prohibit a substance, but others only offer soak protection?

An “work in progress” alternative for Wards in Ars Magica

I suggest that Ward be a more generic term which collects a set of different protective and prohibitive spell sub-effects together. They are similar in nature, so are collectedly referred to as Wards. As before this house rule – all Wards are Rego effects aligned with a Form appropriate to the warded material.

Generally speaking Wards are very fragile (non permanent) meta magical constructs, and are fraught with problematic in-game consequences. There are several different types, with their own characteristics for implementation.

  • Circular Wards
  • Armor Wards
  • Barrier Wards
  • Wall Wards

Note that it is not possible to create a hybrid ward which mixes the basic types, and each ward must constrained to one of the ward types. If this contradicts the spells within the Ars Magica rules then that ward-style spell must be redesigned.

Circular Wards – drawn immobile magical rings and circles.

A circular ward is the generic name for traditional protective or prohibitive “magic circle” wards. The Circular ward prohibits the targeted substance or creature from directly physically interacting with the ward, or crossing through the warded area.

Interpretations and modeling notes for Circular wards:

  • A Circular ward protects and inhibits in both directions at the same time.
    • e.g. A circular ward against Humans will stop any human inside the ward from reaching outside, and also stop any human from touching or crossing the ward from the outside.
  • The more scope a circular ward has in terms of the base Form it relates to, then the higher magnitude the ward.
  • A Circular ward stops the warded target from interacting with the ward. If an action by the warded creature will result in the circle’s destruction without the interaction of another being, then action is not permitted. This special case implies that Circular wards have some sense of “intent” or “Intellego magic”, which is incumbent in Circular wards without a separate spell requisite. The circular ward understand who or what is “acting upon” an item which attempts to affect it. e.g.
    • A demon inside a circular ward cannot mark or scrub the salt circle with an implement to break the ward.
    • A demon inside a circular ward could not use a domination power on anything outside the circular ward. The demon’s powers cannot cross the circular ward.
    • A demon inside a circular ward could use a domination power on a target inside the circle ward to break the ward.
    • A demon could intimidate a target outside the ward to destroy it. This is where intimidation comes into play as a relevant tactic.
  • A creature trapped within a circular ward may still use it’s physical abilities inside the ward and any magical powers it may have. It is plausible that most quickly constructed circular wards will not last forever if the creature within is clever enough. For example a circular ward drawn hastily in the dirt around a wolf could still be rendered ineffective by heavy rain which may break the circle.
  • Moving a circular ward (significantly) causes it to break. A ward placed within wagon, floating room, or boat will break when the object moves. A ward placed in a courtyard of a normal castle will not be broken by small tremors in the ground, but will be shattered by highly destructive magic (like Crest of the Earth Wave).
  • Most permanent circular wards are build from hardy materials and intended to not be easily moved, scarred, or disrupted. e.g. a solid metal magic circle bolted into a floor.
  • Unless specified in the spell design, a circular ward creates a sphere with a diameter equal to the diameter of the circle itself.

Spell Guidelines

  • The base spell guidelines for a Circular ward are Range: Touch, Duration: Ring, Target: Circle. And the Target must always be Circle.
  • At base level a circular ward may be designed to prohibit a very wide range of substances within a hermetic form, such as Humans.
  • The relevant baseline varies by Form but should relate to holding the material immobile, or highly unnatural movement. A creature with no MR is warded by the baseline effect.
  • A circular ward must still penetrate MR to affect a target. Thus a human with magical resistance may be able to walk through a Rego Corpus circular ward if the ward’s penetration is not strong enough.
  • Forms by example:
    • Animal: +2 all animals. +1 all birds or all living birds. +0 a type of bird, +0 dead birds. +1 wolves. +1 fish.
    • Corpus: +2 magnitudes for all humans, which is all Corpus. +1 for males, which is a major subset of Corpus. +1 for living humans. +0 for dead males.

Armor Wards – Personal movable barriers which surround an object or creature.

An Armor style ward function much like the Creo Ignem effect Ward Against Heat and Flame from the core rulebook page 143, as they provides a bonus to soak against damage, and any damage effect doing less than their bonus does not penetrate the Ward at all and is repelled.

Interpretations and modeling notes for Armor Wards:

  • The base target for Armor wards is the subject of the spell, not the substance being warded against. The substance to be warded against is used to determine the Form of the ward, not the target or target size.
  • An Armor ward is only encountered after the spell successfully penetrates any magical resistance the warded target may have.
  • An Armor ward provides a combative damage soak for offensive materials seeking to pass through the ward. If the object fails to penetrate this type of Ward then it is deflected.
  • A spell effect inflicting a magnitude less damage than the ward’s protection will never be harmed by the damage spell effect. i.e. A +5 damage spell will never inflict damage to a creature warded by a +10 strength Armor ward effect. This represents the degree of power inherent in the Armor ward.
  • An Armor ward also protects against mundane forms in the same manner. A mundane fire inflicting +5 damage to the warded creature will also never be capable of inflicting damage.

Spell Guidelines:

  • Armor wards can be cast on any target.
  • The material of thing to be protected from must always be a very specific subtype of the appropriate Form. An Armor ward could protect against Stone or Metal, but not both in the same spell without a corresponding increase in magnitude.
  • Generally speaking any time a guideline indicates an increase in magnitude to reflect the creation of a Form’s substance, then the substance should require a separate Armor ward. The exception is when the magnitude is added due to craftsmanship or manufacturing instead of the natural substance. A treated wooden item is the same as wood. A metal ward will never protect against a stone bullet or mud.
  • Forms by example:
    • Animal: living animals is separated from animal products or parts.
    • Aquam: …
    • Auram: Wind and Lightning are separate.
    • Corpus: Living humans are separate from human body parts.
    • Ignem: Heat and Flame are separate from Light. Cold is also separate.
    • Terram: Mud, Sand, and Dirt are all identical. Stone is separate from dirt, and Metal is harder again.
  • Base 4 for all forms, which provides bonus +5 soak to the warded creature. This additional bonus soak is added to the target’s other soak bonuses. i.e. a person soldier wearing mundane armor with a normal soak of +5 to damage and using a Armor Ward Against Heat and Fire +5 has a total of +10 to their soak against any heat or fire effects.
  • Each additional +5 of bonus soak adds +1 magnitude to the spell effect design.
  • An Armor ward is movable by default and may be placed on any creature or object. No additional magnitudes are required to make the ward movable.
  • An Armor ward may warp the target, as normal.
  • The base spell guidelines for an Armor ward are Range: Personal, Duration: Momentary, Target: Individual.
  • The base size of an Armor ward follow the same guidelines as Creo spells, meaning that items must be warded individually or as a group, and modified by size magnitudes. So it is plausible to apply an Armor ward to a structure, but the size of the structure must be accounted for in increments of the Individual measure.

Barriers Wards

A spell which prohibits the designated material (be that a subtype of a Form, a subtype of creature, etc) from crossing or interacting with barrier at all. This is the strongest of ward styles and is highly complex in nature.

Barrier wards inherit all the properties of Circular wards, with the following changes:

  • Barrier wards may keep something within, or stop something from entering, but not both in the same effect.
  • Barrier wards must always be Duration: Ring and Target: Circle.
  • All Barrier wards are movable, however they carry an inherent +2 magnitude adjustment.
  • Barrier wards must include an Intellego component to detect the wider “causation” of an action which may cause it to be destroyed, or allow the a target to cross it’s boundary. The ward should be considered quasi-intelligent enough to comprehend the recent “actors” associated with an event. This prohibits a demon within a barrier circle from using domination powers on a human also within the circle, as the barrier ward knows who the “intent” and “actor” really is.
  • Barrier wards must be highly specific in target (must use a very narrow target), and may never affect entire Form.With reference to the Circular ward sub-type the adjustment must always be a +0 adjustment.
  • Forms by example:
    • Animal: a type of bird.
    • Corpus: living men
    • Vim: demons

(walls…..non-standard spell shapes. Wall of force…)

Wall Wards – barriers with variable shape.

Use the same guidelines as Circular wards, however their physical form is in the shape of a wall. They remain immovable.

Spell Guidelines:

  • The base spell guidelines for a Circular ward are Range: Touch, Duration: Sun, Target: Ind. The base size of the Wall ward is measured from the Form of the substance being warded, and scaled in the same manner as Creo effects.
  • The shape and size may be as per the caster’s desire, as long as the shape is wall like. Encompassing walls, unsupported walls, horizontal walls, etc.


Wonderful Illustrations of Mythical Creatures

Jaw dropping in quality, these illustrations of mythical creatures are done in a “A is for …” by Nathan Anderson are excellent. Nathan, take my money, my child and my inner child need this.