Traveling is usually a major part of roleplaying games set in medieval times – a typical rule-set will give you some guidelines for walking, horses, carts, and perhaps ships. I think it is also fair to say that having accelerated travel is something that can give characters a major advantage in how stories are resolved and in moving the rpg story along.
The Ars Magica setting is almost a boilerplate medieval setting, with the magic system allowing wizards to completely disregard the limitations that mundane commoners live with in terms of travel. Within the magic system’s core rules are examples of transformation into birds, flight via wind, and a few variations on teleportation. That is all fine for the wizards, but it leaves the mundanes unchanged – and when a wizard needs mundane protection their companions being slow is an impact to them as well.
Here are some ideas for spells which will help transport and travel for both mundanes and magi. Some effects are purely designed for magi to get around, while others could be used on both magical and mundane targets.
Enhancing the pathways used for travel.
The basis for the first set of spells is changing the ground beneath the target so that traveling is smoother and easier.
The overall base effect mechanics start with a level 3 to turn sand, mud, or dirt to stone, with a base of one cubic pace which is enough to cover the ground beneath the target’s feet. A +1 magnitude adjustment would apply for the complexity of changing the ground as the target moves. Another +1 magnitude allows adding a Rego requisite which smooths and alters the ground so that it is a solid and study surface for walking.
Then the range, duration, and target are changed to R: Touch +1, D: Sun +2, T: Part +1, which totals an effect level of 25 for the default spell.
Ten Thousand Graceful Steps
Muto Terram 25 / Rego, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Part
The earth beneath the target’s feet is changed so that they are always moving upon a stable and solid surface made of stone. The modified surface moves with the target for the duration of the spell. This facilitates excellent traveling conditions, akin to always traveling on well maintained paved roads.
This spell will affect most paths and road surfaces including any rocks or other Terram based materials. It will use the cubic pace allowed in the spell effect to smooth inclines, and improve broken pathways. The effect will not alter any wooden or metal components in the road surfaces, but may allow items to be covered completely by the artificial roadway. The spell does not remove the need for the traveler to pay attention to their footing.
(Base 3, +1 moving effect, +1 Rego to smooth the surface, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +1 Part).
The version of a person traveling on foot is handy, but a the real delay in many journeys is when a horse or cart must travel rough terrain. Small rocks can cripple and harm horses, making paths dangerous, and a cart can be regularly bogged by mud, sand, or large obstacles. This version of the same spell is specifically for horseback travel, and horse and carts.
(As an aside the spell is very similar to a spell in the core rules called Earth that Breaks No More, ArM p 154, with the improvements to smooth the surface, and travel with the person. It does make me think that the basic design might need a Corpus requisite to allow for the target of the movement and also the ground, but I hope not.)
Drayman’s Gentle Journey
Muto Terram 30 / Rego, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Part
As per “Ten Thousand Graceful Steps” (above), with an added magnitude for the increased amount of material needed to fit beneath a horse or beast of burden’s body, and include the cart of buggy it is pulling. This increase in spell affects changes the material affected up to 10 cubic paces of material; more than enough to provide a stable roadway beneath a cart and horse, a rider, or a sole traveler.
(Base 3, +1 moving effect, +1 Rego to smooth the surface, +1 volume of stone increased to ten cubic paces, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +1 Part).
Decreasing the burden of gear.
Another factor in travel speed is the burden carried. There might be a temptation to craft floating discs, or levitate items, but while those spells might work they also attract attention. More subtle alternatives could be useful.
Allay the Buoyant Load
Rego Herbam 25, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Part
The bags, containers, sacks or other carrying vessels carried by the target touched are made buoyant, which reduces their burden to the wearer to almost nothing.
The spell affects any items crafted from materials, and affects the equipment carried, not the target themselves so no warping will occur.
(Base 4 to affect a manufactured product, +1 plant product moves unnaturally, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +1 Part)
Improved personal flight for Magi, without all the fuss.
While the flight spells in the core rules are excellent, there is an obvious gap – using Rego Corpus magic to move the Magus.
By Will Alone
Rego Corpus 25, R: Personal D: Sun, T: Individual
This spell grants the Magus the power to move their body through the air, controlled by thought at up to speeds of 40 miles per hour. Unlike the Creo Auram spells hovering in place with this spell is as simple as any other flight.
The Magus must concentrate to control when and how fast they fly, and may elect to halt their thought movement, even while the spell remain active (effectively the Magus elects to not move using the spell). Finesse rolls are required for complex maneuvers.
Note that the spell will continue in a manner last instructed, so the caster best be wary of distractions and mishap.
(Base: 15 effect, +2 Sun)
This spell could then be altered to allow the caster to target others, perhaps even larger groups although warping would occur in the mundanes it is cast upon.
Direct the Flight of Your Flock
Rego Corpus 35, R: Touch, D: Conc, T: Group
The target and his group of traveling companions are raised into the air and fly as one under the control of the caster up to speeds of 40 miles per hour (see “By Will Alone” above).
The members of the group must remain together, otherwise the member is removed from the spell’s effects; and pray that the Magi’s concentration is not disturbed.
(Base: 15 effect, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, +2 Group)
Finding food while traveling.
It can be difficult to provision a large group, and sometimes extra food is needed. This spell can be used in a pinch to extract food from a nearby river.
Summon the Fishermans Bounty
Rego Aquam 20, R: Touch, D: Conc, T: Ind
The Magus touches a section of river or stream, a small pond, or spring and enhances the power and flow of the river to cast fish and other material from the river onto the bank.
(Base 4 to control a fast current, +2 for highly unnatural movement, +1 Touch, +1 Concentration)
A more powerful version (with Target: Group for a full lake) could eventually pull all the material from a river. The version above should be plenty for a small group of travelers who wish a fresh meal.
The effect does not require an Animal or other requisite as it is the water which is throwing the material onto the shore, with the water returning to the source – in a manner similar to Wings of the Soaring Wind which allows a magus to fly by controlling wind in a highly unnatural way.