I love a villain, and good villains should have powers that evoke their personalities in a visceral way in the story; so with that as a premise – here are some spells for the maniacal overlords.
(Aside: I’ve not been too careful about the spells being perfectly formed in terms of Ars Magica guidelines in this post, as its meant to be more for the spectacle of villainy, rather than accuracy).
Invoke the Agony of Man
Perdo Corpus 15, R: Voice, D: Conc, T: Individual
Inflicts the target of the spell with wracking pain, almost completely disabling them. To make an action the target must succeed a Stam + Size stress of 9+.
(Base 4 to cause a person pain, +2 voice, +1 concentration)
Its a nasty spell. And yet it lacks something. It will be brutal and horrifying when used with a long monologue, but there are some risks that the villain will get distracted, or even that the heroes of the story might pass that physical resistance check. Or that there are too many good guys, and they might not all be able to be affected.
So instead, we use:
Invoke the Horrific Cacophony
Perdo Corpus 35, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Group
This spell inflicts the targeted group of up to 100 standard sized people with physical pain so severe that they can do nothing else except writhe in agony, and perhaps very slowly crawl away.
(Base 4 to cause a person pain, +1 to boost the effect to the same level as ReCo immobilizes the target, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter, +2 Group, +1 to affect up to 100 targets at once)
Now that is a spell worthy of a villain. It is high level and only usable in select circumstances, but when its used it will look fantastic. The duration has been altered so than it lasts 2 minutes, which is plenty of time to introduce yourself, give the elevator pitch, or take a rest between killing henchmen.
Villains sometimes also need a boost to inspire fear and loyalty (yes, through fear) in their minions. Everyone has off-days and no brutal dictator wants a mini-uprising just because they’re not feeling 100%. This spell ensures that the target perceive the caster as the cruel and evil juggernaut they need to be to get the job done.
Aura of Unstoppable Malevolence
Rego Mentem 35, R: Voice, D: Sun, T: Group
Targets of this spell are strongly inclined to obey you, as their sense of fear is heightened for the duration of the spell.
(Base 5, +2 Voice, +2 Sun, +2 Group)
It’s a re-hash of Aura of Rightful Authority as the base effect, however this spell is worked to be far more suitable to the dictator as it focuses on fear as the base emotion being manipulated, and it uses R: Voice and T: Group in the spell effect. Having to control minions individually is a total waste of energy.
The intimidation that an evil overlord should bring to the story should be expressed to minions periodically. This next spell is specifically used to demonstrate that failure is not tolerated, and death is no escape from punishment.
Torture the Restless Dead
Perdo Mentem 35 / Creo Imagonem, R: Arc, D: Conc, T: Individual
This spell connects the caster to ghost of a dead person for whom they possess the arcane connection (or body), and inflicts pain upon the ghost.
The Creo Imagonem component of the spell make the auditory screams and pleas of the ghost audible to those around the caster.
(Base 4, +2 Creo Imagonem, +4 Arc, +1 Conc)
I’d see this spell being used when the body of a fallen henchman is returned to the evil villain. The henchman’s failure is noted, and the overlord questions and punishes the henchman as a lesson to others. Use of props such as ceremonial daggers, bubbling pools, and other theatrical effects can really increase the impact this spell has when used; although by itself it should horrify moral people.
(Edit: Yairr’s comment is inspired – Making the effect D: Ring adds +1 mamagnitude but really enhances the aspect of torture, then combined with a Ring based Creo Corpus spell to prohibit the body’s decay, and the ghost is in agony for eternity)