Using sound magic to deafen, damage, or shatter glass

Sound magic is something that is rare in most magic systems. DnD had/has a few odd effects for silencing and thunderclaps, but overall it is left to the domain of bards and the like. Likewise in Ars Magica were “sound” is an aspect of manipulating the image or illusion of an object, and it does not have any special treatments or focus in the rules. The sound it creates is treated just the same as the image it projects, or how it feels.

I think it is interesting to consider how else sound might be used in Ars magica so that it becomes a more versatile aspect of the magic system. The effects that would be hardy are sonic booms, very loud distractions, sound pitch that can shatter glass, and then sound so intense that it can cause harm. Continue reading

Spells to Conjure, Transmute, and Evaporate Poisons

Poison is one of the areas where many game systems get complex very quickly. This is probably because poison can be such a wonderful and dangerous element in any story and surrounded by mystery in real life. Here is a quick exploration of some poisoning techniques exposed via spells in Ars Magica.

Within the Ars Magica spell guidelines are many powers that have not been expanded into complete spells. This post is an extrapolation of those guidelines specifically for creating liquid poisons. Many sagas might find the explanations obvious, but I hope that by demonstrating some variations there will be wider use of the more obscure guidelines.

The Assassin’s Lethal Draft is a non-subtle spell which conjures a dose of poison so harmful that it will kill everyone except the hardiest person. It is very high level, fast acting, and despite its potency, difficult to use.

The Assassin’s Lethal Draft

Creo Aquam 45, R: Touch, D: Diameter, T: Individual

This spell creates a single draft of lethal poison that inflicts a Fatal wound on the person who drinks it, unless they succeed a Stamina check of 9+.

The poison created is a dram (or teaspoon) of colorless odorless liquid, which may be added to drinks or conjured within a cup the caster is touches. The poison is harmless if it is not ingested.

(Base 25 for a fatal poison, +2 to increase the check to 9+, +1 Touch, +1 Diameter)

While the spell creates a very powerful poison, it’s application is not easy and it is not subtle, and it could be argued that other spells can achieve more flexibility with fewer levels. Despite that, it shows that Creo Aquam magic has powerful uses.

Continue reading

Character Hexim Logaris VI

Symbol of the Adeptus MechanicusMy roleplaying circle has started up a play-by-post Dark Heresy game. I’ve chose to play a Tech Priest as they are darn weird and altogether outside what I’ve played in the DH setting before.

Fanatically devoted to a Machine God, following tenants of illogical prayer, and expecting technical perfection. A beautifully flawed premise; as much as the fight against the inhuman using almost inhuman characters. Dark Heresy, Death Watch, and Rogue Trader are darn cool.

Name: Hexim Logaris VI

Concept: Devout and violent Tech Priest, from the Gun-Metal Hive/Forge.


HL-6 is already well enveloped by the call of the Machine God. It’s purpose is to server the God and Emperor in a manner compliant with the scriptures, and to attain convergence – to become the singularity – the perfect merge of human and machine where intelligence and mind transcend to the Deus Ex Machine.

At times the human-self still draws forth, and in moments of stress it will react as those who have not bathed in the warm turquoise and amber light, or felt the hum and burn of the Imperial forges.

The machine does not however restrict HL-6 from reacting with purpose or fervor; quite the opposite! Its devotion has granted militant and aggressive skills, often used in holy service in cleansing the Luddite and technic-illiterate from the realms of man. High praise was given and accepted for the clinical and dispassionate disposal of abnormals and Heretics.

Indeed it is the sound of cannons, mortars, guns, and las strikes that will sometimes give HL-6 pause, as the cacophony is music. Deus Musica Mechanicacis is found in the squall of asynchronous up-links, the whine of hydrolic presses, and the deafening thrall of auto-cannon.


To increase his ranking amongst the Tech-Priests through loyal servitude. At present it considers wearing of charcoal robes an indication that it has not fully joined the proper order/echelon. A major goal is to strike righteous, and earn the blood red robes.

Also wishes to obtain and master a superior quality weapon, by which a signature profile of the gun-forge.

And lastly to obtain augmentation after augmentation, until he/it is far from human.

20 Quick Questions, Answers

Sourced from Jeff’s Gameblog, here are 20 quick questions for a rpg campaign.

  1. Ability scores generation method? Standard purchase method using 7 base points for all Magi, Companions, and Grogs
  2. How are death and dying handled? Death is permanent, and is hopefully rare. Dying is typically painful, and prolonged. Characters will hopefully die due to magical backlash rather than arrows.
  3. What about raising the dead? Not as a true return to life, but necromancers an do some funky things.
  4. How are replacement PCs handled? Resolved as story elements as appropriate. Allowed, but discouraged.
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else? Individual, re-rolled each round.
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? Yup, both allowed, and faciliated via
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? Its assumed that all combatants in armor are wearing a helm or skull cap. If they say they are not, then they do not get the protection in that area – although no real hit location rules apply, I’d hand-wave a penalty.
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? Yes, often, always.
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? Players need to expect that some things are just too nasty, and they should flee.
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no? Nope. Souls yes, but the game does not have levels.
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? in Ars Magica that is like having your resistance penetrated, so yes – it could occur.
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? Roughly, and brutally punished if it is found to be exploited.
  13. What’s required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time? Spend XP where you like, subject to be logical to what you have encountered.
  14. What do I get experience for? The passing of time and defeating major story objectives.
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination? Both magic and skills + roll can be used.
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? Almost mandatory, and they are played by other players, so they often get a lot of life, and full personalities of their own.
  17. How do I identify magic items? As per the InVi rules and lab activity – its not hard to know, but darn hard to find out all the information
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? Yes, but characters won’t be able to afford many. Spend wisely.
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how? Baseline core rules all are used, and encouraged.
  20. What about splitting the party? Love doing it, as it makes for better stories.