Spells to mitigate warping in Ars Magica

When I initially thought of the effect I was planning to see it used on the friends of my Magus character, so they suffer less effects from the application of short term powerful transformation spells. The wider blog post and subsequent spells grew from this concept.

Ars Magica’s spell rules for Warping dictate that a target of a powerful effect (roughly magnitude 6 or higher) will recieve a Warping point each time a spell is cast upon them, and a personalised spell will mitigate this warping. Typically the personalised version of the spell is created in as a lab exercise.

As a storyguide I’ve previously guided players to assume that a spell with Range: Personal is always considered “personalised” for the caster because I assume that part of the task of learning the effect is also learning how to design it for themselves. This means that by default all other spells are never personalised. It is plausible that a spell could be designed at another range but still be personalised for the caster, as there is an argument to be made that any effect can be designed specifically for the caster, but that should not be the default and certainly not unless agreed in advance.

Given that Muto Vim spells can radically change almost any singular aspect of a spell (purpose, range, duration, target, sigil, effect power, splitting, etc), it seems probably that a Muto Vim spell could also be able to change another spell so that it is considered personalised for the other spell’s target, or personalised for the caster.

Note that the RAW indicate that the warping occurs on first application of an effect and also each season/year it is in effect. This means that this first set of spells is a partial measure to avoid Warping, as it can only mitigate the initial application of the spell.

Further below in this post I’ve written about potentially mitigating the long term effects, but that is not being suggested by these first two spell designs.

Inhibit the Egregious Deviations of the Warp

Muto Vim Gen, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This spell alters the target spell so that it is considered tailored for it’s target for the purposes of any warping it may cause. This spell may alter any effect which is equal to the Muto Vim spell’s level.

(Base of a Significant Change to less than or equal to spell level +1 mag, target own spells as +1 Touch)

I’m happy with this spell concept. It applies a plausible effect which is not overpowered in the setting and not unbalancing in the game. This spell must be learnt above level 30 to have any purpose at all, more likely level 40+ to be broadly effective. That does not seem unbalancing, given how much effort is required to design a high level effect.

The logical variant is to personalise spells which are cast by others, where the Magus will be the target. Through cooperative casting (see the Vim guidelines) one caster’s first spell effect will not warp the target Magus because they cast the spell below in unison.

Inhibit the Selfish Deviations of the Warp

Muto Vim Gen, R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This spell alters the target spell so that it is considered tailored for the caster, as if the target spell was designed for the caster to not cause warping. This spell may alter any effect which is equal to the Muto Vim spell level less one magnitude (spell level -5). It is designed with Range Voice becauseĀ  it must be cast cooperatively with another wizard to limit the warping effects of their spells.

(Base of a Significant Change to less than or equal to spell level +1 mag, target own spells as +2 Voice)

I think the second effect is the more powerful, because it may also be used in place of the first, although at a slight disadvantage in effective power level. When using these effects they are not useful to learn at less than level 30 and 35 respectively (due to the rules for warping with regard to mag 6 effects), so it is far more likely that either of these effects will need to be learned at level 40 or higher. That will be at least a challenge to many characters; a goal not a quick means to an end.

Base of a Significant change is due to a change in treatment of the target which can be considered a change in target according to the Ars guidelines on p158.

The effects above are concerned with warping from the initial application of a spell effect.

By extrapolation and working beyond the rules as written, it could be possible to allow effects to generate less warping – in effect allow the effects to be considered lower power level than they actually are for the purposes of calculating the ongoing warping. This is still using the idea of spell personalisation as an inspiration, however allowing this effect in a game has longer reaching consequences in accumulated Warping. I like it, but concede the point in advance.

Inhibit the Prolonged Deviations of the Warp

Muto Vim Gen, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Individual

The spells altered by this effect will decrease their effective level of power with regard to the calculations for warping over time. This spell may alter any effect which is equal to the Muto Vim spell level less three magnitudes (spell level -15). The effective power level of any affected spell is halves for the purposes of calculating Warping. For the Warping mitigation to be effective the target spell must be altered successfully each time it is recast over the duration.

This may alter the effective warping applied over time from High Power to Low Power (from 1, +1 warp/year +1/season, down to just 1/year) if it reduces the target effect below level 30, see Warping in ArM p168.

(Base of a Significant Change to less than or equal to spell level +1 mag, target own spells as +1 Touch, effect to last +3 Moon)

Note that when the calculations are applied, the spell above must really be studied at level 45 to be used, as it must subtract 15 from the effective power range, and spells of less than level 30 do not cause any extra warping. Spells of level 50 are automatically Rituals, so would be exempt from being altered.

It is plausible to invent a few variations for each Duration, which would be easier to learn and also apply their altering mechanics more broadly, but in turn they would need to be recast very often which seems unreasonable of an extended period.

  • “Inhibit the Immediate Deviations of the Warp”, as D: Momentary, with effects equal to or lower than it’s level. For this effect it would be assumed that the spell is being cast every day.
  • “Inhibit the Timely Deviations of the Warp”, as D: Diameter, with level -5.
  • “Inhibit the Concerning Deviations of the Warp”, as D: Concentration, with level -5.
  • “Inhibit the Anticipated Deviations of the Warp”, as D: Sun, with level -10.

There are discussions to be had on how difficult these spells should be and how they should function. I considered a range of potential perspectives when writing up effects which mitigate Warping:

  • I respect that some players will rule that altering Warping is wrong (thank you for reading this far), MSMV.
  • the effect at half its level, or less than its level; subject to which of the guidelines are considered to be relevant. Either a Significant change or a Total change.
  • should the effect need to be altered to suit any form (as is the current design) or a separate version needed for each form. This makes the study time greater to get a broad set of impacts to Warping, so might be a reasonable mitigation if the suggested effects as written suit your ideas but appear too powerful.
  • should the effect need to be limited in another manner, such as also requiring the target of the altered spell be touched, or an arcane connection to the final target, or even an astrological chart of the final target. i.e. in what manner can the caster of the Muto Vim spell ensure that the tailoring is effective?
  • should this style of effect require a breakthrough?

I hope you like them. The effect was tangentally discussed in a forum post a while ago – forum post. For other new and custom Ars Magica spells, see the Iron-Bound Grimoire.

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