The many wonderful ways to blind somebody in Ars Magica

This post is another set of spells for Ars Magica which are all concerned with blinding an opponent. As I wrote these effects up they caused me to ponder what should be allowed as Muto spell effects, and where the domain of Perdo and the other techniques crosses over. The seven spells below demonstrate there are certainly “many ways to skin a cat” in Ars Magica’s spell mechanics.

I think “destruction” magic (Perdo) is an easy first though when a target is to be blinded (akin to the Perdo Corpus spell from the core rulebook Incantation of the Milky Eyes, ArM p 133), but there as so many other wonderful ways to get a result in Ars Magica’s spell system. As shown below a temporary blindness is actually far easier using different Arts, which is a good consideration when either casting spells spontaneously or casting spells where the target might have magic resistance.

  • A Perdo spell is obviously effective, and very permanent. It could be destroying the eyes themselves, or aging the target to make them blind.
  • Muto is good as it can be used to change the target’s body, however it will expire given time.
  • Rego Corpus could be used to hold the target’s eyelids closed, also with a maximum duration.
  • Rego could also be used to control another item to physically strike the target’s eyes, thus blinding them. This is less effective as it needs a targeting check and may incur magic resistance. As “called shots” or “hit locations” are not used in the combat mechanics this becomes a harder spell effect to define, and would certainly need a very high target number for a Finesse skill-check.
  • Another more indirect method could be to surround the target in darkness, either by conjuring a sphere of darkness or destroying all light. The Well Without Light spell on Ars p.142 is a structure wide effect doing this, and there are smaller demonstrations in the article below.
  • Or perhaps even surround them in a dust storm of box; so not even directly around them so that any resistances to magic do not protect them. Wreaths of Foul Smoke and Circling Winds of Protection already cover these style of effect and can be a good base, see Ars p.125.
  • Then the more strange, like animating a blindfold, or even teleporting a blindfold onto a target. I’ll skip those effects for now.

Remember that the intent or breadth of usage in game for Ars Magica is irrelevant; rather the difficulty in the spell level comes from the spell guidelines and how easy or hard they dictate an action is to effect. If a clever effect is low level, but can have broad reaching implications, then it is entirely valid. It seems that Perdo is potentially the worst at blinding somebody, which is somewhat strange given the core rules supply a spell to do just that.

The following are example spells for blinding, using each of the techniques above. These effects primarily use of Diameter as their duration as I’ve always felt that it is better for combat purposes than Concentration, and more economical than Sun.

Blinding with Muto for Corpus and Animal

I initially picked Muto as the Technique because I’m concentrating on those effects at the moment. The blinding effect as Muto alters the target’s eyelids so that they are sealed closed. Changing the target as if they were born that way.

The Muto base effect level might be debatable, and I settled on the Base 5 guideline for Muto Corpus derived from the Muto Animal rules for an unnatural change in a beast. It might be Base 2 form MuCo because the degree of change is the same as other spells of that power which alter the target to grant vision, or a sense of smell. It appears less powerful that the Base 3 Muto Corpus guideline which effects the target’s entire body; but the words used in the guidelines do not reflect the style of spell I was going for to blind the target.

Interestingly there are some effects which are constructed in a similar manner without the Target:Part +1 increase when using MuCo Base 2, which might instead use the Base 3 instead. The final effect level is the same.

I see this effect being similar in style to giving somebody webbed fingers, except the position of the skin happens to seal over the eyes. The eyes work, and the target could cut the skin easily without harm. This effect is meant to temporarily disable, not permanently harm. The effect needs to be modified to T:Part as it is just effecting the eyelids of the target.

As a rough comparison of Muto and Perdo for both Humans and Animals, to try to determine the baseline for the Muto effect:

  • Muto Corpus, Base 2, grant a minor ability. This seems the most appropriate in the Corpus set, but also does not actually fit the description. It is a stretch. More likely a Base 5 should be used.
  • Muto Animal, Base 5, change animal in a minor way so that they are unnatural.
  • Perdo Corpus, Base 20, to destroy a major sense in a person. Or 15 to destroy a minor one (probably means touch or taste). The core rules contain the definitive blindness spell, so I don’t need to re-list it here.
  • Perdo Animal, Base 20, to remove a major sense. The guideline is strict enough to say that Perdo isn’t the way to do this cheaply, but it is permanent. See The Falcon’s Hood on Ars p 119.
  • Rego Corpus, Base 2, to make a target lose control of a body part? Or Base 5 to hold them motionless. Or 10 to control their motion.
  • Rego Animal contains no specific guideline, but the other aspects of Rego are identical to Rego Corpus, so it follows that it will be also be Base 2.

Firstly a spell effect for blinding a human opponent.

Hera’s Indignant Blessing

Muto Corpus 25, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Part

Use Muto magic to seal over the target’s eyes, effectively blinding them. The targets eyes are still present, but cannot be opened as their eyelids are sealed over.

The spell name is a reference to Teiresias, who in one story was blinded by Hera for answering a question which favoured Zeus over Hera. The physical change in the target is no more complex than a minor ability (like Eyes of the Cat).

(Base 5 to change a person in a minor way so that they are unnatural from the Muto Animal guideline, Range to Voice (+2), Duration to Diameter (+1), Target to Part (+1))

And a version to blind animals with Muto is basically the same. I can see the Animal version being used on either the mounts of opponents or creatures themselves if they are hostile.

Blessing of the Kitten’s Eyes

Muto Animal 25, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Part

Use Muto magic to seal over the target’s eyes, effectively blinding them. The targets eyes are still present, but cannot be opened as their eyelids are sealed over.

The spell name is a reference to a baby rabbit, a kitten which are born with their eyes fused closed. The physical change in the target is no more complex than a minor ability (like Eyes of the Cat).

(Base 5, Range to Voice (+2), Duration to Diameter (+1), Target to Part (+1))

This is the two basic forms covered, and it demonstrates to me that while Muto isn’t the best source for blinding. A Magus with a high Muto might start there, however the Rego examples below are so much more effective and straight forward.

Blinding with Rego for Corpus and Animal

With Rego Corpus a temporary effect is simple and effective, as is a group version. I knew I liked Rego Corpus for a reason. It is a spell akin to the Curse of the Unruly Tongue using Rego Corpus from Ars p.134.

Blind the Ogling Fool

Rego Corpus 5, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Ind

Causes the target’s eyes to close for the duration of the spell.

(Base 2 to make a target lose control of a body part, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter)

And for those times when a mass of opponents need to be dealt with, a variation designed for groups of up to 100 members. Two minutes of blindiness should be all that is needed to rend the morale of any fighting force.

Blind the Ogling Horde

Rego Corpus 20, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Group

Causes the target’s eyes to close for the duration of the spell.

(Base 2 to make a target lose control of a body part, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter, +2 Group, +1 larger group up to 100 members)

And should 100 standard sized targets not be enough, perhaps a version scaled up to encapsulate a legion.

Blind the Ogling Legion

Rego Corpus 30, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Group

Causes the target’s eyes to close for the duration of the spell.

(Base 2 to make a target lose control of a body part, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter, +2 Group, +3 larger group up to 10,000 members)

With a variation for longer duration punishments and at greater range.

Blind the Watchful Scout

Rego Corpus 15, R: Sight, D: Sun, T: Ind

Causes the target’s eyes to close for the duration of the spell.

(Base 2 to make a target lose control of a body part, +3 Sight, +2 Sun)

And a variant of the first effect for animals,

Blind the Speeding Destrier

Rego Animal 5, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Ind

Causes the target’s eyes to close for the duration of the spell.

(Base 2 to make a target lose control of a body part, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter)

Blinding with Ignem

Perdo Ignem is used when creating darkness or a shadow, which means an effect to surround a target is shadows and darkness does not require Imagonem (images) at all. Imagonem could arguably be used to create the illusion of a barrier around somebody too though (is a black coloured sphere too different from a spherical absence of light?). The advantage Imagonem has an over the effects above is the lack of dependence on the Form of the target.

The Well Without Light spell is broad reaching and I doubt it is taken by many characters as it’s use is improbable. More likely to be used is an effect for combat purposes which darkens a room rather than a structure, and for far less time.

Solar of Darkness

Perdo Ignem 15, R: Touch, D: Diameter, T: Room

Removes light from the target room. Only spells greater than level 15 can create or manipulate light within this area for the duration.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +1 Diameter, +2 Room)

And an effect which is smaller in application, and can be centered on a person or object.

Extinguish All Light

Perdo Ignem 5, R: Touch, D: Diameter, T: Ind

Light is removed from an area 3-5 paces across for the duration of the spell.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +1 Diameter)

As the base effect for Ignem is a large camp fire or hearth fire, the area of removed light is also this size, estimated to be 3-5 paces across. This effect can also be moved about, as the RAW example of The Lamp Without Flame (CrIg) creates light which can be moved if placed on a portable object.

To make this effect more useful in battle it could be designed as Range: Voice, or have a greater duration, such as D: Sun, each adding a magnitude.

Blinding with Imagonem

Imagonem effects present stranger options. Firstly the concept of a non-moving blindfold which has been written before in the Net Wizard’s Grimoire as Conjuration of the Insubstantial Blindfold (CrIm10) by Erik Tyrrell. That blindfold spell is a very simple and effective method of distracting an opponent. It could be reworked with the duration dropped from Sun to Diameter for a Creo Imagonem 5 effect, which is wonderfully easy to cast.

Conjuration of the Insubstantial Fleeting Blindfold

Creo Imagonem 5, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Individual

The image of a blindfold is crated around the head of the creature, and will move with the creature. Credit to Erik Tyrrell for the spell concept.

(Base 1, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter, +1 Moving image)

Using a lower power base effect may potentially allow for better magic resistance penetration too.

Blinding by using clothing

Lastly controlling a scrap of material over the target’s eyes is all but the same outcome as blindness. It does not need to be present long to greatly hinder the subject, and will irritate.

The Unwanted Mask

Rego Herbam 15, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Individual

The target clothing moves to blind the wearer, shifting in place for the duration to cover the eyes. This effect will have varying results dependent of the clothing of the creature to be affected.

(Base 4, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter)

Read these and many more strange spells in the collected new spells for Ars Magica page.

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