Reworking an illusion spell for greater effect

Illusions are tricky things to adjudicate in a system which is as flexible as Ars Magica. Questions of adjustments for complexity, accuracy and detail in the conjured illusion all are reasonable however as there is a wide degree of variability in the allowances for complexity in the canonical spells, often the players themselves need to reach their own conclusions (which is generally a potential strength rather than weakness of the system in my opinion, but then I like the banter).

A good question was asked in the forums on “attacking with illusions” and I then started thinking about a more powerful version of a core spell which overloads the target’s senses. Overloading the senses of opponents is one of the easiest spells to leverage.


The Ars Magica rulebook Houses of Hermes: Societies, p68 has a spell called An Enemy Awash in the Pure Sigil of the Magus (CrIm15). By overloading the target’s eyes with visual sensations, this spell can blind the target for 2+ minutes, without using a Perdo requisite to physically “damage” the target. It is not always effective beyond one combat round, but it is still a very good spell. Particularly so because it is not an exceptionally high level spell, nor does it depend on the type of target, and it’s low level makes it potentially good for penetrating magical resistance.

So canonically overloading a sensory organ to the point of failure is very plausible. At level 15 for a Range: Sight spell it is also significantly better than blinding a target with Perdo Corpus which is many magnitudes higher.

Below are versions of that spell to overload many senses of one target, or the visual sense of a group of targets. And  most easy to learn for many Magi and it does not permanently damage the target.

An Enemy Immersed in a Sea of Stimulus

Creo Imagonem 25, R: Sight, D: Concentration, T: Part

This spell projects magical species at the target seeking to overload their senses of sight, hearing, and touch. The spell requires no Finesse check to target. The target may be disorientated for up to two minutes after the caster ceases concentrating (see HoH:S 68).

(Base 4, +3 Sight, +1 Concentration, +1 Part)

The effect is adjusted upward by one magnitude for each of hearing and touch, to create an effect which overloads the target’s sense of touch, hearing and sight (from base effect level 2 to base 4).

It is arguable how much more effective the spell effect would be when three senses are overloaded at the same time. In the original spell the target can shut their eyes to only be affected for a round, which seems less plausible for a spell which affects three senses. I suggest that the target is disorientated while the caster concentrates, and given the spell’s level that is not unreasonable.


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Should MR affect Wings of Soaring Wind?

Whilst googling around for Ars Magica material I came across the RPG Stack Exchange pages, and an interesting question was asked – Does Wings of Soaring Wind need to penetrate the caster’s Parma?

Go over an have a read; the short answer is yes. There is no elegant work around that I can think of except the group of players agreeing to hand wave the issue due to how cool the spell is. That said, some left field options and discussion carries on below. Continue reading

The old sand in the eyes trick

My intent for these spells was to duplicate the effect of throwing dirt or sand into the eyes of a foe. I’m pleased that the final spell is low level, so very spont’able. As a distraction spell the objective is not at all to harm, but rather irritate. Mechanically a covered eye might be ruled in many ways circumstantially by the Ars Magica storyguide.

Irritating Flurry of Detritus

Rego Terram 5, R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Individual

The spell gathers and projects a cone shaped flurry of dirt, sand, dust, mud or other Terram based material toward an opponent, which inflicts no damage, but may confuse, irritate, or perhaps even blind the opponents. The spell is effective on all rudimentary Terram substances.

The flurry can target opponents up to 20 paces away, as it creates a cone of dust with a five paces diameter at that distance. Correctly directing the cone toward an opponent requires a successful Finesse roll to hit the target, with a +3 bonus due to how wide the cone is.

Coincidentally the flurry may assist with targeting invisible targets, due to the material leaving traces all over them. The spell is little use in clean environments.

(Base 3 to move earth in an unnatural manner, +2 Voice)

A key factor is the spell projects dirt and muck, which also benefits from ignoring the target’s magical resistance.

Then I started pondering how the same style of effect might be reworked so that it surrounds the caster in a continuous series of projected earth as long as they concentrate.

Irritating Storm of Detritus

Rego Terram 20, R: Voice, D: Concentration, T: Group

The spell projects many segments of dirt, sand, dust, mud or other Terram based material, which inflicts no damage, but may confuse, irritate, or perhaps even blind the opponents. The spell is effective on all rudimentary Terram substances. The caster is surrounded but unaffected by the storm. The dirt is thrown about from the ground rather than propelled by magic, so the spell is not hindered by magical resistance.

The storm extends up to a radius of 20 paces around the caster. Coincidentally the storm may assist with targeting invisible targets, due to the material leaving traces all over them. The spell is little use in clean environments, and may provide partial obscurement in sandy or filthy environments.

(Base 3 to move earth in an unnatural manner, +2 Voice, +1 Concentration, +2 Group)

For these and other new Ars Magics spells see the list of spells.


A spell to make large ships fly darn quickly

A long while ago I wrote a blog post with a few spells to conjure boats; with a variety of sizes and purposes. This spell is for making them fly. Fortunately I don’t have to start from scratch for a spell breakdown as Transforming Mythic Europe includes a cannon spell for allowing a small row boat to fly, called “Vessel of the Clouds” (ReHe30) page 112. As some of the boats a character will encounter are far larger than the design for Vessel of the Clouds, an enhanced version might be needed. I also wanted a spell which would allow the ship to travel far faster than a running horse.

Vessel of the Heavens

Rego Herbam 45, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Ind

The caster commands a ship to fly at their will. The caster must make Finesse checks to control the ship, especially if performing maneuvers quickly or with complex motion. The spell will maintain the course and speed of it’s last instruction, which could be potentially dangerous.

This spell allows the ship to move at an extremely fast speed of up to 90 mph (the speed of a falcon in flight), and may affect very large of ships with carrying capacity of up to 5000 load, or an equivalent of 200 people and gear.

(Base 4 for unnatural movement across an unsupported surface, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +3 extra size, +2 extra speed, +1 for any direction)

Aside – I had a chuckle when TME was released as many of the spell effects within it were similar to drafted spells I had also thought up; it’s not like these are unusual desires in an Ars Magica game. My original version did not factor in the additional complexity for moving in any direction, and I was yet to find a good measure for how large the ship could be.

Many more custom spells can be found in the New Spells for Ars Magica page.

A Road based Mentem spell which incites disharmony

A short post – a spell to incite irritation, disharmony, and violence in the targeted person who is traveling on a road.

The Road to Perdition

Creo Mentem 20, R: Road, D: Sun, T: Individual

The target of this spell is made angry, irritable, and violent. Those targets without these personality traits gain them with a score of +3, and those with them have their traits greatly increased for the duration.

The spell’s intent is to sow disharmony in travelers, potentially with deadly results.

(Base 4, +2 Road, +2 Sun)


Grogs, servants, commoners, and guards

A collation of the grogs and commoners I’ve drafted recently for a few play by post Ars Magica games.

Below we have a Shield Grog, a Servant, a Lab Assistant, and a Point Guard. Building up the mechanics of grogs isn’t complex compared to creating a magus however its still a chore so here are a few samples – it might fast track a few NPCs. Continue reading

Road spells, because they’re a tad rare

The Faerie Range: Road is somewhat enigmatic. It can facilitate some interesting effects but is not well represented in the core spells. Some effects are very useful when rewritten as range Road but are often just as useful as range Sight or Voice. Road comes into it’s own strength when it can exploit the physical distance to the target beyond R: Voice. The Magi of Hermes book for Ars Magica added a few spells for R:Road and triggered all sorts of other spell ideas.

Here are a few odd spells either affecting the actual road so that the greater range can be used, or using the Faerie range Road specifically.

Many of the effects assume that the caster has some way (like a R: Road Intellego spell) which allows for the awareness of things upon the road to be performed. A sample spell doing just that is in the page of other custom spells in the Intellego Imagonem section. It’s a spell that every user of this Virtue should learn, and it’s extremely low level.

The other nice way for Faerie Magi to target people on the road is to use a range extension Muto Vim spell on an effect which is approx range Touch. Most troupes will also allow a Muto Vim spell to modify the spell to the same difficulty; meaning changing a Voice spell to Road using MuVi as well.

Firstly a sort of mystical cheat. The road may end before the caster desires, or not approach a place where they wish to connect it to. This first spell could potentially be used to remotely extend a road.

The Never Ending Road

Rego Terram 15, R: Road, D: Momentary, T: Part

This spell targets a point on the road which the caster is in contact with and allows the construction of a continuing piece of roadway, a change, a segway, or an alteration of the road up to the limit of the target size. A finesse check is needed when cast to determine the quality of the spell’s work, 6 or higher for dirt, and 9 or higher for stone as building roadways is not complex work. Special structures such as archways or bridges may require 12 or higher, subject to the complexity of the task.

The spell effect draws construction materials available in the target area of the altered section of road, or within a pace of the nearest edge of the road. The spell may also be used for improvement and maintenance on an existing part of a roadway, such as removing obstacles, fixing degradation, or upgrading a section.

Roads made from dirt, clay, or sand can alter up to 100 cubic paces of material, and stone 10 cubic paces. The spell’s designer placed any extra materials to be used in the construction by using other spells, or mundane means.

(Base 3 for both dirt and stone, +2 Road, +1 Part, +1 for extra size)

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An magical item that ticks over time

Are Magica magical devices are activated by a triggering action, and also can have linked triggers. Simplistically this means that many effects can be daisy-chained together to form a more complex combined effect with several enchantments. What I’ve rarely seen is a way to make an effect automatically be cast each round for many rounds. It could just be that it’s not be written up, or that I’ve missed it completely. Here is my take:

To do this a “ticking” spell needs to be invented, which takes a prescribed action each round while it is activate. This could be as simple as a Rego effect which moves a switch between two points each round for it’s duration, or the effect depresses a button already set into an existing item. There needs to be a way for the ticking effect to know which thing to move, which is either specified by the caster when the spell is invoked, or set when the effect is invested as part of a magical item.

Then a second effect (say a harmful one, like a nasty area of effect fire spell which does not target the small-ish area where it is invoked) is cast each round by the magical device, with the caster only needing to concentrate on the ticking spell. This is made even more effective when the caster of the ticking spell (which I’m calling The Unseen Fidgeting Hand) passes the burden of concentration to a spell like Maintain the Demanding Spell which will maintain concentration for them for two minutes. 

I have two example combat spells to be imbued in an item in mind to make the nastiness of this approach clear; briefly either:

(a) Creo Ignem effect bursting fire around the caster as Ignem is excellent for broad brush devastation, particularly when more effort is put into the device to make it penetrate magic resistance.

(b) A version of Vilano’s Sling which throws a large amount of stones around the caster, so that any target does not benefit from any magic resistance they might have (written up as a spell here). The sling spell could also easily be a Rego Herbam / Terram based effect to throw arrows just as easily.

The Ticking spell written up is as follows:

The Unseen Fidgeting Hand

Rego Terram 5, R: Voice, D: Concentration, T: Individual

This is a general spell for automatically moving a device or thing in a normal manner as directed by the caster, including moving or using the device repeatedly. The intent is that the device will be used once per round without the caster needing to directly concentrate on the action, for as long as the spell is active; for use with other enchanted devices which have manual triggers.

e.g. opening and closing a latch, turning a key repeatedly, throwing a lever, pressing a button, switching a toggle, or a similar effects. A soft tick is heard every round the spell is active as a free cosmetic effect.

It is invented as a Rego Terram effect to utilize the general spell guidelines for moving general items. Casting requisites may be required.

(Base 1, +1 for stone, R: +2 Voice, D: +1 Conc, T: Ind)

Effect modifications for enchantment (+5 maintains concentration, +10 unlimited uses)

The Unseen Arm (Ars core rules, ReTe5, p 155) can do this too, however the caster would need to concentrate each round on The Unseen Arm for each action which saves no real effort.

These and many more custom spells can be found in the New Spells for Ars Magica page.