Necromancy spells, part 3

A necromancer needs a way to get real bodies too. Beyond killing those around them, a non-consecrated grave will need to be dug up, and that will cause serious trouble with the local authorities once it is discovered. A useful spell (like the Exhume the Bounty of the Earth) could do the job well as it will likely leave the earth as it was originally.

However I cannot ignore that sometimes digging out a mass of earth is just the right task. The spell below digs out an area of land bigger than a typical grave and could be used to fill it back in too. It could also be a good way to hide a few bodies, or even used as a combat effect.

The Gravedigger’s Pleasure

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

The caster excavates soil, sand, mud or any other earthen substance from one place to another, allowing the extraction of all materials into a place and pattern of their choosing. The digging action lifts the earthen material and any items it contains.

As an exceedingly simple task a Finesse skill check of 6+ is needed to exhume an object properly. The spell affects up to ten cubic paces of material.

(Base 3, +2 Voice)

There may also be odd times when the necromancer needs to maintain the illusion that a corpse is able to speak. This effect could be cast spontaneously very easily by almost any Magus, however knowing a formulaic version means subtle casting is so much easier.

Speak Through Silent Lips

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

Allows the caster to create a speaking voice of their choosing within range and control what it says. The caster is not required to speak each word conjured by the illusion but must maintain concentration.

(Base 1, +2 voice, +1 Conc, +1 intelligible speech)

Lastly a version of the popular anti-rotting spell for animal corpses. A necromancer who works with animal bodies might not be viewed with quite the same degree of disdain? Nah, still creepy. Animal corpses will be easier to come by.

Circle Against Putrefaction of Beasts

Creo Animal 5, R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Circle

The animal materials within the target circle remain fresh, and are protected from rotting and purification.

(Base 2, +1 Touch, +2 Ring)

Charm Against Putrefaction of Beasts

Creo Animal 10, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Individual

The targeted animal materials remain fresh, and are protected from rotting and purification.

(Base 2, +1 Touch, +3 Moon)

I also though of a macabre spell which are unlikely to be ever used, but suits a strange mood that pondering necromancy puts me in. When you have Necromancy as your hammer, everything looks like a corpse shaped nail. A horrible way to ford for a river, a rain to disrupt attackers, or a way to bury an opponent.

Rain of One Hundred Corpses

Creo Corpus 35, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Group

This spell causes one hundred corpses to fall from the sky and blanket an area within range chosen by the caster. Each corpse is identical and size +1.

(Base 5, +2 Voice, +1 Diam, +2 Group, +1 size)

Sculpting dead flesh isn’t in the Hermetic magic guidelines however I took the Terram base 2 and decided that it was one degree more difficult and creepy.

Sculpt Unhallowed Flesh as Clay

Muto Corpus 15, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Part

This spell changes the consistency of dead human body material to that of soft clay which can be shaped. The spell can affect an entire corpse or a smaller segment.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +1 Part)

And once the Ars Magica necromancer realises that they can work with flesh and bodies as a resource, complex items can be prepared.

Construct From Flesh the Unhallowed Tools

Rego Corpus / Muto 15, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Group

This spell transforms a corpse or corpus based materials into a item of equipment required by the caster, akin to how a craftsman would create an item. This requires a Finesse roll to successfully construct an item (see Covenants p.51), and may be modified by an appropriate skill.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +2 Group, +1 flexibility in outcome)

For these and over 250 other new Ars Magics spells see the list of spells.

Milestone unlocked, 250 spells. More to come.

(Begin shameless self promotion)

As of today there are 268 spells published, which seek to add diversity and range to the spells for the Ars Magica RPG. At the start of 2016 just after reaching 200 new spells I decided to obsess more seriously about creating Ars Magica spells and post more of the ideas.

It’s been an interesting process but satisfying to be able to write slowly and steadily in tiny chunks, and still build to a larger whole.

And soon the new spells page of this blog will dramatically increase in size again.

Over the next 3 months 97 more spells will be posted. I know this as they’re sitting completed and scheduled for posting through to early July. This will bring the New Spells for Ars Magica page up to around 355 spells. 150 spells in 6 months is darn great in terms of reaching new milestones. Yeehaw!

Getting to 400 new spells by the end of the year seems less like a silly dream, and something I might be able to work toward.

I’ll still need to find the time to edit the page where they’re all written, and it’s getting less easy to think of new areas to cover as much of the easy ground is written. But that’s ok too – I’ll need to do something for the rest of the year. Ahem.

Personally as a blogger I’ve always struggled with creating content regularly and it’s a new and darn satisfying thought to have three months of content ready to go without lifting a finger. To post regularly I started breaking the very long posts into much smaller segments.

For example – the current series being published from March through to mid May is mostly about Necromancy spells, it’s currently 8 different posts with just under 40 spells in total.

Then there are three posts about Ars Magica versions of spell from the movie Frozen (ask any parent if they know that film), then a few handy spells for use either on or involving boats.

There is no real reason for these subjects except they’re playing in my head frequently enough.

Happy gaming folks. More to come.

Necromancy spells, part 2

This is the next post in a series of necromantically themed new spells for Ars Magica. Necromancers probably have an abundant supply of bodies in many sagas but those bodies also get damaged. Here are a few spells to repair the damage to human corpses.

Firstly a spell to repair damage using Creo Corpus and then an alternate using Rego Corpus magic. The Creo effect probably produces a far more wholesome looking body, although the repair using Rego is permanent.

Restore the Abandoned Vessel

Creo Corpus 25, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Individual

The targeted corpse has all wounds closed and sealed, discoloration or rotting removed, bones reset and fused, and skin freshly restored.

The damage is not repaired properly as it would need to be for a living target, but superficially appears to be no longer present, and any basic structural faults fixed. All restoration is undone when the spell ends.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +3 Moon)

This spell has the same limitations as all Creo effects, the restoration isn’t permanent – and frankly unless the body was one which was valuable for sentimental reasons it is overkill to fix using vis. Still if you have that need…

Circle of Perfectly Presented Corpses

Creo Corpus / Animal 20, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Circle, Ritual

Corpses inside the target circle have all their wounds closed and sealed, damage repaired, discoloration or rotting removed, bones reset and fused, and skin freshly restored.

The damage is not repaired completely and perfectly as it would need to be for a living target, however this spell will permanently address any basic structural faults and return the corpse to sound mechanical function.

This effect has been further refined to enhance the visage, pallor, presentation, shape and complexion of the corpse so that gains a more “ideal appearance”. The corpse appears fresh, wholesome, and perfect.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +1 an ideal state, +1 Animal requisite, Ritual)

I’ve added the +1 complexity change for the perfect state, and an animal requisite as the ritual would otherwise be below level 20. It makes for a very handy permanent ritual; although still a somewhat concerning one – why does the corpse need to be perfect?

Repairing a corpse might be desirable for cosmetic reasons, such as desiring mundane gear or armour to sit correctly, and can also be performed without the need for a ritual although the outcome will not be as pleasant.

Gross Repair the Abandoned Automaton 

Rego Corpus 15 Herbam Terram Animal, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Group

This spell uses the raw materials on hand to physically repair a damaged human or animal corpse back to basic function. Spell requisites allow for a variety of miscellaneous materials to be used in the reconstruction of a corpse.

Bones are pinned or replaced, flesh padded out, and limbs reattached, wounds or skin is stitched back together.

It is important to note that ReCo and ReAn based animation spells will work on skeletal remains so there is no real requirement for a corpse to be fleshed out.

A finesse check determines the quality of the repairs, with 12+ required for a high quality outcome, although a 6+ will allow the base materials to be added into the target corpse. Suitable raw materials must be on hand for the repair and will determine the appearance of the corpse afterward.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +2 Group, +1 Animal targets)

 For these and over 250 other new Ars Magics spells see the list of spells.undead

Battle, Siege, and War spell durations for Ars Magica

There was an interesting idea shared on Atlas Games Ars Magica forums a long time ago for spell duration based upon battles and wars. Credit to Dunia for the idea. It reminded me of many of the durations used in both online games and other pen and paper RPGs. For a wizard who concentrated their skills in war such as many Tremere, Tytalus, or Flambeau this might be very appealing.

When I first read the post I thought that having Battle duration as equivalent to D:Sun was a bit on the expensive side as very few battles last this long; and in writing these versions of the new durations I have added conditions to their scope. Battle, Siege, and War are slightly different from how they were proposed in the forums.

As time has passed I’ve rethought and now think that there is a way to allow casual use of this style of duration which is a little more expensive, and also allow a dedicated war magus to use them with a bonus.


The difference comes down to the player buying a virtue, making a breakthrough for the effects, or just using them casually.

Hermetic Virtue – Warfare Magic (Minor +1) The magus has been trained in special disciplines especially devoted to warfare, and has access to three new durations: Battle, Siege, and War. Continue reading

It takes more than money to be wealthy in Ars Magica

Many folk tell me that conjuring money permanently using magic isn’t worth it in Ars Magica, or at the very least it is very problematic, and also has story and setting risks. The setting certainly discourages it, as the Covenants book provides not only a level 35 Creo Terram to create money, but also a special Tribunal ruling to dictate that the Order might have made about spending too much silver per year; essentially making it illegal to flood an economy with dramatically more money or resources that a covenant could reasonable have from an outsider’s perspective.

There are spells for creating non-permanent money, and spells to mentally control mundanes, so as far as the economic pitfalls go I can respect the lore, but not at a point of base ethics – because Wizards in Ars Magica don’t have ethics akin to any other role in the setting.

For example the Tribunal ruling wasn’t made because of an ethical issue, it was made to keep the peace with the mundanes, nobility and clergy. It changes the meta-rule from “don’t do it” to “don’t get caught” or “hide it well”. So what Ars Magica community is telling me is probably right; but I choose to ignore it and ponder how much valuable stuff that could be created and how best to spend it.

Players being players they tend to also want a lot of money, or ready access to a reasonable stash of resources should they need it. Perhaps a small horde of cash as a reserve isn’t needed and incongruent with the style of many games, but a Magus using magic to create their own personal reserve of resources seems darn legitimate to me. I can also appreciate that for experienced players the act of being clever about money isn’t interesting anymore. Darn fair view.

I prefer to think that many of the mercantile Houses (especially Harco) would bend the guidelines frequently and hide it using some clever accounting practices.

Based upon what we know about the way magic spells scale in Ars Magica we can see that conjuring permanent money is wasteful below a certain threshold (the Ritual base level of 20), but after a respectful level of difficulty it becomes quickly easy to get carried away. A covenant may never need to “work” again if they can find ways to funnel their magical money into the real economy quietly and secretly.

For example, this spell creates a darn healthy amount of wealth, but costs four pawns of Vis. The Ritual level 20 baseline means that any permanent wealth spell has to be level 20, which is why inventing a lesser version at level 15 is doubly wasteful (I avoided using a +1 complexity modifier to create coins in these examples, as that would make them akin to the exact spell in Covenants – you can do the math). Consider too that somebody either has to trade for this spell and then learn it which could cost a season or so, or create it which also requires lab work.

So firstly lets create some rough spells to base demonstrate wealth creation.

Avarice of the Uninspired Usurer

Creo Terram 20, R:Touch, D:Mom, T: Ind, Ritual

This ritual creates a 1/10th of a cubic foot of silver or gold (or 2.83 liters). As a lump of material, it has limited uses without being processed in some manner.

(Base 15, R:Touch +1, Ritual)

a.k.a. What a complete waste of Vis! Silver or gold, or whatever the material – this effect will alleviate a small burden of money for a short period, but not forever. Gold is worth far more, but also a lot harder to use in-character than silver. The created material will still need to be crafted into coins to make it easier to use. So instead lets get enough raw material to almost never need more:

Avarice of the Unscrupulous Glutton

Creo Terram 35, R:Touch, D:Mom, T: Ind, Ritual

This ritual creates a 100 cubic feet of silver or gold (or 2830 liters). As a lump of material, it has limited uses without being processed in some manner.

(Base 15, R:Touch +1, size +3, Ritual)

And then this, just because…this is a moderate sized room full floor to ceiling with the material. It costs seven pawns of vis to cast.

When the size modifier for the spell design gets higher the actual material you are creating becomes a little silly. If a covenant were to conjure 1000 cubic foot of silver to use very slowly for finances, then they are probably set for the life of the campaign. In fact this level of wealth is more than several modest covenants could spend over hundreds of years if they were to honor the implied legalities I mentioned above. I know this isn’t how a “clever” troupe solve the money problem, but frankly I’m suspecting that is because they’ve just not been thinking big enough, or securely wide enough. It is actually a great solution if the security of access to the money and the distribution of the money into the economy is properly managed. This is akin to the covenant laundering it’s conjured wealth to reap a material gain.

To be successful the covenant must be considerate to influence of their ventures within their tribunal.

…Trade Hubs

A big part of the Tribunal law is about staying inconspicuous in your surroundings, and never putting more than 20 pounds of silver into a tribunal economy (Covenants, p 61). So the first thing to setup is a distribution hub in every other tribunal to trade through. That will create friction everywhere (and potentially many stories) but is totally within the rules of the game and the rules of a tribunal. 20 pounds locally,plus 80 pounds via four small trade houses is achievable.

I suggest targeting smaller regional centers instead of major cities, and stick to places which are traditional trade ports. A major city will have a better breadth of goods, but also stronger local merchants and guilds to contend with. Mid sized locations have reasonable resources and enough economy to sink the conjured wealth into. The idea is that a small cadre of knowledgeable grogs could permanently live at each hub, and manage the asset and wealth distribution. It will cost a small amount to establish each hub, but the wealth is conjured anyway.

Using Redcaps will get you noticed very quickly, but not using them will also make them angry. Reasonably the hubs could manage purchase and acquisition of the goods that the covenant desires, and then pass these through to the Redcaps for secure delivery. That way Harco gets it’s percentage and influence, but no Magus is directly exposed as involved.

…Store Fronts

Another way to hide in plain sight is to establish a set of minor businesses, with the real purpose being a secondary endeavor, such as spying, security, or a chapter house for the covenant.

…Other Hermetic Uses

What if the covenant lent money to other covenants? Or money to mundanes through a proxy?

Does the same logic follow – If I had a room full of $100 dollar notes would that not solve my financial issues for a while? Why would the local community find anything odd, as long as I didn’t change behavior too much?

In terms of greed – lastly I know its not elegant but toward the extreme end of greed might allow for a spell to create a huge degree of wealth. This answers the question on why magi do not seem so focused on money itself.

Avarice of the Dragon’s Horde

Creo Terram 40, R:Touch, D:Mom, T: Ind, Ritual

This ritual creates 1000 cubic feet of gold (or 28,310 liters), created in small golden bars.

(Base 15, R:Touch +1, size +4, +1 complexity of bars, Ritual)


Zharkune, aka Necromancer Zhar, Follower of Bonisagus


Zhar knows he has a questionable past, although much of the specifics has been expunged from his memory by the Order, and what remains he hopes is correct.

From what he can recall his diminutive stature would have set him apart from his parents and siblings even if he had not been Gifted, he was clearly born a runt, and the combination of both this and his gift meant his family was quick to find any excuse to billet him away from them. When his town’s grave digger and embalmer both expressed a keen interest in the young boy his parents watched him depart with great enthusiasm. The two morbid practitioners took the boy in and began training him in many and varied arts. Beginning with ceremonies and embalming, Zharkune had been found by a cult who worshiped the dead.

A few years passed and of the details he remembers little. Zhar knows that he was an adept servant to his surrogate family, and knows that he once was far more skilled in the rites of embalming and preservation, and that much of that skill was destroyed when his memories were removed. He does not recall the details at all of when his Hermetic master destroyed the cult. His master – Seeker Cercin, Master of Bonisagus told Zharkune that he found the tiny child serving the intertwined families of the embalmer and grave digger, and that their cult activities were so profoundly evil that they were cleansed from Christendom.

Seeker Cercin tried to raise Zharkune as a proper Bonisagus, allowing his natural talents in magical investigation and experimentation to flourish. Zhar knows his master was a kind woman and was proud of the growth in his hermetic skills. She was however profoundly displeased when Zhar found his interests turning to the dead and the spirit world. Cercin initially forbade the interest, but Zhar would not be persuaded.

Later in his apprenticeship Zhar was kidnapped by a member of the original cult who strangely survived the earlier cleansing, and his master was required once again to destroy the cult and erase sections of Zhar’s memories. After that hateful event Zhar made an effort to understand and empower himself in the areas of the dead, to better find his way and potentially prepare himself for the secrets that fate seems determined to thrust upon him. Cercin relented her objections, and guided Zharkune toward the creative aspect of his interest – all the while asking he remember what risks come from his interest.

The lost fragments of his mind frustrate him, and eventually he wishes to find a way to fill out some of the gaps – be that with restorative magic, or interrogating he living and dead host involved in the events long ago. He is determined to prove that Necromancy does not need to be reviled by the Order, and find his past along the way. Continue reading

tip for Metacreator Ars Magica Affinity calculation


Here is a quick tip for metacreator Ars Magica users who wish to emulate the character creation rules accurately.

The problem: Metacreator does not handle Affinities for Arts and Abilities in the same manner as the core rulebook mechanics. The difference is minor, but sometimes those points count. It adds a multiplying factor to the spending of XP into the calculations of ability levels, rather than showing the allocated XP and then the updated level after the multiplication.

The fix: is to add generic virtues called Affinities so that the Virtues and Flaws balance, but the XP spend also adds up correctly. The downfall is that you need to roughly know what the score will end up being when you’re done spending XP, but that isn’t a show stopper to get a 100% core rules character.

 picture of Metacreator UI 

Necromancy spells, part 1

Here are four spells to form the foundation of effects to be found in a necromancer’s Grimoire for Ars Magica. I’ll be adding more spells with a creepy dead flavour as time goes on (this is the first in a 6-7 post series), but for now here are “must have” necromantic revisions to some core spells.

This first effect is a cosmetic spell used to make the animated dead look, sound, and particularly smell far better than it really does. The target could be made to look like almost anything, but I like the idea that the dead walk as if they are lepers – as it’s better that people keep their distance. It’s not strictly a necromantic effect but it is a spell that makes using necromancy in the wild far easier.

It’s different than the core MuIm spell Disguise of the Transformed Image so that the necromancer only needs to alter it when the dead is reanimated each month.

Disguise of the Leprous Vagrant

Muto Imagonem 15, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Individual

Changes the target’s sight, sound and smell images to any almost passable human for the duration of the spell.

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

The core spell for animating a corpse with rudimentary intelligence has a duration of Year which makes it a ritual. That’s vis inefficient when the these servants are likely to get permanently damaged, and makes each casting very expensive.

Its better to reanimate monthly without spending vis. Better too to raise the body of another without having to touch the target corpse; I’m picturing a soldier fighting next to an ally only to see them rise as an opponent.

The Walking Servant

Rego Corpus Mentem 35, R: Voice, D: Moon, T: Individual

Turns a corpse into a nearly mindless servant that can follow your simple verbal commands faithfully but unimaginatively. Unless the corpse is preserved with Charm Against Putrefaction or the equivalent, the body decays normally, but even a skeleton can be animated.

(Base 10, +2 Voice, +3 Moon, Mentem req free)

There should also be an option to command the animation via a Mentem sub-effect within the Walking Servant, however that makes the spell very high level, and it’s really not very hard to send commands to a servant; living or dead.

Words of Unbroken Tranquility

Creo Mentem 15, R: Sight, D: Concentration, T: Individual

This spell allows the caster to speak directly into the mind of the target for as long as they concentrate.

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

Lastly every necromancer knows that finding raw materials can be difficult. Instead Ars Magica gives the option in the base spell guidelines for the creation of a corpse. I love that. That’s tacit support for necromancy built right into the game.

Conjure the Remains of Man

Creo Corpus 25, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Individual

Creates a corpse of up to size +1, with an appearance subject to the desires of the caster. Matching to a specific individual is possible with a successful Finesse check of 12+, with an optional familiarity adjustment between +/-3 depending on how well the caster knows the subject.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +3 Moon)

Lastly a point for design consideration: many of the necromancy effects which follow in this set of blog posts are Rego spells and also have medium to long durations.

A more ecconomical way to create these spells is to set their Duration to Concentration and use a specialised version of Maintain the Demanding Spell with a Sun or Moon modifier. In terms of character design a beginning character who takes this approach ends up looking like a Rego Vim specialist and not a necromancer. It’s an approach I really like for older wizards, but felt like a bit of a distraction when taking about the spells themselves.

Also consider that the version of Maintaining the Demanding Spell:Moon will affect another spell of its level -15, which when chosen for level 20-25 effects means a level 40 ReVi spell. That level is very high for a new wizard.

Magical device: Libram of Imaginary Pages

A quick idea for an item which would be useful in the lab to assist with cost savings on upkeep and also an Imaginem specialisation. 

Libram of Imaginary Pages

(Lesser enchanted device: Cr/Mu/Re/Im 30)

The libram appears to be a piece of treated oak carved to look like a very small closed notebook. Upon command the libram will create an illusory sheet of writing paper, which can be used to scribe notes. Created as a level 25 spell effect, modified for +5 levels to allow 24 uses per day.

An Imaginary Page

Creo Imagonem / Muto / Rego 25, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Individual

The virtual paper includes a tactile illusion so that slight resistance is felt by the writer when being changed. When written upon the illusion reacts to the motions of the writing implement, so that ink is not needed to write on the surface.

The illusory pages can be moved about or placed in mid air, and altered as pleases the writers just like a normal piece of paper. The illusory pages can be created in three sizes: note/palm sized, large book sized, and table sized.

(CrIm base 2 for visual and tactile illusion, +1 Touch, +3 Moon, +1 can be moved around, +1 intricate text and drawings, +1 changeable image)


Sub Rosa issue 18 released


SubRosaCover18The Ars Magica fanzine Sub Rosa #18 has just been published. This issue focuses on magical and mundane beasts, and rather than just being a list of stat blocks it contains background, story threads, abilities, creation rules, and all sorts of extra content for story guides to use in Ars Magica sagas.

The issue also contains a short story, a detailed write-up on advancing a magus using the Intangible Assassin style, and an alternative way of generating Shape and Material bonuses. Issue 18 is 128 pages long, so very good value.

Of particular interest to me is the custom spells offered as part of the Advancing the Intangible Assassin article. I love new spells.

An excellent issue, well worth a read.