List of Major and Minor Magical Foci

A long while ago I was hunting for a good reference list of example magical foci, for the Major Magical Focus or Minor Magical Focus (MFF and mMF) in Ars Magica. There wasn’t one so this is a bashed together version. Note: I was re-ordering these, but it has become convoluted and strict book keeping isn’t a hobby – enjoy as is.

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New spells to Prevent Rain

Here are some inconsequential weather related spells for Ars Magica. Often small or innocuous spells will have additional subtle applications or ways to bend them circumstantially, however I enjoyed writing these are they are what they say they are. A weather wizard might have one or two of these in their grimoire.

Perhaps these were invented by a powerful and particular Auram specialist who disliked the whinging and procession of excuses the grogs used during rainstorms and showers at his home in the highlands. These spells gave temporary relief to the covenfolk, and would make simple useful enchanted items.

Strike Dry the Rainclouds

Perdo Auram 30, R: Sight, D: Momentary, T: Group

This spell stops rain from a set of clouds within sight. The clouds move and intermix in the sky as normal after the spell is cast.

(Base 5, +2 Group, +3 Sight)

It has the specific advantage of not warping the recipients when used to ensure covenant chores are unhindered.

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Using Imagonem to alter vision impairment

Macrotextures (as defined in Ars Magica sourcebook HoH:S p64) allow species to be manipulated to interact with the sensory organs in different ways, and allows for correcting vision impairment. That said I haven’t seen a spell to do so yet, and can imagine that it would be common enough once ageing starts to irrevocably alter the Magi of the Order. Interesting that eyeglasses are a period feature in some regions, and there is a quite famous Book of Optics written in the mid 11th century.

A reasonable goal is to design a spell which can be used all the time in an item and avoid warping the target, perhaps through a low level effect and enchanting into a familiar bond.

Eyes of the Exuberant Youth

Rego Imagonem 4, R: Personal, D: Concentration, T: Individual

This spell alters the visual species which will strike the caster’s eyes so that they are adjusted to correct for any visual impairment apart from blindness. The effect might have to be tuned when first cast to maximize clarity and assign the correct focus.

(Base 3, +1 Concentration)

If placed into a familiar bond or a tailored magical device there should be a selection made for many uses, or for constant effect (YSMV).

When created as an item:

Eyeglasses for the Wizened Sage – sturdy silver set of eyeglasses set with clear crystal lenses. The glasses are enchanted with the the Eyes of Exuberant Youth above. The user can refocus and change the style and mixture of macrotexture by concentrating, so that the eyeglasses might be handed down between Magi.

Effect mods = Final effect level Rego Imagonem 17 – Device is constant, as it is designed with a Sun duration (+1 mag more), uses an environmental trigger (+3), two uses per day (+4), and targets the species at the wearer’s eyes. The effect is designed at Range Touch (+1 mag more) so it can affect the species travelling through the lenses of the glasses.


The Voiceless Chambers hook and map, with Ars Magica mechanics

The Voiceless Chambers by  demonstrates why he is a favourite blogger and mapper for me. Each week a new map is sketched and shared (for free online, and via a Pateron account for supporters). The Voiceless Chambers has a fantastic introduction, and this post is about some of the magics involved created as Ars Magica spells and magic items. All kudos and high praise for the story hook and map by Dyson.

The hook begins:

When the Sorceress Queen Nemorlienne finally died, some efforts were made to keep her that way. While her rule was generally good for the state of the nation, those closest to the halls of power found her ways destructive and maniacal and her magically-augmented temper shortened many an advisor’s lifespan.

Like the other deceased queens, she was first burned to ashes and then those ashes converted into a gem using dark alchemies. However, unlike those before her, her tomb was sealed completely and magically, and in addition to the usual magical guards and wards over the tomb, the whole place was made magically and perpetually silent so no one could seek her counsel even in death.

But someone has broken the outer seals of the crypt, …

(read more)

This is how these implied effects might be written up for the Ars Magica RPG…

In terms of naming style Ars often has thematic and descriptive names for spells and effects, however as this is a non-standard setting I thought it would be fun to go for a more cultish feel. As if all parts of the process have to be ceremonial.

First effect to silence the chambers is performed by enchanting one of the last stones placed within the interior walls of the chambers has been enchanted to nullify all sound within.

A Hidden Stone Which Brings Silence To All, Lest She Be Disturbed (PeIm 29, Lesser Device), a fist sized cube of high quality marble, carved with deliberately creepy and dangerous looking sigils. It is buried deep within one of the interior walls of the chambers.

Quiet Loose Tounges Within the Crypt

Perdo Imagonem 20, R: Touch, D: Diameter, T: Structure

All sound within the targeted structure is destroyed for the duration, rendering it deathly silent.

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

(As device: +1 mag for extra duration, +4 levels for adjusting to Constant effect, Ars p.99)

The Voiceless Chambers, you feel the Ars Magica and high magical & mystical flavour all through the description.

Then, creating a normal gem with magical aura as a distraction from the real gem is a great fantasy theme.

A False Majesty Unworthy of Her Presence, Lest They Call Her (CrVi 59, Lesser device), a beautiful and valuable gemstone by normal standards which has been enchanted to appear invested to resist magical inspection. The gem has also been fixed as an Arcane Connection to a non-enchanted twin, so that recovery by the high priests is far easier. Investing the effect creates a legitimate magical presence, and then the protective effect ensures the investigation will be troublesome which completes the deception.

Invested Shell of Simple Obfuscation

Creo Vim 45, R: Personal, D: Momentary, T: Individual

The shell resists attempts to divine any invested effects if they are level 50 or below. Investigation spells therefore must be rituals.

(Base 45, to resist investigation effects upon itself up to level 50 effects) 

(As device: +2 mags, +4 levels for Constant effect modification)

See Shell of False Determinations (Ars p.157 for a similar effect) which seemingly can be cast upon objects to perform a similar outcome although it is unclear to me how that spell is effective in the long term with a Momentary duration; odd.

Then, the enchantments on the true jewel of Queen Nemorlienne are very important, as they setup significant restrictions for use of the gem.

The real change for the dust and gem in the introduction is the alchemical change from the remains of the sorcereress into the gem. In Ars Magica that could be as simple as creating a fixed arcane connection, which runs contradictory to the lore in the introduction but also perhaps hints that the priests wish to retain access to Her after her death. Cool and creepy. It has two effects within it and is also set as a permanent arcane connection, the first effect prohibits using the gem an a connection, and the second makes the gem appear flawed.

A True Key Against Those Who Call Beyond the Grave, Lest She Hear Their Call (PeVi 37, MuIm 12, Greater device) an even more beautiful gemstone than the distraction above, this gem is striking and lovely to behold and obviously extremely valuable. The best magi from the realms worked years to craft and enchant this gem, to protect their realm and the ghost of the dead Queen Nemorlienne.

Impede the Meddling Scryers and Fools

Perdo Vim, R: Personal, D: Sun, T: Individual

This spell limits the target so it cancels any other spell attempting to use the target as an Arcane connection for the purposes of scrying, unless it is greater than the (level of this spell +10 + stress dice (no botch)).

(Base Gen, +2 Sun)

(+4 to raise to constant effect, +3 to affect everyone except the current Priesthood)

With a more general version which might be more useful as a Duration: Ring and Target: Circle, which can be used outside an enchanted item.

Impede the Meddling Scryers and Seekers

Perdo Vim, R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Circle

This spell limits the target so it cancels any other spell attempting to use the target as an Arcane connection for the purposes of scrying, unless it is greater than the (level of this spell +5 + stress dice (no botch)).

(Base Gen, +1 Touch, +2 Sun)

And an effect to reduce glamour of the gem, to make it appear inconsequential. Note that the effect could be slightly lower, however I’ve used a target touch as I intend the effect to be listed as a normal spell, not just for investment in an enchanted device.

Lacklustre Sheen to a Perfect Vessel

Muto Imagonem 5, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

The item touched is made to look and feel far less valuable or ornate. It remains true to its basic type, however it will appear ordinary, scratched, tarnished, rough, dishevelled or poorly formed.

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

(+4 to raise to constant effect, +3 to affect everyone except the current Priesthood)

Then, as almost every chamber is decorated with artworks, tributes and prizes, the priests have used these as animated defences for the chambers, as tomb guardians.

A Wooden Puzzle of Horrible Death, Revealed to those who Seek Her Glory, (ReHe 42, Lesser device), an item which animates wooden decorations in the room to become weapons. The rooms are deliberately stocked with edged weapons, arrows, laminated spurs, large spars, and solid blocks. Many such items are sequestered within the chambers.

Animate Her Treasures of Wood as Weapons of Woe

Rego Herbam 35, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Room

The all wooden items in the targeted room rise and attack any creatures within it, crushing, slicing, and pummelling the occupants. The objects strike with an Initiative +5, and Attack +7 and inflict +10 damage each round.

(Base 10, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +2 Room)

(+4 to raise to constant effect, +3 to affect everyone except the current Priesthood)

Then, several rooms within the chambers has been enchanted to protect against intrusion.

The effects are designed as a warding device which can act to protect a room or also act an a prison if need be (as a reworking of Ward Against the Curious Scullion (ReCo30), Covenants p.104).

A Constant Guard Against Trespassers, Interlopers, and Thieves, (ReCo 44, Lesser device), a small sphere of polished gold, inscribed with runes and sigils denoting terror and disease to any who trespass. The sphere as been buried within an internal wall of the central crypts away from the entry point so that is difficult to access even if it can be detected. Several of these warding globes were crafted and installed in the chambers.

Solar Impervious to Curious Scullions

Rego Corpus 40, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Room

Humans find it impossible to enter or leave the targeted room.

(Base 15, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +2 Room)

(+3 Environmental trigger, +1 for 2 uses per day)

A final aside – if you like this please have a look at the material which Dyson Logos create, and also at the large arrange of other Ars Magica material written over the many here’s on this blog. Spells, Magical Items, Npcs, and many stranger things for the Ars roleplaying game.


Observations on drafting an apprentice in Ars Magica RPG

Hey there, firstly some disclosure – I’m a massive fan of the Ars Magica roleplaying game, so this post is a collected rant on a concept, not a broadside to the game. I didn’t write 400+ spells for a game I dislike, these comments come from the passion. There is also a sourcebook for dealing specifically with young characters and apprentices, which covers many of the issues in greater detail.

Making an early life character should be a little easier than crafting a wizard, because in theory the character has had less time in the setting and should not have the complexity and experience points of an older character. Generally it is too, but I find it has different problems. As a player I want t be able to try many different solutions to story challenges, and skills are a hurdle to many solutions.

There is little skill depth for very young Ars Magica characters. I say this as the early life XP only allows for a few skills at a moderate level, and no skills at high numbers. Now while that makes sense, it still seems that younger people might need slightly more breadth in skills coverage than allowed in the rules if they are to conduct themselves as leads in longer stories. or a more forgiving set of challenges in play.

For example – a character who is around 10-12 years old and knows two languages reasonably well has almost no remaining skill points to spend on other skills. It seems incorrect. It appears that the skill abstraction which works for seasoned characters does not feel right in youth.

It is actually also a problem in later life characters too, in that the skills/XP/purchase scale hash does not allow for a wide variety of skills without being very limiting to the character also being good at one thing. A new wizard for example can have a few skills at reasonable level (which is needed) and very little else. Building a great all-rounder is nigh on impossible without using a lot of Virtues. This is doubly problematic in Ars as it is a game where strong specialisation is preferable (Finesse, Arts, Combat, etc). Virtues and Flaws can help to some degree to cover a generalist, however not at all in many cases.

So what do we as players do?

  1. Well primarily we set the group expectation to recognise the limitations and encourage stories (and story-guides) to not push boundaries where a young character would be unduly challenged.
  2. Scale the challenges to the characters. I know that is very often a given in Ars Magica but it is not always the case. Difficulty numbers for target rolls can be set to ranges where the characters will fail, which runs into why the role was needed or expected in the fist place.
  3. An apprentice story should be designed so that the outcomes are not dependant on successful skill resolution.
  4. Expect to fail, and embrace how the event plays out in the story.
  5. Haggle the group for temporary skills – a few more xp in character generation, even if those skills will later be “forgotten”. “When I was young I went fishing a bit, but I’ve forgotten all of it over the years”.

Happy gaming.

Necromancy spells, part 10

I couldn’t resist adding more spells involving physical necromancy. This post started as one spell specifically to assist a magus clean up a skeleton, and came about due to a story thread where the players need to find a skeleton to use in an enchanted device. Obviously the characters could create the skeletons they need, however skeletons in Mythic Europe can’t be impossible to find.

In Ars Magica there is more than one way to skin a cat:

Extirpate Dead Flesh Through Attrition 

Perdo Corpus 15, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Part

This spell destroys everything in the targeted human corpse except the skeleton.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +1 Part)

Extirpate Dead Flesh Through Butchery

Rego Corpus 4, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This spell performs the work of striping the flesh away from a human corpse, leaving only the skeleton. The stripped materials are placed aside according to the caster’s desires; often into a container for disposal. A Finesse check vs 9+ is required to properly perform the work properly, and a botch may ruin the bones beneath.

(Base 3, +1 Touch)

Separation of Gore by Texture and Type

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

This spell separates corpus material according to the casters desire, such as all bones from flesh, all blood from other materials, etc. The spell affects up to a standard amount of dead corpus material (size +1 human).

(Base 4, +1 Touch, +2 Group)

Extirpate Dead Flesh Through Vermin

Creo Animal 30, R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Group

This spell creates hundreds of thousands of tiny insects of a type which consume the flesh of any dead animal, plant, or human remains they find. Insects (typically beetles) will scavenge to find whatever food they can and will disappear if they move outside the ring.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +2 Ring, +2 Group)

Similar spells are needed to directly affect animal corpses.

Extirpate Dead Beasts Through Butchery

Rego Animal 2, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This spell performs the work of striping the flesh away from an animal corpse, leaving only the skeleton. The stripped materials are placed aside according to the caster’s desires; often into a container for disposal. A Finesse check vs 9+ is required to properly perform the work properly, and a botch may ruin the bones beneath.

(Base 1, +1 Touch)

Extirpate Dead Beasts Through Attrition 

Perdo Animal 10, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Part

This spell destroys everything in the targeted animal corpse except the skeleton.

(Base 4, +1 Touch, +1 Part)

These and many more new and creepy spells for Ars Magica in my grimoire of spells, and several other pages of Necromancy themed spells (parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine), and a “Zharkune” a sample Magus Necromancer.

Bjornaer mystery spells

One of the most intriguing and rarely used style of spell in the Ars Magica RPG are those introduced as Sensory Magic (from Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults, p.27-31). The source book contains very apt example spells however custom spells are rare. An exception is the book Through the Aegis, which has four Sensory Magic spells, relating to a lion heartbeast.

Until very recently I didn’t understand how they might be used (now a little more so).

The Sensory Magic (SM) mechanics allow the magus to target people who perceive them in one way or another instead of the Magus perceiving the target. SM must deliver the magical effect via a sense, and it has both very specific limitations around the magic being linked to the bestial style of the magus, and the style of effects possible. A major limitation is SM spell effects may not be placed in enchanted devices.

Being a House Bjornaer mystery virtue also means that any SM spells are likely to be only known by a sub-set of House Bjornaer; which again limits their adoption by players.

E.g. A spell based upon a peacock’s beautiful plume which is cast by the Bjornaer upon themselves might allow them to seduce or impress those who see them. The presence of a peacock is used as the basis for the glamour, as relates thematically to the effect, and also reflects the spells delivery.

Wonderfully specific uses, and dangerously powerful as the spells do not need to be recast when the targeted creatures around them change – as it is by their presence that the magic may affect them.

Evasion of the Alley Cat

Rego Corpus / Animal 5, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Texture, Sensory Magic

Those who touch the caster or their personal items find their hand, limb, or mouth uncontrollable. This grants the caster a significant bonus to resisting grappling or constriction attacks, and grabbing the caster is all but impossible. The spell is designed to affect beast and people alike.

(Base 2 – to loose control of a body part, +1 Diameter, +1 Texture, +1 Animal)

Flavour of the Dripping Toad

Creo Mentem / Animal 10, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Flavor, Sensory Magic

Those who taste the caster or their personal items are rendered confused, unable to take clear action for the duration of the spell. This spell is designed to affect beast and people alike.

(Base 4, +1 Diameter, +0 Flavor, +1 Animal)

Lilt of the Gentle Songbird

Creo Mentem 15, R: Personal, D: Momentary, T: Sound, Sensory Magic

Those who hear the caster’s voice are sent to sleep.

(Base 4, +3 Sound)

Revulsion of the Pungent Skunk

Rego Corpus 20, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Scent, Sensory Magic

Those who smell the caster or their personal items are find themselves struck with vomiting and ill-health, and may recover only after purging their bodies.

(Base 5 – to invoke vomiting, +1 Diameter, +2 Scent)

Poise of the Magnificent Peacock

Creo Mentem 35, R: Personal, D: Sun, T: Spectacle, Sensory Magic

Anyone who sees the caster will be more inclined to be attracted and impressed by their manner, dress, and poise. This greatly influences reactions in suitable scenarios by granting a +3-6 bonus to the caster for suitable rolls.

(Base 5, +2 Sun, +4 Spectacle)

These spells are part of the free new spells compendium for Ars Magica.