Fantasy Runeblade built for Ars Magica

“The runeblade is an extension of your being. A death knight cannot battle without a runeblade.”

– Instructor Razuvious

Q. What would a runeblade be like if made using Ars Magica mechanics?

A. Incredibly nasty, especially if used against mundanes. As an-ex Wow’er this post has been a long time coming and I’ve enjoyed throwing all sorts of power descriptions below, and seeing which ones suit it best. For the purposes of this post the powers have been created using the Hermetic magic rules, while in-game an infernal equivalent is very reasonable. WoW and Ars Magica deal with

Runeblades are usually swords inscribed with magical or demonic runes that grant certain powers to the wielder. All high-ranking death knights wield their own personal, named runeblade, called vampiric runeblades. However, runeblades are not unique to the Scourge. Although Frostmourne was undoubtedly the most prominent runeblade in existence, there are quite a few additional ones.

– Wowikia

In game mechanically there is a magic resistance (MR) consideration for the invested powers which alter the runeblades but to not affect anyone hit with it; normally these would also be resisted by MR which in turn mean the weapon would be useless against any creature or person with MR. In my opinion and frequent house-rule is the non-material powers do not get stopped by MR. Likewise a power can be resisted and the physical sword blade can still hurt the opponent. The supernatural effect is resisted, but the steel is not. This is so that magical weapons do not need to be over engineered for the game and interactions with MR are simpler. YSMV.

Some sample powers might be:

Arcane Link – 1x pawn vis, as the runeblade is a fixed arcane connection to the owner.

Cause Fatigue – PeIg 38, (Base 4, +1 Touch, +1 Animal targets, +5 for 24 uses per day, +20 for Penetration +40, +3 specific owner only), if being held by the owner the next creature struck suffers a Fatigue level of exhaustion.

Dance and Float – ReTe28, (Base 4, +1 Concentration, +2 extra strength to stay in place, +5 device maintains concentration, +5 for 24 uses per day, +3 specific owner only), the sword may be commanded to float and dance in place, and cannot be moved by anyone else.

Dark Whispers – CrMe 43, (Base 3, +4 Arcane, +3 Moon, +5 for 24 uses per day, +5 for +10 penetration, +3 cannot affect owner), after touching blood the sword will whisper to the target who hears an eerie and disturbing voice in their mind speaking of their downfall or death.

Destruction of Men and Beasts – PeCo45, (Base 15, +1 Touch, +1 Animal targets, +10 unlimited uses, +10 for Penetration +20, +3 cannot affect the owner), inflicts a heavy wound on any human touched by the blade. This power may be resisted by powerful opponents, however it is designed to be devistating to lesser creatures.

Encase in Ice – CrAq30, (Base 3, +1 Touch, +1 Diameter, +5 for 24 uses per day, +17 for Penetration +34, +3 specific owner only), the next target touched with the blade is encased in ice, likely stopping all movement and soon to suffocate. Creature up to size +1 can be encased.

Eerie Light – CrIg17, (Base 3, +14 Constant effect), the blade always glows with an eerie blue and white light akin to torchlight.

Indestructible – MuTe24, (Base 4, +2 metal, +14 Constant effect), the blade is all but indestructible.

Wracking Pain – PeCo40, (Base 4, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +3 specific user not affected, +10 unlimited uses, +17 for +34 Penetration), if touched by anyone except the owner the power inflicts pain upon them until the next sunrise or sunset.

A Mass Teleportation spell

Getting a large volume of stuff from one place to another is tricky in Ars Magica, well tricky unless your group of wayward wizards has access to some darn heavy duty transportation magic.

This spell is an example of a powerful spell which might be used to teleport all sorts of items, animal herds, or people to or from the covenant. The use of the Target: Circle allows for larger volumes of mixed products to be sent, rather than individuals effects.

Mass Arcane Teleportation

Rego Animal Aquam Corpus Herbam Terram 40, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Circle

Teleport the contents of the circle to the place of the AC.

(Base 35, +1 Touch, +0 Circle)

In the saga our wizards have raised a new island far off the western coast of Spain and getting materials to and from the island is tougher than I first thought it would be. This spell assists that purpose.

Along with the spell itself a magical item with the same effect would be handy. This might allow non-wizards to assist with the coordination of moving gear around. I also think that creating a circle via a spell might be handy too, or having designated points marked with circles as way-points for transfer. They could be designed to be ten to fifteen paces in diameter, allowing for a large volume of material to be transferred at once.

Circle’s Keystone (ReAnAqCoHeTe50)  – a large grey stone tile invested with as the Mass Arcane Teleportation spell above, altered for unlimited uses per day. The stone is set touching the rim of the circle to be targeted, the arcane connection is set in a small depression atop the stone, and then a command phrase is spoken to activate. In this way the stone is reusable at multiple sites.

This and many other new spells for Ars Magica can be found in the grimoire page.

A simple enchanted device – Daylight Lantern

The Daylight Lantern is a simple magic item which mimics the abilities of a standard lantern, created as a lesser enchanted device for an Ars Magica covenant.

Now assuming that the creator of this didn’t want to take the easy way out, and just use a Circle spell to make an indefinite small light – I’d almost always opt for the simple ring/circle spell.

Daylight Lantern – a lantern crafted from steel, inset with a ceramic core. The lantern may be turned on and off by command word, and also by turning the lid clockwise and counter-clockwise. It provides a bright soft light equivalent to daylight which shines all around.

Shine as the Day – CrIg 18 (Base 4 for light of a cloudy day, +1 Touch, +1 Conc), 6 uses per day +3, device maintains concentration +5.

Created with Shape and Material bonus of a lamp (+7 to produce light). If being reproduced from a labtext the lantern could be created by junior wizards or perhaps an apprentice. 

A spell and item for a Gentle School or Flock of Animals

The intent of this spell is to allow manipulation of a large group of animals as a herd of cows or a school of fish will often exceed a normal group of 10. It is a useful spell for calming raging beasts or monsters if the effect can penetrate their magical resistance.

The Gentle School

Rego Animal 30, R: Voice, D: Concentration, T: Group

Targeted animals are rendered placid and docile even during unusual or violent circumstances. Up to 10 size +4 animals may be affected by each casting; potentially allowing for a great many smaller animals to be affected.

(Base 4, 2 Voice, +1 Conc, +2 Group, +1 beast size to +4)

Based upon The Gentle Herd, from Covenants page 51.

Shepherd’s Crook (Enchanted device – ReAn 40)

This crook is a simple twisted wooden staff with a knobbly protruding head. It has been enchanted as a lesser device with the spell The Gentle School (ReAn30, above), and further altered as to Maintains Concentration, and allow a few uses per day.

This is be set as an overall 10 increase in level; as +5 to maintain concentration, +2 for five uses per day, and +3 to allow a penetration score of 6 which should affect many simple magical creatures.

If purchased at build time for a covenant it has a purchase price as a spell lab text of 7 BPs. This and over 470 other new spells for Ars Magica can be found here.

An odd spell to Craft Invisible Illusions

Yep, you read that right. The idea is to create an illusion which is normally not able to be perceived by a human, and then a second spell which then allows the wizard to perceive the special effect. Such as an illusion using ultrasonic sound or ultraviolet light and the caster has a second spell which detects them.

Why? Well I was thinking about how an Ars Magica Magus might create their own heads-up system, or mark allies before battle, or a way to tag people they meet as significant. This way their tags are not readily readable by everyone, and the target need not know. Alternatively the illusion might almost match the true image of the target, which is then highlighted by a special Intellego spell.

The complexity in building a HUD is effect duration and memory. Effect duration can be solved by investing the effect into an enchanted device, which then maintains concentration and can be enhanced with greater penetration. Memory cannot, and this is why the spell creates a marker on the target so they can see the detail.

As a stand alone spell, intended to be used over a longer time period.

Paint with Invisible Brushstrokes

Creo Imagonem / Muto 20, R: Voice, D: Moon, T: Individual

This spell creates a simple visual illusion using tailored species which are not normally perceivable by humans.

(Base 1 to create a visual illusion, +2 Voice, +3 Moon, +1 moves with the target, +1 for complexity)

Paint with Invisible Sigils

Creo Imagonem / Muto 20, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Group

This spell creates a simple visual illusion upon all members of the group touched, using tailored species which are not normally perceivable by humans. The sigil is is a simple coloured marking, up to a pace in any direction. The intent is to mark allied companions and soldiers before battle which allows them to be easily differentiated, but it may also be used to mark any group.

(Base 1 to create a visual illusion, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +1 moves with the target, +1 for complexity, +2 Group)

Then the spell to perceive the typically invisible illusions.

Perceive the Brushstrokes of Invisible Paint

Intellego Imagonem 15, R: Personal, D: Concentration, T: Vision

Allows the caster to perceive any normally invisible illusion or “brushstrokes” created with the associated spell.

(Base 1, +1 Concentration, +4 Vision, +1 for complexity)

Ref: A discussion thread on the topic in the official Ars Magica forums. This and other spells can be found in the Grimoire of New Spells for Ars Magica.

A few Cloud spells

“When the clouds above the covenant shape themselves into my sigil it is time to strike as the mundane guards will have been subdued.”

While drafting one spell to shape distant clouds a few more came to mind. The shaping spell might be used as a visual call to action which can be seen across a very wide area.

Conjure a Simple Cloud

Creo Auram 15, R: Sight, D: Sun, T: Individual

A cloud gathers high in the air, which will persist for the Spells duration reacting normally to the surrounding weather conditions.

(Base 2, +3 Sight, +2 Sun)

Theatrical Cloak of Black Tendrils

Creo Auram 25, R: Voice, D: Concentration, T: Group

Creates a voluminous and dark cloud of smoke which is filled with intertwining wisps and tendrils that surrounds the caster as they move. The cloud obscures all visibility within its core and then thins toward its edges; forming an opaque radius of 15 paces around the caster and thinning over 25 more paces.

(Base 3, +2 Voice, +1 Concentration, +2 Group, +1 unnatural locale)

An alternate for Rain of Stones (Ars p.127) which uses an acid instead of transformation to stone, with the General guideline for acidic air.

Rain of Viscous Acid

Muto Auram 20, R: Voice, D: Sun, T: Individual

Turns rain into a oily acid as it falls, causing +4 damage per round when it strikes an object or person. Continued exposure will cause significant damage.

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

Cloudy Imaginings

Rego Auram 20, R: Sight, D: Concentration, T: Part

A selected cloud mass is reshaped to suit the designs of the caster, such as animal shapes, letters, or three dimensional faces. The shape can be slowly changed but will disburse as normal when the spell expires. A simple Finesse check vs 3 is required.

(Base 2, +3 Sight, +1 Concentration, +1 Part, +1 complexity in shape)

This and over 584 other new spells for Ars Magica can be found on the spells page.

A frozen castle, but not in a cartoony way

In Ars Magica a fire might not be considered magical (and therefore resisted by magic resistance) if it does not have fuel. Although it’s circumstantial, once an item is set on fire it may burn normally and harm everyone just like abnormal fire. A spell I wrote a little while ago to burn a castle (Immolation of Harrenhal) plays with this demonstrating how dangerous an entire building might be to both magical and mundane inhabitants. Once it is burning naturally the environment is deadly.

So the same is perhaps true of freezing things. Trapping a foe in a freezing chamber that they cannot escape from will chill, fatigue and maybe incapacitate them as long as it stays cold enough.

Freezing of Harrenhal

Perdo Ignem 35, R: Touch, D: Concentration, T: Structure

This spell cools an entire structure, or a sub-part chosen by the caster, and everything within it to below freezing, which creates a dangerous environment for the inhabitants and materials. All items inside will be affected either by the initial freezing or the remaining chilling temperatures which likely continue after the spell expires. Whilst active the spell inflicts +5 cold damage per round.

(Base 5 to freeze water, +1 Touch, +1 Concentration, +3 Structure, +1 Part flexibility)

These and others effects I’ve pondered over the past few years are part of the new spells grimoire for Ars Magica.