As the hail of steel rained down upon the hillside the shrieks of war peaked and drained away to whimpers. The hill was now empty of moving figures where seconds before they swarmed viciously upon each other. A lone grey-hooded woman picked her way down the hillside, stepping through the haphazard remains soldiers and weapons. She walked with purpose toward a clutch of armoured figures collapsed together on the ground.
In their centre a similarly robed old man half reclined with a spear through his midsection and open cuts peppered across his body. Blood pooled around him, soaking the earth beneath.
“Neutral you said. Neutral” he gurgled.
“Your sworn-men came for me yesterday assisted by magic. You broke our peace,” she replied sharply. “This is the outcome,” gesturing to the ring of dead soldiers around him, and the carnage beyond.
The old man’s pain permitted a half smile with sad eyes, but he couldn’t laugh.”Let’s be done then,” he groaned, looking through her and away down the hill.
The young woman bent to her knee and reached to touch her opponent with a final gesture. She drew a deep breath as her other arm began moving in inelegant gestures, their tempo different to her gobbledygook words. A moment later the old man also rasped a quick phrases of his own, one hand forming a bridge on his chest, the other touching her. He thumped his other hand to the ground. The woman screamed in surprise and frustration, her spell gone awry. His perfectly.
The old man looked on as her conjured array of short steel spines instantly surrounded her and struck home across all quarters of her body. Her body ruined with holes sunk sideways to the ground as the spines disappeared. Lifeless.
The old man smiled again and exhaled hard. A shimmer washed him head to foot as his illusion dissipated, his skin and clothes actually unmarried; except for the long spear which still sunk deep into his side and the ground behind. He reached out for her body once and missed with a grimace of pain, then again successfully touching the woman’s body which dissipated into dust.
Looking across the field he knew he had a long evening ahead to remove all the evidence of their battle.
In the blurb above the wounded Magus uses a Muto Vim spell to retarget the spell on another – changing the range to Personal. I took a license with the concept just to have a story introduction to meta-magic post.
A fair and reasonable game balance rule in Ars Magica is for a MuVi spell to not be able to affect a Spont spell, which is why in the story blurb above the young woman casts her spell longer than the old man – hers is a formulaic spell, and his a spontaneous one. In Ars Magica’s RAW her spell could only be formulaic as spontaneous effects can’t be altered.
In-game it’s dangerous, “too chaotic and the caster will loose control“. Out-of-game the limitation is there so that Spont magic does not get trivialised (boosted, sustained, or empowered) by assistance from a Muto Vim expert.
There is also an out-of-game consideration that altering a spontaneous spell with Muto Vim is terribly inefficient way to scale up a spontaneous spell, unless the caster of the MuVi is a specialist and also cooperating with the other caster.
However in-game what if it was allowed via a breakthrough? If we take the spell guidelines as written what would happen when a Magus starts working on a magical breakthrough to find a Muto Vim discovery for spontaneous magic?
- The SG might say the breakthrough theme just isn’t going to work, which is totally reasonable.
- It might not work as intended but be a great story thread for the game; as it’s a great theme for an NPC wizard in Ars Magica.
- Or perhaps it allows a MuVi based chaos effect which deliberately hooks into the randomness of Spontaneous magic. Similar to deliberately ruining a magical experiment to see what happens, it ruins both spells.
- Or an additional rule-set is created for Muto Vim in these circumstances? And/Or it’s allowed but the penalties for botching are horrific?
- Or allow it. Yes, it took the wizard some 30+ in-game years to develop, but they’ve cracked part of the Hermetic puzzle. It’s a huge thing for game balance, but has legs for high powered sagas.
- Perhaps this is what all the House Diedne brouhaha was about?
- Perhaps the breakthrough does not allow Muto Vim to alter the target spell in a predictable way, but does force the Spont spell to be chaotic – it might have an effect which is undesirable for both the caster of the Spont and the caster of the suCcessful MuVi effect?
The inspiration for this came from the Ars Magica forums, this was part of it:
Let’s pull at this meta magic thread; the reason that MuVi won’t work on Spont is that it’s (paraphrasing) “too chaotic and the caster will loose control” Ars p.159.
But that’s what my (next) Vim specialist wants. He doesn’t care what happens to the spell, only that it introduces chaos and the more the merrier. “Some men just want to see the magic world burn“.
If used as a mastered defensive spell being fast cast against another hostile wizard, it might be worth the risk…
As I write this it feels risky. both have been written as Major hermetic virtues as these virtues should be introduced in a special way – an extended discovery, some research, the power of a not-quite Hermetic wizard…
Spontaneous Meta-Magic Insight (Major Hermetic Virtue)
The Magus may cooperate with another to target their spontaneous spells with Muto Vim effects of their own (both formulaic and spontaneous), however the result may not be with the Magi’s control.
If a cooperative casting of a MuVi effect is successful (meaning all the normal fast-cast and penetration checks are successful), then a pseudo-twilight control check is performed by the caster of this spell, with a penalty equal to the magnitude of the spell being modified.
A positive result indicates that the targeted spell is altered as desired, as the caster has successfully altered and controlled the chaotic nature of spontaneous magic. A negative result indicates the caster of this spell has not been able to successfully control the change to the targeted spell and it is now misshapen. In either case an additional botch die is added for each magnitude of the targeted spell, which may in turn trigger an additional real twilight event.
Spontaneous Meta-Magic Mastery (Major Hermetic Virtue).
The Magus has developed an expertise with meta-magic which allows them to target Hermetic Spontaneous spells with Muto Vim magic in the same way as Formulaic magic. The virtue Spontaneous Meta-Magic Insight (above) is a prerequisite.
Each targeted spell can only be affected by one MuVi spell from each caster, casting in this manner is always considered stressful, and an additional botch die is added for each magnitude of the target spell. Further these additional botch dice cannot be mitigated by any sources such as Mastery, other virtues, or a familiar bond. This is one of the prices for manipulating chaotic magic.