A spell for a warrior wizard

Mentioned in a blog post, a reworking of cannon spell Assume the Stature of the Giants of El Cid (MuCo10, MoH, p.49).

Assume the Stature of the Titans of Rome

Muto Corpus 15, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Individual

Caster’s body and equipment is increased to +6 size. At size +6 humanoid is truly massive, approx 100 times the weight of a normal human. At Size +6, the caster’s wounds have 11-point increments.

(Base 3, +1 Diam, +2 size, +1 to increase equipment as well)

a war

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A Giant Precedent, spell discussion for Magus Morat

Morat is a combat oriented Magus for a play-by post-game who is deliberately gruff and also highly focused on physical mundane combat.

Designing Morat for the game was simple as Ars Magica has many spells which enhance combat abilities on one way or another. There were too many good options so I picked a few stable spells (Edge of the Razor, Endurance of the Berserkir) and hunted one or two from outside the base rulebook.

One stood out in particular : Assume the Stature of the Giants of El Cid (MoH p.49, MuCo15). This is a spell which increases the size of the caster and also increases their gear and equipment.

I think this spell might be controversial because:

  1. it explicitly allows the caster’s personal items and combative equipment to be enlarged at the same time as the caster, using a +1 magnitude increase. With no mention of how many items.
  2. It does so also without any consideration to how complex or detailed the items are.
  3. The spell makes no mention of casting requirements, and clearly the intent is to change weapons and armour.
  • This sets a precedent for a small magnitude increase to do this in other spells, which is significantly different from what I expected. I’m happy as it’s now canon that this can occur, however I thought it would be harder.
  • This +1 mag for gear adds legitimacy (in my humble opinion) to adding sub effects in Muto transformation spells, and also to making other hybrid Muto spells slightly easier.

    If this wasn’t presented I would have argued that the increase should have been more like +2 and included a note in the spell text to force casting time requisites. Why?

    Well basically these points, however these are a very pessimistic view of spell complexity:

    • It affects multiple items the caster is carrying, perhaps it should have been +2 Group?
    • It affects clothes which are arguably free, but also weapons and arms, which are not.
    • It affects steel, cloth, leather and all manner of other Forms. Perhaps +1-2?

    As a counter in support of the plain +1 increase there is the notion of a small sub-effect in a spell adding a magnitude, and a large spell adding a +2.

    In this case enlarging several worm items as a separate spell would:

    • Still be a Muto spell,
    • Perhaps would be using a higher Base from Terram instead of Corpus,
    • Might be argued as a generic size increasing spell, which we can see in other spells.

    So what is the conclusion? Ars Magica is darn interesting and play what makes you happy, is balanced, and tells a good story.

    Personally I love the fact that this spell exists and it allows the Magus to be closer to mythical. On balance I’m a supporter but I can see the wider issues this introduces.

    The spell when taken by Morat was boosted in effect to increase the size of the caster by a further magnitude, which I renamed to Assume the Stature of the Titans of Rome. So yeah, I took the El Cid spell and boosted it a little more – because at some point it breaks and just before that point is darn interesting.

    Happy role playing folks, enjoy your Ars Magica games.

    Giants vs Vikings

    Variations on supernatural creature might stripping spells

    I couldn’t find a room based Demon’s Eternal Oblivion (Ars Magica, p.160, Perdo Vim) so here are variants mixing supernatural realms, and demonstrating scaling up for Perdo Vim spells for rooms and big structures.

    Strike Against the Undesirable Faerie

    Perdo Vim General, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual

    Reduces the Faerie Might of the creature touched by (Level of this spell +5), as long as the spell penetrates each creatures magical resistance.

    (Base Gen, +1 Touch)

    This effect could (arguably) be learnt at PeVi1 and still inflict +6 Might damage. This also shows that there are ways to help penetrate against powerful supernatural creatures when each dice roll counts; and could also be invested in a device to gain additional penetration – particularly a weapon with an “on-strike” trigger.

    Excise the Unwelcome Magical Guests

    Perdo Vim General, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Room

    Reduces the Magical Might of all suitable creatures inside the affected chamber by (Level of this spell -5), as long as the spell penetrates each creatures magical resistance.

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

    Scaling means that this spell taken at PeVi5 has no effect, however at level 10 the spell will still inflict 5 points of night and may also identify creatures affected by they spell as they react. It’s a spell that probably is only spont cast by powerful wizards.

    Excise the Unwholesome Demonic Interlopers

    Perdo Vim General, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Structure

    Reduces the Infernal Might of all suitable creatures inside the affected structure by (Level of this spell -10), as long as the spell penetrates each creatures magical resistance.

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

    Ward against arrows, spells against Archers

    The spell Shriek of Impending Shafts (Ars Magica p.136, InHe15) is a darn effective defense spell against wooden missiles. However it does not really neutralise the threat of an archer against others. So here are two approaches to better deal with archers.

    Malevolent Gift of Roses

    Muto Herbam 25, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Group

    All items with wooden parts on the target are changed to roses. The spell is intended to be cast upon an enemy archer or soldier however it may also be used on any valid Group target.

    (Base 3 to make one Herbam product into another, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter, +2 Group, +1 sub-parts of complex items)

    The spell could also be used to ruin any item or thing which has wooden parts. Ladders, carts, and so on.

    In the spell design I’ve opted to pay an extra magnitude to be able to affect the wood in component items, to affect a Group, and to do so for a fair duration in most fights – that is potentially overkill. The intent is to make the archer all but useless, and will probably make many parts of soldiers, workmen, and many other targets equally frustrated.

    It would also be useful if scaled up for really large groups, however as it stands will affect a group of people in a fighting formation too as they form a valid target group. The limitation of this approach for arrows is that it is not plausible to affect all foes as there may be many of them and not in a group.

    Ward Against Staves and Arrows

    Rego Herbam 20, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Individual

    Caster is protected against wooden weapons and missiles, which may not touch the caster.

    (Base 15, +1 Diameter)

    The ward could be changed to be R:Touch or an extended duration D:Sun for safety while travelling. These spells are part of the free new spells compendium for Ars Magica.

    Clarification on the stats when Changing Creature Sizes in Ars Magica

    Many spells change the size of a person or creature, or creatures have their size altered to suit the story needs of an Ars Magica saga. I’ve been asked several times about changing size in the last month (mostly because my blog post on gigantism had an error) so here is what I’ve sussed about it. Broadly speaking the spell mechanics are variable, so please see your story-guide.

    • Each +1 mag in spell design will add 3 size levels (note some spells sampled from the core books seem to use +2 levels instead, but there has been much discussion and the fair middle ground seems to be +3 per mag).
    • Each +1 mag in spell design will reduce size by 6 levels (again variable by books, some spells seem to be able to reduce by a far greater amount than increase, I think that is primarily because once a creature is smaller than size -4 they have such low wound levels than it is almost moot).
    • Each +1 Size = +2 Strength, -1 Quickness, +1 point in the wound level damage ranges (see HoH:MC p. 39).

    That means changing a soldier from normal (size +0) size to size +2 adds 4 strength, subtracts 2 quickness, and alters their first “light wound” damage range to 1-7 points instead of 1-5. That might not sound like much of a change but it makes the soldier far more offensively oriented. Slower, harder to kill, and able to inflict more damage.

    This is also why reducing an opponent down to -3 or smaller is very effective, it might make them quicker but they have radically reduced wound levels for penalties, which is savage in a prolonged battle.

    There is also a point at which the difference between the attacker and defender becomes so extreme that the defender really shouldn’t be able to “parry” to defend.

    A rationale is: A mouse can avoid the boot of a man easily due to speed, but if the man successfully steps on it, then it really should be dead, or mostly dead.

    So how big does your shield grog need to be to just squish opponents? Well I’m not sure. The size increases are meant to be 10x larger per 3 size ranks, but there is not a formula that shows how tall a person is per rank (a project for a rainy day?). Size 0 human vs a size 10 dragon seems altogether a massive challenge.

    a giant fighting several folk, couldn't find the owner/artist - pretty good though eh?

    Wizard’s Auger, with an example of spell penetration

    Sharing several similar effects demonstrating how Muto Vim might raise the penetration score of another spell. The most likely use is a caster to alter their own spells, as demonstrated in a similar enchanted effect in a magical axe in Magi of Hermes, p.51, which uses Range: Touch. To cast upon another Magi’s spells cooperatively R: Voice is required.

    These spells demonstrate an interesting potential for Magi with high scores in Muto Vim; they may be able to spontaneously alter another lower level spell for which they have poor art scores to increase its penetration.

    Example scenario – the junior Magus Argento needs to cast a sleep spell on a troublesome faerie soldier.

    Argento has very strong Muto and Vim arts, and while she has learnt “The Call to Slumber” (ReMe10, Ars p.151) and cast cast it easily under normal circumstances against foes without magical resistance, she believes she will not have a high enough casting total or penetration to put the faerie to sleep due to her low Rego and Mentem arts.

    Argento stats: Int 2, Stm 2, Muto 12, Rego 6, Mentem 4, Vim 11, Penetration 0, which means The Call to Slumber (CtS) has a CT of 10+roll, and a spont spell has a CT of 22+ before dividing.

    Fearie Soldier has a Might score of 10. So Argento needs an effective CT+Pen of 21+ to put the fae to sleep.

    Argento might try to roll 12+ roll vs the Fae’s Might of 10, however unless Argento is lucky and gets 9 or over on her roll, she will not succeed. This is because the Fae’s might will require a penetration result of 11 or higher more than the spell’s level to be successful.

    Argento needs to choose to either repeatedly cast Call to Slumber at the faerie and hope that she rolls 9 or higher on the dice roll, or she can opt to boost her penetration using the style of spell below, with the the knowledge that each casting will cost her a spontaneous fatigue level. Note that if Argento learns Wizard’s Auger or Wizard’s Awl (below) formulaically, she can boost many of her low level spells easily, giving her better penetration – if she had, the poor fay would be asleep in the first round. This does not add any more than +5 to +10 penetration to a spell, but that little extra is sometimes all that is needed.

    Argento chooses to first cast a spontaneous version of Wizard’s Auger as a MuVi10 spell, for which she has a casting total of 25+ roll before halving the result by spending a fatigue level. Unless she botches she will succeed, and this raises the penetration of the next spell by +5.

    She then casts her Call to Slumber as normal, and while she still has a CT of 12+, her final penetration for the spell is now CT+Pen of 17 + dice roll, making it far more likely that she could put the annoying fae to sleep. She only need a 4 or more on the d10 roll.

    In this scenario yelling with powerful gestures also helps both styles of approach, it makes the casting without a MuVi spell far more likely, however it makes the solution with a MuVi spell almost a certainty (botches, twilight, etc).

    Learned formulaically these spells add a lot of utility without requiring significant additional power or lab level. A Muto expert could also spont cast their own versions easily, and also might help their troupe if they cooperate with other Magi. Continue reading

    A worked example of Break The Shield

    Aside

    I wrote up a short example of how the PeVi spell Break The Shield works against Parma Magica in a forum thread. It’s not my favourite spell in the raw (see grumble below), but it is legitimate in the rules so knowing how to play it out is handy.

    A quick example of Break the Shield (a.k.a BtS, published in Hermetic Projects, p.85) in use by two magi against each other might be:

    Magus Alphar (BtS PeVi15, Pe5, Vi5, Stm3, Pen 0, Parma 2) vs. Magus Betar (BtS PeVi15, Pe10, Vi12, Stm3, Pen 0, Parma 1)

    • Due to the randomness of initiative Alphar casts BtS against his opponent Betar first,
    • Alphar’s BtS PeVi15, CT is 13+roll. He scores CT:20, which is Level 15 with +5 Pen.
    • Betar’s MR is equal to Parma (1*5) + Vim 12 = 17. This means the spell fails to penetrate. There is no need to roll the Level + dice to cancel the spell.
    • Betar returns the same BtS PeVi15 spell, with CT is 25+roll. She scores CT:32, which is Level 15 with +17 Pen
    • Alphar’s MR is equal to Parma (2*5) + Vim 5 = 15. This means that Betar’s spell has penetrated successfully, so now the test of (spell level + roll)/5 vs PM score must be checked.
    • Betar rolls Level 15 +roll, gets a total of 19. This total divided by 5 exceeds is  3.8, which is higher than Alphar’s Parma Magica score of 2, so down goes his Parma Magica.
    • the next round might be ugly for Alphar…

    This demonstrates why low level PeVi spells are handy against supernatural creatures i might stripping, and also why having several Break the Shield Spells might be useful, or investing in mastery and penetration is important for BtS.

    Aside – My grumble about Break the Shield is that it reduces the influence of Parma Magica in the game setting, which in turn was a major justification for the successful formation of the Order of Hermes.

    If BtS was available then why was PM a successful bargaining point. Having BtS in the game also creates an escalation in PM stripping spells as an opening volley. The first magus specialises in stripping parma and then proceeds to decimate the target. Every Magus beyond their mid years should learn the spell and master it using the defense mastery so that they can try to resist it.