MuVi spells to change the spell recipient (3 of 3)

Continued from Wizard’s Misdirection to Return Home and Wizard’s Misdirection to Receive Blessings, a variation to pass a spell to a target touched.

Wizard’s Misdirection to My Friend

Muto Vim General, R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This spell changes the intended target of another spell, to target a person the caster of this spell is touching. If the new target is invalid then this spell has no effect. This spell must be one magnitude higher than the spell to be altered.

(Base Gen for a significant change, +2 Voice)

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MuVi spells to change the spell recipient (2 of 3)

Continued from Wizard’s Misdirection to Return Home, a variation to force the spell to affect the caster of this MuVi spell.

Wizard’s Misdirection to Receive Blessings

Muto Vim General, R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This spell changes the intended target of another spell, to target the caster of this spell. If the new target is invalid then this spell has no effect. This spell must be one magnitude higher than the spell to be altered.

(Base Gen for a significant change, +2 Voice)

 

MuVi spells to change the spell recipient (1 of 3)

I’m pondering the chaos of Muto Vim spells again, and all sorts of silly stuff is fluttering by my mind’s eye. As MuVi effect must have a very specific intent and effect, I’ve written three variants on the theme for changing the intended specific target, but not the Hermetic Target type. I did especially so that the three variants are (hopefully) clearly written and ready to use. Although doubtful, it is possible for a Vim specialist to cast these effects spontaneously instead of fast-cast-formulaic, to affect another magi’s casting so a quick reference is handy.

Wizard’s Misdirection to Return Home

Muto Vim General, R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This spell changes the intended target of another spell, to target the caster of that other spell. If the new target is invalid then this spell has no effect. This spell must be one magnitude higher than the spell to be altered.

(Base Gen for a significant change, +2 Voice)

Wizard’s Obstinance, a Muto Vim spell to Resist Disruption

I was thinking about the Ars Magica Vim, and the meta-magic spell effects in Rego, Muto, and primarily Perdo Vim, which suspend or dispel a magical effect. Generally speaking these effects must exceed the level of the target spell to affect them, and they are very effective in totally neutralising the target spell. Through clever design there are also Rego Vim spells which remove magic for their duration in a target area, or suspend it (see Wind of Mundane Silence, p161 and Suppressing the Wizard’s Handiwork, p162).

So a trisky magus might design a Muto Vim effect which is cast along side another effect to strengthens the spell against such disruptions, but does not alter the target spell’s effect description, or range, duration, or target. The effect is cast as normal, and the additional Muto Vim spell raises the base level of the effect for the purposes of being suspended or dispelled by other spells.

This effect would be similar to a Wizard’s Boost (Ars p.160), but with no material change of effect. Just like Wizard’s Boost there could be a different version for each form, and there also could be a less powerful more general spell for any Hermetic Form.

The rationale for Muto Vim spell guidelines are sometimes difficult to apply, as there is a tendency to say that almost all alterations to an effect are at least considered significant, and as degree of change in this effect adds two magnitudes, it must be considered a total change according to the MuVi guidelines.

The issue I struggled with was deciding if this effect needed to be designed as a Form specific effect, or if it could be a more general spell. I decided that the best choice was to closely match the Wizard’s Boost and Wizard’s Reach spells from the Muto Vim section of the core rules, which both add +5 levels in a specific manner at a base effect: level equal to the effect +1 mag.

In the design considerations I also looked at how the desired effect of “resisting disruption” might be handled mechanically in the game. These meta-magic spells have a similarity in design, where almost any of them could be used for this effect, and I see that as not meeting the goal of this effect. The extra +5 levels should do something of note.

The version of the spell designed for specific forms, designed as a basic effect:

Wizard’s Obstinance of (Form)

Muto Vim Gen, R: Touch, D: Mom, T: Ind

This spell is cast with another spell of a level less than the level of this one. The effective level of the other spell increases 5 levels in power, but not past the level of the Wizard’s Obstinance, and the altered spell is treated as being twice it’s new level for the purposes of resisting spells to alter it further, or dispel it.

A Wizard’s Obstinance may never affect a single spell more than once. There are ten variants of this spell, one for each Hermetic Form.

(Base effect of Significant change to a spell – at level +1, +1 Touch)

Refs and links:

Strange female wizard kid spell

Wizard Life Hack – Use casting tablets with your memory palace

A life hack for hermetic Magi with a few good virtues (source on Ars forums). In short – the idea is that a memory palace has a certain number of “rooms” which can contain a single document, and as a casting tablet is a single document – it can be memorised.
While I’ve no strong feelings on casting tablets, ever since I came up with the idea I’ve wanted to play a character with a personal vis source in mentem and the memory palace skill. the character would frequently use the Creo Mentem “add a room to your memory palace ritual” (I forgot the name) to memorize casting tablets thereby effectively learning (but not really learning) a whole mess of spells. – Erik Tyrrell

 

I love this. Its broken, but its great.

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.

Ars spells to assist with Navigation

Many wizards in the Ars Magica setting have powerful spells and clever tricks for making travel faster and a lot easier (and here are some other custom travel spell ideas too). For most in-play discussions the effects tend to be hand-waved as small effects, cast spontaneously, and the story moves on.  These effects are short discussions and samples to help fill the gap – to assist the traveler in either finding something or heading in the right direction.

An item or set of items with these effects might be more useful than learning the spell in earnest, mainly due to the low level, the benefit of the lab total in creating the effect in a single season, and the fact it grants a device with wonderful utility that could be used by grogs and companions.

Spells To Find Something

If a wizard has an arcane connection to something, the technique to finding it is obvious (an Intellego effect for the Form of the target) but it is not always easy. Typically the wizard will spont cast an Intellego spell specific for the type of thing being scryed, but that spont cast can be moderate in level (at least level 25) due to the need to use the arcane connection. There is an alternative work around to that high level effect by using Opening the Intangible Tunnel first, as demonstrated below by these two effects.

Sense for the Wandering Whimsy

Intellego Terram 25, R: Arcane, D: Momentary, T: Individual

The caster gains a sense of direction and distance to the item or person to which he has an arcane connection. The information provided is specific enough to allow the item to be followed and tracked, but does not provide knowledge of specific pathways or obstacles which may be encountered. The effect is designed as a general spell, so casting requisites for the form of the target item are requires when cast.

(Base 4, +4 R: Arc, +1 for complexity of a general approach)

Rather than creating an effect for each form, the spell is designed to be used with a diverse range of targets, subject to a cast-time Form requirement. The desire to make a generic spell rather than a form specific spell is not new in Ars Magica, and while it might be viewed as a quasi-munchkin approach it is no different from the levitation effects and shrinking effects already provided in the core rules, which use Terram as a base Form.

An Intellego Terram of Base 4 is “learn one mundane property of an object” which matches well with divination and location effects. That base is slightly more difficult than guidelines within other forms (base 1 to locate a fire with InIg, or base 2 for InAq, base 3 for InCo) which is why I think it is still fine for application to the spell here. It seems overly expensive to assign a base 5 for the effect.

The complexity modifier of +1 is to reflect the degree in complexity of the general effect. This style of effect could be written up as a separate Intellego spell for each form, and potentially for each sub-type (say dirt or clay vs metal) of thing, but that is a terrible waste of many seasons of spell invention, where one effect will suffice. Conversely at such low final levels for many different forms (Ignem, Corpus, etc), many wizards probably would never invent the various spells in a formulaic manner to begin with.

Hay_WagonAn alternate option for wizards which lower arts in Intellego, but reasonable Rego and Vim scores is for the Magus to learn or know Opening the Intangible Tunnel (ReVi gen, Ars p. 162), which opens the magical conduit through to the subject of the spell, and allows casting of Range:Touch effects through the conduit. Alas it requires the casting of two spells to do the work of one, but also dramatically lowers the level of the final detection effect. In this case it lowers the effect level from InTe25 to InTe10. I suggest this as my current character in a saga has a significant deficiency in Intellego magic and reasonable scores elsewhere and Opening the Intangible Tunnel is one of the most useful effects in the core spell list.

So first cast OtIT, and then this:

Tunnel to the Wandering Whimsy

Intellego Terram 10, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual

The caster gains a sense of direction and distance to the item or person to which he can touch, which is intended to be used along with the Opening The Intangible Tunnel spell, utilising an arcane connection, and is pointedly superfluous without it.

The information provided is specific enough to allow the item to be followed and tracked, but does not provide knowledge of specific pathways or obstacles which may be encountered. The effect is designed as a general spell, so casting requisites for the form of the target item are requires when cast.

(Base 4, +1 R: Touch, +1 for complexity of a general approach)

Spells to Find North

Something as simple as finding north is thankfully not overly difficult.

The base 4 is used as it is akin to seeing the location of an item, and more difficult than determining a single physical property, however as the target is the earth itself a T: Part is needed. I’d be surprised if a Magus couldn’t also opt for using an easy Artes Liberales skill check combined with watching where the sun is at the time of day, but it is a simple enough effect to spontaneously cast. Failing that, asking a grog might be far easier.

Sense for the Cardinal Path

Intellego Terram 5,  R: Personal, D: Momentary, T: Part

This spell grants the caster a sense for which way true north is.

(Base 4, with +1 T: Part)

A suggested alternative (credit to Silveroak) was to use Muto Terram to make a stone which is highly unnatural so that it floats and is magnetic enough to react to the magnetic poles, so it functions as a compass. Clever. In this write-up I’ve added a requisite of Rego to allow the stone to float in the air, and also align itself as the spell dictates.

A Stone that Speaks of Winter’s Home

Muto Terram / Rego 10, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual

The spell alters the stone touched so that it now floats a pace from the ground, and points to north in the same way as a compass.

(Base 4 for a highly unnatural change, +1 Touch, +1 affect rock)

Spells to Find Where You Are

Personally I’d be alarmed if I didn’t know roughly where I was all the time, but perhaps a wizard has a need to find their exact location, or has teleported with some unknown margin for error and now is in need of a way to orient themselves. An effect like The Inexorable Search is perfect for such purposes, but relies on the caster having a map for everywhere where they are, or an arcane connection to their target. Although a magus who carries a map of Europe will at the very least be able to use The Inexorable Search if they are totally lost. So a very good effect but requires a fair amount of time and preparation.

As an aside – a spell to dynamically conjure an accurate map is probably a set of combined spell effects, perhaps better as crafted/enchanted item, and certainly more space than I have write up here. I’m not even sure that dynamically generating a map of the surrounding in real time is even plausible.

Depending on how the effect was executed it could be limited by the current boundary the caster is within, the extent and complexity of all the different forms which it must encompass, might need to be ritual, and the perception that the material being scryed will understand (what do rocks really know about trees vs wooden huts?). Such an effect will also be risky if used near a covenant, due to the rules involving spying on members of the Order. The spell Exactly to Scale (HoH:TL 139) allows an image to be drawn using Rego magic, and is mentioned explicitly for map creation.

Perhaps it’s possible to use beasts or animated things as a way to alter the caster’s sight, like birds who scan and map terrain (like Saruman’s spying in Lord of the Rings using Crebain crows). Or have those creatures provide visual stimulus back to another item instead of directly to the caster. And then layer more effects to draw the views and impressions into a map, perhaps permanently or perhaps only for the current surrounding league or two. Or perhaps invisible permanently floating spy satellites linked to a scrying mirror, such that the user can change their perspective as they alternate between different points of reference.

Magic used in this manner can provide an answer to where the caster is, but only by context to a known location. This means that a spell to determine where you are is troublesome; well darn close to impossible actually. Magic itself really has no inherent knowledge to understand what county name, sub-region, or even country the caster is within, so it becomes necessary for the spells to communicate to the caster in a manner which means something useful.

A simple starting effect would be to alter the caster’s perception so that they can see as if they were high in the sky, thereby viewing all around them.

Eyes in the Distance

Intellego Imagonem 5,  R: Sight, D: Concentration, T: Ind

This spell alters the caster’s point of visual perception to another location which they can see. The direction and angle of their view can be moved through concentration, or moved at walking pace as long as the point of perception remains within range.

(InIm base 1 to use one sense at a distance, +3 R: Sight, +1 Duration: Conc)

One solution is for the effect to provide information with reference to known

  • InTe effect, or perhaps InCo effect, as it should provide context
  • InVi 5 guideline from TMRE, p. 51 “Discern and measure a single Astrological factor in the environment”

A strange alternative suggested during the forum discussion by Marko Marko, adds a very large amount of mundane complexity and preparation required to then use a very simple spell gather location information. I really like it, it’s a Rube-Goldberg-machine solution that actually works.

Compass of the Vigilant Flame

Intellego Ignem 5,  R: Personal, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This spell tells you the location, direction and distance, to a fire which you possess an Arcane Connection to.

(Base 1 Locate a Fire, +4 Arcane)

Such a madman approach works really well for wizards who have time to prep a few eternal flames at different locations (which are very simple CrIg effects created on Circles/Rings, see below), gather arcane connections, and set about casting the effect several times and triangulating their position. Such madness is brilliance.

Circle of Sustained Flame

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

This spell creates a candle flame which endures until the circle is broken.

(Base 2 for candle flame, +1 Touch, +2 Ring)

Then all the wizard needs is a small stick to burn the end of with this fire, and it establishes an arcane connection from the fire to the stick, lasting days or weeks depending on how permanent you view the link (see Ars page 84).

And as you ponder he approach, it is a healthy to construct an permanent device to inform the user where they are. If permanent arcane connected way-points were set across Europe, then a spell effect could triangulate against those to allow the user to approximate their location.

Spells Using Others

In finding a solution I did consider spells that would open the mind of a target and get answers, but those effects are already present in the core book – a typical Q&A spell will cover it. Assuming that the wizard can find a target who might know, the Intellego Mentum effects in the core rules will garner the information in a wonderful manner.

As part pondering the wider aspects of how a few travel and location based effects fit within the medieval paradigm, I asked the official forums – and a wonderful discussion developed. These effects, like all the others I’ve pondered are part of a new spells compendium for Ars Magica.