A Vanilla Covenant for Ars Magica 5th Ed

After many seasons the folk who collaborated on the Vanilla Covenants project for Ars Magica now have a finished product! (available from the blog: http://david.berco.free.fr/wordpress/?p=690)

I’m exceedingly pleased it is released, and grateful to David Duke, aka The Man From Outerspace for continuing with dauntless faith through to the completion.

p.s. and the IronbondTome in the credits for a few bits is your truly. 

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 for a small covenant – Conjuring the Arcane Watchtower

Almost as grand as a true wizard’s tower (Conjuring the Mystic Tower), this spell is for a covenant start-up or a small expansion. It is large enough to house multiple magi but not so massive as to house a large covenant. The size was chosen to limit the vis needed, and also to be the basis for an outpost covenant or a chapter house. Alternatively the spell could be cast multiple times to create a full covenant worth of space.

Conjuring the Arcane Watchtower

Creo Terram 25, R: Touch, D: Mom, T: Individual, Ritual

This spell creates a watchtower, subject to the desire and designs of the caster. The standard tower has five above ground floor levels, a battlement on top, adjoining stairs, internal stone features, a single reinforced door, windows in the mid and upper floors, a small cell in the foundations below, and walls 3-4 feet thick at the base. It is also surrounded by a 2 pace tall wall set 5 paces from the outer edge of the watchtower. The tower has room to accommodate three wizards labs, and their supporting staff dwellings, supplies and meeting places.

The spell provides 1000 cubic paces of stone. The complexity modifier allows for the structure to be a single piece of stone with shutters, doors and such built in. When small parts are needed they are created within the single piece using thin stone slivers. The overall design of the tower cannot be ornate, as the spell complexity has allowed for internal complexity rather than artistic merit.

(Base 3 to create stone, +1 Touch, +3 size, +2 complex design, ritual)

This spell is part of the free new spells compendium for Ars Magica.


Tricky uses for Imagonem magic in Ars Magica

In previous games my Magi have used Imagonem magic with Ring durations to remove or alter the image of a wall, thus creating magical windows. In an expansion source book a sample spell does this exact effect too, which was a nice nod of the head to the Ars players who had been using this trick. I’m sure I initially borrowed the idea from a player’s post to either a forum or some online resource. It is not a new idea, but it is clever. I know that it might seem a little silly initially, but given the amount of time that Magi spend indoors and the desire to keep their sanctum secure, windows that are actually solid walls have some benefit (This post extends on a previous one, which talked through the basics of some Ring baset sneaky spell effects, and I cannot ignore the recent palava around how it breaks the game in a thread in the official forums). Anyway, do as you will in your games folks; this is what I do in mine. It is another example of where the use of the Duration: Ring in Ars Magica can be very handy and effective.

These effects create a great natural source of light during daytime in the lab, and does not affect security. Like most things in Ars Magica’s magic system there are many way to get this result, depending on the detail of how the effect is designed. There are two effects I can thing of to do this “cheaply”; that is to remove the image of the wall totally, or move the image of the wall slightly out of the way. Given T: Part is probably as effective and it is a smaller effect, that seems the best choice.

Summary of effects:

  • Pedo Imagonem 15 = Base 4 affect sight, R: Touch +1, D: Ring +2, T: Circle +0. This effect removes the image from the area within the target circle, so that it is rendered invisible.
  • Rego Imagonem 10 = Base 2 to make it appear 1 pace away, R: Touch +1, D: Ring +2, T: Part +1. This effect shifts the image of the circle up to 1 pace away. This leaves the target area invisible.

When translated into full spells:

Ring of Impermanently Clear Vision

Perdo Imagonem 15, R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Circle

This effect removes the image from the area within the target circle, so that it is rendered invisible.

(Base 4 affect sight, R: Touch +1, D: Ring +2, T: Circle +0)

Ring of Transiently Clear Vision

Rego Imagonem 10, R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Circle

This effect removes the image from the area within the target circle, so that it is rendered invisible.

(Base 2 to make it appear 1 pace away, R: Touch +1, D: Ring +2, T: Part +1)

The trick for Ring duration and Circle targets is that they last only until the ring or circle is marred or damaged. The game is not specific about what that particularly means, and I like that some parts of this magic system are left for the players to decide.

The effects also can take time to cast, given the circles must be drawn. A solution to that problem is for another spell to drawn the circles properly and permanently.

Inscribe the Magic Circle

Perdo Terram 10, R: Touch, D: Mom, T: Part

This spell inscribes a magic circle into the surface of the object touched. The circle may be as large or small as the caster desires, up to around 5 feet diameter. The spell affects simple materials such as dirt, clay, or sand; and harder substances such as stone or glass. It may also affect other materials subject to requisites at time of casting.

(Base 3 to destroy, Touch +1, D: Mom, Part +1, to affect stone or glass +1, and requisites for different materials at time of casting are free)

I’d suggest that a Magus who is going to use Circles for effects routinely might also want a spell which will not carve into the surface, and also allow them to have more control of the durations. A variation on the effect above could be called Render the Magic Circle to allow a circle to be drawn easily and perfectly, remain even though others attempt to mark it, but also not be permanently inscribed on the object.

A marking spell could be designed in a variety of ways. A simple approach is a Creo Imagonem effect to draw the circle at the point touched. This is probably the simplest approach as it creates a very low level effect.

Render the Magic Circle

Rego Imagonem 5

The caster draws a circle onto the surface touched. The circle may be as large or small as the caster desires, up to around 4 feet diameter.

(Base 1 to create something affecting one sense, R: Touch +1, D: Moon +3, T: Ind)

The duration of Moon is useful as it is long enough for it to not need to be recast frequently, but also not make the final effect level too high.

A Muto Imagonem spell could also be designed, and it would have the same base effect; so would a Animal, Herbam, Terram, or even Corpus (yuk) effect to “write” the circle using different materials.

Using the optional rules from one of the source books for crafting magic, a Rego effect could also be used to actually draw the circle if the caster has the inks or tools on hand. This allows the casters to have their “almost permanent” rings drawn as they like, but has a downside of requiring the material to hand. Not a problem in a wizard’s lab, but certainly a problem in the wild.

Draw the Magic Circle

Rego Herbam 5

The caster quickly draws a circle onto the surface touched, far faster than the typical inscription time. The circle may be as large or small as the caster desires, up to around 100 paces in diameter. The caster must make a Finesse check of 3+ or else the circle is unusable.

(Base 1 to create something simple, R: Touch +1, +3 for very large circles)

This spell could have been invented at ReHe2 but the circle size would have only been around 1 pace maximum and as the key benefit of crafting magic is to accelerate work, it seemed too much of a lost opportunity not to scale it up to level 5 and have a more useful effect.

I’ll be the first person to say that these effects are odd, but in the hands of a character casting wards and circles all the time they save on the hassle of stressful casting conditions.

Vanilla Covenants Project – Fidelus of Bonisagus

I’ve taken on a bit of ad-hoc Ars Magica character creation for the NPC named Fidelus of Bonisagus, as part of the Vanilla Covenants Project. The project is a community sourced set of examples of beginning covenants for the Ars Magica RPG setting.

Hopefully this material will get used in the project, but if not it does demonstrate a little of the Ars Magica character generation process (continuing theme from another Bonisagus Magus example).DUNNOTTAR_CASTLE_Large

This NPC is the leader of the Covenant of Sabrina’s Rest (as written by Timothy Ferguson), a typical covenant of moderate power and influence.

Fidelus of Bonisagus


Fidelus is the nominal head of the Council, although this is essentially an honorary position which he holds because of his House membership. He specializes in Corpus magic, and is effectively a healer. His sigil is an intricate pattern of white, that looks like seafoam.

He’s also mentioned fearfully in some other covenants, and by some of the most senior grogs, because during a Wizard’s War a couple of decades ago he raised an army of corpses from the grogs of the other covenant. He doesn’t like to talk about this, he considers it an immoral thing she did out of desperation, but his sodales have embroidered the story and made very sure that every other magus in the Tribunal knows it. It’s perhaps the thing he’s most famous for, and so his distracted but nurturing nature is a surprise to young magi, when they first meet him.


Fidelus is an unassuming man who knows the value of patience and listening to others. Seldom is he the first to speak, but often his words will be remembered as insightful and well thought through. By habit he will watch the covenfolk go about their lives, seeking to always understand their motivations and experiences at a fundamental level.

If upset or angered his countenance changes, and the deep resonance of his voice changes from soothing to a naturally commanding baritone.

Within the covenant his temperate manner has assisted with difficult negotiations time and time again. Seldom does Fidelus not achieve an outcome which he is satisfied by.


Fidelus has aged very well and despite his advancing years has lost none of his handsome looks or rich strong tone in his voice. His thick brown hair has wisps of white through it, and a neatly trimmed mustache and beard. Fidelus stands tall with a straight back and seldom rushes or hurries.

When amongst coven folk Fidelus wears cloaks and robes layered in blue and green hues, but whilst traveling he will wear clothing of subdued colors similar to that of priests and monks. Often Fidelus will alter his appearance magically to better blend in, preferring to remain unnoticed. He is never armed as he prefers to use his magical skills for defense, and will evade and neutralize an opponent rather than cause harm.


Characteristics: Int +2, Per +1, Pre +1, Com +2, Str -1, Sta +2, Dex 0, Qik -2 (1)
Size: 0
Age: 74 (47), Height: 162 cm, Weight: 60 kg, Gender: Male
Decrepitude: 0, Warping Score: 0 (0), Confidence: 1 (3)

Personality Traits: Careful +2, Kind +1, Well Spoken +3
Virtues and Flaws: The Gift, Flexible Formulaic Magic, Clear Thinker (Bonus: +3 to resist lies, confusion, subterfuge), Minor Magical Focus
(healing), Affinity with Corpus, Affinity with Creo, Life Boost, Hermetic Magus, Puissant Intrigue*, Visions, Incompatible Arts (Intellego Ignem,
Creo Ignem), Incompatible Arts (Muto Ignem, Perdo Ignem), Difficult Longevity Ritual, Loose Magic, Ambitious

Abilities: Area Lore: Area 1 (Brittan) (9), Artes Liberales 1, Athletics 1, Awareness 3 (1), Brawl 1, Breton 5 (Commoners), Chirurgy 2, Code of
Hermes 3, Faerie Lore 1 (5), Finesse 1, Folk Ken 2 (5), Guile 1, Hunt 2 (1), Intrigue 3+2, Latin 4 (Hermetic usage), Leadership 1 (9), Magic Lore 1
(5), Magic Theory 6 (25), Medicine 1 (2), Order of Hermes Lore 3 (5), Parma Magica 5, Penetration 2 (6), Swim 1, Teaching 3 (7), Welsh 1

Arts: Cr 20, In 10, Mu 10, Pe 7, Re 14, An 5, Aq 5, Au 5, Co 26, He 5, Ig 5, Im 8, Me 9, Te 5, Vi 13

Spells Known:
Awaken the Slumbering Corpse (ReCo 25) +42
Bind Wound (CrCo 10) +68
The Call to Slumber (ReMe 10) +25
Charm Against Putrefaction (CrCo 10) +48
Cheating the Reaper (CrCo 30) +69
The Chirurgeon’s Healing Circle (CrCo 20) +69
The Chirurgeon’s Healing Touch (CrCo 20) +69
Circular Ward Against Demons (ReVi 20) +29
Curse of the Bloated Tongues (ReCo 10) +42
Curse of the Unruly Tongue (ReCo 5) +43, Mastery 1 (fast casting)
Dust to Dust (PeCo 25) +35
Endurance of the Berserkers (ReCo 15) +42
Gather the Essence of the Beast (ReVi 15) +29
Gentle Touch of the Purified Body (CrCo 20) +69
The Gift of Vigor (ReCo 20) +42
The Inexorable Search (InCo 20) +38
The Invisible Eye Revealed (InVi 15) +25
Lifting the Dangling Puppet (ReCo 15) +43, Mastery 1 (multiple casting)
Opening the Intangible Tunnel (ReVi 30) +30, Mastery 1 (magic resistance)
The Phantom Gift (CrVi 15) +35
Physician’s Eye (InCo 5) +48
Purification of the Festering Wounds (CrCo 20) +68
Restoration of the Defiled Body (CrCo 25) +69
Revealed Flaws of Mortal Flesh (InCo 10) +48
Rise of the Feathery Body (ReCo 10) +42
Selfish Rest of the Injured Magus (CrCo 15) +68
Serious Rest for the Injured Custos (CrCo 30) +68
The Severed Limb Made Whole (CrCo 25) +69
Sight of the Transparent Motive (InMe 10) +21
Sight of the True Form (InCo 20) +38
Slip From the Reaper’s Grasp (CrCo 40) +68
Spasms of the Uncontrolled Hand (ReCo 5) +42
Speak Through the Intangible Tunnel (CrIm 4) +30.
Spy Through the Intangible Tunnel (InIm 10) +20.
Trust of Childlike Faith (PeMe 10) +19, Mastery 1 (still casting)
Ward Against the Common Man (ReCo 20) +42
Whispers Through the Black Gate (InCo(Me) 15) +21
Words of the Unbroken Silence (CrMe 10) +31
The Wound that Weeps (PeCo 15) +36, Mastery 1 (magic resistance)

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