Spells to investigate potential apprentices and familiars in Ars Magica, 30 Days of Magic

Here are a few spells which are useful when a Magus seeks an apprentice or familiar; both for detecting gifted people and also for determining the raw physical attributes the apprentice or familiar might have. In many games these characters are generated just like another character to suit the desires of the story, so there is basically no need to determine the NPCs characteristics – however it’s an interesting idea for a character to cast spells to understand the potential of another person. Perhaps evaluating grogs, lab assistants, servants, etc. Please note due credit to Cuchulainshound from the Ars forums for the spells and inspiration for his magus concept of an apprentice hunter.

Firstly to determine if a person has the Gift “The Numbness of the Gift” (InCo20, Hedge Magic, p.6) is the canonical example spell. It uses the Intellego Vim base 10 guideline for detecting the traces of powerful magic and combined with sensory Touch magic. It is constrained in use by design, not too high level, and an excellent spell for subtle investigations.

That spell is useful for individuals close at hand, but a higher version is far better for detecting by hearing or sight for scanning larger areas, although would need to be cast forcelessly so that it would not anger other Magi, and would probably still count as scrying – so not without in-game risks. A Magus named Solomon in another pbp game a long time ago created a ritual to be cast on a town using Target: Boundary as a way to find the gifted people; that is grant overkill but very effective for surveying towns in a single casting.

The Chimes of the Gift

Intellego Vim 30, R: Personal, D: Concentration, T: Hearing

The caster can hear individuals with the gift as the tones playing from wind chimes.

(Base 10, +1 Concentration, +3 Hearing) Continue reading


Karhu, Agnarr’s polar bear familiar, a sample magical creature

Karhu is a stoic creature. As one of the few magical beasts who inhabit the polar region he has grown used to quiet nights and peaceful landscapes. He was content with simple pleasures of plentiful food and being one of the more powerful beasts in the region. He and Agnarr crossed paths unexpectedly while both were hunting, and neither thought the other appetising. Initially they hunted apart, but the rare occasion when brother bear wasn’t able to quickly fill his belly, Agnarr shared a fresh seal kill. They then watched each other for many days, hunting and continuing to share food. After the initial meeting Agnar returned a few years later and befriended Karhu. Now years later the two are both magically and mentally joined.

Personality – Speaks very little, even to Agnarr. His Ars Magica stats can be found at the foot of this longer post on Agnarr, also repeated below.

Continue reading

An Imaginary Lab in the Familiar Bond

The Crown of Hermes magical device (Covenants p.121) allows the wearer to have an imaginary lab within their mind to perform their magical investigations, limited to particular activities like studying arts and inventing spells. I’ve never seen this device used in a game but it is a very interesting option for a Magus who travels a lot or with strong Mentem Arts, as they can have a lab anywhere. When combined with the lab specialisation rules the lab might be on par with a standard lab for some activities.

A primary advantage is how portable it makes a lab. A Bonisagus Seeker might get a lot of use from it when they are frequently traveling, likewise a Mercere Magus, or a Magus who wishes to remain untethered. One of the primary downsides of the device is the warping it inflicts (even though it might be designed for the wearer).

So what if the enchantment was performed on a familiar bond instead a normal device, as the familiar bonds do not cause warping (as per Ars Magica p.168)?

Modifications would need to allow for casting upon the wizard, and perhaps also the familiar could share the experience, and preferably an effect which can be used more frequently if desired. It becomes an invested power of the bond as:

Imagined Laboratory of Hermes, Invested

CrMe/InMuRe 58, Base 35, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, +1 extra target. Then mods for +5 device maintains concentration, and +3 for 6 uses per day.

In this version the spell affects both the Magus and the familiar, allowing them to work together. It could also be made as (CrMe/InReMu 53) by only affecting the magus but being controlled by the familiar – which might make sense if the familiar was to guard the body of the Magus while the spell is in effect; although typically a magus wants that familiar in the lab to gain their skills. Those additional uses allow for interruption now that the effect duration is concentration.  Continue reading