Simple Enchanted Items for Ars Magica, part 1

The Ars community came together on the Ars Magica forums “Let’s Make Apprentice Created Enchantments” thread to contribute low powered devices and potions which could be manufactured by an apprentice. Many might be useful as covenant labour saving devices, which reduces the covenant expenses.

All powers are limited to a maximum power of level 15, which is achievable by an apprentice character and costs 2 pawns of vis to invest. There are great ideas in the forum thread, far more than an average game needs! Go read them.

Sometimes I’ve added contextual notes or added an alternative as I could see these items as basis for quick and dirty items readable on the hermetic market, or the types of low power devices which might be sold through proxies to mundanes.

Below in no logical order are my contributions and a few extra ideas thrown in for good measure. This blog post covers the items added in the first few weeks, and I’ll follow-up with a part-two to show all the madness I end up contributing.

(ps. Have a look at the other new Ars Magica items created over the years too)

Chalk of Observation

This chalk is a simple potion which moves part of the visual image of the affected object one pace. This can be used to assist targeting foes on the other side of walls.

Rego Imaginem 5 (Rego Imagonem base 2, +1 Touch, +1 Diameter, +1 Part)

… the idea is to draw a circle on a wall and move the image of that bit aside to target spells to the other side. It could be used to move the image of a soldier aside too, which should add a defensive bonus.

Marksman’s Bow

An ornate carved and decorated bow of ash and yew with highlights featuring dyed green and red leather, which is enchanted so that arrows fired are unerringly directed by the bowman.

When activated by command word arrows can travel as far as the bowman can see, and cannot miss, however the arrows are now resisted by MR. When activated the arrows inflict +10 damage. Bow shape grants a lab bonus of +5 for “destroying things at a distance”.

Rego Herbam 15 (Base 3, +3 Sight)(+5 levels for 24 uses a day)

I love this item for standard covenant grogs. It only requires 2x vis to create and makes an archer an excellent opponent against other mundane troops.

If this project did not have a level-15 cap on the powers then this would be better with additional penetration and no additional Vis cost, as:

Rego Herbam 20 (Base 3, +3 Sight)(+2 levels for 3 uses a day, +8 levels for +16 penetration)

This version has less uses per day, however it now is able to wound Might 15 supernatural foes as well as mundanes. That might not kill a demon or monster outright but it will cause it damage which in turn reduces how effective it is in battle.

Or a third version might be made as single use arrows as potions which do not require vis. That would change the lab bonus downward, but allow an apprentice to craft a handful of arrows which cannot miss. That’s powerful to a mundane archer.

Rego Herbam 10 (Base 3, +2 Voice, +1 to boost to +15 damage)

This version has the range reduced too, so that the arrows are very easy to craft as single use tools and inflict +15 damage. That won’t outright kill with a single arrow, but a few shots will incapacitate an ordinary grog.

Sailor’s Thirsty Desire

This thumb sized crystal is enchanted to instantly distill fresh water from either saltwater or an impure source. The effect emulates the work of evaporation, which will remove almost all sizeable contaminants and salt on up to 100 gallons of water (a full barrel). To be effective the user must succeed a moderate Finesse check vs 9. Crystal grants the lab total a +5 bonus.

Rego Aquam 5 (Base 3 to change water to steam, +1 capture and move back, +1 Touch) As a crystal potion this might be dropped into a barrel when used to activate.

…this item is arguable because the degree of difficulty performing Finesse ability check for evaporation is debatable. It seems plausible.

Faerie Poker

This cast-iron fire poker has been enchanted to reduce the magical potency of faerie creatures. If the effect penetrates the faerie’s MR it loses 5 points of might. The poker is limited in power so it acts more as a deterrent rather than a true weapon. Iron adds a +7 lab bonus.

Perdo Vim 10 (Base effect, +1 Touch)(+3 levels for +6 Penetration)(+2 levels for 3 uses per day)

The poker is cheap and easy to craft due to the +7 lab bonus. This could also be a single use potion shaped as iron knives instead of a fire poker, to be struck/thrown, as:

Perdo Vim 10 (Base effect, +1 Touch)(+5 levels for +10 Penetration)

… or just as easily designed to reduce Might from a demon or magical creature instead of Fae. It’s a basic Ars concept but worth repeating here as it is a very plausible lab project for a junior wizard.

Seal of Illusory of Habitation

A small cube of polished silver with an inner core protecting powdered cinnamon. While activated the seal emits periodic footsteps, taps, and murmurs that emulate the sounds of activity. Practically this is a totally ineffective as a form of defense, but might be useful to make a burglar return at another time.

The cinnamon adds +4 to the crafter’s lab total.

Creo Imaginem 6 (Spell base effect 1, +1 for Touch, +3 Moon)(+1 for 2 uses a day)

… simple, but potentially easy to replace with a Ring/Circle spell cast spontaneously.

Comb of Resplendent Grooming

Crafted from antlers fitted with a silver handle, this comb has been enchanted to groom the body hair of the target to a neat and respectable result; subject to a very easy Finesse check for overall effectiveness. When activated by holding the comb left handed just so, the target’s hair is trimmed to their desire. The comb’s designer also envisaged using the comb to collect arcane connections, and so included a minor amount of penetration in the device. This has never been performed.

Comb grants a lab bonus of +7.

Perdo Corpus 10, (PeCo base 3, +1 Touch, + 0 Momentary, +1 Part) (+2 for 3 uses a day, +3 for +6 Penetration)

Brush Offcuts into Soap

A heavy brush of oak and boar’s bristle is enchanted to transform a block of wood into a block of soap 1/10th its original size once per day. The soap block can then be split and used till its remains revert back to the original form. Variations on this effect might create any manufactured herbam based product such as oils or perfumes.

As a wooden item the enchanter is granted a +4 lab total bonus to affect dead wood.

Muto Herbam 15 (MuHe base 3 change a plant product, +1 for a manufactured item, +1 Touch, +2 Sun) (1 use per day)

Baton to Command an Attentive Handcart

An oiled oak baton inset with palm is carved with caricatures of dancing carts, chairs, and tables. When activated by lightly tapping the baton to a moderate sized wooden object, the user can control it’s gross movement. Designed to assist movement of large loads using wooden platforms, carts, or tables. Palm grants a +3 bonus to animating wood.

Rego Herbam 15 (Base 3, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, +0 Ind) (+5 maintains concentration, +5 for 24 uses a day).

An Embarrassing Splash of Colour

A small hazel wood box with a hidden heart of mercury allows the user to change the colour of all the target’s skin, clothes, and possessions to a garish hue of pink. The item serving as an arcane connection is placed within the box when activated.

Designed by an unapologetic master to use upon his apprentice when summoned or as punishment. Mercury core grants a Muto +3 bonus to lab totals.

Muto Imaginem 15 (base 1, +4 Arc, +1 Dia) (+5 levels for 24 uses per day)

Charm for a Disguised Doorway

This small charm is attached to a doorway or portal. When activated the effect creates an illusion over an entryway, archway, or portal to conceal the area making it appear the same as the surrounding wall visually and by touch.

When crafted into a lesser device the design of the illusion must be set for a specific place as the device has no ability to perceive the walls around it. Designed as a constant device.

Variants of the device can protect pathways to groves, or a any number of other concealing effects.

Creo Imaginem 10, (Base 2, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +0 Ind, +1 larger size)(+1 for two uses per day, +3 environmental trigger)

…I really like the idea of hiding the entrance to a storage room.

Gaze of the Perceptive Watchman

This helmet is enchanted to grants the wearer the sharp nightvision of a cat, able to see in all but total darkness. Activated by putting on the helm.
The Helm grants a +6 lab bonus, although this will be limited back down to the apprentice’s Magic Theory score.

Gaze of the Perceptive Watchman – As per Eyes of the Cat (Ars p.131) (MuCo/An 10), (Base 2, +1 Touch, +2 Sun), with +5 for 24 uses per day.

…which is from another item designed a while ago.

Pendant of the Smiling Negotiator

This copper pendant of a closed smiling mouth protects the wearer from supernatural effects intended to discern if they are lying, up to level 20 + stress die (no botch) when activated.

Copper grants +3 “deception” bonus to the lab total.

Perdo Vim 15 (base (gen taken as 10), +1 Touch, +1 Diameter)(+5 levels for 24 uses per day)

… I wanted to make this item with a snake head and tongue but that would make it a device never to be worn in normal medieval public life – who wears a snake around their neck? The discussion also pointed out a few major objections to this item, so please consider it “troublesome”.

Image by Steve Pilcher, Copyright Pixar, from the Pixar Art Collection. It looks like the hero from Brave using a sword and shield instead of a bow.
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Fast casting against another wizard in Ars Magica

One of those forum conversations that leads into a brief explanation of how the game mechanics resolve magic… The Mirror of Opposition spell reverses the effect of a spell, but not the target. So a spell to hurt a person might help them instead. It is a very interesting spell because it relies on so many of the meta-magic layers in Ars Magica, primarily around Muto Vim spells, but there are compounding questions in the details.

Pyrale wrote: Another question regarding spell manipulation : Supposing I see someone starts casting, and I decide to cast a mirror of opposition on his spell. Does my spell have to pierce the caster’s defenses ?

If not, do I have a window of opportunity if the spell has no time of travel, or can I only cast it on projectiles ?

My 2c which might be dodgy… I think you can cast it on anything, and the SG gets to decide what it does.

  • First you need to use the rules for identifying what Form the spell is, because Mirror of Opposition is different for each Form, but I guess you might know if the caster had previously been shooting away with missile spells and just assume you’re correct if your perception Check failed. The Perception check isn’t going to slow down the rest.
    … Perception + Awareness + roll vs. 15 – (effect mag). If the opposing caster has silent/subtle magic/deft magic it gets a lot harder.
  • Then if you are not cooperating with the other caster (fair assumption) you need to fast-cast the MoO:(form), as per p.159 of Ars about not being able to intercept the spell quickly enough. Its basically a -10 to casting roll with 2x extra botch dice, and you need the fast-cast Mastery option for the MoO spell.
  • Then your Penetration total for your casting roll (which includes that -10 mod) must beat the other caster’s Penetration total
    (i.e. spell CT + roll – Spell level + Pen ability vs same from the other guy).
  • The rules imply that you don’t need to penetrate the caster’s parma which is great, although if they were casting a spell with Range: Personal upon themselves I’d argue that you’d also need to penetrate their Parma for it to work too (?).
  • The caster must be in range of your MoO spell too (voice), unless you’ve got a funky version or using an Intangible Tunnel and an AC.
  • I don’t know what happens if they are fast-casting a mastered spell, but I think you still could fast cast to intercept and alter it (?).
  • You can’t alter Spont spells with MuVi which is a bugger but it makes sense why.

Easy! However…

  • If the first spell was fast-cast then the second magus can fast-cast one to defend/intercept, but it should come back to speed (point made here). Essentially the magic system seeks to avoid situations where magi just fast-cast-BLAST their way through all encounters.
  • As MoO and many other Muto Vim spells do not work against Spont magic, and also typically must penetrate against the target spell, and also usually only affect half their level, not many wizards are able to Spont cast Muto Vim spells in defence. It is possible, but very unlikely.

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a play by post game – Tales of Crimson and Gold

the yard in this house always faces the sunWe’re starting up a little play-by-forum game using a harsh cludge of high fantasy and Mythic Europe, based upon Atlas Game’s Ars Magica setting. It’s called the Tales of Crimson and Gold (or ToGC for short). The mash-up is all the huge epic fluff from typical D&D settings pushed into a world that was once Europe.

I know that makes about as much sense as a dyslexic angel with A.D.D. and a heavy-bolter, but I think it will feel good to play.

It will hopefully be like RIFTS meets Ars Magica. A typical AM games have a predilection for the local area to be rather mundane, with the odd hidden gem of mystic stuff, and then the world gets more “fantastic/odd” as the character branch out from their home. It is a “tip of the hat” to the idea that everywhere else in the world is wild and dangerous, so best stay home where it is same. Conversely boilerplate Forgotten Realms-ish makes no apologies about random encounters, huge dragons, lightning swords, monsters with 5 syllable names, and crazy wizards with floppy hats and portable hole generators.

The players and I are hopefully going to see what happens when home is just as wacky as the legendary places far away. Continue reading

Borrowing a Talisman in Ars Magica

Aside

This is a quick aside to point out a clever idea that came up on the ArsMagica forums this week, apparently an old one, but new to me. In Ars Magica a Talisman is a very powerful magical device which allows it’s owner to extend beyond the normal limits of enchanted device creation, and grants special powers within the game.

Generally speaking a Talisman is something that a wizard will never want to fall into the wrong hands, but after they die I’d kind of assumed that the talismans were useless because of mistakenly thinking they were usable by the creator only. This is not at all the case, and as such others can inherit and use the talismans (forum discussion). The powers might be usable, but the bonuses to rolls which talismans also grant cannot be, unless a tricky magical effect is also used; as designed by Doctor Comics. Smart chap.

Continue reading