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

Magus Agnarr Kallhjartad, Ex Miscellanea – a sample Ars Magica wizard. 

Backstory

Two men draped in furs walk side by side through a hilly grassland covered in silvery frost. Both are indistinguishable due to the dim moonlight, although one is clearly armed with shield and long spear. Following behind them aways walks a large white bear.

“I’ll tell you a little, but lets keep walking till the sun’s up.” The other nods. “Was born a Sami, who live far in the north. Not the pleasant north here, far beyond that; right to edge of the ice where man cannot survive and the cold will break your teeth. My family were herders and trappers in their village, and with their short lives and dark nights they are an untrusting and spiritual people.”

“Untrusting like you.”

“Yes, and worse Jaern. I’m told that when I was born my family knew I was different. They call it touched, and in those lands it meant a child is cursed in a way that splits them from life. I was kept fed but not expected to live through the harsh winters. The family broke with tradition and refused to name me as all children are named in spring, enough of an admission to the rest of the village. ”

“After a year or so the shaman who lived many days downriver came and performed some sort of rites, and finally gave me my tribe name – Kallhjartad, the Cold Heart. It was fitting and allowed my family to see an end. And any end was preferable for them as the shame and guilt of bearing a touched child was a burden.”

“Wait, your sorcery isn’t a boon?”

“The curse makes people nervous and hostile. My family were openly troubled by my curse and this naming confirmed that if I survived another handful of years I’d have a place apart from the family, and still technically part of the community. You don’t feel it at present as I often shield you from its worse effects, that illease and creepiness is the touch of magic.”

“The shaman said when the time came I would be taken and trained in their ways. However only a few years after, and well before the shaman returned to claim me another man, a soothsayer well feared, came through the village and claimed me instead. My old pa knew of him but da had never seen him. He took me before my third name day, and from what I gather now he took me by force and cared little for what the village thought. That other man was Master Ailo. After that I stayed at the covenant for all my days. Trying to not get a whipping and learn something useful. ”

“That’s Ailo for certain, never around and as snappish as his old wolf. ”

“That wolf is twice as mean as any other natural animal I’ve met, but he’s also loyal. Means a lot to us. That’s why they mended your arm when it was half torn off too,” nodding upward at Jaern’s spear arm.

“Still hurts in winter. Not that you’d notice..”

Interrupting with a laugh, “..sook more Jaern. You’re twice as rich and twice as old as every other grog we have. A linnorm takes a snap on your elbow, and you live in hospice for a month and find yourself with a nice wife. ‘Tis a good outcome.”

“Hrrhmm. Be better when kids are grown. That’ll settle Ella’s moods,” looking sideways at Agnarr.

Smiling, “Oh yes? Horse dung it will!”

“Then give me a rote to help, you know her!”

“Ha, no. Her hospice was one of the few places outside Ailo’s lab that I saw for my apprenticeship. She’s as much a kind mother to me as Ailo might be a misguided father. No kid knows any different from their growing ways, but I knew the other apprentices were treated differently. They certainly got out more and the hospice has a quiet private place where everyone didn’t mind bending the rules. I’ll not be hexing Ella.”

“Wasn’t just you they watched Agnarr. That girl lost to the wildfires and another normal child stolen from our village a score of years before meant everyone got watchful.”

Appearance

Agnarr changes clothes to suit the temperature preferring to avoid being overly warm. His combinations of robe, tunic, or leggings are of wool and coloured blue hues, and wears a hooded cloak made from white owl feathers. His black hair has started to silver prematurely through his head and beard, and both are kept long but trimmed neatly. Agnarr has grey eyes, a lean face, long looking limbs, and a tendency to stand tall with feet apart at attention while thinking; a habit of apprenticeship.

His clothing and gear often looks clean but well worn and sturdy, as he prefers function over aesthetics, and as a Magus he has indulged in better quality raw materials and some trims and folds for decoration. Agnarr travels with a thin staff, hunting knife, a pack, and sled when pulling larger burdens. He may pack a suit of heavy leather hauberk but wears it very infrequently.

History

Life as an apprentice to Ailo often kept Agnarr secluded away from the covenant and certainly away from the outside world. The small information he knew about the wider world was diluted and reduced by the internal concerns. Ailo is a reserved and reclusive man who insisted his apprentice work to his patterns. Agnarr’s childhood years were quiet and frequently uneventful; the small drama and twists he saw seemed large, and while he was always busy he was also always safe.

Initially his knowledge of his early childhood is based upon the small amounts of reading he was able to do at his home covenant and the stories of his Master Ailo. He trusts enough of his Master’s word to take most as truth, but shortly after his apprenticeship he travelled back into the Sami regions to see his people first hand. Agnarr knows the Covenfolk were truthfully more likely his people than the Sami, however seeing his childhood lands have him a small peace.

The later years of his training expanded his non-magical skills and instilled in Agnarr a desire to train others. He knows there are very few practitioners of his magical tradition, and he is determined to find and train others. As he grew older he also became aware of the stigmatism of belonging to his tradition. Many other Magi view the tradition as little more than limited specialists, and certainly of limited worth to the wider community of the Order. Agnarr is considering his options to overturn this impression.

Training in an insular covenant of mixed Houses developed a tight bond between the Masters of the covenant and their apprentices. Over the apprenticeship Agnarr formed a bond with his Master and also two of the other senior Magi outside his Ex Miscellanea tradition, so much so he feels a sense of obligation to them. Should they ask he will assist, and he knows should he need it their help will likewise come to his aid.

Agnarr first heard of the malady very late and immediately thought to travel north. Like his covenmates he was shocked by the stories brought by the redcap. When news arrived of an incident with a Magus in his tribunal he quickly and efficiently packed his possessions, said his goodbyes through the covenant, and left for his birth land.

Agnarr replaced his birth name of Kallhjartad largely due to the stories of many Scandinavian heroes who bear a variation on the name.

Statistics, at Gauntlet

Agnarr Kallhjartad (cold hearted),
Concept: Magus of Ice and Cold

Characteristics: Int +3, Per -1 (preoccupied), Pre 0, Com +3, Str -1 (thin build), Sta +2 (tenacious), Dex 0, Qik -3
Size: 0, Age: 25 (25), Height: 170 cm, Weight: 70 kg, Gender: Male, Decrepitude: 0
Warping Score: 0 (0), Confidence: 1 (3)

Virtues and Flaws: Affinity with Aquam, Affinity with Ignem, Deft Form (Aquam) [Form: Aquam], Flawless Magic (Spell Mastery Experience: Doubled), The Gift, Greater Immunity (Cold)*, Hermetic Magus, Inventive Genius (Invent Lab Totals: +3), Minor Magical Focus (Ice)*, Puissant Magic Theory, Puissant Aquam, Withstand Casting, Covenant Upbringing, Driven (Grow magical line), Environmental Magic Condition (Temp above 15c)*, Favors (Previous Coven magi), Hedge Wizard, Warped Magic (Nearby items become cold) [Side Effect: Nearby items become cold], Weird Magic (Botches on Stressed Casting: Extra botch die)

Reputations: Hedge Wizard 3

Abilities: Area Lore: Finland 1, Artes Liberales 1 (ritual magic), Awareness 2 (alertness), Brawl 1 (Dodge), Concentration 1 (spell concentration), Finesse 2 (targeting), Finnish 5, Folk Ken 2, Hunt 1 (tracking), Latin 4 (hermetic usage), Leadership 1 (laboratory work), Magic Lore 1, Magic Theory 3+2 (Aquam), Order of Hermes Lore 1 (House Ex Misc), Parma Magica 1 (Aquam), Penetration 1 (Aquam), Scribe 1 (copying), Survival 2 (very cold climates), Teaching 2, 

Arts: Cr 6, In 0, Mu 6, Pe 5, Re 6, An 1, Aq 9+3, Au 0, Co 0, He 0, Ig 6, Im 0, Me 0, Te 0, Vi 5

  • Spells Known:
    Javelin of Sharpened Ice (Cr(Re)Aq 15) +28, Mastery 2 (multiple casting). (Multiple Casting 2x) As per “Dagger of Ice” altered to be sharper and stronger, inflicting +10 damage. 
  • Encase in Ice (CrAq 20) +27, Mastery 1 (penetration). The target is surrounded in ice, potentially encasing the target. Enveloped targets may attempt to break free, see Shackles of Frozen Ice (ReAq20, HoH:S p.35). If the target is too large the ice will cover an area up to 560 cubic feet. 
  • Lungs of the Fish (Personal) (MuAq(Au) 15) +9, Mastery 1 (fast casting)
  • Winter’s Icy Touch (PeIg 10) +14, Mastery 1 (multiple casting) 
  • Ward Against Winter’s Cold (ReIg 15) +15, Mastery 1 (still casting). Base 4 to ward against code in the same manner as heat. This spell protects again all normal cold, as cold spells inflicting up to +5 damage.
  • Wizard’s Reach (Aquam) (MuVi 20) +14, Mastery 1 (imperturbable casting)
  • Unravelling the Fabric of Aquam (PeVi 5) +13, Mastery 1 (unraveling)
  • Maintaining the Demanding Spell (ReVi 20) +14, Mastery 1 (still casting)

ice-wizard

Continue reading

Welcome to 2017

Happy new year to all the folk reading the blog. Hope 2017 is interesting and challenging in a good way. This year I’m set on reaching another spell milestone and also adding the odd campaign or story elements into the posts. To that end I might also see about getting some material out in the Ars Magica community too – subject to life’s regular demands. That’s not a resolution. 

There is a renewed interest in the Ars Magica community for content now that the official line has stopped publishing new books – in the Sub Rosa magazine (where I’ve had one thing published) and in a new magazine called Peripheral Code which started very recently. Both take submissions, have the support of Atlas Games, and also have writers from the product line and the community involved. It’s a time where the community now gets to write and direct the 5th edition material that is shared to the public which is exciting and positive.

While I’m not playing a face to face RPG game I am playing in several forum games of Ars; a slow burn based in Eastern Europe with a Bonisagus, a Scottish Merintia, a picked up Tremere based in the mountains of Andorra, and hopefully to start a Scandinavian game with a Mage specialising in ice and snow survival. 

Happy gaming folks. 

Corbin, ex Merinita – sample magus character for Ars Magica

Backstory

Corbin was unfortunately born into a very prestigious and serious clan. From birth the family taught its sons and daughters to fight honorably and always uphold the clan’s name. Generations of tales speak of their grace and power, and generations of rules dictate the lives of its noteworthy members. Corbin knows this and thinks it’s all a little pompous.

As exposure to the bluster and bravado increased as did the boy’s talent for not taking it seriously. Over time his teachers threw their arms up in disgust. The tales of heroic deeds filled his mind far more than the practical rules. He would daydream through lessons, escape his duties, and avoid almost all filial duties.

Eventually only a handful of direct family thought him more than a lazy and useless boy. Time spent practicing his songs and stories was ill regarded.

Corbin was far from lonely though. As an attractive youth with a musical talent he could be counted as a regular performer in clan gatherings., and also frequently found socialising among his clansmen. His father and uncle’s ire rising with the enjoyment of the crowd. However even the skalds and minstrels commented that he lacked the discipline to learn properly; to correctly follow their traditions.

As the boy grew he enjoyed the company in taverns, or quiet places, some majestic overlooks, and especially the company of lovers. This did little to harden his resolve.

His master found him practicing his singing along a quiet loch, walking for the pleasure of the wind itself. Corbin knows she saw greater things within him, even if they remained hidden under his carefree demeanour. Later she would admit his nature was at times frustrating.

The apprenticeship years were again frustrating for many around Corbin but not for him. Magical studies were infrequent enough that he was able to still practice his passions, and when he gained traction in Imagonem he began integrating the art into his practices. He loves what the magic can do, how it changes the art so much.

Corbin is actually a family nickname due to his dark complexion and slight build. It started as a casual pet name from his mother and stuck. Continue reading

Quaesitor Constantine, Follower of Guernicus. Sample Ars Magica Character

This character was created as “an advanced Magus” for a play by post Ars magica game. The stats and advancement is rather lengthy; detailed record of advancement is included at the end.

Link: Discussed and developed in the Ars Magica official forums.

Concept

The Atlantis Project is a revolutionary event. Constantine seeks to forge a new way for the Order to interact with mundanes, and demonstrate a better way for the Order to run. His focus is mundane and magical politics, power, and effective and fair rule. Rego, Mentem and Vim as focused arts.

 

Stats at Gauntlet

Characteristics: Int +2, Per +2, Pre +2, Com +1, Str 0, Sta +2, Dex 0, Qik -2 (deliberate)
Size: 0
Age: 25 (25), Height: 161 cm, Weight: 70 kg, Gender: Male, Confidence: 1 (3)

Virtues and Flaws: Affinity with Mentem, Clear Thinker (Bonus: +3 to resist lies, confusion, subterfuge), Deft Form (Mentem) [Form: Mentem],
Gentle Gift, The Gift, Hermetic Magus, Hermetic Prestige*, Improved Characteristics, Leadworker, Personal Vis Source (Mentem) [Location], Puissant Mentem, Deficient Form (Herbam), Dependent (his mundane family), Driven (Transformation of the Order), Overconfident

Personality Traits: Fair +2, Forthright +3, Reputations: Quaesitor (Hermetic) 3

Abilities: Area Lore: Area 2, Artes Liberales 1 (), Awareness 4 (searching), Brawl 1 (dodge), Charm 2 (), Civil and Canon Law 1, Code of
Hermes 3 (), Concentration 1 (), Etiquette 1, Finesse 1, Folk Ken 3 (), Gaelic 5 (storytelling), Guile 2 (concealing investigations), Latin 4 (Hermetic
terms), Leadership 1, Magic Lore 1, Magic Theory 3 (Mentem), Order of Hermes Lore 1 (legal cases), Parma Magica 1 (Mentem), Philosophiae 1,
Scribe 1, Teaching 1

Arts: Cr 0, In 10, Mu 0, Pe 5, Re 4, An 0, Aq 0, Au 0, Co 0, He 0, Ig 0, Im 5, Me 9+3, Te 0, Vi 5

Spells:
By His Works (CrMe 5) +14
The Call to Slumber (ReMe 10) +18
Posing the Silent Question (Sight) (InMe 30) +24
Ear of Truth (InMe 30) +25, Mastery 1 (acute sense)
Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie (InMe 20) +24
Peering into the Mortal Mind (InMe 30) +24
Trust of Childlike Faith (Voice) (PeMe 15) +19
Veil of Invisibility (PeIm 20) +12

Continue reading

What should a beginning wizard be able to do?

When designing a Magus character is Ars Magica there are as many styles of wizard as you please. However a wizard who is over specialized, or who ignores some basic abilities might face some early challenges.

What should a beginning wizard be able to do?

  1. Defend or extricate themselves from a small group of mundane opponents. That could be a small bonus to soak and some weaponry, or a good few offensive spells, or whatever. Be ready for a basic scuffle.
  2. Neutralize, annihilate, or at the very least harm another creature; particularly at a Range beyond Touch. Touch is a little too close for many starting wizards.
  3. Affect a magical creature with a might score of 5-10. If the character has a large BOOM spell for inflicting large amounts of damage they should also consider another which is useful against creatures with Magical Resistance
  4. Because stories often take the character to new places – they should be able to travel in some manner with comfort. That might be teleportation, or transforming into a bird, or flying, or even just not suffering the chills and inconvenience of regular foot travel.

What should be considered?

  1. Spell to find & extract Vis.
  2. Be able to dispel your own effects if needed.
  3. Spell to maintain Duration:Concentration spells.
  4. A spell to bind wounds or mitigate damage.
  5. Interaction with mundanes, or ways to deal with it. 

Shamefully almost every Magus I’ve ever created fails some these points. Ah well, that’s the nature of the game – to play interesting stories. If the magus has all the answers then perhaps the stories might be missing too. 

 

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

Concept

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.

Personality

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.

Appearance

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.

Statistics

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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