What do I want from magic? I want to see magic burn. MuVi on Spont effects…

As the hail of steel rained down upon the hillside the shrieks of war peaked and drained away to whimpers. The hill was now empty of moving figures where seconds before they swarmed viciously upon each other. A lone grey-hooded woman picked her way down the hillside, stepping through the haphazard remains soldiers and weapons. She walked with purpose toward a clutch of armoured figures collapsed together on the ground.

In their centre a similarly robed old man half reclined with a spear through his midsection and open cuts peppered across his body. Blood pooled around him, soaking the earth beneath.

“Neutral you said. Neutral” he gurgled.

“Your sworn-men came for me yesterday assisted by magic. You broke our peace,” she replied sharply. “This is the outcome,” gesturing to the ring of dead soldiers around him, and the carnage beyond.

The old man’s pain permitted a half smile with sad eyes, but he couldn’t laugh.”Let’s be done then,” he groaned, looking through her and away down the hill.

The young woman bent to her knee and reached to touch her opponent with a final gesture. She drew a deep breath as her other arm began moving in inelegant gestures, their tempo different to her gobbledygook words. A moment later the old man also rasped a quick phrases of his own, one hand forming a bridge on his chest, the other touching her. He thumped his other hand to the ground. The woman screamed in surprise and frustration, her spell gone awry. His perfectly.

The old man looked on as her conjured array of short steel spines instantly surrounded her and struck home across all quarters of her body. Her body ruined with holes sunk sideways to the ground as the spines disappeared. Lifeless.

The old man smiled again and exhaled hard. A shimmer washed him head to foot as his illusion dissipated, his skin and clothes actually unmarried; except for the long spear which still sunk deep into his side and the ground behind. He reached out for her body once and missed with a grimace of pain, then again successfully touching the woman’s body which dissipated into dust.

Looking across the field he knew he had a long evening ahead to remove all the evidence of their battle.

In the blurb above the wounded Magus uses a Muto Vim spell to retarget the spell on another – changing the range to Personal. I took a license with the concept just to have a story introduction to meta-magic post.

A fair and reasonable game balance rule in Ars Magica is for a MuVi spell to not be able to affect a Spont spell, which is why in the story blurb above the young woman casts her spell longer than the old man – hers is a formulaic spell, and his a spontaneous one. In Ars Magica’s RAW her spell could only be formulaic as spontaneous effects can’t be altered.

In-game it’s dangerous, “too chaotic and the caster will loose control“. Out-of-game the limitation is there so that Spont magic does not get trivialised (boosted, sustained, or empowered) by assistance from a Muto Vim expert.

There is also an out-of-game consideration that altering a spontaneous spell with Muto Vim is terribly inefficient way to scale up a spontaneous spell, unless the caster of the MuVi is a specialist and also cooperating with the other caster.

However in-game what if it was allowed via a breakthrough? If we take the spell guidelines as written what would happen when a Magus starts working on a magical breakthrough to find a Muto Vim discovery for spontaneous magic?

  • The SG might say the breakthrough theme just isn’t going to work, which is totally reasonable.
  • It might not work as intended but be a great story thread for the game; as it’s a great theme for an NPC wizard in Ars Magica.
  • Or perhaps it allows a MuVi based chaos effect which deliberately hooks into the randomness of Spontaneous magic. Similar to deliberately ruining a magical experiment to see what happens, it ruins both spells.
  • Or an additional rule-set is created for Muto Vim in these circumstances? And/Or it’s allowed but the penalties for botching are horrific?
  • Or allow it. Yes, it took the wizard some 30+ in-game years to develop, but they’ve cracked part of the Hermetic puzzle. It’s a huge thing for game balance, but has legs for high powered sagas.
  • Perhaps this is what all the House Diedne brouhaha was about?
  • Perhaps the breakthrough does not allow Muto Vim to alter the target spell in a predictable way, but does force the Spont spell to be chaotic – it might have an effect which is undesirable for both the caster of the Spont and the caster of the suCcessful MuVi effect?

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Suppressing the magic of others, a meta-magic question for Ars Magica

An aside I pondered a while ago – how hard is it to suppress the magic of others?

The effect from the core rulebook called Suppressing the Wizard’s Handiwork uses the Rego Vim guideline for a caster’s own spells and lasts only while the caster concentrates. It is an excellent example of a core spell designed to inspire variations. From that inspiration, here is a variant designed to suspend the spells of others.

Suppressing the Conjurer’s Incantation

Rego Vim (Gen), R: Voice, D: Concentration, T: Ind

Suspends a spell cast by another, less than or equal to Half (Vim spell level -1 magnitude) of this spell.

(Base to suppress spells cast by another, equal to half (level +5 mag) of the Vim spell, +2 R to Voice)

It illustrates that suspending the spells of others is very difficult, even more so if this effect was redesigned to extend to Sun duration; effectively suspending effects of less than or equal to half of (level -3 mags). Meaning the spell must be at level 25 and will only neutralise spells of level 5 or less – not worth it at all when compared to how easily a Wind of Mundane Silence can remove effects.

As with many things, it is easier to destroy than change or maintain. Interesting.

Specialised versions of Opening the Intangible Tunnel

I’ve been re-reading the Ars Magazine Sub Rosa recently and came across a spell concept that I really liked – versions of Opening the Intangible Tunnel which limit the type of magic which can be cast through them (see Sub Rosa #13, p.97). Types might include spirit magic (as in the Sub Rosa article), or teleportation magic, or a type linked to one of the fifteen Hermetic arts such as Intellego.

This would make the tunnels useful for Magi with major specialisations, as Spells cast back through the tunnels might be limited to types where the target is not as strong, where the initial caster is much stronger, and where the target of the Specialised tunnel has no idea what the sub-type is.

It’s sneaky and very tactical. Great stuff. Here is aversion for Scrying with Intellego, and a version for cold themed spells.

Watchful Eye of the Magician

Rego Vim General, R: Arcane, D: Concentration, T: Individual

A specialised version of Opening the Intangible Tunnel (Ars p. 162) which only allows Intellego based scrying spells to be used within it.

(Base effect, +4 Arc, +1 Conc)

Walk Across Their Graves

Rego Vim General, R: Arcane, D: Diameter, T: Individual

A specialised version of Opening the Intangible Tunnel (Ars p. 162) which only allows Ignem based spells with a cold theme to be used within it.

(Base effect, +4 Arc, +1 Diameter)

All the new spells for Ars Magica can be found here.

Complexity in Muto based Materials Manipulation

This post is more meta-magic system thoughts for ars magica –  on the complexity in Muto based materials creation and manipulation, raised from a forum discussion…

Switching one form to another should include a degree of flexibility in the final shape, as this is the declared purpose of the spell. As long as the spell is creating a specific object or thing. Surrounding air to a natural plant is fine and declaring the type and shape of the plant is reasonable in the Formulaic formula at base.

Then modifying for complexity in shape seems appropriate, as:

  • I see the complexity as quasi- geometric shapes (+0 mags) like lines, cubes, boxes, or walls. Exploiting a feature of the new material should be free too – like using a plant to create a natural shelter.
  • The allowing sub-shapes in the main shape (1) like windows, basic stairs, spikes.
  • Then almost any other ordinary detail (2).
  • Then finally very ornate details as (3) like artwork.

Having the additional mags should allow forgiveness in the Finesse check but not remove a basic “fit for purpose” check. A serviceable but ugly level for a simple item is vs 6 (a sword), and a more complex item is vs 9 (a suit of armor). Less than this and the finesse check might still be needed (vs 3) , but is really at the “don’t botch” level (a cube of stone).

So a basic sword is +1, and a full suit of armour might be +2. Then add mags for moderate flexibility in choice of form when casting. Making a spell which can pick when cast from a dagger, knife, or sword should cost something, whereas two different styles of swords which are serviceable seems plausible as a spell without too much added complexity. Sword vs axe should definetly need complexity modifiers, if not be allowed at all.

Ref: Atlas Games – Ars Magica forums.

And perhaps interrelated is the Creo vs Muto discussion here, or replacing Finesse with magnitudes of difficulty

Fire to bubbles

Perdo vs Rego for Magic Surpression and Cancellation

A quick post to shake out my thoughts of effect level and effect power for spells which modify or cancel other spells. Specifically noting the difference between Perdo and Rego in terms of spells cast by the Magus or anyone’s particular spell in Ars Magica.

For Perdo Vim effects – I’m looking at the The Heathen Witch Reborn (from HoH:S) and Unraveling the Fabric of (form) (from ArM p161) as source examples, and I think they are both using the General spell guideline below. Both effects are at the Level+2 mags + dice, at Range: Voice. That Guideline is at R:Per, D: Mom, T:Ind as normal, then each has altered from the +4 mags to +2 mags to account for the Voice range. Continue reading