Magi Lab Protections using Illusions

A while ago I wrote about a few effects to protect a Magi’s lab and here are a few more using illusions. Many effects are tricks that won’t fool or dissuade another wizard, but they may abstract the lab enough to make it difficult to navigate.

First it’s worth noting that using charged items might be a valid method for labs which don’t expect frequent incursions. Lesser devices are very good too if their triggering actions are designed to be complimentary.

Secondly – each effect might be presented in an item or spell differently according to the intent of the designer – particularly when considering the effects duration. To avoid too many variants I’ve mocked these effects up using Duration: Concentration. This means that the effects will either be higher level if invented as formulaic spells, or the enchants device will maintain the spell.

An idea from a few years back was an illusion to spin all the images in the room, thereby making navigation and investigation very difficult.

Chamber of Imaginary Chaos

Rego Imagonem 15, R: Touch, D: Concentration, T: Room

The images of the targeted room are broken, blurred, and ruined as they whir chaotically in all directions.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, +2 Room)

Illusion of the Abandoned Storeroom

Muto Imagonem 5, R: Touch, D: Concentration, T: Room

This effect changes the image of a room and all its contents to appear like a disused storeroom. Dust, cobwebs, ruined furniture, and stacks of old sacks, barrels, or crates replace the images of all items in the room. The specific appearance is chosen by the caster.

As the effect alters the room completely the appearance of large objects can be made to look like walls or counter-tops.

(Base 1, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, +2 Room)

Illusion of the Dangerous Circle

Creo Imagonem 10, R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Individual

This spell creates a visual and auditory illusion of a hermetic circle and allows the caster to tailor what appears to be held inside. The illusory ring may appear separate from the actual ring maintaining the spell, but must still be within it.

(Base 2 for sight and sound, +1 Touch, +2 Ring, +1 moving image)

Hide the Dangerous Circle

Perdo Imagonem 10, R: Touch, D: Concentration, T: Individual

The image of the circle, marking, ring, or ward targeted by this spell is made invisible for the duration of the spell. The spell was intended to assist in using non-permanent circles and rings as part of temporary defensive measures, and allow those measures to also be hidden.

(Base 4, +1 Touch, +1 Conc)

Illusion of the Misplaced Ring

Rego Imagonem 5, R: Touch, D: Concentration, T: Circle

The targeted ring and its contents appears to be up to a pace away from its actual location.

(Base 2, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, +1 moving image)

A nested ring effect where the outer layer is drawn is something quite easy to break like sand and the inner layer is marked in a more permanent material such as chalk.

The first and second ring spells cast on the external layer to stop all noise from exiting the ring, and another effect hides everything in the ring. The internal or second layer creates a huge amount of noise as an alarm.

Physical props could be set to marr the outer circle if they are disturbed, like the opening of a door or window, or an invisible stick being moved by accident.

Illusion of the Screaming Cacophony

Creo Imagonem 5, R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Circle

This spell creates a very loud continuous noise, intended as an alarm.

(Base 1, +1 Touch, +2 Ring, +1 very loud)

This effect is low enough it’s easy to cast spontaneously.

If you like these look for the 350+ more new spells for Ars Magica.

A small assortment of enchanted devices

Here is a selection of magical devices from an Ars Magica play-by-post game starting shortly. The devices are not overly different from the core spells they’re based on before being used in lesser enchanted devices, however as written there are a few key differences.

The intent of the first item is to provide a very dangerous spell effecting terms of the damage it inflicts, which is done by extending the duration of the normal lightning spell from a momentary lightning strike to a prolonged effect which surrounds the target. A +30 damage is very harmful already, with this effect that damage continues for 2 minutes.

Ring of Enveloping Lightning

The ring is enchanted as lesser device, with a “Prolonged Incantation of Lightning“, as a total effect level 60.

(CrAu40 – Base 5, +2 Voice, +4 unnatural, +1 Diameter), then Pen 34 (+17), 6 Uses per day (+3). Inflicts +30 damage per round for Diameter, knockdown effect as per spell in Ars p126.

The device shape is a small precious gem hidden within a plain silver ring, activated by touching the thumb to the ring and speaking the phrase “no more” in Latin.

The second ring is a defensive tool. As a ghost the wearer is removed from almost all typical sources of harm.

Ring of Ghostly Form

Enchanted as a lesser device, with “Form of the Lost Ancestor“, effect level 50.

MuCo/Me 40 (Base 30, +1 Conc, +1 Touch), Device Conc (5), 24 Uses (5). Form is a precious gem hidden within silver ring.

Effect will make the target insubstantial, similar to a ghost. They are unaffected by physical things such as weapons, beasts, the elements, and likewise cannot touch physical things, but remains visible. The target can move themselves at running speed.

The third device was invented to be thematic. It has no real game mechanical advantage.

An Illustrative History of the Order

A tapestry several paces wide and floor to curling tall, woven with the symbol of the Order of Hermes as a large central emblem which is surrounded by a sigil of each art, and then each house.

The Weave of Lore and Whimsy – effect Creo Imagonem 20 (CrIm 1, +1 moving, +2 variety of images, +1 complex high quality art, +2 Sun), +2 for 6 use/day, Env trigger +3 for sunrise and sunset. Tapping the edge of the tapestry three times in quick succession will also stop or begin the cycle.

The device’s effect shows a cycle of complex moving images which represent major stages and personalities in the history of the Order. Each image moves slightly to lend a depth, shadow, and movement. Each depiction still looks as if it was crafted in tapestry form, and also moves with it’s own animation.

E.g. The fire around Flambeau moves, as he stands in place. Akin to the Harry Potter portraits, stylised for medieval art. The symbol of Tytalus slowly turns clockwise and counter clockwise, the Bjornaer symbol morphs between cone, circle, triangle. Etc.

Events include The Founding, the Sundering, the Fight against the Spider, the war against Diedne, and thematic visualisation of each Founder, and many more (to suit a 2 mag increase in complexity!)

The last device is specifically chosen for communications and because the spell is apparently not viewed as scrying by the Order in the strictest sense.

The Orb of Telepresence

An orb of white marble one span in diameter, held in a rosewood and brass box.

Device level 60. Effect as per Haunt of the Living Ghost (CrIm/In 35) Ars Magica p.144, modified as a lesser device as: +5 Device maintains conc, +2 for 6 use/day, +18 Pen bonus +36.

Mundane gear: A switching circle

Ars Magica has a lot of scope for magical gear for Magi, but what about a useful mundane item?

Is a switching circle possible? Its a carabiner device which can be used during the casting of circle or ring spells. Device is closed and locked, but can be opened as soon as an effect needs to be cancelled. The ring/circle breaks and the spell ends. The stability of the circle is far stronger or reliable than drawing the circle in something like salt, or scribbled with a stick.

These could be designed into floors or carried in the caster’s palm so that they are portable (if the saga allows such things, portable circles are sometimes controversial).


Sneaky effects for magic items on the cheap

In Ars Magica there is a tendency (for me at least) to try to create spell effects and items that are powerful and flexible. When doing this it tends to make the final artifacts expensive in terms of time and resources.

I was thinking about a second approach, which would exploit the rules for quasi-permanent effects which the Duration: Ring provides. Essentially Ring is a duration that lasts for as long as the ring is maintained. With that in mind here is a few sneaky effects.

The Persistent Torch

To start with get a craftsman to create a sturdy circular compartment, something solid which the grog can drop and not break, anything really as long as it has a lid that will cover the insides well. In the design you need to note a few aspects: a place for the ring to be either carved or attached on the inside, and a separate space for the item which is to be enchanted. In layman’s terms this could be a very small wooden box with a clasp which shutters the insides.

The craftsman insets the separate piece of some material that is inexpensive and easy to enchant in the middle of the box – I’d choose wood as it will be darn cheap. Avoid metals and stones as affecting them with magic is harder than wood, and there is no need to blow out the spell size.

Then the effect is simple – a Creo Ignem effect at level 10 to 15, with base effect level of either 3 or 4, +1 mag for Touch, +2 for Ring. It really depends on how powerful the light is meant to be. A base 3 light is a torch equivalent, and this seems useful for a grog wishing to travel without attracting too much attention – at as a level 10 effect could be spont’d easily.

A base 4 the light created is as bright as a cloudy day, which is more than enough, although spont’ing that level of effect will take some effort for some younger magi. Either way it is castable, and creates a portable light which can be given to grogs; or perhaps even given to mundanes as a gift. Light has a huge quality of life benefit, especially to the poor.

As alternates duration Ring can be used for these other purposes too:

  • Granting heat and warmth to devices which increases the comfort of an inhabitant. Perhaps a carpet or small bed could be cast upon after being inscribed with a ring. Creo Ignem again for the effect, approx level 2 base effect will see a final effect level 5.
  • Create a fireplace which never expires. CrIg around level 5 as a base, with 20 as the final effect – would make a great comfy fire to heat a room.
  • Create a simple magical compass, using a Rego effect combined with an Intellego effect so that the target always points north. Rego Terram 10 as the total effect. Base effect 2 for slightly unnatural movement, with +1 Intellego requisite, and +1 for Touch, +2 for Ring. Makes for a great gift.
  • A Magus could have many of the lights crafted by a mundane craftsman, and spont cast the rings on the surface of each. This could give an almost endless amount of light for a lab with no outlay of Vis, and very little maintenance.
  • Simple wards to protect against vermin, humans, or beasts. Rego with an appropriate form of a level around 10. There are special rules for wards which mean they are far easier to cast too, so don’t ignore them.