A Minuscule Immovable Lab

Edit: this should be called “Minuscule Movable Lab”, clearly I missed the title. 

A quick post with an odd purpose – to shrink a room or lab down to a tiny size so it is easier to transport. For this to work the lab or building would need to be constructed specifically as a container, so that once it is very small it can be picked up like a storage box. Another spell then follows to ensure the room’s contents stay intact as it is carried.

What I really love about using a Target of Structure or Room is that the complexity of all the content is in-built in the effect. There is no additional scaling needed to target everything within the room. My reservation is that these spells are very high level, which means only more advanced PCs might be able to have them.

Chamber as Ornament

Muto Terram 40, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Room

The target room and all its non-living contents is shrunk to a tiny size; a standard room is shrunk to a thumbnail, with the content also reducing proportionally. The caster can opt to affect only the room’s contents. Requisites are required when cast on non-Terram materials.

(Base 4, +1 Touch, +3 Moon, +2 Room, +2 incredibly small)

For the design of Chamber as Ornament picking the base level was normally for a doubling of each dimension, or an increase of mass by eight times. In Ars Magica it is also generally easier to shrink a thing than to enlarge a thing. When reducing a 16x reduction is reasonable at the base, and for a room that turns a chamber into a chest. A further reduction by adding another magnitude makes that chest into a cup, then another for a cup to a thumbnail.

Another design consideration was the Duration of Moon which is how I see the spell being effective, however both these spells are better as enchanted devices which can be turned on and off.

Then to keep the items in place when the room is shrunk this spell is needed. It might also serve to ensure a lab is slightly harder to break into and ransack. The caster must also have a way to remove it if they need to – which is where the power is probably best as a complex enchanted item.

Keep Everything in Place

Rego Terram 40, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Room

The target room and all its contents is fixed in place so that nothing can move. Objects stay as placed, doors are held, and pots of water will stay full even if disoriented.

This spell does not affect living targets such as trees, animals, or people. Requisites are required when cast on non-Terram materials.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +3 Moon, +2 Room)

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

Spells to Repair a Dwelling

Over time I’ve written a few new Perdo and Rego spells for Terram and Herbam to damage parts of objects or structures (often using Target: Part as it is slightly harder but far more versatile), so in support of a breadth of magical spells for Ars Magica, here are a few ways to repair buildings and structures.

There are two approaches: Creo rituals which might be thought of as healing or restoring damage, and Rego Crafting spells (Houses of Hermes: Societates, Rego and Creo Craft Magic p. 60) which reconstruct the building using available materials. In design I think both need to be specific to the base materials involved, and requisites which may be required.

For using Creo there is a canonical spell with a similar effect which can be used to benchmark the difficulty. The spell Seal the Breach (a CrTe20 Ritual, Lords of Men sourcebook, p.116) repairs a gap within one wall, however a new spell with a larger effect and broader applications is far more useful and no more complicated or powerful.

Recondition the Battered Castle

Creo Terram / Herbam 20, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Structure, Ritual

The targeted wood, stone, and glass structure is repaired of all structural damage, such breached walls, collapsed rooms, fallen ceiling, etc.

The repairs are basic and very likely obvious, so while they are functional they lack any ornate features, quality finish, or embellishments.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +3 Structure, +1 complexity)

With every ritual having a minimum level 20, it makes sense to load as much scope into the effect if the spell will initially be lower than level 20.

Recondition the Battered Walkway

Creo Terram / Herbam 20, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Part, Ritual

The targeted wood, stone, and glass is repaired of all structural damage, such breached walls, collapsed rooms, fallen ceiling, etc. Or if the structure is too large for  a single casting, this spell can affect part of the greater whole and be applied many times.

The repairs are basic and very likely obvious, so while they are functional they lack any ornate features, quality finish, or embellishments.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +1 Part, +3 size)

Another higher level ritual is needed to include complexity of an ornate structure, such as a damaged Conjured Mystic Tower; written up below. I like the fact that casting another CtMT would be cheaper than using this ritual, because it makes a kind of sense that while the tower was once a single piece of stone, it now is better treated as a structure with all its content. Nice too that all the items within the tower have the option to be repaired.

Recondition the Mystic Tower

Creo Terram / Herbam 40, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Structure, Ritual

The targeted structure and all its content is repaired of all wood, glass, stone, and metal structural damage, such as breached walls, collapsed rooms, or fallen ceiling.

The repairs suitably match the quality of the base structure, making repairs invisible unless a requisite material is missing.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +3 Structure, +3 complexity)

A version for a boundary might be a more simple solution to covenants which are initially in a state of disrepair.

Recondition the Ruined Township

Creo Terram / Herbam 35, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Boundary, Ritual

All dwellings within the defined boundary made from wood, stone, and glass are repaired of all structural damage, such breached walls, collapsed rooms, fallen ceiling, etc.

The repairs are basic and very likely obvious, so while they are functional they lack any ornate features, quality finish, or embellishments.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +4 Boundary, +1 complexity)

For approaches using Rego more interpretation is needed as the Rego crafting kick-in, there is also a degree of complexity involved when trying to use Rego in large areas. Instead of a spell affecting an entire castle the Rego magic works better when it is targeted to a much smaller area, both in the volume of material needed and also the complexity and effort modifications in the Finesse skill checks.

Renovation of the Neglected Walkway

Rego Terram / Herbam 25, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Group

Using appropriate available materials the caster can repair damage to buildings and walls made from stone, metal, or wood. To ensure the reconstruction is suitable a successful Finesse check vs 12+ is required for each repaired segment. Detailed planning and assistance from expert sources may reduce the Finesse difficulty for a specific area.

This spell will not prepare the source materials or ensure they are fit for purpose, so other spells may be required.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +2 Group, +1 group size)

Comprehend the Handwork of Dilapidation

Intellego Terram / Herbam 25, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Part

This spell allows the caster to examine a whole structure or segment, and understand its current state of disrepair. The information gleaned extends beyond basic damage to include the internal structures and how it might best be repaired.

(Base 15, +1 Touch, +1 Part)

These and over 552 other new spells for Ars Magica can be found here.

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. 

450 spells


The blog has now 450 spells for Ars Magica by year’s end, which means working in between work and family it’s possible to write roughly 50 new spells a season. Not sustainable, but possible.  Many are variations on a similar themes, so perhaps an inflated figure; still I think that’s a good result for 2016.

It’ll slow down in 2017. I’m drafting and writing far less than earlier in the year probably due to the Ars Magica games going on hold and work/life demands. Next year I’m also hoping to pickup another game to focus on, and still keep the Ars Magica rpg blog posts ticking over too. There is a Deathwatch module I’ve half written, and initial thoughts for a more streamlined fantasy rpg mechanics based upon some of Ars and some of d100.

Happy holidays folks, see you next year.

Bjornaer mystery spells

One of the most intriguing and rarely used style of spell in the Ars Magica RPG are those introduced as Sensory Magic (from Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults, p.27-31). The source book contains very apt example spells however custom spells are rare. An exception is the book Through the Aegis, which has four Sensory Magic spells, relating to a lion heartbeast.

Until very recently I didn’t understand how they might be used (now a little more so).

The Sensory Magic (SM) mechanics allow the magus to target people who perceive them in one way or another instead of the Magus perceiving the target. SM must deliver the magical effect via a sense, and it has both very specific limitations around the magic being linked to the bestial style of the magus, and the style of effects possible. A major limitation is SM spell effects may not be placed in enchanted devices.

Being a House Bjornaer mystery virtue also means that any SM spells are likely to be only known by a sub-set of House Bjornaer; which again limits their adoption by players.

E.g. A spell based upon a peacock’s beautiful plume which is cast by the Bjornaer upon themselves might allow them to seduce or impress those who see them. The presence of a peacock is used as the basis for the glamour, as relates thematically to the effect, and also reflects the spells delivery.

Wonderfully specific uses, and dangerously powerful as the spells do not need to be recast when the targeted creatures around them change – as it is by their presence that the magic may affect them.

Evasion of the Alley Cat

Rego Corpus / Animal 5, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Texture, Sensory Magic

Those who touch the caster or their personal items find their hand, limb, or mouth uncontrollable. This grants the caster a significant bonus to resisting grappling or constriction attacks, and grabbing the caster is all but impossible. The spell is designed to affect beast and people alike.

(Base 2 – to loose control of a body part, +1 Diameter, +1 Texture, +1 Animal)

Flavour of the Dripping Toad

Creo Mentem / Animal 10, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Flavor, Sensory Magic

Those who taste the caster or their personal items are rendered confused, unable to take clear action for the duration of the spell. This spell is designed to affect beast and people alike.

(Base 4, +1 Diameter, +0 Flavor, +1 Animal)

Lilt of the Gentle Songbird

Creo Mentem 15, R: Personal, D: Momentary, T: Sound, Sensory Magic

Those who hear the caster’s voice are sent to sleep.

(Base 4, +3 Sound)

Revulsion of the Pungent Skunk

Rego Corpus 20, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Scent, Sensory Magic

Those who smell the caster or their personal items are find themselves struck with vomiting and ill-health, and may recover only after purging their bodies.

(Base 5 – to invoke vomiting, +1 Diameter, +2 Scent)

Poise of the Magnificent Peacock

Creo Mentem 35, R: Personal, D: Sun, T: Spectacle, Sensory Magic

Anyone who sees the caster will be more inclined to be attracted and impressed by their manner, dress, and poise. This greatly influences reactions in suitable scenarios by granting a +3-6 bonus to the caster for suitable rolls.

(Base 5, +2 Sun, +4 Spectacle)

These spells are part of the free new spells compendium for Ars Magica.

Rules tweak for Ars exploding rolls

I love the concept of a stress dice in Ars Magica 5th edition, and liked the Quality dice roll in the older editions too. One aspect that slows a table down is when a 1 is rolled on the stress dice and doubling mechanic kicks in.

As a player I dislike the rolling a 1 then a low number as it makes the “doubling” result somewhat disappointing. In stress rolls it is also a little odd in the number distribution of a 1d10 roll to have a zero as a potential botch and a one as the potential for greatness.

So instead I’m pondering a 1d10 roll where a result of 1 is a check for botch, and a 10 causes an additional roll where 10 is added to the result. Then the botch check treats a 1 as bad instead of a 10 so that the rolls are consistent. A further tweak might be skip the additional roll equal to dice+9 rather than +10, to distribute the result. Each 10 rolled in a row indicates a +9 on the next roll.

What will it be like in play?

Very similar to current, and more logical.

Milestone unlocked: 102 spells for Ars Magica


It’s been a while since I started blogging spells for Ars Magica – in fact several years. Recently I published my 102nd spell which I’m proud to have reached. If Ars blogging was a game an Achievement icon would have pop’ed onscreen, ding! All the spells can be found on this page.


a story tidbit

The man runs quickly down a muddy overgrown track. Branches whip as he races and behind him the sun drops below the tree line. He pants and scrambles as he moves through the scrub. A dishevelled beard, ratty clothes, and a scrawny collection of old furs cover his body. A fur bundle clutched to his panting chest. Clearly afraid, he runs. It must be saved.

In the distance a bell sounds, the tone warping strangely as it peals over the trees. Everything here is discordant.

When the man pauses his running it becomes clear how thin his frame is and how malnourished he must be. The fear in his eyes explaining why the ice and snow underfoot hardly slow him. He is breathing hard even while standing still, chest heaving.

The bell tones again, it’s tone becoming dull and flat far too soon. Is it dull or is his mind now addled? He stretches his back, breathes in deeply, then begins running again. As he moves his breath makes streams of fog behind him. He runs.

The bell tones a final time, the sound faint now but still ending shortly, like a hand has muffled the vibrations, like silencing the bark of an errant dog.

As he moves from the track into the proper woods the brush thins and the trees spread themselves sparsely so that the tepid moonlight teases down into the leaves, but does not reach enough of the ground below. His tired eyes gain nothing from the light except the realisation that almost any other night would have been better than the washed out light he has chosen tonight. Did he even choose? A slow hiss spoken far away reaches his ears. He runs faster.

His fear slides to dread, they know he has escaped. It knows too, and the safety of the border is well too far.

Reluctantly he stops running and then searches the trees around him. He reaches into the fur bundle to the small crucifix pecked from rotten wood by his bloody fingernails. It’s surface caked in old blood and the wood is black in the shallow light. Shaking hands bundle scrawled leathers into snow. His hands work to scape away the frost then the old earth so that the bundle can be sunk deep.

The hiss comes again, sounding louder and stronger. He can picture the brown and yellow teeth and thin craggy hands of the owner.

He presses the crucifix atop the replaced snow, and wipes his jittery hands down the sodden rough tunic. Standing still takes determination, he silently prays for a moment. It is all the time he really has left.

Resigned now, he runs again. Any direction, away from the bundle.

The third hiss is so close he can almost hear the chipper chatter of her teeth, her long drawn breath, and imagine the thin unpleasant smile; lips stretched too tight across sharpened teeth and eyes uncaring by design. “Ssss-slow my beautiful sssnow. You make me sssad, so don’t run so.”

Snow. His old name and the hiding place of the only legacy which matters now. His breath puffs between cracked lips as he lets out a grunted laugh. His legs slow him, his back rises, lifting his sweeping limbs from the ground. They have him again. She has him. As she materialises in front of him from the dank air his chin and arms shake, face wet with tears.

“Ahhhh, my beautiful boy. Home sssssnow, we must go.”

Ars 5e in the wild

ars5e-stkilda-libI chuckled happily when wandering through the roleplaying section of St Kilda library, and found a copy of Ars Magica 5th edition. Ars is a niche game and not a book I’d expect to see aside Pathfinder, DnD, and some of the other larger games they had.

That said, the core rules give you all you need, so why not!

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