spells from an Oceanic Merinita

These spells were going to be invented by an ocean, wave and storm magus in a recent game hat I’ve had to exit.

Personal Ward Against Iron

Rego Terram 20, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Individual

The caster is warded against iron, which is deflected away automatically when it approaches their personal space.

(Base 5 to ward against dirt, +1 Diameter, +2 iron)

Swim Safely Among the Ice Flows

Muto Aquam / Ignem 5, R: Touch, D: Concentration, T: Special

The water immediately around the caster is warmed so it will no longer chill people or objects.

(Base 2, +1 Touch, +1 Concentration, +1 Unusual target surrounding the caster)

A few spells for a Magus with a strong focus in Aquam, a major virtue of Elemental Magic, and also a magical Vulnerability to Iron. On first look a boiling oil spell seems to need an additional requisite, however not for the elemental magus, who can ignore the effect of the Ignem requisite in the spell calculations. Harder for most magi to cast so they probably wouldn’t bother, but not for all magi.

I think these spells are justified as a CrAq spell could create water, optionally boiling water with an Ignem requisite at the same Base 4 as the base to boil water is also CrIg Base 4. Creating normal oil is equivalent to water as shown in the Creeping Oil spell in the Ars Magica book uses a Base 3.

I have also assumed that the example spells like Creeping Oil and the other Aquam spells show that boiling oil needs the Ignem requisite and a minimum level equivalent to CrIg4, instead of reducing the amount of oil produced downward by one more step in the base guidelines. That would make it similar to a strong acid and other highly corrosive Aquam or Terram based materials.

Jet of Bubbling Oil

Creo Aquam / Ignem 15, R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Individual

Projects a large splash of boiling oil on a victim inflicting +12 damage.

(Base 4 “to create a liquid in an unnatural shape”, +2 Voice, +1 boiling liquid)

The Base amount created for oil is still a very large volume relative to the size of a human victim, so it is quite likely to cover a significant part of the victim which doubles the base damage of boiling oil from +6 to +12.

I initially started to consider allowing an athletics check to avoid some damage however the same should then apply to CrIg effects – and that just isn’t so. This is a conjured material so it can be automatically targeted as desired, and is resisted my MR or Parma Magica – again, just like Ignem spells.

A key risk for Aquam spells which isn’t really considered in the spell mechanics is the splash effects. A spray of oil will be potentially harmful to everything around it, and while that is not reflected in the rules in many places the same is true for many forms of direct damage.

Then moving on to more dangerous spells. Continue reading

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New Target: Illuminated

Discussed a decade or so ago, T: Illuminated is interesting as it has aspects of sensory magic and might be a useful addition to the special faerie duration: Fire. The idea is that the target may include anything which is illuminated by a light source. That light source may be mundane or magical, and can be anything from a candle, a roaring fire, or a magical beam of light.

Target: Illuminated (+2) The spell may affect any number of targets who are presently illuminated by a light source. The target is also expanded by an additional secondary light source per magnitude, where the secondary light source is within illumination range of the first. This allows a chain of illumination to be established. Illumination is also valid if spread or reflected by natural means (reflective water, mirrors, etc).

I think it is a clever extension to include non-magical reflection. If the illumination is spread in special natural ways by mirrors then the spell target is also manipulated. Likewise something which protects from illumination is also protected, so standing behind a barrier will allow somebody to avoid the spell; although the barrier itself would be valid.

A sample use could be:

Nonna’s Unbelievable Stories

Perdo Mentem 35, R: Voice, D: Fire, T: Illuminated

People illuminated by the targeted fire will believe almost any passable lie while the fire burns, even after they have left the light.

(Base 4, +2 Voice, +3 Fire, +2 Illuminated)

Free new spells compendium for Ars Magica.

Laboratory Activity without a lab?

Wandering Magi typically have limited access to a laboratory, so will rarely be able to create a lot of spells and items. Enforcing the rules of no-lab-no-results encourages Magi to join covenants and to find novel solutions to not having a readily available laboratory – however I think there is reason to allow Magi some capability to invent spells while away from their labs.

First – I’m happy to acknowledge this breaks the rules, or that the degree of the bonus needs to be changed to suit different games. And yes, it add complexity in a system which is already full of options and rules – YSMV.

The Apprentices source book introduced the idea that casual experience points can be spent on spont cast spells, at a rate of one point per level, to allow a magus (in this case an apprentice, see “Learning Cantations in Play” in Apprentices p.46) to learn a spell gradually. This makes a lot of sense for learning while doing, and when the option is presented among a set of level 3-5 spells it makes sense as they can be purchase cheaply without distracting the apprentice from other learning.

There are several small effects which might also be worth learning. Detecting vis, detecting aura, and a host of other low level spells which are frequently cast spontaneously are great candidates.

aside – Two spells from the Apprentices book look great (p.46-ish) – A Pestilence of Fleas (MuIm4, to itch the target so much they have a -1 on actions) and Whispering Fingers (CrMe5, whisper into the mind of somebody you can touch) are good examples. Both very useful, especially suffering a -1 to a target in combat, or following up a whisper into the mind of your target via an Intangible Tunnel.

Consider that a magus can learn these easily with a lab, and take a season. However that ignores the fact that a season has an opportunity cost for what else could have been done. Could the magus buy these spells instead of invent them themselves? Could these spells be learnt in the same season as others, thereby being stacked for efficiency.

This optional rule “opens the door” as an example of a magus learning a spell without a lab. Using the rules in Apprentices the magus just needs to cast the spell spontaneously and spend xp on it.

I guess that the rationale is that the caster is experiencing the spell and earning its subtle aspects again and again in-Play, so should be able to learn it without a lab eventually.

This seems like a casual way to learn a spell, but what if that magus applies themselves to practicing aspects of a specific more complex effect and devotes time to learning it as a seasonal activity despite not having a Hermetic lab?

As a House Rule a magus can progressively design spells without a lab within the following rough guidelines:

  • If the Magus is trying to invent a spell whilst performing some other activity which takes up most of their time, then the success points accumulated beyond the level of the spell is one fifth its normal value. Always rounded down.
  • If the Magus is distracted by many chores or goals, however they have enough downtime to spend pondering and designing; such as touring safely between a few covenants, or stuck aboard a ship, the success points are divided by four.
  • If the Magus is doing little else except trying to invent a spell however they still lack a lab, such as living at a covenant where a lab space is absent, the success points are divided by three.

Some examples:

A beginning magus with a low-ish lab total around level 25 is seeking to invent a level 5 effect while travelling and camping in the wild. Normally the magus would accumulate 20 success points per season, however the travel, rest, and logistics reduce this total down to 4 per season. The junior Magus is able to scratch away at a minor spell while he travels and hunts for 2 seasons (or a level 10 in five seasons).

A very mature Magus seeks to stay productive while visiting another covenant. The host covenant does not have a guest lab, however the Magus is provided with ample rooms, and the political and social activity is not at all arduous. He returns to his notes on a pet project within his focus and specialty, normally generating a level 65 lab total, on a niche spell at level 20. However his success total is reduced to one third, from 45 down to 15 which is still enough to generate the spell in two seasons (or a level 15 effect in a season, or a level 30 effect in three seasons).

The rationale for this is the Magus is able to gain some success points on a magical activity whilst doing something else, and that they can slowly progress their work. The invention might happen in disjointed seasons, say perhaps one season a year where the Magus travels for some obligation to their apprentice or House – they get some productivity.

Obviously the players need to ratify this suggestion to be used in the Ars game. The intent is to allow a magus to be productive on the same complexity of effect as normal, however to reduce their effective productivity.

And as always I’d like to add a few new spells into the wider community based upon one of the spells in the Apprentices book. A Pestilence of Fleas lends itself to a greater version for combat against groups – perhaps A Carpet of Fleas instead? Sure, not a huge change, but disruptive for crowds and armies.

A Pestilence of Nipping Bugs

Muto Imagonem 10, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Group

This sensory illusion makes all the targets itch, any tasks requiring Concentration or physical activity are penalized by –1.

(Base 1, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter, +2 Group)

As an Inagonem spell it isn’t locked to humans or animals…so lots of diversity in use.

A Pestilence of Fleas for Months

Muto Imagonem 10, R: Voice, D: Moon, T: Individual

This sensory illusion makes all the targets itch, any tasks requiring Concentration or physical activity are penalized by –1.

(Base 1, +2 Voice, +3 Moon)

Curse of Imaginary Pestilence

Muto Imagonem 20, R: Voice, D: Until, T: Individual, Faerie, Ritual

This sensory illusion makes all the targets itch and smell of rot, any tasks requiring Concentration or physical activity are penalized by –1, until the caster utters a sentence of forgiveness.

(Base 2, +2 Voice, +4 Until)

A spell for a warrior wizard

Mentioned in a blog post, a reworking of cannon spell Assume the Stature of the Giants of El Cid (MuCo10, MoH, p.49).

Assume the Stature of the Titans of Rome

Muto Corpus 15, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Individual

Caster’s body and equipment is increased to +6 size. At size +6 humanoid is truly massive, approx 100 times the weight of a normal human. At Size +6, the caster’s wounds have 11-point increments.

(Base 3, +1 Diam, +2 size, +1 to increase equipment as well)

a war

A Giant Precedent, spell discussion for Magus Morat

Morat is a combat oriented Magus for a play-by post-game who is deliberately gruff and also highly focused on physical mundane combat.

Designing Morat for the game was simple as Ars Magica has many spells which enhance combat abilities on one way or another. There were too many good options so I picked a few stable spells (Edge of the Razor, Endurance of the Berserkir) and hunted one or two from outside the base rulebook.

One stood out in particular : Assume the Stature of the Giants of El Cid (MoH p.49, MuCo15). This is a spell which increases the size of the caster and also increases their gear and equipment.

I think this spell might be controversial because:

  1. it explicitly allows the caster’s personal items and combative equipment to be enlarged at the same time as the caster, using a +1 magnitude increase. With no mention of how many items.
  2. It does so also without any consideration to how complex or detailed the items are.
  3. The spell makes no mention of casting requirements, and clearly the intent is to change weapons and armour.
  • This sets a precedent for a small magnitude increase to do this in other spells, which is significantly different from what I expected. I’m happy as it’s now canon that this can occur, however I thought it would be harder.
  • This +1 mag for gear adds legitimacy (in my humble opinion) to adding sub effects in Muto transformation spells, and also to making other hybrid Muto spells slightly easier.

    If this wasn’t presented I would have argued that the increase should have been more like +2 and included a note in the spell text to force casting time requisites. Why?

    Well basically these points, however these are a very pessimistic view of spell complexity:

    • It affects multiple items the caster is carrying, perhaps it should have been +2 Group?
    • It affects clothes which are arguably free, but also weapons and arms, which are not.
    • It affects steel, cloth, leather and all manner of other Forms. Perhaps +1-2?

    As a counter in support of the plain +1 increase there is the notion of a small sub-effect in a spell adding a magnitude, and a large spell adding a +2.

    In this case enlarging several worm items as a separate spell would:

    • Still be a Muto spell,
    • Perhaps would be using a higher Base from Terram instead of Corpus,
    • Might be argued as a generic size increasing spell, which we can see in other spells.

    So what is the conclusion? Ars Magica is darn interesting and play what makes you happy, is balanced, and tells a good story.

    Personally I love the fact that this spell exists and it allows the Magus to be closer to mythical. On balance I’m a supporter but I can see the wider issues this introduces.

    The spell when taken by Morat was boosted in effect to increase the size of the caster by a further magnitude, which I renamed to Assume the Stature of the Titans of Rome. So yeah, I took the El Cid spell and boosted it a little more – because at some point it breaks and just before that point is darn interesting.

    Happy role playing folks, enjoy your Ars Magica games.

    Giants vs Vikings

    Variations on supernatural creature might stripping spells

    I couldn’t find a room based Demon’s Eternal Oblivion (Ars Magica, p.160, Perdo Vim) so here are variants mixing supernatural realms, and demonstrating scaling up for Perdo Vim spells for rooms and big structures.

    Strike Against the Undesirable Faerie

    Perdo Vim General, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual

    Reduces the Faerie Might of the creature touched by (Level of this spell +5), as long as the spell penetrates each creatures magical resistance.

    (Base Gen, +1 Touch)

    This effect could (arguably) be learnt at PeVi1 and still inflict +6 Might damage. This also shows that there are ways to help penetrate against powerful supernatural creatures when each dice roll counts; and could also be invested in a device to gain additional penetration – particularly a weapon with an “on-strike” trigger.

    Excise the Unwelcome Magical Guests

    Perdo Vim General, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Room

    Reduces the Magical Might of all suitable creatures inside the affected chamber by (Level of this spell -5), as long as the spell penetrates each creatures magical resistance.

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

    Scaling means that this spell taken at PeVi5 has no effect, however at level 10 the spell will still inflict 5 points of night and may also identify creatures affected by they spell as they react. It’s a spell that probably is only spont cast by powerful wizards.

    Excise the Unwholesome Demonic Interlopers

    Perdo Vim General, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Structure

    Reduces the Infernal Might of all suitable creatures inside the affected structure by (Level of this spell -10), as long as the spell penetrates each creatures magical resistance.

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

    Ward against arrows, spells against Archers

    The spell Shriek of Impending Shafts (Ars Magica p.136, InHe15) is a darn effective defense spell against wooden missiles. However it does not really neutralise the threat of an archer against others. So here are two approaches to better deal with archers.

    Malevolent Gift of Roses

    Muto Herbam 25, R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Group

    All items with wooden parts on the target are changed to roses. The spell is intended to be cast upon an enemy archer or soldier however it may also be used on any valid Group target.

    (Base 3 to make one Herbam product into another, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter, +2 Group, +1 sub-parts of complex items)

    The spell could also be used to ruin any item or thing which has wooden parts. Ladders, carts, and so on.

    In the spell design I’ve opted to pay an extra magnitude to be able to affect the wood in component items, to affect a Group, and to do so for a fair duration in most fights – that is potentially overkill. The intent is to make the archer all but useless, and will probably make many parts of soldiers, workmen, and many other targets equally frustrated.

    It would also be useful if scaled up for really large groups, however as it stands will affect a group of people in a fighting formation too as they form a valid target group. The limitation of this approach for arrows is that it is not plausible to affect all foes as there may be many of them and not in a group.

    Ward Against Staves and Arrows

    Rego Herbam 20, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Individual

    Caster is protected against wooden weapons and missiles, which may not touch the caster.

    (Base 15, +1 Diameter)

    The ward could be changed to be R:Touch or an extended duration D:Sun for safety while travelling. These spells are part of the free new spells compendium for Ars Magica.