Spark, an Arcane Lore WFRP spell (discussion)

Warhammer has no shortage of damaging spells, so this spell maybe superfluous. I wrote it up to illustrate what I think is a better spell than Bolt as it is easier to cast but also applies the Wind effect from the Wizard’s chosen Lore. It would be a go-to spell, especially for Wizards early in their career.

Spark (Arcane)

CN: 1, R: WP Yards, T: 1, D: Instant

You gather a wisp of wind and direct it as a chosen target, which acts as a magic missile inflicting +1 damage.

Maybe the intent between Dart and Bolt was to force a choice – where Dart is a basic damage effect, and Bolt reflects some significant investment.

Simple arcane marking spell for WFRP

A simple arcane spell used to inscribe or mark something. Often used to mark a wizard’s belongings, however also potentially to indicate any manner of hate, pettiness, or foul attitude.

Signia Arcana

CN: 3, R: Touch, T: 1, D: WPB Days, Arcane

The target creature or object is marked with a single glowing rune, sigil, or inscription chosen by the caster. This mark is typically placed on the forehead of the target, and often denotes a person or object important to the caster. The mark is imbued so it is simple to detect, glows unnaturally, and cannot be removed by normal means. As normal the spell may be dispelled by another caster.

Estimating the CN level for spells in WFRP is something of a mystery to me. This effect isn’t powerful in terms of heavy game mechanics, in game power level, and really could be a cantrip (is that Petty Magic?); except that Petty Magic don’t have CNs. That said, I made this spell last for many days so that the caster could use it to denote somebody who obviously has been recently talking to a wizard, and can have it’s duration and target expanded through Overcasting. CN:3 seemed a good level.

I’ll soon need a set of mechanics for CN estimation (which I’m writing at present, stay tuned).

Find a small but growing list of new spells for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay here.

Arcane Bridges – Tunnels between ACs in Ars Magica

I had a thought to trying forming an arcane tunnel between two thing which are arcane connections to each other, thereby allowing communication and spell casting between the two points at an equivalent of Range: Touch.

Why? Well those ACs might be enchanted devices which use spells to communicate.

So the “near” endpoint is not connected to the caster, but between two items that are already valid arcane connections to each other. Or the caster can target the endpoint near them as normal, and not be directly target-able from the other end. Or allow another Magus near one endpoint to target the other location. Or as a mechanism for two parts of an enchanted device to send signals to another without using the R: AC for the subsequent spells.

Opening the Intangible Bridge

Rego Vim Gen, R: Arcane Connection, D: Concentration, T: Individual

This spell opens a magical tunnel between two arcane connections, one of which is in the possession of the caster. Spells cast through this tunnel must be at least one magnitude less than the level of this spell.

(Base Gen, +4 Arc, +1 Conc, +1 additional Arcane target)

And a version to affect all the endpoints if multiple ACs are to be used, using target: Group.

Opening the Intangible Network

Rego Vim / Imaginem Gen, R: Arcane Connection, D: Concentration, T: Group

This spell opens a magical tunnel between either the caster and a set of up to ten arcane connections, or an arcane connection the caster posses and a set of endpoints. Spells cast through this tunnel must be at least two magnitudes less than the level of this spell, and may optionally use the target: Group to affect all endpoints at once.

(Base Gen, +4 Arc, +1 Conc, +2 Group)

These and other new Ars Magica spells are found in the Grimoire.

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

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