Carving a Mystic Tower

Another variation for creating dwellings in Ars Magica is the idea of carving them from the rock, rather than conjuring them. In this way the caverns, rooms, hallways, etc, are hollowed from the foundation materials and no elaborate vis expending ritual is needed.A carving spell could also convert a cliff face into a separate tower too, as the spell would be effective above ground or below as long as the right sort of materials were present.

A darn good idea, however implementing the spell should come with some significant pragmatic limitations.

Given a large enough mass of rock, unearthly patience, and a lot of time a skilled artisan could hollow an internal city from bedrock; perhaps akin to the Mines of Moria from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Or just a little humble storage or extra meeting space for a growing covenant or cult. Or perhaps given a large enough boulder, a simple dwelling or blind could be crafted.

underground-stairway

Firstly due credit – The source idea for this post was a thread about¬†Carving a Mystic Tower¬†raised on the Atlas Games Ars Magica forums, where in turn an old 4th edition supplement The Sanctuary of Ice originally mentioned the spell effect in passing. I hadn’t considered a carving effect when proposing alternatives and extensions to the CtMT post I wrote earlier.

Beginning with how the spell might function, there are several key considerations.

  • How does the caster identify a suitable area of effect which will be structurally sound? Probably with Intellego magic, to determine what size area they have to work with, and where the structural load is, so as to not threaten the strength of the surrounding area.
  • Should an Intellego component be mandatory? I’d say so, unless the scenario is darn simple, like a very small space in an area which has no other load or foundations.
  • Can the carving be done in very small segments? Sure, subject to the time the caster has, it is very reasonable to only carve small segments at a time.
  • Which magical Arts are appropriate? Perdo and Terram obviously. I’d support Rego too, as a way to emulate the work performed by skilled miners, with a darn significant complexity modifier to the Finesse ability check.

Structure of the caverns would need to follow the natural strengths of the surrounding material, and you’d probably see many areas where the foundations just couldn’t be tunneled through without affecting the structure above. This will mean curving chambers and odd shaped rooms.

The size of the area of effect it a major factor. It is more complex to tunnel a long extended area than a shallow alcove. Typical magnitudes for complexity can handle this scaling up well.

The spell needs to be either cast in partnership with an Intellego effect, or have an Intellego effect built in to verify there is no negative effect on the strength of the surrounding materials.

There is also the major consideration that many places just would not be appropriate targets for the spell. A solid mass of bedrock is the ideal target, and anything less is going to have either only a fraction of the benefit, or be totally inappropriate for the spell.

Example spells,

A simple approach for these sets of spells is to design them as individual parts of a more complex set of spells, and allow the interaction to build to a complex outcome. Firstly I think it makes a lot of sense to separate the spell to find and plan the carving effect from the spell which performs the work. That adds a requirement that the caster have the Intellego spell active when they are casting, and that makes good practical sense.

Here are two variants of the carvings spell, for different size results.

Hollow the Mystic Vault

Perdo Terram 25, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Part

The stone mass targeted by this spell is destroyed in a manner consistent with the caster’s desires, typically in such a way to create hollows, rooms, or internal spaces. The spell does not allow for a sophisticated level of detail, and is limited to simple sets of interconnected geometric shapes. A maximum volume of up to 10 cubic paces of stone can be affected at one time.

(Base 4 Destroy rock or stone, +1 Touch, +1 Part, +2 size increase, +1 complexity)

Hollow the Mystic Mausoleum

Perdo Terram 35, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Part

The stone mass targeted by this spell is destroyed in a manner consistent with the caster’s desires, typically in such a way to create hollows, rooms, or internal spaces. The spell does not allow for a sophisticated level of detail, and is limited to simple sets of interconnected geometric shapes. A maximum volume of up to 1000 cubic paces of stone can be affected at one time.

(Base 4 Destroy rock or stone, +1 Touch, +1 Part, +4 size increase, +1 complexity)

Then the caster will need a way to determine where to tunnel. Initially the Intellego spell was designed as Duration: Concentration however this did not seem to reflect the complexity and “what-if” style design choices the caster would be making from the information provided by the spell.

Update: This effect as originally written was lacking; D:Sun makes little sense and it needed to be T: Part to select an area of land from the whole.

Survey the Foundations of Mound and Mountain

Intellego Terram 25, R: Touch, D: Concentration, T: Part

The caster understands the current earthen formation across an area of natural earth and stone, and comprehends formations, features, structural stress points or weaknesses, use of foundations, and gains a detailed understanding of the ramifications of excavating within the area.

The time taken to understand the scope of an area varies with the areas size. A small area a few paces across is immediate, up to a fortress sized area which will take hours to fully comprehend.

The spell is intended to be used as part of the design of new structures, however it may also be used for a variety of other purposes, such as tracking where an underground stream travels, or where to best place sappers when attacking fortified walls.

(Base 10 for all the natural properties of an object, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, +1 Part)

More custom spells can be found in the New Spells for Ars Magica page.

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A selection of spells for a Terram Wizard

What type of spell effects would a Terram mage desire? I’m glad you asked. Here a few spells involving Terram magic in one way or another.

Portentous Levitation of the Mighty Obelisk

Rego Terram 30, R: Sight, D: Concentration, T: Group

Move an exceptionally large volume of stone as directed by the caster. A single block of up to 10 cubic paces in volume, or any smaller combination of stones may be moved, with the massive blocks moving at walking pace and smaller blocks moving as fast as a bird flies. The spell’s normal behavior is to float the mass a pace above the ground so that it follows behind the caster for the spell’s duration, and the stones will do so unless controlled otherwise.

The effect can be used to make the stone float high into the air up to the range of the spell.

When the effect is cancelled the stone will be have naturally, which may be used as a targeted attack using Finesse to crush a target. Dropping the stone or cancelling the spell above a target may crush them, inflicting +5 for a fist sized rock, +10 for a building stone, +21 for a large boulder, and up +35 for a massive obelisk or a massive volume of rocks.

A successful Finesse roll is required to strike a target. Particularly large blocks or a large number of blocks will be easier to target, and can inflict structural damage to buildings. It may however take more than one combat round to place the blocks above a target. The sheer volume of rock moved with the spell could also lift small modest sized stone dwellings from the ground, or slowly tear walls apart.

(Base 3 to move earth in a very unnatural fashion, +1 affect stone, +3 Sight , +1 Concentration, +2 Group)

This effect is similar to the Ominous Levitation of the Weighty Stone (HoH:S p38), and can be used to guide damage effects for different sized slabs. The intent was to provide a utility spell for moving stone, which also has far more combative potential.

This spell uses the Target Group so that many dangerously large stones can be moved around. On a battlefield that will make a very effective difference.

Aside – I had to google to find out what a cubic pace was, and how large it might be. It’s a disused measure which is wonderfully medieval. A cubic pace is cube with three feet to each side (forum discussion). Anything which is made from 10 cubic paces of stone is large and very heavy (approx 25 tons); crushingly so for squishy things like men and beasts.

The spell is intimidating but not very subtle. To rectify that an invisibility effect is needed.

Hide the Frightening Mass

Perdo Imagonem 25, R: Touch, D: Concentration, T: Group

Render the target object or creature invisible (any combination of mass up to 100 standard Corpus sized images) for the spell’s duration. The image destroyed could be a single large object, or many small ones.

(Base 4, +1 Touch, +1 Concentration, +2 Group, +1 size increase)

To make the spell more battle worthy the Terram specalist might employ a few cancellation effects, using Perdo Vim; and a Muto or Rego Vim spell to maintain it longer than concentration.

Any self respecting Terram wizard should be able to conjure sand, stone, mud, clay, or steel. Conceptually the style of spell to do so is very similar to each other, but according to the way Hermetic magic works separate spells are needed.

Conjuration of the Sand and Clay Deluge

Creo Terram 15, R: Voice, D: Sun, T: Individual

This spell creates up to 100 cubic paces of clay, dirt, mud, or sand. The caster can choose the volume of material, the shape it initially appears, and the point it appears when the spell is cast. This flexibility has a range of uses such as burying opponents, quickly summoning barriers, or even dampening fires.

(Base 1 for 10 cubic paces, +2 Voice, +2 Sun, +1 size, +1 flexibility in material and volume)

Then a variation to show how massive proportions of material are possible but probably unneeded; 100 or 10,000 cubic paces is a significant change, but I think the first spell will be enough.

Conjuration of the Sand and Clay Tide

Creo Terram 25, R: Voice, D: Sun, T: Individual

This spell creates up to 10,000 cubic paces of clay, dirt, mud, or sand. The caster can choose the volume of material, the shape it initially appears, and the point it appears when the spell is cast. This flexibility has a range of uses such as burying opponents, quickly summoning barriers, or even dampening fires.

(Base 1 for 10 cubic paces, +2 Voice, +2 Sun, +3 size, +1 flexibility in material and volume)

A spell to conjure a big stone, perhaps to drop on people, or quickly create a defensive wall, or bridge.

Conjure the Crushing Slab

Creo Terram 25, R: Voice, D: Sun, T: Individual

The spell conjures a mass of stone, up to 100 cubic paces in size. Size and shape are determined by the caster. The final shape can be deliberate, but must be inelegant, as the spell design has no allowance for significant complexity in the shape.

(Base 3, +2 Voice, +2 Sun, +2 Size)

A Terram magus will need some permanent materials to work with. This effect carves smaller segments of stone from a larger mass, subject to the size whim of the caster. It could be cast upon statues, other segments, walls, or a mountainside. Given a moderate sized stone block, the caster could cut thousands of suitable projectiles, and the effect is low level enough that most specialists could spontaneously cast the spell.

Cut from Stone the Projectiles of Vilano

Perdo Terram 15, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Group

This effect carves segments of stone from a larger mass. The shape and size of the segments is chosen when cast, from as small as tiny pellets or up to a cubic pace of stone. It is not possible for this spell to create intricate detail, form and shape of the result must be utilitarian.

The spell design allows it to produce the segments from a much larger mass by using a Target: Part within the design, although Target: Group is needed in the final level so that multiple projectiles can be cut at once.

(Base 4, +1 Touch, +2 Group)

Then a spell to carve a giant obelisk so it is essentially natural and won’t be stopped by magical resistance in combat scenarios.

Cut from Stone the Titanic Obelisk

Perdo Terram 20, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Part

This spell cuts a segment of stone from a larger mass, up to 100 cubic paces in size. Exact shape and size is determined by the caster, but is limited to basic shapes and forms without intricacy.

(Base 4, +1 Touch, +1 Part, +2 Size increase)

Lastly two more pragmatic effects, to make short work of disarming an enemy warrior.

Vacillate the Soldier’s Arms Between Steel and Sand

Muto Terram 10, R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Individual

The metal weapons and armor of all members in a group are temporarily changed from metal to sand. As sand has no cohesive strength it dissipates and the items are misshapen and ruined when they return to their normal state.

(Base 3 to change stone to earth, +1 to effect metal, +2 Voice)

Vacillate the Company’s Arms Between Steel and Sand

Muto Terram 20, R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Group

The metal weapons and armor of all members in a group are temporarily changed from metal to sand. As sand has no cohesive strength it dissipates and the items are misshapen and ruined when they return to their normal state. This spell can affect up to 10 standard individuals.

(Base 3 to change stone to earth, +1 to effect metal, +2 Voice, +2 Group)

More custom spells can be found in the New Spells for Ars Magica page.