What do I want from magic? I want to see magic burn. MuVi on Spont effects…

As the hail of steel rained down upon the hillside the shrieks of war peaked and drained away to whimpers. The hill was now empty of moving figures where seconds before they swarmed viciously upon each other. A lone grey-hooded woman picked her way down the hillside, stepping through the haphazard remains soldiers and weapons. She walked with purpose toward a clutch of armoured figures collapsed together on the ground.

In their centre a similarly robed old man half reclined with a spear through his midsection and open cuts peppered across his body. Blood pooled around him, soaking the earth beneath.

“Neutral you said. Neutral” he gurgled.

“Your sworn-men came for me yesterday assisted by magic. You broke our peace,” she replied sharply. “This is the outcome,” gesturing to the ring of dead soldiers around him, and the carnage beyond.

The old man’s pain permitted a half smile with sad eyes, but he couldn’t laugh.”Let’s be done then,” he groaned, looking through her and away down the hill.

The young woman bent to her knee and reached to touch her opponent with a final gesture. She drew a deep breath as her other arm began moving in inelegant gestures, their tempo different to her gobbledygook words. A moment later the old man also rasped a quick phrases of his own, one hand forming a bridge on his chest, the other touching her. He thumped his other hand to the ground. The woman screamed in surprise and frustration, her spell gone awry. His perfectly.

The old man looked on as her conjured array of short steel spines instantly surrounded her and struck home across all quarters of her body. Her body ruined with holes sunk sideways to the ground as the spines disappeared. Lifeless.

The old man smiled again and exhaled hard. A shimmer washed him head to foot as his illusion dissipated, his skin and clothes actually unmarried; except for the long spear which still sunk deep into his side and the ground behind. He reached out for her body once and missed with a grimace of pain, then again successfully touching the woman’s body which dissipated into dust.

Looking across the field he knew he had a long evening ahead to remove all the evidence of their battle.

In the blurb above the wounded Magus uses a Muto Vim spell to retarget the spell on another – changing the range to Personal. I took a license with the concept just to have a story introduction to meta-magic post.

A fair and reasonable game balance rule in Ars Magica is for a MuVi spell to not be able to affect a Spont spell, which is why in the story blurb above the young woman casts her spell longer than the old man – hers is a formulaic spell, and his a spontaneous one. In Ars Magica’s RAW her spell could only be formulaic as spontaneous effects can’t be altered.

In-game it’s dangerous, “too chaotic and the caster will loose control“. Out-of-game the limitation is there so that Spont magic does not get trivialised (boosted, sustained, or empowered) by assistance from a Muto Vim expert.

There is also an out-of-game consideration that altering a spontaneous spell with Muto Vim is terribly inefficient way to scale up a spontaneous spell, unless the caster of the MuVi is a specialist and also cooperating with the other caster.

However in-game what if it was allowed via a breakthrough? If we take the spell guidelines as written what would happen when a Magus starts working on a magical breakthrough to find a Muto Vim discovery for spontaneous magic?

  • The SG might say the breakthrough theme just isn’t going to work, which is totally reasonable.
  • It might not work as intended but be a great story thread for the game; as it’s a great theme for an NPC wizard in Ars Magica.
  • Or perhaps it allows a MuVi based chaos effect which deliberately hooks into the randomness of Spontaneous magic. Similar to deliberately ruining a magical experiment to see what happens, it ruins both spells.
  • Or an additional rule-set is created for Muto Vim in these circumstances? And/Or it’s allowed but the penalties for botching are horrific?
  • Or allow it. Yes, it took the wizard some 30+ in-game years to develop, but they’ve cracked part of the Hermetic puzzle. It’s a huge thing for game balance, but has legs for high powered sagas.
  • Perhaps this is what all the House Diedne brouhaha was about?
  • Perhaps the breakthrough does not allow Muto Vim to alter the target spell in a predictable way, but does force the Spont spell to be chaotic – it might have an effect which is undesirable for both the caster of the Spont and the caster of the suCcessful MuVi effect?

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Suppressing the magic of others, a meta-magic question for Ars Magica

An aside I pondered a while ago – how hard is it to suppress the magic of others?

The effect from the core rulebook called Suppressing the Wizard’s Handiwork uses the Rego Vim guideline for a caster’s own spells and lasts only while the caster concentrates. It is an excellent example of a core spell designed to inspire variations. From that inspiration, here is a variant designed to suspend the spells of others.

Suppressing the Conjurer’s Incantation

Rego Vim (Gen), R: Voice, D: Concentration, T: Ind

Suspends a spell cast by another, less than or equal to Half (Vim spell level -1 magnitude) of this spell.

(Base to suppress spells cast by another, equal to half (level +5 mag) of the Vim spell, +2 R to Voice)

It illustrates that suspending the spells of others is very difficult, even more so if this effect was redesigned to extend to Sun duration; effectively suspending effects of less than or equal to half of (level -3 mags). Meaning the spell must be at level 25 and will only neutralise spells of level 5 or less – not worth it at all when compared to how easily a Wind of Mundane Silence can remove effects.

As with many things, it is easier to destroy than change or maintain. Interesting.

Wizard’s Obstinance, a Muto Vim spell to Resist Disruption

I was thinking about the Ars Magica Vim, and the meta-magic spell effects in Rego, Muto, and primarily Perdo Vim, which suspend or dispel a magical effect. Generally speaking these effects must exceed the level of the target spell to affect them, and they are very effective in totally neutralising the target spell. Through clever design there are also Rego Vim spells which remove magic for their duration in a target area, or suspend it (see Wind of Mundane Silence, p161 and Suppressing the Wizard’s Handiwork, p162).

So a trisky magus might design a Muto Vim effect which is cast along side another effect to strengthens the spell against such disruptions, but does not alter the target spell’s effect description, or range, duration, or target. The effect is cast as normal, and the additional Muto Vim spell raises the base level of the effect for the purposes of being suspended or dispelled by other spells.

This effect would be similar to a Wizard’s Boost (Ars p.160), but with no material change of effect. Just like Wizard’s Boost there could be a different version for each form, and there also could be a less powerful more general spell for any Hermetic Form.

The rationale for Muto Vim spell guidelines are sometimes difficult to apply, as there is a tendency to say that almost all alterations to an effect are at least considered significant, and as degree of change in this effect adds two magnitudes, it must be considered a total change according to the MuVi guidelines.

The issue I struggled with was deciding if this effect needed to be designed as a Form specific effect, or if it could be a more general spell. I decided that the best choice was to closely match the Wizard’s Boost and Wizard’s Reach spells from the Muto Vim section of the core rules, which both add +5 levels in a specific manner at a base effect: level equal to the effect +1 mag.

In the design considerations I also looked at how the desired effect of “resisting disruption” might be handled mechanically in the game. These meta-magic spells have a similarity in design, where almost any of them could be used for this effect, and I see that as not meeting the goal of this effect. The extra +5 levels should do something of note.

The version of the spell designed for specific forms, designed as a basic effect:

Wizard’s Obstinance of (Form)

Muto Vim Gen, R: Touch, D: Mom, T: Ind

This spell is cast with another spell of a level less than the level of this one. The effective level of the other spell increases 5 levels in power, but not past the level of the Wizard’s Obstinance, and the altered spell is treated as being twice it’s new level for the purposes of resisting spells to alter it further, or dispel it.

A Wizard’s Obstinance may never affect a single spell more than once. There are ten variants of this spell, one for each Hermetic Form.

(Base effect of Significant change to a spell – at level +1, +1 Touch)

Refs and links:

Strange female wizard kid spell

Spells for Arcance Connections

In Ars Magica an Arcane connections is a link between the spell caster and a specific object or thing, that exists regardless of the distance between the two – to channel magic. In game they are a double edged sword, which can be used powerfully by magi, but also used against them.

This post contains a number of new spells which demonstrate some of the new spell guidelines for arcane connections, and also introduces some variations on how these might be used in game.

Craft the Mystical Anchor

Creo Vim 15, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

The spell creates a temporary arcane connection between the object touched and the caster, and holds that connection in place for the duration. For the purpose of power and maintenance the initial arcane connection power is considered to be equivalent to “Hours”, but is them maintained by being placed within the duration.

This also means that the Perdo Vim effects that destroy arcane connections can affect this spell easily (level 5 base effect for Hours).

The arcane connection may then be used by the caster to target the object at range: Arc.

(Base: 4, +1 Touch, +2 Sun)

The arcane connection strength is very important when considering how difficult it may be to remove the connection. A “hours” connection is the weakest possible, and a base effect 5 spell will render this level ineffective.

An alternate version might be created with a duration of ring, with the specific use of forming a connection that is maintained by the Ring, rather than needing an investment of Vis. Initially this might sound overtly powerful, until the ramifications of a Ring duration are understood – which basically means that the Magus has a connection back to an object, but that object must always remain present within the ring. If the object is moved from within the ring, the ring is marred, or the object destroyed, then the arcane connection is lost.

An important note in creating these effects is that the duration of the spell and the strength of the arcane connection will need to share a purpose. A spell may be able to create a connection that will last “hours”, but that is only useful for as long as the spell is also present. I.e. a spell with Duration: Conc and a “hours” connection still only lasts for as long as the caster concentrates.

The power of the Creo Vim effect must sustain both the duration of the hermetic spell and the connection itself. The longer the connection, the connection the more magical power needed.

The core point of debate for this spell is what the base effect level would be. In the ArM5 Creo Vim guidelines a level 3 creates a taint, and each 5 levels can inflict a point of warping. In relative terms of power a permanent arcane connection normally requires the expenditure of Vis, and a fair effort of activity to construct; however that is to create connections which are indefinite and permanent. A connection in magic is probably similar in power to a warping effect but has no permanent negative effect by its existence, so level 4 is chosen. This is in line with the base guidelines in Realms of Power: the Infernal (RoP:I sourcebook p.121), which allow creation of arcane connections between magi and demons with a base effect level 4.

It is however slightly different to the guidelines introduced in Magi of Hermes (MoH sourcebook p. 113), which indicates that Creo Vim level 5 is needed to slow the decay of a connection. I’m comfortable with a base effect of 4 for hours, with an understanding that extending the strength of a connection by one step adds a magnitude as demonstrated by the MoH guidelines.

A more powerful version of this spell could be crafted to make the base effect more resilient to Perdo Vim magic. To do this increase the magnitude of the spell for each step up the arcane connection duration (ArM p. 84).

  • Hours – the base strength for an effect base 4.
  • Days – +1 mag strength.
  • Weeks – +2 mags
  • Months – +3 mags
  • Year – +4 mags
  • Decades – +5 mags
  • Indefinite, not possible with this effect.

This will make the effect more resilient to Perdo Vim effects which seek to destroy the Arcane Connection, whereby the magnitude of the PeVi spell must consider the strength of the link.

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Specialised versions of Opening the Intangible Tunnel

I’ve been re-reading the Ars Magazine Sub Rosa recently and came across a spell concept that I really liked – versions of Opening the Intangible Tunnel which limit the type of magic which can be cast through them (see Sub Rosa #13, p.97). Types might include spirit magic (as in the Sub Rosa article), or teleportation magic, or a type linked to one of the fifteen Hermetic arts such as Intellego.

This would make the tunnels useful for Magi with major specialisations, as Spells cast back through the tunnels might be limited to types where the target is not as strong, where the initial caster is much stronger, and where the target of the Specialised tunnel has no idea what the sub-type is.

It’s sneaky and very tactical. Great stuff. Here is aversion for Scrying with Intellego, and a version for cold themed spells.

Watchful Eye of the Magician

Rego Vim General, R: Arcane, D: Concentration, T: Individual

A specialised version of Opening the Intangible Tunnel (Ars p. 162) which only allows Intellego based scrying spells to be used within it.

(Base effect, +4 Arc, +1 Conc)

Walk Across Their Graves

Rego Vim General, R: Arcane, D: Diameter, T: Individual

A specialised version of Opening the Intangible Tunnel (Ars p. 162) which only allows Ignem based spells with a cold theme to be used within it.

(Base effect, +4 Arc, +1 Diameter)

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

Lost Spells (part 6) Detecting Supernatural Creatures

Detecting supernatural creature is often as simple as just observing. There are times however when knowing if a creature is magical, fae, or something else would be beneficial, and guidelines to do just that (like RoP:M p.111).

The lost spell which started this post was called Scarlet Flash of the Demon, and caused a demon to shimmer. Detecting demons however in 5th edition is tricky as Hermetic magic can’t do that. There are other ways to determine that though, using less subtle means.

Reveal Alignment to the Fae

Intellego Vim 15, R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Individual

Determines if the target creature is aligned to the Faerie realm, as a supernatural creature.

(Base 5, +2 Voice)

Reveal Alignment to the Infernal

Intellego Vim 15, R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Individual

Determines if the target creature is aligned to the infernal realm, as a supernatural creature. Note that a demon may choose to hide its realm alignment, however other infernally aligned creatures may not possess this ability.

(Base 5, +2 Voice)

Reveal Alignment to the Magical

Intellego Vim 15, R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Individual

Determines if the target creature is aligned to the Magic realm, as a supernatural creature.

(Base 5, +2 Voice)

Betraying Lament of the Infernal

Perdo Vim 15, R: Voice, D: Concentration, T: Individual

The targeted creature aligned to the Infernal realm experiences pain, but suffers no real damage. A Corpus or Animal casting requisite may be required depending on the targets current form.

(Base 4, +2 Voice, +1 Concentration)

See all the new spells for Ars Magica here.

Wizard Life Hack – Use casting tablets with your memory palace

A life hack for hermetic Magi with a few good virtues (source on Ars forums). In short – the idea is that a memory palace has a certain number of “rooms” which can contain a single document, and as a casting tablet is a single document – it can be memorised.
While I’ve no strong feelings on casting tablets, ever since I came up with the idea I’ve wanted to play a character with a personal vis source in mentem and the memory palace skill. the character would frequently use the Creo Mentem “add a room to your memory palace ritual” (I forgot the name) to memorize casting tablets thereby effectively learning (but not really learning) a whole mess of spells. – Erik Tyrrell


I love this. Its broken, but its great.