Inflicting warping, 30 Days of Magic

A spell to inflict warping on an opponent by Touch for use with Intangible Tunnels.

Adding only one warping point does not trigger a subsequent negative effect (unlike The Enigma’s Gift, CrVi30, Ars p.157), however two points will force a check for Twilight (Ars p.88). CrVi15 is not a powerful spell, but would also not be simple for every Magus to cast on a whim, so written up as an alternative to the level CrVi30 version. I think this level is a better weapon against magi as it will be easier to penetrate their parma and forces the same Twilight Check which is a key feature of the level 30 option from the core rules.

It will however iteratively decrease the life expectancy of a Magus, as warping points are a strong indicator of how soon the magus will pass into final twilight. Gaining warping points will also cause problematic flaws and virtues (see Ars p.167) for mundanes who acquire them over time; 5 points are needed to gain a minor flaw, and 30 points to gain a virtue.

Why do this? Well warped items can sometimes (totally dependent on story) develop magical sentience, and warping foes slowly is an insidious way to remove them from long term stories. In games past I’ve seen a character who crafted their own “experimentation box” to warp animals in an effort to realise a magical beast spontaneously; a bit creepy but well within the implies uses of the hermetic spell guidelines.

The Enigma’s Caress

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

The target receives two warping points, and must check to enter twilight.

(Base 10, +1 Touch)

In an item the power becomes dreadfully effective.

Wand of Twilight – An ivory wand inlaid with carvings of floral scrollwork, and a core of Ink of Hermes (+3 lab bonus), kept in a locked oak box. CrVi35 (CrVi 10, +1 Touch) (+18 levels for +36 penetration, +2 for 3 uses per day)

This spell is part of the free new spells compendium for Ars Magica.

Warping Points advancement house rule

A Final Twilight event as a result of extended Warping for Magi is potentially how their lives as characters will end, although to be fair many Magi in my experience are retired by story events, killed, or paused due to a permanent hiatus of the game. In my view warping is something which infrequently impacts a Magus character and very rarely ends their life through Final Twilight.

When advancing a character through their years post-gauntlet in bulk there is a rough rule of thumb to add a few warping points each year due to longevity, strange events and spell casting botches. Two points per year is ok, but does not reflect virtues and flaws, or other game events.

So how many points are reasonable to add per year when advancing a character before play begins?

Here are my suggestion:

  1. Add 1 point per year the character has a Longevity Ritual. This is standard to the core rules.
  2. Add 1 point for each extra virtue or flaw gained though non-Twilight related means (cult initiation, realm of magic, freaky story event in accelerated advancement, etc).
  3. Add 1 point per 5 years (rounding down) if the character has a flaw which makes Twilight more regular or more severe. If the character has more than one of these flaws then they are cumulative.
  4. Add 5 points per 10 years after their Gauntlet; because things go wrong.
  5. Mitigate the total value of item 4 above by subtracting the Familiar’s Golden Bond score; because the cord should greatly reduce the probability of botching.
  6. Further mitigate item 4 if the character has a suitable virtue such as Cautious Sorcerer, reducing by -1 for each.

Hope this is useful.

Spells to mitigate warping in Ars Magica

When I initially thought of the effect I was planning to see it used on the friends of my Magus character, so they suffer less effects from the application of short term powerful transformation spells. The wider blog post and subsequent spells grew from this concept.

Ars Magica’s spell rules for Warping dictate that a target of a powerful effect (roughly magnitude 6 or higher) will recieve a Warping point each time a spell is cast upon them, and a personalised spell will mitigate this warping. Typically the personalised version of the spell is created in as a lab exercise.

As a storyguide I’ve previously guided players to assume that a spell with Range: Personal is always considered “personalised” for the caster because I assume that part of the task of learning the effect is also learning how to design it for themselves. This means that by default all other spells are never personalised. It is plausible that a spell could be designed at another range but still be personalised for the caster, as there is an argument to be made that any effect can be designed specifically for the caster, but that should not be the default and certainly not unless agreed in advance.

Given that Muto Vim spells can radically change almost any singular aspect of a spell (purpose, range, duration, target, sigil, effect power, splitting, etc), it seems probably that a Muto Vim spell could also be able to change another spell so that it is considered personalised for the other spell’s target, or personalised for the caster.

Note that the RAW indicate that the warping occurs on first application of an effect and also each season/year it is in effect. This means that this first set of spells is a partial measure to avoid Warping, as it can only mitigate the initial application of the spell.

Further below in this post I’ve written about potentially mitigating the long term effects, but that is not being suggested by these first two spell designs.

Inhibit the Egregious Deviations of the Warp

Muto Vim Gen, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This spell alters the target spell so that it is considered tailored for it’s target for the purposes of any warping it may cause. This spell may alter any effect which is equal to the Muto Vim spell’s level.

(Base of a Significant Change to less than or equal to spell level +1 mag, target own spells as +1 Touch)

I’m happy with this spell concept. It applies a plausible effect which is not overpowered in the setting and not unbalancing in the game. This spell must be learnt above level 30 to have any purpose at all, more likely level 40+ to be broadly effective. That does not seem unbalancing, given how much effort is required to design a high level effect.

The logical variant is to personalise spells which are cast by others, where the Magus will be the target. Through cooperative casting (see the Vim guidelines) one caster’s first spell effect will not warp the target Magus because they cast the spell below in unison.

Inhibit the Selfish Deviations of the Warp

Muto Vim Gen, R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This spell alters the target spell so that it is considered tailored for the caster, as if the target spell was designed for the caster to not cause warping. This spell may alter any effect which is equal to the Muto Vim spell level less one magnitude (spell level -5). It is designed with Range Voice because  it must be cast cooperatively with another wizard to limit the warping effects of their spells.

(Base of a Significant Change to less than or equal to spell level +1 mag, target own spells as +2 Voice)

I think the second effect is the more powerful, because it may also be used in place of the first, although at a slight disadvantage in effective power level. When using these effects they are not useful to learn at less than level 30 and 35 respectively (due to the rules for warping with regard to mag 6 effects), so it is far more likely that either of these effects will need to be learned at level 40 or higher. That will be at least a challenge to many characters; a goal not a quick means to an end.

Base of a Significant change is due to a change in treatment of the target which can be considered a change in target according to the Ars guidelines on p158. Continue reading