Melt the Company’s Arms – quick variations on Ars Magica spells

A spell I wrote up a long while back – Melt the Vanguard’s Arms is useful against one target. This is a quick modification to that spell to affect an entire Roman company of up to 100 soldiers.

Melt the Company’s Arms

Creo Ignem 35 / Terram, R: Voice, D: Mom, T: Group

Up to ten metal items carried by or on the target are heated to melting point. Thus a soldiers sword, helm, and segments of armor will all instantly be burning hot, and melt. This has a side effect of inflicting +5 damage per round while metal items targeted are carried or worn.

(Base 10 heat an object to melting point, +2 Voice, +2 Group, +1 increase size of group, +0 Te Requisite)

The spell guidelines in the first version used Target Part and an additional magnitude to affect multiple parts, however when affecting 100 targets the Target: Group makes more sense and would incorporate the needs of Target: Part.

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

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Magic for mundanes – spells for ArM physical combat

These spells and effects demonstrate the use of hermetic magic in enhancing physical combat, typically for others. While it is easy for a magus to destroy or impair a mundane opponent in an overt manner, these effects can be used in combat in a far more subtle way than fireballs, walls of earth, or lightning bolts; and may also be the basis for effects in enchanted devices for companions.

Soaking Damage

A spell to increase Soak for a character matches the guidelines as a core effect. As a base effect a +2 bonus to soak is a significant combat advantage, while keeping the spell level small enough to not be considered a powerful effect.

The bonus to soak guidelines offer a +1 Soak for each +1 magnitude of spell, so the spells above could be raised or powered by a few levels to provide a different bonus subject to what the caster desires.

The Resistant Skin

Muto Corpus 20, R: Personal, D: Sun, T: Individual

The casters body is enhanced and toughened, gaining a +2 bonus to Soak for the duration. From the Ars Magica muto corpus guidelines p. 132.

(Base 10, +2 Sun)

This spell could be re-worked through to level 35 for +5 soak bonus, which is powerful enough to change a melee combat outcome if only mundanes are involved. Continue reading

Two weapon fighting in Ars Magica

Two weapon fighting is cinematic and exciting, and present in most rolepaying games, especially those with a high fantasy touch like Dungeons and Dragons. Ars Magica on the other hand aims for a level of realism as well as fantasy; and there is an argument to say that two weapon fighting is not especially valid in Europe around the middle ages. It is certainly not the predominant method expressed in the surviving artworks of the period. So there is a quandary – it makes sense that it is not an option that has been presented in ArM game editions, and it also is something that players may want to try.

Wielding two weapons has the initial appeal of offering a much more threatening opponent into battle, and some role-players (like myself) have played systems where it is an excellent option to get the most damage applied as quickly as possible. Many a Fighter has been created with dual wielding Longswords, and while they were entertaining, they also grind on my nerves when I consider the feel that Ars Magica is going for. But then I find the idea of a viking raider using a hand axe and a dagger in battle totally worth considering. There are likely to be as many forum posts around in support of two weapons as there are against in terms of it being a valid combat style.

For the purposes of my games, I think there is a middle ground where I can support the idea if it is presented as part of a good character concept, and also ignore the concept if it is being chosen only for a mechanical advantage. For that reason alone I think its worth discussing how a game like Ars Magica might incorporate two weapon fighting.

I can see two high level approaches, based upon splitting the advantage that two separate combat rolls have:

  1. One Strike with modified combat effects and weapon stats, or
  2. Two strikes with varied weapon and combat stats.

The selection between the two is a driver for how much leverage the ability will have in the game, and also how much specialisation should be needed by the character. Allowing two different rolls adds a much higher probability that the attacker will hurt their opponent.

Continue reading

Gifts for packrats, the Pavise

What do you get the pack-rat who has everything? A Pavise.

It is a very large shield used to protect bowmen; often during sieges. To me it looks more like a portable wall than a shield, but hey it obviously worked. Carrying your own cover is probably considered strange in regular rpg circles, and I’m not even sure what the stats for something like this would be in any game system. Parry, er no – its not moving. Cover from missile weapons? For sure.

In terms of size and load, they ranged from the size of other half height shields, which you would need to crouch to use, right up to full height barriers (basically doors). The real difference between a normal shield and a pavise seems to be the purpose built mount which allows the device to stand along without the user’s support, and be moved around slowly.

There are also a number of illustrations which indicate that they serve a number of other purposes, like having larger versions which infantry can also hide behind, or ultra-delux versions which small grates and doors built in to allow extra sniping options, and protection. It’s tempting to rework Leomund’s Tiny Hut into a Pavise effect.

Judging by the material easily found online they look to be taken to large battles and often decorated with ornate scenes. A basic pavise would be a section of wooden wall with a small foot stand (yup a wall). I could also see more advanced versions supporting a nice lazy curve, a shelf, perhaps a spine of some stronger material, and optional ways to get it around, like attaching wheels or lift bars. Heck add a few more splints of wood and the archery company is also carrying the dead around on readily available boards. Or just put a few bottles of booze on the inside and you’ve got a portable bar.

For stats, I’d say it should rule as cover as that is the clear purpose. If some archer is mad enough to pick the thing up and use it as a shield then make it like an ungainly tower shield – yes it gives cover but you’re not meant to pick it up as a proper shield. So +4 against other archers, and +0 against a swordsman who knows where to put the pointy end.