A thought on Wards

Yes, I know. An old and treasured source of flames. Nevertheless, I had an idea and wanted to run it past people.

The target of a ward has always been something of a matter for concern - is the target the Target:Circle (ie. anything in the circle) or the thing which bumps against the circle? I have another, slightly different reading which I think might solve some issues and would like feedback.

Circle wards, at the moment, prevent the warded thing interacting with the circle at all. You cannot enter or leave the circle, but can presumably move around inside it, and cannot deface the circle. This to me suggests an easy fiddle to the canon to solve things and keep the Columbae interesting as well - the Target:Circle is not the normal Hermetic Circle because the circle itself, rather than the contents, is the target - the Columbae magic was only partially integrated. Thus, the wards of the Columbae are the absolute wards which prevent interactions, and prior to their integration Hermetic magic relied on bindings (ReForm, do not move), magical armour (ReForm, as for standard Fire resistance and Xavi's wards) and magic to decrease powers (PeVi or Form) for protection. The Circle Wards of the Columbae are clearly superior in this respect. However, because the ward introduces an absolute bar on interaction, this also explains why Personal wards are less popular in the Order - it renders you immune to the faeries but makes the faeries immune to you too since neither of you can interact physically or magically. Useful for a diplomat, but since it also means he can't open any faerie doors or the like, not as useful as you might think. This also neatly side-steps the eternal Do Wards Warp question.

It does, however, require new guidelines for nonAbsolute armour/soak spells for other forms than Ignem, though I think those should be easy enough to work out.

Any thoughts?

I just know I'm going to regret this but...

"... the target is the thing protected, rather than the thing warded against, and the range is the range to the target, not to the things warded against." Ars Magica core rules, page 114.

What part of that is confusing?

I know the RAW - it's just that I find them unsatisfying and contradictory. For a start, a Faere trapped inside the ring is thus the thing protected, rather than the magus wandering free outside it. Secondly, for a circle ward the circle is what is touched and by the normal way circle spells work, each inhabitant of the circle would be affected by a discrete effect which would last as long as the spell does, whereas for a circle ward, the circle itself forms the shimmering dome in the descriptions. Thirdly, by the above logic, a faerie inside a circle ward becomes warded against Faeries but can leave at any time. I'm just trying to find a rationalisation which keeps canon and system happy and minimises inconsistencies.

I can see that, but I see it as akwardness in phrasing. For a ward with target Circle, the Circle is the target... the Circle is the "thing protected." The faerie inside the Circle ward cannot effect it, cannot pass through it and cannot using powers or attacks through it. The Circle has become an imperivious wall to the faerie. If the faerie were inside the Circle with a grog, the faerie could do whatever he liked to the poor grog, but nothing whatsoever to the magus outside the Circle.

That's my take. Now that I think about it, it may not be entirely supported by the rules (I haven't checked), but then again IMO, the rules for magic in this edition suffer from trying to define too much, too clearly and thus failing.

The target in a circle ward is the circle itself, not the things inside it. Those inside it only happen to be affected by the fact of being inside or outside it. So a circle protects both against things trying to move out and things trying to move in.

It gets confusing (and utter nonsense IMO) when you need to penetrate the MR of the TARGET of the spell, but not that of the things it wards against.


That is what I'm arguing for, actually, and yes, it is not technically a normal Hermetic effect. It becomes one easily by simply saying "not fully integrated", just like the Aegis, and the old spell which destroys everything in a certain radius of you.

I quite like the definition, since it defines things in terms of hermetic theory and natural philosophy, rather than game rules, which I find makes the setting more coherent and thus real to me.

Couldn't he just use gloves?

Depends - can a faerie wear gloves to rub out a warding circle? I think the general interpretation is that you need several layers of intermediary to do things like that. The Faerie asks the apprentice to juggle some water jugs, the apprentice drops a jug, the water erases the chalk and the faerie is freed being one example.

I was just struck by the ramifications of the differences in interpretations between the circle for a ward and a normal circle spell and thought the consequences interesting.

Precisely. And that places it firmly outside the normal Circle target with targets the things inside the circle, not the circle itself.

I agree. As has been mentioned, the target of a PoF is the fire itself and noone seems to argue you need to penetrate its resistance. That said, I favour being able to use ACs in warding, though I think that the penetration for anyone not specifically warded against should be 0. A ward against dragons works on all dragons poorly, a ward against Smaug only stops Smaug.

To have circle wards inside hermetic theory you'd need 2 versions of it:

  1. Circle of protection: PROTECTS the things inside it, granting MR vs enemies or effects outside it

  2. Circular prison: HINDERS those inside it, probably by reducing their might by the amount of effect of the circle. if that leaves their might pool empty they are unable to cross the boundary.

In both cases does not prevent anyone to act across the circle from the other side of it. it would make some sense, though (unless I overlooked something, that is likely)

tell me you don't have Smaug in Mythic Earth! :laughing:



I actually quite like the "you cannot act across this" boundary, in terms f placing a thing outside someone's realm of influence which is how I envisage a circle-ward working. Making wards add magic resistance complicates matters, I feel.

Actually, the easiest way to do this currently is the ReFo 5 guideline for commanding a spirit of the Form (presumably there are equivalents for other forms and nonSpirits such as the Tytalus' Prison spell) to simply order a creature to make no attempt to leave the circle with ring duration.

I don't like the idea of reducing the Might pool because that's a Perdo effect, even if only suppressing it. That said , it's probably a foolish magus who doesn't also layer Perdo effects around and in his wards to help keep his captured creature from escaping.

True. I tend to see the current Wards as, as I said, the circle/dome as being the immovable object and as such the Fae (I'm not sure why I always use Faeries as my example) cannot affect things across the barrier but magi and grogs can act across it because to them, it's not there. I confess that one of the reasons I like this is because of the massive reduction in utility it grants Personal wards, making them useful but, by removing the magus offensive abilities against what he's warded against, not a situation where one spell means that you can blissfully ignore anything and everything except as sitting targets.

I do think there should be two types of wards, but more of the absolute ward and the soak ward. At the moment there's the very strange effect where Ward Against Heat And Flames grants soak whilst Ward Against Wood grants immunity, and specifically states that you float over wooden surfaces, not touching them.

No, but he's definitely the most well known named dragon so his was the name I first pulled from the air.

This is something that confused me. Why do I see a lot of people claim that the RAW says wards must penetrate the creature trying to cross it?

You cast a circular ward against demons to protect your grogs and yourself, you have to penetrate your magic resistance (and the grogs) to cast it and then it blocks out demons of might below the level of the spell. Why would you need to penetrate the demon's might to block it? You don't need a level 40 casting total to get a level 20 spell to block level 20 might beings. The might 20 beings are not the target of the spell.

The problem is that target means two things in Ars Magica. It can refer to the spell effect and also to the thing that the spell effect affects.

Consider a Pilum of Fire - the target is Individual because it creates a single fire of that size. The target is also the thing you summon the fire on top of. Magic resistance resists magic it comes into contact with, regardless of whether or not it was the original target. Were that not the case, there would be no problem with casting a Pilum of Fire at someone's feet because the earth wouldn't resist the fire, and they'd get hit by it anyway.

Xavi is brilliant! This is exactly whay I think as well. Wards should be a one-way circle. Spells that Trap/Bind should be separate spells.

I've actually got a long essayish thing sitting around of my houserules and tweaks, and in it I do favour directional wards (albeit the same spell, cast twice - Hermetic magic is flexible, after all).

That said, binding and trapping are two very different things, and those I do think should be different spells.

I am happy I do not live in Chicago. Otherwise I would start feeling sexually threatened by Mark :laughing:

Regarding the effect, maybe this could be a focus for ward masters (columbae: they would only need to cast a single spell for a bidirectional effect.



All you have is a cool name. For all I know, you can be a mishappen troll.
And I am pretty sure you are a guy, so that nixes it right there :laughing:
And if you did live in the city of scandel, you would be freezing your (insert favored explicitive) off! It is very cold, and I don't have the appropriate ward against these frost trolls.

So, your apartment has a Structure Ward vs Marks active and you cannot leave it, only enter it?


No, no. It has no structure ward against anything! Cold creeps right in through all kinds of cracks and crevices. I have a small Creo Ignem device (a ceramic space heater) that I huddle close to under a blanket. I have all these freaking cats and you would figure that one of them would be magical and put up wards for me. But nooooo. Ungrateful little ratlings.

Agreed, I like this, and it adds flavor