are arcane connections overpowered?

i may be reading this wrong,but as i see it ifyou fix an arcane connection to a target,and then make a "symbolic representation of it",it's game over. and that's assuming the opposing wizard can hide the place and date of his birth etc.

assumig equal penetration with the targets parma magica, even without having mastered the spell, no one could possibly survive this

No. You can achieve high penetration totals without having an AC for certain builds.

Remember that your forms act as a bonus to your magic resistance, so even with penetration=parma it's not a foregone conclusion.

Arcane connections are story hooks, giving characters ways to overcome more powerful foes.

Consider that the whole second half of the Harry Potter series is essentially about finding Voldemort's hidden arcane connections.


In general, yes, arcane connections do give an overwhelming advantage to offense.

In part, this is due to the fact that they give you a high penetration bonus.
In part, this is due to the fact that you can design spells at arcane connection range, and if a) your target has no arcane connection back to you, and b) you can cast a spell without fatigue even with a non-botching roll of 0 and c) you have a way to remove that single botch die from your stress rolls (e.g. 5xp in mastery, or any positive gold cord), you can keep on casting and recasting the spell until it penetrates. On average, you'll get a roll of 20+ every quarter of an hour, a roll of 40+ every two-and-a-half hours, and a roll of 80+ every three days (assuming you keep working at it 8 hours/day).
The entire issue is exacerbated by the fact that if you have an arcane connection to the target and you are out of his immediate sensory range, the target (except under very specific circumstances) has no way to reach back to the arcane connection and destroy it, regardless of his magical prowess.
Note that this does not just apply to hermetic attackers, but to many lowly hedge wizards too, against which the famed Hermetic Parma then becomes then just a paper shield.

Because of this, I expect that most magi (and other clued-in characters) are extremely careful about not leaving potential arcane connections around. For hermetic magi, this involves being meticulous with a few low-level effects that (with some basic knowledge of the Arts) can be cast spontaneously without fatigue; and it is much easier if the magus leaves his sanctum and Covenant as little as possible. However, since a determined magus of moderate experience can easily obtain arcane connections to every newly gauntleted magus, to avoid the natural consequence of every senior Quaesitor and every senior Tytalus and every senior Tremere having arcane connections to the PCs, I also assume (based on what I consider the most natural interpretation of the RAW -- which, however, is apparently is not shared by anyone on this forum!) that obtaining/distributing an arcane connection to a fellow magus without his consent is deprivation of magical power, in that it considerably hampers his ability to use magic to defend himself.

I really take issue with this, because while it is entirely possible with the rules, it is certainly game breaking. Certainly, a couple of tries would be enough to suggest to the magus that he doesn't have enough juice to get through, all the while he's telling his target hey, someone's targeting you with a spell, because a spell that doesn't penetrate does ping the parma. And while it is completely true that said target may be unable to do anything about his situation, it's also true that an authentic character (as in not the player) wouldn't have any idea that he might have a chance to get through without some extraordinary luck. Trying to use a statistical model as an argument that eventually you are going to get through resistance is certainly not without risk. And therefore because it is not without risk (and a magus would know that repeated tries that failure do warn his target) there is a fair chance of botch.

In my games, I've changed it such that Arcane Connections must be acquired with intent. A person can't just leave a hair lying around and have that be an AC, but if that hair is acquired from the person with intent, then it becomes an AC. Otherwise, there would be a huge incidence of magi destroying everything of corpus around them whenever they vacated an area, which I find ridiculous.

Edit: If any player wants to pursue the course and roll the dice until they get lucky, I'll become quickly annoyed. And then I'll likely be punitive commensurate with my annoyance level should he become unlucky. I mean, really, most times you only get one bite at the apple.

One thing to remember is the fact that most magi spend a lot of time Inside their covenant's Aegis of the Hearth. That essentially adds the level of the Aegis to their magic resistance.

Or it doesn't.

The text of the Aegis doesn't actually say that, anywhere. It says that if the penetration of a spell is less then level of the Aegis it fizzles out. It doesn't actually say that it removes the level of the Aegis from the penetration total. Although it is a very reasonable interpretation of the rules, considering that uninvited or non-participatory magi who cast spells within the Aegis have half the level of the Aegis subtracted from their casting total, which would then affect the derived penetration total.

This was pointed out to me by someone a while back. The person who pointed it out is technically correct, though, I think there's a clear implication that the Aegis effectively adds to magic resistance while being protected within it based on halving the penalty when casting within the Aegis. Just saying a strict (overly strict) reading of the rules doesn't support your position, but I do share it, some on here may not.

That is correct.

I should really take a look at that assassin, too. I suspect in all the talk about Aegis of the Hearth and penetration there may be some explicit or implicit statements I can add to my guide to Aegis of the Hearth.

Ok. So we are in agreement here: the RAW leads to unintended/undesirable results.

The point here is that most characters should have a very rough idea of what they can accomplish.

For example, a character with basic competence with a sword (let's say, a skill of 3) after sparring every day for a seasons with an experienced instructor (let's say, a skill of 6) should have a fair idea that the vast majority of the time he's not going to win, but occasionally we will -- and he'll also have a fair idea of how often (say, 1 duel in 10, or in 20, I've not really bothered going through the numbers). Just like I do have a fair idea of how often I'll lose a tennis match with people I play with, or even people I just see playing for a few minutes.

Similarly, an Hermetic magus should know that, even if his average penetration with a given spell is just sufficient to get through the defenses of a medium/weak faerie (say, +15), with one casting out of 150 he'll manage to punch through the defenses of a fairly powerful one (gaining +30) and one casting out of 1500 he'll manage to punch through the defenses of something on par with a pagan god (gaining +55).

I mean, it's exactly the counterpart to knowing that, without mastery, gold cord etc. as soon as there is an element of uncertainty (i.e. at least one botch die) at least a casting out of 100 will run out of control; it's the reason why in my sagas characters who regularly use spontaneous magic for Covenant "maintenance" either have some way to bring botch dice to 0 (non-fatiguing castings, or a gold cord), or they'll gain 1 twilight point per season of daily use of a spell. And it's also the counterpart to the fact that combat against competent opponents is really deadly, no matter what your skill: 1 round out of 100 (or less) you'll botch your defense, and will get killed.

Note that I posited that the target should a) have no way to get back to the attacker and b) that the attacker should have the ability to eliminate the (single) botch die that comes from rolling a stress die in the "best of" situations. So yes, the target will be aware of something that keeps on attempting to breach his parma, but he won't be able to do much about it; and the risk of botching will be ZERO.

Hmm, that's really what happens in my sagas (alternatively, magi use ReCo to avoid shedding ACs when outside of their Sanctums). Is it ridiculous? Maybe. It is, however, the natural consequence of the RAW.

My recollection was that Hermetic Projects didn't modify anything. A quick scan confirms that understanding.
Here's a quotation.

The rest of the bullet point then goes on to describe the penetration requirements for the spell getting through the Aegis.

It does seem silly that one has a better shot at penetrating a magus's protections if they are standing outside a hostile Aegis to cast than standing inside of it.

To add another wrinkle to the Aegis and penetration problem, the spell must be able to penetrate the Aegis, but the penetration total that is being calculated, based on an AC is to a specific individual, and not the Aegis, so ACs might not be useful to penetrate to a magus standing within it. It's simpler of the Aegis subtracts its level from all penetration totals, and if the result is less than 0, it splats against the Aegis, and if so it goes through to the target, and splats against the MR of the intended target, or penetrates...

All the time. One can easily break Ars, just by doing things that the rules seem to allow.

Sure, they have a rough idea of what they can do. But that doesn't mitigate any of the risk of their choices to proceed in the face of evidence that they've bitten off more than they can chew.

By that same logic, he knows that 1 casting in 10 has a chance of things going really bad for him. This isn't a risk free endeavor, you don't know how someone's going to respond, all the while you're telling the individual that they are being repeatedly targeted by some effect that doesn't penetrate.

Minor difference, there is nothing that makes the risk of spontaneous casting go to zero, except ceremonial casting. The only thing that can remove all botch dice is Spell Mastery, which is applied last, after virtues that mitigate botch dice. Can't really master a spontaneous spell. They do bring their risk of checking for Twilight to 0 with virtues, though.

Well, the best of situations is the first bite at the apple. Subsequent bites that fail should up the risk penalty. Meaning you are a bit more likely to fail in some spectacular fashion before you succeed, unless you have virtues which mitigate botch risk, and strong golden cord, which changes the story, a bit.

Yeah, it kind of is, because as a player, I don't want to have to go around saying every time that I'm doing ReCo or PeCo magic to destroy my local ACs. Invariably one will be missed, I'll miss saying it, and it's a bit of a ridiculous exercise. As an SG, it's not much different. And so, crafting a story that takes advantage of an AC becomes something of an exercise, to contrive a circumstance when that action wasn't being taken.

Taking a hair from the brush of a magus's sanctum is altogether different than finding a hair that was shed on the floor. I mean who is to say that in your environment someone actually gets all the pieces of themselves that they leave behind?

It's not entirely possible if you take fatigue into account. Casting formulaic spells is very similar to fighting in combat in terms of effort required. If you spend half an hour fighting at full pelt, you will be suffering from multiple levels of short term fatigue. By an hour in you'll probably be unconscious. You cannot make a proper attack once every six seconds for an hour without collapsing, and nor should you be able to cast spells at that rate. You'd probably also start suffering from long term fatigue if you kept at it long term.

IMS the botch dice would also be building up the whole time, but that's because IMS the magic from previous failed castings would start interfering with the later castings.

It's not entirely possible if you take fatigue into account. Casting formulaic spells is very similar to fighting in combat in terms of effort required. If you spend half an hour fighting at full pelt, you will be suffering from multiple levels of short term fatigue. By an hour in you'll probably be unconscious. You cannot make a proper attack once every six seconds for an hour without collapsing, and nor should you be able to cast spells at that rate. You'd probably also start suffering from long term fatigue if you kept at it long term.
The RAW doesn't have anything about combat causing fatigue, explicitly. It does have rules for expending fatigue to achieve a bonus for attack or defense. Other than that, combat doesn't cause fatigue, that I can see. Likewise for spell casting, unless it is a spontaneous spell or the CT for a formulaic spell is between 1 and 10 points less than the spell level, or it is a ritual spell (probably doesn't apply here, since vis costs would be prohibitive).
It's fair to say that someone doing this might incur long term fatigue because it is an extended "tiring" activity. Eventually arms get tired and voice gets hoarse. But this is much more of an SG fiat call than it is explicit in the rules.

Welcome to Gattaca.

"Really bad" in what sense? I keep repeating: I am assuming the character has taken measures to reduce botch dice to 0.
I realize now that gold-cord-can-bring-botch-dice to zero is a house rule we use and not the RAW :slight_smile:, but it just takes 5xp in mastery for a formulaic spell. As for the target realizing they are under attack, unless he has an arcane connection to the caster, what can he do?

Well, you can cast spells without fatigue! In our sagas, that gets done a lot in pretty much every covenant. In a fair Aura, most magi can easily manage level 5 effects spontaneously without fatigue in any area in which they have a modicum of puissance (say, one Art at 12, one at 5, Int+2, Talisman bonus of +3, Aura of +3). In their areas of specialty, more powerful magi (or magi operating within powerful areas, casting ceremonially etc.) can often manage level 10 effects without fatigue. So a lot of tasks in covenants typically get taken care of in that way.

A lowish level ReVi spell (say, level 15) with R:Voice that boosts the duration of a D:Conc spell by of second magnitude or less to D:Ring, or a slightly more powerful one (level 20) that boosts it to D:Moon, are also extremely common among magi (Rego/Vim experts often have higher magnitude ones that affect spells by fellow covenant members). As a result, magical "technology" with Base effects up to level 3 (then cast at +1 Touch, +1Conc, +0 Circle or Ind = level 5, and then boosted to D:Ring) is really, really common in covenants. Examples include animal bones changed into beeswax candles (Base MuAn 3), magically created olive oil for illumination or seasoning (CrAq 2), magically assisted healing (+6 to recovery rolls of a bed-ridden grog), containers that heat water (the container is made hot, so it eventually heats water by contact - CrIg3), items that appear to sight, smell and touch to be much finer than they are, from carpets to silverware (MuIm3), fresh flowers (CrHe1,+2Group), magical shaving (PeCo3, no need to extend duration), items that move by themselves, possibly providing generating motive power (ReTe 3, with appropriate requisites), magical preservation of meat (CrAn 2, from the similar CrCo guideline) etc. etc.

Well, in my games (not just Ars ones!) players typically have a list of stuff that they tell the GM "my character always does this". Some players will always have a dagger (or grog) with them. Others will always "mindread" everyone they meet. etc. The SG assumes they do, except in critical circumstances, where he gets to ask the player or simpy rules that for some reason the action wasn't performed (for example, if an "I always have my shield grog with me" magus is entertaining a lovely young lady :slight_smile:)

This does mean that situations in which the action wasn't taken will be exceptional, yes. In general, to collect an AC from the PCs will require putting them in some special situation. For the PCs to gain an AC to some other practitioner of magic will similarly require them crafting a special situation. I see this as a feature rather than a bug.

Yes! And a good explanation for some of the stereotypical images of wizards, with shaved heads or wearing tight-fitting leather caps.

Completely ignoring the stereotypical images of the ones who have long flowing beards of white, long white hair flowing from their scalp. Or the ones where women with magical powers use it to enhance and preserve their own beauty against the ravages of time. Not too many bald magae out there...

Is it SG fiat to say that running a marathon is tiring? The rules don't specify everything, but to refer to even the most basic level of realism as SG fiat suggests a very odd definition is being used.

There is no way that the idea of casting formulaic spells 8 hours a day could ever be sanely considered to be fatigue-free. Even without the mystical elements you're speaking in a firm voice and moving your arms constantly, which is not something a normal person can do for 8 hours a day. You could, of course, choose to SG fiat that it's not fatiguing, but I think that would be a very unpopular choice.

What is the benefit from declaring that, despite all appearances, casting continuously is non-fatiguing? Just that it lets players and NPCs achieve very high penetration the moment they have an arcane connection?

This is your interpretation. From what I can tell, unless casting a spell requires particular effort (i.e. you miss your target number with a Formulaic spell, or you exert yourself on a Spontaneous spell) it's no more fatiguing than playing an instrument while singing (particularly if you don't use a booming voice with exaggerated gestures) -- which is definitely something that's hard to keep doing eight hours straight, but if you intersperse the occasional break, you can do eight hours of it every day. Yes, I would rule that after a full day of "non-fatiguing" casting, a magus loses a Long-term Fatigue Level that is regained by a solid night's sleep; I would add an extra level if Booming Voice is used, and yet another if Exaggerated Gestures are used.