Ars Magica HYBRIDS (aka "House Rules")

Greetings one and all! I am new to this site but I've been playing AM for over 10 yrs. I noticed during a brief scan of the forums and threads a lot (if not most) of the people here are playing 5th edition (I know, I know, it's the Atlas Games forum). Most troupes that I know of use variants of a number of editions, or hybrids, which is really what I want to discuss, and possibly working some of the 5th ed. innovations into our current group. The reason I'm blabbing all this is because we're always interested in new ideas and takes on many issues, and I think I have some good ideas to help solve some issues others have.

For instance, a number of FAQ's I've read devote pages of arguments concerning the "Pink Dot Loophole," where a magus can make himself invulnerable to a sword by casting a tiny spell on it, thus making it magic. I think the problem can be solved with a shift in the fundamental idea of the parma. The pink dot loophole exists if you consider the parma as a physical barrier, like the shields in Star Trek, rather than a purely mystical one. In our group the parma doesn't keep all magic away from your person, like two north poles of a magnet, but rather it protects the magus from magical effects. Thus, a sword with an enchantment on it could penetrate your skin and harm you, but any magical effects would still be protected against (the penetration would have to overcome the parma).

These discussions also brought to mind a serious flaw in the "parma as physical barrier vs. all magic" concept: using this definition a maga would not be able to carry, hold or use raw vis without dropping their parma, or be able to pick up any enchanted device other than their talisman.

One of the things my troupe has discussed (though not implemented) is the idea that Parma is not "passive". That is, changing it such that using it takes an action, or at least involves some game effect beyond simply stopping magic in its tracks.

We tend to hand-wave rules away from us a fair bit in our sessions. For instance, I'm happy to avoid calculations for spontaneous magic altogether if the effect is low enough and the character has time. It's just not worth the energy working it out.

But I can't think of any rules that we've changed or dropped.

Although one guy who used to play with us is always trying to formulate a different style of Ars Magica by changing the 10 forms into things we might not expect. This is to support settings beyond the medieval. I personally wouldn't be fussed about going there, but that's certainly an option he's exploring.

Interesting idea. This seems on the surface to make magical combat a difficult option, though. Or do you allow a mage to "use" their parma and cast a spell in the same round?

Same here. In fact, we try to eliminate as much extraneous calculating and dice-rolling as possible. Thanks for the feedback.

Welcome, glad to have you here.

Parma only stops spells, effects, active magic sorts of things. Vis, enchanted items and such don't count. The analogy I use is a factory that makes automobiles and the raw materials that automobiles are made out of such as rubber and steel are, neither of them, automobiles themselves. Also remember that things can get close enough to touch the magi (such as the rego'd rock example and the bridge that the magus walks over).

This isn't crystal clear from the rules, but the "one couldn't hold vis" interpretation seems to me to be going out of your way to find issues that don't have to exist unless you want to run into problems.

The plan regarding the "protection from mystic-ness" rather than "keeps all magic away" has a few ramifications and ambiguities that I think should you should consider before you implement it. If the protected party is attacked by a magically conjured sword is the sword kept away? If a blazing inferno is subject to a MuIg(He) spell that changes it into a turnip then does the mystic-ness of the turnip get stripped from it leaving a giant conflagration in the lap of the protected magus? If not, how does this muto spell differ fundamentally from the normal sword magically altered to be supernaturally sharp? Where do you draw the line?

As I say, we didn't implement the Parma idea as we didn't invest the time working through its game mechanic. It's something I'd like to do in the future though. And actually we considered it in order to make magical combat more interesting. None of us in my troupe are particularly comfortable with the idea that a magus, once Parma is performed, has the same MR regardless of what he does. Spellcasting on the other hand has a number of options to increase the casting total (gestures, volume, props, ceremony, confidence, vis, etc). None of those can be applied to Parma Magica. And that just feels a little flat to us.

A combat-focused magus, with a high penetration, can effectively wade through a swarm of junior spellcasters who individually can't breach his Parma Magica. There's no built-in way to use weight-of-numbers to breach his Parma. Even good old combat gets a boost through exertion, or benefits from acting as a group, but MR is just a flat number.

But the trick of it is to give the player the options without turning MR into "just another roll". There are enough rolls already.

I can't say I like the current Parma rules very much, with their weird effects, but I've yet to see an alternative that I really liked. I would especially like a variant that would allow a magical sword to be more effective against magi than a mundane sword. But I'm unsure how to make this a viable option.

I can't say I like hybrids, but I do like house rules. I have a fair amount that I like, and they're weird. But right now I''m struggling with Faerie Magic, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to ask if anyone did anything with it's ArM5 version. I mean - Fire duration? Really? Casting a Bargain as a Ritual spell? Until spells not being subject to dispells? And lots of perks hiding in the supplement... I see room for improvement here.

If I knew anything concrete, which I don't, I'd suggest watching this space for a couple of weeks. You never know what's around the corner...


This is how my troupe interprets the Parma as well, with this significant difference. (Remember, I'm only addressing the issue of the Pink Dot Loophole here) A mage's Parma protects him/her from magical effects (as stated), but does not in any way protect them from any mundane component. The best example here is an enchanted weapon, and let's say it's triggering effect is when it strikes someone (or thing). The sword (or whatever) strikes a magus and pierces his skin. My troupe would rule that the wizard takes whatever mundane damage the weapon did, but the magical effect is still resisted by his Parma, unless it is Penetrated, of course. Otherwise wizards would mass-produce magic weapons for their grogs and another Schism War (or twelve!) would soon break out.

It was just a thought. You are correct.

Too late, we've been playing this way for years.

No, unless the attacking mage's spell created and targeted the defender as part of a single spellcasting. We had a mage create a spell called Sudden Staff (I know, dorky name) that created a staff-sized hunk of lumber, which in an ensuing round could be used to cast Piercing Shaft of Wood. In this case it is not resisted. If the spell created and projected the staff in a single spell it would be resisted.

These are the questions that usually take up 1-3 hours of our weekly playing time. Ah, I love this game, but it can cause no end of headaches. One at a time: the turnip can hit a magus unresisted and stays a turnip. If the responsible wizard then cast Suppressing the Wizards' Handiwork while it was in the other mage's lap the fire would do it's damage, yes. (That gives my Flambeau mage an interesting idea....) Magically sharpened swords, again according to our house rules, are unresisted. Here's the crux: the sharpness is a quality of the blade itself, not some "spell-coating" that makes it do more damage.

I actually used the term "hybrid" as a synonym of "house rules", simply to imply a combination of different rules sets. I was unclear on that. Sorry for the confusion.

In that case, LOTS. Enough to completely hijack this thread. :mrgreen:
Guess ill have to make a thread of it sometime.

What always amazes me though is the fact that we´ve had a large group playing for some time, and yet there is oh so much to be found here that just never came up, or ever became a problem for us...
Including a few embarassing rulereading mistakes. :laughing:

If REgoed to attack, yes. If created beyond natural perfection, yes.

Its an active spell so you get a turnip bounce. Why would it be dispelled? Parma protects against magic stuff, doesnt dispel.
Or at least, that would be my take on the above two matters.

But as already mentioned, the important part is what the SG decides, handwavium is a very good substance. :mrgreen:

Off the subject, but one guy I play with came up with the idea for what may be the most powerful spell ever invented, and for which he was threatened with much arm-waving if he ever tried to invent and use. A 10 or 15th Lvl CrHe that creates a Near amount of hay, at range of Near or Sight. Sounds silly, but think of the implications:

You can fill a room full of people with hay, and they are debilitated for many rounds trying to get out. Light it on fire and it's even better.

Being chased down any corridor? Summon hay to fill the hallway behind you. Ignite if that is your style.

Falling off a castle wall? Creo Hay beneath you. You will still take some damage but not nearly as much.

It works vs. magi because even though their parmae will cause it to form around them, they are still trapped for rounds and rounds.

It's virtually foolproof unless you have heavy countering firepower, but even so that gives you at least 1 round to make good your escape, or at least get out of Near range...and cast another one.

Needless to say he didn't actually do it, but this presents the ever-present problem of rule abuse, for which there are only two solutions: armwaveite, and what I call "The Hastur Response", AKA the Hand of God.

True from most people'stake on the rules in the book. but Bash was proposing an alternate parma where enchanted items (such as swords) could pass through parma while leaving their enchantments behind, if the sword leaves the enchantment behind why not the blazing inferno as well?

On a totally unrelated note I didn't find anything interesting in my mailbox today either :frowning:

On a related note here's a thread I posted back in 2005 (I guess I've already placed all of these on our wiki Yair, so you'll find little new here)

I also have not found a duration fire spell that truly felt right. I dabbled with the idea of a MuIg(An) spell that turned a fire into a guard dog that would protect you as long as you kept feeding it wood to "eat".

Bargain spells don't actually have to be rituals, you can do plenty without sending your level over 50.

Until can be handled in a way that makes things very very cool. It can also be abused. It seems more like a rego vim spell than a duration and that "can not be dispelled" I suspect is a whole wasp's nest full of brokenness just waiting for the correct tactless player to kick it into swarming. But it is the same level as year and it's not that much harder to dispel. I'd allow an intellego vim spell to determine the condition to release the spell. Looking at the intellego vim guidelines on page 158 level 5 detects any active magic two magnitudes gives technique and form three magnitudes gives the casting magus's sigil (from HoH: True Lineages), I'd say that the condition for releasing a spell is about the same level of detail as the casting sigil. That means level 25 gets you a range touch spell that figures out how to lift the curse. That's probably a lower level than a perdo vim to dispell the effect.

Authors' copies tend to go out after copies to paying customers. I am virtually certain that the comp copies haven't gone out yet (because I normally get an email from John asking for address confirmation just before they do). Commercial copies should be out there, if everything went according to plan. Which might not have happened; the Nephews are very busy right now.

And, Erik, don't forget that your comp copy doesn't end the NDA. Only a copy in the shops does that... :smiling_imp:

Correction to my earlier post/s on this topic: after consulting my sodales I erred in my interpretation of the magic resistance we use slightly. In the above example the turnip would bounce off a parma, because the turnip is a magical effect even if the fire is normal. This still prevents the absurdity proposed by the Pink Dot Loophole: the parma protects the magus from magical effects and magically created media, but it does not protect against naturally existing objects. A sword with Blade of the Virulent Flame cast on it can still hit a magus and he gets no resistance vs. the sword itself; his parma does resist the BoVF, or the pink dot, or magical poison, what have you. The SG may (emphasis on may) allow an extra Damage bonus if the blade had a round or few to heat up: the fire is magical, but its secondary effects are not.

So your group makes a distinction between a transformed object (the turnip) and items that have magic cast upon them.

Is a change in weight a transformation? in other words if magus A has an 80 lb cannon ball and alters it to weigh as much as a softball then whips it at magus B is magus B hit with an object that weighs 0.5 lbs or 80lbs or does it bounce ?

I believe that's a good way of looking at it, but I'll have to check in this Sunday to be sure. I'll put it this way: Magic Resistance protects against magical effects but not necessarily the entire affected item itself. Blade of Virulent Flame doesn't magically alter the entire weapon itself, it merely covers the sword with fire--it's still a sword, and so can penetrate the parma unresisted. The fire is magical and so it is resisted if the sword strikes the magus. The fire-into-turnip changes the entire fire, its whole form is magically altered, not just some exterior component or part. So the fire turnip will be resisted.

Good question. not sure. My gut says it would bounce f resisted, and if it penetrated would only weigh 0.5 lbs. I think.

Avoiding this was one of the main aims of the ArM5 Magic Resistance rules. In ArM4 and earlier, there were endless debates on the mailing lists over what the rules were: is this resisted? Is this? In ArM5, there are hardly any, and when there are consensus seems to be reached quickly.

For a published rule, it's very important that people can work out what it is. If you don't like it (and Pink Dot is odd), you can House Rule it. Of course, the ideal would be something clear, easy to apply, and universally liked. So far, however, no-one has managed to come up with that for Magic Resistance. If we do ArM6, we'll have another go. Wish us luck...

For House Rules, of course, relying on troupe consensus over the sort of thing that is resisted is fine.

The object is under an active spell, and so should bounce.

Oh ill wish you any and all luck indeed, but i most certainly doubt you can create something that is logical(in context that is) and works WELL all or at least most of the time. Too many ways to create loopholes.

You know, the easy way out is to simply abolish the unresisted category entirely. End of debate. Storyguides can go gray at a more leisurely pace. Imagine the extra hours of roleplaying we'd all get!