Brainstorm Breakthroughs

People have posted to this forum several times looking for ideas for breakthroughs or wanting to run their ideas by the Ars population at large for feedback. I think that a collection of cool breakthroughs (especially lesser breakthroughs) that fit comfortably within the rule set would be a great resource for folks to refer to when these sort of threads pop up and it would be a boon to the community at large serving as a springboard for lots of stories and ideas.

Naturally the creation of such a list is probably impossible because everyone's ideas of what fits comfortably within the rules differs. Furthermore when folks post ideas that differ from your conception of what the rules should be it isn't particularly easy or even desirable to refrain from discussing how you think the proposed breakthroughs are problematic.

Yet even realizing that the task is quixotic I'm eager to get to work on it. When you're offering criticism to ideas that others have posted please try to make your response as rules and game specific as possible. The sort of criticisms that I expect to see are :
"I believe that hermetic magic can already accomplish this so a breakthrough is unnecessary, look at the perdo stuff guidelines on pXX" or
"This breakthrough messes with the limit of the soul so I don't like it", or
"This breakthrough would destroy the reason to have specific sorts of stories such as X in the game and therefore I think that it would do more harm then good"
So I'll start

Minor ones:

Target pair at the same level as target part (this would help sponting imensely)

An muto vim enchantment that can target other enchantments in a familiar bond and thereby allow bond enchantments to target something other than the familiar or the magus (preferably under the control of the familiar). This is arguably possible under the rules as they stand.

A breakthrough that reduces the pawns of vis necessary to study an art from 1 per five levels to 1 per eight or ten levels. This is a boring breakthrough but you might introduce it later on in a game as the result of NPC research so as to keep vis study a viable alternative for experts.

Creation of rego, muto and creo imagonem enchantments to radically increase the quality of a text by creating a multi-media experience. This is also arguably already possible within the guidelines as they presently sit.

a major one

Research to make magical potencies teachable, researchable and compatible with hermetic theory. In other words give characters an opportunity to give themselves minor magical potency virtues by undergoing specific ritual, laboratory and research activities (like a non-mysterious mystery initiation, you know, involving stories).

A hermetic level one (inspired by the new book):

Combine the arts of mentem and corpus into a single art (like animal) by integrating the understanding of the physical makeup of the ten senses with the understanding of the body.

Muto Vim on already cast spells. I'm thinking of modifying a ward that has been cast.

So are you thinking of being able to create specific wad spells that can be altered by muto vim (minor breakthrough) or are you considering opening up the order's entire repertoire of spells to muto vim alteration (hermetic) or something in between? (say creation of a specific muto vim spell guideline that can be used on spells that have already been cast.)

A breakthrough allowing Muto Vim spells to affect spontaneous magic

Duration Vision: the spell lasts as long as you can see the target. (probably +2, like sun)
Target Cone: everybody in 30 pace cone is affected, the area can, but does not have to be, limited by natural boundaries. (probably +2, like group / room) Range can stay touch.

Major or Hermetic:
Being able to copy a ritual spell with spontaneous magic for a number of extra magnitudes and has to be ceremonial.

That would be one but I was thinking of a specific change to allow the changing of cast spells in enchanted items or ( what I was thinking of) wards.

Boring but useful:
Minor The parma magica score of a magus is reduced by 1 rather than 3 when protecting others.

Might be boring, but that would make sharing parma worthwile instead of suicide.

Parma can be stockaded in the ground, in a circle format allowing it to peotect everybody inside the circle from magic cast by other supernatural beings (including magi). The parma is not diminished in its effectiveness when stockaded in the ground. The magus is parma-less if he leaves the circle (yes, the parma is still stockaded in the ground if the magus leaves it, but that can be changed liberally)


The ability to increase the size of target a formulaic spell is able to effect.

How about new guidelines for creo corpus or creo mentem that allow temporary increase of stats at a significantly lower level than the guidelines we have now. These easier guidelines could not be used for momentary rituals.

as a spell mastery option (boosting) this already exists (sorta).


Duration - Glyph: Equivilent to Ring, a Glyph is marked or painted on the target, and the spell lasts for as long as this Glyph is unmarred.

Duration - Season: Not the Faerie Magic version. This would last like the old-school 4th ed version, until the next solstice or equinox. Require +4 magnitudes, but no ritual.

Inverted Parma: This fold would shield others from the effect of your gift, but also creates a Magic Resstance barrier for all other targets except for Personal

Flex: A mastery ability I long ago set loose in my games, this allows you to cast a slightly altered version of the Mastered spell. You may alter one parameter (Range/Duration/Target) by up to one Magnitude. Which parameter and how it is Flexed is determined with this mastery ability. Other Flex options can also be taken, but they cannot be used together unless a third pick is taken to combine the two.

Yeh, something like boosting. Increasing target size is one of the few things boosting can't boost.

A Mastery ability I only recently let loose, and have yet to see how it works in the long run (Flex is well tested)

Amplify (Cult of Mercury): Similar to the Mutantes Boost, this Mercurian variation is at once more versatile and more limited. You may use vis (of the appropriate Art(s)) to amplify the power of the mastered spell. Each pawn spent adds one magnitude to the Range, Duration, Target, and/or Damage of the spell. A Magnitude of increased damage usually equals and additional +5 points for direct damage spells, +2 for indirect effects, and for many Perdo effects an increase in wound severity. You may not Amplify a spell to Duration-Year or Target Boundary, unless the spell is already a Ritual. The limitation is that the maximum number of pawns you may use to Amplify a spell equals your Mastery score.

Which isn't the size issue, I know, but instead of additional magnitudes of damage, I was considering revising it to additional magnitudes of effect. So, you could create more fire, affect a larget amount of water, conjure more webbing, and so forth.

Fine. It can already be done with Sorcerer's Fork (though not for spontaneous magic). Would that be two individuals, or two individual's mass, as it is for Group ?

I'd be wary of making it too much more attractive than resonance and clarification.

So basically re-introduce magical affinities as they were in the previous editions, but as arcane abilities? I'd be OK with it for minor potencies, but not for major ones. Although magi might find studying minor potencies as a step back from the breakthrough that were the Hermetic Arts.

I don't have the new book, but ... eeek! This scares me. Corpus and Mentem magi already have so much leverage on mundanes I'm unwilling to give them any more.

The rules say it's forbidden for game balance purposes.

I like it. I had some misgivings when comparing it with Concentration (both can be canceled at will, with Concentration, you don't have to stay in sight, but must concentrate, which is a major hindrance), but the extra magnitude seals the deal IMO.

The big downside is that you need to start tracking the position of everything, rather than just roughly judging distances ("the bandits are all within shouting range, but the archers at the back aren't"). It also makes Group+Voice unattractive, as your target improves on them at a lower level. Granted, it may require systematic Finesse targeting rolls to avoid hitting bystanders, but I don't think that's enough.

Now, I myself am going to remain uncontroversial :stuck_out_tongue:

Minor - Range: Reach, as in ArM4, something you could touch, but without requiring you to actually touch it. Same difficulty as Voice. It sacrifices Voice's flexibility for the ability to affect someone you aren't touching without speaking. It cannot be the same difficulty as Touch, as it would make it useless, unlike Eye, which has different restrictions.

The weakness and blandness of clarification are the motivation. You've got a point, it shouldn't be too powerful there's game balance to consider, but I have no qualms about making clarification completely useless (IMHO it's most of the way there already).

I'm speaking of the potent magic minor virtue for Mystery cults and Mysteries revised. It's somewhat different than affinities in prior editions. But I agree minor only. A different take would be to integrate minor magical potency: circular wards so that everyone has it.

It's a hermetic breakthrough. I don't expect anyone will actually complete it. My mindset is to use this one for background. It would be obscenely powerful.

Get it done and all of the world's verditi will thank you.

Yeah, I agree with you, it's really not worth it as is. You might want to simply throw it out and substitute Imaginem enchantments (bonus equal to enchantment magnitude on an art scale, or something like that?) - whether as a HR or a breakthrough.

I know, but I was picturing it as an ability rather than a flat bonus. If it's an arcane ability (teachable, you see? :slight_smile:), there could be books on the topic, which makes it more interesting than the old affinities.

Heh. :slight_smile:

Phew. I'll sleep easier tonight.

I had forgotten the implications for invested devices. * grumble *

How so? Range: Reach in devices could already be done as a Range: Special (+2, +2.5, +3, whatever), like a formulaic spell, couldn't it? Can't see anything ruling otherwise at a quick look. (I know sponts must use standard ranges/etc only, but devices?)

CrVi guidelines for the creation of arcane connections between otherwise unassociated objects/entities.

InVi guidelines for the discernment/mapping of an object/entity's connections.

The ability to cancel spells at will as long as you use the focus, as per the MuCo spells: cloak for invisibility, boots(?) for soaring wind or extra speed travel, .... when you remove, release or break the focus, the spell ends

Minor breakthrough, and suddenly the Sun duration spells AND the focus are back into gameplay.

I always liked magi carrying and using mystical stuff in their spells, so it might be worthwhile IMS without the breakthrough now that I think about it.... Right now (ArM5) magic is too scientific IMO. OK about it being hermetic et al, but it loses some appeal about "eyes of a toad and bat wings to make a love potion" spirit of "traditional" fae tale magic.