Casting Tablet Questions

I've always ignored casting tablets, aware that they existed and that some covenants have some spells on them, typically rituals, but never used them myself. Now I've had a thorough read of the casting tablets section in Covenants and I've got some questions as I'd quite like to use them.

  1. The penetration issue. What is this talking about. Covenants (p90) says "Spells cast from tablets do not have penetration bonuses unless they are built into the spells level by the author".
    What does this mean? Does it mean that any casting total above the level of the spell is not applied to penetration? That the casters penetration ability is not used? That you can't use sympathetic magic with a casting tablet?

  2. How long does it take to cast a spell from a casting tablet? Obviously adding ceremonial casting puts the time up to 15 mins per magnitude, but for a non-ceremonial casting is it the same as an equivalent formulaic/ritual spell as normal?

  3. How would casting from a casting tablet work if the caster had the unstructured caster flaw? Would it apply normally (i.e. formulaic spells use vis, rituals are impossible)

  4. How about other flaws that affect magic, would a caster with short ranged magic be able to cast a voice range spell from a tablet without penalties?

  1. Let's try and work this through with Lucius of Flambeau writing a series of Pilum of Fire tablets, a spell he mastered very early.

Lucius creates one for Pilum of Fire, with no penetration. Someone casting it needs to try and make a casting total of 20 to cast it with no ill effects. You could hand it to your apprentice who hasn't had training in Creo or Ignem yet, and even if their casting total is 0 the spell will still be cast, but with three fatigue levels lost. How much you get over 20 makes no difference as there's no penetration, how much you get below 20 affects how much fatigue you lose, you need to fail by 31 points of more to not cast the spell.

Lucius creates one for Pilum of Fire, penetration 20 ("Spells cast from tablets do not have Penetration bonuses unless they are built into the spells level by the author") - effectively takes Lucius as long to write as a level 40 casting tablet. If you make 40 or more, the spell hits its target with penetration +20. If you only make a 25, the spell is cast with penetration +20 but you lose three Fatigue levels - YES, you CAN get a penetration much higher than a low-powered caster normally could, but the fatigue loss and risk of warping makes this very hazardous.

Lucius creates one for Pilum of Fire, penetration 30 including a sample of the target's blood (the "and any single type of arcane connection to be used" clause comes in here - you can only use a single arcane connection and must specify it's type - no "horoscope and a lock of hair" combinations here). Here the rules sort of abandon us, so here's how I would house rule it to try and keep compatible with the core rules - I would use the person reading the text's penetration ability and multiply it by the arcane connection bonus, and add this into the casting total for comparison to the table on page 90 of Covenants.

  1. "The author either designs the spell for ceremonial casting or for non-ceremonial casting" - I would say it takes the same as any other formulaic spell, 15 mins/magnitude for ceremonial casting or ritual spells, one round for non-ceremonial. Reading the magic words while holding the tablet can be done in a few seconds.

  2. Any Hermetic Flaws affecting the caster's Gift should always affect any magic they cast, so I would say a caster with unstructured caster needs to have a casting tablet specifying ceremonial casting and using at least as many pawns of vis as magnitudes of the spell (whose art and amount must be specified exactly in a casting tablet).

  3. Any Hermetic Flaws affecting the caster's Gift should always affect any magic they cast, so halve the casting total of a mage with short ranged magic trying to use that Voice range tablet. Apply an extra round for anyone with slow casting, apply pain levels for painful casting, halve any deficient forms/techniques, add special circumstances/cyclic magic bonuses, apply restrictions/necessary conditions. etc.

if there is no penetration possible than casting tablets for wards or an aegis of the hearth would be useless wouldn't they? And yet an Aegis is the primary use I have seen for casting tablets.

Indeed it would seem like so. That clause about penetration gets overlooked more often than not when someone comes across casting tablets, however the main use I've seen for them are spells that "don't" require penetration; healing tablets, bountiful feast, don the ravens feathers(...or whatever its called :smiley: ). Spells you may not necessarily wish to spend time to learn/not in your area of expertise but are very handy to have from time to time.
A lvl40 aegis scroll with lvl 20 +20 for penetration would be handy now that I think of it.

Interestingly the books have always proposed that magic continues to be refined and improved, though not at the same rate as Bonisagus's primary discoveries. I would love to see some guidelines (a side bar or insert) about options and possibilities for older magic to be strange.

Casting Tablets are a great example. Unlike Spell Formula Texts which are reviewed then "re-invented" by each new magus. Tablets are fixed ways of doing things. They should have some strange limitations once they are about 50 to 100 years old.

For example, over the last generation they have developed new guidelines for Rego, or made something easier. So a casting tablet is shown to be inefficient, using a Level 5 guideline instead of the modern Level 4 guideline.

A different example is issues that have been resolved, or strange effects from previous generations: so that an Aegis Casting Tablet works great, but strangely doesn't effect anyone carrying a rock from the Channel Island of York. And all castings using that Aegies Casting Tablet have that issue.

A third, the healing ritual requires specific combination of Vis (must be 50% Cr and 50% Co) even though there is no modern reason for this.

This would be a good reason that New Covenants or unproven Magi get them. Some are considered to be weak due to age or idiosyncrasies of the past, some have been found to have major or minor flaws that more powerful magi don't want to deal with.

In regards to the penetration issue, I think darkwing explained it very well. silveroak, Penetration is possible, but the tablets need to be made that way, and should be.

Surely this is a time for every Magus in the Covenant to use Casting Tablets to cast level 30 "Wizards Communion". This should work so long as every participant can generate a casting total of at least 0 and take the Fatigue loss.

The last errata to MuVi:

require D: Sun MuVi spells to modify rituals. So you would need TtA p.75 Wizard's Vigil or TtA p.137 Day of Communion on the casting tablet.

Casting the Aegis or any other ritual this way is verrry botch-prone:

A budding Spring covenant may risk this once in a pinch, but some member should learn and master an appropriate Aegis asap.


My apologies, I keep forgetting to check the errata.

When 6th Ed comes around, the Mercurian Magic should grant either a free Wizard's Vigil or Day of Communion spell instead or/in addition to Wizard's Communion, being that Mercurians were derived from ritualists rather than formulaic spell casters.

This gives rise to a couple of questions regarding characters with the virtue Cautious Sorcerer. Does this virtue reduce the number of Botch dice you roll if you are the leader of a Wizard's Communion? What about if you are a participant?
And what if the author of a Casting Tablet was a Cautious Sorcerer? Would other magi using the Casting Tablet be forced to cast it as if they had the virtue Cautious Sorcerer?

And as a last minute thought, would a magus with the Magical Memory virtue (I think it is called that, don't have book in front of me) only need to read a Casting Tablet once, and then re-cast it whenever?


The botch dice of the Wizard's Communion or similar spell cast by you are reduced.

If you convinced your troupe to allow the author's Virtues to affect Casting Tablets in this way, you might also find a guy to sell London Bridge to. :stuck_out_tongue:

Casting from a Tablet implies that you do "not understand the spell's workings": so it isn't "following another magus's lab text". Unless you can sell London Bridge to your troupe, I would recommend, that your maga invests in TMRE p.25ff The Art of Memory for such feats.


Sometimes it is difficult to tell how forward-compatible the original virtues of ArM5 are with later extensions, such as Casting Tablets.
While it is not a Lab Text that allows you to create a spell near identical to the author's, it is a text that allows you to cast a spell almost identical to the author's. Hence I was wondering if an argument could be made that a Casting Tablet could exist in the same category that Magical Memory would cover.

I would say no primarily from a story perspective. I do not believe that Casting Tablets can not be used to learn spells. I.e. a normal magus with a casting tablet and a season does not get the bonus. Therefore having magical memory should not let you get the bonus either. Casting Tablets and Lab Texts are different things, with different information embedded.

Here is my bad analogy, I hope your sitting down: A casting table is instructions for doing something; a Mathematical Proof for example, or a chemical experiment in a lab. You do this, and then this, and then this and then the math if proofed! Looking at your chalk board writing no math mathematician would disagree that what is there is right! But you don't know what you did, or why you did it? I mean... what does this squiggle over here even mean?

In comparison a Lab Text is the work book that tells you what your doing and why. It tells you why your using that squiggle and not this other squiggle, and you come away with Knowledge. At the end of the process (a season for Magi and a semester for mathematicians) you know more, even if the proof is still beyond your ability to comprehend (spend another season/semester).

End bad analogy.

EDIT: For Silveroak below, since this seems too small to be a new post... I think a casting tablet might to too small to be useful. A recipe without context. Compare tablet and text. I would think the Text is larger.

I would think a casting tablet would be too large to memorize.

Maybe a houserule to have it count like a similar spell. I think it would be slightly helpful to see at least the spell laid out, if not designed and calculated.

I am suspecting there has been a misunderstanding somewhere.

A Casting Tablet carries instructions to replicate the casting of a particular spell in exactly the same way as the author wrote down. It can't be used to learn the spell.
What I was asking was if the virtue Magical Memory would allow the magus to memorise the instructions to make the magical effect that the Casting Tablet contains. And once memorised, cast the same spell in the same way as the original author wrote down, without needing to read or have the original Casting Tablet again.

I mean, a Lab Text contains instructions to produce a magical effect. In a more limited way, so does a Casting Tablet.

And that is not what Magical Memory addresses: it does not provide a means to memorize and replicate casting procedures, but to better recall the minutiae of magical research.

To memorize a text, you have TMRE p.25ff The Art of Memory with its ease factors, which you shouldn't just skip.
I would allow a bonus of say +3 for Magical Memory to the Int+Art of Memory stress roll from p.25 there, if your maga wishes to memorize part of a text on magical research.
But your troupe will not let your maga copy books for a season in Durenmar, cast from 90 or more casting tablets there in the next one, and thus learn them all by heart in one fell swoop.


Using the art of memory (Mysteries Revised p. 25) one can place entire books in their head, casting tablets are treated as books by the rules.

I've often considered a mentem focused magus who uses a target group version of the Creo Mentem spell Memory Palace of the Sage (Mysteries Revised p.27) to place a large number of casting tablets in their brain and cast from them.

Good point. I hadn't been thinking munchkin enough.

OK, fixed in memory: Casting Tablet = ordinary book, not affected by Magical Memory

With a ritual spell, sure. If you use the vis and ritual to place a casting tablet in your head then it works like a casting tablet- no penetration and you cannot reinvent/learn the spell from it.
I was looking at the guidelines of up to 100 pages without the use of ritual