Changing the Watching ward into non-ritual spell

Ave Sodales,

The Watching ward spell as described in ArM5 is a ritual allowing a Maga to let another spell occur, waiting a given condition.
If a Maga try to invent a new spell as following, does it seems balanced ?

Retarding the Maga’s will
MuVi, ???
R : Personal, D : diameter, T : Individual
The Maga cast a spell upon her so that her next spell will be retarded. If she successfully casts another spell befeore the end of the current diameter, that spell will wait a particular condition in order to apply. That condition must be a simple and mundane effect, and it must be observeable by the Maga. The next spell must have a magnitude smaller or equal to that of that spell to benefit from it. Should a target have to be given for the retarded spell, it will try to target the source of the event which free it.
If no proper spell is cast, nor is the condition triggered during the next two minutes, the Maga spoiled her chance to use that option and the MuVi effect vanishes. It vanishes too, should the retarded spell fail to find a proper target.
Kerridwen of Merinita uses that spell before a Wizard’s sidestep (ArM5) and often take the condition “I’m attacked!” so that she may anticipate a fight without having maintain a protective illusion.

While the core book says that watching ward is a ritual because of its potential duration, rival magic added that it would take a breakthrough to get hermetic magic to do the triggering that watching ward does as a non-ritual spell. The only non ritual versions we have (I think) are spells that hold for their duration and then release the spell when the duration ends (patient spell from MoH, there might be other examples).

You could make a device that holds a spell which has an "item maintains concentration" duration for a sort of repeatable non-ritual watching ward. I imagine that you could do something with an intellego spells and linked a creo imaginem to produce a command word in order to make it "programmable".

This is what the published stuff says, which doesn't really address your question "does it seem balanced?". My experience is that prior to rival magic I played with non-ritual limited duration watching wards, and they were really really really useful. So much so, that when rival magic came out and prompted me to re-evaluate how the spells worked, I decided that the game worked somewhat better without them.

A caveat is that we had a magus with a strong rego vim and a magical focus in toy soldiers, he had a "store a spell in a toy soldier" spell along with spells to teleport the toys. PC's would send toys back to the covenant where any spell that any of the magi could cast would be implanted into it then the toy would be sent back to the requesting PC. We made the most of the ability, it basically meant that every magus could access the abilities of all of the magi with a few rounds or minutes of delay. If it used in your game with less optimization it should be less disruptive.

I did this in Andorra, and it works fine.

The "flicker" effect at sunrise/sunset limits how long you can stack spells, but it's still very useful, especially if you consider the build-in fast-cast of the Patient Spell.

A workout that I think could work, is using, say, a Moon duration container, and dispelling it with PeVi when you want to release the held spell.

A very effective alternative is make the "holding" spell with D:Ring: break the Ring, release the held effect.
The problem with these "held" effects is that either they are targeted when cast, or they must be untargeted.
But they are certainly great for making magical grenades!

What's fun is that you can have the same (physical) ring hold 2 Ring/Circle effects:

  • One that is detrimental while the ring is on (Say, a PeCo effect that wounds people inside the ring)
  • One that releases a detrimental held spell (Say, a PeTe that make the room collapse) when you break it.

Spell container, general guideline. Requires an intellego spell to detect the trigger. Spell is triggered if the condition is met or the container fails, whichever comes first. The reason Watching Ward is a ritual is because of the indefinite length of time the spell is stored.

Also, conditional durations "Until" etc. which are more specific are listed in Merinita initiations.

One reason, but another was added. Here is a quote from Rival Magic p.74

This says specifically that you can't have an intellego spell triggered ward without a ritual regardless of duration.

So a rule change only if using that book and not an official rules errata.

Considering how vague one can make conditions without an intellego spell, I don’t see why something which limits the power of the spell would need a ritual and a vague condition would not be a ritual.

Triggers like “object hits the ground” or “when the church bell sounds” are perfectly within the bounds of the spell. Heck I’ve had people in the play by post forums argue “5 minutes from now” is more reasonable than “object hits the ground”.

I would argue any trigger, outside of spell container duration expiring, requires an intellego spell.

An intellego spell trigger not only makes the trigger more specific, it eats up the total spell levels the container holds AND requires the character to have more knowledge in the Arts. So... that requires a ritual? But vague conditions requiring troupe discussion, that don’t eat up spell slots, and don’t require Arts to cast the Intellego spell don’t require a ritual?

Seriously, it’s over penalised to the point the spell effect should just be removed from ReVi so players don’t get disappointed.

I always thought that one of the mayors advantages of mercurial magi was that they can use Watching Guards a lot more. Mercurials in my saga wears a lot of watching wards for all kinds of problems.

Normally you need to have a Virtue to do something similar (without making a Greater Enchanted Device) as a non-ritual. If you normally need a Virtue, I wouldn't want to allow it without a Virtue. I don't find being able to use a ritual to accomplish something that otherwise couldn't be done to be a disappointment.

Edit: I missed some of this. Vague conditions require the same space and a ritual as well. Only the ending of the duration of a spell doesn't require a ritual.

Yes, I am playing a Mercere with Imbued with the Spirit of Vim who plans to do quite a bit of this eventually.

While I don't have a strong opinion on the matter either way (haven't thought it through honestly - I develop strong opinions naturally), it may be worth noting for argument's sake that the section in magic item creation explicitly states that they can sense the end of Sun duration for triggered effects naturally, so you may also include that as a possible trigger.

Yeah, I always considered "astrologically important events" to be percievable by any type of Hermetic magic, unless stated otherwise. So, Sunrise/Sunset, Moon PHase, Season (as defined by Solstice/Equinox), and Year....which for the most part are durations already, so it doesn't seem to be much of a stretch. I suppose you could also link in things like "Zodiac sign" or "when the moon is in the 7th House" or something - but that may require additional Integrations from TMRE.

EDIT - or could very well be a minor, partial integration of the Learned Wizard's version. Ie, after the first 15 points or so, you get a slightly improved version of Watching Ward that can use all astrological triggers. After 30, you can use any trigger effect non-ritually. At 45, you can add it to part of a spell without a +1 mag increase (but still needs a Vim requisite).

No. Erik Tyrrell is very clear here. Going beyond is house ruling, which you are most welcome to - if you find players.

Take a look at

This is the only relevant ArM5 core guideline to delay the release of a spell without a need to make the holding spell a Ritual. A specific length of time is just that: 5 minutes, an hour, a day, "until an astronomical phenomenon occurs" - but not "“object hits the ground” or “when the church bell sounds”".

This way you can make really sure, that a magus does not produce thousands of mines or hand grenades in a day and without expending vis: products which really can destroy an adventure or even a saga.

Once a troupe introduces "vague conditions requiring troupe discussion" here, they are responsible for the outcome. The ArM5 guideline above does not support these.


EDIT: Erik Tyrrell's quote from RM p.74 is just a rephrasing of ArM5 p.161. It is nothing new, but explicitly addresses a misconception ArM5 core authors didn't anticipate.

This way you can make really sure, that a magus does not produce thousands of mines or hand grenades in a day and without expending vis: products which really can destroy an adventure or even a saga.

Are you arguing for or against? You’re arguing against me however the very thing I suggest hampers said hyperbole you suggest would occur.

I wonder what the point of the spell is then.

well... you could always create a charged item CrIg with a few seconds delay after a command word is spoken...
so yeah, you could churn out hand grenades... in the lab.

What are you trying to say? Are you making a point about the actual topic?