Charged combat device: Is this munchkinism?

Ok, my Flambeau Maga can easily make a charged device (wand) with a level 50 Voice/Mom/Ind combat spell, 24 uses per day, with a single charge, and 60 additional levels for Penetration. This should be enough to blast through the resiatance of anyone, and most likely kill them (or at least maim them!)
The following season she uses her Lab Text and makes the same device, getting almost 20 charges!

This is a sure-fire, insta-kill doomsday device. She can even opt to make each charge as a seperate wand, distributing them to 20 different Grogs. How's that for killing power.

I see this as munchkinism, abusive and way too easy.l

Knowing the formulaic spell, keeping this within your speciality, using some cheap and common item for Shape&Effect bonus, even getting a freindly magus to help out, for a cut of the final product - it all helps to get this Through-the-roof Penetration.

I know somebody else has spotted this!
But has anyone had any experience with this? Is this a problem (or even bug)? Is there - or should there be - a fix? Perhaps even making a House Rule to limit the levels for Penetration? Say, to half the level of the power?

Ignoring the 24uses/day (since that doesn't apply to a charged item anyway), you have 110 labtotal(50+60)?
That is damn impressive actually.
And, if you're that good, sure you can make a great nuke'em wand. Offcourse, with a penetration of 120, you might think twice about giving them to a grog that can be conviced to turn that wand against yourself...

Oho, I can avoid the uses/day bit? This makes the thing even better!

I know this Lab total is very impressive, but this for a 30 years out of Gauntlet maga, this is her speciality (best arts, focus and all), she has 2 good apprentices as Assiatants (yes 2 apprentices, she spends half her time teaching them!), a good lab with some speciality (although not abusive IMHO, aura only +4), knvows this level 50 spell as formulaic plus she has monster Magic Theory (as a hoplite she wants to ake the most of her time in the Lab).
Imagine if she Experiments (and gets away with it!) A distaster could hurt, bad! Personally and the lab. But most of the time you'd just end up wasting time or getting a flawed item. Boohoo, it's Charged, not invested!

Sure, giving it to a grog could be the stupidest thing you ever did. I mean, it will not take much from your enemies to "convince" the grog to fire on you instead. Plus it's not even Hermetically illegal, since you did not use magic directly to kill - this goes both ways, strictly speaking. However the legal ramafications could easily rule otherwise. I mean, using magic to have a grog use magic to kill...that's almost pulling tre trigger (or waving the wand...) yourself.

If it is your top arts and focus, with 30 years out of apprenticeship I would say it is not even near as over the top as what some other mages I have seen around can achieve.

Yes, go ahead for it. With that level of expertise you should more than able to be able to pull that out. It is one of thos things in ArM5: at some point, what you can achieve is just scary.



2 more things to note:

  1. If you give this to a grog, and the grog uses it to kill another magus, then you will be held responsible for it.

  2. A level 50 spell is a ritual. Rituals can't be put in a item. You can design an effect that is level 50 and put it in an item, but it will not be similar to the ritual spell you know...

However just because the lab totals seem correct and you should be hellaciaously powerful. It doesn't necessarily follow that the charged device rules aren't seriously flawed.

Penetration should be at most 1 per level for charged devices. It isn't in the rules, but it should be.

Also, the grog can be ReMe or ReCo-ed and cast the spell at you. be careful about that :wink:

As per the RAW, no magus in his right senses would have grogs armed with anything if going against an other magus or supernatural being with the ability to cast multiple magics (like a fae lord). Armour at most, and used as meatshields. Literally. Use rego mentem to make them sacrificial lambs. Or change the MR rules somehow using HR to allow your grogs to operate as something more than a zero or negative modifier in your equation.

Too many cases can be created for your grogs killing you or hindering you instead of the enemy due to their lack of MR.



But he could create them fairly secretly and only he and his two apprentices (eventually former apprentices) know about them. Then when the Infernal cultists come a knocking he can distribute them out to the grogs with simple instructions. There's little time to use them against the character.

Of course there are lots of ways to start stories with this plan
The limit of the infernal means that there can always be confusion
You've got two apprentices out there who can let the information go.

"Yes Mr Quasitor there is only one tool I've ever seen that could have done this but it's locked up in my mentor's laboratory. No one but him could have accessed it"

Someone could have "peering into the mortal minded" you apprentice and found out their secret.

The former apprentice really needs one and they break into the mentors lab to steal it (for the mentor's own protection. They're not culpable if it is stolen rather than given).

(but to reiterate my former post any cool stories would be just as cool if you fixed the penetration rules on charged items)


Thats a properly evil use for it... :wink:

Yeah they tend to become a bit on the overly nasty side.

I am sorry but I think that rules about charged items are flawed and they need a strong FAQ from Atlas to avoid munchinism.
There are any House Rules or clarification about Penetration, because at this moment +2 Penetration for every level added to the spell's level is a very huge problem!
Do I waste my time raising my Parma Magica?

Well, you are quite safe since most people around seem to think either that they are OK (but can see why other people thinks otherwise) or thi k that they are NOT OK and that a +1 penetration per extra level is the maximum charged items (or magic items of any kind, for that matter) should eb able to achieve.

Quite a few people in this forum seems to be in the second camp. or they are more vocal about it. IMS this has bnot been an issue, but the +1 per level is the way that our lab SG thinks, so it is sure to be +1 per level if it ever comes around.



The game supports specialization too much and the specialization is the root of munchkinism. In the older editions it was less obvious especially the 3rd edition rules limited the extreme knowledge in arts. In the 5th edition focuses and the art-booster virtues support the specialization extremely and work against the game balance.

Earlier I suggested not only the penetration limit you mentioned before but halving the focus bonus and removing the affinity virtues, too.
And you need to think about the book rules, too. By the RAW there is a logical thing there are a lot of tractatus. But it is bad to the game because it supports the specialization, too.

Btw if your item is based on fire your penetration is not so much. Anybody who learned the pilum and mastered it can double his magic resistance choosing the appropriate master ability. I think it worths one season (or two).

Well, a simple thing to do would be to limit the penetration of items to what would be your casting total, focus included. Or to your lab total.


Ward against flames would also help a lot here.

Yes, I know how easy it is to get a decent Resistance vs. the most common spells, that's why my Hoplite maga has Resistance Mastery in most of the common Ignem spells.
But her speciality is ice, and her (potential) Doomsday Device is also ice based, not the most common choice for enemy magi.
Anyway, if the Penetration of such a charged device ends up in the 130s, even a decent Ignem Resistance with Resistance Mastery could have troubles following.
Also, the power in question is a 10th magnitude, so a soak-protection spell still has trouble keeping up.
Anyway, if the device sometimes fails to kill outright the first round, there is always next round, where the enemy is most likely seriously wounded.

Well, this is why you call it a Doomsday device, isn't it? :wink: It is deadly.

IMO the best thing about the parma magica is not that it protects you vs hermetic opponents (it does not) but that it allows you to interact socially with your fellow magi without inherent distrust and that it provides a fairly good protection against other supernatural beings (not hermetics)

vs hermetics the parma magica is mostly useless as a defense given the penetration totals that can be achieved in the current edition as per the RAW. The power escalation in ArM5 (and I guess ArM4, even if we kept the books and progression rules as in ArM3, so no direct experience there) with V&F stacking and multiplies flying high makes slow progressing defense abilities like parma quite a joke



Also do not forget that story and GM should act somewhat to prevent abuses of player munchkinism.

If one of my players created such a device i'd let him go silly with it to start with, blow off some steam, fry some baddies, etc. If he kept using however he is bound to step on someones toes. IMS we have an extremely long list of enemies and a rather shorter list of allies. At some point an enemy might decide that such a wand would be better off in his hands. Send a mortal thief to go get it.
Then suddenly we have a problem for mr ignem magus. Over specialised he doesn't have waiting wards, he doesn't have ward vs mundane burglar, he doesn't have intellego spells to track the thief. In short his over specialisation becomes a weakness. Its at this point you can gently nudge him into broadening his repertoire.
Frequent certamen challenges are good for this as it forces you to get good with 2 techniques and 2 forms.

I think I'd better not open this can of worms in my saga. If I have my ica maga do this, everyone else wants to make the same doomsday device.

I think I'll just rely on doing it the hard way, Penetration with my favorite formulaic spell, or perhaps investing said effect into my talisman. With my Lab totals and while I have assistants, I can make a mean Penetration, it's just a matter of time spent. It might not be the 10th magnitude effect, a 7th can probably do the trick.

I'm very much concerned about balance in the game, and the prevention of abuse. It's way too easy to have a lot of low(er) level spells and devices to ward or warn against minor threats. Or boosting/support spells, giving Eyes of the Cat, Gift of the Bear's Fortitude etc.
For example, we have a giant blooded Flambeau hand-to-hand combat guy, who constantly turns on all his protective/boosting effects at the onset of any potential danger. Plus, he has a line-of-sight teleportation spell mastered, so every time his melee isn't like shooting fish in a barrel, he leaps away. I mentioned this "problem" before, in another thread, and got some good input: Making this a social problem, no Flambeau will respect him for doing this.
Granted he's not as specialized as my flambeau ice maga, so he can't make a charged device of the same (abusive) power, but it'll still be hard to defend against. So I think I won't bring this option up, and try and advice against it, if some creative player gets a whiff of this.
Anyway, the ideas of letting them go nuts with the thing for a while is good. Either they tire of it, use it up or whatever. Or else someone makes a clever plan to snatch it, and uses it to blackmail or whatever. Just the treat of this can trick the magus into wasting time and resources trying to prevent this with protection, surveillance and wards. probably magical, so they'll be vulnerable to mundane spying/cat burglars. Or force them into also expand their mundane counter-espionage.

This is my opinion. (From E. Tyrell)

In our saga, we're are still using the +1 lvl / +2 pen, but with a modification for charged items:

Charged items can never have "magic item level modifier" (like penetration, effect use or keep concentration). They are simple devices that duplicate a formulaïc spell exactly. Pen. is always = 0.

You need to make a house rule about this, whatever it is. Otherwise the rules as written are really flawed. All mage wouldn't waste time learning formulaïc spells for attacking creatures with MR. Ch. items would be so much better !

Any social rules wouldn't be enough to prevent the "abuse", since soon or later this option about charged items will become the solution to a grave problem.

I would point out that, in current canon (Societates), he would be an upstanding member of the School of Ramius and not disrespected at all, except perhaps by a few traditionalists. If you really want to give him a challenge, put him up against something big enough that charging into melee causes more problems than it solves.

In general, if it produces stories, I’m all for it. If your players really want stories about blowing things up, let them blow things up! I do agree that penetration on enchanted items can get a little out of hand, and the house rule Fixer suggested above (limiting Penetration to their maximum casting total) seems like a reasonable fix, if it’s a fix you want. Personally, I’d give them things to explode and once they’d had their fill of that, see what they wanted to do next.

Sure, that guy is an upstanding member of School of Ramius, as a character concept.
But in reality, the problem isn't that he charges into melee, it's that he teleport out of melee, if it isn't a cakewalk! Now that would give him poor rep!

And he isn't solely a Ramius fighter, he has plenty of PeCo and Cr Ig spells, although as his speciality is aging, he doesn't have a through-the-roof penetration with any of them. He just knows all these spells, because he wants Mastery with resistance with all the most usual combat spells. He has Flawless Magic, so this part is easy. A good, if not the best, tactic if you want a character who never risks much.
And as he's Giant Blooded, he isn't affected by most Target_Individual spells, because they need a size boost!
But what about Mentem? Does the size of a mind change correspondingly with the size of a body? Or is it such an intangible thing, where an "individual" is any one mind?!?!??!
I know I should let "shoot first, ask questions never" characters have their run, until the players tire of them. But not if it spoils it for the rest of the party, who aren't combat oriented. Luckily he doesn't send his Magus out a lot, if it's not a story concernign danger or combat.

Concerning my original problems with Penetration of Charged Devices:
I think I'll House Rule that Charged Devices get penetration on a 1:1 basis, rather than 1:2. Also, the maximum Penetration is equal to Level of Effect.
I won't prohibit Penetration in Charged Devices, since it'd circumvent another House Rule we have, regarding use of Devices in a foreign Aegis. We ruled, that the Device suffers a negative modifier to effective Penetration equal to half Aegis level (just as casting formulaic spells does). And if the modified Penetration is below 0, the device won't work! This is to avoid having the Aegis be completely useless during Wizard Wars, where the enemy uses invisibility and sneaks in and shoots his wand of doom and major discomfort while you're between Parmas. Or to hamper the use of mundane spies/thieves with cheap devices, that steal your vis and books. This is mainly due to bitter expeirences in previous Sagas!