Counter Spells

I actually had a quick question. I am relatively new to the game and needed a little clarification. I wanted to make a countering magus who uses his magic to deflect and control elemental magic. For example, lets say he was targeted by a fireball and rather than dodge or rely on Parma Magica he controls the fire and deflects it to his side.
I was only wondering if this would be Rego Vim, since it is cast on a spell, but the description does not say if it can deflect, only supress. Or Rego Ignem for the fire element that you are temporarily controlling. And is this effected by whether the source of said fireball was an already existent flame, or magically created one.

Thank you for your help.

In my opinion there are several ways to do what you're asking about. That's not unusual; the Ars Magica magic system is very flexible so there's often more than one way to do something.

Defending against spells sounds to me like fast-cast defense. I don't have my books with me right now so I can't point you to a page reference. The idea is that you cast a spontaneous spell while another spell is coming at you, and your spontaneous spell stops or deflects the hostile spell. You have to fast-cast in order to get the timing right; you can't just cast a regular formulaic spell and have it finish at just the right time to save you. You can always fast-cast spontaneous spells, and you can fast-cast a specific formulaic spell if you have mastered it and chosen the Fast-Cast special ability.

As to what Arts you would need? That is left largely up to your storyguide and your imagination. If a fireball is coming toward you, you could try to steer it away from you (Rego Ignem), extinguish it (Perdo Ignem), dispel it (Perdo Vim), conjure a jet of water to put it out (Creo Aquam), or even transform it into a pink elephant (Muto Ignem with an Animal requisite, though that would be pretty hard to actually pull off).

Sorry, can't answer the actual question about Rego Vim without my book handy. I hope this gives you some possibilities to consider.

As Andrew said, you are looking at fast-casting, either of spontaneous spells or or mastered formulaic spells. Given that you have -10 to the casting score when fast-casting, you probably need to look at formulaic spells unless your character is designed from the start around spontaneous spells.

As for your Art question, you should look at Muto Vim : Mirror of Opposition to have the spell have the exact opposite effect, or the general guideline "Significantly change a spell... a change of power... is a significant change, as is a change of target..." (so deflecting a spell is Muto Vim). Note that guidelines forbid you to use Muto Vim to alter a spontaneous spell (but if your opponent can spont' spells that go through your Parma Magica, you are probably out of your league...)

After that, there are lots of other way to fast cast defenses, Perdo Vim to destroy the spell, Rego (Form of the spell) to fast cast a ward against it or to control the effects, and more...

Muto Vim (Requisite appropriate to target spell)

For example, to stop a ball of abysmal flame? Muto Vim (Ignem, Imeg), convert the ball of abysmal flame into a ball of abysmal music. :smiley:

Thanks everyone, this helped me out quite a bit.
Now that I don't need clarification on that, I can start my next project for my story:
The Mana Machine

I'll chime in a note of agreement with Andrew and Halancar, Either could work, you could control the spell or the flame.

I'll also add that if you want to be able to counter everything and you want to do it with formulaic spells in great variety (rather than getting your perdo vim to extreme levels) then the virtue flawless magic would be of exceptional use to you (more so then even special circumstances; counterspelling) because you could start out with each formulaic spell you know mastered for fast casting.

Quick Quesion. If I made said technique for say Terram (ReTe) the base difficulty would be 3 for unnatural, or so the book says. I made the range voice since all fast casting is done with bold voice and gestures, and the duration momentary, or maybe concentration (though I am unsure about this. Target Individual.
With those calculations at most the spell is a level 5, which seems a bit low to me, is this how it would be calculated? I don't want to have it wrong, but I keep feeling I do.

That's how it's calculated.

But you have to consider all the guidelines, so for ReTe the baseline is "dirt/mud/sand/clay"* , but it's +1 magnitude for stone/glass*, and +2 for metal/gems*. So a Diamond Dart is more difficult to block (and to cast) than a Crystal Dart.

Also, I'd say that if Unseen Porter is Base 2*, this could get away with Base 2. But that's saga-specific, a SG/Troupe decision.

(* going from memory here - close, but don't quote me.)

Iirc there is a guideline that the Level for a fastcast defensive effect has to be half(?) of the incoming effect - altho' there may be consideration for particularly appropriate or creative defenses, or lucky guesses (altho' I may be making that last part up from informal HouseRules).

Either way, it seems more a judgment than a strict formula - appropriateness, exact effect vs effect, desired end effect (protecting yourself with a Rego effect may deflect it onto the mage next to you!), etc.

There's probably a whole host of things you could do, but I'm going to recommend one of four options.

  1. Muto Vim (159, Core)
    There are two ways you could use Muto Vim to your advantage, both are general levels (so, the higher the level of your spell, the higher the level your spells can effect).

A) "Significantly change a spell of less than the level + 1 magnitude of the Vim spell." Now, this can't change the Technique or Form, but it could change the magnitude of the spell you're trying to deflect in some way, or it could change the target (has to be a possible target for that spell).

You could use that guideline to design a spell which would, in turn, change the target of an incoming spell... to something that's NOT you. This would actually seem to be the method that's closest to what you want to do, essentially 'pushing' the spells out of the way.

B) "Totally change a spell of less than half the (level + 1 magnitute) of the Vim spell." This can change the technique and/or form, and doesn't even require requisites for what you're changing. Now the important thing here is that this spell can change the nature of the spell incoming, NOT the target.

You could use this guideline to, for example, change a creo-ignem fire spell incoming into water or air... it'll have to be something that still hits you, but not something that necessarily has to hurt. Either way, you'd want some kind of "change magic" magical focus to ensure you can easily reach the spell levels where you could impact a lot of different spells. "Change Magic" could probably sneak in as a Minor Magical Virtue, but some SGs may want to make it a major. It would greatly depend on how you fully develop the exact effects of the focus.

Pros (for both): It would be easier to create and cast these spells than the next suggestion (perdo vim). You probably won't need as many spells going with this method as the other methods on this list, for example, you could just create one spell that effects all other spells that are Voice/Mom/Ind lvl 30 and under.
Cons (for both): You'll need still need several spells. If any NPC or opponent had a weirdly crafted spell, you may not have a spell to effect it (ie if their spell had a Target: Group or Part, and your spell only effected spells with Target: Individual). You'd need to fast-cast your spell, which either means you spont it or you master a formuliac spell and give it the fast-cast mastery ability.

Note: You may or may not need to roll to detect the magic incoming; I'd rule that you could fast-cast cast whatever spell you wanted, and if that spell would work, it would change the spell in whatever way it was supposed to change it. If it wouldn't, it wouldn't work. You may still want to roll to try to detect what kind of spell it is incoming, only so you'd better know what to cast just in case, but you could still probably cast regardless.

2. Perdo Vim spell "Unrevelling the Fabric of (Form)" (161, Core)
Pros: This destroys magic. Whee! Cons: You'll realistically need 10 versions of this spell, if you want to be able to block all 10 different forms of magic. Additionally, you'll need fairly high-level spells for each of those forms. To make matters even more complicated, you'd need to roll to detect what kind of spell was incoming before fast-casting your own spell to destroy it, then fast-cast to destroy it (which, again, means you'd have to give it the fast-cast ability, or spont it).

Note: If you go this route, get thee a magical focus in Destroy Magic. It'll be tough to convince a Story Guide that such a magical focus isn't a Major Magical Focus, because it would apply to all 10 forms of hermetic magic, as well as items and maybe even magical creatures, etc. I may allow it as a Minor Magical Effect, because even though it casts a wide net, its focus is still narrow -- so a lot of the metaphorical fishies will get through -- but it'd be a tough sell.

  1. Ward Magic. This basically combines Rego with all the different kind of forms and automatically blocks specific magic (depending on the spells you use) from hitting you. The flavor of your character (his sigil) could have the (free) cosmetic effect of making the magic your Ward blocks appear to "push off" to the side, going out of the way, like you seem to want. Again, you'd probably want a magical focus for wards if you went this route.

Pros: This blocks the magic, so you don't have to worry about it, so long as your ward spells are high enough levels. It requires no fast-cast magic, or any action on your part, beyond casting the spell. Some of these spells can last a very long time (Circles can last for a long time, or you could make it a Personal spell with a Sun duration).
Cons: You'd need to have a fair number of different Ward spells, many of which would be fairly high level. Most Story Guides will still make you roll to make sure your wards "penetrate" the spells (ie if your spell is higher than theirs, it's still not necessarily a block), so you still need decent penetration with your ward spells. The fact that you need penetration against other Magi for your wards is actually a big deal.

  1. Dimacatio/Fast-cast magic. If you have the Societas house book, I highly, highly suggest reading the section on the Dimacatio (21, HoH:S), and you'll also have to read the rules on Fast Casting (83, Core). Basically, using this technique, you'd fast cast magic that would be used to block other, incoming magic. I find this a highly realistic way to think of a true Wizard's Duel. So, when that ebil Flambeau wizard launches a huge fireball at you, you fast-cast a giant spike of ice shooting from the ground to block it.

Note: For your spell to 'block' the incoming spell, you'd need to have a an appropriate kind of spell that's at least half the level of the one coming at you (The book says "appropriate" because some spells just aren't going to block an incoming spell, no matter what level the spell is that you cast. A small, but high level, gust of wind isn't going to block a dozen magical arrows heading your way, but a tornado would. Your SG will ultimately be the one to decide what "appropriate" means, so chat with him before you decide to go this route and make sure your idea of "appropriate" is close to what his is, or it's going to ruin the fun for you. On a personal level, I think most spells will block incoming spells so long as the effect you create is high enough, so I interpret "appropriate" pretty loosely... but that's just me.)

Pro: You won't need any special kind of magical focus to go in this direction, so you could further develop your character to be good at other things. Only having to create effects that are half the level of the incoming effect allows you to block high level spells with mid level spells, or block mid level spells with low level spells. This is good. LOL. Most importantly, this is a FUN way to play the game!
Con: There isn't any obvious kind of magical focus (that said, anything that helps with sponting could be very useful here, like Diedne magic). If you want to be able to use your Formulaic spells, you'd need to Master each spell you'd plan to use this way, giving them the fast-cast effect (so you could fast-cast them, using fast-cast rules). You may also want to spend some virtue points to make your fast casting more effective.


Note: I have no idea which would be the most effective route. My character has a magical focus in Wards and I find it generally useful, though I wish it were a bit more powerful against magical effects (ie, that my wards didn't have to penetrate it). Some Story Guides don't make Wards need to penetrate, making them much more powerful. Going Wards has the added bonus of being able to Ward against mundate dangers -- like iron and wood, for weapons, or even a spell like Ward: Human.

I think you'd probably have the easiest time landing the Muto Vim spells, so that may want to be the route you go, but the Dimacatio route would also be very effective -- and fun to roleplay (it makes me think of the big wizard duel scene in the Merlin miniseries, where Merlin faces off with Maub at the end -- youtube that, it's a fun scene!). You could consider play testing each of these ways and deciding what works best and what's most fun to play for you.

That was extremely helpful. Thank you for taking the time to post it, it was helpful.

Glad you found it helpful -- it was fun to think up the different ways I'd do it.

I think that the phrasing "specific magic" is little problematic here. Certainly you could ward yourself against certain substances and creatures (there's a nice breakdown on p114 of HoH Societates). But the conventional use is to ward against "stuff" rather than magic. In fact I don't see a particularly good way of warding against exclusively magical stuff. I'd be hesitant to add intellego and vim requisites and maybe an additional magnitude for the complexity. It would be high level and it would have the spell arguably acting with intelligence (I mean arguably in that it doesn't "feel" right to me but it also seems pretty petty to disallow it so the issue would generate actual arguments, at least with some of my players). You could make an enchanted device with a monster intellego vim spell on it and also some linked trigger duration diameter rego wards, yet that would be even more pricey and you'd tread into the territory of "Does an item have senses or do you have to give the item the ability to hear in order to have it use a magical hearing spell?" another classic bit of annoying minutia to chew on, (but one that if I recall correctly has been answered in Magi of Hermes. The answer is no, you don't need to give the item senses).

In any case you probably just meant to talk about wards verses substances and I'm confusing the issue rather than making it more clear.

I don't necessarily disagree with that, but there are a lot of spells you could certainly ward against.

For example: Ward Against Heat and Flames does just that. Ward against iron wards against iron, whether it's a mercenary throwing an axe in your character's face, or a magi creating an axe out of thin air and using Rego to throw it at you. Ward against cold would work against natural cold as well as PeIg spells. One could even ward against things like false images and other effects if one is creative enough.

One of my cons for wards for this character is you'd need a lot of them (though no more than some of the other, more traditional methods), but some wards are general enough that they'd apply to a lot of different kinds of common magic. It was only one of four or so suggestions I offered up, and probably one of the least 'perfect' ones to fit the mold, but it certainly could work, and would offer other perks that the player may enjoy. As frequently happens in Ars, there are many, many ways to skin a cat.