Countering Effects from Magic Devices

Greetings everyone!

I would like to know peoples opinion on how to handle "counterspelling" against effects from Magic Devices. More specifically traps.

I am going to SG an adventure that takes the players into some ruins that might have had a group of paranoid mages living in them long ago. Now when they come upon some warning that tells them "Speak the password before you enter or bad things will be coming your way" I am a bit worried that the groups cocky Flambeau will simply state "I walk slowly forward ready to counter anything thrown at me!". Should he get to fast-cast a defense? Against what level? What if the trap wasn't announced in advance, should I let the players fast-cast a defense?

Second question. In the section about fast-casting a defense it is mentioned that in situations where you cannot easily see what the other person is throwing at you, you need to "work the form out". One of my players (the same Flambeau) have asked if he simply can try to guess the form if he fails? Or if he has some general defense like a mastered Wind of mundane silence. Could he just use that? Or do you need to succeed in identifying the form to actually be able to fast-cast a defense at all?

Can you counterspell magic devices? What level should the effect of the device count as?
Do you have to successfully identify the form when counterspelling to actually do it?

Thanks for any answers :slight_smile:

I don't see why not, you might have to assign some "initiative" value for the players to match with a Quickness + Finesse roll to get the counter spell off in time.

The actual effect level including base, range/duration/target, not the total level required to do the enchantment, because that includes things like triggers, times per day, etc.

Yes, and I would tend to view this as obfuscated somehow, requiring the awareness check, as described on page 83 of the main rule book against the spell level as outlined above.

Sounds like the group needs an Intellego specialist. :smiley:

Yes I feel that without the need for a successful awareness roll it would be a little to easy for this particular Flambeau to waltz through some of these traps. (thus obsoleeting the solving of riddles etc -.-). We have read the rules on page 83 and all is fine if you take it as a requirement for any type of defensive magic. However the question my player has asked is more in the line of "Why do I need to identify the form if I can react faster and simply teleport away or throw a general Perdo Vim spell (that destroys any form) at it?".
I guess I could just say that if you don't succeed on the awareness roll you don't even know that the spell is coming for you? Or can't accurately target the incoming spell? In that case should I let them make the aweareness roll before letting them roll Fast casting speed?

Alot of questions quickly pile up. I am not the only SG in the group so things like this tend to have to be explained and justified for the group.

Well we are a bit new to the system and I guess my players found "I create/transform/control/destroy" to sound more powerful than "I perceive". Maybe they will change their minds and start increasing their Intellego shortly? :slight_smile:

What is his Perdo Vim score? Is he from the school of Apromor?
If he doesn't know the Form, it's much harder to destroy the magic, and if he teleports away, what prevents it from hitting the person standing behind him, depending on what the effect of the trap is.

He is of Ramius school. I am not sure what his Perdo Vim scores are. When we created our covenant we asigned an amount of the build points to labtexts and then everyone got to pick a few spells that we had in our library. The Perdo Vim spell he knows is an Individual target version of Wind of mundane silence (Spell level 20, can dispell any one spell of level 15 + Simple die or less, voice range). And he has mastered this spell for fast casting. He also has a personal ReCo spell that lets him teleport a short distance mastered for fast casting.

Well I could let the trap hit someone closeby instead. That will either sour everyones feelings towards him enough that he keeps in line. Or... they just let him go far ahead of everyone else.

Shifting the potential danger away from him towards others is a good idea though as he has alot of protective spells to shield him from harm anyway.

I have not decided on the exact danger of the traps. The mages that designed them probably thought they would be alive to handle the intruder so the traps themselves will not be directly lethal (as to not accidentally kill someone that forgott the passwords). They will however mainly be inside portals (doorways) with mystical riddles written along the frame of the portal.

I think both Wind of Mundane Silence and the short-distance teleport spell (Wizard's Leap from HoH:S) will be effective against traps which make sense to be effective against. The player took the spells, so clearly the character is intended to be good at things like this. Anyway, eventually it's not going to work (he'll fail his fast-cast roll, or the trap's level will be too high), so you'll still get interesting things happening.... :smiling_imp:

When you design the layout, remember to take into account the fact that at least one of the magi can teleport around. It makes certain kinds of traps less effective. (Which is fine, of course - it's good to let them avoid an easy trap by being smart about their characters' abilities - but you wouldn't want the entire system compromised. The paranoid magi would know that intruders could teleport....)

It only depends on you if you would like to allow easy success for your group.
Eventually all traps / defence measures are subject to resource / time and creative / unusual thinking... and the last point is where you have we have to be careful as it is extremely easy to use our mindset instead of a middle ages magi's.

Magi know ReCo effects and will try to do something about it.

  • Hermetic Architecture to specifically disallow this type of ReCo effects
  • Hidden magic circles
  • Traps aiming and looking for ReCo effects to trigger

One of the best defences in ARM5 I have found reading ARM Saga sub-forums here, like:

  • a surface thought reading spell, if it fails to read it triggers the trap -> so if the maga does not lowered her Parma, it will trigger a bit changed Invisible Sling of Vilano shooting out the dozens of spears in the whole long corridor, changing the whole group to sis kebab.
  • make whoever steps into the defended area use an enchanted device, while the whole lab is covered with a PeIg effect extinguishing all lights the magical item grants Eyes of the Bat allowing to see in total darkness, while the second and hidden effect reads the user's mind and prevents ReCo use. Alternatively the second effect can be a minimal magnitude InVi searching for ReCo magic and if ReCo teleportation is used, the enchanted item uses it's own ReCo to move Maga to a specifically designed fully closed, totally filled with water cave, next to an angry water elemental.
  • remove the feeling of pain and lead them to invisible flames, which only burns human flesh... in case you PeAu the nasty charcoaled flesh smell this trap becomes much more deadly.

or you can go with the regular way: trigger multiple magical traps at the same time. He can still counter only one of them... :wink:

Since your group is new to Ars one thing that can be done is to get players used to the idea that some characters are expendable, and that magi think like that. The trap may not be for other magi, but for mundanes. So the trap might fill the room with fire, but it has no penetration, so any magus would automatically survive, which might be the intent of whomever set the trap. And then the grogs start hating the cocky Flambeau, because he does stuff like this, and doesn't care about them. :smiling_imp:

And if all the magi are always traveling together on adventures, you're going to find it hard to design traps that can defeat them all.

Well the magi that lived in the ruin were part of a cult. And Hermetic Architecture is meant to be one of the things the cult were working with.

Access to the ruin is not supposed to be that hard, I only want to make sure that the players use the information they have gained (or can gain) before entering the ruin. However inside the ruin will be certain sections (the long dead mages sancti) that should be a significantly steeper challange to enter.

This is actually the first adventure that has drawn out the mages of our covenant in force (except my Verditius that will sit this one out). We took the "Fallen temple" as one of the hooks of our covenant (you could say that that ruin is the entire reason the covenant was founded in the first place).

The most important thing is really that it will be impossible to go any deeper into the ruin without extreme perril at this point. Instead the players will get access to the outer parts and use what information they find to gain further access. This might take years (Maybe). It's therefore also important that the traps of the outer part feel serious enough so that when they find a hint that says "the traps of the sancti are the ones to truly fear" then they will stop and think before they act. Cockyness killed the Flambeau as the saying goes.

When it comes to grogs, I have no idea how ruthless the players will be. So far everyone has been trying to get along with the mundane of our covenant. We have some very colorful characters among the mundane :smiley:. The Flambeau is quite the honorable knight and would be devastated if he caused the death of another through carelessness. Still he is quite careless >.<

Thanks for all the input everyone! This forum is a bright light in the dark sea of internet :slight_smile:

My take on this

Awesome opportunity for the player to show some creativity (hopefully).
How will he defend himself from the statue that shoots lightning bolts? Creating a stone shield? Or simply Unravel it?

I'd argue yes, atleast if there is a physical effect involved.
"Something's moving in your direction..." "Arg! I cast Unravelling the Fabric of Ignem! This place is full of fire traps!" "yes, and this one was a lightning bolt. bad guess, I guess."

He can certainly use that, though remember that it needs to match twice the level of the effect it dispells.

No, but if you can't identify it, you might well get the wrong defence.

I don't see why not. And you calculate the effect level just like always, ie a PoF is a level 20 effect whether it's cast by a magus or a device.

Some thoughts:

  1. Can he counteract any magical effect with a custom, individual, WoMS?
    Yes, if he actually perceives a effect is being cast (this might not be the case for, say, Mentem or Vim effects) and manages his fast-casting roll.
  2. Can he teleport away?
    Yes, but...
    Low-level ReCo spells usually means that you can only teleport to a place you can see, so if the maze is designed so as to strike him in a tight place where he can't see very far, he's toast. Likewise in a dark place. A wicked magus could have prepared for this by having 2 effects follow one each other: A PeIg room spell to plunge the corridor into darkness, and then the actual attack spell.
    And this is subject to the same restrictions as above.

Now, simple traps that they may face:

  • Room or Structure effects. Don't forget that a corridor can serve as a Room. Likewise, the effects could easily use non standard targets. So even if your flambeau escapes an effect through teleporting, his friends may not.
  • A PeVi effect that shreds parma, followed by another effect. Due to the time it takes to raise Parma, it is very much worthwhile for a magus to spend 2-3 seasons investing a trap with a high-penetration PeVi Room effect targeting Parma, and then whatever suite of effects you want (having only their form scores to protect them, they'll be quite defenseless). Note that, as such an effect can effectively be "invisible", your magus will have a hard time sponting any defense against it. And trust me, if you say to your players that their Parma are down, they'll be afraid.
  • Mundane traps! Step on it, and the whole corridor collapses. Let them spont against that.

Something I've considered for arachne: the maze leads nowhere. Really, there's no point to it. It's just full of traps. Yet, at some point, you've got an InMe effect, with low penetration, checking if you're the creator or one of his friends (or mystery cult buddies, whatever). If not, you've targeted by another trap. If yes, you're targeted by a ReCo spell (with requisites) that transport you to the actual treasure vault, which is hermetically* closed to the outside. Tahy way, their very strenghts and successes may mean their failures. A grog would be teleported to the lab, but he'd be imprisonned, with (probably) no way to contact the magi**

  • pun intended.
    ** If you're very wicked, assume that the teleport spell is also cast with a forceless PeCo "disintegrate" spell: This would spare any magus, but would kill any mundane: The creator factored in the magi using mundanes as ressources and tracking them by AC or else.

Depending on the cult the Teleport could also just bring them to a underwatter lab what is a big difficulty on its own and there is even a difficult underwatteroponent now living in it.

Yes, this'd be a nice "final trap": The magus, his friends... all know that the lab is underwater, so, before lowering their parma for the teleport, they take some precautions. An intruder magus probably doesn't do this, and finds himself both drowning and crushed by the pressure. Good luck to spont a spell.

Well we started playing this story last week. We didn't get to far since we also had to play through our covenants winter meeting which took us a while ^^

They only got to trigger one trap then they decided to go home to the covenant and make some more preparations. It played out pretty much as I expected with the Flambeau walking straight ahead, triggering it on purpose and then teleporting away. Only that didn't help everyone :smiling_imp: . In the end a companion got horribly burned by magical fire. He won't be pretty no more (and he was pretty, he had venus blessing, is that what you call irony?). The biggest discussion right now is if 5 pawns of vis should be spared to restore the poor companions face.

Anyway, I have a followup question.

Could a magic device be made to "aim" a spell? (as in page 86 aiming) What bonus should it have for the attack? What if the "aimed" spell took up an entire corridor, should some kind of avoidance roll be made for the characters?

One similar question that another player in my group has been pondering is if you can make a device that crafts things from raw materials as with rego craft magic. Would the device work at all? Would the crafting be very poor since the item has no finesse? Or would it be exactly as you have instructed the device to make it?

Hum... I'd say yes, but.

Like, you can have an invisible sling effect that throws stone at a given point whenever it's activated, striking at anyone there or on the stone's path. I see no problem with that. Now, what finesse could we use? I'd say the item's creator, penalized as if aiming at an invisible target.

If the aimed attack takes the entire corridor and there's no way the characters could dodge, no dodge, just like in a cave-in... but don't forget that moving something big enough will warrant extra magnitudes that won't increase the damage.
One similar question that another player in my group has been pondering is if you can make a device that crafts things from raw materials as with rego craft magic. Would the device work at all? Would the crafting be very poor since the item has no finesse? Or would it be exactly as you have instructed the device to make it?
Finesse is usually the wielder's finesse. But you want something automatic, like an item that autocraft arrows?

I'd say yes, but the item crafts always the exact same sort of thing, and the Finesse is the creator's finesse.