Do wound penalties apply to non-combat soak?

Pretty much what it says on the tin.

A person who is exposed to continuous damage runs little risk of dying unless that damage is high enough to kill him outright. Applying wound penalties might rectify that situation. Unfortunately the rules aren't exactly explicit in this regard.

Common sense would lead me to say, yes, they do apply.


AFAICT Wound penalties apply to everything, other than recovery rolls (which explicitly state they don't apply).

This has come up before. There is still no agreement on the list which was intended. The agreement is that we'd love to see official clarification on this one.

It doesn't actually say wound penalties apply to everything. It says they apply to "actions." Beyond that it is not clear except that they do not apply to recover rolls. But what is an action remains unclear. So the best we have is that it is up to the SG to determine if Soaking is considered an action.


It says "all actions (rolls and totals)"
Without a reason to believe otherwise, the bracketed bit would seem to be a definition of what they mean by an action.

It then specifies that they don't apply to recovery rolls, indicating that they expected recovery rolls to be considered as part of the group of 'actions'. Given as recovery is clearly not an action by the normal definition, this adds evidence to the interpretation that they mean "all (rolls and totals)". Which would include soak rolls.

Add in the fact that it is entirely unrealistic to have soak rolls be unaffected by wounds, and I can't see any reason to have them not be.

(AFAICT=As Far As I Can Tell)

So if it's so clear, how many times would you apply it when defending against and getting struck by a sword?



Ars Magica doesn't seem to do double-dipping. You don't apply realm modifiers to both the casting roll and the penetration: Because by applying to the casting total they already apply to the penetration.

Soak in combat isn't separate from your defence roll; it's the result of the roll, just as penetration is the result of the casting roll. So your soak total already includes the penalty.

Notice that you don't roll soak in combat. Why? Because you've already rolled it, in the defence roll.

Example: Choose Penetration for Spell Mastery.

Except that this analysis is not consistent with the rules. For example, consider The Invisible Sling of Vilano.

So would the decision then be all rolls, and totals only if those totals did not come from prior totals that included rolls? But that's not what the sentence says. So it seems that there is no perfectly good way to read that sentence, which is why there has never been total agreement on the board.


Yes, it affects your soak. Basically you are wounded, and further damage worsens your state.


Or a Magical Focus, if you're going to take deliberate exceptions (called out as such) as being the rule.

Invisible Sling doesn't have attack advantage carried through to the soak: So the soak hasn't already been rolled.

Nope, all rolls and totals. It's applied to the soak total in combat through the attack Vs. defence rolls. It doesn't need to be applied again because it's already been applied once.

Or would you disagree with page 183, where it says that aura modifiers have been applied to the penetration total?
Because this is the exact same principle.

So it becomes "all rolls, and totals (and if those totals came from rolls it's already been applied so you don't need to do it again)". Really simple

I didn't say double-dipping is the rule. You said "Ars Magica doesn't seem to do double-dipping." I presented one of many exceptions to show that Ars Magica does not avoid double-dipping even if it isn't the general rule.

So you apply it in these cases, right:

  • magic resistance,
  • damage from spells (separate from casting the spell),
  • aging rolls,
  • twilight comprehension rolls,
  • laboratory mishap rolls.

I can look for more later.

I think you misunderstand me, but I understand the confusion. It's not always clear in the rules. Not all Attack Totals affect damage. Not all Attack Totals and Defense Totals work that way.

Also, if it's just supposed to be all rolls and totals, why would there be a statement about actions?


According to ArM5 page 178 "Activities While Injured" the character is severely limited on what he can do without risking to worsen his wounds.

..except it kinda does.

It modifies your casting roll (and so your penetration as mentioned above and it modifies your target's MR (ie. a demon has increased 'effective might' in an Infernal Aura).

Magic Resistance isn't normally rolled, is it?
Though if all total are modified, ...
I probably would apply it to twilight comprehension - and not sure about aging really.

My point was that once something has been applied once, it doesn't get applied again unless explicitly stated.

Making it very obvious that wound penalties are only applied once to combat soak.

Well, if a magi casts their parma magica while wounded, certainly. Becoming wounded after casting it is more of a grey area.

Is nothing to do with the caster, so unaffected by the casters wounds. The damage from the spell is from the spell's effect, not from the caster.

They add rather than subtract, but the rules suggest they should apply. It's not at all unrealistic for them to apply.

Well, obviously. That's even an action by the normal meaning of the term.

Same situation as for aging; although far less likely to actually matter.

In the cases where they do, you've already applied it to the damage. In the cases where they don't, you haven't. It's as simple as that.

That's a bit harder to answer. However, it's pretty clear that there's some bad wording going on somewhere.

Back to this, I'm not so sure the risk is so little as your statement makes it sound. The risk comes from two factors.

The first is the stress die. Let's say we have +0 damage applied continuously to someone of Size 0 with +10 Soak. The average rolls would be no wound, not even close. But this average is a poor indicator here; the average damage is actually greater than 0. How often would the damage be 0+2x2x10=40, for example? It's 1/1000. Replacing the 10 with 2x5+ or 2x2x3+ or 2x2x2x(anything) would be as bad or worse. On the Soak end a 2x roll with a decent follow-up is required to live, and this happens about 1/20 times, far less than the increase from other rolls. But let's say the use of Confidence does make up for them as we're not far off then. So on average it will take roughly 1000 paper cuts to kill this person. Death by 1000 paper cuts. (Makes me recall a magus in one our sagas who cast Ward Against Heat and Flames and boldly hopped in a pot of boiling water only to get scalded.)

The second issue is wound recovery. If the person is not cared for, and especially if the damage is over a longer period, some wounds are likely to worsen. Once they worsen they are even more likely to worsen further.

So I'm not sure the risk of dying is so little without Soak being modified by Wound Penalties.


What about Puissant Art with Minor/Major Magical Focus? That's not explicit.

So "everything" now has gray areas and holes?

So which Wound Penalty do you use? Worst one of the year? Total of all through the year? Whatever it is at the time of the roll?

So having an appropriate Wound Penalty would let you avoid non-botch consequences better than not being wounded?

As I said, perhaps it's not so obvious.

Really? Attack Total 10 vs. Defense Total 9 (would have been 29 but for Wound Penalty) with Invisible Sling of Vilano. This is a "don't case." So you say I haven't applied it to damage. However, it did take the damage from nothing to something, so it certainly has carried over into damage, has it not?

Had this been a sword the damage would have gone from nothing to normal+1. But with the spell it goes from nothing to normal+20 instead of nothing to normal? Of course, I can set up the numbers essentially in reverse, too. (Personally, I had wanted Attack Advantage with such spells, but that's not how it works.)

You do realize my only argument - which you have been against - is that the wording is bad and so is unclear, right?


I included it because some might wonder about leaving your material body and still being affected by damage to it.

I suppose I should have asked why a person with a cut arm would be affected worse by Ball of Abysmal Fire than a person with several gaping holes in their body who doesn't feel them due to Endurance of the Berserkers. It doesn't fit the same grouping, but it still brings up the question of what is being reflected by Wound Penalty.


By the rules in the core rulebook pre-errata it only applies once. That's why they errataed it to increase the value of the art (rather than the value of the total) meaning that it's included within the explicit exception provided by the magical focus

That's not a grey area, or a hole. The caster isn't doing the damage. The damage isn't a roll or total of the casters.

Personally? The wound penalty at midwinter when you roll. But it's not obvious for this.

No, remember add; because +s are bad in this type of roll (and wounds are bad). And you can get a maximum of +2, because beyond that lab work is impossible. That means with a risk mod of +3, you've got +5 total. That avoids the "nothing happens" results and that's it.

So, no, there is no such "appropriate wound penalty". It doesn't exist.

Mostly it is. There are corner cases, but the non-combat soak isn't one of them.

No, no it hasn't.

A binary switch isn't "carrying over". Is the damage already 3 higher due to your wound if you get a defence total of 6? No. So it hasn't carried over.

The wording is bad; but the answer is clear for a lot of the cases

By the way the rules of ars magica work it obviously isn't applied twice to combat soak. There's no reason not to apply it to a wizards new parma magica when they cast it.

Which makes its multiple inclusion implicit, not explicit.

Your friend hands you a loaded crossbow. You shoot a crossbow bolt at a person. You aren't doing the damage. The bolt is, and it was cocked by someone else and built by someone else. How is this really any different? In fact it, the caster seems even more directly the cause of the damage, yet the bolt is affected by Wound Penalty through Attack Advantage. Compare this to Invisible Sling of Vilano. Seems like things are looking a bit inconsistent in your interpretation to me. That's OK. I don't think there is a way to be entirely consistent. But it does help show how other interpretations can be equally valid.

Ah, so the person who has a -3 penalty all year but finally heals at midwinter has no penalty for the year, while the person who receives -9 worth of wounds just before midwinter and gets magical healing to be completely healed just after midwinter has a 9-point penalty for the year?

Bind Wound. Add 7+3 (or 10 in any other way). Discovery or botch only.

I didn't say "Parma Magica," though that would be included. How about Divine magic resistance?


My own personal interpretation is:

  • wound penalties do apply to non-combat soak rolls.

  • wound penalties do not apply to seasonal activities. however, the effect of wound penalties does apply to seasonal activities as per p178 of the core rulebook (activites while injured).

  • wound penalties do not apply to rolls or totals where the wound has no impact on the result. for example, you don't apply your wound penalty if the SG asks everyone to roll a single die to see who gets randomly targeted by the magic statue.