Dual casting: Enchanted item + normal magic: possible?

Basically, that's the question: is it possible to use an Enchanted item (with a simple enough trigger) as well as cast a normal magical effect, in the same round? My initial thought is "yes, if the trigger is really easy".

In reading through the rules (AM5,pg 100), the only thing I see is "You can use one effect from one item each round, using the appropriate trigger action for each." (OK, now that I read that, it's also unclear - does that mean that you can use 1 effect per round, or 1 effect per round from each item?)

But anyway - the specific example I was thinking of is a wand that has a variation of Intangible Tunnel on it (lvl 15, Sight, Momentary) - basically, by using the wand, it grants a momentary connection to whatever the wand is pointed at. The trigger, in this case, is simply pointing the wand at the target and intentionally casting a touch-based spell. Thus, in that moment, you can cast a touch-based spell at range, assuming the wand has a suitably-high penetration to get through the target's Magic Resistance.

However, this version of the effect has the wielder both using a magic item, and casting a spell, in the same round. Is that possible?

Some alternates:

  1. I think momentary effects last until the end of the round after they are cast. So technically you could use the wand, and then in the next round cast the touch-based effect before the Tunnel wore off. However, that's kind of defeating the purpose of this wand, which is to AVOID having to double-cast.

  2. Alternately, the Tunnel could be permanent, in that it is always creating a Tunnel to whatever it's pointed at - which would require that the mage use Dex+Finesse to aim the darn thing, I would imagine... Of it not, some variation of waving the wand in the general direction of the target, until they sensed that they got a "target lock" - at which point they could cast the spell with no penalty.

Purely from a standpoint of balance I'd say you activate ONE item or cast ONE spell. I hate it when overly defensive players have designed all sorts of defensive devices they expect to activate all at once because the activation is "touch it and say ACTIVATE".

This kind of thing bugs me to no end:
GM: From the shadows emerge a...
Defensive Player: I activate all my items!(not even bothering to mentiom them ebcasue there are so many: Gift of Bears Fortitude, Wizard's Sidestep, Doublet of Impenetrable Silk, Shirek of Impending Shafts, Ward against Heat and Flames, Ward against... etc.)
GM...Grog you set out to scout.
Defensive Player: Oh, ok
GM: In his hand he holds a...
Defensive Player: I Activate my device to teleport away, and Veil of Invisibility, and Intuition of the Forest since I might get lost, and Eyes of the Cat because the forest is nasty and dark right? And Cloak of Ducks Feathers. And...
GM: Shouldn't you just stay inside and grind? And let others do the adventure bits?

So the italic parts seem clear to me, one effect from one item per round. The second part of the sentence could be inperpreted differently but I see it refering to the need for each such action requiring a new trigger action. So the PoF wand needs to be activated each round, you don't turn it on and it spits out bolts of fire until stopped.
As for the second part the Intiative for Devices is the same as for normal, formulaic spells. It doesn't say yo in so many words, but you either cast a Spell or activate a Device not both, because they both take the same amount of time of your "round". Otherwise it should IMHO specify that if was a 'free' action possible to take while doing other things.

And if devices were so much better why is the Hermetic tradition not solely like Verditius but actually employs spells a lot?

However a Fast Cast spell could be pulled off while triggering a device, if you're good enough. But do you then need to match your own Initiative for triggering the device in orderto time the spell?

Also, Lords of Men clarifies this by listing the "triggering of a magic item" as an action, and thus being incompatible with the casting of a spell in the same round.

(Of course this is in the "Optional combat rules" chapter, but it seems rather canon...)

FWIW, I would allow a fast cast and an item activation, or if the item has a fast trigger, that can be fast cast, if the speed roll is successful, and a normal spell. I resolve normal speed spells as being last in the round when someone fast casts.

But yeah, the idea of activating half a dozen items at once, or in a round? No.

You could set the devices up with linked triggers that activate upon you casting another spell.

For instance use the standard mind activating trigger from the core book on page 99 but rather than setting up for mental activation, set it up so that it detects when you'll cast a specific spell or some other desire/ intention. So this way when you decide to cast gift of the bear's fortitude your device automatically casts doublet of impenetrable silk. or when you decide to cast veil of invisibility your device automatically casts some sort of rego/creo ignem spell to take care of your shadow and so on.

LoH has a ReVi guideline for activating a device for which you know the triggering conditions.
This can be used to develop a spell with T: Group or (as seen in LoH) T: Room, triggering numerous devices in a single action. QED.

Perhaps more interesting are devices with triggers such as "When I cast Incantation of Lightning on a target, [device] casts Incantation of Lightning on the same target."
Is there any reason this sort of triggering activity is not possibly, other than game balance?

Or perhaps multiple devices designed with identical passwords/triggering conditions?

I can see Christian's dislike for such things, though they seem to stem more from a single player than from any general consideration.
I can also see issues such as game balance (via economy of actions), but considering some of the things magi can - and routinely do - in Ars Magica, is this an issue?
Is multiple device activation/device activation + casting so fundamentally more damaging than ie Multicasting, in it's current incarnation?

As a note aside, I agree with limiting activations, I just feel we need to point out that there are valid discussions in connections with this issue.

Multiple castings from devices with a single trigger has been used extensively IMS. We have never seen a real problem with it. Them activating together is one of the main reasons of why they are in a device (a feature that is extremely easy to destroy if the enemy dedicates a modicum of attention to it) instead of being learned as spells. We have quite a few items destroyed in every saga we run.

If you have to create a portable device you want to survive, create a piece of jewelry (covered by parma) or enchant a talisman. Anything else will be destroyed sooner than later. And since parma is quite laughable in 5th edition compared to the average hermetic penetration (let alone that of other magical devices), not even that grants anything. This is why we have always looked with a raised eyebrow at the verditius. Their base of power is extremely vulnerable. They are definitively the weakest house in the order in our opinion.


Hm. So in the specific example, as long as the item has the mind-reading trigger, you can design a trigger with the effect of "when I attempt to cast a touch-based spell at a ranged target, cast Intangible Tunnel at the target".

A similar effect could be "when I attempt to cast a Concentration-based spell at the target, cast Maintain the Demanding Spell on my spell."

Which sounds fine - my main concern is the timing issue - in the first instance, the Tunnel needs to exist before the original spell can be cast. In contrast, Maintain the Demanding Spell" can be cast afterwards. So can an enchanted device essentially cast in 0-time? My thought is yes, as it doesn't say anywhere that it takes 6 seconds for an enchanted device to activate. Instead, the implication seems to be that once an effect is triggered, it immediately goes off. So as long as the trigger is "when I INTEND to start casting a spell", then it should be fine - the tunnel pops into existence a fraction of a second before the spell begins to be cast.

True about my gripe being from one specific player.

And if one designs devices with intricate linked triggers and mind-reading activation and so on who am I to argue? The magus will have spent lots of time and energy so this susually balances out in ArM.
And the magus has effectively removed himself from stories and challenges - so why bother trying to include him? As long as these actions don't ruin the fun of everyone else. Device inflation can be both too defensive and able to defuse most any situation as well as too easily and overwhelmingly deal with all challenges. So other magi from the covenant could perhaps refuse to join said magus on adventures, seeing as he is either kill-stealing or simply bailing out at first sight of danger. But enough of my ranting. For now. About this.

But as long as 'vanilla' just allows the use of either one device or one spell I'm satisfied.
The rules from LoM about devices may be optional but I see them as summing up what is already said in core book.

If you want to prevent/defuse them all going off at once you can determine that if you are affected by 10 magnitudes of effects or more in a single turn you suffer a point of warping for a powerful effect. it is a sudden rush of magic through you, after all, even if it comes from a submachine gun instead of a bazooka.

And mind triggers means a constant magical effect on your brain every single turn you have the item with you. That is 14,400 magical castings on you per day (assuming rounds of 6 seconds). Can you see the warp ramping up? IMS those ramp up for sure. We use no mind triggers, though since we do not like them.

And yes, if a magus uis self sucifient or a chicken he will get social hermetic consequences for it. Grogs are unlikely to want to go on expedition with him if he chickens out at first sight of danger as well affter putting them in dire danger by his actions/objectives.


Summing small effects up and to apply Warping seems like a fair thing, although hardly RAW

With the danger of trailing off topic (again) the magus character which bugged me (and the player's overly defensive approach) did not bug me for long I must admit, since the saga only saw 2-3 sessions before fizzling.
But as it was a Flambeau in the School of Ramius he would have suffered massive stigma following these first events, and his livelihood ad a Longevity expert would have been ruined by his poor repuration. But as it was a saga of magi 30 years out of apprenticeship it would have seemed wierd this had not happened long ago!
I admit the whole thing was partly my fault as ASG since I wanted to create a 5th ed saga to continue play a specific maga from a 4th ed saga that had ended years before. So I pushed for advanced magi, and this killed the saga even before it started. The noobs got in over their heads. And the problematic player has too free reins. Never again!
Pity I really liked that ice maga Hoplite and what she had achieved in the old saga.

Cherish the old memory then :slight_smile: We have been guilty of the same sin that you describe ourselves around here, so we understand your pain. We decided that it is better to leave ended sagas ended, and not try to reanimate them artificially. There is a large number of botch dice and the clear option of summoning a demon or grimace faerie instead.


That's pretty much the definition of a 'Constant Effect' as per ArM5, p. 99 and p. 168.
That's 2 castings per day, D: Sun, 5 Warping points per year, 1 if designed specifically for you.

Metacreator even comes with a pre-defined 'mental trigger' effect as I recall.

All too true

This made me think of something Ryu raised in Andorra: When concentrating on a magical effect, how hard is it to activate an effect in your talisman? Barring aside linked triggers, mind reading and other such tricks, the default activation of an item involves some words and/or gestures.

Problem is, even answering a simple yes/no question while concentrating is quite hard, EF 12 (which I find stupidly high, especially compared to other EFs), and Conversation is EF 15.
=> Going with this, one can easily argue that even simply activating an effect in your talisman while concentrating is a very difficult task indeed.

Yep - I recall looking that up when I was researching ReVi effects (I think it may be listed in the "Maintain the Demanding Spell" description, but I'm at work currently); anyway, I recall looking at that and thinking "wow, I'm never going to use THIS effect!" Hence having it put into a talisman with a mind-reading trigger.

The ease factor for the concentration roll for maintain the demanding spell is only 6 (specific note in the spell description) you could make an argument that a simple triggering action ( such as "twist the ring around the finger" or "shake twice") should be even easier than casting a spell.