Enchanting music ability

Hello fellow sodales,

In a game, some player and I have an argument about the fact to know if yes or no, this ability can be used in battles.

I think no, he thinks yes.
I will copy/paste my argument here.
Could you share with us your opinion about that?


My opinion about enchanting music: it cannot be used in battle.
Explanation and arguments:

  • they must hear it. Have you ever been so concentrated on something that you totally became unaware of anything else? For example, some people are so focused on reading that you can speak to them or put on television on in front of them, they just won't realise. I assume that seen the various danger of combat, it is one of those cases. You can't pay attention to any music when you are really involved in anything where there is your life at balance. Since dodging arrows is possible, it's because you are really focusing your awareness on them.

Have you ever been so hardly thinking that you effectively became blind to anything happening in front of you? I have (to the great anger of my exgirl friend who spoke to me for a whole ten minutes before she realized that although I was looking at her, I was totally unattentive. I just had an idea about something, and was exploring consequences and causes in my mind...).

Stopping people from a fight is not a generic state of mind. Yes, calming people is a general emotion. But not all people fight because they are angry. Most people fight because they have a purpose (would it be a cause, money, fame or life). Some people do fight because they are angry. But generally not the skilled ones. Shifting their mind from that purpose is a specific activity, needing them to understand the words. If they don't pay attention enough to the music, there is absolutely no way they will pay attention to the words.

  • finally. There is NOTHING in this ability which say that it works in battle. There is however SOMETHING which say that they have to hear a song entirely, because it's the whole song, not his beginning, who change the mind. A song takes several minutes to perform, especially at the time, where a song could go as long as a poem, and poems could go 1 hour long without any issue. So, normally, any fight would be gone before the music. I still wait for you to provide one example of a NPC using enchanting music during a fight. The only example we have are in social circumstances, ie, where people are talking, listening to your music, sharing decisions, etc .

We are not in that other game where bards sing during a fight and give their allies a bonus or their opponent a penalty.

List of supernatural abilities (let's skip some because it gets boring and go to the pertinent ones):

  • entrancement? not in battle because need eye contact
  • embiterment? can happen in a round. Need a discussion. Specified.
  • hex? depend on the way you use it, can take a round. Need a round at least
  • holy music (some kind of higher enchanting music): needs a devotional song, which takes time (they say "ritual" which could be translated in ceremonial time castinf equivalent ease factor).
  • the various powers of ROPM: they can be used in combat rounds. I already said that it was some general thing they introduced (before that book it was restricted to some powers)
  • siren's song (some kind of entrancement by voice) gives us an interesting comment: "unlike the Enchanting Music Ability, which creates an emotion in a person and can influence individuals on a long term basis, Siren Song actually controls the mind of the person while he listens to the music". Since it revolve around "music" you can guess I don't think neither it can be used in battle.
  • whisle up the wind: could be used immediatly, the description says it.
  • Really stop looking in the rules. Do you have ever read any stories in books where the people use some kind of enchanting music power he have to alter things DURING THE FIGHT (except for any books written from other RPGs)? I haven't. All examples I can remember of are characters who used their power before the fight, to undermine enemies' morale, to change their mind and make them become new allies, dismiss their armies... or after the fight, to boost their own people morale for the future, gather them and make them ready to fight again, etc.

Since Ars Magica is not really creating new myths and legends, it bases itself on what exist in fantasy and created a way to allow PCs to do the same. Why would PC suddenly be able to do more than what was the inspiration?

  • Enchanting musics examples:

Ex1: you are captured by bandits. They ask you to sing for them before the will rape you. You start singing, and because of enchanting music, you sing a song about the pleasure of mutual love and that change their mood: "finally, rape is bad, you feel shame in yourself."

In this example, you changed their emotions to shame. After, maybe they will repent, maybe they will suicide... that's not something you can decide.

Ex2: you are in an inn full of conspirers against their lord. You ask the innkeeper to perform, and he is happy because that will attire more customers.
You sing a song about men who tried to overthrow their lord, and all were hung. That change their mood and they feel like they will not rebel against him. They feel loyalty.
Maybe they will still oppose him, but in peaceful ways, such as by negotiating, or asking church. But at least, for the time they feel like they are loyal (which is not permanent, and can change naturally as all emotions... maybe when the lord will do his next exactions? or slaving one of them, or torturing a young boy for a petty crime...) and won't go riotting.

  • Examples which are not enchanting music:

  • you are in a fight and start singing so that everyone calm down.

Why? because enchanting music need that the people listen to your music. When people fight, they generally are not attentive to background sounds as musics, but rather specific sounds as an arrow triggering, a branch splitting behind them on the ground...

  • you are alone in a forest and sing while walking for any animal not to attack you

Why? because enchanting music is not sensory magic and has NOTHING to do with it. It uses the music as a vector for a supernatural effect. To affect anyone, those need to hear the song entirely, not only the end.

Conclusion: enchanting music is more a social power, than a "combat power". You would notice that there are FEW combat supernatural power in the core rulebook, and mainly it's ROPM who introduced them.

It is really good when dealing with crowds (in a place, in an inn... those are a lot of people), in a subtle way (nobody realize that your music is more than just music), and in a manner hermetic magic has difficult (emotions are not easy) but it requires time (you need to perform the song adapted to your effect), it needs the people to pay attention to the music (for general effects) and the lyrics (specific effects) and only parts of the song is not enough (it's the whole music who is enchanting, not every 'round' iteration of it).

I wouldn't allow effects on fighting guys. I think even battle songs must be started before the battle begins to take effect.

I would agree that Enchanting Music is a not the class abilities of a 3.5 D&D Bard (or worse of Elan from Order of the Stick). :slight_smile:

I would, however, disagree with the generic statement that Enchanting Music cannot be used in battle... it's depends too much on what you mean by "used in battle." I can see enchanting music being very useful in the "build up" between opposing armies... bagpipes, drums, horns, etc. have a prominant place in inspiriing warriors and frieghtening foes and Enchanting Music is perfect for that. I would agree that once battle is joined the clash of arms will drown out the music... not so much because you're not listen as because you can't hear. Battle is loud.

I'll disagree with you assessment that singing while you walk through the woods won't keep you safe from wild beasts. That, I think is a classic fantasy trope... or maybe I was raised on too may Disney flicks. :slight_smile: Sleeping Beauty lulling the woodland creatures with her singing is just an archtypal image to me.

I'm curious what your players arguements "for" are.

Why shouldnt it be possible? It´s probably going to be far less effective than normally, but there´s no reason for it to suddenly not work at all.

Failed argument as it doesnt need to be heard consciously and really, why do you think trumpets and drums etc were used to signal orders in battles?

So? There´s nothing what so ever in the rules that says you can use ReCo to make a corpse dance the hula-hula.
Terribly bad argument i have to say.

Hence why it will be very hard to make it work in battle yes.

What? Just to make an extreme example, looking at ancient warfare, when phalanx become the "big thing of the moment", when two armies formed up as phalanx and clashed, they could keep fighting for the better part of a day without even causing much injuries on either side if they were evenly matched and skilled enough.
Yes, fights tend to be over quick in AM, but that´s because the fight system is designed that way, to be a "good game", not for absolute realism.

Well, again look at real history? The most visible example is probably the British regiments that´s gone into battle by the sound of a bagpipe time after time. And what i´ve read about what the OTHER side thought about it, they really REALLY hated it, some even tried to shoot the piper before anything else because it was so ennerving to hear the damn thing getting closer and closer. And hearing "music"(or anything at minimum unconsciously recognisably "ours") from your own side, that really does have a positive effect on morale for an army going into battle.

This isnt magic or anything, this is just human psychology.
And possibly even physiology. Did you know that listening to music affects your body directly? Even deaf people are affected. Heartrate especially is directly affected by rythm.

Why is eyecontact not possible in battle? Unless its ranged battle only, eyecontact is common i would say.

And since you base that on failed reasoning, i would disagree.

Why should the be able to do LESS than people have done for REAL? Strange thing here is that Enchanting music as described may actually be less effective for battle than "normal music".

Of course it is, that doesnt meant it CANT be used in battle, just that it´s not very good at it.
As Lucius says, battles are often loud, but 1, that isnt automatic(and among other things depends simply on how much people and what kind of fighting is involved) and 2, it´s just a question of how much less range it has.
In real life history, bagpipes have been full well capable of making themselves heard for hundreds of meters in the middle of WWI, despite heavy artillery, machineguns and grenades. Medieval warfare is NOT quite that loud most of the time.

If it's not something that will unbalance the game overmuch - but is rather something 'cool' that the character wants to be able to do - then I would allow it.

I feel I need to give context to help this discussion. A character with enchanting music is in a village about to be attacked by a dozen mercenaries with only three trained fighters and a bunch of peasants.

As soon as the enemy is seen on the approach. The singer wishes to start singing to basically pacify the enemy that they do not fight so they starting hearing it as they charge in and battle begins. Basically before the first blades actually clash they will be hearing the music and it will have the effect as they clash. There might be some arrows fired at range but I have shot arrows. Arrows are not very noisy especially this scale of the battle.

Now, I admit that you have 100 or 1000 men in an army against the same, the volume is going to be a hell of a lot louder but still effect might work at edge of battle and progress inwards,

In my saga, I would absolutely allow this use of Enchanting Music. I might set the ease factor somewhat high (12 to 15 at least) due to the circumstances and I would probably rule that the effect would be to make the attackers willing to parley rather then rush in screaming, blades draw. Making them lay down their arms and embrace the villagers as friends would be a much higher ease factor.

There's a difference between hearing and listening. Awareness is to realize what you hear and to start listening. Moreover, music is not at the same frequency as battle.

"15 will incite a riot" gives a good base for that

Nothing says it cannot work in battle, but I agree it is not a spell cast in a round (as opposed to how I see Siren's songs). I woul use Diameter as the time it takes to have an effect.

Now for this specific case I'd use EF 15. If the roll succeeds by a wide margin I would reduce it to 10 maybe 5 rounds of fighting before the morale slows them. If the casus belli was true, or the inspirational speech good, those behind might steel themselves and keep on fighting or someone might resist long enough to snipe the singer. Unless the charater is über-optimized, there's very little chance there will be multiple successes.

Another issue that make might it harder is: do they understand the language spoken?

Some points on Music and battles:

  1. On battlefields, music is used to direct troops. Think of the orders: "Sound the attack" and "sound the retreat." There were many, many orders of that nature prior to the invention of radio, each with a different tune. There was a tune for volley-fire archers, and tunes for loose arrows at will. A tune of a charge, a tune for slow advance, a tune for "right-wheel"... you name it.

In battle, soldiers were always listening for such music.

  1. Ever been really engaged in something when something came out of nowhere and distracted you? Yes, people who are fighting are engaged. However, they can be interrupted ("hey, you guys! break it up!") Being in a fight does not make you oblivious to the world, or deaf, any more than working out or concentrating hard on ANYTHING does.

Have you ever been in a fight? Seriously. You're not oblivious to the world.

  1. For some effects in Enchanting Music, you do NOT have to understand it in any way; just hear it. This for very general moods.

  2. Not all battles are noisy. Yes, yes, the ones with armour and swords are. But fist or knife fights are not. Its quite conceivable that a person with strong enough Music and Enchanting Music scores could a) be heard and b) thereby change the emotions.

  3. Enchanting Music doesn't work because its really pretty music. The magic is explicitly separated from the quality of the music. So long as you do not botch, you can roll enchanting Music. The power of Enchanting Music is that there is magic in the sound which gets inside the heads of those who hear it, and changes their moods in spite of their intentions or true desires.

The person brought to tears by Enchanting Music didn't want to be sad. He was perhaps happy the moment before.

  1. Battle is not somehow different from other highly-engrossing activities, besides mechanically.

If simply being in a battle makes you completely immune to Enchanting Music, than ANY engrossing activity should.

Ever eat at a restaurant? Even conversation is enough to make you tune out the music in the background. Or the sound of other people talking. Or a high-stakes chess game.

In theory, ANY engrossing activity, under this model, would provide complete immunity.

Imagine; someone knows someone else has that ability, he can grant immunity by simply shouting: "Yo, everyone, start knitting! Or doing push-ups!"


A list of places where, using Exar's model, Enchanting Music would never work:

A fair ground
A feast
A group of children playing or rough-housing
A workshop

  1. The BIGGEST problem with Exar's model is that it is entirely out of the spirit of Ars Magica. Unlike some other games, abilities don't just work or don't.

There's a continuum of difficulty and possibility.

It's not IMPOSSIBLE to scale the wall: It's just Ease Factor 30 for Athletics.

Likewise, its far more reasonable to add difficulty to the Music Roll necessary for Enchanting Music to work.

For example.

Ease Factor - Situation

0 - Audience sitting down to hear music, or generally quiet.
3 -People engaged in conversation
6 -An average noisy busselling audience generally receptive to music; a quiet place where people are engrossed in something else (People at a fair ground or feast not immediately paying attention; a library; two people fighting alone in a room)
9 -A noisy place where music is not generally expected; (A group of visitors at a smithy; a small brawl)
12- A noisy place where people are engrossed in something else (The smiths at the smithy; a great, all out brawl in an inn with dozens involved)
15- A noisy situation where people are deeply engrossed in something else; are deeply on edge (A fight at the smithy, above; a battle)

In addition, there are penalties to the range based on the amount of noise, if the Enchanting Music source would have reasonable difficulty creating a noise loud enough to be heard (a human singer, as opposed to an Angelic chorus). Penalty up to +6

So now a human on a battlefield must roll at least a 21 on a stress roll of Comm + Music + die to be heard within half of range Voice. Sure, its possible. Good luck. :blush:

The Ease factor for the Enchanting Music would likewise be penalised, due to the deep strength of the existing emotions (blood rage; terror; panic etc.), say a +3- +9 modifier on the Stamina resistance roll.

As a rule, magic uses should always be capable of truly Mythic Feats.... very, very rarely. That's the nature of ArM5 magic, and is how just about every other magical ability works in the game.
Its also quite possilbe to imagine a Mythically powerful being with absurdly strong Enchanting Music (A Might 60-80 Faerie, say, the god Pan or Apollo), powerful enough to stop battles.

Just saying.

I don't think that Enchanting Music is meant to be an exception.

Yes there is.
ArM5 p.134:
"Level 10 Animate a corpse."

Eye contact is not possible by RAW definition. (cf. ArM5 p 111)

Two points to consider...

First, there are two ways to look at Enchanting Music.

One is the D&D "Bard" way - it's how they cast enchantments. They play music, and "enchantments" happen.

The other view is that the target has to be "enchanted", i.e. soothed or lulled or moved by the music in some way. And that just ain't gonna happen in a chaotic battle, where allowing any distraction may mean life or death.

Imo the "Bard magic" approach has nothing to do with the Ability as described in AM. P 65 states "...you must sing words that people can understand". While the word "can" (rather than "do" or "clearly") is indefinite, I believe that the idea is that the music has a general effect on the mind, and that requires both artist and attentive audience - and the second is lacking in a loud battle. Simply playing the music to someone who is deaf would not work, even if it "can" be heard - same with serious battle. This is not Range:Music.

Second point is that there are 2 ways to use EM - with the music alone for a "general" effect or with words for a more specific reaction. While I simply don't believe that anyone "in combat" could hear words, I do believe that music might (might) find its way into a person's mind in the moments between blows, but it would have to be pretty loud and might take a while.

More, if the "battle" was simply combat between 2 individuals, that is often far less noisy and chaotic than a "grand melee" between armies. With just two opponents, there is much more opportunity to be aware of one's environment - but the EF might go up considerably.

So, a reasonable split would be to allow "general" effects - bravery, or cowardice, and only for those who could actually hear the music, but not usually "specific" effects, like "betray your lord" or "surrender to us".

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Sheesh, thats just ridiculous... After checking, its based on the sole assumption of "they arent looking at your eyes" which is commonly wrong and certainly not an ironclad "cannot happen".
It might not be entirely easy to KEEP eyecontact for a LONG while, but making eyecontact while in any sort of fight is nothing rare. And the closer the range and the more "personal"/less huge of a fight, the more it is likely to happen unless one or both sides are trained to look for cues only from the body of opponents.
And at least right now i cant think of any "martial arts" that is still around that does that.
I know several that uses techniques to make your eyes harder to read cues from and some that emphasize specifically focusing on eyecontact to force dominance, but none that truly avoids eyecontact...
If opponents have helms the more or less covers the eyes, sure, but "they dont look at your eyes"? That´s simply unrealistic.

If you you cant even separate specific from general, why bother answer a question about one with the other?

RAW is like that sometimes. OTOH, making it too easy to do as well as Range: Voice/Sight would be ridiculous as well.

If you want to make it that when you try to intimidate another, he will return the favor by looking you straight in the eye, that'd make a nice, flavorful house rule.

More ridiculous than trying to produce a quality vocal performance while engaging in combat? Or expecting the other person to stop and actually appreciate it?

I think the point is that it's not something one can count on, and in fact should count on not happening. "Eye Contact" is not a glance, it's "establishing eye contact" - and that takes more than a moment, and in many combats "a moment" is more than anyone would spend gazing soulfully into the eyes of their opponent. In a duel, maybe, sure - but in a "battle"?

Someone's been watching too much anime, or samurai movies, or musketeer genre, or somethin'. :wink:

See, to me, this is a "battle" - real action doesn't start until just past the 2:00 mark.


IMS it does not work in combat, but it can help greatly in the build up. An EM dude boosting the confidence of the peasants that will back your 3 grogs against the bandits about to assault the village is a role for the EM dude. A perfectly fine low level adventure in its own right, really. The role of the EM dude is pivotal in the plan, and the success of your side in the adventure.

But no bard enchantments in the middle of combat. Not around here.


Yeah and that annoys me even more, that the only real reason for having the rule is for game balancing.

Mmm, at least for those who wants to stick with RAW, it could be a halfdecent option at least.

Without doubt yes. That´s not the same as saying that either is easy.

Who cares as long as they can hear it? As already said, the music isnt trying to influence, the magic that is part of the music is.

In a duel, eyecontact is almost guaranteed, nearly automatic. More than a moment, sure, but still usually less than a second.

Uh, right... Where the sound effects for arrows drowns out most sounds while you can hear the splashing when they run in the water perfectly fine?

Maybe you should have read my first post?

Direwolf, I disagree with one of the things you lastly wrote: it's "enchanting MUSIC". The music is the medium of the magical effect, but the magical effect is in the music as well!

So the battle didn't begin when the singer wants to use enchanted music. If s/he has a free turn while those mercenaries reach them I would allow it.

OK, a couple of people missed something. Or I did.

The question is NOT whether someone can sing Enchanting Music while he or she is engaged in battle. That would be absurd.

The question is whether people engaged in battle, or any other distracting activity, can be affected by it.

As I pointed out before, Ars Magica always shies away from hard lines. Instead it uses the Ease Factor system.

Ease factors are used for a reason: They're far, far more realistic, and far more in keeping with a world where heroic acts and legendary feats are sometimes possible.

The ability for Enchanting Music to affect people should be tied to whether or not the singer can make herself heard over whatever else is going on. She need not be understood to affect them, so long as they can hear the melody, in RAW.

Being heard over the din of a brawl might be Ease Factor 18-21. Easy for an angelic chorus, reasonable for a mythic faerie bard and difficult for even the most skilled mortal musicians.

Think about it. It just makes more sense.