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).