FAQ Updates - January '07

The Ars Magica Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ) may be found at http://www.redcap.org/FAQ/FAQ.html. Before I add new questions and answers I like to solicit feedback from the community. Normally I do that on the Berk List, but for various reasons I've decided to experiment with doing it here this time.

Please comment on the following and feel free to add new questions. Proposed answers also welcome.

Do wound and Fatigue penalties apply to Soak totals?

At first it appears they may - page 178 says "The character suffers a penalty to all actions (rolls and totals) equal to the sum of all penalties due to his wounds..."

On the other hand, Soak is a Total (page 171), but is it an action? A player cannot decide, "my character will now attempt to Soak this or that." Soak happens automatically whenever the character (potentially) takes damage.

An important clue is on 172 under "Combat: Simple Example." The penultimate paragraph says "note that Polandrus's Wound Penalty does not apply to Soak because Soak is not rolled." That's pretty explicit, though it's an obscure reference that's hard to find (especially in the middle of a game session).

So, no, Wound Penalties do not appear to be meant to apply to Soak. The word "totals" in the discussion of Wound Penalties probably means things like Lab Totals and Study Totals, which are not rolled (though for Study Totals, the effects of wounds are discussed under "Activities While Injured" on pages 178-179).

Do Wound Penalties apply to Recovery rolls?

No; see the second-to-last paragraph under "Recovery From Wounds" (page 179). The FAQ used to say they did (in the topic on differences between Fourth and Fifth Edition), but that was a mistake (and will be corrected in this update).

Is temporary, magically-created food nourishing?

This has been discussed at length and the rules seem to support more than one interpretation. This question has a long history as the rules for creating things with magic, and how "real" those magically-creating things will be, have gradually changed since First and Second Edition.

One of the main threads on this discussion is here: [url]https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/consensus-building-on-magically-created-food/1172/1]

The first thing to say is that food created using a ritual (CrHe, CrAn, CrAq) is real, permanently, and behaves like mundane food in every way. The rules are clear on this point and there is strong consensus about food created through rituals. The question is what happens when a character tries to subsist on food that created by a non-ritual spell.

Next, some relevant excepts from the rules:

The entire second-to-last paragraph under Creo on page 77, which is too long to reproduce here, says in part that "...magically created food only lasts as long as the duration lasts, and someone who has eaten it becomes extremely hungry when the duration expires."

The first paragraph under "Creo Herbam Guidelines" on page 136: "Any food created is nutritious only if the creation is a ritual.

Strictly speaking, these two references contradict one another. The CrHe guidelines do not say non-ritual food is not permanently nourishing, they say it's not nourishing at all. There are, at present, no official errata to resolve the contradiction.

Opinions in the community seems to be divided approximately equally between three choices:

Magically created food is nutritious for as long as it lasts, and if a character fully digests the food before its duration expires, then he suffers no ill effects when the spell ends.

The principle, which does have adherents, is that magically-created things can have effects on the mundane world that outlast the spell's duration. A magically conjured horse leaves hoofprints on the ground, a magically created fire can burn down a house, so logically, magically created food should have its normal effects on a body after being fully digested. After all, once digested, the food is gone anyway.

I do not know enough about medieval medicine or natural philosophy to comment on whether this is consistent with the medieval idea of how food actually nourishes the body. So I'll not attempt to evaluate whether this holds up under the Medieval Paradigm (with a big "P").

The rules don't explicitly say this is possible, and in several places they seem to imply that it's not. This option should be considered more of a house rule than an interpretation of the rules-as-written. It may have merit on a philosophical level (again, I can't really speak to the medieval point of view) and, if adopted, may help to make magic and its effects more philosophically consistent.

It also would have significant effects on play. Magi would not really need to grow or buy food at their covenants if a Moon-Duration, non-ritual spell can create food that is nourishing for all practical purposes. This has implications for both the economics of covenants, and for the fantasy flavor of the setting. On one hand, such a ruling could open the door to abuse if magi decide to make a living selling magically-created wine or foodstuffs. On the other, it makes a lot more sense for magi to take up residence in the midst of a tangled forest or in a lonely tower on top of a mountain if they don't have to worry about where their groceries come from.

Magically created food is not nourishing at all (unless created by a ritual).

This essentially is interpreting the CrHe guidelines on page 136 to be correct and to overrule the sentence on page 77 that says "...[magical] food only nourishes for as long as its duration lasts, and someone who has eaten it becomes extremely hungry when the duration expires."

One advantage of this approach is that the Troupe doesn't have to worry about difficult questions coming up in play. If characters try to live solely on magical food, it's pretty clear what would happen (malnourishment, weakness, eventual death).

This interpretation is consistent with the legacy of past Ars Magica editions, where magically-created things of all kinds (water as well as food) were ephemeral and in vague ways partly unreal.

The drawback, mainly, is that under this rule magi can't use magically-created food to skip more than a few meals in a row. This could be seen as a hindrance to adventuring magi, especially those who undertake long journeys into desolate areas. Some troupes may not want to bother with magi being tied down to details such as where their next meal is coming from.

Magically-created food is fine as long as the spell lasts and causes a problem when the spell ends.

The section on page 77 is a lot longer and more detailed than the rule on page 136, and this interpretation can be seen as giving more weight to the page 77 rules.

In fact, there are two variations on this interpretation: whether the person who had lived on magically-created food becomes supernaturally hungry when the spell ends, or whether he actually drops dead from starvation.

These two possible consequences are not mutually exclusive - the answer may depend on how much magical food and how much normal food the character ate in a given period. Common sense says that a character who ate one magical pea alongside an otherwise mundane diet should not suffer too much when that pea's duration expires.

Some players treat the magical food as never having existed, once its duration expires. The character is treated exactly as if he had not eaten it. If this had been one meal, several days ago (and the food had a Duration of Moon) then the character may not even notice; if he had subsisted entirely on magical food for weeks, then he would be severely weakened by hunger or might even die of starvation.

Others take a less scientific approach and say that if the character ate (a sufficient amount of) magical food, he becomes supernaturally hungry when the spell ends. Presumably he needs to eat approximately as much real food as he had consumed in magical food, all at once. This has more of a fantastic feel, and some players prefer it for that reason.

It has been pointed out that feeding a character on magical food could be a subtle form of attack (causing malnutrition or starvation when the spell ends). Opinions are divided, though, whether that's an abuse of the rules or a great story seed for some devious NPC plot. In either case, feeding magical food to magi would probably not work, as their Magic Resistance would keep out the magically-created food.

New Jargon Abbreviations

HR - House Rule.

RAW - "Rules as written." What the text strictly says, as opposed to the rules people actually use in play (which may be a combination of house rules, the RAW, legacy rule interpretations from past editions, and common sense)

New Book Recommendation

A reader suggested I add the following book to the recommended reading list:

The Medieval Underworld discusses law, outlawry and all manner of unseemly and unusual behavior which clearly suggests many potential stories for an Ars Magica saga.

amazon.com/Medieval-Underwor ... F8&s=books

If anyone has read this, please let me know what you think (I haven't read it yet myself, though it looks intriguing!).[/list]


I think you really did a hellofa great job on the above! Extensively and well put at the same time. Especially the much argued question on Creo and food. One which I personally have a notable interest in.

One suggestion and one disagrement:

When addressing the question of creo food I think it would be a good idea to also in passing address this in relation to the two other necessities to the human condition: water and air. Personally I'd equal the question on water with the take on food -then people can decide consistently which one to go to- while I think that even if a comparable question the creo air is in fact a very different case*. But in any case, and since a majority would compare them anyway, it would probably be a good idea to mention it.

My disagrement is with the following "It may have merit on a philosophical level (again, I can't really speak to the medieval point of view) and, if adopted, may help to make magic and its effects more philosophically consistent". IMO this take on creo nourishments does not merit more on a philosophical level than any of the others. In fact, and admitting heavy bias, I think the 2nd option if any merit most in this regard.

I havent read the book you mention, but it looks very interesting so I'll thank you for the suggestion and rush of to see if I can order it somewhere around here.

*As a sidenote, my reasons for judging completely differently when concerning air -as I argue more fully in the thread you've linked- is the fact that whereas the body need food and water as intake to survive, you can argue within setting philosophy that the body do not need anything in the air (no concept of oxygen) and that it is only a medium for the passing of excess heat. If the body does not need anything from the air besides it acting as a medium then the question of creo permancy etcetera is irrelevant.

Another way to think about Wound Pens and Soak is that in many cases the Wound Pen has already been applied to a Defense roll, so that if it was also applied to Soak in these circumstances it would be a double whammy.

If a spell does have a damage component without a targeting roll, I usually allow both the attacker and defender to roll a die and add it to their damage or soak to keep a sense of drama. This is, of course, a house rule.

I cannot bring my self to ever argue about Creo'd food again.

(...it sustains until duration expires, then a person gets hungry)

Something should be added to the FAQ to point out that eating a pea with a momentary duration won't cause a person to be hungry.

I have a secondhand hardback copy of this book and would recommend it, particularly to anyone who wants ideas for Companion or grog based stories or ones where magi interact a lot with mundanes (Jerbiton, Mercere).

The Amazon reviews give a reasonable picture of what the book covers and its writing style, which is a bit abtruse at times. For many Ars players who have a passing knowledge of Medieval history it should not present too much of a problem - I don't have a history degree and I can still follow it easily enough. Some of it details the late Medieval era but this should not be too difficult to adapt for the canonical 1220 Ars setting.

I'd see it as a good companion for ideas to City & Guild (it details the seemier side of things) and perhaps Covenants and if you enjoy the aspects of play presented in these supplements it should appeal to you as well as those wanting a better idea of medieval criminals. I think it covers aspects that are difficult to find in more conventional books such as the "Life in a Medieval..." etc series.

For those with a C&G hankering, another book I'd recommend perusing is "Medieval Travellers: The Rich and the Restless" by Margaret Wade Labarge - amazon.com/Medieval-Travelle ... F8&s=books



but what of the damage side of that equation...?

I actually dont think that it's a HR but in the general nature of all non-combat damage.

lol - ve certainly had our fulls earlier on!

Yet you do! I'll let it slip... for now :smiling_imp:

Even a creo food curmodgeon like me would agree that it doesnt interfere - and however add that according to some a pee in your bed might do just that to your sleep (if of royal pedigree that is)...

Well, your attack roll and defense roll are both penalized by your wounds, so it balances out. You would penalize your attack total AND damage total since one directly adds into the other.

Struth? Well, good for us! Wine, women, and songs for all!

What kind of royality do you have Denmark?

Or do you mean pea?

I would tend to agree, but I know of no raw on the damage side as is, and we only have the clarification on the soak side from an sidebar example.

Well :blush: only goes to show what typos can do to your point :laughing: and to international diplomacy....

I did. My reference was to the tale of the princess and the peA by Hans Christian Andersen. In its place I've now practiced capital offense - but the worst our royalty does to people these days is apparently smoking in their presence - and since I make my living by wearing a breathing apparatus I guess I'll manage :laughing:

This is where i would find system abuse.
A Covenant need never worry about food stocks ever again.
Simply feed everyone on non-ritual Creo food all the time.
When one duration expires , simply keep feeding them more n-rC food.
How hungry does the person get versus duration of living solely on n-rC food?
All Covenants would simply invest in a device or two that magically produces all food and water.
If you never stop eating/drinking there are no long term consequences.

Even if you only allowed one lot of food or water to sustain , using year duration ,
at the end of that time you are merely hungry or thirsty , not dying.
(though you might gain a Warping Point)
Institute the annual practice of the Real Food Banquet for all and everyone is fine.

For my take , being sustained by non-ritual food or water breaks The Limit of Energy (page 80).
Deprivation , page 181

from the page 130 CrCo guidelines.

It does not say that Creo Magic either can or cannot suspend Fatigue level loss ,
as per non-Ritual Healing suspending wounds.
Wounds naturally heal over time , the fatigue levels lost due to deprivation will not naturally heal without food or drink.
Though wounds will not heal very well without food or drink either.

The ReCo Guidelines (page 134) allow for :

The Endurance of the Berserkers spell allows your body "to act as though it were unwounded and unfatigued".
You still accumulate lost fatigue however , only the penalties are eliminated.

This is how i imagine using non-Ritual Food and Drink works.
You simply suffer no penalties , until you lose enough Long Term Fatigue to fall unconscious.

I love this book. One of the other authors was a bit scathing in some private words that were had about it, with reference to the accuracy of its material, though.

Bascially though, this is a great book if, like me, you love going through history books and grabbing a sentence and saying "What can I do with this little nugget?" It' is just packed with fun stuff that you can slip out of it and straight into a game as a story seed or a background Flaw.

Mate, they have the excellent kind of royalty in Denmark. If we Australians can't have a republic, at least can we change over to the Danes when little Prince Christian gets the job?

Loyal Monarchists (such as myself) will resist any change to a Republic ,
no matter how insidious. :stuck_out_tongue:
When Prince Christian is old enough , King William of England may have an eligible daughter for him to marry.

Look, I hate to sound like President Bush or Stephen Colbert, but I just FEEL that making mages unable to make a meal for themselves easily reduces the feeling of how powerful mages are. I really like all the other Hermetic Limits as flavor, but this one is just too trivial to my play style.

I should note that I've never had a mage "waste" a season to do anything of the sort, and all our food needs have simply never come up in the course of a game, so I may have a different sort of player here.

If I wanted to do a plot about a starving town, I migh't not have a problem with the Mages using magic to solve it (that is, if they wanted to take all the time away from their studies to help mere peasants).

IF I did, I could just as easily rule that SOMETHING keeps happening to the food they create to make it ineatable, like a demon or angel spoiling it.

IF someone created an item that made food, and I wanted there to be starvation, I could just have the item damaged. People would starve before the item could be recreated.

But YMMV, as the kids say.

As you said , YMMV.
But we are attempting a consensus from the RAW , for a FAQ ,
not discussing what suits the particular style of any individual campaign.

True, but I was responding to your comment about system abuse.

The RAW are contridictory, and while you like the starvation hook I prefer the more "gentle" interpretation. It better fits my style of Storytelling, and certainly is supported among the various different rules, and is the way I would like to see the FAQ worded.

I'm sorry if my comment wasn't useful or informative to you, but hope it is to Sir Garlon.

Obviously , you would not allow , or don't have players who would abuse your approach.
Possibly i have been reading too many DnD related threads where people do abuse these things. :slight_smile:

And nothing less then a Australian/Tasmanian clame to royalty! And that to a monarchy not known for ruling the world with a stiff upper lip :laughing: but rather from the planks of a longboat!!

Mate - you'd all be welcome! Our 'Commonwealth' only counts Greenland and some odd Atlantic islands, but we do have our squables with the Canadian -actually taking turns in claiming and raising our flag on the tiniest rock of an island in the Kennedy Canal- but the more the merrier! :smiley:

Why should such a thing be needed. Danish royalty already has a claim to the lands now occupied by the English Throne - namely by those claiming that William the Bastards claim was legitimit :smiley:. And if it wasn't for the inopportunate technological advantage the Imperial Navy has over the stout Danish longships we'd all adorn our best axe and make Yorvik the danelaw capital it was meant to be. :smiling_imp:

Well, while I'm personally supportive of the interpretation Angafea supports (since I do find worrying about the next meal really an uninterersting game topic and rather beneath the average Hermetic mage; Hell, I'm all in favour of dropping vis requirements for healing spells, too) as a more general note, I really think that the FAQ should strive to incorporate and be supportive of the broadest possible range of different play styles, esp. in a topic like this, where the fan population (as much as the forum represents it, of course) is deeply divided on the proper interpretation of the RAW.

A FAQ that would only cater to the most restrictive or most permissive interpretation of the rules would not be a good service to a sizable chunk of gamers, and hence would fail its purpose badly. So, if anything, I'm all for equal depth of coverage for the "nutritious for duration" and the "never nutritious" interpretations of the RAW. Let individual troupes decide whether they care more about disregarding the admittedly trivial chore of food and water requirements during a a quest, or even for covenant management, or the possible abuses from turning Hermetic mages in seemingly endless source of food and water.

Let's keep it ecumenical, folks. :slight_smile:

Getting back to the subject at hand, do you feel the entry I've started accomplishes this, and if not, can you make suggestions for improvement?

It certainly covers all the bases, except the Pea of Hunger thing.

Thanks for putting it together.

The proposed FAQ entry on magically-created food and water seems quite adequate treatment of the subject to me. I would just stress in a somewhat more obvious way that the topic covers both food (CrAn, CrHe) and water (CrAq), in the present form the FAQ entry never explicitly mentions water except in the Forms, and add a remark that the RAW instead unambigously allows unlimited creation of temporary air with full survival value and no harmful side effects, for comparison.

I'm rather hesitant to justify the CrAu difference explicitly with Aristotelean biology (air as coolant) since I'm not persuaded that the ArM setting cosmology adopts every little assumption of Aristotelean metaphysics, physics, and biology as fact. Sometimes it is left ambigous whether Platon, Aristotle, or something else is actually in the right. E.g. see the relationship of the Realms.

What is the pea of Hunger ?