Fast Cast Defense (a few questions)

I have some difficulties trying to understand fast cast Defense (ArM5 p.83).
Here are my questions.
Sorry if they are so many....but I really have some confusion about this topic.

How does it work? Like a normal Fast-cast spell?
I mean: do you need the normal casting total (technique+form+Stamina+aura) -10 (fast) + stess die?
If so....why you need to identify only the form and not the technique of the defending spell?

what if I do not want to identify it?
What if I just want to fast-cast a spell whose effects happen before the effects of the attacker's spell?
Isn't it easier?

To neutralize a spell which form/technique do you need to use?
Exactly those of the spell you are trying to defend against?
Or can one of those variate?

What are the effects of this defense?
I got that against spell if one manages to roll a total which is half the attacking spell the defense works, and if it is = to its attacking spell level, this is neutralized.
So....the defense is just that?
It neutralize a spell, but does not create new effects?

I see that this fast-cast defense can be used also against non-hermetic magic.
How does it work, if they have no form? (e.g. many hedge magic traditions).

Can this be done against the effects created by magic/faerie/divine/infernal creatures with might?
In that case the form is clear...but the technique is not clear!

I see that the fast defense can be used also against mundane does it work? The description says "if the level of the spell is high enough to neutralize the threat"...what does it mean?
Isn't it easier to make the fast-caster just cast a spell and make the effects happen before the mundare attack?

Thanks a lot for the patience!!!

A fast cast defense is just a normal spell which you're casting to defend you. So yes, Technique+form+Stamina+aura -10 (fast) + stess die. This means that fast cast spells can be any of a range of things, but some common examples would include:

  • Unravelling the Fabric of (Form). A PeVi spell that directly attacks the magic of the spell your opponent is casting. Will just look like their spell not going off. This requires you to get the Form right.
  • Wind of Mundane Silence (or non-Room Target variants). Basically the same effect as Unravelling the Fabric of Form, but doesn't need to be Form specific and usually needs to be a significantly higher level for the same effect.
  • Wall of Protecting Stone (or equivalent spells using different materials in different Forms): Puts a wall between you and the thing attacking you.
  • Wizard's Leap: Moves you out of the way. By one interpretation, more efficient against mundane attacks than spells unless you're going far enough to no longer be a valid target for the original spell.
  • Create a jet of water to put out the fire that's coming towards you. Requires you to be right about it being fire (or at least, something that'll be affected by being soaked), and for there to be enough water to put the fire out properly. This is the sort of thing where the rule of thumb for the level comes in handy.

The reason that you're identifying the Form comes down to the fact that a fair number of the more efficient spells either specifically target a particular Form (such as variants of Unravelling the Fabric), or are only effective against certain types of attacks.

The "Fast Cast Spell Defense" (FCSD) rules are for generating a non-specific effect that will deflect or neutralize a hostile spell. It is not a specific spell (or sponted version of a specific spell). You do not have to work out an effect or R/D/T. You just roll the dice and if the total is high enough you deflect/neutralize the spell. If you would rather just fast cast a spell or spont effect before the spell goes off then you can, though how effective that will be in countering the hostile spell is up to the SG. FCSD is like the movies and cartoons where one wizard blast an others spell with magic or throws up a barrier of "magic" energy before it reaches them. It is more abstracted and does not require figuring out the exact effect needed or if the chosen effect would be sufficient, only that there is sufficient level behind it.

So rather than determining that the other Magus is casting a Creo Ignem spell at you, which could be countered with a Pe/Mu/ReIg, CrAq, etc effect based on the level requirements of FCSD, you might choose to just CrTe a stone wall between you. This would actually be easier to deflect some attacks since it requires a lower level to put up a barrier that can not be seen through and is solid enough to stop the spell. However it would automatically fail if the spell was instead an Arcane Connection range spell or to create a large pit under you (if said pit was large enough to swallow the wall too). You would also have to choose an effect, with appropriate R/D/T and other modifiers. In other words it requires an actual effect chosen and the SG to make a call on its effectiveness.

Depending on how your Magus is build, it is possible that they are much more effective at just Fast Casting a spell to defend with rather than using the FCSD rules. If you are a Vim specialist who knows many of the dispelling effects, those have their own rules for dispelling a target spell. If you fast cast one of those of high enough level, it will dispel the target. This could be totally dispel at a level which would only be sufficient to deflect the spell with FCSD.

Using the FCSD rules against mundane attacks is more complex since the SG has to determine what the effective "spell level" of the attack is and that is your target total. Against them it is much easier to just decide on some effect to fast cast. Creating some Creo Form barrier is far simpler to work out than "the attack is the equivalent of ReTe 5" for a sword swing.

An idea I am a fan of in theory but have yet to try (or see tried) in play is a pre-emptive distraction attack on said mundane attacker.

Find something that is super easy to fast cast spontaneously without Fatigue (e.g. Creo Ignem "ignite something very flammable" at appropriate range). For example, light their beard/hair/clothes on fire as they're getting ready to attack.

If it's my turn as SG and one of the player magi does this successfully, my thought is that it will only really require the fast cast spont to beat the mundane's Initiative to be effective.

As always, your saga may vary:)

It's not explicit in the Rules, but I'd take the view that by the time you're fast-casting (rather than just casting on your normal initiative), the attack is already happening - ignoring the attack and attacking the attacker, even with a killing spell, is only going to mean that you both get hit quasi-simultaneously. You need to fast cast to directly block the attack if you want to avoid it.

An example canon spell used for fast cast defense:

I hadn't realised that this interpretation of the Rules existed - I've always thought of fast-cast defenses as only being normal spells, fast cast. Thoughts on this:

  • As you say, it definitely is possible to use normal spells, fast cast (either spontaneous spellls, or mastered formulaic spells), because the fast-casting mastery exists and there are canonical examples of spells used for fastcast defenses.
  • Even if you were using the "barrier of magical energy" approach, you would still need to to know how to choose the Form and Technique of the spontaneous effect, which the book doesn't give any guidance on. This makes me suspect it's not the intent.
  • That said, it does work better with the "have to know the Form, needs to be at least half the level of spell to mitigate, equal to the level to fully nullify" components (some specific spells work better with this than others). The book does say "generally" with regards to the level, though.

Thoughts from the wider community? Have you had fast cast defenses as being their own separate thing?

The advantage of having the spell mastery, is the magi losing the divide by 2 (or 5 if trying to save stamina) which usual spont casting has. The magi only get the minus 10, so is much more likely to succeed, and much more likely to not lose stamina. Obviously the downside is as the spell is formulaic there is no ability to tailor the spell to the specific situation.

I think it is the intent. Wizard on Wizard battles are rare, and it is strongly suggested you research your opponent. If I'm doing a Fast Cast Spell Defence against a wizard known for Creo Ignem, I choose Creo Aquam to make a wall of water. Rego Ignem to deflect the fire away, etc.
Of course you could have the following scenario.
"The hoplite Deleterious of Tytalus was famous for his ruthless use of fire spells, meaning most bodies were burnt beyond recognition at the conclusion of a Wizard War. In his famous autobiography published after his death, he declared he secretly studied Terram and killed most enemies with Terram, and burnt the bodies after the fact, to trick enemies in to using the wrong defence.

I've taken it as the deflection option must be meaningful. Someone doing a Creo Terram to create a wall, It can block a pilum of fire, crystal dart, any fly from caster spell, however, incantation of lightning, that's coming straight down, your wall is in the wrong place. If would need to be Perdo Aurum, to annul, Rego Aurum to deflect, Muto Aurum, change the lightning to rain, etc.

Lee, I generally agree with all that - however, it's relevant to the "cast a specific spell" approach to Fast Cast Defense (whether that's a specific pre-learned Formulaic spell, or a spell you're using spontaneous magic to make up on the fly).

My understanding, though, was that Troy was suggesting that Fast Cast Spontaneous Defences could also just involve a non-specified blast of raw magic that would also work to block the incoming spell (if it's level was high enough). That was the bit I was querying, as it's a new idea to me which I'm not currently all that convinced by.

I just found the place where my description of how Fast Cast Defense works is given an official example. In HoH:S, p.21 in the box "Dimicatio in Detail".

"The storyguide must apply some judgment in deciding whether a particular Form and Technique combination is effective as a defense against a particular spell, keeping in mind the rule of thumb that a fast-cast defense of one-half the level of the incoming spell is usually sufficient. For example, if one magus casts.Ball.of.Abysmal.Flame (CrIg 35), his opponent might defend using Creo Aquam (to quench the fire), Rego Ignem (to deflect the fireball), or even Creo Herbam (to create a wooden shield)."

All that is required is for the SG to judge that the choosen Technique/Form combination is capable and a high enough total is rolled on the dice.

Did you have to make a Finesse roll to target the incoming spell?

Nothing I have seen would suggest a Finesse roll is required. With how scattered the rules are, if you have seen something to suggest otherwise can you please give the location?

I agree that the rules are all over the place. But No, I didn't know of any Finesses rolls. Except as part of the Casting Speed roll to get the Spontaneous spell off in time.

It occurred to me that Fast Cast Defence is sort of like asteroid interception - precisely hit a distant moving target object with just enough of a nudge, while it is far enough away that the nudge has time to work.

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It does not always have to be a nudge. Throwing up a barrier of some form between the defender and caster could cover 2/3 of the combinations in the example I copy/pasted.

That is where I am suspecting that a Finesse roll might be needed, to get it properly between defender and caster.
Then again, I could be overthinking things.

The whole point is not to have to use RDT or specific spells. However conjured barriers using normal spell rules would normally use a range of touch if you were defending yourself. Creating a curved stone wall four paces wide by 2.5 paces high and a pace thick only requires a Level 5 spell if you only need it to last a round

That simple barrier would be sufficient to block nearly any targeted spell simply by rendering the caster unable to still see the target. The actual Fast Cast Spell Defense roll effectively covers what you are wondering if a Finesse roll would be required for. Are you fast enough casting the effect and are you positioning it properly to block the hostile spell.

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You can remove "Fast" and "Defence" from that sentence at it still applies: a lot of times spellcasting means hitting a distant moving target, and yet most of the times Finesse isn't rolled, so the same goes for fast defence.

Which is not the same that saying that they automatically work: I never liked the idea of spells doing that. I get that it is good to have one roll less implied (and that pulling out a massive spell with the right penetration just to see it hitting the top of a distant church instead of the target in front of you is not fun). I just consider that it is implicitly covered in the Ease Factor rules, usually going to that row at the easier side of the spectrum where rolling is just a waste of time. Like breathing, actually: it would be silly to require characters to roll to breath every single round. But following with the metaphor it is also obvious that this doesn't mean that characters can automatically breath in any circumstance, right?

For me the same applies to all spellcasting. Spell's aiming (unless in aimed spells) is granted by default just because by default it is extremely easy, but circumstances might change that. So that suggestion of yours of requiring some sorts of fast defences to pass an aiming roll seems quite reasonable to me.