Fast Cast Defenses - can I use any Tecnique+Form?

Hi everybody.
So this is my first post on the ArM-forum, hope you'll be able to enlighten me on the following matter.

The ArM5 rulebook states that you can fast cast a spell as a defensive manouvre (p83), and thereby deflect an incoming spell (fast cast spell min. half level of attacking spell) or even cancel the incoming spell (fast cast spell matching level attacking spell). But, to do this, you need to first identify the form of the attacking spell.

So my questions are (and bear with me if the answer lies somewhere obvious in a thread in this forum - I searched the forum but didn't stumble across any solid rulings):

a) Is the defender able to identify only the form (by default or by Per+Awareness), or can she also identify the tecnique or even the exact effect?
b) Can any Tecnique+form be applied in a defense against any spell, or
c) does it has to be a "meaningful" combination? (And if so, How do you decide what a meaningful combination is, if you only know the form of the attacking spell?)

Initially, I thought it only fair that your defense should be meaningful, as others have proposed before around here (as far as I recall), but as i'll try to illustrate, this might also create some problems...

  1. If the angry Flambeau is casting a lvl 20 spell on a promising apprentice (with no parma, but excellent fast casting abilities), and the apprentice determines the form of the attack to be Ignem, can the apprentice then block the spell with any spontaneous cast spell level 10 and above ("I'll MuMe myself out of this mess"), or does she need to cast a meaningful combination (maybe: MuIg, PeIg, ReIg, CrVi, MuVi, PeVi, ReVi... others?).

  2. Alternatively (and if it still has to be "meaningful"): The apprentice even knows that the attacking spell is a CrIg lvl 20 spell, maybe even that it is a Pilum of Fire. Could she then counter this attacking spell with say a CrCo lvl 10 generic thing ("My body shall withstand your foul flames"), or maybe MuCo ("My body is weird today and therefore enjoys your fiery jet"), or maybe a CrAq ("My body is for the moment covered in some kind of non-flammable and anti-heat liquid, Hahaaa!")?

  3. Now, with Pilum of Fire, the fiery jet might just be a cosmetic effect (like that of Ball of Abysmal Flame CrIg 35, or am I wrong here?), so an intervening generic 10 lvl obstacle of dirt, water, bear skin, autumn leaves etc. wouldn't necessarily do the trick. But what if the attacking spell created something which was in motion. Could any "touchable" form be used in a meaningful Cr+Form defense ("You shall not trap me with your evil Trap of the Entwining Vines (CrHe lvl 15), so I... ehh... flush out your puny plants with my mighty splash of water (CrAq lvl 10)?

  4. Different Vim-spells seems to be a meaningful defense most of the time (...right?). Furthermore, it seems that the tecniques Mu, Pe, Re combined with the attacking form could often be a meaningful defense. But how do you protect yourself against ReCo spells like Lifting the Dangling Puppet (lvl 15)? Is Vim-spells or a defensive ReCo spell the only way to counter this?

  5. Another problem with meaningful fast cast defenses is that too much contemplating or arguing about what a meaningful defense is (in the exact situation) will risk destroying the hopefully fast paced action or make it overly silly (I find the anti-heat liquid covering the apprentice's body quite silly).

So, what are the perspectives:
Should anything go?
"I'll MuMe myself out of any mess"
Should one practice a liberal ruling on what is meaningful?
"I'll CrHe-deflect your Teeth of the Earth Mother"
Or a strict ruling of what is meaningful?
"I'll be studying PeVi for the next five years, what about you?"

... Some of you might be wondering why I spend this much effort on the rather exotic phenomenon of fast cast defenses (but then again - this is the forum for arcane matters (drumroll please)). The thing is that three of my troupe's young mages are facing a semi-hedge maga antagonist this saturday (She was brought up with the hermetic arts, but in a rather twisted way). Earlier encounters suggested that she used fast cast defenses (and is quite good at this, in lack of a parma magica), and I would like to make her put up a decent fight... which might be hard if one apply a strict ruling of what can be considered a meaningful fast cast defense (She's no PeVi aficionado, nor will ever be).

But, if the general opinion is pro-strict ruling of what a meaningful defense can be, i'll take this into consideration (wouldn't want to house rule too much, I might end up unbalancing something important in the mecanics). In this case I'll probably come up with some hedge magic explanation for her fast casting bad ass-ness.)

Kind regards

I don't have my 5th edition core book with me, but I believe there is something about identifying the Tech+Form of a spell being cast somewhere in the Magic chapter.

In the 4th edition (I have the PDF with me), the text on page 76 said:

I can't imagine it's changed much from 4th to 5th, aside from possible adjusted difficulty.

To me, this is fairly clear that the fast-cast defense must be in a significant Tech+Form.

Now, there is some flexibility as to what a significant Tech+Form is. I've always used the thinking that if it makes at least some sense story-wise, it works. So a CrAq defense against Pilum of Fire works for me (quenching the flames before they hit you). Other possibilities would include ReTe (raising up a dirt wall between you and the Pilum) or ReCo (very short range teleport to move out of the way). Even though the Pilum of Fire is not targeted, the nature of the fast-cast defense allows you to defeat the attacking magic. But the "cosmetic" fast-cast effect must make sense story-wise (not necessarily mechanic-wise).

BTW, defending against ReCo is indeed a though one, but aside from ReCo, MuCo is a possibility (making yourself too big for the target to be valid), particularly if you include a requisite (changing yourself into an animal, plant, or whatever). ReVi (block it) and PeVi (dispell it) certainly trump all spells.


Hi, welcome.

I expect that others will suggest how they do things, but here's my take on this.

First, the defending mage needs to achieve a high enough Qu+Finesse+stress die total to match the attacker's initiative. Each subsequent fast-cast defense total is penalised by a cumulative -6 (so 2 to 3+ attackers should beat any mage relying on this). And there is a penalty of 10 to the casting score (not casting total). Remember that this is a spontaneous spell too.

Second, normal hermetic spell-casting allows the form to be determined automatically. Subtle/hidden sounds/gestures or non-hermetic magic require Per+Awareness roll of 15-magnitude to work out the form. I allow the technique to be determined too, but it either needs a higher Per+awareness total (6 higher, usually) or I allow a mage who isn't the target to work it out afterwards, automatically. Or if the magic is hidden in some way, by making the per+ awareness roll or sometimes a magic theory roll.

It doesn't say in the RAW (p83), but I feel it is implied, that the fast cast defense needs to be of the same form as the attacking spell, otherwise what is the point of making such an issue about determining the form? A more generic PeVi defense should be formulaic, mastered for fast-casting (p87) and needs to match or exceed the level of the attacking spell.

The actual effects of the fast-cast spell don't need to be described unless it will add to the story. The idea is simply that throwing sufficient magic at an attacking spell disrupts it, regardless of the technique.

Knowing the attacking spell formulaically can increase a mage's magic resistance (mastery ability p87) but as far as I know does not affect any fast-cast defense.

Hope this helps,

Gilarius ex Diedne

a) I would say that you get the Technique with the Form, even if it is not mentioned in the rules.

b) and c) Like Arthur, I believe that the point is to come up with a credible TeFo defense, not necessarily match what the attacker is throwing exactly, so CrAq is a valid answer to a fire spell. You do need to know what it is, however, to mount a credible defense: that CrAq is not going to have an effect on a PeCo spell. If the defense is sort of credible, you can always ask for a higher level for it to work. ReFo (for the right form) and PeVi always work, of course

I suggest you look at what your hedge witch is good at in terms of TeFo, and work in advance her best defenses against the most common spells, based on her strengths. That is part of what "practicing fast-cast defenses" means, after all. If your player hit you with a TeFo you haven't anticipated, and you can't come up with a credible answer on the fly, then you default to ReFo or PeVi, whichever is better, and hope for the best.

One big problem your maga may have.
Noble's parma, but if fast-cast defenses are sponted, she'll quickly run out of fatigue.

Which is why a Magus expecting to go pick fights or participate in Dimicatio will want to invent a few choice formulaic blocking spells, and master them. A Flambeau, or a magus often crossing swords with a Flambeau, would want some kind of defensive Ignem spell. It could be Mu, Pe or Re. Or a spell working defensively against Ignem, like a Cr Te, He or even An (err, like Wall of Protecting Bears?) to block the flames, Aq to douse them, Au to blow them away.



If it's stupid but works - it may not be stupid after all!
We actually had a spell closely resembling this in one of the old 4th ed sagas. IIRC there was a CrTE spell from WGRE where 4 swords were conjured, and pointed in the four directions away from you. In a fit of insane humour we had a magus create an An version of this, with bears. It was named (after the old joke that a bear with raised paws isn't about to surrender) The Bears who Do Not Surrender, with the extra feature that the bears could also line up to protect from one direction. And don't tell me 4 huge bears shoulder to shoulde can't block a Ball of Abusmal Flame...