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...
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?).
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!")?
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)?
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?
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.)