Fast-Cast Device Activation... Give a Verditius a Break

Well, on Friday night my Verditius (who has somehow gained a "self-sacrificing" reputation) managed to get mauled by a black demonic hound. One failed fast-cast, one botched defence roll, and one incapacitating wound later... and my Verditius is wondering whether he can trigger a device as a defensive measure instead of using a spontaneous spell.

I couldn't find any reference in the books but I'm sure I'm not the first to wonder.

So, the scenario I'm looking for:

Magus begins to read from the ancient Roman tablet.
Black Hound springs into shot, snarling and bounding.
Magus turns, instinctively raises spear to defend himself, screams command word and... At this point, I failed the fast cast roll anyway, but bear with me.
The device is activated and the magus is swept unnaturally up into the air out of the Hound's way.

So rather than using a spont/mastered ReCo spell, I want to trigger an effect in his talisman.

Has anyone covered this? Are there any game problems with this? Would this kind of triggering be an additional effect modification (based on the cost for environmental trigger)?

I always assumed that item activation more or less counted as fast cast. I can't imagine saying a command word really takes a lot of time. Maybe I'm way off base though. I don't exactly read the rules all that carefully.

There is an effect modification in Societates:

It's not quite the effect you are after, but since I believe magic items are activated on your character's Initiative (which in this situation would be just Qik+die), there is a definite advantage with this effect.

Perhaps some original research could discover a Reactive trigger instead?


Normally, I would say no.

I really think the real problem is with the rules about initiative.

Here is an exemple showing were is the problem:

Activating your magical item is as fast as casting a "normal" spell (formulaïc or spontaneous) = (Qik + Die) as pointed out by M. Shirley.
Reacting to an attack is (Qik + Finesse + Die). So you get to add your finesse, getting a higher roll.

Let's take your effect as an exemple: "the magus is swept unnaturally up into the air out of the Hound's way"

Now, if your magus sees the hound coming for him, at the start of the round, he can try to activate or cast a spell to be "swept out of the Hound's way".
This is done as Qik + Die. This roll needs to beat the Hound's initiative to happen before the Hound attack you (and eventually force you to make a concentration check)

Let say you can fast cast the same defence. You see another Hound, attacking you by surprise, before the first Hound. He comes out of a bush near you. Then you fast cast a defence at Qik + Finesse + Die.

-> Result is that you have better chance to escape from the surprise attack then from the attack you have seen coming ! Worse, because the effect take him out of harm way from the two Hounds, he get better chance to esacape from the first if there is a second Hound attacking him...

So you need to mingle with the rules anyway to correct this. Doing it, fast-casting may becomes only a difference of adding your finesse to the initiative roll. There is the possibility of fast-casting, but how do that work exactly, since it make no sense as it is ? I think it's impossible to keep the "normal" casting alongside the fast-cast option. We need to get rid of either.

An option: As a HounseRule, I would make availliable a new effect modification:
+ 3 (?)
Fast Effect:
This effect can be use as is it was a fast cast defence...

Well, it's +2 for enchanted casting tools, but you first need to know the mystery. I'd say you probably could put a fastcast effect into an item, but it may need a minor breakthrough.

Isn't this exactly what an invested device with Linked Triggers is for?

Create your device with some kind of Constant Duration Intellego effect that looks for your triggering condition. Then, link your desired effect to the trigger. Thus whenever your condition is met your linked effect should be instantly triggered.

In this case, what if the wand had a constant InAu effect, which was listening for the "scream[ed] command word", and linked to the "swept unnaturally into the air" effect (presumably ReCo?)?

There is no need for you to "activate" the effect, as normal, as the InAu effect is constant and already active. So, the ReCo effect should take effect at the instant that you scream.

Of course, if it was just an invested item, and you are a magus, this wouldn't work unless both effects have enough Penetration to penetrate your magic resistance. This is because taking the decision to lower your Parma will happen on your normal initiative. But, this is not a problem if it's your Talisman.

Thanks for the advice guys.

I'd forgotten about the new effect modifier (+3 on init for +5 levels) and I think I'll be making use of that going forward.

I think I'd be up for a little original research but I'm already looking to do some original research/ancient magic work on Heronic Automata so I think I'm going to be a little busy for a while. That said, we do have a Bonisagus who's always looking for a new project...

The constant In(Form) spell is a pragmatic way around this one, but I'm not sure I'd go for it. I can't fault it really, but it doesn't feel quite right or elegant to me. Can't really say why though...

So I think in the short term, don't get jumped by demonic hounds (or actually if you must get jumped make sure you're wearing that "Mail of Quality" you've been promising yourself).

And in the long term, get a Bonisagus to research a "Fast Cast Trigger" effect modification that allows the wielder of a device to activate the effect instead of casting a spontaneous spell.