Fast Casting

Hi there

Can someone please clarify the Fast Casting of Spont spells.

Is is it a "free" action and you spell get to cast a standard spell for the round.

Or is it more like an "Interupt"

any thoughts would be appreciated.

It's not free, in that it's not automatic and guaranteed...

I'd amend that to say that if a magus has a high finesse score, they can probably get multiple fast cast spells off. I tend to believe that one can get a fast cast spell off along with a normal spell, but the normal spell happens last, not at the magus's normal initiative point. I'd be less inclined to let a normal spell go off, if they do more than one fast cast spell in a round, which is possible with high quickness and finesse combinations against opponents with low initiative totals.

Edit: Fixed quote.

I take it you're using D&D terms. In that case - a fast cast spontaneous spell is somewhat similar to an Interrupt action.

Fast casting is like an Interrupt in that you can take it at any point in the round, outside of your turn, and it can interrupt another's action (if the Finesse roll is high enough; generally above his Initiative Total).

Note that since a magus "cannot cast ... a fast-cast and a normal spell, in the same round", if you fast-cast before your turn arrived in the round you can't cast another (non fast-cast) spell in that round, whereas if instead you already cast your normal (non fast-cast) spell in this round then you can't fast-cast a spell in it. This is unlike the Interrupt, that (if I remember correctly) revokes your next major action.



Lords of Men introduce some optional rules for Initiative and more importantly Interrupts like fast cast spells. I like them, but it's seen little use.

As it is RAW in core rules you can cast your normal spell as a normal action, but also fast-cast a spontaneous spell (or a formulaic spell you've mastered for fast-casting). You roll Qik+Finesse stress roll versus the Initiative Total of the person you're reacting to. Subsequent attempts to fast-cast in the same round are at a cummulative -6.

Lords of Men say (IIRC - Serf's parma) that you for any interrupt rolls Qik+Ability versus the Qik+Ability for the person interrupted. Abilities used reflect what they are doing, and the number tha active interrupter is up against is not static, it is rolled each time. So an opponent with a poor Initiative roll for his sword is not necessarily easy to interrupt each round. Nor is the ultra fast guy with the lucky roll impossible to interrupt, by rolling each round he may be slower at times - although he still attacks first.

This is one of the worst jobs quoting I've ever seen. You have used the ellipsis to remove something and completely reverse the meaning of the statement. Look at "more than," the punctuation, and "or" in that sentence. Jonathan Link quoted it properly:

If you want to use the ellipsis properly here to look at just the second part, this becomes "cannot cast more than... a fast-cast and a normal spell, in the same round." So, no, casting a fast-cast spell does not prevent casting a normal spell.


Hmm. I think the sentence is ambiguous. I read it as saying

" a magus cannot cast [more than one normal spell], or [a fast-cast and a normal spell], in the same round. "

whereas you read it as

" a magus cannot cast more than [one normal spell], or [a fast-cast and a normal spell], in the same round. "

I'm not sure which is RAW. Given the preceding sentence and the swiftness of fast-cast spells, however, I'm inclined to agree your interpretation is more likely.

It is quite strongly supported by the fact casting rules a maga can cast multiple spells in one combat round: by saying: 'A maga may be able to cast more than one fast-cast spell in one combat round.' - Arm5 Core, p.83.

But I would not allow both fast-casting and regular formualic magic in one round of combat, because fast casting rules quite frankly state you can try to fast cast more spells, but after you have failed a fast cast attempt, you cannot cast any more spells... you can still finish your failed fast cast spell, but that's it.

Saying this, I do have a quite impressive spell-slinger Flambeau in my group with high quickness, high finesse, fast casting virtue, Fast Casting & Multi-casting masteries with Pilum of Fire. Best we have seen so far was 9 Pilums in one round.

this sadly ambiguous wording has come up at least three times on these boards. I think that the first interpretation (no you can't) is the intended one and
I like it better for play.

If we're very careful with the logical statement, there is a really big problem with the first interpretation. Let's break it down separately to see:

Yours: Only one of these (OR statements are true if a single condition is met) must be true

  1. not [more than one normal spell in a round]
  2. not [a fast-cast spell and a normal spell]

I know a lot of you will object saying this isn't what you mean, but let's follow this out logically. That means I can say I'll go with the second and just cast two normal spells in a round. Yay! I've followed that interpretation because the second statement is true and so the logical statement is true.

If you'd rather follow things looser, let's just look at the choice of use of language. If yours is the intended interpretation, why would you ever write it that way? Writing "a magus cannot cast more than one normal spell in the same round" handles your interpretation entirely. What is the point of the extra statement? But with my interpretation the second statement is a necessary one, and so it is reasonable to include it.

Or, if we look at MuVi and fast-casting, doesn't it make more sense that you fast-cast a MuVi spell on your own spell if you can do the two together in the same round? Otherwise you do the MuVi first (can't be done after the other spell has gone off) in the prior round and do the non-MuVi spell the next round and have no need for fast-casting MuVi.


And this is where I draw an exception to where people go off with fast casting. It's a response to an action. So you cast 9 Pila in a round. OK. But whatever event you're responding to should also take place, as the effects should resolve more or less simultaneously. I do not believe that fast casting should be used as an offensive pre-emptive strategy. So, let's say that you cast 3 Pila of Fire at a time, the first one is a response to what? Your shield grog getting sliced and diced? IMS, he would still be sliced and diced, but whomever did the slicing and dicing to your poor shield grog would likely be mostly dead or at least all but out of combat, if not killed outright. As a response to an action, the only response should be something that mitigates the action, such as a spell that turns the blade away from the grog. Fast casting allows is for defensive purposes, or, perhaps, mutually assured destruction. If you, as a player, are fine with whatever happens based on an action you've chosen to respond to a Pilum of Fire with, than I'm fine with it as an SG. But your Pilum of Fire will never make it to the opponent before his action is complete.

Ah. Yes it has indeed. In that last one David Chart said "The intent was that a magus could not cast a fast cast and a normal spell in the same round". However,that does not resolve the ambiguity problem as to the RAW as it stands, and in practice I think it's best for each troupe to decide what interpretation or house rules it prefers.

I'd suggest cleaning-up all of the Combat initiative rules.

  • As an overarching super-rule - any character may take only one Major Action each round. No other rule trumps this; that's why it's a "super" rule. A major action includes making a melee or ranged attack, or casting a spell.
  • Walking, speaking, and so on are Minor Actions; you may take minor actions in addition to major actions, within reason, and can do so out of your initiative turn. A shield grog guarding a maga, for example, often will walk around her during combat.
  • Casting a Fast-Cast spell is a Minor Action; it is assumed to be sufficiently weak as to count as a "minor" thing. You can cast it off by making a Finesse roll against a fixed ease factor of 6 for the first one, 12 for the second one, and so on; a fixed EF is used because initiative order is cyclical, and to avoid the issue of wanting to have low initiative. You cannot combine fast-casting with any spell casting options, just as the RAW says, and this includes multicasting for fast-casting using spell mastery; minor actions are supposed to be minor, remember? You can fast cast whatever effect you want, whenever you want; restricting it to only reactions or defensive spells doesn't make sense.
  • Activating a magic item is a Major Action, requiring Concentration just like spell casting. Triggers are never mechanical, so you cannot activate numerous items by using the same action, and different effects always require a separate trigger, so you cannot activate several effects with the same trigger. Environmental triggers react to major change in the magical environment, like changes in aura or time durations, just like the RAW says, not to physical changes like opening the bag. However, some effects will function on any available target (e.g. a Room effect), so affecting multiple targets with multiple items and/or effects or without taking a Major Action are all still possible.
  • Casting a MuVi spell on a spell you are casting requires the MuVi spell to be cast first, have a Concentration duration, and to roll for Concentration for maintaining a spell (the MuVi spell) while casting another (the spell to be affected). Casting a MuVi spell while another spell is being cast by another magus requires coordination, or Fast-Casting, or casting and holding a Concentration-duration spell as above before the other magus has begun casting his spell.

Or something like that.


I hate multi-casting. Granted, Ars Magica isn't balanced. Nevertheless, it is ... too unbalanced in its reference-class. It becomes something every combat magus needs to do, if he's to be effective. It's too good. And it's boring - having a magus cast more and more pilums of fire as he grows older is stagnation; I much rather have him develop new fire spells with Group target or so on.

I like the way The Fixer fixed it - Multi-Casting lets you divide up your Casting Total to multiple (identical) spells. So if your casting total is high enough to cast the spell twice over - good for you! If you're Multi-Casting a low-level spell, and don't care about Penetration, you might be able to make lots and lots of copies. Great. If you're mopping up low-Might opponents, you might be able to take down a few with each casting. Nice. But when it comes to facing that Big Bad Guy, you'd probably want to focus all your power on your best spell to get that Penetration up, not to pussy-foot with low-penetration copies.

Suddenly, Multi-Casting becomes a nice option for a combat magus, without multiplying his power insanely - especially against powerful opponents, when it counts.

Or, for a stronger variant - have the Multi-Cast spell mastery option allow the magus to increase the Target from Individual to Group, on the fly, by adding +10 to the spell's effective level; and to add +1 size to the group size per additional time taken. This allows the magus to cast his signature spell on multiple opponents, rather than having to develop a Group version of it and losing all his Spell Mastery (and Potency?) in it.

[Oh - and don't let him multi-cast all his fast-cast spells; that ways lies madness]

Hmmm... I'll have to check. Didn't he also say that to pull off MuVi on a spell in one round you had to fast-cast it? A long time ago people were saying you could cast two spells in a round since you had to be able to cast your MuVi spell on your own spell and it either doesn't yet exist or has already been cast if they're not at the same time. That's when that came up.

I like your list below. I would adjust the MuVi one a little based on the current MuVi rules (which make things more consistent) and what happens with rituals.


It is a great trick at the beginning of a saga for a young maga, but the negatives from fast casting do balance it in a way. Is it a really stressful situation? Yeap, that's a couple of more botch dice for you.

With all respect I quite dislike it. One roll multiple spells, you juggle with penetration, less occasions for botch dices and overall diminishing power until your saga reach archmaga status.

Regular Fast cast with multicast is already powerless against powerful opponents, but I can understand and respect your point.

I quite like to idea to allow a Mastery for a spell, which mimics Flexible Formulaic Magic... and learning multiple Flexible masteries allowing greater changes with a spell.

:mrgreen: That way lies lot of warping points and makes it easy to become powerful when facing mundane enemies.
We created together the characters and I have offered him the option to take the role of a quick to anger, vengeful and fast burning Flambeau.
I like to give easy power in ARM and let my troupe handle internally all the hubris and power, which going to lead to easier tempted and corrupted characters.

WTH... If that was the intent, then why on earth word it as it is in RAW?
If that was the intent, RAW should have simply said that you can´t cast more than one spell in a round unless it´s a fast casted one. The end.

Because RAW, i can only say that what it says, NOT ambigiously, is that you CAN cast a normal spell with a fast cast one. Otherwise it makes no sense. It actually doesn´t matter if you change the parsing of the text, because it still says "a fast cast AND a normal spell".
As you said you read it, the second part of the sentence is completely unnecessary and shouldn´t be there at all as it actually causes your reading to become wrong by default.
If you cannot cast more than A normal spell, then you most certainly cannot cast a fast cast AND a normal spell, that is automatically true from the first part of the statement. Ergo, that reading simply CANT be correct. Except it apparently is... :unamused: headache incoming

And as also noted, it completely crashes the ability to affect your own spells with spells.

So basically... aarrgh!

Might be a great idea yes.

I found what I was looking for in MuVi. David Chart just said normally MuVi on your own spell is a MuVi one round followed by the formulaic spell to be affected the next round. So there is no conflict between his statements as I'd feared there was.

Of course, Dimicatio makes absolutely no sense now as I'd read it. I'd read it as roughly each side makes a magical attack and a fast-cast defense. Now, if you only have a fast-cast defense, with works this way:

A: attack
B: fast-cast defense, loses normal spell
A: attack
B: fast-cast defense, loses normal spell
eventually A wins.

I suppose anyone who does Dimicatio then has to know attack spells with the Fast Casting option. Then we have to change those rules to allow additional variation to be done (forceless casting) with the fast-cast spell. So either way Dimicatio just does not work with this ruling. Either we change this ruling or we change the Fast Casting option.


Dimicatio is a "tightly controlled" contest, not an actual combat situation. The two participants literally take turns casting spells at each other. I imagine the drama and showboating take far longer than a round each :smiley:

The Dimicatjo uses rounds. In addition one casts counter spells to prevent from being hit. Such a scenario as described involve casting a normal spell and fast cast response in the same round. Initiative does matter and if it was tightly controlled as you suggest initiative wouldn't play a role in the contest at all.

Where are you reading that Dimicatio uses rounds or initiative?

Edited to add: Bah, I was only looking in The Lion and the Lily. :blush:

From HoH:Societas.

And it continues on to describe using fast cast and then responding with an offensive spell