Help with a Magical Focus

I am currently building a Guernicus maga for a P&P Ars Magica game, and I thought of giving her a Magical Focus like, well like Gandalf from LotR is the servant of the Flame of Anor. In the LotR rpg spells which draw on the power of "Goodness" and freedom and creation are collectively called Secret Fire spells.

I thought of making an Inner Fire/Secret Fire magical focus dealing with this aspect, my problem being that the spells I tried to port over from LotR are hard to pinpoint to a focus. The solution could be to choose the focus to be an abstraction (Inner/Secret Fire = Excellence, Freedom, Inspiration, Purity of the Soul, Metaphysical Light etc).

The Spells I ported over, or are already in Ars Magica, are (not really out to discuss the spell guidelines in terms of lvl, more the focus):

Lamp Without Flame (Create Light) CrIg 10

Blessing of Verditius (Blessing of Aulë) ReMe10 (Base 2, +1Touch, +2 Sun, +1 complexity)
+2 to any Craft Skill

Blessing of Merinita (Blessing of Oromë) ReMe10 (Base 2, +1Touch, +2 Sun, +1 complexity)
+2 to Animal Handling, Ride or Survival

Blessing of Trianoma (Blessing of Elbereth) ReMe 10 (Base 2, +1 Touch, +2Sun, +1 Complexity)
+2 to Charm, Etiquette or Intrigue

Sense the Malign Desire (Detect Foe) InMe 30 (Base 5, +3 sight, +2group) detect whether there is a desire to be malign towards the caster

Invocation of Inner Strength (Invocation of Elbereth) ReMe25 (Base5, +1 touch, +3 Moon)
The recipient is able to have one more confidence point than he his confidence score allows. This spell does not give the recipient any confidence points, only the capacity to have one more.

Break the Chains of Limit (Sorcery Ward) PeVi 20 (Base, +2 Voice)
This spell cancels any spell that deals with malign transformation, affecting life force or restraining limbs or ability to speak

Aura of Ennobled Presence (Evoke awe) MuIm10

Manifest the Flame of the Soul (Flame of Anor) CrIg(Vi?)
A sharp beam of light shots from your outstretched hand, a manifestation of your soul's fire doing +10 damage (base 10, +2 Voice)

Various Healing spells

Shield of Bravery (Resist Fear) ReMe20
give the recipient a Personality trait of Brave+3 for the duration. (base 5, +1 touch, +2Sun)

Alignment of Inner Strength(Springtime) CrCo (Ig,Me? He? Vi?) 25
+9 to Recovery, also in the affected area, there is warmth like a spring day, flowers bloom more readily, light is pleasent and even (also good for medical examinations!), and the recipients feel at ease. (base 4, +2 Group, +3 Moon)

Also, I reckon such a focus would be a Major Magical Focus....maybe....unless a form of Metaphysical Light/Goodness were used to pinpoint it, and it could/would be minor? Ideas?

I have difficulty seeing this concept for ArM. Inner Fire seems likke to much overall and grand concept as comapred to the fairly sharp divisions in the Hermetic Forms. I think such a concept is beyond ArM and fits a lot better in a game system where the magic is either less sharply defined or simply divided in other ways.

With ArM goggles on I don't see the connection of light/fire spells, spells to seem impressive, spells to read emotions/intents, spells for boost abilities as diverse and craft and wilderness skills...
I know some Foci affect several things across several Forms, but those things are more inter-connected than this. Like Focus in Necromancy affecting dead bodies and spirits (Co, Me and An), Healing that affects human bodies, animals and plants alike (Co, He, An) etc.

But I do like the idea of the spell that expands the target's capacity for Confidence. Don't see the ReEM guidelines supporting this (or any other Form for that matter). But it's only 1 more confidence point, and you have to earn that yourself! Is D:Moon enought? OTOH longer D would make it a ritual.

The Break the Chains of Limit spellsounds like only for applications of Corpus spells so that's within the scope of "Unravelling the Fabric of [Corpus]". However it will only dispell lvl+1+stress die spells, so lvl 20 can affect up to 30+stress die spells. si that enough?

I tend to agree with this. However, I think a reasonable focus might be magics which grant temporary improvements to others. This prevents such a magus of crafting the CrCo and CrMe rituals for improving characteristics, and gives him flexibilty for other areas of magic. And it also prevents him from being the primary recipient. Gandalf didn't often act, he convinced others to act, and then supported them in their course of action. I would further refine this character with a Side Effect of infusing the target with good feelings, giving a small bonus to his next action based on the effect of the spell.

So no fancy fire related magics, unless he picks them up, maybe Gandalf had potent fire magic, and a focus in improving others?

I wonder if people would be more willing to accept the focus if it were defined in a slightly different way. I was thinking about Holy Magic and considering how you could represent this with a faerie god. Perhaps the character is pagan and the focus is in the faerie god's dominion? As long as the faerie god's dominion doesn't get too broad, I could see this working. Would everyone accept that sort of interpretation as fitting the setting better? This may not fit the character design, but it's what jumped out at me when I read it since Gandalf was a sort of cross between an angel and a wizard from our typical views of the terms.


Thank you for your responses and advice.

I am also doubtful whether it is possible to integrate all the desired effects into a focus. However from my degree in Aesthetics, I read about Medieval perspectives on Light, also the metaphysical Light of the "Soul"/"World"/"Divine", as espoused by Bonaventure

[i]Umberto Ecco:(from “Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages”; Yale university Press, 1986, “the Aesthetics of Light”)

”that light was thus the principle of all beauty, not only because it is delightful to the senses, but also because it is through light that all the variations of color and luminosity, both in heaven and earth, come into being. Bonaventure considered light under three aspects: there was lux, lumen, and splendor.

Lux- was light in itself, light as the ubiquitous origin of all motion, which penetrated to the very bowels of the earth to form its minerals and sow the seeds of its life.

Lumen- was the light that travels through space, borne by a transparent medium.

Splendor or Color- referred to light thought of as something reflected by opaque bodies that it struck against.”

Light, although it was something physical, it was primarily and fundamentally a metaphysical reality.


With a clear connection to the Divine (or at least the idea of a divine connection), Lux, Lumen, Splendor becomes the Metaphysical and Physical properties of a sort of divine light - thus easier to align to excellence, inspiring awe (Splendor sounds a lot like species...), create and manipulate light etc.

Ideas? Regarding the Confidence point spell - no Base exists, it was choesn arbitrarily :slight_smile:

So what you're suggesting is a holy magus with with a major focus divine light. That's going to be very expensive virtue wise Holy Magic (Major), Invocation (Major), Blessing (Major), and Focus (major). To pull that off you'd have to start as Ex Misc and you probably want to belong to a mystery cult to pick up other virtues (wonders, abjuration, and some way to cast silent and without gestures all come to mind). AM5 does not make it easy to be a divine caster (btw am I right in assuming that all holy magics abilities advance as abilities and not arts/advanced abilities).

I think most Holy Magi are Ex Miscellanea, aren't they? That's not to say you can't have Holy Magic and be from another house, but I believe that's where most of them show up canonically. Still, you're right, the character will be heavy in Major Virtues.


For a holy magus, I think you really want to take True Faith, because it is the equivalent of The Gift for learning divine Supernatural Abilities. That way you can join a holy tradition and learn their Methods and Powers (which are basically Difficult Arts, according to the rules in later books). For the divine light concept, you might want to look at the Zoroastrians and how they have been further developed in Cradle and Crescent.

The closest I can think to your concept are the Astrological Magical Focus in TMRE: you have a focus in all the the aspects governed by an astrological sign (Major), astrological planet (Major) or astrological house (minor). See p.36 and 55. The thing is, none of them is a perfect fit, or even a good fit.

And it would have to be a Major focus, since (for instance) healing all by itself is a minor one.

Here are a couple that just might work, not so much with you list but as part of the concept:

Astrological Magical Focus: The Sun
influences rulership, kings, leadership, and authority, health, and well being, and governs the characteristics Presence and Stamina.

Astrological Magical Focus: Sagittarius
influences devotion, instinct, questing, illumination, and revealing illusion

I won't go into the spells, presumably your ST approved them.

If that does not work, well, you don't really need a magical focus anyway, most of those spells are relatively low-level, so you can probably get them without one.

Wow, I did not realize just how powerful some of those astrological foci are.


You'll need to adapt and make compromises.

The best thing I could think of is to make a Creo Major Magical Focus in "Give increase" - which applies to making things better representatives of themselves.

So it could make light brighter, fire hotter, people smarter or more capable, heal broken bodies, help things grow etc. etc.

Does not apply to making things "ex-nihilio"
Does not allow you to make things larger or make more of something.

If SG desires to make this more narrow he can make it so that it does not apply to making things more harmful for that purpose.

  • i.e. you cannot make a sword sharper, or poison more poisonous - though fires can be warmer and you can make poisonous plants grow.

Does that help?

And Tolkein's idea is undoubtedly based on the medieval/kabbalah ideas of Secret Fire.

I think that I would simply go for:

Secret Fire Major Magical Focus: Applies to any Co or Me effect which is "beneficial" to the target. Effects that use this focus have the cosmetic side-effect that white light or flame is produced along with the intended effect.

This would seem to cover most of the effects you suggest. It wouldn't cover the Ig or Vi effects. But I don't think it needs to.

Thank you for your suggestions and ideas.

Holy Magic is not presently in the picture - the Major Magical Focus in Metaphysical Light, would cover some of these "divine aspects" simply because academically speaking, medieval scholars and theologians saw light as primarily a metaphysical substance deriving from the divine. I looked at Holy Magic and it has some nice benefits (as well as drawbacks), one of the more direct being a clearer mode of "raw creation".

But with regards to the Metaphysical Light focus, how is the take on that ?

Lux: would cover immanent (sp?) light such as the betterment of people (giving them the Brave personality trait or +2 to abilities as shown with the spells), also healing

Lumen: would cover creation of light mainly, as the light created with Ignem is "transported by unseen mode"

Splendor: would cover Imaginem effects such as Awe and beautification, also maybe divining the intent of people...

I am the alpha, so in essence what I say goes, but of course I want it balanced with the rules and the other players.

on a different note, reading about Holy Magic it seems really harsh to become incomprehensible, get -15 to casting total, a reputation for hedge magic etc. and also need to "unlock" invocation, Meditation et al to use the abilities' special effects in spell guidelines.... :confused:

Did you notice the part yet about using long-term fatigue instead of vis in your rituals ? Like, free healing ? And they don't even need to unlock anything for that, since it's already a Hermetic effect ? And they can get around the -15 casting total, even, if they can manage a Pre+Theology roll of 15+ (okay, that one is not easy).

As for your focus: it seems about okay to me in scope; better than 'standard' major foci probably, but I've always felt they were sadly underpowered when compared to the minor ones (so you can get a minor focus in felines, and summon lions, turns yourself into a tiger, your opponents into kittens, and get a super strong bond with a cat or tiger familiar; or you can get a major focus in mammals and do pretty much the same, except with other animals for variety ? The only real difference, except for flavor, is when you want to kill an animal directly). Anyway, the fact that you still have to spread your xp between so many Arts provides a built-in limit (that's part of the reason major magical foci, while better than minor, are not that much better: most of their range is outside the favorite TeFo combination of a specialist). The only point I'm not so certain of is how Metaphysical Light applies to divining the intent of people. Influence them toward the 'Light', yes, but divining ? But if you can justify it, go ahead.

Well free healing/fatigue vis-a-vis (haha...) is obviously a very nice gain, but there is still the danger of attracting even more unwanted attention to your power than the average Magus (Why yes Cardinal, that odd fellow who can heal as well as Jesus lives just over there....).

I was also iffy about the divination part, so I might keep that out of it.

I would be confident in saying that it wasn't "based on" that, but rather (largely/partially) inspired by it. Tolkien took his cues from many different classic sources, and rarely copied any directly, preferring to take several seeds and intertwine the resulting vines into a larger landscape.

Tolkien appreciated symbolism, and the symbolism here is of the purifying power of fire/light. Remember that in Middle Earth, there are the Forces of Good and the Forces of Darkness - a concept that really doesn't exist in canon AM. (Many concepts in high(er) fantasy RPG's require porting of an entire cosmology and/or world paradigm; this is clearly wanting to be one of those.)

So, unless your mage is going to be fighting the FoD - and that means that the FoD have to exist, in and of themselves - the Affinity is going to need to be reinterpreted to fit a less polarized and more "I do general good" sort of character concept. (You could align it against The Infernal, as suggested above, but a non-religious approach to Good/Evil is not perfectly in step with the AM canon. Hardly a dealbreaker, but...)

Gandalf had several tricks up his sleeve that the reader witnesses - simple light and fire, a "ward vs. Evil", breaking (evil) enchantments, and a light-based attack vs. Evil foremost among them. Also some simpler illusions and Intellego magics, often offstage.

To narrow this Affinity to where you want it, you'll have to define the targets of the offensive spells (and decide w/ your SG/Troupe how to limit those attacks to only within that Realm!). For thematic reasons only, I doubt if G could have used his "light bolt" spell against humans or any creature of Nature (at least any who were not Evil, and even then).

(edit - he did have a simple, standard fire-based attack - seen in The Hobbit against the wargs that cornered him up a tree.)

Thanks for a different take on the issues with integrating the focus with AM Cosmology :slight_smile:

Gandalf's power is very much Good focused in "good vs. evil", though I should point out that I use Gandalf as an idea/concept/etc., not a diehard "I-want-to-make-Gandalf-down-to-the-very-last-hair". I believe that using Metaphysical Light as a focus, will reel in the super-duper goodness and steer it more towards personal excellence/tapping the core "Lightness" og Light, more than that necessarily deals with vanquishing evil (though light vs. darkness can not be negated entirely)


Are you arguing some obscure semantic point here?

Not if you agree with me, nor if you don't grok the diff between "based on" and "inspired by". But I'm guessing you do both, so... either way, no.

But thanks for asking. :wink: