Herbam spell question

So I was considering this spell:

Unraveling the Billowing Sail

The magus sets his sight on the sail of a vessel and the magic destroys the weave of the sail. The hemp or linen fabric pulls itself apart in even the most mundane wind.

Herbam, would the base have to be 4 to destroy an amount of dead wood? It seems high. What about base 3, it says spoiling food, that is not helpful at all. Is there a 3.5? Nope. So am I stuck at base 4? It seems.

so then the spell is: base 4, R: Sight +3, D: Mom, T: .....

Target: Individual? Probably not. So either Target: Part or Target: Group. I would suppose Part, because if Group then you would have to probably increase +1 for size if you come across a sail larger than 10 paces square, which I think could be possible in the Aegean Sea; or maybe not.

That makes it at the very least: base 4, R: Sight +3, D: Mom, T: Group +2, a level 25 spell which would destroy a 10 pace, square sail. If the sail is bigger either the spell would not work or you would have to use the Level 30 spell, which you might as well make to begin with.

So Target: Part would be the cheapest bet. You are targeting a single panel of linen... is there a discreet part to even target in a linen or flax sail? Would Target: Part literally be a line of the linen. At least you would get: base 4, R: Sight +3, D: Mom, T: Part +1, a nice Level 20 spell. Barely any better considering you had been looking at cloth sail and doing the damage with a Level 5 or 10 spell.

I suppose one could reduce it to voice, but seriously if you can get within voice range then you could get within range to simply attack.

So I am hoping to reduce the base by one, and having some Ars to back it up, so I can get a Level 15 Spell that I can toss out a few times and ruin a nice merchants day.

Mostly I am looking for discussion and reasoning... but also trying to practically get away with not having to make a Level 25 or higher spell.

PS. I could target the rigging... the rope I suppose was flax or hemp eh? base 4 still? base 4, R: Sight +3, D: Mom, T: Ind it's Level 15 and cheap, but it lacks the flair of the sail simply turning to shreds and letting those aboard know they are at the mercy of a pirate's good will.

I would say that destroying the sail outright (making it vanish) is level 4, while weakening it enough that it will just tear apart in a moderate wind is level 3 -- the latter is akin to spoiling food. T:Individual should suffice even for a pretty large sail (you can easily check this by looking up the weight of 1 cubic pace of wood, and of 1 square pace of heavy sail). So, to completely destroy a Sail at R:Sight the final level would be 15 (Base 4, +3 Sight) -- or just 10 to "spoil it".

In terms of levels, I think it should be really quite the same. It depends on whether you think it's more flexible a spell that can destroy pretty much any rope, or a spell that can destroy pretty much any piece of cloth. Both have their uses. I would also point out that if you want to capture a ship, it's much better to target a rope in the rigging, because it's more easily replaced than a full sail.

Note that a similar effect can be achieved with Muto Herbam, instead of Perdo. Using the level 3 guideline you can make the sail as thin as the finest gauze, enough to have even a slight wind burst through it even if the spell's Duration is only Momentary.

This is brilliance! Thanks for helping me get a perspective on Herbam. It is probably my weakest Art and one of which I rarely think but after some consulting I was convinced a pirate magus should def consider Herbam his friend.

Good times, thanks. Problem completely solved.

If Herbam is your character's weakest Art, then maybe you may want to use other Arts to immobilize enemy ships.

Use Animal to create animals that will target the enemy ship (e.g. swarms of flying insects).
Use Aquam to lock the ship in place.
Use Auram to ward the ship against wind, create an opposing wind, or destroy the wind in its sails.
Use Corpus to shrink all the crew to smurf size, or blind them.
Use Ignem to freeze the water around the ship, or to burn selected pieces of its rigging (make sure you use a Rego requisise!).
Use Imaginem to create the illusion of a scary sea monster at your beck and call.
Use Mentem to scare the crew into surrender.
Use Terram to create boulders raining down from the sky (not on the ship, but close enough to scare the crew into surrender), or to envelop the whole ship in a solid envelop of clay.
Use Vim to summon spirits to do your bidding, to change another formulaic spell you know into the right spell for the job, or simply to Create the Intangible Tunnel to the target ship that will allow you to snip two magnitudes to any spell affecting it (from Sight to Touch).

On the other hand, if you are a pirate captain magus: Herbam should be one of your strongest arts.

CrHe: Target Part to repairs holes in ship until you get them to port (you can ram and still capture)
CrHe(Re) (group target): creating mooring ropes to link the ships to make boarding easier.
CrHe: Create new sails after wind or storm destroyed them
MuHe or PeHe to damage target's sails (MuHe (Te) would be very good. turn the sails to rock that they drop to deck and damage crew before reverting to sails you can later put back up)
ReHe: cause the sails to drop themselves to the deck or the knots to unravel for same effect.
PeHe: create a hole to sink boats chasing yours.
Cr(re)He: create ballista bolts to fire at enemy ships at need.

If in Theban tribunal, you will want some ReIg to protect your ships from the greek fire of Constantinople war galleys.

Herbam is one of a pirates best friends.

Still other forms are useful (others have given offensive uses, here are some non-offensive uses)

Auram: block their wind, give yourself wind, ease storms about you
Animal: The swarm of moths unleashed on the sails, create dolphins to rescue anyone that falls overboard, create hide and leather objects.
aquam: water to push you along, darts of ice as weapons, purifying water from sea to be drinkable
Ignem: burn them, burn their sails and most importantly put out fires on your ship. (peig is good for ships), create warmth without fire so that cold of winter at sea is lesser
Corpus: shrink them, change them into animals, just cause their hands to spasm, blind them (In Ad Fons on here, My rego maga uses a mastered multi-cast group spasm of the hand spell to incapicate 20-40 enemies at a time), keep your own crew functioning after battle, pull your crew out of the drink.
Mentem: in addition to perhaps making their resistance seem futile, you can give your own crew courage. You can use the CrMe with sight range to send words to the minds of enemies you can see so they can start to worry or despair even before you are close enough.

I'd rule target: Individual, maybe with a +1 for increased size (sails are damn heavy). Serfs parma as i can't remember the base target for herbam.

I love the imagary of this spell. As the merchants put full sail to escape the dread pirates, the sails seem to disintegrate, unravelling and shredding themselves with the scraps being blown away by the breeze. The crew, faced with clear evidence of sorcery, surrender immediately.

On the other hand, you do risk mundane interference with such things.

ReHe to unknot the sail lines might be more subtle and they might just call it bad luck.

The base target is one cubic pace of material -- about half a ton, or 500 square meters of heavy sail (assuming a very heavy 1Kg/square meter). That's a pretty large sail; it's highly unlikely that a normal, medieval ship would have anything bigger.

Since I have but 30 points of spells to use I think I am going with a Level 10 or 15 Mu/He spell that turns the ropes into twine or some other weak substance of plant origin. This way they snap under the stress of the sails.

One thing about my pirate is he is not blood thirsty and so desires to save life where he can. He is no coward, far from it, but I made him with a huge religious conscience.

With the snapping of the ropes, the sails go flapping. We catch up, the magus increases his size and takes on the appearance of a god and perhaps a spell to change the sailor's courage into an emotion of self preservation if that does not work there is always the offensive magics. This way I can take some cargo, leave them some cargo, and they can simply repair their lines.

Or we kill them all... I mean he is religious but not stupid. :laughing:

It is much less that that. "A plant roughly one pace in each direction" is not a solid block of material. It is more in the range of 150 kg or 300 lb. Moreover, Noble's parma on needing an extra magnitude for crafted materials. That would reduce it to 15 m2 or 150 sqft.

This comes down to the arguement of what constitutes Individual/Part/Group as was discussed with my seige weapons spells.

I would say the sail is a discrete thing so an idividual. I would say destroying 'part' of it does not neccessarily need to be a singular discrete part of said iitem. the main rules discuss severing an arm. The arm is metaphysically a collection of parts (Hand, fingers, forearm, upper arm), but is still a smaller part of the whole.

Pit of the Gaping earth destroys part of the earth, it destroys a size modified individuals worth of soil and earth not a single clod of earth.

I'd say part will destroy a part (or partial amount) of the main item up to the appropriate size.


Meh, I disagree, (see Wall of living Oak) but the difference is too small to bother arguing about.

No. The extra magnitude is only for Creo Herbam. Even with your more restrictive interpretation of size:Individual you still get 150 square meters of ultra-heavy storm sail, and at least 500 of more normal sailcloth.

Even a 150 sq ft hole (using part) in a sail would render it pretty much useless.....


If you´re using Perdo, probably yes. Rego or Muto should do well also.

Go for Group, but DONT have it target the whole sail, but the parts of the sail where the ropes attach. :smiling_imp:
Instead of a sail getting ripped up, you get a sail that drops down on top of the ship and creates a BIG mess for 5-20 minutes AND is still relatively easy to repair or use parts of after capture.


I'm not an expert on Mediterranean galleys of the 13th century, but I have sailed on a couple of tall ships and know a bit about how the rigging works.

From what I've read about the galleys I'd guess that sails were anything from 20-40 square meters for smaller galleys to 100-200 on the big two masted galleys. Compared to ships of the line with over 1000 square meters of sail that's not that much, but a large venetian galley could from around 1200 AD could have had over 100 oars and around 400 square meters of sail.

Re/He would work fine against both oars and sails, but I think the easiest way to disable a ship under sail would be to use Rego or Perdo to destroy or loosen the sheets or the halyard. If you target the sheets you'd get a sail flapping uncontrollably around, possibly with blocks hitting and wounding people, and if you target the halyard you'd drop the sail which would create quite a mess and probably wound some of the rowers.

In northern Europe the longship would still be present and the cog was the rising star. Smaller than the big Mediterranean galleys and not so dependent on oars, but still with 50-150 square meters of sail. Again, the best and simplest mode of attack would be to target the running rigging (ropes used to control sails).

I'd go with something as simple as a Re/He untie rope spell, instant effect and leaves the ship practically undamaged and ready to sail on under your control after a quick boarding.

If the ship is being rowed a Re/He spell to take control of the rudder or steering oars would do the trick, or a bit more complicated spell to make all the oars obey your will and not that of the oarsmen. A version of Dance of the Staves scaled up to affect group should be quite effective.

Heya, thanks. I had considered the Re/He and take control of the various wood elements of the ship. Primarily the steering oar, or rudder (not certain of the time period) or even the yard though that would seem to be a harder effort if under sail. My shipping experience is basic at best so thanks for some sailing perspective.

On a side note, unfortunately my magus' Rego is zip, by which I mean nill. Also none and kaput. I am being harassed to change this fact, but it is a silly pointless limitation I put on the character for no other reason than to do it. I am all Rego'ed out from my last character. :laughing:

Happy to be of help.
Mediterranean galleys would probably have one (or two depending on size) steering oar, as would Northern European longships, cogs would have rudders like on modern ships.

You could muto their oars into soft flexible pieces of wood, no fun in rowing with rubber oars, and after the effect wears off you'd have a full set of working oars again. You could also target the belaying pins (or whatever the halyard or other ropes are fastened to) to loosen the ropes without damaging them with perdo. I guess elastic ropes would provide some added comedy relief as well as being quite efficient at creating chaos on deck.

Transforming the hull from wood to stone would not sink the ship, unless it has very little freeboard, but would make it a lot heavier and sit lower in the water and therefore slow it down and reduce maneuverability.

Your lack kaput rego does unfortunately keep you from making the ropes attack the crew like Blackbeard does in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I think he got those powers from his sword so right there you have an idea for a pretty nifty magical item. An enchanted cutlass with a Re/He or two effect to control ropes. Your magus' might not be a master of rego, but you could sail by Sardinia to commission such a sword from the Verditus magi at Verdi.

Do note though that the division between where you can find which type of ship isnt THAT binary.
For example, the use of steering oars can be spotted on ships well into 14th century, and you can find ships being built of "nordic" design as far off as Palestine(ex. 1279 Akka ship for Eleonore of Castil(using steering oar btw, looking a lot like midway between a longship and a cog with fore and aft fighting platforms)).
Oldest known use of rudder is from Gotland early 13th or very late 12th century.
Some argue that the Winchester-boat from a few decades earlier is the first though.
Meanwhile, english ships of the 13th century still used steering oar.

Oh, also to remember is that lateen-rigging is very common in the mediterranean(while square sails starts becoming common again in the 13th-14th century, and the rudder appears during the same time).
Roman style hullconstruction is still common but being displaced in this time.

In short, at the standard era, just about anything can make reasonable sense.

Well, probably needs adding that for example during a crusade in 1191, a BIG 3 masted dromon(very roughly a kind of galley) was fought, so basically, bigger DO exists.