Hermetic Arts as Difficult Arts, what are the issues?

I've been trying to parse what you're saying here, and I can't seem to. WC isn't a Ritual spell. Looking at the errata, I can't see anything about WC, or anything else that would somehow imply a WC will take away 10 levels of power (whatever this means). I'm just at a loss here.

This doesn't really relate to your point in that paragraph (which I agree with), it's just a technical point I was wondering if you can clarify.

See, this traces back to what I'm saying in the other thread about needing standards. In D&D, I can point to the dragon stats and say "see, this beast requires a level 15 character to defeat it". In Ars Magica, I'd like to similarly be able to say "see, you need to be 55 years post-gauntlet, with the right focus, to defeat it". Since no such guidelines exist, we're left arguing in a void.

Bottom line - I believe the setting as-written isn't consistent with the power level of magi. I believe that MR 50 is too weak for a beast that is supposed to be virtually immune to Hermetic magic; if the Art-20 guy can arguably take it, it's too weak for that. I believe that the sentence "A Might Score of 75 renders the creature almost immune to Hermetic magic; casting totals over 75 are very rare indeed, even before subtracting the spell level" is very misleading as such casting totals are within reach of a covenant of determined middle-aged magi and are well below the casting totals elder magi can whip out without breaking a sweat. And so on.

I also believe the game would be better if the mechanics better matched such texts. I want Might 75 creatures to be "almost immune to Hermetic magic" - in other words, I want even elder magi with the right focus to need to pull out all the stops to take down such a being (which, incidentally, is pretty much what Arts as Abilities achieves!). Indeed, I'd up the ante and make Might 75 being really immune to Hermetic magic; taking down Poseidon requires a McGuffin, not a generic pile of raw vis - and taking down Zeus (Might 100) is basically impossible.

On the "fitting the flavor text" side, notice that what we have here are casting totals far exceeding 75, unlike what the flavor text says. Or at least implies.

On the "what I want" side - we're talking about facing off an Elector of Hell, or an Olympian God or one of the great Titans that fought them, or an Archangel. I fully endorse the idea that Art-40 guys should be up to such a challenge; but they should find it a challenge, it should be something that an adventure or even saga arc is built around (find the angel's True Name, forge a Sympathetic Connection to it by learning the precise time of his direct Creation by God....), not a random encounter. Not even a tough random encounter. I don't like the idea that a cooperative group of Art-20 guys can take them down, not matter how well prepared.

I agree. It's just a symptom of magi being able to trample the setting's creatures too easily at all levels, IMO.

:shrug: Nothing a ReMe spell can't solve. Just have him order the host back. Having Uriel brush the magi's shoes each morning would be a nice touch. :wink:

The SG can always one-up the PCs. I still maintain the setting is broken when a bunch of middle-power magi can decide to pull all their resources to gang up on the most powerful being in the cosmos as he visits their covenant, and possibly succeed (without any McGuffin; McGuffins allow anything). (say, Casting Total 174 [6 die + 20 Te + 20 Fo + 20 focus + 80 raw vis + 5 talisman + 5 aura +3 confidence + 5 penetration + 1 spell mastery + 5 penetration from spell mastery + 4 double puissance or other virtues]; notice how this time I used piles of raw vis instead of WC? Wizards have options. The real fun is in collecting 'em all.) Regardless of what endless armies the SG puts behind Michael - for me, this is just not a scenario that should be possible, period.

My point wasn't to argue otherwise, but rather to say that in other settings we don't have this particular kind of suspension of disbelief/rationalization. Wizards in D&D have vast powers at high levels; but the setting's histories typically reflect that too, with wizard empires, wars devastating entire kingdoms, and so on.

Agreed. Ars is eminently tweakable :slight_smile:

You've mentioned MacGuffins several times, YR7, along with a hypothetical CR system like in D&D. I think this is where the perspectives diverge. One of the entire points of Ars Magica is that people can be powerful in different ways, and that a person can be just as far along while having completely different abilities. D&D can just sort of assume that there's a group of this many people, of this rough composition, focused on combat ability. In Ars Magica, it's harder, because when the players individually control the xp flow, being a certain age or even having a certain amount of XP doesn't even attempt to be a guideline of how strong a character or group of characters is in any given situation.

As for MacGuffins... I dunno, if I wanted those, I wouldn't play Ars Magica. Ars Magica, by its very written intentions, does not try to be a game where you need some god-forged sword to take down the unstoppable beast and fulfill the prophecy of old. Ars Magica is the type of game where magi (usually with the help of Faerie-related things) can be the ones who create the prophecy, the magic items are so powerful because the PCs are supposed to be able to make other peoples' MacGuffins, and you don't go to the wizards to negotiate a ritual that might save thousands of lives, you're the wizards who sit there being negotiated with and have to think for a moment about whether or not you care. Ars Magica is trying for fundamentally different things than most other games, so when you try applying the logic that works really well with other games, it can and often will grind itself into a nonfunctional mess while trying to adjust.

And yes, a covenant working together can create effects with great Penetration at all stages. Otherwise your average Aegis of the Hearth wouldn't do very well at keeping out anything threatening, among other issues. The idea of "these Might scores are difficult to affect at these stages" isn't "hey, we've got a covenant and a bunch of vis, let's go to town," it's "I was just taking a midmorning stroll through town and UltraMagmaAkriloth appeared and shouted 'welcome to die!' and now everything's burning and let's see what I can do." Yeah, in most cases, I'd refer to Might 75 as a tough challenge for an old guy. Why might I feel that way, given that Arts are generally meant to max at 40? Because he doesn't have a bunch of Arts at 40. He's got like 1 Technique and maybe 2 Forms at those levels. Sans a Focus (which, you know, would be completely ridiculous to base Might comparisons for all magi on) he's just making that thing sneeze in his area of specialty. And Focus or no Focus, those Arts become your entire backbone. If you find yourself needing to use something else, you're probably done for. Might 50 would be about the biggest thing to hit even for elder magi if they need to use one of their specialized Arts with one of their non-specialized Arts, and anything else will be completely and utterly ineffectual.

Magi are the strongest types of wizard to have ever lived. Yes, as a magus, you can dedicate your entire life to being really, really good at exactly one thing. If that thing is shooting destructive fire, I take no issue with being able to affect a minor demigod or archangel with it. Magi are, by fluff, pretty much gods among men as-is. But the second that creature says "lolhi" with something as simple as a Lesser Immunity to Fire, you pretty much can't affect them in any way. If your entire ability to affect a being hinges on one narrow set of your abilities, and any relatively easy-to-come-across defenses against your specialty exist, then even though you technically have other skills, it would be reasonable to call it nearly impossible to affect a creature with 75+ Might and tag on "so don't bother trying."

Again, just how I perceive things.

On an entirely unrelated note, if Arts became Difficult Arts, about what casting totals would you need to take into account when structuring your new Might comparisons? I mean, Might 35 being difficult to affect by the oldest and strongest magi in a solo fight certainly doesn't fit the fluff very well either.

Aside from agreeing with the Never-Ending Winter in the large, I just wanted to point out that:

I really don't want this. It would essentially be reducing Ars Magica to a level based system (where age = level), and since levels to put it bluntly, is close to the worst idea in RPG design history, that's not something I can support.
Ars Magica was created in part in opposition to D&D, let's not turn into it.

A magus who wants to dedicate his entire life to being really, really good at one thing can probably find a way to Initiate that Focus, so yeah, it's a valid comparison.

Other than that, I agree with your point, only more emphatically (striking down gods, small g, is within a magus' capabilities; God is another story).

You bring up a good point, there, though Initiation wasn't a thing in the rules when it was just the core book, so they still were justified in not addressing it at the time.

And yeah. I admit, the setting is one thing, but keeping up with the Ars Magica cosmology has been a tricky business for me, and I have to phrase it differently with almost every person I talk to and depending on which one I'm talking about, so it gets even more confusing for me. Demigods, Egyptian gods, Greek gods, Titans, God, Allah, God again, not-God-but-still-God-but-looks-human... And that's not even getting into all the backwards terminology going into devil worship and the like (why can't "unholy" just mean "not holy" like every other "un-" word!?). Darn you, English language! (and every religion that decided to be different!) Sometimes I envy D&D and its tendency to produce entire worlds with only one pantheon for anyone to think about...

It's easy. There's False Gods for the Infernal Realm, Gods for the Faerie Realm, also Gods for the Magic Realm (though not many, all very different from Faerie Gods, and they also have a bunch of other technical terms), and God for the Divine Realm. Simple, no? :smiling_imp:

Worth noting, though, that this bit of hair-splitting happens in Mythic Europe too. The question of "does "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" mean I can't pray to Thor too?" was actually discussed by no less than St. Augustine, who said (if I'm making my Theology roll) that veneration of pagan gods was acceptable but worship was properly given to God alone. Your average peasant only knows the difference between venerating Thor, venerating St. Michael, venerating Mary and worshipping God to the extent that his priest tells him they're different, though.

It really depends a lot on other assumptions. Assuming nice Virtue combinations, the core Might/MR scores are rather appropriate. Consider the top case: two Arts at 17, a magical focus, two puissants, two affinities (arts are 21), a talisman (+5), and, say, major potent magic (+6+4=+10, say), 6 die, 5 penetration ability = 89. And this is before arcane and sympathetic coonections, raw vis, and wizard's communion. Even with arts as abilities, Hermetic magi can plausibly find Might 75 or even 100 only "almost immune to Hetmetic magic".

Might 35 might be a faerie lord. With arts as abiliries, he may actually lord over journeymen magi. Perhaps. But he won't be difficult to affect by a solo elder magus in a solo fight. Might 50 or 60, now - now that's starting to be difficult.

I think the biggest problem with casting spells on an archangel isn't failing but succeeding. Because if the archangel is incapacitated or doing your bidding, he probably isn't doing all the important stuff he would otherwise be doing. And that could be a problem.

Better to divert a demon from his evil doings....


Going back to the original question, one of the side effects of making Arts cost the same as Abilities is that it can lessen the role of companions. If it is cost-effective for a magus to learn basic sword-fighting, compared to improving his/her Arts, then there is less reason to have a swordsman as a companion. You might find this a minor change, or not.

As for the 'background not matching the rules' discussion, one relatively simple fix is to double all might scores - but only for resisting magic (and maybe for offensive magic, depending on whether you think creature powers should penetrate parma better), not for giving the creatures more powers.

Of course, if you do that it can feel like it's even more of a stretch to believe the background history - how is it that this world has followed real-world history so closely? In every game I've played in (less than many of you, I know), the PCs have changed the world. Why haven't their predecessors?


I'd recommend going with Magic Resistance = Might x 3, and Parma x 10 (instead of Parma x 5) against Hermetic magic.

I think Parma x10 makes magi far too invulnerable to magic generally. At a score of 4 when using Parma x10, a magus has an MR of 40+ Form scores. A score of 4 is not hard to get and doesn't require that much effort at learning (most books I've seen seem to be relatively high quality). I've been thinking about this for a while, and I think Parma should remain as is, and instead should double the Form scores. This way a specialist in an Art is nearly always going to be resistant to all but those who are more powerful in his Art, but will be vulnerable to other Arts he isn't a specialist in. It also makes studying the Arts really important to being able to defend against those Arts.

Check out the MuVi errata:

So, if you want to cast Aegis of the Heath with a Wizard's Communion (which is the "normal" reason for having it), then (as Aegis is a ritual) you need a Sun Duration version of Wizard's Communion: i.e. a Wizard's Communion 2 magnitudes (or 10 levels) greater than the core book version, for equivalent effect. The "standard Ritual version Wizard's Communion" is the version for casting rituals (it isn't a ritual itself).

I keep messing this up too.

@Richard thanks. I missed YR7's question to me.
@YR7, my apologies.

Aha! Thanks, that clarifies it. I totally missed that implication of the errata, even though I was aware of it.

No worries. :slight_smile:

This would have the effect of rendering the magus more vulnerable to other Forms; and since everyone will know the Forms he's specializing in, it is a rather obvious "soft spot". I prefer to have more rounded protection. It's (as always) a matter of taste.

As for the ease of getting MR 40+Form... this again comes down to the power-level paradigm. If you think this MR is high (perhaps comparable to that Might 50 "virtually immune to Hermetic magic" dragon), then my suggested house rule sucks. If you think this MR is suitable for Might 15 creatures, i.e. that PCs and NPCs should find that affecting Might 15 creatures requires this much penetration - then getting such an MR fairly easily (i.e. an Ability Score of 4) isn't a problem, it's a feature. Might 15 creatures are not Big Bads, they're little brutes; it shouldn't take that much for magi to get to their power level.