(The discussions lately have been on the heavy side - thought I'd lighten the tone. This one has no "right/wrong", so swing away...)
So, you're a mage fresh out of gauntlet. Not a Flambeau, not anyone looking for (or ready for!) a fight. But some (slightly) bigger magi in a neighboring covenant have been kicking Terram in your face and sandwich and talking tough, and you just have a feeling that a Wizard's War may be the only real solution.
Assume you're a true generalist (no Art over 5), and not a combat specialist - no Ability over 1, and have nothing more impressive than something like Crystal Dart under your belt to start with - a labrat, a real wimp! How would you prepare for a Wizard's War? Say you have only a few years of study - maybe 3-4 at the outside before you know push will have to come to shove.
You have access to a good library for Arts, lab text for any canon spell, a standard lab, and not too much vis - maybe a dozen pawns, maybe a bit more. (But you cold go out and try to find more if you had to.)
What are the "basics"? What tricks do you have up your PC sleeves?
(Time for the school of Vilano? Study penetration for 3 years and Pen/Multi mastery of Crystal Dart? Buff a dozen grogs and hand them weapons of some obscure substance and hope for the best?)
I like that one. Alternatively spend 3/4 of the seasons with the covenant's bard/charmer/noble and use the rest to seduce and enamour yourself to the strongest, baddest wizard of the other gender. Then let them come to "hurt her Life Love"
Enchanted items can be designed with Penetration. "For every level you add to the effect's level, that effect gets +2 Penetration" (p 99, col i). Let's say a mage is only trying to get a metal weapon thru a predictable ReTe ward vs metal weapons.
o Could an enchanted weapon be "100% penetration" (less "duration & uses/day"?
o Could a (mostly irrelevant) minor effect suffice - a pink dot with +30 penetration on top of that? (Assuming +30 pen gets thru the Ward vs. Metal Weapons)
What is needed to get a (Form) weapon thru a Ward vs. that Form? (Short of a PeVi to dispel the Ward itself.)
If someone declares wizards war unto you: RUN. Get as far away as you can and hope arcane connections don't go that far. You just get ONE moon preparation time, not 3 to 4 years, this is only just enough time to plan yout journey and get away. You don't have the time or ressources to construct a magic item to pierce their parma. They'll pierce your parma with spontaneous magic. If you can, destroy all arcane connections to you, then RUN!
I'll second this one, with the addition of suggesting that, if at all possible, make friends with the powerful inhabitant of nearby regio who might be willing to provide you guest-room for a moon or so.
I say challenge the wizard to Wizard's War and lock yourself in your sanctum. It's unlikely the other wizard will come after you. Attacking a wizard in his own covenant and kicking down the sanctum door is tough. Once you've challenged the other wizard you've shown that you stood up for yourself (even while hiding in your sanctum). If the other wizard doesn't go after yo, you can make up any story you want about how you tried to prosecute your wizard's war against the other.
Odds are the other wizard will probably hole up in defense as well if you're in a strong covenant. Of course check your covenant's charter to make sure what their rules are when it comes to WW.
As for spells, Sling of Vilano works pretty well, and doesn't need to penetrate. You just need to be able to hit with it, so a little Finnesse is a good thing. The Wizard's Leap is a low level (relatively) ReCo teleport (in Magi of Hermes) that allows you to teleport a short distance, master it for Fast Casting and you can potentially have an all purpose magical defense (though it still can't protect against everything).
A 'hit and forget' charged item with high penetration works well, takes only a season to make one and might do the job, but with Arts as described you might not get much bang out of it, or Penetration.
Well that's just it, everyone thinks that it's difficult. If the other wizard is more powerful and thinks that it will be difficult to kick down the sanctum door, after entering the covenant and having to deal with the Aegis (these are all assumptions that the offending wizard will likely make) he might decide not to try. After all, who has more to lose, the mageling who showed a spine, or he the more powerful and well established wizard? Sure it might be a bluff, but is it worth calling the bluff?
But, very good point on simply not being there. I'd still send the wizard's war invite and then flee. But as you said, make sure there are no arcane connections.
I'm not sure that everyone does. Afterall, most magi know what their own defences are like, and probably have an idea of the defences of their master and other very close sodales.
Now, some individual magi will certainly have a reputation for having strong defences (regardless of whether any significant defences actually exist or not). So, if your character's sanctum has a reputation for being heavily defended, sure I can see another magus not being keen on trying to attack you in it. But if you don't have a reputation for being strongly defended in your sanctum, then I can see that another magus might very easily try to cautiously test your sanctum's defences.
Well, SOME players does have defences. Enough that another character cant be certain. And i would expect NPCs to be much less "casual" about it as well as less time optimised, so more of them having defences.
Anything from classic "dungeoncrawl" style traps to have a grog with a crossbow using bolts with superpenetration sleep spells.
Perhaps, although remember that the OP was about a magi relatively freshly gauntleted, with no real speciality (no Arts over 5).
I think that (unless the character had acquired a reputation for living in a heavily defended sanctum) the normal assumption would be that such a magi's (magical defences, at least) would be "nothing very significant". Which might not be a good assumption in some cases, of course.
I suppose it depends on how common Wizard War is in the saga. If a young magus is "quite likely" to be challenged to Wizard War, it is possible that most young magi invest in such things early on. On the other hand, if Wizard War is largely a rarely used political tool, then I would have thought that most magi would have better things to do --- particularly early on in their career, when they are unlikley to be involved in intractable political clashes.
The goal for the weaker Magus should be to stay alive, yet take an action that will end the harassment. The pre-emptive challenge could achieve that result. Since the mageling is no doubt weaker than the older wizard, they have to let appearances and attitude carry a lot of force. The other wizard probably has better things to do than pursue a WW, and even if more powerful than the mageling would have to take a look at the risk to gain. In most cases the more powerful wizard will back off. If he loses (even if he survives) he stands to lose power and prestige. If he wins (even if the mageling survives) other wizards will see him as nothing but a bully, who decided to exercise his power over someone much weaker, and others will probably admire the courage of the mageling. And bullies, by and large, whether modern or medieval, mortal or magus, generally are cowardly and will respect an unexpected challenge from someone they sought to victimize.
This is just what making the challenge can accomplish.
From there, the mageling must look to defense (actually going after the wizard will be suicidal most likely). But hiding within the Aegis of his Covenant is a great equalizer, because even magi that don't look to Sanctum defense will probably still be in an Aegis which will at minimum cause a -10 on foreign Magi's spellcasting, and require outside spells to penetrate an MR that is likely higher than their own Parma. From there, if they haven't looked to their Sanctum's defense...do it now! Call in favors, ask other magi to cast wards on the door and yourself, move your sanctum if possible, borrow vis and magic items. Practice unusual mundane traps that don't need to penetrate. Bring in shield grogs, grogs might not be able to do much, but they can take a hit that could potentially save you. Your covenmates might not like it, but if your sanctum is near important property, then the other wizard might have to risk the covenants' wrath in going after you.
In the end, hold out for a Moon. It can be done. A respectable showing will usually embarass the other wizard and end the harassment. Make it not worth their time to continue and make them lose respect for others. If the cost is too high, they will drop it.
That being said, if the aggressor is a Tytalus you might get a whole different set of reactions to your attempts.
Natural fire still burns, natural earth crushes, natural water drowns. If you can lead the aggressor into a perfectly mundane trap, then you'll have a major advantage.
Personally I would sap a cave, then use illusion (and lies) to make sure the aggressor went into the cave, and then when they were in the cave, set fire to the supports and bring the whole thing down on top of them.
It really depends on the tools available to the younger magus.