Infinite Damage Levels

Now that my troupe and I have played a couple of sessions, one issue with the game mechanics keeps coming up: at low levels, it's very hard to kill or die in Ars Magica.

Here's what I mean. Our resident Flambeau casts Pilum of Fire on an enemy for +15 damage. After everything is resolved, the result is a heavy wound. In fact, our resident Flambeau keeps casting Pilum of Fire on this poor bloke repeatedly, racking up 9 (yes, 9) heavy wounds for a grand total of -45 in wound penalties. While the enemy is technically not incapacitated, he effectively is. The kicker is, the guy never dies. And he won't die no matter how many heavy wounds he takes. At some point, shouldn't wounds stage up?

Are you remembering to subtract the target's wound penalty from his Soak roll? There is a section at the end of the Obstacles chapter that explains how spell damage works. Basically, it's a stress die + damage vs. the target's Soak + stress die. Wound Penalties apply to die rolls, including successive Soak rolls.

Matt Ryan

So, wound penalties don't apply to damage from melee, because the soak total isn't rolled. But it does apply to damage from magic (or falling, fire, etc) beacuse this is rolled? Damn, thats just crapped up one of my favourite house rules :unamused:

Specifically because it already got included in the defense roll.

Not to mention the relatively non-moving puddle the guy must be after 9 heavy wounds. You are applying the penalties (Not just mechancil) listed for taking a certain kind of wound level, right?

I would honestly have no problem at all with letting a player (And an NPC) walk up to a wounded person laying on the ground basically unable to move, and blowing him away with said Pilum of fire without even a soak roll. It's called a Coup de grace you know.

Use SOME common sense when you adjudicate a game.

That, and you can also use the rules for how wound deteriorate already there. More so you can use fatigue rolls to ensure that a given wounded person either have to be very very lucky, spend Confidence, or exhaust other tricks to have any hope of escaping unconsciousness. You don't neccesarily have to do as often as it was done in 4th ed. Ars Magica (more or less every combat round) to get to the point - namely that severely wounded people collapse and loose consciousness.

On a different note the rules do make it hard and perilous to recover from severe wounds - and for the majority of people in Mythic Europe any larger wound (which is what those recorded on the sheet is) would spell feverish inflamation and danger of death.

Even if magi and the people around them might have magical means of overcoming those dangers, and the might even have grown accustomed to that, a majority should still have a healthy respect and fear of sustaining injury. That, and coupled with the pain involved in getting wounded, should really make most people in most circumstances try to flee, go in panic, surrender, or simply loose their mettle to keep up resistance - even if they know they'll not be granted nothing but death by their opponents.

While the unfortunate victim might not technically be dead as the combat rages around him, please don't forget there is post-combat wound recovery to resolve.

It will take a lot of luck, and/or a very high Stamina, and/or magical aid, to make 9 rolls of 9+ just to avoid slipping into incapacitated. And from there the guy is very close to death.


Well, I already made one wrong assumption, I suppose i should double check another. The damage roll for the Pilum of Fire doesn't get a penalty if the caster is wounded? It'd be kinda interesting if they did less damage as the mage becomes weakened, but I'm assuming the wound penalty is in the casting total, not the damage.

Yes, it is.

But then again if your Castinig Total is diminished you could very well have to opt for less damaging spells - either to ba able to cast them in the first place or to keep your pentration total high.