Would you allow the use of an Intangible Tunnel effect to establish an Intangible Tunnel effect?
Here's an example of stretching the SG patience:
Opening the Intangible Tunnel ReVi 5
Out of the core rulebook, but we're going for ultra-low level in order to maximise penetration.
Now there's an amusing little aside here, which is the general level for this spell at level 5 is, in fact, 0.
R: Arc(+4), D: Conc(+1)... leaving a base of 0. Hmm...
Fortifying the Intangible Tunnel ReVi 5
Base 3, R: Touch, D: concentration
Now, with the base of 3 we calculate the final 'supporting' level for the tunnel to be 3 + 5magnitudes, or 20.
End result: we now have a tunnel that supports up to level 20 spells - and at no point did we cast a ReVi spell above level 5. Huzzah!
would you let this fly? If not, is there justification beyond 'limit of big dragon that eats you, now shut up' ?
would you let the second tunnel remain open after the first closes? If not, why not ?
what are your thoughts on general spells where the base ends up being lower than 1 ?
Cute, but no. If the story requires it, that's a fine exception but if it shorts out everything where's the fun.
Yes, if you cast Eyes of the Cat on a grog you don't have to keep your hand there for the rest of the day.
AFAIK there's no lower limit. You have to be careful or you'll end up with nonsense such as a DEO1 that does 10 damage.
If it was that easy to break the system, NPC would do it all the time. You have to be fair to your NPC because they will return the favor. Fairness and story potential are important when you twist the system like that.
I should confess that my own thought processes on this went something like this:
Oh. Oh heck no.
(some time later)
Actually... it's not so bad.
I absolutely agree that any 'toying' with the magic system like this be equally available to all. However, in terms of ratcheting a tunnel via a touch-range version, I figured:
it takes extra time to cast both the initial effect followed by the next effect
it's still a really low level effect, so dispelling it ain't hard
In a game where lots of wizards wars were happening at intangible-tunnel distances I'd not only be fine with it, I'd encourage it. In a game where wizard's war isn't prevalent I wouldn't bother unless the players bothered first. Either way, it still requires that oh-so-useful arcane connection - and therein lies story.
Still, one thing a friend of mine highlighted earlier: an Ars game kind-of has two 'stories' running in parallel. There's the saga, and the events that make that up. Then there's the story of the growth and increasing power of the magi - with its 'look what I can do now!' elements. Things like this support the second type - which is, IMO, as valid a part of the overall experience as the first.
If we weren't intrerested in fantasy about having power and tricky tricks, we wouldn't be playing Hermetic Wizards.
So many people look at the AC and intangible tunnel in relation to other wizards.
I look at in relation to mundanes. Steal/acquire/gain arcane connection to a number of nobles, fix them. Then with these two level 5 vim spells, you can have your mentem specialist pose the silent question, add memories never quite lived, loss of but a moment's memory and many other spells on those nobles at will. It is the way for the covenant to keep aware exactly what is going on and what mundane intentions towards them are and control them.
It allows a covennt to limit mundane trouble that the covenant gets from nobles.
You mean, it allows for a corruption of politics on a scale thusfar unheard of? And that's not even going into the Code violation issues....
Granted, I am firmly in the camp that PCs are NOT all-powerful, and that established powerstructures can only be subverted if it suits the saga (which the PCs don't get to vote on - although they can poke at it of course). I know, a little reactionary by AM standards, but I'm old-school, I guess.
Subtle manipulations are better than gross corruption. "Maybe I should send someone to investigate that group of scholars on my border?" changed to "Naw, they aren't causing any trouble, not worth the resources." and so on. Sure they can be used on grand scale but smaller scale and nudges can be a lot more effective and powerful than large ones and will likely get you a pass by queasitors (esp if they never have reason to investigate).
As soon as you start talking non-magic-resistance scenarios, mechanical limits on power below around level 30 quickly become moot if the saga has any kind of character advancement.
For doing mentem-y things on mundanes, there are few scenarios you need more than a 15 or 20th level spell tops, and getting a ReVi-20 common spell lab text and being able to cast it from the comfort and safety of your own laboratory is unlikely to be a significant hurdle to any magus who has been out of apprenticeship for more than 10 years. Remember: 10 years out of apprenticeship is young. 10 years out of apprenticeship in a mundane job means you're probably just at the end of being a journeyman - and wizards progress slower than mundanes do. As a mundane you're almost old enough for people to take you seriously. As a magus, you're still that early-20s fresh-from-college kid with big ideas and no clue about the real world.
As such, the only kinds of stories it is going to 'ruin' are those where the magi have relatively little power. Most games will progress beyond this unless the SG is very against player progression (some are - I disagree with it but hey) - so instead the kinds of stories that come up are from unwanted side effects of those spells, the occasional botch result causing major problems, etc.
Ars Magica is much better for telling stories about the consequences of exercising power than stories about being powerless. A determined group of magi will be able to overcome whatever challenge you put together - be it an issue of controlling a mundane or defeating a might-60 critter. It might take them a few years, but determination will win through if they care that much.
So if the magi are using arcane connections to constantly scry and mind-control their neighbours... that sounds like a big chunk o' story about consequences just waiting to happen.
I don't disagree with the scenario you paint, but the logical, and one might say necessary, conclusion to this messing with mundane minds is court magicians. No amount of Code thou-shall-nots is going to stop nobles from coercing magicians to lend them the same power that magicians themselves have. Say, by leaning heavily on their families. Or by torching a few miles of acreage around the covenants. Like it or not, but magicians cannot afford to become the enemy of the mundane power structures, and mental trickery will be noticed. Likely not by the victim, but sufficiently quickly by everyone else.
A powerful faerie in the area notices what is happening and steps in to mix things up a bit
An actual hedge-wizard court magician who has the ability to sense magic recognises what is happening and, carefully because he isn't stupid, makes sure to notify someone further up the chain.
Mind-controlling mundanes smacks of a certain degree of pride, and we all know what kind of thing is attracted to deadly sins.
A Jerbiton magus from out of town gets involved because relations of his are starting to behave oddly
And lets not forget: relics aren't super-rare. It only takes someone with a relic and your pen-0 spells start bouncing off. Increase the penetration, you say? Brilliant! So about that Gentle Gifted Jerbiton magus who you weren't aware was a magus...
There are so many ways that rampant mind-control of your neighbours can generate stories of consequences. And better, these are stories that work for the entire covenant (and prompt discussion by the entire covenant) on the use/abuse of the power, rather than just on the magus who can intangible-tunnel.