Inverse warding

A ward against <stuff> typically keeps <stuff> away from the spell's Target.
Is there any reason (say, a Limit of Magic, game balance etc.) why one should disallow as a valid guideline the opposite: a ward that keeps the spell's Target away from <stuff>?

This "inverse warding" would enable several interesting effects, such as:
Curse of the Sober Grog (no need to explain this one)
Trackless Step (currently "non-standand" and scheduled for errata - in this case works by keeping the Target from affecting the ground)
Strolling on Neptune's roof (water walking, I really can't find a sensible mythic name for it).

I'm not sure what you mean here. What's the difference between a ward that prevents alcoholic beverages from touching a grog, and a ward that prevents the grog from touching alcoholic beverages? In either case, no booze makes contact with the grog.

I had thought the opposite of @Samsaptaka, that I knew exactly that you were talking about "warding the side of the circle away from the magus" but that's not really what you meant, is it?

I think you've stumped us for now.

Galilean Stride. A tiny bit hubristic, to reference a Divine miracle in your spell name, but hubris is not exactly uncommon amongst magi.


Hmm, as far as I can tell, the effect is not symmetric.
If grog A is warded against Corpus, grog B cannot punch grog A, but grog A can still punch grog B.
A ward against beer protects your shield grog from Mighty Torrent of Beer, but does not protect your cellar from him -- nor does it allow him to walk on a lake of beer.withoiut sinking.. Isn't that the reason why Trackless Step is scheduled for errata?

There was a ReCo version of this published, named the Footsteps of Christ. Don't remember which book though - or even which edition.

Actually In Christ's Footsteps, in GotF, p 96.

It uses the ReCo Base 4 "Move the target slowly straight up or in one direction over surfaces that cannot support it", which means it has no relation to Trackless Step. R/D/T is Personal, Concentration, and Individual.

1 Like

Hmmm... (That's the sound I make before I spend far too long rooting through books. It's usually followed by me thinking things out in writing, so please bear with me.)

It may be that I'm wrong on this--a situation which occurs with startling regularity--but I've always thought that all warding spells were symmetrical in application.

Arm5, p. 114, Magical Wards, second paragraph, says quite plainly that wards with a Circle duration are symmetric. The third paragraph then goes on to state that the parameters of Ring duration spells can be changed such that e.g. a level 20 Ward Against the Faeries of the Wood (R; Touch, D: Ring, T: Circle) becomes a level 25 Ward Me Against the Faeries of the Wood (R: Pers, D: Moon, T: Ind). I've always taken that to mean that the second spell still prevents both the warded person and the things warded against from coming into contact.

Incidentally, this is why I've been wondering what the problem with Trackless Step was, beyond its level calculation. After all, the level 25 Ward Against Wood (ArM5, p. 139) says, "If [the caster] is walking on a wooden surface, he is actually suspended very slightly above it."

So, I've always taken that to mean that Cloak of the Duck's Feathers prevents the targeted individual from touching smallish amounts of water, such that little droplets on a, say, a door handle that they grasped would run away from their hand. This is supported by the description of Ward Against Heat and Flames, in which fires "dim at the protected person's passing and flare back up after he or she is gone," and by Ward Against Wood mentioned above.

Now, Ward Against Rain is an Aurum spell that protects the target from contacting falling rain only, so it wouldn't stop the warded person from getting wet from puddles or from putting their hand on a wet door handle. This is still a symmetric effect.

As an aside, I've always wondered why Repel the Wooden Shafts requires the caster to throw away their staff. Cudgels, chair legs, and other wooden weapons aren't mentioned, and the target is the weapon and not the caster. So, it shouldn't act like a ward because it deflects a weapon, rather than warding against weapons of a given material. At least, that's what I've assumed, with all the dangers inherent in doing so.

So, in your example of grog A and grog B trying to punch each other, I'd say that Ward Against Grog B would stop both grogs from coming into contact with each other. And, I'd say that you couldn't cast Grog B's Blows At You Are Deflected on grog A, because grog A wouldn't be the proper target of the spell. Instead, you'd have to cast You Can't Strike Grog A on grog B.

Finally, Ward Against Beer would protect your cellar from the grog it was cast upon, though he'd probably spill some of it before he figured that out. It would also protect him from Mighty Torrent of Beer, assuming it was of a sufficient magnitude to protect against such a powerful effect. If the grog were to attempt to walk across the surface of the lake of beer in your back yard, the foolish man would find himself walking along the bottom of the lake, as dry as he was before he entered. If he didn't get out fairly quickly, he wouldn't drown. He'd suffocate.

That's not how I read it. As far as I can tell, a ward against Y, on X, protects X from Y, but not viceversa. In this sense, wards are like Parma and Magic Resistance: if a grog turned into a giant by a low penetration MuCo spell tries to punch a giant, the punch is blocked by the giant's MR -- but if the giant then punches back, nothing blocks his punch.
Note that what happens in the case of an immobile Ring ward offers no information, because the Ring is not "punching back" so to speak. But I would surmise that, if somehow a mobile Ring where to push against the stuff it wards against, the Ring would not be blocked.
Let me also say this is not really clear from the book, nor, as far as I can tell, from the current errata. So maybe it's a good idea to point it out to David Chart?

I don’t think MR is a good example of how personal wards work. Also there is explicit carve out/exemption/clarification around natural weapons of magical beings where a dragon’s fire breath needs to penetrate but its bite does not.

I am not sure why that's relevant. A dragon's breath is a supernatural power, so needs to penetrate. Its claws, teeth, etc. are "natural", so they do not need to penetrate. So ... ?

The punch is like the bite and why it isn’t blocked by MR. Wards don’t behave like that.

EDIT: in fact wards need to penetrate any MR to have any effect on the thing warded against where as MR is the thing that must be penetrated so they are even less similar than my previous statements expressed.

How, then, do you explain Ward Against Wood?
"The caster is protected from non-enchanted wood, so that none of it can actually contact his body. If he is walking on a wooden surface, he is actually suspended very slightly above it."

Ward Against Heat and Flames works the same way. When someone protected by the ward tries to touch a fire, the fire dims. The protected person, therefore, can't touch flame.

And, I'm with @dc444 with respect to Parma Magica and Magic Resistance in general. Neither work the way wards do as described by the rules.

You are right. We just somehow ignored it all these years. Embarassing, perhaps, but that's how it is.

Ah, no. This actually works the way I described. If it worked the way you describe, the warded person would not be able to push his way through the flames: he'd be blocked very slightly away from them.
Now I really think a sentence or two of clarification would greatly benefit the section on wards.

A person can walk through fire without really damaging the fire due to its somewhat insubstantial nature. A person can not pass through wood.

The way I interpreted what you described would work as follows. A grog is protected by a Ward Against Heat and Flames. Now, should heat or flame attempt to touch him--that is, if someone attempted to place a hot poker against his flesh, shot him with Pilum of Fire, etc.--he would be protected because the heated object and flame wouldn't be able to touch him. If, however, he grasped a burning log or a red-hot bar of iron, he would be burned because the ward allows him to voluntarily touch such things.

As for the way I described it, I specifically included the lake of beer example to show that things that aren't solid would naturally be pushed out of the way of someone who was so warded. Therefore the fire would not block the protected person's passage. In the case of Ward Against Wood, however, the wood is solid; it doesn't give and the protected person is the one who must yield to the more intractable object. If it worked according to your misinterpretation of my meaning, then Ward Against Rain would immobilize someone standing in a downpour, which is clearly not what is intended.

On a different subject that this one has caused me to think more about:
Trackless Step is not the only spell that uses a guideline that affects something other than its target. I think this is the basis of your problem with the spell, as TS uses the level 3 guideline of, "Control or move dirt in a very unusual fashion," with +1 level to include stone. This keeps the dirt under the target's feet from being disturbed by their passage, so it operates on the dirt even though the person is the target. I hope I understand your objection correctly. Let me know if I don't.

If that's a reasonable synopsis of your position, do you have a similar problem with *Cloak of the Duck's Feathers", Push of the Gentle Wave, the collection of spells that make the ground beneath the target always stable and reasonably level, and so on? In all of those cases, the target moves about while the magic actually affects something other than the target.

This view is problematic, in my view, in that stuff can be "partially solid".
Granite is Solid. Water is not solid.
But what about sand? Mud? Freshly fallen snow? Hard packed snow?

I do not think I managed to explain how wards work for my troupe correctly. If X is warded from Y, then Y cannot actively influence X. Note that a wall in my path or a wooden floor under my feet, if immobile, are not actively influencing me. However, X can exert influence on Y as if the ward was not there.

So, if a grog is warded against wood, he can't be stabbed with a wooden stake, and he can't be pushed off by a wooden door that's opening against him. But he can still push the door, grab the stake (and snap it in two) etc. and of course he can climb wooden stairs, sit on a wooden chair (but not get one smashed onto his head) etc.

This is not a problem because all of those things provide the resistance they would normally provide. A person warded against clay could push his hand into wet clay because the clay will naturally give way to such force. However, neither the person nor the clay would ever contact each other, as the ward maintains some distance, however large or small, between them.

To me, the grog warded against wood would be pushed by the door opening against him (assuming it was pushed with sufficient force), but he would never make contact with that door.

1 Like

Your basic idea is correct, even if I do not think that all examples are (for example, Push of the Gentle Wave grabs ... some water, once, and has that water propel a boat; it targets directly that specific water, not the boat)

But yes, Clock of the Duck's Feathers would somewhat problematic for the same reason were it not a ward (even if the level calculation is wrong, being based on a non-ward guideline): roughly speaking you make the target the source of the effect. This was much more common in previous editions, and was mostly removed from ArM5; only a few legacy spells still sport the issue (plus a few Mercere shenanigans, but that's another story).

For example, in previous editions, Aura of Rightful Authority was a spell that you could cast on a target to make that target more authoritative. This is no longer a valid effect in ArM5,, as far as I can tell; the only exception being wards, as I mentioned, and "exceptional" spells like Treading the Ashen Path, Aegis of the Hearth, etc.