Limits on Fast Casting

ArM5 says (page 83):

A fast-cast spell is always cast with a firm voice and bold gestures, and the maga may not exploit any other spellcasting options, as there is not enough time.

Does this mean that a magus shapechanged into an animal cannot fast cast spells? On the face of it, yes. Should it? Does this mean that Mute, for a magus, prohibits fast cast spells? Can Performance Magic be used with fast casting? (Yes and no, as written.)

The basic idea here is that fast casting does not give the maga enough time to mess about with the details — she has to do it the standard way she has always been taught. I think that should be preserved. Does it need to be worded more carefully, though?

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There are ways to give a magus shapechanged into an animal and a mute magi a voice, however, animals typically can't benefit from gestures, which would prohibit, for example, a Bjornaer fast-casting in heartbeast form by literal reading. Might be not intended. Perhaps wording it in such a way that virtues can be included (I'm thinking Subtle Magic and Quiet Magic here) - if you can avoid having a penalty, you can do it.

Literal reading has other points to consider:

  • I've heard some people argue that some flaws would by side effect rule out fast-cast. Does a Necessary Condition (core examples such as singing or spinning around three times) rule out all fast-casting? I'm thinking flaws like these are already hard without giving them side effects.
  • Fast-cast defense that doesn't involve an opponent: Part of the rule is that I set the threshold for success. It makes sense that, if you're trying to fast-cast a rego corpus spell before you hit the ground and fail, you stop there. Sometimes things that you're reacting to don't really need to be stopped by a given timer, and that setting a difficulty to the check is counter-intuitive, because while you can say "by the end of the round"... the reality is that sometimes the round ends at initiative 5, and sometimes at initiative -10, with someone who's got a lot of wounds. A fire that's spreading is a good example of something that could be stopped anytime in the round, but that you're not willing to devote a full spell to it. The benchmark of failing a threshold and being unable to cast anymore can be weird when you can't stop the guy in armor from hitting someone with his sword because he has init 12, but you can probably sneak in 3 spells by the time we get to init -10;
  • Fast-casting for non-defensive purpose. I've had players wanting to fast-cast pilum of fires, for example, to get one more offensive spell in with their spell mastery, despite the penalty to spell. The text isn't quite clear that this is possible or impossible. We're in a grey area. Sometimes trying to kill someone before he kills you sounds like a valid response to an attack, but here again - failing the init check should only matter if your goal is to get your spell out before the sword hits you.

This may be related to Method Caster.
Whatever your standard casting method, should be the same for Fast Casting.

Then again, if you use a non-standard method of casting that takes too long (eg you always need to pluck 5 distinct notes on a lyre) or some other Requirement that cannot be sped up enough for Fast Casting.

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Just defining "the standard way" in errata likely becomes a mess.

One could require a defined casting method to be trained over a year - or so - to make it work for fast casting. The master would train the first method for it over the years of apprenticeship. We might require any trainer, also the master, to have the Virtues or Flaws to accommodate their use in fast casting.

  • I agree with temprobe about Subtle and Quiet magic being included in fast cast, perhaps something saying that "Fast casting can be done using gestures and voice that are neither penalized nor advantaged in casting for the maga". Obviously that wording is rough, but I think the idea is sound.

  • A shape changed maga with 2xquiet magic and subtle magic should be able to fast cast, as there is no penalty due to her traits.

  • This also allows for a formulaic spell with the mastery abilities: fast casting, still casting, and 2x quiet casting to be fast cast completely silently and without gestures. Any shape changed magus could fast cast this in animal form, again, due to the lack of penatly

  • Performance magic in my opinion shouldn't be allowed to be fast casted, as the action of doing the performance would take more time than fast casting for many performance skills. Differentiating between the abilities would get rather argumentative quickly on the speed of dancing or suchlike, best to just nix the idea.


For what it's worth, I'll say I strongly dislike this limitation. A magus is already penalized enough when fast-casting, so removing the limitation would not unbalance the game.

On the other hand, removing it makes the rules simpler, and easier to adjudicate, particularly when dealing with obscure options in supplements: for example, it seems that fast-casting is impossible with Holy Magic, because it does not use standard words or gestures (RoP:D, p.67), and it's at least questionable whether it's possible when using Greek or Adamic (see AM,p.29, and SE, p.29).

Removing the limitation also allows some interesting, dramatic scenes that would otherwise be impossible. For example, it is "aesthetically appropriate" that a really powerful mage might scornfully fast-cast a defense without words or gestures. And I can say that a desperate magus fast-casting in anger or desperation the biggest effect he can manage, shouting and flinging three rooks of vis in the process (note that vis-use is a spellcasting option) proved a very satisfying climax or cliffhanger in sagas based on previous editions, where it was explicitly allowed.


Adding to what others have mentioned, there's also Deft Magic to consider.


The current rule is both fairly clear and fairly restrictive. You must use firm voice and bold gestures, and anything that is optional cannot be used. If that is more restrictive than desired, then the wording really should be changed. In any change I would be careful about allowing things that clearly should take too much time. And I wouldn't drop the current rule entirely, as I don't think we're supposed to be able to combine fast casting and multiple casting, use vis, use flourishes, nor use forceless casting. Even if the virtues Quiet Magic, Subtle Magic, and Deft Form are allowed, I'm not sure that should mean Quiet Casting and Still Casting should necessarily be allowed. I would tend to agree with what lvgreen said:

I think it's also worth noting that Slow Caster is a Minor Flaw that is already pretty hefty without stopping fast casting. But it explicitly does prevent true fast casting (as those take a full round). If this Minor Flaw prevents fast casting this way, is it really too much to penalize some other Flaws, especially Major Flaws, similarly?


Yes, the whole end of the round thing and what timing you have to beat has always been questionable. Happily, we can also set a reasonable value easily enough.

It is a little vague, but I really don't think just piling on Pilum of Fire fits the description:

A maga may choose to cast a Spontaneous spell extremely quickly, as a response to an attack or other surprising event.

I'm pretty sure "or other surprising event" is supposed to be like roof collapsing on you or similar non-attack. Also, if this is allowed for attacks, it breaks several rules in the game. One case is immediate: if I want as fast-cast defense against your fast-cast Pilum on a non-initiative, what initiative do I roll against? Another is how dimicatio works. There may be more. Throwing in several offensive spells like this is what Multiple Casting is for.


It agree that should be preserved, but it does create a problem with the rules as written.

Consider a maga with Subtle Magic. She will normally cast spells without gestures. She probably hasn't used gestures for casting spells since her early days as an apprentice.
Now she has to Fast Cast a spell. Since she is in a hurry she must .... use the gestures she can just barely remember how they go? Doesn't make any sense that using gestures would be quicker for her than not using them.

Similar considerations for Quiet Magic, Deft Magic, and spellmastery options for casting without words or gestures.

(On a related note, Ritual Magic can't be cast with anything but standard voice and gestures either which creates similar problems, but that is probably a separate discussion.)


16 posts were split to a new topic: Voice and Gestures for Ritual Spells

Combining the two (for mastered spells) seems in line with the RAW. Isn't it?

Hmm. I disagree. You certainly have to perform "elaborate rituals", but the option to deviate from the "standard voice and gestures [used for Rituals]" is still unavailable when casting Ritual Magic.

To me looks that the intended purpose of the sentence "not being able to use non-standard voice and gestures" its just to avoid adding a bonus for using exagerated voice and gestures in certain situations.

If thats the case, just changing all those mentions with "you don't get any benefit to your casting bonus for using non-standard voice and gestures" would do the trick. Or something like that.

That way we would solve several weird situations at the same time (if that was the intended purpose of the actual writing, ofc).

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Is there a way to do a poll with a whole pile of yes/no options? Then we could compile a list of all the optional ways to cast a spell that should be evaluated for fast casting. For example, one line might be forceless casting, where everyone could vote yes or no, and a separate line might be Mute with the same yes/no option.


On the face of it, yes.
We have, as a house rule been known to allow magi with the subtle magic and an in game history of casting spells in this way to sidestep the need for gesture. Similarly with Quiet Magic and the firm voice.

... and this is exactly why we've required both the Virtues and the history of using them. Essentially, you have to react as fast as possible. You do not have to time think about it.
If you're a cunning sort who likes to cast spells with voice and gestures even if you don't need them, you'll likely still use them when surprised. If you never gesture when casting spells, gesturing would require more focus/mental effort and thus would not be possible.

For this reason, I'd actually be open to removing the option of using large gestures and booming voice. They are extra effort.

No. Not unless you always cast like that.
I have seen a magus themed as a troubadour, with Performance magic, and a flaw to always have to sing his spells.

Yes please.


It feels like it should read as "modifier from both words and gestures must be zero" either from bold/firm or from using Virtues/masteries.

The problem is not loud/exaggerated but the +2 modifier you can get from them. OTOH, fast casting at -15 sounds like a bad idea... and that sounds like fun.


I think this is supposed to be part of what Necessary Condition does, unless you can fulfil it really quickly. It prevents you using magic in some circumstances in which it would be useful.

The general consensus seems to be that the idea should be preserved. How about this?

A fast-cast spell is always cast in the way that a maga casts spells normally. In most cases, that means using a firm voice and bold gestures, and no spellcasting options. However, for example, a maga with the Subtle Magic Virtue who almost never uses gestures to cast spells would also cast fast-cast spells without gestures. The player need only specify that the spell is fast-cast at a particular target; all the other conditions are already known to the troupe.

I think so. Do we need to add a note to the Mastery Ability?

Any or all of your Mastery Abilities may be applied to the spell even when it is fast cast, as these abilities are a fundamental part of your understanding of the spell.


That is a nice cop out of a phrase: the troupe knows - so it approved. :nerd_face:

This still leaves the issue of singular spells that can be cast silently/still due to mastery.

The magus may not always cast silently, because they don't have the virtue, but they have their primary defensive spell mastered for fast casting, still and silence.

Should they really not be allowed to combine these abilities?

Personally I would prefer a statement along the lines of "Neither can one gain casting boni due to Words & Gestures, nor can one accept a penalty, for example when casting silently without a virtue or mastery ability that permits it."


This looks good, but I wasn't sure where you were going with the "all the other conditions are already known to the troupe".

Does this open the door to multi-casting as part of a fast-casting action, stacking on top of multi-casting the spell as part of a regular action?

I think they should. Fast Casting should be done in the way the mage normally casts that spell - so if they normally cast a given spell silently then Fast Casting that spell should also be done silently.

Following this line of reasoning leads to an interesting question.
Assume a magus always casts a particular spell without gestures. He doesn't have any special virtue or spell mastery option that removes the penalty for casting without gestures, so he simply eats the -5 penalty for doing so when casting that spell.
Now assume he Fast Casts that same spell - should he be able to do so without gestures (as he is used to) with the -5 penalty for not using gestures, or should he be required to use the gestures he otherwise never uses?

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