Little Rules Tidbits that Make You :roll:


What are some tiny things in the rules that make you chuckle or roll your eyes? The tiny stuff that's probably only there because the writer glanced over it as a triviality, not anything big or major.

For me, I can't help but smile at the S/M bonus for rings. They're literally the major example in the "maintains concentration" item modification and rings that have effects while worn are extremely common in mythology (especially compared against rings that keep affecting the wearer after they're taken off) yet, probably due to a casual overlooking of terms, they only provide a shape bonus to constant effects.

What are you guys' favorite little ones of these?

(And before I get any flak, this is just a little fun, I get that everybody makes mistakes and I'm not trying to patronize the writers.)

The Faerie Realm
It's a hang-over from when Irish Fae were somehow special and unique snowflakes, and possibly also from when vampires glittered in sunlight. :slight_smile:

I do like the ArM5 treatment of Faerie; but it certainly feels a bit like trying to drive a square peg into a round hole.

An entire Realm qualifies as a rule tidbit to you?

... I suddenly feel inadequate.

Well, there is the fact that being ‘distracted’ for a month (by, say, sitting down and doing no work) delays you less in your Advancement Total than carrying on studying during that month with a -3 to -5 wound penalty.

There is the fact that missiles apparently have no finite range.

It's not a rules tidbit, but more an understanding on the implications of the setting under RAW, or at least my understanding of RAW, as it relates to rituals and has been clarified with the Aegis needing to penetrate and MuVi errata.

I was involved in a heated discussion about spell mastery and rituals and botch dice a while back. My position is that rituals are always cast with a stress die, and always have at least 1 +pawns of vis botch dice. Other people suggested that a single point of mastery would allow the magus to cast under relaxed conditions and mitigate all botch dice. They made a strong argument that magi should be warped like crazy due to the Aegis ritual, the risk of botching was high, probably a handful of botches every year. I didn't concede the point at the time, but there is a valid point there; that there are a lot of risks when casting the Aegis, and it takes a lot of effort to overcome those risks. They magnify if one requires a penetrating Aegis, which requires participants in a Wizard's Communion (1 botch die added per participant), which requires even more participants because 10 levels of Wizard's Communion must be given over to Sun duration, per the MuVi errata adding even more participants. Soon, even a level 20 Aegis has 8 or 9 botch dice due to vis requirements and Wizard's Communion participants and the standard 1 botch die.

Under the premise outlined above a lot of magi should be warped and or dealing with Twilight. If we presume that there are 100 covenants (which is probably a very conservative number) then there are about 100 castings of the Aegis every year, and one of them, on average will have a botch. The least risky Aegis ritual has 5 botch dice, 4 for a 20th level ritual, and 1 for a standard situation. Add to that not having a specialist of casting the Aegis with enough penetration to be fully powered, for lack of a better turn of phrase, and you need to add power through a Wizard's Communion. Wizard's Communion adds one botch die per participant, Sun duration Wizard's Communion, hereafter called Ritual Communion, requires more magi to put power into the ritual due to the duration of the Ritual Communion, increasing botch dice. Granted, there are many things that can be done to mitigate the risk of botch: Cautious Sorcerer, strong Golden Cord and spell mastery have a direct effect on botch dice. Cautious Sorcerer is all well and good, but I'm not sure how common it really is, and there's no guarantee that the one who casts the Aegis will have it, simply because of their Arts. The Aegis of the Hearth ritual therefore is a ritual that requires significant logistics devoted to it. Numerous texts for Spell Mastery, securing familiars for the caster(s) of the Aegis. Everyone involved learning the most powerful version of Wizard's Communion (to reduce participants and keep botch dice as low as possible). Mercurian magic deserves a mention, but because of the nature of that virtue magi who work together must also have Mercurian magic to realize the benefit of reduced vis cost of the ritual.

In my sagas, where an Aegis must penetrate to be effective at stopping creatures with might entering, I'm considering granting magi the highest level Wizard's Communion spell that they can cast as part of the apprentice package. I'm also considering that there are perhaps 3 or 4 dozen tractatus on Aegis mastery floating about the Order, and may even be "free" and held by the Tribunal for member covenants to check out. The quality on these texts is likely no better than 12... Still, the Aegis becomes a spell that covenants have to work up to casting. Which makes some sense and appeals to an aesthetic of magi being secure in their homes...

Odds and probabilities do not spread accross the board to all the off stage NPCs of the world. Dice rolling and botch averages should apply only to those observed, Player Characters and onstage NPCs. Do magi botch off screen? Only if it is important to the story at hand or the backstory of whatever. There is really no need to bend one's mind about it further than that.

And what kind of shmoe needs help casting a level 20 Aegis with Penetration 20?

It is an implication of the setting. If the "rules" don't apply to NPCs whether on or off screen then you are using shenanigans to drive the story, rather than a sophisticated framework. Ars really does have a sophisticated framework for a lot of off-screen activity, hello lab work like inventing spells and making items. Yes, of course, if I need to bend the rules for the needs of the story, it sometimes needs to happen. But let's extend the implications of the setting I outlined above. The pc covenant is going to botch their Aegis often and if it's an off-screen activity why even have rules for Wizard's communion, rituals, etc.

Carmen, Roberto. Need I go on? I don't believe they have ReVi casting scores approaching 40.

The first part is a big point of philosophy i dont have time for at the moment.
For the second...
Throwing my own characters at me for examples, eh?
Carmen comes from an HR environment where the Aegis doesnt need to penetrate. Roberto on the other hand, if he knew the spell, could easilly get Penetration 20+ by using Life Boost and Self Confident.

Most younger characters that I see - certainly almost every non-ReVi specialist less than 15-20 years (possibly more, haven't done a study) out of Gauntlet.

Granted, even what you say won't change what I believe or understand. It's just as valid as your understanding. The setting is the setting though, and it's important to maintain consistency with it so that the rules for PCs are also the rules for NPCs. I can accept creating a story where the magi of Durenmar botch their Aegis ritual, and bad things happen. Under my understanding of the implications of RAW, this scenario now becomes a bit more likely, or the people responsible for the Aegis are advanced enough to overcome the risks associated with casting a ritual. Either option leaves a richer world that isn't inconsistent with the setting.

Sure, why not? You did say schmo, and while neither character is a schmo, they certainly aren't optimized to handle an Aegis 20 with 20 penetration.
I see Roberto's scores as Rego 10 + Vim 5 +Sta 1 +AL 1 +Philo 1=17. He has Flawless Magic, so add another +1 for mastery, for a total of 18. If we assume the lowest possible die roll of 2, his CT would be 20. So he life boosts it up to 40, and then promptly passes out due to exhaustion. So, yeah, he can do it, just barely. Using Self-Confident would be sub-optimal here if you are staying consistent with your philosophy, as this is an off-screen event, although it would be consistent with my philosophy. And Roberto is rather advanced (14 or more years post gauntlet), certainly no fresh-faced magus out of gauntlet.

My back of the envelope calculation, for someone without virtues or flaws to make the process of casting and/or acquiring an Aegis 20 with 20 penetration easier requires about 250ish xp to pull off. The build is optimized for Rego Vim, has some Artes Liberales, Penetration and Philosophiae and has a high stamina (+3). The number goes down quite a bit if you presume an average die roll (of 6) on every attempt, dropping to under 200 xp. Your average schmo would be much better off spending 20 xp for an Aegis, maybe another 15 or 20 for Wizard's Communion and pushing his Arts towards other areas that he might prefer.

My example above didn't include the aura in the casting total of the Aegis to determine final penetration. IMO, using the aura in penetration calculations should not be done, because the aura adds to the magic resistance of creatures, too. Including the aura is at best a wash, and at worst might lead to something like the following: A might 17 creature entering an aura of 4 has an MR of 21. If the Aegis ritual had 20 penetration, including the aura, the Aegis doesn't actually penetrate the creature's MR, and he's free to enter and do whatever.

I don't see why your final example is a problem. It is a wash, with two creatures/effects of the same Realm, which... Doesn't seem inherently problematic? I mean, why should you favor one Magic thing over another Magic thing when they're both in the same Aura? I like increased Penetration partially because of the Divine, since they don't get any penalties, tbh... Anyway, that's off-topic. The point is that in your final example, yeah, if it has 20 with the aura boost, it lets the guy who now has effective MR 21 through, because outside an aura, he'd have had Might 17 and it would have had 16 Pen.

Perhaps it's my experience with many troupes simply forgetting to add the aura to MR (magi and creatures with might). I've seen occasions where it matters, but it gets glossed over. I'm simply saying that if it is a wash, it is either best to exclude it from the penetration calculation, or remember that it adds to the creature's resistance. Either approach is good. Human nature being what it is, and people forgetting, excluding it from the penetration total is probably the best practice.

There is a tricky trick with Roberto. His original design was to demonstrate that a young magus should be able to Penetrate MR 20 in their field straight from Gauntlet. In his case, it was PoF. And of the scores you listed, they are pretty much what he came from Gauntlet with back in the Novus Mane saga. Rego went up a few points maybe.
Now granted, the Aegis is outside the specialty zone for most magi. But in any saga where the Aegis could be an issue, most competent magi can put that on lockdown in only a few seasons.

My point is that a level 20 Aegis should not be much of an issue. Level 40 on the other hand, using 8 pawns, maybe a casting tablet, and in this case needing WC for Penetration, that's where it becomes problematic.
So I do see your point.

I see Rego 6 and Vim 3, so 6 to 10 is an investment of 2.5 times as many xp. Intrestingly, so is going from 3 to 5.

Someone to pull off a CS of 40 on an Aegis has spent a lot of XP, regardless of the source. It may not be "much" of an issue, as you say, but it represents a commitment in time, and assuming some risks. All I'm saying is that the setting makes the risks much higher than are actually practiced. Casting any Aegis has risks, they get magnified when you add casting tablets, and Wizard's Communion, and increase the magnitude of the Aegis.

The fact that a covenant cannot save more that 50% of its provision costs no matter how many people bring in raw food ("labourers") -- but need not spend a single penny on its provision costs as long as it has enough people who process food ("specialists": dairy maids, brewers, bakers etc.). In my mind it should be the other way round!

The fact that we are told that, to create an older magus (or other magical traditions, e.g. Sahir) we should add 2 warping points/year, but we are never told how many twilights (and thus twilight scars or the equivalent for non-hermetic traditions) we should give (my house rule is 1 "scar" for every 30 twilight points).

Finally, there's a very, very big one. Botching is either too penalizing for how often it happens, or too common for the consequences it entails (or both). This is particularly true for supernatural abilities/arts, and for combat. E.g. the corebook itself states that it's fully intended that if you botch your defense roll while battling against a competent opponent, no matter how skilled you are, you should die. But even in the best circumstances, you'll botch a roll every 10 minutes (100 rounds x 6 seconds/round) of combat...

The fact that ritual could be botched in quiet, normal circumstances.
Does it means that statistically one tenth of all covenants have an issue every year ? (a bit less if we go in the detailed statistics, yet at least a few covenants a year should be in big trouble).

We house ruled that if you have a mastered ritual and it is not cast during an adventure ( something that would earn your character(s) experience) then it is relaxed casting. AoH fits into this area most of the time.

I could not agree more, and I am following the same rule, yet by RAW... that could explain why the Order has not taken over the World: too busy rebuilding their lab every ten years :smiley:

It's a failure of the game mechanics to maintain consistency with the setting as written.

As a house rule, it's fine, but it's a patch over a threadbare portion of jeans. Patches are uncomfortable and itchy. I'm going to go off on a tangent here.

Ritual magic is kind of the odd duck of Ars Magica. It takes more time than formulaic spells, but that time can easily be accounted for within the backdrop of a season. Rituals are rarely cast under some kind of time constraint, because the game doesn't really encourage time constraints (the example of penetration in the core book is exemplary of this approach), so the amount of time a ritual takes is mostly fluff. I think rituals need to cost something, and the most obvious thing is that they cost time, like a season. Such a mechanic in Ars isn't unprecedented, HoH:TL introduced Fenicil's rituals, which have Greater and Lesser versions. Greater rituals require an entire season to enact. Healing rituals would still be lesser rituals. Rituals which provide some ongoing benefit (I'm looking at you stat boosting rituals) or create something out of whole cloth need an entire season to enact.

Granted, casting an Aegis as a seasonal activity each year is a tall order. So maybe it lasts longer than a year. Maybe it is 7 years (Notatus invented it, after all). One season out of 28 isn't a tall order, in one covenant my character has to give up 1 season out of 6 to covenant service, if he could do this as one of his seasons of covenant service, he'd jump at it. Alternatively, rituals like the Aegis, and Shrouded Glen might last for a number of years equal to the Magic Theory score... Young magi in a spring covenant can only power their Aegis for a few years, but the Bonisagus of Durenmar have an Aegis that lasts 14 years or more. A lot of magi would be able to power the Aegis for 6 years...

Now that we've determined the time it takes (and how long the ritual endures in the case of the Aegis). What is the casting total then? I'd lean towards the lab total, as it is almost always going to be higher (because int is usually higher than stamina, and magic theory, a tricked out lab, etc), but also include AL and Philosophiae. I'd even leave the aura in the final calculation for penetration purposes, just to account for the "home field" advantage magi have in this particular aura on the grounds covered by the Aegis. Penetration would still be lab total- effect level, so ideally you're still looking to double the effect level as if inventing a spell or instilling an effect in one season. Vis cost would be based on the magnitude of the final effect level. Since it's not just a lab activity, I'd make the limit on vis used be a combination of the techniques and forms, each limited by the magic theory score. So a 30th level Aegis costs 6 pawns of vis, and could be accomplished by someone with a Magic Theory score of 3, at the cost of 3 pawns of Vim AND 3 pawns of Rego. If the magic theory score were 4, he could use 4 of one and 2 of the other. If he needed vis to boost the ritual's penetration, he could use 4 of each technique and form and get a bonus to the final penetration.

Just spit balling here...

I really like the idea of the Aegis being a seasonal activity and the duration being linked to Magic Theory is a nice touch. I think I shall be stealing this idea for me campaign.