Magic sword vs. Faerie Might

So, I had a Quasitor with the following Magic sword, hit an Faerie with Might 20.

So, the sword is quicker to use and more accurate - does it therefore bounce off the Faeries Might? How would I determine that?
And would it matter if the sword was made of steel or had a high iron element?



It is under a sustained magical effect, with 0 penetration - thus, it will bounce off any being with Magic Resistance 0 or higher.

No. The sword does not even get to touch the faerie. The magic resistance stops the magic and thus the sword.

So, I see on p100 that enchanted devices (which I really dont understand) have a penetration of 0.

Doesnt this then mean that magical swords are of much less use in killing a dragon than a plain, mundane sword?

And to get the bonuses to his attack and quickness, wouldnt the Quasitor have to suppress his parma when he activated the sword? Or even for the entire duration he's is wielding its enhanced abilities?



Yup, it is. You just spotted one of the problems of the magic resistance / magic might thing in the game. Take in mind that penetration comes CHEAP for magic items, though. A total of penetration +50 or +60 is far from difficult to achieve since you get a 2x1 penetration in your lab total. That can make "wands of dragon slaying" fairly common, which is another problem :slight_smile:

It is still a fairluy good system, but I would suggest dropping the penetration to +1 per point of lab total. But yes, you need to pay some points for penetration in order to have a sword able to kill dragons. Or just invest in Vitki swords. Much more bang for the buck in this specific area.


I know this is an item , but Range: Pers will only affect the sword won't it?
And the sword does not have a Finesse Score , it is the wielder , so why would it add?
(Allowing for House Rules to make the item in the first place)

"A magical rock thrown at the maga bounces off her resistance, ..."

A fairly easy fix to the MR problem is to allow magical weapons to hit their targets, but without benefitting from any of their magical bonuses. MR should be protection from magic, not some sort of force field.

I'm with Xavi on dropping penetration to +1 per lab total. The current rules make it way too easy to spend a few seasons in the lab and end up with a mega weapon.

Thing is, that's akin to "Parma dispells Magic", which raises other problems, which is IIRC why the force field solution was favoured.

No. It is "parama IGNORES magic". Fairly different. The flamming sword might not burn you, but it might leave a nice bloody cleavage in your chest anyway.

In any case the issue of magic resistance, magic might and magic items is one (or several!) of the hot issues in Ars Magica. A lot of troupes house rule it.


I don't understand what you mean.

If there's fire and, suddenly, there is no fire (under the parma), then it's canceled.
If there's still fire but it doesn't burn, that imply parma actually changes the CrIg effect through a kind of Muto magic, just like it'll change a Cr(Re)Te dagger effect so that... What exactly? And what happens when walking on a magical bridge? You fall through it?

As far as I understand it, that's the biggest problem with Parma: Once you delve into it, all solutions seem to have problems of their own, so there's no ideal one. Adopting one solution over another seems to usually imply a lot of HR (just as if the RAW just said "Pink dot doesn't work, period) and/or ignoring problems (Like nobody I've seen even trying to cast a pink dot, thus making the problem moot). The force field was just deemed the least problematic by the guys who designed Ars 5th, that's all.

Sorry , but there is no Force Field effect , least problematic or otherwise , that i know of.
If you have any specific references , i'd be interested in seeing them.
Unless your suggestion is re-reading the Parma Magica section in the core rules.

I meant that the example flaming sword would not be extinguished, just unable to burn the parma dude. The steel would hit him with full force, though. Per the RAW, the steel is totally unable to topuch him, and that does not feel right to me, and quite a few others.


So, for a poison Muto'd into water, it will not stop at the Parma and the magus will drink poison.

You're certainly right that the variant Xavi and I have been talking about introduces this problem. But this new problem almost always arises only as a result of a deliberate effort to exploit the rules hole. This makes it a lot easier to deal with (say, by slapping the player in question) than the "force field" interpretation, which arises inadvertantly all the time.

Depends on how you enchant the sword. If you had the effect in the sword target the swords wielder to make him stronger, more perceptive of his opponent, or quicker then you don't have a problem. If you put a rego terram spell that sharpens the blade in a natural manner every sunrise then you don't have a problem. If you magically move the blade then of course the magic is resisted.

Just when it is activated. Parma doesn't dispel magic.

Since the sword's power is a Rego affect, I'd say that the sword does touch the Faerie, but that's all; it touches the faerie, the force of the blow is negated. In the section on Parma in the RAW, water directed by Rego still gets a resistant target wet, but at no force. Fire moved by Rego might not hit with force, but IMO should still set the target on fire (or have a chance to). If the fire or water is magically created though, then it doesn't touch.

Then there's the question; if the the magic surrounds an object (such as Blade of Virulent Flame) does the fire stop as well as the blade on a swing, or just the fire?

That tends to come down to house-ruling most of the time from what I've seen. Read up on the pink dot problem. Most games in which I play avoid the pink dot problem by having the magic excluded. So in this case the blade hits, but any of the blade in contact with the protected being ceases to be covered in flame. But, as I said, that's how we house-rule it to avoid the pink dot problem.


Yeah, I was hoping to avoid bringing up the pink dot effect, which is a doozy. I'm 50/50 on it either way. I'm not big on the Parma stopping a swing from a sword with a spell on it, but at the same time, the parma is one of the greatest magical inventions and IMO is constantly being tinkered with and updated to weed out the loopholes and exploits.

We've been through this topic before. I don't necessarily agree that penetration is too cheap(except in the case of charged devices which are quite clearly unbalanced, and perhaps what you were referring to with the wand of dragon slaying comment) but I'd be willing to be persuaded.

lets look at what it takes to get a monster penetration on a combat ending device. I'll posit the level of the effect at 30 which is the level of BoAF, (serf's parma on the next two) a perdo corpus that incapacitates a target at range voice, or a rego mentem spell range voice duration concentration that will allow you to take an opponent out of a fight.

Lets give it a two level bump to be used a few times per day.

what kind of a lab total does this require?

The level of the effect for a +50 penetration is 30 (base), +2 (uses), +25 (penetration) for a total of 57.

If we're going to make it as a lesser enchanted device we'd need a lab total of 114. I don't see that happening.

Let's look at a feasible lab total for a covenant of PC magi about two decades from apprenticeship

Magic theory 6-9 (lets go with 7)
Int 1-5 (lets go with 2)
Aura 2-5 (lets choose 5)
lesser art ~10
greater art ~18
applicable focus ~10
lab bonus 3
lab assistant (fellow magus) 8
familiar 2
shape and material bonus 5

I think that this is a pretty generous spread, I've got a familiar, a lab assistant, a lab with a +3 bonus and an applicable magical focus, and some quite strong arts. Yes there could theoretically be a stronger set of numbers but I think that this is as much as a covenant could reasonably expected to put together. More lab assistants means a higher leadership score and a other magi not being able to pursue their own plans, I don't see it as likely.

Our total is 71 that means that each season our two magi would generate 14 points towards the final item. so in a lab it takes an entire year. Is it reasonable that a magus would serve as a lab assistant for an entire year? Not in my games. In fact I've never seen characters take on an enchantment that took more than two seasons to complete.

But I could imagine a quid pro quo arrangement you give me four seasons and I give you four seasons later.

So lets look at the total cost of the item
1 season to open the device for enchantment, it needs at least 6 pawns of vim vis. To me this means at least one additional season extracting vis from the aura.
4 seasons to enchant the item and 6 pawns of applicable vis
4 seasons to pay back your debit to the magus who helped you.

total -two and one half years and 6 pawns of applicable vis.

On the other hand to invent the spell, the caster needs only two seasons. assuming a penetration score of 3 and a stamina of 3 the caster gets a natural penetration of 24 + die roll (aura effects the spell and the device equally). If the caster spends a season practicing the associated spell mastery skill they could get penetration mastery. This would give them a penetration of 26 + die roll. If the caster can get their hands on an arcane connection (and perhaps chose to use a confidence point) their penetration would exceed the penetration of the device (spell casting penetration of 26 + die roll + 3 for confidence+ 20 for arcane and sympathetic connections with a multiplier bonus of 5 = 49 + die roll). If the caster spent the additional seven seasons he'd save (after using one for spell mastery) raising penetration or his applicable arts or choose to use the vis he saved things would be close even without an AC.

If the character is not set up as well as my example the item becomes a worse choice, if the character is set up better than in my example the item is a better choice, however I think that my example character was set up pretty darn well (for someone ~20 years out, someone who is 60 years out would be a different story, but that issue is about character power in general not invested devices in specific).

+2 penetration per level seems balanced to me, when compared to spells. Items don't improve with time, spells do improve by running off of the characters improving art and penetration scores, Items can't be used as frequently as spells. Items cost vis to make. Items can get stolen or destroyed. Items can not use penetration multipliers.

+1 per level wouldn't be balanced against spells.

To reiterate from earlier, +2 per level for charged devices it obviously completely broken and not the issue that I'm speaking about.

I would mostly agree with you, Erik. But I didn't see something in your analysis: effect expiry. 70-year effect expiry is pretty worthwhile since by the time it expires you are so much more powerful that it's pretty weak comparatively anyway. All of a sudden the four seasons drop to two seasons. Take it further for big dangers: use a 7-year effect expiry or a 1-year effect expiry. In the 1-year case they're exceeding the total by 140; they could add on +14 more penetration and still do it in a single season (post opening the item).

So my feeling is close to Erik's, that item penetration isn't so bad if you tone down charged devices and effect expiry.