magical bow -- need help with the Magic Theory

(apologies to those who have played the "Thief" video game)

My player wants to make a magical bow that will enchant arrows that are knocked to the string. For example, you shoot an arrow at a torch, and when it hits the flame, a PeIg effect puts out the flame. You shoot an arrow at the foot of a guard, and the "Call to Slumber" effect is released.

But how does this work within the Theory? Does the effect in the item need to have a trigger (striking the object)? If so, I can't seem to find the rules for this.

Thanks in advance,

I dunno if it can be done. It doesn't seem to fit hermetic theory as it's laid out in the core rules. Xavi, anyone who's more knowledgeable than me?

Im not expert on the rules, but I'd be more inclined to have the actual arrows themselves be magical - construst them as charged items (no vis then), and means your player will have to keep track of his special arrows (been a long time since i played the game, but i think it works that way too)...


This sounds like the exact description of tethered magic. The actual text of the virtue seems to imply that you need to be the one activating the effect, but one should be able to do so when crafting the item as well.

You know, my Verditius (likely the most poorly-created least-optimised Verditius around) has Tethered Magic. He uses it quite a bit actually.

I'd love to be able to enchant devices that take advantage of Tethered Magic. I'm not sure that's within the reading of the Virtue, but I'm prepared to give it a go and see how quickly my troupe shoot me down.

I'm going to go on the opposite opinion:
Make it a regular bow. Enchant the bow with a few effects: PeIg to extinguish a torch, ReCo to knock someone unconscious. The range is Sight. It seems to me like the arrow is a largely cosmetic effect, in the same way that the 'mist' in Frosty Breath of the Spoken Liar or a green Ball of Abysmal Flame is a mist.

I was thinking the same, but he wants to use his Bow skill to actually hit targets. It's a character thing....

I'll take a look at Tethered Magic.

I would go with an enchanted device with multiple effects. Not ALL effects, but you can enchant quite a few level 10-20 effects on a bow if you chose the effects with care. A talisman perhaps? The arrows are part of the casting effect, along with some gesture, positioning of the bow or word. With tethered magic you can easily release the effect with the arrows. You might need Touch range with the bow, but then your effects need an aiming roll, since it is the arrow that actually release them at the point of contact.

Sounds like a feasible project to me :slight_smile:


Hi, allow me to introduce an official spell from True Lineages, with Tethered Magic:

R: Touch, D: Diam, T: Ind, Level 40
This spell causes an animal to suffer a fatal wound, just as if it had been pierced through the heart. Casting this spell while intending to touch the animal is dangerous, as it may take several minutes to die, during which time it may thrash around wildly or strike the caster. For this reason, Milvi usually tether the spell to an arrow or javelin (though any sort of tether may be used), allowing them to cast it in secret from a safe distance. The beast will die after it is struck, and the increased duration ensures the caster has time to fire the arrow after casting the spell.
(Base 30, +1 Touch, +1 Diam; Tethered)

As you can see, you can tie an arrow with tethered magic with watever spell you want, +1 magnitude to allow for time to fire it, hope it helps :stuck_out_tongue:

I assume the caster must also hit as normal with the arrow or javelin? Not a bad idea - Range: Touch is lower than Voice or Sight, for ease of casting and better Penenetration, but you must invest heavily in a ranged weapon ability, to ensure a hit.

Yeah, you must hit with the projectile weapon for the spell to be efective. It´s more or less Base effect +2 magnitudes, (+1 for the duration, +1 for the range), becouse the tether only last as long as the effect, so you can´t cast with this effect durations shorter than Diameter. And you need a Bow roll to aim, so it´s not perfect. However, i think it´s an effective way to do magic Thief-style :stuck_out_tongue: , without seasons in the lab every time you want new arrows, or the unfortunate case in wich your magic bow is lost.

This thread might be of help:

There are huge rantings on wards there, but some info on bow shooting and associatedf virtues come up to be extremely cool (performance magic, bowshot range, NIall Christie's character, ...)


Yup. Tethered Magic is exactly what I'm looking for. I KNEW I had read it somewhere. Thanks for the advice!

I've decided to offer it to the player as a Mystery for him to learn. He'll either find a Mercere Mercurian Mystagogue (try to say that 3 times fast) to teach him the virtue, or he'll learn a new Verditius Minor Inner Mystery that will allow him to tether spells to items, but not to people.

Well IMO, i don't think it's "mystery"-sable because this is a virtue for the mutantes (who have mutantum magic), a branch of the Mercere lineage.

I quite dislike the fact that everything seems to need to be a mystery nowadays. The OoH is becoming so mysterious that it is dull to me. It is no longer a mystery: it seems to be the mainstream evolution path for most magi :confused: . Everybody and his familiar is part of a mystery cult. or so it seems. After 400-ish years of existence I find it rather weird that all those mystery cults are already cults instead of part of normal hermetic theory or the V&F available to most people.

In the particular case that preoccupies us, I would allow him to take tethered magic as part of his normal training. He is a magical archer after all, so he should have invented his spells with that kind of quirk in the first place. No need for initiation. His tradition teaches that stuff during apprenticeship in order to create a magical archer and not a mage that carries a bow because he fancies it. Deleterious circumstances when not using a bow and favourable circumstances when using it also spring to mind in order to encourage the use of the bow.

If the character is already created, he can learn it as part of an adventure or series of significant adventures. If you want to avoid initiation (in what? A hunter cadre?) it can work perfectly fine.


Actually... that was the idea.

To me, there are Mystery Cults -- mysterious, quirky, strange, and exotic. Then there are the various Schools and Paths. Not everything in canon that's written as a mystery falls into the former IMS. Many fall into the latter, and just require a story or two to gain the new knowledge. Some have come into the "mainstream" of hermetic society, others have been kept specifically hidden. Frankly, I probably mis-spoke. I haven't re-read the rules from the core rules on Magi learning supernatural abilities in awhile, and that's probably what I was thinking of.

Player-willing, the character will seek out a Mercurian Mercere, and learn the supernatural ability through a story.

Regarding your criticism, though, The fact that the core rules presents all of these various mystery cults doesn't bother me. I rather like it. During the last 3 years of gaming, there have only been about 2-3 cases where a mystery cult was appropriate for the story, and were thus introduced. Just because they exist doesn't mean we have to use them in our saga. It's all just happy flavoring around the edges.

I see no reason why a bow could not be enchanted like this using vanilla, core rules effects. You just need it to invoke two effects - one a diameter duration version of Watching Ward, and the other the spell to be affected. The bow casts the first when an arrow is nocked and the second when the arrow is released. Since everything needs to be only touch range, the spell levels don't need to be too high which also allows impressive penetrations to be attained.

Watching wards are a ritual spell... can rituals be enchanted into magic items? (serf's parma)

IIRC, no. I remember some conundrum I had in 4th ed. We had a Verditius who was...very efficient. We also ruled (I can't remember if it was a HR or RAW) that any Spell above 10th magnitude was a ritual, just because of size, even if no other parameters demanded it.
And when he put a 11th magnitude effect into an item, I raised the objection. But the 4th ed lab rules clearny state that a ritual spell cannot be duplicated by an item. Our reasoning was then, that only those effects which were rituals because of parameters normally deamding this were prohibited. A 11th+ magbitude effect was allowed.

IDHMBWM but I think 5th ed works the same way. So you cannot make Watching Ward in an item. IMHO.

Watching ward are ritual only because "unnormal" duration.
If duration of the waiting ward is 2minutes (arrow flying), it's not ritual.

And ritual can be put in objects... if they are ritual for another reasons than:

  • boundary
  • year (and watching ward is not year but special duration)
  • permanent creo

It's remembered in... verditius i think