Magical Foci: Just what is possible?

I wanted to know what types of magical foci other players have come up with so far. To get the ball rolling I'll post a few (Mine and ones I have snatched from elsewhere)

Spirits (Major): affects incorporeal creatures with might. Incorporeal creatures that can assume physical form through a power are affected (i.e. demon).

Faeries (Major) affects faeries but not faerie magic.

Rituals (Major) affects ritual spells (inverse of diedne magic... might be too powerful)

Experimentation (Major) affects any attempt to experiment with magic (use the experimentation rules).

Potions (Minor) affects the creation of charged magic items that effect the person who consumes them.

Conjuration (Major) affect magic that creates physical objects from nothing (creating fire, spiders, stone, etc.) but not spells that heal or strengthen (it is a subset of creo and by the description in the ArM5 should be valid. I have a player with it in my campaign; he is 95% of the coventant's combat capability).

Health (Major) covers healing, longevity and unhealing (causing wounds).

Vitality (Major) covers healing, longevity and strengthening of the body.

Rhine (Minor) covers any spell that effects the Rhine (specialized version of the fresh water focus). Could apply to other rivers/lakes maybe even seas.

Hearth (Minor) covers any effect that targets a home (not a business, barracks or fortification unless that home represents at least 2/3 or the space: for example not an inn but maybe a blacksmith's shop or a norse long house.

I'd suggest that this is too broad. Restrict it to creatures from 1 realm. IE: Magic Spirits

Edit: Upon further thought, this is fine - except Demons are not spirits (IMO). As written, this MMF could affect Angels, Demons, some fey, ghosts and elementals - which is what made it seem overly broad to me.

I'd say that this is too broad.

You cannot take a MMF in lab work and this is a sub-set of lab work.

You cannot take a MMF in lab work and this is a sub-set of lab work.

This looks fine but I'd be very narrow in how you define 'physical' object or how it is applied. IE: the target should always be the object being summoned. For example, combat spells like PoF wouldn't count as the target isn't the conjured object, it is the victim. To use this focus in combat would require targetting rolls.

I'd allow the healing and longevity but not damage. That is the anti-thesis of health.

This is a tough one. It covers all of CrCo and much of MuCo. I'd probably allow it but monitor it closely.

Interesting. I like it. Perhaps too broad but it's cool so I'd allow it.

I'd make this a major, if I allowed it. This could be abused so easily. CrIg light in the house. CrCo health in the house, PeAn exterminate vermn in teh house, ReVi ward spirits in teh house, MuTe magical locks in teh house. etc etc.

Really? How often do you cast/invent rituals? I suppose the benefit of this focus is going to depend on the availability of vis in a saga, but I would almost (but not quite) think this ought to be a minor focus.

MMF are supposed to cover one area of magic, usually limited to one TeFo but often branching into other areas. IE: Weather - mostly CrAu, but also some ReAu and PeAu.

A MMF: Rituals covers every TeFo in the game. It would affect everything from Aegis, to healing, to summoning, to travelling, to ranged attacks and more.

One could compare MMF: Rituals to MMF: Damage but the later is much more restrictive than the former. There is literally nothing you can't do with a ritual.

One could argue that Diedne Magic is a MMF: Spontaneous - but it requires 6pts of flaws to balance it out and Sponts are 1/2 (or 1/5) as powerful as other magics.

I well aware of the rules regarding magical foci, and I acknowledge that a focus in rituals would have a fairly broad scope, comparable to that of Mercurian or Diedne magic.

That having been said, I think you neglect the fact that the utility of rituals is greatly limited by the availability of vis. A focus in rituals boosts the ability of a magus in any technique+form combination, but resource limitations prohibit the magus from taking advantage of this capability with any frequency - at least in the sagas in which I have taken part.

Moreover, a focus in ritual magic cannot - by its very nature and unlike any other focus - be applied to spontaneous magic. As a consequence, a focus in rituals can only be used with a fair bit of planning and forethought. (A season or more to craft the ritual followed by however much time it would take the magus to acquire the necessary vis.)

Given these limitations, I think the usefulness of a focus in rituals would be about on par with most of the other major magical virtues in the game. Maybe less in comparison to Diedne Magic or Flexible Formulaic Magic.

Do you play in a high-vis saga? If your characters seldom have to worry about a trade-off between studying, making items, and casting rituals, I can see why the use of ritual magic wouldn't seem particularly limited to you.

I think that, while not a Magical Focus per se, Mercurian Magic plays the role of a "focus in rituals", giving you benefits where it matters, rather than a straight boosting of your casting score. Your casting score is improved, indirectly, by the free Wizard's Communion. Similarly, Diedne Magic plays the role of a "focus on spontaneous magic", also being closer to the actual MF mechanisms.

Given that, I feel uncomfortable about offering either rituals or spontaneous magic as valid areas for a Magic Focus, whether minor or major. If you want to be good at rituals, play a mercurian (extra benefits provided in HoH:TL and TMRE).

Commanding (Minor) : Covers specific usage of ReMe and ReAn. Possibly ReVi.

I'd be inclined to agree with Fruny that magical foci in ritual or spontaneous magic should be considered to be covered by other virtues and as such disallowed.

I fear that a focus in Command, even if restricted to commanding intelligent beings, should probably count as a major focus. It sounds a bit too useful to be minor.

Here are two my players have recently thrown at me, I'm not really sure they should be allowed at all, nor that they should both count only as minor foci.

Minor Magical Focus - Countermagic: Covers all applications of PeVi to disrupt or dispel other magic, could be stretched to include fast-cast defences against magic.

Minor Magical Focus - Metamagic: Covers pretty much all concievable uses of MuVi magi described in the main rules.

Advice and input would be appreciated...

The minor focus in Healing is there as a precedent. Yes, it is much scarier, but the scope is the same. :smiling_imp:

I would allow PeVi disruption/dispelling, but not fast-cast defenses.

Iffy but potentially legitimate. I'd prefer something smaller in scope than "all possible MuVi effects". :confused:

A guideline that was given at some point was to judge minor focuses conservatively and major focuses generously. It is a good rule of thumb.

Fair point, although that logic would also make "Killing" an acceptable minor focus.

A good phrase, I'll have to try impressing that one on my players.

"Damage" is a major focus, but instant-death Perdo spells could be considered minor, yes. It is not the raw power of the effects the focus is applicable to that matters, it is the breadth.

That does sound about right, in fact. I shan't be sharing that bit of wisdom with my players, however, they don't need any more encouragement.

Iffy but potentially legitimate. I'd prefer something smaller in scope than "all possible MuVi effects". :confused:

A guideline that was given at some point was to judge minor focuses conservatively and major focuses generously. It is a good rule of thumb.
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I just wnt back the main book to take a look at MuVi. This TeFo combination in very restrictive. I'd say a minor focus is entirely appropriate since the breadth of the art is very narrow.

Until the character Initiates into names of power + consiumate talisman/Hermetic Evocation

I like this thread.

Minor Magical Focus: Swords (although Blades would be more appropriate).

The classical Minor Magical Focus: Wards. Very powerful if it boosts the Aegis, but I think it should.

Minor Magical Focus: Stealth

Minor Magical Focus: Sound

Any others?

How about "threadomancy"? :wink:

Just kidding. So long as one is adding, and not parroting, it's all good (and preferable to starting a new thread!)

A focus in "Wards" would not add to the Aegis- it would add to the casting of the spell, or to researching/designing a new one. A focus only adds to the final effect via such previous Labwork, or if the spell is Spontaneous.

One I came up with for another PC in my game:

Minor Focus: Arcane Connection (strictly defined as spells with Range: AC)

I'm not sure I'd agree that Wards are narrow enough for a Minor focus. After all, while it may only be one application of Rego, it is an application that applies to any Form. Maybe warding faeries, or warding earth creatures. Or how about a focus with wards that use D:Ring/T:Circle?

"Self Transformation" is likewise very broad as far as possible Forms, but the narrow limitation comes from what you can apply those Forms to.

With Wards, altho' almost any Form can be applied, each of those only has one or two applications, and those applications are hardly game-breaking. I think I'd allow it (tho' I'd want to put due consideration into possible abuse before I finalized that decision. "Abuse" wouldn't veto it, just bump it to a Major Focus.)

"Arcane Connection" is a tougher sell for me. While at first glance it might(?) seem narrow, almost(?) any spell can have an AC version, and worse, AC will usually be found only at the upper end of each of those, where a focus is most desired. With only a score of 10 in the lesser Art, it would effectively change every spell with a Range of "Sight" to a Range of "Arcane Connection". I'd veto it as a Minor Focus.

I think that a focus is extremely desirable at the low end, where it guarantees penetration and can be used for spontaneous magic, which will tend to have a low level even with the focus. A magus with a focus that only covers the most powerful spells lacks versatility. A magus whose focus covers effects that are both powerful and simple has a splendid toolkit.

Similarly, I think that a focus on killing is a minor focus that still isn't all that great.

Anyway,

Ken

No doubt, but it's the mechanics here that worries me. To invite any spell of range "sight" to become range "AC" (because then it fits the "focus") seems to go against the very idea of a focus, which is to bring a unified theme to the magic. "All my long-range spells are range AC" just isn't a theme. :imp: