Magical Focus in Wards: Major or Minor?

As per the subject heading i was wondering if there is an official RAW position for a focus in wards?
I thought there was , but i cannae find it.

What focus would cover Aegis of the Hearth , either major or minor , if it is not covered by a Ward focus?

There is a minor focus in ward in HOHMC (sirnas clan IIRC). And I think - but not sure about this one - that there is one in HOHS (columbae?).
The aegis is not a ward and thus I wouldn't let him count in the focus.
However "protection against supernatural" (minor) or even "magic" (major) foci include it IMO

Note that wards can protect from mundane stuff too, such as fire or mundane animals.

Still, I'd say that the greater scope of "protection" vs. wards fully compensantes for this, particularly considering that warding from mundane stuff is generally "easier" than from supernatural stuff - thus reducing the usefulness of a focus.

Simas clan, from the Bjornaer section of HoH:MC does describe a minor focus in wards. But as a general rule I think the stuff in HoH:MC should be considered carefully, as it sometimes is quite overpowered (and at others almost useless). As for the Columbiae have their own ward magic with their own virtues and flaws, but they are not a focus, minor or major. Personally, I would consider two different focus:

A Major Focus in Wards covering any ward-like protection spell (that is, the target is the thing protected, not the thing from which it is protected). This seem to me to fit well with the 'smaller that a single Art (Rego) definition of a Major Focus. After all, such spell make up a significant proportion of all Rego spell. Note that this include such spells as The Shrouded Glen or Aegis of the Hearth, and even Ward against Heat and Flame, as well as more classical 'Ward Against Thingies of Form X', and a clever player can design practically any protection spell to be a ward by this definition, including Sun/Ind personal protection spells.

A minor focus in wards covering only the 'classical' wards, that is those general wards against a specific type of creature up to a certain Might with a Ring/Circle Duration/Target. This is narrow enough to count as smaller than a TeFo combination, even if it is spread over all the forms. That is the minor focus I would grant clan Simas.

It's true that "wards" is quite broad.
Restricting it to the "circular wards" work well in its intended purpose.

Definitely in agrreement here.
A Minor Focus in all Wards is a lot broader than Healing or Self Transformation ,
with Necromancy , Damage and Disguise all being Major.

I am possibly inclined to limit it still further (if Minor) to a single Realm or all Realms , but single theme.
(Magic) Wards or (Weather , Men , Women , Fresh Water , Salt Water , Trees , etc ) Wards.

The "wards" question is tough, as the HoH: Societas folks tell us that "no supernatural ability should be more flexible than a single minor magical focus." And then they promptly stomp up and down on that principle until its a purple blob of irreconisable entrails.

Warding is an ability, presumably making Wards a minor focus.

In fact, I've since seen some argue that Wards are a subset of Rego, so are a major focus. Fact is, though, that they're still quite narrow in application. Keep things away from a single point.

Consider some other "minor" foci: Healing (covers plants, animals and humans), ghosts (includes, incidentaly, that part of you which becomes a ghost. great for Inscription of the soul), Self-Transformation (almost all Creo, Perdo and Muto, and some Rego spells effecting your Mentem, Corpus or, if you're Bjornaer, Animal)

Are wards really broader than these minor foci? Certainly some minor foci are more useful than others.

Not sure if circular wards are entirely best suited to a Sirnas Bjornaer, seeing as direct combat and irregular wards are their forte.

If anything, I'd make the minor focus: Wards against the Supernatural (which, incidentally, would include the Aegis) - certainly fits the descriptor as being somewhat smaller than a Technique- Form combination. ( part of ReVi)

Well obviously we don't agree on the common minor focus:

for example:

IMO, and IMS, it covers ONLY muto (form mentem or corpus, or even animal for bjornaer) (requisite).

Some example of minor focus I would use:
Human perfection would cover Creo Corpus/mentem boost to characteristics
Death would cover Perdo animal or corpus when it does wounds directly
counterspell, PeVi on spells

Ward in "circular" don't bother me. It still allow to cover the real only wards which need the focus: those who have to penetrate.

I've played a Tytalus with a major focus in wards for four real life years, about 70 nights gaming.
In my opinion, there is no question about it : it needs to be major, and not minor.
We used the focus "ward" with it's broad sense, so in our campain Aegis is a ward. Notice that most spells ought to have a possible ward protecting from it. Think about ward against mental control, or against dispelling, etc.
I think a "thiner" definition, like "all Re Vi wards" could be minor.
The problem with this focus, which I recommand against, is that it's dull playing with. Wards are reactionnary spells, and your imagination is really limited about what you can do with such a focus.

Ravenscroft, if you limit it so much, it becomes quite useless, don't you think? Circular wards would be specific enough for me :slight_smile: Besides, Circular wards is how wards should work anyway. With such a focus you might even use RAW wards and have them being playable.


Just some random thoughts , i was not set on making a focus too limited.
Might have to see how it goes in play and if the player is happy with Circular Wards.

Remind your player that he can put a circular ward that occupies a threshold. So it effectively becomes a threshold ward :slight_smile: His magus might develop a penchant for round windows and shields as well. Our grog's shields tend to be protected against (mundane) wood, metal and fire using circle/ring wards. Obviously they carry round shields. IMS you can quite easily see if you face a covenant grog (from any covenant) because they are much more likely to use circular shields or leather armor studded with round disks than your average medieval soldier.

A circle can also be placed in the CEILING of a room, to be less evident to trespassers, and less accidentally broken.

A ward against heated emotions (ReMe or PeMe) might be great for a politician.

I still think that ice would be better, though :stuck_out_tongue:


Just my 2 cents worth...

In my sagas I have ruled that Wards is a major focus (despite what is says in Clan Sirnas mystery), but there are possible minor foci related to wards and circular wards would certainly qualify as one. Other examples we have used are wards against a specific realm, wards against creatures, and wards against inanimate objects. Now, no one has used it like this thus far, but I would also allow limiting it to wards of certain Form (e.g., ReTe wards).

As for the RAW position, as long as there is no word otherwise, I guess we have to assume that Mystery Cults is correct and the wards are a minor focus only. Whether or not it includes aegis is pretty much anyone's guess (my major focus does include aegis btw).

But is Ice a Minor focus? Fresh Water and Salt Water are Major.

Some things I've seen/heard others do:

1.) Minor Focus: Wards against the supernatural (as a subsection of ReVi, includes Aegis ritual and some Bjornaer sensory ReVi effects.

2.) Minor Focus: Personal wards: All wards which target individuals, rather than circles.

3.) SInce Major Focus: Wards is way too narrow, someone did Major Focus: Guardian, essentially a "custom" Major Focus which incorporates all wards and similar defensive magic, including awakening a protective spirit of an area and Shrouded Glen - like effects.

The Vanilla Major Focus would actually be "Repulsion": the Subset of Rego which moves objects away, both passively (wards) and actively (Flinging the errant knight, Sling of Vilano, any aimed missile spells etc.)

A Major Focus should be "slightly smaller than a single Art" (according to ArM5). A Minor focus should be "slightly smaller than a combo of arts" or a very small slice of one. Wards fit uncomfortably in the middle, so I'm happier if its folded into a broader Major Focus, rather than gimping or super-buffing a character with a minor or major focus.

As already stated, its a troublesome question.

Anyway, i think my preference is that wards in a strict interpretation(only "standard" wards vs creatures) is a Minor while a wards AND warding in a sweeping broad interpretation(ie including warding against elements and whatever) is certainly a Major.
Still imperfect but, oh well.

I'm going to take a strange stance and make the case for Wards being a Minor Focus.

A Major Focus is something which is, supposedly, "slightly smaller than a single Art"

A Minor Focus is something slightly smaller than any combination, or a sliver of a Single Art.

Let's take Rego as our starting point: Clearly Wards fall under Rego, generally.

However, I'd argue that its way to small to be a major focus. Rego moves or changes things in ways that are natural. For example, some of these would be Major Foci:

1.) Telekenisis (the Movement of objects in their natural forms through space)
2.) Mastery of motive (the Control of Minds of Humans, Animals, beings with might scores and any other thing able to be persuaded, in so far as communication is possible.)
3.) General Directionality has multiple possible foci: Repulsion (Moving things "away" by either of the above), Attraction (Bringing things together, the same.), Teleportation (self explanatory)
4.) Unnatural Growth - speeding or slowing processes of growth and change in a way that suits the caster (i.e. forcing a tree to grow in the shape of a serpent)
5.) Changes of State (Ice to Water, Sleepfulness to Wakefulness, other changes of state of mind, etc.)

Let's take Directionality (3) as our next point. As a subset of this, let's take Repulsion, (Move "away")

Repulsion has several potential operational powers:

Force a mind to move away (through fear, disgust, or even subtle confusion, like "the Shrouded Glen")
Banishment (the supernatural transport of a being to another realm, or to a greater distance i.e. A Seven League Stride: R: Voice, done on someone else)
The physical pushing of an object away from another point, i.e. a spell that flings an enemy against the far wall.

Now we're two levels down: A Major Focus and subsets of a Major Focus.

Wards are one level down still. Within Repulsion, we've notices several motive forces. It is in the subsets of these we start to find Minor Foci:

  1. Within Repulsion of Mind and Instinct: Fear, Disgust, Confusion - all Minor Foci.
  2. Within Banishment: Banishing Supernatural beings, Teleportation, Banishing natural objects etc.
  3. Now within physical pushing - We can have Levitation (movement up), Sticking (holding together), Flinging of objects etc.

Within this subset we could imagine a category where things are forced to stop at a certain point. Simply stop. Not move further away, not redirect. Its about ceasing motion at one point, and is further limited to R: Touch maximum.

This meets all the criteria for a Minor Focus:

Art -> Major Focus -> Intermediate Subset -> Minor Focus

To qualify as a Minor Focus, Wards would have to be restricted to "Material" Wards - that is, an effect which stops a "thing" with a magical replacement to a physical barrier.

Shrouded Glen does not apply, because it "motivates" people to move away, it does not force their substance to stop at a point.
Aegis of the Hearth, though spoken of as a Ward does not qualify, as it does far more than stop beings, it dampens spells as well.
Circular Ward v. Demons counts, as it stops a "thing" (a demon) at a magical replacement for a barrier - a line.
Ward against Mud counts because it stops mud from crossing a magically defined barrier.

It cannot otherwise force the movement of these objects (you cannot use a Ward to hurl stones; stones do not "rebound" off of wards in any harmful way.)

I therefore submit that this is a minor ward, simply a far more useful one than many others, classifying it with those wonderfully useful minor foci like Telepathy, Human Illusions (Illusory depictions and manipulations of people), Cold, Fire Crafting, Healing, Iron, Ageing (which, by the way, affects non-animate things like wooden structures, which age as well), and "Emotion-Crafting" (The Creation of Emotions within a mind) or "Memory Crafting" (as before).

Just because these are way, way more useful than a focus in "Spring Flowers," or "Moonlight" does not make them invalid.

The author of Bjornaer deserves an "atta-boy" for recognizing the great potential of this amazing minor-focus.

Since I have a very strong mechanist mindset, I completely agree with this.

The opposing viewpoint is that all characters should be equal otherwise a single player will star in every situation. A Minor Focus that saves every times puts a heavy burden on the SG to offer everyone a chance to shine.

It all depends on how your weaknesses create synergy with the other characters, why you need their help to solve your stories. If all the players can make mechanically sound characters of the same power level, then it doesn't matter.

Which rule is that?
I have seen often players using Wards cast at arcane range from their labs on the adventuring party. And I have seen magi hidden in the woods cast wards at sight range on warriors of two different armies, to help their side. That's why the focus is useful as well.

Personally I don't care as much about this. Ars Magica allows for exceedingly varied characters; any semblance of character balance is very tricky to achieve in such a diverse environment.

As long as players are making an informed choice about their characters, I don't mind what they do. Some choices are more potent than others, yes. This is hardly a new issue in RPGs of any kind. If the player honestly feels that their character just plain isn't working for them, the option to have that character exit the saga and a new one to enter is perfectly viable.