Magical Focus: Swords

One of the players in my troupe is thinking of buying this mystery (during character creation), and we are puzzled with what, exactly, it does?

It's a Verditius mystery, so should it apply to enchanting swords? This seems a little broad, and such a character would reasonably lack motivation to make anything other than swords. "Check out my Sword of Healing and Plant Growth."

Or does the focus apply only to spells and lab totals involving sword-based effects? If so, why does it take membership in a Mystery Cult to learn it?

To quote the player, "What the hell is this focus supposed to do?"

Yah, these "Quick and Dirty" mysteries have caused a lot of confusion in my Troupe, too.

Basically, what it's saying is that when a character is initiated into the Confraternity of Roland, they go through a long, dangerous process and at the end they get the "Minor Magical Focus (Swords)" Virtue.

This is just like "Minor Magical Focus" in the base ArM5 rule book, you double your lowest Art when casting spells that have to do with swords. Note this is a Minor Virtue, so I would be inclined to interperet it very narrowly. The description indicates that it should be smaller than a single Form + Technique combo, so I would say it applies to spells cast on swords that are about what swords do, the same with enchanting.

I wouldn't allow it to help with enchanting a sword to cast Abysmal Ball of Fire, but would be fine with an effect that surrounds a sword with flame to increase its damage, whether Spontaneous, Formulaic, or Enchantment.

ReTe to cause a sword to fly through the air? Yep, that's fine.

ReCo to cause the person touched to fly through the air? I wouldn't allow that.

Hope that helps!

It doesn't take membership in a mystery cult to learn it. Any virtue could (in theory) be learned from a mystery cult, not just mystery virtues.

I have a character who had this focus, he was a warrior-verditius (sadly he didn't live long enough to actually do any enchantments...) Anyway, for a house rule to your problem, just keep in mind the primary use of a sword. It's not for plowing fields, not to heal plants, it's for hacking, slashing and generally hurting people and things.

Look at the Shape and material bonuses in your book (page 110)
The sword is :
+3 block single attack and +4 harm human and animal bodies
It's a good guideline.

Personnaly, i'd apply the focus to a spell that directly affect a sword too (and only a sword), like when the mage cast "Blade of the Virulent Flame" or "Rusted Decay of Ten-Score Years" on one.

Hope it helped you !

Not sure about this, but perhaps apply the focus only on spells that affect swords (or turn things into swords) and so on? A person with Magical Focus (ducks) should be able to affect ducks, create ducks (and possibly Ducks of Virtue, but not Flaming Ducks), change things into ducks, and so on... the same applies for Magical Focus (Swords). What I don't know is whether this interpretation is a Minor or Major Focus.

Your post confuses me;

How else could you interpret the focus virtue if not as you've described?

Why do you believe that if a magus with a duck focus wanted to create a flameing duck that his focus would not apply? (I think that it is clear that the focus would apply)

The sword focus as you've described is pretty much a textbook minor focus (IMO). What do you think a more typical minor focus would be?

Erik, while I support that interpretation (duh, I wrote it!) I can see others making others:

which seem to suggest the effect matters, and not just the subject matter. I can see that in terms of not allowing someone to create "Duck of Abysmal Flame" instead of "Ball of Abysmal Flame" (throwing a duck that combusts into a roaring ducky flame around the target) - i.e. not allowing one to circumvent the limitations inherent in the focus. But otherwise, the "not for plowing fields" I don't hold as relevant (you could cast "Sword into Plowshares" and apply the focus IMO), nor "spells cast on swords that are about what swords do" (a "pink-dot the sword" spell would benefit from the focus even though being pink-dotted isn't something that "swords do"). My post was in response to these suggestions, suggesting that essentially only the target of the spell was of importance (barring exploding ducks or whatnot).

On account of serfdom, I can't say what a more typical minor focus might be except that it's what listed in ArM5 :slight_smile: Based on the "smaller than Technique+Form combination" quoted above, though, I'd say Swords are more like a "smaller than one Art (Terram)" which IIRC fits more into a Major Focus. A more appropriate minor focus as a subsection of a TeFo combination might be healing, for example. (Despite this, I think "swords" is so small a subsection of Terram that considering it a Minor focus is apporpriate.)

I think the effect of a Focus is just about the most powerful Virtue for both its forms (Minor and Major). That's all well and good, nothing defines a Mage's gift as well as a good Focus.

However I think it's important to be careful about how large you allow a player to cast his Focus net. If it is too large, then all the uniqueness of the focus disappears.

If you can Create Duck of Abysmal Fire, and a Sword oAF, and a State of Melancholy of Abysmal Fire, and a Shout oAF, then you've (in my opinion) gotten away from what the Focus is for, and just assigned each mage a "Special Effect for their Energy Blast" a la Champions.

I'd go so far as to say you wouldn't get your Focus on ducks if you make a flaming duck, because that leads to the question "why can't I shoot that duck at an enemy and do Pilum of Fire damage and get my Focus?" If you want to do that (and get the bonus), take a Focus in "Fire Animals".

And I stand by my belief that if you take "Swords" it has to have some very real and very small boundaries. It's smaller and larger than the listed Focus of "Creating Metals", because you can only create Swords (and I'd be fine with someone creating a sword of wood), but it's much larger in that it can do many things with Swords. Move them, break them, etc.

Finally, I don't think I like the idea of being able to put whatever enchantment you want in a Sword getting the Focus Bonus. Your Focus, at most levels of experience, would overwhelm any need to link form and effect, leading to sword shaped charms against water spells getting your Focus Bonus, or carving a sword on you staff to get the bump.

One man's opinion...

That's a fiery disposition. :smiling_imp:

Yes, I agree with you. I think one key idea is to limit the applicability of the focus to spells and effects that affect swords, but bearing in mind that the focus should be focused is also critical. The first principle rules out the focus applying to just "enchanting a sword" - it only applies to enchanting effects that affect swords, inventing or casting spells that affect swords, and so on - not to enchanting any effect, just ones affecting swords. The second principle stops you from creating a Sword of Abysmal Flame.

Yes, that's more or less what I was thinking of above.

With all this in mind, it does seem that Swords is a suitably broad Minor Magical Focus. What about "wooden wands"? I don't have my book on me, but I recall another group that gets Wooden Wands as its minor magical focus. That just doesn't seem as applicable as a focus in swords.

Any thoughts?

See, "Magical Focus (Wooden Wands)" is a +1 Virtue whereas "Magical Focus (Swords)" is a +2 Virtue... :smiley: :hides behind his ArM4 ways:

With the course graining that ArM5 has for virtues, such things are to be expected. I'd consider both a reasonable minor focus, the "swords" bordering on too strong and the "wands" on too weak.