Multiple Actions

Has anyone ever tinkered with multiple actions during a single combat round?

I've come up with a mechanic for a Faerie swordsman which may have been too broken, but I'm not sure, and I wouldn't worry much if the players hadn't so competently convinced the faerie to teach one of them...

Basically the character got a new Supernatural Ability (and accompanying Virtue, through the Grant Virtue power) called Faerie Blade, which works with daggers, knifes, short swords and long swords. Before a combat the player may either spend a fatigue point or choose to gain a Warping point to activate the power, which lasts for the entire combat "scene" and allows him to act a number of times equal to his rank in the Ability, rather than the usual 1. This is not a skill which can be learned normally, of course, as it is really a granted power, so the player will not be able to raise it without another visit to the Faerie who taught him, but something tells me I may have given him too much...

The idea was to give him something beneficial that wasn't just a bonus to his combat stats, and it seemed nice at the time. :slight_smile:


Not to shoot the concept of multiple combat actions totally, but what is the need for a mechanical advantage of an extra attack, vs the "dazzle and flash" of a description in combat?

I'm interested in why the concept of a Faerie swordsman could not be executed in story, by adding extra powers rather than adding a new mechanic. The difference is a little semantic when it is only used for a single NPC, but I'd be afraid of the new mechanic opening the system to everyone wanting multi-strike abilities.

To chime in...

Whenever a character in one of my sagas gets attacked, they always get a defense roll. I don't impose a penalty to the roll, some SGs do. So, I'm having some trouble envisioning how multiple attacks has any net effect. Ars Magica combat is generally deadly. If combat is initiated, someone is getting maimed, getting dead, or beaucoup amounts of vis are going to be consumed to restore the individual to whole. Multiple attacks, in my understanding of combat, don't really make combat any more dangerous.

Had the PCs not managed to strike a bargain with the Faerie in question to learn the ability, I would never have bothered with a rule, but at the time I thought it better to come up with something that matched my description than to shoot down their efforts and great role-play.

I do share your concerns over "opening the system to everyone wanting multi-strike abilities", but I don't see any other PCs trying to get the same ability as the price paid in character was too high, and the fact that the Faerie in question is about to become a major enemy of the entire Order.

Thank you for the opinion, but I was rather more interested in hearing people's thoughts on the pure mechanical aspects of the new rule, as I'm not particularly crunch-friendly and would like to be ready to cut down any possible abuses - even if I don't really expect any of my players to abuse it, they're very reasonable folks.

The benefit is the possibility (for a Companion, in this case) to deal damage to multiple foes in a single round, thus reducing the chance of being hit in turn.
It is particularly effective when fighting solo against a skirmish group, I believe.
Against a single opponent it just gives the character a better attack/defense ratio when compared to the opponent, thus increasing his chance of dealing damage. It is similar, in a way, to Multiple Casting, although it doesn't get harder as you add extra actions.

Again... and perhaps I have a bias, here... Whenever combat is entered into, there's a huge risk that the combatants take. Mainly that they are likely to receive grievous wounds. Combat isn't something that I shake a stick at lightly. Maybe it's a PbP prejudice, or maybe not. Once combat is engaged, combatants are likely to die or be gravely injured. I don't have an issue with a companion being able to exercise his combat capability so easily. I have an issue with him engineering situations which allows him to exploit his combat effectiveness with impunity.
Yes, he may be able to handle combat effectively. That typically doesn't happen in an vacuum. His choices still have a story consideration... He may chose to enter into combat with relish/ease, but those around him may not.

Ultimately, Ars Magica is a decision about choices, what choices make the most interesting stories... He is motivated to start combat, while all those around him may not be so inclined, or should not be, since it never ends well for those with whom he associates... See where I'm going?


Mechanically speaking:

  • the advantage is very interesting in that the user needs to expend xp to advance it to a significant degree. I really like that concept.
  • the cost of a fatigue level seems low, and I would be using that before every battle regardless as the advantage of an extra strike is very powerful. The only exception to that would be if I was already significantly tired, or expected to overpower the opponent very easily already.
  • once learned I think the character is better off expending xp in this new ability than other combat scores, because an extra attack is a fresh opportunity to damage.
  • I do worry about how powerful a swordsman is who can strike 3 or 4 times in an action. That is a very deadly character.
  • Perhaps the ability needs to have a capped maximum it can reach without further induction into the Fae ways?

Flavour speaking:

  • nothing wrong with it at all. If it suits then game then go for it, and don't hold back!

I do understand where you are going, and the In Character consequences of the character's actions are certain yo be dealt with. I believe my players understand this very well, especially considering we do not ignore Wound Penalties when rolling for Recovery - yes, the consequence of entering combat are usually quite bad.

But that is besides the point. My original concern was just whether the new mechanic, as presented, would break the game or not, particularly in regard to the Cost. I had considered making it BOTH a Fatigue point AND a Warping point, but decided against that in the last minute.


I made it very clear to the character that there is no way for him to increase the Ability through practice, exposure, teaching or reading; Instruction by the original Faerie is the only way to advance it.

As for the cost of either Fatigue or Warping, I do agree, and that is one of the things I'm considering changing - but wouldn't requiring a Warping Point EVERY time be too much?

Oh! Not sure if it is relevant but when attempting to handle spells which deliver multiple extra versions of the one spell by altering the Target from Ind to a Group, but still targeting a single individual - they tend to use the single attack with a modifier, not multiple attacks.

I came across this when wanting to create a rapid fire version of the Sling spell, akin to a machine-gun. Consensus was that the additional power might be handled with adjustments to the base rolls instead of new additional rolls. Not that you should be discouraged by that - the Fae are the beings that snap all the other guidelines for fun, why not that one. :slight_smile:

Yeah - warping each time is too high.

Unless you add Warping as a gateway drug to experience... As in you take warping you can spend experience accrued as a result of an adventure on the "Ability."

Then I'd be getting warping as often as possible by this means.

So? :smiling_imp:
It's faerie warping. It's not pretty... they become the story they're "telling." :smiley:

Hi Yan,

I did work out a way to prepare an action for later use, similar to waiting spell (re vi), but IIRC it worked out as being prohibitively expensive in vis for the item, plus it only gave you one round of all those actions.
About 400 levels of spells for 10 actions i think. Plus, inappropriate actions got used as well, meaning you could dodge off a cliff etc.
Seem to remember that an errata in the main rule book stopped it working, but that might have been something else. Can't find the original notes for it though, but i believe it was a batch of re co with a linked startup...
was straight hermetic though, no OR or Mystery cult requirement.
Action for the round, activate item, then use your finesse score to run all the additional actions stored in the device. Not sure if this would be any use, but maybe it will inspire someone.
Oh! I did figure it wouldn't help with spellcasting, as that is mostly a mental exercise, but I did debate a re me co to do spellcasting multicasts. Magic item use however would work fine, just remember to spend actions readying the item.

I have, though not much.

The thing is, in Ars magica, everyone has infinite defences - not perfect defences, but you can defend (generate a full defence total) against any number of attacks (LoM, p. 117-118 spells this out, but it really comes from the core book).

This means that a second attack is little more than a complication in combat (because it is still defended against, though ofcourse luck might be better on that second attack).

At the same time, combat is not the focus of the game, and is intentionally kept simple.
Which sort of takes the light out out of complicating it, i think.

To be perfectly honest, I'd probably prefer to represent that sort of thing as ... a bonus to existing combat totals.

It won't break the game in terms of power. After all the ability of striking n times is almost always strictly less powerful than being part of a team of n warriors. For n<10 or so, that's what the minor virtue Mercenary Captain does for you. The one exception may of course be when the character actively exploits the fact that his opponents do not expect a single man to fight as if he were 10 men, but it's not such a big deal.

However, it breaks the ... aesthetics, for lack of a better term, of the game. So, I'd really rather have a power that summons faerie replicas of the swordsman to fight together with him!

Ah, my ReCo specialist has wondered about this possibility... if you do find the notes, please share!

Yeah, I'm aware of that, and although I'm not proficient enough in math to sort out by how much, I'm sure the increase in the number of attacks tilts the odds of the fight in favour of the attacker - if nothing else because of the ratio of attacks between the two parties. I don't think it's too much, but I was curious if any of the more math/crunch savvy people in the forum would point out any breaks in the system.

As for combat not being the focus of the game, I would say it depends on the characters you have. If you have a Flambeau only covenant in Iberia during the Reconquista, can you honestly tell me combat will not be among the main focuses of the game?

After all, it wouldn't have been difficult to make combat much more abstract when designing the game if it hadn't been such an important part of it.

Ah, one of the crunch savvy people I mentioned above! :smiley:
I do agree that striking n times is less powerful than being part of a team, especially considering the trained group bonus, but I saw the character defeat two trained groups of 5 people while taking only a couple of Light wounds. Granted, one of the groups was routed after the Vanguard and Leadership were down, but it was still quite a feat!

But what do you mean by "it breaks the aesthetics of the game"? I'm quite curious as my troupe and I found the effect quite faerie-like and very much in theme with the setting...

Depending a bit on metagame (are you fighting many weaker opponents or one stronger opponent? Do you usually fight opponents with huge soak values, so that hitting does not generally cause a wound? relative skill of opponents, that sort of thing), I'd say bonus to skill tends to be the stronger option.

More attacks means more chances to roll well - but also to botch. The ratios between these depend on how many botch dice you tend to assign as a troupe.
And botches tend to be more "negative" than high rolls are "positive"*.
On the other hand, it merely grants more attacks and as my karate instructor told me years ago

I'd offer to do the math, but there are so many variables I'd either have to fill pages in a presentation or know much more about your metagame.
Feel free to PM me with details though.

*unless you roll so well that you have an average above 20 on a stress die ofcourse. We have/had a player like that.