My Thoughts on Parma

Just an idea that would really simplify Parma

Creo IS resisted, so magically created things like Ball of Abyssmal Flame would have to penetrate.

Intellego IS resisted, making it hard to gain information about a magus.

Muto IS resisted, as are muto effects that would enhance an attack aimed at the magus, such as Razor's Edge. The sword it was cast on would still harm the magus, but any effects that would alter this are resisted by Parma. The potential flaw in this case would be that a magus could shrink a boulder to pebble size and pitch it at the magus, knowing the Parma would effect it and remove the magic, turning it back into a boulder.

Perdo IS resisted, though it would be possible to "go around" the magic resistance by doing something like removing the ground from underneath the magus' feet or felling a tree so it falls on him. That would, of course, require finesse.

Rego IS NOT resisted, but things flung at magi must be aimed using Finesse. For example, a rock moving toward a magus would have any impetus stripped from it, but it would still have momentum, just not an acceleration. It would be aimed, but could also be blocked by ReTe magic.

This seems a very simple method, makes good use of the Finesse ability, and eliminates completely the "Pink Dot" loophole. Most importantly, it avoids confusion and halting the game to have a troupe discussion on rules permutations.

Of course, people will always exploit an opponent's defenses if they are able to. This is a natural human behavior. Personally speaking, I'd just like to see it require something beyond the spell I posted above in order to do it. Defenses DO have weaknesses by their nature, after all.

Of course, if you don't like it, I'll be happy to post my spell to turn an entire force of enemy soldiers and their gear entirely pink.

I don't really like that thought. That would mean that when a magus tries to control another magus' body or mind, it would not be resisted. In the case of hurling rocks etc. at another magus the rock would have to resist, not the magus. As well as if you try to hurl a magus, the magus would have to resist, not the tree into which s/he is thrown into. As such, I like my Rego resisted, please.


Yeah, my rego specialists loves that idea. Now I can make the other magi at council punch themselves in the face all day long. That's going to be FUN!

Oops! My very bad. I was referring to Rego as used to move objects such as rocks, water, and wood, a la Wielding the Invisible Sling. I'd neglected in my noob-ness that rego can also directly control minds. That does lead to some unpleasant applications, doesn't it?

Rego for controlling a mage directly would, of course, be resisted.

Again, pardon my noob-ness.


And we see yet again that designing sensible rules for Magic Resistance is a lot harder than it looks. :wink:

With the needed caveats, this is actually the canonical position. A spell that needs to be Aimed is not resisted, at least not from the Rego part. (And, conversely, if it is resisted, you don't need to aim.)

Pink swords still bounce, though.

I hate to contradict you, but that seems inconsistent with the description of Magical Resistance on p85,86 - which suggests that the Rego element (designed to move the object) needs to penetrate Parma, because objects have no momentum (by paradigm).

Or have I misinterpreted that idea?

[Edit: after thought] I guess you mean if 'Wield the Invisible Sling' was used to fire an object to a point directly above a Magus (using a targeting roll), then allowed to fall naturally under gravity.

Oh yes!! My troupe are having marvellous fun coming up with some House rules for Magical Resistance! Our discussion thread if anyone would like to scoff at our bumbling attempts :wink:

I think part of the attempt to come up with "common sense" rules for Parma is the lack of sense in the "Pink Dot" position (which, realistically, is "The Edge of the Razor" position).

The problem here is that I am not seeing the logic regarding why The Edge of the Razor causes the underlying sword to be resisted. Not at all.

This is a Muto spell.

The sword you start with is utterly mundane.

Thus the sword that is altered is only altered in so far as it has a particularly sharp edge.

At the very least, then, the sword should still function as a long metal club, yet Parma Magica rules, by the core interpretation, say that the sword cannot hit the magus if he resists the spell.


Heh ... nothing quite as uncommon as 'common sense' - particularly where magic is concerned.

The problem with simply 'suppressing' magical effects (like pink dots) is that it opens up other potential exploits (especially with Muto magics) and leads to other 'uncommon' sense situations (like being able to put your hand through a magical horse.

You also end up having to define exactly what is 'mundane' for the purposes of resistance - which leaves either very complicated rules or other potential exploitations of the Parma.

In our House rules (link above), I've been attempting to avoid an 'intelligent' Parma by defining what is mundane, and then building individual restrictions for Muto effects. If it passes muster (the troupe are still looking at it) then it should work ok with our group of older and experienced players. But, if you want to publish a Parma with consistent rules that can be followed by people who have never played the game - then clearly simplicity is the key.

Actually, the AM5 Magic Resistance rules are beautifully simple (and consistent) - it's just they don't suit everyone's taste.

By the way, it's not just Muto magics that can be used to create a 'pink dot' effect ...

Heat of the impotent blade CrIg 10
Heats up a blade so that it does +1 damage when it hits.
[B: 3, R: Voice +2, D: Diameter +1, T: Ind]

... if you block Creo magics, then clearly this effect renders the object incapable of hitting a magus ...

... if you merely suppress all magics, then you can get some wierd and wonderful effects (like being able to stick your hand through magical walls, doors, animals, etc - or suppress temporary healing magics by touching them, etc).

I understand most of the Magic Resistance and Parma Magica rules. As many people have stated, they are consistent and generally make sense.

The problem I am having here is very specific.

1 -- A warrior has a sword (or other utterly mundane weapon)
2 -- the warrior is swinging the sword in a normal manner, in an attempt to hit a magus
3 -- the magus casts a spell that improves the quality of the sword (or lessens the quality or put a pink dot on it or whatever)
4 -- the magus' resistance holds the spell at bay
5 -- somehow this stops the sword, being used in a natural manner and otherwise unaltered, from doing its job

I utterly understand the suppression of the magical aspect. What I do not understand is the interecption of the blade itself. How is the blade stopped?

If Edge of the Razor were a spell that created a sword out of thin air, I could understand why it is stopped. Instead, however, this is a Muto spell. What aspect of this Technique is causing the sword to fundamentally alter? As far as I can tell, the magic is merely improving on what is already there, rather than altering the underlying sword itself. Admittedly this is a niggly point, but it is important to understanding how magic is supposed to work in the game.

Thanks for your patience on this. :blush:

Parma does not suppress magic. Ever. It merely keeps magic out. Parma is also incapable of separating magic from the thing enchanted. Thus, in order to keep the magic out, it keeps the sword out.

If Parma suppresses magic, magi fall through magical bridges and can walk through magical walls. (They are also incapable of riding magically created horses, or, indeed, small object Muto'd into large ones.) These consequences strike me as more problematic than the Pink Sword issue, so ArM5 goes the way it does.

It seems that when trying to conceptualise magical resistance you have a choice: either the magic is blocked (and thus the object) or the magic is suppressed (allowing natural objects through). Both positions can lead to effects that appear to exploit the Parma.

A blocking Parma allows some quite neat (from a wizard's point of view) side-effects. You can basically block most environmental hazards by use of a fairly low magnitude spell: Not just swords, but fire, rocks, people, animals, etc. (though the Rego spells to ward such effects seem now to have less utility than Muto magics)

However, a strictly blocking effect can also leave open some methods for making a magus' Parma work against them. The easiest example I can think of is something like ...

Conjuration of the Foul Breath of Wind MuAu 5
Requisite: Rego
The air within 50 paces of the caster becomes slightly acrid and foul, causing +1 damage to anyone who breathes it. If the air, thus transformed, is blocked by Parma then the Magus must make deprivation rolls for being starved of air (see p 180). Being unable to breathe may also effect spell casting at Voice range. The rego requisite allows the caster to keep this effect 1 pace away from himself.
[B: 1, R: Voice +2, D: Concentration +1, T: Ind; Requisite +1]
(The base individual for Auram is an area 100 paces across)

A suppressive Parma has plenty of issues just as bad, and can behave in bizarre ways when it comes into contact with magical objects.

So, the last alternative is a Parma which is imbued with some kind of intelligence - that somehow knows when to block and when to suppress a magical effect.

The problem with an intelligent Parma is that it can involve troupe decisions about how each spell interacts with Parma - this can easily become inconsistent and a source of argument. The last thing you want, when the characters are involved in a critical encounter, is to break the mood and momentum of the session with a three hour argument about Parma!

If someone ever comes up with a 'combination' Parma, which follows reliable and easy to apply rules, then I for one would be very keen to see it.

Nice classification, Badger101.

There is, however, still alternative number four, which I suggested IIRC some three years ago on the Delphi Forum, when it was discussed there which kind of Magic Resistance rules were desired in an upcoming ArM5:

Don't make the Parma intelligent, but use the intelligence of the being protected by a Parma in deciding which effect to resist and which not, based on its normal observations and some information obtained at the split second when the magic tries to overcome the Parma. This works reasonably well with a suppressive Parma which cannot be actively moved against an outside magical effect to suppress it, while with a blocking Parma it would probably be too powerful.
A sleeping or unconscious being would thus still be protected by a dumb suppressive Parma which can be taken advantage of. And beings with Magical Resistance of any type would have to be categorized into those with dumb and those with intelligent resistance.
This kind of Parma allows for nice Hermetic games of trickery and second guessing. It might, however, overtax new players.

Kind regards,


So i come up with the [color=violet]Turn Everything Pink spell.
MuIm(all other forms).
I give it a penetration of Zero , as i don't intend it to penetrate Parma.
Say i give it Voice Range.
What happens to the Magus i cast it at?
It should not penetrate Parma , and everything around him (the air , the ground , all Species) are turned unnaturally pink.
Any spells he casts will also be turned pink (Vi req included above).

Alright, let me see if I have this straight.

1 -- Parma Magica stops (entirely) all magic aimed at it, assuming the Penetration Total is not higher than the Magic Resistance.

2- The sword with Edge of the Razor is now considered an entirely magical sword because it has a spell placed on it.

3 -- Thus if the the Penetration Total for Edge of the Razor does not defeat the Parma Magica, the sword is stopped because the sword is not considered magical.

Yep, that looks like it fits the answers.

What I am having a hard time buying is the second step there. If this is true, then why doesn't the Order automatically teach every single apprentice the "Now This Mundane Item Is Considered Magic" spell? Conversely, would a magus then not have to roll for Penetration each and every time he went to pick up an Enchanted Item? If this latter case is not true, then how is the case with the sword true?

That is my underlying problem.

(I hope I am not coming off as a nag here, but this is really buzzing in my brain...)

Neither Parma Magica or 'magic' causes an item to be surrounded in an aura of slipperyness or 'push-awayness'.

So a Magus can pick up a magic sword be it pink dot or truely enchanted. He can hold it, swing it, but if Parma Magica is up he can not cut himself with it because Parma prevents the sword from crossing the magic resistence provided. I would imagine Parma Magica as "Infinitely Thin" rather than an aura two inches thick. It is there in terms of keeping magic out, but does not interfere with a magus ability to pick things up (item), sit (on horse), walk (over bridge), ect.

Infinititely thin and a boundary that closely follows the surface of "the Maga, her clothes, and small items close to her".

I think the problem is that people conceptualise the boundary somehow extending from the skin (in order to envelope clothes, etc) and thus the sword would be blocked before reaching the surface of the maga's fingers.

It's definitely easier to get to grips with Parma (geddit?) if you imagine it having a complex and irregular surface topology, rather than being a sphere or aura ...

Back in my earliest days of D&D (and by this I mean maybe 12 years old) I would ask the DM questions like, "What happens when a wizard tries to pick up a sword?" The DM, being another 12 year would say stuff like, "He just can't."

I remember following the question up with, "So if there's an open crate of swords and my wizard jumps into it, will they be pushed away because wizards can't hold swords?"

These were some of my earliest 'deep thoughts on magic' and I think this 'Mage can't hold a sword' business is a remenant of everyone's old AD&D experiences.

Why would they? It's largely a pain, as it makes it harder to interact with mundane things. Most magi do not go into combat ever; player characters are the exceptions, and in Ars Magica, even most player character magi try to avoid being in a situation where people are trying to hit them with swords.

Or, more generally, it's the same reason that University professors don't all own body armour. Magi have better things to do with their time and effort.

The Pink Sword effect is, as far as I can tell, only useful in mundane combat. The rules, particularly the defender rules, are already written to make magi basically immune to mundane combat. The Pink Sword effect is much less use against supernatural opponents; it has to penetrate their Magic Resistance to take effect, which gives it a good chance of penetrating yours.

No, because he can't move through the item, and thus can pick it up, just as he can pick up a purely Creo'd item.

In the medieval paradigm, movement is not relative. If the magus comes to a stop against a magic item, he takes damage whether or not he resists, because he has stopped moving suddenly. If the item comes to a stop against the magus, he does not, because his state is unchanged.

The item does not resist the magus, so he can move it. Again, Newton's Third Law is not part of the medieval paradigm.

This resolves the pink dot & all similar effects for me.

I can still see a fast casted CrVi spontaneous spell beeing used as last resort to render people or weapons tainted by magic but formulaic spells are much less usefull since it could actually penetrate your own MR once the sword hits back.