New Duration: Ring and Seven Heartbeats

The magi in my saga, for a number of nefarious purposes, would like to create a few spells/enchanted devices producing effects with a duration similar, but slightly longer, than Ring. Basically, magic that lasts until the Ring is broken or the target is moved out of it, plus about a round (seven heartbeats sounds cool).

The magi would not care for the new Duration being available for Spontaneous magic, so the players are thinking of just taking advantage of the note on p.114 of ArM5: "Formulaic spells ... can be invented with ranges, durations or targets that are not ["standard"]. This is usually slightly more difficult than if the closest category were used, but is largely left to storyguide interpretation." It seems to me that Ring and Seven Heartbeats should be fairly "priced" at +3 magnitudes (vs. the +2 magnitudes of Ring).

Potential pitfalls? Other comments?

+3 magnitude is equal to Moon, which is roughly 30 days compared to the 24 hours. Honestly, I wouldn't see the need to make this more than the standard +2. Its a subset of that category rather than a great deal more power.

Especially as it seems to be that your intent is a power that lasts a small bit of more time past when the ring is broken. Its not that mechanically game breaking.

Though, that said, it does lead to some interesting and nifty designs and uses. Magi who except their enemies to break the ring for the spell actually get a moment for a last strike when they least expect it.


Seems reasonable, though because game balance is a thing and the stuff that exists within ME or does not is constrained to some extent by such considerations, it is probably fair for your group to consider any proposed applications of this non-standard duration: Just because it is reasonable in general, doesn't mean that it is therefore allowed (or possible!) for any particular spell.



The basic purpose for the new Duration would be the creation of "grenade-like" non-magical effects.
First, the magi or grogs find stuff like lightning falling from the sky, lava from volcanoes, huge inferno fires etc.
Then, they transform said stuff into pebbles (I think turning lightning bolts into javelins is also cool).
Pebbles are stored within containers (e.g. small jars), circumscribed with Ring+7 Heartbeats effects to maintain the transformation.
The grogs are given the containers and told that they should quickly toss or sling the pebbles at sufficiently distant enemies, knowing that within 7 Heartbeats they'll resume their natural form.
A lot of work, and quite a bit of uncertainty, for bypassing magic resistance with direct damage stuff.


I don't think I'd allow the container to be a Ring. That requires a virtue, such as the one in RoP:D.

If I did, I think that on the first botch, the result would be that all the pebbles fall out of the container and scatter. Gotta catch them all in 7 heartbeats. But that's just me, not feeling safe about having that sort of thing near me. Misses would also have to be accounted for.

This idea is a variant on the old "muto something bad into something innocuous, get it in range of something with MR and then drop the spell."



Agreed, in full.

Yes. Use Charged Devices for grog-carried grenades.

Initially, I thought, Ring + 7 heartbeats, it is not much longer than Ring, so I was ok with it.
Then two things dawns to me: how far can magic be streched: 1 year and a day, how many heartbeats more can it be streched.

Secondly durations are based on astrological phenomena. It takes a special virtue (Astrological magic, Faerie magic) to have more specific duration.

So, on the basis of game balance/power, I would agree that it should at most take some specific research (let's say a season of work, and decent labtot in ReVi) to discover this kind of duration.

On the other hand, most more exotic duration and shape require virtue (astrological magic, faerie magic, geometric magic). So I would require that the magus discover a biological base magic to use heart beat, breath, sleep or birthday - basically a magic that use body cycle as unit of measure to be able to customise these spells. Then I would use the closest duration or the longest possible duration to assign the appropriate modifier.


Summing up my thinking on this:

Intended use of Ring: Absolutely not. This requires a virtue such as Amulet from RoPD. I'd certainly allow a Ring to be drawn on the deck of a ship, and probably even on a wall.

Seven Heartbeat Duration: It does go against the usual kinds of duration for Hermetic Magic. OTOH, non-standard durations seem to be explicitly allowed for formulaic spells. OTTH, the actual rules subsequent to the original core rule never include a Formulaic spell with a tweaked duration, unless some Virtue or Breakthrough is involved. This is a remarkable consistency, since spells in published material sometimes have inconsistency with each other, common sense, the core rules and sometimes even Hermetic Limits, to the point that I recommend considering any published spell outside of the core rules to be considered a house rule rather than something to be taken for granted as working.

Is there even a Formulaic in the core rules that has a non-standard duration (and is not marked as a spell that doesn't quite conform to Hermetic standards but is a Founder spell or something like that)? I can't think of one. Treading the Ashen Path does not fall into this category: It does something fancy, ie effectively recast a Mom spell repeatedly for its duration, but the durations remain totally standard. It also folds in nicely to the general effect, changing the area in a way that is aesthetically interesting but not more powerful, unlike this which is purely an arbitrary gimme.

So maybe this rule should be treated as rescinded, because it effectively has been: Hermetic Magic needs a virtue to have a non-standard duration. Or a Breakthrough.

How severely does this duration deviate from the norm? Hermetic durations are all based on astronomical configurations, except for Mom, Conc and possibly Diam (which is based on time, albeit a time based on the sun). None of them are based on a magus' body. (Oh, and I suppose we need to specify just whose heartbeat. Presumably the caster's. But what if the caster dies? What if he has SFB or some other weirdness like a literal heart of stone, and his heart doesn't beat?)

So this duration is pretty far outside the usual too. It is further out there than Ring+Conc or +Conc, which would let a magus concentrate on a spell as it starts to fade, to keep it going as long as he concentrates. It is further out there than Ring+Mom. It's something akin to Ring+2Mom, which is pretty radical.

These aren't non-standard durations that gets +1 because it's a little fancy, but are also strictly and vastly better.

Because once I allow Ring+7hb, why not also allow "Ring + until I urinate 7 times?" Or even Duration of Urination considered as a +2?

Not to piss on this parade. :slight_smile:

OTOH, it seems like it would be interesting for a magus to try to create durations that are based on his own body. I can see some Criamon interested in this, or magi influenced by other sources of "body as microcosm reflecting universe."



First of all, thanks for the feedback! It's always useful, particularly when it gives a different perspective.

Second, "mobile" Rings, even drawn on the pages of a book and maintained as those pages are turned, are canonical (from Covenants). So, a Ring drawn on the outer rim of a cup is perfectly ok. Yes, this can lead to deadly botches if the effect contains dangerous stuff, which would not be the case with Charged Devices. This is one of the reasons why the Ars Magica character architecture, with highly expendable grogs, is neat :slight_smile:

Third, note that some spells from the corebook do not "appear" to have a non-standard Duration, but they really do. Take Trackless Step (Rego Terram) or Wind at the Back (Rego Auram), for example. Their Durations are listed as Concentration and Sun, respectively, but if you read the description they really last until the magus stops travelling (Wind at the Back explicitly says that D:Sun is just the closest approximation to such a "special" Duration). So, even in the Corebook there are examples of "non-standard" Duration spells, even without looking at Rituals like the The Waiting Spell.

Ovarwa and Ezechiel357 did get me thinking that the 7 Heartbeats sounds cool in principle (at least to me), but it feels somewhat wrong. Note that not all durations are based on astrological phenomena: Ring isn't, nor are special durations like "until the magus stops traveling" (see above). The reason why Ring and 7 Heartbeats feels wrong is because it adds apples to oranges, so to speak -- two durations that are fundamentally different. This is an aesthetic issue, but nonetheless important.

So what about D:Ring, Reinforced (+3 magnitudes), instead? After drawing the initial Ring, you can extend the casting to draw additional, concentric Rings (or maybe inscribed or circumscribed polygons?) that reinforce the spell. This is subject to all the limitations, including concentration requirements, of drawing a larger Ring of the same total length. The spell lasts until any of the Rings is breached, plus any time spent when casting to draw the additional Rings of Reinforcement. So, if a magus spent three rounds to draw three Rings (the mandatory one, plus another two for reinforcement) the spell would expire two rounds after any of the Rings got breached.


:mutters darkly, "Covenants. It had to be Covenants."

Except to the extent that it relies on a rule in Covenants.


But.... yeah, I guess it's canon.

Oh, no, no. When the grog botches, everything goes off.

But the fun doesn't end there: A magus who casts each one of these has to be very careful while casting. I'd make it a stress roll, since one false move and Boom, like a late 19C anarchist making nitro in his tenement sink.

Not just for grogs, oh sodali!

I stand corrected!

Even so, this duration is not strictly better than a normal duration.

There's also nothing especially appropriate in myth or folklore about "ring plus 7 heartbeats" either in general or for an effect of this kind, nor is the overall effect itself coherent, such as Wind at the Back, etc.

This is still just a better Ring duration. And it has interesting applications. OTOH, for some spells, a duration of "Casting Time" +2 might be interesting: The duration of the spell is the time you spend casting it. I might allow it for a spell with a warding effect, or the duration of something a magus creates.

But mostly, I think.... no. Because durations of this kind will soon be applied to all kinds of formulaic spells if they are useful, exactly as though they are real Hermetic durations.

Sometimes an odd duration makes sense for a particular effect, to make it cooler and more apt. Sometimes it is just about throwing grenades. Magi have enough ways to do that already.



I don't know. I think Rings and Circles have a spherical component (half dome) or a portion of the target has to be within the plane of the ring? So just a cup with a ring would be fine as the object passes through, but when it reaches the bottom of the container it may no longer be within the area of effect.

Yes? No?

Place the spell into ReVi spell container R:touch D: ring T:circle with the condition of being cast when the person leaves the circle.