New Hermetic Virtue: Conditional Magic

Conditional Magic
Minor, Hermetic

You can specify a start condition, and end condition or both for any spell you know. The duration of the spell still starts from when it was cast and the spell ends when the duration expires.

Start condition - the spell will remain as pure magic and have no effects until the start condition is met. When the start condition is satisfied the spell will take effect.

End Condition - the spell will end prematurely, but naturally when the condition is met.

Triggering actions - Unless linked with an intellego effect this must be a simple trigger such as a word, environmental trigger, duration or physical action.

Danus of House Tremere wants to cast "Eyes of the Cat" on himself. However, he is currently in a brightly lit room. He casts the spell on himself with a start condition of dim light. As he enters the darkness the spell effect triggers on him and he can see better.

Ignatius of House Flambeau designs a spell to create a massive ball of fire similar to a BoAF but with an extra size modifier. He wishes it to act as a beacon all night so creates it at range touch with sun duration.
After a near accident when he first used it, he now casts it with a trigger condition of diameter giving him a few minutes to get to safety.

Terna of House Bonisagus is an imaginem specialist and wants to find out which servant keeps entering her lab. She designs an enchanted device which will turn everyone who enters purple. So that the trespasser wont know to hide she gives it a moon duration and a start condition of a certain phrase.
The next time someone has entered her lab she can talk to the staff individually and try to activate her spell.
(This is a way to avoid casting spells on all the servants, or visiting magi. The guilty party has already been tagged with the spell)

This virtue adds a little of the charged items flexibility and the Merinita duration Until. It makes spells more useful without making them more powerful.
The virtue effects could easily be replicated with some perdo/rego vim to suppress or stop magic spells.

this looks like a fun virtue to have in play

This might be a major. The core book mentions that watching ward/waiting spell is duration special and a ritual because of the possibly long /indefinite duration, but the Augustan brotherhood chapter of rival magic tells us that Hermetics can not do the fancy triggering actions for spells without a ritual. This virtue lets you do all sorts of clever things without rituals bypassing a limit the the order has (but that is what virtues do).

It seems pretty similar in power to flexible formulaic magic or (buggy as it is) tamed magic from HoH: True Lineages. It's not clear cut, but I'm leaning major rather than minor.

Yes, some of my troupe have also said it should be major.

Though they also were getting it mixed up with charged items...

If you cast a spell on an object using this virtue, it cannot pass that spell on. e.g. an arrow which casts Pit of the Gaping Earth when it hits is not a valid use of this virtue.

It should also be noted that things like watching ward are superior to this virtue.

If you cast a spell, the spell will end when the duration runs out, even if the trigger condition was not met.

Have you looked at the Mystery Virtue Spell Timing, HoH: MC, p. 100-101?

Based solely on comparison to Flexible Formulaic Magic, yes, it should be Major.

how about two minors? conditional spell activation and conditional spell expiry (Perhaps activation is much more useful so this is a bad idea).

I think Major. This is very flexible, in many ways better than the various conditional durations in mystery virtues. I would want all target selection and penetration resolved at casting time.

It would even be a very solid minor virtue with the restriction that the condition must be specified when the spell is invented, because it still works for spontaneous magic.

End condition is similar to Until (Condition) from Faerie Magic, which is Ritual. (ArM5 p92)

IIRC, using props to cancel spells early is a recent invention, no?

One work around for start condition is to cast a ReVi to suppress the actual spell, that'd allow so Until to work for start and end conditions.

EDIT - partially ninja''d by Trugdal.

Or you can use the non-ritual "Delay Effect" ReVi guidelines.

The explicit reason Watching Ward (AM5th, pg. 162) is a ritual is due to it's potentially open-ended duration. "The ritual nature of this spell supports the potentially indefinite duration." That implies that there's a version that does NOT have a potentially infinite duration, but has the rest of those abilities. (Of course, the "ritual nature" could be supporting a number of other things - but because it's explicitly listed, and guideline effects usually aren't explicitly ritualistic, I'm going to go with a conservative reading, and determine that it's the ONLY thing the ritual nature is supporting.)

As such, the "timer effect" is already covered. I would personally expand it to include the intelligo effect of Watching Ward, as well as "any natural sense the casting wizard can have", but that's just my personal interpretation. It would still be limited by duration, so the trigger effect ends up being "Until the trigger occurs, or until the Delay effect runs out."

You can use that exact effect to also end a spell - just cast the spell, and have a suspended "Dispel magic" (PeVi) running along side it. When the timer goes off, the Dispel effect engages, and dispels the original effect. Or if you're a ReVi specialist, have a "Suspend Effect" in there that lasts longer than the duration of the spell - which will functionally cancel it out, although all the spells will technically be running until the normal duration expires.

EDIT or if you want to be really funky, have everything at Duration: Concentration, and then mix in a "maintain the demanding spell" ReVi effect...which has a delayed Surpression on IT. When time is up, it gets canceled, which in turn cancels the original Concentration effect.

OK, so I was looking for the place in Rival Magics where it talks about the watching ward - looks like it's on pg. 74, under hermetic integration effects. And here it looks like there's a canon virtue for pretty much what we're talking about:

EDIT - although what the original poster is talking about sounds more flexible than this - this sounds like spell design, although it sounds like fairly flexible spell design. (You just have a good vim score, and any spell you create has an implied watching ward built into it.) Unless the specific watching aspect has to be explicit on spell creation, in which case this is kinda sucky. I'm guessing the former.

I just realised - OP wanted these effect for "free", not even designed into the spell (from what I can read out of the post), but simply because "hey, why not?"

Short answer: Not In My Saga.

Long answer:

If these effects had to be designed into the spell and payed for (in magnitudes), as per existing material

I might be able to buy it, but on the fly and for free? I can see why your troupe said Major, and I'd personally go for "Major, if at all".
Essentially (IMAO), you're cherry-picking one of the best of the Merinita mysteries, removing any and all drawbacks (like having to design a spell specifically for the purpose) and while you're at it, removing practically all reasons why someone would ever want to spend a season making charged devices*.

I must admit I wasn't a huge fan of the Improved Watching Spells breakthrough that Kevin dug out, and even that is a very much more limited version of this suggestion, in that it has has only one of your proposed effects, requires spell design (as opposed to on-the-fly) and a Vim requisite - and I still think the author didn't think it through entirely.

Is there any significant difference? Other than, you know, the limitations on Until (Condition)?

IIRC It's a feature of Muto Corpus, specifically. Noble's Parma.

That'd require extra castings (of ReVi or PeVi to end the spells) as well as the presence (and time) of a magus. This suggestion moves that requirement entirely to the moment of casting.

This is much more powerful that the Spell Timing Mystery, which is a restricted Minor virtue and really one of the best of the Merinita minor mysteries.

*Assuming you've houseruled the penetration issue.

If we go by the OP's design of "the spell will last as long as it normally does - the conditionals simply delay the effect from starting, and might end it early", then it's really just two ReVi suppression effects, each linked to some form of Intelligo effect;

|--------------------------------------------------------------------Original Spell----------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------first suppression------------||-----------------------------first suppression, suppressed------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------second suppression, delayed-------------------------------------------||---------second suppression-------|

  1. The first suppression effect, after the Intelligo effect determines that a trigger has occurred, is itself suppressed for the remainder of the spell. (via another delayed suppression effect, actually)

  2. The second suppression effect has a delay effect on it that keeps it from going off until another intelligo effect determines that the stop condition has occurred.

I can conceive this as two lesser enchanted items (although I tend to be generous on the interpretation of what counts as a "single effect" - I would design them as suppression effects with additional levels of complexity). A ring worn on the left and the right - one to create the first effect, and one to create the second.

I would argue that each effect is functionally a minor virtue - but, as described here, you could save the virtue points and just get two Enchanted items to do it for you.

Didn't mean to abandon this thread but I've just got back from holiday.

My original idea was similar to what KevinShultz suggests. It is a combined Rego Vim to delay the start and a Perdo Vim to end it.

Some people have pointed out effects that I haven't thought about so raising the cost to Major is not a problem.
I can also agree with each spell having a casting requisite of Vim, but having to invent spell versions to take into account the conditions seems a little much.

Harnessed Magic is a minor virtue and lets you end the effect at will - there is nothing in there about making a special version of the spell.

Maybe if there was a linked ability. Each level in the ability lets you do more complicated conditions?

1 Command Word to Start/Stop
2 Simple Environmental Trigger to Start/Stop (such as Dusk/Dawn)
3 Normal Hermetic Duration to Start/Stop
4 Complex Environmental Trigger to Start/Stop (such as change in light levels/humidity/temperature)
5 Combine 2 conditions to start/stop
6 Combine 3 conditions to start/stop
7 Combine 4 condistions to start/stop

That way you need to sink XP into it to do anything complicated.

first of all, I'm against this idea on the basis that as far as I can tell, you're just trying to side-step the time requirements for making charged devices, and I think you should be making charged devices instead. :slight_smile:

That said, this last post seems to me like you're proposing a sort of "extra mastery" ability for each skill? That would be a balancing factor, especially as presumably books could only be written on the subject by the (relatively few) magi with the same virtue, thus limiting access to good books and teachers - you'd mostly have to use practice and story XPs.