New Player.. with Enchanted Item Questions...


Our gaming group is brand new to Ars Magica, and about to embark on a campaign. So far, we're enjoying researching our setting and figuring out what sort of Covenant to play. It's been very handy rummaging through the forums, so thanks for all your good brains.

More specifically, I'm trying to get my head around Enchanted Items (I'm reckoning on a tinkering Verditius cooper-cum-boatbuilder, but the following thoughts are more general).

1. Effect Modifications - Concentration
This is listed as being +5 levels, rather than +1 magnitude. I assume this is deliberate, though it does make some lower base level items harder to make.

2. Triggering conditions
Can the conditions which trigger an item be a physical condition, but not necessarily caused by the item's wielder? ArM5, p. 98 - "By default, the trigger action must be performed by someone holding the item, although intention does not matter". It doesn't state whether there's a cost to vary from this default, so I assume that it's a question of simply defining it. A magical floor could sense being stepped on without recourse to additional powers, yes?

eg. - a wooden shield which uses a PeTe effect to shatter metal weapons - the trigger is a metal weapon touching the shield (regardless of whether it's in combat or just poor storage...).

eg. - an ornate iron ball which, when picked up in one hand uses a ReCo (effects one body part) effect to make the hand firmly grip the item for moon duration. There's no intention here, but definite holding. An amusing minor trap, especially if there's a pair.

eg. - a window frame with a ReIm effect that hugely amplifies any sound made within a room and broadcasts it to the outside world, regardless of whether those inside the room were aware of the enchantment.

3. What's a suitable base effect level for the transportation of water?
Would the CrAq create (various flow rates of) spring make a suitable comparison? That seems to make more sense than eg. ReCo guidelines, certainly in terms of the actual utility of such an effect.

eg. - Without crossing intervening space: A barrel which, when placed near a water course, fills with water from that course, and will continue to top itself up. (This is distinct from a CrAq effect, to avoid the Limit of Creation)*.

eg. - Crossing intervening space: A length of rope which, when snaked between a body of water and a container/pit/moat allows the rapid flow of water into said container/pit/moat, against the natural downward flow of water (sort of a magical siphon - heh.. I'm sure there are handier ways to spend a season, but...)

There's loads more I'm wondering about, but I don't want to seem needy!



*[let's call this '3a']... this also raises the following question: initially, I was thinking an equivalent range to voice would be required, but it seems that Range: Touch and Target: [appropriate to requirements] would make more sense.

Misreading it: the +5 levels = "its the object who maintain concentration, not the caster". For the "concentration duration" it's still +1 magnitude

FOr the last, it's rather MuIm than ReIm

I would not be too quick to assume it's deliberate. There's quite a few little bits from previous editions that have made their way into 5th Edition. I seem to recall (though I may be wildly wrong on this one) that this effect modification is at least as old as 3rd edition - whereas the system for magnitudes below level 5 entered the game in 4th edition. Anyway, deliberate or not, it's very clearly written, it's not in the errata (and Atlas is really good at maintaining errata, and even better at avoiding mistakes in the first place) and seems to work reasonably well. I would stick with it unless there's good reason not to.

My troupe and I actually assume that, if you want to vary from the default, you need a linked trigger - additional Intellego magic to sense the appropriate condition.

According to a strict reading of the RAW, no. You are not holding the floor, the floor is holding you :slight_smile: On the other hand, I'd probably allow someone at the helm of an enchanted ship to be considered as "holding" the ship.

I would not consider this permissible under the RAW. The shield would need to sense the weapon(s) through intellego magics.

Yes, this would be perfectly acceptable.

This does not need a trigger - you can just give it constant duration, so that it constantly amplifies the auditive species of the contents of the room. Incidentally, Rego is not enough if you want amplification, as was noted above.

Hmm. I'd probably agree as a general rule though 1) there may well be the occasional effect that under these guidelines is too hard or too easy (but check out Creo vs. Rego Auram and Ignem) and 2) you are moving into completely uncharted, Your Mileage May Vary territory here.

Post along! One of the purposes of the forum is to discuss the ruleset.

Yes, it's a cool, "efficient" application of the Touch Range.

Welcome aboard. I love hearing about new players and new troupes picking up the game.

Now, magnitudes and levels. Work out the magnitude of the effect you're after. So, let's say your effect has a base level of 3, Touch range, Concentration duration, and Part target. And you want the device to concentrate, be triggered when it gets picked up, and let's also say you want to give it penetration.

Touch, Concentration, and Part are all +1 magnitude, so your starting effect level is 3 +1 +1 (which now takes us to five) +5 for a "spell level" of 10. The device is the thing that will concentrate, rather than the user, so we add +5 levels. These are levels, not magnitudes, so the new device effect level is 15. But we also want it to penetrate Might 20, so let's add +11 levels for a Penetration of +22. That brings us up to (15 + 11) 26. The device trigger is a simple physical action, so no additional levels are required. So that's 26 in total.

The standard modifiers for the "spell level" are all magnitude. Once you're done with those, the modifiers for the device effects are in individual levels.

I hope this helps.


I think if you wanted the device to activate only when metal weapons touched it, then it would need some kind of InTe effect to decide that the thing touching was a weapon, and was metal.

On the other hand, having the device (shield) activate whenever the face of it is hit, seems entirely permissible without additional effects. So if the shield is hit with, say, a wooden stick it would activate too. But the PeTe effect would have no effect on the wooden stick, of course.

eg. - an ornate iron ball which, when picked up in one hand uses a ReCo (effects one body part) effect to make the hand firmly grip the item for moon duration. There's no intention here, but definite holding. An amusing minor trap, especially if there's a pair.

Ok. This item intrigues me, and I have been trying to get my head around magic item creation. Follow me on this, please, and see if I have it correct:

Phillipe ex Bonisagus has Int 2, MT 7, Re 10, Co 6, Puissant Rego, and working in a level 3 aura. Phillipe has a ReCo lab total of 31.

Phillipe decides to create a "Grasping Orb" as quoted above. The effect is ReCo6 (Base 2, +1Touch, +3 Moon). One use per day is plenty for this item; any additional Lab Total points will go toward Penetration. According to the Material and Size tables, this is a small, base metal item with a sore of 10. Phillipe could open this as an invested item since his vis limit is 14 (2 x MT).

Since Phillipe's Lab Total is 31, he can make this as a lesser enchanted device in one season, if he increases the level to 15 to get a Penetration score of 18. This would require two pawn of Corpus or Rego vis.

Alternatively, Phillipe could make this a charged item with one charge, if he increases the effect level to 31 to get a Penetration score of 50. An effect level of 25 would provide two charges, but the Penetration would be 38. No vis would be required for this.

Now, a couple of questions...

  1. What information should be recorded for the later use of the Lab Text for this item?
  2. What would be the benefit to someone using the Lab Text for this item? (I believe another magus using the Lab Text would need a Lab Total of at least the effective level of the orb.)
  3. When a magus goes to pick up the orb, how does the penetration work? Is it just 5xPM + Co versus the penetration score of the item? Or does it work more like a spell: 5xPM + Co versus Phillipe's ReCo total plus the penetration score of the item - 6?


I'm pretty sure if you look into it you'll find that all the spell guidelines use magnitudes and all the item guidelines use levels. That makes me believe it is intentional. I'm still unpacking from my move, but I should be able to confirm that tomorrow.


This is where the trickiness of determining spell levels comes in (as marklawford mentioned above). The +1 Touch raises the level from 2 to 3, true; but the +3 Moon raises it to 4, 5, 10 - not 6. See the middle column on page 114 of the 5th ed. core rulebook for more details.

{edited - I was wrong before} The first one: 5 x Parma Magica score plus Corpus, versus the penetration score of the item.

Excellent. Thanks for the detailed answers and clarifications, particularly the two stances over the shield. By setting a condition (metal only) on the physical contact, I can see that really would need some InTe. Will discuss the when 'anything hits it' with troupe - as to how strict we'll be with the 'holding' clause.

Intrigued to see that amplification is Muto - makes sense. I think I was sort of thinking Rego to transport the sound further, but that would have a different result. More telephonic.

Ithink I'm getting a feel for it now. It's an intersting art, this magic. I've taken the Masterpiece virtue for my character. I'll almost certainly make something utilitarian, rather than flashy.

What? Isn't Magic Resistance 5x Parma Magica 0 full Corpus???
The 'Form bonus' of Corpus/5 applies to things like Soak vs. physical damage. I believe the 'Form bonus' is a thing for flavour, like the Ignem magus having some supernatural toughness towards fire, because of his great insight into the nature of fire, even if the fire is wholly mundane. Magcial fire OTOH is more easily resisted (well, it all depends of the Penetration of the caster).

About Penetration of items: As long as you already have to note the levels added for Penetration during the enchantment process, why not also add the creator's Penetration ability? It seems silly that the Penetration of spells use this ability, but devices doesn't - and really uses Magic Theory, Lab quality, bonus for assistants, aura etc. since these add to the 'left over' levels from the creation proces. I think I house ruled that in my last saga, and should in the present ones as well.

Checked, p 85 AM5, yes you are quite correct. "base magic resistance equal to their score in the form most applicable to the spell cast"

Most certainly not silly. Its the device casting the spell, not you.

And did you read what i mentioned in another thread, about the maga here who managed to get Penetration score 26? If she had specialised her art scores i expect she could have a lab total for some nasty items at 55+... Achieved with no houserules, just dedication. Do you really want characters who routinely can make items with penetration above 50? Above 100?

Most strongly advise against that.
Original rules makes it far too easy to get huge penetration already.

Erk. You're both totally right. The full Form score counts towards Magic Resistance; if the spell penetrates anyway, then the (Form score/5) bonus adds to your Soak. (The latter is on AM5 page 77.) Edited above; thanks to both of you for the correction.

Could someone let me know if I have this right now? I am not sure about how Magic Resistance works with items, or if I have use of the lab text (described at the end) working, and would appreciate feedback on this.

Grasping Orb
R touch, D moon, T ind
This is a round iron ball, ornately carved, with a diameter of about four inches. Anyone touching the orb with at least two fingers triggers the magic, and is forced to grasp the orb in his/her hand for the moon duration.
(Base +2, +1 touch, +3 moon)
Created by a magus with Re 10 (+3 for Puissant Rego), Co 6, Int 2, MT 7, Aura 3: Lab Total 31.
Charged Item: Level 10 effect, +15 for a Penetration of 30 = total levels 25, created in one season with two charges.

Cachinnus of Criamon makes the item, and leaves it in the covenant library. Blennus of Jerbiton wanders in a day or two later, and picks up the orb. With a PM 3 and Co 8, Blennus' magic resistance against the item has a score of 23, and the penetration of the Orb overcomes Blennus' MR. Blennus has his hand stuck around the metal orb. Blennus now needs to spont a PeVi spell to try to remove the orb. He has a Perdo score of 8, a Vim score of 11, Stm 2, (Aura 3), for a casting total of 24. Casting without gestures -5 (since he has a metal ball in his hand), but a booming voice +1, and a stress die roll of 8 gives a total of 28; divided by 2 results in a final level of 14. According to the PeVi spell guidlines, this will dispel a spell of level 8 (+ a stress die, no botch) or lower. While Blennus cannot automatically dispel the magic, his chances are pretty good.

Imitara of Tytalus enjoyed watching Blennus struggle with the device, and asks Cachinnus for the Lab Text, in exchange for some vis. Imitara has a ReCo lab total of 20. Since this is greater than the level of the effect (10), she can use the lab text, and create the item with four charges (lab total / 5). If Cachinnus were to remake the item, he could make it with 6 charges.

Based on another thread discussing how to resist magic from items, I think I have Blennus' case correct (that the additional levels for penetration are not included in the effect level). Can Imitara really use the lab text? Or are the additional levels for penetration counted for an actual total of 25? Either way, will the item have the same penetration as when Cachinnus first made it?

Thanks for taking time to comment.