new ranges/durations/targets

The virtues Faerie magic from the main book, Divine Magic from true lineages, and now sensory magic, spell timeing, and some other merinita virtue from Mystery cults all give the magus a bundle of new ranges duration aand targets to play with.

Having not played with a magus who ever used any of those virtues in a game I've been involved in (we had a Merinita in our last game but the player suffered from a mild case of rules ambivelence), how have they been changed the way the character approached matters?

I'd imagine that while they might make a percieveable difference in formulaic spells their biggest effect would be with spontaineous magic. After all non-standard parameters can be incorporated into formulaic spells at the cost of a magnetude or two but IIRC they can not be included in spontaneous magic at all.

Am I correct about this? or do so many of the new spell parameters involve such high magnetude boosts (duration until, duration bargain, duration year and a day) that you see their effects in rituals more than anything else?

From page 92 of Ars Magica on Faerie Magic: "Initiates of the Outer Mystery gain access to special Ranges, Duations, and Targets. They may use these with Spontaneous magic and in Formulaic spells."

Our Merenita hasn't started playing with these yet, although I should perhaps encourage him. When I was considering introducing my own mage to the game I was sorely tempted to take either a Merenita or build a mage with Holy Magic just so I could experiment with the special Ranges/Durations/Targets. I think they're a great way to add flavor to different types of Hermetic Magic, although I still haven't seen them in actual play. (Save for one Merenita NPC who cast an earthquake spell on a road.)

What I had the question about was if characters without the virtue could use these parameters in their spontaineous magic by taking a magnetude or two hit for using a non-standard parameter, not whether Merinita could use them as they wished.

I think the answer is "spont magic has to be confined to the parameters that you know, only formulaic spells can use parameters that you don't know" but I haven't double checked it.

Ah my apologies. I think it's pretty clear that you can only gain access to the new R/D/T if you have been initiatied in the mystery. (Or at least the new R/D/T are only discussed in relation to the mystery itself.) And I certainly wouldn't allow non-initiated to use them.

"After all non-standard parameters can be incorporated into formulaic spells at the cost of a magnetude or two but IIRC they can not be included in spontaneous magic at all."

Upon what do you base this belief? An unusual effect can add a magnitude or two to a spell level, but I'd never allow someone who wasn't Merinita to use the Bargain duration. As far as I'm concerned, those are only available to Merinita. You've gotta have the Virtue to use them, spontaneous, Ritual or formulaic, it doesn't matter.

I drove home for lunch, this was bugging me.

page 114 middle column last paragraph;

"The catagories described here were built into the structure of hermetic magic by Bonisagus. All spontaineous spells must conform to these requirements... Formulaic spells, on the other hand, can be invented with ranges, durations or targets not listed here. This is usually slightly more difficult than if the closest catagory were used, but is largely left to storyguide interpretation."

In the past I interpreted this as; "find the lowest standard parameter that is clearly at least equal to the desired non-standard parameter and then add a magnetude." I see now that the system is less structured.

time to go back to work (I can't believe I squandered my lunch break for a rules quote).

Interesting. I took this to mean that, for instance, Group Target could be increased from say base 10 to base 20, but that's covered explicitly by the rules so no storyguide interpretation is required.

It was also my belief, based on TL: Bonisagus chapter, that if you were going to invent a spell with a new Range, Target or Duration, that you'd have to do original research and make a breakthrough before you could invent a spell with a non-standard R/T/D.

I always figured that you could invent a new standard r/d/t with original research as well. Being able to use a non-standard r/d/t at a magnetude or more higher doesn't really come into play that frequently.

Player: "I want to develop a spell that works until midnight or noon instead of dusk or dawn."

SG:" Your character doesn't have the spell timing virtue does he?"

Player : "No"

SG : "Ok, make the spell a magnetude higher for using a non-standard duration."

Player: "I could make it duration moon for that level"

SG: "Yup, you sure could"

Because non-standards are harder to do, there rarely is any benefit to be gained by not just jumping to the next higher parameter. Why develop a power that travels as far as the enchanted device could be thrown if you could instead have it target as far as the user can see for the same level?

Parameters that are incorporated into a magus' understanding however are practivcal tools that will see all sorts of use (especially the ones in Mystery Cults).


Can't believe you waited untill your lunch break :stuck_out_tongue:


Well, the exact adjustment is left to the GM's discretion. For example, I believe that old Reach range should be as difficult as Voice range.

Yeah so my internet at work crashed right after the 'apprentice opening arts discussion." As soon as I got the pc fixed I rush to that page ready to give a correct answer. The matter has been long resolved, but the idea of running my business, or checking mail, or doing anything professional. Well it had to wait until I chimed in about Ars Magica! Loyal or pathetic? You decide.


I've been called a hard-ass GM, and this seems to me to be excessive.

One magnitude is not "slightly more difficult", by most any yardstick (tho' each GM is welcome to their own, natch.)

If a mage had a Flying spell, and (to avoid awkard pre-sunset and pre-dawn situations) wanted to make it "Duration: 2xSun", then I would charge them a level or two, but not the same as if they made it "Duration: Moon". To allow no alternative between 12(?) hours and 28(?) days achieves nothing good, imo.

Allowing for creative variations both improves the flavour of the game IG, and helps avoid predictable NPC spells.

If the Designers had wanted to mandate "a magnitude", they would have. The listed spells have tradionally shown variation in Durations, Targets, Ranges and effects appropriate to the flavour of the spell. (Wind/Water spells that "wash" beyond their normal ranges, flame spells that attenuate, and so on. Those are not "1 magnitude" greater than the closest approximation, nor should they be.)

To each their own, but I'd feel the GM was taking an easy out.

There is no precedent for adding levels, not magnitudes, to spells - is there? For magic item effects, sure, but not spells? I'd be reluctant to introduce such an element into spell level calculations (which are plenty complex as they are), but to each his own, of course.

Strange durations should usually be the result of experimentations, IMHO. Mostly it is ether that, or original research.

Adding lvls (rather than magnitudes) to spells should be ineffective in most cases.

That's a common assumption, and it certainly works, but there's no real "rule" for or against it afaik.

(This is copied from 4th ed pdf, which is certainly a precedent to 5th.)

Most spells are assigned a level, which is usually a multiple of five. A 5th level spell is very weak, a 15th level spell is of moderate power, and a 30th level spell is quite powerful. Some spells are General spells (abbreviated to Gen), which means that they may be learned at any level of difficulty —the higher the level, the more powerful the spell. You may even learn General spells at levels that are not multiples of 5.

This specifies that General spells can, but never addresses Ritual spells per se, one way or the other. The word "usually" is not specifically tied to only General spells, tho' it would have been easy to do so.

Spells are rated by levels, according to their power. Spells of greater power have a greater level. Magi refer to spell levels by using the word magnitude (magi do not use the term level), and one order of magnitude encompasses five levels of spells. Spells of the first magnitude, therefore, are those spells of levels 1-5.

Pretty clear here.

The storyguide may always intervene and declare that a certain combination of range, duration, target, and effect warrants a higher or lower level than that described by the guidelines and the system above.

This also uses the term "Level", not "Magnitudes" or "multiples of 5", even tho' specifically speaking only of "range, duration, target, and effect."

The categories described here were built into the structure of Hermetic magic by Bonisagus. All spontaneous spells must conform to these requirements (the magus is making the spell up on the fly—he cannot also push the limits of magic theory). Formulaic spells, on the other hand, can be invented with ranges, durations or targets that are not listed here. This is usually slightly more difficult than if the closest category were used, but is largely left to storyguide interpretation.

Again, no mandate that ritual spells must be measured in full magnitudes, or only multiples of 5. What does "slightly more difficult" mean to you? Each GM must answer that themselves- that much is even spelled out.

95% of the time, the authors refer to Level, not Magnitude, and I believe there's a reason for that.

Maybe they left if intentionally vague. But vague it is, and as such completely open to interpretation. Don't know if 5th re-emphasizes one interpretation over the other, or what.

The parameters standard for hermetic magic are all based on physical citerea and in general, they're pretty evocative monn spells don't really last 28 days they last until both the new moon and the full moon have crossed the sky. Sun spells don't really last 12 hours, they last until sunrise or sunset. I'm not certain that having npc spells that use different parameters would add flavor to the game. You'd have to choose pretty cool parameters.

My issues with making unusual parameters less than a magnetude are the following. First the hermetic parameters are pretty fun and I like to encourage their use, if they aren't at least somewhat more efficient than non-standards it will discourage their use. Second, virtues that grant access to non-standard parameters such as faerie magic should, in my opinion, give a real benefit to the character. If a spell with the duration "year and a day" can be developed by an normal magus for only one or two levels more effort than the standard year duration (ie. until both the summer and winter solstices pass) what's the big deal about having access to year and a day through faerie magic?

I'm quite aware of how "Sun" and "Moon" are defined, which is why I added the question mark to those durations. I hadn't thought I needed to spell out the actual durations, "Somewhere between 22+ hours and a few moments, depending on the latitude, time of year and exact time of day that the spell is cast" (for "Sun"), and etc. for Moon.

Those Virtues give both a specific flavour to a Mage's magic and allow spontaneous magic to use them as well (as I understand it), which cannot be said otherwise for "unusual parameters". That, combined with the +1 to +2 level savings for formulaic spells, sounds about right for a +1 or +2 Virtue in 4th, which translates to a Minor Virtue in 5th.

Again, altho' you take the stand that (non-general) Formulaic Spells must be evenly divisible by 5, and therefore question my interpretation, I take the reverse position- where do you get that premise to begin with?

All I can say is to repeat the question, "What does "slightly more difficult" mean to you?"

If you don't see the same interpretation, go with your own. That much IS in the book, and a universal truth for GM's.

I was attempting to point out how rich in feel the durations were to anmy reader, I did not mean to imply that you didn't know the definitions. Sprry to have come off the wrong way there.

That has never been my position. You're inferrig that I advocate it because I want a one magnetude jump for non-standard parameters. This is an incorrect assumption.

it means enough of a hit that characters will use standard parametes when they can. Enough of a dififficulty that virtues which grant new parameters are valuable. Five levels works well enough to do this.