New ReTe spell: Warrior's Wield


Warrior's Wield, ReTe 10
R: Touch, D: Conc, T: Part

Cast on the hilt or shaft of a weapon this spell makes it follow, powerfully, the magus' lightest touch. The item feels as light as a feather to the wielder, but falls as heavy as an anvil on whatever it strikes. The load of the item is nullified for encumbrance purposes, and the magus is considered to wield it with Str +5.

This spell can not be cast on a weapon, such as a staff, without a specific portion to be gripped; and requires the appropriate casting requisite for materials not covered by Terram (e.g. Herbam for the typical spear). Note that the spell does not target the striking portion of the weapon, which is then unaffected by Magic Resistance. Also note that fighting with the weapon, both offensively and defensively, does not force the magus to make rolls to maintain Concentration (see ArM5, p.82) -- but any other distraction does, including being wounded.

Base 1 "Control or move dirt in a natural fashion", +2 Metal, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, +1 Part

I'm not very happy with this spell.

First: it seems to be a spell which doesn't need penetration, but enhance a weapon. Indirectly, it is a spell giving a bonus to damage (from 0 to +10 relating to your own strength) and other combat totals (if you use encumbrance, which I really forget more than once...).

Second: if that spell is used for combat, and it is, I would require finesse to hit. No more weapon ability. It is then technically a sling of vilano, but melee version. If the point is to use combat abilities, then ReTe, MuTe, PeTe spells exist which enhance weapons and reduce load (one could ask if reducing load of a weapon wouldn't reduce its damage... not sure if that is already discussed somewhere).

Third: since it is a spell (with concentration but still a spell), one could argue that you can only do one action each round: either attack or defense. You would need multicasting to do otherwise or a (house ruled) finesse rule with malus for multiple actions (maybe 0 for first action, but -X per next one, taking into account the fact that you can only attack once in combat each round).

Fourth : I'm not sure base 1 "natural fashion" is okay: it seems to me that metals are not naturally swung around in battle. This is mainly a personal question, nothing else.

Here's a lesson for you, kids. Never write Ars Magica posts first thing in the morning.

[strike]How can the weapon strike as hard as an anvil if only the handle is affected? How can the balance of the weapon be maintained if only the handle is affected? Obviously, you're trying to avoid Magic Resistance, but the spell does not pass the sniff test. If the weapon is being made to hit harder, I think magic is certainly affecting the entire weapon.[/strike]

A spell like this would, however, be a great way to bypass the minimum Strength requirement for a weapon.

The base is off. Even The Unseen Porter uses base 3, very unnatural movement. Natural movement is the movement metal has in nature. About the only base 1 effect might be a gentle gravity assist to get a stone rolling down hill, for example. Slightly unnatural might be moving the stone along level ground in any direction. Unnatural movement is in any direction you please, and so on.

One thing a lot of people don't think about swords is that in the hands of a capable wielder, every part of the sword is dangerous and every part of the sword is used in battle. The pommel can be used used to bash opponents in secondary action after the sweep of the sword misses the target while in preparation for another blow. I would say that the sword has some penalty to attack, because the magic is acting on the hilt of the sword, ruling out action with the pommel (the wielder needs to compensate for that). The hilt is where it's being gripped, and the magic is affecting it, making it strike harder, so it's conceivable that the wielder, who isn't getting correct feedback from holding the weapon, might have the sword slip from his grip, and he needs to compensate for that, too. Probably make it a -3 to attack for the combined penalties, and the spell level needs to go to 20. I don't have a problem with the T:Part to get past Magic Resistance, but I do have a problem with the fact that this weapon would require significant adjustments in the hands of he who wields it...

Folks, thanks for the comments -- keep them coming! This was a somewhat controversial spell in our saga, so I was looking for feedback.
Let's separate comments about "game balance" from comments about "correct by the RAW". I will not address the former, except by noting in passing that there are far more efficient (and less dangerous) ways for a magus to operate in combat than simply swing a sword hard. @exarkun. Natural, slightly unnatural, or very unnatural? This was discussed extensively by our troupe. It's certainly no more than slightly unnatural, given that spells that make e.g. wheels turn entirely on their own have "slightly unnatural" as a Base (see the Hermetic Generans in TME).
I am using the Hermetic Generans as an example because:
a) it explicitly adds the material (metal) magnitudes to Base 2 (for Unseen Porter how this is handled is unclear).
b) a wheel that just keeps turning on its own (the Hermetic Generans) is more natural than an item that floats around on its own (the Unseen Porter), but less natural than an item that does not move on its own, and just moves when actively pushed as if pushed by a stronger but still "normal" person (Warrior's Wield). Pommels and spearbutts. This is the reason why the spell works only on weapons that have a clear "grip portion", that's covered by the user's hands and thus not used to strike in battle. The pommel, or the butt of a spear, would not be covered by the spell. Now, you could argue that in some weapons with a clear "grip portion" you sometimes shift your hands around -- this is true for a number of medieval sword techniques, for example, which have the user grip with a gauntleted hand the base of the blade to deliver a forceful spear-like thrust. But I think this is pushing the discussion a bit too far. The notion that you can enchant only the "grip" portion of weapons with a clear grip portion comes from MoH, where a magus I'm too lazy to look up has just the shaft of his weapon enchanted, so he can use it bypassing MR, apparently at no penalty. This spell just follows that idea. @exarkun. Using a lightsaber is not trivial! One of the things that came up in our group was that this spell allows you to swing around really heavy stuff too easily to avoid accidents. Initially, we added three extra botch dice until the spell had been used extensively (the user had gained 5xp either in mastering it, or in improving his weapon skills while using the spell). But, really, if this is the case the same penalty should apply to any spell that boosts the user's strength or size. In fact, even if you have Single Weapon 6 (swords), when picking up a new sword you should not be as comfortable with it as with one you've practiced with for a few hours. So we decided against it, reserving the right to add a penalty on an ad-hoc basis if the situation warrants it (e.g. if the spell gets cast spontaneously, and the user never had any experience it with before).

@exarkun Why not Finesse? The answer is simple. In order to throw stuff with the sling of Vilano, you are directly exerting control on the magical forces; you do not need to move a single muscle. With Warrior's Wield, you are just setting the magical forces to accompany your normal fighting moves without really controlling them directly. In this sense, Warrior's Wield is far more similar to Gift of the Frog's Legs (ReCo 15 from the Corebook) that has the jumper make a Dexterity - Encumbrance roll to land without injury -- no caster's Finesse is involved. This is also the reason why you can really do anything you could otherwise do if you had a Strength of +5 in your sword arm.

This is why a ghost using a power to hold the hilt/handle must penetrate (somewhere in RoP:M). Is this really any different than using magic to hold the hilt/handle? Aren't they exactly the same? I would find it very difficult arguing why the canon version of this must penetrate while this spell need not.

If Ars Magica physics says it must be one of these three, it certainly seems like it's the first of the three. And, if so...

So it would seem to be resisted.

@callen good catch.

I need to remember to reread the rules when faced with questions like this. 9 times out of 10, when presented by an a supposed exploit in the intersection of rules, someone (even and especially myself) has missed some key point. Or the interpeetation of ambiguous rules could go different ways.

I can't quite find the reference you are pointing to. But in Magi of Hermes, we read of Hugh of Flambeau's talisman poleaxe that "only the haft has been enchanted, allowing the blade to be unimpeded by Magic Resistance."

Not at all, and certainly not "certainly" :slight_smile:
Note that this is about projectiles, and projectiles "handled whole".
In general, Magic Resistance does not protect from indirect effects. If I turn myself into a giant, parma may stop my punches, but it will not stop the non-magical tree I am using as a club -- even though it's moved by strength originating in magic. If I magically heat an oven, parma will protect your hands from getting burned by the oven, but not by the cookies baked in the oven. Etc. This is exactly the same situation. Magic affects something, that non-magically affects something else.

The power is Ghost Touch on page 102 of RoP:M.

4th paragraph, last sentence.

Hugh's blade, IIRC, isn't propelled by a magically enchanted force.

I checked the ghost power (thanks for providing the reference). It is not quite the same as Warrior's Wield, in that it targets the whole item. You'll also note that even projectiles thrown by the ghost need to penetrate MR, despite requiring aiming. So you can't quite use it as a benchmark for what a Hermetic magus would do.

At the same time, it's true that Hugh's talisman isn't propelled by magical force. But technically, neither is the sword blade in Warrior's Wield. The blade is propelled non-magically by the hilt, which is propelled by magic (among other things, you pay for this with T:Part). Let me ask you: if someone uses MuCo to provide enhanced strength to a grog, and said grog uses a non-magical club to bash a MR-protected victim, does the MR block the club's blows?

With respect to the grogs, yes the weapon would still be blocked. The hit would land, but there wouldn't be any damage. It's part of the reason why I don't buff grogs, except for defense.

Hmm. Interesting. If this is your position, it's certainly coherent with that you have on this thread's spell. I still don't think it's the "correct" position though ... but I'm all ears for actual "canon" examples supporting or disproving it.

Of course it's coherent, it's consistent with RAW. It's most similar to the example of a pebble being turned into a boulder and thrown at the magus. In no case, if the spell fails to penetrate, is any damage done, no Boulder damage nor any pebble damage, whatever they might be. A grog with magicked strength is still using that strength at the point of attack, part of his motive force, the part used to calculate damage, is magical. It's fruit of the poisonous tree at that point, so to speak, and if the damage is magical in all or in part, then it is stopped. Blade of the Virulent Flame is stopped for resistance, the effect does no damage AND the weapon does no damage.

I do not think the examples you made are relevant, since they involve a magically affected item directly harming a MR target. This is not the case at hand. Though I do think your position may have merit. Let me see.

If a magus creates a (temporary) magical steed, and uses that steed to charge (non-magical) lance in hand a magically protected enemy, what happens? If I understand your position correctly, there should be virtually no damage unless the steed creation spell has sufficient penetration. Is that correct?

By the same token, if a magus creates a magical bonfire, then holds an iron brand in the fire until it's searing hot, the magus won't be able to use it to brand his magical cow unless the bonfire spell penetrates the cow's MR?

I believe that's the case, yes. And it's not virtually no damage, but no damage.

Hmm. Somehow I have a feeling that this leads to problems with existing canon.
I'll have to think about it (and I'd be happy if others chimed in) but for the time being let me observe that this suggests using Steed of Vengeance would be a bad choice for a Flambeau of the School of Ramius. Though I think I may find better examples.

Yeah, it's pretty unlikely for someone in the School of Ramius to use that spell, IMO. Or even the one that creates a horse.

And yet, it is listed as a favourite spell of the school.
I am not saying this disproves your point, but it does seem to weaken it a little. Just a little.

See, this is what bothers me. Suppose I am riding a horse. Charging an enemy, I swing my sword at him.
Anyone with a modicum of combat experience knows that part of the strength I hit with is my own, and part the horse's.
In fact, this is reflected in ArM5 combat mechanics.

Now, what happens if the horse is magical, and the enemy is protected by MR?
You seem to rule out that I simply cause full damage.
Do I cause no damage at all? Do I cause only "non-charging" damage?
Somehow, either solution seems contrived, though it may be just me being unused to this interpretation of MR.

The rules of magic resistance are absolute. Blade of the Virulent Flame being resisted causes all damage to be negated. By extension all means of adding damage with magic can be resisted. Unless they are aimed. And the RAW makes that clear, too.

I see your arguments and don't disagree with them, entirely.