Noob question - Spontaneous Magic

My character is a Scot highlander in the Loch Leglean tribunal and I'm discovering spontaneous magic (and a potential epic Diedne Magic - Dark Secret storyline) for the first time. Well, I guess I'm playing Ars Magica for the first time, to be sure.

So, is spontaneous magic any more than casting spells I have not learned but are already printed in ArM5 or other cyber-grimoires? Is there an improvisational aspect to it - "Mmmmm... I'm using a spontaneous Creo Aquam spell to suck the moisture out of the air to form a sphere of fog. Yeah, that's the ticket!"

Any former threads I should check out. I don't have the search thing down well enough to find ye olde discussions on the matter.


Spontaneous magic pretty much lets you make up spells on the spot, based on the guidelines (the stuff in the boxes) in the spells chapter of the core book, as well as guidelines printed elsewhere. You just take the magnitude of the guideline and add magnitudes for any range/duration/target stuff you want to add beyond personal/momentary/individual.

Your Creo Aquam example wouldn't suck the moisture out of the air to make the sphere of fog, it'd just make the sphere. Though check with your storyguide; fog, like clouds, might be auram. Still, in a general sense, your example is right. You can make things up as you go with spontaneous magic. That's part of the fun. :slight_smile:

What Ejidoth said.

A favorite example is "how to blow out a candle?". The direct way is to extinguish the flame, Perdo Ignem. But virtually [i]any[/u] combination of arts can extingish the fire, with sufficient ingenuity. For example, you could use Creo Herbam to drop a massive log onto the candle, squashing it; you could use Rego Terram to cover it with a pan; and so on. It's fun coming up with inventive ways to do the job. :slight_smile:

You might want to have a look at Erik Tyrell's Level Three Spells thread to get some ideas of small, but effective, spells just about any wizard can cast spontaneously.

Once you get the hang of spontaneous magic, you'll find it incredibly handy.

If you do take diednie magic, remeber that you normally double your lowest art before calculating your spont. casting total, so focus on increasing your techniques over your forms. They will be much more usefull. ~20 years out of gauntlet and I only know around a dozen formulaic spells, but I can easily spont level 15-40 creo or rego spells depending on the form.

Also think of combining the fast caster virtue.
You can do life linked too...but remember that it cost fatigue so you can't do as many spont spells.

Hey, I'm an hard-core fan of spont magic too. Let me give you some suggestions from experience.

If your House and background is compatible (no closet Diedne Tremere, sorry), by all means do start with Diedne Magic. It is simply unvaluable to a serious spont specialist.

Enduring Constitution and Spell Improvisation are also good complementary Virtues to have. The former more so than the latter.

Life-Linked Spont Magic is but the poor substitute for Diedne Magic if the latter isn't possible. A Diedne magus initiating it, however, will make for a very powerful combination.

Same deal for Faerie-Raised Magic, to a rather lesser degree.

Chthonic Magic may be a rather better (if socially questionable) substitute, and combining it with Diedne Magic (by initation, or if your GM will let you, playing an Ex Misc with Diedne Magic and Chthonic Magic as the extra Supernatural Virtue, e.g. a Thessaly Witch offshoot) will make for a quite powerful and flavorful (curses and sacrifices !) combination.

A spont specialist magus should in many cases naturally be interested in mysteries that may significantly enhance spont magic: the best ones are the Merinita illusion and charm schools (Faerie Magic, Charm Magic, Story Magic, Animae Magic, Spell Timing and Glamour magic are all very good Virtues for a spont specialist, esp. Charm Magic) and theurgic Name magic (Hermetic Theurgy Form spell spirits make for a rather handy and flavorful substitute for non-Diedne spont magic specialists, while Invocation Magic may allow very siginificant boosts to spont spells; Synthemata Magia may be quite good to have if you often deal with supernatural creatures from any realm). Consummate Talisman and Inscription over the Soul may also be remarkably useful (casting bonuses from Charm Magic, Invocation Magic, and a Consummate Talisman that is incorporated in your body/spirit all stack).

As a general rule, any Virtue that opens up new R/D/T or spell guidelines to non-ritual magic is a godsend to a spont specialist, except Holy Magic and Hermetic Geometry for thematic and rule issues.

Harnessed Magic may be useful to discard sponted spells (typically Corpus, Imagonem, and Mentem) that are no longer useful.

If you often casts spont spells subtly, esp. in the Dominion, or while shapeshifted, getting the Subtle/Quiet Magic combo may be quite advisable.

I haven't HoH:S yet :frowning: :cry: so I can't tell if there is anything there that would be of special interest for a spont specialist.

Great tips here Wanderer ! Makes me want to do a spontanous specialist :wink:

Didn't read anything about spontaneous magic in Societates yet.

By all means do. They rock. How to combine flavorful coolness about sympathetic magic with flexible effectiveness. Probably it comes to no surprise if I tell that I play a former Ex Misc Chthonic Diedne (Thessaly Witch-like trad) who initiated into Merinita and Philosopher of Rome theurgy mysteries. 8) :wink:

have you checked the Ex Misc chapter, too ? I wondered whether some of the new Supernatural Virtues might be of interest for spont magic. Nothing from Flambeau and Tytalus chapters, either ? These Houses should be heavily interested in the on-the-fly uses of hermetic magic.

If there is nothing, it is a slight pity, but no much of a big deal. Current books (esp. HoH:MC and TMRE, as I detailed) hold quite more than enough goodness to keep a spont specialist heavily involved into mystery initiations, alongside Arts, and Arcane Abilities for the next 100 years of between-stories downtime or so.

Oh yeah, I also forgot to mention that a spont specialist should do very well to maximize Arts (cases may be done both for a generalist approach or for specializing in 2-3 Techniques and 3-4 Forms, but owning or initiating Skilled Parens and Virtues that speed up Art learning, such as Book Learner, Free Study or Study Bonus may be rather useful; the latter two combo makes for a flavorful thematic combo with the spont specialization), and Arcane Abilities (Artes Liberales, Concentration, Finesse, Magical Theory -for spellcasting bonuses cap if nothing else-, Parma Magica, Penetration, and all the Realm Lores) as they are your dear and valued adventuring friends; pay them the attention and cares they deserve. Remember to develop your Mysteries' Lores to advance.

I am very fond of Unaging and (Strong) Faerie Blood. Plenty of added time to master your mysteries, and standing free invitation into Merinita.

Sorcerous Magic may be a good substitute for Quiet/Subtle Magic to do the sneaky subtle bard/musician-mage in the Dominion.

You might also pick some Flaws that round up the specialization: I suggest Careless Sorcerer, Cabal Legacy, Covenant Upbringing, Loose Magic, Magic Addiction, Pagan, Restriction, either Rigid Magic or Unstructured Caster, Unpredictable Magic, Weak Enchanter, Blatant Gift, Depraved, Fury, Personality traits and Flaws that indicate a problem with impulse control (Ambitious, Proud, Lusty, Wrathful, Optimistic, Carefree, Overconfident, Reckless), Fettered Magic, Poor Memory, Poor Formulaic Magic, Prohibition, Social Handicap, Supernatural Nuisance, Vow, Vulnerable Magic, Warped Magic, Weak Magic Resistance, Weird Magic, Greater or Lesser malediction, Lycanthrope, Sheltered Upbringing, Faerie Upbringing, Chaotic Magic, and Visions. All of them make for either good Flaws to take at creation or initation Ordeals.

For the life of your character never ever pick Enfeebled, Harmless Magic, Unnatural Magic, Holy Magic, Mercurian Magic, Clumsy Magic, Painful Magic, Difficult Longevity Ritual, Short-Ranged Magic, Study Requirement, Weak Spontaneous Magic, Difficult Spontaneous Magic, Deficient Techniques and Forms, Disorientating Magic, Short-Lived Magic, Slow Magic, Weak Magic, Weak Parens. They will all interfere with your chosen spont magic focus to some degree.

Of course, the price to pay for all this coolness, is that you will likely earn no end of enimity from Tremere, Quaesitors, Latin magic purists, Christian zealots (you are a pagan or a heretic, most likely), and the Dominion, since you likely dabble in a lot of magic of dubious origin. Play up your strengths, you are the undisputable master of flexible magic and you can always come up with a spell for every circumstance and situation. Turn surroundings to your advantage. Be creative. Think up in advance. Your adversaries may be more powerful in some niche, but their abilities will generally be much more inflexible. The world is a much better place without Tremere, inquisitors, Latin zealots, and Divine fanatics, so be nice and help them out of their misery. :smiling_imp:

Do be wary of the Dominion and tempter demons, and learn to distinguish between demons and faerie or magical spirits. Your magic won't help you here all that much, and you are a prime target for both demonic corruption and divine retribution, esp. if you use chthonic powers.

:open_mouth: :open_mouth: And how that relate with the fact that you arte a spont specialist? Leave the children alone, you filthy sorcerous music Hamelin Witch!! :laughing: :laughing:

Appart from that, it is funny how a simple rules doubt (how does spont magic work) derived into a "get a spont specialist with a 50% discount today only, ma'am!!" thread :stuck_out_tongue: LOL

Quite convincing arguments and reasons there if you like the new V&F, actually. Sound like that sponted mage can be quite a dyude.... and have quite a few quaesitors and trigger happy dudes following him if he messed a situation or 2. Amazing story fodder for the SG. Kudos to you wanderer.


Hey, it isn't my fault if the author of the V/F section of RoP:I chose such a misleading and value-laden, pejorative name for the "irreligious, proud, and outspoken" Personality Flaw. It has nothing to do with morality per se, it is just the guy that sincerely despises and disdains Divine religious and it openly shows. You know, the one that backtalks to preachers, laughs at Mass and proudly leads a sinful lifestyle. It is not a tainted Flaw, so it is not (necessarily) due to Infernal taint. It may just mean heretical, atheist, pagan, or secular belief.

It is just another variant of the "pagan, proud, and outspoken" Pagan Personality/Story Flaw, with the difference that one proudly and openly disdains the Dominion out of pagan faith, the other despises it per se.

I just thought that in my experience, both (and/or Covenant Upbringing) work very fine to characterize a Diedne, Chthonic, Faerie and/or Theurgist magus with rather unorthodox beliefs and practices.

Or maybe I'm just trying to tempt naive noobs into following me on my Dominion-hating, inquisitor-slaying path. :smiling_imp: :wink:

My character has just that kind of personality, even if it can't afford to have all the official Personality/Story Flaws out of character creation restrictions (turned most of them into Personality Traits). It has several of the Flaws I detailed, though. The guidelines I posted in part are taken from character creation notes. 8)

I'm planning to use the current hiatus to make myself familiar with HoH:S, extract any new useful crunch goodness, integrate them into planned development (a rather crucial issue for a successful ArM character if you ask me) and rearrange him all slick and streamlined for the new story arc with the new GM. He is still rather naive to ArM 5, but I hope to bring fully into the fold :wink: He told me the next story arc should be about magical secrets, and seemed highly interested into integrating Ancient Magic stuff, which I revealed to him, with his own ideas, so my character should feel quite at home.

Thanks a lot for the appreciation. It's rather easy to give guidelines about your preferred character type. Following your last point, I'll just finish telling that in addition to studying TMRE (theurgy, spirit & talisman magic), HoH:MC (Merinita), and HoH: S (primal magic traditions) for insight, it probably pays to study HoH:TL (Tremere and Quaesitor) HoH:S (Flambeau and Tytalus), as well as RoP:D and RoP:I to learn about the probable enemies you'll face (and learn some tricks: I do believe that Flambeau and Tytalus have some valuable lessons to teach about how to use magic flexibly; their chosen focus mandates it).

Not really no. I don't think you can add much to the existing options. You might find Leper Magus (which lets you get vis) or Exotic Casting (hinder people trying to identify what TeFo you are using) useful, but they're not specially geared towards spontaneous magic like the virtues you mentioned.
As was pointed out before, there's quite a bit of discussion of how "mainstream" Hermetic magic does work - including topics which have been discussed here before (wards, Rego projectiles vs. MR, species ...) - but you probably won't find you're new über-virtue in there (unlike the feats arms race of That Other Game). Unless you should choose to join an Ex Misc tradition, some of which are quite fascinating (though I must admit, I've not done a power analysis yet - I need to figure out how big some of those totals can go...)

Whew, thanks to all. Must go back, cloister myself, and study my tomes.

Hmm, I suppose that Leper Magus requires the character to be affected with Leprosy, which C&G most unwisely and disappointingly made into a divine disease, incurable by anything but divine powers. Now, call me biased and overprotective of my characters, but I'm not going EVER to have a Flaw that gives you a decaying body, horrible social penalties, and is utterly incurable short of crawling on your stomach to the Divine, and to threaten the GM with a very big stick if he ever attempts to saddle me one by means of twilight Flaw. Certain Flaws, you are most honest to hand the character sheet and a matchstick to the GM.

No thanks, I'd rather take my chances with profaning hosts and using demon body parts if I'm really that desperate for vis :stuck_out_tongue:

This smacks me as the "colorful bit in concept, useless in practice" crunchy bit to have.

Not that much big of a deal, there are more than enough spont-useful Virtues already to keep a maga clocking Initiations till Final Twilight. 8)

Well, Virtues add but "plug-in" boosters and new ways of using it (such as new guidelines and R/D/Ts), but ultimately spont magic is all about using good old Hermetic Arts in creative, spur-of the-moment ways. So I'd expect such discussion to be useful, too (e.g. Rego projectiles for spont combat mages, or species for spont illusionists). I'll need to peruse the book to acknowledge just how much, although.

By all means do, and post it when you're done. You'll spare me the job this time :smiley: :wink:

A previous discussion has convinced me that life linked magic is for the most part better than Diedne

Here I would say that these virtues overlap rather than stack (coming from the same source and all). But clearly this is an issue not covered by the rules. (I find the thought of lowest art x3 to be distasteful but I'll admit that I've never seen it in play...and I hope to keep it that way.)

Holy and Hermetic Geometry would work fine for a spont magician if you don't go with cthonic

There is a virtue that lets you do ceremonial magic at 5 minutes per magnitude rather than 15.

Yeah, I saw it last night, so scratch what I said before. Speedups from having props around is also pretty cool.

Really ? Well, since I'm so far of completely opposite conviction, kindly point me the link, or summarize the argument ?

Evidently you expouse the theory that Diedne were actually infernally-tainted or sacrifice-crazy SOBs and that the spont magic bonus of Diedne magic comes from Infernal influence and/or sacrifices. I do not. I follow the theory that Diedne were the relatively-innocent victims of murderous anti-polytheistic Tremere prejudice (if they ever did some human sacrifices, it was criminals amd volunteers) and that their proficiency with spont magic just comes from the fact that their particular brand of magic was especially suited to it, just like Mercurian tradition was espeically good to ritual magic. After all, it is canon that several parts of Bonisagus' theory were watered-down adaptations of the specialized insights of various magical traditions, and that he got the ideas for spont magic from Diedne.

Of course, my viewpoint is colored by the fact that I'm a Diedne fan and a Tremere-hater, as indicated by my ArM Code sign. :wink:

So in my book Diedne and Chthonic stack fine, b/c their bonus come from different sources: the former from a deep mystical insight on the flexible nature of magic, the latter from affinity with the darkest parts of the supernatural world.

As for the game balance concerns from lowest art x3, well, it depends from the sought power level of your saga. Since I prefer it fairly high-powered, where hermetic mages are utterly unstoppable and fearsome titans for lowly and puny mundanes, and they only really have to fear the Divine, other Hermetics, and the supernatural creatures of the four realms, it's fine for me. A spont specialist will be able to sling spont magic which is almost as good as the formulaic of the average magus, or of comparable level with bonuses from mystery virtues, but it cannot be as good as the formulaic spells of other Hermetic specialists, whose PCs and NPCs may have as optimized and high-powered character builds for formulaic magic and specializations as mine have for spont magic. Fair is fair. He trades depth of power for broadth. So it is balance preserved where it matters.

Holy magic, certainly. But since I suggested Chthonic, along with Diedne, Merinita, and Theurgy, as the A-top priorities for boosting spont magic, I assumed in most cases one would have Chthonic and/or Faerie, which do not mesh well with Holy (although one might be an heretic Holy theurgist, or rather stretching it, even a heretic Holy Merinita). OTOH, Faerie and Chthonic mesh well, "dark and fearsome aspects of nature" and all that. As for Hermetic Geometry, it was a flavor thing, I just thought such a precise approach to magic did not vibe well with the flexible attitude a spont specialist might have. As a general note, Holy Magic is rather crippling to any spont specialist, b/c it forces you to do it without hermetic speech and gestures. As it would be expected, faith only cripples your potential :smiling_imp:

This reminds me, to add Holy Magic to the list of V/F I suggest against for a spont specialist, unless your character concept really, really calls for it.

What's its name ? Minor or major ? How it works ? It's not as fundamental to have, but it might be a nice addition.

If you're talking about chtonic magic and diedne magic, they stack, it's official. They take specifically this exemple in the ROP: tI description of Chtonic Magic.

Mystic choreography, minor, The PC dances and gets the spell out in 1/3 the time.

And re-reading it, I realize I misread it again... Having a prepared space (e.g. "circles chalked on the floor") gives you a speed-up without needing to have Mystical Choregraphy, while having "props" give you a bonus to your ceremonial casting total.