Ok - help me out with Fast Casting, I've tried two systems..

So we've played Ars Magica for months, took a break, played again for a couple of months, then ended things. In general we love the system and the setting, we do have one pet peeve however.

Fast casting.

During our first endeavor, we used the basic rules but limited fast casting as "in response to XXX". After a while, we unanimously were unhappy with this scenario due to:

a) X wins initiative. X Casts. Y attempts to Fast-Cast to beat X, and succeeds. X, despite having won initiative is now at a disadvantage, because Y easily could fast cast due to the ease factor, but for X to fast-cast in response to that first Fast-Cast, the number is significantly higher (and the iterative process continues, with X, despite winning initiative, always having a more difficult ease factor).

b) How come, fast casting was only possible when under stress? Why can I not "fast cast" normally to unleash a barrage of different spells?

So Second Endeavour, we tried something different:

We had everyone roll initiative (plus fast casting stat), and for each whole "6" of the init score, they got to take an action:

X - initiative 15 - Casts on 15, 7, 1
Y - initiative 11 - Casts on 11, 5

Problem? Too clunky, and no chance to react unless you were proactive and kept "casting actions".

:angry: :smiley: :open_mouth: :mrgreen: :neutral_face: :neutral_face: :bulb: :cry: :open_mouth: :unamused: :question: :question: :question:

Help. Please tell me what fast-casting system you guys use that allows for:

a) People to fast-cast without having to "respond" to an opposing initiative value
b) People to react to an incoming threat

There are new combat options in LoM. They include interrupting actions and Fast-Casting can be run that way.

Alternatively, you might say that Fast-Cast spells may only be reactive and defensive in some manner. This prevents Fast-Casting Ball of Abysmal Flame and the like. This leaves you always better off winning initiative.


LoM unfortunately still does not address the issue :frowning: It does not provide a rule-set for mages wanting to fast-cast on the fly - and not just as a response.

For example:

Wizard X casts spell at Wizard A.
Wizard Y casts spell at Wizard A.
Wizard Z casts spell at Wizard A.

Those 3 are ganging up on #1, he reacts and attempts to cast something. In fact he may react and cast one blanket spell, or react to each other seperately are varying ease factors (-6 per fast cast after the first).. blah blah blah, lets say he actually does manage to get 3 spells off.

Explain to us why, when not faced with an overwhelming attack, can he not cast 3 different spells in a round?!

I'm looking for a smooth way where I can say you have "X spell casting actions per round, feel free to use them as you wish". Now I just have to derive X based on quickness + fast casting. Maybe per 4 points of quickness and fast casting a magic may get an extra spell, allowing me to simply have a mage attempting to interrupt do a simple roll to check if his spell goes off in time rather than worry about how many spells per round he/she can get?

a) include fast casting ability in initiative score by default (so by default, when trying to fast cast in response to a spell, the casting speed of the target is already taken into account); and
b) use the base system of fast-casting from ArM5 core; and
c) simply allow fast casting vs a default ease factor (example, 6) if you're not fast casting in reaction to anything.


That's about what LoM suggests on p.119: The casting speed of a magus is incorporated into his Action Priority Total. And when resolving Fast Casting as suggested in the option "Fast Casting as an Interruption" on p.120, you effectively compare Action Priority Totals.

No need for this, if you use the LoM p.120 option: "Fast Casting as an Interruption".

This your troupe can house rule on top of the LoM option "Fast Casting as an Interruption", if desired.


Thanks for the response,

If I follow LoM, I have initiative and action priority correct? Trying to avoid excess dice rolls here so my idea was:

Initiative is re-rolled per round, the roll itself is identical to the action priority total; so stress die + Qik + Ability - Encumberence
Attempting to Fast cast as interrupt would be stress die + Qik+Ability vs Ease Factor of target's "initiative" (or 6, whichever is higher)
Attempting to Fast cast simply to cast more spells would be stress die + Qik+ability vs Ease Factor of 6

So basically, we would do away with initiative as a seperate stress die + Qik roll, and simple use stress die + Qik + ability - encumberence for 1 roll, each round.

Do you think I lose anything by adopting this method? Am I missing one big woops somewhere?

Correct me if I am wrong, but I do believe you can fast cast just whenever just because. It has nothing to do with defense, it is just a useful defense. I can (and have) Fast Cast PoF just so I can squeeze it off before the other guy gets a chance to react. In fact, I do believe that is the whole point of Dimicatio.
I also have a "flash" spell designed to blind people for a momen in combat. I designed it to be cast w/o words and gestures (as examples in RAW demonstrate), simply so I can fast cast it the moment combat begins (while I have sword & shield in hand), blind my opponent, knock him upside he head, then give him a chance to yield. If having the opponent yield is not an option, I'd just fast-cast / multicast PoF and torch the guy.
But I am a nice guy :smiley:

I agree with you. Unfortunately, there are no rules per say to fast cast spells if you're NOT reacting to something - thats the one issue :slight_smile:

There are places, I do believe, where it talks about Fast Casting without any mention of using it in reaction or as defense. Mainly, in the core RAW, Fast Cast is a Mastery option and never says it is used reactionary. And I can't imagine a way to win at Dimicatio without a fast cast attack.
So, two magi in combat roll initiative. I win, but I still fast cast my attack because I am bad ass. The opponent can wait for his turn according to initiative, or can try to out fast cast me.
Now, granted, the whole formula and multiple fast casts depends on another initiative or situation to compete with. If you want to have a magus just cast a bunch of spells really fast, and there is no time competition to check against, just hand wave it. Or you can be harsh and make him check for botched fast cast tests.
As far as I know, pre-emptive fast cast spells are part of accepted custom for most players. Again, I may be wrong, but I think that is what most people do. Even if the rules as written don't say you can, they never say you can't either.

Yes. And you roll Initiative typically once per combat per participant, and Action Priority once per those Interrupting an action, or being affected by it.
So unless you do lots of interrupting, the LoM rule will save you die rolls.

You can muddle through however your troupe wishes, of course - but you will have more rules over the many books to adapt to your way of playing, and make more rolls that way. In particular so, if your troupe plays over a longer 'in game' time, so that the Warping Points accumulating for botches during Fast Casting matter to the characters. Believe me: there is a reason why Fast Casting is an emergency option in most campaigns.


I'm going to disagree with you. The point of Dimicatio is to prevent yourself from being touched by a spell. Whether you do that by winning initiative or being able to prevent attacks from landing, well that path is up to you. You can cast that spell that blinds people at your turn in initiative, or attempt to fast cast it at the first action. You cannot cast it before the first action, you can cast it in response to the first action. You could (fast) cast it even if your grogs win initiative, IMO. I also resolve all actions simultaneously. Everyone gets a chance to perform an action[1] (exceptions might be made but that's on a case by case basis). Yeah, your grogs might take off one of the opposing magus's legs at the hip, but he still gets his Ball of Abysmal Flame off, and you know he has enough penetration to overcome your formidable Ignem resistance. If you want to escape unscathed, you better get a fast cast defense spell off.

At best any mentions where Fast Casting isn't used reactively would be a contradiction to Fast Casting, introduced on page 83. "A maga may chose to cast a Spontaneous spell extremely quickly, as a response to an attack or other surprising event." It's not designed to preemptive, it's designed to be reactionary. The mastery option allows formulaic spells to be cast as a Fast Cast the spell, as detailed by the rules on page 83, that's it. IMO, if you want to be able to quickly fire off your Pilum of Fire or Ball of Abysmal Flame, you need to master it for Quick Casting, which would increase your initiative total (when that particular spell is being used), I believe Quick Casting was added in HoH:Societas, and it has implications for Fast Casting, too. I would also recommend Fast Caster if you're hoping to win initiative. Winning initiative is important. I think there are times where initiative should be rolled every turn, though. Events like the Dimicatio, for example, if it progresses beyond one turn would be a prime example of that.

Buy attempting to fast cast, preemptively, you're trying to beat yourself, or react to your own poor reactions, which is a bit of a stretch. :smiley: There's nothing to say that you cannot fast cast a Pilum of Fire or other attack spell in response to someone else's attack spell. You're either hoping your natural defenses are robust enough to nullify the oncoming attack, or ignore the consequences of that attack, or you're going to go down in a blaze of glory, knowing your goose is cooked, you decide that mutual annihilation is preferable.

The Fast Caster virtue doesn't state it, but I tend to think that the virtue also applies to fast casting (defense), too. Winning or losing initiative should always have a consequence. If you allow magi to beat their own initiative at a later point, in such a way that they aren't reacting to something (except their own initial poor reaction), I think that's a stretch of the fast casting rules not included in RAW. Also keep in mind, that if your PC can react to his own poor reaction, it's fair dinkum for NPCs to be able to do the exact same thing, so really, you've gained very little for yourself. :smiley:

Speaking more directly to the topic, repeating myself a bit. Winning or losing initiative should have consequences. If you want your magi to win initiative more often, pay attention to Quickness, add the Fast Casting Virtue, and/or invest experience in spell mastery for Quick Casting. If you want to be able to respond to multiple situations quickly as they arise, invest experience in Finesse.

Ars combat is bloody, almost not one escapes unscathed, indeed my method for resolving combat so that all actions happen simultaneously, everyone gets a chance to act almost always ensures that someone gets hurt. Sure the magus can ReTe the oncoming blade, or ReHe the incoming arrow or two and evade the attack. Will the magus deflect the killing blow for his shield grog? Is it in his best interests to do so? Probably, but it's an action that has a lot of story potential around it. For example the magus can cast a spell at the departing magus, or choose to deflect the killing blow to his shield grog...

[1]Combat is a series of feints, parries, ripostes culminating in a final attack. It is possible and conceivable that two opponents may take each other out simultaneously. While young Paul Atreides pushes his blade to Gurney Halleck's neck, Gurney's blade is closing in on Paul's abdomen. Both had killing blows prepared, and had they meant to actually attack, both would end up dead.

And yet - that is the reality of what happens when you fast cast to react to a fast cast.

You begin to cast a spell, having won initiative.
The antagonist reacts with a fast cast.
Now you need to react wit a faster cast.

If you don't, or you say you can't, then by RAW you have penalised the person winning initiative, because the antagonist is going to react with something that will kill you if such is feasible.

If you do (whether supported by RAW or house-ruled or whatever), you will then be facing a higher difficulty, as you must fast cast vs an ease factor that includes the antagonist's fast casting stat, while he/she did not have to figure in your fast-casting stat to begin with. Again, penalised for winning initiative.

Unfortunately, your method (the method above according to RAW) is slower and more.. "muddled" in actual play. Considering in combat or out of combat, shield grog or not, reactions are a crucial crucial part (and not just in Ars Magica), our troupe finds themselves wanting to react more often than not. Whether it is to shut someone up from saying something embarrassing while another mages temporarily deafens the would be offended noble, or perhaps it is our troupe consisting of 4 magi with 1 deciding to take the prime/main action and the 3 reacting to ensure success by stoping/interrupting other incoming actions, or just simple fact as to why they can't cast multiple different spells?

Then there is also the issue of why do I have a fixed initiative for an entire event which could consist of several (5+) rounds?

Roll initiative each round, including your fast cast bonus.
If interrupting, try to beat the initiative of the person you're interrupting. Done. 1 roll per character per round - plus one roll per interrupt.
No need to have the person being interrupted re-roll a seperate roll just for the sake of having to figure out if they got interrupted.

Now I have another question, can you fast cast after youve taken your action? Action has been taken, then I'm being attacked/targetted/what have you by someone else, or someone who wasn't even visible/in sight and suddenly bursts from behind a doorway, crossbow/knife/sword/spell in hand... hmmm.

Wasn't there some system previously about how many spells you can cast per round? Perhaps 4th edition? I'm not sure why it was removed, I shall look it up.

What spells are being flung around as fast cast spells that need to be responded to? This is one reason why I don't think offensive spells should be eligible for fast casting, because it creates these kinds of situations.

Breaking down your abstract example, if I win initiative and cast my spell and my opponent fast cast responds (offensively) then I need to be able to fast cast respond to his spell. The Ease factor is not his fast cast total, though. It's my original initiative total (at its highest, may be less, if you want to HR something)[1]. Keep in mind that his original fast cast is a response to my original casting, technically happens either as my spell is cast or slightly after my spell is cast. It doesn't follow that he can act before I do, that he can cast a spell to block mine before I have even cast it. The fast casting total is used to determine whether or not you can respond to a spell at an initiative point.


Yes, it's ambiguous, but at best (for me, in this exercise) it's going to be his initiative point, at worst it's going to be mine.
It might be reasonable to lower the initiative point, if mine is the one used for determining the ease factor, that his fast cast spell actually goes off (1 tick later) still making it a viable defense/response, but making the ease factor for responding to this a bit easier. This is one reason why I would tend to avoid offensive combat spells be mastered for fast casting. Fast casting should be about defense, only, IMO. If it's defensive only, then it cannot be a detriment to winning initiative.

Hmm - I wonder if there any RAW examples (Flambeau house book?) that contradict this by illustrating fast cast vs a fast cast.

Fast Cast, as mentioned in the Dimicatio section on page 21 of HoH:Societas says "fast cast defense" only. IMO, I think fast cast offensive spells are only appropriate in a going out of blaze of glory type of situation. In situations where I know my goose is cooked, where I will either be killed or otherwise be taken out of the combat, and I know I can take out or at least seriously damage the other magus, then that might be an appropriate situation for a fast cast offensive spell.

I think I'm converting back to base-RAW.

Initiative = Qik + Finess + Stress die
Fast Cast ease factor? initiative you are beating or 6, whichever is higher

So basically, I will allow for pre-emptive casting. I was thinking of a limit of maybe extra spells = finesse, but I really doubt we're going to have magi casting 4+ spells a turn and making stress die + Qik + finesse - 18 rolls

I'm stuck between the two ideas. One is that if you can fast-cast one spell, why not another. The other is the idea of parrying/dodging/blocking, that fast-casting is for defensive spells and essentially has to be very immediate. I think the way to solve the first idea without having a problem with the second would be along the lines of a Mastery option brought up before. (I believe this was by Marko Markoko in his article on Flambeau in an early issue of the fanzine, but I could be mistaken.) This was essentially a variant of Multiple Casting but allowed for several spells to be cast at once. I could see this being interpreted as the spells being cast faster so a couple of them could be fit in a round, but only if you can cast all of them faster. That may require a variant of Marko's Mastery option, but would at least be in line with it. I see this as the best of both worlds since I've seen the fast-casting without an opponent (other than time) issue arise.


I have a character who has an effective score of 8 in Finesse at gauntlet, his Quickness is zero. He is five years post gauntlet.

On an average die he can make a fast cast spell at intiative points 13, 7, 1. Also, consider that initiative could go negative.

Even if "more often than not" is the case IYC, you'll still likely roll more dice when inventing an own house rule requiring everybody to roll Initiative every round. If every PC every round will interrupt, this is different - but if every magus nearly every round tries to Fast Cast, this means at least three botch dice every round for every average magus - hence a zero turning into a botch for every average magus at least once out of three cases. As every botch die coming up with a zero means the magus loses about a year of his existence as a magus, your PC magi will reach Final Twilight soon, and on the way encounter many temporary Twilights. Or start behaving differently. Or specialize highly to cope with a borderline type of game, for which requesting streamlined ArM rules makes little sense.

To save die rolls, of course. This appears to be a concern of yours, right?
And also to make sure that usually the combat actions alternate between two opponents.

If this 'someone else' does not roll Initiative at the begin of the round (as required on LoM p.117) and before entering the fray, the SG has for some reason decided that this 'someone else' has achieved surprise - hence can act out of order. No need to allow Fast Casting then.



Back in the day, spells went off late in the round, because they were intrinsically slow. Fast casting could only be used with spontaneous magic, and only to parry magic.

I think it would be completely reasonable to revert the behavior of fast casting. For one thing, fast casting fits poorly into the 5th edition mechanics, as is seen by the conversations that always come up around it. For another, fast casting a mastered spell makes such defenses twice as good. Ironically, the rules as written make Parma easy to overcome, but a middle-aged Magus properly designed is always likely to have a small set of spells mastered for fast cast which will always work. A good candidate for this is Perno vim, which can be justified to work on all kinds of magic. Note that originally, the technique and form used were more restrictive.

Diedne magic was never a very good virtue, but it made fast casting more practical.

I'm all for flexibility, but in this case I don't think the system supports it well.

I think a better rule is to always allow fast casting, without any need to roll for how quick you are or anything else other than the spell itself, but only using spontaneous magic, and only as a counter to magic. This fast cast is not a real spell, but something less planned, and which uses the incoming magic. I would allow it to be used against any magic the wizard could notice. If a justification is needed why a wizard can put forth magic in response to magic but not in response to some mundane threat, it's because he is more in tune with the magic around him, and because his response is directed at the magic in a form less organized than a spell. if you are wizards are fast casting more times per round than you want (which, if these rules do make actually dangerous, because very few wizards have a virtue that allows them to lose the last botch die, though these virtues do exist), then add one botched die for every fast cast spell in a round after the 1st fast cast spell.

Initiative problem, now solved.