Parma Exceptions, house rule -- request for critique


What follows is a Parma variation I've been thinking about. Not
particularly new or exiting, but looking over the past Parma
discussions I don't see quite this approach taken before.

Before getting to the goods, my gripes with Parma are mainly

  • pink dot issue
  • immovable point vs irresistible force
  • far too much bouncing off the parma makes things silly

Parma Exceptions solves the pink dot, and adds a recourse for cases
of immovable point vs irresistible force which simultaneously makes
things less bouncy. It also remains essentially as easy to apply as the
core rule. The downside is that it isn't conceptually quite as clean...

I'm not suggesting that this is a better way to do it, but I would be
interested in hearing about potential problems with the approach, as I'm
thinking of using something like this in an upcoming game.



Ps. I realize that kicking a dead horse with a first post is not going to
endear me to everyone, but "Happy to be here, etc..."

  • Parma Exceptions

Like those of Hermetic Magic in general, the effects of Parma Magica
aren't entirely predictable. The theory is good, but not flawless.

Parma Magica as described in the Arm5 rulebook is how Hermetic Theory
expects things to work. There are some exceptions, though, that have
so far resisted the efforts of several generations of theorists to
explain satisfactorily:

** Exception of Irrelevance

A mundane object with an enchantment that does not affect the magus in
any way bypasses his Parma. Should the nature of the enchantment
change while within Parma in a way that would affect the magus, it
will either be propelled outside the Parma (eg. something held in
hand) or be harmlessly encapsulated by the Parma (eg. something that
has been swallowed).

The exact limits of this phenomenon seem to resist classification,
varying from one Magus to another, and not even remaining fully
consistent for any individual. Theorists are particularly vexed as in
many cases Parma seems to be displaying unexplainable "intelligence"
with regards to this exception.

Example: Casting a spell that turns the opponent's mundane sword an
attractive shade of pink should theoretically cause the mage's Parma
block the sword, but in most observed cases Parma seems to ignore the
addition of magical color to the voe of theorists working on spells
such as Plague of Pinkness.

Storyguide Guideline: If Parma stopping something would be silly and
pointless, Exception of Irrelevance takes precedence.

** Exception of Breaking

In some cases spells have been observed to break when blocked by Parma
Magica in a way that catches the spell (or substance created by a
spell) between the Parma and an active force.

Magical creations caught between non-magical forces and Parma Magica
tend to to be particularly prone to breaking. The breakage need not
mean dissolution of the spell, but loss of the physical form blocked
by Parma.

This is not a strictly exception to the effect of the Parma, which
works as expected, but a curious interaction between Parma and
opposing magics. Theoreticians would dearly like to understand this
phenomenon better, both in order to make their spells more resistant
to such breakage, and to be able to intentionally break spells in such
a manner.

Example: A knight wielding a lance with magically sharpened tip
charges against a magus. When the lance strikes, the tip will be
blocked by the Parma Magica, and there is a good chance that the
knight will be unhorsed -- however, it is also equally possible that
the impact breaks the enchantment of the tip, allowing the mundane
lance to strike.

Storyguide Guideline: If Parma stopping something would lead to a
preposterous situation, the Exception of Breaking may take precedence.

These are the chief Exceptions classified by theorists, but others
have been proposed: Exception of Veering off the Course, and Exception
of Knocking Back the Mage have been proposed, but reliable observations
have not been made so far.


This looks useable. Like every other set of parma rules I've seen I think that it has its drawbacks and its advantages.

It seems most similar to just winging it and doing what feels right (a suggestion that has been made on several other occations) but it has the advantage of having the characters know that parma is inconsistent and thus there is no disconnect within the story.

The downside is that putting this poweer in the hands of the storyteller can lead to misunderstandings and the feeling that the storyteller is playing favorites (regardless of whether they are or not). It is also a bit harder to adjudicate than something that has clearer tests regarding whether or not parma applies.

A downside for me personally is that inconsistant guidelines to my mind lack the verisimilitude of consistant guidelines. Your reactions on this matter may vary.

I can only nod in agreement with Master Tyrell's wisdom.

The exceptions look fine, even amusing. But they are basically saying "I'm gonna run Parma the way I think feels right, at least in these cases". Which is fine, as long as its clear in advance.


Right, that was sort of the goal, while giving a characters a way to relate
to Parma closer to the rest of Hermetic magic -- something you have a
an imperfect theoretical framework on.

I would like to settle on a guideline for levels of force required for the
Breaking to happen, though. Tentative idea is something like +1 Strength
per magnitude of Casting Total required for Exception of Breaking to
occur, but I'll see how it goes.

Other then that, I'm not particularly worried about the lack of grittiness,
as this is already going to be the most rule-heavy game I've run in years,
or maybe ever. ,-)

Gods, I'd really like to see Ars adapted to the OTE elevel of graininess!