Parma Question

This is a somewhat obscure parma question that came to me:

A magi is walking down a stone tunnel. He steps on an enchanted stone block which suddenly rises to smash him against the roof of the tunnel.

Does parma protect, and if so how? My read is that it clearly keeps the stone block from touching the magi, but does that mean the block does not rise at all, or is it simply unable to smash him against the ceiling?

If it's the latter could you trap a magi in the top of a shaft by causing the block to rise into that shaft then "jam" on the magi from being unable to crush him/her? What if there were non-magical stakes at the top of the shaft; would the magi be driven onto them?

Another possibility is that the magi passes through the enchanted block, but that creates more problems, and seems to violate the "magi can walk across a magic bridge".

The crux of the question is can the enchanted block on which the magi stands move the magi? A magi standing on a magic carpet can be moved by it (right?), so one would think the answer is yes. A magic block may not be able to smash him into paste, but could it push him/her into a space where natural (non-magical and parma ignoring) forces could finish him off?

I'd say that the block can't push the magus up. Parma eliminates all ability of an object to hit, push, or move the magus - see the rules for magically propelled rocks and water.

Then can a magic carpet push a magi up to allow them to fly?

Yes because the magic effect invested in the carpet Targets the carpet itself. That the magi happens to be sitting on it when it flies is incidental. If the carpet were flown AT a magus (perchance to scoop him up or otherwise crash into him/her) then no the carpet could not touch the magus since it is at that point effectively an enchanted weapon.

Are you sure that a magus would actually be able to use a magic carpet that is not attuned to him at all ?

IIRC a magus wouldn't actually touch a magic bridge he is crossing, due to this I would assume that he would not be actually sitting on the magic carpet either. The question is if the medieval paradigm would propel him along with the magic carpet (despite not touching it) anyway.

Concerning the original question: Since movement of the enchanted block is "active" magic I would say that the block does not rise at all. This would fit in with being able to cross the magic bridge which is already there (lets call this one "passive magic").


Depends on the size of the block and a few other factors.

If it is big enough then like the carpet The block is enchanted so if it moves then the parma wouldn't stop it moving anyhting on top of it, it would simply do so with no force, so it would lift the magus but it would mean that he touches the roof with no force. So yes he is lifted, but not crushed.

It is my understanding that magically moved thing (no matter which size) cannot relate any force to a person with MR, unlike the effect penetrates. This gives three options for all those magi wanting to use fyling carpets/thrones/broomstick...
1.) Item has penetration high enough to penetrate MR. This might lead to the item becoming useless when the maga increases her Parma score or her relevant arts.
2.) Lowering her Parma when using the carpet/throne/broomstick... This leaves her with no protection when airboren, so it is rather risky.
3.) Make it your talisman! Your talisman does not have to penetrate your MR when touching you. This is the best option in my eyes. However, it requires you to invest quite a lot of time and vis to construct this item on your own. But it is worth the labour.

As I understand it, you do touch a magical bridge. It's just that the way it affects you is non-magical. For a stone trying to move you, the movement is magical and so needs to penetrate. Likewise for a flying carpet - if you want to make one, be prepared to spend levels on penetration. On the plus side, for a magical trap throwing rocks around, the base effect is very cheap to a massive penetration shouldn't be too difficult.

A slighty different question is whether you'd need to keep your parma lowered once the carpet had taken off though. Having a magus able to make inertia-less stops and turns is fine in the medieval paradigm, but doing it through the raising and lowering of one's Parma is just daft. I think it seems reasonable that once an effect has penetrated, it doesn't need to keep penetrating - it's already got a hole in the wall, so to speak. After all, the Parma doesn't dispell so t shouldn't stop or disrupt ongoing effects.

If the object can apply any captive force, then by the same principle a Bridge made of magic couldn't apply enough force to keep them from falling through over the chasm and thus the bridge would bend or collapse etc which is a ludicrous notion

So if the force lifts a disk, then so are the contents lifted, but the force doesn't penetrated and squash them into the ceiling.

OK, so you are saying the block can lift the magus, but not smach them into the ceiling. Could a magic block lift them into an enviroment where non-magical destruction ensues? (say, into a non-magical room filled with non-magical flame?

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So magi walks down the hallway and steps on the magic block. The block suddenly rises up the shaft into the area with the magical fire. The block can't squish the magi against the ceiling, but the fire can still burn him... Right?

To those who feel that a magic carpet needs to penetrate: Sorry, I think you are full of it. This walks straight into the "Walking across a magic bridge" problem. There is no relevant distinction I can find anywhere in this context between "active" and "passive" magics.

You're pretty much touching one of the problems with the notion of parma. If the carpet can fly at high speeds with a magus on it, can't it do so straight up, smashing the magus against non-magical rock? But if it can't, does that imply that two magi under longevity rituals are unable to touch each other? (I find that example more interesting than the magic bridge. :wink: )

There are certain "hand waves" you need to accept in this game system. One is that a magus on Longevity can indeed touch another magus. Another is that Parma does not resist another Parma, and being under continual protection by Parma does not cause Warping. Then there is the whole Wards issue, but that is another argument.

Hmm, I do not accept it, and it does not affect my game at all. I do not think the rules mention it as an exception to the parma rules.

Parma resists parma in my game. That's why magi use Certamen rather than fistcuffs :slight_smile:

IIRC (serf's ... parma) this is explicitly mentioned as one of the great boons of Bonisagus' invention. In my game, it's the pretty obvious consequence of the fact that parma, like wards, does not directly affect the person protected, but the person/thing/effect protected against (so you can be under a parma or a ward against fire all year long and gain no warping). This also explains why to ward a person against fire you do not need a Corpus requisite.

Wrong about Wards. ArM5 section on Wards specifically states that Wards are a unique subject, because the Target is not the subject being warded against, but instead is the subject being protected.

And Parma does not resist Parma. That is just silly.

If the fire was natural then yes otherwise only if it penetrated. I also don't think that the lifting rock would have little strength and would allow a dodge roll to get off said rock or a fastcast ReVi or some such to neutralise the magic.

I would also like to point out that I believe under the medieval paradigm (Clerks Parma) that speed is completely unrelated to damage. So a bullet would do as much damage pushed manually into your body as it would fired form a gun. So if the rock lifted at 1000Mph then it would still stop as the head of the magi touched the roof (assuming it didn't penetrate).


At no point has anyone ever argued that a magus walking into a magica wall causes it to disintegrate or to cease to exist solely from the point of view of the magus, allowing him to walk through it. The parma prevents the magical bit from affecting the magus. Thus a magical wall does not become passable to the magus, but the opposite. He bounces off it. If he runs at it, it is his motion which stops and so he takes damage. If the wall is thrown at him by magic, the magic moving it doesn't penetrate and the wall stops dead, and noone takes damage. The fact that a magical bridge doesn't penetrate just means that a magus cannot pass through it which, frankly, is what you want in a bridge.

So no, there is no distinction between active and passive magic, merely between what the magical bit is. There is no momentum. Magical things are not merely solid illusions. To assume that the magic carpet does not need to penetrate is identical to saying that I can throw a magus into the air by making the grass under his feet do so - they can't, because the motive force is magical. The carpet does not, however, need to continue to penetrate after the first round. Just as raising one's parma does not dispel Moon duration spells, once the carpet has penetrated, it remains affecting the magus until he gets off it or the effect is dispelled.

Returning to the original point - the lifting spell needs to penetrate. If it does not, the magus doesn't move.

I would like to mention the flambeau school of Vilano here. They have made a whole school of indirect attacks and I think the thinking follows.

Look at Neptunes wrath and Waves of Smashing and Drowning. These spells can capsize boats and send the wizards into the drink.

Now the spells do not need to penetrate to be effective. I don't see how being thrown out of a capsizing boat is any different to being elevated on a levitating shield.

The magic works on the boat/wave/shield not on the magus. I suppose it could follow that in these circumstances the spell could throw or trip the magi with ease. I'd personally allow the Parma to resist the force of being squished by another object as the parma is essentially 'pushing back' against the force trying to squash them.

The way I see it (although it's slightly out of paradigm) is that the parma acts by acting as an opposing force against the magic, but the magical energy can be transfered when the target of the spell becomes the medium of the magic force.

Again we come back to Neptunes wrath where the spell throws the waves around, but what the waves happens to hit and move are also moved. There seems to be a degree of abstraction from the source of the magic, but as long as you are being effected by a 3rd for further rmeoved causal result then the magic need not penetrate.

For example

1st Causal - Magic (working on unresisting water)
2nd Causal - Wave - (working on unresiting ship)
3rd Causal - capsizing Ship working on Magi.

so a metal shield could work as follows

1st causal - ReTe (working on unresisiting shield)
2nd Causal - Metal Shield working on wooden parts of shield
3rd Causal - Wooden parts of sheild working on lifting magi

or the magic carpet

1st Causal enchantment (working on part of carpet)
2nd causal - part of carpet working on Rest of carpet
3rd Causal - Rest of carpet working on magi.

I would also justify however that in cases where 2 opposing forces were applied to a magi directly or indirectly, where one is magical, then the parma acts as a buffer between these two forces negating the conflict.

for example lift the dangling puppett would lift a target against the wall with enough force to hold them there, but not enough force to crush them. However a magi can walk on a magical bridge however magically driven natural water/fire will dampen/burn a target but not hit them with force.

my point is that the target becomes the indirectly driven media so just like mighty torrent of water, the target touches the wall, but the force is resisted.

In short, the media needs to be at least 2 generations removed from the magic to move the target (which is easy with a little thought) but when this force comes into contact with an opposing force (such as a wall), the opposing force starts to directly effect the magi so reistance would come into play.

This discussion is almost as old as this rule, so I'll cut to the chase. It's a rationale so the game works as presented, but it's one that still makes some sense - very little hand-waving is needed.

The problem lies in the tension between Parma, which is supposed to "protect magi from magical attacks", central to keeping peace in the Order, and... well, logic, which we see rear its ugly head in many of the sensible questions above. Parma is explained as the trick that allowed magi to trust that they could get within eye contact of each other and not get slagged by some upstart. The invention and effectiveness of Parma is central to the concept of The Order as we know it. So that final effect must be included in our total account. The goal is to keep trivial spells from leading to the direct death of magi - and that includes any incapacitation which then allows guaranteed mundane harm.

The answer seems to be found in exactly the sort of "twice removed" suggestions that Andrew lists. If a spell hurls a large stone or a blast of stone fragments at a mage, Parma protects that mage. But if an almost identical spell hurls that large missile to shatter the stone at his feet, those flying fragments are not resisted in the least. If an almost identical spell moves the boulder over the magi, then the spell is canceled and lets it fall naturally - likewise - but this spell must at least be aimed if not significantly non-instantaneous. A spell that surrounds a mage in mud would not work, but a spell that causes a landslide would, even if the final effect appeared identical to any logic that did not discern between magic and mundane.

This "twice removed" rule usually(?) results in a final spell requirement of around a magnitude 5 spell or greater - which is not "trivial" by most accounts. By the time any magus is slinging a Level 20+ spell, things are getting serious enough that an injured magus seems an acceptable outcome. Likewise, by the time a magi can teleport a sizeable boulder immediately over the head of their intended victim, we are not talking trivial spell use.

Truly creative or strategic (or just plain lucky) uses of magic to kill a mage are still legit. So, the simple momentary spell (~Lvl 4?) that spooks the horse that throws that mage, who then breaks his neck - completely acceptable.

What is NOT kosher is the spell that creates a slick patch of oil that feet of the mage descending a stair, or that turns the stone at his feet to mud for just a moment, or changes the water he drinks into a needle sharp icicle, or any of those nifty "gotcha" interpretations that negate the whole idea of Parma as a safeguard against exactly those spells.

The list of spells at Level 5 or less that can incapacitate, if not kill, are as long as my arm - and I've got long arms. By the time we get to level 15, it's game over. By the time we get to Level 25... well, no one said Parma was perfect. :wink:

(The school that AW mentions is designed to work against a Parma of any size - that is the premise, that a Parma of 20 would not stop the boat from capsizing, etc etc.)