Parma, that favorite topic...

Especially with the 5th edition rules, it seems that Parma almost causes more problems than it solves. It certainly brings up many questions. I'd like to pose some of the questions here for starters and assemble (if possible) some of the consensus on it. Here is the first issue with Parma I'd like to bring up (we'll save the 'Magic sword vs Parma' for later :wink: ).

First, a magic item that is set up to effect its wearer/holder. The classic Ring of Invisibility, Belt of Strength, Cloak of Protection, or even Cursed Amulet. The wearer puts it on, and activates it (sometimes one and the same). The problem lies in the Penetration and if the user has Resistance. The item has to have a Range of Touch for it work, meaning it needs to affect the wearer, and Parma should resist it. The inconvenience of this cries out for a work around IMO. Some ideas I've had.

  1. The wearer must suppress his Parma, activate the effect, then raise his Parma again. Slightly dangerous, but the easiest way to do this. Still, many magi might want a workaround.

  2. Due to the Parma Ritual's genius, it allows the user to incorporate active magic effects already on the person, such as from an item. So when the user raises his Parma at Sunrise and Sunset he takes into account the items he wears and the Parma ignores them. This relies on interpretation and might not be suited for all players. An option would be to say that the Parma is slightly weaker, 1 lower than normal for example due to exercising this option.

  3. The item must be designed with Penetration in mind. This is potentially costly, but provides a surefire solution, until the wearer's Parma and Arts raise to a level too high for them to be Penetrated by the item. This option should always be exercised for the 'cursed item' magic items.

  4. An option during the invention process would be to add a special modification during the item's creation that would effect the creator only. For +5 (or perhaps more) to the item effect's total level, it would give the item the ability to automatically bypass the creator's Parma and Arts, so its effect always works on him, no matter how high they get.

What are some other options? Do these work? From here maybe we'll go into the more interesting Parma questions.

Interesting points... But they make my head hurt.

I would take the cop-out view that anything "worn" is somehow brought within the magus' parma and causes no problem.

It doesn't address the hypothetical philosophical point about items with a touch range effect needing to interact with the parma but it should be enought to cover the gap.

Tricky, tricky, tricky...

If an item can penetrate the parma, then you could use that against an enemy magus. The best way around this might be to state that if the item was made by the magus and activated by the same magus, then that magus counts as the caster of the effect, and thus the effect can penetrate his own parma.
With a talisman, one might declare that it penetrates it's makers parma as long as it is touching him.

A Talisman is Always "Part of you, when you are touching it", so it would not need to penetrate....

We used to have this problem playing (Game system). The resistance of certain creatures prevented them from getting heals or other beneficial magics cast on them...
One solution that was used, was that any touch spells (that were permitted), automatically bypassed the resistance....(but this can cause problems too)

My guess the 'Official' answer should be:

Parma magica was a break through and violates the normal rules. Any magical device that is worn or picked up by the magus, and does not have delterious effects, will operate as intended (Bypass Parma).

I believe that the "problems" that seem so prevelent in fifth edition parma are an artefact of internet discussion rather than actual play. People think that parma is a problematic issue becauase people talk about the "problems" of parma. Personally I've found that the fifth edition parma rules solve all of the many serious issues that I had wuth parma in previous editions. The "magic sword" issue is a real beef that I can see people having, but that comes down to a mater of taste, if you like to have special exceptions to your magic resistance when magic is applied to sticks, swords and such then the fifth edition parma will not suit your desires. If you like to have a setting where things are a bit more consistant then fifth edition parma will work just fine.

magi can voluntarily surpress parma to allow an effect through without having to repeat the parma ritual. This is clearly stated in the rules.

There has been more than one occation where a parma discussion has gone on for pages discussing how to solve "problems" that don't exist in the published material. I wouldn't want this discussion to go the same way.

It is tricky isn't it? :slight_smile:

The main thing that makes it tricky is that any work around you do has a tendency to compromise the Parma effect later on and make exploits. Casting a spell on yourself with Personal range of course does not need to penetrate your Parma, but technically any other range does, even if you are the target. So if you were to cast a healing spell on yourself with Touch range, you actually have to take into account your Parma, meaning you either have to penetrate it, lower it temporarily, or design a spell with a range of Personal instead.

Magic items are the same thing (except Talismans, thanks for bringing that up). Even an item as close as a ring is outside your Parma, and unless it is a Talisman, it's range has to be Touch, thus it has to take into account your Parma.

The solutions that I listed seem to follow these rules and offer options. Of those listed, options 1 and 3 require no changes in the rules. Option 2 requires just a small justification, while option 4 requires a larger one. Are there other options though?

Like I said, this Parma question might be the easiest one, the rest get harder. I'm not looking for an 'official' answer, but if they make one it would be fine. For me I'm going to use option 1 and 3 (I'm a stickler for the rules) and then offer option 4 but require a +10 level adjustment on it to represent the difficulty, and then it still only effects the creator and the one effect it was added to, if they want multiple effects like that it would be better to make a Talisman. Number 4 has the most exploitable loophole, because then people might try to make magical item traps without adding Penentration to it, which is why I'm having it only affect the creator.

I would say everything that is protected by the Parma is IN the Parma (Rings, Staffs ect) and add a new rule that you can change your parma ritual in a way that some spells (which you must name when you making your ritual) go direct trough the parma (like shield modulatoions in Star Treck ^^).


In this rant I'm already sliding towards the "laser dot sword" problem, in a more generic way.

What has confused me greatly about the 5th ed Parma is its ability to reject physical objects and naturally occuring forces just because there is some magic "pasted" on those objects. This includes the classical MuAq/poison dilemma, the "dot on the sword" dilemma and other such.

It has been said that Parma does not dispel magic, so it tries to keep out magic even by keeping natural phenomena and objects out, if some magic is involved in those. In my mind, if you try to ingest a cup of real liquid, be it poison in its natural state or the same substance under MuAq effect, you should be able to do that. The same applies to the "dot on the sword" problem: if somebody swings a perfectly mundane sword with a perfectly mundane arm against a person protected by Parma, the sword should contact whether there is a CrIm spot on the blade or not. I think Parma should affect magic, not naturally occuring items, elements or forces affecting them. How to solve this?

Recently I've been playing with this idea: when the mundane forces and matter "carry" magic along within Parma, such magic would enter parma. Magic that does not extend outside of its mundane carrier is "contained" or "encapsulated" in the Parma, and ignored. Magic that tries to expand outside the carrier is resisted, and if it does not penetrate, it is contained as well. If it penetrates, it affects the magus. Magic approaching the Parma by magical momentum and media (spells directed at the magus from the outside, temporarily created magical substances, Rego effects) is resisted as now.

The enchanted sword, mundane base item wielded by mundane man, would strike and skewer the poor magus, but any magic on the blade that tries to extend itself out of the blade and into the magus is resisted. Any passive magic that rests on the blade is encapsulated and ignored. You could say that the surface of the hole in the middle of the magus would now be covered with Parma as well as his/her outer perimeter.

You could ingest the poison changed into fruit juice, but the infinitely small grains of fruit juice would be surrounded by Parma, be contained and remain fruit juice until the MuAq effect ends. The poison could potentially be excreted before that happens, and anyway I'm not so concerned myself of defining the Parma completely fail-safe and free of risk to the protected, as many here seem to do.

What do you think of the above? (I envision the flames approaching already...:wink:

The not-so-humble novice

Sejanus ...

I like it. Your definition goes along the lines that I was trying to express.


I think it's perfectly legitimate to play the game however you like. Ars5 has extensive playtesting as well as insight gained from the previous 4 editions. Combine that with this forum, the previous Atlas forum, Berkley, and the number of years the game has existed, and I think it's safe to say nearly every way to use/play Parma Magica has been discussed.

Mr. Chart has said, that Ars5 Parma will not be to everyone's tastes, it has problems as do all the versions of Parma Magica. Which problems do you want to embrace, which are the lesser of two evils?

I like Ars5 parma and think it's consistent, solid, and playable. But that doesn't really matter, because it's just my opinion. Flames often occur when people set out to accomplish two things. Belittle others and their opinions, or aggressively work to convince others that "I am right and you are wrong."

If the point of these discussions is to convince others that a particular house rule ought to be the way it is, or should be used in Ars6, or is simply an excuse to mock others, then the discussion is a flame war and shouldn't occur.

From the info Atlas have given out at their main page, it seems Ars is doing well. I much prefer this senario than the dark days of uncertain ownership and no plans for development. The die has been cast, Ars 5 lives and the Parma is set. Long live Ars 5 and the Parma Magica!

However, if you don't like it, change it. There are no RPG police that will take your table and dice away if you make a house rule. Parma Magica discussions will never end. However I hope we can engage in them in manner that is civil and productive.

Sejanus, On first look that seems to eliminate the pink dot problem without opening up too many loopholes, but it does open at least one.

What comes to mind off of the top of my head is changing something dangerous into an arrow head, a dart, or some other missle then letting the enchantment go after inserting it into/conveying it to the target.

ie. change a bucket of molten lead or a roaring fire into a snowball and throw it at the fairie king, or change a vile poison/potent acid into an arrow head and slay a mighty dragon without worrying about penetration (of magic that is, you do need to worry about the arrow penetrating)

You'll probably find this less problematic than having magi cast "weapon of paisley" target group to protect themselves.

While cited before, this is still great material to read when concerning Parma Magica Patches.

My favorite part is "unpopular implications."

This sections shows just how uncreative I am as I simply never imagined the different ways I could kill other magi until I read it.

In retrospect, my first response in this thread was harsher to qcifer than was waranted. I appologize for the tone of my post.

Having to surpress one's parma so that one can use a magic item strikes me as a really cool detail that can lead to interesting situations in play.

Seeing this excellent feature put forth as a problem with fifth edition parma (a system that I'm very fond of and I believe is criticized unnecessarily) pushed a button for me, Especially as it came so quickly after the recent noise on the berk list wherein it appeared to me that many people who did not bother to read the rules carefully argued at length about how best particular non-existent problems with it could be fixed.

Of the options in the OP, I like option 1 (lowering Parma), 3 (design with Penetration), and 4 (allow option in item creation to circumvent penetration).

About the Parma patches, I haven't seen a loophole-free Parma version yet... I think the ArM5 version is a good one. It is consistent, and once you get pass the polka-dot-sword mental hurdle it makes sense.

No worries, I didn't even notice any tone implied or otherwise. The rising and lowering the Parma without using a Ritual would be about the only I could vaguely have an issue with, in that I didn't mention in the first place that someone had to perform the Ritual again (I said he'd have to raise it again, in my group we call it raising and lowering it whenever it goes up and down, and realize the Ritual happens only at Sunrise and Sunset). As you said it's plainly in the rules that you can suppress your Parma (and Arts) without redoing the ritual.

The Parma rules re-hashing getting a bit tiresome is entirely true. I've seen pages and pages of this as well. But the thing to remember isn't that it's tiresome is that there are so many people passionate about the game in the first place that want to discuss and possibly improve on it. The Internet tends to exacerbate this tendency of course.

The FAQ that Tuura very kindly linked, would, I think, have it that option 2 here is right:

Magic rings &c are within the parma magica, so it doesn't affect them at all. Now, putting the ring on is a different matter, one that amounts to the magical sword problem.

One wonders, though. Let's say that I cast "Bed of Greatest Comfort" on the bedding that I offer to the magus who's honored my covenant by visiting. Is he going to float a couple of inches off the bed as long as he has parma magica up รขโ‚ฌโ€ either because the parma magica separates him from the bed, or because the parma magica shoves the bedding down around the magus?

Now, if he lets down the parma magica for a moment to get comfortable (naturally, this is when you assassinate him), what happens if he rolls over in the night? Any magical bedding not already within the parma magica couldn't get in. Would you tear the bed? Be restricted in your motion? I think that this is the magical sword problem again.

Let it be as quirky as can be. After all, the magi belong to a time that spent hundreds of years debating about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin รขโ‚ฌโ€ things make sense to them that don't to us.

In light of this, the links provided from Tuura did help out future questions that I don't feel the need to ask at this point.

The sword one, I'm more than comfortable with the face value ruling, that the pink dot on the sword would stop the blow the same way Parma stops a spell. It keeps consistency, and prevents more egregious loopholes. I prefer that a wizard actually create a ReTe spell or magic item that prevents those attacks, but this can be managed.

The link also answered a question that would pop up most likely (though I already had the answer for my purposes) regarding supernatural creature's attacks and whether or not they are resisted (they aren't unless there's a specific power attached to the attack). By extrapolating that I also apply that rule for when an enchanted staff (or lamp, or book etc) is used merely to bonk someone on the head, but not using any of the enchantments in the item wouldn't be blocked.

A little research ahead of time can always help, something I need to remember.

I had thought of that, but on another discussion I had previously, they said while it helped to think of it as that, it didn't necessarily make it so. Basically, such an interpretation would then allow the exploit of extremely close contact bypassing the Parma, another wizard kissing a wizard and completing the spell with that kiss. Since, regardless of the closeness of the item, it still has a range of Touch, thus it needs to Penetrate it. However allowing the wizard to accomidate for magic items and effects worn and carried when the Parma is raised is a workable solution IMO.

BTW I like that bed analogy.

For other loopholes (the poison in the cup, the unbreathable air when casting Chamber of Spring Breezes, etc) I intend to rely on this adage:

(Using best Master Wizard's voice as he scolds his fillius): "So you think you are the first one to try and find a way around our Founder's greatest invention? You think you're so-called clever ruse has not been taken into account? You think that Bonisagus's descendants have not already taken such paltry and dishonroable tricks into the great Parma ritual? Your thoughts would be better aimed towards other pursuits, rather than dismantling the greatest magical invention of our Order!"

In other words, they try their work around, and it doesn't work. Period. Why? This workaround was discovered decades if not centuries ago, and was incorporated into the Parma. A 'patch' so to speak. So when they try to suffocate a wizard by making magical smoke (either the smoke kills them, or the fact that the Parma keeps ALL air out does, in theory), the wizard has no problem breathing at all. Neither wizard can completely explain why, but one is certainly happy about it.

That's tricky.

I wonder where the magical effect itself comes from, though? Is it plausible to say that the spell of which you're speaking comes from the lips? If the effect has to cross the parma, then it would be stopped, even if the part of the body from which it, as it were, leaps to its target, had already crossed the parma. Maybe spells come from the heart. :slight_smile:

That's actually not a joke; what part of the body do Mythic Europeans regard as the seat of the mind? The seat of the soul? If magic comes from there, and there can't possibly be brought, physically, within some else's parma magica, then the problem that you mention would be solved.