Personnal Wards, Soak, Parry, blah blah blah

Ok, first, a disclaimer: I absolutely hate infinite wards/damage.
The idea that a magus could cast a simple ReTe lvl 05 spell (base 2, +1 stone, +2 sun) upon himself and be utterly impervious to a theoretical +1000 Cr(Re)Te "Drop Mountain" ritual cast with a shitload of vis for +700 penetration does not sit well upon me.
Likewise with the idea of "autowin" spells, which is why I liked resistance rolls to mentem control and all.

IMO, it also diminishes the importance of Shield Grogs, in that, if a magus is sure to be impervious to damage, the importance of a bodyguard who'll lay down his life for him diminishes.

Thus, just like offensive spells do damage, I've always favored personnal wards to soak damage, just like "Ward against Heat and Flames".

Now, nothing is perfect, and some people will sure disagree with any or all of this, or just don’t like it (if, for exemple, they like absolute wards). Guidelines and spells are mostly consistent, but not always, there are also holes, and my own human failings.

No problem, this is just for those who feel the same way about wards, and may stumble upon the same issues, hoping this may help and/or inspire them.
It’s simply a tentative to coordinate and clarify things.
It is also a summary, so please, be gentle.

Discussing Wards with Marko, I noticed several things:

  • There are “parry” spells, that target an attack to deflect it, like “The Wizard’s Parry” and “Deflect the Wooden Shafts”.
  • Ward against Heat and Flames uses the “control fire in a slightly unnatural fashion”.
  • ReTe has 2 set of ward guidelines. One, base 02, which requires you to be conscious of the attack. One, base 05, which works against all attacks.
  • ReTe base 2 is also “control dirt in a slightly unnatural fashion”. It is used in the Wizard’s Parry, with +2 metal.
  • ReHe base 4 allows to deflect a wooden attack and is used in “Deflect the Wooden Shafts”. ReHe base 15 is the Ward guideline.
  • ReAq 1, +1, allows you to gently control water in a slightly unnatural way. ReAq 5 wards against mundane water.
  • “Ward against the curious scullion” once (wrongly, says the errata) used ReCo base 3 instead of ReCo base 15.
  • ReIg base 4 gives +05 soak, CrIg base 05 does +10 damage.
  • ReTe base 04 gives +05 damage from stone (Wielding the invisible sling), or base 05 for the harder vilano. Using the same scale as ReIg, the base 05 “ward against stone” should thus give +10 soak against stone.

So, roughly, the questions were:

  • How do you ward yourself against an attack? Is “control xxx in a slightly unnatural fashion” enough? ReIg says yes, ReTe also, if you’re conscious of the attack.
  • If the guideline to deflect an attack is the same as the one to ward yourself (which Wizard’s Parry says), then ReHe 04 is good for it too, instead of ReHe 15. So what?
  • Why can’t you use ReCo 3 (say 04 for slightly unnatural) to ward yourself against fists, like Ward of the Curious Scullion?
  • If that lower guideline is enough, what good are the higher ward guidelines, which are about 3 freaking magnitudes higher? Especially if you disallow “absolute wards”? Especially if you can’t pick up the material? I mean, if you can use ReTe base 4 to ward yourself against swords, why the hell would you worry with ReTe base 15???
  • How do you combine that with “parry” spells, which seem to use the “control xxx in a slightly unnatural fashion?

As a tentative to have something mostly clear and consistent, here are my reflections:

  • “Control xxx in a slightly unnatural fashion” can provide a personal ward against a material (ReIg and ReTe says this), and give a base +05 soak (ReIg).

  • That guideline can also be used to target a single attack and deflect it on a case by case basis (ReTe, ReHe) with a momentary, individual spell. This needs to be Voice range for ranged attacks

  • If absent or else, that guideline is 3 magnitudes lower than the “Ward yourself against xxx” (ReTe, ReHe, ReAq say this, and let’s be slightly harsher with ReCo)

  • That guideline requires you to be conscious of the attack (ReTe, and is consistent with Delect the Wooden Shafts vs Wizard’s Parry).
    This changes nothing to existing spells, save to Ward against Heat and Flames, which needs either to require consciousness, or be considered the result of experimentation (meaning self-made fire wards will have the limitation)

  • The “Ward yourself against xxx” should give +10 soak, but that’s too harsh, given the 3 magnitudes of differences. It thus gives +15, and works against any and all attacks. For another magnitude, it doesn’t affect Personnal items, and allows you to concentrate to relax it in order to pick up something

What does it give, then, if trying to do similar spells across all forms?

  • Ward against Heat and Flames ReIg 25
    Base 4, +1 touch, +2 sun, + 2 extra soak.
    Gives +15 soak against fire, needs you to be aware of the fire source (change from the book)

  • Ward against Swords ReTe 25
    Base 2, +2 metal, +1 touch, +2 sun, + 2 extra soak.
    Gives +15 soak against metal, needs you to be aware of the source

  • Ward against Water ReAq 15
    Base 2, +1 touch, +2 sun, +2 extra soak
    Gives +15 soak against water, needs you to be aware of the source

  • Perfect Ward against Water ReAq 20
    Base 5, +1 touch, +2 sun
    Gives +15 soak against water

  • Perfect Ward against the Backstabbing Blow ReTe 30
    Base 05, +2 metal, +1 touch, +2 sun
    Gives + 15 soak against metal, even if unaware of the attack, but you can’t pick up metal items

  • Ward against Scuffles ReCo 25
    Base 04 (3 lower than base 15), +1 touch, +2 sun, + 2 extra soak
    Gives +15 soak against human fists and feet, needs you to be aware of source

  • Ward against Traitors ReCo 30
    Base 15, +1 touch, +2 sun
    Gives +15 soak against all human attacks, whether you’re conscious of them or not, but you can’t really touch someone.

  • Wizard’s Parry ReTe 05
    Base 2, +2 metal, +1 touch
    No change

  • Deflect the Wooden Shafts ReHe 10
    Base 4, +2 voice
    No change

  • Deflect the bludgeon ReHe 05
    Base 04, +1 touch
    As Wizard’s Parry, with wooden weapons. This won’t work against arrows

  • Shield from the Flambeau’s Fury ReIg 15
    Base 04, +2 voice, +0 mom, +0 ind
    Deflects a single fire-based attack, like a PoF.

  • The Best there is at Parrying Blows ReCo 05
    Base 4 (3 lower than base 05, akin to base 3 + 1 slighlty unnatural), +1 touch
    Allows you to parry a fist of feet with your hand.

I hear what you say. I put here our own house rules. seems that we are not the only ones to find this problematic. I have always liked better the ward against heat and flames than the other wards in the game.

We use a +3 to soak per base level of the ward. We set a limit of +15 to the protection. These wards can use any Target, including individual, room and circle.

For all or nothing wards you need circular wards. Their base level x5 is what your penetration total must be in order to beat the protection and deal full damage. Generally they are stacked with a +X soak spell in case the ward is broken. So a base 4 circular ward forces you to have a penetration 21 or above in order to break it.

The second ones have proven to suck against most hermetics, since hermetic magic in 5th edition is too powerful for the setting, but works well for other magical traditions and supernatural beings.

So a base 1 spell could be like this.

Protection against the treacherous dagger (ReTe5). PSI
Gives you a +3 soak vs metal attacks.
B1 (+3 soak), +2 metal, +2 sun. Personal, individual

Protection against the storm of swords (ReTe20). PSI
Gives you a +12 soak vs metal attacks.
B4 (+12 soak), +2 metal, +2 sun. Personal, individual

Ward against heat and flames (ReIg15)
+15 soak vs ignem and fire.
B5, +2 sun

I like this idea a lot.

I don't like the 100% proof wards either, I think they are boring. Overly defensive character designs, who get immunity towards almost everything both bore and irritate me. Actually, I detest personal wards, I like the circular ones. It adds more flavour.

It always struck me as odd (and annoying) that Wards against fire were +Soak and the others were total immunity. From a rational viewpoint it makes sense that soem of the fire/heat is deflected, and that a sword is either blocked or not. But from a game stanpoint I just don't like it!

Whilst this might only be considered a 'flavour' quibble, since mostly the mechanical results are identical, shouldn't a ReTe spell to prevent weapons striking you be adding to 'Defence' rather than adding to 'Soak'?

To my mind, spells that add to Soak should either affect the body (making it denser/tougher/etc) or add/enhance armour. And there are ways of hurting someone directly (only resisted by soak) that these Rego spells you suggest shouldn't help against.

Oh, and I like Xavi's idea of Circle Wards vs personal defence spells.

Thanks for laying this out. I've been going through the guidelines lately and have had some of the same questions. It has been on my mind to ask but I haven't had the time to do it.

I think setting an upper limit is important as without it somebody is always going to get +[big number] defense and be effectively immune to everything. As with so much in Ars it's difficult to decide what's reasonable even when "discussing it with the troupe."

I vaguely remember a discussion regarding "what is slightly unnatural vs what is very unnatural" on these boards but again, I haven't had the time to do a proper search. I also vagule remember there was no conclusion to that discussion. Or, I felt there wasn't. It's hard to tell what could fit in certain categories when they're so vague. Similar to "move water with violence". What's that mean really?

Still thinking. Thanks again.


I'm still slowly, in my re-write of elements of Ars magica, sorting how it interacts. Since this re-write was designed so I could run a 'modern' campaign if I so wished, I've been working out how to make guns and such still lethal. As a result, Magic uses aristotlian physics as A&A, but real world physics work for actual mundane items. However, wards only protect up to their level in damage, and for things to handle guns etc, there are additional magnitudes for velocity.

Your mountain example made me wonder if wards need extra magnitude for object larger than the base individual. I think is you protect a giant you'd need an extra one but protecting yourself from a dwarf or giant is no different.

In a sense, a larger-than-individual object will do more damage, so your idea kinda cover this too.

The target of a Ward is not the thing you are being protected from, it is the thing being protected.
I have similar ideas to Fixer's, with the caveat that I am not so keen on the "having to be aware of it" bit. IMO, it is just easier to say all substance wards at level 25 (Touch/Sun/Ind) grant a +15 soak. As for how it functions, say against a sword, the ward lessens the impact and it doesn't hit you as hard.

Note that in the RAW, circular wards are non-Euclidean (ie, you can fold them up without breaking the enchantment), and can be picked up and moved. (I believe there's an example in one of the books that has a CrCo circular healing effect on a rug that gets folded up and carried around, thus creating a sort of portable hospital.)

As such, having a difference between a personal ward and a circular one is as difficult as levitating 10 paces of string in a circle around a magi. Sure, your enemies can cut the string...if they can get through the inevitable wards that are there specifically to protect it. (To make it more difficult to target, make the thread woven out of human hair, wool, cotton, and copper wire.)

Don't want your magi to be surrounded by a ring of thread for their entire lives? Weave it into the hem of your robe (or just fold it up and carry it in your pocket), and use /5 Rego effect to pull it out when you need it.

Of course, this doesn't work so great in confined spaces, or if you want to be subtle. But for when it's time to throw down, it's actually pretty easy to have all your circular wards with you, whenever you want them.

EDIT - oh, and you can probably get the thread itself protected by the magi's parma by building a sort of lariat - where there is a circular portion (which has the spell traced on it), but also has a tail going off, which is (say) tied around the wizard's waist.

Could you find that for us?

I'd like to see the source, too.

Regardless, not all canon spells from supplements are as accuratetely designed as I would like them to be. Authors do forget the rules, such as in Conjugation of the Seaworthy Cog. it is created with T:Structure, which is absolutely wrong. The same desired result can be achieved with T:Group and additional, necessary Size adjustments.
I've also seen poorly designed items. If such an item does exist, I'd be extremely wary of allowing it In any saga I'm a part.

I believe it was in one of the magi in Magi of Hermes - unfortunately I don't own the book. I originally heard of it via a post here in the forums. Let's see if I can find it...

EDIT - nope, can't find the reference.... which makes for a good excuse to go out and get the book myself! I'll look a bit more, and let you know.

For the record: Ths has been mentioned before, but MoH is full of bugs. As far as I can tell anyway.
It was (apparently) ntended to answer questions, but it raised a number of new problems.

Personally I see it as an excellent source of inspiration, but advice users to check every calculation and not use it to settle rules questions. Ever.

Some of the magi are fine, some of them aren't.

Not exactly the same, but this reminded me about the ExMiscellanea Columbae dress that is a portable circular ward IIRC. Robes of dusty dawn or something like that. Serf's parma, but I believe they had this effect of "you sit down and you get a nice circular ward around you marked by the hem of the dress".

The portable vs non portable circular wards have been a raging debate in the forum for years. The height of a circular ward is an ongoing discussion as well. I have no recollection of the foldable ward thing, though. IMS we did use to have a similar rug, but this was an enchanted item that casted 3 spells (purification + bind wound + berseker), not a mundane item with a circular ward cast decades ago.

EDIT: Laura corrects me. The rug was a +12 recovery bonus to sleep on. The item that activated the 3 spells was a bloody scroll wrapped around a command baton with the Lazarus entry of the bible written on it.


Columbae have virtue to change their rules

Good ol' classic discussions

Yes, for instance: I's lik to know if imprisoning a giraffe using Circular Wards against Beasts, is the head even covered? :wink:

Philipus Niger the Flambeau in Durenemar has an enchanted silver chain circle that contains several circular wards.
The chain can be packed up and then spread out on the ground. Presto portable circular wards!

A nascent threadmancer. Welcome to the forum. :smiley: