Potential Breakthrough: Full Defense Parma

I've been giving though to a possible breakthrough regarding Parma Magica, called "Full Defense Parma".

Whenever the magus is involved in magical combat, at the beginning of a combat round he can declare that he is going into Full Defense mode. While in this mode, he exerts his magical strength to bolster his Parma Magica, making it more effective. This is reflected by the magus adding his highest Technique to his total magic resistance. Although each technique is sometimes described as a different type of defense (such as "Ablative Defense" for Creo or "Adaptative Defense" for Muto), the end result is the same.

The drawback of this Full Defense Parma is that, while it is used, the magus cannot cast any spell and is severely limited in other actions, such as moving (limited to a pace or two). At the end of every round, he must also succeed a Sta + Concentration roll against an ease factor of 6 + (Total Penetration of Effects resisted during the round)/5 to avoid loosing a Fatigue Level. The advantage is that the decision to be on full defense is taken from round to round.

Thoughts? Comments?

If you can't move and attack you're dead.
That's a philosophical issue I have with this breakthrough. I will respond more in depth when I'm on a computer rather than my phone.

A few points:

  • You may be part of a group, and acting as the decoy while the other ones act.
  • You can still move, but slowly (about a pace or two every round).
  • And your opponent may be expending Might or Fatigue trying to affect you. You can switch from Full Defense to regular Parma at any time to go on offense.

This is essentially the same as going All Out Defense in melee combat.

Such a character is unable to assist grogs and mundane servants. The creature/magic user then targets the grogs, because they should be able to notice that they can't affect the magus, forcing the magus to change tactic.
IF multiple magi are involved, sure that tactic can work. If it's one magi with a mess of grogs and a companion or two, then a big part of what they are supposed to do lend support to the grogs, if their magic can't affect the target. IF they're too busy turtling, then they can't provide support.
It's a philosophical thing with me, being able to respond to threats is much more useful than a relatively small (I'm assuming the Technique score is still divided by 5, as form scores are?). It might make the difference on whether the effect penetrates or not.

I certainly agree that most times the magus should not be "turtling". But there are circumtances where such an option can be useful. If confronting a threat of unknown power, the magus is not much use if he gets taken out on the first round because his parma is somewhat weak and he loses initiative.

Actually, it is the full score of a Form score that is added to the magic resistance. Likewise, it would be the full score of the Technique that would be added here, so it is not such a small bonus.

The (Form/5) is used as a bonus to the "physical" effects, such as Soak score, Sta checks, etc.

OF course, you're correct, I should pay better attention while I'm posting.

In any event, magi shouldn't be encountering unknown threats. Not saying it doesn't happen, but they should be getting some clues that they need to bravely run away. And then they need to consider alternative defensive strategies. It's possible that the creature/entity can get rid of them in the first round, but if they can do that to the magus, then they can do the same to the grogs, and then the magus is truly defenseless.

Don't forget that in combat that the magus can make something happen, so if they lose initiative and they get hurt their spell still goes off, because actions are resolved simultaneously. Going out in a blaze of glory is a reasonable proposition.

I like it. As long as it isn't blatantly obvious that you're using it it gives a good mythical feeling. The magus steels himself against mystic attacks and shakes them off while tiring the opposition. If the opponent switches target, that is great as you then get to attack "from behind".

It's not too big an advantage, but significant enough to matter. Good idea.

And, Jonathan? Could you give a reference for the "actions are resolved simultaneously"? I've never played that way, but might have missed it. In my games all actions are resolved on the initiative of the active party. If the Dragon goes first and eats you, your spell never goes off...

I would point out that the "full defense" mechanism can already be mimicked by Parma+Fast Cast Defenses.
Since "bigger" effects tend to have lower penetration, those that get through tend to be easier to defend by Fast Casting.
And while the magus is defending, it's much harder to do anything else.

I would allow it. it does not seem much of an improvement anyway as ezzelino pointed out (and Jonathan.Link countered from a tactical POV).

If you want something along these lines, you could allow someone to drop a level of parma to stop a spell regardless of penetration (unless penetration was double the level of parma, for example). It would count as a fast cast defense. Parma would be regenerated by concentrating for a round. Another option includes stockade your parma in a location (create a circle parma that cannot be moved but protects everybody inside at full power).

I love it. I positively love it.

Its got a great feel, its a reasonable breakthrough (perhaps only minor, it you think of it as adding to form resistance rather than the parma) and would be an enormous tactical advantage.

Some obvious examples:

1/ Fighting creatures with might who must expend might points to attack;
2/ Fighting an enemy with Painful Magic;
3/ Fighting an enemy who is using a high penetration charged item, or enchanted item with limited uses/day;
4/ "Tanking" attacks to allow others to attack the target : Remember, if the oponent attacks the grogs or your sodales, they cannot attack you, and you get a free hit against him;
5/ Bluff defense. Just because you can do this doesn't mean other people know of this ability. If a magus sees his most powerful attacks bounce harmlessly off of his opponent's parma, he might conclude that he is perhaps outmatched after all, and flee, surrender or be willing to talk.
6/ Desperation Defense : Botches happen. You can try to hold out against a superior foe in the hopes he or she botches - better than nothing.
7/ Fighting an enemy who is blowing vis to attack you
8/ Fighting an enemy using Life Boost

In short - this is superb against any enemy who is blowing limited resources to make their attacks effective. It might also open the door to other breakthroughs:

Life Linked Resistance (expend fatigue for +5 bumps to resistance)
Vis boosted resistance (1 pawn = +2/+5 resistance)

I love it. Let us know how it works out!

Or try to cast something that allows a much higher penetration, often meaning using a less nasty spell or burning through a lot of Vis. Either way it means problems for the attacker.

Either +5 for a few rounds or +10 or something i think, the return for spending fatigue may not be worth it otherwise.

Good idea.

I say, let movement be reduced to half, or possibly allow half movement via an additional Concentration roll.
Not being able to move at all almost will make this too severely limiting to be useful except under very narrow circumstances. Limited movement, or being forced to manage a dieroll to move a bit more, feels like a better idea.

Indeed, that's a good idea.

Let's say half movement for +3 to the ease factor?

The inability to respond with fast cast defenses is the only thing that gives me concerns about deploying such a defense.

If I'm a magus with this ability, I'm likely a combat monkey, anyway, so I'm going to be more confrontational in my use of magic and will use spells to aid my support troops[1]. If I'm a bookworm magus who has a few offensive spells, I'd be totally out of my element in combat anyway.

And if the Full Defense Parma were in effect and the opponents had mundane ranged attacks, just order the henchmen to bring everything to bear on the magus. His inability to fast cast defend is a relatively serious issue.

Please note, I'm taking a devils advocate approach here.

Another option to consider is that the Technique choosen only comes into play if the effect targeting the magus is of the same Technique, and allow full movement and defensive strategies to be used. Allow the magus to designate the Technique they wish to used when they do their Parma ritual. You can assume they use their best Technique, unless they state otherwise. Yes, it's slightly less effective, but against common spells like PoF, BoAF, IoL adding Creo to the bonus can make a big difference.

[1] If I don't have grogs, because they've been taken down by arrows and other mundane weapons, then I'm the next logical target. Heck, I could be the first logical target if the entity can't get through with magical means, just do whatever he can to the magus he can't touch with magic, but doesn't seem to be doing anything in response...

I think that as written the Magus using full defense can still activate enchanted devices.

Yet, even "bookworms" can end up in a combat situation (say, while investigating a regio). This gives them a possibility of surviving supernatural attacks. And by saying this breakthrough has been fully integrated (IMS), this means that all magi have access to this option.

Plus, the possibility of chance stance from round-to-round gives all magi some tactical flexibility.

What I've noticed over the years is that Hermetic magic provides a wide range of offensive choices, but limited defensive choice. And defensive choice are more costly than offensive, since offensive spells are usually formulaic and unlikely to cost Fatigue, while the fast-cast defensive capability comes at the cost of limited effectiveness (you have to choose a TeFo suitable to the attack) and because of the spontaneous nature of the defense costs a Fatigue level every round.

Understood, and taken as such. :slight_smile:

And the point is that this breakthrough isn't a big game-changer. It just gives magi the option of going on defense with a smaller cost (fatigue-wise) than fast-cast defense. Plus, some magi cannot do spontaneous magic very well, so this gives them another way to be protected.

That could be another way to see develop the breakthrough. But it actually makes it less useful, IMHO.

What's the survival rate for a magus[1] without grogs?

If you allow movement, it's a bit more useful, as the magus could conceivably make their way back home. Of course all their grogs are dead and that opens up a whole other can of worms when back at the covenant!

Situations where a magus needs extra protection usually includes multiple warnings and hints from me as the SG, including the use of a clue-by-four that they really need to step back and assess their actions before proceeding. I'm not afraid of killing characters, but I might have a few grogs taken out really quickly, which gives the magus a chance to assess the magical capability of the creature.

[1] Especially that bookworm magus.

No it´s not slightly less effective, it´s severely less effective. If they have to designate it while doing Parma that means everyone every day will have to bet on Creo, Rego or Perdo and then being unable to do anything about a wrong choice while in danger.

And Arthurs +3 to EF to allow half movement is a much better compromise as far as i can see.

Mmm, possibly. "severely limited in other actions"...

Indeed! I´ve played around with several variations but never really found one i like completely.

Anyways, another option you could look at is taking this variant over to some form of ablative bonus, or to add one as an additional option.
Maybe something like... Spend a round doing nothing else, in return you get best Te score as an outer layer of ablative parma bonus that is shaved away on a 1:1 ratio by Penetration , the bonus stays up for 2 minutes or until torn away by effects impacting. No regeneration unless you spend another round forming it.
Or you could do a version that uses the combined Te scores but harder/more time consuming to generate... :smiling_imp:
Or you could make it generate behind the regular parma, improves effect hugely but also kinda fun.

I've noticed the same thing. Nobody bothers to master Fast Casting for defensive spells.

Which means players should be encouraged to do so.

Fast casting a short range teleport spell (or investing it in an item) is the first choice for all the members of my troupe. I thought that was fairly common.

(thanks to the forum) the other day I thought about a potential lab trap. A hard to reach (ceiling stone) that casts a high level WoM at a high initiative every round. That leaves an intruder magic-less in he lab. If the lab is enclosed and illuminated magically (no windows, you must use a MuTe spell to enter it) that is quite a killer for a magus. Place a pack of hungry wolves, a pest of deadly scorpions, or equivalent in the lab for added fun. To kill someone you do not need to hit him necessarily, but you can render him naked.