Problem with Magic Item Creation and Penetration

I do not play Ars Magica from a lot of time and I am not sure to exactly remember what I have to add to calculate my Lab Total for a new magic item. I have also problems to calculate the item's Penetration and I do not remembre if there are any errata or FAQ that correct the original issue (Ars Magica first printing pag 99).

Bloody-thirsty dagger of assassination (temporary name):
invested device with an effect similar to “The Wound that Sweeps” (modified Range Touch so Pe/Co 10) and another similar to "Invocation of Weariness" (modified Range Touch so Pe/Co 15). Detailed info:

  • The Wound that Sweeps 12 uses/day +4= final effect 14
  • Invocation of Weariness 3 uses/day +2 = final effect 15

Spells activate only when the blow hits the flesh of the target (they are Corpus effects with range Touch) during an attempt of murder on his back (because I would like to use +3 bonus for Shape/Material and I limit this only to a backstab) so only when I bypass the Soak Total (in the other cases I suppose the armor protects the target). To activate them I have only to attack my target

Please note I am a Verditius with no useful Craft Ability to forge a dagger and without any correlated House Mistery

Season One

I open the item

Season Two

I would like to instill the effect (The Wound that Sweeps) in a single Season so

Pedo 6 Corpus 8 Magic Theory 8 (base5 +1 Enchant devices speciality +2 Puissant MT) Int 3 Aura 5 Inventive Genius +3 Shape/Material +3 (assassination) +1 Early Riser -1 standard quality (City & Guild pag 70)= 36 vs final spell effect 14 (one Season)

Season Three

I would like to instill the effect (Invocation of Weariness) in a single Season so again

Pedo 6 Corpus 8 Magic Theory 8 (base5 +1 Enchant devices speciality +2 Puissant MT) Int 3 Aura 5 Inventive Genius +3 common Technique/Form +1 Shape/Material +3 (assassination) +1 Early Riser -1 standard quality (City & Guild pag 70)= 37 vs final spell effect 15 (one Season)

Pawns of Vis used:

opening the item (base metal 5 x small Size 2) = 10
first effect = 2
second effect = 2

(there is enough space to contain 60 level of effects)

It is all right and what changes if I add Penetration? I have to add one level to apply +2 Penetration?

For every additional level of the power that you instill you gain +2 penetration.

Therefore if you wish to keep the schedule you listed in your post during season 2 you have a lab total of 36 and an effect level of 14 you could instead have an effect level of 18 and give the item +8 penetration while still getting the power invested in a single season.

Likewise in the second season you have a lab total of 37 so you could invest a power with a level up to 18.5 in one season. so you could do your level 15 effect and 3 levels for penetration for +6 (I'd let you use the fractional level for +7 penetration but I suspect that I'm weird that way).

You should be aware that there are lots of us who have chosen to make a house rule regarding charged devices and penetration. Charged devices can generate absurd levels of penetration if you use the rules as written.

thanks you very much for your answer. I would be very pleased if someone could suggest to me his home rules used for Penetration.

Moreover I am happy to have not mistaken my "calculations" for the creation of the magic item :smiley:

The simplest is just to get half the usual bonus, that is, one penetration per extra level. (for example, adding +10 levels to a charged item would give it 10 penetration)

That gives charged items roughly the same penetration as a magus could theoretically get with a casting of the same spell (assuming that their penetration ability isn't bad to counter magic theory and other bonuses... The charged item may end up higher.)

Our houserules also slightly nerf invested items down to 150% instead of 200% (+10 levels gives 15 penetration).

[size=75]It's important to note that the penetration for charged items doesn't necessarily seem overhigh in the first season... It's when magi spend one season making their "kill target" wand with +40 penetration (only a total of around 60 under core rules, so a specialist can probably manage this, 15 15 arts, focus in death, magic theory, aura, experimentation/virtues/whatever.), and the next season once they have a lab text, produce another 12, all for free with no vis cost! 13 magus-killing wands that can be given to grogs is usually a bad idea. The same mage could probably cast that same spell with a penetration of around 5-20, depending on roll and other things[/size]

I have to say we left penetration as it is satted simply because penetration is often a serious issue for our mages. They use enchanted devices precisely because it permits them to cast spells at a much higher effective level and therefore justifies the cost in Vis to achieve the desired effect.

'Combat wands' are a fairly common item among our mages, for combatting things with magic resistance. That may be due to the fact our grogs suck the big one when it comes down to fighting.

If you nerf somehow the penetration bonus (2x1 offer, right now), it is NOT that you are nerfing penetration as a whole: you can astill invest the same level of penetration, but you will need a higher lab total and you'll need more time in the lab. It is a tradeoff to create really powerful items.

Magic items have quite a few advantages and drawbacks that make them important and useful IMS. For "covenant" stuff we use a lot of circle/ring spells, but for transportable stuff, magic items are the way to go. :slight_smile:


Well, yes. The debated issue is charged items, which cost no vis to make... but still have the two-for-one penetration advantage.

The +2 per level penetration works fine for me, though now the rule is Wards have to penetrate, I want +3 per level for my amulets, lol!

Still, the Charged Item has it's limits. You can spend a season learning the actual spell which you can cast as often as you like, or you can waste a season on an item that casts the spell only once. Maybe you get a few of them, but still, once they are gone thay're gone for good.

But to learn a spell in a single season you need to generate a lab total of spell level *2 (unless you have lab notes to crib from).

To create a charged item you need a lab total of spell level *1.

That's a fairly significant difference especially considering that a charged device will get shape and material bonuses in the lab total.

The specific fear that comes to mind is as follows: There is a powerful entity of might that is a big deal for the saga. The very young PC's decide that they want to be able to handle the creature, and rather than doing something that tells an interesting story they instead decide to create a "wand of magical critter dealing with". They decide to make a spell using the best tech + form combination of one of their better researchers. I'll assume the spell comes out to level 40 (perdo corpus spells kill something at that level , strings of the unwilling marionette with duration moon is that level, perdo mentem spells can leave a mind a blank shell at a significantly lower level, commanding the harnessed beast duration moon +1 size modifier is level 40, at level 40 there's all sorts of combinations that will take care of business). Now you might think that they'll never get the penetration on a level 40 spell to tag your might 50 creature.

Let's take a magi with a technique + form of 22 that's conservative for a youngish magi with an affinity but no applicable focus. Give them a magic theory of 5 with a specialization that's appropriate and they have a lab with a +1 appropriate specialization and +1 general quality, not too extraordinary. A +2 intelligence, pretty typical. With an aura of +4. they have a lab total of 35 no where near to what they need.

The character spends two seasons with the grog captain learning leadership to get leadership 2 specialization lab work. Now our specialist can have three helpers, the other PC's who have intelligence + magic theory scores of on average 7.

OK so now they've got a lab total of 56, lets add in some shape and material bonuses equal to the primary's magic theory (+specialization) so we're up to 62 or 40 +22 or 40 +44 penetration. Only three points away from what is needed.

So roll an experimentation die, or work overtime (Covenants p108), not double or triple overtime, just overtime, either way will get you the points that you need. (and you can whip up 13 more in the second season using the lab notes).

It's not a plan that is particularly easy to pull off, but my feeling is that might 50 creatures should take even more work to rid oneself of. The big deal here is that the characters are not extraordinary at all, they have no crazy high skills or magical focuses that are appropriate to the job. They're typical characters 2-3 years out of apprenticeship and any covenant that I've played, (if they were transferred into fifth edition) would be able to pull off this plan.

It should be more difficult than this for characters in their late 20's to stomp gods.

God has a might much higher than 60, LOL. I understand the feeling though. I threw Pan Caudrax at the characters, unadjusted Might score of 75. I underestimated my guys :slight_smile: They were Archmagi playing 7 year old (in real time) characters. It's one thing for the venerable master to pull off, but for a green young maga, well, yeah. It cheepens the danger they were in.

However, to be that ultra slick in character design and enchantment design, they are not a new player. Experienced players playing young magi as ultra optimized and disciplined can be a problem.

Still, when playing a game with an open ended magic system such as this one. you gotta be prepared for the clever player to shortcut your seven game plot with one innocent action. Me personally? I either reward them for being clever, or I meta game around it. More than once a player has purposefully not done something just for the good of the story, but only because I communicated my need to them and they have a promise I won't screw them in the end for it.

Spending their time was done in a fairly slick way but I was trying to stress that the character design needn't be slick at all and in fact any group of characters could pull it off with a bit of effort.

Of course this is all quite tangent the point asked by the original poster

Not tangential at all.
Well, okay, he's not making a charged item though, so maybe a little tangential;)

In any case, I think you have to push your munchkin optimization pretty hard and be pretty familiar with the system in order to exploit the loophole to the degree you suggest. But that doesn't matter I suppose. I wanna play a new green character now and again, and it would be retarded to somehow pretend I don't know the rules of the system.

It does depend on playing style I suppose. I prize verisimilitude and enjoyment of the character above the overall story. However, that only works because I have two coofs for players, and they value story over verisimilitude (though they value the importance of their own individual character above all of that, lol).

Let's tackle your example though. I like playing with math :slight_smile:

Dude, I changed my mind! Getting in depth with your math makes me think that you really are a wizard :exclamation: That's the thing I love about Ars Magica, all the crunchiness makes me feel like I'm getting into the mind of the magician. If you ran around and did all that to me in my game, I'd give you your kudos, and make sure the next major threat did not fall into the category of being susceptible to X (where X equals that thing that you did), or make the threat something more subtle (like some internal intrigue to shake up that super-team thing you got going).

Well, my objection to the scenario in question ( provided by Mr. Tyrrell ) is the cooperativeness of the Magi involved. I know that Players tend to want to cooperate to the degree that is put forth in that scenario, however I find it extremely OOC. Perhaps that is not the pervasive view? Anyway, I probably would not go to the extreme of telling the players they 'can not' team up like that, yet... I'd certainly OOCly tell them it isn't IC and then introduce the social ramifications thereof that I see as logical.

A greater degree of caution being applied by other covenants/magi in the way they deal with the covenant. If it persisted perhaps even to the extent of the outside world treating them as some sort of mini-mystery-cult, as they are so attached to each other... coming with even more wariness on the part of others and probably a desire to know just what they are up to.

Good thinking :slight_smile:
I'd certainly give Erik's team kudos and a reputation, but who knows where that reputation might lead...

Potential reputations

  • Slayer of god XXX (covenant)
  • Resourceful
  • team leader/great researcher (the leader of the investigation project)
  • rightfully proud (the leader)
  • slave (the other magi)
  • "yes sir" magi (the other magi)
  • underlings (the other magi)
  • "incomprehensively-gauntleted apprentice-level magic users (the other magi)
  • Cannot do anything on their own: weaklings (the whole team of magi)
  • ....

If you want to screw players for their resourcefulness, it is easy. I wouldn't do that, but that is a "IMS/YMMV" issue :slight_smile:



In my example three characters who weren't the primary researcher each spent one season working to create the one shot super weapon. Is a magus spending a single season cooperating with his sodales in order to dispatch a tremendous threat to his own covenant really out of character?

As I said, it may not be the pervasive view... yet I take the cultural conotations of being another Magus' lab assistant rather seriously I suppose.

At the very least those who were assisting would be perceived as having 'acknowledged' the primary magus as their superior... so their status would be lessened considerably if this acknowledgement were not clearly warranted. And the receiver, would be considerably bettered I suppose. Or perhaps people might wonder if there were coercement involved in how he garnered so many actual magi into being mere lab assistants.

I think it is much more reasonable for young magi to go and find an older one who can solve their problem for them somehow... and tell a story about convincing them to do to it for them. Probably for some manner of favor or obligation in turn.

And there was the crash course in leadership, a roll of an experimentation die, you had to preorder the special aluminum centerfuges, stand on one leg, flip the switches in the right order, spin around three times, all while whistling the tune for "O Fortuna", and etceteras...

LOL, I don't think it is odd for a magi to assist one another in the lab now and again, even multiple many times as long as it is even. But three under one? All in all, I think that your claim of a conservative estimate is exaggerated. I am also saying that I don't think it I would over worry about it though. It is onlya one shot item, and like I said, I would make sure my next challenge was either more subtle or didn't fall into the category of being susceptible to X.

I must admit I had not considered the possibilities of so many mages co-operating. In the sagas I have participated the over-powering motivation of most magi seems to be selfishness. They only ever co-operate when compelled to because a senior mage has so instructed them.

That said, they would probably do so if presented with a situation thus described; if only because the primus told them to do it.

In principle, I have no problem with them being able to create a charged item to create an enormous beast destroying object. The only limitation I would employ in such a situation would be to limit the information they had about a beast. I would tend to use the story to limit such contruction rather than look to modify the rules.

Most of my fellow players are from a generation that regards the growth in knowledge of the game and its story to be the greatest reward; probably because we alsio played a lot of old fashioned travvler in which character advancement in virtuall non-existant. Ars Magica of course, encourages development of both player and covenant; which is a very different ethos.