Questions from a Newbie (part I)

I am new to Ars Magica - love the setting and the feel of the game - I am just having some difficulties with the mechanics (which, for being a Rolemaster player for 20+ years one would not think possible :wink: )

  1. Under Spells it has Design specifications (such as Base 15, +1 touch, +2 Sun, +1 Size - for the Wizards Mount [a Level 35 spell])
    I understand that the Level 35 comes from 15 +5 +10+5 (corresponding to the Design specifications) but I am only backing into that. How does one know that Sun = +2 and hence 10pts of magnitude and that Moon =3 and hence 15pts of magnitude?

Or am not getting this?


Go to the start of the chapter. Under spell parameters (or something like that) you get the base spell parameters. They are usually:

Range: Personal
Target: Individual
Duration: Momentary

After that and under each category (range, target, duration) you get an increment of +1 in each category.

So it is (for example):

Momentary +0
Concentration/Diameter +1
Sun +2
Moon +3
Year +4

Personal +0
Touch +1
Voice +2
Sight +3
Arcane Connection +4

Individual +0
Part +1
Group +2
(something I cannot remember: Structure?) +3
Boundary +4

Clear as mud? :slight_smile:


Assuming you have the Core ARM5 Rulebook, I would draw your attention to pages 111-115 for the spell design chapter. The Range, Duration and Target steps are all fully explained therein.

Welcome to Ars! :slight_smile:

[Edited to add]: Awww you beat me to the punch again Xavi, you sly devil! :wink:

I agree that it's poorly explained. It says stuff like "concentration is the same level as diameter", but i can't recall seeing anywhere in the book that says that diameter is a 1 step increase. I did it the same way you did. Read the spells, and figured it out from there.
But xavi kindly explained it above.

I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to ask, but I'll take a whack at it anyway.

I'm guessing it has to do with magnitudes versus levels (something which got me at the beginning too). Basically, if a spell is above level 5, all modifiers (RDT, size, complexity, requisites, etc.) start being increased as magnitudes (5 levels), rather than levels.

For my example I'll use Arm of the Infant which is the best example of the phenomena I can come up with right now.

This spell uses the guidelines to change a person, but keep them human so we check the Muto Corpus chart for the base level of +3.
Next we add +2 levels for the Voice range for at total level of 5.
Now we add +2 for Sun duration, but since we're now at level at level 5 we add 2 magnitudes (10 levels) so we get level 15.
Finally, we add +1 (magnitude) for the Partial target for a final level of 20.

Thanks - I am slowly getting this. A great system but hard to wrap your brain around at the begining.

I just wish there was a chart in the book for all this.

Believe me - I am going to have many more questions before I am through I am sure.

In previous editions there were charts. In 5th it's described narratively. Meh, I'd think you'd have had your fill of charts from RM. :wink:

("I cast Chart Law True, and try to find the medium magma blast critical table!...")

And you're right- it takes a bit to internalize the system. It's not hard, just a bit spread out (but nothing compared to RM!!!) :wink:

Several points that may or may not have become evident re Spells:

  1. The spells listed are only suggestions- With rare exceptions, the final choice of Range/Duration/Target is completely up to the mage in question. There is nothing "special" about the spells listed- they are not the "usual" ones, nor the ones an apprentice "has" to choose from, etc (tho' that's often easier for beginners).

So, if we take the very first spell listed as an example, Soothe the Pains of the Beast, CrAn 20 (p 117), we see that effect is listed as Base 15, +1 Touch. If the mage wanted to heal any animal she could shout at, add a mangitude, and get "Call to Soothe tPot Beast", CrAn 25. Then, if a mage wanted to bump that to Group and heal up to 10 animals at a time (or, perhaps better, more than one Light wound at a time!), add +2 to that Level, move the Target to +2 Group, and you have "Call to Soothe tPot Beast[i]s[/i]", CrAn 35. If that mage wanted to drop it from a Healing spell to a lower level Recovery spell (see CrAn Guidelines), he could lower the Base value, and add a Duration* - and so on. Likewise to heal something more serious than a single Light Wound. Completely up to you (within the limits of the Base effect).

(* Example: CrAn 20, A Hard Day's Ride - Adds +9 to Recovery rolls for an animal for the day, up to +1 size.
(Base 4, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +1 Size)

  1. Similarly, adding a requisite, especially a "free" one (see page 114-115, and look for spell examples that list "free requisites") can improve the flexibility of spells greatly. For instance, adding Animal to a Corpus spell can make the same spell usable on men or beasts, and etc with many such examples.
  2. Intellego: Often requires that the "target" is one of the 5 senses, see bottom of p. 113-114 for that info. Taste +0 thru Touch/Smell/Hearing to Vision +4 magnitudes.

With that, look at the first InAn spell on page 118, Shiver of the Lyncanthrope, InAn 10. That's defined as R: Personal, Duration: Concentration, Target: Touch. That means that you have to Touch a thing to use your magical senses on it. "Touch a lycanthrope?! No way, Jose!" OK, so bump it to Smell for +1, or Vision for +2 more than Touch. Or, if you want, drop it to "Smell of the Lycanthrope" (Level 5) or even "Kiss of the Lycanthrope" and make it a Level 4 Spell (Level 10 -2 magnitudes).

For me, there are a LOT of spells that become hugely more useful with just a +1 magnitude bump, including a lot of "Eye" range and "Momentary" durations.

You may well have already grokked all that, but it's never bad to spell it out for others who have just cracked the book.

Welcome to Ars!

Thanks Cuchulainshound!!!

Incidently it took awhile for me to grasp RM too (now is that a 45% action or a 55% action?...)

If one wants to do as you suggest - change a spell with a "+1 magnitude bump" is that a totally new spell or just an alteration of a spell one knows?

So by your example: If I want to change Soothe the Pains of the Beast [CrAn 20] to Call to Soothe the Pains of the Beast [CrAn25] do i just cast it at a higher cost or do I have to "learn" a new spell and spend a season or two on it?

Still working...

You would have to re-invent it in the lab to change anything about a formulaic spell.

Or, you could just cast it spontaneously at whatever level you want (and can achieve). But that is a lot harder because spontaneous magic divides the Casting Total by two (if you exert yourself).

No prob, we've all been there.

(Private joke for RoleMaster players:
Want to know how a 1st level character can effectively teleport? They sprint as fast as they can, then declare that they're going to "stop on a dime". Naturally, they fail miserably, and the ensuing tumble is guaranteed to send them much further than they could have run in twice the same time. Ah, Role Master... good times... and then you get the instant death critical. Unpleasant.)

You're dancing around a couple/few different topics, so I'll address them all, but yeah, you have to learn the new spell(s), each individually.

It can certainly be given a new name, as it is a different spell for purposes of "I invented this new spell" and etc (which is important to some characters). But a mage can't "alter" a formulaic spell that they know*, not even to cast it "smaller". A magi who knows "Soothe the Pains of the Beast" must then learn "StPot Beasts", and then "Call of StPotB" - 3 different spells, that each do the same thing slightly differently/better. (Of course, you could always just learn only "Call of Soothing the Pains of the Beasts", and use that on one Level 35 spell on any single beast or beasts at any range within Voice, etc.)
(* unless the character possesses the Major Hermetic Virtue "Flexible Formulaic Magic", or knows certain Muto Vim spells)

Even "General" spells, like Ward Against Beasts of Legend (ReAn general, p. 120). You learn that at a given level, and that's the level of the spell you cast. You want it at a different level, learn/invent it at a different level.

However, if you're talking about "similar spells" for Lab/Research purposes, yes, it is "similar" by the definition on page 101. (If you know a "similar spell", you get to add +1/magnitude of the one largest such spell to your Lab Total for inventing successive "similar spells". So, once you know StPotB, CrAn 25, that adds +5 to the Lab Total (25/5, 5 magnitudes) to inventing the others.)

It's not uncommon for a mage to learn "improved" versions of a spell later on in his career. But remember- that HUUUGE spell is harder to cast, and the Penetration won't be a large as with a smaller, more reliable and elementary version. I've seen many magi die because they had nothing but Level 25 and 30 magnitude spells to cast, and were too Fatigued to successfully cast them, when all they needed was a Level 15 effect to save their sorry butts. :wink:

This is completely true.

Of course there are muto vim spells that can be used, (and less importantly the flexible formulaic magic virtue... and even less importantly there is the mutantes virtue.... and even less importantly than that the hermetic thaumaturgy mystery virtue... and so on).

Cuchulainshound is correct and listing the ways to get around the issue doesn't actually make the learning the game any easier. But don't think that there aren't options available for a clever character to use to get around the issue.

It's named David.

David wasn't included in my copy. :frowning: