Questions on a custom spell (MuMe, req Vi)

Hello there,

This is my first post, so I think I should briefly introduce myself. :wink: I started playing Ars Magica years ago with the third edition. Like many players, I have fallen in love with this game. Unfortunately, life duties kept me away from role playing games for a few years until I found myself leafing through an ArM5 manual in a local seller just a few months ago. Right now, I'm starting a new saga with my fellows and we're having very much fun building our covenant and characters.

Now, the subject of my post is a custom spell about which the base guidelines are of little help.

Here it is :

Realisation Of The Magical Thought

Muto Mentem
Req : Vim
Range : personnal
Duration : Momentary
Target : part

This spell transforms a thought into a brief and weak magical effect. When casting this spell, the magus concentrates on the thought he wishes to transform. The player determines the effect, with the following limitations :

  • A thought is something fugitive by nature : it cannot be transformed into an effect with duration more than diameter.
  • A magical thought cannot affect a target higher than group or piece
  • A magical thought may not be very complex : the effect may not be of magnitude higher than 25
    The caster must make an intelligence + finesse roll with an ease factor equal to the level of the effect in which the thought is to be turned. If he fails, the produced effect is not what he expected. The more the difference with the ease factor, the more different the effect produced will be. This spell is a very complex one. For this reason, add two botch dice to its casting.

Well, here are the questions :

  • Is this spell in the boundaries of hermetic magic ? if no, why ? It seems to me that nothing in the hermetic limits shall forbid this effect, but I am not an expert and would like to hear other perspectives on the subject.
  • How to design such an effect ? Right now, I have assumed that turning a thought into a magical effect is as complex as making a spirit solid, which is base 25 in the guidelines of Muto Mentem. Add one magnitude for part effect (a thought), and 4 magnitude for the spell complexity. So I come with a level 50 effect, which seems pretty fair to me. Sounds right ?
  • Finally, I would be happy to read any discussions on how to tune or modify this effect to a better shape.
    Thank you for reading.

Oh, as a post scriptum, I should add that if my english is not good, feel free to correct me. I take no offence, and I am always glad to learn. :wink:

It's unclear what you mean by 'turns a thought into a magical effect'.

What is the magical effect?

Very few effects in Ars Magica are variable: for example, there is no generic 'turn a human into an animal' spells, but rather a series of different spells that turn a human into a dog, or wolf, or bear, or lion, etc.

Welcome in ! And the same for my own english :wink:

Your idea is certainly original and novative. If you ask me, I would consider your idea on a game balance point of view.
Take into account that I speak only about what I would do with such an idea, if I were your SG or in your gaming troupe: Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) (you and others could very well have a different opinion about this)

I would not allow it as it is because your spell can basically produce any magical effect. This is already covered by the spontaneous spells rules. To allow such a spell can be dangerous for game balance.

To be able to transform a thought into a magical effect, you need to learn the magical arts (Creo, Muto, Animal, Herbam, Ignem, etc). Then, using the spontaneous rules, you create a magical effect. In a word, the way to do your idea is already in the rules, but it is not a spell, in the rules.

There is no explicit rule that say that what you want to do is beyond the limit of magic. One could say that it is the will of God, or whatever, but this is not a strong case IMO. As a SG, I would simply answer that it is not possible, and that your character don't know why. This could be seen as a step to make a breakthrough to give the gift to someone...etc.

But you could use your idea to transform a thought into something other than a magical effect. For exemple, a thought of a flower into a flower. The thought of a flame, into a flame. But there would be a "requisite of the Form of the shape." (see guideline p.150) There would exist 10 exemplar of this spell, one for each Form.
I would rule that the MuMe(Vim) spell would transform the thought of a magical effect into a magical shell that mimic the magical effect thought of (see the CrVi guideline). But it doesn't nothing in itself.

If you want the transformation to last a diameter, the Duration of the spell need to be diameter. Otherwise, the flower change back into a thought after a few seconds.

Is it an individual thought, or a part of the mind? The rules are not consistend since Inmost Companion is Target: Ind. and other Mentem magic are individual also when targetting a single thought/emotion/memory.
I would guess Inmost Companion is an exeption, and make your spell Individual. Mentem spells would be about never be Target: Part...

Well, for example, the magus thinks of a horse and there it is. Though the horse could exist no longer than two minutes.

It's true there is very few variable effect in Ars Magica, but there is some muto spells that does some things similar. For example, Mind Of The Beast let you turn the mind of the target into an animal of your choice.

Edit :

Ah, there was another answer in the meantime. :smiley:

That's right. From a game balancing point of view, this spell could be problematic. I quite agree with you.

On the other hand, isn't spontaneous magic something more than "just think of it, and it will appear" ? The spell puts already some serious limitations to what effect could be produced in this way, which are to reflect the simple nature of one single thought. So the processus is not similar and connot produce the same results.

Maybe, we could reinforce those limitations to make the spell acceptable balance-wise (limit it to level 5-15 effects for example) eventually to the point where it never provides useful benefit over spontaneaous magic but is more of an "elegant proof" of what can be done with the combination of muto, mentem and virtum ? Which is not incompatible with it requiring a breakthrough, through perharps studies of Diedne's magic. This would make it a Diedne equivalent to the powerful rituals inherited from mercurian traditions that are scattered among the order.

For the duration and target of the spell, I was really uncertain of that. I assumed that a thought could be viewed as a part of a mind, but I'll take on your advice. Either way, it just seems right to me that the spell is no less than fifthy levels. More would make it a ritual, which would make it quite useless.

Thanks you both for the replies. :smiley:

The way I read the spell, Mind of the Beast change the mind of the target into the typical "mind" of a beast of the caster choice.
It does not change the mind of the target into a, real, beast.

Yes you are right Iudicum, Mind of the Beast swaps human intelligence for Animal cunning it does not produce a physical beast.

Morticum, another problem aside from those already voiced is your suggestion that the spell be measured against an ease factor roll of Int + Finesse vs the effect level. Considering that few magi have Int scores above +3 and Finesse Ability scores on average being adept at 5-6 how in the world do you proposes (outside sheer dumb luck) that anyone would ever manage to match an ease factor beyond say 15 (which is already considered "extremely difficult" for most ease factor roll scenarios in 5th ed.)?

I realise you were trying to make the proposal more acceptable by laying on all sorts of restrictions but most of those are as unnecessary as they are nigh unto impossible to satisfy.

The base idea does have some merit for further exploration, however, albeit within the scope of sample test magic rather than anything which could be physically used to aid or harm the caster or others respectively. I would see it more (as has been intimated above) as a means of producing a visual representation of something the magus is considering as a potential spell or invested effect. Like a physical thought bubble to use a crude analogy.

I will toy with the idea when i have more time to sit down with my books and get back to you on it.

Oh, yes. I skipped a little thing here. :blush: But still, it is an example of a "generic transforming" spell, even if it doesn't transform it into a real beast.

I edited my last reply in answer to your previous post.

Well yes and no. No spell is "just think of it and it will appear", that is the exclusive domain of the Divine I'm afraid. But Spontaneous magic is indeed the immediate use of any given Technique and Form(s) combination to achieve a desired result based on a decided momentary need by the magus/maga.

Think of it as their Magic Theory in action in the field. Magus X is faced with a hostile opponent but hasnt ever learned any offensive spells (being a Bonisagus lab rat unaccustomed to worldly social interactions). He does however have fairly good Cr, Re and Terram ability (scores) so he decides to whip up a quick Spontaneous spell to hurl a rock at the head of his opponent hopefully knocking him out.

In principle, it is the realisation of a thought in Hermetic terms, practically though it is actually the application of his Hermetic knowledge of Techniques and forms and their interactions put to momentary use.

What you propose is more of a spell which incarnates a thought in physical form and as such I, like some above, would allow it more as a demonstration type magic, most useful for lab work (during spell creation or enchantment activities) or perhaps as an object lesson for teaching apprentices. as such I wouldnt treat it as a Spont casting but as a proper formulaic casting.

EDIT:Sorry, posted at the same time as BoXer.

The pleasure is shared. I like to "chitchat" from time to time about such topics, for fun ^^

You are right, it's the rules that are not coherent with themselves. But asking for a Target: Part about a thought will ask you to make more changes to the existing spells than with a target: ind. Moreover, it is less intuitive to most people. This is the reason behind my advice, but really, you are right ^^

I agree with you, spont. magic is more than "just think of it, and it will appear".
But there is no need to maintain such a proposition to say that the spont. rules cover such things as what Realisation Of The Magical Thought can do.
Generally speaking, one could argue that a rule implicitly exclude what is opposite of that rule. So, hermetic effects that works exactly the same as for those with spontaneous effects, need to follow the spontaneous rules. Any other ideas about this are implicitly excluded from the rules.

But once again, no rules says explicitly that your idea is not possible.

The game balance issue I see with your idea is to make a magic item allowing the wearer (E.g: a non-gifted grog!) to cast spells of level 15, 10, or 5.
That magical item replace all other magical items of those level of effect ! O_O
With the idea of sleep, one could cast The Call to Slumber; Light, Lamp without flame; Autority, Aura of Ennobled Presence, etc.
Most spont. spells I see cast by our mages In My Saga are of level 5, 10 or 15.

BoXer, I think you are right. The finesse roll might be simply unnecessary. Indeed, it was intended to bring a "practical" limitation to the level of effect that could be produced this way, while the 25 limit is a "theoretical" one.

On the other hand, the issue pointed out by Iudicum just above makes this roll useful to slightly prevent the abuse of this effect by non-gifted individuals who would possess an item invested with this effect.

Back to the main issue, I like the idea of turning thoughs into something other than a magical effect, like a thought of a flower into a flower, which implies the uses of appropriate requisites and thus, a natural limitation as to what can be done in this way. But can't this be true if we assume that a vim spell can create other "raw and simple" spells ? If I can turn a though of a wolf into a real wolf with a MuMe (An) effect, what is the problem with turning the though "I can fly" in a short flying effect with a MuMe (Vi,Co or Au) effect ? To create a wolf is base 15, which is the same for a quick flying effect following the ReCo guidelines.

As for the idea of having the spell creating a magical shell instead of a really magical effect, it sure is possible and cool, but would, a priori, be CrVi, a bit far from the original concept.

So, let's assume for a moment that we stick with the original idea (I am a bit stubborn, I know, please don't take offence, I just like to "push" the discussions :stuck_out_tongue:), what if the spell was rewrote this way :

Realisation Of The Magical Thought (Form)

Muto Mentem
Req : Vim, appropriate form
Range : personnal
Duration : Momentary
Target : individual

This spell transforms a thought into a brief and weak magical effect. When casting this spell, the magus concentrates on the thought he wishes to transform. The player determines the effect, with the following limitations :

  • A thought is something fugitive by nature : it cannot be transformed into an effect with duration more than diameter.
  • magical thought cannot affect a target higher than group or piece
  • A magical thought may not be very complex : the effect may not be of base level higher than 15
    This spell is a very complex one. For this reason, add two botch dice to its casting.

The caster must make an intelligence + finesse roll with an ease factor equal to the base level of the effect in which the thought is to be turned. If he fails, the produced effect is not what he expected. The more the difference with the ease factor, the more different the effect produced will be.
This spell requires a form appropriate to the effect in which the though is turned. There is ten version of this spell, one for each form.

That way, in order to create an effect involving a certain form by using this spell, a magus would need to be able to cast (and, obviously, know) a 50 level formulaic spell involving that form : a magus able to achieve a 40 to 50 casting score involving Ignem, for instance, is likely to be able to cast level 5-10 spontaneous spells in that form without expanding fatigue, and to 20-25 if he looses a fatigue level.

Any thoughts ? :laughing:

I agree that this is to be treated as formulaic casting. And also that it needs to be useful essentially for lab purposes. It is, by no way, a mean to cheat with the rules and have an equivalent alternative way of casting spontaneous magic. But I would add another case which is that of a magus specialized in meta magic effects. Such a spell could provide a way for that magus to partially cover his weaknesses in other domains of magic, that is magic that affect the "real world", not just magic.

To formulate it simply, I would like to make it so that this spell would generally not be worth the effort for magus already versed in other arts, but useful for highly specialized meta-magic users, and, as you wrote, for lab purposes.

That is true. But terram magic allows a magus to reproduce what a blacksmith can do. Yet, it does not require that the way the magus produce a sword follow the same rule.

The difference is that a skilled terram magus is unlikely to be able to produce what a skilled blacksmith can do. And if he is to do so by his magic, it would probably require him to learn a bit of blacksmithing anyway. Similarly, while a magus with no blacksmithing knowledge might be able to create a simple sword from nowhere, it would surely not be comparable in quality to the work of a true blacksmith.

So, on the principles, I quite agree with you. I'm just trying to adapt this processus on creating things to another domain, which is magical effects. A magus with no knowledge in terram would be able to create simple terram effects with this spell, but nowhere near what even a moderately skilled terram magus could do.

The issue you point is indeed a tough one. But while an enchantement based on this spell could mimic various low levels spells, it could only do so if the creator had a sufficient lab total to invest a 50+other modifiers level effect in the object. It may be easier to invest many low level powers. Additionaly, as I wrote before, the finesse roll limits the abuse of this effect by non gifted individuals. But still, I agree that the issue is not solved.

An interesting idea.

Why do you only have the Form as a requisite? If you are trying to change the thought "a ball of abysmal flame goes off!" into a spell, surely you are changing the thought into a Creo Ignem entity! Hence, I would require the spell to be a MuMe(Te,Fo) spell, of level equal to the spell being created. It may only create regular Hermetic spells, not ones using non-standard spell parameters, Rituals, or involving non-Hermetic elements (such as enchantment of the scrying pool) or unique breakthroughs (such as an aegis of the hearth, even if it wasn't a ritual). Note that the created effect is wiped from the victim's mind; for a brief moment, he would be unable to think of the effect.

The reason for the restrictions is that Hermetic magic isn't as flexible as to allow the unique ingredients added to the more specific spells. Since you're just using the general theory to construct the general spell, it cannot incorporate the unique idiosyncratic elements of the more special cases.

There. Now isn't that a useful spell to know ? :slight_smile: :wink:

Edit: Just to clarify, I would not allow this, for game balance reasons. I might allow it with the change that the spell's level be twice the desired effect's level and that the creation of magical energy necessitates the investment of energy from the magus - a fatigue level; this effectively recreates spontaneous spellcasting.

Eheh, no problem for me. I do like to "push" a discussion like we are doing: it sharpen and expand the mind using a trivial subject (a rpg). :smiley:
Ars Mag happen to be a very intellectual game...

Here is how I understand your point of view:

First you say:

If by that, you are meaning:

{A}: MuMe(An) magic -> can -> turn a thought into a wolf.

So, with the same logic,

{B}: MuMe(Co) magic -> can -> give the ability to someone to make himself fly, like a flying spell effect.

I would agree with you. But it seems what you are really saying is:

so, with the same logic:

{C}: MuMe(Vi or Co) magic -> can -> turn a thought of flying into a flying spell effect.

And I don't agree with "if A then C", because of game balance issues. Otherwise, I have to say your argument works ! A wolve is a very complexe thing, as is a magical effect.
But if you allow such a spell to be done in your campaing, you imply that a mage can "put" a lot of his knowledge of magic and a of "savoir-faire" into a single spell. This is because any simple thought can be changed into a magical effect, so the Realisation Of The Magical Thought (Form) contain withing itself not only how to change a thought, but also all that is needed to work such magical effect !

Of couse, you can diminish the impact of these by imposing restrictions (but maximum Base 15 ! This is high...I would reduce it)

Is this at all possible in your campaign ? This is for you to decide, logic arguments are of no use at that point.

Secondly, you say:

I see your intention, but aren't the arts already doing this ? Even with a score of 0 in ignem, with a good Muto score, you could change part of your staff into light, for exemple. If you want to boost your other art magic, then you could use Wizard Boost spells, etc. They work only on Formulaïques spells, again for a reason of game balance. YMMV once again.

Thirdly, you say:

And you are using that logic:

{P}: The art to work metal (Blacksmithing) can produce a good sword
{Q}: The art of metal magic (Terram) can do what the art to work metal (Blacksmith) can do, a sword, but with less efficiency.
So it should come that
{R}: The art of all magic (Vim) can do what the art of metal magic can do, but with less efficiency.

So R can do what Q do, who in turn can do what P do.
R-> Q
Q-> P
R-> P
Vim magic can do swords. (with less efficiency than a blacksmith)

Where i disagree, is with the definition of Vim. Vim is not about any magic, it is about raw magic. Vim usually works on another spells, already existing. If I would follow this logic, Creo Vim magic could do anything (with less efficiency, but still, anything!)

But you cunningly bypass this problem by saying not that it create a spell: it transform a thought into a spell effect.
Can a Muto spell can do what I Creo spell could not, I ask you ?
If you can't see a CrVi spell simply creating any spell effect (with less efficiency) then nor could a MuVi spell. If you expand the guideline for CrVi to include duplicating another spell effect, then it become possible.

If you want my suggestion, I would go for those guideline, based on other existing guideline:
Muto Mentem (Vim):

General: Make an effect that duplicate the effect of another hermetic spell of a level equal or less than half (the level of this spell +1 magnetude).
If you want to have some good range and duration, you add:
Range: Voice +2 , and Duration: +1
For a total of...

Realisation Of The Magical Thought (Ignem)


Muto Mentem
Req : Vim, (I would not add another req., see other MuVi spell)
Range : personnal
Duration : Diameter +1
Target : individual

This spell change a thought currently in the mind of the caster, so that it can duplicate the effect of another hermetic ignem spell, up to a total level of 20. The spell duplicated would have a maximum range of voice and a maximum duration of Diameter.

Base level: 40
Add +2 magnetude for the spell being duplicated to reach up to a Voice range.
D: diameter: +1 mag.

interesting idea sounds like a breakthrough to me. Being "raw magic" you are forcing into shape I'd probally require an additional botch die, or possible a extra die per "spell" cast if you dont do momentary. It also screams for a concentration check so that you dont have stray thoughts poping into spells.

your level should be 55, but I don't think it would need diameter, like other MuVi spells it would effect the next "spell" or though in this case

That is what multicasting stands for.....


These are very interesting contributions ! :smiley:

I agree with you, YR7, that this spell should not allow to mimic exotic elements or breakthroughs. But I am not sure whether the technique should be included as a requisite or not. If I change the though "a ball of flame goes off", I am not really creating it from nowhere, I am just turning something that already exist into something new. On the other hand, if what the spell does is really create another spell, then it should create its complete structure, including the technique.

Now, I must say that the more I think about this spell, the more gamebreaking it appears to me, even with the requirement that the spell should be at least twice the level of the effects that it could produce. Indeed, one could use this spell to bypass some deficient form, or abuse it by having a magical focus like "turning thought sinto something real" (can't think of anything more original right now but you get the idea), which, with such a spell would be equivalent to a magical focus with spontaneous magic.

But, from a pure theoretical perspective, such effect seems just right to me, so I would really like to tune it in order to avoid messing with the spontaneous magic rules nor making it a super munchkin opportunity. If my memories are right, Arm3 had such effect in the Creo Virtum category, with a guideline similar to what have been proposed by Iudicum.

As it have been suggested before, it comes down to the question : "could vim produce magical effect on the fly ?".

For many quite obvious reasons related to game balancing, one could safely say "no". My answer would be an absolute "yes", and a practical "yes but... that is generally too complex and/or ressource-heavy to be worth the effort".

There is no examples of Vim spells creating other magical effects on the manual, but there is examples of Vim spells modifying other spells on the fly. This indicates that vim magic is able to make delicate operations on spells structures, and as such, I quite disagree with the statement that Vim is about raw magic. So why should it not be able to create on the fly such structures ?

As a parenthesis, it is true that the spell could also be creo vim. I made it Muto Mentem (Vim) only for "elegance" sake. Eventually, one could argue that this way, one magus could make this spell a contact spell and allow another individual to "do magic". Maybe further differences should be designed in order to make MuMe(anything) spells not strictly equivalent to Creo anything. MuMe should be more tricky, Creo being more straightforward. But I don't think this is the essential issue there.

I would tend to allow such type of effect in my saga, but clearly not in the present form, which I agree is completely game-breaking.

The guideline you propose, Iudicum, is clearly the sort a thing I'm searching for. But maybe we could harden it a bit by increasing the divider to 5. This would result in :

General : Make an effect that duplicate the effect of another hermetic spell of a level equal or less than five times (level of this spell+1).

so, this would result in

Realisation Of The Magical Thought (form)

Level 50

Muto Mentem
Req : Vim
Range : personal
Duration : Diameter
Target : individual

This spell transforms a thought into a brief and weak magical effect up a total level of 5. When casting this spell, the magus concentrates on the thought he wishes to transform. The player determines the effect, with the following limitations :

  • A thought is something fugitive by nature : it cannot be transformed into an effect with duration more than diameter.
  • A magical thought cannot affect a target higher than group or piece

This spell is a very complex one. For this reason, add two botch dice to its casting.

(I don't think that we should add 2 magnitude for the resulting effect being able to reach voice range as this is already taken into account in the maximum level of the effect.)

So, with a fifthy level spell, you can duplicate any level 5 spell which has no more than diameter duration, and to the price of two extra botch dice. Sounds pretty fair to me. While most magi wouldn't make use of such a spell, it could be quite handy to have it invested in an item for a vim/me specialized magi.

Well, I am called to do a bit of lab work in the kitchen. Be right back. :smiley:

Sorry Morticum. I still personally dont like the idea of "thought to magic" magic which is anything more than a show sample of what said form+technique combination could achieve. To my mind, if you materialise a thought of a BoAF, then what you have is a stationary BoAF suspended in the air for the students to gasp at and for the Magus to perhaps hover about the room in a floating thought bubble manner (as previously suggested).

It should not be any sort of BoAF like its actual CrIg counterpart which could be used as a weapon. Neither too should a thought horse be ridable, but could definitely be studied (able to rotate the thought and examine the object lesson from all angles, picture it in a setting or in action as watching a short promo film etc.) all those examples should be what this sort of spell should achieve.

Otherwise IMO it negates the value of the other technique form combo spells completely and reduces Hermetic spell casting to the same idea as the Infinite Libram library (which sounded good but also wasn't IMO in the spirit of the canon).

Well, I understand you point of view. I don't think that it negates the value of the other arts. It just raise slightly the potential of vim magic. But well, I won't try to convince you further. As it has been said, your mileage may vary.

By the way, I definitely like the idea of a "bubble of thought" being used for course material for apprentice. I'll try setting something around this concept. :smiley:

That strikes me as odd also.

Turning thought into reality is already what magic does anyway, so that sounds to me like a cheap way of achieving what other Arts struggle to do...

Although a CrIm spell to make visible your thougts does sound interesting...