ReAn Contradiction for Circle of Beast Warding?

So this came up because for some strange reason, the non-Verditius (Flambeau) mage in our covenant has decided to try his hand at magic items and was casting out (pun intended) for the spell levels via email. (It's ironic that he wants to do this, the covenant has 2 V's and all!)

Anyway, he wants to control his horse so it does not fright in the middle of battle or tournaments. We're set in Normandy so the Tournament is a big deal (we're on our second Tribunal meeting now). Last time such things as mechanical fire breathing dragons (damn automatons) ruined our chances of further advancing in the tourney, so we're all looking for remedies so as to not lose what we last earned of the tribunal vis allotment. The player was sort of basing his calculations from scratch, starting from base L2 (plant a suggestion in animal mind) in order to do this. Of course, there's already a spell specifically for calming a beast, which base L10 "Make an animal passive" (The Gentle Beast) and the GM is pretty much in agreement that you can't accomplish much with "suggestion" if there's a much higher spell which is the better working of it (and even Gentle Beast can be dispelled if going into combat, the horse is badly frightened, or injured, according to the spell description).

That's all background. The real interesting conundrum came as a side effect of looking for similar Base L2 effects that are listed in the book - namely, the Disguise of the Putrid Aroma and Circle of Beast Warding, both L5.

Disguise has the similar caveat in it that the target animal "takes no interest in you...[if you] do not threaten it." In other words, changing the circumstances on the animal (threatening it) breaks the effect, as it does in the L25 Gentle Beast spell, where "if the animal enters combat, is extremely frightened, or incurs any kind of wound" the spell ends. Presumably, a war horse trained in combat (such as the horses the covenant raises) might get some sort of better fright check but even war horses sometimes balk, shy, or run the hell away from total mind numbing enemies. Like fire breathing mechanical beasts...

But Circle of Beast Warding has no such caveat. Obviously it's based on the Base 2 description, "Protect target from animal attacks" but...It's merely a L5 spell, and one would assume that a magus sleeping in such a circle under normal circumstances would be quite safe (the circle "suggests" that the animal go elsewhere), but what about abnormal changes in circumstance, as in the other spells? For instance, what if you, inside the circle, were torturing a bear cub, and the mama bear was outside the circle? Or else you are in a wood in deep winter, and a very starved wolf comes on you, one which will die soon if it does not find food. One would think the circle would be overcome. If L2 "suggestion" can be overcome, and even base L10 "Make completely passive" can be overcome, with circumstances, then how come "protect from attacks" at base L2 can't be overcome? In unusual circumstances?

Now, hopefully this is moot for most, as I don't condone torturing baby animals in the name of finding spell limits, and you'd be pretty crazy to camp out in the middle of winter where there are starving beasts with naught but a probably-spont'ed L5 spell, but it makes one wonder...why the spell limits for similarly-based spells, and even much larger-based spells, but the L5 ward against animals is all powerful?

That would make Circle of Beast Warding, in some respects, more powerful than the L25 spell, or the similarly-created L5 Disguise spell. I think this poses a neat question about the limits of the rules and spell bases in the ReAn section of the Core book. Which is all powerful Ward spell at L5 (base 2) "Protect target" descriptor, or a breakable L5 (base 2) "suggestion not to bother with me" spell?


(And yes...I'm one of the people playing the Verditii in this campaign...why do you ask??)

Circle of Beast Warding is a ward spell which is to say that the target is a magic circle that physically repels animals. Putrid Aroma and similar spells target animals directly to affect their behaviour. While wards are extremely under the correct circumstance, it should be noted that this particular spell (IIRC) only affects mundane beasts whereas the other spells listed could be used to affect animal-like creatures (dragons, griffins etc), provided sufficient penetration is achieved.

I hope this helps,

The distinction between targets is certainly important, but it still doesn't get at the central question. The cannon spells suggest that attempts to control an animal from base 2 or base 4 can be overcome given sufficient circumstances. I'm having a hard time believing that merely changing the target to circle will ameliorate this phenomenon. The fact that CoBW doesn't mention it does, complicate things. Either there is something about Ring target that I'm missing, or the spell description is incomplete. Right now I'm leaning on the latter. Or it's just an inconsistency.

What is an inconsistency are the other spells, not the ward.


I think the guidelines you're looking at are analogous to Rego Mentem spells for animals, whereas the ward guideline is like a Rego Corpus effect. Mentem effects sometimes allow Personality Trait rolls because they're making the character do something that might be against his nature, and the same is true for the animals.

Yeah, what Erik said. The Putrid Aroma is equivilent to a ReMe spell for Animal. That is the one that erhaps the beast could overcome if you were torturing it's young. The circular ward (and it doesn't necessarilly need be a circle) physically prevents the beast from crossing. It is equivilent to ReCo. The beast is bodilly manipulated. If someone threw the animal at you, it would be deflected/repelled/bounced by the invisible barrier of the ward.

Humans are superior beings to animals, so you need to Forms to affect them (mentem and corpus). Animals are much simpler beings, and can be affected by a single Form. As such the guidelines for animals need to be checked against both mentem and corpus to be sure they fit. In this case it is "mental" effects as pointed out. ReMe also has some resistance for incredible lies and stuff like that :slight_smile:



The problem that I have with warding spells is not the typical Penetration issue, but that these spells tend to break the usual rules for spells.

Usually, if I want to cast a spell on an animal, the target is that animal, or perhaps a group of animals, or maybe even a chamber filled with animals, or a circle. These spells all conform to the rules of the Form matching the target, requiring extra magnitudes to deal with particularly large animals or numbers of animals. Same for Herbam, Terram, and so on.

Unless it's a ward. Suddenly, I can now cast the spell on myself or a grog! The target is no longer the animal I want to affect; that animal no longer even needs to be present for the casting. Worse, the target has been completely decoupled from the animals being affected. A size +8 dragon? Warded, even though I'd normally need 3 extra magnitudes for it. Twenty billion mosquitoes? Warded, even though I'd nomally need magnitudes for Group and then some. And think about my magus Indus Iohannes with a measly ReTe ward standing his ground as four-pace diameter stone rolls toward him, where he'd normally have to add magnitudes for size?

Predictably, I have variant Warding rules to offer. :slight_smile: Note that wards do need to Penetrate, yet this is no longer a problem because wards are rarely General spells.

  1. There are no Wards. A ward is an ordinary spell that happens to protect.

  2. Any spell guideline whose target is not the thing or area being affected is no longer valid, since it contradicts a fundamental principle of magic in this game.

  3. A Ring duration spell lasts until the caster or a designated surrogate leaves the ring. Note that the caster or his surrogate is often not the target.

  4. A Circle target acts as a base Room in terms of how much stuff it can affect. This is rarely an issue, since 100 standard Individuals is usually more than sufficient.

  5. Any spell guideline that works against only mundane objects now work on non-mundane versions too, but must penetrate.

  6. Any spell guideline that is described as (or effectively is) a ward against something with Might is no longer valid: Use the mundane version instead and the normal Penetration rules!

  7. All Hermetic spells now have access to a new casting duration option "Repeat." A repeated spell has two durations: an ordinary duration for the underlying effect, and a second duration for how long the underlying spell will be continually triggered. The second duration costs one magnitude more than its usual cost.

Here's a Repel the Wooden Shafts (lvl 15) that actually repels shafts rather than just one shaft:
R: Per, D: Repeat Mom while Sun, T: Ind
Any wooden weapon that is about to strike you fails, with the usual special effects. This spell will not work against particularly large wooden weapons, such as a giant's cudgel.

Here's a ward against wood that also works against enchanted wood:
Personal Ward against Wood (lvl 25)
R: Per, D: Repeat Mom while Sun, T: Ind, size +3
As usual, but using the level 3 guideline "control an amount of wood," the new repeated duration, and an increased size to protect even against the largest trees.

Saruman's Ward against Wood (lvl 10)
R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Circle
Any plant or plant material attempting to enter the circle is immediately expelled out. (Repeated durations aren't always necessary.)

And something that's not a ward:
Treading the Ashen Path lvl 30
R: Touch, D: Repeat Mom while Sun, T: Group, +1 size
This repeatedly casts a Mom duration lvl 3 PeHe on nearby plant, for an entire day. The very largest trees will not be affected.

Aura of Rightful Authority (lvl 40)
R: Eye, D: Repeat Moon while Sun, T: Ind
For the rest of the day, anyone who meets your eye will be strongly inclined to obey you as his natural superior for the next month....

Ring of Warding against Spirits (lvl 20)
R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Circle
Like the general spell, but uses the lvl 5 guideline "control a disembodied spirit." Note that it works against ghosts of all realms. Note the fixed level. As usual, the spell must Penetrate.

Ring of Controlling the Unwelcome Spirit Visitors (lvl 35)
R: Touch, D: Repeat Sun while Ring, T: Circle
For as long as the magus remains in the circle, any ghost that dares enter the circle falls under the magus' control for the rest of the day. The spirits remain under the magus' sway even after he leaves the circle.




I now have the image of someone tossing kittens at a circle ward to watch them bounce off. It's hysterical.

Regarding wards breaking or not breaking the current spell conventions: I think they can be successfully kept as-is, without creating a paradox.

The issue seems to be why should it be ReAn if you can cast a ward on a person?
I think I can help reinforce the idea of 'the target is the ward itself.' Think of the ward as a physical shield, almost like a see-through cloak or force field. The act of casting the spell creates the ward itself. The Form involved specifies the 'material' the ward is made out of. Anti-ghost wards are Mentem, so that the 'force field' is made of 'anti-Mentem' energy. Anti-animal wards are Animal, so that the 'force field' is made of 'anti-Animal' energy. Whether you cast the ward on the ground (Ring/Circle) or on a person (Touch/Sun) is just a matter of targeting. This is similar to how a fire spell is always CrIg whether you're lighting a wood fireplace, a large magic animal, or a group of people. The spell is creating fire; the recipient is merely an issue of targeting.

Such is my two cents.

I think this discussion is useful, but I'm still not sure how it addresses the original point.

The ward spell uses base 2 and other base 2 effects indicate that they can be overcome (by circumstances, not just might). The description of the ward makes no assertion. Does this mean that 'wards' or 'rings' are different and that they enhance the base effect or that the description is incomplete and they can be similarly overcome?


My post addresses the original point, in that the application of the proposed rules eliminates the problem.

Under these rules, the "protect a target" guideline is no longer valid. Instead, some other guideline is used that does something specific, thereby protecting the magus or whomever. Perhaps lvl2 "plant a single suggestion in the mind of the animal" to go away. Or "calm an animal" at level 4. Or paralyze it at level 5. Or some other guideline, drawn from ReMe or ReCo.



Check the Ex Miscellanea book..."Houses of Hermes: Societates"

You will find that Wards are originally from a non-Hermetic tradition. Wards break all kinds of rules...