Replacing Vis as a concept - Game Design

Or take a page from the Might/Might book.
Score 15 in Ig means you have 3 pawns of "Ignem Wounds". Maybe it does nothing and returns by itself in a season. Maybe it's a penalty to your TeIg spells and it requires some recovery rolls.

I do not think the notion of creating vis makes any sense. Even if the distinctions made in 3ed are no longer explicit in 5ed, I think they are still implicitly valid.

Vis is everywhere, as fluid vis, and all magic depends on it. Weak magic can be cast only with the fluid vis. Powerful magic, like rituals and enchantments, require too much of it, and normal magi simply cannot draw enough fluid vis to fuel it. This is why they need raw vis, which is a more concentrated manifestation of vis.

What leper magi do is simply to draw more fluid vis than other magi are able to, and use it directly in their rituals. They do not have the power to manifest it as (create) raw vis, and therefore cannot store or trade it. It seems to me that to get enough fluid vis in a short time, they need to draw the fluid vis from their own body, and that is why they take wounds.

The threadweaving that @lvgreen proposes is a different way of handling fluid vis. Threadweavers are able to amass, over time, some of the fluid vis in their own Gift. It is still not raw vis. It is not manifest in a physical object that can be traded or stored separately, but a limited amount can be kept for instant combustion in lieu of raw vis.

And that, I think, is one of the features we were aiming for. We were looking for ways to fuel rituals and enchantments, without stockpile and trade.

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Generally speaking, what would I like?

Special times, special places. Things like the keep of the 4 worlds, the conjunction of a million spheres...

Vis as time: Powerful rituals take time

Vis as people: Powerful rituals require people.

All these should be tradeable.

Let's have some fun with this.

We have the special places: Magic Auras. For example, 1 aura level could count as 1 pawn of vis.

Special times is easy: Just say that date x is worth x pawns. The fewer, the more powerful. For example, each month, there could be a date worth 1 pawn, each season something worth 2-3, once a year could be 5-6, once a decade could be 7-8.

People: Hum... Each gifted assistant give 1 pawn. For non-gifted, take the ability xp chart. One chanting assistant give 1 xp, and the ability level is the number of pawns.

Time: I would treat this a little differently.
Base duration is good for, say, a ritual up to lvl 20.
For more powerful ones, you need to increase casting time. Each additional 5 levels add x1 to the casting time.
You can also get 1 additional vis for a x1.
You don't have to be leading the ritual all the way, but it needs to be picked up by someone else who also knows it and the casting total will be the lowest casting total.

Since I just wrote it without blinking, let's try it :smile:

Take a lvl 40 ritual (Magnitude 8, casting time 4 hours).
Let's say you're in a lvl 3 magical aura, accounting for 3 pawns.
You are not in a hurry, so you wait until a propitiate date in that season, for a further 3 pawns.
You gather 15 grogs to chant ominous prayers while you cast, for the last 2 pawns.

For the time required, lvl 40 is 20 levels above 20, meaning it takes 5 times (1+4) the base time, so 20 hours.
You might want to add Stamina + Stress die rolls at regular intervals to check for lost fatigue, but otherwise, it could work.

For lengthier rituals, an alternative for time would be to consider the spell's magnitude on the arts chart, the xp total being the hours required. 8 magnitude = 36 hours, meaning a day and a half. This would make multiple magi, able to take turns, a requisite for the more powerful rituals.
Under this model, if you wanted to trade time for vis, you'd just add the number of desired pawns to the spell's magnitude, so 4 pawns would mean magnitude 12, a little more than 3 days.


I love that so much I'm thinking how all that could be included into existing rules to allow the reduction of vis usage. Maybe having the vis you get that way and substracting it from the total vis required or something like that.

The example you give is screaming "Aegis" to me: we are already told that it tend to be casted on the Winter Solstice (special day in the season, or even in the year) and that it involves a ceremony (longer casting?) and all covenfolk (people).

But as you mention mundanes' contribution as xps converted using the ability xp chart I feel the need to expand that and, instead of adding 1 pawn per gifted assistant, get 5xps per gifted assistant, 5xps per aura level, and so on.

And finally some virtues could fiddle with these xps: Mercurian Magic could act as an affinity for these xps, for example.

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@Ouroboros's reply reminded me (mostly just be mentioning xp a lot) of the brief dalliance D&D had with using xp as a cost for some spells and item creation C. 3rd edition.

If I remember right the vague explanation for it as a balancing mechanic was that magic of that degree required you to invest a part of your soul in it or something like that. I also remember it being pretty unpopular with players, but then D&D is a game where levels and experience matter a great deal - Ars not so much.

You could perhaps have a mechanic where you have to spend xp from the relevant arts to perform big spells or enchant. Imagine something like this:

For powerful magic (above 6th magnitude) count the number of magnitudes above 6th, and find the xp cost of bringing an art to that level. After making the casting roll, you must spend xp from among the relevant arts equal to that amount. e.g. Clenching Grasp of the Crushed Heart is 8th magnitude, the 2 magnitudes above 6th require you to remove 3xp, spread between Perdo and Corpus.

For ritual magic do the same, but counting all magnitudes. e.g. "The Shrouded Glen is also 8th magnitude but a ritual. The 8 magnitudes require an xp spend of 36 spread between Rego and Mentem.

For enchanting count every ten effect levels (which can be taken from any of the arts used), and for opening an item count the size*material score (which can be taken from any art).

Any rules which alter the amount of vis required in normal Ars reduce the count in each of these cases by an equivalent amount (this actually makes them more powerful, as vis costs scale linearly while these costs go up in a triangle numbers). Group rituals split the xp cost as evenly as possible among the members of the group.

Having to expend hard earned experience for powerful or long lasting effects would certainly stop them being used recklessly. It would also allow more versatility in when rituals can be used (as the cost - xp - is always available) but would reduce the overall power of magic users in the setting.

Yes, I remember that one!

I didn't think about it, but nice catch.

This means, however, that powerful aegis are more accessible.
If you want to avoid this, you may either double the "vis"w required, or require extra vis for penetration.
So a lvl 40 aegis with 40 penetration would require "16 pawns", meaning, for example:

Aura: 3
Special time in the year: 5 (taking this down for the test)
If going with magi as XP, 4 extra magi and 50 covenfolks: 4
You still need 4 "pawns".

Base time is still based on the spell magnitude (8), so you increase that to 12, meaning 78 hours.
If keeping "magi as vis", this stays at 8, for 36 hours.

I'm thinking that you could have an additional rule to shorten the time, by reducing your casting total (say, -10 to CT decreases casting time by 1 step, to a minimum of 1 hour).
This means that a powerful enough caster can shorten the time of, say, healing rituals, but that anything requiring penetration will be a major endeavour. This also makes Wizard's Communion very, very useful.

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If we go this way, making raw vis so scarce that it cannot be afforded at all, but allowing all of these other options in lieu, is that rituals cast at home quickly become free.

The aura is always there. Calling in 50 covenfolk is no real cost.
Four magi may be an issue, but for a handful of rituals per season, probably not. Then Mercurian Magic is suddenly so valuable that I am sure somebody is going to have it.

You are quickly in the situation where the covenant design determines the maximum magnitude of available rituals, and those rituals available are essentially free. In your example, Level 40 is off limits, but level 30 is free. Add a Mercurian, and Level 60 is free.

Of course, such ritual casting could drain the aura in the same way as vis extraction does, but I am not sure I could be bothered with the book keeping, and besides, by canon logic, the negative extraction effect should probably be cancelled by the positive casting effect.

Multiple Long-Term fatigue levels for the extra covenfolk and magi could make participation a cost, in lost productivity (in lab or in fields) for the season if more than one ritual is cast, but I am not sure that is enough.

And nobody has worked out an approach to enchantments yet.

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Is it worth trying to develop the Merinita mystery of Wilding (HoH:MC p104) as a more generalised method of spending a season in the right place to develop vis that only the caster can perceive, but needs to be used rapidly? Maybe it could be altered so the vis lasts long enough to be used in enchantment or opening items.

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This is the biggest problem if you want to limit rituals, but this may be because we're underestimating real-life issues.

For a magnitude 4 ritual, you need the people to be available for 10 hours straight. Even disregarding fatigue, this may be difficult just because you can't stop everything for so long. And even if you do manage it, the disruption to day to day operation will be felt, especially if this occurs several times in a season.
If using covenant accounting rules, you could, if needed, represent this by a drain on covenant finances and/or morale.
If not, you could, depending on the covenant's resources, say that after x magnitudes, everyone gets a -1 to aging rolls (quality of life has decreased because things haven't been taken care of).
Sure, wealthy covenants won't have much trouble. But then, they don't have already. This makes Auras very important, I agree, but to me, this is a feature, not a bug.

But you probably don't even need this. If casting too many rituals, magi will just waste their seasons needlessly.

For the Aura, if you want to decrease its importance, you could go the Athas route: If using it to power your ritual, it gets decreased by the number of points used. Simplest thing is "until the next season".

Enchantments are a nice thing.
What could we do if we forego vis?
The biggest problem, compared to rituals, is that they already take a lot of time.
We can forget vis completely, and consider that the magician just takes the energy slowly from the fluid vis.

If not...
You could treat this as a ritual that needs to last as long as the enchantment process.
So, for example, those 4 magi assistants and 50 covenfolk need to be chanting all day, each day, for at least a season, meaning that, in practice, you need either lots more people (about x3), or you need to stretch the time it takes, again x3.
Especially for covenfolks, this is a massive drain on covenant finances, since they need to be supported entirely by the covenant, you can't just divest them from their daily lives.
EDIT: This is too harsh, as you can't count on special time. Possibilities:
1 - The enchantment only takes about 8 years per day, meaning the people are unavailable but you don't need to triple the number.
2 - Consider the highest type of special time bonus you could have had (usually season, but may be year). You can claim the bonus right below this (usually month, but may be season)

But this is a good question, and I am sure there are better, more thought-out, answers to it.
EDIT AGAIN: I'd like something where you can do enchanting as a very long side-activity, not unlike correspondance, but I have no good idea for it

Sorry that I missed the proposed increase in casting time. That certainly reduces the number of rituals that can be cast. I am afraid it also puts a limit on the maximum level that can conceivably be cast. Ever. Eighth magnitude at 36h feels impossible. The famous (char) of the Heroes at twelfth would mean 78h. I don't think I will believe in it even if you twist my arm.

That the aura should be important, I agree. My concern is the free alotment of rituals. The current rules make an economy of enchantments and rituals. You can only afford so many, and usually you have to save up to do one. Just one free ritual per season would be an increase in power level in my experience.

I find it difficult to make the proposed changes to work well narratively. Enchantments with an eight-year lead time will have very little significance in most sagas. We typically play about eight years in one year real time, and during that year I can easily forget what the enchantment was for, or the context may have changed to render it irrelevant. Similarly with mundane resources like people. We normally just handwave the access to covenfolk, having no system to regulate the availability, and handwaving 50 or 500 makes little difference. It is very difficult to use it to actually regulate the power level. This is a general challenge in ArM though. Playing the long game, we do not have time to narrate everything, and much must be handwaved.

But yes, we certainly agree that the questions are good and difficult.

This discussion reminds me of my favorite AD&D 2nd supplement, "AD&D 2nd Ed Player's Option Spells & Magic", that I purchase din the 90s before I discovered Ars Magica. It had detailed examples of ways to create setting specific magic in similar ways discussed above. None of it was a complete as Ars, but I remember borrowing from it heavily when I tried a homebrew campaign.


If this is due to the very long casting duration, this is why I had this bit:

So such powerful rituals could be cast, but would require at the very least 2 magi alternating on it.

Another possibility is for the caster to use dedicated magic (like endurance of the berserkers) to keep casting all the way.
You could even have this build-in in the rules, such as "when casting a ritual, fatigue and deprivation are not felt until the ritual ends. In the meantime, its energies keep the caster(s) going".

You could also have gifted assistants (even apprentices! This is thematic, IMO) giving up fatigue through the Gift of Vigor to allow the caster and/or primary assistants (magi providing vis-equivalent) to spend days on a ritual casting. Now, that spell becomes really, really useful :slight_smile:

So even the idea that you could have alternating casters could probably be scrapped :slight_smile:
It is even possible that this might make things better, by giving more importance to fatigue and deprivation (Depending on how much you want to put the emphasis on them as limiting factors and the ways to get around these limitations)

As I type it, I get the image, this is something cool, in a way. A mage spending days in casting and then collapsing, or possibly even dying, from exhaustion. This gives meaning to "powerful ritual", especially if you combine it with the rule about penetration being accounted for in "vis".

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Yes, I agree that it is cool. It feels like developing Mercurian ideas and the Communion. Of course, the regular communion is concerned with casting total, this is concerned with fuelling the fluid vis, but the principles are the same.

As you say, it is thematic, and it does indeed address OP. To be worth playing, from my point of view, the setting must be reworked with this theme in mind. It has a very non-Hermetic feel; but that is OK if the setting is reworked completely.

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Hum. I don’t think you can renew your Parma while casting a ritual. That could be an issue.

Silly me, posted too soon

So, for fun and completeness, I thought I'd unite, clarify and expand in one post all the half-assed barely thought-out house rules I cobbled in this thread about how you could do some of these.
Hopefully, it'll entertain some of you a moment, or even give you ideas.

1.1) Spellcasting Limitation: It causes aging

Harsh version: When casting a spell, make an aging roll, at a penalty equal to a spell's magnitude.
Soft version: Each season, make an aging roll at a penalty equal to the highest spell magnitude used that season.

Option 1: The aging roll only takes into account the magnitude and your stamina
Option 2: You take into account every modifier.

1.2) Spellcasting Limitation: It has a detrimental effect on the environment

When casting a spell, roll additional botch dices
These are equal to 2 x Spell Magnitude. These can me lessened by any of the following:
a) Number x Aura: Use this to represent the importance of the local magic
b) Number x Warping : Use this to represent the alignment of the character with the supernatural. Inner magic, if you want.
c) Number x Highest Form bonus in the spell being cast. Use this to represent the alignment of the character with specific magics.

If you botch, one of the following occurs:

  1. The SG applies a suitable character flaw to the place, or a Hook (appropriate from Site or Surrounding). For example, a place could have a magical air, be tainted with evil or attract a Faerie Lord.
    This lasts for a season.
    The number of botches determines the number of flaw points, but the SG can "spend" botches to increase the duration: 1 botch for a year, 2 botches for 10 years, 3 botches for a century.
  2. Each botch decreases any local magical aura by 1. For duration, refer above.

2.1) Ritual options: Rituals require Places, Times, and People

The Vis cost stays the same.
All options below may be used in a given saga, and add up towards satisfying the Vis cost. Note that these are designed to work together, and using only some of them will greatly hinder ritual casting.

  1. Places: If the aura provides a bonus to your spell casting, it provides a number of pawns equal to that bonus.
    This means that there are special places (aligned auras) more suitable for some rituals.

The Athas Option: You may choose to use any part of the Aura as vis. If you do, it is decreased by that same number until the next season.
The Athas Option, dreadful version: Roll one botch dice for each aura point used. if a botch comes up, that aura point is lost permanently.

  1. Times: There are special times occurring through the year. The fewer, the more powerful, as everything needs to align just fine. For example, each month, there could be a date worth 1 pawn, each season something worth 2-3, once a year could be 5-6, once a decade could be 7-8.

  2. Gifted Assistance: These are mostly people repeating the ritual with you. Each assistant from the same magical tradition counts as 1 pawn of vis. Otherwise, see Mundane Assistance, below.

Individual Power Option : add the assistants Form bonus in the form of the ritual. Divide by 2 to get the number of pawns they contribute. You may, or not, consider
Personal Power Option : The caster's form bonus count as that many pawns of vis

  1. Mundane Assistance: Likewise, these repeat the ritual words, chant, meditate... Consider the number of assistants as XP on the Ability chart, the ability rating being the Vis contribution. Any gifted assistant from a different tradition contributes 5xp

  2. Casting Time: If you're not using the "Lenghty rituals" option below, you can substitute time for vis: Each time you add the ritual's casting time (30 minutes per magnitude) to the base length of casting, this counts as 1 pawn of vis. It is suggested you put some limit to this, such as your highest form bonus in that ritual (For example, if casting a CrCo ritual with Corpus 10, 2 pawns)

2.2) Ritual options: Rituals require a long time to cast.

Consider the ritual's magnitude. Add 1 point for each 5 points of maximum penetration (so Penetration up to 20 would be +4)
Look up the result on the Arts xp chart.
This is the Ritual Casting Magnitude (RCM)
Option: You may apply, or not, Mercurian Magic to this. If you do, you must consider if this applies before, or after, adding magnitudes for penetration. As this is not thematic IMO (I believe MM is supposed to be lenghty), I would not do this, but YMMV

Base casting time in hours is equal to the xp required to reach the RCM (so, without Penetration, a lvl 20 ritual is 10 hours, a lvl 50 ritual is 55 hours...)

If you lack vis, you just add the needed pawns to the RCM to determine the new duration. For example, if you need 2 pawns to cast that lvl 50 ritual, it counts as 10+2 = 12 magnitude, for 78 hours.

You can shorten casting time by taking penalties to your Casting Total: -10 to CT decreases the Ritual Casting Magnitude by 1, to a minimum of 1.

How to magi deal with these dreadful casting times?
There are several options here, not necessarily mutually exclusive.
For simplicity's sake, you can assume that one person is good for 8 hours per day of ritual casting.
If taking turns (most notably, for assistants), this means that, for casting exceeding 1 day, you need triple the people for the same bonus unless applying some options below:

a) If several magi know the spell to be cast, they can take turns. Use the lowest Casting Total. Should a botch occurs, it is on the final caster (simpler)
b) Magi can forestall using things like Endurance of the Berserkers. Use the Deprivation rule at the end of the ritual
c) Magi can have assistants casting the Gift of Vigor on them at regular intervals. This can be expanded to gifted assistants...
d) As option b above, but the rituals themselves sustain magi (and possibly assistants), without the need for further magics
e) This is the "I don't wanna bother" option: The magical energies keep everyone going, fed and all, for the entire duration. There is no deprivation, nothing.

Option: Disruption to the covenant
Mundane assistants may be entirely supported by the covenant, which increases its costs.
Otherwise, if you use your covenfolks to bolster your rituals, they can't do their everyday job.
I didn't really think about this (and don't have the time now), but you should penalize the covenant's finances and/or the Living Conditions modifier.
However, due to the long casting times, magi seasons will probably serve as a limiter already.

Now I want to take @Argentius wonderful list above and do examples for several of these. Such a great job!!!


There was this game called Ragnarok where the mages would have stones imbued with magic.
In Ars Magica, term, that would mean having a stone with some pawns of vis that can recharge alone when spending some time in a magic aura.

With that system, no need to gather huge amount of vis because you never run out of it. But each time you use the stone, you need to wait some time for it to refill.

Technically that is close to a system already proposed earlier in this thread when you can build some kind of "interior vis" base on your arts level. Except that now it is in an object.


The first thing I thought when reading this thread (and refrained from commenting till now) is that for non-momentary rituals you could weave the enchantment into the aura, with the aura sustaining an equal number of magnitudes. A level 5 aura? You can cast a level 25 Aegis. This wouldn't have any impact on the aura unless you go overboard and dig too deep. You could cast a lvl 40 aegis if you are willing to have your aura drop from 5 to 2 (3 extra magnitudes) and have your aura slowly recover to 5 after your aegis ends.

This could also be extended to things like longevity rituals (the ritual works as long as the magus stay inside the aura). But this would lead to an order where old magi are more isolated and almost never travel. It could also be used for invested devices, which would disenchant when taken outside the aura.

I like the idea of mundane assistance. This could even be developed through integration by studying someone with the Ceremony virtue (either divine or infernal).

Beyond the already listed drawbacks of using mundane assistance I think another option could be that each mundane receives a wound (it is literally draining them to fuel the magic). If they take a light wound they provide 1XP. If they take a medium wound, 3XP. A heavy wound, 5XP. A killing blow, 10XP. A gifted individual would still give 5 times the XP. (The mundane must willingly participate on the ceremony and pay the price, but evil magi probably would have a way to do this without consent.)

Even if the ritual doesn't take that long, the time these people will need to recover from the wound will seriously disrupt covenant work. Would they even consent to be wounded every year? If you can drain them against their will, how much time until inquisition comes knocking?

You could use this to invest devices, but the same considerations apply.

Another option for enchantments... is that they just wouldn't be so frequent. The Order would rely much more on charged devices.


I very much like the idea of enchantments "woven" into an aura, and how you do it.

Also, this, this is something that's bugged me for some time, even more since reading on Mythallar: Lesser magic items that only work when they're "fueled" by a source. This is a nice way to do it.

About the rest, I've began going through Argentius list (But I prefer to post it all at once and not in bits), and I've had a similar idea (wounds) for "Magic uses life energy" :slight_smile:
I agree that this is a good way to have mundane assistance hinder a covenant, even if just going with Light wounds.

EDIT: Aaargh. I saved my draft in a text file to answer to you, but now, the forum doesn't accept me copy-pasting it back.
Don't tell me I've got to type it all again!!! T-T
Ok, managed it by dragging the selected text in the box (if someone has the same problem)


Ok, let's play :slight_smile:

A word of warning: All of this is untested, obviously, and written on the spur of the moment, without much thought given to consequences or how it may articulate with other options.
So sometimes, this'll be more inspired, and better thought-out, and sometimes not.
This is done for fun and inspiration, so if you use these as a basis for whatever (I intend to provide an example later), be careful.

Ok, so, what could this be?

  1. Magic requires appropriate ingredients or catalysts

For "all magic requires something", this is easy:
Option 1: Make the requirements of Potent Magic a requisite to cast spells. However, unless you have the virtue, you don't get any bonus whatsoever. If using this, I'd limit it to formulaic magic: ritual instead use vis-analog.
Option 2: Mundane items, like a ruby, can contribute (half of the highest appropriate material bonus) as pawns of vis

"Only ritual magic needs something"
I'd keep vis as it is, with 2 differences: Vis only lasts a season, and thus can't be stockpiled.
Option: All your vis must come from a single source. If so, double the number of pawns per source

  1. Magic requires life force

I've given above rules for "magic makes you age", which is pretty similar.

For a more immediate feel, I'd just require a sacrifice of fatigue and/or blood for each spellcasting.
a) 1 fatigue provides 10 levels of spells, this can only come from the caster, and you can only spend one level.
You can add to this spell levels provided by wounds.
b) a wound provides fuel for 10 levels of spells per wound penalty. Incapacitated is good for 75 levels, Dead for 100. You can only take one wound from one source. Divide by 2 if the life energy doesn't come from the caster.
Yes, this would likely mean that magi would have "blood slaves" to fuel their magic.
Option: Power in Blood. Double the spell levels provided by taking wounds.
Option: No blood Slaves. The energy must come from the caster.
Option: Killer Magi . Taking wounds is not an option, you must kill the source.

  1. You can't do magic, and must summon & bargain

The easiest: Scrap hermetic magic, and only use the variant flavors of summoning traditions present in the line.

As an alternative, you could have a world in which you have magic, but it comes from whatever.
You could model this using the Spirit Votary rules.

If you want something closer to Hermetic Magic, you could also do it by using the hermetic theurgy and spell spirits rules

For a world in which you gain magic from spirits/gods/whatever and then it's done, I'd give these beings a Ritual Power allowing them to grant a Personnal / Lesser / Greater power, from RoP: M.
IIRC (and Serf's Parma), you can use a Ritual Power without a permanent expenditude of might, but the points can't be regenerated or else, . This would allow a Fire God to, say, give a follower the Shaper of Fire power, knowing that, should it want so, it can just take it back by not dedicating its Might.

For an "almost like" feel, you could use the Golden Chain rules from Dies Irae. This means you can have Hermetic Magi, but they would all be tied to a Patron, which would also limit the power available to them.
You could limit this further, by only allowing magic use of the same Form as the Patron's Might. You could stop there, or allow one to have several Patrons.

  1. Leylines and nexus of power

Hum... My ritual rules above can cover it for these
They may need to be adapted depending on the setting.
For example, if you can only gain "vis" from the location, you may want to say that each aura level provides 2 pawns, for example.

If you want this to be instead applicable to all magic, you could limit the magnitude of spells cast by something like
a x (Personal bonus) + b x (Aura rating), depending on the importance you want to give to the personal bonus (may be 0).
So, for example, if b = 1, you'd need to be in an aura of 3 to cast lvl 15 spells. Harsh.

Personal bonus, I'd use the 2 options I gave for Rituals in 1.2 "Spellcasting limitation":
Warping Score: Use this to represent the alignment of the character with the supernatural. Inner magic, if you want. You could have a fixed bonus/malus for everyone, based on the presence/absence of the gift. For example, Warping - 5 for Mundanes, Warping +2 for Gifted people.
Highest Form bonus in the spell being cast. Use this to represent the alignment of the character with specific magics.

  1. Not much to add

  2. Same.

  3. Interesting.

Once you've selected a level after which this happens (like lvl 30, or "only ritual magic", you've got 2 questions IMO:
The first question is "can magic affect the physical plane?"
The second being "can you enter this trance quickly?"

This gives 4 cases.

a) Yes and Yes: Magic can affect the physical plane, you can enter this trance quickly.
This is shadowrun, mostly.
I'd just go back some editions: When casting a spell, you spend your entire turn into a trance. The spell goes of at the beginning of your next turn. If interrupted, roll Concentration or the spell fails.

b) Yes and No: Magic can affect the physical plane, you can't enter this trance quickly.
Make all formulaic magic Ceremonial.

c) No and Yes: Magic can't affect the physical plane, you can enter this trance quickly.
Like a), but this will cripple most spells, although you can cast, say, a Pilum of Fire, but only against spirits. Likewise, terram affects "Astral terram"

d) No and No: Magic can't affect the physical plane, you can't enter this trance quickly.
Like b and d

Now, you also gotta answer if something can happen when you access those higher planes, and if you can visit them or not.
If so, I'd just give the magi's spirit the ability to visit the realm of magic as a spirit, with a Might Score equal to their highest form.

If you want "astral traveling" in the physical world, I'd also use this in conjunction with the rules above.
If so, you need to decide if the Range starts at the spirit (which makes magi more frightening) or at their body (so, if going with yes and yes, an insubstantial magus could fry you with a PoF while his body is miles appart, but he'd need AC range while his spirit is with you)

Ok, I've done examples rules that you could use for 1, 2 and 4 already. Let's see if I can whip up example on how to do the rest

  • Powerful spells are as hard to master as entire schools of lesser magic.

Let's be lazy.
To learn a ritual, you need to invest as many XP in it as the Ritual's level (or twice it, whatever).
If inventing by yourself, this is Practice for 5xp.
Otherwise, use normal rules for teaching.
Learning books from texts mean the texts must have a Quality.
Option: Formulaics spells require their level in XP. Ritual spells require twice that.

  • Powerful spells take up so much mental "space"

Actually, I've toyed with similar ideas for XP in general. Bear with me.
In RPGs, you can train a skill to its utmost, and then go to the next, and the next. In real life, you need to keep training to maintain physical skills, to stay up to date in science or whatever.
Even without staying up-to-date, you forget: If you learned how to code 10 years ago but didn't do anything with it since, I very much doubt you'd be able to do much with it.

You could, of course, apply the principle to all skills and xp. But let's limit that to magic.
You just need to limit the number of spells a character can learn.
You can put a total level cap, like "No more than 200 + 5 times your Art of Memory".

But, if I understand your original idea, I believe a slightly more complex system may fit the bill better.

Rate all spells on the Arts XP table, using their magnitude as a base.
So a 10th magnitude spell would be 55 points.
And now, chose a limit. I'd suggest, like above, a base rating, + a variable part based on a skill which ain't Magic Theory, thanks.
If you have, say, 50 points + twice "Art of memory" (for example), this means that you could have lots of small spells, but the bigger they are, the more room they take, and the aforementioned lvl 50 spell would take almost all your headspace.
Option: Shared Spells. Several magi can partially, or roughly, learn a spell, investing only some points in it. To cast a spell required magi to pool their points ot cast it, acting together for the entire casting time. So a lvl 70 spell (105 points) could be learned partially by 5 magi (21 points), who would only be able to cast it together.

This is fun! :slight_smile:

  • Powerful spells require questing, or emulation of some supernatural being.
    Hum... Gotta get back to work, do this quick.
    Take spell level + penetration, noted in magnitudes.
    This is the EF of the initiation to cast it.

Or you could initiate spells as Personnal, Lesser or Greater Powers (from RoP: M), combining this with your arts for casting and penetration. Just bring fatigue down to 0.

Bad Stuff... Amber DRPG? :slight_smile:

  1. Corruption

Easiest way is to just to consider that all Arts are Corrupted (as per RoP: tI). I believe this would work nicely.

But for fun, let's try something new :slight_smile:

Hum... Ok, let's say you have this "Corruption" personality trait, which replaces Warping.
It starts at 0, and increases like an ability.
You gain Corruption points any time you'd get warping points from a botch, following the same mechanics.
Do you get them from being subjected to magical effects? If magic is corrupt, why not. This depends on how punishing you want this to be.
You gain XP in it each time you cast a spell. The number of xp is equal to the spell's magnitude minus your Corruption Score (min 0).
Option: Corruption Knowledge. Learning a spell also increases Corruption, as above.
Option: Slow Rot. When casting a spell, you always gain at least 1 corruption XP.
Option: Tempting Evil. Corruption adds its score to all spell casting rolls

The SG must also decide if magics which give Corrumtion (Warping, such as CrVi) exists or not. If so, these are foulsome indeed.

What does Corruption do?
One possibility is that you must take "free" Infernal-related flaws at least equal to your Corruption score. You may change these whenever your Score increases.
But this can multiply instances of Story flaws, which may be a burden. So let's try something else.

Corruption has several effects:
a) It acts as a malus for anything related to good impressions, gaining trust... In short, it is not very different from the Gift save if you want to frighten someone, things like that: It acts as a bonus to frighten or intimidate people.
Option: This looks bad. You actually change physically, maybe depending on your highest art, like monstruous appearance, but think "demonic"
Option: Hidden Evil: As "This looks bad", but the changes are only visible through SS, sense evil, InVi...
Option: Demon amongst Demons: You Corruption Score acts as a Hierarchy Score with Demons

b) It opposes virtuous personality traits, diminishing them or increasing bad ones. Check RoP: tI, I believe it may be of great help for this. You may want to limit that to some virtues, like Charity. At corruption 3, this acts like a Minor Flaw. At Corruption 6, this acts like a Major flaw.

Option: Fighting the Taint. The return of the base version, with similar caveats. You may refuse Corruption. For that, you may take "free" Infernal-related flaws. Their act to decrease your Corruption Score, not unlike a reverse Puissant.
Option: ... Or at least trying to: An add-on to the option above: You can't really hold Corruption at bay. Add flaws points together on the Arts xp table to determine the malus to your Corruption Score (So you need 6 flaw points to apply -3 to your Corruption Score)

  1. Life Force

We did this above.

  1. Yummy for bad things

Hum... I'll keep this for tomorrow. Well, tomorrow tomorrow: We are tomorrow and I did a bunch of add-ons for Corruption.
Actually, I was interrupted, so we're the next week. Yeah!

Keep it simple.
I'd take a page from the Trollsynir, replacing Valkyries by fearsome beings.

But that's not the demand. Hum...
You could roll botch dices for the spell (1/mag). For each botch, the SG could either:
a) Attract right now beings with a combined Might of 10 per botch
b) Store the botch to add 5 might to a future botch result.

You could also roll a stress die + magnitude over a difficulty based on the Aura (Say, 12 - Magic Aura), with each point above the difficulty being handled as above. I'd put a cap on the result, obviously (This is an example about why, as a matter of taste, I don't like the explodey part of the stress rolls)

  1. Magic drives you mad

I suppose you're going for the cosmic horror vibe, à la Chtulhu. Can we do this? Hum...

Ok, let's posit a mechanism similar to Corruption, called Madness.
a) Your Madness score acts as a penalty on all Academic (and possibly Arcane) skills, as well as any XP source (teaching, books...) you may provide on these matters. That penalty is diminished by your audience's own Madness, to a minimum of 0.
Option: Twisted Insights. Add your Madness score to the Source Quality of your teachings and books on magic arts and skills, if the "target" takes as many Madness points. Otherwise, it acts as a penalty.
Option: Mad Genius. AS Twisted Insights above, but also applies to Academic (and/or Arcane, if concerned) skills.
b) You must take a number of points of personality flaws equal to your Madness Rating. You may take appropriate General Flaws
c) Each time your Madness score increased, you lose your mind entirely. Roll as per an episode of Twilight to know the duration.

  1. Magic taints or destroys the land

I believe I may have given an example of this before? I can't remember. Anyway.

You could use a mechanism similar to what the Trollsynir are doing anytime a Ritual spell is cast, or an Enchantment created.
Serf's parma, so I don't remember how this works, but this should fit the bill nicely.

Otherwise... Let's say
If you botch, reduce the local aura of 1 per botch. This lasts a season for Spontaneous and Formulaic Magic, a Year for a Ritual
If the aura is reduced to 0, the effect are permanent.
If the aura is reduced below 0, the place gains environmental hooks (as per Covenant), or maybe flaws (a place may be Tainted with Evil, for example)
Any Aura point below 0, the Aura is inimical to magic (use the Magic vs Divine realm interaction chart)

Aaaaaaand I believe that's all!
I had fun writing these, although it took me some time, I hope you'll have fun reading these too :slight_smile:

Next time, I want to write a mock-up Rival tradition using some of these options: The Red Black Wizards of thay.