Seal the Earth - Instant burial?

Hi everyone, I'm trying to figure out a reasonable way to prevent these kind of creo effects to be instagib mundane people. I'm new to ars magica so I decided to poke at the nest that is my mage players and see what explodes. It turns out that being engulfed in a 20x20x10 area of dirt is difficult to deal with as a knight. The spell description itself doesn't lend itself to any off the cuff combat usage. I decided to throw in a EF 9 targeting roll, which the player succeeded in. I'm not terribly hot and bothered that a level 15 spell can be used this way, but this lead to some practical questions. How have you all ruled creo effects? Do they take any time at all or is this a Bewitched episode and the dirt is just 'there', which honestly probably doesn't even require a targeting roll at that point.

I'm also worried that this could easily affect even hermetic magi, would several tons of dirt restrict the mage or would I rule that you somehow easily swim through the dirt? That seems to suggest that you can walk across a magical bridge but also carry it around with you like a balloon animal. You don't take damage from a magical bridge landing on you, but are you pinned down?

Why? Wizards can obliterate mundanes with relative ease. That's part and parcel of Ars. Generally, there are consequences associated with that:

  • Social/Political (someone comes looking for the mundane who was killed, because they were important in some way and this creates stories as they deal with the situation)
  • Spiritual (regular murdering draws Infernal attention and demons come to draw the magus into more and more Infernal activity, creating stories as they deal with the situation)
  • Hermetic (as someone else responds to the death by taking retribution on another group of magi, who then bring charges against the covenant)

and that's at a quick take. If the killing bothers you too terribly, then consider that many knights go on Crusade, which might impart a blessing on them, perhaps granting them a bit of Magic Resistance for a year. This might allow them to ignore some spontaneous effects. They might have their prayers answered, allowing them bonuses to escape things like the stone prison you suggest.

But seriously, it's Ars Magica, not Ars Grogica. No magic resistance means dying a lot of the time.


If this effect didn't Penetrate, then the magus would just be able to walk out of the dirt, unaffected. If it was a ReTe effect, then I would rule it needed to Penetrate to engulf the wizard, otherwise, the dirt would fall around him, or grow under his feet, but not bury him.


That being said, yes: Wizard's Entombment (ReTe: "teleport the dirt from under the magi to above the magi" - gravity does the rest) is a simple way to bury a low-level magus - or at the least, seriously panic them. More experienced magi can probably /5 spont their way out of it, or have a levitation effect going so it doesn't actually affect them. (aside from getting some dirt dumped on their head.)

But to re-iterate the point: Ars Magica is based on the assumption that the magi are the center of the story, and that (for the most part) all others will ultimately get shanked/burned/buried/turned into a frog/whatever if they face them on the field of open combat. As you can see, even lvl 5 or 10 spells can pretty much destroy a single target. To get even more extreme - a low-level levitation effect (to get out of range of a bow), and a moderate-level, sight-based attack spell, will allow a magus to take on an army. Sure, it'll take all day, and the army will probably scatter before you get all of them - but it can be done.

But as Ben mentioned - there are narrative consequence - political, social, and spiritual - that come from doing so.

Well, no. Parma would prevent the dirt from touching the recipient of the spell, but it would still surround them, and they would have to force themselves through the dirt and possibly have to deal with deprivation checks. It just doesn't soil their clothes, get in their mouth or nose... This spell (or any variant that makes larger amounts) isn't all that effective, though, unless it is in a confined space, since the dirt will have a tendency to mound over

That does suggest though that the CrTe "Encase in Stone" variant would work just fine, and would be able to target through Parma without difficulty - as filling in the volume around the magi with stone (without directly touching the magi) is kind of the point of such a spell.

Sure, Base 3, R:Voice +2, D:Sun +2, T:Ind, Size +1 for a 20th level effect. But it's not "targeting through Parma." Some SGs do Finesse rolls for aiming the Pit of Gaping Earth, and I can see some doing that here (I'm of two minds on it). Deprivation does take some time, too, so it's not a perfect thing. It would take at least 2.5 minutes for the magus to even pass out assuming he fails all his deprivation checks.

I have to agree with virtually all points made by here.

(continuing the threadjack a bit here) It's a PeTe5 effect to weaken a pace of a larger stone, and then to destroy that weakened the trapped magus would need to be fairly PeTe inept to be unable to escape. If anything, it provides a suitable delay or escape clause for characters being pursued by the magus.

These two views on how Parma works is what worries me, so does the dirt engulf them or no? As far as 'mounding over', one of my players used to work at a sugar plant and seemed adamant that a 20x20x10 feet area is enough to engulf, which is virtually impossible to move in.

Depends on if it Penetrates their Parma Magica or not. If their Parma Magica resists it, then the dirt is kept a few inches away from their body... Certainly not a full range of motion, but definitely enough for subtle gestures and a booming voice, so most (not all, but most) newly-Gauntleted magi could spontaneously cast a solution to their problem.

More importantly, don't go creating mounds of earth over magi in the hopes that they die. That's using magic to harm or attempt to harm your sodales, so you'll get Marched faster than a suggestion that magically created species are magical will start an argument with both sides thinking the answer opposite theirs is completely nonsensical. Unless you're declaring Wizard's War on one of the few young magi who can't do anything about this spell, in which case, I'll just say picking on little kids is wrong even if you are one too. :stuck_out_tongue:

Yes, they would be engulfed, and have a bit of wiggle room as LuckyMage said. So what happens when they are engulfed? Well, they have 30 seconds (5 rounds) before they have to make a deprivation check, and that's starting at a EF of 3, and increases by 1 for every 5 rounds thereafter. So, it's far from an instant kill, and it is easily defeated by some fairly low level spontaneous magic. And combat magi probably have multiple formulaic spells that can handle extricating themselves, most popularly The Wizard's Leap.

As to mounding, I really don't know, but my suspicion is that something that is 10' high would have a tendency to mound over if it isn't contained. So, one could probably only need to go a couple of feet upwards to clear air.

Wizard's Leap would most certainly not work. Unless you use InTe to see through the dirt or something. You need either an Arcane Connection or the ability to see where you're going. Unless you mean as a Mastered spell to Fast-Cast, in which case yes, it's wonderful.

Well, it isn't particularly useful without mastering it for fast casting...

But as to being able to see it/having an AC, Air from a place lasts hours, so being able to Leap to a spot one was at moments before isn't unreasonable. And barring that, be prepared with ACs to all the grogs to cycle through them.

Does anyone with Wizard's Leap go anywhere without habitually picking up ACs nearby?

Try the spell "Entomb the Thief" from my Terrae Magi pages for a variation of this (albeit one that must penetrate). It was written a while ago now about the Earth Cult of Guernicus but the concept still stands.

For other Terrae Magi concepts, see the index pageor check out Andrew Gronosky’s “Omnibus Grimoire: Terram” article in Hermes Portal #14, which also contains a selection of additional ArM5 Terram spells useful for designing Terram aligned wizards.



For a low level Creo Terram effect, I'd get out of it using Unravelling the Fabric of Terram unless I had a crippling weakness or over-riding other specialisation. At Touch range, it will unravel a spell of level: Unravelling level + 15 + stress die, which means that a level 2 spell (base 1 + 1 Touch) is going to be able to reliably cancel the CrTe 15 spell.

If you look at the guidelines instead of the Unravelling the Fabric of Form write-up, it might actually unravel a spell of level + 3 mags + stress die, in which case you might need to increase the spell level slightly, but even level 4 is going to be within most people's capacity to spont assuming they can talk (and level 3 will probably work, although you might need to try a few times to get the stress die over 5).

Assuming there isn't a substantial divine aura and you're able to speak, pretty much any magus should be able to pull this off.

My wizard would pick up a stone from each area he wanted to return to, MuTe the stone to make it like clay for a diameter, etch his own mnemonic on it, then put it on a cord he carried on his belt like stones on an abacus slider.

I also had Redcaps bring me back stones from various cities, and paid quite well for them. I imagine there's probably a submarket for them amongst Redcaps. ("Why's 'e carrying this box of rocks? Eh, junk. Toss it!")


One of my characters actually managed to "train" most of his covenant-mates to bring him bits and pieces (usually rock) from anywhere exotic they went. Labeled with location.

He also imported rocks from around ME via redcaps as I recall.

Quick query.
When casting "Seal The Earth", does the volume of dirt appear on the ground only, or can you materialise it in mid-air, which then falls on whatever is beneath.

I ask because the guidelines for Creo Aquam has different levels depending where the water/liquid is supposed to appear (fill a container / not contained / unnatural shape eg sphere over somebody's head).

Come to think of it, at what temperature is CrAq water normally? (same question fro CrAu and CrTe) Do you need to add an Ignem requisite to make it freezing and/or boiling, and would this be an extra magnitude?