Spellcasting while injured

In our last session, the question arose, what kind of spellcasting is possible, if the magus is injured.

In RAW, p. 178-179, you can read: "Wound penalty -1 or -2: The character [...] cannot undertake strenous activities, including casting spells that cost Fatigue." Higher Wound penalties doesn´t contain new confinements for spellcasting. As a first step - everything but sure about the issue - we decided, that the quoted sentence about spellcasting while injured is valid for higher Wound Penalties, too. But what does the sentence mean?

In the case of Spontaneous Magic, the issue is distinct. Only Non-Fatiguing Spontaneous Magic is possible. Ritual Magic is distinct, too: it´s impossible for injured characters to work ritual spells.

But for Formulaic Magic? Is it possible for an injured magus to work formulaic magic? And if it is possible, what happens if the Casting Total (including Wound Penalty) - Spell Level is -1 or lower? You too can find the passage "Formulaic Magic" (p. 81) containing the following: "The type of die rolled depends on the situation. If the maga is not under pressure, it is a simple die. If she is in a stressful situation, it is a stress die." What does this mean for injured magi? Are they forbidden to work magic in a stressful situation even if they don´t lose fatigue (because it is stressful nonetheless and therefore a strenous activity)? Or does the magic cease to operate only if the magus would lose fatigue?


With the exception of doing lab work and working a craft being impossible at wound levels of -3 and up. Everything else is possible, but doing so entails making an immediate recovery roll.
So, a magus may cast spells that cause fatigue, but that has the real possibility of making wounds worse, given the need for an immediate roll. So casting a formulaic spell that might have a CT of -1 to -10 should probably be a stress roll and missing the roll by -1 or more should also require an immediate recovery roll to see if the magus made his wound worse.
The list is a description of what is possible to do without making a recovery roll. So casting a spell at wound penalties of -3 or greater ALWAYS requires a recovery roll.

And Bind Wounds makes the recovery roll moot, too. So there is a gray area of what happens if an injured magus casts Bound Wounds upon himself. Would he be required to make a recovery roll?

Ah, thank you. The rule makes sense if you pay attention to the whole passage:

I missed the fact, that improvement isn´t possible.

This is a good interpretation of RAW. I like it.

"Bind wounds", as I understand it, adjourns the natural healing process. It doesn´t prevent to get hurt or fatigued. I think, I´d ask for a recovery roll. If "Bind wounds" was successfully cast, it adjourns the healing process of the wound... but that could mean that maybe the healing process of the worsened wound is adjourned.

Thank you, again. It was me, who didn´t read the rules accurately enough.


True, it doesn't prevent getting hurt, but it does prevent wounds from worsening due to activity.

So again, if a stress roll is required, and fatigue is spent to cast the spell does that mean that the wound is worsened, and then the spell is applied? I can see it applying either way.

From the pure perspective of the Rules as Written, agreed.

But from a Story perspective, if a mage has taken the trouble to learn this spell (or can just spont it!), then they are in part) looking to solve that very problem. Rewarding them with that small relief is not a large bone for the SG to throw their Players, depending.

More, little is worse than the entire main story being undermined by a mage unable to cast a spell because their "heal me" spell didn't do its job. Talk about anti-climax.

Far better to rule that "No roll is necessary" than to be faced with the results if the roll fails at a critical moment (again, depending what you, as a SG, are looking for out of a game, and whether your players know the dice rolls for their actions). :wink:

What I've done for many Magi that might be caught in a situation like this is to wear an item that provides a substantial healing bonus through a CrCo effect and also a powerful enough ReCo to mitigate pain and fatigue. Essentially the Magus feels no pain or fatigue and at the same time is receiving powerful healing modifers, even if more recovery rolls need to be made, so will likely make them. There are problems of course; Warping, potential to botch (spells, recovery, etc), not feeling tired or wounded could lead to doing dangerous/stupid things, the item either needs to Penetrate (unless it's a Talisman) or the wearer has to re-activate it and supress their MR. But in theory this should even allow lab work, but I would say that one of the alternative lab schedules from Covenants might need to be used and receive the costs of those but not necessarily the benefits. This should be without cost and risk in other words.

Magi have more resources at their disposal to heal. It's a pretty easy call for me, as an SG, to say if you want to salvage your season of lab work, you need to pay vis to heal. Spells that remove a penalty to study are insufficient, and I have no problem with the contradiction of saying that they work fine for combat or getting home, but can't be used to salvage the season.

There are 2 basic views, and both valid. One comes from more gritty stories, the other from a more "Hollywood" approach to telling stories.

View #1 (Realism = Drama)
While there is something to be said for a Player "being clever, and finding a way around the rules", it is nothing more than that - a Player's way around the rules, not a Character's way to get the job done in their world.

Combat is dangerous. Magi should think twice about getting into combat if they value their time. "Character development" includes loss, disappointment and sacrifice.

View #2 (Action without interrupting Story)
Combat should not get in the way of the game. If magi are worried about losing lab time, they won't be heroes and go out and risk anything ever. If the SG is worried about the magi's progress toward solving the problem being delayed, s/he can't throw them into any real combat.

Combat adds color and drama to the story, but should not stop the progress of the overall story for "healing". "Character development" is anything that aids progress toward becoming a superhero.

Both of these are correct, and both work - they just don't always work together. And as JL points out, there are often ways to compromise, to have the realism and danger without sacrificing the progress of the character. It all depends on what the Troupe - as a whole - wants to get out of the story. The important thing is that the SG be mindful of their players, and find players whose storytelling sensibilities and character development expectations match their own.

Although it is hard to tell, especially in a game with the kinds of mechanics that ArM5 has, the difference between "the player being clever" and "the player using the game mechanics to represent the character being clever". Reasonable minds can differ.

Do note that that is not (necessarily) my view, just View #1 (of 2 opposite views).

I'm sure we could all give examples of munchkinism or SG-abuse that are perfectly supported from a RAW perspective but seem entirely inappropriate In-character or in-saga. And, otoh, of SG's who stuck to the rules too rigidly and crushed a game under that weight.

Reasonable minds, indeed. :wink:

Now one thing that comes to mind about this is whether or not a magus could cast a healing ritual while wounded, and ny the rules I would have to say no (though maybe with that item I mentioned). However in the Transylvanian tribunal, there are all of those safehouses which contain vis and lab texts to heal wounds. Presumably this is intended for a magus to cast on himself, if there is anotheer magus there that would help, but maybe it is possible?

It's not a great precedent I'll admit though as I don't recall if it was specifically mentioned that the items were for a wounded magus to cast on himself, or if they were for a lightly wounded (thus still able to cast spells per the rules).

Yes, spell casting isn't a prohibited activity, merely an activity that would force a wound recovery check, and it would apply to all wound penalties, since ritual spells cost a long term fatigue (short term if mastered with Stalwart casting). Now, presumably one is working Incantation of the Body Made whole, or at least working on the most serious injuries first...but a roll wouldn't apply to any wounds healed by the spell.

Remember, it's not unable to cast spells, period, it's unable to cast spells without forcing a recovery roll. Lightly wounded (-1 to -2) may cast spells that don't cost fatigue (without the recovery roll). Any healing spells, unless they heal everything are going to require a wound recovery roll.

That Recovery roll is something I keep missing and confusing it for not being able to cast spells. Need to remember that.

Here is an idea.
Healing without vis means that your wounds reopen when the spell expires.
Set it up as an enchantment in the familiar bond, no warping, with a D: Concentration and the bond maintains it. Unlimited use, take care of each injury as it comes. Make it a constant effect so you don't have that flicker at sunset.
That should hold you together long enough to finish the fight and get to a safe place, and calmly cast the ritual needed.

You mean like Bind Wounds :wink:

A better thing for the familiar bond is the ReCo effect that negates all penalties due to fatigue and wounds as exemplified in Endurance of the Berserkers. And maybe a Bind Wounds spell. Now the only way to take him out is an incapacitating or killing wound or fatiguing him to unconsciousness.

Further than Bind Wounds. I mean an actual heal-wounds spell that is temporary. Even healing Incapacitating wounds possibly. But temporary, like tape.
The Rego Corpus idea is a good one too. And I can imagine another one where the familiar sends you it's own fatigue through the bond (as The Gift of Vigor).

My first foray into the constant healing and pain removal was for a Criamon on the Path of Conflict, he enchanted some tatoos on himself that provided the bonuses (and also Warped the hell out of him over time).

That would be what, 59th level Creo Corpus effect, to heal all wounds, by my calculation. And so the lab total for that is 118... :wink:

Familiar Empowerments are not Lesser Enchantments. I can take my time investing them. With a Lab Total of 64, I can finish it in three years.
There are ways to shorten that and fiddle with things. But the point is that it is possible.
I myself will probably go for the low level options at first though, Bind Wounds, Endurance, & Vigor.