Spontaneous Magic Casting Totals

I'm a little stuck on how spontaneous magic casting totals work. Is is the same basic function as Formulaic magic, where the casting total has to equal or exceed the level of the spell in order for it to be cast? That seems a bit odd to me, as that would mean that non-fatiguing spontaneous magic could work with only hideously low-level spells (for example, a mage casting a non-fatiguing spontaneous spell with an art and form of 6 ranks each, and stamina of 3, could cast at best a spell of level 3). If this isn't the case, how does spontaneous casting truly work, and if this is true . . . how can I make spontaneous magic a more viable option in my campaign?

And, if possible, could someone right out a few in game examples; one for formulaic magic, one for spontaneous, and one for a round of magical combat? I was amazed while reading the rules that nowhere was there an example for any spellcasting, and that there was barely a paragraph on magical combat.

thank you!

A quick answer, with serf's parma:

Yes, non-fatiguing is usually pretty weak. But that's also because you think of beginning mages. A guy like Ranulf can reach totals of 50+ in a given Technique + form, allowing him to cast lvl 10 spells without fatigue. For a beginning mage, that often means formulaic.
Foci can help, too.
But basically, the idea is that these are weak cantrips, like "light a cigar with my fingers".

Thus, beginning mages most often use fatiguing spontaneous magic, which is quite more powerful.
Your average beginning mage can expect to spont lvl 10+ spells in at the very least one te+fo combination (Aura 3, Die 6, Sta 2, Technique 10, form 11 = 30/2 = lvl 15). A little more work, luck and/or ritual spontaneous magic can easily bring that up to 20 (Aura 3, Die 6, Sta 2, Technique 12, form 13, Artes Liberales 2, Philosophiae 2 = 40/2 = lvl 20). That is quite a lot of spells.

=> It is viable, but you gotta fatigue yourself a little :wink:

Candlejack, you are right -- non-fatiguing spontaneous magic can generally accomplish only pretty low effects.
However, there's plenty of useful effects you can achieve with level 3 or 4 spells used wisely.

Generally speaking, you'll want to use Formulaic spells for the few "signature" effects of your character -- usually in his Art specialties. Alternatively, you might want to study a Formulaic spell so as to have access to the occasional medium level effect outside of your specialties you'll be using frequently.

Fatiguing Spontaneous spells are generally for emergencies and special occasions -- given the botch risk, you do not want to rely on them too often. But they are useful when your magus does not have the right tool for the job (particularly if you can throw a bunch of vis into the casting!).

Non-fatiguing spontaneous spells are both for "show", and to influence the situation in subtle, but often effective ways. For example, level 3 or 4 spells can:

  • disguise you,
  • allow you to see in the dark or breath water,
  • allow you to overhear a conversation behind a wall,
  • light a torch,
  • spice up a meal (including making it inedible!),
  • detect poison in a meal,
  • keep a nasty dog at bay,
  • slightly and temporarily change another's memories ("These are not the drUids you are looking for..."),
  • bury an opponent under a pile of sand,
  • detect the presence of raw vis

There are 2 kinds of Spontaneous magic. The one you describe is only for simple tricks.

For instance, to cast Eyes of the Cat (MuCo5) spontaneously you would need 25 to succeed effortlessly but 10 is enough if you accept fatigue.

Assuming we use your number above {Mu6, Re6, Te6 and Sta3}, you cast The Crystal Dart (Mu(Re)Te10) and roll 9 for a total of {6 + 6 + 3 + 9 = 24} :

  • Formulaic, you needed 10 so you have a base penetration of 14;
  • Spontaneous, you needed 10 and {24 / 2 = 12} so your penetration is 2;

Had you rolled 3 for a total of 18 :

  • Formulaic, penetration 8
  • Spontaneous, failure

In both cases, the Spontaneous cast costs you 1 fatigue level.

Yes, non-fatigueing spontaneous spells are very low level especially for starting magi. Generally, I have only seen magi use this option for very easy effects... like lighting a candle or shaving. Fatigueing spontaneous spells give you more flexibility, but still within low level effects. A magus's real strength comes for his formulaic spells.

As an example... Julius of Whithouse, a young Criamon magus, is investating a place in a woods that the local villagers claim is haunted. Upon arriving, Julius casts a non-fatigueing spontaneous spell to determine if there is a magical aura here. The spell is Intelligo Vim base 1, +1 for touch for a total level of 2 (see Sense of Magical Power, page 157). Julius's base casting total is Stamina +1 + Intelligo 6 + Vim 5 (+ Magica Aura 2, though he doesn't know it yet)=14... divided by 5 for 2 and change. He casts the spell easy and discovers he is indeed standing in a Magical Aura. For the villagers tales, Julius suspects that there could be a regio here, so he casts Piercing the Magic Veil (InVi 20). This is a formulaic spell, which Julius knows. Since this is another Intelligo Vim spell, we know his casting total is 14 + a die roll of 4 for a total of 18, less then but within ten of the spell level. Julius looses a fatigue level and sees across the regio boundry into the next level.

Unfortunately for Julius his rival Gwhyr, magus Ex Misc, is also investing this regio. By worse luck, the two are currently fighting a Wizard's War. Both roll for Iniaitive (Gwhyr Quickness -1 + a die roll of 7 = 6, Julius Quickness +2 + a die roll of 2 = 4... bad luck for Julius).

Gwhyr attacks, casting Weilding the Invisible Sling (Rego Terram 10. His casting total is 29 + a die roll of 3 for 32, easily casting the spell with a penetration of 22... enough to blow through Julius's unfortunately low magic resistance with ease).

Julius, however, is not completely unprepaired. He attempts to Fast Cast, Unraveling the Form of Terram, a formulaic spell he knows and has Mastered for just such emergencies. Julius first makes a Quickness (2) + Finesse (2) + a stress die (6) = 10, beating Qwhyr's Initiative and allowing him to get his spell off first. His casting total for this spell is Stamina 1 + Perdo 4 + Vim 5 + aura 2 = 12 + a stress die 6 = 18, enough to cast the spell, unraveling Qwhyr's spell.

Julius, lacking any real combat spells of his own and knowing the spontaneous spells would be unlikely to pentrate the older magus's magic resistance, runs for his life.

Edit: A note on magical combat... it's tends not to happen very often in my experience. The provisions in the Code tend to restrict actual battle between magi to Wizard's Wars and Marching criminal magi (two activies that my players have never particularly enjoyed). Against mundanes, magic tends to end the fight rather quickly and even against magical monsters, my experience has been that it's a matter of grogs holding the beastie at bay until the magus puts it down with a well placed spell. Of course, I'm sure others have experience with more warrior magi then I have.

1, you use Fatigueing sponts as well. And those can only botch if used in stressful situations.
2, you can take a look here:
In almost every TeFo there´s at least 1 level 3 spell thanks to "Tyrrell’s big list of level three spells".
Should be useful to give you ideas for simple low level spells of your own.

If you want to create a character who can do LOTS of things with Sponts, you can let it have the Major Virtue "Life-linked Spontaneous Magic" which allows you to spend extra fatigue to raise the casting total for Fatigueing Sponts.

There´s also the Major Virtue "Diedne Magic"(which can be a suicidal choice depending on how the Storyguide wants to run the game), which can boost casting totals for both Fatigueing and non-Fatigueing.

Also, depending on how you want to play it(the rules doesnt say clearly), adding some bonuses before or after dividing the Casting Total, the Minor Virtues "Special Circumstances" and "Cyclic Magic(Positive)" and/or choosing to use Loud words and Exaggerated Gestures can all help raise the Casting totals a bit. In theory, all those 4 together gives either a nice +8 in total, or if added before dividing, almost +2 to non-Fatigueing sponts.
If you want easy Sponts, i suggest you let these kind of bonuses be added after dividing.

One of the hassles that slows game-play down is constantly looking up Guidelines for potentially 150 different Te/Fo combo's, and then doing the math.

I encourage Players to make a little grid, of their Techs on one side, Forms along the top, and sum the two together (adding in Stamina and any Virtues/Flaws), and keep it as part of the CharSheet. That gives a grid of all their mage's Tech/Form base values, ready for unpredictable modifiers like Aura, Casting Modifiers (often +2 for Strong Voice/Bold Gesture, but not always), any ceremonial casting, and a +d roll if approp. (And I ask that they know/list those, too!)

[code] Stam = 2

     An 5   Aq 8   Au 0    & etc. 

Cr 5 12 15 7 Silent -10 Artes Lib's 2
In 8 15 18 10 Quiet -5 (Phil 0 )
Mu 0 7 10 2 Loud +1 & etc.

  # Focus: birds of prey
  # Deleterious circumstances: -3 when wet

So, at a glance they have a really good idea what's guaranteed, what's likely, what's risky, and what's not (assuming your players can add and then divide by /2 or /5 in their head, or have some scratch paper handy). As Arts/etc improve, the grid gets updated, just as any charsheet.

Then, for any Te/Fo combos that look notably attractive to a particular mage, I encourage they make notes/xerox those TeFo Guidelines, and even start to note down their favorite small effects as they think of them, just like Formulaic spells (possibly w/ notes on variations/etc.). This speeds things up a LOT, esp in combat and double-especially in Troupes where there is only 1 or 2 copies of the core rulebook.

(Good to give players something to do when their characters are "off camera", too!)

Some SG's would disagree that some of these are possible at such a low level, depending exactly what the effect is. Each Troupe should look to the Tech/Form Guidelines and decide for themselves.

Many SGs use house rules. I believe all the effects I listed are available at level 3 or 4 from the corebook guidelines, however. Are you referring to anything in particular?

Actually, most of those are level 5, so you would need a casting total of 25 to cast them as non-fatigueing spontaneous spells. Your saga may vary, but in mine a casting total of 25 is out of reach for a starting magus, unless he is an obessive specialist and/or has significant bonuses from virtues.

(And was anyone talking about house rules?) :confused:

Again, really? Your point is valid, but many of your specific examples are open to interpretation or debate, that's all.

A bit off topic, so let's not hash it out, esp since it's been done before.

As I said, a lot depends on exactly what the effect is, and then how the SG interprets that effect.

For instance...

  • allow you to see in the dark

MuAn? - Not "dark", not pitch black. But "low light", sure.

or breath water,

MuAn? Many SG's cringe at the thought of that being considered "a minor ability". It's an animal ability, but hardly "minor", any more than a lizard's regeneration or bird's flying would be "minor".

  • allow you to overhear a conversation behind a wall,

MuAn allows one to hear better. InIm would allow one to hear as if on the other side of any wall, but I'm not convinced that's doable at Level 4...

- keep a nasty dog at bay,

True animal control is not a cheap effect. A personal ward is certainly doable, but companions might argue whether the animal was kept "at bay" or not... :wink:

  • bury an opponent under a pile of sand

CrTe Base 1, +1 for Touch, +1 for Diameter... But 10 cubic paces is less than 7' on a side, and Touch puts you in the pile as well. And then it does what sand does - collapses. Maybe at Level 4 or 5.

That leaves a few that are clear and indebatable as you described them.

There is a nice list of low-level effects somewhere that one of the site veterans compiled - can't find the link atm. Someone?

Well, maybe not that bad.

Te 7 + Fo 7, +2 Stam, +2 Voice/Gestures, +2 each Artes Lib's & Phil (for ceremonial only, admittedly!), + 3 Aura - that's 25 easy, and only 58 pts in Arts and 10 pts in Abilities (w/ specialty). (Unless by "in my saga" you mean there are some limits I'm not counting.)

Not by my book.

  • allow you to see in the dark or breath water: Base MuCo2 +1 Conc or +2 Sun
    EDIT: I agree that this may be a point of contention. With "see in the dark" I mean in very, very low light, not absolute pitch black absence of light. As for breathing water ... I really think it's a minor ability, but hey, I can see your point.

  • allow you to overhear (overhear, not listen to!D:Mom) a conversation behind a wall: Base InIm1,+1 Touch,+2 Room

  • spice up a meal (including making it inedible!): Base MuIn 1, +1 Touch, +1 Conc

  • detect poison in a meal: for a vegetarian meal :slight_smile: Base InHe 3, +1 Touch

  • keep a nasty dog at bay. Base ReAn2 +1 Conc (to protect oneself, or all within a Circle, from the dog's attacks) or Base ReAn 2 +1 Eye +1 Conc to plant the suggestion in the dog's mind that it really should ignore you.

  • slightly and temporarily change another's memories: Base MuMe1 +1 Eye, +1 Diam or +2 Sun.

  • bury an opponent under a pile of sand: Base CrTe1, +2 Voice, +1 Conc or Diam

The big list of level 3 spells can be found here:

No, it just means that in my saga I've never seen a magus with Stamina +2 and being in a Magic Aura 3 when you need to cast a spontaneous spell means either you're larking around in the covenant or you're in a lot of trouble. :smiley: Though now that I think about it, we do spend a lot of time in weak Divine auras, which obviously impacts my experience with such things.

Ah - we often do a lot of covenant location stuff, and all the "color" of spont spells there is good fun. Out in cities (where it may be more urgent), yeah, that math does get tougher.

In my sagas, a starting mage without some Te/Fo combo of 15+ is the exception, not the norm, and often more than one and/or well above 15.

Remember that minimum range for a Circle is Touch - still level 4 though.

Someone compiled a great list of (legitimate) Level 3 spells - was that on this site, or in the spell wiki, or where?

I linked the spellwiki in my first post already and noted the presence of those level 3 spells.

And then the thread by Tyrrel for those specific spells was linked by ezzelino: