Stacking armor-boosting spells

What is the rules about boosting Soak spells?

Can I have a character that have the following spells on me at the same time and reap benefits from them all:

Character's Body is tougher: Gift of Bear's Fortitude (Mu Co 25) +3 Soak
Silk tunic: Doublet of Impenetrable Silk (Mu An 15) +3 Soak
Full Chainmail: Haress of Adaminitine: Standard 7 (+1 for a coif) +2 Soak

Which would give a total of: 16 + (Stamina and Form Bonuses)

To my knowledge there are no rules. You'd have to rely on the reasoning of your storyguide. Or your reasoning if you happen to be the storyguide.

I'd have thoughts along the lines of what does armor do? Why does this spell give a bonus? Should it be cumulative? But this is a minor issue compared to what is going to be the most fun.

I can imagine feelings of the player who invested his or her character's resources into developing these large soaks and then having the GM say "no that won't work". On the other hand, having a bunch of invulnerable PC's engage in combat would quickly loose its charm (much like using target individual rego wards).

You'd definitely want to hash things out outside of the game. Springing a decision to limit a character's abilities on a player without advance notice is a recipe for hurt feelings.

Some thoughts that I have about making the stacked defenses part contribute to the drama of combat scenes rather than suck the drama out of them involve allowing attackers to make called shots to vulnerable areas, and wrestling the character to the ground to strip off their protection.

You could do one scene where the protected character turns on the rest of the characters making the other players have to figure out to beat the soak monster but you can't easily do this more than once because it is pretty cheep (unless you warn them that it is coming allowing the PC's a chance to try and stop the attempt).

A +16 armored soak is not hard to get, regardless. In general, it's easy for a magus to be invulnerable to any mundane threat they want to be invulnerable against.

Erik's suggestion about prepared enemies coming up with possible countermeasures is a good one. Wrestle him down, gag him (-15 to any spells he may throw against you while you're doing this), strip off his mail - boom, there goes 11 of his soak. Called shot to the face, if you're using advanced combat. If an enemy magus has an Arcane Connection or he just doesn't have a good Parma, Perdo Corpus.

Personally, one thing I would not allow is layering armor, thus, no Doublet of Impenetrable Silk on the tunic and then Harness of Adamantine on the armor. You get one suit of super-armor, you don't get to armor yourself in layers of smaller spells.

+8 from well separated bonuses to Soak from three buffing spells, one of them affecting the character directly and hence possibly warping him? That doesn't look like breaking the game to me.

What is incapacitating or killing ArM5 vanguard characters in physical combat is exploding Attack stress dice - against which that extra Soak would not amount to much. Not that magi tell this to their shield grogs. And very few tell them about the warping either.


I'd be happy with that stacking, as they are changing different things. That's where I think the line should be drawn. It's only soak after all, there are plenty of other ways to challenge a character.

As long as the soak boosters are affecting different things as your examples do then I'd have no problem with it.

Very high soak does mean that as a GM you need to factor it in, with a soak of about 20 or so you can easily hold off hordes of lesser warriors. Of course it doesn't do you much good when the corpus mage comes calling.

A good opportunity for Winds of Mundane Silence. Items tend to have low Pen, or fighting in "hostile" auras.

How would the above mentioned spells stack with -

  1. Making the armour an Item of Quality using the "+7 protect wearer" shape bonus?

  2. Using the Alchemical Steel reagent (+2 Protection) from A&A on the armour?

  3. Using Excellent Quality (upwards of +3/+4) armour using the C&G rules?

I personally would only take the best of Body enhancement and Armor enhancement, not allowing cumulative armor boosting spells.
Two reasons:

  • if an attack goes through the best armor (like a chain mail), it will pierce the lesser efficient protection (silk of impenetrable doublet) - my personal choice. It can be argue that the first protection should decrease the efficiency of the attack, thus the soak bonus should be cumulative. Pick up the one which suits you the best, but keep in mind the second point...
  • Ultimate armor is boring - given enough time and resources, it is possible to come up with an indestructible juggernaught. The ennemy would theoretically also have access to such equipment. It will lead to a boring fight where dices are rolled by the bucket until one gets an exploding dice or a terrible fumble. Boring (for me).

I want that my players feels that they are somehow vulnerable, like the enemies - if one feels invicible, it is because you did not look close enough. It leads to better story.
If you allow indestructible characters, let them know that the enemies can equally be indestructible and ask them if they want to play this kind of weapon/armor race ? As I said, I prefer to have a kind of soft cap, to reward clever planning, specific counter measures instead of impenetrable generic defenses.

It is purely my personal opinion and how I rule in my games.
Whatever your choice, the really important point: don't forget to communicate to your player your decision/house rules, especially if you see them taking that direction. It is frustrating for a player to see his well crafted work crumble because of a last minute house ruling.

Stacking all of these together, plus a magical enhancement, is legitimate - though the magical benefit at this point becomes essentially redundant.

@Ezechiel: It does bear noting that in the High Middle Ages (and certainly by the Late Middle Ages), it was becoming harder and harder for hand weapons to pierce armor, so super-armor isn't entirely out of theme. The countermeasure is to not try to punch through 30+ soak directly. The obvious mundane countermeasure is to pin him and strip off his helmet; or, for a magus fighting against a super-grog, the solution is to use magical attacks that are not stopped by armor (Perdo Corpus, Rego Mentem...).

"Make the perfect shield grog" projects are cool ideas, but they tend to involve spending years of work and rooks of vis on something that can be trivially defeated by enemy magic.

Yup, and for paranoid Magi it can make sense though, as a mundane threat will probably be inflicting soakable damage.

I do agree with all your comments. I was mostly warning on the risk of "ultimate" defense as being a possible trap. Also, AM5 combat system is not really design to accomodate fancy strategy without some house ruling and creativity from the GM.

If the perfect shield grog is hard to make, the perfect combat magus is easier to achieve considering that Parma will cover a lot of techniques suggested to avoid high soak total.

I wouldn't have any issue with the stacking.

Someone who stacks that much soak through various different means is essentially saying 'I don't want to be threatened in this kind of encounter.'

There are many other ways that this character can be threatened, from mind control to direct PeCo to being turned to stone by Medusa to deprivation to ... the list goes on.

What it means is that if this character is in a swords-being-swung environment, they have a decided advantage. One they spent resources of some kind to attain.

I've got no problem with a covenant fielding a small group of space-marine-quality grogs. Other covenants will do the same, and supernatural opponents tend to play by their own rules.

It does mean the magi can afford to be a bit arrogant to mundanes, but only a bit. It wouldn't be the only thing where magi have a decided advantage over their mundane counterparts.

First, in history good armor can allow you ignore a lot of blows from lesser warriors. Secondly, things like Flight and Invisibility do pretty much the same.

More to the point a trained group with a decent leader can punch straight through 20 soak. Six leadership, a specialty and even crappy warriors can get you a +21 attack bonus. If the vanguard's roll is enough to hit without that bonus it will go through the soak and inflict at least a light wound. If the weapon isn't crap the damage bonus will take it to a medium wound. Except since its a group that's six light wounds or six medium wounds. A -18 penalty means he'll be a round or two from getting stomped to death. Even a -6 penalty is enough to start a downward spiral.