Stupid Question no 4: What can you do with 'personal' range?

After discussing the matter of detecting vis with one of my players and coming to the conclusion that a person with magic sensitivity might spot it without a spell but most magi will need to create one, said player remarked that it was almost worth casting such a spell with Sun duration if you're going out exploring a location likely to be vis rich.

Which lead him (and me) to wonder, if you're creating a spell to give you the ability to sense vis is that 'personal' range or do you need to extend the range out to however far the vis is from you? I've no doubt (well, not much doubt) this is in the rules somewhere....

Look at "Vision" target under the spell design rules in the core book (+4 mags, non-ritual). "Hearing" (+3) and "Smell" (+2) also work but at less range.

For example, casting a Sun duration spell with Hearing target might let your player hear an unusual and intrigueing sound (say, small chimes in the middle of the forest or, perhaps, low musical notes in an empty graveyard, perhaps) that lets them know that vis is nearby and lets them locate it once they locate the particular sound. Cocoons containing Muto vis that sound like small bells is one of my favorites.


You could affect your "Vision". Vision is a sensory target.

+0 is taste
+1 is feeling (it's the sense of touch but it could be wrongly interpreted as a range)
+2 is smell
+3 is hearing
+4 is vision

So if a spell to detect vis is base 1 (see InVi guidelines) you can create a spell with the following parameters :
Range: Personnal, Duration : (let's say concentration), Target : (vision)
1+1+5, calculating a spell gives a Intellego-Vim spell level 10.

Get it ?

Ah, right! P113 Magical Senses. (Quote page numbers at me when I ask stupid questions, please!)

It is annoying that 'touch' is used both in range and target but I don't see a way around that....

:slight_smile: Ask questions after "work hours" and we will :slight_smile:

Happy we could help.


It is after work hours where I am!

there was the option of calling the sense target feel, of course it's too late to do that now. (both because the book has been published and the word feel has been utilised for a sensory magic parameter.)


You mean the world doesn't revolve around California?!?! Geeze, next you'll tell me that the Prime Meridian goes through a place called "Great Britian" or "France" or something! You foriegners and your expectations, sheeesh!!


Er, no. Where did the +5 come from?

Isn't it Base 1, +1 magnitude for the duration of "concentration" +4 magnitudes for the target sense of "vision", making level 26 in all ... which rounds up to 30?

I hope not, because that seems way over the top -- you can do far more useful things with a level 30 spell than enhance someone's vision sense, but that's how I read the book.

I note also that (because of the rounding) the cost for a level 4 InVi effect would be the same (29, rounding up to 30) and that would allow the character with the enhanced vision to judge the amount and discern the art of any Vis present, not just detect it. It seems deeply wrong that mere detection should end up costing the same.

magnitudes are only 1 level until you get to lvl 5.
So base 1(lvl) + 4 (mag) + 1 (mag) = 5 (lvl) + 1 (mag) = 10 (lvl)

Really? Until what gets to lvl 5?

Where does it say all that?

Each magnitude raise worth 1 level while below or equal to 5, and they worth 5 levels each beyond 5.

If you raise a lvl4 spell by 1 magnitude it becomes a lvl 5 spell
If you raise that same lvl4 spell 2 magnitudes it becomes a lvl 10 spell

Theses rules are at the beginning of the spell chapter If I remember correctly (Serf's Parma)

OK, got it. Thanks for that.

The section headed "Magnitudes" on the first page of that chapter gives the general "1 magnitude = 5 levels" rule, but also refers to Changing Ranges, Durations and targets on P114, which gives the special rule for levels below 5.

The sudden change at level 5 seems awfully arbitrary. Not the sort of thing that aids Willing Suspension of Disbelief; not in my book, anyway.

No problem, this chapter is a must to comprehend the spell creation mechanic.

Maybe it seem arbitrary but it helps giving "nearly free" raises for weak effects.

Most strong effects starts with a base level of 5 or much more. The weaks ones are normally lower. So to give weaker spells a chance to be not too hard to cast for starting mages this rule is kinda usefull. It helps too with spontaneous casting, without it it would be next to impossible to cast any useful spontanous effects.

Quotes taken from this thread: [url]]

Which is not only very beautiful, but also makes it one of the best contrived concepts of Ars Magica. Even if it was even more clear in an earlier edition (where it also coincided with a +5 boost on Casting Totals from expending vis) the term of magnitudes is what make magi magi. Matters of magnitude is their technical language and archmagi are known for their spells of high magnitude and the greatest verditii crafters for their skills at creating effects of marvelous magnitudes with the vis given them. And vis is the currency, both in terms of economic and knowledge/power, of the Order - just a look take at the splendid post on vis done by Erik in another thread to link it.

So if Magnitude buggers you begone with it - HR it away - but I think you'd be loosing an asset. But then again everybody's preference of play is different, and more power to us all for that.

But that it buggers your suspension of disbelief? In all honesty, effects as low as <5 it -a level where most magi could Spont the effect- really should not have that impact on you. It makes no difference in level of power of a magus, and if you need a rationale for the change in mechanics around the first magnitude, it could easily be that the magus has to manipulate such miniscule powers at this level that extending his power from his touch to something he set his eyes on (going from R:Touch to R:Sight) really doesnt feel very different to him when he is exerting himself - which is what magi do to use magic and which is why fatigue in the end is their investment.

EDITED: The mentioned post by Erik (plus a few typos)

I have no problem with magnitude as a beautiful concept in the language of the game world ... I just wish the rules would stick to one set of units rather than chopping and changing between magnitudes and levels from one paragraph to the next without always making it clear which is meant.

It's not magnitude per se that interferes with suspension of disbelief, it's needless complexity in the rules. I look at the way the rules handle the difference in cost between augmenting a spell of level 1..4 and augmenting a spell of level 5+ and I see an artifice introduced to fix a broken rule, when a better solution would have been to replace the rule with a good one.

Yes, one could concoct a game-world rationale that makes the hack more palatable, but it still feels like a hack. Wouldn't it be better to fix the underlying problem?

Hmm. Personally, I like the break at level 5.

Yes, I agree, it does feel arbitrary and "hack"-ish but it forces an early career decision for the character in that the player has to decide whether or not the character wants some big magic early and therefore must specialize in an area of interest, or wants lots of low-level ('scuse me, 'low-maginitude') flexibility leaving moderately large magic for much later in thier career.

I've played a bit with this and I'm finding the current RAW very well thought out indeed. Yep, it does seem hack-ish. But in the physical science world where I have spent a lot of time it feels right nonetheless -- structural and environmental subtleties are not terribly important until you start talking about "large" or "fast" or "hard" or, gawd help you, all three. Then you have to be REALLY skilled if you want to push a large plane (elasticity 'break points') past Mach 1.0 (structural 'break point') in a fuel-efficient manner (physical Limit). Almost anyone can toss a paper airplane across thier living room and get it to land with acceptable damage, even with a small cargo ... a small chocolate, perhaps.

But, can a mechanic be devised that takes out the hard break at level 5. Sure. Off the top of my head, consider this:

-- Leave the Base Guidelines intact.
-- Keep the "magnitude cost" of each RDT as it is.

Start with a base spell, say, create an illusion that affects three senses (base level 3)


Now, for each magnitude of modification called for by the rules, iteratively increase the spell level by, say, 25%, rounding up to the next whole number. So, if we want it at voice range (+2 magnitudes):

1st magnitude modification: 3 + (3 x 25%) = 3.75 round up to level 4
2nd mag modification: 4 + (4 x 25%) = 5.00 (exactly, no no rounding)

Next we want it at Sun duration (+2 mags):

3rd mag modification: 5 + (5 x 25%) = 6.25 round up to level 7
4th mad modification: 7 + (7 x 25%) = 8.75 round up to level 9

Keeping our target at individual (+0 mags) means we have a final spell level of 9, something that anyone with a CrIm casting total of 15 + stress die could spont most of the time. Using the RAW would make the spell level 15 and require a casting total of 27 + stess die to spont at the same frequency.

Increasing the percentage-per-magnitude modification would make specialization more rewarding, decreasing it makes the generalist more capable.

Note that if you start with a high Base level, things get very difficult very fast. Start with a Base guideline level of, say, 20 and do the same four steps. Final level with house rule: 50. Final with RAW: 40.

If a person chooses a straight 3-levels-per-magnitude approach, they really rip the guts out of the idea of "small spells" and wouldn't able to do much at all as a young generalist magus. Though, the really powerful stuff does become somewhat easier.

Starting base 1 --> 4 3-level increases --> final level 13 (RAW: 5)
Starting base 3 --> 4 3-level increases --> final level 15 (RAW: 15)
Starting base 20 --> 4 3-level increases --> final level 32 (RAW: 40)

Or, one could spend time modding all the guidelines.

Clear as mud? :slight_smile: <<boy, that was a lot more than I intended to write>>



I agree that without the hack the rules as they stand would play less well than they do. Adding five levels to a level 1 spell just to augment it by one notch is obviously too many.

However, I'd say that the fact that the rules stipulate the same cost to augment a level 10 spell by one notch as to augment a level 20 spell by one notch is just as clearly wrong. My instinctive feel for the system is that the cost of augmenting any spell should increase as some linear (though not necessarily rectilinear) function of the cost of the spell itself.

Exactly. When you start to push physical limits things get a LOT harder, not just a little.

That's more-or-less the sort of thing I was toying with in my mind.

I wouldn't have stopped and rounded up a level at each stage, I'd have said:

  • You're casting a spell with a base effect of 3
  • You're applying four degrees of augmentation to it
  • So your spell will have a level of 3*1.25^4
  • That's about 7.3, which rounds up to level 8.

One rule, applicable in all cases. Easy to understand, easy to use, easy to remember.

Of course! Picking the right multiplier is crucial to getting the right game balance.

25% may be about right ... it makes it slightly cheaper to augment very low-level effects and more expensive to augment very high level ones -- so slightly favouring the generalist -- but it's close to what we have today for average-level effects. It's also close to multiplying at each stage by the cube root of two, so spell levels roughly double with every three degrees of augmentation, and that keeps the sums simple.

Multiplying by 1,25 is NOT easy in play terms. Michael Cole already pointed out that the current swystem might seem confusing. If you introduce this it seems random as well :confused: Atr least to me. I hate rounding stuff. ArtM has avoided rounding for the most part so far, and I would prefer it to be kept that way.

I don't know if I think this way is the way I would like for the magic system, basically. However, if you really think this would improve the game, I suggest you to write an email to the line editor and (much more importantr) write an article for Alex White's incoming magazine with those :slight_smile: You might get willing ears if you do that! :slight_smile:



Totally agreed.

If the system can sound confusing now, what when you'll have to seize your calculator and compute 15*1.25^4?