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

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?

This is one of those YMMV moments. I find it much easier to do a little mental arithmetic than have to remember an arbitrary rule.

Note that the calculation could be done in advance for all spell levels and degrees of enhancement and presented as a table -- no mental arithmetic at all then.

Random? It's about as deterministic as things can get ... but I assume you meant "arbitrary", rather than "random"? The system I sketched out is really no more arbitrary than any other mechanic in a game of this sort, and has the enormous benefit of being simple and concise. I do understand, though, that some people of a less than mathematical bent will turn off as soon as they see it, and to them it will always be a strange dark secret akin to working out VAT on a calculator with no percent key ...

Eh? ArM rounds all spell levels up to the next power of five to determine magnitude. There's rounding everywhere. I didn't suggest any more than that.

I didn't really get involved in this little discussion with the intention of changing anything. I did it to explain what it is in the rules that I find makes them needlessly difficult to grasp, to use, and to remember; and I've tried to show how a different rule would obviate what I see as unnecessary clumsiness in the RAW.

I don't much like House Rules. I like to stick to RAW wherever possible, or throw out the mechanics altogether and invent new ones, but this is one area where I might consider a simplification. At present I'm a player, not a story guide, but my time will doubtless come.

Put me down as one who finds it a real stretch to believe that there is an underlying problem.

There is a easy to use, elegant general rule: 1 magnitude is 5 levels. This rule has a single exception: it changes below level 5.'

If you want something simpler, I don't at all advocate your crazy"base level* a constant" plan. It would be a mess in play and a pain in the ass to explain. Players would be screaming "needless complexity".

Instead go back to the system used in the first three editions: All spell levels are decided by the storyguide. The spells in the book serve as examples. When a player wants to make a new spell they talk to whoever is the appropriate sztoryguide and say,"the new spell looks like a bigger deal than this spell but less difficult than this other spell. We'll make it level 30'

No rules, no confusion

You're joking! You can't compute 15*1.25^4 in your head? :wink:

I did point out that 1.25 is very nearly 2^(1/3), ...
so 1.25^4 is about 21.25 which is 2.5...
and 15
2.5 is 37.5 ...
which ArM will want you to round up to 40 so you can call it Magnitude 8.

Well, 15*1.25^4 is actually 36.6, but that's near enough.

As I commented elsewhere, you could do all this with a table if you're a table-oriented kind of a being.

It's easy to use and elegant up to the point at which there is an exception.

There are actually two exceptions:

  • It changes below 5
  • It changes above 50

The first problem here is that there is no one point in the book at which that simple statement is made. It's important, it needs to be stated simply and clearly in a place that everyone can find quickly.

The second problem here is that the mechanic is a crock. That matters less, but that's what I was discussing in the post to which you replied.

What could possibly be simpler than:You can extend the Range, Duration and Target of a spell, if you want to do this you must add 25%, cumulatively, to the level of the spell for each step by which you extend it.

There is only one thing to remember, there is only one thing to work out, it doesn't need and explanation, it speaks for itself.

Note that I'm not putting this forward as a new wonder mechanic that eliminates at a stroke all the shortcomings of the RAW and cures the common cold, I'm giving it as an example of a mechanic that avoids the one flaw that particularly bugs me in the rule we're discussing. I know it doesn't give quite the same answers, I know it has different behaviour at boundary conditions, and I'm sure it has shortcomings elsewhere. I don't expect everyone to like it (particularly not those for whom arithmetic is a foreign language). It's just an example to show how a different mechanic might not suffer from the need for arbitrary exceptions.

I take it that "sztoryguide" is term peculiar to sagas of the Transylvanian Covenant :smiley:

Yes, of course, I would expect the storyguide to play a part in setting the level and effect of a new spell ... and the RAW are there to guide the SG too (very important for relatively inexperienced SGs -- everyone has to start somewhere). I don't think it particularly matters how easy the rules are for the design of new formulaic spells, but for spontaneous spells it is very important not to interrupt the story for a full-blown debate about which rule on which page applies in each case.

Having all the relevant rules written down in one place for ease of reference is essential, as is having rules that can be simply stated and have general applicability.

It doesn't change above 50

Page 114 under "Changing Ranges Durations and Targets"

Honestly 1 magnitude = 5 levels is simpler to do, simpler to explain, and it deals with arithmetic growth rather than geometric which is IMHO preferable.

The exception : --that when you're dealing with levels lower than 5 adding and subtracting sets of five breaks the system--- is pretty much an obvious part of the system. I've never had problems explaining it to a new player. Of course just because you're the only one that I've heard of having an issue with it doesn't mean that there aren't other folks out there with the same difficulty.

The tone of my post may come across as more antagonistic than I intended. No belligerence was meant. I just haven't yet found a way to put my head in a place where I can see the present rule as confusing or complicated.

It does change above 50 (for some values of "it"). For formulaic and spontaneous magic "one magnitude equals five levels" effectively becomes "one magnitude is an infinite number of levels", because at 50 you can no longer increase magnitude just by increasing levels, and you have to switch to ritual magic.

That's an arbitrary change that has to exist because if you could carry on boosting the power of formulaic magic at five levels per magnitude mages would get too powerful. The problem is that the flat "one magnitude equals five levels" rule breaks down (becomes too cheap) for high levels of spell.

A different rule that inherently made higher magnitudes of spell more expensive (in levels) wouldn't need to be capped in that way. The capping is only necessary to balance the game because the underlying rule is broken (as it is for very low levels).

Yes, thank you, I know where it is. It's buried in a paragraph of text (and you have to read the example as well as the rule statement to understand what it means). It is important. It could be -- and it deserves to be -- stated more clearly, and in a box so that it hit you in the face as soon as you looked at that section.

Note, also, that if you look at "Magnitude" in the index it takes you to P111, where there is a statement of the "one magnitude equals five levels" rule with a note that for first magnitude spells things "work differently" and a reference to P114. Nobody I know who looked at the words "work differently" understood them to mean "this is an exception to the rule we have just stated, so do go on and look it up".

Also, FWIW, if you look up "Range", "Duration" or "Target" in the index you get a list of five or so page numbers for each (including P114, which is good). In each case a couple of these pages are FAR more important references than the others, it would have been good to see them highlighted in bold.

It's not that the mechanic (in this case) is actually difficult to comprehend. I'm sure I'd have used it without a second thought if I'd actually found it in the book when I was looking, but having not found it I started thinking harder about it than I really needed to so that when I did find it I was in a mood to be critical of the mechanic.

I agree that it's easier to repeatedly add 5 than to repeatedly multiply by 1.25 -- not by much, if you're any good at mental arithmetic, but it is easier.

However, I disagree that "one magnitude equals five levels, except when you start from less then five in which case one magnitude equals one level until you get to five, and you can't go past 50 at all" is any easier a concept than "one magnitude equals a 25% increase; no exceptions, but you'll find the increase gets very steep once the level gets high".

No worries. I didn't read any antagonism into your posting ... but I've been wondering how to get your head into a position from which you can see from a different perspective and at least understand the point I'm making, if not actually agree with me. (I thought "severed, on top of a pike", but that seemed rather harsh, and unlikely to help anyone :wink: ).

No, the rule is not "complicated" in an absolute sense, it just irritates because it could be simpler. I don't think the rule itself is "confusing", it's just that I found its statement in the book -- when I eventually did find it -- to be poorly worded. Maybe I'm lazy, but I don't expect having fun to be so much work.

Yes indeed, Erik. I whole heartedly agree.

All I suggested was a mathematically "smoother" mechanic for those who were asking for it. Personally, I like doing little arithmatic problems, but a lot of folks don't and would much rather wing it than calculate it.

I think this system (the RAW) strikes a very good middle ground, keeps it very simple (count by one until you hit level five and then count by fives thereafter), allows for little spells for almost every magus but keeps the big juju for the devout specialist. Great stuff.

The in-game rationale is up to each of us to come up with (assuming we have to at all), but the one that makes the most sense to me is that there indeed are points in the natural world where there is a "break point." Things below that point are very easy, things above it are suddenly and substantially more complex but still possible. The elastic limits in metals would translate well into a fictional mideval magical setting.

No consistency.

For those that like to wing it, I suppose this works, and has, for a long time. Me? As a relatively new player (5th ed., only),this smells too much of other fantasy RPG systems with weaker magic systems. Could I play in this environment and enjoy myself? Sure. And I have. But I much prefer the portability and consitency that the current 5th ed. RAW.

Just remember: count by ones until level 5, count by fives thereafter. Simple and easily done on the fly even by the less arithmetically inclined.



Wow, and I thought I was a bit picky over some of the rules. 1-5, increases are 1 at a a time. Over 5 increases are 5 at a time. Ritual if over 50. If I were to try to HR anything, THAT wouldn't be it. I really doubt there's a simple way to improve it, and i'm not convinced it needs to be improved.
In any case, I suspect 1-5 is what see's most use in play, it's the easiest to spontaneous. 6+ is more likely to be a formulaic spell that the mage is inventing over a season, and the SG has more time to think it over.