Super-charging Ars Magica

The thread about why the spell level calculation breaks at level 5 got me thinking.

I think vanilla Ars Magica is a little underpowered for the tastes of my home group. They are old school City State of the Invincible Overlord types. If you don't have a least three Vorpal swords in your portable hole, your manliness would be questioned. I've tried to pump up the magic level of Ars in a couple of ways: high vis saga, giving extra exps during character generation or allowing adventure exps to stack with other exps (like in the old days). I hadn't considered tinkering with the spell levels before.

What would be some of the unintended consequences if the change from adding one level to five levels for magnitudes happened at level 10 instead of 5?

HUGE repercusions

Let's see, 5 magnitudes more than a spell lvl 5 is... 30...
So any magus with a relativly low art score in his forms and techniques can spont a 30 level spell ?

Not to mentions specialists in there
This completly render near useless the spells you must to learn and well, no force could compete with a hermetic magus with something like 20 years out of apprenticeship.

This gives spells nearly one-hit kill spells that with Huge penetration too.

My advice ? This is completly unbalancing, it's like hunting deers with atomic bombs, no challenge left and it completly destroy the setting (how can mages this powerfull have any fears ?). Just think about rituals with a strengh of 5 magnitudes higher.

If you want more power, lower the base effects by one or two magnitudes, it'll do the job, no change anywhere else.

Heh. Say, moving base Target of spells up one or two steps would be rather world-changing for the setting.

Frying/healing/mutoing groups or roomfuls suddenly is the common case.

That rather depends on what you see as being the intended consequences!

If you put up the level at which magnitudes get cheaper (if you see what I mean, treating the level of the spell as the cost to cast it) then it becomes cheaper to boost spells with low base level effects to have greater Range, Duration, and Targets. That means that low-level effects with high RD&T become cheaper relative to high-level effects with their standard RD&T.

That's probably not the effect you want, given your comments above. You would probably find it more useful to reduce the number of levels per magnitude from 5 to 4 or 3 (and leave the exception for levels below 5 alone). That would make it cheaper to boost the magnitude of spells of all base levels. You might also want to allow spontaneous or formulaic spells at levels higher than 50.

Tinker with care, though, as I sense that it would be very easy to unbalance the game by making magic too powerful.

OK, I guess I was too quick in my explanation. I was thinking that the break would occur at 10 and then add +10 levels for all magnitudes after that point. I see it still allows sponts of lvl 30 without much trouble, so that might be too much.

I would like to have a mechanic that would allow relatively easy sponts of level 15-20 for newly gauntled magi, without affecting the levels of more powerful spells significantly. Any ideas? Maybe break at 7 and add something between 5 and 10 for each magnitude thereafter.

The argument that 20 or 50 years after gauntlet the players will be too powerful is irrelevant in my experience. The longest saga I've played in lasted three years RL and maybe 7 years game time. YMMV

I think that the elegant solution is to use older characters.

frightfully simple to implement and extraordinarily well balanced.

A magus 20 years out of apprenticeship ins a completely different experience than a newly gauntleted magus. A character 60 years out is different yet again.

I second Erik. Also, if you want to play the whole gauntlet thing too. do that and then wave your hands and do something like... "20 years later after much study and adventure we return to our heros...."
Give them a list of covanent resources they could study from, say what mysteries you'll allow joining and let them advance season by season, studying, crafting, designing spells as they want.

Give every starting magi level 3 in each art for free. This way they can get
3+3 (arts) + 3 Mt + 2 Int + 3 Aura = 14th level spells without any effort.

And give them other 100-200 level of spells as you wish.
Nothing else needed.
I like your idea. Starting magi have really a few spells.

I agree with Erik and Agnar...

Let them play characters 50+ years out of gauntlet...Thats plenty powerful.


An easy way to improve base sponts is to add Magic Theory + Concentration to all spontaneous casting scores. Characters will have +6 to +12 base sponts before any other considerations.

Another easy thing to do is give every Art a +5 bonus akin to Puissant Art, which can itself still be taken for an additional +3 to an Art. This has a much smaller effect on sponting, but brings more interesting Formulaic spells within reach. I like this one a lot.

Another easy thing to do is to give Flexible Formulaic Magic to every magus for free. Maybe do it twice, for two 1-magnitude shifts of the caster's choice. This would allow magi extra flexibility within their area of expertise without bulking up on power overall, though beware: This is a suprisingly powerful option. I also like this one.

Yet another easy thing to do is to declare that all spontaneous casting scores have their casting totals divided by two and never include a die. I'm not sure I like this one.

Creating older magi is easy to do conceptually, at the cost of extra work to create the advanced character. But you can also simply give players lots of extra xp to dump into Arts during character creation; I don't favor either approach if the saga is intended to last longer than a few sessions.

If you want to encourage the creation of magic items, declare that vis no longer needs to be spent to open them; just add effects at will.

Another easy way to alter the power dynamics of the game is to get rid of vis entirely. This allows characters to recover from injury faster through inexpensive ritual healing. I like this one, though you might need to come up with stories other than vis raiding.



Oh I missed the thing you want more spontaneous spells.

I was correct however in my previous post if you let your players getting more starting formulaic spells they need less spontaneous magic. Let them creating their own spells during character creation this way they will choose the spells they want the most.

If you want to keep the powerful level spells you need something limited bonus. Ovarwa has a bunch of good ideas but with MT and Conc bonus they will boost these skills and it would affect their magic a lot. In a shorter campaing it is not a problem but with the time these skills can reach level 10-20, too. This is not a bad thing definitely it depends on your will.
For a long term saga I suggest rather a fix bonus. It gives more control and easy to remember. Maybe a +10 would be enough after dividing. This affect the more powerful spells, too.
Magi would be able to cast 14th level spells with their lowest arts. (0 arts +2 sta +6 die)/2 +10
A starting magus may have 30 level in his best TeFo at the most (with 4 minor virtues and without a focus). With this bonus he would be able to cast 30th level sponts on average.
These would be the extremities. You could determine this bonus as it fits the best for you.

Another idea: you can give the option at sponts magi can choose a fix value 30 instead of their TeFo. They add their Sta and roll and dividing.
This gives you exactly you wanted even it doesnt fits to ArM.

I agree with you Ovarwa with erasing the vis but it helps simplify the game first of all. You can think the healing spells are nonhermetic origin and need no vis. :smiley:
Your free flexible formulaic magic idea is also good.

Do not play with spell levels because they affect everything in the game.
Except: you can lower the level of some killing spells e.g. PeCo. It is possible killing someone or making unoffending with other arts at low level (15) but with this combo it is lvl 35 with touch!

I also missed the part about wanting to bump up spont magic but not formulaic. How about giving everyone the life linked spontaneous magic virtue?

You'd give the characters one or two additional magnitudes to all of their spont spells but you'd make them pay for it.

There are some good suggestions on here. Thanks.

I like this. It is, I think, the easiest way to do what I want. If we were going to be running a 60 year saga, it might create problems, but that's not going to be an issue for what I am doing.

Maybe, I'll just make them a covenant of Diedne. :wink:

Actually, I find the setting of ArM5 to be balanced with the power levels of ArM3 and ArM4, but not ArM5 itself. In the current setting, mages are EXTREMELY powerful. They are NOT powerful when they leave apprenticeship (at least not much) but number crunching can boost you to a level where not having a flying city and power levels to laugh at anything short of Archangel Michael on a Godly mission makes you a pitiful underdog in front of your peers. In opther words, igf you do not introduce massive power levels or God himself taking an interest in magi, there is not much justification under the current rules to pervent high fantasy on the magi's part.

So, IMO the setting does not sustain this level of high fantasy for the most part, but the rules do. The power levels of magi skyrocketed in this edition. I deeply dislike it, but it is what the rules say.

So, as Erik suggested, use older characters.It just fits your concerns like a glove. We went the other way around and reduced the levels of all books and vis availability in half. Works for what we intend to do. We have a level 17 book (quality 5) that is the envy of the whole OoH.



please tell me if you have problems with the ArM power level why John should run a similar campaign like you do?

He shouldn't. I already said this. I was just ilustrating my point and changes we introduced as a onsequence (footnote).

What he should do is play older magi following canonical ArM5 rules as Erik suggested. That solves his problems in one neat swing.



I agree. I've tinkered a bit with old maguses, and things can get frighteningly powerfull. A skilled verditius can very easily make items that launch Penetration 100 pillums at will.

Nonetheless, this is not much a problem IMO, as a troupe can easily decide the starting power levels of maguses, as well as the rate of progression.

Well, it is a problem if it makes the setting inconsistent. And this is what you find easily. :confused: This is what bothers us: if you do not tone down the p'laying parameters substantially (we have done that) the power levels of the average NPC covenant would make the setting inconsistent as mentioned above. Their power belongs to high fantasy while the setting belongs to low fantasy literature.



Regardless of the implications to the setting (which may have been a problem for some time) I've got to disagree that power levels have skyrocketed in this edition. Power levels have taken a substantial hit in this edition. The xp gained from studying, from books and from adventure have all taken a sharp decrease. The xp in a starting magus character has dropped. Simultaneously - the xp required for spells and the power of magic resistance has grown.

If there is a disconnect between rules and setting it is smaller in fifth edition than it was in fourth. I suggest that you house rule item penetration and the mistake that Verditious elder runes is then try and construct a logical argument about how power levels have increased in fifth verses fourth. I imagine that you'll find the task quite difficult. (If not, come back and show your argument to me and change my mind.)