The uncoolness of Parma Magica

Yes. I am not arguing for that boulder-above-head works all the time. I argue that PM under the current rules will look ridiculous i.e. stone dropping dead, invisible feathers bouncing of magi, in front of the PM and making pc and npc using anything except the current line spells to circumvent magic resistance.

The "looking silly" issue probably comes down to personal taste - it doesn't particularly bother me, but if it does you then fair enough.

When you say "except the current line spells", which book(s) are you using? There are a number of "School of Vilano" (i.e. using aiming to bypass magic resistance) spells in the Flambeau section of HoH: Societates, as well as discussion of some of the spells in the corebook that can be used that way. Are you including those in your category of current line spells you're not happy with, or do you not have access to them?

I am referring to the core rules. Aiming is a way do bypass magic resistance yes. As aiming a dropped boulder on the head and use gravity rather than shooting straight. I actually did not check out that part of the Flambeau section. I preferred how they looked before, but thank you.

The simple solution is "don't do that". Players and SG alike. If you can suspend disbelief just enough, you can ignore this loophole and proceed as normal.


But with players and SG that understanding we really don't need any rules or dice at all, right?

Any troupe needs to talk how they want to play. That is a given. No rules system survives comparisons with reality or with expectations.

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But with players and SG that understanding we really don't need any rules or dice at all, right?

That is not how I see things. The players and SG should work together to create the game they all want, and part of that is being on the same page. Things like "Just don't do that in this game, that's not the vibe we're going for" are perfectly fine.

Now, in practice things can get spirited and agreements can became untangled so it's better to have a working system than a gentlemanly agreement. I personally tried to tweak the MR system a number of times, but never found a system that really worked for me. My changes tended to be making throwing/aiming things harder, which still left the option viable but was such a hassle it was on-par with throwing fireballs and stuff. Still, the system was clunky and I'm not sure that-much better than the core rules.

I don't find the look of things too-jarring. Just add VFX for the magic. You've got magic lightning dancing along the rock, pushing it forward, suddenly colliding with mystic lines adorned with runes forming a glowing shield just ahead of the magus, stopping the rock in its track. Or, the lightning around the rock suddenly ebbs and stops just as the rock is poised over the magus' head, the rock stands still for a brief moment after which it starts its long, lethal, descent. Yeah, works fine for me. Your mileage may (and it seems does) vary :slight_smile:


It's like that eminent Ars Magica storyguide Potter Stewart once said, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of effects I understand to be embraced within Parma Magica, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it."

I will say that I think a large measure of the problems with Parma Magica is that it attempts a physical/mechanistic definition of what is and is not magic. I think Mark Lawford probably has the right of it in that the solution probably lies in embracing magic as not being strictly delimited: If the boulder would not strike you without magic having been involved, then the strike is defended against. But it will not protect you against being struck by a sword with a pink dot on it, because it is not the pink dot which is the modus operandi of the strike.

Parma Magica should not be seen as a "force field" or as a treatise of legalese to be enforced in a court of law: It is a defense woven into magic itself, and thus as fey and unpredictable as any other magic.

This also moves past the concept of Parma Magica as the "parma force field" or "parma negation field", unlocking the potential for more evocative, strange, and mystical manifestations of how Parma Magica "defends" against a piece of magic limited only by the imagination of storyguide and players.


This is, a boulder thrown with Rego magic isn't subject to MR (though naturally it requires an Attack Roll using Finesse to aim).

It's not explained especially well in the Core book, but basically there are two types of Wards in Ars Magica (not counting Watching Wards and their ilk).

The first type are derived from the magic of the Colubines and does indeed function much like force field in that it prevents the targeted material or creature from passing it - Most Rego-based wards are of this kind.

The second type are represented by the Parma Magica and its cousin, Aegis of the Hearth. These nullify magic itself rather than excluding a particularly type of matter. Since the motive force in The Invisible Sling comes from magic (and Momentum/Inertia don't exist in Mythic Europe), the stone's motion stops the second it makes contact with the magus' Parma Magica.

It is possible to throw the stone as a projectile though this requires an Attack Roll using Finesse, does less damage, and is subject to range limits. It is, however, unaffected by Parma Magica.

The general rule in Ars is that any given attack is either subject to MR or requires an Attack roll. There are two exceptions: Amazonian Sorcery probably represents a flaw in their understanding of magic and Ghost Touch which I think actually allows the caster to choose between the two, but is poorly explained.

This is, a boulder thrown with Rego magic isn't subject to MR (though naturally it requires an Attack Roll using Finesse to aim).

Nitpicking for the general avoidance of confusion, there are (at least) two different ways to throw a boulder using Rego magic. You can continue to guide it magically all the way to the target, like Wielding the Invisible Sling. In this case you need to penetrate, but don't need to aim. Alternatively, you can only apply magic for the initial impetus, like Invisible Sling of Vilano, in which case you need to aim but not penetrate.

I guess the distinction is that I wouldn't use 'throw' to refer to the standard version of that spell as the stone is guided unerringly by magic to strike its target, but yes.

Vilano's version is the one that I would say truly 'throws' the stone in this instance, but yeah maybe that could've been made clearer.

But the 'boulder on the head' trick gets easily overcome by a simple ReTe spell that wards you against rocks. You don't even need to know how to do it, pay someone to invest a magic item with the spell and enjoy. Hell, even a spontaneous casting of ReTe (or PeTe) could help you avoid said rock. Everything has its counter in this game!

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Interesting. But if the invisible (but real) sword is resisted so is the (real) sword with the magical pink dot on.

A lot of people are referring to the Vilano-paradigm. If that actually works so good why is that not in the core rules? Why bother with a lot of explanations why a BoAF doesn't work when it works well in a supplement?

Best read HoH:S p.29f The School of Vilano. This school replaces Puisant Ignem as the bonus Virtue with Puissant Finesse or Cautious with Ability (Finesse), and is introduced as (p.29): "The School of Vilano relies on indirect attacks that bypass Magic Resistance. An example of an indirect attack is using magic to levitate a rock over someone’s head, then dropping the rock. Several examples of indirect attacks are given in ArM5, page 86."

Indeed. That goes back to my original post. The cool spells turns out to be worthless critter-killers. Why bother about them in the core rules?

It does. Why does this bother so many people? Ars Magica isn't really about combat - unlike That Other Game. It's about powerful magi, and the consequences of the choices they make, neh?

Iterative writing process. Someone had to come up with the school of Vilano. And since the mechanics of magic resistance (or rather, of penetration) had changed from previous editions, someone had to think about the problem and solve it.

BoAF is still BoAF. It hasn't changed and doesn't interact with the ideas in presented by Vilano.

Cool? We may not have the same idea of what is cool.
Mostly, critter-killers are boring.
But since you ask, most of the spells in the corebook are there, because they were there in previous editions. Unlike many of the spells in HoH: S.

Indeed! This is just a typical fast-cast defense.

If ArM is about combat or not is really a troupe decision. However, ArM does have a lot of combat rules and a lot of spells are about combat. I would say that (with some modifications) it has rather good combat rules.

As for "cool" spells. The authors of ArM probably thought they were cool otherwise they would not have bothered writing them down. If I start a new campaign with the current rules I need to tell my players that a lot of spells are actually not working. This also needs to be reflected in what type of spells that magi use in the setting and what is written down in books. We are looking at a different game.

I also think, like some people already said, that the 'cool' spells can be used with enough penetration. I mean, take a fairly standard spell, like Pillum of Fire (TM), upgrade your own Penetration skill (it should not be hard to reach at levels of, let's say, 5, though it takes some time), buy a few books about Spell Mastery on that spell (again, fairly standard so there should be tons of books on it). If you learn Multicast and Penetration (among others) you can spam an insane amoun of pilums of fire with a base penetration of maybe 15 or more only taking into account Spell Mastery and Penetration, not your arts score (that could be more).
Does that make easy killing a magus? Hell, no. Killing a magus should be hard and should be lots of preparation and a big conflagration that lasts little. The longer you battle a magus, the longer chances of one of them f*cking up the opponent.