Underwater Maga

Having recently acquired the ArM 5 core rules, I'm trying to create a maga who lives and works as much as possible underwater. This is currently a purely intellectual exercise, although they might see play one day. I don't have access to most of the splat books, including (probably most importantly), Covenants, Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults or Realms of Power: Faerie.

Current thoughts:

Aequora ex Merinita

Characteristics: Int 2, Per 0, Str 1, Sta 2, Pr -1, Com -2, Dex 2, Qik 1

Size: 0
Age: 26 at end of apprenticeship
Decrepitude: 0
Warping: 0
Confidence:1 (3)

Strong Faerie Blood (Undine) MS
Ways of the Lakes MG
Quiet Magic x 2 mH
Special Circumstances (immersed in water) mH
Possibly True Friend in respect of a Familiar - I'm not sure if I take this as part of the original virtues and flaws choices, or only later when I start bind the familiar to my maga. Does it depend on what age she enters play? If not, then another minor virtue to balance Faerie Upbringing.

Necessary Condition (touching water) (MH)
Weak Magic Resistance (completely dry) (MH)
Plagued by Supernatural Entity (Undine mother) (MS)
Faerie Upbringing (mS)

Personality Traits: Loyal (familiar) +3, Curious +2

Abilities: Artes Liberales 1 (ceremonial magic?), Bargaining 1 (fay bargains), Concentration 2 (spellcasting), Faerie Lore 3 (water fay), Finesse 1 (aquam), Folk Ken 2 (faeries), Latin 4 (Hermetic terms), Magic Theory 3 (Familiars or enchanting items?), Native Language 5 (faeries), Order of Hermes Lore 1 (Merinita), Parma Magica 1 (aquam), Penetration 1 (aquam), Second Sight 2 (faeries), Swim 5 (underwater),

Arts: Cr: 5, In: 5, Mu: 5, Pe: 5, Re:5, An: 1, Aq: 8, Au 5, Co 1, He 1, Ig 1, Im 0, Me 0, Te 0, Vi 0.

Spells Known:
Mighty Torrent of Water (CrAq 20), +15
Subtle Taste of Poison and Purity (In Aq 5) +15
Clear Sight of the Mind (variant - sun duration) (InAq 15 = Base 1, +4 vision, +2 sun) +15
Lungs of the Fish (variant - personal target) (MuAq(Au) 15 = Base 4, +2 sun, +1 part) +12
Comfort of the Drenched Traveller (PeAq 5) +15
Parching Wind (PeAq(An/Co/He) 20) +?
Ward Against Faeries of the Waters (ReAq 20) +15
Cloak of the Duck's Feathers (variant - doesn't stop working with total submersion) (ReAq 10 (Base 1, +1 touch, +2 sun, +2 very unnatural effect) +15

Aequora was born of an undine mother and an unknown human father. She was brought up in her mother's court, spending her early life amongst the water fay, able to survive due to her mother's spells upon her. When she was eleven, a powerful Merinita maga visited the court. Spotting the gifted child, she stole her away and apprenticed her. At first, Aequora hated the maga, but she soon grew to appreciate the magical knowledge bestowed upon her, and her wish to return to her mother's court faded, though she never fully integrated into human society. Her mother's desire to have her returned never faded, however. Whilst she wouldn't kill Aequora (intentionally), she might attack that and those she perceives as keeping her away from her, or attempt to kidnap her. Aequora in turn doesn't want to kill her mother even if she could, but no longer desires to live wholly in her court and in her shadow.

The general intent of the build is that the maga is substantially better than another mage would be underwater, but quite weak out of it. Underwater, I believe she gets the following bonuses:
+2 to any action (undine blood)
+3 to cast or resist spells underwater (special circumstances)
+3 to any roll that directly involves lakes or their inhabitants. I'm slightly unsure quite how wide-ranging this is - the text specifying that it includes combat rolls makes me think it would include lab totals made in a lake when they have a die roll involved, and it is a major virtue, but I'm not certain.
The two quiet magic virtues should prevent difficulty in speaking underwater being a problem, although I'm not sure how much of one they'd be anyway. It must be possible to design a spell to enable yourself to speak underwater and for the sound to travel "normally", but I'm not sure what it would be. Muto Corpus? Creo Imaginem? Neither seems quite right.

Ideally, I'd like the character to live and study underwater. This has several obvious problems, including the need to keep renewing spells to enable her to breathe and see properly, together with the effect of warping from being constantly under such spells, and the effect of water on lab equipment and particularly spell books.

The first looks like it should be solvable with a familiar. If I understand the rules correctly, any number of effects can be instilled into the maga-familiar bond without causing warping. She can therefore enchant the bond with sun duration 2 use environmentally triggered effects that let her permanently breathe underwater (and her familiar out of water if necessary), see underwater, speak underwater and anything else that looks useful. This will have the side-effect of making her become a bit more fishy with each new power, but I don't think that really hurts the character concept.

I'm not sure what would be an appropriate familiar to get. The only obvious specific aquatic animal that's occurring to me is a frog/toad, which would presumably be Muto Aquam. That has the advantage of being able to breathe and move out of water. Aequora's techniques are pretty evenly balanced, although I might be tempted to restat that. What other animals are there for the different technique/aquam combinations?

The second is slightly more tricky. I'm trying to work out whether it would be better handled by a long duration spell or an enchanted item. Irritatingly, it looks as though Room target isn't quite big enough to affect a base room, since a laboratory must have at least 500 sq ft of floor space and the spell guidelines (for corpus, admittedly) suggest that Room target is only up to about 400 sq ft. A +1 size modifier should handle that for a spell, and she'd presumably have to go up to a x6 modifier for an invested device. This means needing between 12 pawns (wooden lab) to 24 pawns (stone) to open the device to enchantment, implying needing Magic Theory between 6 and 12. The lower end is reasonably possible; the upper looks like the sort of thing only a serious item enchanter would have, which isn't really meant to be her focus. She might be able to get it enchanted by someone else, I suppose, but that looks likely to be extremely expensive and relies on the relevant NPCs existing. I don't really like the idea of a laboratory made out of wood, though, especially underwater. I'm not sure whether I actually need to enchant the room itself; could I enchant an aquamarine (for example) embedded in the wall of the room, and gain both the shape and material bonus that way (give or take cap from MT)?

I'm trying to work out if a talisman is another viable alternative. It solves the opening to enchantment problem, but it seems a bit odd to have a building as your talisman. She also wouldn't be able to take it with her, and would therefore be leaving a giant, probably easily findable arcane connection to her lying about.

The actual spell is worrying me slightly. A permanent (FSVO) version of the immersion variant of Cloak of the Duck's Feathers on the contents of the room should do it, I think. That way anything within the room doesn't get wet. I don't want it to affect Aequora, though - she needs to be wet to do pretty much anything. Will her Parma prevent it if it's cast without penetration, or not? If not, how can I acheive the effect? How do I get an effect that constantly affects anything that's within the room at the moment? I think it's implied in some of the spell descriptions that a spell on a room will affect anything that was in the room at the casting of the spell for the duration, rather than anything in the room whilst it's in the room. I think the latter is what I want. Although if I bring things in with a sun duration Cloak of the Duck's Feathers it might not matter that much that it doesn't get affected until sunrise/set.

Is anyone able and willing to give me suggestions for things I've misunderstood/missed? Do the variant spells work? Is Merinita the best house for her? I chose it as the obvious one for someone with strong faerie blood, but at the moment she doesn't actually draw on her Merinita status that much. Would it be a minor breakthrough to adapt the "Road" target to "River"? Should her parens be up before a tribunal for molesting the faeries? What actually are the penalties inflicted for being underwater? If I don't need the True Friend virtue, what's a good alternative? I'm struggling to think of good minor magical focuses. Affinity with/Puissant Aquam are obvious choices, but are there better ones?

Seems like a fun character.

Greater Immunity (Water/Drowning) seems especially appropriate for this character unless you'd like taming the hostile environment to be a part of her character development.

I, personally, like playing out the search for a Familiar, but True Friend might be appropriate especially if your character is interested in House Merinita (as she seems to be) IIRC members of that house do tend to bind Familiars early...

PS. You failed to list the character's score in Order of Hermes Lore...

Welcome to Ars! :wink:

If that's the sum of your goal, I might suggest rethinking the premise of the character, away from Fae oriented. Mythic Blood, with the "special magic feat" incorporating water breathing (and perhaps movement?), and the Minor Magical Focus likewise water-based (not "Aquam", but "water"), might be a more productive and open-ended approach, removing "fae" from the equation entirely. There are ample myths where "water creatures" (fae or no) sired magical progeny.

Also, I'd lose the True Friend - that's assumed (to one degree or another) if/when a Familiar is found (and doing so usually makes a good story). Instead, take something like Puissant Aquam or Puissant Swimming, or some custom Virtue in an approp' direction.

One example of such would be "Silent Magic, only Underwater" - which would solve the obvious dilemma while not concerning itself with "casting silently out of water" - which may not particularly fit the concept. And give another Minor Virtue to play with. (Alternately, if you take Mythic Blood, the "power" could include being able to speak underwater - and again, problem solved.)

In other games (that shall not be mentioned here), expansion books tend to be centered around power-increase - bigger this, badder that. In Ars, they tend to be very balanced, even while expanding on one particular area. Some nice additions, certainly, and attractive to certain character concepts, but I've never heard of a SG ruling that some are allowed and some aren't for "game balance", since very little in them makes anything go "splat". :wink:

I have a feeling the intended meaning was more in the way that they´re expansion books, ie if you throw something so it goes "splat" it tends to end up alot bigger on the floor or wall than it was before.
At least thats how i have seen the term used, referring to increasing the "size" of a game.


I would certainly drop the True Friend and just have it added while finding a familiar later on.
Might think about adding "subtle magic" as well, not so easy to make gestures underwater, OR get that and the Quiet magic as a single minor virtue that is only in effect underwater.

Maybe change it to "Ways of the underwater" or something? Making it usable also in rivers and the sea but not while in a boat ON a lake.

I would say the Undine heritage takes care of that.

I would not add "greater immunity drowing" in the advantages of a already powerful virtue such as strong faerie blood...

Do you consider it realistic that a half-undine could drown?

Especially one created to pretty much live and work underwater.
I might add some trouble with dehydration, easily getting sunburnt or maybe reduced stamina or something when out of water("like a fish on dry land").

Yes i know SFB is good, however i also consider its description to include things like this as appropriate to the faerie type. Only if its something exceptionally valuable, then i agree that it might need additional Virtues to cover.

I would also say that "drowning" falls more likely under "Lesser immunity" not Greater.
Its too rare/circumstantially limited for Greater.

IMO drowning is one of the 3 worst things to fear so a greater could justify (but i'd go with "greater immunity: deprivation" as i think it has drawing in it)... but YSMV.

For faerie blood, i don't see the problem: it's a human, not a faerie. The "undine can't drown" is already counted in "+2 to all actions underwater".

I've always seen it consistent with "splatting opponents" - that is, characters becoming much bigger and badder than usually possible, and as compared with "expansion material" that is in keeping with the vanilla game balance of any core game rules. So, if you're running a Sci Fi game, material on space stations and planetary colonies might be "expansion" - but material on bionic replacement and weapons might well be "splat", if those go well beyond what is offered in vanilla.

Ars' expansion books tend not to do that latter. They had ample opportunity to when House Flambeau was "expanded", and while much color and some new options were added, no NPC went "splat" that didn't go splat before.

I've never considered a half-undine "realistic" to begin with.

It's a game, and game needs balance (to avoid going "splat", for one).

But within genre, some half-fae would have this ability, and others would not. It's up to the Player how they would build the character - and then up to them to use the game mechanics to do so.

For "Undine Blood"*, Strong Faerie Blood offers +2 to swimming, holding breath, perhaps other related tasks - nothing more. That's where that Virtue ends. Adding a lesser/greater immunity is just that - adding. Just as "Faerie Friend" or "Social Contacts/Fae" or "Latent Magical Ability" would add to it - equally "realistic", but just as equally optional to the chargen.

(* Note that nothing says it's "half-" - that's an assumption. With fae parentage, the usual rules of genetic inheritance would, I think, go right out the window.)


Order of Hermes Lore omission fixed, thank-you (it was only at level 1).

I'm inclined not to put in an immunity to drowning - as you suggested, I quite like the idea that whilst she feels most at home underwater, she does have to work to survive there, and doing so gives her some obvious short-terms goals (and potential for some really unpleasant botches until she gets her familiar, admittedly. Mastering the breathe underwater spell might be a Good Plan).

I agree that the search for a familiar would be a good adventure (although one I'd want to have quite early on in a campaign).

I'd not really considered the possibility of custom made virtues. I don't particularly care about (closer to actively don't want) being able to cast silently out of water, so a single minor virtue that allowed silent casting underwater would indeed accomplish what I wanted at a lower cost. Alternatively, it occurs to me that another way to approach the problem would just be to take a minor virtue that allowed her to speak underwater. Would that work?

"Fluidic Casting (minor hermetic)
You can cast spells silently when immersed in liquid without taking any penalty. If you can devise an effective means of using a booming voice, you gain the normal benefit. The range of Voice Range spells is determined normally."


"Voice of the Nereid (minor supernatural)
You can speak underwater, and your voice carries as it would in air. This virtue does not confer any special protection against drowning."

Hmmm. Maybe "Ways of the Deeps?" I agree I'm more interested in her being able to cast under the sea than I am in her being able to cast sitting in a boat. I'd probably need to define exactly what "the Deeps" means. I only picked "Lakes" because "Waters" sounded like it would be too broad.

That's not a bad idea, actually. The original seed of the character was looking at the effects of undine blood and thinking "how could I actually make that worth anything?", but I'm not that wedded to that aspect of the concept, particularly as I've often not really taken to fae in other games I've come across them in.

A personal range "Lungs of the Fish" is level 15, so can be used speechless and gestureless as the power from Mythic Blood. This is presumably inferior to enchanting it into the familiar bond in that it causes warping if it's up a lot, but has the distinct advantage of not needing a familiar. The minor magical focus I'm still not sure about. Despite the Tremere's minor focus in certamen, I think I probably can't have a focus in "magic done underwater" (or more elegantly phrased equivalent), much as I'd like to. The minor personality flaw I'd probably base off whatever I decided the source of the mythic blood was.

Going the mythic blood route, I'd probably restat as an ex-Misc, taking Ways of the Deeps as the major non-hermetic virtue, Special Circumstances (underwater) as the minor hermetic one and the Necessary Condition (touching water) as the major hermetic flaw. The virtues and flaws would then look like:

Ways of the Deeps MG (ex-Misc free non-Hermetic major virtue)
Special Circumstances (immersed in water) mH (ex-Misc hermetic minor virtue)
Mythic Blood MH
Minor Magical Focus (from Mythic Blood)
Fluidic Magic/Voice of the Nereid mH
Affinity with Aquam mH
Puissant Aquam mH

Necessary Condition (touching water) MH (ex-Misc free major hermetic flaw)
Minor Personality Flaw X mP (from Mythic Blood)
Weak Magic Resistance (completely dry) (MH)
Another major flaw (Driven in respect her ambition to live underwater? Blatant Gift? A story flaw?)

This still leaves me with 4 points of virtues and flaws to spend, but I'm running out of ideas for ones that fit the concept (puissant and affinity with swim could be added, I suppose). Obviously the abilities would need to shift to take into account the affinities and loss of Second Sight.

And I admit that I picked the term "splat books" off someone else without fully (or at all) considering the etymology of the word. Given that they were describing them as "one of the best sets of splat books that I've ever seen (just avoid Mythic Seas) and I'd recommend them to anyone setting their game in Medieval Europe (Mythic or not)", I don't think they were intending to be rude, or at least, not towards Ars Magica.

Yeah, sounds much better and should get what you want.

I was going to say : "Merinitas? Puissant Nature Lore (Water)", but you went with ExMisc. Considering your lab is in a magical aura underwater, it sure beats the 2 xp of Exposure and makes Way of the (Lands) less necessary.

A focus in "Casting underwater" seems OK to me. Or a focus in "water magic" (Aquamancy?) seems OK as well.

The trick will be in what you, the storyguide, and the rest of the troupe agree that actually means in practice. When you've decided what you want, discuss with the other players the sorts of circumstances that you think it will apply in, and the sorts of circumstances that you think it will not apply in. There's going to be no one right answer; the important thing is for the troupe to agree on the answer.

Watch out for Warping on such spells. Warping from spells that you need to survive, and therefore need to be continuously affected by, are going to rapidly cause Warping. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that --- but it is something to be aware of.

What does Nature Lore do? I assume it's something from the Merinita section of Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults?

Several things after reading the thread. Sorry for not quoting, but I printwed and read the thing offline before commenting :slight_smile:

For a start, I like the concept :slight_smile: We have a similar project of a magus around here: an elementalist flambeau with a focus on salt water. he is certainly not half fae (I think he would be horrified at the thought) but shares an interest in water. Being an elementalist he is more prone to mix and match elements (water to fire, water to air, hail of stones....) but the interests are still similar.

For a familiar he is aiming for an electric eel or a sparrow. Depends on how many seasons he spends underwater.

Regarding your design:

MIGHTY TORRENT OF WATER: I would say this one does not work underwater, or has a much reduced effect there. Careful here. :slight_smile:

I also prefer the Mythic Blood route over the Undine one. Being able to breath underwater without gaining warping as stated by Richard is always useful. If not, make sure your lab is underwater but not flooded. Makes for a much less warp-y experience.

Regarding the realm books, the Faerie and Magic books are "troupe aproval" IMS. If tyou want to use anything from them you need to go though the troupe. No firebreathing grogs for us.

Voicer of the Nereid looks perfect IMO. I would not have the slightest problem with this virtue, since it is characterful and is not overpowering at all. There is (was?) a spell that allowed you to talk underwater (voice of the kraken??) via a high pitched moan. IIRC it was in mythic seas or some book like that.

Another good spell to master (besides the one that allows you to breathe underwater) would be one to make you wet. Given your deleterious circumstance it is a good utility spell.

Your character would be much happier in the cold climates of the North and the Brit isles than in the mediterranean for sure. Lots of rain there, which is always good if being dry is a problem for you.

Nature Lore was originally from GotF, but was indeed reprinted in HoH: MC (as the Outer Mystery of the "True Merinita"). I mention this because HoH: MC is currently out-of-print.
Nature Lore offers a number of different benefits, depending upon her score. Most of the benefits accrued relate to the supernatural nature of a specific lake, forest etc, but are also applicable (to a lesser degree) to other environs of the same sort. Actually, embracing the Merinita Nature Mysteries might be a good idea for this character if she's interested in such things (they do seem a better fit than Arcadian, Folk or Illusion mysteries).

Replace this spell with something else right away! Why would this character want a spell that tries to keep you dry?



Hadn't noticed that spell. Indeed, get rid of it immediately!

An underwater attack, something to keep you warm while underwater (but not dry) or a locomotion system for underwater travel would be very appreciated by the character concept, I would say. Remember to be able to have a locomotion system to allow your grogs to come with you if possible. That, or have merfolk as shield grogs. .

Look at the new Mage of Hermes book. There is a Tytalus mage who has some good underwater spells. There is also a little blurb about surviving underwater. You already handle casting the spells underwater with the quite magic but you need to be able to handle the pressure of the water. He has a spell for that.

You only need quite magic 1 time since you took Flawless Magic. you can master all spells as quite and get back a virtue...if you want to of course.

also consider this spell from the Spellwiki

Breath of Life-Giving Water
MuCo(An) Level 4
R: Personal D: Sun T: Individual
The caster acquires the ability to breathe water.
Annikki of Tytalus invented this spell to facilitate her in her hobby of lying on the bottom of cold (indeed, frigid, and ideally frozen) bodies of water.
(Base: 2, +2 Sun)

I can just imagine:

ST: It's pouring, making you and your grogs miserable.
PC: I cast Cloak of Ducks' Feathers on myself.
(Time passes and they become threatened.)
PC: I cast xxx.
ST: It fails.
PC: Oh, ya! I dispel Cloak of Ducks' Feathers.
ST: That fails, too. :smiling_imp:


The spell isn't intended for personal use, but rather on anything she needs to carry underwater without it getting wet (e.g. spell books, once she has figured out a way to get an underwater laboratory working - she'll still need a way to get them there).

Whilst a spell to create enough water would be useful, she has Necessary Condition rather than Deleterious Circumstances, so if she isn't touching water, she can't cast at all (yes, it's potentially quite crippling). Beyond that, I was assuming she could could spontaneously cast spells to create small amounts of water, but might also have a water creating magic item as a back-up.

(I'll make other replies tomorrow)