Unhappy with Vis uses in AM5

I hopped on the Ars Magica bandwagon during the steady decline of the 4th edition (I believe I was a High School Junior back then). I was enamored by its glorification of magi (as I always carried an RPG bias towards wizards), and moreso its use of classical Latin...I was even amazed that the pronunciations were correct!

"Huzzah! No anglicization of Latin! No more hearing Tremere pronounced "truh-MEER!" (I got stuck playing alot of White Wolf)

Anyhoo. One transition I DIDN'T like in Ars 5th was the (IMO) neutering of raw vis.

In 4th, you could use raw vis to make, for instance, material made with creo spells permanent. Lovely...I can make healing potions in the lab. I can also quickly tend to wounds if I have some vis in my pocket.

Now, healing spells and such are rituals.

In a game, my character once had his arm chopped off. He grabbed the arm and placed it at the shoulder, instantly melding it back together! (With the help of a nice spontaneous Creo Corpus spell roll and a handful of magic powder) ...and much to the horror of those watching.

With these new rules, no one can do that anymore (unless I'm missing something).

I'd like to restore that use of vis as a house rule.

I still want to maintain some game balance without removing the option entirely. Anyone have any suggestions on how to go about doing that?

Hi Kazin,

Lot of things were changed with 5th ed. I guess changes will always divide people. Personally I am very glad we got the 5th, and the revival of Ars in general, but I started some editions back and my current still-running sage was run with 4th ed rules when 5th was published, which is why I haven't yet completely changed to the 5th edition rules. We are getting there gradually though. One of the things we took in immediately was the new magic system - it really is much more stream-lined and accessable - and that meant redefining what was and what wasn't possible with magic. One of those things were the former dual Ranges/Duration/Target of most spells (one of them being the permanent healing spells)- a remeniscent of this is found in the Flexible Magic Virute or the House Mercere chapter in HoH:TL. The need to make a ritual to make things permanent took some getting used to, but now I am actually quite fond of it. I reckon it is a matter of preference but I do find that that anything as epic as fusing an arm back on requires a ritual is quite fitting. And still very impressive and jaw-dropping.

Mind you it is still possible to instantly close any wound, even on a battlefield, impressing any witnesses as you please. Even if the standard spell in the core book only describes the ritual versions of instant-heals, you can with spont. or formulaic magic still instantly heal wounds with a duration. That would make you able to fight on, and scare the living daylights out of people, but after either Diameter, Sun or Moon time the wounds would reopen. But hopefully you will by then be safe - maybe even have the vis and know the proper rituals to make a permanent healing. And most of all, the people you might have intimidated will not be around to see you arm fall straight off again. Off course putting an arm back on, because you need to add duration to the spell level, requires a higher mastery of the involved Arts, which isnt that unfittingly either.

I have had my most issues with the general effect of vis and earlier I started a threadon this with a discussion on the level of the bonus on vis boosts in 5th ed. I couldn't really see the need for reducing it from 5 to 2 when boosting your spells - for me it isn't a question of how much is doable with vis (the powerlevel) but that I missed the nice touch that rules and setting came nicely together. Ingame magi do not talk of levels - their reference is Magnitude, and I think it is great to have terms to use in game (as opposed to between players) that have a reasonable background. A Magnitude was both the needed vis in a ritual and the added bonus of using vis in your regular spells, thus the magi could use this term. The discussion in that thread was mostly on the powerlevel more than the fusing of setting and rule mechanics. For now I have kept the 4th ed +5 to spell rolls and decided that I would rather keep the old bonus, bc of the setting effect, and then adjust the powerlevel by controlling the amount of available vis. You might opt to do the same - but out of the power of vis and what is possible. For your magus it would also be easier to reach the higher level needed to fuse and arm back on, with the added Duration, so a higher effect of vis would certainly help you out.

Of course they can. They'll just have to deal with their arm falling back off in a few minutes or at sunset or when both the full moon and the new moon have crossed the sky.

I never liked the way vis boosting of spells for duration worked in previous edditions. It didn't seem balanced from the perspective of spell design and I personally had a problem with new players not understanding that the duration after the slash was for vis boosting not just a choice dependant upon their whim.

But that doesn't mean that there's not a way to do it that I would like.

I think that a good way to reinstitiute vis boosting for healing and the like is to work up a spell mastery option for creo spells of duration sun or longer to become momentary creations of natural things when they are cast with an approprite quantity of vis.

I agree - if wanting instant Creo healing - this is a very elegant solution. Especially since it incorporates and uses the 5th ed stream-lining.

I second the motion. I'm a big fan of simple solutions and this is one I like. While I actually like the Ars 5 rules as they stand I can think of a number of people in my troupe that would enjoy this solution and if the majority wanted it I would run with it.


I like that vis boosting does not exist anymore. It was inconsistent and problematic in terms of game balance. I like that raw vis is now less useful in general, and that healing is less easy in general (requiring a Ritual rather than an instant spell). I think it adds to the difficulty of healing (and the owe of supernatural healing), and to the dangers of combat, both ArM staples.


I agree. But given the circumstance of Kazin prefering ways to do healing easier, these are fine solutions.

How do you feel about Vis being changed from +5 level boost to spells to a +2 level boost?

It seems like a pretty big neutering, too. My earlier game never had much vis burnt in this way, since it was too valuable for research and magic items, but aparenlty someone thought it was too powerful the old way.

What with the general upping of casting totals, I was really suprised by this, and I can't imangine anybody using Vis for this purpose in my current game.

Gratias, Sodales!

Many thanks for the suggestions.

Please don't misunderstand me. I love Ars Magica 5th. In fact, I find the rules in 5th an easier read. Perhaps that is because I'm a decade older than when I first read 4th.

After thinking about it, I feel that the +2 to spellcasting that Vis gives does seem a bit weak, and, as was said before, feels a bit awkward given the ingame sense of magnitudes. I don't really see why +5 is such a big jump at this point. Can anyone speak for the other side, explaining why the old method was viewed as too powerful?

I created a thread raising this question a while back - you can read some good arguments in favor of the +2 bonus on it here

Myself, I have decided to keep the old +5 bonus, but to monitor closely the powerlevel and the amount of vis in circulation, to avoid some of the possible problems highlighted in that thread.

Hmm..that was an interesting thread, but in the end I get the feeling that it is so strongly dependant on an individual campaign that it blocks the appearance of the problem. I believe I usually run vis-poor to moderate style; futhermore, my players usually go for a strong Aegis and at least some magical items/stash for rituals, so the idea of boosting for a single spell seems too painful for them to contemplate most of the time. The lowering vis effectiveness pretty much killed what use was left. So, I think I'll probably follow your example and restore the +5, but be careful.

When my troupe found out that Vis in 5th changed to +2/pawn they stopped carrying it, which isn't exactly the response I wanted. They rarely used Vis except to study (mostly), or do lab work (sometimes) before. I can see that adding +5 to boost penetration is very very good, but adding +1/pawn for Spont spells is very, very bad. Maybe I'll try the house rule that it boosts the +5 for Spont spells (making, after division, + 2.5) and +2 for Form spells.

Honestly, with a limit of twice your Magic Theory in Vis per season, I'm not sure they'll often use Vis out of the lab, every pawn you burn on spells is that much less you can use to boost your arts or magic items in that season.

No. Vis used when casting spells, including rituals, doesn't count towards the seasonal laboratory MT-derived limit. You are only restricted by your art scores.

Ohhh, that interpretation of Angafea's post had not occured to me. I did not understand it in terms of the seasonal limit, but only as a ressource limit in the amount of available vis. That since more vis can be spent in the lab, you wouldn't want to waste your limited vis elsewhere.

What was your intent Angafea?

Hmmm, I guess I missed that one. I thought it was the lesser of both.

I wonder why they aren't additive? I really looked hard after I read this, and can't find where they aren't, what am I missing (beyond my brain, obviously)?

that's right, and Angafea appears muddled.
To spell (!) it out:

if you use Vis in a Ritual spell, or to cast a spell and boost casting total, then you must use Vis matching the Arts of the spell, and within each Art, you are limited to a number of pawns equal to that Art score. In principle, and given a huge and well-balanced Vis store, and the right spell, you could use (Te + Fo + Te-req + Fo-req) pawns of Vis!
The applies separately to each and every spell you cast, whenever cast. (*? Multi-cast spells are, I think, totally independent?)

in parallel with that, you may be working in the Lab to enchant and work with Vis. Overriding the Art limit (which you must still obey, and cannot exceed) you have a second limit of not using more than twice MT in the lab, in one season. Since 2*MT is usually a lower limit than the Art limits, it usually is the one limit that affects you.

TMRE address the 3rd problem - of rebrewing Longevity Potions, noting that creating the LP in the first place is a Lab Activity (2*MT limit), but rebrewing it takes "essentially no time" - we suggest it takes as long as an equivalent Ritual casting and uses only the Art score limit.
In this way, if your parens creates an LP for you, but you must rebrew it, you can do it yourself and not ask parens to do it for you

They should be, yes, but I can see how a SG might rule otherwise.

I do not find a rule about applying the Art limit of Vis use also in the lab, with the only exception of the limit of Vis to be used to prepare talismans, where it replaces the 2xMT limit.
AFAICS, and though this might be mostly academical, the ArM p.81 restriction is to ritual spellcasting only, the ArM5 p. 82f restriction is to spellcasting only, and the ArM5 p.90 restriction is to certamen only.
So the ArM5 p.94 restriction is the only restriction for non-talisman lab projects.

Kind regards,


I do not see any exception in the talisman rules to the 2xMT seasonal lab use limit.

The capacity of a talisman is changed and a magus can open up a talisman a bit at a time unlike other magic items, but there is no statement that they can use more than MTx2 pawns of vis per season on a talisman (indeed if this were so there would be less need for opening up a talisman a bit at a time).