Unravelling the Fabric of [Form] - problems

Salvate, Sodales!

I'm having some issues with the aforementioned spell. As written, it takes no effort to make a (specialist) mage that can dispel up to level 50 effects right out of gauntlet. That probably means he can get rid of 95% of the Aeges in Mythic Europe as a brand new mage, if he so wishes. Give him 10 years experience and I suspect you can actually have a mage that casually knocks down the Aegis of Durenmar (although that may take ceremonial magic to pull off). It may be just me, but that seems to rather undermine one of the core premises of the ArM setting - that covenants are effective means of mutual protection for mages.

Am I misreading the efficacy of the spell, or is this a known problem, and usually either houseruled or ignored under a guise of "suspension of disbelief"?

As a conjunct to the problem there is the spell "The Enigma's Gift" (CrVi 30, core rulebook), which is a very powerful form of direct attack. It allows for an effective specialist that is far more damaging that most other single-Form mages. Even if you lean Unravelling only for a few forms, you're likely still in good shape, since many Forms are rarely encountered. Certamen solves many issues (since such a mage is likely known for their specialty), but it's not always honoured, especially during Wizard's March. And the Aegis problem is especially crucial during those exact moments.

Some players house rules this requiring a ritual spell to dispell a ritual spell. Besides in wizard's war context, breaching this spell if the whole covenant is not your legal target may be considered depriving your (out of WW) sodales of their magical property, thus giving ground to you being Marched.

The enigma's gift: yes sure against a magus it's efficient... or not, because it's one of the spell you certainly will learn, if only to have a Magical Resistance mastery. My magus did it even if vim is nowhere my strong point. Having a decent parma magica + a bit of vim, doubling it means penetration may be an issue. Besides, if you succeed at sending your opponent in twilight, you have not won anything. The month of wizard's war may pass, and you gain nothing. Yes you may have stolen him, but you will face retribution if needed, and this time you may be the magus surprised because nothing in the game prevent anyone to be almost able to penetrate magic resistance of anyone.
Magic items for the poors with a lot of penetration (charged item), or penetration multipliers, mundane traps, political traps...

Nowhere is it sure that he will come out of twilight in the month, nor if he goes out, does the rules say he reappears exactly where he stood while he was sent. And if he comes back having understood, he may have been changed by the twilight, and if warped enough, maybe even learnt the spell which sent him in twilight, and maybe even had the mastery magical resistance won by a positive experience. It is not something I never have seen because it makes a lot of sense for the SG to say "you understand why you went to twilight, learn the spell, and learn how to never suffer it again"...

The magic sytem with the "ON/OFF" effect of parma magica doesn't give the game a "fantasy fight" feeling. We are nowhere near the fantasy books or stories in Ars magica. Best way to kill an opponent is to stay hidden in your tower, behind an aegis, or better in an unknown location, using an arcane connection to trigger a spell with an arcane connection.
You certainly can use a wizard's communion process so that your "killing spell size=50 (or (C))[/size]" level 50 is only counted as level 5 for a +45 penetration bonus (and you can maybe have a x5 multiplier... and if you have taken the time to prepare yourself you certainly have a mastery penetration of 1 (or better 2), and should by principle have 4 or 5 in the ability itself).

Against such strategy, the other will use one and certain strategy: be somewhere where the arcane connection is cut: magical realm, twilight, arcadia, some regios (depending on your saga principles on that points).

Ars magica is not, and I think will never be, a fun game about this thing. It may however be interesting to treat what happen next: how will you deal in the next tribunal the charges of breaching the code, or the new retributional wizard's war, or the political moves of the amici of your ex-rival, etc.

That's only my opinion.

Aegis of the Hearth should protect itself . Either the Unraveling the Fabric of Vim spell is cast oustde the Aegis, and it counts as a spell cast toward the Aegis or it is cast inside the Aegis and the penalty to casting totals apply

It should, but I feel the numbers don't bear it out. Flat-out dispelling the Aegis is very doable, if the will is there.

I'm thinking that making it a ritual to attempt to dispel a ritual might be enough. I am still concerned that the required spell levels to affect most Aeges are too low, but at least the cost will bo somewhat significant.

Would you all say that leveraging a flat penalty on attempts to dispel not-quite-hermetic magic is appropriate? The logic being, obviously, that spells created through breakthroughs or integrations that are not fully understood are harder to affect by purely hermetic magic. This would also affect such spells as Whispering Winds, of course.
Due to the description in "Unravelling", you could even claim that the "Aegis" spells require a [Form] all their own, being not purely hermetic. That means that being known for learning "Unraveling" this way (ie, aimed solely at dealing with an aegis) would cast a grave suspicion on the magus, and that might be enough restriction to make it less of a temptation for Julius Q. Publicus, the journeyman mage with a grudge.

Even if "unravelling" is not usable against the aegis (which is not RAW) the wind of mundane silence would still work and for any prepared magus it's just a question of time or amici. But yes, it multiplies the time. The x2 guideline may mean you necessary need a ritual because of level 51 or more of the spell

Unravelling the fabric of Vim Level 50 against an Aegis of level 40.
Do the math.
You could dispell if you beat 40 compare to 60 + 1 dice. Easy but not. The Aegis defend himself. Your penetration had to be more than 40.
It would be very difficult. Your magus could use vis to boost penetration if you have Perdo 40 and Vim 40, 10 in magic theory and 5 in energy and no aura.
Incant total = 40+40+5 = 85 points
85 -50 = 35 penetration. To the outside is not easy but quite possible for a very very good magus.
From the inside of the Aegis :
Incant total = 85-50-20 = 15 penetration Your spell don't dispell the Aegis.
If your magus have a 10 in the penetration ability it is very difficult.
Conclusion Aegis of the Heart is a very good spell.


In Tales of Power, in canon, there's a spell, Breaking the Shield, to specifically tear down an Aegis. It's formulaic, level 25, and it does have to penetrate, the text makes it clear it's designed to zap away a sixth magnitude Aegis of the Hearth.
The thing is, it's a Sight spell; make it Touch, and that means a 15 PeVi spell can bring down a 30th level Aegis. Oops! The shield-breaking magus relies on Wizard's Communion to make the Aegis's destruction a sure thing.

So yes, Unravelling/counter spelling/PeVi in general is a pain...to other magi. I don't see why that is so problematic. It might provoke political maneuvers, mundane attacks, Certamen, or even being ganged upon by a couple-or three!- melee combat-capable foes, all can lead to interesting stories/sessions, right?

Unravelling might also be less effective when dealing with spells, after they are cast, that create a lot of something (a raging river, a rain of venomous snakes, a large pack of size +2 Wolves, a giant swarm of bees, a group of massive boulders on the deck of your boat). YSMV.

Ars Magica doesn't seem to me to be just about that particular specialist magus terrorizing other Magi and making them regret all their life choices: a lowly Animal vermin-focused specialist could probably also be very dangerous and frustrating as a foe.

And it's not about arena style combat either. Unless that's your thing.


There's a similar spell in Contested Isle and, in my campaign, a maga only a few years out of Gauntlet (one with Weak Parens, no less!) was able to take down the level 25 Aegis of a newly-forming covenant. Taking down an Aegis is something a magus can do, if they choose to learn the spells.

I think the stories begin when you become known as a magus who takes down Aegis: the social and legal ramifications and fallout of that act.

Indeed, because blowing down a covenant's Aegis is a clear case of "deprivation of magical power" if there was even one!

Last I understood, correct me if I'm wrong, I thought spells that affected other spells had to be Voice range, or is that just for the Muto spells? Serf's parma, but I'm away from my books. Having trouble understanding how one can touch or see an active ritual spell that is invisible... So that fails the perception test, to some degree...

I think Aegis is unusual in this case because there's plenty of canonical support for a magus being able to feel the effect of the Aegis upon himself when he is in it. So, in that respect at least, you can perceive the spell enough to target it? But that's just my understanding.

As the "deprivation of magical power," there are so many exceptions to this in Hibernia, it's almost silly. If someone tries to steal your covenant's cattle, for example, they have forfeited their immunity under the Code and you can do literally anything to them, just as if they had entered your sanctum. The particular example in my own saga occurred during large-scale Wizard's War, when a couple of Hibernian covenants decided they didn't want another new "English" covenant dirtying up the Isle.


This has already happened with Parma Magica, which isn't effective against indirect magic, is rarely effective against a specialist with decent penetration, has a completely well-known and unplugged security hole in that it doesn't exist at sunrise and sunset...

But only against other Gifted mortals. Tossing a few Warping Points at a magus takes him out of the combat: He either has to concentrate or goes into Twilight. Doing this to a normal person might have long term effects that won't matter in the short run.

Still, a hoplite specializing in dealing with wizards, hermetic or not, might do well to Master a spell like TEG. (Of course, doing the same with an ordinary spell like IoL will also be pretty effective. :slight_smile: ) OTOH, a Criamon pacifist can freely cast the former.....

"I am sending you to study at the feet of Criamon himself. He is your master now...." (5x multicast TEG...)

(CrVi is also a useful TeFo for distilling vis.)



I would like to point out how nice it is to have a constructive, polite and respectful discussion like this.

With that out of the way, I don't expect dispelling to be a huge issue in our chronicle. We have sufficient issues with a religious cult, a renegade hermetic wizard and some supernatural creatures that our Aegis is of prime concern, and that made me look at what could be used to defeat it - kind of playing Team Red in handling security. We currently pay for a level 60 casting tablet every year, and that, surely, will stop most anything that might like a nibble of a spring covenant - if one that is moving to summer at a decent clip. Bit of an investment, but it does make you sleep a whole lot better, for sure.

Talk with your troupe about the tremendous consequences of botching with a casting tablet. I suspect most covenants handwave such a thing, but if you are casting from a casting tablet every year, a botch would become a question of "when" not "if," and the number of botch dice will be very, very high. You might find a story in that.

Casting tablets for an Aegis are normally problematic because the Aegis needs to penetrate to be effective, and magi using a casting tablet normally have Arts too low to penetrate anything. But your troupe may handwave the need for an Aegis to penetrate, or your casting tablet may be for a level 30 spell with 30 more penetration built into it (a casting tablet like this is found among the covenants in Through the Aegis). If you're using Wizard's Communion to cast from the tablet, the risks from botching become even more, catastrophically, extreme.

To destroy a L20 Aegis of the Hearth with an Unraveling the Fabric of Vim, you want to have a L15 spell to have a 50% cance of destroying the Aegis, and thus you want a casting total of +30 before the dice roll to have a 50% chance of penetrating. That is for a 25% chance of destroying the Aegis. Unless you are extremely specialized, that is a hard casting total to get out of gauntlet and if you are that specialized, I don't see what good destroying the Aegis odes, you don't have a lot of other nasty spells to cast.

Interesting! Can you give a reference? I've always assumed that you can start raising a parma and "finish it" as the previous parma expires, so there's no hole.

Most magi could probably calculate sunrise and sunset easily. It's doubtful that magi are always awake at sunrise, though.

In our saga, the sunrise/sunset is what defines the day of a magus.

He rises with the sun, go to lunch, work, go to lunch, work, sees the sun setting, go to lunch, go to sleep. Restart.

The reference I know about is HoH:TL 143, the new Virtue Nyktophylax:

"Nyktophylaxes, 'night guards', are magi whose magic of Sun duration fails at noon and midnight, rather than dawn and dusk. Their name comes from their role as sentries during the Schism War."

Caveats: yes, I realize this does not mention Parma explicitly, nor does it say you can't put your Parma up as it is fading, and thus never be unprotected. But it's implication -- that there were magi whose Parma ends at midnight, not dusk, and these magi guarded everyone else as they re-erected their Parma -- was always clear to me.

But there is a huge problem with this line of reasoning, and it's not from your end. Sunrise and sunset are supposed to control when effects such as Parma Magica end. Yet somehow all Parma Magica effects must end at exactly the same moment regardless of where you are for what is written about the Schism War to make sense. So there is no way to actually piece all of the statements about the Schism War and Parma Magica together in any way that follows the rules and obeys logic.

The result of this for me is that I take all the statements as rough estimates. Most of the Diedne magi were near each other, so most their Parma Magicas fell at about the same time. Also, most magi probably don't spend every evening/morning reestablishing their Parma Magicas so they'll avoid a gap. The result is that a huge portion of House Diedne could be wiped out by a single, well-timed magical attack. Also, since the attack presumably had to get through an Aegis of the Hearth as well as deal with those with Form resistance in the 30s or 40s or Familiars with high Might, it probably had substantial penetration, enough that weaker Diedne who were elsewhere and still had their Parma Magicas up got hit.

But once we've got this to make sense of other comments, we see there is no need for Parma Magica to have a gap to make sense of the night guards.