Very Nasty Spell for Apprentices

So my SG and I were discussing things today, and our minds moved to the uglier end of magic. Thinking quickly, I came up with this nasty little piece of work.

Doom of the Magical Migraine
MuTe 5
Base 3 (alteration to metal based on Edge of the Razor
Range: Voice (+2), Duration: Momentary (+0), Target: Individual (+0)

When cast, this spell causes the target's armor, particularly the solid metal of the helmet, to sprout six inch spikes. Growing inward. This would reasonably do a hideous amount of damage without much outward alteration in appearance, aside from the gouts of blood. Ewww.

Even so, it's all of Level 5. Increase the range to Sight and the target to Group and it's still only level 20. Heck, why not give it 2 more increments of Group and hit 1,000 people with it? That's the mangling of an entire army for level 30, as opposed to Ball of Abyssmal Flame.

Moral ramifications aside, that's a lot of bang for the buck.


Technically, I suppose there is nothing wrong wih your spell or argument. IMS, this spell will get an automatic ad hoc +5 magnitudes or so. For game balance, and for being munchkinish instead of mythic.

YMMV and all.


Not a very useful spell for most apprentices - who are not going to get into fights with people wearing metal helmets.
Further - if you want the spell to do actual damage, you probably need to add several levels of complexity, and posibly a requisite or two... Because this is in effect a PeCo spell with a cosmetic effect...

Muto cannot cause damage. At least not directly. yeah, it can be argued that you are not causing damag ewith the muto, only modifying the helmet, but I would nopt eat that

This spell should be creo. Did you remember to add +1 magnitude for metal? Sounds awfully low to me....

I tend to agree with yair here, even if i would NOT increment the level by that many magnitudes. +2 magnitudes are on the order of the day for me, though.

I am a munchkin, but even in that case I consider some things overkill.


Just my two cents:

Muto can cause damage - check out "Hornet's Fire Mu Ig 10" and "The crystal dart Mu Te 10".

Sure it's not direct damage, but neither are the spikes.

As to being in paradigm - the Iron Maiden sounds simillar, though not around untill the 19th century. Maybe a bit brutal for the average mind - but the magi are by no means average.

A few things to point out:

  1. I would hesitate to have a magus cast such a spell. It's just really icky. Not really my style unless things had gotten REALLY out of hand.

  2. The spell, as per the guidelines give under the Razor's Edge, for altering metal are correct as far as effecting base metal, though the book is quite deficient about the reshaping of metal, being more concerned with turning it into other things.

  3. My main point was that this is the spell using the guidelines as written. Nowhere does it say anything about adding x number of levels because a spell is too effective at the given level. If you will remember, I am a noob. My first real play session was just two Sundays ago, so I lack the "legacy experience" that may make such matters clear to veterans. From reading the other spells, it would be logical to assume a +1 or +2 magnitude boost for "fancy effect" but this is one of those cases where "intentional vagueness in the rules" is very much less than helpful.

  4. Of course, the spell doesn't directly do damage with Muto. It simply reshapes an item. Okay, so the results are gruesome, but it's still just changing a shape.

  5. As for who would learn it, no one would have to, not at level 5 anyway. Any apprentice who found himself set upon by mundanes and who had Muto and Terram opened could spont this puppy if the situation were dire enough.

Don't get me wrong, because as I've said many times, I love the game. Having finally gotten to actually play rather than just try to break the system in testing, I love it even more. If I come on a little strong, it's only because I've gotten a bit of an evangelical streak in me now. It's also why the few holes there are worry me. I'm a crossover gamer from mostly D&D in recent years. I'd love to bring more people over, but the vague bits are significant enough to drive away a lot of people who'd otherwise be quite at home in Ars Magica.

What I'd really love to see is for Ars Magica to lose it's reputation of being "that game you need to learn Latin to play." This is a FANTASTIC game, as we all know. Having a bit of vague on spell levels is rather critical if you're a new player trying to design spells and moreso if you're a new SG trying to adjudicate them. So perhaps a guideline somewhere would be helpful. This has been one of my main bothersome bits with the system that is still the best I've ever seen for making magic, but with a little clarification, it could be unstoppable.

Always remember Brian: its spell guidelines[ not spell rules. :wink:

Basically what people are saying is: According to the guidelines, yeah sure. go and kill the Pope with this. BUT according to common sense, such powerful spells are considered to need higher levels added to them ad hoc to maintain some generic equilibrium.

About Muto and damage, remember that Crystal Dart is illegal according to the ruiles: it should be ReTe(Mu), instead of MuTe(Re) since muto cannot cause direct damage, and crystal dart is a muto spell.

Such inconsistencies carry over editions are quite common in games. Ars is no exception.



Crystal Dart sounds to me like it should be MuTe in order to create the missile, but a Rego req in order to fling it.

Of course, Lucius. It's just that for noobs like myself, the guidelines could use more guidelines. :stuck_out_tongue:

I think you're making too much of that statement in the muto description. I believe that by "direct damage" the book rules out a muto version of "wound that weeps". I believe that crystal dart is not doing direct damage to the piece of rock that it targets and is therefore not violating this "direct" damage isssue. (Not that I'd have a problem with the spell being ReTe(Mu) I just don't see the same problem with MuTe(Re) that you do.)

if you want MuCo versions to kill, go for MuCo his heart into a hand. No requisites. he dies. IMO either the statement "you cannot cause direct damage with muto" is flawed, or you can't do that. I tend to agree with the former.



Clearly, we know different apprentices. :wink:

That being said, I don't think I'd allow muto to press through the victim's skull unassisted, it would need either a rego requisite or a couple levels to do a "violent transformation" or some such.

Remember, the muto aspect of Crystal Dart doesn't do any damane, the rego does.

Agreed about not knowing the same apprentices, too. To my mind, the first duty of a master would be to ensure that their apprentice survives to be a magus. That would mean (A) sheltering them or (B) teaching them what they need to survive. Option B would also serve them well after apprenticeship.

I worry about blanket statements about magi. After all, the skills pertinent to life as a Bjornaer magus would be, I should think, quite different from those of a Bonisagus. Generally speaking of course.

That said, I would expect some self-defense skill from anyone from Bjornaer, Tytalus, Flambeau, or Tremere. The rest are a bit more variable, but violence is part of human nature, as is the desire to protect oneself.

The apprentices I know tends to annoy people without helmets...

Agree with this. This spell works great - as long as nobody is wearing the helmet... If someone is, the spikes will not pierce skin (that would require a requisites for Pe & Co, and several levels)

I don't see why it would require anything. The spell alters the helmet to have spikes on the inside, they don't "grow" they just are there. And since the helmet is occupied then they are "there" in the persons skull. He or she dies..end of story.

Killing mundanes with magic is trivial...its boring...its no test of can at best score style points.

Its possible there might need to be modifications to the spell levels to account for things but likely not. A single cast of Arc of Firey Ribbons killed every weasel critter in I don't see this spell as particularily special.

The point is that you don't want to 'just' change the helmet - you want to hurt the person inside. The spikes have to displace parts of a person's skull - That isn't really taken into consideration when designing the spell...

Killing mundanes may be simple, but this spell isn't that simple...

No you just change the helmet to have spikes...the harm done is incidental and they are just there...there is no intermediate stages...well at least not according to my story guide. If your head is in the same place tough luck to you. But making the spell difficulty conditional on if there is a head in the helmet is beyond silly.

If you don't like the spell don't allow it in your saga but frankly I don't see how it is any different then MuCo "blood to acid" or any number of other ways to kill large numbers of mundanes with magic.

The only thing in the past that kept stuff like this from happening was the fact the Order was trying to keep its existance a secret and that meant the mages tended to be low key when mundanes were around. Remove that limitation and this is what you get. shrug

Blood to acid: that would be a Co spell - affecting a body, and bodily fluids... (btw - I belive that included requisites for the acid as well).

The spell isn't simply difficult because there is a head in the helmet, it is difficult because there is something that can't move out of the way in the helmet. Would you allow this to work if there was a massive gemstone in the helmet? That would be, from the magic's point of view, pretty much the same thing - only easier, since a gem would be of the same form as the spell...