Ward Thoughts (Not going there, I promise)

Hi all,

This topic is about Wards. Specifically, ring-type wards. As the title indicates, I'm Not Going There. RAW state, repeatedly, that wards have to penetrate. The authors' intentions in and of themselves are clear. This particular post isn't about the debate on whether wards should have to penetrate or not. Rather it's a few of my questions, and a few ideas I have that can make circular wards more powerful than RAW, while still needing to penetrate.

Let me make sure I understand RAW: If I want to make a 'ward,' that's a specific type of spell. asic R/D/T is Touch, Ring, Circle. If it's general level, it affects creatures with Might of up to the level of the spell, provided the spell penetrates. It's therefore within my best interests to try to have the level of the spell and my casting total to be as equal as possible: Ward vs. demons at level 30, but with penetration of 11 is only effective vs. level 11. Ward against Magical Ignem creatures at level 15, penetration 25, is only effective vs. Magic Ignem Creatures iwth might <=15. Ward vs. faerie aquam at level 20, penetration 18, is effective up to 18.

Is this correct so far?

A few more questions: It appears that a Rego Vim ward against mystical creatures will work against all creatures of that realm, regardless of what Form they are attuned to. Effectively, there are two Forms that can ward against a Mystical creature: Rego Vim, or Rego + whatever form that creature is attuned to. Is this right? My phrasing is a bit obscure, so here's an example using the bestiary from the book).

Circular Ward against Demons (ReVi 21, penetration 21), can ward against Michael (Demon attuned to corpus, Infernal Might 10). The same spell can also ward against Polandrus (Demon attuned to Animal, Infernal Might 20). Correct?

A 'ward against corpus demons' (ReCo 21, penetration 21) could ward against Michael but not Polandrus. Correct?

Does this apply to other realms as well?
Can I just have a generic Ward against Faeries, ReVi 21, penetration 21, and have it work against all faerie types? Would this above spell affect both Mateos (Faerie attuned to Herbam, faerie might 10) and Tarlan (Faerie attuned to Animal, might 20)?
It seems as though if I have a high Vim score, I'm much better off using Vim as the
against demons will work against all sorts of demons of any type, regardless of what Form they are attuned to. Is this a correct interpreation? If it is, does it also apply to Magical and Faerie creatures?
If so, I imagine the logic is that Vim (arguably) isn't as inherently, immediately useful as Corpus or Ignem. One of the perks of specializing in Vim, therefore, is ease of warding.
Are my interpretations correct so far?

Next question: Is it allowable, RAW and paradigm, to benefit from multiple wards of different types? Example: On round 1, I trace a 3-foot-radius circle with chalk as I cast Circular Ward Against Demons, level 20. A minute later, I decide to trace a 2-foot, 8-inch radius circle (without touching the earlier circle) and cast Ward against Faeries of the Mountain, ReTe 20. I have not touched the demon ward, so I don't break it. I am now protected by two wards, so I have a good protection against both demons and Terram faeries. Is this permissible?

On to the great debate.
I do believe that the idea of circle wards are important to the Mythic Paradigm, and should arguably be more powerful than simply destroying a creature with Perdo. However, the writers repeatedly said wards needed to penetrate... it was semi-ambiguous in core and they clarified it in HoH:S. Good enough for me.

I have a couple modest proposals to make Circle wards a bit more powerful than they are, while still needing to penetrate.

Allow double ceremonial casting--one for the ring, one for the spell. Here's what I mean: You can ceremonially cast any non-ritual spell, from Sense the Nature of Vis to Chamber of Spring Breezes to Talons of the Winds, as long as you have Artes Liberales, Philosophae, and time. Wards are no exception. So you can certainly ceremoniously cast 'Circular Ward Against Demons,' just as you would any spell (given the above 3 requirements).
The rules state that you may use a pre-existing ring as your ring, as long as you trace it.
I propose that engraving a ring be allowed to be done cerimoniously as well. You can spend a couple hours engraving a ring in the ground, then fililng it in with molten bronze and allowing it to cool. By so doing, that ring grants your Ceremonial Casting bonus any time it is used as a ward. This stacks with any time you use Ceremonial Casting to actually cast a ward spell.

Example 1: Chris the Careful Criamon is away from his sanctum. He feels that he needs to be ready to ward against demons. He casts 'Circular Ward Against Demons' by using Ceremonial casting, taking a long amount of time to trace the ring and cast the spell. He gets to add his Philosophae and Artes Liberales scores to the casting roll, thereby giving him a bonus to penetration.
Example 2: Chris the Careful Criamon wants to protect his favorite tree house from demons. He spends all day digging a one-inch-deep ring a few paces' radius around the trunk. He then pours a bit of molten lava into the groove and lets it harden and seal in. (What do you want from me, I'm improvising :wink:. The ring now adds Chris's Artes Liberales and Philosphae scores whenever any Mage uses that specific ring as a ward.
Example 2a: Chris is being chased by some imps. He makes a mad dash for his tree house and hastily casts 'Circular Ward Against Demons' by tracing his fingertips along the obsidian ring. He adds his Artes Liberales and Philosophae scores once to the roll, since the ring itself was ceremonially engraved. However, he can't add them again for the spell itself, since this particular spell is not being cast Ceremoniously.
Example 2b: Chris wants to spend an entire season in meditation in his treehouse. Taking some snacks, he goes to his tree. He spends an hour, using Ceremonial Casting, to cast Ward Against Demons on the obsidian seal. He adds his Artes Liberales and Philosophae scores Twice: Once for the ring (engraved previously) and once for the spell itself.

Does the above sound reasonable?

I'm also pondering a similar idea with magic items. I don't know exactly how it works, RAW. I can think of 3 options:

  1. Enchant a ring, so that that particular ring gives its Form/Shape bonus to warding whenever a normal spell is cast. The ring itself has no effects, it's simply attuned to a particular effect. (Sort of like a non-portable talisman?) You probably might have to open the ring for enchantment, but dont' need effects as of yet since you're casting said effects yourself.
  2. Open a magical engraving tool, piece of chalk, sharpened staff tip, etc. This gives you a shape/form bonus when used to trace a ring for a ward. Again, the actual ward is provided by the caster, not the item.
  3. Just enchant a magic item and instill a ward effect. Hope that the form & shape, as well as levels you sacrifice to penetration, are enough to be more cost-effective than spellcasting.

Option 3 is the only one that works precisely within RAW.

What are your thoughts? Again, I don't want to rekindle the penetrate/don't penetrate debate, rather to work within RAW to make circle wards slightly more powerful (which in my opinion, they should be).

This is how I understand wards in the RAW. You want to come as close to double the level as possible, ideally penetration=spell level.

I believe this is RAW. However, I boost wards of Rego not-Vim vs. Rego Vim in one of several ways, depending on my mood. Frequently I will allow non-vim wards to gain double penetration, so that you can cast them effictivly with lower casting scores

I would always allow this. I'm not sure the RAW address this anywhere. Obviously, stacking constant mystical effects can be tough on your warping score.

I'm not personally a fan (stress personally) of giving the double ceramonial casting bonus, but i can see where it would be fairly easy and straightforward way of improving wards. I really, really, really like the idea of enchanting a circle to accept a ward, and thereby gain some penetration advantage. I would look at it either as a possible mystery or subject of original research.

Have you tried a Columba mage? If you want someone who is good at wards and circle- and ring-based spells, that seems a good place to start. Or maybe you can just have a character take their special Hermetic Virtue without taking Warding?

Your logic looks sound to me, and I think you're doing everything correctly in your post. But if you don't think Hermetic wards are powerful enough, you can just say that they are better in your saga. It sounds like you're going that way anyway. :slight_smile: Maybe this is because the Columbae technique has been fully integrated into Magic Theory since they joined? In that case, I suggest you do it like they do with Warding, where the spell still has to penetrate with the effect level treated as 0, so that the whole casting total goes toward Penetration Total. Also, I suggest that it doesn't work on non-supernatural beings with Magic Resistance, also like Warding, so that the Aegis remains the best covenant defense despite needing to be recast every year.

I think that your understanding is correct.

1 and 2 are within RAW if the ring or tool is your talisman. The second options seems like a great way to use a talisman attunement.

Another good option for beefing up wards (that is entirely within the RAW) is to use Wizard's Communion.

Also think about where your Ward is. For example, a Ward against Demons works best on holy ground (in a Divine Aura). Although (assuming you are a normal magus) your Casting Total is penalized by the Divine Aura, the Magic Resistance of the demon is penalized by more.

By the RAW, yes. On the other hand, HoH:S and TM:RE both state that Rego Form can summon a spirit of Form regardless of Realm, arguably contradicting the core, so it seems a perfectly reasonable to allow Corpus wards to work on all such critters across Realm.

For myself:

  • I rule the above.
  • I allow Arcane Connections to be used to boost penetration for wards (at the cost of penetration against all other targets being 0) since it seems daft to me that a ward can't be boosted thusly but a Pilum of Fire can even though neither formally target the, well, target.
  • I made the ward guideline a flat level 5, so you only need one ward and rather than recording its level, you record the penetration. This then scales with the caster and can take advantage of ceremonial casting as usual.
  • For the Columbae, I just give them a major magical focus in Wards/Defense and the fact that they can use Circle on arbitrary shaped enclosures seems powerful enough and distinct enough. Their warding was integrated into Hermetic Magic, thank you very much.

As people have already noted, your interpretation is sound. The most efficient wards have a Penetration total equal to the level. We have two house rules that you might find interesting:

  1. Rego Vim can ward against all creatures from a given Realm. Rego (Form) can ward against all creatures whose Might is aligned to that Form. The first concords with canon - there is a Circular Ward Against Demons, a Circular Ward Against Faeries, a Circular Ward Against Magical Creatures and a Circular Ward Against Divine Creatures. However, in our game, the Ward Against Faeries of the Water actually wards against demons, faeries, magical, and divine creatures whose Might is aligned to Aquam. There is no need for a separate spell for each Realm. This bumps up the power of the Form specialist a bit, but means that good warding is not limited only to Vim specialists.

  2. A magus employing a spontaneous ward can adjust the amount put into penetration after knowing the Casting Total. So a magus with a Penetration Ability of 4 and a Casting Total of 18 can create a ward of level 11, with a Penetration Total of 11. Had his Casting Total been 15 instead, he could have a 10/10 split. The difference is that usually when casting a Spontaneous spell you have to state the level desired prior to rolling the die.


  1. That seems a most fair interpretation. I've been mullig about this for some time, because of an event in an ongoing saga. A Faerie aligned to Ignem had been summoned by a Verditius, to help with an enchantment for a ring of warding against faeries of ignem. He died, and the entire covenant as well, most things burned. The faerie was bound until the task was done, but the magus doing it died! Along came we, and a sort of threat/bargain was made with the creature, that we'd finish the enchantment, and it would go away. But I thought a ring of warding against faeries of ignem was somewhat limited.
    But interpreting the guidelines as Vim being one way of 'sorting' the supernatural beings, by realm, and Form as sorting them by affiliation, the ring would protect against Ignem-aligned critters of all 4 realms. A lot more useful. Especially as I have yet to encounter an Ignem faerie. In a saga of course...

  2. For spontaneous wards to not be completely chaotic and most often not very useful, I agree that the caster may simply define the R/D/T og the ward guideline, and roll it up, dividing Level and Penetration as seen fit. Most likely almost 50-50, adjusted for oen Penetration ability.
    Unless said magus has Chaotic Magic Major Hermetic Flaw. He'd have to state the level he guns for, in order to check for whether the magic goes out of control.

Thanks all! These are all very good ideas and may well be incorporated. I particularly like the idea that Rego-Vim-Realm protects against all mystical creatures of all forms, from that realm. Whereas Rego-Form protects against all creatures of all realms, from that Form. I like the symmetry of that :slight_smile:.

I have some weird idea where a breakthrough involves a Matrix. Still working on that. Maybe a Matrix spell automatically wards against all 4 realms as long as you stay in the center, or something like that :slight_smile:.

I might be allowing semi-mobile rings, such as a ring drawn on a ship. I will not, however, allow a hula hoop used as an offensive ward. Despite how hysterical that is :smiley:.

Edit: Are 'Ceremoniously' and 'Ceremonially' both actual words? I pride myself on my grammar yet have no idea which one is correct English.

They're definitely both correct English words. My dictionary suggests the nuanced difference that "ceremonially" relates more to the process of ceremony (the right steps in the right order), while "ceremoniously" relates more to the bearing of the person or the grandiosity of the event. So "ceremonially casting" a spell would mean using knowledge of Artes Liberales and Philosophiae to devise an effective ceremony (which thus increases the power of the spell); "ceremoniously casting" a spell would mean using knowledge of Etiquette, perhaps, and casting the spell like you were being broadcast to an audience of millions (which makes you look more stately) rather than just casting it in your bathrobe at home.

Doing it "Ceremonially'" means you´re performing a ceremony.
Doing it "Ceremoniously" means doing SOMETHING in a ceremonial-ish way.

Thanks, all!

This is only a little thing, but I'd probably allow Wards to be taken as a minor, not major focus, if someone wanted to do it.

I should note that part of my fascination of Wards and circles comes from another RPG called 'Palladium Fantasy,' Every class has its own Magic system. One that fascinated me was the Summoner. He specialized in Circle Magics. There are three types: Protection, Summoning, and Power. I've always been intrigued by this particular idea and thought it would be fun to use th idea of the circle as a powerful summoning tool in Ars.

Side rant: I've always felt that no matter what TT RPG we're talking about, the powers of summoning, warding, and illusion tend to fall a bit short. Probably because they're the hardest to playtest against: It's easier to calibrate specific damage points than to calculate the level of something you can summon, how well controlled it is, etc.

I don't have immediate plans to make a character focusing in Warding. However, a focus in Rego does seem to lend itself well to ward and summoning magics. As a side note, the first time I played Ars, way back in 3rd ed, my character was a telekineticist with a ridiculously high Rego for a starting character. Almost by chance, I realized he'd be a good warder as well. But that's another story, as they say. I also played him in a short 4th ed saga as well a few years ago.

I think it might be amusing to set the players up against an enemy who specializes in Circle Magic. "Grrr... we're going to kill you, if we can just get something THROUGH to you!" And, if he's a true villain and not just an enemy, they'd have to deal with whatever demon he summons as well :smiley:.

HOH S states that wards are a minor focus.

Hi all,

Question: Per RAW, is Ceremonial casting allowed for all non-ritual spells? Or spontaneous spells only? I'd always assumed the former. Have I been reading it wrong?

Ceremonial casting : only spontaneous
ritual casting: only rituals

and there is a mastery (in TMRE) from the cult of mercury for ceremonial casting on formulaic :wink:... but i'm not sure about the name: ceremonial casting... ^^

Oops! Thankee. I assumed that Cermonial Casting was allowed for formulaic and spontaneous spells.

I'm curious, why spontaneous only in RAW? It seems like it would make more sense to be able to take a lot of time and be cautious and methodical with a spell you know (formulaic), rather than one you don't (spontaneous).

"Ok, I really need this water-to-sand spell to work. I have the spell. I know the spell. I have time on my side. I'll take a wicked long time to cast it, to make sure I leave no stone unturned."
That sentence to me seems just as valid as "Gee, I really want to turn water to sand, but I don't know how. I guess I'll just be realyl careful."

No disrespect to the writers intended!

I'm considering making a house rule that Ceremonial casting is allowable for all non-ritual spells (to tie in with the double-Ceremonial ward idea, above). Are there game balance issues that I'm not seeing in allowing players to do this for all their formulaic spells?

Because of penetration?

ceremonial/2 is not much, but for formulaic... ceremonial could be a +10 bonus easy!

The logic is that character already knows how to cast the formulaic spell. He doesn't need to take his time with figuring out how to cast the spell, because he already knows how to cast it. He has already spent a season (or longer) inventing the procedure for casting the spell. Casting a formulaic spell ceremoniously doesn't add anything, it will just take longer to cast the spell.

For another example, think of a cartoonist.

Say the cartoonist that draws Garfield. The cartoonist knows how to draw Garfield. He can draw Garfield rapidly and accurately. He's drawn thousands of Garfields before. Taking his time, searching for inspiration, is not going to make any difference. Garfield is a formulaic cartoon, the cartoonist knows the formula for drawing Garfield.

Say, that cartoonist now wants to draw a cartoon of a talking pot plant called Henry7 that lives in the bathroom of an intergalatic hotel. The cartoonist has never drawn Henry7 before. Taking his time, thinking about what he wants to do, searching for inspiration will make a difference this time. The cartoonist does not know the formula for drawing Henry7. He is drawing Henry7 spontaneously...or at least he is until he learns/invents the formula for drawing Henry7.

I like your explanations!

Let's Bookmark it :smiley:

I dislike your explanation, and here's why - a magus invents a handful of spells. He then attunes a talisman. By your logic, his talisman cannot provide aid to his formulaic spells because when he invented them, he didn't work out how to involve it in the casting process. When the aura changes, his spells no longer function because he didn't take into account the influence of the Divine when doing his research in a Magic aura. As I understand it, ceremonial casting involves invoking natural magic and phenomena appropriate to the effect to make casting. The greater understanding that formulaic magic and the research it entails would provide should positively aid ceremonial casting as you don't need to spend time working out what the appropriate ceremonial actions are. The fact that ceremonial casting is required for Ritual spells just makes the disconnection stronger. Ceremonial casting gives you a small bonus at the cost of taking lots of extra time which seems perfectly reasonable. Inventing a spell as a formulaic must provide understanding rather than rote casting, because were that the case, Flexible Formulaic Magic would be impossible, as would casting without words or gestures. Likewise, the Ceremonial Mastery option would be rather odd whereas as is I believe it to be redundant.

To borrow your cartoon analogy, a cartoonist draws a cat. Then he draws a slightly different cat with a hat. And a cat with a stick. But after a seasons work, he can now draw Garfield. By taking his time and getting the relevent pens together, he can now draw garfield with a nice hat, a hockey stick, a plate of lasagne or Jon. In every case, it is recognisably Garfield and not a generic cartoon cat, but it is tailored to the panel desired.

I don't know why the RAW forbid it, presumably on game balance issues, but I don't find it at all unbalancing. It has no effect on combat spells or spells in most social situations, so it really only applies to things like wards, summoning spells and spells with long term effects and normally non-specific targets.

A talisman is a piece of vanilla Hermetic magic. The fact that the aura changes when you move into various places is likewise standard hermetic magic theory. Of course, knowing the Hermetic formula for the spell means that he can cast the spell using standard Hermetic magical practices.

To stretch the cartoonist analogy further, the cartoonist can perfectly well draw Garfield with a pen, a pencil, or any other artistic tool he knows how to use. It likewise doesn't matter whether the cartoon is drawn on paper, parchment, canvas, a window, or whatever.

In other words, all sorts of hedge magic nonsense. Which the magus doesn't need and are irrelevant if he knows the formulaic spell.

Knowing the formulaic spell renders the crutches of ceremonial casting irrelevant. Sure, he can muck about like a hedge wizard if he wants to (or possibly if he believes that he must), but he is just wasting time. It won't make any difference to the result. Inventing the formulaic spell is discovering the best way to cast the spell. Invoking natural magic to improve the casting total for a formulaic spell is nonsense, because the formulaic spell is already the best way to cast the spell using Hermetic magic.