Wards and penetration

Right, have a look, learned people.

and in the same post

Now, while I'm struggling to come up with an effectual argument for my point of view, doesn't it just seem a bit... well... over the top to struggle for a high-level ward to keep the nasties out, and then having to penetrate said nasties MR as well? I know that having wards that don't have to penetrate would make them, like, the only spells in the book that work that way. At the same time, it just seems odd to me that an intruding entity would be able to break through a ward, not by simply being to powerful for the ward to keep out and forcing it aside, but by being so powerful that the ward cannot sufficiently affect it as a target...

I'm starting to ramble I see, but from an imaginary physics-of-magic point of view it seems strange that an already established magical barrier should have to check for penetration when it's A: totally passive and B: already present and in effect. It works perfectly well when no powerful creatures are around, but when a sufficiently powerful creature comes around it doesn't fail, but fizzles due to it's inability to penetrate.

Now, I might be on a wild goose chase here, and if I am please help me wrap my brain around the logic of the matter.

Thanks for your patience.

Gary the Infernal Strawman suddenly lurches to life with all ten of his Infernal Might points giving energy to his previously life-less extremities.

Wanda the Fambeau fires a great Ball of Abysmal Flame at Gary. Easily enough to burn Gary to cinders. But she doesn't penetrate. She's used all her magical force in generating the flame and ignored penetration.

How can that be fair? She's struggled to cast the spell that will do enough to ignite Gary with terminal effect, but to have to penetrate as well?

Of course, you can flip any argument about wards and penetration around and make it seem odd. Suffice to say I'm in the "it makes absolute sense that wards should penetrate" camp. The magus casts a spell. It is either strong enough to have an effect or it isn't.

You know, interestingly, Casting Tablets may provide a nice flavoursome way around all this. My reading of them is this:

You cast the spell from the tablet. This spell may already have penetration built in (I'm assuming that each point of penetration simply raises the effective level by one). In casting, if you miss the target level you still cast the spell but lose fatigue in exchange.

Now, your lowly magus that really needs to keep Gary the might ten straw man away can use the casting tablet. He'll miss the target level but just lose fatigue.

The whole wards thing is such a dead issue as far as I'm concerned. They work the way they're supposed to work. For any that don't like the penetration aspect of spells, you can house rule around them either for specific types of spells or across the board. But I certainly don't see these rules as broken.

I'm not implying the rules are broken, I'm simply venting an issue. I'm sorry you think it's a dead one, but I'm trying to get a hang of the underlying logic here. Thanks for your reply.

Ahh - a familiar ghost... But even if it's an often discussed subject I'm actually still somewhat haunted a bit by it myself - and it's one of the few things I'm considering house ruling.

I'm also in the "it makes absolute sense that wards should penetrate" camp, as Mark puts it - as his example show it makes most sense to apply penetration universally. What has been haunting me is not the penetration bit, but the thought whether things would be easier, and perhaps more logical, if the Base level was given a fixed number rather than a general? I bring it up because it might also address you issue with having to top the Magic Might twice. After much consideration I decided against such a house rule, but it might be what you are seeking.

The thing is, that 5th edition Ars Magica is a rather fine-tuned thing and the developers/writers/editor seems to have taken a lot of pains to keep the rules coherent. I love the fact that basic mechanics match across the books and that the supplements haven't developed to a forest of special rules and exceptions. And with that in mind, and if one uses the various supplement one's house rule can quickly snowball to having to make more house rules up to patch inconsistencies created by the original house ruling. I've seem something of the like happening on several occasions as I took my troupe's running saga step be step from 4th to 5th ed. rules and in the beginning being somewhat hostile to a few changes trying to house rule them away..

Concerning penetration and mythic creatures infernal powers (and maybe even divine ones - Noble's Parma though) often have to double the Might with their totals. Even more appropriate, the columbae tradition (HoH:S) is build on the ward rules as is. I know it might be inconsequental and I know I might never use the columbae, but I would still like to retain the existing option that there are magi out there that can outperform the generic hermetic wards - which underlines both the generic nature of hermetic magic theory and how specialists might very well be better at specific things.

On a completely different notion, even if speaking of wards, I'm still considering whether to descriminate between the effect of circular wards and personal wards (such as letting a person/being attack with weapons against a target affected by a personal ward against them, but not across the line of a circular ward) but that is an entirely different story...

P.S.: I forgot but if interested in this subject I suggest taking a look at page 112ff in HoH:S.

I'm quite certain that the columbae were (re-)introduced by their own reckoning - but also as a suiting opportunity to address the often debated issue of wards and elaborate on the core book RAW.

However, as for me, I will do more than imply it. I will flat out say it.

The Rules are Broken.

There was a big discussion on the Berklist about it, and though David Chart didn't full out admit they are broken, he did award me a No Prize (long story). But he also admited that Wards may be a bit weak. The problem is that, though the design for the base parameters of Wards was changed, the actual strength of the ward is a hold over legacy from earlier editions. Basically, the result is you get "double charged" for an opponent's might.

I suggest the following...

  • Wards based on Might do not have to penetrate. One might say that it is because the person being protected is the target, or that penetration is built into the level, or simply that Wards are a unique quirk of Hermetic magic.

  • Another option is to give a simple flat rate for all wards, say level 15 regardless of might, and require full normal penetration.

  • The idea that one can perform both a ward and a binding with the same spell is over powered regardless. They should be separate spells, each working one way only. Bindings should require penetration, but not wards.

  • if one is behind a ward and tries to pysically engage the subject being protected against, then the ward is broken and falls.

So, to sum up, the rule on wards is indeed broken. The simple way to handle it is to ignore the "wards must penetrate" rule. Most whom I have heard from are doing the same thing.

Now that really is more along what I was thinking. The issue seems to be a bit of a watershed though.

Interesting to be the starting point for a thread, especially on a topic so overly discussed as this one has been. :wink:

I must put the disclaimer that my comments from the other thread from whence this renewed discussion sprang are NOT indicative of my personal sentiments on the matter, merely a "matter-of-fact" explanation of the RAW take on wards and penetration.

For my part, I fall into the "That's ridiculous and counterintuitive, not to mention completely illogical" camp when it comes to the demand for penetration on wards.

As has already been expressed above, I consider wards to be nothing more than magical barriers of arcane energy, nothing more. As with any physical wall, the protection is entirely passive and in no way violates the person of the prospective interloper, it merely stands and bars the way.

Given the added techie argument that the effect of the RAW is to force the caster to match or exceed the MR of any prospective mythic assailant twice in order to gain assured defence, the value of the RAW mechanic for wards is all the more unplayable save for perhaps the precious few who have the right set of min/maxed virtues and specialties or those magi who have reached arch mage level in their Arts.

If running my own saga, I would certainly opt for the house rule that one need only achieve the proper ward level to match or exceed the MR, with no penetration requirement. That in itself would already be a daunting task for most starting or even mid-level magi against the bigger nasties an SG could conceivably throw up against the troupe.

The beauty of Ars, however, is that its authors don't insist that one follow the RAW in every respect but invite adaptation according to the wishes of one's troupe and the requirements of one's story.

It's all about maintaining fun!

[warning - aside comment from new SG]

I'm confused by this discussion. As I read the rules, wards are cast at a level, they then affect any creature with a Might Score less than that level - stopped totally. Where does it mention (or imply, depending on which camp you are in) that you need to penetrate as well.

Perhaps I'm confused by wards.

But how does "double-charged" equate to "broken"? To have a spell that acts against a creature with Might that doesn't need to penetrate, that's broken. It actively and arbitrarily contradicts the more general rules.

All that's needed is a shift in mindset from "wards should be easy" to "wards are hard". Once you make that leap of understanding, you're fine.

And let's not forget that in most cases where the might of the enemy is significant (let's say 15 or above) it will probably be the focus of a story (or that part of the story). So if my ReVi casting total, with the die + aura can only get to 25, I'm relying on the other tools in the magus' toolbox - arcane & sympathetic connections and the Penetration ability. What's wrong with that? The logical comeback is probably something about having to keep track of different penetration levels (with and without arcane connections...) but in reality that's very rarely going to be needed. Like I say, you'll tend to see things with might 15 and up as a central threat or obstacle.

If you have a low-powered magus attempting to ward against a might 15 monster he might fail. And that's fair enough. But the next magus along, who might be better suited? He'll get it.

So in short, I keep hearing about all this "double-charging" stuff but I can't see why that breaks the game mechanics. And why is it actually so bad that a magus who isn't the best at warding can't ward against things with sizeable might scores?

I think that the rules are pretty clear that wards need to penetrate.

I don't like the results of ward-ish spells that are range personal duration sun. I find that they make the PC magi more powerful in comparison to creatures with might than is convenient for them to be for the stories I end up playing. So I very much like how forcing wards to penetrate might makes them less overwhelming.

On the other hand I love the vision of characters drawing circles or rapping on door frames when casting wards. I also find that wards that constrain the PCs within them allow ample opportunities for the PC's and the creatures of might to interact by throwing barbs and threats across a line in the sand.

My house rule is that wards of target circle, room, and structure do not have to penetrate because of the research of a Bonisagus magus in the mid twelfth century. (ergo there are older wards and such available that do not have this advantage).

In the same vein, where does it mention that any of the Creo Ignem guidelines need to Penetrate? If I cast Ball of Abysmal Flames, that does +30 damage. It doesn't mention Penetration. Soothe the Ferocious Boar calms an animal until it is threatened again. But what if the animal has a Might score?

The required penetration is implicit, just as the same as 99% of all spells listed in the core book.

Mintroll, you are not the first to be confused by wards - and it is possibly one of the most discussed subjects second to Magic Resistance in general - but as Mark (Lawford) notes nor is the need for penetration mentioned explicitly in most other spells.

Personally I think it might have slipped a lot of peoples attention, my own included, when 5th edition first came out - as the magic resistance/penetration rules were significantly different in the earlier edition (where penetration was equal to the Casting Total and thus a spell matching a mythic creatures might would have penetrated in more or less any case).

I agree - even if people might disagree on the difficulty of wards this not neccessarily about the rules being broken, but just that some people disagree with the power of wards.

And sometimes I can't but help to wonder if this discussion, popping up again and again, isn't somewhat of a lingering legacy of the discussion of 5th ed. penetration vs. former editions...

I can't deny that I haven't thought the wards over and over myself, but the conclusion for my own preferences finally settled in favour of the RAW as they, as you also hint, push the mechanics toward story-based solutions. Taking on mythic creatures is out of the ordinary and if doing so the characters better think of ways to prepare themselves through the use of ACs and sympathetic magic.

Of course if a troupe prefers a more direct route and making warding and martial encounters more common than this is possible area of HRing - in the end it is all about the stories one wants to tell (even if this doesnt equate RAW as being broken).

I'm actually glad that wards are quite hard. As i am ASG for my troupe and as we have been playing a while (i.e. quite hard mages) wards that don't penetrate would rule out so many plots.

Our resident necromancer has circle/ring ward on his tower. The circle itself is almost flush with his octagonal tower and made of solid stone, e.g. hard to break. He has an impressive ReMe of 26, +1 for stamina, +6 for the aura and +5 for talisman bonus and a few other little bonuses, means that he can cast a formulaic ward against ghosts of level 20 with a penetration of 20.

Thats enough to stop some meaty ghosts. What it can't stop is the ghost of Archmage Nastious of tremere (might 30) who died horrible and has some incredibly plot relevant thing to do in the tower. Without penetration the same magus could throw up a lvl 40 ward and keep out the ghost of anything bar Alexandra the Great. Thats no fun.

If you want to stop powerful beasties, you should be looking for arcane connections, doing horoscopes and finding true names (good for demons). Thats all stuff packed with roleplaying opportunites. The plots almost write themselves.

IMS wards keep off the low level baddies so we can splat them from range (and feel all glorious and powerful in the process), the big baddies can wander straight through them and need really effort to deal with (and scare us all in the process). Isn't that more fun?

Exactly :exclamation:

On a related note, my Verditius in my current saga intends to look into (defeat) a dragon "up north". As part of that he'll need to research the dragon. And that will have to feed into wards as well as dragon-zapping items.

As you say, the plots write themselves as I now need a story to discover the dragon's birthplace, true name, or any number of other connections and sympathies.

No, no no, really, Wards should not have to penetrate. Their is a flaw in the Matrix. Allow me to clense the darkness from your eyes :slight_smile:

Now, later on that page it says that a ward and a binding can be accomplished by the same spell, which is indeed a break no matter how you look at it.

Wards should not penetrate, otherwise I get to try and resist your Aegis when I sneak into your covenant. Wards should not penetrate, otherwise it is mathematically easier to kill a spirit than to protect yourself from it. The math as is in the RAW is off kilter. We need to cooperate in order to fix it, and maintain the presteige of history's greatest magic system for an RPG :smiley:

The counter arguments "shift mentality from easy to hard" (what happened to medium?), or "it makes them acquire all kinds of extra ac's(etceteras)". Look, requiring a player to first get a high enough score to learn the ward in the first place, then making them learn a new spell each time they want to strengthen it, and then requiring penetration on top of that...

That smacks of old Killer DM syndrom. That isn't fun for everyone. The result is that a large portion of the fan base is following the same House rule and teaching the same to all new players they encounter.

:smiley: Join the side of logic and reason my friends!

Sorry. I don't do drugs. Not even the kind of red pills that promises nothing more nor less than the truth... :smiley:

That really says nothing to the sort you're arguing here. The target of the spell is not the only thing that can contest it's effect - which is why penetration always has to be recorded. Let me give you an example: if you use magic on a blade to make it more deadlier (whether sharper, pointier, flaming, holy hand-grenadish or some such) the weapon is the target but should the effect not penetrate the resistance of the one being wacked on the head with that blade?

Aegis is not a definite argument either as it is explicitly un-conventional and outside the scope of hermetic theory as is.

You confuse math with intent. You can disagree with the input to an equation but not whether it is calculated mathematical correct (at least in scope of things here). Yes, even if we completely disregard the fact that those things might require essential different arts, it is probalby easier to kill a given mythic creature than to hamper its actions. To me that makes perfect sense, and it makes for better stories, but the important point is: that it is a matter of preferences. And not a matter of faulty mathematical calculations or being broken.

P.S.: What is that :question: :unamused:

Whether they should or not is a matter for your own saga. As far as the rules go, they do need to penetrate.

Aegis isn't a "ward". Normal rules do not apply. I'm pretty sure it points that out in the extensive spell description.

If you play a generalist magus you're not going to be good at everything. If you play a gun-totin' Flambeau with Creo and Ignem on his mind then your wards are going to be rubbish. If you play a magus with an interest in wards and a knowledge of how to use them, you're quids in. That's life.

It aint that hard to grasp. I dislike XP-sinks as much as the next player but this really isn't a problem. If my Verditius enchants an item with a limited penetration because that's all he can manage at this stage, he has to invent a better item later. That's life.

Spells, including wards, along with most powers currently described in the published materials, need to penetrate. If you want to start a petition for Ars 6, feel free. If you want your own house rules, feel free. But the rules as designed (not just "written") say wards need to penetrate. You've been given examples of why that isn't the problem you're making it out to be.