But wards are required to penetrate, according to the rules as written. Generally, if you cast a spell that magically affects a creature with Magic Resistance, that creature gets a chance to resist. Specifically, Societates clarifies this for wards. It seems that Aegis is a special case, a spell that affects creatures without having to penetrate, and I can see the merit in the argument that if the rules make an exception for the Aegis, they can make an exception for wards, too. Unfortunately, they don't.
I'd rather we didn't have an argumentum ex dictionarium. The rules as written do not say it's a ward. You're not going to award me No Prize? (You might have a better case for Watching Ward, by the way. )
Can you define "defensive magic" for me? Wards have to penetrate, I'm more than usually certain of that, but I'm not sure what else you consider to be part of that category. My guess is that it will have to penetrate, again according to the rules as written, though I'm pretty sure Aegis and the Parma Magica are exceptions.
There seems to be a number of ideas of what a ward should be doing that differ from my own.
I'll share my view and why it works well with the system and rules as written and why this is fun.
A ward is not a magic wall. There is no magic forcefield. There is no solidity. A ward is a magic effect, in the area of a circle/ring (well, a dome really) that stops warded targets from crossing the boundary. It doesn't do this via a barrier effect, it does it by magically restricting movement. Imagine a spell (ReCo) that holds a man in place. Thats all this is except instead of holding them still, it holds them away from the warded area and instead of being directly targeted, it affects any relevant creature, trying to cross the border of the spell effect.
Thus under my view of wards, its perfectly reasonable to require penetration, after all, you ranged ReCo spell does, why not a static version.
This also overcomes arguements relating to magic stone walls/thorny hedgerows/metal doors. These all create physical things. The ward doesn't. There is no forcefield form in ars. When you cross the boundary of a ward, you do not force yourself against a barrier. A magic effect tries to affect your movement.
Now, as to Marko accusing me of being a killer DM, or in league with such adversarial behaviour, nonsense. I make it as hard for my players as I do so that when they defeat the bad guy, they really feel it. Example: We recently had one of our senior magi confront his long abscent nemesis. They both had good parma, too strong to get any powerful spells through, so they were flinging lvl 5 spells at each other and duking it out with axes and daggers (one with a saxon long axe, the other with a club and a plethora of daggers). Just as the PC is winning, the enemy magus clears some space and necks a healing potion. His wounds close up and he attacks with renewed vigour.
The player despairs and his magus fights even harder, eventually taking down his foe. The victorious magus, wounds covering his body, seizes his foes dropped axe and severs the defeated magus' head.
Stirring stuff and the PC now lists that as one of his major achievements. He had a damn hard fight against a powerful foe, and he won. What a victory. And how hollow if it had been easy.
My players even suffer defeat every now and then. They turned and ran on one notable occasion from a powerful pack of werewolves. The realisation that their characters can die adds spice to every combat. Every fight becomes important. Every battle potentially their last.
And yet, despite the length of time our game has run, there have been no PC deaths.
This applies to wards thusly. (forgive my long example, i get carried away). It is hard to make the players take their enemies seriously when they can ward against all archdemons, with a single spells. When all dragons can be defeated with one ward, all they have to do is stand inside their ward and cast out. This makes for rubbish stories.
Despite what Marko said about not being able to ward against any old hobgoblin, this is actually what i see wards as doing in the game world. They keep out the hobgoblin goons and they make the scary demon leading them the focus. If the scary demon has to just stand outside the ward and wait patiently for the magi to come out, where is the fear, the excitement, the thrill of battle?
Victory without danger is hollow and not worth having. Glory, heroism and adventure cannot occur if magi are allowed to huddle behind vastly powerful wards.
Without the "wards must penetrate" rule, the older magus that i play IMS can ward up to level 40 creatures from the corpus, mentem and vim forms. That means that only dukes of hell, dragons and faerie lords could bother him. And he is not ward focused. Not in the least.
Allow me to apologize if I had caused thee to take offense. It's all in fun. I do think that Killer SG syndrom is more common in Ars than I'd like to see, and this goes back for years, but you have never posted anything until now to indicate you are in that camp. I have done the killer DM thing now and again, most of us have at one point or another. May be I have grown too leniant as a reaction, but I still catch myself doing it from time to time.
In a separate word document, I am writing my next post (so I can spell check it an all). In it, I will give my mathematical breakdown and a more coherent logical argument. The killer sg thing is best saved for a separate thread.
And Erik, I cannot hand out a No Prize? Only Editors in Chief or Line Editors can do that (Stan Lee said man...). But I will engage you as well with my next post.
I will bring light to you all, and I know when your eyes have been cloaked in darkness that the light can hurt, but trust me, and I will guide you
(the above is an example of me being smarmy, so y'all know I'm just goofing when I talk like that)
Mark, you are missing my point latching on to particular phrasings rather than the essence.
Let me start from the top. I never defined what a DM killer is. I spoke of RPG meta. You might find that dry or boring - personally I find it very interesting and useful - but I did not define the Killer DM. What I DID say was that a concept such as the Killer DM can only exist within one sort of roleplaying, namely one with a distinct 'gamism' preference. I also said that roleplaying can have elements of gamism, narrativism and simulationism and I added that my troupe do not play 'gamist' roleplaying and, keeping in mind that the Killer DM is a gamist concept, as such, accusing me on my motives for having a certain take on wards falls short (in this case having the motives of a Killer DM). And thus using a concept of Killer DMs as scarecrow does nothing to further the discussion: your kind of roleplaying might have the potential for Killer DMs - mine doesn't (once more recalling that this is a question of preference and not quality of roleplaying), which is why it doesnt affect my rule preferences.
A point to all this 'dry' talk of meta is the fact that it's a bit difficult to discuss a subject if there is no clarity of communication - and that clarity is obscured by the fact that people play roleplaying games in very different ways. Which is also why one roleplayer might argue that A is broken because of B, while B might be a completely non-existing term/problem to another kind of roleplayer - which again leaves both non the wiser from the debate. That is IF there is no awareness of those fundamentally different concepts of roleplaying.
The point being that the fans participating on the forum (or the Berklist) are not representative of the fans in generel - and what I'm challenging is the notion of equating the debaters with the fans in generel. That a certain HR is predominant in these fora or that the fora have influenced the published work can't be taken as face value as it being the 'definitive' approach(es) to the game. Thus you can't infer from the debates here that everyone playing Ars experiences rules such as those on wards as being broken and needing fixing and that that is the popular preference. Thus my doubts that you can speak of the majority of fans playing in a certain way, having understood the rules in a certain way or having house ruled in a certain way etc etc.
My point would be that gamers are an extremely diverse lot. Which is why you can't have prestige among them as a group. Especially in a situation where the market size of published roleplaying games have been dropping for more than 10 years. A game seeking to cater to a whole gaming community, if one can even speak of a such, -the gamers- can expect a direct ticket to oblivion (even if mourned). To be viable it needs to focus on filling a niche in the industry rather than becoming generic.
In that line of thought I cant help remarking that one of the things that set Ars apart from the mainstream pen & papers is the fact that it doesnt present a level playing field for the characters - some player characters are decidedly more powerful than others. If we can handle that rare assymmetry (in terms of PC in P&Ps), then why can't we handle that some kinds of magic are harder than other kinds without including terms such as mathematically easier/broken in the otherwise relevant discussion?
I love debate, I really do
This makes me feel like some old Bonisagus magus debating Magic Theory with his peers.
Alright, everyone knows my position, but allow me to clarify something. The term â€œKiller DMâ€, it is a really old old term from way back when I used to read Dragon Magazine, back in the century previous to this one. It wasnâ€™t specific as the definition given by Google. Killer DM meant you were being too strict on the players, whereas Monty Haul was to indicate you were being to generous.
I am the one that says that the Rule is broken. I honestly believe this, and I honestly believe that it is detrimental to the game, and in the long run if it isnâ€™t corrected, it can be harmful to the growth of the game. I also believe that a large number of fans are simply hand waving around this rule and ignoring it. Iâ€™m not going to define large, but safe to say that you can all recognize that by far I am not the only one. Furthermore, we donâ€™t have a variety of different conflicting house rules, the defectors for the most part are all using the same house rule.
On top of that, any and all new player who has only the core rule book, no supplements, and does not read up on the Ars Magica internet community; they are all doing it that way because that is what the wording of the passage I quoted naturally leads one to that conclusion. This in fact is why it was found necessary to clarify this in two different published supplements.
Now, when a new player encounters a veteran, one of three things is going to happen. Iâ€™ll get rid of the third straight away, thatâ€™s the guy who wrote his own 320 page manual of house rules Number one and number two are the most common though. First is that the veteran will tell them â€œoh no, wards must penetrate!â€, at which point the newbie talks to his buddy in alignment language and says â€œletâ€™s go play at my houseâ€. Second is that the veteran tells them â€œoh, they just say that, every one expects you to ignore that anywayâ€.
Itâ€™s then a slippery slope leading to that 320 page HR manual
These are substantial, credible reasons why I think that the rule is broken and needs to be repaired for the good of the game. Itâ€™s more than â€œow, I think thatâ€™s too hardâ€. I brought up the Killer GM term because, if you are a new Ars gamer trying to talk two buddies into a game, all you have is the core rules but you heard about ward penetration on the net, â€œKiller DMâ€ is the feeling you are going to invoke by trying to enforce this rule.
There is plenty to see here. Iâ€™m trying to open you eyes (all in good fun)
And yes, I do want to debate whether or not this should be the case. I honestly and sincerely believe that this is a harm to the game.
Thank you for pointing out where the ruling appears. I also notice that it specifically states that Arcane connections do you absolutely no good too. Some people were trying to say that Penetrating Wards made for better stories because it required you to acquire these things. It also does not make an allowance for the Aegis. Nowhere does it make an allowance for the Aegis, it is merely what you all want there to be. I thank you for seeing the merit in my argument Erik. But my argument now is that this ruling is causing this other horrible thing to happen. There is more evidence supporting the idea that the Aegis must penetrate than there is evidence against it. I donâ€™t want this to happen, I think it would be bad just as I think ward penetration is bad. This is a slippery slope worse than the pink dot.
No argumentum ex dictionarium? You sure? Itâ€™s so much fun!
What?!? You ban me from the dictionary and then youâ€¦
The fact that the same spell can function as both a Ward and a Binding is a clear break in the system that no one seem to be willing to address.
Well, Parma is not a spell (not any more anyway). Nothing official makes Aegis an exception as of yet, but I am not staking my claim on that because I hope they do make an official exception. Basic definition of Defensive Magic, I suppose, is magic that is designed to directly protect you. We can open a whole can of worms with a magic resistance debate, but to keep it even more simple, I would narrow the definition to magics that A) provide you with an increased soak or resistance score (MuCo, ReIg, etc), or which prevents the thing from touching you without otherwise affecting the subject protected from (as in wards or the aegis).
The language needs ironing, but you get the idea. The way things are now, lets presume I cast Ward against heat and flames, and since I have a low casting score, I spend fatigue but still cast my protective spell. I am safe from fire. But now I cannot even touch anything with any magic resistance at all, not a pixie with a might of two nor an apprentice with no Parma but an Ignem of 3. Slippery slope.
Thatâ€™s how we roll 8)
Role play that is! Nyuck nyuck!
Error in your theory thoughâ€¦
Because you have the wrong target. You are the target, not the thing being protected from, and the range is the distance to You, not it. ArM4 p. 114 makes it quite clere that Wards are different than other spells in this regard. The Target is the thing being protected, you and the grogs you draw a circle around. The Target thus is not the demon you are trying to ward against.
That was tongue in cheek. Play your game and have fun. I figured that you are actually a Munchkin, as your name claims, which is actually supposed to be the arch nemesis of the killer DM, so I found it ironic. And realize that I didnâ€™t so much intend to accuse you of it; more so I am telling you thatâ€™s what your argument alludes to. Iâ€™m all for making the adventures hard, but I suggest that maybe your best challenges involved making the opponent more powerful or clever or resourceful etceteras, rather than trying to find new ways to limit the players as the progress. If they can ward against an arch-demon with a single spell, well, I suggest the arch-demon needs a higher might score.
Here is the mathematical breakdown I promised. For my example, I will use four ghosts, because there is direct examples of each of these spells in the core rules. The first is Casper (Might 10), his cousin Spooky (20), his uncle Fuso (40), and Grandpa Stretch (60)
Presuming I know the appropriate spells, I need the following Casting totals to accomplish the following featsâ€¦
Weaken by 5 points: 15/25/45/65
Weaken by half might score: 15/30/60/90
Now, in consideration of the above, does this seem fair?
Arcane and Sympathetic connections will not help you (HoH:S, p 113)
The old rule was this:
Another solution is to charge a Base Level for all wards (say 10, give or take), regardless of might, you ward against the subject so long as you penetrate resistance. That would balance out with penetration, and give us required totals as followsâ€¦
Base 10 Wards 20/30/50/70;
Make it higher, say base 15 or even 20. At least you donâ€™t have to learn ever increasing spells for the same thing. Everything else above was a flat rate.
Or, instead, you can charge (might/2) for the wards base level.
Base (Might/2) Ward: 15/30/60/90
Thatâ€™s the math.
I prefer the old rule; Wards donâ€™t need to penetrate. The Flat rate is a compromise, but it doesnâ€™t address the core issue of confusion.
Anyway, Iâ€™m done for today.
Gâ€™night all. I got me some mixinâ€™ to do.
Toward a consenus... of agreeing on where we disagree
This is a well-known debate; and as so many other debates over rules the preferences and the rules as written are get mingled, bordering on abuse - whether intentional or not.
Preferences are a dear thing - and maybe that is why we all at times tend to enterpret preferences into the rules rather than first aknowleding the rules and then making them subject to our preferences. Maybe this is actually more prone to happen when in a discussion with opponents rather than when just thinking them over. Just as preferences are a dear thing, they are also an elusive thing - but they do not become more or substantial by having RAW support, yet the RAW is often twisted and turned to find even the slightest phrasing that might support ones preferences.
It is evident that people have very different preferences when it comes to wards, but in the process the RAW is becoming unclear - and that is a disservice to both the rules as to readers of the thread who are newcomers to the game.
I hope we can agree on these points from the RAW:
That if there were any doubt about the RAW on wards and penetration in the core book, this was explicitly closed with the earlier mentioned passage in HoH:S (p.114), just as the editor two years ago stated that "As the rules stand, neither Wards nor Aegis are given special exceptions from the rules, so both have to penetrate Magic Resistance, just like any other spell."
That wards cannot make use of Arcane Connections to boost their penetration (HoH:S p. 112). [color=darkred][EDIT: with the exception that wards with Target: Circle can use an Arcane Connection if the warded subject is within the circle.]
That wards against beings with might need to have a level at least equal to the beings Might Score.
That wards can be created with either ReVim or a specific relevant form.
That wards can be either Ring/Circle or cast directly on a person - according to the raw there are no differences in their effeciency.
That wards are not unique in having one target but having to penetrate against something/someone else than the target itself. I mention this because the wards have been claimed to be unique in this regard. A few examples: An intellego spell cast on a Target:Sense - the magic is succesfull at once but penetration is noted to keep score of future resistance from beings with MR; A dagger created with non-ritual creo magic - the magic works at once, but the penetration is recorded in case the dagger should ever be used against someone with MR; a spell is used to sharpen a sword - the magic works at once but penetration is recorded in case the sword should be used to attack someone with MR. In all three cases the spell has one target but the penetration only becomes an issue the moment the effect interacts with a third party.
Can we agree on this being the rules as they are representated in the books? If not, then why not?
If we can agree on this being the rules in the books as is, I next suggest that we look at these rules as a clean slate and discuss what we prefer rather than what is 'right' or 'wrong'. The same somewhat goes for broken - in terms of a whether a game is broken it is all in the eye of the beholder.
If we can agree on those being the RAW, next I then hope that we can better exchange preferences without too much reliance on 'scripture'...
This passage has been brought several times on the forum, and partly because of that and party because I've already hinted at it above, I might as well bring it here - as a possible inspiration to what you all prefer from the wards:
And I'd better back my own words with action - these are my preferences:
I prefer that wards have to penetrate. I value this as an (almost) universal feature of magic.
I'm fine with the current level of wards (equal Might), but there are times where I fell I could be swayed toward a change in this - either with a different ratio or with a flatline level (just as with wards against non-mythical things and beings).
I awknowledge that strictly speaking the Aegis should be called to penetrate also, but I prefer it not to have to penetrate. My reasons would be the concept that it is a breakthrough, in line with the parma, and that it isn't bound by penetration (though I consider at least demanding that it might have to penetrate if someone with MR should be present, hidden..., within the covenant at the time of casting).
Would like to have personal wards be less powerful than the traditional circle/ring, in spite of the RAW, but I have still to decide in what way.
I intend to allow that AC and sympethetic magic, in spite of the RAW, can be added to penetration even when the target of the spell is not the subject that penetration will be tested against. My reasons would be that it adds a flavour I like - and this goes for more than just wards. This should also cover all other sorts of spells where this might become relevant. One important point however - only one such penetration effort against one given person/being can be used in concext of one spell.
Even more insidious is the requirement for Muto Vim spells to penetrate the targeted spell. Incredible. What cheek. Players will be leaving in droves to play Vampire or something.
Fine. It's been clarified. There was enough debate about this before the clarification. You'd have to expect that the authors noticed the debate and weighed up the issue before making that clarification. Right? So the debate was had and the results appeared in the official publications.
Then I think you're lacking a sense of perspective about this. At its heart this is simply a question about whether wards are exempt from Penetration. The rules around this have now been clarified. Some prefer that wards are easier to cast and be more effective than that ruling implies. Fine. Go and enjoy.
But to say that that one small almost unnoticeable nuance of a single type of spell is somehow a critical and financial detriment to the game as a whole? That's just a little bit obsessive.
With the wider question of whether wards should work differently in order to enhance play, I think that's a valid question to ask, but you're not making your case very well.
You have to ask whether it is right for any magus to be able to ward against any creature. The answer will almost certainly be no. That's too strong. I think we can agree on that.
So then it becomes an exercise in measuring. I'm pretty happy that most magi, given the right spell, will be able to ward off minor threats (up to might 10). Beyond might 10 I'd be looking for a bit of dedication (perhaps a Rego specialist) or experience (generally higher art scores) or maybe some vis used in the casting to bring the penetration up. Beyond Might 30 (for instance), you're looking for a wards specialist and/or arcane connections to boost penetration.
He can cast the level 10 ward and (with a confidence point) ward off Might 10 creatures.
Now, granted, if he was a Creo Ignem specialist and had nothing in Rego or Vim, he'd need someone to cast it for him. I get the sense from you that this is what really bites.
If wards didn't need to penetrate, with the stats above he could ward off Might 30 creatures. He could, with a casting total of 18+Confidence, cast a level 30 ward. That's a starting magus. And a hefty ward.
I understand that in your style of play that's probably a reasonable session, but when I run a story I really do think twice before throwing in a Might 30 creature against a young magus. The storyguide plays around the capabilities and limitations of the player characters.
Hehe... makes me want to run off claiming me some apprentices In fact I just did - or rather I just sent a mail earlier reminding two new players to start considering their magi characters.
Mark, you misunderstood my post -or I wasnt clear enough- I've clarified above but probably while you were writing this post. I know what 'DM Killer' means - but what you took to be my definition of the term was a definition of a larger paradigm wherein concepts such as the Killer DM belongs.
I disagree that it is broken, which is not news, but I disagree strongly that this -after all- minor issue is detrimental to the game much less having an impact on the game's future. I understand where you are coming from and why you prefer the rules to be different, but IMHO it is out of proportion to make this a serious hamstring to the game's growth.
I do agree that the rules could have been more explicit, but I do not agree that it is a logical conclusion when reading the rules. In fact I'd even claim that people who don't know earlier editions of the game would be less inclined to make that assumption as would people on the list or forum who's had an interest in the game since earlier editions.
And here's a crucial twist to your argument. If fans only reading the core book and not the supplements or the internet community always jump to the conclusion you claim, then where is the issue at hand? Not only would they never experience the game-breaking schism you speak of, they would even play by the rules you advocate as the unbroken ones - namely not to demand wards to penetrate. I've stated that I don't think this issue hampers or threatens the game, but if I am to follow your argumentation here it becomes a tautological non-issue. New players cannot become frustrated with a game due to issues which in their nature are exactly a problem because new players never realise them... Especially if the supposedly logical solution to the issue is supposedly the exact approach a newcomer is said to take.
I have a hard time imagining players parting ways over a single rule (or even a handfull for that matter), though I could imagine those guys making it big on Jerry Springer - to the embarresment of any outspoken roleplayer. Nor do I imagine anything amounting to a volume in its own right.
But in any case in its own right it really isn't a forceful argument for changing the rules - a) people who are so immersed in rules to make a volume of their own will make it regardless; and b) one man's RAW is another man's HR. If manuals of house rules holds true how can you ever implement a RAW rule change without other groups of people deciding "to ignore that anyway"?
Again, I think it is out of proportion. I've read, written scenarios, played, gamemastered and play-tested quite a lot of roleplaying systems. Few of them can claim the coherency of Ars Magica 5th and even if the ward rules are as horribly disfigured I doubt that has any bearing on whether people want to play the game. That's given the assumption that the rules matter - I've never drafted any players or been drafted myself to a game based on the rules.
Raises his hand I certainly did - and that rule has come as a surprise to me. I've looked but haven't found any mentioning of it besides in the Columbae-chapter. I'm curious, from a philosophical viewpoint, but it doesn't change much - I'm certain that we'll house rule it (bringing our total house rules so far to...two) but I don't think it detracts from the game much less breaks it, but I do think it robs the RAW of some obvious flavour You'll see no struggles to change it, nor does it change my stance on prefering wards to penetrate.
On this I might be persuaded. While I think the spell level should be the same, it's reasonable to argue that it's two different spells that are learned and cast separately. I'm not yet entirely sure I'd introduce something like it to our troupe. Will have to ponder it a bit..
Marko, it's a misconception that penetration and target are utterly linked. The books are full of spells where you cast a spell on one thing and only later does it conflict with a third parties MR - and at that point the penetration from the original casting will have to be consulted, even if the beings with MR never were the target(s).The effects and Technique might even be different but in terms of penetration a third party can still be subject to the penetration of something not originally directed at them.
On a very different note - an interesting Super Tuesday to all of you on the far side of the Atlantic pond!
Seems that positions are prwetty much set in their camps. Not much point in following this "debate" IMO, but hey.
One point that has always made me wonder is that wards can be anything when it comes to target and duration.
IMS we ended up declaring that "proper wards" can only be circle + ring spells. Other wards with different durations or targets only grant soak bonuses, but not keep the guy/animal/sword/fire at bay. A kind of anti-polka dot policy we apply across the board, but able to affect both magical and mundane targets all the same.
It works OK, so some people might be interested in it.
Now, returning to the debate: where does it state that Aegis of the Hearth does not need to penetrate?
It doesn't AFAIK. David did state, in the text quoted above that he suggested that it shouldn't or that penetration should be calculated differently, but according to RAW it should penetrate. Even if probably not a rare HR it is a HR not to demand it to penetrate.
Why is that? Personally I don't define a debate by the potential for winning people over and I do think that some debates can be improved by entering it knowingly that the participants disagree and that 'triumphing' isn't the agenda - but rather participating because of a curiousity in the reasoning of the other participants and and openness toward their opinion. If this or similar debates sometimes gets in danger of imploding it is not because of disagreement itself but the urge to over-enforce one's arguments to be 'right' rather than simply rest at explaining them. Debates across a gap af disagreement can be rewarding as long as the motives for debating aren't to claim superiority.
Interesting point Xavi -at the moment I've been considering a similar solution to distinguish between the two types of wards- and I'd like to hear much more of your thoughts on that subject and how you guys do it specifically.
As stated in the paragraph you cite, wards with Target: Circle can use an Arcane Connection if the warded subject is within the circle. One way I imagine a magus could use this to his advantage is to cast a different Rego spell (with boosted penetration because of the AC) to hold a supernatural being in place, and then draw the circle around it to cast the ward spell.
Take in mind that apart from the basic characteristics of the game, we are so heavy into house rules that outsiders might feel that they were playing in a different gaming system if it wasnâ€™t for the setting Having warned you about that, read on:
There are 2 kinds of ward: a) wards vs Animated Spirits and b) other kinds of ward. Wards vs animated spirits keep the animated spirit at bay and unable to affect you. other wards give you a degree of protection, and can offer protection vs both mundane and supernatural effects.
Circle + ring spells against animated spirits do not need to penetrate. You can use specific ACs here to ward something in or that same target out. They keep stuff WITH AN ANIMATING SPIRIT (read: alive or Might beings) at bay and unable to affect you directly if the ward effect is equal or greater than the creature's might. Inanimate beings like generic swords or stones cannot be warded out like that.
Other wards get the Ward vs. Heat and Flames as a benchmark. They act like a regular mystic armour: they add to your soak vs. damage coming from that source.
If the source of the effect does not cause damage (e.g.: turn you insane with a word), the ward gives you a boost of +1 to your Natural Resistance roll per magnitude of the ward.
So a circle can protect you and anything inside vs swords, but will only increase the soak of the people inside the circle, not prevent swords from cutting them to pieces with high attack rolls. It renders the polka dot problem inexistent IMS, since we treat Parma similarly. The ward vs swords can also be cast on a personal basis, increasing the soak of the target as usual.
Curiously now that I think about it, we do not allow wards vs humans, even if we have no problems allowing a circular ward vs animals. Quite an inconsistency there, heh I guess it could be allowed with no biggie, but we always found it weird that a level 5-10 spell can keep an army at bayâ€¦.
An other thing that people might consider weird is something we got from the berklist a few months ago and that we liked, so we incorporated it into the way we play in ME: the ability to inscribe your Parma Magica as a circle spell in the ground. Doing so effectively generates a Sun/Circle Ward vs anything supernatural that protects your shield grog(s) as well, even if it seriously impedes the maneuverability of the group. Makes for some interesting protracted battles there, and FEELS mythical to us, with mages on opposing hills waging spells against the enemy group. It has come up twice IMS already, and it made for interesting circle/ring-like situation, with the group crouching inside the Parma circle while the baddies were kept just at bay. We are into a Davnalleus/Carnac story arc, so BIG stuff is quite common right now.
Okay. Does it have to be a spell? If not, Parma sounds like it would qualify as defensive magic under definition A.
I agree that A shouldn't have to penetrate the attacker's Magic Resistance, because it doesn't magically affect the attacker. I do think it needs to penetrate the subject's Magic Resistance, so that if you cast a MuCo spell on a magus, his Parma resists it. I believe this is how the rules as written work. Also, if a magus is under this effect, his body becomes subject to Magic Resistance, as you brought up below. Perhaps the Penetration Total of the effect also applies when the magus brawls?
The second part of your definition is where it seems we disagree. Because the magic affects a warded subject, I think the effect must penetrate its Magic Resistance. For example, say I create a magical ring of fire around me to protect me against a group of bandits. Anyone with Magic Resistance can step through the flames without being harmed, unless the spell penetrates. Wards work the same way; the ward is the flames that keep out the subject, though much more effectively.
The Aegis has some qualities of wards, in that it prevents creatures with a Might Score from entering the area. Otherwise, it behaves very much like the Parma Magica. Personally, I'd categorize it as the first type of defensive magic, and use that reasoning to justify why it doesn't need to penetrate the creature's Magic Resistance. Granted, though, it is a special case.
This is a separate issue, though. Magic Resistance protects a creature against magical things, and with such a ward cast on you, you are indeed a magical thing. A natural consequence of this is that you can't punch the pixie in the face, because the pixie is protected against your magical fist. Likewise a fellow magus, even just an apprentice, is protected against Ignem magic by virtue of his studying that mighty Art. If you really want to beat up your apprentice, perhaps you need to improve your Penetration score before casting another ward on yourself.
All of the former effects are for a specific creature only. Your ward affects any and all ghosts that happen by-- the ward with Penetration Total 120 not only affects Stretch, but Fuso, Spooky, and Casper, too. The ghosts are not prevented from harming you once you have cast one of the first five spells, but once you get a ward around you, all they can do is wait until you leave it. I'd say that if anything, the ward is still too easy to cast, by comparison. And if that wasn't enough, wards can be cast in any Form. All of the other spells require a specialist to affect creatures with Might 20 or more, but an Herbam specialist can ward against magical plants and an Animal specialist can ward against magical animals.
You haven't quite finished your case, though. You only need a Casting Total of half the numbers you list above for the first five spells, if you can make up the rest with your Penetration bonus (from spell mastery, Arcane Connections, special Mysteries, etc.). You can't do that with most wards. So, I think you could argue that the numbers look more like this (assuming the Penetration bonus is half the subject's Magic Resistance):
Weaken by 5 points: 10/15/25/35
Weaken by half might score: 10/20/40/60
In consideration of the versatility and universal protection offered by wards, does this seem unfair?
The greatest difficulty that I recall is that you need to keep track of two Penetration Totals for the ward, one for the specific foe and one for others to which the Arcane Connection doesn't apply who might happen along. But I suppose we have to do that anyway whenever magi cast spells that affect a group of targets, right? Or do you mean you would allow magi to make a selective ward that only affects a specific target, like the Columbae? Perhaps that's been integrated into general Hermetic theory, sure.
I'm not sure that would work. The caster has to trace the circle on the ground when casting the ward, even if the circle is magically created, so I don't think it can be fast-cast. Maybe if it were cast on a Room or Structure?