Wards and penetration

Oh, so you learn Agies of the Hearth at level 15, for example.

When the ritual is cast, you must note down for future reference the resulting penetration. So if the casting magus manages to roll, say 24 (casting total), that would have a penetration of 7.
Thus, this would keep out things of Might 6 and below (I believe you have to beat not equal).
Even though it could theoretically keep out up to Might 15, it wouldn't penetrate their resistance.

It makes sense to be that hard to keep out 'nasty' things.

Hmmm, it's a good thing I've only got Faerie Might 5 creatures chasing my magi through their wood at the moment. They're in the form of squirrels - imagine 'The Birds', but with squirrels. My player cast a ward against magical creatures... naturally the squirrels took no notice.

No worries. I googled it. It wasn't far from what I imagined it might hint at. The funny thing is, I'm not the least swayed by the notion of fearing a killer DM, because the thing is that our habitual YMMV-phrase to me covers more than entirely individual takes on Ars Magica. I bet that the differences between the mode of play even if playing the same game can be wastly more different than that of groups playing alternative games; and as such discussing a game over the internet, and never sitting down for a session, can makes everyone utterly deaf to the fact that the choice of game system is really only a minor detail in what makes roleplaying roleplaying.

Take the Killer DM syndrome - it rests entirely on the notion that you can speak of a defining difference in interest between players and storyguide. In terms of various RPG theories that concept of roleplaying is also often labelled as 'gamist'. Gamism has been coined in short form by Ron Edwards (an influental RPG theorist) as

Now, the point is not that a gamist preference is 'bad', but the point is that it is one of several main approaches to roleplaying (such as narrativism or simulationism) - nor are any of the others 'good' or 'bad'. They are simply just different from each other. In fact one of the major achievements of RPG theory is creating an awareness of various players various preferences - and thus make it easier to make a group function but also make it easier to understand how come fans of a given game might have such various interpretations of the rules and at the same time being eash adamant of our own 'version'.

My troupe and I are not running a gamist saga - thus the fear of a Killer DM is not present at all and the potential of the rules allowing a Killer DM is thus not something that influences how we might prefer to rules to be. I'm not necessarily claiming that you prefer roleplaying leaning toward gamism - only that the argument of the killer DM does rest on gamism and as such it holds no sway in the kind of roleplaying I play!

In short a rule that might threaten the integrity of one groups roleplaying fun doesnt threaten another groups fun.

That is a very bold statement! Moreso it rests on the assumption that all fans of the same system are also 'fans' af the same creative agenda in terms of how they use a given set of rules to roleplay. Frankly I think it is very hard to make this a 'democratic' project, partly because as I've argued we all have very different notions of what's fun roleplaying and partly because I don't think it is possible to make a salient test of what ars fans might prefer or how they HR what - given that only a unrepresentative minority are active on the forum (or the Berklist).

I know you mentioned this with a measure of irony, but in line with my reasoning so far it begs the question of: prestige among whom?

No you don't. Aegis is not a ward and for all purposes they shouldn't be equaled AND the Aegis need not penetrate.

If anything, the Aegis has similarities to the parma: both are breakthroughs that have broken the mold of hermetic theory.

The counter argument comes in the fact that magical things are resisted, while magical effects are often not.

For instance-- PeTe the earth out from under your feet... it does not need to Penetrate, you fall in the hole. PeAu in a 30m diameter circle around you... it does not need to Penetrate, you have trouble breathing. CrHe a wooden wall of thorns around me, you cannot simply walk through if it doesn't Penetrate. CrTe(Ig) a bubble of fiery stone around me, and you don't get to reach through if I don't Penetrate, right? It's still a barrier, it's an effect, not an item... If it doesn't Penetrate, those things still keep you out, they just don't hurt you.

So, whyohwhyohwhy? if I ReXx a ward to create a sphere of resistance around me, particular to my foe, does it need to Penetrate? The resistance is still there. It doesn't affect you unless you're trapped inside it. Wards create an area of resistance. If you have more Might than I have resistance, come on in. If I invite you inside, break the area of resistance, come on in. If you have less Might than I have resistance, good bye, you may leave when you get bored of watching me inside my circle/personal ward.

Now if I want to trap something inside that area of resistance? Sure, that must penetrate, because I'm trying to affect something inside my effect. I'm trying to nullify its powers. Keeping them inside is a nice side effect. But that's a different kind of thing, a trapping ward, rather than a defensive ward.

But personal wards or circle wards where the magus is inside? You're making a magical effect, like a layer of sandpaper on the ground around you. You have to overcome the resistance it provides to push your magically Mighty self on through.

That's the counterargument.

Can this die now, please? Pretty please? It's the horse that's been reassembled from dust and ashes into some similar form and beaten to death for like the fourth time now. Is there no FAQ entry? If not, can there please please please be one?


Heh, I can see now that this is indeed an ancient receptacle of annelids that I accidentally pried open. For my part I've gotten the reasoning I was looking for to make up my own mind on the issue. Thanks a lot! :slight_smile:

Well - I just went about finding previous threads on wards to post links here. Many of them are quite enlightening, but there are so many of them, that in the end I gave up.

For those interested in wards there is a plentitude of information and opinions in the forum already -just use the search function and have your appetittes satisfied- but I still also recommend having a look at RoP:S p. 112ff.

BTW - revisiting 3 years of ward-threads it's interesting to see how opinions gets shaped through deliberation along the way - certainly my own.

Agreed. I'd forgotten I'd started this one: viewtopic.php?t=298&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

I was trying to work out the mechanics of why wards stopped even things like ranged attacks, but of course the thread diverged into the more general penetration topic.

That thread highlighted a lot of concern around the power-level of the foes set against the player characters. It's quite interesting to read over again actually. My position on power levels is based on giving the players a challenging threat. Others may have the same aim but they take a different direction - saying that a certain magus should be able to fend off a certain might score. In open play it's never that easy.

Here's one of my posts from page three of that thread

To restate my own take on the Wards Penetrating problem (and it is a problem), it partially descends from prior editions where your casting total was your penetration. Under those systems, the power of your spell was, in fact, the power of the spell.

The other issue is there there are two kinds of wards - wards against things (fire, rocks, lead, ducks) and wards againt entities (spirits, beasts of virtue, Tax Collectors). The former are set at a given level; the latter vary. This is not a useful distinction. The effect of a ward is not, "Weak things cannot pass but strong things can" but "You cannot pass, assuming I have the penetration to influence you".

Simply assigning a simple (level 5, for instance) spell guideline for warding against entities removes the issue entirely. The ward still needs to penetrate, an ArchMage can ward out more than an apprentice, even an apprentice can still stick up a minor ward, Personal target wards are no longer a careful reinterpretation of the RAW but a natural progression of the rules and the rules become more self-consistent. Of course, that's either a hefty house-rule or something for 6th ed. That said, I do believe that the systematic refinement of the magic system seen in the progression from 4th to 5th is a good thing and should continue. The world of ArM should be mystical and magical; the rules should be clear and unambiguous.

As far as the story-impetus goes, having warding being less difficult than attacking strikes me as favourable in all instances. It means people can run away, or sit on opposite hills shouting at each other impotently. It rewards cunning and thought, rather than immediate application of brute force.

Yeah - I reread that thread this morning including that post (I can certainly say that my opinions have changed along the way). Partly due to the resparked ward debate - but also because I've flushed all our house rules (many of them pre-5th ed) and decided to go more with the canon. Too many of our HR simply created new problems, as I've mentioned anywhere, and I really think the system is so positively close-knit today that HR one thing you often loose a nuance elsewhere.

Now I'm trying to work from scratch and figure out what areas I'd prefer HR on. So far they seem far apart, but one of my main issues are still the wards. Not the circle/ring ones though, but the personal ones, and one of the ideas I'm working on is a difference in the effects of attacks on a warded person vs a warded circle..

One thing I find interesting is that the "Must Penetrate" crowd tends to ignore the reading on 114 that mentions how wards don't have to Penetrate because "...the target is the thing protected, rather than the things warded against..." and lean heavily on the ReCo guideline. I'm not sure why the ReCo guideline is given more wieght than the pg 114 phrasing.

I think the wall of resistance argument could fit both-- if you twist the ReCo a little--

If the "Might" of a magus could be considered to be the strength of his Parma, then as long as the ReCo ward has an effective magnitude greater than magus' Parma, the magus would be hedged out.

As I see it, page114 is the more general rule-- covering a number of wards, while the ReCo guideline is more specific... having the more specific rule extend to all wards doesn't seem right.

shrug I may as well try to get an emacs user to switch to vi, or the "taste great" crowd to join the "less filling," or we could try to find the right balance of chocolate and peanut butter in the peanut butter cup.


I'd go with the p114 rule but, Noble's Parma.

My interpretation, probably a relic from playing ArM2 & 4, is that wards and might interact like auras. Take a level 20 ward approached by a might 19 beastie. The beastie's might is less than ward and so is barred. A might 21 beastie approaches and since its might exceeds the level of the ward it penetrates.

In other words it is up to the might to penetrate the ward rather than the ward to penetrate the might. Why is it that might is sacrosanct? IMHO if the might 30 ghost wants to get through a level 40 ward (FoEx) it needs to find ways to increase its might, which may then alert the troupe to its plans, thus providing the story.

Just my 2/10th of a Mythic Pound.

But then, what of HoH:S p114:

Note also that, if you drop this, the columbae's ability becomes utterly useless.

I'll throw in my 2 cents. Arguements for and against, heh. (I use penetration, so yeh, i'm biased)
Standard wards, are not standard spells. Circle and diameter as standard sets them apart. If you want to house rule that they don't need penetration, feel free, they're already an exception.
You probably can destroy a spirit easier than you can defend against it using a ward. But what about the next one? The ward can defend against an unlimited number of spirits.
Without penetration, every combat would see a mage casting a ward, then have his grogs stand inside, and shoot the beastie with arrows. Too dull.
With a wizards communion, you can achieve much more than normal. Penetration at least makes it trickier (though probably still not impossible) to create a ward that stops a 75+ might creature.

There's the official ruling. That's it. Game over. Nothing to see here.

Now, if anyone wants to debate whether that should be the case... yet again.

The problem with that is that it ignores the difference between the target of the spell and the effects of the spell. The target of a spell which immolates a building is the building - this effect still has to penetrate to burn the Magi or Ghosts or what have you inside. The target of the ward is the thing warded; the magic affects the things trying to get at it. Of course, this then links back to the age old arguments of how Parma works and it cycles from there.

As for comments about the Columbae's virture becoming useless if wards don't need to penetrate (and I think they do, but not as written with obsolete guidelines), I disagree. It becomes less useful to an extent, but since they can ward against individuals, they still have a lot more flexibility.

It's official only if you have Sociatas and are using the Columbae as written.

This whole situation is the naked peasant with the club all over again.

Wards, as written, are seriously borked. Either they need to penetrate or they need to be a level in excess of the magical might of whatever they're warding against. Not both.

Personally I'm going to continue as I described above and consider the Columbae to have a magical focus with wards. :smiling_imp:

It is official. Whether you apply the rule or not is irrespective of whether you have HoH:S. The rules as designed have wards that need to penetrate.

This isn't a problem and I can't understand why people are making it out to be a problem. My Verditius can't cast healing spells very well, does that mean healing spells are too hard? No, it just means that my Verditius isn't the best magus in the covenant for healing spells.

In my troupe, if we need a ward put up we all look at Dave in the corner. That's because he can do it and we can't. That's his thing. If we need someone turned into a mouse, we look at Mark B. That's his thing. If we need someone to take one for the team on an arbitrarily dangerous basis, they look at me. Characters have different specialities (and I don't just mean that in a Virtues and Flaws way).

Warding (it's such a small thing, it really is) is something that a specialist can generally do well and a generalist really has to work at (props and/or ceremonial magic, casting tablets, a bit of vis, arcane connections, etc).

Where's the problem. Just saying "borked" doesn't make it broken.

I will try to respond to as many people in just this one post as I possibly can, so it may be a bit long. If I forgot or neglected you, I apologize. The response here is more overwhelming than I expected, and the Forums have impressed me!

Not my fault this time. Someone else brought it up, and anytime the sinister specter of ward penetration rears it’s evil head, I will be there to champion the cause of reason and logic :slight_smile:
It is a subject that keeps coming up again and again, and will always continue to do so. A FAQs entry will not be sufficient. The system is broken, and people need to open their eyes and admit it if we are ever going to fix it.

This is what I mean by killer DM syndrome. NO, this is not more fun.

You are both just picking and choosing based upon what you feel comfortable with. According to the RAW, the Aegis must penetrate too. No exception is provided for in the spell description. Find me a quote in cannon to the contrary :wink:. I say it doesn’t have to penetrate, because wards should not have to penetrate. The rules are flawed. I am able to see it clearly, because my vision not obscured by the delusion that ArM5 is the mythical OTE.

You are comparing apples and oranges. I don’t want to start a whole new debate on Magic Resistance, so I will let it go. Refer to Ben’s post above (aka Leonis) for a well written argument in this vein.

Granted, but as far as the rules go, they are wrong. Think outside the box my friend. Someone ask for advice, I gave it to them. Someone contradicted me, so I present the counter argument. Go and play they way you want, but I will always shout from the hilltops that this is the better way. Each and every time I am asked I will respond the same, and I will keep on it until I convince you all and they finally make an official change in the ruling to fix the problem.

:slight_smile: Bit off topic here, but allow me to further enlighten you. House Flambeau contains the most brilliant and well rounded magi of the Order. They are simply the best at everything. They are the smartest, the bravest, and the best looking :wink:

That is the driest definition I have ever read, and it is barely accurate. It’s a figure of speech, not a technical term. A Killer DM is similar to a Munchkin. He thinks everything is too easy for the players and tries to think of as many obstacles in the rules to prevent them from doing cool stuff as they can find. The Ars version of a Killer DM prevents starting magi from learning how to teleport even though the RAW allows them too. An Ars Killer DM tries to find ways to keep the Verditius with his mysteries from operating at peak capacity. An Ars Killer DM makes you have to collect arcane connections to ward against random hobgoblins. Most of you guys here are Alpha storyguides, few of you are players. You lack perspective. In your Forum posts, many of you complain that this or that or these or those makes players too powerful. This doen’t apply to all of you, but the Forums and the Berklist have their fair share of Killer SG’s

I’m a very bold sorta fella :wink:
Note though, I didn’t say all or most even, simply a “large portion”. I feel that this is accurate. Face it, if all you own is the core rules and you don’t go online, you don’t even know wards are supposed to penetrate in the first place.

Why do you jump instantly to Democracy? What about a Republic? But anyways, Ars Magica has always been and will be the Peoples Game, LOL. Go into the Berklist archives. Many of the new rules for ArM5 started as HR’s for earlier editions, and were much discussed y fans before they one day made it into cannon. Our discussions here and now shape the future of the game.

Um, gamers of course!

That is not what the RAW says. You are picking and choosing still. If Wards have to penetrate, so does the Aegis. Nothing anywhere ever says it doesn’t.

Take some White Out, cover that part up, and write the correct rule in with a black pen.
I am not worried so much about the Columbae. A small newly invented ex-mix tradition versus what is good for the whole of the Order, well, choice is simple. Give them some other power. A Focus in Wards sounds nice.

You are welcome :slight_smile:
Now, from some fellows (besides myself and Ben) who have chosen t listen to the voice of reason…

Ad finally (I snipped so much I forget who this was)...

That is a pretty negative attitude. I did not start this thread. I replied once, made one more reply, and now this is my third. 3 in three pages is simply participating in a running conversation. You have been given examples of why it is a much bigger problem than you think it is. The rules, as designed, are wrong. A mistake was made. The designers of ArM5 are not gods. There is no OTE. They make mistakes, just like anyone else. And I forget who said it, but though the game is well crafted, it is not all perfectly balanced and scientifically calibrated. It’s mechanics are all transparent to me. It isn’t brain surgery. And I am not yet making a call for ArM6 (but I do like Alex’s idea for a 5.5)
I gotta get back to work. Later on, if anyone is interested, I’ll post a breakdown of the math for three options; the old school way, this new school “double charge you” way, and the Flat Rate method (which, if ArM5 was all so perfectly calibrated, should be how wards work because other similar might based spells were likewise converted)

Ignoring the fact that they are Borked doesn't make the problem go away. You got to accept that this is not a monor isolated incident. This is a serious major rules flaw. You remind me of those guys on the Berklist who say "well, it's not a problem in my game...(etc)". It is a problem in most peoples games.

This is the thing: Wards are not supposed to be in the provence of a specialist, and even at that, they are too difficult for even a specialist! If your Verditus magus can't cast a level 20 healing spell, well, he has peoblems. If I am able to cast a level 20 Ward, it still is useless. The Aegis of the Hearth is now useless too.

Mathmatical breakdown to come later tonight...

The system is messed up. It forced a triple post on me because it froze up, and it took me ten trys to edit one of the duplicates. It's not me. I can bounce around from page to page effortlessly. This was another duplicate, I am typing over them.

5th try