Wards and "Pseudo-Wards"

(Topic inspired by another thread, on a spell for consideration, here:
That same spell is listed below.)

It's easy in Ars to lump similar effects into the same rough category without looking at them too closely and making distinctions. Destroying an "individual" worth of a large fire vs destroying "part" of that fire, or creating a natural object vs an unnatural one, etc.

It's also easy to, consciously or no, import previous concepts from literature and other games into the world of Ars Magica. And into the rules, coloring them with those assumptions and understandings.

I'd like to ask you not to do that for this discussion - at least, not unconsciously.

When many of us think of "wards", we think of any spell that guards an individual from harm, from some magical or mundane effects, narrowly or generally defined. So, Circling Winds of Protection (CrAu, p 125) is, in the loose sense, a "ward" - it keeps stuff away, and the recipient of the spell safe. Self-immolation can be an effective "ward" against being grappled, Parma is an effectivel ward against many small magics, and so on.

But in the Ars Magica rules, "Magical Wards" are defined quite specifically on page 114...Rego spell can create wards which protect the target from things of the appropriate Form. These use the normal targets, but the target is the thing protected, and the range is the range to the target, not to the things warded against..."So, in AM, it appears that "Magical Wards" are only created with Rego effects, and that any assumptions about Rego Wards do not, necessarily (i.e. by the RAW), carry over to other, seemingly similar protective spells that use other Techniques.

(And I'll capitalize the term "Ward" when speaking of classic RAW Rego Magical Wards, and keep it small case when speaking generically. The Rules do not make this distinction!)

However, any player soon learns that there is more than one way to achieve a desired end effect - here, "personal protection" against a threat. And so we have the possibility of "psuedo-wards" (my term), that use Muto or Perdo at Range:Touch to automatically protect the caster against threats in a similar fashion. (They might also use Rego, but in a way that is other than described under Magical Wards.)

[color=darkred](Pseudo-Ward against Predictable Tangets:
Pe(Re)Ig 50
Oh - and I'll ask that no one bring up the question of whether Wards/wards need to penetrate against any offensive magics that they are defending against. This is not that discussion. Go start your own thread.)
:imp: :laughing:

For instance:
(And note that these are NOT "canon" spells or spell effects, nor (yet) independently proof-read or double-checked in any way - each StoryGuide and/or Troupe should weigh them each individually for their Saga, as with any spell they find on the web!)
Pseudo-Ward against Flame’s Heat
PeIg 30
R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Ind
Cools any fire up to +30 damage.
(Base 4 to cool “Fire” - +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +5 vs BoAF +30 damage)
(Note - it would be Base 10 to destroy any “Heat”, so, apparently(?), non-fire effects would certainly get thru??? Ysmv.)

Swords to Sand
MuTe 25
R: Touch, D: Diam, T: Group
Changes any metal that touches the caster to sand. A metal weapon would tend to "pour" to the ground as sand, then that sand would return to a pile of metal granules when the spell expires. This spell will affect up to 10 individual metal objects for duration.
(Base 2, +1 Touch, +2 Diam, +2 Group, +2 dirt to metal)
(Base 2: change dirt to a different dirt)

The Arsenal Asunder (simplified for this discussion)
(see viewtopic.php?t=4360&start=0 for original discussion)
Destroys up to one metal or wooden object of standard "amount" that contacts the caster, each round that the spell operates. If more than one such object contacts the caster, only the first is destroyed (of either type, or mixed, but not one of each/round), but the spell continues for its full duration.
(base 5 - destroy a metal object, touch +1, diameter +1, req +1)

Rough Handling for the Handler
ReCo 30
For the duration of the spell, any person (or being of Corpus form) that so much as touches the caster is violently flung 10-20 paces away, landing as they may. Damage depends on the landing, with soak as normal. Up to 1 individual/round may be so affected. If more one than remains touching the caster at the start of the next round, one at random will be flung away.
(Base 15, +1 Touch, +2 Diameter)Many other Mu or Pe effects are possible, some working better than others against one or more Forms, and some Forms proving more awkward to guard against than others. That last example, Rough Handling for the Handler, is a pseudo-ward even though it uses Rego, because it is not a Ward effect as described on page 114 (not even close!). Not every Rego effect, not even most, are actual Wards, by the technical definition.

Besides making this distinction clear, between formal "Rego" Magical Wards (as discussed on page 114) and these "pseudo-wards", I wonder - how would different SG's treat these in their sagas?

Because there are several aspects of these that are purely "Your Saga May Vary"!

Now, altho' they may seem fine at first, there are some potential problems with such "pseudo-wards", and quite possibly with the above spell descriptions. One is the how the Target and the Duration interact - especially given a Duration of Diameter (or longer)...

? - Does Target:Individual affect only 1 item for the entire duration?
? - Would Perdo:Individual work differently than Muto: Individual for Diameter duration? (and why?)
? - Can such a pseudo-ward with Target:Individual be defined as affecting 1 Individual per round for the Duration? Or should such a spell only affect the first Individual item that contacts the caster until the Duration expires?

? - Is it possible to extend such a pseudo-ward to Duration:Sun without affecting every individual Target for that entire duration?

If we increased some of those spells' parameters to Target:Group with a Diameter (or longer) Duration, it seems it would affect only the first 10 such items - so how does Target:Individual affect that many? Would it improve it by x10? Could we define the pseudo-ward as affecting up to Group per round?

Just tossing out some food for thought. Some of these are complex - take the above spells, and change them to Momentary, or change the Target between Group/Indvidiual and consider the different possible end effects, compare those alternatives, and think about how to achieve the desired result.

Personally, I think that some of the above are classic spell affects that simply cannot be achieved without houseruling something somewhere (which is one reason why the rules are not overly defined), so don't be afraid to go out of the box when considering them.

One conceptual problem is that the target (fire, sword, etc) isn't there at the time of casting. The ward special-case gets around that. Your examples may need to be fast-cast momentary defenses, which would tend to reduce their practicality...

That's my first throught and how I would probably rule on most of those spells, although as I think about it I may not have been consistent on it in my last few campaigns.

But personally I love those types of pseudo-wards, as they make comabt and magical combat far more interesting.

Something that I've done in the past in 4th ed (and will do in the future unless my players disagree) is to have two categories of 'wards'.

  1. Wards - circles, prevent things crossing the circle. No penetration needed, non-mobile, etc. Classic 'Wards'.

  2. CHound's Pseudo-wards: instead of range: touch, target: individual/group, have range near (probably have to count as voice, but I wouldn't be happy with the 'shout' range) and have an area of effect (equivalent to room/group but might need an extra magnitude in 5th ed to affect more than 10 things) to cover the entire range all around the caster/recipient. Since it is centred on a person or location, it must penetrate that person or location AND to affect the objects/energies entering that area, it must penetrate that/those too. This also means that you don't need to get into the whole argument of 'but for your spell to affect my sword, it must have already touched you, so you're wounded even though my sword is now dust'.

Gilarius ex Diedne

(double post, oops)

(G - That argument doesn't change these spells - range:Personal achieves nothing by the RAW that range:Touch does not, and there is some point at which the sword has only barely "touched" the mage but has not come close yet to breaking the skin - magic works at that moment.

However, that is a good argument for why such effects could not be Range:Personal, if no one groks any other reasons why.) :wink:

No doubt, by the Rules as Written, all of these are cheats.

But, as RAR and I pointed out, these are classic effects in the genre and great for storytelling, and they (the desired effects, not the spells as presented) do not break any of the Hermetic Limits as I read them, yet, as I finished up, above, "houseruling" is the only way to achieve them.

I would suggest that there is some "missing" section under "Magical Wards" that should describe these "pseudo-wards" and how they work, just as for the existing Rego Wards, and despite the obvious contradictions as they stand. (And some term like "Lesser Wards" or such might sound more appropriately Hermetic, ahem, harrumph)

(Edit - I suppose that within the RAW they could be incorporated, somehow, with a ReVi effect, such as "waiting ward" - maybe not that exact effect, but something like?)

Yup. Must be a forgotten Minor Breakthrough that happens to be common knowledge in your tribunal. :slight_smile:

Archived under "boring research" in Durenmar :wink:

It's not that easy. "Screw it, I don't care what the rules say" is not the point of this thread, as anyone can say that whenever they want.

For one, the question of offensive balance remains - if a mage with "Rough Handling for the Handlers" (with Target:Group) charged into a mob, could that mage use such a "pseudo-ward" offensively, to scatter them as he charges thru? Nice effect, but how to balance it, besides one at a time.

For example, with a Muto: or Perdo:Individual effect, it would not be balanced to allow that to affect up to 20 individuals over Diameter duration (one per round) just because it's being called a "ward" (small "w"), while a similar effect designed to do the same only works once on only one Individual, and lasts for that duration on that one item. If Touch is Touch, there should be no diff between touching something and being touched (or should there, for balance?).

If the Caster casts such a ward on another, they are, essentially, giving them the power of that spell effect, to use Muto or Perdo against other targets by Touching them at will. Up to each SG/Troupe, but that starts to sound a bit out of normal Hermetic bounds/expectations.

And we quickly get into the situation of adding a magical offensive "ward" effect to 100 targets (perhaps rats, or magical skeletons), and sending them on their merry way to spread Muto or Perdo wherever they go...

As others have pointed out, the fact that the Target (of Perdo pseudo ward) is not there when the spell is cast is probably the biggest 'rules violation' for these spells. However.....if we take the classic example of a PeTe spell over Sun duration, the example in the book says that the pit opens up (a bunch of earth is destroyed) and cannot be filled again with earth, because any other earth is destroyed as it is thrown in, but it could be filled with non-earthen substances. So it looks to me like the spell is successfully targeting earth that wasn't there when the spell was cast....just like our pseudo-wards are doing.

Balance? This is ArsM! Some effects are simpler with some Arts than others - Rego is probably the way to go if you want the most offensive ability, 'teleporting' others whereever you want is just so powerful....

Perdo is used to do an area where the Target can't exist without MR. (and no, its not a "the RAW said that", it's only my way of seeing the Perdo Art

PerdoCorpus => the life can't exist, and depending on the guideline, you destroy a little (light wound), or a lot of life (death).

PerdoAquam =>water (or a property...) can't exist where you cast the spell, and so on, depending on the guideline used.

So for a PeTe iron "area" (touching range in my thoughts) : no iron can touches you without being destroyed.

Is the Target here or not... no problem because of the duration. It prevents the Target to come. And, if, after ending, no Targets enters the "area" of effect... you have wasted a spell :smiley:

It's like using a AC spell on something you think is an AC but isn't. You thought you succeeded to kill/scry your enemy, but you failed, why... guess it.

Exar, serf,noble,etc parmae.

I'd say there are 2 "touch" range: The one from the magus to the spell recipient (which may be himself) and from he recipient to the form.

Thus, I'd warrant extra magnitudes following the range chart.
Moreso, this could not create a plague, as the recipients would not be spell carriers, no more than the recipiend of a touch range flight spell can confer spell on others.

I completely agree with the the idea that despite obviously not being encompassed in current hermetic guidelines, these effects just as obviously break no limits of magic. They should be possible; the question is just how to do it. I see several options, depending on how restrictive you feel:

  1. It's a new virtue, possibly vaguely related to mutantum magic. This is a bit of a hand wave and needs to be very carefully defined before allowed in the game, but is definitely possible.

  2. It's an unusual target (everything I touch during the duration?), similar to Wind at the Back's duration and Treading the Ashen Path's target. I consider these minor breakthroughs that have been spread through the order, but not generalized to apply to other spells. I'd say three magnitudes for target is good. This implies you need breakthroughs to research them, or a teacher/parens with said breakthroughs.(I read the Path's target as unusual, not group, because the size modifier doesn't apply immediately. Were it an actual group, you wouldn't have to walk to destroy all those trees.)

  3. They're normal rego wards, but enhanced with requisites or additional effect magnitudes. Swords to Sand needs muto, Arsenal split asunder needs perdo, and Rough Handling for the Handler needs additional effect. Cooling of the flames seems like a rego ward using perdo- I wouldn't allow it. Just make sure the secondary effect isn't a higher guideline level than the ward.

I don't see any reason not to go with #3, mainly because it leaves every spell open to interpretation by the storyguide without too much player complaint. Taking time to initiate or breakthrough and not getting spells you expected kinda blows.

More threadomancy. :laughing:

Meh, I've wanted to revisit this, but haven't had the excuse to...

Oooh, be careful. Canon Rego Wards break enough expectations as it is.

The problem with these kinds of effects is that there is no reason that they cannot be used offensively - and once the concept is accepted, that offense can explode exponentially.

At the risk of many eyes rolling at my pessimism toward your average troupe, allow me to guide you through one possible, logical disaster scenario...

  1. RAW, Rego Wards, as defined on page 114, are a unique exception, and have one and only one effect - to protect against a Form, specifically by barring that form from touching/affecting the target (or by increasing Soak, with that popular Houserule interpretation). The "Rego" does not affect the formal, standard target of the spell, but any manifestation of that Form that later comes into contact with that effect.

1.1) With a basic Ward, you cannot "push" a Form around - the Form cannot affect you, but you cannot force the Form back using the Ward. (Or maybe your Troupe rules differently - no matter.) Either way however, with a different effect there is no way to rationalize a difference between a Form touching you and you touching a Form. The "Touch" is made, the effect takes place, whatever that magical effect is!

  1. To expand the concept of a "ward" (small w) to ~any~ magical effect, we further expand the definition, so that the standard target effectively is casting the spell on the Form. That is, I cast "Swords to Sand" on you, and now you can turn any metal to sand that you come into contact with. I cast "Rough Handling for the Handler" on you, and you toss any corpus Form back 15 paces with a touch. Now you are not only "protected", but you become an offensive force on the battle field, happily and eagerly grabbing for every metal weapon and bit of armour or body you can lay your hands on. And remember, "you" are a grog, not a mage.

(This is radical enough of a change, but wait...)

  1. Let's put a Perdo Herbam effect on a group of rats, and turn them loose in a town. Let's put a Perdo Terram effect on a murder of crows, and turn them loose near a castle. (But we do it smart - it slowly rots the material, not destroy it outright - we want our rats to survive to spread the love. Duration Moon for all - we don't like this town.)

(Are we scared yet?... No? Well here comes the punchline...)

  1. ~IF~ we can attach any magical effect to a "ward"... why not the effect of a ward? So... we take our rat, and cast the following effect on it as a "ward": the ability to put our previous destructive PeHe ward effect on any rat it comes in contact with. For all intents and purposes, our rat has a "ward" that allows it to become a special purpose mage, casting our destructve PeHe ward effect on every other rat (and animal, why not?!) that it touches.

So that one rat comes into contact with X number of other rats, and those rats all now are "infected" with the PeHe effect. (Duration Moon, of course - so it infects rats for Moon duration, and then those effects start another Moon duration of Perdo, so the entire thing could last about 6 weeks if done right.)

Now, maybe you're cool with this - but as a SG, it makes my stomach hurt just to think about it. Because actually - and you know in your gut I'm right - we haven't even scratched the surface on destructive creativity. :wink:

(What happens when the "effect" becomes complex, combining the two effects into one self-perpetuating one? The "Rough Handling" effect tosses one target into others in a mob, who then begin a cascade chain-reaction as each caroms into more, each imbuing the next with the same "ReCo" ward effect... and the entire army explodes in a sea of jumping Corpus, like a carpet of mousetraps, each continually triggering its neighbors again and again for Duration.)

(Why am I suddenly reminded of Vonnegut?...) :confused:

Of course, any SG worth their salt would rein this in long before it got "out of control", however you want to define that point. But the problem is... it all makes sense. Each step is a perfectly logical and clean application of the rulings made before it. Once you accept that ~any~ effect can be attached to a ward, then any limit on that is arbitrary, and painfully so.
"Why not?" they asked.

"Um... because", answered the StoryGuide. "Now shut up!" he further explained...

I like my magic to be elegant and consistent. I don't like handwaving and inexplicable limitations for no apparent reason other than "this is over the line". They have to exist, and I'm the first one to say that "magic doesn't have to make sense", but still.

This is a looong, slippery slope that I, personally, would not want my Saga to go anywhere near. Show me someone with a "worst case" scenario, and I'll show you someone with no imagination. :wink:

Most of the psudo-wards probably work a lot better as magical items. An armour that turns all blades to sand would be very Mythic. An item can have being touched as a triggering action, and can trigger as often as it is touched...

(Wheels turn with thoughts of enchanting a rat as a destructive force...) 8)

Watching wards can do the same thing as a spell.

:frowning: nevermind, found answer.

The problem with Watching Wards is that they only have a single charge. Thus, they they offer no real protection from multiple dangers.

Too bad that considering a club cannot actually "feel" you, the Bjornaer Sensory Magic mystery would not work. It otherwise seems tailor-made for what you want to achieve.