What breaks if you remove Range: Sight for spellcasting?

As the topic says, what happens if this is removed as a range for spellcasting, but not enchanting?

Are certain TeFo combinations suddenly less useful? Any "holes" I should be aware of?

I'm running a new game and running more of a "low-magic" saga. To me, this means removing some of the more egregious excesses of the capabilities of Hermetic Magic.

IMO, removing Sight means a wizard has to shout to get maximum range, which is fairly noticeable... Or use an enchanted item of some sort, which means more potential interest in Enchanted Items.

Edit: Removed "low fantasy" and replaced with "low magic."

Weather control for sure breaks. Sight is the only range that can realistically be used for it without forcing the Magus to fly up to the clouds. Even AC is in general worthless for weather control.

Non-AC teleportation becomes very limited. You can pop over at arms length (touch) or a short ways based on how loudly you cast, but that is very limited compared to the what could be miles you could do (based on weather, height, and environment) with Sight.

The ability to "Silently" cast any spell at range other than AC. Do not overlook this limitation since a fair number of spells are created with range Sight for this reason rather than the actual possible greater range. Often times the greater potential range might not even really be useful for the spell. (yes I know there is range Eye, but that requires the target to have eyes)

The ability to use Concentration spells at range after the initial casting without continuing to speak. You have to continue speaking loud enough to be heard at the range of effect. This is another reason a Magus will create a spell with range Sight even if the actual potential range is not really needed.

So there are a few advantages of range Sight over range Voice that are very useful beyond the possible distance.

"Low-fantasy" tends to not be centered around magic and systems of "low-fantasy" tend to make magic very rare and/or expensive. Ars does not have ether of those without a lot of modification, so might not be your best choice. "Low-fantasy" also tends to be more gritty in combat and damage. Some flavors of CoC are in ancient times and it is much better suited to "low-fantasy". Conan has always been "low-fantasy" and many of the rpg systems for it would also fit that requirement. Tales of Gor is also "low-fantasy" as a system even if you change the setting.


I don't think that's correct.
"The range
is established when the spell is cast, and remains
the same even if the magus changes the loudness
of his voice. Thus, a Voice range spell can allow
silent control, but only as long as the target is
within the distance that the magus’s voice carried
when he cast the spell." ArM5, p112


There are spells and enchanted items which require it, even with that block of text. Also does the range move with the Magus as he moves or is it an area centered around where he was when he cast the spell? It is a YSMV element despite the quote you gave.

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I think that's a neat idea to produce more limited magic, which puts the magus in greater focus and risk. It would kill weather-magic and limit discreet-casting, as noted, which I think works well for a low-fantasy saga.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by low-fantasy, but the key limitation here seems to be simply Ars Magica's powerful magic. I'd recommend doubling all spell levels and lab totals, at least; I play by these rules, and the magic is still quite powerful (not quite "low-fantasy").

I also double or triple Magic Resistance, and have critter's main attack have penetration equal to its MR (if their main attack is magical). I think this is quite necessary for a low-fantasy setting, to make the stories more about using wits or arcane connections or just martial might to defeat the fore rather than brute penetrating the creature's magi resistance.

I think Ars Magica does low fantasy well, if your're focused on Mythic storytelling using fey bargains, raw vis harvesting and use (including enhanced vis), arcane connections, and so on.

If you mean to use mundane combat a lot, you may want to improve it - I find ArM5 combats can take far too long - although I don't use the Groups options too well. I think you can easily add +5 to damage across the board to speed-up combat and make it more frightening.

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Having little Mythic elements is key to Low Fantasy, how common they are in Ars Magica push it out of Low Fantasy and into High Fantasy. The fact that it has its own sets of rules and physical laws which do not match reality meets the primary definition. Because of them while it takes place in "our world" it is markedly different enough to meet the "alternate reality" for placing it in High Fantasy. You would have to remove most of these oddities (humors, Egypt, the way the mind and light work, how common supernatural beings are, etc).

The focus on magic and mythic elements meets the alternate (RPG) definition. They are not the primary focus in Low Fantasy and players/primary characters rarely if ever should use magic. An example would be Conan, in which the world is border line between High and Low but the primary character pulls it squarely into Low.

Could it be done? Sure just tone down all the mythic elements and the players play Grog/Companion level characters. However at this point you have removed the mythic from Mythic Europe and are just using the rules of Ars Magica. There are already systems designed for this. If you want to use the Ars Magica ruleset because you know it well then great but to actually play Low Fantasy you are pulling out the things that make it unique and different.

That is why I found using Ars as a basis for a Low Fantasy game odd. Unless the OP meant something other than the definition of Low Fantasy.

EDIT: I believe the OP might have meant "lower magic" rather than Low Fantasy. This actually could be done fairly easily in Ars Magica and in fact the saga YR7 described is such.


I've run Ars Magica with a more "low magic" system, which was done by two things:

Adjusting Arts stats and XP such that 5 was the highest starting value and anything in double digits is considered very good.
Making it so that anything above Sun duration requires a ritual.

I never had much issue with the Sight range - it was having fairly easy magical effects that lasted a month that felt too "high magic" for me.


Honestly, if I were trying to play a low magic game in AM's system, I would simply play a Learned Magician or a similar hedge tradition.

I spent a good amount of time playing a mythic GM emulator solo game with a non-hermetic and it was quite a different genre.

Personally, outside of that I find the idea of using AM as the basis of a low magic game kind of needlessly difficult.


The intent for lower Magic in Ars is still manageable.

Moon duration+ and Sight range+ as rituals are a good start.

Another point for lower magic game is making vis rare.

Great suggestions everyone. And to clarify, I did mean "low magic" or "less powerful magic" rather than the literary trope "low fantasy."

I like the idea of making moon+ duration and sight+ range the threshhold for rituals. Combined with a "low vis" saga, it means wizard's can do powerful things... But they are much more picky about when they do so. In my headcanon, the OoH is far too powerful to not have altered history in a very divergent manner.

Atlas agrees with you to some extent there. They after all did release Transforming Mythic Europe, which is just about changes to the world that the OoH could cause. Combined with some of the larger projects from Hermetic Projects and a single group of players could make Mystic Europe completely unrecognizable in only a few decades.

A giant "island" in the Med that is larger than the British Isles, much of the known world linked by magic communication and good teleportation, magic perpetual motion machines serving as the power source for ships, wagons, mills, and smithies. You would very rapidly gain "Mage Kings" or at the very least "Noble Lines" which attempt to breed the Gift since it would become the new power. That would be the only real way to do it, since controlling a full on Magus is beyond the power of nearly any mundane.


If you want low magic, then the first thing to do is remove Hermetic Magic entirely. It is extremely powerful, and just tweaking it won't be enough for a low magic setting.

Second thing to do is likely to forbid anyone from playing a character with the Gift.

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That's a good idea. The hedge traditions may be close to appropriately low magic to start with.

OTOH. I sense a desire to have magic items, which is really Hermetic.

I would consider removing formulaic magic completely. Then you can still have fun with the free-form spontaneous magic and still make magic devices, but you remove all the powerful formulaic magic. Would that be too low magic?

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Removing formulaic magic would mean that nearly everything needs to be done through enchanted or charged items (Vis dependent). That would make a certain House, especially with their ability to reduce the Vis cost, extremely powerful. It would also make planing and preparation even more important than they already are. Finally it would make dealing with anything with Might much more difficult, since high Penetration totals would be much harder to gain.

It might result in Magi who are even less inclined to go out and do things. Or you might end up with Magi who enchant all sorts of items and become a mystic warrior. The second might actually be a good thing if you are trying to play away from the traditional wizard.

So, if you're serious about having hermetic magi who are weak enough to allow something resembling a low-magic setting, here are some thoughts:

If you make the hermetic forms difficult arts, then it becomes incredibly difficult to reliably make or cast powerful spells. Creating and then casting a level 35 spell would become the work of a powerful arch-magus, requiring either the use of copious vis and a powerful aura or the equivalent to having two arts at 35.

To add to this, you should insure that magic auras greater than 5 are so rare as for there to be less than forty such places in Mythic Europe and reduce the amount of Vis per year available to about one or two pawns per magus.

You should also reduce the benefits of the Parma Magica to providing magic resistance equal to (twice ability level), which is then added to the (reduced) form bonuses. I would include the following provision as well, to avoid ruining your player's lives and fun:

  • Any magical effect that penetrates the resistance of someone with the Parma Magica, but fails to generate a penetration twice that of the Magus's magic resistance has a reduced effect. Halve whatever the impact is roughly, in terms of effect or duration. No single magical effect should generally kill a hermetic wizard if reduced by this rule, at worst wounding or greatly transforming them.

This will create hermetic wizards who are much weaker, while still maintaining their status as the greatest wizards of Europe. Talismans and Familiars become more important, Magi live a much shorter time and it's harder for them to insure that they create or find quality books, or use magic to improve their own statistics. Magical creatures of moderate Might present a much greater threat, but players can also reliably interact with them without risking the complete death or incapacitation. There will still be consequences, even long-lasting ones.


Oh, there is one more thing I forgot: Remove Magical Focuses and replace them with Potent Magic. This makes the curve much harsher and means that specialists will have an eclectic collection of magical objects that their powers are heavily dependent on.

This and Talismans mean it's very possible to strip a hermetic wizard of a great deal of magical power by forcing them to hand over their bags.


Absolutely. The houses would have to be rethought as well. Many virtues become pointless, and some virtues and flaws become unbalanced. One may want to remove Diedne magic too, as over-powered.

It might, but seriously, why play a magus if you do not want to go out and play them? It remains the choice of the player to make a PC which is boring or fun. Nothing new there.

The magi might be forced to adventure more, with the increased need for vis, possibly in a low vis world.

One thing is certain. It makes for a very different game, but that seemed to be OP's intention ...

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Very true and only one of the two extremes I gave as possible effects. The reason for that extreme is now Magi not only need to study to raise their Arts, but they need the time to enchant things to be able to do almost anything.

I would much rather the other extreme happen in a game played without Formulaic Magic. If you have a group of Magi setup as Mystic Warriors, then you end up with a much more action and adventure focused game. If the adventures are not long enough to disrupt lab activity, then the players can use the XP for increasing Arts and Abilities while the lab activity for enchanting new items (charged or minor based on Vis supply). This could be a fairly high tempo game, getting four adventures a year fairly often. An interesting and complete change of pace from a normal AM game.

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