What spells should every covenant have? (Arcane Connection)

So Arcane Connection 3 is up as of now, taking Ars Magica podcasting to new lows! This podcast asks what spells should every Spring Covenant have? I asked forty Ars Magica players and authors, and I'm sure once the votes were tallied the resulting top 20 can cause some controversy. Be great of we could discuss it here - I'll post the full Top 30 breakdown in a few days time as I have to dash out now. You can hear what people voted for here -- arcaneconnection.podomatic.com/e ... 8_47-07_00
cj x


He even asked me as a relatively new player but I wasn't able to pin it down to single spells but instead to functions the spells should provide (except for 1 spell).
The spell it self are depending on the mages of the covenant and all functions I think are important could be covered with different spells.

I would have included the following spells:

  • Mighty Torrent of Water (CrAq20) both for it's obvious combat use and also it's a handy fire extinguisher!
  • Disguise of the New Visage (MuCo15) is extremely useful when you need to send a grog off to do something less than legal. "Who? My guard? Looks nothing like the thief, officer!"
  • Dust to Dust (PeCo10) otherwise known as "What Dead Bodies?" :slight_smile:
  • Wizard's Sidestep (ReIm10) because as a SG on the receiving end of this bugger, it's amazingly powerful for such a low level spell. No magus worth their Art should enter combat without it running
  • Scales of the Magical Weight (InVi5) and Sense the Nature of Vis (inVi5) should both be in any Spring Covenant's library, right next to their copy of Aegis


Those are two truly essential spells. I was quite surprised that Gather the essence of the Beast made the top 20 list, but neither Scales of the Magical Weight nor Sense the Nature of Vis did. Most vis you encounter is already concentrated in a portion of a creature or object, and that which is not can be used for tasks that do not require "portability" (say, casting an Aegis), so although useful Gather the essence of the Beast is not strictly indispensable. But without Scales of the Magical Weight you have no clue about how much vis you have (does that magical beehive contain enough Rego vis to for the Seven League Boots you plan spending three seasons to enchant?) and without Sense the Nature of Vis you don't even know what type of vis you have (wait, does that magical beehive actually contain Rego vis, or is it Animal?). I noticed, however, that no level 5 spells were present in the top 20 list; I assume that many "voters" did not count spells that, although indispensable, almost any mage can cast spontaneously if he can take his time and need not penetrate magic resistance. Scales of the Magical Weight and Sense the Nature of Vis certainly fall in this category.

I think that Image Phantom (MuIm20) is a better choice: although it's 1 magnitude higher, you can use it to disguise anything, not just human faces. You can certainly make your grog look like the king (or the king like your grog), but you can also disguise a valuable emerald as a walnut (or fake a valuable emerald with a walnut), make water appear and taste as a potent liquor (or a potent liquor as water, which turned out to be extremely useful in one of our recent stories) etc.

I partially agree with Adauli when he writes:

Several pairs of the top 20 spells had similar functions. It would be nice to try to group such spells together. Say:

Direct attack spells: Mighty Torrent of Water, Pilum of fire.

Truthfinding spells: Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie, Posing the Silent Question, Whispers through the Black gate (I really liked the comment about how it suits that "shoot'em first, then ask questions" attitude some players have).

Mind control spells: Aura of rightful authority, Aura of Ennobled Presence.

Healing spells: ...

Now, it's true that all these spells are different, and that e.g. Mighty Torrent of Water can be used as a fire estinguisher and not only as direct attack, so they are not exactly equivalent. However, they are often sufficiently similar in function that if you have one, the marginal utility of also having another in the same group is definitely lower, so I strongly suspect that for most voters, at most one per group made any given voter's "essential 10 spells" list.

  • Mighty Torrent of Watter was also on my example spell list.
  • Scales if the Magical Weight and Sense the Nature of Vis are not needed as soon you have someone with some points in Intelego + Vim as spontan them is enough.
    Because the covenant need anyway someone who can do Aegis of the Heart (ReVi) at reasonable level this 2 shouldnt be a problem for this mage to spontan them.

I would add the following spells:

  • Touch of Midas CrTe20(R) Instead of gold, creating silver. Easy money cannot go wrong.
  • Rock of Viscid Clay Mu(Re)Te 15 (Base3, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, +1 Part, +1 Rego req) similar to the core book spell, but changing stone to sand and you control the sand's flow. Why is this needed? It's great for building a new house, creating a sudden-secret passage/ door... and we have an old saying in our group: 'you always have to dig'.
  • My new loyal servant MuMe 15 (Base 4, +1Eye, +2 Sun) Changing one person's full emotional state, ready to obey and do whatever is asked of him. Loyally answering all the question and defending the Magi.
  • Call to Slumber ReMe 15, (Base 4, +3 Sight) because killing is not the right option.
  • The Inexorable Search InCo 20, finding someone made easy.
  • Eyes & Ears within InIm 25 (Base 2, +3 Sight, +1 Conc, +3 Structuce) Allows you to spy on a distant building you can only see, planning an attack never been easier.

Additional I would seriously recommend a ReHe / ReAn / ReCo spell allowing you to animate marionettes for cheap soldering.

Ah, so you confirm my suspicion that you did not count as "indispensable" those magical effects that the covenant really should have available, but that are sufficiently low level to cast spontaneously? That may have skewed the answers somewhat.

Both made the top 20 list!

Yes because would you spend points for having such a spell in the Covenant Library if you have someone in the Covenant who can spontan this spells and also could invite each of them in only 1 saison if needed?
I think then most would decide to spend the points elsewhere.
But I actuall pointet out in my answear to CJ that there are some spells needed to add as soon the covenant have no one who can spontan lvl 5 Vim spells.

I predict over 50 ways to build a covenant's Grimoire... :smiley:

This will vary to the covenant, and I disagree with several of the spells listed. :smiley:

I don't think the question was "which spells should be in the Covenant Library", but "which spells are essential for a spring covenant", which is slightly different. I took it to mean "which magical effects should be within the power of at least one member of the covenant, whether by formulaic, ritual or spontaneous magic, magical items, casting tablets etc.?".

It will certainly vary from covenant to covenant, as the podcast says most respondents pointed out.
And yes, there was quite a bit of disagreement: the podcast says that they got more than 120 spells as "one of the 10 indispensable spells" from the people they queried.

So why don't you post your list of the 10 indispensable spells for a spring covenant of level 25 or below?

This was actual my answear to CJ and only then I gave 3 spells as example that would fit.

  1. Aegis of The Heart
  2. Some way to find and estimidate Vis
  3. Spell to improve / generate mundane income
  4. Way to douse fire
  5. Some form of Healing that dont use VIS
  6. A attack spell
  7. Ways to improve the interaction with mundanes
  8. Way of Travel

The keyfact is that there are up to 10 effects that need to help any covenant. So should fit a parisian urban covenant and a novgoroth's mountain one. So put an example of Pof its not preciselly necesary for a jerbiton art creator covenant. But what you can dare to say it's that every spring covenant need handwork and some like the carperter's or blackmith would be very usefull until you recruit a grog for it.

i would not been able to say my own thougts better :laughing:

Yes that was my intention. I think I clarified it when people asked, but yep.

cj x

Here's what I sent cj:

About the fact that low-level spells can be sponted, I would point out that spontaneous magic always come with the risk of botch, which can be particularly bad if you are in a foreign aura when you need these spells. So, for the covenant, I consider these spells truly essential. In the early years of the covenant, every magus should probably take the time to learn them, because each will at some point have to gather vis, or explore a supernatural site.

Well I've done three podcasts. Yes we need a better microphone, and it would help if we could get the volume stable, but hey we are trying. Any ideas from people? (Apart from the obvious "give up"). I have prepared the complete top 40, judging the four ties by an arcane method :smiley: I'll postthem tomorrow, or tonight if people really don't want to have to sit through the podcast.

cj x

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Below is my list, with the caveat that:
a) it does not include spells that are strongly saga dependent (e.g. if your covenant is a ship, you'll probably need a weather control spell)
b) it does include spells that many or most magi should be able to cast spontaneously and
c) it includes some spells not found in the books as such, but derived from guidelines.

I did not include any combat spells; from my experience a bunch of well trained grogs are more effective than a mastered pilum of fire, and require less effort for the individual magus to acquire.

I also did not include any healing spells. These are essentially of three types: healing bonus spells, instant healing rituals, and crisis-resolving rituals. The first can generally be replaced by a good physician, though I was strongly tempted to include one. The second we've found of little use; few magi would spend several pawns of vis to save a grog a few months in bed, and in our sagas very, very, very rarely does a magus get seriously wounded - it generally means that every grog in the party got killed, AND that all the magical defenses/getaways of the magus failed. The third are useful, but I somehow assumed that a spring covenant is entirely composed by freshly gauntleted magi who'll have several years before facing the ravages of time.

I thought long and hard whether to include Piercing the Faerie Veil (and the Magical Veil) but, although useful, they are less useful than other spells in the list; the same goes for Gather the Essence of the Beast; and for a R:Touch, D:Diam Endurance of the Berserkers -- mildly useful on your grogs, extremely useful in certamen. Without further delay, here's my list (in Form/Technique order):

  1. Summoning the distant Image, InIm 25 - Arm5, p.145. You shouldn't use this on a fellow magus, but it's great for keeping track of what that nasty baron or your squad of faithful grogs are doing. It may be worth dropping Range to Touch (bringing the level down to 10) and using it through an Intangible Tunnel (see below) even though it's slightly riskier.

  2. Image Phantom, MuIm 20 - Arm5, p.146. A phenomenally versatile spell that you can use to mask your shield grog as the king (or the king as your shield grog!) an acorn as a glittering emerald (or a glittering emerald as an acorn!) and water as wine (or wine as water!).

  3. Posing the Silent Question, InMe 20, or a R:Touch or R:Voice variant (the latter level 25) - Arm5, p.149. Almost indispensable when recruiting grogs and covenfolk, it's very handy for ferreting out dirty secrets of any mundane you want to blackmail. The R:Touch version works really well in combination with Opening the Intangible Tunnel, below. It can spoil some investigation stories, though.

  4. Earthworks, ReTe 20: Base 3, +2 Stone or Metal, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, +1 size moves up to 10 Base Individuals worth of Terram as directed by the caster. Useful for construction/excavation work, to make something you stand upon fly, and - when combined with the D:Ring version of Maintain the Demanding spell, below - to provide motive power to a covenant, such as an eternally spinning mill.

  5. Smell the wizard's currency, InVi 15 - Base1, +1 Touch, +3 Moon, +2 Smell, endows the target with the ability to sniff out vis. Of the many R/T combinations this is one of the most effective, as it allows your grogs to go vis-hunting on their own. For spontaneous casting, lowering the Duration to Diam lowers the level to 5; you can still cast it on your grog in the field while you stay in your comfy lab through an Intangible Tunnel.

  6. Sense the Magical Weight, InVi 5 - Arm5, p.158. Indispensable for knowing how much vis you have.

  7. Sense the Nature of Vis, InVi 5 - Arm5, p.158. Indispensable for knowing what type of vis you have - which is sometimes but not always obvious.

  8. Aegis of the Hearth, ReVi 20 - ArM5, p.162. Yes, level 20, not 25 for a Spring Covenant -- cheaper, harder to botch, more penetrating. Indispensable for keeping minor critters away from your lab and your servants.

  9. Opening the Intangible Tunnel, ReVi 25 (or as high as you can get it) - ArM5, p.162. Use it to help your grogs when they are off on a mission on their own, and in general to cast all sorts of magic at arcane connection range while only learning (or casting spontaneously) the Touch version. Note that, since it's Rego rather than Muto, it works on spontaneous magic.

  10. A Duration:Ring version of Maintaining the Demanding Spell, ReVi 25 (or as high as you can get it) - ArM5, p.162. Extremely useful to keep up D:Conc spells indefinitely, as long as the target stays within the Ring drawn at the time of casting, from magical lights to healing spells to spells providing motive power. Again, since it's Rego rather than Muto, it works on spontaneous magic.

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Seeing that made me remember why I usually vote to spend almost no points on spells when building a covenant. Spells are much easier to come by then vis sources, good texts, and most other things you can sink build points into.

If it's unreasonable for a covenant to have few spells in the library (because it's an older established covenant) then I generally prefer to have players take turns selecting spells they want their characters to learn. I think the result is a bit more natural looking then the ACME mages toolbox you often get when you purchase a bunch of utility spells for the good of the covenant.

I've had at least one game where hidden resources meant that the library was a large disorganized mess and you had to spend time searching to find what you wanted in it. So the points where unspent until someone found a book or spell or "Hey, what do you think this wand does someone was using it as a bookmark?"

I thought about putting these in, but decided that there were better options - usually someone in the troupe can spont these.