Why is Wizards Communion a spell?

could somebody help me answer a question I have since reading the description of Wizards Communion. I read through the text several times. It says that all wizards "add the level at which they know it [the WC] to get the effective level of the Wizards Communion." Why is this a spell, it reads like the description of a ability.

Nowhere it is said that all magi have to cast (or know) the WC at the same level, older magi will use stronger versions of the spell than younger magi, but all will combine their power. It is irrelevant how much each magus contributes to the total level of the WC, the target spells level is divided by the the number of magi participating.
So why is this a spell? Why isn't this an arcane ability like penetration and finesse? You could even keep the wording nearly the same: a group of magi could cast spells up to a magnitude = (sum of ability levels / 2).
Replacing the spell with an ability would also emphasize that this is a remnant of mercurian magic, that does not fit very well into hermetic theory. And, from a pure gaming point of view, magi could easily improve this ability without reinventing the same spell over and over again.

So to repeat my question, is there a good reason why this is a spell? The way I see it, it only keeps the characters occupied by forcing them to spend several seasons to reinvent stronger versions of the same spell.
Or am I missing something important? Can't I see the woods for the trees or is this just a thing that was inherited from earlier editions of the game?

I hope this is not one of those questions that have been discussed to death, but are still comming back like stubborn zombies. :slight_smile: On the other hand, I haven't found anything on the 'web to answer my curiosity.

Where I've gotten the troupe to agree, I like to play WC as an ability, more or less along the lines you suggest. Like Parma, I don't see the utility of it being a spell. The only thing I've been able to come up with as to why it is a spell is that there are few enough Vim spells and making it an ability would make for one less Vim spell.

Well, the flip side is you have it as an ability. That way everyone has to sink XP into the damned thing, which is more annoying.

You could be right in that the spell needs looking at further. Maybe you have one magus casting the WC, but unable to contribute to the main spell as he's binding the magical energies together. I don't know, maybe that reduces the overall burden.

Personally, I'm happy with it remaining a spell. I'm not sure you can get to the crux of what the spell is supposed to do without some fairly arbitrary maths if you go down the ability route. But if you want to change it to something more useful, just have an old text turn up that describes an untested breakthrough that makes the effect easier somehow.

Or some hidden ancient mercurian mystery that players can get initiated into

Better one season learning level 10 from book and then 2 seasons later on to perhaps invent a level 20. This is 3 seasons total compares to the perhaps 10 or 20 to get an abilitiy of this sort up.

Even at 10 xp a seaon from a good book, it is 5 seaons to get a 4 in such an ability.

It also makes sense that it is a spell to summon magical power and raw energy to feed to another mage for use in casting their ritual spell. This is very much a ritualistic vim spell.

A spell is definitely easier to learn at a high level than an ability is. Once one magus researches or otherwise acquires a high level version of the spell, its pretty easy for anyone to learn it by studying. Once you are looking at spell magnitudes above 3 or so, you definitely gain from it being a spell. Not to mention, as a spell you could cast it with the assorted options (vis, reading from a scroll, virtues/flaws, etc) that apply to spells.

The multiple games (totally different groups) I play in prefer to have it actually cast to have an effect.


Are you sure about this? I forbade my players without a WC spell from participating in WC spellcasting, forcing those with WC to know the spell they want to cast.

That is not what I meant. I was saying that Nowhere it is said that all magi have to cast (or know) the WC at the same level. That is a slight, but important difference. :slight_smile: And like you, I would not allow a magus to participate in a wizards communion if he doesn't know the spell.

Thanks for your answers. Now after several people have mentioned it it is rather obvious. By replacing WC with an ability, casting powerfull spells either requires a larger group of magi or more seasons of learning. Or both. Inventing the spell is faster, especially if your old labtexts are still around.
Still, I'll keep the idea of turning wizards communion into an ability as a possible house roule. Hermetic magi can improve their powers at an amazing speed. Having a additional xp sink where they can waste some seasons will slow down their advancement. But that is another topic for another thread.

Hm, that is almost the opposite of how I envision this spell. If only one of the participating magi were required to cast the WC, the whole thing would loose a lot of atmosphere. With that change it would be kind of a draining spell, that draws power from all participants to fuel the target spell. I rather see it as a ritual where magi actively lend their power to their fellows.

I agree. I was just offering an alternative approach that kept the element of ritual and cooperation without the dread XP/season sink effect of having everyone learn very specialist spells.

Well, they could use a casting text with all the associated risks. I suppose they could spont it also... However, if they can't cast the spell in some fashion they don't count as being part of the casting.