Why is Wizard's Vigil necessary?

With the new Errata there is one thing that really has bugged me to no end and that is the Wizard's Vigil. I know that it's been in the books for a while now, but I still don't get why. Why do we need Wizard's Vigil? Wizard's Communion is a spell that was clearly designed to work with Rituals, and as an old Mercurian spell that doesn't quite fit into the Magical Theory wouldn't it be fine if it doesn't quite work like the rest of Hermetic Magic?

1 Like

Honestly, it didn't even need a "non-hermetic" rider. The original method of having muto vim piggyback its duration off the spell it affects was perfectly sensible and didn't need errata in the first place.

There is no need for wizards vigil, but at least with the current errata it's gone from "a bad change for no reason" to "a pointless change for no reason", so that's... Progress?

MuVi spells must last through the casting of the spell. Why? There is a little fudging with the Target. The spell cannot yet exist or MuVi cannot be cast on it. But if it doesn't exist, it cannot be targeted. The fudging is that you cast the MuVi on the spell as it comes into being (requiring a Concentration check), and the MuVi must have a duration lasting through the creation of the spell it is to affect. While typical Formulaic spells only take about a round to cast and Momentary suffices, Ritual spells take way too long for Momentary to manage. Sun is the typical Duration used.

With the old, temporary erratum neither was sufficient for AotH, as you needed a Year-duration version of the MuVi.

All of this is essentially down to a clash between the 2/3ed logic of exemplars and the 4/5ed logic of well-defined guidelines.

The Communion was indeed designed to work on rituals, but it was designed in 3ed or before. At that time, there was nothing odd with a duration of «special». Many spells had such duration. Specifying the communion simply to work on a casting, without specifying the duration at all is simple, well-defined, and consistent with 3ed rules.

In 4ed we get guidelines, with an associated ladder of durations. All the «special» durations disappear¹. To be consistent with the new rules, the communion has to have a duration too. Thus, the guideline principle which was intended to make spells simpler, has actually made the rules more complex in this case. It does not make sense that a momentary spell can affect a spell/casting which does not yet exist, and the editors feel compelled to fix this logical inconsistency. But now, people have come to love the guidelines, and allowing an exception - such as a special duration - would be sacrilege at this point².

The mess we have seen with errata and counter-errata, is of course because it is extremely difficult to fit a simple and well-defined legacy rule into a new complex and rigid system. One is inclined to see the concept in its legacy terms, because they are so simple, and not think in terms of the rigid system.

¹ I think, maybe they forgot one or two.
² OK, maybe I exaggerate the wording a wee bit.


While all true, it is somewhat irrelevant.
The guidelines for MuVi spells used to say (before the latest errata) that they have a nominal duration of Momentary. Adding a note that their actual duration is the same as the casting time of the spell they modify would have neatly solved any duration problems without requiring multiple variants of spells with different durations.


Actually, not so irrelevant at all. Let's say we say you're right. The I'll cast a MuVi spell. In a few months later, when I feel like I want it to apply to a spell, I'll choose to have it apply to that spell. Sound good? Where is the problem? The problem is that we don't know how long the MuVi spell has to act. This was solved many years ago.

For literally years the errata have said:

Muto Vim Guidelines (p. 159): Replace the final paragraph with the following: "Muto Vim spells work by altering the magical energies that create the spell as it is being cast. The spell is the result of the combination of the base casting and the Muto Vim effect, and has its effect once both the casting and the Muto Vim effect have finished. This means that a Muto Vim spell must have a duration at least as long as the casting of the target spell, but need not last for as long as the spell itself. For normally-cast formulaic spells, a Momentary Duration is sufficient, but if the casting time is longer for any reason, the Muto Vim spell must also have a longer Duration; Sun is sufficient for any practical Ritual."

Yes? The first paragraph of the MuVi guidelines have said they have a nominal duration of Momentary from the very first printing until a week or so ago when the latest errata was published.

No. You might want to read it again. It says "most" have nominal durations, not all MuVi have nominal durations. Meanwhile, for a great many years the text has said

a Muto Vim spell must have a duration at least as long as the casting of the target spell, but need not last for as long as the spell itself. For normally-cast formulaic spells, a Momentary Duration is sufficient, but if the casting time is longer for any reason, the Muto Vim spell must also have a longer Duration; Sun is sufficient for any practical Ritual.

So the vast majority of them, focused on formulaic magic, just use Momentary. But when you want something for a ritual that is insufficient.

I know perfectly well what the text has said, and how it has been changed by errata over the years.

My point is that part of the changes made by the errata are unnecessary and just add complications (like the need for Wizard's Vigil), when the problems could have been solved in a simpler way.

Hmmm, could you cast a MuVi spell with moon duration and keep that in your back pocket to drop into any one spell you cast while it is active... seems potentially usefull or abusive depending on your perspective.

I think MuVi affects the next spell you cast, so the first time you cast a spell taht month, the MuVi affects it.

Even worse, I think the spells need to be cast more or less simultaneously. Hence why, when two different people cast the two spells they either need to cooperate, or the MuVi spell need to be fast-cast.
If the same person is casting both spells, you need an Int+Concentration roll of 9+ which is noted as being easier than normal.

You can cast the MuVi in one round, and the spell to be affected the next round, since a momentary duration can last till next round, and it is allowed in the rules.

That would break another Hermetic limit. You can only affect a target that you can sense (without an AC). Since the spell/casting does not exist yet, you cannot sense it, and hence you cannot affect it. I reckon you can sense (in a sense) the spell you will a couple rounds into the future, but that really requires you to keep your concentration and not to reform the thought of that spell.

But the real problem is that we have, since 4ed, applied far too much logic on magic, and that makes the rules cluttered and debatable. If we had stuck with exemplars and left it to the whim of the troupe, the rules could have been kept a lot simpler.

So... you don't want me to cast "Summon the Rules Lawyer" at Group Target, and Duration Year?

1 Like

Why wouldn't we want to be summoned? We get daimon points, don't we?


At the same time an exception exists for watching wards already, where the ultimate target is not sensed at the time of the casting- this is also true in a sense for all creo spells which actually create something that didn't exist at the time the spell started...

Wards is indeed an exception, and I have a strong feeling they crept in under the presumption that the target is the one being protected, and not the one warded against, again under 3ed or before. Again we have a case where the 5ed logic is too complicated to fit into the core rulebook. They needed a `clarification' in some supplement, and it keeps confusing new players.

I am not so worried about Creo. Arguably, the magus has a sense of what he is about to create, how else would he create what he wants?