Your Favorite Spells

Actually, I was quite surprised that I found no other thread regarding favorite spells since it’s a very basic question relating to a RPG which focuses on magic. I apologize in advance in case I have overlooked similar topics.

What are your favorite spells in ArM? Which ones do you believe to be almost indispensable for most of your character concepts? Which ones do you consider immensely useful or perhaps even borderlining on overpowered for their particular level? And which ones do you simply love for being extremely atmospheric? In case you use certain spells in rather quirky, unconventional or non-obvious ways to utilize their full potential, please be so kind to share them. Either existing formulaic magic or your own creations are fine.

My personal favorites so far are:

Veil of Invisibility (PeIm 20)
While this may be no especially unusual choice, it’s hard for me to imagine a magus outside of his covenant who can’t put this spell to good use: It’s useful in combat against wild animals, mundane foes and other wizards alike. It gets you out of precarious situations. It boosts your stealth allowing you to infiltrate and to eavesdrop. Furthermore, you can cast it on your allies to set ambushes or let them do your dirty work.

Image Phantom (MuIm 20)
This one is almost too good to be true for a creative player! The ability to change the appearance of any inanimate or living thing allows for endless possibilities: What was once your trusty grog is now the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire! That lump of rock? It’s gold, obviously! Change your appearance to escape your foes or to set elaborate traps for them. Impersonate your enemies to create all sort of mischief. Few other spells come close regarding flexibility.

Wizard’s Leap (ReCo 15)
Close-range teleportation is one of the most useful abilities to have in my opinion and is - once again - a lifesaver in a lot of situations. You want to keep out of harm’s way? Wizard's Leap! Position yourself effectively on the battlefield? Wizard’s Leap! Pass an obstacle like a river, a chasm or iron bars? Wizard’s Leap!

Well, it depends to a great extent on your character concept and what you wish to accomplish in the game.

If you aren't aware of it yet, Christian Jensen Romer has an Ars Magica podcast whose 3rd episode deals with the question of 'best' spell of 25th level of less. You can download it at: ... 8_47-07_00

Tales of the Ashes

I've only been in one campaign and made a very poor spell selection. The character concept is much more conncentrated on social interactions than spells and so it doesn't matter much. Tales of the Ashes is by far her most used spell, and each and every time it has come up with the painfully obvious result.

But I'm sticking with it.


The concept should drive what spells are indispensable for the particular character. There might be some overlap, but I honestly can't remember much overlap. The spells you list later on fall into the utility category, to me. Good for any character to know/have, but aren't indispensable.

I don't believe that there are spells where this is the case.

I highly recommend exploring the Mastery abilities available for making spells shine. I had one maga who I only had a chance to play for a little bit who had a group of grogs, and she did cast a variant of Wizard's Leap on them, but had it mastered for multiple casting so she could move the entire team into and out of harm's way. Her Arts were also high enough that she could handle the requisites and still absorb the penalties for fast casting and get the spell off. She also had it mastered for stalwart casting as she was a Flambeau Mercurian (Flawless Magic) and was able to avoid the loss of fatigue.

It also sets you up to be guilty of scrying.

The ability to pull this off, to me, requires a rather high degree of finesse. The more completely you wish to impersonate an enemy, means that his allies are also more familiar with him and will recognize that you put his mole on the wrong side of the face, or perhaps his hair started graying, but you failed to notice and account for that. You might be able to create the illusion of the Emperor and his retinue, but the closer you are to the emperor, the less likely the illusion will be convincing, IMO.

Wizard's Leap is deceptively easy to learn, but if your saga employs requisites, casting this spell will almost either leave you naked or fatigued, or both. Further, to truly escape danger, you need to have it mastered for fast casting, which takes a -10 off your casting total and adds botch dice to your attempt. The non-battlefield uses you describe are perfectly fine, but will also have to deal with the casting requisites. If a character takes this spell, they'll attempt to improve the mastery on this by at least two levels, to get fast casting and if possible Stalwart casting.

Doublet of Impenetrable Silk is a very useful spell and can be even used on heavily armored allies, as almost everyone has a gambeson under their heavier armor and it can be further strengthened adding even more to the soak.

Listened to that podcast - most make sense. Some are redundant, and some canon effects are (as they point out) greatly improved by tweaking slightly from canon R/D/T.


rgd's example, above, is awesome. The "best" spell is the one that adds the most color to the character and so to the story. Get a concept, build the spells around the concept - you can't go wrong.

However, some players believe the spells make the mage - and that's fine. Not every mage is, nor should most be, an "adventurer" utility mage, but having some/many utility-type spells is a nice fallback option. If that's how you want to go, make a list of what "problems" you want to solve - not the spells, but the obstacles you want to overcome, and then try to find solutions for those within the Arts you have.

o Combat - lethal, individual target
o Combat - non-lethal, group
o Escape/evasion
o Fast Travel
o Healing
o Truth-telling
o Bypass barriers

Once you have your list, you can often find an effect in an unexpected Te/Fo combo, and/or one effect that can do double duty.

One of my favorite effects is to bump this one up to have a Range. R:Touch is risky, but R:Sight is just pure gold. Dropping someone 5 paces (15'), especially onto or just in front of another opponent can disrupt a large group and possibly twist an ankle or even break a leg, but a 50 pace drop starts to become both lethal and very demoralizing.

"Oy! John - where'd Bob go?!" "...erm ...John?..."

Also useful to move companions (small "c") where they need to be. Master w/ Multi- & Fast-cast for 3-person getaways from almost anything.

If your mage's Arts allow, they could add Animal, and/or even make it T:Group, and/or possibly add +1 magnitude to affect larger-sized targets, but if it's to remain a "friendly" spell it needs to stay under Level 30 or it will cause Warping.

Other effects...

Call To Continued Slumber - D:Diameter makes this effect SO much more powerful. Add T:Group for instant combat solutions.

Flying. ReCo for superman-type flight, ReHe to ride a broom/branch, ReAn for wool/leather flying suits, ReAu for canon Winds spell, MuCo(An) for wings, MuAu to turn air into stairs - many, many solutions.

1 medium Blast'em spell, Damage = D+15. The canon "starter" spells do D+10 (Crystal Dart et al), and so will usually only give a Light Wound, and that's not going to stop anything. Not so high that Fatigue is even a remote possibility - you want to be able to cast this all day long, and with Penetration if the target has MR. (Larger than d+15 ONLY if the Arts support it w/ no Fatigue and good Pen!)

Invisibility - The classic. Solves so many problems.

MuIm - change appearances. Not me. Often Base 1 is enough, yielding a relatively low-magnitude effect (that can often be spont'ed unless fancied up). Useful when you need to interact w/ people as "not you". (It can be hard to make a good impression when invisible.) Mimicking others is often asking for trouble - the grubby peasant or generic traveling pilgrim is often a good option to blend in to both a current scene and later memories.

Beyond that - yeah, it all depends on what your mage wants to do. But beyond the basics, don't try to be a generalist. Get a schtick, one area of expertise or interaction and be good at that. Make your spells as "generally useful" as possible, but don't be afraid to get that specialized can-opener to do exactly what you want to be able to do.

The whole "use ReHe to ride a broom" thing bothers me, despite the existing spell.

I cast this, but the spell doesn't effect me, since I'm Co, not He. So first I have to hold onto the thing tight enough so that it doesn't leap out of my hand. That's a Str roll, not Finesse. Finesse is great for maneuvering the broom, but not for helping me hold on because the magic is all about Herbam. Then, maybe the broom isn't moving with enough force to drag me along? Maybe the broom just struggles to leave my hands but doesn't propel me anywhere, or maybe it just hurts me as it tries and fails to rise between my legs? Ouch.

And if I get going, there are continued Str/Dex rolls to stay on, especially on any vaguely sudden move. Balance checks?

I loathe this effect.

It's the only way to do the flying boat thing, though I'd prefer if that effect just levitated the boat and you relied upon the winds to move the ship.

It seems different to me for a flying boat, although that spell might need requisites too, not for the passengers but for non-Herbam components of the boat. A boat is big enough, I think, that if it is moved by magic, its passengers and cargo move with it, just like when a regular boat moves. Controlling the movement of the boat could involve Finesse, unless real sails and rudder/oars were used. But I don't think the passengers would magically stay on the boat... just like a real boat.

A really good magical boat is not easy to do, not if you start to consider all the complications.

It's a Riding roll, clearly. Altho' Finesse to control the enchanted broom under you works as well as Riding to control the "mount" under you.

But a "witch" riding a broom, or a wizard in a flying chair - those are classics!

I agree that handwaving "Oh, and it all works out, and before sundown you arrive safely at the Raja's palace in India" may be a bit too much, and "speed" should be limited*, and cold (and other weather) and navigation all create their own separate and very real obstacles, but it's too central to too many canon fantasy stories to simply veto imo.

[i](* Ims I use the following "steps" for magical speed with Rego: 1) As fast as smoke rises (2 mph/3 kph), 2) as fast as a man can run (~10 mph/15 kph), 3) as fast as a horse can run (~40 mph/70 kph) - note this is "run" not "sprint". Each is ~about~ x5 faster than the prev. Any faster would be "insane", traveling faster than one can reasonably see and perhaps risking going out of control without constant (and uninviting) Finesse rolls, and so one is better off just "teleporting".

Besides, at the fastest of those speeds, one can cover 400 miles/700 kilometers in a 10-hour period - that's most of anywhere you need to go in a day or three comfortably, and 2.4x that if you're willing to push it 24 hours/day, which really should get the job done.)[/i]

The one legit concern is Penetration. If a mage were to Rego a treebranch to strike a mage, that would have to penetrate - and so should a slower moving branch. But that's not a large challenge given all the bonuses a mage has to penetrate their own Parma.

(Edit - but this is way OT - apologies. If anyone wants to continue this discussion, copy/paste the approp posts above to a new thread as "quotes", and we can continue there.)

I agree they are classics: Enchant a broom get a form/material bonus.

I also don't see Finesse to be the same as riding. Finesse for ReAn controls the horse. Riding also controls the rider. If I want Finesse to control the rider, I need a spell that accounts for the rider's Form, penetrates MR, etc. So the steed (of whatever Form) might go where I want to, but there is nothing at all that helps me have a good seat, or know what a good seat is, or know how or when to properly lean, or how to keep the broom that is between my legs from severely....

Oh, this is perfect, and technically correct. The impetus of the broom cannot move the magus without Penetration. The magus could lower his Parma, but he'd have to keep it down while flying or maneuvering would be impossible. This also makes conjured mounts problematic as well, though.

OTOH, a boat in the water propelled by a magical wave doesn't interact with the passenger magus' Parma at all.

And flying boats, among others.

No, the only obstacle is to Penetrate one's own Parma when the spell is cast, that one time. With the various multipliers from sympathetic connections (see p 84), this should not be too hard to achieve, and then the effect is through any MR for the duration.

It's a domino effect - if a magic boulder hits another, mundane boulder and sends that flying, that boulder creates a mundane attack. The magical waves pushes stuff around, that stuff pushes the mage around - no problem afaics.

I suppose something similar could be claimed for a magical ship - that the "deck" is mundane wood, and only certain key parts of the hull are enchanted to fly, and they push the others. Some handwaving needs to be done for some effects.

callen's spell of ultimate power:

Maintaining the Demanding Spell set to D: Moon. If we look at items maintaining D: Concentration effects, magi in those cases can still cancel the effect. For consistency I would think that is still the case, but I've seen SG's rule against it. Then you want to pair this with a PeVi spell at R: Personal (Touch?) to take it down when you desire.

The problem with this is that you must be reasonably good at ReVi. Also, you need to be OK at Concentration. But most magi not just out of apprenticeship should be able to manage the spell at level 20 or so, and a high level isn't needed for great effect.

I think Bless of Childlike Faith would win in my troupe hands down. They have screwed quite a few social situations, and this spell has saved their ass repeatedly. This and loss of but a moment's memory. And we do not like Mentem!

grin I suppose we can add Deft Form: Mentem to the other thread about good virtues.


+1, as well.

Second on the list is a sight-based Intangible tunnel. Combine these two effects into either a talisman or enchanted item, and you can (potentially) add on up to four magnitudes to all the spells you cast.

Although due to the difficulty in getting both off simultaneously, I'd argue that these two effects are better in a Talisman than knowing them formulaically. Although the Formulaic version is good for if/when you can't use your talisman, of course...