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House Rules.

Posted by Alpha StorytellerFor group 0
Alpha Storyteller
GM, 7 posts
Sun 7 Feb 2016
at 12:19
  • msg #1

House Rules

The Pink Dot controversy

If you put a pink dot (via a Creo Imaginem effect, for instance) on a sword, it comes under the heading of "magical sword", and Magic Resistance applies. Absolutely. Do that to your enemies and you can laugh while your Parma Magica stops all their blows.
And that freak lightning bolt that just hit your character was a perfectly natural weather phenomenon, Magic Resistance does not apply, please soak 30 damage...

What I'm getting at here is that I'm not even going to try to fix the "Magic Resistance applies to object with magical effects" Rule. It would take two pages of splitting hairs and a clever player would still find a loophole somewhere; and at that point he would actually deserve to use it. I trust my players to be better than that. So if you are going to render their sword useless, come up with an effect that actually make them useless. Break them, turn them into bladders on sticks, or at least illusions of bladders on sticks. Don't use the pink dot. Because it WILL work. But I will not be laughing.

Personal Range, and Magic Resistance and clothing

Personal Range and an Individual Target applies to the caster and all things that he is wearing or carrying. There are some very good reasons for that, including the fact that otherwise spells like Leap of Homecoming would require Touch range, Group targets, and a Finesse roll, or involve a lot of nudity. We need an 'easy' way to bring those clothes along. Casting requisites are still necessary, but a prudent magus will have already taken that into account when choosing what to wear.

Likewise, Magic Resistance covers a person's clothing and accessories, and they won't be left naked by a Ball of Abysmal Fire that they resisted.
This is Ars Magica, not Sex & Sorcery. This does not apply to anything the magus is carrying or holding. A backpack is fair game, as is a sword (sheathed or held in hand).

A magus can still affect his own clothing and accessories with a Touch (or greater) Range spell without having to worry about his own Magic Resistance.

Mute, No Hands, and Ritual Spells

Ritual Spells do not give the option of casting without words or gestures, but the rules do not clearly specify what happen to Mute magi and magi with No Hands. I am houseruling that they may still cast ritual spells, substituting other sounds (bells, clappers) and gestures (ritual dance). This does not mean that the ritual are cast silently or without gestures, just that the magus has (as part of inventing the spell) learned a way around his handicap.

Likewise a shapechanging magus may choose, as part of inventing a ritual spell, to invent it for casting in a non-human form (particularly if said magus has a Restriction or Necessary Condition preventing him for casting in human form). However the spell is invented for casting in one specific non-human form, and may only be cast in this form.
This message was last edited by the GM at 19:59, Wed 30 Jan 2019.
Alpha Storyteller
GM, 8 posts
Sun 7 Feb 2016
at 16:14
  • msg #2

Regarding Books

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind regarding books is that they are rare and precious.

Books materials are expensive, copying a book accurately takes a lot of effort, books are easily damaged, and just keeping a library of a few dozen books in good condition requires a dedicated librarian. Furthermore people who own books are quite aware that their value, and the money and prestige they bring, depends on their rarity. Permission to copy one will come with a steep price.

This is as true for mundane books as it is for arcane ones.

The second thing to remember is that High Level, High Quality books are extremely rare and incredibly precious

To write such a book, you need an author with exceptional communication skills who has mastered the book's subject to an exceptional degree and has taken the time to write a book about it. At which point there is exactly one copy of the book in existence, and whoever has it has every incentive not to allow further copies to be made.

So no, L5Q10 summae are not easy to find. For most Abilities, they don't even exist. Even when they exist, there are probably only a handful of copies in existence in Mythic Europe, if that many, and no one keeps a register of who has what.

House Rules and clarification:

1) We will not use the 'Extended Suggestions on the Quality of Books' from Covenants. This is not a campaign about magi who stay at home to write books, or founding a covenant dedicated to rivaling the Great Library of Durenmar, so there is really no need. I have no objection if a player wants to write a book because he happens to be good at it and it makes a good bargaining chip, but that book should be thought of as a means to an end, not an end in itself. The scribing and binding and illuminating are just minor details that will take care of themselves, one way or another - just take your automatic bonus from the Core book :)

1 bis) I will make an exception for Resonances, should the players acquire suitable materials through stories (not bargaining). Although, really, the odds of acquiring just the right resonant materials for the book one of the player was just writing (or copying) is quite low. But they'd make excellent bargaining chips with covenants with great libraries.

2) We will use the rules for Translations in Art & Academe, p.87, should the necessity arise (and it probably will). To summarize: to translate a text without loss of quality, the translator needs a score of 6 in both languages involved and a score of 3 in an Area Lore from a culture where the language to be translated is the main spoken language (or was, for Dead Languages). An exception is made for books on Hermetic Arts, which only need 5 in both language and no special Lore. Obviously the translator needs to be able to read and write the relevant languages, and the minimum scores required to copy books on supernatural subjects (AM5 p.166) also apply to translating them.

3.1) The Roots of the Arts are a series of L5Q15+ summae on the Hermetic Arts. There are several in existence for each Art (really, most decent specialists can write one in their specialty, and there is quite a bit of prestige attached), and permission to copy them is routinely granted for free (although incidental fees might still apply).

3.2) The Branches of the Arts are a jealously guarded series of High Level, High Quality summae on the Hermetic Arts. Theoretically, each Branch is the best book in its Art, but as that is often a difficult judgement to make since they are too jealously guarded to allow for side-by-side comparison, there are often several books whose owners claim that title for the prestige attached in owning one. And the less certain the owner is that his book truly deserves the title, the more jealously he guards access to it lest someone proves him wrong. Permission to study them requires making the right friends and/or massive bribes. Permission to copy them... I did mention the jealously guarded bit, right ? And no one would entrust a copy to a reckless magus who is off to the frontier and beyond.
Examples of Branches of the Arts include De Lapii (L17Q14), by Jermias filus Guernicus; Ars Flambonus (L14Q12), by Elaine filia Flambeau; and Mirrors of the Soul (L12Q16), by Perpauca Bonisagi.

3.3) This is not so much an invitation for the players to buy such books at character creation (although they can) as an indication of what to aim for if they wish to do better :)

4) There is no book on Parma Magica. No summa, no tractatus. Or if there is, no one is admitting to it. Writing or owning such a book is forbidden by the Order.
This message was last edited by the GM at 20:13, Wed 30 Jan 2019.
Alpha Storyteller
GM, 12 posts
Tue 9 Aug 2016
at 18:27
  • msg #3


(Area) Lore and (Organization) Lore

This is already mentioned in the rules, but the more focused the Ability (the smaller the area or organization) the more detailed the information. It is possible to have an Area Lore for quite a large area. For instance, Mythic Europe Lore is a valid Ability. But the Ease Factor to do more than name major cities and rivers (and perhaps which city is on which river), and major nations and their current ruler, is going to be quite high, and in practice unreachable.

It is possible to get creative with these abilities; a sailor might have a Lore covering the port cities (and only the port cities) of quite a large area, and might well be able to name the nearest tavern (from the docks) in each and every one of them.


There are two ways to define a craft: by the main material used (blacksmith, goldsmith, leatherworker) or by the product created (sculptor, tailor, bladesmith). Both are valid, the players may choose whichever best suits his character.

Broader categories may be discussed with the ST, with the understanding that they may result in penalties to all work performed. Given how Abilities are priced, learning several Abilities at a low level is probably more cost-effective (and realistic, really) unless one intends to create a true master of a wide range of materials and products (that is, push the Ability to a point where a 3 point penalty is still less expensive than trying to raise two or three Abilities in parallel).
And even then, a good justification would be needed, such as leveraging a deep theoretical knowledge of physics and chemistry (or, this being Mythic Europe, Philosophiae and the relevant Arts) into a broad practical knowledge of metalworking.
This message was last edited by the GM at 15:46, Wed 10 Aug 2016.
Alpha Storyteller
GM, 13 posts
Wed 10 Aug 2016
at 15:59
  • msg #4

Unique Spells

The following spells, while canon, are considered to be the result of a particularly fortunate experimentation, or where perhaps invented by magi with unique Virtues, or come from a tradition that was never fully integrated into Magic Theory. They are available to players as written, but may not be modified in any way, including Range, Duration, Target, or any detail more significant than incorporating the caster's sigil.

CrAn 35     The Wizard's Mount (the "unaffected by the Gift" part)
InAq(Im) 30 Enchantment of the Scrying Pool
InAu 15     Whispering Winds
Mu(Re)Te 10 The Crystal Dart (more powerful than expected for its level)
ReTe 75     Hermes' Portal

Alpha Storyteller
GM, 15 posts
Sat 1 Oct 2016
at 14:15
  • msg #5

Muto and changing Sizes

The following guidelines apply to using Muto magic to change the size of something, extending the existing Muto guidelines.
A thing to keep in mind is that the Target used in a spell must be large enough to cover both the initial thing and the transformed result, so turning a pig (Size 0) into something the size of a small elephant (size +4) requires a +1 size modifier to the spell's magnitude (with an Individual target), independently of the guideline used.

A change of between -2 and +1 Size is a major change that leave the beast recognizable as the same sort of animal (Base 4). This is the only guideline that can be used to create a spell that applies to any animal.
With an added magnitude, the spell may work both ways (the exact change is chosen by the caster at the time of the casting), and a second casting may be used to bring back the animal to its normal size (but it technically remains under the effect of both spells for their respective durations).

A change of between -6 and -3, or +2 and +6 Size (up to a factor 100 in weight) is a minor unnatural change (Base 5). A spell using this guideline must specify what kind of animal it applies to (cat, dog, horse...).
The rationale is that such a change in size must be accompanied by minor magical enhancements to the animal's anatomy and mind, else it would not be able to function at its new size; and that such changes are specific to the animal in question.

A change greater than the above is a major unnatural change (Base 15). Again, such a spell must specify what kind of animal it applies to.
The rationale is the same, that such a change must be accompanied by major magical enhancements or outright changes to the animal's anatomy for it to function.

The Base 3 guideline is used for all changes. However, a change of three sizes categories or more is radical enough that all general skills (except languages and lores) learned for the original size no longer apply.

The Base 3 guideline changes a living plant into a smaller or larger specimen of the same plant (it will have less or more leaves, not significantly larger or smaller ones); there is no limit, save that too large a plant will collapse under its own weight.

With a Base 4 guideline, all dimensions of the plant are decreased or increased, with no change in overall shape. There is no limit to the change, save again that at some point the plant may collapse under its own weight or die because sap can no longer circulate through it.

Terram guidelines apply to any non-living object, with a casting requisite of the object's Form. A character may instead choose to learn a spell of a specific Form, with a guideline of the same level, that applies only to non-living objects of the relevant Form.

The Base 4 guideline allows for a change of up to 8 times the weight (roughly a -3 to +3 change in Size).

With a Base 5 guideline, the change can be up to a -6 or +6 change in Size (a 100 factor in weight). A Base 10 guideline allows for a -9 to +9 change, and each additional magnitude in the guideline allows for an additional -3 to +3.
Alpha Storyteller
GM, 19 posts
Wed 30 Jan 2019
at 20:32
  • msg #6

Spells with multiple effects

Players may (and are encouraged to) take advantage of their high level to invent their own spells that combine multiple effects (which must all apply simultaneously to the same target or targets). The general rule for doing so is simple: take the highest guideline, and add one magnitude per additional effect (or two if the additional effect is level 30 or above). This includes the cost for any requisite needed, so there is no need to pay it a second time.

So a spell to simultaneously give a person wings, change that person's clothing into a nice robe slit at the back to let the wings through, add a nice halo of light around their head, and give them a harp to carry is a perfectly valid, single spell.

Obviously doing it in the middle of a crowded Church is a gross violation of the Oath, but the spell is perfectly valid.
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