This was a rookie book. That is, it was a book where new Ars Magica authors could demonstrate their skills on little pieces of writing before being assigned larger pieces. Some of the older hands filled out the book. I’d like to congratulate this set of rookies both on this book and on their later works.

Each of the contributors designed a single magus, and then aged him or her, giving a new set of statistics at various milestones of the magus’s life.

I’ve never really liked the magic item design rules. I’m not saying they are badly designed. It’s just that, as a writer, I seem to take an hour to create a small paragraph of numbers and brief letters. `A magus whose design is filled with magic items is a great deal more difficult to write than one who has only a talisman and a familiar. Thinking this through further, I decided to write a magus who did not use magic items. I thought about a magus who could not make his own items, and so designed spells which circumvented this weakness.

For this I used two tricks. Muto magic transforms large objects into smaller ones. The transformation can be timed to fail, or can be reversed. Several of Alexander’s spells use this trick, to move supplies, for example. The other trick is that animals have powers that, when transferred to a human, are supernatural. Alexander uses transformations to move through the desert, to fly, when swimming in hostile rivers, and for combat. These two tricks are combined in one spell, which transforms prisoners into mice.

Alexander’s spells have two other major themes, creating campsites, and transforming his followers. The last of these is just an obvious extension of his own initial researches into using animal forms to travel in North Africa. If he turns into a vulture to fly to a Kushite tomb, then he clearly needs to transform his followers as well, or he would need to leave them at a base camp. His grogs are, essentially,  scouts and warriors, so some of the transformations, into lions for example, are obvious areas of interest for him.

The spells which create campsites use the Ring and Circle durations. Some use circles within circles, to create moats. For example a small circle of beast warding inside a larger circle of beast warding creates a ring into which Alexander can pour a swarm of scorpions, making a defensive barrier around the protected central ring. The internal ring can also be made shaded, and cool, and covered with illusions. I have since toyed with other similar ideas, for example creating on walls which make things hover in midair, or spheres made of intersecting rings.

I was very interested, at the time, in the idea that south of Egypt is a frontier zone in which magi can act in interesting and unconstrained ways. The Kushite ruins seemed a great place to host cinematic adventures, with a strong pulp feel. Now that Rivals of Hermes is almost out, we know that this is also just outside the sphere of influence claimed by the Soqotran sorcerers, which adds to its interest.

Something about Clara? A few spells from the files

In my notes, there is a skecthy beginning of a maga who uses glass-related spells. She’s called Clara. I don’t recall writing her, but she doesn’t seem to have gone past elemental stages of considering her design. She had a handful of fully developed spells, so here they are:

Transparent Sliver

CrTe(Re) Level 10

R: Voice, D: Mom, T: Ind.

Creates a sharpened blade of glass that tumbles through the air to strike the target. This does +10 Damage and always hits, provided it overcomes Magic Resistance.

(Base 3, +2 Voice, +1 Rego Requisite)

Transparent Slivers

CrTe(Re) Level 20

R: Voice, D: Mom, T: Group

Creates sharpened blades of glass that tumble through the air to strike the target. This does +15 Damage and always hits, provided it overcomes Magic Resistance.

(Base 3, +2 Voice, +2 Group, +1 Rego Requisite)

Releasing Hundreds of Marbles

CrTe(Re) Level 30

R: Voice, D: Sun, T: Group

Clara has developed many uses for this simple spell, which creates a cubic pace of marbles. The Rego requisite allows the marbles to move unnaturally, for example they can flow uphill, or harmlessly coat targets. Clara sometimes uses them to mark a circle on the ground, for use in other spells. The spell does no damage on its own, but can be used to break up formations of attacking troops, and cause horses to stumble, pinning or dismounting their riders. Clara sometimes uses the marbles to trace out circles, to be used for other spells. The marbles can be made to coat the underside of heavy objects to allow them to be moved more easily.

Clara may use a bed of her marbles as a method of travel. They carry Clara at walking pace, unless rolling downhill where they may pick up additional speed naturally. This method of travel is noisy and extremely uncomfortable: riders quickly learn to bring a cushion. Clara has only used it, herself, when she was so badly wounded that she was unable to walk.

(Base 3, +2 Voice, +2 Sun, +2 Group, +1 Rego Requisite)

Conjuration of the False Sea Urchins

CrTe(Re) Level 25

R: Voice, D: Sun, T: Group

Creates hundreds of spiked balls, each three inches across, randomly scattered through an area designated by the caster. Stepping on a ball causes +3 Damage. Falling onto an area heavily seeded with the balls does up to +15?? Damage. Glass urchins are used to visually deter pursuit.

(Base 3, +2 Voice, +2 Sun, +2 Group)

Creating the Transparent Tent

CrTe(Re) Level 5

R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Circle

This spell creates a glass dome that is dispelled when broken. A Finesse roll against an Ease Factor of 3 allows the caster to create entrances to the dome, for example to include doors or air holes. Clara’s version of the spell creates an inch thick dome, without a Finesse roll, but it can be made parchment thin or up to a foot thick with a Finesse roll against an Ease Factor of 3.

Glass domes have many uses. Clara uses them for protection from the weather when camping in the wilderness. They can also be used to imprison creatures that lack the force or sense to break the glass. They also allow plants to be grown under optimal conditions.

(Base 3, +2 Ring)

Note: a cubic pace of glass weighs around 4200 pounds. This is the Individual target for Creo Terram spells that create glass.

2 replies on “Magi of Hermes

  1. I adored Alexander he’s one of my favorites.

    If however you thought that doing enchanted devices was an effort sink, I found that the real effort sink was when I went off of the 30 xp per year plan and let my characters spend a year or five in the lab. While I’m much happier with how my Magi turned out this way, the burden of doing the numbers again and again every time I changed something in playtest took hours and hours (OK, so now that spell takes three seasons, I can’t see him spending that long at this point in his career…. Hmmm, Can I switch some spells and have him develop it when he’s older?, what If I go back and move some xp from penetration to magic theory? what if I spend a season to update the lab? can it work at range eye?…Argghh!!!)


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