Are casting tools placebos?

Interesting thoughts for the magi who must use casting tools in Ars Magica!

Games From Folktales

The gestures used in spellcasting in Ars Magica are not arbitrary, as they are in some other roleplaying games. We know this, because a magus who sees a rival casting a spell can deduce its effects from the gestures, and cast a counterspell for protection. This means the two magi share a semantic framework: the symbols they are using are intelligible to each other. In The Mysteries, we learned that spells work by communicating with, or creating then commanding, airy spirits. This is why the gestures are mutually intelligible: there’s a vocabulary built in the foundational nature of the universe, and the magi are using it.

So, if this axiom is true, what are the casting tools doing? There are several options.

Entirely Arbitrary

Are the tools entirely arbitrary? Superficially they appear so. If you want to make a casting tool that lets you fling a ball of fire, it can…

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Three plot hooks inspired by Norse Mythology

Games From Folktales

I’ve just finished the audiobook of Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. It’s excellent. I know the stories already, but his method of telling is a joy.

There are three tiny elements of his telling  which struck me as novel plot hooks for Ars Magica.

The Chains of Fenrir

When Fenrir, the great wolf who will consume the Sun and Moon, is first bound, he bursts his chains.  They are made of a mixture of meteoric iron, terrestrial iron, and dark faerie magic. Pieces of these chains are embedded in the sides of mountains throughout the Earth.

Meteoric iron may have some immunity to Hermetic magic.  Even if it does not, a giant chunk of shattered chain might have Terram, Rego or Perdo vis. Those making chains as magic items might prefer these fetters: but those making items to escape imprisonment may also find it mythically resonant. Are wolves, or werewolves, drawn…

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Moral Luck in Mythic Europe

An excellent wrinkle and food for thought for Ars Magica!

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