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Warping 101

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These are house rules designed to improve on the explanation and causes for warping on an Ars Magica game, and present new Hermetic virtues which allow characters to overcome or deal with some of the most common issues regarding warping.

What is WarpingEdit

Warping is, simply put, a conflict of interests. The natural laws want one thing, and magic wants another. Both visions cannot coexist within a target, and therefore, it warps.

It warps as a defense mechanism, it warps because it must bend to an unnatural will, and its current structure (formed within the natural laws) is not prepared for that. It warps because, otherwise, the weight of the magical force over it (conflicting with the natural laws which created it) would destroy it entirely.

This is the explanation for magical warping, but Infernal, Faerie and even Divine warping follow the same guidelines. Yes: Divine powers can and do cause warping. Albeit it may seem paradoxical, this is not in discordance with divine laws: God created natural laws and also created the powers which allow his servants to overcome those laws, but natural laws are, in essence, unchangeable, and to overcome one of them, is to bend reality, and a bent reality warps the target, whoever he is, whichever the source.

Overcoming WarpingEdit

Follows a number of new Hermetic virtues which are presented as subject for Original Research. They allow a target to overcome warping in one of the three main ways in which it manifests: when casting powerful spells, when being targeted by powerful spells, and when being affected by a magical effect for over a year. The virtues which overcome each kind of warping are Harmonious Magic, Somatic Warping, and Mutable Nature.

Harmonious Magic: Hermetic Major VirtueEdit

A harmonious spell does not invoke warping because it does not go against any natural law within the realm of intelligent perception. This virtue allows the caster to cast spells harmoniously, and thus cause no warping to targets if his spells exceed 6 magnitudes.

Not all spells can be cast harmoniously. The main requisite for a harmonious spell is that it cannot go against the perception of the natural laws, and the key word is: perception: the spell can an indeed do break many natural laws, but as long as no one but the caster and target possibly notices it, it is harmonious.

A Magus must specify how is it that his spell is being cast harmoniously, and must provide any paraphernalia that his spell requires.

For instance: Irocaydus, the great, developed a version of “Leap of Homecoming” which allows him to transport a target he touches to a place with which he has an arcane connection. This is a level 40 spell, which would normally cause 8 warping points.

If he simply cast his spell and causes his target to vanish into thin air, that is obviously a breach in the natural laws and will evoke warping. However, Irocaydus allows his target to open a nearby door and close it behind himself, and cast the spell while the target is closing the door. The target, in this manner, did not vanish into thin air: he simply stepped through a door, that is well within natural laws and does not evoke warping. The fact that he is no longer there when someone opens the door right after the spell doesn’t mean that it broke any natural law, because there may be many normal explanations for that, other than the target teletransporting himself to a far away place.

Thus, all harmonious spells seem, to an ungifted observer, extreme strokes of luck (or bad luck), or nearly unbelievable coincidences. However, a rational mind can always find a perfectly reasonable explanation for a harmonious spell within the realm of natural laws. If he cannot, the spell is not harmonious.

Some spells are easily cast harmoniously, such as spells which grant a target a bonus in his recovery rolls (this effect is almost entirely harmonious, requiring little adaptation from the maga), but other effects, such as flying, require a lot of creativity to be cast harmoniously.

Note that a harmonious spell does not require the presence of ungifted characters to be classified as such. What defines a spell as harmonious is the answer to the following question: “If this spell was cast in his manner and seen, could it be reasonably explained?”.

Invested devices may or may not be harmonious depending on how is it they are used: use the same rules for determining it. Only a magus with this virtue can invest a harmonious device.

Somatic Warping: Hermetic Major VirtueEdit

This character’s body is sensitive to, and responds easily to warping. Instead of accumulating warping points due to high powered spells or spell botches, this maga suffers other, immediate effects, as his body suddenly strives to get rid of the unnatural influences which just overtook him.

Basically, whenever this character is about to receive warping points due to a high-powered effect or spell botch, he may roll his stamina plus a stress die (no botch) against an ease factor of 5 plus the number of warping points gained.

In a success, he becomes nauseated (possibly retching) and confused for a number of rounds equaling the number of warping points he were about to receive.

If he fails, then beyond getting stunned and sick, he bleeds from his nose and mouth and suffers intense pain for the duration of his sickness, and must assume one light wound per point by which he missed the roll (up to the warping points gained).

Mutable Nature: Hermetic Major VirtueEdit

This virtue requires Somatic Warping.

This character’s body adapts to long exposure to magical or supernatural effects and is able to effectively develop itself around these influences.

Basically, such a character does not gain warping points due to exposure to a constant magical effect in the course of a year. This includes longevity rituals.

The drawback, however, is that the character’s body effectively fight against the magical influences which surround him as if they were a disease, and becomes increasingly resistant to those effects.

For every year that a character is under the influence of a specific magical effect, he gains 1 point of mandatory magical resistance against that effect only (he cannot suppress this resistance). Therefore, in order for the effect to keep on affecting him, its penetration total must overcome the character’s magic resistance (which adds to Parma Magica and any Form bonus).

In this manner, a character with Mutable Nature can only use Longevity rituals designed with penetration totals, something which is usually unnecessary (because most characters don’t try to resist its effect). Increased use of such rituals will eventually require him to develop rituals with so high penetration totals, that its effectiveness will suffer accordingly. The character doesn’t gain warping from the rituals, but he also cannot become immortal by means of this virtue. The only way to become immune to warping and immortal is to become a being of magic, and resistant to change (as seen on Mysteries, Revised Edition).

This virtue also allows a character to avoid gaining warping due to living in a High Aura for an extended period. In this manner, for every year spent living on a high aura (which otherwise cause him warping), the character gains a 1-point resistance to that particular aura, so that its effect on him is diminished by 1 (as if it were 1 point lower). This only affects characters which would gain warping due to living in that specific aura. It does not, for instance, affect a Magus living on an eighth-level magical aura, but would affect a Magus living on an eighth-level infernal aura.

Regarding divine warping gained from living on high auras, this virtue avoids it, but grants no resistance to those auras.

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