Vis plays a central role in any Ars Magica game. Finding Vis is not easy and usually a very time consuming task, generally also tied with luck. However, it is a necessity, and every mage will eventually find himself in a position where he would like to go out and find new sources.
The core book gives no rules for that activity, only indicating that it would require a lot of time and effort. This is the purpose of this document, as well as introduce a new type of Vim spell which deals in sources of Vis, presented here as material for Original Research.
- 1 Search Total
- 2 Types of Discoveries
- 3 Searching Vis Sources close to Magical Auras
- 4 Searching for Other types of Vis, Auras or Creatures
Finding new sources of Vis is a seasonal activity which requires field work: the magus must leave his laboratory and search around the country. Not only magus can perform this activity: grogs and companions can too, but if an ungifted character looks for new sources of Vis, he must possess an artifact or item which allows him to identify Vis, or else he will have no way of knowing he found the right place.
Finding new Sources of Vis requires a Search Total generated as follows:
Search Total: Intelligence + Magic Lore + Highest magnitude of an applicable Intellego Vim spell + Area Modifier + stress die.
If the character is ungifted, replace the “highest magnitude of an applicable Intellego Vim spell” by the magnitude of the greatest Intellego Vim effect he is using to help him find the source. The character can also be gifted and use an enchanted device to help him in his search, if the magnitude of the device’s greatest Intellego Vim is greater than the highest magnitude of an applicable Intellego Vim spell he knows.
If the character has no Applicable Intellego Vim spells, he can still use his ((Intellego + Vim) / 5) score in this factor, representing the use of spontaneous spells in helping him find Vis.
An applicable Intellego Vis spell is any spell which allows the character to sense Vis. There are no known formulaic spells which allow a character to identify a Vis source, so the search for sources of Vis begin by a regular search for Vis. When the character finds Vis, he can then use his magic theory to identify it as a source or not. Generally speaking, though, when Vis concentrates spontaneously on inanimate objects or plants, we’re talking about a source, although a magus could strike a bargain with a magical creature to periodically harvest it’s Vis, and thus use it as a source.
Characters with Second Sight can add a +1 in their search total if their Second Sight rank is 1, 2 or 3; they add +2 if their rank is 4, 5 or 6; and add +3 if their rank if 7 or greater.
The search total includes an Area Modifier. This is an arbitrary value which represents the area’s likelihood to produce a source of Vis. It is common knowledge that the increasing population and the expansion of urban centers has been steadily diminishing Europe’s sources of Vis. Thus, each region, depending on it’s average level of urbanization, is more or less likely to have ready sources of Vis. Note, also, that sources of Vis within cities or towns is not an impossible occurrence, only very, very unlikely.
Here is a list of Area Modifiers according to each of Europe’s Tribunals:
|Tribunal:||Area Modifier:||Tribunal:||Area Modifier:|
|Loch Leglean||+3||Greater Alps||0|
As time goes by, these values change: specially as the European population grows. Roughly, they all decrease by 1 for every 50 years, but certain occurrences, like the black plague, can halt this fall. An area modifier can never go below –10 or above +10.
These modifiers also take into account that the character will exclude from his search known sources of Vis, so as not to come at odds with another covenant or Magus. Therefore, the discovery of a new source of Vis by these rules represent the discovery of a new, uncontested source.
The Search Total rolled is compared against a list of Ease Factors, each representing the finding of one or another source of Vis (or sometimes only of a single Vis stock). If the search in a season yields no result, then a subsequent search within the same area (tribunal) grants a cumulative bonus of +1, which lasts until a new source of Vis is found.
|Type of Discovery:||Ease Factor:|
|Magical Aura locus of strength 1||6|
|Magical Aura locus of strength 2||9|
|Magical Aura locus of strength 3||12|
|Vis found within a magical beast||15|
|Magical Aura locus of strength 4||15|
|Magical Aura locus of strength 5||18|
|Uncontested Vis stock||20|
|Magical Aura locus of strength 6||21|
|Magical Aura locus of strength 7||24|
|Beast source found||25|
|Magical Aura locus of strength 8||27|
|Open source found||30|
|Magical Aura locus of strength 9||30|
|Hidden source found||35|
|Mobile source found||40|
A character can look for a specific type of source, and therefore ignore the other ease factors of this table. For instance, if a character is specifically looking for a Mobile source, he would roll his Search Total each season, until he beat the ease factor of 40, gaining a +1 bonus each season.
A botch in a search roll means all accumulated bonuses are lost, but yields no other penalties.
For each season of search, all characters involved gain exposure experience in Magic Lore.
Types of Discoveries
There are several types of Vis sources or Vis stocks that can be found as a result of a search for Vis, explained below. Regardless of the type of Discovery, the character have no control over which type of Vis he actually found, and it should be randomly selected from the list of Vis types available. This can be achieved by first rolling a single die to check if the Vis belongs to an Art or Form: a result of 0, 1 or 2 means a technique, and 3 to 9 means a form. Afterwards, a new die is rolled for the selection of which specific type (divide the 5 techniques or 10 forms between the 10 numbers of the die).
Magical Aura Locus
The character haven’t found a Vis pawn or source, but rather, a place with magical aura. Such places are usually found in virgin lands, hidden from mortal contact, and provide an excellent site for future covenants or secret laboratories.
The size of the aura varies, but is usually no greater than a circle of 20 paces of diameter. However, the storyguide can rule that the character found a greater locus of lesser strength. Each aura level below the indicated would increase its diameter in 20 paces. If some chance need be added, roll a simple die (0 meaning 10). If the number is greater than or equal to the aura strength, there is no change, if it is less, then subtract it from the aura strength indicated, and increase the size accordingly.
The stronger the Aura, the more likely that place is to become or belong to a magical Regio, in which case, the character actually found the doorway into this Regio. Roll a simple die. If the number is smaller than the Aura strength, then the magical aura found actually belongs to a Regio, and one with various levels (one level for each 3 points of Aura).
The finding of magical auras can be important to a Vis Source search because they are used to narrow down a search: Usually, Vis sources form around (or within) places with high magical auras. See below for the details on that.
Vis found within a magical beast:
The characters actually found a magical beast which, if defeated, can yield a number of pawns of Vis. Roll a simple die for the number of pawns present on the creature (0 equals 10), and it should have a Might of about 10 + twice the number of pawns of Vis. This may or not lead to conflict, depending on the character’s actions and the beast’s disposition.
Uncontested Vis stock:
The characters found a number of pawns of Vis lying about. This may be due to a source which have previously died out, or it’s the carcass of a magical beast, or maybe it was brought there by other unsuspecting creatures and just left. Roll a simple die (0 equals 10) to determine the number of pawns of Vis it has.
Beast Source found:
The characters found an intelligent magical beast which not only contains a number of pawns of Vis, but also is capable of generating more if its Vis is extracted. It has no use for the Vis it generates, and could be bargained with to become a steady source, though what it would require in exchange is indeed unpredictable. Roll a simple die. The creature’s might equals 15 + three times the result of this roll.
The numbers of Vis within the creature equal its source strength, and it is determined in another roll of a stress die (no botch). The source’s strength is as follows:
|Stress die:||Source strength:||Stress die:||Source strength:|
|0 to 4||1 pawn / year||28, 32||7 pawn / year|
|5, 6 or 7||2 pawns / year||36, 40, 48||8 pawns / year|
|8 or 9||3 pawns / year||56, 64||9 pawns / year|
|10, 12||4 pawns / year||72, 80, 96||10 pawns / year|
|14, 16||5 pawns / year||112, 138||11 pawns / year|
|18, 20, 24||6 pawns / year||154 or more||12 pawns / year|
No Vis source can yield more than 12 pounds per year (at least, none found by these rules).
Is the beast is killed, then its source of vis dries out, and only the vis it has stocked remains, therefore, it is in the player’s best interest not to kill such a beast.
Open Source found:
The characters found a source of Vis which lies in an open space, like, for instance, a magical lake, a tree, a crystalline boulder, and so on. The source’s strength is determined by a roll similar to that for Magical beasts.
This source is big enough to be unmovable, and, to yield its annual quota of Vis, must be left undisturbed for the period.
Hidden Source found:
The characters found a new source of Vis which lies at a hidden, or particularly inconspicuous place, which simple observation cannot reveal (even with proper detection spells). Examples include: the water at the bottom of a well, a crystal which grows in the depth of a cave, or any Vis source which lies within a magical Regio.
Roll to determine the source’s strength as you would for a magical beast.
As for the open sources, this source is big enough to be unmovable, and, to yield its annual quota of Vis, must be left undisturbed for the period.
Mobile Source found:
These are the rarest, and most prized sources of Vis. They are sources which form in items or objects small enough to be carried and moved, thus, being mobile. Such sources can be taken into a covenant and left there, protected by several spells, and still function normally.
The exact shape and size of the source are left to the storyguide to determine, based on the type of Vis they generate. They should be no smaller (and no lighter) than a fist-sized rock, and no greater than a wall clock. Its actual size must reflect its strength.
Roll to determine the source’s strength as you would for a magical beast.
Searching Vis Sources close to Magical Auras
Vis usually gathers close to magical auras. Therefore, if a character finds a place with a magical aura there is a good chance that it has nearby sources. When a character stumbles upon a place with a magical aura, roll a simple die in secret. If the result is greater than the aura level, then there is no Vis source nearby. If it is less than or equal to its level, then there are a number of Vis Sources equaling the difference of the roll, plus 1. The character himself has no way of knowing how much Vis sources are close to a magical aura he found, or even IF there are any, other than extensively searching the nearby region.
When a character is searching for a Vis source nearby a magical aura, add the Aura level to the Search Total until he finds all nearby Vis Sources. If he have already found all sources there were, then simply assume that all subsequent search rolls will fail.
Searching for Other types of Vis, Auras or Creatures
Characters can search for Faerie Vis, Divine Vis, or (God forbid!) Infernal Vis, as well as Creatures, Auras and Regiones aligned with these Realms.
To search for Magical elements of other Realms, use the same guidelines presented here. Just keep in mind that, to search for Infernal or Divine Vis, Auras or Regiones, the character’s magical effect must overcome the magnitude of the Aura or Vis found, which effectively limits the strength of the elements they can find. For instance, if the character is seeking for a Divine Aura with a spell with a penetration total of 10, and happens to find an aura of strength 5, he would miss it entirely, because his penetration would not be enough to detect the aura he just stumbled upon.
Moreover, in searching for Dominion Vis, Auras or Creatures, the area modifier is calculated as follows: Find the Base modifier through the table below, and then subtract from it the area modifier based on the Tribunal (seen previously).
|Within a cathedral||+4|
|Within a church||+3|
|Within a city with a cathedral||+3|
|Within a city with a church||+2|
|Within a city without religious temples||0|
|In the outskirts of a city||-2|
|In the deep wild||-5|
For instance: the modifier to find a Source of Divine Vis within a Cathedral at the Roman Tribunal would be +10 (+4, minus the –6 modifier). To find a Source of Vis within a city with a church in the Transylvanian Tribunal, the modifier is +1 (+2 minus the +1 modifier for Transylvania), and so on.
Sources of Infernal Vis, Auras or Creatures simply cannot be found if they were hidden by infernal powers. Otherwise, the mechanic remains the same as for magical Vis, Auras and Creatures.
Considering that a spell to detect Vis, Magic or Auras can only affect one Realm at a time, a character can only look for one specific type of Vis, Aura or Creature at a time. If he is looking for, say, Divine Vis, he cannot stumble upon a magical source, because these would not be revealed by the magical effect he is using.
Evidently, in searching for other types of Vis, Auras or Creatures, the Lore skill used must be replaced by Faerie Lore, Infernal Lore, or Dominion Lore, according to the type being sought.
New Supernatural Virtue: Ley Magic
These are guidelines for spells which alter the way in which a Vis Source works, by creating a magical construct known as a Ley Line. They are not intended for immediate use, but rather, as reference for an original research in the subject.
The world is crossed by magical veins of energy which were called in ancient times: “Ley Lines”: like the veins and arteries within a living body, Earth itself shows some kind of life, and its flux is regulated by these lines.
Earthbound Ley Lines are huge conduits of energy usually best left undisturbed, for risk of unbalancing the planetary magical equilibrium. However, study of these lines can lead one to the discovery of the creation of smaller, artificial Ley Lines, that can be used to transfer the flow of Vis from a source into another receptacle.
To that end, the character must possess the Minor Supernatural Virtue: Ley Magic, which allows him to use the parameters below in devising new Vim spells.
Characters with this virtue can detect artificial Ley Lines as if they were ongoing spells occurring at the Vis source and the target (although they do not see a “Line” per se, only an ongoing spell). They can also detect the planet’s greater Ley Lines with a base effect of InVi 20. A character can follow planetary Ley Lines and use them to better search for naturally occurring Vis Sources, gaining a +3 bonus in their Search Totals.
Create Ley Line (ReVi, general)
R: AC, D: Perm., T: Ind., Ritual.
This spell allows the mage to create a new Ley Line connecting a Vis Source and another source of any kind located at a distant place, in a way that the Vis created by the original source actually appears in the destination source.
This spell must be cast within the original Vis Source, and the maga must be holding an arcane connection to the destination object.
The spell target must be some sort of generative object, such as: a fountain, a riverbed, or a receptacle, such as a jar, bottle, barrel, etc. Objects left within the target for a year become impregnated with the Vis generated by the original source, whereas the source itself remains unaltered.
An object can only be a target for one ley line.
This spell’s level must equal the number of pounds that the source generates per year, times 10. If the source increases in strength while this spell is active, and its new strength overcomes the spell level, the line is immediately broken. A maga always knows when a ley line he created is broken.
This Ritual requires the maga to expend a number of pawn of vis of the same type than the original source (instead of Rego or Vim Vis).
An artificial Ley line always works as an arcane connection between the two points is connects, and a malignant maga could use that to cast spells from within the original Vis Source into the target as if he were touching it (as if the Ley Line worked like a permanent magical tunnel), although all restrictions of an Aegis apply if the spell target is within one.
A maga can steal another’s Ley Line if he can perform a ritual within the original source that overcomes the previous one in 10 levels, although that would be an obvious and blatant breach of hermetic code.
(Base spell, Ritual, unorthodox duration)
Destroy Ley Line (PeVi, general)
R: Touch, D: Inst., T: Ind., Ritual.
This spell destroys a Ley Line. To that end, the casting Maga must be within either the original Vis source, or touching the line target. This spell must overcome the line’s level and penetration by at least 1.
If successful, the Ley Line is permanently destroyed.
(Base spell, Ritual)