Multi Level Spells

Keilas's picture


If a Shek-Pvar knows how to cast "Maintain" at level 2 with an ML of 80 and then develop a new version at level 3, he opens it at a lower level : say ML 40 for example.

From that point, if he wants to cast maintain on a 2 lvl spell, he casts it at 40 and not 80 as before.

It seems strange to me :
Masterising a more difficult version of a spell implies becoming less proficient with less difficult versions ?

I would rather conserve the ML of precedent versions and apply it when relevant.

What is your opinion about the logic behind the mecanic ?


cyrion's picture

I have a houserule for this case.

When a Shek Pvar learns a multilevel spell up, he can cast the lower versions with an EML of double the ML of the higher version.

Keilas's picture

Simple and elegant, nice house rule to me.

ken's picture

The house rule gives the Shek-Pvar an inappropriate bonus to lower level complexity spells in my opinion. Essentially what's happening is that by upgradeing the spell the Shek-Pvar initially maintains his ML of the lower level or actually increases it and then gains a double progression in the lower level spell onwards.


Maintain II ML = 80
Upgrade to Maintain III CS
Maintain III ML = 60
Maintain II ML jumps to 120?


Maintain II ML = 80
Upgrade to Maintain III MS
Maintain III ML = 40
Maintain II ML stays at 80.

So intially, the Shek Pvar might gain a significant boost through this process. Too much in my opinion. Even if they only maintain the same level at first, they will still ADVANCE that lower level spell at twice the rate they would normally. A plus 1 to the ML of Maintain III equals an automatic plus 2 to the level of Maintain II.

Another way to look at it is this. Multi-Level spells aren't.

I don't think HMG: Shek-Pvar does a very good job at getting across that the spell descriptions and names are only examples and are often arranged simply for the reader's convenience.

Each and every spell that a Shek-Pvar knows is uniquely personal to them. A spell is the manipulation of cosmic forces through the prism of ones OWN aura. So while Maintain level 2 is a certain spell for Ackbar the Great, it's a completely different one for Sheila Silvertongue. There are similarities to be sure, and the game effect is the same. But that's it.

On to the multi-level spells. The text states that "a distinct version exists for each complexity level". In other words, Maintain II is NOT the same spell as Maintain III. It would be tedious to explicitly write out each and every multi-level and multi-convocational spell in the already overly large HMG: Shek Pvar publication, so all the "Maintains" have been lumped together under one spell entry. That doesn't make them the same spell though. One could just as easily (and perhaps more accurately) call one spell Sheila's Endurance, and the other Pvaric Longevity. Two different spells, two different MLs, similar effects.

When a Shek-Pvar is casting Maintain III. That's what he's casting, and his mastery over that and the difficulty it entails remains the same regardless of the target spell he's trying to affect. He doesn't NEED to cast Maintain III on a level II spell if he has Maintain II at his disposal, but he is free to do so, and it is entirely possible that he is (though repeated practice) better at Maintain III than at Maintain II. If the reverse is the case, then by all means, a prudent Shek-Pvar would simply cast Maintain II.

Now the rules do muddy things a bit when they talk about converting "multi-level spells" from one complexity level to the next. It explains a procedure where you drop the SB by 1 (the normal expression of complexity level's affect on SB) and then test the original spells ML, resulting in a 25% to 50% drop in the OML of the new spell. In this case you "erase" the old version.

What the Shek-Pvar is essentially doing in this case is NOT learning the new "proper" Maintain III, but instead learning how to kludge more power through the Maintain II spell. She is simply forcing more principle through her form in order to gain the extra capabilities of Maintain III. A Shek-Pvar's Form is simply a mental template, an understanding of the relationship between her aura and the forces of reality around it. It is a finely tuned "state of being" that requires intense concentration and sensitivity.

Increasing the complexity level of an existing spell by forcing more principle through it than one is accustomed to, damages the "aural memory" of the form. The Shek-Pvar has essentially "widened the gap" and can't close it back up except by essentially relearning the old state of the form. In other words, reopening Maintain II as a new, seperate spell.

Note, to open Maintain III, you CAN convert Maintain II; but you don't HAVE to. Instead, you could simply research Maintain III as a new spell and even use the spell similarity optional rule to gain a Research Target Level bonus.

That make any sense?

Jack's picture

Ken -

1) I don't use (or own) HMG, so I'm handicapped when I read HMG posts.

2) The initial post about the loss of skill going from Maintain II to Maintain III made the HMG magic system sound really bad to someone who's never read it (like me).

3) Your explanation was stunningly clear, perfectly explained the relationships involved, and greatly improved my opinion of the HMG magic rules (like from 2 to 9 or so on the ten-scale).

Great job, sir!


Old style heraldry: Sable, the pale argent.

New style heraldry: Oreo, resting on edge.

ken's picture

Hi Jack,

1. Well now, that's something we need to remedy eh? ;)
2. Hadn't even thought of that.
3. Thanks! (Now who do I convince you it's a 10?) :)

cyrion's picture


Thank you for this inside view how Hârn can work.

For my house rule i do simplify and I forgot about that every level has his own multilevel spell.
I had the idea that a multilevel spell is a sort of a spellchain.
A Shek Pvar who level up a multilevel spell up does not learn a new spell, she let the spell grow. She learns new facets of the spell.
But the simple house rule does not catch this. (It was a game table desicion and not worked over because the player of the Shek Pvar left.)

Even if she learned a new spell why should she forget the old level, why will the "aural memory" be damaged?

If the Process is a sort of growing into something bigger, perhaps the wizard just can use the older knowledge.

That just will work if the multilevel spell has no sole spell in each level.

(Sorry if it is a little confusing, but it is a long time ago that I try to do a complex topic in English,:-))



ken's picture

no worries about the English, you're doing great. :)

If she learns a new spell she doesn't forget the old one. If the Shek-Pvar has learned Maintain II and decides to research Maintain III that's all well and good. It's no different than if she had learned Bolt of Jolt, and then decided to research Beam of Nolar. Simply two different spells, each with their own SB and ML.

On the other hand, if she has learned Maintian II and doesn't have the time or desire to research a whole new spell, she can try to force more out of the Maintain II spell giving it essentially the same effects as a Maintain III.

That's all well and good, but how does a mage actually use principle and form and all these words that really don't mean anything? :)

A mage summons principle into his or her aura, then configures the aura into a "form" and finally pushes the principle through it. This principle is "shaped" by the form and as it passes through creates an effect we call a magical spell.

Now how does a mage configure his aura and how does he know that he's done it correctly? It's all a matter of sensitivity and "feel". I know my pizza is done cooking because I can smell it. When it smells just right, it's done. Same sort of thing. The Shek-Pvar don't have kitchen timers and they can't simply "look" at the form. Instead they rely on the "pressure" of the principle against their form to determine the necessary configuration. It's as much a matter of sensitivity as it is control.

If a form is strained too much (by passing too much principle through it too quickly) it "stretches" and the sensitivity is compromised. The mage doesn't forget how to cast a spell with less principle, he or she simply can't detect the correct configuration without a larger amount of pressure. But...More pressure means it's harder to maintain the desired configuration, thus a higher complexity level, and stronger effects.

ken's picture

oh, and if all of this is simply too much bother to worry about, just ignore the whole upgrade bit. Make your mage learn a new spell. Keep it simple :)

blackshoe's picture

I hate to necro an old thread, but I don't think a new thread is needed in this case.

I like Ken's KIS solution. :-)

One of the things I've always hated about so called "Vancian" magic is the idea that as soon as you cast a spell, you forget how to do that until you can rest for some amount of time and then "prepare" that spell again. So that prejudices me against the HMG way of "upgrading" spells to a higher level. OTOH, I have yet to find a ML spell where having the lower level version(s) still available after you learn a higher one is actually useful, save for the fatigue savings in the lower level spell. OTGH, that fatigue saving may make it worth having multiple spells available.

I've consider just dropping the "you forget the lower level spell" bit, but I haven't really tested it. I do expect it may impact spell decline - if you don't maintain the lower level spells — and there are a lot of them, so you may not be able to — they'll drop, eventually, to SB2, which may make them unwanted in normal use. On that basis one could argue that the "forget" rule isn't so bad. I still don't like it, though. :-)

blackshoe's picture

Been thinking more about this in the context of HMG rules. One thing that I, and I think Ken, overlooked is that in converting a multi-level spell from one level to the next, the Shèk-Pvâr "meets normal requirements for learning the new version, but then opens it by testing the old version ML". So what are these normal requirements? "Ideally, the researcher must have peace and quiet, reasonable comfort, and samples of any elemental materials used by, or on which the spell is intended to work, as well as any other equipment, objects, or materials used by the spell," and "Allow 48 hours of research time for each complexity level of the object spell" are the primary ones. This means that you don't save any time by using this alternate process. In fact, it seems the only difference is that instead of rolling against a research target level, you roll against your ML in the existing spell level. I note also that in the basic research process, the research roll is limited not just to the normal 95, but to the lesser of that and five times the skill base for the spell. So if your SB for say a second level spell is 15, you are limited to a maximum of 75, not 95. One could argue that this rule does not apply to the roll against ML of the existing level of a multi-level spell, which means that if your ML is higher than 75, you get the benefit of that increase. So using the conversion procedure is potentially beneficial.

A spell is, in essence, a combination of form and principle. I think that the time required, in the case of conversion, is spent mostly in figuring out how to modify the form you already know to accommodate the additional power level of the spell you're trying to learn. It's not a case of just "stretching" the existing form. Though I think that "stretching" might help to explain what causes misfires. :-)

Some time would be spent thinking about principle too. You have to get a feel for how much principle is too little, or too much, or just enough. And there's probably a (small) range for "just enough", which might explain why the effect of the spell isn't always exactly the same.

"If the upgrade is successful and the new version is opened, the old version is erased from the profile and no longer available." I still don't like the "you forget how to cast the lower level spell" aspect of this. I suspect it's best treated, at least for me, by considering that having learned the new spell, you just won't bother using the old one, and eventually it will decay to SB2. Problem with this view, of course, is that if, for example, you're talking about Focus, your new CL II spell will have a ML less than the old CL I spell had. Call it, for example, SI 10 for the CL I version, and SI 5 for the CL II version. So the trade off is that using the CL II version gives you a weaker Focus that can be applied to both first and second level spells, and also gives you a chance to improve the ML of the CL II version, where the CL I version gives you a better Focus, but it can only be applied to first level spells and does not help you improve your CL II version ML. Given the trade-offs, I can see most mages abandoning the CL I version, but I haven't yet come up with a good in-game rationale for making it a rule. Out of game the rationale is probably just "let's minimize the paperwork". :-)

I do note that in this particular case, whatever your SI is in the CL I version, you will have already created a focus with that spell before you convert. That focus isn't going to just poof when you convert. I haven't looked at other ML spells to see if there's a downside in this regard, but I suspect not.

Balesir's picture

I think I would look at it like this:

When I "convert" a CL I spell to a CL II version, I'm not "forgetting an old spell to learn a new one", I'm learning to expand the scope and flexibility of the old spell. As a result, I see no reason why I should be unable to cast the spell as if it were the old one - cast Focus to affect only CL I spells, for example - but why would I? My ML will be that of the new version; true, it has gone down, so the Focus I make will be less powerful in terms of bonus than one that I could have made before, but (a) this is temporary - when I learn to cast the new one as well as I could the old one it'll be just as good, and (b) this is natural, as anyone who has attempted to learn a new technique for doing more-or-less anything will tell you - as you get capable with the new technique of swordsmanship (say), it gets harder to do things the old way (until you get really good, in which case you become able to do either interchangeably - maybe Grey Mages can do something special, here?)

Is there a case where being able to cast the new spell (with the new ML, SI, etc.) as if it were the lower CL version of the spell would be problematic? I can't think of one.