Arcane Defense using the Art Magic Subsystem

In the Burning Wheel game I’ll be playing in we’ll be using the Art Magic system. I’m playing a Sorcerer focusing on combat-ready kinetic magics. I’ve been having trouble using the Art Magic System to create an effect that is basically a “Mage Armor” type thing… Or Turn Aside the Blade or Wizard’s Aegis (using Torchbearer rules.) The closest I can get is using the Hinder effect.

Input would be greatly appreciated.

The system literally warns you that Art Magic is more flexible, but less directly potent or flashy than vanilla sorcery. Use Hinder to Telekinetically resist physical attacks. Use Advantage to increase your Speed, blasting yourself out of harms way. Use Arcane Action to Block in a fight. Grant yourself a Trait that provides natural armor (Brass Skin and Iron Hide from the Codex come to mind), then play it off as a Kinetic Field.

While you could just hack the rules to suit your play style (and make obstacles lower), I’ve personally found it to be far more rewarding when you embrace the limitations of whatever choices you’ve made in character burning. It forces you to be more creative in the way you solve problems, and you end up making some pretty original stuff happen in gameplay.

For example, Stone Skin is a 5 pt. Trollish trait that grants unbreakable armor, but casting it as a spell for the duration of a single conflict is an Ob 7 test of Sorcery, once Breadth and Duration have been weighed in.

Embrace this limitation. Maybe your mage has to be proactive in his defensive spells in order to avoid overtaxing. Evoke Sorcery against Bow in order to break arrows in mid-air, or grant Advantage to your unarmed Block actions in a fight.


Hindering your foe is incredibly powerful. It’s how we took out a dragon!


Use Arcane Action to Block in a fight.

I’m wondering if you’d be scripting a “Block” Defensive action or a “Cast Spell” Magical Action for this.

I’m also not sure how we determine how many actions Arcane Action takes in a Fight Conflict as we need an Ob, so if we’re using it as a “Block” action there… isn’t an ob.

Actually, diving into this has me completely confused on how Art Magic works in the Fight! system at all.

What weapon length do you use? Hands? Missile? Destroy with Sorcerous Fire mentions Longest, but does that mean you need to know you’re going to use that when rolling for Engage?

Edit: Is there a video of ANY sorcery in combat? I haven’t been able to find one.

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So, Arcane Action states that “Success indicates that the wizard has passed the test as if he had been testing the appropriate ability.” This rule, written as it is, heavily implies that the sorcerer performs an actual physical task, which is guided by their magical prowess.

This implication is supported by a example text: “Using this, a sorcerer may strike an unsuspecting opponent or climb a wall.

Following this logic, Arcane Action can allow a wizard to script actions in Fight and substitute their Sorcery in place of the required skill. So, yes, Block instead of Cast Spell would absolutely be completely valid here. :slight_smile:

As for weapon length, that depends on what you are wielding. Arcane Action does not grant you a weapon, it only allows you to magically wield whatever is already on hand. So if you’re unarmed, you’re fighting at your natural reach, and you’re probably testing Sorcery as if it were Brawling or Boxing. If you’ve got a long sword on hand, Sorcery is a proxy for Sword, and you’ve got a Long reach.

Does that make sense?


Yes, yes it does. Some people in the discord helped me realize that we will be using AA for anything that isn’t a vs test as that’s Evoke’s job.

The major issue I was having was actually figuring out how many actions AA would be since you won’t know the ob of your physical action until your spell is done casting and the number of actions usually = ob.

SCHayworth and John Love from Discord helped me see that I can use the sort of “default” difficulty for whatever move it is.

This means that strike would be 1 (default on for strike) + 1 (because it’s arcane action) and then obviously any other advantages or disadvantages as normal.


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