5th Edition Concept Help for Newb?

I'd like her to playable from right out of apprenticeship, though her abilities don't need to be fleshed out fully yet if it's not possible so early.

So, the concept. It's a very general one, but I can't think of how to work it. (Admittedly, that could be because I only have the Core rulebook)

I want to play a Hermetic Maga based around luck magic. Not just influencing things to look like the results of insane luck, but actually making herself lucky.

I know that's really vague, and that's kind of the point. It's not a style particularly (or, at least in Core, at all) supported by the game, so anything at all that helps fill that general concept helps.

This will be the first character I build for myself, by the way, so be a little gentle with me for not knowing obvious tricks.

Hi and welcome to the Ars Magica forum!

Unfortunately, the proposed concept doesn't work well if your just going with the core book (this is because 'Luck' isn't really attributable to any of the Hermetic forms).

One option, if you don't want to come up with another concept is to snag a copy of Hedge Magic: Revised Edition (atlas-games.com/product_tables/AG0289.php) and build a Learned Magician with an emphasis on Tueor Fortunam & Succurro Fortunam spells.

I have to agree with Gremlin44: while the concept is clear and sound, it's not supported by hermetic magic any more than, say, one based on "precognition".

On the other hand, there are at least three non-hermetic traditions that can work with the concept. Gremlin 44 described one, the Learned Magicians from the Hedge Magic supplement (and its variants like the Cunning Folk - almost identical mechanically, but with a very different "flavour"). The Rival Magic supplement has two more traditions that can manipulate "luck" or "fate", the Muspelli and the Soqotrans.

I'll agree with the above post that Hermetic magic doesn't do luck very well by itself. Related RPG systems do - oWoD Mage: the Ascension did have Fate/Destiny as one of it's Spheres, for example. And in-game, a number of hedge traditions have cursing/blessing/etc. as a method.

If you want to go only by the core rulebook, you could do a SUBTLE magi - ie, one that has Quiet Magic x2 and Subtle Magic - and then take a number of spells that simulate bad luck. Ie, Rego Mentem effects for forgetfulness, Rego Corpus for clumsiness, and Perdo Terram for things breaking.

If your GM allows it, you might be able to get away with a Major Focus in "Subtle Luck magic" - spells that appear to be simply bad fortune. (That might be a bit too broad, though.)

Nice concept. I think it is, however, a very difficult thing to achieve with Hermetic magic. Hermetic magic is pretty flexible; you can summon spirits, conjure towers from the earth, make stuff blow up real good, but being just plain lucky is going to be pretty tricky to achieve.

One thing to bear in mind also is that you might want a concept that can grow over time. Just being lucky is good, but you might want an idea of how that could develop from that starting point.

However... Here's how I would look at it (again, just taking the Hermetic option). You fake the luck.

Specialise in Intellego magic to the point that you can cast a number of low-level Intellego spells across a range of Forms. For instance, it's a level 5 Intellego Terram spell to learn the exact weight of an object just by touching it, or level 15 just by looking at it. The same applies to knowing its weakest point, or how much weight it could bear, for instance.

It's a level 20 spell to read a person's surface thoughts by looking them in the eye, which is pretty handy for making those educated guesses about what they want or where they're going.

And if you want to manipulate the environment, you might take some low-level Rego spells so you can tip the dice your favour, ensure the burning torch falls away from the hay stack, or the arrow snags the bow as it leaves it.

If you want to appear as though these things are happening without your involvement then take the Subtle Magic Virtue and Quiet Magic, both minor. Consider The Gentle Gift as that means people are less likely to jump to the conclusion that the screwy thing that just happened was down to you. Gentle Gift is a major Virtue.

Of course, chances are you also want to take the Luck Virtue too.

The good thing about taking that route is that you can always improve your Arts such that you are able to quietly and subtly affect more things or learn more information, all in the name of making your path in the world a little more predictable - making sure the world is on your side.

You could also take the Mythic Blood Virtue option and take a level 15 effect that you invoke with no words or gestures. For a level 15 (and I'm cheating a little and using Hedge Magic: Revised Edition), you could take a spell that affects you the caster for Sun Duration and grants a +3 Bonus to Luck rolls (as defined by the Storyguide). Mythic Blood is major, so it may clash with Gentle Gift. Not sure.

I'm sure others will be able to suggest more builds, but that's my initial take on the concept. As I said, a very nice concept to play, but devilishly difficult with just Hermetic magic.

If your storyguide is willing to entertain houserules, and has access to Hedge Magic, consider asking to play an Ex Miscallenae Learned Magician.

Get the Fortunam art, and the ability to use it with Creo, Rego and Perdo, rather than the learned magician arts, as your unique virtues. (4 virtue points should be more than sufficient for that, depending on your storyguide it might even cost you less)

It basically means that you'd have a 16th art, covering luck magic, that makes little sense to other magi.

This will require some co-operation with your GM, but consider the Side Effect Virtue (the side effect being lucky co-incidences), Cautious Sorcerer (or rather, lucky sorcerer), Cautious with Finesse (failing Finesse rolls is generally unlucky), Intuition (which is a luck related virtue), Luck (duh), Premonitions, and the Plagued by Supernatural Entity Flaw (as some magical being is making you 'lucky', though that luck drags you into stories).

Some of the appearance of 'luck magic' could be handled through the magus' sigil; your spells could appear to be lucky/unlucky co-incidences. For example, Gift of the Bear's Fortitude actually makes someone tougher, but it could appear that they are merely lucky in avoiding damage. Some spells will make this impossible to pull off; making Pilum of Fire or The Incantation of Lightning appear co-incidental would be a strain.

As the others suggest, going extremely subtle can work very well. In that case take Special Circumstances (making magic look like luck), which will give you +3 to counteract any casting penalties.

Learned Magicians have luck magic, but their magic is very limited and slow, so I'd avoid it. Grugrach magic (Hedge Magic Revised Edition) could be used by an Ex Miscellanea (with the Give Virtue as the major non-hermetic and the Blessing Virtue taken normally) to allow for handing out virtues (like Luck). This will still require learning Pictish, which will be a heavy character investment.

Another option would be to take the Speech with the Silent Major Virtue (Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults page73), which lets you charm elemental objects into assisting you. This can very much look like luck. A 'normal' Criamon magus might be following a Path of Luck; again, this will require substantial GM co-operation to make work, though it might give you access to Learned Magician Te/Fo guidelines, only using Hermetic Arts.


As the previous posts suggest, Hermetic Magic does not deal with probability.

Learned Magic (a Hedge Tradition outside the core rules that is either extremely powerful or quite useless, depending upon how one chooses to interpret the fluff and the rules) does influence luck.

There are a few virtues that will make your character lucky, although that is not quite what you asked for:

  • Cautious Sorcerer: fewer fumbles
  • Flawless Magic: fewer fumbles and more opportunities to roll high
  • Self-Confident: think of your confidence points as "luck points"

There are two virtues in the main rules (I forgot their names) that involve luck. There's also a Heroic Virtue listed in True Lineages that allows rerolls of very bad rolls by spending confidence.

There's a virtue in Faeries that allows a character with exceptional beauty to be favored by faeries, who will create favorable coincidences, etc.

But really, none of this is what you asked for, nor is being part of a Hermetic tradition that believes that Hermetic Magic is itself nothing more than creating luck.



That's actually in Houses of Hermes: Societates (the Jerbiton chapter), I believe. It's a Major Virtue called Supernatural Beauty, and is not limited to faeries.

Actually, one way to do have this work for a Hermetic maga is to create a spirit master who conjures, bargains with, and binds spirits that grant various forms of luck.

Folks, when you write:

keep in mind what the original post very clearly stated:

I know. I simply wasn't smart enough to make it work based on luck magic.

The original post also clearly stated that it was vague, unsupported by the rules, and anything that would support the idea would be helpful. All the people you quoted pointed at Learned Magicians as well as offering other suggestions other than 'faking lucky'.

Strictly speaking, Hermetic magic doesn't do luck. Hedge Magic Revised Edition states that the art of Fortunam has 'no hermetic equivalent'.

The point that's missing is that there is no fundamental difference in appearing to be lucky and actually being lucky. If I define my version of Shriek of the Impending Shafts as "avoiding arrows through sheer luck" rather than "hearing arrows approach so I can dodge them", mechanically they function the same. If the character takes a focus in "Luck Magic", it would apply to any spell that could appear to happen by luck. If I use CrMe to make someone friendly, that's me being lucky to find someone in a friendly mood. No tangible difference.

Other thoughts:

  1. Start with a maga who simulates luck based magic, and is trying to integrate true luck magic.

It creates a lot of opportunity for plot in making deals with hedge mages.

  1. Have a maga with the premonitions virtue (granting the ability to avoid some bad luck) and the Threads of Fate major supernatural virtue from Rival Magic. It doesn't tie into her hermetic magic, but it's definitely luck magic.

Yeah, right there the concept, while solid and creative, goes directly against the premise of the game - that these are wizards that use "Hermetic magic" (more or less) and not "luck magic" or any other sort.

Ars magic doesn't do "stuff" - it has a very clear and defined structure, as a rule. So it's not as flexible or "wide open" as some high-fantasy RPG's that are less defined and rely on the Game Master to judge every new concept and spell that comes down the pipe.

You'd almost have to create a new game system, or a new sub-system within the game. Not sure if anything else would work.

Yes, there is, a huge difference.

It's the diff between being lucky at cards vs. being a good cheat at cards. Between winning a fight with a lucky punch vs. having your opponent take a dive. Between being a wizard who is master of "luck" vs. merely the master controlling of the elements around them.

It may "appear" the same, and have the same end effect - but the person taking the action knows the diff.

And, here, that means the Player knows the diff - and that's not the concept.

Except that magical luck is just another form of cheating.

The only pure hermetic way I can see to do 'Luck Magic' is to summon and control spirits of Luck, assuming they exist. Presumably such spirits could grant luck to a target (use Learned Magician guidelines for their powers). Hermetic Theurgists could probably call upon powerful daimonic spirits of Luck/Fortune/Misfortune as well. Spirit control lets hermetic magi bypass a lot of their restrictions, provided you have an accommodating GM.

One question is what does luck mean in the medieval paradigm? Divine favor? The whims of faeries? Once you get past that question the answer to what a luck mage is will be resolved. Or of course luck may mean different things to different people, one man might have "the devil's own luck" while anther "walks in grace"

In old 4th Edition, Grugach could grant flaws and virtues to self and target

maybe you can ask the SG to allow you to have a special ability to grant luck (general Virtue, Core) and unlucky (general Virtue, Grogs). And that will make you affect people's luck in a very subtle way.

Sounds like a fun idea.

The way that I would do this is to just take the Hermetic Virtue Focus in "Luck Magic" and then have a discussion with your troupe about what that means in play (and whether it should be a Major or Minor). And write down some rules, and examples, that you are all happy with, and that allow you to decide quickly in play whether the Focus applies or not.

For example, I would make it something like: "The focus applies to any spell cast to influence the outcome of an event that would otherwise happen randomly". I think this will mean it mostly ends up applying to Rego effects, for example, it would apply to a spell like:

Heads...I win
ReTe 5
R:Touch, D:Momentary, D: Individual
The caster flips a coin and it turns up heads.
(Base 2 +2 effect metal, +1 Touch)

I realise that any other magus could make a similar spell, but as your character is using "Luck Magic" and the focus applies, your character will be better at it. The focus should probably apply when you are doing experimentation in the laboratory too.

Questions like whether it is faerie, magical, infernal, or divine in origin are something that you can worry about if you like (and think that it will make an interesting story). But if not, just make it something inherent to your character. It doesn't need to be explained; even if, in-character, your character or (others) do wonder about it's origins.

+1 for me. This is definitely the easiest way to go if your just pulling from the core book. Later books do specifically point out that Hermetic Magic doesn't do Luck. While some other types of magic can. But even if you could get your hands on these books I wouldn't recommend making a fully non-Hermetic Mage as a first character.

The luck magic that other traditions wield (and Hermetic Magic Lacks) seams to fall into the category of playing with game mechanics. So manipulating rolls (reducing botch dice, granting re-rolls, saving rolls), providing very general bonuses (+x to all rolls of y ability or z characteristic) and altering one's fate (Granting or Removing virtues and flaws). These are effects are easy to understand out of game but would be very abstract and difficult for a character witnessing it to describe what the magic did.

Hemetic magic is more about making very specific and concrete changes that most any character witnessing could describe what the magic did (Though how is still quite up in the air) but then must be abstracted with rules. So that rock hit it, the coin landed heads up, I'm invisble, that man is now a frog, you found the hidden door.

Since the in-game "how" of Hermetic Magic is mostly left to player's imagination there is definitely room for a broad range of effects to be the result of "probability manipulation" or whatever you want to call luck. The coin landed heads not because you nudged it physically but because you blocked it's potential to land tails. The bridge collapsed because the preexisting crack choose exactly that time to give way. It's all applied flobotunum anyway.

All that being said your best bet might be going with an Ex-Misc and making their free Major Virtue being some sort of Non-Hermetic luck Ability. Without other books you'd probably have to work out a custom ability freehand with your troupe. If you do have access to HoH:Soc the Ex Misc section has some loose guidelines for designing new Major Supernatural Abilities for just such an occasion. Even better the Rival Magic book has an Ability Threads of Fate on pgs 100-101 it would be right up your alley. Throw in Mr Link's Magic Focus and make sure luck figures prominently in your characters sigil and your halfway there.

Other virtue and flaws to look at from the main book. Luck and Intuition obviously. Side Effect is a good open ended virtue that could easily make your character a little luckier when she uses magic.(How ever you want to define it.) Premonitions could also be considered a magic Ability that grants a sort of luck. Also you might get away with defining a Greater or Lesser Immunity to cover some range of "Bad Luck" or "Accidents" though depending on the troupe that could be grossly overpowered or compleatly useless. Also a Purifying Touch might be defined to remove "Bad Luck" from people.

Many (if not most) other virtues could be explained as a narrow application of luck. Cautous Sorcerer, Free Study, Death Prophecy, Tough, Self Confidant, Venus' Blessing, even Protection stand out to me. And some flaws might even work to define your character's magic or the downside of luck. Chaotic Magic, Weird Magic, Warped Magic all make sense for a charater combining odd hermetic and non-hermetic effects. While if you want to go with a strange luck weirdness magnet type character Supernatural Nuisance, Curse of Venus, G or L Malediction might make sense.