A character concept: weak magus

Hi there!

Some recent discussions and a nagging feeling that a "low magic, but still magic" saga might be interesting have made me want to develop a magus that is weak. I fail to accept that most of the members of the OoH are as powerful as the regular PC magi, so I wanted to develop a much weaker character concept here. That handicap obviously would need to be boosted somewhere to make the character viable, so I went for a tytalian magi.

I would like your help for V&F to develop this weak character. Here comes some background:

Marcus is not a regular member of the Order of Hermes. In fact, he would fail in most small challenges that a lot of apprentices give success for granted. His Gift is there, and he has an unending Well of Power, like the gift is usually referred, but it is a deep well and one where the barrel has difficulty getting water

The fact is that he is a weak magus. Not all magi are born with perfect gifts or have easy access to the magical energies that God placed on Earth. Marcus is one of those cases.

He has one advantage though: Since his Gift is very weak, nobody will notice that he is a magus most of the time, and so can conduct his business like a mortal would, getting a small edge over humans or supernatural creatures that thought he was a normal mundane.

His Mater Umbra, a Tytalian maga specialized in shadows, lies and disguise thought this to be an incredible boon of her pupil, refusing to see how his apprentice failed in many menial tasks and was the laughing stock of the other apprentices in her autumn covenant. Both influences had a powerful impact on Marcus and he is somewhat not very confident in his abilities, but forces himself to push forward regardless of the drawbacks.

Given his obvious advantages when dealing with mundanes Umbra encourages Marcus to specialize in social situations but he refused to do so, thinking this to be a cheap and underachieving scheme. Let the Jerbitons do that: he wanted to do something more than influence village priests and innkeepers. Otherwise he would be what the apprentices taunted him with: a mere mundane able to throw some sparks around or "sparky" as they called him. He wanted to achieve something that would show everybody that he was not inferior and that he was a worthy member of the Order of Hermes.

To remind himself of his goal he adopted it as his reference name: Scintillus filius Umbra ex Tytali. Sparkle of Tytalus


  • Gentle Gift (M)
  • Quiet Magic x2
  • Subtle Magic
  • Second Sight
  • Minor Magical focus: …
  • ….


  • Short Ranged Magic (M)
  • Weak Spontaneous Magic (M)
  • Poor forumulaic magic
  • Bad reputation: underachieving magus

Any other V&F that ypou can think about. Slow caster perhaps? I am trying to get a weak Gift here :slight_smile: probably based around personal/touch spells cast without being noticed nor reveal much of his magic-ness.



Since the character is clearly going outside the box here, I see no reason that your Virtues and Flaws don't as well. That is, talk to your SG about some custom versions (or, if you're the SG and creating this as an NPC, don't hesitate to do so yourself!)

"Short Ranged Magic" is painfully crippling, and moreso than you are describing here - using Deleterious Circumstances, you could define any spell at -3 that has a range over Touch - or whatever.

I think you'll find that, since you are specifically trying to create a "weak" magus, that you'll be handing out more Flaws than Virtues - the character's magic will be crippled (relatively speaking) in exchange for that "deep well" you speak of.

With regard to that, take a riff off of Mythic Blood, so that any Casting Total within 10 of the Spell Level costs no Fatigue.

The well was a descriptive feature: In one of our previous sagas we roleplayed a class between a magus and his apprentice where he told him a few things about MT. Since the apprentice was a 5 year old he used a lot of comparisons and metaphors to describe basic concepts of the Ars Magica system to him. We were using the scene to introduce 2 new players to the game :wink:

The well was used as a source of Magic: you reach into your inner power, your inner well and express your magic.

In the text above, a deep well it is not that it is more powerful/fuller or resources, but that it is more difficult to reach for your power. I was thinking painful magic or slow caster

Mythic Blood can be OK, but I already have Gentle Gift here. But hey, I am the alpha SG after all :wink:

Mythic Blood is undefined - it can come from any source, any tradition, any lineage, any manifestation.

But it is a major hermetic virtue, right?


(double post)

I said "riff off of" that part of it - not take the entire Virtue.

Yes, you are the SG - so be a SG, and come up with a balanced Minor version that fits.

(Read for content, people - read for detail! Those "word" things we use are there for a reason!) :unamused: :wink:

My bad for not being a native Enlish speaker then :wink: Nice ideas there.



LOL - the jokes on me then!

(I have a head cold and am crabbier than usual - my inner curmudgeon is showing - milles pardons!) :blush:

Angus wrote this article for fourth edition, but it might provide some inspiration:

geocities.com/sanctumhr/Galf ... holar.html

Nice little article, food for thought, tho' there is no simple solution (short of bailing on the Order and heading for the high timber to find one of those Cults!)

(And the magus' name is a riff off of two of the few Latin words I recognize by sight - I believe it translates "Total Moron", or close enough. )

Food for thought indeed. In fact, I can see this being a speech made at Tribunal by one of those theory-driven individuals. After that everybody applauds and say that they agree and here ends thedebate because the OoH thinks they are the best et al: they have even thought about all those poor, inferior beings with the Gift.



Depends on just how terribly weak you want him...

Anyway, Short-Ranged or Short-Lived Magic are other reasonably good choices.

Weak Magic is potentially good, switch Poor Formulaic to Unstructured Caster if you want an extremely troubled magi, Limited Magic Resistance(to Ignem or Terram for example), another nasty might be Enfeebled together with possibly changing Weak- to Difficult -Spontaneous Magic making him ABLE to Spont normally but get totally exhausted from it although this is "weak" in another way than you might be wanting...

An interesting concept.

I'd pick something more like 'Deleterious Circumstances - whenever not in the Magic Realm' or something like that. Too broad for the description, but I'm sure the SG (eh, especially as he's you...) will agree to THAT. That also gives you some 'out', choosing some narrow circumstances where his magic is effective.

My first ArM5 character was a magus with negative intelligence. He was a Criamon magus, who took his Gnostic teachings so literally he specialized in destroying dirt and earth, and sought to make things insubstantial. His peers in his clutch called him 'the pig farmer', though mostly behind his back (he was a pig farmer before his apprenticship).

In ArM5, low intelligence isn't that much of a hinderance. It has the not-very-interesting effect of making your known spells of lower level (and this less fatiguing), and otherwise keeping you a bit behind on your lab totals.... but it doesn't hinder your accumulation of XP like in 4e, so no biggie.

The concept is that of a really sub par magus. One that will get a bad reputation for "not really being part of us" reputation among the normal hermetics. So, giving him circumstances where his magic is equal to that of other magi is not the concept I am after.

In a sense this should be along the level of power that a pre-hermetic magus would be able to achieve. or the level of power that a natural magician from the levant tribunal can get; He can shine in some areas, but not many. I was thinking about taking 30-40 or so impossible Te+Fo combos but decided against it in the end. you get the idea, though. He is supposed to be WEAK as a hermetic, not merely "slightly behind" :slight_smile:

I am thinking about making the driving goal something along the line of "killing a really powerful dragon" or founding a lasting covenant in Man: something that no usual magus has achieved or tha tonly the top notch are able to boast about.


Environmental Magic Condition (RoPM pg 48) can be quite debilitating given a suitably common condition (inside, as the example in the book uses is good!).

Alternately, extremely prohibitive Restrictions could be nice too. As could those old stand-by home-brew Flaws Susceptibility to Magic and Impotent Magic (since the whole concept is a weak magus, I wouldn't worry too much about game balance)

After reading the suggestions, I have this list of V&F:


  • Gentle Gift (M)

  • Quiet Magic x2

  • Subtle Magic

  • Minor Magical focus: ????? (every magi must have one; suggestions?)

  • Willpower beats Energy: no fatigue level penalty for failing the spell by less than 10 points.
    - Special Circumstances (touch range or lower): too broad?

  • Good characteristics

  • Second Sight (vs Fae and Magic effects; IMS Sense H&U is the same result for Divine/Infernal effects)

  • Self Confident (Tytalus: free)

FLAWS (18)

  • Weak Spontaneous Magic (M). Can only cast without fatigue.

  • Short Ranged Magic (M). Halve casting total when not touching the target

  • Deleterious circumstances: -5 to spells above Touch range
    - Poor forumulaic magic. -5 to formulaics (maybe too much when added with the above??)

  • Unpredictable magic. Always roll stress die

  • Weak Magic: Halve penetration (dunno if this will cripple him too much when added to the above).

  • Weak Reader. You have a weak grasp of hermetic theory. Subract -3 from the quality of any hermetic books you read.

  • Weak Scholar. -6 lab texts of others

  • Weak Parens (so he has less spells to start with)

  • "Underachieving magus" among regular hermetic magi (negative reputation lvl 3). Equivalent to hedge wizard

  • Ambitious (M): still undecided, but probably creating a lasting hermetic presence in Man

  • Low Self Steem (he knows he is weak); cancels out with the Tytalus virtue

I want him to be weaker, AND remain weak. This means that his study total should be lower than that of other magic. Maybe 2/3rds of their usual total. Dunno if the selected V&F will achieve that result or not. Too many interactions present :stuck_out_tongue: hehe


After going around with the concept and delving into all the other magical traditions around my Ars books, I have decided that probably the easiest way to achieve what I am going after is a celebrated Raqi.

The Raqis are 4th edition natural magicians (read: more powerful and waaaaay more hermetic than the current natural magicians) from the Levant Tribunal that can cast some low level hermetic formulaics. As such, they are a laughing stock compared to a hermetic magus, but can be quite powerful compared to a mere mundane.

That fits quite nicely with my idea of what I want to get: a character that is nominally a member of the OoH, but that sucks at almost everything a hermetic of his age can do. So there we go :slight_smile: I only need to change the background to turn him into a (really weak) hermetic and there we go. Not much more changes needed here.

This character is thought to run a solo game, so it is no biggie if it is weak/powerful. He will just be his own benchmark after all. My group is moving away from Ars for a while now, after 2 sagas (one spectacularly failed in Iberia, one very successful in Brittany/Scotland) so there we go with the project :slight_smile: Marcus of Tytalus has just found his statistics :slight_smile:

I will probably give him 75 spell levels and magic theory to add to his totals, so he will be somewhat more powerful, but not much more.

Going this way also solves one of my nagging "problems" with the current hermetic system: I have a feeling that it lacks "spirit": it is full of mechanics, but there is few (if any) need for magi to invest in "cool magical stuff" like bat's eyes or Stones of Fire to achieve anything that is not enchanting items. I find this to be a real pitty, since ot me magic has a lot more appeal if you need toad legs and the smell of a virgin to achieve the effect you want. Natural Magicians do need that, since their activities are quite strongly attached to the Te+Fo bonus table, so there we go :slight_smile: rant mode off



Possibly true.

However, I think that if you keep track of what physical form vis is in, then you keep some of this appeal. So it's not just 3 pawns of Ignem vis, but "3 bars of iron from the forge of a dwarven smith".

Also, the acquisition of Arcane Connections is quite important in this edition...and this is all about collecting locks of hair, vials of blood, etc.