A magus without the gift...

Hi! If this is covered elsewhere, I couldn't find it... but I had a few of questions about the loss of the gift.

I'm a new SG to Ars Magica, but have played in a couple of fairly long running campaigns in the past. All new players, it's a great opportunity!

Anyway, I have been designing some rivals and plot arcs to go with them.

This one focuses on an experienced Jerbiton magus named Heinrich Khunrath. He is an illusionist and charmer, who has lost his gift. My intention is that he will end up offering a year of service to the PCs in return for a safe escort from the tribunal discussing his fate, to his home town, which is not too far from the PCs covenant. Along with executing his longevity ritual from his lab text. I'd expect them to take this offer, but can come up with other plans if not!

I'm thinking about the exact circumstances of losing his gift. I was considering an experimental failure bought on by a rivals sabotage... Is that practical? What are some other amusing things that might do it?

I was wondering what might happen to his familiar? Would it die? Unbond? Become mundane? Retain some powers? Something else?

Figure items he had made would continue to function... but what about his talisman?

I've stat-ed him up and I'm wondering what he can do in that year. He has a good magic theory, so can work as a decent lab assistant. As a reasonable teacher, I'm sure he could teach that or other non magical abilities - lores, etc. My question 1 Can he teach arts or 'hermetic abilities'? For example, he has/had a high imaginem score - can he teach the 'theory' of that, despite being cut off from his gift? What about finesse?

After leaving the covenant I'm intending that he regain the use of his gift via an infernal pact with agents of Malphas, Great President of hell (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malphas), who looks amusing. He will start small, slowly offering up more and more extreme services to his demonic master to keep the ongoing use of his 'gift'. I'm rather envisaging assisting cultists with magic, meddling with the mundanes and other such nefarious shenanagins. Along with his money/vis making schemes to fund his new laboratory. Due to the location, the queasitor's will suspect the PCs and hilarity will ensue. Does this sound feasible?

Given as ungifted Folk Witches can have familiars, I suspect it would stay bonded. The cords might not be accessible however.

Ah - thanks for that! :slight_smile:

I'm wondering what might happen if the familiar objected to the demonic pact and they fell out. That could be quite an interesting spin on things.

the answer to all of that is "since it is a really unique event, whatever suitas your taste and the best evolution for your campaign". it might even be that some effectds in his magic items disappeared, but not others, that all of them ceased to funtion except a certain pendant or the opposite. :slight_smile:

If I was to run this, all his items would work unless he had that flaw that makes items cease to function when you die. Since, in practical terms he is "dead" as a magus. At least ofr the time being. If he could recover his Gift everything could come back to normal.

Regarding losing the gift, an illusionist is a great target for faeries. Powerful faeries. He can easily have had his Gift sequestered, not destroyed, so he could recover it but needs to achieve something extremely difficult, even with magic. So he needs allies. However, he needs to do the final stuff himself, not relying in proxies, so you will be charged with dragging him around even if he is a totally useless man without his magical powers. A story hook for the SG to play with :mrgreen:

If you do not like fae, you might have him need to travel to the magic realm to get the Gift back. Same premise (he needs allies there). Or maybe someone invented a PeVi spell to destroy the Gift. That is a serious development in Hermetic Theory, so it must be investigated by te OoH since it is worse than killing magi and a power that the Order certainly wants to keep under close examination.

In any case you get a great story hook with this guy. Well done!

Leaving aside the demonic aspect to the question, as that seems a plot development beyond the initial situation, I quite like this idea and the questions it raises.

There seems no requirement for the magus to leave the Order if he loses his Gift. Doesn't seem to be any requirement to move House either. So from that side, I think he retains his status.

As to what he can do. Is Parma Magica part of his Gift, or is that a Supernatural Ability? I'd go with the later, so in theory he should still be able to use, learn, and develop it. Magic Theory is fine too. In fact, from a scholastic perspective, I think he's fine to continue learning the Arts and the associated Abilities (Finesse, Penetration, etc.) but it's when it comes to leading laboratory efforts that things get tricky.

He can't cast spells. I'd also suggest that he can't learn or invent new spells in the laboratory, just as he can't extract vis from an aura, open a device for enchantment, invent a longevity ritual, etc. I think he can still assist, however, so his offer of tuition or assistance is still valuable.

I would say that unless there is any kind of Flaw he possesses to the contrary, he can carry on using devices that he has created, including his talisman and any familiar bond powers.

So what has he got to offer? His voice, for one. If he has any experience or position of standing at Tribunal then he can be a useful ally to have. He can offer direct tuition, or course. He can offer a share of whatever vis income he may be entitled to. Importantly, if he really has lost the Gift, he is in a great position to act as an envoy for a covenant to its mundane partners. He has a unique understanding of the Order but also an understanding of how that can look when you suddenly find yourself lacking in power before it.

Ah! There's some great food for thought there! Thanks guys.

Good to know its a unique thing rather than missing something core.

Sequestering his gift has a lot of potential. I've already got some links to the Slavic fae and that might be a highly entertaining route to go down. Certainly got some potential for a great story. It's the sort of thing that fits with my mental view of them. Perhaps some awful hermetic involvement along the lines of the PeVi idea... Something to draw the attention of a powerful faerie being/Slavic god.

I'm sort of tempted to throw that as something the players could learn and use as leverage, redemption or similar.

The idea of giftless lab activities is good too. Feeling like he might be able to fudge something together with extreme auras and or vis. Area ripe for discoveries and some extreme disaster stuff!

In terms of other thing to offer the guy has a pretty reasonable streak of intrigue. Which is good with the spy network rules!

I agree there is no technical requirement for him to leave House or status. However, he might be considered an embarressment and a liability by his House, and so could well be thrown out. He is vulnerable to Certamen bullying, etc. An important consideration will be whether his Gift loss is a secret, and if so, who knows about it. His political importance might matter too. If he is a minor member of the House, it might not matter much, if he is the Primus (in most Houses) I doubt he could continue as Primus.

I'd be inlcined to say he can no longer use Parma Magica. It's a way of using the Gift, you need to Gift to learn it.


I don't think so. You need the Gift to learn Arts, it's not merely a scholarly activity. Which is why you can't practice the Arts, and must study vis. I would be OK with him writing about the Arts (unless whatever accident destroyed his Gift also zeroed his Art Scores), and perhaps teaching it. Although, his pupil should have a good chance of realising that his Gift is lost (which may be a problem if it's a secret).

Agree. If he does assist it should be evident that his Gift has been lost though.


Agree. Although any apprentice can just seize his vis sources via Certamen.

Although, if he loses Parma Magica (which I think he will) then he will be negatively affected by the social penalties of other magi's Gift. So, he may well run for the hills, rather than deal with those untrustworthy bastards who will be after his vis and vote.

Don't think most tribunals allow random challenges for anything a magus owns. They need to be legitimate disputes not: "I want some free vis underling."

If someone's created a PeVi to destroy the gift, the order wants that A) in the hands of the quaisitors, and B ) being investigated by a crack team of the BEST and most trustworthy bonisagi / vim experts out there. Because if you can destroy it with magic, you can CREATE it with magic.

Mercere the Founder is the go-to precedent here, surely.
Declaring that you must leave the Order if you loose your Gift could proven... problematic.

Nope, sorry. Explicitly requires the Gift.

He can certainly learn/improve/study arcane abilities, though he might not have much use for them.


Not sure about the Familiar, otherwise I don't see any problems here


Granting the False Gift is perfectly within the abilities of demons, so this is very feasible.

I think Houser Mercere would be quite alarmed by anything which suggested that at the point their Founder lost his Gift, he lost the title of magus.

I agree.

However, it is worth considering that some of the reasons that unGifted Redcaps are allowed now in 1220, is that they are numerous, have historic precedent, provide a useful service, and are politically influential, but (generally) decline to exercise some of their rights as magi (such as voting at Tribunal).

A lone magus, who has lost his Gift, now in 1220, is quite a different situation to that of the Redcaps or the situation of their Founder centuries ago. In fact, it would be quite believable for the Redcaps to be firmly of the opinion that except for Redcaps, there can be no unGifted magi.

I doubt they'd want to take the risk of being seen as setting themselves above the other houses in such a way.

I'd actually expect them to accept the Jerbiton magus as a member of House Mercere if he was thrown out of Jerbiton for being ungifted.

I doubt it. House Mercere is a true lineage.

Not only a true lineage, but one nearly exclusive to a vulgar bloodline as well as a Hermetic lineage.

Mercere would likely throw their votes (such as they are) and influence behind the guy staying in Jerbiton, or failing that, having him accepted into Ex Miscellanea (especially in tribunals where Ex Miscellanea can be joined automatically).

For gifted inviduals, but not for the ungifted. And that's what he is now, an ungifted.

And if he's lost he's gift, he'd be a useful redcap (especially if he doesn't retain a magical air)

No, House Mercere is a true lineage for all members. That includes the unGifted Redcaps.

Politically, I would say he stays in House Jerbiton until the Jerbiton Primus declares otherwise. I would imagine that if Jerbiton kicks him out, Mercere might accept him as a Redcap. If he goes to Tribunal, it's up to the Praeco whether or not he can participate, but I would think he would still have a vote in any case as long as he is still a member of the Order.

There is a slight precedent for unGifted Jerbiton magi, by the way. By special arrangement, these "Larta magi" are taught by a Redcap, accepted into House Mercere, and then passed across to House Jerbiton. They aren't popular-- in character or out of it-- and in any case that's for Jerbitons who never had The Gift, not those who had it and lost it.

It is certainly possible that they could do that. However, it does not seem like a sensible political move:

a) Currently, the Redcaps have the (at least nearly?) exclusive right to have unGifted members --- why would they want to extend that "advantage" to other Houses?

b) Many other magi, although admitting that the Redcaps are useful to the Order, are dubious about counting unGifted Redcaps as proper magi --- hence why Redcaps usually try to avoid voting at Tribunal --- but at least, this "corruption" is limited to House Mercere. If the Redcaps suddenly start agitating for other Houses to admit unGifted members, that seems very likely to re-open questions about the status of the Redcaps.

It seems more realistic for the Redcaps to want to demonstrate that they are responsible magi by refusing to allow, or abstaining from a vote to allow, the Order to be diluted by the unGifted (except Redcaps), which also happily preserves their own exclusive status.