A mundane becomes a monster hunter: what tools are available?

Just a little thought experiment. Let's say you have an entirely mundane person by Ars Magica's standards - no Gift, no inborn Supernatural Virtues (but any that can be obtained by such a person after the fact are fair game), who wants to make a life hunting supernatural creatures - all the sorts of Magic, Faerie, and Infernal entities who bring humans suffering.

Let's assume they're well off enough, free enough, and knowledgeable enough to pursue most any avenue to skills, resources, and powers available to mundane folks by Ars rules, with two exceptions. First, we'll be excluding methods like the Odin sacrifice or Garden of Eden to gain the Gift, because "just become a magus," while probably the most powerful strategy possible, defeats the fun of considering what non-magi are capable of. (Initiation into Virtues is fine in general, however.) Secondly, while they are better off than most, perhaps due to a sponsor, they do not have the ostentatious freedom of wealth and temporal power of higher nobles - no throwing an army at every foe or starting out dropping the worth of a manor in silver pounds on a jacked up Hermetic enchanted item (though they are free to use vis obtained from success in their ventures however they see fit, including purchasing services from Hermetic magi).

The most straightforward answer purely in terms of mechanical utility is True Faith, if you're the sort of personality who can swing it, but given how unreliable, action-limiting, and not really compatible with having your own ambitions that tends to be (it's not really the sort of buff you choose to acquire for other purposes so much as a byproduct of pursuing faith for its own sake far beyond the degree achieved by even most devoted contemplatives), what sorts of other preparations would be worth pursuing as a pragmatic and motivated monster-hunter? What skills, tools, defenses?

Naturally, if you're going the "acquire vis to buy magical support" route, you'll probably want to start small, on low-Might creatures who aren't too insurmountably threatening, and use the vis you gather from that to gain methods of defense against the dangerous shutdown abilities of higher-Might threats. After all, your biggest concern, as someone most likely lacking Magic Resistance, isn't physical attacks themselves, which you could dodge or survive - it's supernatural powers that instantly create a Game Over situation if you're ever in position for the creature to use them. Mentem effects are perhaps the most common source of instant loss, so I'd put a high premium on getting immunity to those via item or Greater Immunity Initiation, but that's just a start. Maybe try to become a half-Taltos for dealing with incorporeal foes? Very relevant if demons or ghosts are among your intended prey, since it isn't subject to Magic Resistance. For that matter, whether any of your offensive equipment should ever be on the enchanting table is its own question, given the risk of having something so expensive to produce be rendered useless when it most counts, though shelling for a Verditius to make an Item of Quality sword is probably worthwhile if you ever find your combat output inadequate, given how comparatively vis-cheap it is.

That's all just cherry picking as a start tho. Let me know what you think are the urgent considerations and things to plan for and strategies and all that!


Student of (realm) or Puissant (realm) Lore for knowledge of traditional weaknesses or banes of the sorts of monster they are hunting & Arcane Lore.

Clear thinker or Strong Willed might give some semblance of resistance to a limited number of Mentem effects.

If you’re allowing for Heroic Virtues Invisible to Magic would be a way to gain a sort of resistance.

Giant blood might make certain effects not work on you due to being too large, many beasts’ effects don’t bother with size modifiers. Of course as soon as you bring this into a campaign and the death dragon can’t affect you with its cause wound effect the SG will rethink this.

tl/dr: Cautious w/ your combat skill. Relic and Guardian Angel if at all appropriate. Gain a supernatural sense ASAP (Second Sight, Sense H&UH). Magic style that does not require the Gift. Join a Hero cult.


Choose two combat skills. One should be melee and the other ranged, though which is your primary and which your secondary will depend on play style.

Ability wise in addition to your chosen combat style you are going to want high ratings in the appropriate [Realm] Lore of your targets and Awareness. These are critical in knowing the weakness of your pray and avoiding being ambushed by them.

The Hunt Ability might also be a good choice to have some level in, since it will let you not only set traps and ambushes for your targets, but feed yourself while out looking for them.

While having True Faith themselves is problematic as you have stated, getting a hold of a Relic (or possibly Powerful Relic) would be a way to gain some degree of Magic Resistance.

For Virtues there are a few outside the box choices. Guardian Angel would be very helpful for a hunter of Infernal horrors. If you normally operate in a certain type of terrain, Ways of the [Land] gives bonuses and reduced botch dice.

There are of course the general selection of Virtues that are useful. Affinity w/, Cautious w/ (actually really important), and Puissant will help you succeed. Clear Thinker and Strong Willed will help protect your mind. Tough, Large, and Enduring Constitution will help you soak up damage. Perfect Balance and Lightning Reflexes to avoid trouble.

You do not have to be Gifted to learn things like Folk Witch magic. Some degree of learning here might be extremely useful.

Once you can do things like Initiate into Virtues, some means of gaining Second Sight and/or Sense Holiness & Unholiness will be extremely useful.

Even better, join a Hero cult and get some Hero Virtues. Great Bearer is one that is often overlooked, but really useful. It allows you to suffer far less penalties while wearing heavy armor and carrying a range of weapons.


Folk Witch Flight, a bucket or broom of Quality, and a really good bow, possibly with a big fat archery-applicable Faerie Sympathy, could go a long way. Not forever, not long enough to retire before some sort of flying monster gets you, but it'd be very effective against a fairly wide range of gribblies.

At the high-powered end of things, initiating Hyperborean Hymnist a couple times would be a fantastic help; I'd go for Iaó (hearing, sight, auras, sensing magical effects) first off, and look for some good awareness or sense-enhancing powers. Then a hymn with some direct magical offense (particularly something effective against incorporeal or insubstantial foes) for the second initiation.

That combination of Folk Witch Flight and a really good bow was one of the first things I thought of. Being able to hit them and stay out of range goes a long way towards ensuring that the character survives for at least a little while. Adding in their potions and (if by some fluke of chance you survive) their LR makes things even better.

You also seem to have the same idea that some form of sensory boosting is very important. Considering how many critters can turn invisible, create illusions or glammer, or are just hard to identify it is very important.

Honestly I'm not sure you want to be a Folk Witch nearly as much as you want to have Folk Witch friends; given a halfway decent aura and some good tools (an ivory cauldron of Quality?), their healing is really, really good.

...now I'm pondering a monster hunter who's a son from a female-only folk witch bloodline, and hunts to provide his mother and sisters with vis for their craft.

Honestly though it sounds like the single most important Virtue is gonna be Wealthy, both because you're going to need a lot of Abilities (multiple weapon skills, awareness, athletics, every lore, hunt, survival, chirurgery, second sight or similar, any supernatural abilities, and all with good scores, too) and because you're probably also going to need genuinely free seasons. If nothing else, for recovery.

Plus, you know. Swords. Armour. All that jazz. It ain't cheap.

Edit: Landed Noble, etc., is ruled out by the OP's conditions, but you might be able to justify Almogaten, Mercenary Captain, or similar. If you're going to be doing any kind of combat routinely, trained groups really are where it's at. Hell, True Friend (the minor version, for a competent battle-bro) could go a long way.

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Oh, yeah, having some fighty friends with you to form a combat group when you go out is a different matter in my opinion than just being a rich noble who can pay your way out of being necessary for any of the hard parts. Especially if there's a way to wring some profit out of it, say getting paid by lords or populaces suffering from supernatural activity or by a hedge mage group for the vis like in your example, then I'm sure there would be mercs willing to fill demand. And having folk witch friends and a Guardian Angel per prior suggestions... hahaha, I think we just accidentally reinvented traditional RPG adventuring parties.


A good option may be to align yourself with Faerie. Find a patron who will grant or initiate faerie powers and which has a story and sympathies aligned with hunting monsters. Because it's faerie we're talking about this can literally be a god or hero of legend (finding them and getting into the story is the hard part, but I'm going to assume someone who has the capability to be a supernatural hunter is an exceptional person).

Just as a starting point say you have acquired sympathy traits related to hunting, monsters, combat that sort of thing, and initiated the Faerie Wizardry abilities of Enchantment and Ware. Sympathy gives you significant bonuses to rolls involving your sympathy (at the cost of negative sympathy giving a penalty). Good start. Enchantment is done with a performance using a mundane ability - this can be your primary weapon ability. In fact, the example in RoP:F for it has a knight using single weapon.

Ware allows you to ward yourself against harm from things you have sympathy traits with so long as you also have a sympathy trait with your own role (to let you target yourself). You can ward against both mundane and supernatural harm this way, allowing you to much more safely combat lower might creatures. Higher might creatures is out of reach of this, because Enchantment and Ware only advance as abilities, meaning getting very high casting scores is difficult.

The downside, of course, is that to get the sympathy you probably have to acquire a substantial amount of faerie warping, and any negative sympathy you pick up will increase your number of botch dice - increasing the odds of an ironic death.

That's just with one major and two minor virtues - spending that much time around powerful faeries will probably allow (or force...) the acquisition of some other abilities as well. Very flexible.

Another option, or a complement to this, would be going to Ireland and convincing the faerie Úathach at Leth Cuinn to initiate you into some of the Clesrada. Using your Enchantment to protect you from your foes, while also being able to run as fast as a horse, jump 8m into the air, throw nine javelins in one cast etc. would make you a very dangerous combatant. They are also faerie powers, so your sympathy traits will give bonuses.

As an added bonus if you have allies in the hunt, you can extend a slightly weaker version of your Enchantment protection over them as well seeing as you'll have the sympathies to target them.

So many methods....

Divine methods - the most powerful methods of gaining Magic Resistance are divine, and many of them stack. Relics - a small one will give you MR 10, and you can spend one faith point per day (so an extra +3 to one roll that stacks with confidence - useful when trying to be brave enough to not run away, or trying to make that blow on a monster really count). Better relics give you more MR and faith, and may even have powers that are useful.

Next, The Church has ways to get Divine virtues - pilgrimages p15-19 (getting virtues, or removing flaws which most other methods can't do), and Mysticism (rules for paths on p22) - this allows you to gain Supernatural abilities, and Methods and Powers, and is easier the bigger your Pious trait is. The big bonuses are from taking crusades, risking your life preaching the gospel, and sacrificing wealth - so if you are a military minded crusader or very good at earning wealth, this can work well.
A good virtue to try and get from pilgrimage would be for a Guardian Angel, as this provides extra magic resistance and soak.

If you are of a high social class or a professional soldier, joining a knightly order like the Templars or Hospitallers is good - you can be taught military and educated abilities, and get equipped with full military weapons and armour. You also have allies to help you in battle and who are skilled in treating wounds.

If you are good at working your way up political hierarchies, becoming a senior churchman can get you extra magic resistance from a Commanding Aura - so becoming a papal legate would give you big bonuses and the authority to request people aid you in eliminating these ungodly monsters.

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So, using both hands to handle a bow while flying on a stick around a deadly creature. What could go wrong! :grinning:

Magic methods - one way no-one's mentioned yet is collecting Items of Virtue (see Realms of Power: magic ) and enriching them. This can give you extra virtues at a cost of one warping point per year per item. All you need is enough Magic Lore, so either find some wise ones to teach you about the wonders of the natural world or go find scholars and copy out bestiaries, flora and lapidaries (books on the properties of animals, plants and stones) to learn enough.

Many hedge traditions can teach virtues to those without the Gift, like Gruagachan, Hedge Witches, Learned Magicians - however, if you've got the money or influence you might be better off getting them to work for you. A Grugachan or Learned Magician can impart Virtues (Give Blessing for Gruagachan, Sucurro Fortunam or Magicam for Learned Magicians), and Learned Magicians can create amulets to help you. Folk Witches can create potions for you to use and heal you. Joining a hreppur in the Raudskinna contract (Rival Magic) you could even make allies who are vitkir, and they have a lot of runes they can carve on to things to affect supernatural creatures.

If you really just want to hunt monsters, then Against the Dark p130-138 have a section on Vampire Hunters and include The Hunter's Arts. It's a setting-specific set of ideas ideal for hunting the monsters that plague that part of the world, but could be more broadly applicable.

Another option for gaining necessary virtues would be pilgrimage. Also if you can gain some form of church related rank that grants you magic resistance would be useful. Along with this there are holy traditions which do not require either the Gift or True faith. Second sight and/or magic sensitivity will be essential, possibly sense holiness and unholiness depending on what you are hunting. Buying weapons with increase capacity against supernatural threats is also an obvious necessity if you don't already have those abilities.

I think there are two crucial aspects that might influence the answer: opportunity and motivation.

For example, a mundane whose True Love was lost to the wiles of a Faerie Lord like Marsyne (ArM5 p.195) might be motivated by revenge, and could be the ideal target for Aqrab the Conjurer posing as a human sorceress and monster huntress (RoP:I p.58). Aqrab can teach Incantation and Diablerie (and Summoning and Commanding too) and that's really all that is needed to be a great monster hunter, since with a little preparation a few hirelings you can bestow yourself and your little band all sorts of Virtues and Powers. Of course, this forfeits your soul, subjects you to considerable Warping, etc. but ...

A very pious mundane who hunts monsters for selfless reasons, again possibly because of some personal tragedy, might seek enlightenment via Contemplative Mysticism (TC p.21), possibly after a Pilgrimage and/or acquiring a suitable relic. This synergizes perfectly with being a monster hunter, because each quest to defeat a dangerous supernatural adversary yields 6 Quest points to meet a path target - i.e. the character might be gaining a major supernatural Virtue or Method/Power every 4 "adventures" or so, less if between them he's doing good deeds. 1-2 "adventures" are all that's needed for a Minor Virtue, includiing Ceremony (incredibly useful if the character starts to accumulate a number of followers/friends/companions). And in dire straits and if you don't do it too often, praying to the right a Saint (RoP:D p.87) might just save the day.

Monster hunting is also something that attracts the attention of Faerie. Because it's so "thematic" it's relatively easy to encompass it with a pair of "concentric" Sympathy Traits (with the second one being a broadening of the first). Once those are obtained, from some faerie bargain for example, from faerie warping, or from an Eudokian Boon (RoP:F p.39) there are many, many faerie traditions that would be perfect for a monster hunter to join and would give him all, or almost all, he needs (in particular the Volkhvy, who can Grant Virtues and boost their power through Ceremony, and the Wise Folk, with the Powers to Ware, Weal and Woe - RoP:F p.136).

The "scientific" monster hunter might instead be led to rigorous study at some University, e.g. joining the Mathematici of Bologna (HMRE p.80). Again, the crucial power here is the ability to grant Virtues, such as Greater Immunity (to mind control or some other particular type of threat) via Succuro Magicam (HMRE p.92) - but there are other useful powers, such as that of Vulnero Magicam to ward someone against beings of a particular supernatural Realm (HMRE p.93). And of course, a Mathematicus might also call upon Experimental Philosophy - for example to gain information via Astrological Inceptions (A&A p.72) that bypass Magic Resistance.

Using philosophy, Greek fire (in A&A) and the naffatun (fire siphon in The Sundered Eagle) you could become a fire-wielding monster hunter.

Alexios the flamethrowing alchemist was created for the play-by-post game "Bad apples" - sadly the old forum formatting with tables hasn't carried over so it looks a mess, but you can get the idea.