I have a request regarding the upcoming book on fully developed covenants, "Through the Aegis". It would take only a few minutes, and no additional words. It's about Rituals that the covenant is described as casting regularly. The typical case would be the book's namesake, the Aegis. Please make sure that the number of botch dice is compatible with regular casting.
If a covenant casts a level 60 ritual every year, and the caster lacks a familiar (and thus a gold cord), any mastery of the Ritual, any Virtue such as "Cautious Sorcerer" etc. -- well, that's 13 botch dice, i.e. a single botch almost every decade, and a double botch every 20 years or so. Yes, I'm thinking about the Prima of Bjornaer in GotF
This would also be a great occasion to finally clarify if a mastered Ritual cast in otherwise relaxed conditions (e.g. in conditions allowing a simple die with formulaic spells) still incurs 1 botch die/pawn of vis. It takes a single sentence! I hope other regular posters will join me in this plea.
Granted it will take words.
But barring that, I've asked David Chart directly to consider issuing erratum on this issue, in the event that it can't be added to Through the Aegis. I'm rather tired of the issue popping up, and I think the sides are entrenched enough such that they won't accept the other side's arguments. I know I am firmly entrenched with my position.
But yeah. I've had this discussion in the forum, and in sagas, both PbP and also via hangouts. Both sides have good points, and which side your on has a huge impact on the overall power level of the saga.
Even a choose this for high power and choose that for a lower power bit of guidance would be fine...
13 botch dice is a 75% chance of botching on a 0, and a 38% chance of a double botch or higher. However, a level 60 Aegis is very high anyway. A level 40 Aegis is high, but probably common, and gives a 68% chance of botching on a 0, and a 22% chance of double botch or higher. A level 30 Aegis, which is probably fairly standard, gives probabilities of 53% and 15%. For level 20, it's 41% and 8%.
Combining the chances, we get the following table. This is the chance of getting at least one botch in the given time period when casting an Aegis of the specified level with no precautions taken to bring the number of botch dice down.
What happens on a botch? The caster loses consciousness, as a casting total of zero means a loss of 5 Fatigue Levels. The Aegis happens, but there is something flawed about it. This is not, in fact, fatal for the covenant, by any means. I don't think that such events happening once every 15 to 30 years or so is actually a problem for the background as written. A Sub Rosa article on Aegis botches might be interesting, but I don't see any pressing need to change the rules.
Except that the part I highlighted is not what the current rules state. If we look at the Ritual Magic table on ArM5 p.81, it says that if your casting total is 11 or more below the spell's level, the ritual is not cast. The vis is still wasted.
The examples you provided also don't account for the use of Wizard's Communion for those covenants where the casting magus cannot achieve high enough Penetration. That adds another botch die for every participant added. For even a level 20 Aegis, it needs 40 effective levels of Wizard's Communion for this to be possible. That probably requires 4 additional participants (since the D:Sun variant of WC at level 20 only adds 10 effective levels). So most Spring covenants would add 4 botch dice due to the use of WC, unless they have a ReVi specialist amongst their number who can handle a sufficiently penetrating Aegis on his own.
And the single botch situation isn't the more important issue. Multiple botches are, as they can send all the participants into Twilight. That typical Spring covenant would have 2.2% chance every year of a double botch (or more), which could send all of them into Twilight at the same time.
An Aegis might be cast, but it causes those who participated in it to halve their casting totals in the Aegis or overcome the magnitude of the Aegis if outside, while everyone who wasn't involved doesn't have the same problem. Familiar who leave the Aegis can't return, while creatures with might can wander willy-nilly through the covenant.
The spell may still go off, sure. To paraphrase the section on magical botches on page 87, the results should be different than intended AND almost universally detrimental.
Yes, that's correct. But it still goes off, which is where the botch rules supersede the table on p81 which states that if the casting total is 10 below the spell level then the spell does not go off. That was why it was posted as a reply to Arthur's comment about p81.
To step back from the specific discussion about casting totals and p81 vs.p87, a botched Aegis casting is something that's perfectly valid within the saga. Unless your casting total comes up with a LOT of botch dice (6+), it shouldn't spell certain doom for the covenant. Even if it did then it probably shouldn't spell certain doom for the covenant unless your group wants to end the saga at that point.
There's a lot that can happen to a covenant with a botched Aegis that won't end the covenant, but will certainly inconvenience it.
And this seems to me to be the crux of the issue. The first argument is that Aegis spells should be cast-able without botching because otherwise there would be no covenants older than around 20 years. The counter to that is that a botch should be detrimental, but detrimental doesn't mean fatal and most covenants should be able to survive these occasional botches.
In my view it comes down to these factors:
is your saga rolling along at a pace fast enough that making an aegis casting roll every year is unnecessary bookkeeping?
is your saga going to be enhanced by the stories that emerge from Aegis spellcasting botches?
are you going to end your saga if an Aegis botch occurs?
The answer to these questions is going to be dependent on your SG and your group.
But that doesn't change the fact that a formal clarification of the mastery rules and how they interact with ritual spells wouldn't hurt.
Well, having a flawed Aegis is certainly an inconvenience in and of itself. Having to figure out how to remove the flawed Aegis and then recast it is kind of a big deal that's clearly implied by a setting in which botches are common. If 1 covenant can be expected to botch their Aegis once every 100 years, then every year, out of the 100+ covenants in the Order we can expect that one covenant has a botched Aegis. I never said an Aegis is fatal, but, just like a Story flaw is part of the play contract so are the Hooks a covenant takes. Botched Aegides sidestep. If everyone's on board with dealing with it, I suppose it's fine.
If the game world is consistent, then there should be a roll every year, despite the pacing of the saga. If it is possible to cast an Aegis without risk of botch, then it should be done. I personally think that if one can make items without risk of botching, one should be able to cast rituals safely, over the course of a season, without risk of botching. The alternative under the RAW is spending many, many seasons a fair bit of virtue points and acquiring a familiar to be able to consistently cast a ritual safely, especially a 6th magnitude Aegis, with full penetration which requires people to commune via Wizard's Communion.
Again, my opinion is that generally, no. Botches are unpredictable, and the circumstances surrounding the covenant can change rapidly (especially if you use any asynchronous story telling techniques0, so having a story ready to go just in case of a botch is a bit of a challenge. One can create a contrived event of say another covenant friendly to the PC covenant having a botched Aegis. But as a storytelling device for the PC covenant, I just don't really see it. I've seen HRs which hand wave ritual casting rolls if they happen off screen, but this is a poor HR, in my opinion, because it ignores the risks still inherent in rituals.
3)As in take the marbles and go home? No. Certainly not. Why is this even a choice, if I don't leave if a character dies, why would a botched Aegis do anything?
In some ways, it's not about the saga, but about the setting. The setting, and David's comments certainly seem to imply that Covenants are botching their Aegis on a regular basis. Or they need specialists to go around and do it, or there are a lot of Mercurians and Cautious Sorcerers (jebricks comments about cautious sorcerer excluding ritual magic aside).
Definitely. I know both sides of this debate take it almost as axiomatic that their side is right. I dislike the Spell Mastery 1 mitigating all risk of botching in relaxed conditions, because it feels cheap to me in some respects.
Ending your saga as the result of a botch can be valid, but only if you're looking for an excuse to end things with a bang. It's a bit of a Bonnie & Clyde ending, but having everyone die in a giant magical explosion is certainly an ending.