First of all, I'm pretty new to ars magica, and haven't had the time to go over ALL of the rules (since there are so many, and the book is less than comprehensible), so please, be gentle.
Anyway, I had an idea, about a magus who uses only spontaneous magic.
The question is this: How should the apprenticeship be handeled? I am reffering to the 120 spell levels (or 150, if you get skilled parens). Since I will not be using any formulaic magic, this is usless.
I had a few ideas:
You treat the spell levels as xp, and you must spend it in arts, hermetic abilities or abilities related to using magic (i.e finesse)
You could split the spell levels. Half goes to xp for arts, hermetic abilities or abilities related to using magic, and the other half for spell levels, representing the spontaneous spells that the magus used frequently, and ended up memorising, or the bit the parens taught him.
In asnwer to your question there's really no in-game solution since it's assumed that your character will learn what his/her master teaches. Which would presumably include formulaic spells.
Of course, in your game things may be different. I'd recomment simply dropping the extra levels entirely and taking the Weak Parens & Hedge Wizard flaws. However, if your SG agrees I don't think it would be too unbalanced to convert your spells into XP for a character who can't use formulaic/ritual spells.
An interesting question. I'm amazed it hasn't come up before, really.
A magus with a low to middling score in arts can, with a good aura, decent teacher or text learn a 5th or 6th magnitude spell in a season. The same magus, with the greatest book in the world or an excellent teacher, is unlikely to acquire more than 10 to 15 XP. As such, I'd suggest making it an extra 40 to 50XP - anything more would be too great a boost.
Keep the spells, keep the spells. You are shooting yourself in the foot if you don't have at least a few formulaics. Even if you want to be the all-spont wizard, knowing a few rituals and Muto-Vim formulaics will go a long way.
Even if playing a spont magus, knowing a formulaic spell can still. Don't you still get the "similar spell bonus" for improvising an effect close to one already known as a formulaic spell? E.g. you need to get a handfull of grogs to breathe under water. Knowing "lungs of the fish" at range personal target individual isn't enough. But improvising the spell is easier if you already know something close to.
The other option is to exchange for straight xp, but I agree that it should not be 1:1. Being taught spells means you fairly easy get high level spells, as does re-inventing some from other's lab texts - if you can cast it you can probably also re-invent it yourself prerrty easy. But art study or ability practice is slow work.
Other than improvising magi, I can see Verditii making this trade. Needing casting tools might mean they'd much rather rely on devices. And if spell levels can be excnahged for xp, that'd be a nice contribution to their multiple abilities needed and wanted. So save some xp-boosting virtues and instead take personal vis sources for your devices.
I think this'd be a rare optiopn for me, if allowed. I love formulaic spells, and crave mastery...precious mastery... In fact I most often limit my magi's abilities for spontaneous magic. I've found it to be circumventing of a lot of conflicts and obstabcles, taking away the grogs' and comnaions chance to shine. But that's another story.
Problem with that is that then you cant pick flaws centered on "cant handle nothin but sponts".
Even sticking to RAW flaws, you can combine or pick any single of Rigid Magic(Major), Poor Formulaic Magic, Unstructured Caster(Major), Loose Magic.
So 8 pts of flaws thats says you REALLY suck at anything but sponts, but means you dont "need" to have much else in flaws.
And if you "keep the spells" then you´re not playing a sponter only, as the original poster WANTED.
Which i might add is alot of fun.
yeah, but some things can't be sponted. Rituals and MuVi spells. Can MuVi work on sponts? I think so, not sure. But I know they cannot be sponted. I am merely suggesting that, rather than throwing away 120 levels of spells or trying to convert them to xp's, he should instead concentrate on a few Vim spells that would enhance his spontaneous magic.
According to the MuVi Guidelines (ArM5 page 159), MuVi spells "cannot be cast on spontaneous spells. Such magic is being manipulated at whim—any attempt to alter it further would make the caster lose control. (This is necessary for game balance.)" On the other hand, later in the guidelines it's written that MuVi spells can be fast-cast, so they can themselves be sponted.
I've never really liked the game-balance justification. For a start, sponted spells tend to be very low level and so rarely that disruptive in the grand scheme of things. Secondly, the risk of loss of control in Ars Magica is usually (and better) represented by a massive number of botch dice.
I liked Ovarwa's solution: 3/4 of the spell levels convert to xp and the rest are lost. This means that a magus will gain 90 xp instead of 120 spell levels. If the magus takes skilled parens, he will get 120 xp instead of 150 spell levels. What do you think?
Another 2 questions for you all:
Spont spells are a lot weaker than formulaic spells. How could I balance this as a magus? Is there anything else to do other than pick good virtues and have high ability and art scores? (bear in mind, I only have the base ars magica book).
What house should I use? The two that jumped to my mind were Veriditus (for the items) or Ex Miscellanea (for the concept and virtues, which are priceless for such a magus). What do you suggest?
If you pick Verditius the obvious answer is to get any higher power spells from items.
Aim to come up with a VERY good Major Focus.
Get 2 Affinities AND 2 Puissant either focused or spread out in 2, 3 or 4 Arts, preferably Techniques.
Lifelinked Spontaneous Magic and/or Diedne Magic(without the drawnback, its just not good enough to deserve such a massive "counterbalance")
Stamina raised to 4 or 5...
A house giving puissant for an Art, preferably a Technique isnt bad(Mercere, Flambeau). Verditius is a good choice. Tytalus IF you can expect to regain spent confidence points quickly.
Ex Miscellanea allows you to have extra virtues/flaws which can also be very nice.
Marko, read again: And if you "keep the spells" then you´re not playing a sponter only, as the original poster WANTED.
And if your SG lets you only get 1/2 spell level to xp, you are still doing ok.
No matter what you do under the rules, a magus who concentrates on spontaneous magic and abjures formulaic magic will not make up the difference in power, unless he is great at crafting items. This is as it should be!
There are other threads in which optimizing spontaneous magic is discussed.
LLSM is very good.
Faerie Magic + Folk Magic (need Merinita book) is very good if you play to it.
Diedne Magic is eh.
Verditius mysteries that let you craft awesome items, also very good.
Verditius with Merinita. Both are in the same Mystery Cult book, so you don't need too many books.
That lets you do:
Verditius Magic, Faerie Magic, Folk Magic, Life-linked Spontaneous Magic for 6 of your 11 starting virtue points.
You're a Verditius who has learned some Faerie Mysteries. If your SG allows it, it's fine. Then you only need a backstory, and perhaps some virtues and flaws to represent this. Favors, Strong Faerie Blood, Mentor (from Merinita) and so on.
"My parens is married to a Merinita."
"My parens crafted an item for a Merinita in exchange for various services, including teaching me some Merinita mysteries. Now I am expected to craft items with cool Merinita targets, ranges and durations."
If your SG does not allow it, you have a choice:
The Verditius path is fantastic for crafting items. Sponts provide versatility, but items provide real power.
Faerie+Folk Magic combined with appropriate skills and a willingness to create hundreds of charms can provide an easy +10 to most of a magus' spontaneous magic.... after division.
Which will you choose?
Either way, you'll want LLSM. You'll also want Rigid Magic, Loose Magic, Poor Formulaic Magic and Unstructured Caster .
(If you were creating a magus 60 years out of apprenticeship, I'd direct your attention to Diedne Magic. Until then, best stay away.)