A use for Rotes

So, when I got Mysteries for 5E, I could not for the life of me figure out the point of Rotes. They aren't that much easier to learn than formulaics, and if you know the formulaic you can just take -15 on your casting to get Still and Silent, instead of having to divide the whole thing by 2.

I think I finally figured it out. Jerbiton.

They already value high Artes Liberales scores, so there's that much advantage going for them. Most importantly? Rotes don't botch. Jerbiton like to hang out in cities, where you've got a Dominion 3 most places. Those extra botch dice are very dangerous over time.

It gets better. Assuming an Artes Liberales (arithmetic) of at least 6 and the lesser book bonus of +4, you only need a base lab total of 15 + those two to learn level 5 Rotes. If you can manage a Rote Casting Score of 20 (regular Casting Score + Arithmetic), you can cast the applicable level 5 Rote - which already gives you Silent and Still - despite a level 3 Dominion.

All in all, very nice for Jerbiton trying to keep a low profile.

And now I have an idea for a Jerbiton Mentem specialist who masters Rotes to get Fast-casting. All he needs to do is meet your eyes for an instant and you're hit with something or other.


Some members of our august Order have trouble with spontaneous magic.
A few even to the point of not being able to use it at all.
More commonly, it may be used but hardly controlled.

Both of these groups also benefit greatly from rotes I believe.

Well, see, Rotes cost the same to learn as regular formulas, unless I'm badly misreading the appropriate section. Getting a copy of a formulaic - which anyone in the Order can learn - is likely easier than getting a copy of a Rote.


You add Artes Lberales (Arithmetic) and book bonus.
But you're quite right. For some reason I'd convinced myself you merely had to match the level of the rote, not double it.

My bad.

So the advantage of Rotes is the lack of botch dice, but appart from that are the same as regular formulaics? Been a while since I read TMRE, so I can be way out of mark here.

It's a little more complicated than that.

Part 1:

Normal Lab Total = Technique + Form + Intelligence + Magic Theory + Aura.

Rote Lab Total = Technique + Form + Intelligence + Magic Theory + Aura + AL(arithmetic) + Book Bonus*

*Book Bonus can be either +4 or +8, but is additionally capped by AL(arithmetic).

It's not unreasonable for a scholar-type to have a Rote Lab Total 10 points higher than the normal Lab Total, and a 15 or even 20 point advantage is not impossible for older magi.

Part 2:

The largest Rote you can learn is limited by your Rote Lab Total / 5, rounded up. In essence, you can learn first magnitude of Rote spells once you get up to 21, second magnitude at 46, third at 71, and so on.

Rotes take up the same amount of your season to learn as formulaic spells do, except that you get to use your Rote Lab Total - presumably a bit higher - to calculate the total number of spell levels you learn.

I would assume that if you have a teacher they use their highest applicable Rote Lab Total, as per Core p. 95.

Part 3:

Normal Casting Score: Stamina + Technique + Form + Aura + Stress Die

Rote Casting Score: (Stamina + Technique + Form + Aura + AL(Arithmetic) + Book Bonus*) / 2

*If you use the book, it takes an extra round.

Part 4:

So why bother with Rotes? Regular formulaic spells let you use your full Casting Score, after all. Better penetration and so on.

Two things: First of all, Rotes are automatically Still and Silent. Secondly, Rotes can't botch.

That last part makes them very attractive for casting in foreign auras, but they have bad penetration, so you aren't going to be using them on faeries or demons too often. Dominion auras, on the other hand, tend to be chock full of mundanes.

Thus, it seems to me that Rotes are a very niche-y thing, but their niche fits Jerbiton quite nicely.


I had a GMPC magus back in the Brunnaburgh chronicle who used Rotes.

He had over a dozen. His high Artes Liberales and good book bonus allowed him to create several in a singe season.

Although they couldn't be very high level, this just meant he had lots (and lots) of low level ones.

He used them frequently, usually without using his book for still, silent, safe minor magic. All kinds of low level stuff that you'd normally not bother with due to the risk of a botch.

The upshot of using rotes is that it gives you minor but very safe magic that due to its safeness, you can use all the time and due to the still and silent is often safe (sigil permitting) to use around mundanes.

Rotes can be compared to non-fatiguing sponts in that they don't roll dice and therefore do cannot botch, but they are as powerful as you might be able to do with a fatiguing spont.

I have a character who is Addicted to Magic, and I play him like a recovering alcoholic. Since rotes don't roll dice, there's no chance of him going on a bender when he uses them. Granted, that's a roleplaying use, but one that considers the mechanics.