A number of Criamon path stations give the ability to use Enigmatic Wisdom in lieu of one or more Abilties: e.g. a weapon skill for the path of strife, an artistic skill for the path of walking backwards etc. It makes a lot of thematic sense: by focusing one's search for the Enigma on a certain area, one uncovers the "hidden secrets" of that area of expertise -- and as a consequence one's generic skill about "hidden secrets", Enigmatic Wisdom, can be used as mastery of the area of expertise.
I was wondering about doing the opposite: allowing one to use an ability like Music in lieu of Enigmatic Wisdom. The idea would be that the Criamon has finally realized that the "secrets of the universe" lie hidden in Music, and so can use Music as a sort of "holistic" understanding of generic secrets (didn't the Pythagoreans see it that way?). In terms of mechanics, I am somewhat worried that this might be a bit too powerful: after all, Music is much easier to "raise" (e.g. from mundane teachers) than Enigmatic Wisdom.
What do you think? How would you handle it all? And am I missing something?
The Criamon path material is incredible; so dense that it took me several reads to get it.
A few thoughts... In terms of ability substitution - I'm all for it in any context where it grandeur sense thematically to the character and story. That said I don't think a straight substitution is the way to go. The character still needs a score in Enigmatic wisdom to reflect their grasp of the underlying riddle. Because a junior Criamon with a high music score shouldn't be able to excel above an experienced Criamon in most situations.
Maybe it would make sense for the ability specialisations to reflect the characters view of the enigma, which would mechanically a disadvantage to the way a normal specialisation is applied to a character.
Then music ability score can be added to a regular challenge roll for Enigmatic Wisdom. Music should be a fundamental part of the scene.
I see a proportion of the Music score being used as a bonus for situations where music has a high degree of sympathy - to reflect the subtle but important additional insight.
Even better if the magus engineers these scenarios, the greater the link with music the greater part of their music score they can apply.
Perhaps assign a "grandeur" to the spectacle the magus is involved with, which limits the amount of bonus which can be applied? Greater grandeur if they are participating. Greater if many people are involved. Greater if the are either conducting the performance or totally unwilling (perhaps some macabre ritual which they wish to stop but also uses music).
Apologies if I've gone off topic and missed the point.
I've toyed with the idea of a Criamon trying to synthesize abilities with Enigmatic wisdom where both the ability and enigmatic wisdom get added to a roll. This would solve the issue of the music savant being better than the Criamon with a similar enigmatic wisdom score. Also cap the other ability score added based on enigmatic wisdom.
This makes some serious power, but I like the idea of adding two abilities together in the manner of Hermetic Techniques and Forms.
When stacking abilities, scale the ease factor to account works quite well for me. You get Attribute+Ability 1+Ability 2 vs Ease factor of single ability + Half again (round down) + SG decided bonus
So with an ease factor of 9, you get an end ease factor of 13 (1/2 of 9 is 4.5 round down). Makes trying for stacked abilities worthwhile because it can technically be easier, if your SG agrees with the stack. If they don't and you still want to try, they apply a modifier to the ease factor that makes it much harder.... "Yes you COULD stack butcher and chirurgion, but A) you're going to have extra botch die, and B) I don't think they stack well, so I'd be adding a 7 onto the ease factor."
Sounds a bit like what the IronClaw/JadeClaw system did - each skill or attribute was a die type. You rolled all of them at once, and kept the best.
Profession: Soldier: d12,d4
Swordsmanship skill: 2d12
You'd roll 3d12,d10,d4 against an opposed target roll (such as 3d8), and take the best die roll. A critical success was defined as beating a roll by 5+, whereas a crit failure was failing a roll by 5+.
It was more than a bit clunky, but there were some nice consequences - for example, you could simulate extended contests by comparing ALL dice rolls in a pool against each other. Or simulate complex scenarios by rolling multiple related skills and abilities at the same time.
(One issue, however, was that it was difficult for GM's to fine-tune difficulty against PC's die pools - when I was playing with a group, it got to the point where I'd just simulate the probability curves of certain large die pools, just for my own understanding.)
Shade of Cortex, as seen in Leverage or Marvel Heroes. Finding which 3-5 specific dice you had to use for a skill check turned out to be too combersome. If I had to reinvent the system, I'd always use the same dice wth a bonus die of a different color and describe how one of my aspect turned out to be useful if I want to replace one die with the bonus.
I'm fine with it. In Sanctuary of Ice there's a Jerbiton who uses her ability ot compose music and poetry in lieu of...is it Finesse?
I'd suggest that this is a virtue, though, and that it makes the person incomprehensible to people lacking both EW and the virtue. That is, it's a set of symbols even more obscure than EW. Otheriwse, you are going the other way and making EW available to everyone who can understand music/maths/whatever, which I also like, actually, and would suggest that is the sort of thing which revolutionises magic, much as secularism did back in Bonisagus's day.
At minimum it's the sort of breakthrough that leads to someone creating a new Path, interest from spiritual forces, the attention of Adulterations, and so on, but, sure...I like it.
I would also note that I'm the one who had the flying brass castle, druids pulling islands out of the Atlantic, and a god spinning in a box being used as a dynamo, though, so I'm not on the "sensible" end of the fantasy curve.