Adelbert, a "Magi of Hermes" look at intellego and Astrology

I've gone about as far with Ranulf as a I can without abandoning the "everything that can be done with ignem" portion of the character . So I decided to move on to a different character. I don't have a particularly strong inspiration for a way to continue the advancement of Lambert (my other character in MoH). While I think that it would be fun to look at some of the other Magi of Hermes characters; Alexander's "I solve issues involved with desert exploration by turning things into animals", Hugh's "I only research ways to destroy my opponents in armed conflict, nothing else is worth my time" and Marcus' "I want to vanquish the spirit of the arctic seas but not so much so that all of the challenge is removed" are all ideas that look particularly fun to explore mechanically, I'd feel weird messing with someone else's character.

So I did a new character. I noticed the absence of an investigation focused Quaesitor in the printed material (I started before Tales of Power came out). I also wanted to do a write-up of the initiations of a mystery cult and show/see the cost vs. benefit of a mystery cult. (I'm still assuming that many of the mystery cult responsibilities are rolled up into the 30 xp per year time).

I've done through 105 years out of apprenticeship on paper. I've typed up the Character at gauntlet and put the +15 version into a word file. I figured that doing more than that would be silly because I'm hoping that my spells and effects inspire lots of debate and reworks making working my second draft too far ahead would be pointless,

I generally like to create characters who are not perfectly suited to their interests. Ranulf had a deficiency in intellego which to my mind is the worst deficiency possible for a magus who wants to do combat. Lambert didn't have gentle gift and he had incompatible arts that included rego mentem, these made it harder for him to help his family's merchant business. I didn't go that way this time, I liked the idea of not having a an exploitable hole regarding investigation. I don't think it comes across as too unrealistically optimized.

I also generally like to use a magical focus. Yes, in some ways they're too powerful but that's why they're so important for characterization. Any magus can put in the time and learn what it takes to be a necromancer, but a magus who has a focus in necromancy will find themselves using necromancy to do their laundry, to train their sheepdogs, to do nearly everything. To me, a focus isn't about what you want to do it's about how you want to do things. But in this case I couldn't come up with a focus for someone who cares about being able to learn anything that felt right.

I had a fondness for the name "Adelbert the Tyrolean" that Mark Lawford used in his Yestin chapter but I double checked the reference to learn that he was a Bonisagus from the same covenant as Yestin rather than a Gurnicus from a different one as I erroneously recalled. Vibianus is a roman name of unknown origin ie its original meaning isn't known. I think that this might be a good choice for an investigator. On second thought I was once a child and I can still see the word anus at the end of that name, and now I can’t un-see it. So I went back to plan A.

The boy who would take the name Adelbert at his gauntlet was born to a family of peasants who were bonded to a monastery in Tyrol. A monk whose responsibilities often brought him in contact with the boy took a disliking to him and, used the boy's aptitude for scholastic endeavors and his fight with a debilitating illness that shattered his previously above average strength to get him into the monastery under the supervision of less politically clever monks and out of his hair. Within the monastery he worked hard and his productivity and therefore usefulness compensated for the deleterious effects of the gift. The monks in the monastery taught the boy enough artes liberales to do his job and the boy then used this knowledge to learn everything that the books he had available could teach him. Adelbert began his apprenticeship at the age of 15. At the age of 19 he married a woman who was a grog at his covenant. Together they had three children. Just prior to his gauntlet, Adelbert’s wife died giving birth of the third of these children.
Adelbert began his life as a magus by moving himself and his three children to the Iberian tribunal where it was requested he go.

Characteristics: Int +2, Per +3, Pre 0, Com 0, Str -2, Sta +1, Dex 0, Qik 0
Size: 0
Age: 30 (30)
Decrepitude: 0
Warping Score: 0 (0)
Confidence Score: 1 (3)
Virtues and Flaws: The Gift; Hermetic Magus Affinity Artes Liberales, Affinity Intellego, Affinity Magic Theory Cautious with Artes Liberales, Educated, Hermetic Prestige*, Keen Vision, Puissant Intellego, Puissant Magic Theory, Restriction Complete Darkness, Busybody, Cyclic Magic negative (nighttime), Deleterious Circumstances (underground), Fear of Darkness, Incompatible arts (CrIg and ReIg)
[size=85]*Free virtue for House membership.[/size]

Personality Traits: rumor hound +3, protective of other magi +2, protective of his children +2
Reputations: Quaesitor +3 (order)
Brawl (fist): Init 0, Attack +1, Defense +1, Damage 0
Brawl (bludgeon) : Init 0, Attack +3, Defense +1, Damage +2
Soak: +1
Fatigue Levels: OK, 0, –1, –3, –5, Unconscious
Wound Penalties: –1 (1–5), –3 (6–10), –5 (11–15), Incapacitated (16–20), Dead (21+)
Abilities: Athletics 1 (running), Artes Liberales 5 (Asronomy), Awareness 4 (searching), Brawl 1 (dodge), Code of Hermes 1 ((political intrigue), Concentration 3 (spell concentration), Finesse 1(aimed spells), Folk Ken 1 (monks), Intrigue 1(rumor mongering), Italian 5 (Tyrol dialect), Latin 5 (Hermetic use), Magic Theory 5 +2 (enchanting items), Parma Magica 1 (Ignem), Philosophae 2 (ceremonial magic), Portuguese 2(25) (grogs), Profession Scribe 1(copying hermetic texts), Stealth 1 (hide),
Arts: Cr 0, In 12 +3, Mu 0, Pe 0, Re 2; An 0, Aq 0, Au 0, Co 4, He 0, Ig 0, Im 0, Me 8, Te 0, Vi 4
Twilight Scars: N/A
Encumbrance: 0
Spells Known:
Eyes of the Cat (MuCo 5/+5)
Whispers Through the Black Gate (InCo 15/+20)
The Inexorable Search (InCo 20/+20)
Engraving the Whole of Experience (InIm 10/+16)
Refresh the Engravings of Imagination (CrMe 20/+9)
Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie (InMe 20/+25)
Posing the Silent Question (InMe 20/+25)
Invisible Sling of Vilano (ReTe 10/+3)

Appearance: Adelbert is a thin man of Mediterranean appearance. He frequently dresses in robes emphasizing his position as a Quaesitor.
Sigil: all of Adelbert's spells involve thematic elements of eyes or vision

The first question is does cautious with Artes Liberales mean two fewer botch dice with ceremonial or ritual magic? I lean to the answer "yes it does" from a game balance perspective.

Here are the two new spells he has

No, that's what Cautious Sorceror does. When working ritual or ceremonial magic you aren't using just Artes Liberales or Philosphiae, you are also using the Technique and Form. Yes, I know Cautious Sorceror reduces three botch dice, not two. But using an ability is different that using magic.

And you cannot make "Saturday" without... "Say"? :wink:

Anti-munchkin alerts found!

  • Good Characteristics : excess virtue detected, no negative characteristics found {Recommend you drop Strength or another useless characteristic to -2.}
  • Affinity Artes Liberales: sub-optimal virtue found, use Puissant (Ability) {You paid 50xp minus some roundings to get that score 5, score 3+2 requires 30 xp.}
  • Cautious with Artes Liberales: sub-optimal virtue found, use Cautious Sorcerer {Yeah, it doesn't do what you want... but who cares!}

Optimization warnings found:

  • Affinity Magic Theory : insure that you only use odd Qualities to minimize the lag behind Puissant Magic Theory {You paid 50xp minus some roundings to get that score 5, score 3+2 requires 30 xp. This lag might be acceptable if you spend a lot of time in the lab putting 1 xp toward MT every time.}
  • Missing Finesse : aimed spell found but no Finesse ability

More seriously:

  • It's nice that you are somewhat far from optimum virtues.
  • Having a PeIg Incompatible Arts Flaw might be laying it on thick, but still...

Good Characteristics should be Improved Characteristics.

Also, I don't think Looking Glass Mind is actually necessary to use Recall Images of the Looking Glass. The magus receives all the species regardless, and the second spell is designed to help him recover what he would normally have missed. Personally I would have gone with some form of InIm spell to receive even more species instead.

Also you have an Intelligo specialist Guernicus, you have great Perception, and not one Acute Senses mastered spell ? I hope this will be rectified soon after Gauntlet.

Sensory spells are so useful for investigation I am quite surprised as well. InVi and imaginem sense effects are great for dropping an ear or look through corners and walls. Great to find hidden stuff as well, both info and physical stuff!

In Sub Rosa there was a series of articles ()Vulcanis Argens, IIRC) where a shapeshifting quaesitor appeared. I found the idea very entertaining, since transforming into a series of animals to perceive the world in different ways is also cool and useful. A hound, a serpent and a small rodent might detect stuff that a human has difficulty finding. So, shapeshifter might be an idea if you want a twist to your magus :slight_smile:

Yes, he does have one more virtue than flaw (8 and 7, respectively, and this isn't counting the Free House Virtue, either). But, I don't consider it a munchkin move to have no negative characteristics. To echo what you say later on, why do you care that the character doesn't have a negative characteristic?

Puissant Ability vs Affinity does have a break even point of somewhere between 9 and 10. I think callen calculated that at one point. Looked it up, it was callen. If this character is going to go 105 years post gauntlet, a score of 10 isn't unreasonable, and an affinity makes sense. Puissant makes sense in a short term saga where advancement will be minimal over the long term, say more than 15 years or so. For Magic Theory, it makes even more sense to give a character an Affinity, since there are often a large number of books and tractatus that are available, and doing labwork is going to give it just that much more oomph, especially when using the rounding, where 1 xp spent becomes 2. I don't favor the rounding approach, and prefer to use MetaCreator's approach, or count .5 experience points, if doing it manually.

My munchkin alert triggered on Cautious with Artes Liberales and using it to reduce botch dice when working a ritual or ceremonially cast spell. For a character also interested in Astrology, Cautious with Artes Liberales pull some double duty with such a proposal, and that is a bit munchkin.

Why is everybody calling munchkin alert? The character is far from optimized as far as I can see. Certainly a lot less optimized than most characters I see IMS and in the online sagas around the forum... :slight_smile: Cautious with AL sounds like an excellent choice to me.


Cautious with AL is fine with me, with the stipulation that it not be used for magic, AL isn't even the primary ability used in that application, and it seems to be a very munchinny extension of what Cautious with Ability is intended to do. IMO, being careful with magic is what Cautious Sorcerer does.

I understood that

as saying "alert! anti-munchkinism detected", with subsequent advices to munckin out the character, such as dropping Improved Characteristics in favor of the usual dump stats for magi.

And agree about cautious with AL. It's a magic roll boosted by AL, not an AL roll.
OTOH, since it's less powerful than cautious sorcerer and applies to fewer things, this isn't that problematic.

I read this as "Alert, lack of munchkinism detected!"
Was this intended? I assume so, based on the following:

Surely this is an optimisation, thus making the character more munchkin, in that you gain useful points from "Strength or another useless characteristic"

Again, this is advice on optimising the character - potentially bad advice, depending on how high a value is desired for that AL-score.


I have to agree, use Cautious Sorceror. It certainly affects botch dice for rituals and ceremonial magic, where as Cautious with AL may or may not be useful in magical contexts.
Cautious Sorceror also removes 3 dice against the 2 dice removed from Cautious with AL.

As a note aside, I do agree that Cautious with AL (as written) would be of use against botches in the context of Rituals or Ceremonial casting.
AL is certainly in the casting total in those cases.

That would certainly be a more optimal choice and apparently my virtues and flaws are out of balance. This would correct that balance. On the other hand his children go on to be successful grogs for generations (you don't know that yet) I feel a little munchkiny starting that off with a -2 strength.

Artes liberales (astrology) is going to at least level 9 in the long run. Affinity is going to be the better choice for me here.

The reason this one is there is because he's going to dive into an astrological mystery cult. When I looked at planetary magic and Hermetic Astrology I saw that to get a bonus to my laboratory total I needed to make an Artes liberales (astrology) roll with botch dice equal to the bonus I wanted. So after cursing a bit (so a major virtue can't get a +5 bonus to lab totals without five botch dice? lame) I looked for a way to ameliorate this drawback. The possible reduction in botch dice for ritual and ceremonial magic occurred to me later and if I recall my reading of the virtue a few months ago correctly there was enough ambiguity that I thought a judgement based on game balance was warranted. I'll look up relevant section and post it later unless someone beats me to it.

That's certainly the way I play the game but this is an exercise in 15 year chunks like the Magi of Hermes characters. Looking to gain that xp every season possible is not pracctical when I'm advancing 30 xp per year. In the long run affinity comes out on top, the character will have a lower MT score when younger and a larger
MT score when older. It's all fine.

Crap, I hope that I just forgot to copy that from my notes. I'll have to check through my numbers again.

Hey! that's where I messed up the virtues and flaws! I forgot his incompatible arts Creo Ignem and Rego Ignem. I edited my earlier post. I figure if a flaw isn't a flaw then I shouldn't get points for it.

To present a counter argument; is casting a pillum of fire not a creo roll because it is an ignem roll? If a caster's spell mastery is higher than each of her relevant arts does it become a spell mastery roll instead? What is the criteria for judging a roll to be a roll of only some of the involved numbers and not others?

corrected, thank you

I was looking at the Intellego imaginem guideline about collecting images as a possibility but it didn't fit as well into his strengths and I had weirdness regarding the target (I want several minutes of continuous time, how many images is that?).

I don't think recall images of the looking glass needs to target memories of only time periods when looking glass mind was active but it is a spell that refreshes memories not species. I think that without looking glass mind, tricks like reading a text that was in the room with the character which the character did not read at the time, counting the number of pages in a book from looking at the side of it, seeing if one of the flies in the room was different from the others and bore the casting sigil of a particular magus become difficult to justify. (but I'd be happy to hear a contrary view)

It does get corrected but I had so many priorities for Adelbert just out of gauntlet that I'm not certain that I got to it for several years.

Oh, I do agree, it's mostly a "gut" feeling, and, as I outlined above, I don't think allowing it would be that unbalancing.

It's not a "large number" thingie, though.

IIRC, cautious with ability applies when you roll botch dices for that ability. I just don't think that a spellcasting roll, ritual or not, is an Artes Liberales roll, or even an ability roll for that matter, even if it uses AL in its total. IMO, it is, first and foremost, an Arts Roll.
Note also that you don't have a "Cautious with Art" virtue, just the blanket "Cautious Sorcerer"

Now, truth be told, the more I look at it, the more I like it compared to Cautious Sorcerer, so I'd say go with it, but I don't think it should work under the RAW.

Any ropll that includes AL would be an AL roll, no? Even if it included half a dozen more abilities. Otherwise you could not use your puissant Enigmatic Wisdom in Twilight rolls since it is not the main ability, no? :slight_smile: There are a lot of formulas with a multiplicity of Arts and abilities being used together. Using AL certainly makes the roll an AL roll :slight_smile:

Except for comprehending Twilight Enigmatic wisdom IS the main and only ability score allowed. Now for avoiding Twilight, it is a bit messier.

If you want to get hyper technical however, let's look a the language of Cautious with Ability:

A ritual spell never has botch dice associated with Artes Liberales or Philosophiae. The botch dice come from the pawns of vis used, an adverse aura, or the general stress involved for the situation of casting the spell. The same would apply to Ceremonial Magic. Again, this is where Cautious Sorcerer comes in, and given the character has some Virtue spaces available, I would suggest doubling down on caution, and have them choose Cautious Sorcerer to cover the magic and Cautious with AL to cover the astrology stuff. YMMV.

Hyper technical, eh?
Since when did we botch dice specifically associated with anything in particular?
Even the extra botch dice you get from using an ability in which you do not even have a single XP are ("hyper technically") just botch dice, not given as associated with anything at all in specific.

Botch dice can have a source, but - with the exception of Wierd Magic - are simply botch dice and all are rolled together, with equivalent "value" with regards to results.

Try to go back and re-read Cautious with (Ability). I'll even save you having to look up the page - it's ArM5, p. 40
Where does it say "associated with"? Then what is your argument, really?

I could easily see a person being stressed out and worried, and then realising "Hey, I know this, it's just and a little application!" and then take comfort in his secure knowledge that he knows what to do, thus relaxing a bit and recieving fewer botch dice.