Advice on initiating a Magical Focus

Well, our current Ancient Magic campaign seems to take off nicely, with our merry band happily on the tracks of the secrets of the Garden of the Esperides, and later, Eden. Judging from feedback and experience from the first sessons, I've already planned, beside some minor retrospective adjustments, the main goal of the first substantial downtime period. I want my generalist spont specialist to initiate Major Magical Focus (Damage), the Mutable version first, the full one in another later one. Now, since I happen to be much more expert on the details of 5th ed. than main SG and both player and assistant SG in charge for all 5th Ed. rules advice (being a completist buyer and avid reader with a good memory pays :slight_smile: ), asking the main SG for advice isn't a fully viable option.

My doubts: my character already has Diedne Magic, Chthonic Magic, and is all but completely helpless at formulaic and ritual magic (Rigid Magic and/or Unstructured Caster). When the mage will grow experienced with substantial Art scores, stacking focus multipliers from three sources (DM, CM, and MMF) to a lower Art x4 multiplier seems rather... excessive, even to a self-awowed powergamer like me. OTOH, I would not like to initiate Major Potent Magic, since as for all fixed bonuses, that Virtue seems me to grow pitiful in value as the mage gains experience, and my character hasn't a magical focus so far.

I have thought of putting a cap so that you can combine focus-like doublings to a combination of two, maximum, something the books explicitly allow (so that you can combine the bonus from the focus with either expending fatigue, or the chthonic bonus, but not both, to x3). I am uncertain whether this should be an official house rule, or a I should give my character a Deleterious Circumstances (combining more than two foci) as an Ordeal. I do not desire a x4 bonus, I just wish to improve to make the character's combat spont effects a bit more flexible and effective, so that substantive combat spont magic can sometimes be used without expending fatigue and/or using the chthonic bonus. A MMF (Damage) seems well in accord with the passionate personality of the character and his non-pacifist background. Or alternatively, I could initiate Major Potent Magic (Damage) first (mutable or not), than a second Initation later to change it to Major Magical Focus (Damage).

Moreover, I guess I should develop the script for such an Initiation by experimentation, since character's present Mistery Cults (Merinita and Philosophers of Rome) do not strike me as particularly likely to have an Initiation Script for MMF (Damage), but I might be wrong. Or to be more precise, a script for the first Initation, to develop the Mutable version of the Focus, then another Initation later to upgrade it to the all-time one. OTOH, that's the lab work and quest I wish to develop in the next downtime slot. I need some good ideas for the script: so far, my ideas have been rather bland: a Deleterious Circumstances (Healing) Ordeal, a Fury or major Wrathful Ordeal, a set of Hercules-like quests (defeat a dangerous supernatural creature from each realm of power, plus a powerful human sorcerer; by combat in one script, by non-violent means, including certamen and trickery, in another), create and destroy a Talisman... any good ideas that would look appropriate in a Merinita or Philosopher of Rome script ? Thanks.

What exactly do you mean by "mutable version" of MMF?? As far as Ive ever seen in the rules there is a Major Focus Virtue and Minor Focus Virtue, not variations thereof.

Same question a boxer :wink:

Well, spending fatigue, a spont spell in your specialty would be at most (Art 01 + 4Art 02 + Aura + Sta + Die)/2, meaning (Art 01 + Aura + Sta + Die)/2 + 2Art 02.

With scores of 20 in both arts, stamina 02, aura 3 and die 5, this means 30/2 + 40 = 55.

Powerfull, yes, but you're already very powerfull, with lots of focuses stacking in your specialty and potent arts. Moreso, each spell costs you a fatigue level.

OTOH, a formulaic caster with the same arts and MMF: damage would have a casting total of 30 + 40 = 70. More penetration, and no fatigue.

So go on, it's ok :wink:

You've got both cthonic and Diedne!!!?!

And you want MORE?!?!

Major magical potency can give a bonus of 6 + magic theory. That's +11 to +14 for even short games. Your mindset is that this +11 is "pitiful" because you can do better with a magical focus?

Show some restraint man.

Edit: This post was intended to be interpreted in a teasing jovial manner. I realize that the written language (specifically my use of it) doesn't always communicate what you'd hope. Wanderer please take my post as an attenpt at a good natured jibe rather than as a critique of your taste.

Erik, as the Bond movie rightly points out, "The World is Not Enough!" :wink:

Well, in TMRE there is a new astrological Virtue/Flaw type, Mutable (X), by which you can have a major Virtue or Flaw, which counts as minor, but is only in effect one-third of the year, during variable signs of the zodiac. It is in the Common V/F chapter, stuff that was once Mystery Virtues, but became so commonplace that by now vanilla mages sport them. Lots of nifty ideas, such as potent magic, mnemotechniques, and having a focus in your astrological sign, planet, or both. Chock-full of nifty ideas, TMRE. Love it. :smiley:

Anyway, since I started the thread, the SG and me had a nice chat discussing the revision of the character. He liked all my proposals, but vetoed the Mutable idea, just because he didn't care to keep track of astrological signs in game time. Anyway, he would be ever more generous than myself and allow me to get the vanilla Focus even now, by retrospective Initiation, provided I balance it out with an appropriate Ordeal Flaw. Any suggestions ? So far, the best we came up with, is Magic Addiction.

Well, the SG agreed to my cap idea, so the Magical Focus would act as an alternative backup. The character might use the focus and either of Diedne and Chthonic, but not both, for damage magic, or the combination of Diedne and Chthonic, for other kinds of magic. It's a tool to spare some fatigue, essentially, and make the character less reliant on Chthonic methods. Oh, I've got faerie charms, too, since I've been forced to pick up Unstructured Caster and put theurgy on hold. So yes, the character is very very optimized on spont magic, but he can do just that, essentially. He sucks at quick formulaic, enchantment, and ritual.

No MT bonuses. That Potency casting tools bonus only works for formulaic. It has a very limited usefulness for my character, since he can do formulaic as ritual only, and no vanilla rituals. Unstructured Caster. He's going to use formulaic very rarely, for stuff like Leap of Homecoming (I'm the only one in the group that can cast it, with some vis boost; that's the reason we dropped Rigid Magic from the character, and changed it with Unstructured Caster).

Amazingly, my character isn't that much remarkable as magic feats go, in the group, since he is a generalist Spont specialist among focused formulaic specialists. We have a Flambeau "burn everything" combat specialist, and a Criamon mind control Me-Im specialist, which are quite effective in their chosen roles, as a half-dozen of very sorry brigand gangs we met in our travel from Durenmar to Lisboa can testify :wink: . I'm the jack of all trades freeform sorcerer. The role leaves me quite satisfied (I love freeform magic, and despise "spell lists"), and everyone is happy so far, but I don't shade anyone. If anything, they friendly teased me to curb my enthusiasm in RP the personality traits. :smiley:

You are quite understood. Never mind. :smiley: And as I said, I'm balanced in my part. I'm just trying to optimize the effectiveness of the character in the niche I've designed.

So ? any good ideas for my Ordeal ?

I've narrowed down the choice for the Ordeal to: Magic Addiction, Fury, Blatant Gift. Theoretically, also Greater Malediction or Vulnerable Magic, if I could come up with some decent ideas for it (any suggestions ?). Lycanthrope was vetoed as too burdensome on the group. What would you suggest as a good balancing Flaw for Major Magical Focus (Damage) ? The Criamon Path of Strife precedent suggests Blatant Gift, and it seems thematically appropriate (if you expouse the theory that God puts the uneasiness feeling on the Gift as a mark to signify this guy can be dangerous to helpless normals). Both Fury and Magical Addiction seem thematically appropriate too, but we worry about the impact on the group.

Ive just had a new thought. How do you manage, with a starting character, to have both Diedne Magic and Major Magical Focus? Both are Major Hermetic Virtues and you are only allowed one.

He's initiating the MMF.

But the question remains valid for Diedne Magic + Cthonic Magic, IIRC.

You do have a point Fixer, Cthonic is also a Major Hermetic Virtue, but from the V/F index I have, the only Major Magical Focus which could be obtained through initiation would be Major Magical Focus (Sign or Planet). Not having TMRE I cant say for certain, but it appears that the focus would have to be astrological and not open to normal Hermetic Virtue foci such as Damage.

Somehow this all seems way beyond the scope of permissible (RAW) character generation.

colour me confusled :wink:

(Serfs Parma) I thought the mysteries book had examples of standard virtues being initiated by cults in addition to the funky ones?

Perhaps, but seriously, a starting character already having initiated not one but two major Hermetic Virtues??

I'm all in favour of power play but handing the whole candy shop to a character from the start seems a bit much even for my megalomaniacal tastes.

The virtue restrictions usually apply to all starting characters, no matter what mystery they are initiated into before game start...
To have more than 1 major hermetic virtue (or more than 10 total virtue points), you need to have something happen to your character after play has begun...

Long history, try to resume it.

It is a combination of background and mystery initation. He is Ex Misc pagan Diedne offshoot who later initiated into Merinita. So he got Diedne Magic as his standard Major Hermetic Virtue, Chthonic is his Ex Misc extra Major Supernatural Virtue (we have a house RAW interpretation that if you have V/F that have a double classification, they don't count for caps: Chthonic is both Hermetic and Supernatural), after apprenticeship he initatied into Merinita (the relevant Virtues, Faerie Magic, Charm Magic, Spell Timing, go into the standard V/F allottment). So everything but MMF would fit into the standard 10+2/10+1 array. The Merinita initation is assumed to be post-apprenticeship development.

MMF he would got from later initation. Actually, I had meant and offered the SG to do the initiation in-game in downtime solo quest after the current story, but he amazed me with his generosity. We had to revise the character anyway (the character previously had Rigid Magic but it would conflict with the group role he was planning for me, so the Flaw was changed into Unstructured Caster, and that conflicted with Hermetic Theurgy, so we revised the background so that the char would have gone somewhat further in Merinita Mysteries and only a beginning dabbler into theurgy). MMF would have been to be a later, in-game initiation. He liked the revised concept and would have it in play right now, he told me to go ahead and put the focus in play immediately and the initiation in the revised background, we'll RP the initiation as a flashback sometime later in downtime after our current Ancient Magic big quest story (Esperides AND Eden, in one fell swoop! Yay!) is done. We only established that the character is going to have a Deleterious Circumstances Flaw so that he can stack bonuses from either two or these Virtues, not all three. And that he would have gained a Major Flaw Ordeal from the initiation.

Well all critique from us is of course nullified by whatever your SG is willing to accept of course, however:

  1. Even if you did have Cthonic as a Supernatural Virtue (and Im intrigued to know the reference (book, page number) where it lists it as such since the expanded V/F index only lists it as Major Hermetic), as I understand House switching, isn't it RAW that if you leave Ex Misc for any other House, you lose the Supernatural Virtue/Ability?

  2. Wouldn't all the other Merinita Mystery Virtues you list not make much sense as having already been initiated by a starting character? Generally to be considered worthy by any Cult's mystagogues, you would have to devote years of time and development to prove to them you were a devoted candidate.

Of course, it's your saga and your Troupe/SG's decision but I have to say my SG calls me a munchkin for far far less lol. :laughing:

RoP:I both lists it as Hermetic and Supernatural Virtue. Pages 82 (table reports it both in the Hermetic and Supernatural lists), 83 (text marks it as both Hermetic and Supernatural), 91 (linked ability is Supernatural). I am not aware of any such RAW, and even if it were, I would regard it as eminently silly and disregard it. While it makes sense that if you leave a Mystery House, you keep which Mystery Virtues you have, but cannot initiate any new ones (barring self-initiation and script experimentation, of course), it is quite silly that you would lose a Supernatural Virtue, a facet of your mystical self, for something entirely social as belonging to one house or another. There is only one exception, Criamon powers, but it makes more sense, since those Virtues are built as to be wholly and critically dependent on continuing dedication to a mindset. The mysteries of other houses, and the Virtues of Ex Misc trads, are not so. They are facets of one's Gift and it would make no sense for them to be lost by changing House, just like having to change Art scores for changing House would make no sense.

My character has had several years of post-apprenticeship development, is Strong Faerie Blood, has been raised in covenant with a strong Merinita presence, and is rather dedicated in mindset to the ideals of pagan mysticism revival, protection of magic and nature, and so on.

My SG thought it an excellent idea of sending us to quest for the secrets of the Garden of the Hesperides AND the Garden of Eden, in linked sequence, in our first 5th ed. ArM game, as soon as I put Ancient Magic in his eager hands (he has also put almost all my 5th. ed. collection (RAW, 3 HOHs, TMRE, 2 RoPs, Covenants, AnM) on long-term loan :frowning: . Good things I buy backups 8) ). Clearly high-power gaming and big stories is not something that worries or troubles him. And my character does not dwarf the other characters as magical feats go, by any means. My character is supposed to be a generalist spont specialist, but but we have equally impressive combat or magical manipulation specialists. So it's not like power level worries any other player, either.

I am much thankful to all the gods to have a munchkin SG, then :wink:

And I, too :wink: :laughing:
And to think I like high-power games (My amber campain ended at something like 500 points) :laughing:

Yes but then I don't have to listen to you, Fixer! :wink:

Well, I also have to remark that the character was initially written to be 20 years older, SG told me to create a younger version, Arts and Ability scores were lowered and several Mystery Virtues shedded, but the main features had to stay.

Besides, any advice about my Ordeal ?

Lucky you!!!
I still remember your "mundane dragon" heartbeast :laughing: :smiley:

Oups! Sorry :blush:

You could take Vulnerable Magic to Divine influence, it fit very, very well to your pagan/faerie attunement.