Affinity Phrasing

It functions just like gaining an Affinity in life, such as by initiation, and then losing it, such as by initiation. I don't know if the writers of metacreator didn't understand what they were doing or didn't care that they were doing it very incorrectly. It's easily handled using a log-style method, which is also handy for lab work and the like.

If the only concern is the exploit of rounding and it's prettier in excel, is it worth it?

It's a small exploit, and I'm sure there's an excel workaround. The huge power boost this change gives people getting affinities later in game will be a lot bigger an exploit than an occasional +0.5 XP.

Because a Virtue that is supposed to increase XP by 50% is actually doubling them. That's clearly not working as intended. As a number of posters have made clear, quite a few people think that Affinity should multiply the other cases you mention, and that Metacreator has it right.

Binding is a bit of a problem, but not that critical. Your score would go down when the binding ended, but that is very appropriate to the Infernal. (And the text does not explicitly say that the bonus goes away…)

Still, I think this may be more trouble than it is worth. Similarly for clarifying what is supposed to happen in Elemental Magic or elsewhere. It looks like it will run up against multiple different interpretations…

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But if we keep track of these half XP, it wouldn't double them. And I would be fine with that.


I regularly use a House Rule in which we keep track of fractional xp instead of systematically rounding up.


Isn't there Figurine Magic as well that can give Virtues? If the bonus of this virtue add to all things you learned in the past then 2 people can teach each other up with no limit as long they can get this Figurines.

Lets assume the item give Affinity with Teaching:
Person A teach Person B all he know what is lvl 6 Teaching
now Person B use the Figurine the exp suddenly jump from from 105 to 157,5 what is Teaching 7
If Person B now teach Person A to Teaching 7 and remove the Figurine afterward Person A can teach Person B again ...

Is this really a problem?

The most you will get from this is 0.5 extra xp per season (if we assume that it would be 1.5xp instead of 2xp with this clarification), in what is already supposed to be one of your main Arts anyway (or you wouldn't have picked Affinity).

If you somehow manage to put exactly 1xp every season for about 26 years in that art (and no more than that) you could get 208xp (104 × 2) instead of 156xp (104 × 1.5). So you could go from 0 to 20 instead of 0 to 17. Is that really a big deal?

But of course, this isn't likely to happen. What will happen is that the player will try to study by summas and tratactus with odd quality, so that he can get that little boost. Let's assume nothing goes wrong with this plan... With a Q9 tratactus, this extra 0.5xp amounts to about 3.5% of the total xp gained from that season of study (0.5 xp in 14xp). Does it even matter? After the same 26 years of study above, he gained 52 extra XP (0.5 per season for 104 seasons). This is the difference between score 52 and 53 in the art. Sure, not negligible if you are an old magus with a limited amount of time ahead of you. Luckily you are a player, pretending that you are a magus. :wink:

I'm all in for clarity in the rules, and I like the idea of multiplying the total for 1.5, but "fixing the loophole"? That seems to me like trying to fix something that is not a problem at all.


I agree that the extra 0.5 xp per season is a minor annoyance more than anything else, not worth more than a minor House Rule like the one I mentioned above.

The complexity brought on by the possibility of temporarily gaining the virtue is a more serious concern, IMHO, but still not a major issue. All we need is a clarification as to whether this is retroactive or not.

As a side note, if we were starting over in writing a new Edition, I would say get rid of Affinities altogether. They are redundant to Puissant, really, which encourages over-specialization. But if you really want the stacking to remain, just say that Puissant can be taken up to twice on the same Art or Ability.

More generally, any virtue which multiplies the amount of xp gained should probably have been reconsidered. Having both virtues which are additive and virtues which are multiplicative causes all sorts of concerns and complications about the order in which they apply. So either make them all additive or all multiplicative. This would give us a more streamlined system.


What bothers me is not the odd ½xp, but the metagaming it encourages. Metagaming always bothers me, not because of mechanical consequences, but because of the narrative ones.

I don't agree. In the long game affinities are a lot more valuable. More importantly, it encourages long term specialisation in a way that puissant does not. A magus with puissant is good, while one with affinity will want to study to be better. The two virtues describe different concepts, to some extent.


And that is not metagaming? :wink:

I don't think so. I read the affinity virtue as one who more easily understands the subject and who is therefore likely to enjoy the subject too. There is an in character interpretation at least, even if there might be metagaming scope too.

I usually find metagaming a much lesser problem than most (partially due to differences in definitions). As it is another discussion entirely I will abstain from the arguments, except that my final conclusion is the same as stated above: metagaming is not a problem at all, and therefore, doesn't need fixing.

But I agree that Puissant and Affinity describe different concepts (the one who has talent vs. the one who studies harder and longer). Not sure if they are the best way to implement these concepts, but I like to have both options (of course, most specialist magi end up taking both virtues... But again, I wouldn't see this as a problem in need of fixing).

I too used to think that Affinity and Puissant represented slightly different concepts. But do they really? They are simply different mechanics that describe a character who is "Good with" an Ability or Art. But is the subtlety of one being "Good at learning" vs "Good at doing" worth all the added complexity?

Just look at the number of topics on this forum about the complexity of the rules. In what order we should apply the virtues and flaws, as well as how they interact with each other. Multiple rules or systems which basically do the same thing. Trying to close loop holes, accidently creating new ones, exceptions, etc.

All this detracts from the more important aspect of the game, which is supposed to be the stories. It encourages min-maxing and metagaming, and drives away potential new players because the system is "too complicated".

I believe we should strive to make Ars Magica simpler from a mechanical perspective.

IMHO, Puissant vs Affinity is an unnecessary complication. If your magus is good at Ignem, who cares if it means "Good at learning" or "Good at doing"? That is just a detail which has very little impact on the game.

Will only the core book get a rework or the other books as well?
If only the core book I would suggest against removing Affinity because it could end with complications in some other books when this is removed. Maybe add a line that Affinity is kept in the rework just for compatibly with the other books and it is suggested against taking it.

That is a very unpleasant loophole, and despite its rarity I think it's enough to say we shouldn't go this way.

I, on the other hand, believe that Fate already exists, and that a Fate conversion of Ars Magica based on the existing ArM5 books would be both easy, and best left up to the group in question.

If, however, your argument is that it should be "simpler, but not much simpler", then the disagreement over whether Affinity and Puissant are really different becomes important, and the weight of precedent suggests that you should probably keep both.

Who said any books are getting a rework?

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On that, we agree, and if affinity falls in a systematic revision to make the game more manageable, I don't terribly mind. Such simplification is not a matter of individual virtues and flaws though, and affinity/puissant is far down the list of confusions that I would like to fix. I would object to taking affinity away in an erratum, but I guess that was not what you suggested after all.

I would certainly argue for a lot simpler, but a lot of the trouble is structure and presentation. I do not think we need any major functional simplifications, but there are rules which could be simplified without losing function.

In many ways I prefer 3ed. The core rules weren't any simpler, but they came across as complete, and anything not there would be left to troupe or SG judgement, with no need to cross-reference a score of books for clarification. Dumbing the game down to core rules is still far too complicated to make FATE a viable alternative.

This is what we see with affinity too. As long as we stick with core rules, we can misinterpret it in any number of ways and simplify application as we please, with only minor effect. Once we bring in supplementary rules, we have temporary virtues, and the interpretation of affinity suddenly becomes critical.

Personally I think there are too few virtues and flaws in core, but the virtues and flaws that I really would want to preserve would be ones with more narrative and character defining impact than affinity and puissant have. I would be happy to lose affinity if something more entertaining is put in its place.

While I agree with the sentiment, I'm surprised why people keep dragging out FATE as an example of a simple system. It's a horrible mess! Honestly, it's written to be simple, but from what little I've played it, it has turned out to be more complicated to use than the so-called Generally Unplayable RolePlaying System - an entirely undeserved appelation, btw.

Not simpler for simplicity's sake, no.

Just a more streamlined system, by eliminating redundant mechanics that essentially have the same in-game results.

I think that Puissant vs Affinity is a fairly good example of redundant mechanics. When using them during the game, the overall effect is pretty much the same (giving the character a greater effective score in an Art of Ability). Sure, it is slightly different conceptually and the results vary slightly at both ends of the score spectrum -- with Puissant giving a slightly better head start at the low end, while Affinity is slightly better in the long term.

But Affinity comes with some notable complexity added to the advancement process, as demonstrated in recent topics regarding various virtues (Elemental Magic, Secondary Insight, and of course this one). It reinforces the perception that Ars Magica is complicated when even a simple thing like gaining experience points requires a spreadsheet to calculate -- I am only exagerating a bit here.

So why not just use the simpler Puissant mechanics, since there is so little difference in the end result? It would be just a small step in a more streamlined system. And if we want to preserve the "stacking" effect we had before with Puissant+Affinity, just allow Puissant to be taken twice for the same Art or Ability.

Let's take a few example:

  • At Gauntlet, the player of a specialized magus invests 70 xp in their specialty Art, along with both Affinity and Puissant. That gives the magus an effective score of 17 (70*1,5 = 105 xp, for a score of 14, +3 for Puissant).
    • With the Puissant mechanics alone, the same character can take Puissant twice. The same 70 xp (or just 66 xp if the player wants to optimize) will give the same effective score of 17 (66 xp for a score of 11, +6 for double Puissant).
  • About 10 years later, the magus has increased his knowledge of his specialty Art, gaining an average of 15 xp per year. With Affinity and Puissant, this gives him an effective score of 28 (220*1,5 = 330 xp, for a score of 25, +3 for Puissant).
    • With the Puissant mechanics alone, the same magus has an effective score of 26 (216 xp for a score of 20, +6 for double Puissant). Not a major difference, and does not take into account that he would have been able to study summae for much longer before switching to tractatus or raw vis (and the slight economy of raw vis this would represents).
  • At the low end, the specialist magus who invests less xp gets a better deal, for if he invests just 10 xp in his specialty Art he has an effective score of 10 (10 xp for a score of 4, +6 for double Puissant) instead of 8 (10*1,5 = 15 xp for a score of 5, +3 for Puissant). But is that a bit deal? It just makes the less extreme specialist slightly more competent at Gauntlet.

Anyway, it's just an idea!

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Affinity, as written, does not come with any noticable complexity.
The complexity you point at only happens when people insist either on changing things so Affinity can apply where it was never supposed to apply (discussions on Elemental Magic and Secondary Insight) or this discussion where Affinity would be significantly changed into a very different virtue.

If one uses Affinity as it is written, and don't try to do silly things like trying to squeeze it into places it don't belong, it adds no more complexity than the average virtue, and less than many.


I agree that there isn't anything particularly complex with Affinity (either with the way it is currently written or using 1.5x).

About redundant mechanics, I'd argue that that's a case against Puissant, not against Affinity.

Puissant tries to bring the idea that one is really skilled in an Art, but it only shines if you don't really become particularly skilled in it (no more than 12+3, if you go beyond that Affinity is better), or if you take it together with Affinity. For Abilities instead of Arts, Puissant is a little better IMHO. It is the better option if you remain at 8+2, and a net result of 10 is already pretty high for most abilities (but of course, if you are a lab rat you will want either Affinity with MT or both Puissant and Affinity).

Than again, Puissant is excellent in it's own way. It's just that for an Art you should take it for your second best one, not your main one (or take it with Affinity for your best Art).