Apprentices: In my hands...

All magi should have at least one hermetic flaw. That's the language. I can see how some might find it ambiguous. Should (see what I did there? :laughing:) there be exceptions? Why? What conditions create the exception? If hermetic magic theory is imperfect then everyone magus should (as in it is expeted, or required as those are alternative meanings of should). Or if you go to the present tense of should it's obvious. All magi shall have at least one hermetic flaw. Like a commandment. Are the Ten Commandments vague at all?

How many players actually create Magi without a Hermetic Flaw?

I'm trying to understand where you thought virtues and flaws come from. Before Apprentices how did you justify the V&F's of characters in their backgrounds? Did you feel all hermetic traits where imparted by a magi's parens? Did you feel they where all inborn? Have you ever created a character that had a hermetic flaw or virtue that resulted from a lab accident or an encounter with exotic magic during or after their apprenticeship? Personally I have used or at least seen every one of these methods for justifying a Virtue hermetic or otherwise in a background.

Unfortunately before Apprentices not all of these methods could be simulated in play. Sure you could create an apprentice character who had an inborn talent at something by just writing the virtue on there sheet. For instance "My character is a naturally sympathetic so she has a Focus in healing." or "My character just doesn't get magic in the abstract so he has Study Requirement." And you could always hope for a random events to come along and graft on a virtue. Though the player has very little control over those.

There where no hard and fast rules for the average parens teaching an average apprentice something like Mercurian, Deidne or Elemental magic for instance. Or any other Virtue it might make sense that a character has to be taught. Nor beyond Deficient arts was their any reason an apprentice would inherit flaws from their parens. These are both things I think the insinuate happens, and, judging from the backgrounds I see, most players assume as well.

How is teaching and inheritance done in play. Did these transfers happen automatically when the arts where opened, with seasons of teaching (somehow),over time as the apprentice absorbed knowledge, could they be avoided. Without any rules this had to be handled by fiat. Or use the mystery initiation or art opening rules from societies. (Which takes it out of the reach of average characters)

That's what the rules in Apprentices allows for it allows troupes to play through the apprenticeships and more reliably simulate the things that already show up in established characters backgrounds. The teaching rules now allow almost any Magus to pass on his style of magic to his apprentice if he chooses. Childhood & Inhereted V&F's allow a character to mature into their abilities during play or at least count on events conspiring to eventually grant a desired trait.

I assumed it was some combination before, but it was "magic" I didn't have a clear understanding and kind of worked through it by guess and by gosh. Some virtues and flaws were innate and some were taught or passed on. But how were the taught. Now I know how they were taught. I'm not sure about the innate ones, when the pop up or come into play at the apprentice level. If they are innate do they all suddenly appear at Opening the Arts? Is the Master than penalized for teaching his virtue to them?

I'm going to shutup until I work through it a couple of different ways. I'm speaking based on theory as I understand it, and am fully prepared to hear people say, no you're wrong you do it this way, as David Chart has done. I think working backward from some of the magi I've created will help solidify my understanding of what their masters would look like. It's an interesting exercise that will be, I hope better illuminating than working the other way around will be, but I'll do that, too.

RFC 2119. Overkill, but hey!

That's fine, I also think magi can botch on rituals. :smiley:

Errata proposal updated:

[i]RFC 2119 gives the following definitions:

MUST This word, or the terms "REQUIRED" or "SHALL", mean that the definition is an absolute requirement of the specification.
MUST NOT This phrase, or the phrase "SHALL NOT", mean that the definition is an absolute prohibition of the specification.
SHOULD This word, or the adjective "RECOMMENDED", mean that there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to ignore a particular item, but the full implications must be understood and carefully weighed before choosing a different course. [/i]

No, it is in no way what so ever ambigious, you´re just reading it as a binary statement when clearly it is not.
And if it had said "must have" instead, that´s such a stupid thing to enforce that i would ignore it.

Plenty. And if you were to discount those whose only such flaw is Blatant Gift, many more.

If I'm reading this right, you're proposed errata is that the troupe and/or storyguide has final veto power over the teaching of any given virtue? I submit that isn't errata, it's the core rule of every rpg... the Storyguide/DM/GM/whatever is the final arbiter of the rules.

I'm sorry, you're a sample of one. And if Gentle Gift is a Hermetic virtue why wouldn't Blatant be a hermetic flaw? That is a completely flawed assumption, that I, or anyone else for that matter, would discount Blatant Gift in this manner. If you play with the Gift having an impact on social interaction, Blatant Gift is a pretty bad flaw to overcome.

That you quote RFC 2119 is actually quite funny. Should has multiple meanings, one of which is must. RFC chooses to define it in one specific way, however I don't see that the Ars Magica game system was written with any acknowledgement of having applied RFC 2119. :laughing: It's not unreasonable for one to read it as being a necessary condition, especially when the next sentence is read after it: "Nobody fits perfectly into Hermetic theory." It is entirely reasonable to be read as: don't take a Hermetic Flaw: but then you better have a good reason for not taking the flaw. I would, for example, if a PC was deaf or mute consider waving the Hermetic flaw, that's a good reason, as the penalties she has for spell casting are sufficiently bad. Alternatively, the Hermetic flaw is optional, if the SG/Troupe think that all the other flaws are bad enough for the character. Again reasonable.

You read this quite right, and the errata proposal is indeed far weaker than I'd like it to be.

The underlying problem is, that the term 'Hermetic Virtues' includes just about every type of Virtue - many of which are obviously not teachable, while teaching others with the Apprentices system can to a campaign inflict serious trouble which emerges only later. The clean way to repair this would involve introducing subcategories to 'Hermetic Virtues', and assign one of them to every Hermetic Virtue around: this is far more than errata can do. Even just labeling all Hermetic Virtues either 'teachable' or not is out of scope for errata.
The only thing you can do in a paragraph or two is, to make this creation and adjudication of subcategories a job of each Troupe, warn in time that it is important, and adapt the rest of the chapter to it.
I believe that this is sufficient reason for the errata. Without it, the many literal guys out there would indeed not consider how it is the Troupe to make sense of supplements, but refer to Apprentices and conclude that the Gentle Gift or Hermetic Prestige can be taught by a parens.


I think most players create Magi with Hermetic Flaws often more then one. I don't think that necessarily comes from an awareness of or adherence to that particular section in the book. So I'm not sure that backs up the interpretation of it being a requirement in any way. That being said a Magi with say Hedge Wizard or Infamous Master fits perfectly within that requirement without their study or practice of magic being affected at all.

I guess that means you get a bad reputation if you do everything right.

I still think that all that is really needed is a "use your common sense" type sentence tacked in there somewhere. Or even better a "your troupe may prefer" statement.

"O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars are in the poorest thing superfluous. ..."
I have been used to some more rigor from ArM rules than the occasional generic requirement to apply to them common sense. Which BTW is a practice greatly aided by precision.
The specific problem that in our case requires special adjudication by the Troupe can be described in a single phrase - so why avoid to describe it?


I do not agree with the need for any errata at all.

As Stated before every rule in Ars Magica needs to be applied with common sense. Every action players take require the SG approval ( in one form or another).

As for making players to take a Hermatic Flaw at creation. Does it really make a difference, it's one minor flaw? If a player really does not want to as the others fit with his character concept better then why force him to play a character he does not want.

Munchkinism? Granted, not all Hermetic Flaws are equal, but by and large the characters I make and in the sagas I am playing in and running, magi have at least one Hermetic Flaw. Concept is fine, unless it's min-maxed to the nth degree. By and large, I can see certain magi character concepts not having a Hermetic Flaw, but it would be the exception rather than the rule. Also, some masters, according to the rules for teaching Virtues in Apprentices may have to inflict the flaw. If a flaw exists at Opening the Arts and is largely randomized, this could serve to differentiate the student and master, and I'd count it as an Ordeal of sorts and allow the bonus for including a Flaw when imparting a Virtue to apply when the master teaches the Virtue.

I just wrote a long response to this thread and lost it during proofreading, accidentally hitting some key and having the webpage jump.
Any way to recover it? Is there an autosave?

Matt Ryan

I use ForumRunner for android and the "send" and "cancel" buttons are inconveniently placed, causing this to happen to me quite frequently; I don't know of any way to rescue a lost post, but I've started writing most of mine in google docs, as that autosaves every few seconds, and then copy/pasting into forumrunner.

I’m glad some folks are enjoying the book and expected others wouldn’t like parts of it. I’ll just say a couple things.

First, I didn’t think I needed to say, “use the rules you find useful to your saga and ignore those that you don’t,” because everyone I know already does that. I do it. I figured I’d just give the reader the intelligence due him and get on with it.

Secondly, I decided not to provide a list of what Virtues and Flaws could or could not be taught by an apprentice’s master. The more I thought about it, and the more Virtues and Flaws I put on the list, I kept thinking, “why not.” And I couldn’t come up with a good enough reason (to me) for such a list. Any list that tells players what they can’t do kills stories. And we are dealing with magic. I mean, I don’t know how magic works in Mythic Europe, I just know that it does. Personally, I don’t think it follows biological rules, or modern science, or even medieval ideas of science. I think it is magic, essentially undefinable, and able to do all kinds of things.

In my modern-thinking-mind, I might think that the type of Gift a person is born with is either Gentle, regular, or Blatant and that can’t be changed. That is a very strict notion. In my narrative-generating-mind, I might think, “maybe a person can be born with the Gift and it can be awful and problematic and stick out like a poop in a punchbowl (Blatant), but a master that knows how to shape/blend/mutate it into a less pronounced manifestation can teach the apprentice how to tame it (regular Gift) or even hide it (Gentle Gift). That’s kind of cool. That is a story. Suddenly, I want my apprentice character to have the Gentle Gift but not start play with it. His master doesn’t have it, so I have to convince my master to find a magus who will teach it to me. What is that going to cost? Since money means nothing to wizards, I’ll have to convince him some other way. Maybe if I steal the dragon’s eggs for master he will let me perform a service for the magus I want to teach me, if I can convince him to teach me in the first place. I get a lot more mileage out of this than saying, “you can’t teach the Gentle Gift.”

That said, if you think it is dumb that a magus can teach the Gentle Gift, or Mythic Blood, or anything else, don’t let it work in your Mythic Europe. I once thought Mythic Blood should probably not be an allowable taught Virtue, but then thought (again), why not? Maybe the master who has Mythic Blood discovers that the apprentice has it also, and that his “instruction” will unlock it and allow him to use it. The apprentice wouldn’t be the first character with a surprise past that is suddenly awesome. Again, a prohibited list didn’t seem helpful, but silence lets players imagine run wild.

About the method itself, we discovered pretty early on that any system we designed to teach Hermetic Virtues had ten ways to abuse it. In a way, this is the less abusable one. To teach a Virtue the magus has to know it. If your apprentice wants a Virtue the master doesn’t know, he has to find a teacher. Bingo. Story. And let me say, your apprentice character can have any Virtue you want him to have, as long as it is legal under the core rules. If you want a Virtue that the master doesn’t have, and you don’t want to play through finding a teacher, and you are making the character before the character’s apprenticeship, take the Virtue as an Inherited Virtue. That is what Inherited Virtues are for. If you want the Gentle Gift, or Mythic Blood, or Puissant Muto (or anything) to develop during the character’s childhood, take the Inherited Virtue and then work with your troupe to decide how it manifests. Does it happen as the child’s Arts are Opened? Sounds good. Does it happen after he spills the cauldron brewing potions on himself? Sure. Does it happen after he sneaks out at night and touches a magic fish? Worked for Fionn mac Cumhaill. Without the sneaking.

The real measure of the teaching Hermetic Virtue rule is if it doesn’t work for other magi. I wanted a rule that lets magi teach apprentices, but wouldn’t let magi teach magi. There are other ways for magi to gain new Virtues. In my mind, Virtues should be taught during apprenticeship only. Did I design a rule that allows a magus to teach his apprentice but not his sodales? You tell me.

Finally, since this is my first post about the book, I want to mention how fantastic the arts looks. Atlas did a superb job with layout and the individual artists really drew great illustrations. They make the book shine, in my opinion.

I hope Apprentices adds to your saga, and if it doesn’t quite fit the bill, maybe the next one will.

Matt Ryan

Thanks again for the work you do. I finally did get a chance to read it a bit more in depth last night. I did finally spot the Inherited Virtues section, which now helps bring it home and make some sense. This will be of great assistance in my saga.

Dear Matt,

thank you very much for the enlightening author's perspective on Apprentices, which surprised me not just a little. Why, you can see comparing it with e. g. LOM p.117f, or with a recent discussion on this forum also answered by Mark Lawford referring to Petalichus from MoH as canon.
I will print out your post and glue it to the inner front cover of Apprentices. So I have it handy, in case somebody tries to argue canon fron the book, which has already been attempted in this very thread, and will - given the subject of Apprentices, also come up in my group.
Concluding, let me stress that I consider your approach completely valid, and, in particular with supplements, saving a lot of hassle.