Big magic - a Major Hermetic Virtue in search of a more impressive name

I'm looking for constructive criticism (and a better name!) for the Major Hermetic Virtue of a whale-heartbeast, giant-blooded Bjornaer in (a prequel of) our saga. As usual, my goal is a Virtue that's character-defining, very simple, and suitably impressive (ideally appearing overpowered, without actually being overpowered). The theme in this case is facility with magic making/affecting big things: mountains, dragons, armies.

Big Magic
Major, Hermetic
Your magic works on a far grander scale than that of other magi. If you wish, you can ignore any modifier due to large size in any formula for your magical activities, such as any spellcasting or lab total. The troupe may also rule that specific effects that are Ritual solely due to their impressive size are not Ritual for you. When collaborating with other magi (e.g. in the lab, or in a Wizard's Communion) all must share this Virtue to benefit from it. Finally, note that extremely large-scale effects, such as those targeting an entire sea or country, are likely to impact entities whose power significantly outstrips yours, and these entities may take exception at your actions and oppose you.

(Edited to account for feedback -- thanks to everyone for their suggestions, they almost but not quite moved me to alter my initial judgement.
In evaluating this Virtue, keep in mind that magi can already unleash world-scale effects, particularly if collaborating together for researching them, and for casting them via a Wizard Communion. Mythic Europe, if you assume it can be targeted with T:Boundary, needs just 10 magnitudes added for size. What limits these would-be demiurges are the feathers they would ruffle with such endeavours: those of other magi, those of powerful mystical beings, and possibly those of mundanes as well. This Virtue does not change that limit.
The Virtue on the other hand makes "big but local" effects easier, and cheaper in the case of Rituals. This is probably its main practical effect. Note that in many cases the extra size would not be worth it without this Virtue, or it may be worth 1-3 extra magnitudes, but only in some relatively rare circumstances (and 1 can always be shaved off via a MutoVim effect of roughly the same magnitude). How often are other magi casting +4 size effects? This Virtue encourages a character to run rampant with these big effects: showy, but in practical terms not really unbalancing in my view.)

So you want a character that can destroy the earth and recreate a new one out of gauntlet unless a divine intervention stops him? Cause, as written, that's what your virtue does.


As written, that virtue not only appears overpowered. It is overpowered. Extremely overpowered.

A normal magus can cast Pit of the Gaping Earth to have a person or two fall into the pit.

A magus with that "Big Magic" virtue can just add a bunch of Size to the spell and then they can demolish a large city with a low-level spell. Or perhaps demolish the whole country-side with equal ease to what a normal magus can do to one person or two.

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Cr(Form of choice) to fill the entire volume from the surface of the Earth to the Lunar Sphere feels a little bit inappropriate for, y'know. Anyone and anything short of the Divine.

Actually no, such a magus can't do it for the same reason why a more experienced magus, who would definitely (check out how many times you need to 10x a base Ind of Dirt to fill the entire space with it) be able to handle the magnitudes, can't do it.
EDIT: ok, it admittedly is almost beyond the reach of even experienced magi, but not quite. It would be a level 125 to 130 CrTe spell for Cyborg's effect, several magnitudes less for temprobe's :slight_smile: A cabal of determined magi collaborating on research and casting could pull it off in terms of sheer size. But the issue here is that ... the powers-that-be would just stop you.

Whenever you target something really big, chances are you'll involve something with the supernatural power to smack you down.

I think the most I would be comfortable is giving him a number of free magnitudes of Size equal to his Size modifier. Which for a whale is still uncomfortably close to PeTe sponting cities out of existence, but at least requires him to arrange enough water to take his heartbeast form within range of the city in question, and doesn't scale up to the point of infinite absurdity.

First of all, remember that a magus with little experience can already do that. Create a T:Ind of stone (Base 2, for one cubic pace). Add ... 7 magnitudes? To have a large slab of stone, 10 paces tall, 1000 paces to the side. 1 magnitude for R:Touch, at with a Wizard Tunnel boosting it to D:Sight. D:Mom. Ok, that's ... CrTe level 30, by my book. Still within reach of a starting character without any particular Virtues.

It just probably takes a Ritual, because it's "impressive". Here, that's left at the discretion of the troupe, so it can still definitely forced as a Ritual. A level 20 Ritual vs. a level 30 Ritual, for an effect that no magus can cast without political repercussions? No big deal to me.

There's a particular line in Nobilis -- a really high-powered game -- that points out that sure it's easy to make a character who can shoot down the sun with an arrow. The problem is finding someone to put the sun back together afterwards. I think it applies here.

As a general rule, changing how a spell works as opposed to how a character interacts with it is a bad idea. For example, you still add requisites with Elemental Magic, but the character doesn't get a weaker casting total for having a low score in the requisite elemental Form. Here you are actually changing some spells drastically with the whole non-Ritual bit.

Now, getting to ignore the + magnitudes for + size while finding the time to invent or penetration when casting such a spell works fine in that regard. Those + magnitudes for + size are still there, just the character is better at working with them.

However, as others have mentioned, completely ignoring them is probably over-powered. I would probably calculate time to invent or penetration when casting as though the spell has half the extra magnitudes, rounded down without changing the spell itself. That saves you a ton when you have things like "+3 size" since it effectively adds as much as +20 to your lab total and adds +10 to your casting total in such a case. But by preserving something with the 1/2 and retaining Ritual, it should avoid the abuse people are noting.


As for a name... Gargantuan Magic, Expansive Magic, ... I'm not sure.

It could be something more similar to Enduring Magic. “For this caster the base individual is considered twice as large for that form.” I’m sure there are plenty of holes in that will be pointed out but it means that is someone reads their lab texts the spell they create scales back to the normal sizes but that when they design spells from other people’s lab texts they are just sort of naturally are larger, or can be.


I had originally thought exactly Cyborg's effect. I like magical abilities that explcitly leverage the "nature" of a character. I had rejected it for three reasons:
a) simplicity (basically, nothing of "absurd" scale would be feasible anyway due to the intervention of powers-that-be, so why bother placing a limit),
b) because I sort of saw callen's point (I found it inelegant that the character would make himself bigger, maybe just with MuCo, solely to cast bigger magic) and
c) because in this way it can apply beyond spells. For a non-Bjornaer, it can apply to the familiar bond score too, allowing you to bind truly big familiars without penalty. For Bjornaer, it can apply to refinining the Heartbeast to increase size: you can keep doing it without incurring penalties. Want to spend 20 initiations to increase your size by +20? Sure, go ahead. Big size has its own disadvantages.

Hmm. Anyway, points taken, I'll have to rethink it. I'm inclined to say that the character can ignore 2/3 of any modifier for size. I'd still like to say something that, if a Ritual would not be a Ritual with the lesser modifier, it's not a Ritual for the caster. So you can still do bigger formulaics than other magi.

EDIT: actually, even with a 1/2 modifier, the character with a little experience really has little trouble targeting the Earth, which is somewhere between 10^21 to 10^22 cubic paces. So, the limitation does not add much, except needless complexity.

I would consider that not even worth a Minor Virtue. I mean, it's a magnitude at most saved, and only for those few effects where it's useful, which are not that many.

I don’t see it as magnitudes saved but as seasons saved.

Quick thoughts:
Spend vis and/or long term fatigue to ignore size modifiers when casting (1 pawn for x modifiers)
Being able to use corpus and animal on an existing target (not to create beings) whatever their size (I’d take that!)
Gotta go

I think "Titanic Magic" would suitably encompass the world-shaping scope of what this virtue is capable of. Something like "Sorcery of the Leviathan" is a bit more evocative, but wordier than Ars Magica virtues tend to be.

If this were, say, Exalted, I would definitely name this something like "Heaven Toppling Demiurge Power," but it is not.

I have no idea why anyone would expect this to work, any more than magically enhancing your voice increases the range of your Voice spells.

Well, it all depends on how you word the Virtue. Wording it so that this does not apply, but your Heartbeast does, is ... tricky. How about a Heartbeast refined to be really big? Etc.

How about:

Magic Big and Small
Your magic is less constrained my size than that of most magi. When casting spells that add size magnitudes, you can cast them as if their level is without those magnitudes, as long as they do not exceed +3 Size for affecting larger or smaller sizes. If they exceed that, then you cast them as if their Size is 3 less.


The problem I'm kind of looking at, it defintely feels like you want this to be a big defining character choice (major virtue, not minor), which means it needs to be impressive and possibly complicated. But it really only affects a small subset of things.

I agree with others that I wouldn't want to see them designing and learning spells while ignoring any size modifiers - 'I break this rock' turns into 'I break this mountain', and 'Weaken the earth' becomes 'weaken the earth of the earth'. And so on. I might accept a casting bonus instead, though.

Perhaps something more like,

Titanic Magic
Your magic stems from the Titans who broke and reformed continents and oceans. it is naturally suited to great undertakings. When you casting your spells, you naturally treat the base individual as twice the normal amount of material - this is particularly useful for Creo and Perdo magic, and part/group targets. In addition, whenever you are casting a spell with increased magnitudes for size, you gain a +3 to the casting total for every size modifier added to the spell.
(And because this still feels a bit weak for a Major Virtue) When spending raw vis to boost your casting total, you gain +3 per pawn of vis spent rather than the usual +2.

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Or the name "No sense of Proportion" might also work...