Broad Discussion -- What Is The Gift?

I tend to wax a bit philosophical at times over topics in Ars Magica. Of late I have been trying to untangle the concept of The Gift.

To be a Hermetic magus one must have The Gift. The Gift, we are told in the section on apprentices, tends to manifest itself fairly young and shows through unusual sparks of intelligence and curiosity (thus presumably there are few, if any, magi with negative Intelligence). On top of this, The Gift makes one's social life ... limited.

Then again, several Supernatural Abilities are tied to The Gift. Still, many people who manifest these abilities do not necessarily have either the social restrictions or the intelligence.

There are hints at the notion of hedge practitioners, possibly with a stunted or limited version of The Gift, or simply an underdeveloped version.

So, what is The Gift to your mind? Is it restricted to Hermetic magic, or are there other avenues for its use. Would one need to have The Gift, for example, to practice some of the new Abilities found in RoP: D? Is The Gift only Magical in manifestation, rather than belonging to other Realms? Does everyone who possesses The Gift also have the social stigma, or is that a version of The Gift that only applies to Hermetic Magic?

Enquiring minds want to know! :wink:

i had character's who take the position that the gift is coreellated with the ability to use magic well but the relationship is not causational. They look at characters with the "gentle gift" as actually ungifted people who can use magic well and people with the "magical air" flaw (is this flaw in fifth edition?) as gifted people who can nt use magic at all.

I'm going to address only the mechanical aspects of The Gift, because I don't want to discourage any philosophical discussion about it. This is just my understanding/interpretation of the rules.

While you have to have The Gift to be a magus, you do not have to be a magus if you have The Gift. In fact, unless his master has an incredibly high InVi total, it may be impossible for a character with The Gift to become a magus at all if he has learned too many Supernatural Abilities.

So far, apart from Hermetic magic and allowing characters to learn Supernatural Abilities, there is only one other use for The Gift: Ars Notoria. You can learn it without being a magus, and in fact it's much more likely that non-magi will do so, since magi have such a steep penalty to their Study Total. Maybe there will be other powers like that in future supplements, Abilities that require The Gift to learn?

I don't think any other Supernatural Abilities are tied to The Gift, though you can learn Magical Supernatural Abilities if you have it. Likewise, you can learn Divine Supernatural Abilities if you have True Faith. You do not need The Gift to use any of them. (Well, except for Ars Notoria, and Holy Magic of course.)

I'm pretty sure The Gift is always Magical, though it can also be Faerie or Divine (for those magi who have Faerie Magic or Holy Magic). I also think the social penalties apply to everyone who has The Gift, unless they have Virtues to offset it (like The Gentle Gift). I seem to recall that this is discussed toward the beginning of ArM5, where it talks about Gifted characters.

This is something that's pretty different from previous editions, actually, and I think it's an extremely clever addition, though it's kind of sleeping. I think most players don't realize it's there or what it means. Personally, I didn't really get how it worked until I was helping write /The Divine/. Before then, I just thought Learning Supernatural Abilities was something to do with Mysteries. But it's a really cool thing. If you read it carefully, ArM5 basically tells how to use The Gift make an interesting sort of hedge wizard character that isn't a magus and isn't a companion.

This is a very interesting idea, one which I think I will appropriate. I have never really liked the idea that some people are born to be wizards and others aren't (one of my big problems with Harry Potter, actually) and this is an interesting way around it.

Of course, depending on how it is used, it might make Gentle Gifted more common, if anyone who is bright enough and willing can learn magic without The Gift.

Terry Goodkind has a series of books that approach the Gift in an interesting way...(highly suggested reading)
Everyone has the Gift in some form. If its strong enough, you can do certain things. If its even stonger, you need to be trained as a Wizard. Among 'Wizards' there are different types. The most powerful types do magic differently than the others.
This system shows a distinctive difference between the "Top Dog" and "Everyone Else".
During the series he introduces a Manufactured Flaw in the Gift. A line of Wizards had manipulated the Bloodline (Genes) to produce heirs with a superior Gift. This also produced heirs that were "Pristinely Ungifted". These people could not be affected by magic. (They couldn't even see magic...!)
This leads to the next step...
Those that don't manifest the "Obvious" Gift, can be altered. Through the use of the Gift, a Wizard can strengthen an 'ungifted' person to the point they can work magic as any other Wizard (Except the "Pristinely Ungifted"). It is stated that such Wizards aren't as 'strong', but no examples are made.

I guess my opinion is that everyone is like that...the gift is there, but depending on the individual, it is usable or not...