Building my first mage, and I could use some advise...

I need some advise from the 3/4 the edition crowd (if there is one). I am building my first mage and I don't want to make a bunch of mistakes I will regret for the rest of the campaign. I am focusing on Spontaneous Casting and Natural Magic more or less as its presented in the Hedge Magic book. Anyway if anyone has pointers about must have spells, or how to avoid the pitfalls of poor spell choice that would be great.

Apologies for asking for help before reading the Character Designs threads, and the non-hermetic magic thread. I will in fact read them, but I used up this mornings allotted time for random internetting before finding this site.

Advice that is applicable to 3rd+ edition. I've not played 1st or 2nd enough to comment, but I suspect it's the same for them too!

Best advice I can give is pick a theme and stick to it. Don't smorgasboard your virtues/flaws, don't smorgasboard your spells, etc. Avoid picking things that conflict with each other or just don't make sense (a mute giant with the blatant gift, venus' blessing, puissant charm and reclusive might be a tad tricky to play...).

The way I explain to my new players is that the Ars Magica magic system (of any edition) is vast and flexible - and specialisation is key! By having a theme, a core set of arts, etc. your decision making process goes from 'what arts do I require to ...' to 'how do I do this with ?'

Picking a one or two forms to be your 'specialty' can help immensely in defining your magus - and if you only have four or five arts to focus on you'll be a better magus faster.

Don't forget to put xp in concentration!

3rd or 4th? There are huge differences between the two.
For 4th, be sure to dump XPs into concentration. And then some more.

Either edition allows you to add spell magnitude to spontaneous casting totals for similar spells (IIRC), so spells are still very useful.
I'd be worried about running out of fatigue levels though.

Not to worry, those are mostly focused on 5th edition

If you are making a 4th edition spont specialist you might want to take a look at Faeries 4th edition virtue:

+2 Faerie-Raised Merinita - The magi was taken into arcadia as an infant before being bought/bargained for as an apprentice by a magi of merinita. You have the same ability and limitations that characters with strong faerie blood do. You start with only 100 pts of arts and 100 pts of spells, you automatically have the flaw Wild Magic, cannot take continuous spontaneous magic, but in return faerie magic comes free and your spontaneous magic rolls get divided by 2 without using fatigue.

I second faerie raised merenita, would add the folowing:

+1 gentle gift if you want to interact with animals and mundanes making your natural part better.
+1 book learner would help you get over your lower starting for arts, Please don't forget a good concentration score. You could also use Free study if you think you'll have a vis rich covenant.
+4 or +5 incredible or mythic intelligence.

You can totally forgo formulaic spells by taking -6 poor memory and -4 poor formulaic, but that is kinda harsh, better might be -2 poor formulaic, -4 major deficiency in Perdo (penalized anyway), -1 loose magic, -1 poor student, -1 incomprehensible, -1 hedge mage, or forego the poor formulaic and find some nice -2 flaw to round it out (overconfident for instance).

+1 inventive genius would help you get over your lower starting spells (if you want to go for formulaic spells), note that having spells helps you cast them spontaneously.

Abilities will want concentration to offset your faerie raised merenita, and faerie magic to add bonusses to spont faerie spells, taking some nature related abilities would be fitting, and brawl to fight as a bear
Characteristics should focus on intelligence primarely, but keeping your physical stats up would make your shapeshifted forms more terrifying, and keeping the social skills level would help you not get eaten by the wild, or burned at the stake.

I don't have the book, but I seem to remember that Vim was 2 magnitudes harder, Creo and Perdo one, Muto was two magnitudes easier, and Imaginem one. Being a shapeshifter is easy. This would befit a somewhat wandering character, especially with poor memory.

Help you help yourself with a Talisman and a familiar, you have no spells to make anyway so your lab is empty, and you'll want the bonusses.

I checked in with the GM, and he clarified the edition question. Casting and the like is almost all 3d ed with a bunch of influence from an Ars Magica e-zine whos name I have forgotten. Physical combat is mostly 4th edition, and skills have been moderately condensed (weapon attack and defense are the same skill for example).

I haven't got a single clue about third edition, so my advice is useless.

Ah, the inf^5^5^5 3rd edition :slight_smile:

All the emphasis everyone gave on Concentration above?
Forget it.
If your SG uses the advancement rules of 4th edition, Concentration is possibly the best ability to have, including Magic Theory.
If 3rd edition advancement is used, it's nice to have, but not essential.
Be sure to ask about this.

  • Forests & Forest Animals is an example +2 affinity virtue - and probably worth it for a nature magus, if you expect to be in or near forests.
  • Gentle Gift is practically free (+1 virtue) - and makes life easier.
  • Free study probably isn't worth it, as it penalizes your book studies
  • 3rd edition allowed the same character to have Life-Linked Spontaneous Magic and Continuous Spontaneous Magic - a bit hard on the fatigue, but allows a dedicated caster to cast just about anything.
  • I always liked Night Reader, even if I rarely took it - it's pretty expensive.
  • Familiar were rarer in the 3rd edition than in the 5th, and did different things. No Familiar is not the worst flaw in the book.
  • Student could be surprisingly useful, especially as there were no Exposure and Magic Theory was a knowledge.ability.

Goodness, now you're making me want to run a 2nd/3rd edition saga again :slight_smile:

Ok :wink:
Those editions had beauty in simplicity - among others full-level advancement and simple library ratings with only a single value for each art/ability. Although the lab mechanics were more difficult back then, compared to the streamlining of 5th ed.

BWT Remember that an Affinity is actually an Ability which you add to the relevant spell or lab totals, so it is another exp sink!

Hmmm... so I admit to leaving out a bunch of details for fear members of my table read here (guess I shouldn't use my real name on my account, huh?), so bear with me.
Ok, I am pondering a merit to help me deal with the consequences of spending time fatigued. Either enduring constitution or long winded (page 76 of 3d ed) looks like the way to go. Despite being a novice at the system the exact text of long winded appears less appropriate (+3 on all fatigue rolls. Bonus doesn't apply to casting rolls). Or Enduring Constitution which reduces the penalty by one at any given wound/fatigue level.

Yep, I read those the same way. Long Winded is only for when you actually make a fatigue roll - and I have yet to see those in any of my sagas! Enduring Constitution only works by reducing the total Wound penalty by would have been a cool fighter virtue if it had been each wound. So for purpuses of better handling lost fatigue it really only annuls a -1 modifier. One shold be able to find better virtues, giving a higher bonus. If you take Cyclic Magic or Special Circumstances you could quite often cash in on a higher bonus than +1, even before you are fatigued.
Now if only there was some virtue letting you recover Fatigue faster...