Casting total bonuses

A while ago while browsing this forum. I stumbled on a semi-humorous suggestion to nerf magi: rather than adding to your casting total, your TeFo score is the cap your casting total can reach, and you have to get your actual casting total from shape and material bonuses, aura bonuses, etc.

Obviously, this wouldn't be great to just throw into the game, but I've become curious about it as a theoretical concept. How high a casting total could a magus get in a game with this house rule? What about lab total?

In order to make things concrete, let's say that our hypothetical game uses the following house rules:
Your casting total and lab total are both the lowest of TeFo (with no other bonuses) and the sum of all the other bonuses that the rules add to casting total.
Magi all get potent magic with all spells, including spontaneous spells. There is no limit to the total shape and material bonus you can achieve, other than the shapes and materials you have on hand. All the shape/material bonuses listed in any sourcebook are available, but new ones must be discovered using mythic alchemy or similar virtues.

With these rules, what is the highest casting total that can reasonably be achieved by an advanced magus a century after gauntlet, on his home covenant, casting (say) BoAF? Assume the magus is moderately specialised in CrIg and is happy to join mystery cults to get relevant mysteries, but hasn't devoted their life exclusively to this one spell. Can the magus make a permanent magic item to cast BoAF at a higher total than they can achieve by themselves? For the sake of this exercise, let's also assume that the magus has a few hours to prepare and has time to cast ceremonially, and the other magi in the covenant are willing to help with the casting.

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my answer would be :wink: :you never will know. If you can have as many of shape/material bonus, it depends on how many of them are useable for your spell ... so theoretically with enough research - unlimited.
On the other hand, some-/anyone has to do the book-keeping of all the material you have ... which leads to endless hours of counting ... ^^

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I think this basically just means the order is way more cooperation focused and that wizard communion is incredibly important

RAW, total = min(Te,Fo) + max(Te,Fo) + others {Sta, potent, SM, etc.}

If I understand correctly, you want
total = min(Te,Fo) + min( max(Te,Fo), others {Sta, potent, SM, etc.})
which I expect would reduce total by 10-15 and completely kill free spont.

Completely dropping the MT requirement for Potency might be excessive. Any magus with the right casting item could get a +20. OTOH, the samples spells provided in TMRE p 32 require MT 6+ which punishes low MT builds. I suggest extending the +3/+6 bonus to Potency limit, MT 3 + minor virtue allows for Potency 6 while MT 6 + major virtue gives access to the sample DEO.

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This House Rule may not be very feasible outside a Magic (or Faerie Aura).
Absolute Maximum Aura bonus is 10, in practice less.
But it can easily be a penalty (potentially to -30). In a typical Urban area with Dominion 3 Aura, you would have a 9 penalty to your bonus total.

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Not quite, the formula would be min(TeFo total, other bonuses).

I know this is completely unfeasible as a house rule for actual play. I'm just curious how high a casting total it would be possible to reach under those rules if you use tricks like wizard's communion.

There is about 350 focus bonus based on the current ArM5Index. So, as long as somebody will be willing to compute all the foci available for a spell, he should be able to cast anything. There are probably some corner case-spells from extension books that could be tricky but otherwise, that should be fine.
Because of the headache and constant computing, I don't know if there would be a real added value to such house rule ?
@pi4t how to you see such game evolving and what interesting stories it will bring that the current system prevent to be played ?

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Hmm. So if I understand correctly, compared to the RAW:

  1. You are subtracting the higher of Te, Fo, from the casting (and lab) total.
  2. You are adding potentially unlimited S&M bonuses, and these apply to spellcasting too (thanks to Potent Magic - which technically adds a +3/+6 depending on whether it's Minor or Major) regardless of the .

This would tend to have magi walk around literally festooned in trinkets from which to extract S&M bonuses. I'd say that:
a) By and large, magic would become more powerful, as 2 would often overshadow 1. This would be particularly true if magi start making a deliberate effort to create broad (in particular, Art-wide) bonuses with Alchemy.
b) Young magi would benefit most, as would generalists.
c) Formulaic/Ritual spellcasting would benefit more than enchanted devices, which would benefit more than Spontaneous magic (because of the division).

To give an example, a BoAF can benefit from a "canonical" S&M bonus of +33 (at least, as I have probably missed at least some, and I am not counting stuff like the +3 bonus to S&M bonus one can get to a gem from a major alchemical transformation; nor the additional +2 from a living birch tree; etc.) :
+2 Ash (+2 Ignem, HP p.26)
+4 Lamp (+4 create fire, ArM5 p.110)
+7 Hearth (+7 create fire, ArM5 p.110)
+6 Ruby (+6 fire, ArM5 p.110)
+3 Basalt (+3 Ignem, HoH:MC p.137)
+3 Brass (+3 Ignem, HoH:MC p.137)
+4 Hickory (+3 Ignem, HoH:MC p.137)
+3 Wand (+3 project bolt or other missile, ArM5 p.110)
+1 Birch (+1 Creo, GotF p.33)

This already surpasses the higher of Te, Fo for most magi.
With a concerted, Order-wide effort to use Vulgar Alchemy to develop an additional ... meh, let's say four S&M +3 bonuses for each Technique and two S&M +4 for each Form (a total of just 40 broad but middling bonuses) that would grow by an additional +21.

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Once again, this is purely intended as a thought experiment - "theorycrafting", as it's sometimes called. The question is essentially: how much investment does it take to raise your non-art casting total (and/or lab total) bonuses to equal your casting total bonuses?

I disagree on your claim that there are enough foci to cast anything other than corner cases without using other tricks or researching new focus bonuses. Ezzelino above compiled a list that added up to +33 for BoAF; while there are a couple more I spotted that they missed, it seems unlikely you could get above about +40. Which is a great deal less than the +80 cap from TeFo.

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Still not quite correct - both Te and Fo would be subtracted from the casting (and lab) total - or more precisely would not be added in the first place. Instead, potentially unlimited S&M bonuses would be added; but your final bonus to your casting total could not exceed your Te+Fo. So if, say, a magus with Ignem 15 and Creo 20 cast BoAF, and had the +33 bonus from shapes and materials you listed and was casting in an area without an aura, his casting total would be +33+die. But if he cast in an area with a +10 aura, his casting total would only be +35+die, because that's the maximum he can achieve with his current arts. A younger magus with only Ignem 5 and Creo 10 would only be able to get a casting total of +15+die, regardless of how many shape and material foci he had or what other bonuses to his casting total he had access to.

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Thank you for giving an example, it cleared a lot.

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Ah, that's much clearer now - I was confused by the wording in the initial post.

In this case the house rule definitely lowers what's possible. Just a bit for Formulaic and Ritual spells, particularly for relatively young/unoptimized magi. More for Enchanted Devices, because one can no longer pile all those bonuses on top of TeFo (this is particularly harsh on Verditius magi, which is good). Quite a bit more for Spontaneous Magic, particularly for builds optimized for it.

"Moderately specialized" is a bit vague, but ... let's say 35 Creo and 35 Ignem, including Affinity/Puissant? We already know that "canonical" S&M bonuses can get at least a +33 - with +40 being more likely. Many of those bonuses can "double up" if the magus has a talisman with the appropriate materials and has attuned the proper bonuses - let's say, a staff (+3) of Birchwood and Hickory (+5), with a brass-encased (+3) pommel of Ruby and Basalt on top(+9)? That's another +20. Add Stamina, +3 or +6 for Potent magic, Aura, Voice and Gestures ... and even without Ceremonial Casting the Tech+Form total is probably the limiting factor or near enough; we are then looking at Casting Totals around 75 (70+die) or so. This means a Penetration of 40+Penetration score+any other stuff from ACs, Sympathetic Connections etc. which is very variable.

Well ... you have to be clear what you mean with "total" when dealing with an Enchanted Device. I assume you mean with higher Penetration. Now, I'd say that the lab total again bumps up against the Te+Fo limit of 70. No contribution from Talisman attunement, but enchanting can get a whole lot of other bonuses. Let's say the magus goes for a final effect level of ... 60? Allowing him to enchant the effect over 6 seasons. That's 35 for BoaF, +5 for 24uses/day, and 20 for a Penetration total of +40. So ... more or less in the same ballpark, perhaps a little weaker than via spellcasting if the magus is well prepared with ACs and stuff.

Note that, because the enchanted device gains +2 to penetration for each +1 of the Lab total, with weaker magi (or stronger effects) spellcasting "wins" over enchanted devices; the opposite is true with stronger magi (or weaker effects, such as a PoF).

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I think one of the unforeseen impact of such a change would be that strength would become a valuable stat for magi who now need to factor in encumbrance. I can't say going back to mandatory components for spellcasting is a preference of mine.

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