Character Concepts-Dumb Magi

I'm interested if there are any cool concepts for Mag with a Low Int stat. But is still reasonably competent.

In previous editions Intelligence was an end all be all stat for building Magi. A Hermetic with less then high Int was seriously behind the curve and a low or negative intelligence was basically crippling. Now in ArM5 it's actually workable to make magi that lack brains but are still believable, and even playable, as characters.

I've built a couple of NPC's who are lacking intelligence. A Jerbiton social butterfly who was a great teacher (of the basics at least) and a Criamon Mystagogue who was sort of a holy fool type.

One of my players who regularly plays a Bjornaer that all but gives up on spells and lab work to focus on initiating his heartbeats eventually created a charcter with a 0 in int but even he couldn't bear to go negative on a PC.

Does anyone have anything else interesting.

Intelligence is not that good a stat anymore, it's a lot easier to deal with low int than low stamina. Aside from a lab rat, you can function just fine with -1 or -2 int. I have a concept of a lumbering Frank that has low int but is good in the stamina department, not much of a mage though, apart from the occasional spell to make himself a better combatant.

Flex formulaic magic would help to achieve flexibility without researching too many spells in the lab.
If you lose formulaic magic just about alltogether (rigid magic I thought, the thing that makes ritual magic impossible and formulaic magic rediculously expensive) and rely on life linked spont or diedne magic for your sorcery you might do quite well as a generalist.

It was only ever quite that bad in the 4th edition

Before then, hgh Int was nice, but lowish int was still viable.

Now, back to the original question:
What do you mean by "low Int"?
below 3? most of my magi these days have int 2

Below that? Sure.
One of my current sagas feature a Flambeau magus with Intelligence +0.
He follows the school of Ramius and is in many ways the scariest magus in the troupe

There is one thing you might wish to consider; avoiding long twilight times likes high int.

I dont know if its cool, but here is the concept I used once: a Criamon that takes that takes the idea of shattering the chains far too seriously, so focuses on studying Perdo Terram and Corpus magic, with the ultimate goal of literally breaking his own body and the world in ways that frees them from the shackles of fate. His clutch-members called him The pig farmer. I was planning him to find his way into the Living Ghost mystery, while kicking-ass in combat and totally confusing and misunderstanding Criamon dogma...


Low Int really only matters to a magus for Lab Totals, and there are plenty of ways to bring them back up, from Puissant/Affinity with Magic Theory (an intuitive magus), to getting higher Arts, getting a focus, sticking to spells with Lab Texts you can get your hands on, and virtues like Inventive Genius (okay, bad name for a magus with -3 Int), Cyclic Magic (2 seasons),...

Here's a few concept:
The Urban and Urbane Jerbiton : +0 Int (or even less), Gentle Gifted, decent social skills, decent Artes Liberales/Philosophiae, and Mystic Choreography. Keep away from the most powerful spells, because you expect to cast in a Dominion Aura, and master every spell you can afford to cast slowly for Ceremonial Casting. Don't be afraid to use Spontaneous Casting, too. While you are at it, you might want to throw in Cautious Sorcerer and make sure to get a high Golden Chord with your familiar, which should be something innocuous in a city (cat, dog, dove, ...). You may not be the best spellslinger out there (in fact, you're way behind the curve) but when it comes to casting in a city, you'll be the best (because those strong spellslinger will have to back off from their favorite high-powered spells, what with the Dominion penalties and threat of a botch). Plus, you can actually live in a city and not get lynched by a mob of angry citizens.

The Brute (Bjornaer or Flambeau): high stamina, Tough, enough strength to wear armor, Puissant/Affinity with Parma Magica, maybe Giant Blood. Go for personal wards spells and a good Brawl of Weapon skill. Already mentioned

The master of spontaneous magic. This is a very difficult concept to pull off. High stamina (like +4 or +5), decent Artes Liberales/Philosophiae, and Life-Linked Spontaneous Magic. Don't even try to be a generalist, you need to specialize, and specialize in an area with a very flexible TeFo, for instance MuCo(An) (all the change into an animal spell), or PeVi (all the Unravel the Form spells). Get a focus, Puissant/Affinity with Arts, whatever you need to actually be able to cast those spells without resorting to Life-Linked Spontaneous Magic, which you need to keep in reserve for that one spell that will win the fight - and which can be pretty much whichever spell is best suited. Oh, and don't go for Diedne Magic, it's just not good enough when you actually get in a fight. Diedne Magic works best to give flexibility to a formulaic caster, what with casting halfway decent spontaneous spells without fatigue, it's just not good enough to cast high level spells on its own.

Stereotypical fire Flambeau -- a good soldier, not a thinker -- Great Quickness and Stamina, possibly with Adept Student, Flawless Magic, Minor Magical Focus w/Fire.

The idiot savant -- Affinity in one Technique and one Form and a Magical Focus (pick a theme).

The bestial magus -- Mythic Blood or Shapeshifter or Giant Blood or Skinchanger, Life Boost, Personal Vis Source, Tough, etc. Feral Upbringing.

Not sure I can accept a Hermetic magus with less than average intelligence without a really good backstory or set of virtues that are very benificial to the Master's plans.

Serf's Parma, but the way I see it, the drag on the master's lab total and his/her lab's Safety total/Organization Virtue in the seasons where the apprentice is "helping" in the lab doesn't justify the effort teaching him or her unless you somehow got them to have a higher-than expected MT AND the magus has lab improvements in place to compensate for the Safety/ORganization hit when the assistant has an intelligence less than thiers. A considerable Personal Vis Source might do just that, though.

That said, if you can have a good back story, that could be very interesting. Possibly the low Int score was the result of a magical accident during his education, or maybe the Master was using the very strongly Gifted village idiot for experiments with Mentem that were unsuccessful (and the Master was suffieicently compassionate not to abandon them). Another thought would be, as stated before, a remarkable set of virtues suited to Mystery tradition (esoteric or exoteric) that the Master wanted to learn/steal/initiate and needed an experimental subject and was willing to teach a LOTof (Mystery) Lore to before the attempt.

So, whatever concept you choose, I would strongly recommend that they be truly amazing in some magical way to that the Master is willing to take on the risks and drag to thier own work for 15 years.

That depends on why a specific magus decides to take an apprentice. Some of the masters are not inclined towards lab work themselves, and may prefer to pick an apprentice who is already naturally inclined to some aspect of magic. Apprentices are not simply lab assistants, they are also of legacy of magi.

So a Flambeau may be more interested in a youngster that exhibits a natural ability with fire (or with destruction), even if he seems less intelligent.
A Tytalus will be more interested in a strong will.
A Tremere will want a disciplined apprentice, who will conform to his House.
A Bjornaer will look at the potential hearthbeast of his apprentice.
A Merinita will look for strong ties to faeries, maybe even of a specific kind.

Finally, we as players may know the actual Int score, but that is quite a bit harder for the magus to discern the actual value. Intelligence (or lack thereof) is not always so obvious. You don't actually realize its effects until the apprentice begins assisting in the lab, and even then, that is because we as players can see the results.

It also depends how much of a premium there is on gifted children. There might not be much of a choice when it comes to finding a candidate that isn't halfway mad from isolation and hasn't developed other supernatural talents that will complicate opening the arts. A gifted person may be more likely to suffer from childhood malnutrition because of social factors too.

Good point: it's not enough to have the Gift, you have to find a master willing to teach you, and they will be looking for someone who will either lend a heloing hand or increase their prestige. That said:

  • Any Gifted blood descendant of Mercere is going to be taken in by House Mercere, because they are so rare.
  • Any Gentle Gifted candidate with at least a smidgen of artistic or scholarly ability is pretty much guaranteed a place in House Jerbiton
  • Bjornaer magi may not care at all. And they will take in any blood descendent of Birna.
  • The weirder traditions in House Miscellanea have to take what they can get
  • Parens with bad reputations, or missing arts, who still want an apprentice may have to settle for a less intelligent one, because otherwise a Bonisagus would come and claim him rather than 'letting him go to waste with such a bad master'. That might result in the Weak Parens or Deficient Art flaws...
  • low intelligence usually mean that another characteristic is above average, if not exceptional. Presence or Communication would attract the attention of House Jerbiton, and the physical attributes the attention of House Flambeau, for instance.

Personally, I see no problem as long as intelligence is at least +0. Now, negative intelligence, that's where you start to think how it fits, but there are many ways to explain it. Besides, the magus might have been a bright 7 year old who just never lived up to the expectations...

Just for fun, several years back we made a character we called Lumpy the Stupid Mage: Int -3, a score of 5 in every Form, he literally could not take level-10 spells at character creation. So he had 24 level-5 spells, all of which he was extremely proud of being able to cast and would volunteer to do so at any suitable occasion. Oh, but he called them differently from their usual esoteric names: his spells were like Keep Away Dogs, See Why Sick, and Move That Thing. :smiley: