I'm creating a powerful magus for a new game and have a few ideas I'm trying to coalesce into a coherent whole and I know that this board could help me.
The sage is Novgorod in 1200, and the character is going to have 60 years post-apprenticeship, which are pretty open-ended. I had the following ideas but I'm having difficulty in actually getting them to work:
Criamon following the Path of Strife. I'm finally going to make the warrior-magus of my dreams. He's using a warhammer and Performance Magic with a massive Enigmatic Wisdom to have an entirely mundane attack bonus around +40. However, this means that he's going to be carrying the Blatant Gift.
Visions of destruction. The character is going to be peripherally aware of the Mongol arrival and has begun amassing an army to (successfully) fight them, and claim a section of Novgorod for the Order in the wake of the destruction. I really liked the idea of using Enigmatic Wisdom with Hermetic Dream Interpretation and Visions to have powerful prescient dreams that foretell the future (and what his neighbors are up to) and it led to the idea of him being aware of the coming troubles, which in turn leads to the desire to capitalize on them for the sake of the Order. This leads me to...
The Mystery Cult built around carving a place in the world for the Order. I really liked the idea of this guy having his own Hashashim sect under him, but he's got the Blatant Gift which torpedoes having a lot of Agents. I had a few workarounds in mind and this is really where I am looking for help:
A. Rather than a small army of mundanes, use an army of (insert Magical Realm-aligned things here): they don't mind the Gift, even the Blatant Gift. With sufficient Animal and the Virtue "Imbued with the Spirit of XXX" (from RoP:M) to crank them out, he should be able to create a personal army... right? How could I make this happen? How can you give Abilities to spirits or animals, if I go that route? I'd want to Initiate my army of magical bears.
B. His polar-opposite wife (Path of Strike, 3rd initiation) becomes his lead Agent and she runs the (human) Hashashim and the magus is in charge of the Mystery Cult part like some kind of gonzo Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. This is cleaner than an army of, say, magical bears or air spirits at your command. What should I do to make this happen? Initiating them into things like "Focus Power - sneaky assassin" comes to mind, but the Agency rules really don't cover that - they assume mundane Agents, not an army of mystical commando assassins. Any pitfalls or thoughts here?
C. Lead the Mystery Cult with the 1st Initiation being, Unaffected by the Gift (RoP:M). This is kind of funny since you'd have the Agents in charge of acquiring new Agents and then Initiating them in true crazy cult fashion, rather than being personally approached by the leader.
Thoughts? Ways to tweak this ideas into even more fun stuff?
I would probably use your option B. And come up with a few simple magic items to assist, especially something giving invisibility or stopping sound from emanating from them(or from near them).
And a strong score in Imaginem (and/or intellego) looks very neat together with visions...
This starts out fairly close to the only time i played the "main part", with my Flambeau character having both Visions and Premonitions and Busybody, combined with strong scores in Perdo, Intellego and Imaginem.
And with decent scores in social skills as well as being a minor noble with Temporal power virtue and being a very sneaky girl personality, i had plenty of fun with this story and character.
No secret was safe from her scrying and no place was out of her ability to gain entrance, and she soon got enough CrIg score to be able to make sure that even the slightest trace of evidence was left as naught but ash.
Although since we started in south of France and the character not really sure what or where from the threat that she had visions of would come, it was a little bit hard to raise a good alliance until it was rather late.
Her preemptive strikes against the Mongol magic workers were neat(until they got seriously nervous and alert, ouch almost got caught once then), and the "final battle" was just epic because the covenant involved had had so MANY decades to prepare and the Mongols had pretty much everyone in this single battle.
Its a great story to start out with! Can go in any number of directions.
High scores in Animal and Corpus. He has quite a few followers that are human, but from being in contact with strong magics since early childhood (aura 6+?) do not suffer much problems interacting with him. Easy to justify since 60 years past apprenticeship means that sevveral generations of the dudes might have been in contact with your magus. THosre can be shapeshifters, or just have crazy levels of Animal Ken and Animal Handling.Those are the "leaders". Then we have the "grogs", that are animals and minor shapeshifters. THose follow the lead of the king of the wood (the magus) and fight for him.
An army of humans. Can be done as well. The magus can be a distant figure. They can see him as an avatar of their God(s) since he is much more powerful than anything they have seen in their lives. Some steppe people come to the fore in here, so you can have interesting running battles with the mongols. Light horse power!
A sect of assassins as you mentioned. More like a special ops team than a proper army. Go, kill target, retreat. This is the part that will have the less problems from an hermetic point of view, but blatant fighting is not a really big option here, and carving a domain is much more difficult of you take this path, since you asre basically operating from the shadows.
Combine all the above. Assasin shapeshifters (sparrows that shapeshift, kill and fly away?) that form the special ops in a larger community thyat sees the magus as their God. They also have more mundane forces (normal cavalry and spearmen) and some of them are "combat" shapeshifters (bears, boars, a pack of wolves....). Novgorod is big, so such a community could easily exist in a somewhat isolated valley, and now they are expanding. Think fremen from Arrakis (Dune) on a mission to bring the word of the magus forward.
Whatever you do, let us know how it comes out!
Xavi took it in the direction I next wanted to talk about.
The trick here is that for entirely orthogonal reasons from "personal army", I wanted to do it with the Path of Strife which hands out the Blatant Gift, firing a massive hole in the magus' ability to maintain a large Agency. So, figuring I'm clever enough to keep all the balls in the air I want to keep the Path of Strife/Blatant Gift and find a workaround.
I'm leaning towards the covert assassin group, and then having a path of Initiation for his Mystery Cult... where the 1st Initiation is Unaffected by the Gift.
My other option was to grant the Major virtue of Transformed Human to make them part of the Magic Realm and similarly unaffected. The problem with this approach is (I think) that I'd have to self-initiate in the experimental phase in order to get the Script... and end up as a Magic Might 0 chump. If I can get this to work without having to take part in it then it's much more palatable, but Initiating a Major Virtue sight-unseen is pretty tough.
I was thinking about getting the Greater Dream Grimoire and just creating an army from his self-directed dreams.
Speaking of which... is anyone else surprised at the RoP:M virtue that allows you to use Long-term Fatigue as vis in a form? Doesn't that just seem crazily useful, too useful to NOT take?
Well, the trick is to simply avoid personal contact - and there are enough Mentem, Imagonem and other spells (or items) to do that easily enough, beyond the mundane letter drops/etc. Your mage becomes, literally, the man behind the curtain, the faceless voice, the unseen hand. There may be one or two high level trusted minions who he could occasionally deign to talk directly to, but (imo) it would be far better on several levels (IC, OOC, and meta-) if he maintained a completely intact veil of mystery and distance.
Fear and doubt, loyalty and reward, all in equal portions. 8)
(Hell, he could be one of those Tytalus leper magi - doesn't have to ever meet a one of them, just get the job done!)