[Character Creation Challenge] Master of debate!

This is a character creation challenge for those of you who like "character optimization".
The next Tribunal is close! All your magi are terrible at social interaction (and busy in their labs in any case), and none of your companions belongs to the Order of Hermes. Who will argue the case of your covenant? Why, of course, your friendly Lone Redcap grog, who will humbly bring the arguments of his sodales along with their sigils to the Tribunal!

Design such a grog for maximum "debate potential" at an Hermetic Tribunal, assuming either the Debate rules from HoH:S, or the Complex Debate rules from the Atlas website are used (your choice, but make sure you state it). The Lone Redcap minor Virtue from HoH:TL is obviously a must, but anything else that is strictly "by the rules" is fine. Also, you can assume that magi of the Covenant freely provide the Redcap with any reasonable mundane resource (fine clothing etc.) and low level spell (cast spontaneously with D:Moon, say Aura of Ennobled Presence).

So, using the rules from the Tytalus section, I offer the following horribly min maxed master debater (I have posted them as well in my grog repository):

Grog 47 : Celestin(e), Master debater Redcap
Age: 30


Celestin(e) was born in a Covenant in the normandy Tribunal. They have spent their life molded by the order. Growing up with Tytalus apprentices and listening to their master debate each other, bamboozle each other with word tricks, they followed in these footsteps. Seeing promise in the child, one of the magus suggested to their local Redcap that they would be a worthy member of the Order, despite their lack of Gift. The child was precociously loquacious impressed the Redcap, who took them on the road with them.
They have begun aging prematurely with their joints already stiff and hands shaking. They suspect that the same happened to their father, a member of the Turb who died young after a skirmish with some bandits.


Why are they in the covenant?

They are the local Redcap. While they have little interest in delivering mail, leading to them being estranged from the rest of the House, they are one of the finest debaters in the Tribunal, well paid to represent Covenants when it comes to debates.


Attribute Score
Str -2
Sta -2
Dex -2
Qik -2
Com 3
Pre 3
Int 3
Per 1

Virtues: Lone redcap, Strong Willed , Puissant (Artes Liberales), Well travelled (free)
Flaws: Arthritis, Covenant Upbringing, Palsied hands, Poor Reputation (House Mercere)(free)


Ability Specialisation Type XP Score
French (Storytelling) 0 5
Artes Liberales (Rhetoric) 75 5+2
Folk Ken (Debates) 75 5
Charm (Debates) 75 5
Leadership (Debates) 75 5
Guile (Debates) 75 5
Latin (Hermetic usage) 75 5
Order of Hermes Lore (Famous debaters) 30 3
Area Lore (France) (Geography) 30 3
Ride (Long distances) 30 3
Swim (Rivers) 5 1

Total xp: 545

My reasoning:

  • I have only made them 30 because further xp would only go into the top skills, lead to ageing rolls etc So I find it easier to leave it up to the user to age them further if needed
  • The debate rules are effectively Rock-Paper-Scissors, so one needs to not only be great at the main attack/defence, but also good at the attack/defence which is good against one's weakness.
  • They do need to get around their Tribunal to deliver mail 2 season per year, hence "wasting" xp in skills that are not debate-critical, but useful for getting around.
  • I feel bad about how min/maxed they are, but that was part of the exercise...
  • Strong willed grants an extra point of defence compared to Puissant (relevant art) and works on all defences
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Age: 35
Characteristics: Int +3, Per +3, Str -3, Sta +1, Pre +3, Com +3, Dex -3, Qui -3
Virtues & Flaws: Covenant Upbringing, Legacy, Lone Redcap, Mythic Communication (Great Debater), Small Frame, Strong-Willed, Well-Traveled
(Note: If Strong-Willed doesn't apply, Mythic Intelligence instead.)
Abilities: Artes Liberales 5 (Rhetoric), Charm 5 (Debate), Folk Ken 5 (Debate), Guile 5 (Debate), Intrigue 5 (Debate), Latin 5 (Hermetic), Leadership 5 (Debate)

(out of time right now to check points and possibly raise some scores to 6)

Reasoning: Legacy gives a 3-point positive Reputation, so that's 3 toward resistance. Plus it gives access to Mythic Characteristic. Mythic Communication gives +1 to all three attack methods instead of +2 to a single one for Puissant, plus you reduce a botch die. If Strong-Willed doesn't work on defense, Mythic Intelligence will do the same there. I was a little torn about taking Self-Confident or not, which gives +1 to resistance as well as providing 4 Confidence Points (the Virtue and the extra point acquired through Infernal Blessing), but I opted out, favoring the constant bonuses and botch-die reduction.

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Just one observation: Strong Willed add +3, but to the Resistance total, not to the Defense total.
The latter would be slightly better. That's because if you add to Defense, there's a chance you might stop the Attack outright, and if you do not, any bonus that was added to Defense reduces the Weakening total (in which case, it's no worse than having added the same bonus directly do Resistance).

callen, Legacy is a Story Flaw.
Thus it should not be available to grogs.
Which means you can't leverage it to get Mythic (in fact, I am not aware of anything that allows a grog to take Heroic Virtues/Flaws ... though I would love to be proved wrong).
And ... grogs shold have no Confidence, right?

Oh, shoot, you're right. :frowning:

Looks like I should switch to this:

Age: 35
Characteristics: Int +3, Per +3, Str -3, Sta +1, Pre +3, Com +3, Dex -3, Qui -3
Virtues & Flaws: Covenant Upbringing, Famous (Hermetic Debater), Lone Redcap, Small Frame, Strong-Willed, Vow, Well-Traveled
Abilities: Artes Liberales 5 (Rhetoric), Charm 5 (Debate), Folk Ken 5 (Debate), Guile 5 (Debate), Intrigue 5 (Debate), Latin 5 (Hermetic), Leadership 5 (Debate)

I don't want to spend the time checking the extra points for Abilities. Famous + Strong-Willed gives +7 for resistance, which is pretty solid.

Grog also outlaws Blood of Heroes, which was my first instinct.

How applicable would Pack Leader/Natural Leader be as a Virtue (HoH:MC p 37 and Grogs p 76)? Does presenting a side in a debate count as "suggesting"?

I'd say no. The implication is that you boost the performance of others who already consider you their leader by coordinating/energizing them.

For those who don't consider Faerie Sympathy to make Abilities into Supernatural Abilities, here is some nice abuse arising from it:

Age: 35
Warping Score: 3
Characteristics: Int +3, Per +3, Str -3, Sta +1, Pre +3, Com +3, Dex -3, Qui -3
Virtues & Flaws: Faerie Upbringing, Faerie Sympathy (Debate), Famous (Hermetic Debater), Lone Redcap, Small Frame, Vow, Well-Traveled
Abilities: Artes Liberales 5, Charm 5, Folk Ken 5, Guile 5, Intrigue 5, Latin 5, Leadership 5
Sympathy Traits: Debate +5

Now I get to put a +5 in every one of those 6 relevant Abilities in place of their specializations. Since it's not a Supernatural Ability, I don't need to worry about massive numbers of botch dice in a foreign Aura nor about an Aegis or Parma Magica hampering it.

Much worse abuse if you allow Faerie Sympathy to turn mundane abilities into Supernatural ones:
take Dark Magic instead of Famous, and gain an additional +7 on all your debate rolls at Durenmar.

Age: 25
Characteristics: Int +3, Per +3, Str -3, Sta +1, Pre +3, Com +3, Dex -3, Qui -3
Virtues & Flaws: Baccalaureus, Academic Concentration (Rhetoric), Lone Redcap, Obese, Chaste, Fragile Constituion, Well-Traveled (Free)
Abilities: Artes Liberales 5 (Debate)@, Charm 5 (Debate), Folk Ken 5 (Debate), Guile 5 (Debate), Intrigue 5 (Debate), Latin 5 (Hermetic), Leadership 5 (Debate). Area Lore (local tribunal) 4, Awareness 2 (ambush), Brawl 2 (dodge), Carouse 2 (drink), Code of Hermes 3 (interfering with mundanes), Ride 2 (staying on),Survival 2 (forests)

@ Academic concentration give +3 to rhetoric and -1 to other Artes Liberales.

I've copied Callen's choice of characteristics and debate abilities, but with Baccalaureus giving 90xp to AL and Latin they can be 6 years younger. Academic Concentration is a virtue from A&A p12 which I've only used once before (when making an astrologer NPC) - it gives a slight bonus compared to Puissant AL at the cost of a penalty to all other specialisations. As debate uses AL:Rhetoric, this could just about be worth the cost. Theoretically there may be the odd numerologist or astrologer build that could make good use of this Virtue, but it's a very marginal virtue.

I looked at Savantism, the minor flaw in Grogs - debate uses multiple abilities, so being a savant in a single ability and limited in every other one is bad.

One other idea - Have puissant charm, relic as virtues, and choose pious as your personality flaw. A saint's relic will give you one faith point/day to help boost those rolls, and gives you a bonus to invoking the saint. Pious will give you xp towards devotion in a saint (if you use the rules from The Church). Pray vigorously to your patron saint (hopefully you've chosen a great evangelist or apologist for the faith) for a miracle if you find yourself against terrible odds! Also this means your character is a useful person to take along on adventures where you may be ambushed by something surprising and in need of divine deliverance. I know, this challenge is for a narrow situation but I like to look at angles that make a character more generally playable and interesting to use.

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Oh, I like that darkwing!

Really? What happens when you use a Supernatural Ability within an Aegis of the Hearth against people protected by Parma Magica?

I had looked at that, but I left it out because it's disallowed.

The problem here is that you are assuming Magic Resistance protects you from any use of a Sympathy-enhanced ability. That's not obvious at all, and by analogy with what happens with Faerie pretenses, I would would say not true, in fact. It does highlight another can of worms opened by Sympathy-makes-mundane-abilities-supernatural though.

As for the Aegis, I'd always assumed participating magi get formally invited in (or they start having problems with familiars, pre-existing magic, and such), but I realize people might play it differently.

Backward. You're assuming the Magic Resistance does nothing at all. I asked if that's true for a Supernatural Ability.

You mean because it's a Social status Virtue, and not stated explicitly compatible with Lone Redcap? Given it's specificall compatible with Hermetic Magus, I'd really allow it with both Redcap and Lone Redcap.

Uh, I can't makes sense of that, sorry!