Character Creation for Vortigern (OOC)

To which the asnwer I gave was...

Not that in all likelyhoods, teaching for mundane abilities (such as Artes Liberales) would likely not be 1-to-1. There are always apprentices (or even other magi) that need to be taught. If such a class is taught at all on that specific season.

And I agree that Dureenmar is not known for its many mundane teachers, nor are they original thinkers. A little something to do with a powerful aura warping the mundanes, I believe... :wink:

Hey @Vortigern I'm going to send you a few revisions to Skepsi. I'd post it myself, but I'm lazy and don't want to deal with reformatting when you've already done all the work.

Anyhow, good call on the social skills folks, he's picked up a few.

Funny how the abstracting concept has only come up to nullify potential profit and not any manner of expenditure.

I think rolling this into his reward from Cumaean Temple, the adventure immediately preceding his departure to Durenmar and then Tugurium is reasonable.

I haven't been following the other creation threads as closely as I would like. I'll use the Com 2 + Teaching 5 numbers as indicated.

We can have a detailed sheet for Skepsi creation? Its kinda hard to follow it with just the finished one.

For example, it has 10 different powers, yet if we look at the Qualities, it has 3 Lesser powers and 9 personal ones. So i should have 12 powers in total, not 10.
And personal powers cannot go above 25, yet it has some above 40. How it works? To my understanding, Improved Powers cannot be used to increase the magnitude of Lesser Powers.

About abilities (and characteristics), at this point its very hard to track which comes from being an animal, which from his default pool (he is summer right?) and which from the character development. And how he has access to Faerie Lore? Also, at least one Specialization seems weird (crows doesnt live in forests, but in plains. I'd say that the Specialization in awareness have sense for crows even if its not RAW).

Are Heroic Virtues accesible for free? Without any prerrequisite?

And, whats its Skepsi? I mean, i know that its a crow because i remember that, but its not written anywhere on the sheet ^^! It doesnt even have any basic animal qualities noted. In HoH: Mystery Cults, pg.41 you can find the list for a Crow.

And you could also add his past story, since its a companion level familiar id say that its specially important.

From what i can tell, by RAW the base Crow should be something like this (taking the characteristics of a Predatory Bird as the base, since crows are both predators and scavengers):

Size: -4


  • Int: 0
  • Per: +3
  • Pre: -5
  • Com: +1
  • Str: -8
  • Sta: 0
  • Dex: +1
  • Qik: +7

Virtues & Flaws
Second Sight, Visions

Natural Qualities
Accomplished Flyer, Crafty, Keen Eyesight, Mimicry, Vocal


  • Athletics 5 (flying)
  • Awareness 4 (food)
  • Brawl 2 (dodging)
  • Language 3 (whatever)
  • Music 3 (sing?)
  • Second Sight 1 (whatever)
  • Survival 3 (plains)

Those abilities are 230 xp points in total.

I'll see what I can do for you, but it's gonna be a little bit!

Not quite.

You can do the same thing with Lesser too. That and you can use leftover levels in the same way.

Seems like you're moving forward with the assumption that magical creatures get their animal stuff for free? That's not quite correct either unfortunately. Trust me, I wish it was.

So no qualities or anything, you're starting with an entirely blank slate, just as you would with any companion.

Caught that myself, I'm in the process of updating his virtues and flaws, but he's picking up Arcane Lore, so don't worry there!

We've seen critters with Gift of Tongues before, IE Owl of Virtue, so the precedent is there? Magical things get to bend the rules a little bit, so I never questioned it. But if it's something that you feel strongly about, we can certainly have that conversation.

Also on the to do list! But again, hectic life what with the end of the school year/writing report cards/parent teacher conferences etc.

Ohh, now i see that, ty! :smiley:

Well, at least the Natural Qualities are free. The other things arent, but are mandatory ^^! First its an animal, then its magical.


An effective level of 6 at all languages? I'd say that its convenient enough to at least think a lil about it ^^!

Maybe its something that Owls of Virtue have by default because their very own skull gives that Virtue when Enriched. But it seems more like an weird exception than a rule...


Not at all. It's a reflex from the fact that there was no expenditure for the abstraction to nullify. Had you suggested Vorsutus was going to serve Durenmar for 1 year in exchange for a season of teaching for him and Skepsi, be sure I'd have questioned it.

RoP:M clearly states that humans with magical might may take heroic virtues. For magical animals, while there is no clear statement, they are in the "Common Virtues and Flaws" list. And there is the precedent of the Owl of Virtue, as Nithyn said.
Skepsi is being designed as a companion, so I don't think there is much trouble?

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Unfortunately I don't think so. It says that you can use the mundane critters as a guideline, but that you're creating them like anything else with might. That and if you look at any of the example animals in RoP:M, none of them have Natural Qualities.

My thoughts as well, but hey, always happy to talk about things!

These might be taken directly from the Book of Mundane Beasts appendix, or generated using the rules in the Bjornaer chapter of Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults (pages 38-43), but note that animals created using those rules have free Qualities that are used to determine their base Characteristics and other natural features, and that these are different from the Magic Qualities described below.
All magic animals have innate equivalents of the No Hands and Mute Flaws. In addition, mundane animals usually have several minimum Ability scores and required Virtues and Flaws, and these are required for magic animal characters based on those animals as well, except that any Personality Flaws are optional β€” the player can take them as Personality Traits instead.

Moreover, any magical creature must have a "true form". Thats not different for animals. If you remove the magical features to Skepsi, what do you have?
Right now that familiar could be literally anything, because apart from size have 0% relation with the original animal. Not even the base characteristics. Thats not a crow, thats a buff stick :frowning:

Rereading about it in the book, that "Common Virtues and Flaws" list its for Animals of Virtue. And Animals of Virtue have their own requisites that arent acomplished here :open_mouth:

You missed the part right before this that says, " To generate a magic animal character, you can use the stats of the mundane animal as a character guide". Can, not must.

Usually, not always is the operative word there my friend! And remember that Virtues and Flaws are very different than Natural Qualities.

And again, never once in anything in RoP:M when it discusses animals, do we see them double dipping by getting Natural Qualities. It would be like a third round of bonuses (Virtues and Magical Qualities being the other two).

The character minus any Magical Qualities? Again, the better way to think of a creature of might is quite literally just a normal companion, that you then add Magical Qualities to.

And that's something that a troupe can adjudicate if they're worried. That's literally how our open creation process works, no? Proposals are made, feedback is sought, and changes are made if necessary.

Regarding Natural Qualities and Magic Animals:

I am in favor of letting Magic Animals get the Natural Qualities of their animal form, with a caveat, that already appears in RoP:M. These qualities do not change their Characteristics, or grant them free Abilities.
As for why include them if that's the case?

  1. Because then we can see what the base stats should be.
  2. Some Qualities confer no Characteristic or new Ability, but they do give you some other boost to ability checks, or some other advantage, like poison.

Let's take an eagle as an example, if we disallow natural qualities, then a Magical Eagle, will have lesser eyesight than it's mundane counterpart. The Mundane Eagle gets the Keen Sight Quality, and the Keen Sight Virtue, while the Magical Eagle will just get the Keen Sight Virtue...

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So, you are telling us that a magical animal doesnt need to be an animal just because you cherrypicked that word? Like, the "animal" part from "magical animal" its totally optional?
Its also mentioned, and a lot more times, that a magical animal (and any magical being) its just a perfected version of its mundane counterpart.
What if we suddenly stopped to use RoP:M? Then suddenly all the familiars should be totally animals because that "can" doesnt exist in the base game.

But you ignore all that just because a sentence in RoP:M says that: you "can" use the rules to make animals. Why dont make Skepsi a Toyota then? There is no rule that tells you that it cannot be.

Not all the animals have all of those. Thus the wording usually.

Yes they are. It gets balanced because of the characteristics (animals usually have very low Presence and Communication) and the required Virtues & Flaws.

Yeah, thats the issue (to me, at least), you just did a human companion with an animal reskin. Like, literally, if we wanted to change Skepsi to be a magical human, we should just need to change its size and we are done.

Yet you didnt make any proposal. There was nothing "open" about it. You just ruled out like that without asking first and keep it under a wrap, and if i hadnt taken the time to look at it this conversation wouldnt be happening :frowning:
At first i though that you just did an honest mistake, but now i cant help but wonder how somebody cant find weird at all that an animal doesnt need to be an animal at all just because a single word, to the point to not even asking about or pointing it. Like, people can decide whatever about how rule it, and thats ok, but you seriously didnt found it weird at all to ask first? Not even a bit?

In this case, he doesnt even want to pick that Virtue, so its even worse :frowning:

Btw, to me, that "can" have another completely different sense.
I read it like:
You CAN use the rules to make animals, but if you dont have HoH:Mystery Cults (where the rules are) or you dont want for whatever reason (you find it hard, the animal that you want to make its weird, imaginary or whatever) you can just houserule the characteristics, traits, etc. of the animal as you (and the SG) find that it has sense.

Re: Magic Creature Rules

The rules in RoP:M seem pretty explicit that Magic Animals don't get the Qualities that Mundane Beasts do, and that the mundane profile of a given creature type should at most serve as a set of minimum requirements used (interpretively I believe) to guide making a mechanically accurate magical version of the creature. But all the qualities etc. that the creature has are magic qualities, not mundane qualities, and come from the budget based on its Might score.

We have several areas in the rules (already variously quoted above) that appear to make this clear. Explicitly we are warned that the magic qualities and mundane qualities are not the same, and then the process for building the characters delineates doing so only with the magical character process and resources. We also have character creation done in the example for a Magic Animal that doesn't mention using the mundane qualities at all, instead following that process. And then we also have all of the example/RAW builds in RoP: M for Magic Animals that also do not make use of them in their stat blocks for creatures.

Contrastingly ... I really see no evidence on the "for" side this equation?

It seems abundantly clear that RAW does not intend for these two streams to be crossed, if you will.

don't cross the streams

Re: Gaxxian

I'm not certain if it is your intent or not, or if perhaps there is some miscommunication occurring, however your post could I think easily be read as having a rather aggressive and/or accusatory tone. Which I think previously we have managed resolve our disagreements mostly rather amicably. So I want to think that there is some miscommunication on this, since it seems out of place otherwise.

I'll confess I'm intensely distracted these days (life!) so I am very behind on some of the other character threads. But I don't see anything in this thread that I think we should be getting heated over, if that is the case?

Re: Skepsi

This has made me per force read up on the magic creature building rules (perhaps I should have done that more anyway?) and that has been beneficial. I think I'm going to go back through Skepsi a bit just to be sure but overall I'm pretty confident he was done accurately.

No, its just that the book does a very poor job showing us the full process of providing full magical animal sheet examples and making it clear that the natural Qualities are there, but just not written in the example sheets (and you can find several errors through the book that makes everything even harder to understand -__-).
An example about it can be seen in the pg. 70, the "Cat Character Template". There you can not only see the qualities duly listed, but there is also the following sentence:

The natural Qualities of magical animals are not usually recorded on their character sheets.

Why they took that approach? :person_shrugging: I suppose that because a lot of them are just there to calculate the base characteristics and abilities of the animal, and once done they arent really needed more.
But in fact, even in the Warped Animals examples you can see that the natural Qualities are omitted. And those are just Warped, not even Magical.

Then, reading the text from magical character creation we can read (pg. 32):

These might be taken directly from the Book of Mundane Beasts appendix, or generated using the rules in the Bjornaer chapter of Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults (pages 38-43), but note that animals created using those rules have free Qualities that are used to determine their base Characteristics and other natural features, and that these are different from the Magic Qualities described below.

In no place says that you must remove them. And it tells you that these are Free.

Then during the Animals of Virtue (notice that Animals of Virtue are different than regular Magical Animals, they are special and they have requisites, they are also the only way to pick Mythic Virtues btw. Is Skepsi an Animal of Virtue?) creation, at the Finishing Touches part (pg. 56):

Animals typically have natural weapons in the shape of teeth, claws, or horns; and may have a Protection score provided by their thick hide, fur, or scales. Additionally, some animals have bonuses to certain types of rolls β€” goats are good at climbing, cats are good at jumping, and so forth. In Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults (pages 40–43), these are called Qualities and are natural properties of the animal rather than the Magical Qualities discussed in Chapter 4. You should consult with your storyguide for details of all these final touches.

Again, it doesnt tell: just ignore/remove those. And, being Animals of Virtue (so, special), it just tell you to "ask to the SG".

I can also point at the process of a Magical Character Creation at the pg. 30.
First Step, the Concept:

The first step of making a magic character is determining its essential qualities and shape β€” what is often referred to as its β€œtrue form.” This is basically what the character would be if it were not magical, though it may have natural advantages that make it especially suited to the realm of Magic. True form determines a great deal about the character, including its appearance and instinctive behavior, and also determines the character’s initial Characteristics scores and starting Size.

Ofc, that would include the base Virtues & Flaws and the base abilities from the mundane animal (and those, unlike the natural Qualities, arent Free).

Show me the Skepsi concept, removing the magical features and leaving only the mundane part, and let's see how much of a "crow" he is in his core :frowning:

Just to clarify i want to highlight:
In general, i will always concur that the book does a poor job explaining what to do with the base features of the animal (and its specially eggregious that it fails to do so in the case of animals since nearly all magis will need to make use of the rules to make one earlier or later).
But what it does is telling again and again that magical beings are improved regular beings. So, as in the Itzhak's example, an eagle doesnt loose his mighty sight just because its magical.

I'm sorry if my tone was upsetting to anyone, but i will not deny that i was frustrated :frowning: (perhaps my lack of words and set phrases makes me sound more harsh than intended too).
I will explain why i felt like that (big wall ahead... i dont know how to summarize -__- sorry).

As i said from day one when first i introduced myself, i already had my burden with powergamers (understanding it as players that tries to push the power of their characters over the top) each time that i've tried to play ArM in the past. And its not like powergaming its bad in itself, some people just like to play like that and its great... if everybody its on the same page.
And when you mix powergaming and lack of transparence, then the issues arise. You will find mixed the concepts of "Minmax, the Total Lord of Chaos" with "Tom, the cook". And since players and SG alike, rarely plays the detective with character sheets, usually that will be discovered later in-game, and that would lead to eigher the player of "Minmax" arguing that "you accepted my character long time ago, its not fair" or the player of "Tom" asking what can he do in that game (in my play group, im Tom the 99% of time :man_facepalming:).

So, why "frustrated"? Because i've seen the hints a lot of times in my life to be worried about those 2 points here: powergaming and lack of transparence.

Why i am talking about powergaming in this context? Well, even if the book is weirdly written, logic and the narrative coherence should prevail... unless you are searching for something else.

Remember, the assumption here its not like "I can use X to improve Y", but like "I can make a magical animal that is not an animal". Its on a whole new level of interpretation. And understanding the rules as that, means more characteristics, ability points and virtues to play around with it since you dont need to constraint yourself into the animal base concept.

That, and that all the arguments given to defend that position are "technicalities" and "juggling" with words, makes all of this closer to searching for exploits or loopholes than really thinking into any roleplay/coherence aspect, if you ask me. And since that book has a lot of errors, those loopholes are awaiting to be found on the wild :person_shrugging:

And again, powergaming its not bad per se. And also you can absolutely and completely believe in your interpretation of the rules and defend it tooth and nail. Thats OK in my book even if its completely oposed to my view.

But this sentence made me jump in alert:

You can defend your position on the rules as much as you want, but you cannot defend that the process creation for Skepsi wasnt opaque at best. Again, if i didnt took the time to analyze the sheet, we wouldnt be talking about this, like... at all.
Not just proposals weren't made, but we dont have anything about the process creation of that familiar up until now that you (Vortigern) uploaded the sheet into your character thread. It just "poped" out of from nowhere in a thread where only finished things should be.

Thats what made me upset, worried and frustrated. Because i'm seeing hints of a search for powergaming but i dont feel like being its backed the open approach that it deserves.

To clarify, if people wants to accept the reading of the rules and Skepsi as he is right now, i will not agree but i will be ok with it. Thats not my issue at all but the search of fairness.

So, lets wait for more opinions. I think that maybe i've scared the people with my tone :frowning: Sorry again for it if thats the case.

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Cats are the exception, not the rule as far as that goes. As far as I can tell, it's the only time that qualities are mentioned on a sheet?

Again, you seem to be forgetting the sentence before that, which puts the whole thing in context.

To me that pretty clearly changes the meaning of your quote. First, a guide is just that, a guide, not a requirement. Second, when added, the bolded section comes across as a warning that natural qualities do things like add to characteristics that should be taken into account when using said guide, as it will throw off character creation.

Nor does it say that you get them.

The only real requisite is for them to have an essential virtue, a thing that pretty much every example ignores (the irony isn't lost on me). But yes, yes he is.

Ultimately this means it's up to @Arthur to adjudicate in the case of Animals of Virtue, but as you say, they're a special case.

Pretty sure this is the sort of thing that @Vortigern was talking about in regards to tone mate. But to your point, it's quite easy to do. Just look at his virtues/flaws and abilities and you get a pretty solid idea (more or less). That said, ultimately it's impossible to separate Skepsi from his magical side entirely, as that's just not how characters are built in Ars. This isn't nWoD or something where we're stacking templates on top of one another.

I won't disagree that Ars is often a mess of unclear rules and conflicting examples mate! But to your point about the eagle, that's not necessarily true. An eagle made of wind very well might not have the sight afforded to his mundane counterpart, but an eagle of virtue would likely have a personal power that would give it sight on a magnitude that its mundane counterpart could never dream of.

Uh, I posted the basics of a sheet almost four weeks ago now and literally asked for feedback? In this exact thread.

The irony here is that giving Skepsi and other familiars natural qualities actually boosts the power level, not reduces it, so your argument just doesn't make a lick of sense to me?

I think we've got a few folks who aren't particularly active on the weekend, so I guess we'll see on Monday!

Because they are the only example of a "base magical animal" that exists in the book.
Also, im pretty sure that you read my text in diagonal, because i explained why the Qualities arent written :frowning:
I took my time to write it, so please, take a lil more time to read it and you will see it.

Again, you are defending that an animal doesnt need to be an animal by rules. Its that correct? :frowning:

Nor does it say that a magical animal cannot be a Toyota ^^!

Yeah, the book is very weird. Yet the essential virtue its not there. And also:

Your storyguide will also indicate whether there are any Virtues and Flaws that are intrinsic to the species to which you belong, and you must buy these with your normal allotment of Virtues and Flaws.

You must pick the intrinsic Virtues and Flaws intrinsic to the species. As i said. Which ones? I've prepared a crow example a few posts above, if not, you can ask to Arthur.

I will be honest, that one its the last sentence that i would expect to be chosen as an example to use bad tone :open_mouth:

I looked at them AND at the characteristics AND at the abilities. And it lacks a lot to be a crow to my taste. The flaw about the shinies is cute, i will concede that, but it could be a dwarf dragon too.

Also, if you cannot separate Skepsi from his magical side, then you did it wrong. Thats also mentioned into my previous post about the why, and its one of the few things well explained into the rules. Please, read it more slowly :frowning:

A power is another thing. But your "eagle of virtue" would still be a worse regular eagle into the point that made famous eagles.... their sight :frowning: That contradicts directly what its written about animals of virtue.

True! Sadly thats not the point that i was trying to make. You've never said: "hey! it seems like magical animals doesnt need to follow the animal rules. I will do it like that, ok?" or like... nothing.
Pointing to a half-finished (you still need to add virtues, right?) sheet that doesnt explain the steps that you followed to make, hardly counts as a proposal for a rule interpretation, since you've never mentioned that rule or that interpretation never before.

A lot of natural Qualities (and making an animal, in general) gives you some restriction to characteristics and abilities points (then you can improve them because its magical, but, like, the base).
Looking at the crow example that i did, ignoring the mundane animal version you freed 85 exp points in abilities, gave you 7 points extra in characteristics (absolutes, not by cost) and also increased your freedom with Virtues&Flaws.

Also, my posts are very long, like... stupidly long. Yet you are always answering just to a very few parts of them.
I understant that i make my posts very long, so i will make a point list to make it easier:

  • What do you think about the "true/essential form" thats mentioned into the book?
  • Do you think that the animal word into magical animal its optional?
  • Warped animals aren't animals too? I ask because they dont have natural Qualities noted.
  • What do you thing about the first step to follow when you create a magic character?
  • Are magical beings improved mundane things or they are completely detached from them?
  • Can an animal of virtue have worse statistics than his mundane counterpart? On something that makes the animal memorable?
  • From the sheet that you did. Which parts do you consider that define the crow essential nature of Skepsi?

Alrighty, given Arthur's clarity on the matter, here's step one for Skepsi. I've more or less grabbed the Raven of Virtue and combined it with what we've got in HoH:MC.


Int +1
Per +2
Pre -2
Com 0
Str –7
Sta 0
Dex +1
Qik +5

Size: –4

Virtues and Flaws:

Keen Vision
Second Sight

Avaricious (Shiny Things)


Athletics 5 (Flying)
Awareness 4 (Shiny Things)
Brawl 2 (Dodging)
Premonitions 1 (Murders)
Old Norse 3 (Native)*
Music 3 (Bird Songs)
Second Sight 1 (Illusions)
Survival 3 (Plains)


I've dropped the Weak Characteristics flaw from the Raven of Virtue from RoP:M as it made zero sense to me. As such I'll need to go back and adjust his stats slightly. Probably take Perception to 3? I've also swapped out Compulsion (Steal Shiny Objects) for Avaricious (Shinies!). It's in the exact same vein, but since he's not a grog, he's allowed to take a major personality trait.

Any questions/comments/concerns so far?

First question: Is Skepsi a Raven of Virtue before it is befriended by Belisarius?

Is so, then just use the unmodified stats for given for the Raven of Virtue in RoP:M p.62.

If not, then we need the stats for the mundane raven. It would have Cunning instead of Int. And I would propose the following V&F: Keen Vision, Compulsion (steal shiny objects), Weak Characteristics.

Avaricious and Compulsion are not the same thing. A mundane bird is unlikely to have Avaricious.

Second Sight and Premonitions are not traits of the mundane bird.

"It made zero sense to me" isn't a good justification for removing a flaw. :sunglasses:

Premonitions not, but Second Sight is a default Virtue for a mundane crow (and ravens are just bigger crows after all).

It would be good to know the natural qualities too. You could do a separated list, so they dont mix later with the Magical ones.

The base abilities are 230 xp points in total (Ath 75 + Awa 50 + Bra 15 + ONor 30 + Mus 30 + Sur 30 = 230).

Other than that and Arthur's comments, im seeing it perfect :slight_smile:

*Vorsutus. It's his companion, I'm just playing it!

That's what I was already using, yes.

That's fine, as long as swapping it out in the future isn't going to be problematic.

Second Sight is actually! At least according to HoH:MC. And I meant Visions, not Premonitions, my fault for confusing the two for a second. Premonitions is from RoP:M.

I'd turn that back around and ask for the justification for that flaw, as I can't find a logical one. But it's hardly the hill I want to die on.

Anyhow, gonna move on here in a bit.