Character design thread


Where do these come from?




My imagination? Core spells? The Spell Guidelines? Two years of lab work?

What do you mean?


I'm confused. Are you using the standard rules for creating experienced magi?




I am not (yet) complaining, but...

After my last post and your response, I realized that I feel uneasy. I would appreciate if you could speak to my misgivings.

You see, once upon a time, in the days when House Tremere had an Infernal Hierarchy score, I stumbled across an advertisement for an online Ars Magica Pbem run by a certain Timothy Ferguson and I decided to play.

As in this game, the guidelines for character creation were quite relaxed, allowing diverse character concepts and power levels. One player decided to create a character who was significantly more powerful than any other, which was not a bad thing in itself, except that the character was a Tremere whose goal was to take over the covenant and take over the Order. All quite reasonable in its own way, except that the game had no room for anything else; this was noticed only when play began. By the time everything was sorted out, the game had already taken heavy damage and did not recover.

I know, I know, you would never do this.

Except that of the players whose characters have secrets, only you decided not to post them.

Except that you have chosen to play a Tytalus who has a compulsion to educate through challenges. (If this is supposed to be fun for people other than yourself, why do you say "Sorry?")

Except that you have chosen a character who will flirt, or worse than flirt with diabolism.

Except that you designed a character with significantly better starting Arts and spells than any of the other PCs.

The result looks very much like a character designed to be an asshole who can flatten any PC who objects. All by the rules.

I've played that saga with Timothy. I know how it turns out. I don't need to do it again.

So please talk to me. This time, I'd like to have things resolved, one way or another, before the game gets going.



My last post expressed confusion- I'm not sure what you meant by "Where do these come from?"

You confuse me, and that makes you uneasy?

(Still waiting on an answer to that, but we'll ignore that and proceed...)

Page 31-32, only rules I know. You can follow the math I posted above - what's the problem? (I didn't look at the other characters much at all, don't like to do that OOC.)

(then why do you bother to bring it up?) :unamused:

What part of that confused you? I didn't detail my talisman yet, either - what's the problem? I said it's coming!

Because it means that he's going to cause problems. Because I'm not playing a boyscout Bonisagus or a peace-in-our-time Jerbiton. Won't be any that folk can't handle, and they'll all be OK'd by the SG. Unlike some Tytalus, who merely set fire to the covenant just to prove it can burn. I'm apologizing because I'm going to run a Tytalus, the same way some might apologize for running a crazy Criamon, or a "shoot first" Flambeau.

None of those are designed to provide "fun" for others, and yet they are acceptable characters, and they will be fun in their own way.

I have??? :open_mouth: Wow, tell me more about my character, please, because I sure didn't get that memo!

(You wanna let us all in on where you got that one, there, Kreskin???)

You know what I really, really don't like? Being accused of a crime that the accuser knows someone else committed. That I haven't even had the chance to have committed.

I also wrote this, in the post you cited:

Why choose to ignore that, and take the rest out of context?

All this has been OK'd with the SG - and I wish that you'd spoken to him, or me, in private before all these public accusations based on your fears and history, and not on me or the character.

I'm sorry you once played in a saga that didn't turn out well, with an asshat who ran an asshole, but this ain't that, and I ain't him.

As for the "size" of the character - 2 characters are fresh out of apprenticeship, and yours... well... I didn't get the memo that I should spend triple digits in points on Area Lore and Profession. I built a mage. Tytalus are going to face problems, they had better be prepared. That's what they do.

I bumped a narrow band of Arts (Techniques to 5! 3 Forms to 6 or above!!!), and had him spend some time in the lab on those - 2 whole years, 3 if you include Spell Points. There's a mage out there with a couple 11's, and the others with comparable Arts.

If no one else opted for those 10 years out of Apprenticeship, of course he's going to be bigger than them. ~25% on Abilities, 25% on Magic Theory, 25% on Arts, 25% in the lab- how is that abusive?

Looking back, as far as I can tell, you spent not a single point or season after apprenticeship on spells! Instead, you chose to spend 150 skill points on making your character a sea captain - and almost 700(!?) skill points total! Well, fine! Not where I would have gone, but great character! I spent those points and seasons on making my character a mage (oddly enough).

What's the beef?


I missed it. Ok.

Exactly. I'm trying to get a handle on the kind of problems you intend him to cause.

I have??? :open_mouth: Wow, tell me more about my character, please, because I sure didn't get that memo!

(You wanna let us all in on where you got that one, there, Kreskin???)
I got what looked to be that memo--from you:

Quote yours, emphasis mine.

I have accused you of nothing. I am telling you about a past experience, that I am concerned about a repeat, that I saw things in your post that raised this concern, and that I want you to assure me that your character won't be similar.

Really, that's it.

I see this as a conversation, not an accusation. It's directed toward you, because you're the one I want an assurance from, not Timothy. It's in public, because I see nothing private about this.

My concern is largely about how you might choose to use the power, which is not itself extreme. You've designed a character who likes to 'challenge people for their own good' and whose magic is a cut above. Not abusively so, but definitely so. In your post, you make various asides with smileys about trouble and diabolism, but I'm not smiling.

We can argue, if you like, but all I need from you is something like, "Hey, my character isn't going to be screwing around with other PCs. I've been in games like that, and I've seen the kind of thing you're worried about, but I'm not going to do that."

I did this by design. When advertising the game, Timothy said that we can make characters of whatever experience we like, noting that he would have an easier time of it with newly Gauntleted characters. So I allocated enough xp to make him a reasonable captain, covering all the bases, but left his magic at Gauntlet levels, to keep him even with the other PCs. He's an effective magus, even efficient in some ways (Charmed Life, 2*Withstand Casting and LLSM is good), but I certainly could have gotten far more bang for the buck had I used SFB differently, rather than to support the concept.

I don't mind your character being advanced. I don't.

I will mind if he's continually challenging everyone to Certamen, using his Mentem spells to screw around with the other PCs, and generally causing trouble within the covenant.

So I'm letting you know my concern, in the open, in the hope you might allay it.

Hopefully, I don't have one.



You claim your pirate will "smuggle, plunder" (your words) - are you planning on breaking the Code regularly, or just when it suits you? You say that "he is willing to compromise his Hermetic power and reputation" (your words) - then, naturally, you're willing to compromise our Hermetic power and reputations as well, right??? Why are you going to do this to us? Why can't you play nice?

I knew a pirate character once that butt raped everything in sight- are you planning on going there with this saga? Your character is the only one with thrown weapons- you going to throw knives at us instead of Certamen? Pirates often turn on their own- do you plan on stabbing us all in our sleep? Why?

I need assurances! :imp:

This is stupid. You do this for every Tytalus character, or is your paranoia just in a manic phase?

Your questions are accusations, and the only thing that keeps them from being insulting is the fact that they are so obviously based on your own imagination and selective reading.

What has stopped you from simply saying, "Ken, this won't be a problem here?"

Instead, you call me paranoid, manic and stupid. Ah, and you suddenly have problems with my character, on the strength of my having raising concerns about yours.

I'm not sure what you hope to achieve by this.



We have crossed a line into direct, personal abuse here.

So, this now stops - and its desn't stop because you two have negotiated your troubles out with each other, which I'd prefered, but simply because I say "This now stops."

Ken's character has my OK to play. Vispilius is fine, with the one exception that all of the other characters have had to put their Dark Secrets on the table. Following that, he's fine.

In a PBeM games, I've discovered through lengthy and costly negotiations, that SGs have to draw a line on some things, and this is it: if you ever start to serious damage each other's enjopyment of the game, I'll boot you out.

Now, you have asked for assurances from each other, and you don't have them from each other, but you havee this ne from me. If either of you goes overbard and gives the other sufficent grief that we no longer find it amusing, an eagle will drop a turtle on your character's head and he'll die.

I know "Rocks fall. You die." is about as immature as it gets, but given the way I currently feel about the fans of the game, given I'm once again having my kidneys handed to me by the entire Berklist for a single sentence in a book published years ago, I don't much care. I'm perfectly willing to misdirect my agression on your characters if you step out of line.

The whistle is blow. This is over. If you act badly toward each other, I'll kill your characters stone dead and boot you, because that's my job.

(Cuchulainshound, the player involved wasn't an asshat. He was a great guy who later commissioned me to write my first book for Ars Magica. I've dedicated books to him in the past. It's just he didn't play the way we played. We were going realistic and he was going high fantasy. Ken's just trying to negotiate a play contract with you.)



Drop off the face of the earth for a few days, and see what happens. So, where do things stand? Do I, ahem, I mean does Pandolfo, get to nag about the risk to your immortal soul, and go around visibly praying for you, or are things going to be all boring and tranquil?


Sure. IC is different to OOC.

Certainly I am happy to be sermonised at, corrected , chastised etc in character. My character might be but I won't be offended

I believe I have, already, addressed the specific concern (which is only part of what bothered me.)

To address the larger issue, I believe that any two characters getting into a heated tete-a-tete is fine for the story, BUT the Players should talk about it ahead of time, or before the heat becomes flame, to agree what is acceptable IC, and that it IS IC and not "assholishness". This can even include Certamen and/or Wizard's Wars- the RP equivalent of "two consenting adults" and all that. :wink:

(Andrew, we may well be talking later...) :laughing:

**raised four arts, added note about Withstand Casting and Lingua Franca
**might need a fifth season

Iohannes (John) filius Marcus in 1221

Apparent Age 28 (due to Strong Faerie Blood; actual 40)


+1 Int +0 Str +0 Pre +0 Dex
+1 Per +3 Stm +1 Com +1 Qik


05/16 Auram
05/15 Creo
05/16 Herbam
09/45 Intellego
05/16 Muto
05/16 Perdo
09/45 Mentem
05/15 Rego


Posing the Silent Question (InMe 20)
Thoughts within Babble (InMe 25)
Aura of Rightful Authority (ReMe 20)
Aura of Trusting Friendship (ReMe 20)
as ARA but inclined to trust
Memory of the Distant Dream (CrMe 20)
Calm the Motion of the Heart (PeMe 15)

Strong Faerie Blood: The blood of some water deity or legendary mariner runs in his veins. +1 to all rolls and totals in and on water.
Charmed Life: Granted by the lineage, to awaken the hero within.
Life-linked Spontaneous Magic
Withstand Casting***4
Withstand Casting, a second time
Inoffensive (Water): Creatures, beings and people associated with the water (fishermen, shipwrights, sailors, Venetians...) are not affected by his Gift.
Deft Mentem
Improved Characteristics

Blatant Magic
Mentor: Parens in particular, lineage in general. There's really only one way to leave a pantheon, and even that's not reliable. A source of help, demands, mythic quests.
Loose Magic
Driven (major personality): To live a seafaring life and maybe be renowned for it. To travel the waters of the world, visit ports, trade, smuggle, plunder, sail beyond the sunset, go where no man has gone before, captain a ship, have a parrot, carouse in dives...
Unimaginative Learner
Major Story Flaw: Jewish, but passes. Every now and then a Dark Secret, sometimes a Higher Purpose, sometimes Dependents....

2 Artes Liberales (astronomy) ***3
4 Latin (OoH dialect)
3 Magic Theory (tbd)
1 Parma Magica (Mentem)
1 Penetration (Mentem)
1 Finesse (precision)

5 German(native, very low :>)
2 Hebrew(as a trade tongue)
3 Lingua Franca(tbd)***5

5 Area Lore: Seas, Major Rivers, Coastline and Ports of Mythic Europe (navigation) ***1

5 Profession:Mariner (captain) ***2
2 Athletics (climbing)
3 Awareness (alertness)
3 Bargain (marine services)
3 Brawl (dodge)
2 Carouse (games of chance)
3 Charm (first impressions)
1 Civil and Canon Law(transactions)
1 Jewish Law (dealings with Gentiles)
1 Code of Hermes (mundanes)
3 Concentration (magic)
1 Dominion Lore (Jewish)
1 Etiquette (maritime)
1 Faerie Lore (water)
3 Folk Ken(mariners)
3 Leadership(mariners)
1 Lore: The Heroes' Conclave Lineage (tbd)
1 Magic Lore (places)
1 Philosophiae (natural philosophy)
3 Second Sight (regiones)
1 Stealth (urban)
1 Survival (coast)
2 Swim (salt water)
2 Thrown (knives)

***1 I can break these 75xp out into many lesser Area Lores, if preferred, for specific seas and major rivers.
***2 Used to sail a boat, navigate, manage a crew (in a technical sense; the interpersonal side is probably Folk Ken or Leadership), make basic ship repairs (anything more requires Craft: Shipwright), foretell the weather (in a mundane way), row, lead rowers, assess the quality of a ship or crew, handle logistics for a journey, deal with inclement whether, and so on.
***3 Latin and Hebrew scripts
***4 Withstand Casting has been allowed to apply to LLSM: "If a magus has this virtue, then whenever he is about to lose Fatigue from casting a spell, he loses 01 less Fatigue level than normal, with a minimum of 01 Fatigue level. A magus may take the Virtue more than once, and withstand 01 Fatigue level for each level of this virtue."
***5 A trade and diplomatic language used throughout the Mediterranean. ... gua_Franca

Do you think maybe this lingu franca is Greek?

It seems the closest I can think of. Arabic might do too, but Greek is everywhere.


This lingua franca is the original, and is called Lingua Franca. It is primarily a Romance language--well, a pidgin based mostly on Romance languages, combining features of Italian, Spanish and Occitan. Greek, Arabic, Persian and other words creep in.



O's got it, LF in this context refers to a creole of all the languages in the trade circuit of that locale. Many share common roots, or are strong in one area. I'd think this would be an LF either of the Med or the Baltic (not both), but a person located in one could certainly know the LF of the other.


Lingua Franca is a pidgin, not a creole. It's not simply a lingua franca, but Lingua Franca, the language that lent its name to the category. (There have been other lingua francas before Lingua Franca; both Aramaic and Greek had been lingua francas at other times and places.) Lingua Franca is the lingua franca throughout the Mediterranean.

I did some reading to try to find the lingua franca of the north in this era, but my research turned up nothing.



(Pssst - you don't need to quote someone's entire post when it's right above yours. Really!)

Your distinction in this case being that you can point to a distinct and complete culture that speaks a creole as its central language, but a pidgeon is between cultures that speak something else primarily? Meh, ok, fine. (In Linguistics, absolutely; in casual speech, few know to split the two that way, nor care. But, technically, yes.)


I find that quoting a sentence or two helps set a context.

There's a bit more to it than that. Pidgins are always simple in structure, streamlined. A pidgin is readily identified as such. A creole is a full-blown language, to the extent that entire linguistic category "creole" has been deprecated and some suggest ought to be eliminated.