Character Development: Magus Domnall of the Younger House (Player: Nithyn)

Take uhhh like five? But with feeling this time! Seriously though, this is more or less where my head is at currently.

Valgaldrar*
Voice of the Dead*
Major Magical Focus (Necromancy)
Magic Spirit Blood (Orphan Born) - Second Sight
Puissant Valgaldrar
Cautious with Leadership
Inoffensive to Undead
Alluring to Undead
Social Contacts (Ghosts)
Skilled Parens

Necessary Condition (Draw Runes)*
Blatant Gift
Supernatural Nuisance (Ghosts)
Hatred (Mundane Society) (Major)
Infamous (Necromancer)

Yes, technically Voice of the Dead isn't a Hermetic, but it just feels extremely apt for his tradition to have. That and I've always personally played fairly fast and loose with house virtues, as they can often be unnecessarily restrictive at times. Looking at you Tremere. If this proves a problem for anyone, please feel free to pipe up and we can discuss?

Borrowed a bit from @Vortigern 's former background here as it felt rather apt. Also, the way I see Nuisance working is that given that he's something of a spirit magnet as it were. So lots of ghosts constantly coming to him with their problems and wanting his help, etc. Extremely easy story hook to go tugging on, which is always fun. Seemed better than making it a single entity. Oh and I figure that the Necessary Condition doesn't mean that he has to literally inscribe the runes (though he very well might), simply drawing them in the air as a part of casting should be sufficient. That said, it does mean that he can't cast without gestures.

Anyhow, as always, questions, comments, concerns, and feedback of all stripes is more than welcome! Encouraged even!

It looks like your intent is for an Ex Misc Tradition with the following basic structure

Major Supernatural: Valgaldrar
Minor Hermetic: Voice of the Dead (Not hermetic...)
Major Hermetic Flaw: Necessary Condition (Runes)

Really I don't see a problem with this as a basic virtue structure for the Tradition itself. It seems ... very much to do what it does well.

Since this is a new Tradition we would be making up give us a few paragraphs of fluff about it just to ground us with in it the setting. What is their name? Where are they from and what is their cultural origin? What kind of magic did they used to do vs what do they do now? What is the philosophy and school of thought that they teach internally? Where are they found now? Do they have leanings in the Order? When did they join the Order and whose side were they on in the different Hermetic conflicts etc. (I could go on...)

Theoretically I could see Inoffensive as a near-Hermetic Virtue, too. If Gentle Gift is Hermetic, why aren't the Inoffensive variants?

I don't think you are wrong. Voice of the Dead to me seems more ... uniquely themed for the Tradition to possess. Making it even better as a Tradition at doing what it does. Inoffensive feels more mechanical in that slot to me though, even if rules-wise it would perhaps be more apt.

Agreed.

Yep, I'll be digging into things a bit as I move forward with chargen, so don't worry.

Very short little blurb I tossed together, purely designed to give just a vague overview of the tradition.

In the annals of the Hibernian Tribunal, amidst the whispers of ancient spirits and the shadows of forgotten battles, exists Draugrsj√°lfr, the Norse Necromancers of House ex Miscellanea. Forged in the crucible of the Viking invasions that swept across the shores of Ireland and Scotland in the late 8th and early 9th centuries, this enigmatic lineage found sanctuary in the verdant landscapes of the isles, mastering the arts of communing with the dead and commanding the fearsome draugr.

Within the insular confines of the Hibernian and Loch Leglean tribunals, the Draugrsj√°lfr's presence is scarcely felt, their numbers too few to grant them any real measure of influence. This seems to suit them just fine as they seemingly prefer the solitude of their ancient rites over the twisted wordplay of Hermetic politics, eschewing the limelight, content as they are to dwell in the shadows of relative obscurity.

During the Schism War however, the Draugrsj√°lfr took center stage as they were among the first to take the fight to the Diedne upon the onset of hostilities. Their enmity for the house well known, the undead hosts of the Draugrsj√°lfr clashed with the otherworldly Tuaha De allies of the Diedne time and again. Despite the pivotal role they played in driving the Diedne out of the tribunal, rumors persist to this day about how the Draugrsj√°lfr might have enslaved the ghosts of fallen magi, both Diedne and otherwise. Though nothing can be proven, these whispers add to the grim reputation of the tradition, fostering a general air of distrust among many other magi.

Today, as whispers of old conflicts fade, and new ones darken the tribunal's horizon, the Draugrsj√°lfr remain steadfastly pro-Hibernian in the larger Hibernian/Continental conflict, guarding the independence and sovereignty of their adopted homeland against the encroachment of outside influences.

Figured I'd move it here since it's a direct question about my character.

What do we think the Major Magical Focus of Necromancy covers besides ghosts? Spells to preserve and animate bodies of humans and animals obviously. Anything else?

Just feels like a focus where a lot of people could have some wildly different expectations, so I wanted to check.

I will expound a bit in the interest of getting as much as I can think of explicitly covered and then all of you can feel free to chime in, by all means.

Obvious Inclusions

  • Animating/Controlling/Moving, Preserving, Creating, Altering/Transmuting, Detecting/Analyzing, and Destroying Dead Matter of the Forms Corpus and Animal
  • Summoning, Controlling, and Binding etc. Ghosts, but not other types of Airy Spirits etc.
  • Spells specifically to attack, modify/transmute, destroy, or create genuine Undead.

Less Obvious Inclusions & Potential Edge Cases

  • Direct Wounding (Inflict Wound Type X) using Corpus or Animal.
    -- If the concept of mental wounds is applied, potentially also Mentem wounding is possible but doesn't feel like Necromancy to me.
  • Inflicting Disease on Corpus & Animal suitable Targets

Exclusions

  • Healing Wounds & Curing Disease
  • Analyzing the state of a living target using Corpus or Animal (InCo or InAn for health state etc.)

I would not include direct direct wounding nor inflicting disease, unless they are directed at the undead.

I would include (not mentioned in prior post, but mentioned by Nithyn earlier) creating corpses and bones, though. Something like Piercing Shaft of Bone (Cr(Re)Co) sounds quite appropriate to me as a direct attack using "necromancy."

I think the biggest problem that I have is that after looking at things, it doesn't quite feel like a major? But that's probably because I don't view foci as something that improve your magic versus a target, but rather improve a specific type of magic. As written, the Necromancy focus "applies to Corpus and Mentem spells as applied to the bodies and spirits of dead people". That means in theory, the entire range of spells would get the bonus, provided the target is a dead body/ghost, etc. That's just not how I see foci working, but hey.

Think I'm going to go take a second and see how many of the guidelines are explicitly for what I would consider Necromancy. Just curious to see what's out there.

Edit: Here's what I've found just off the top of my head, I'm sure there's more that I'm missing, but I can't imagine I'm missing too much?

CrCo 5 Create a Corpse*
InCo 5 Speak with a Corpse*
ReCo 10 Animate a Corpse*

*In theory all of these would apply to Animal too.

MuMe 25 Solidify Spirit/Mind (Applies to all spirits though, not just ghosts. Plus minds)
ReMe 5 Control Spirit (All spirits, not just ghosts)
ReMe 15 Summon Ghost

Oh and @callen I agree on the bone attack spell, I've been mulling similar enough spells myself actually. And not at all because I've been playing a bit of Diablo with the kiddo or anything.

I consider "necromancy" to be on the narrower side of Major. I tend to go with a Minor in "corpses" or "ghosts" or similar to be better at a subset.

That is the essence behind why a Focus that covers your Familiar applies to everything you put in the bond: the Familiar is either the target or is enabled to control some effect. That's also why Foci apply when enchanting things. These are all consistent with that quote. Of course, things can be house-ruled.

Yes, I would agree with those explicit guidelines.

Usually I do the same, but I figured I'd try something a little different and go with a more generalist necromancer. Rethinking that though, since I'm giving up quite a bit for a focus that I'm not in love with.

I did consider tweaking the name of the focus slightly, to something like Death Magic. Feels like that would cover the explicit guidelines I've given above, plus what @Vortigern was talking about with some of the wounding/disease stuff. Helps me avoid the whole target situation as a focus too. Granted I'm not sure I want to do that, but hey.

Just a lot to think about is all.

I prefer magical foci be defined in terms of the magical theme, though sometimes (often) this is difficult. I do not like for foci to be defined in terms of the target in general. For example "Swords" is a canon focus I dislike. I would prefer to see a Focus defined as "Spirit Magic" over what many people would see as an equivalent focus in "Spirits". Though I don't concede they are equivalent.

Where this isn't possible I prefer definitions in terms of effects and/or guidelines, again over that of a target.

Re: Necromancy

My list was drawn up with that conception in mind, and seeing Necromancy as kind of akin to or at least also including "Death Magic" as a category/sub-set of what it is. I'd say that still makes it fall roughly within the scope of a Major Focus as described.

The approximate guidance we have for a Major being "smaller than a single Art" and for a Minor being "smaller than a single Technique and Form combination".

Really I think magical foci and their definitions are something RAW kind of struggles and flops/fails with.

This needs specification whether it is a Mundane (I presume?) or Hermetic negative reputation.

You presume correctly.

So I've been giving some thought to two virtues, and I wanted folks' take on things. Again, I tend to take a more liberal approach to RAW in most things, so it's always worth discussion to make sure we're on the same page.

One, technically spirit familiar is a mystery virtue. However it very much feels like something that would be part and parcel of his tradition. Like, I imagine you'd get a very strange look if you didn't have one. So much like I'd never make a Merinita take Cabal Legacy in order to take their house mysteries, I wouldn't do the same here. To me, it would be something so normalized, that it would be part of their apprenticeship.

Second, is Leadworker. I know there had been some discussion about that before, but it feels fitting here. I can't imagine that the Aita cult were the only ones that had this style of magic, and so again, it felt fitting.

Any particular questions, comments, concerns about either?

I'm fine. Be flexible if it makes for something interesting.

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My thoughts precisely, but I always like to ask as some folks can have rather strong opinions. Not that I was particularly worried with this bunch, but better safe than sorry.

So after playing with things a little bit, here's where I'm at now:

Valgaldrar*
Voice of the Dead*
Major Magical Focus (Necromancy)
Magic Spirit Blood (Orphan Born) - Second Sight
Cautious with Leadership
Inoffensive to Undead
Alluring to Undead
Social Contacts (Ghosts)
Spirit Familiar
Leadworker

Necessary Condition (Draw Runes)*
Blatant Gift
Supernatural Nuisance (Ghosts)
Hatred (Mundane Society) (Major)
Infamous (Necromancer) (Mundane)

The only thing I'm still toying with right now is the focus. Given the clarification as to how they apply, it's In this weird spot where it's too big for a minor, but significantly smaller than what a major should cover. It's actually times like this that I wish virtues could be worth two points.

Speaking of, I would argue that a focus in say ghosts or necromancy would apply to creating the familiar bond, but not any effects, unless they were inside the scope of the focus. That said I would carve out an exception for the latter for someone who took a focus in familiars, but I digress.

Given @Vortigern 's approach to foci (see below), I had a question. Could you design Corpus or Animal effects only to work with the dead, thereby getting the bonus from the foci? It feels thematic, and would greatly restrict the spell, so it potentially seems doable? Just curious as to what folks think is all.