Character Development

Here's my second attempt!

Timaios at gauntlet:
Characteristics: Int +2, Per +2, Pre +2, Com +1, Str 0, Sta +1, Dex +1, Qik +1
Size: 0
Age: 25
Decrepitude: 0
Warping Score: 0(0)
Confidence Score 1(3)
Virtues and Flaws: The Gift; Hermetic Magus; Hermetic Prestige (free); Cautious Sorcerer (minor virtue, Hermetic); Gentle Gift (major virtue, Hermetic); Improved Characteristics x2 (minor virtue, General); Deficient Technique: Perdo (Major, Hermetic), Mentor (minor flaw, Hermetic), Optimistic (minor flaw, Personality), Temperate (minor flaw, Personality), Vow: Uphold the Code (minor flaw, Personality)
Personality Traits: Diligent +3, Ethical +2, Orderly +1
Reputations: Quaesitor in Good Standing +3
Combat: Dodging Init +1, attack n/a, defence +1, damage n/a
Soak: 1
Fatigue levels: OK, 0, -1, -3, -5, Unconscious
Wound penalties: -1 (1-5), -3 (6-10), -5 (11-15), Incapacitated (16-20), dead (21+)
Abilities: Artes Liberales 2 (logic) (literate in Greek and Latin), Athletics 1 (climbing), Awareness 1 (searching), Brawl 1 (grappling), Charm 2 (first impressions), Code of Hermes 3 (precedents), Concentration 2 (spell concentration), Dead Language: Latin 5 (Hermetic usage), Etiquette 2 (court), Finesse 1 (precision), Folk Ken 2 (magi), Guile 2 (fast talk), Leadership 2 (inspiration), Living Language: Greek 5 (Thessalonikan dialect), Magic Theory 3 (Intellego), Organization Lore: Order of Hermes 1 (history), Parma Magica 1 (Mentem), Philosophiae 1 (moral philosophy), Teaching 2 (Philosophiae)
Arts: Cr 2 In 5 Mu 0 Pe 2 Re 5 An 0 Aq 7 Au 0 Co 3 He 0 Ig 0 Im 0 Me 8 Te 3 Vi 3 (120 xp spent)
Twilight scars: None yet
Equipment: Brown wool traveling cloak, linen tunic and trousers, quill and ink, personal journal, walking stick
Touch of the Pearls InAq 5
Cloak of the Duck's Feathers ReAq 5
Comfort of the Drenched Traveler PeAq 5
Sight of the Transparent Motive InMe 10
Perception of the Conflicting Motives InMe 15
Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie InMe 20
Ring of Warding Against Spirits ReMe 20
The Call to Slumber ReMe 10
Wielding the Invisible Sling ReTe 10
The Unseen Porter ReTe 10
Scales of the Magical Weight InVi 5
Sense the Nature of Vis InVi 5

Appearance: Timaios has strong features and a well-maintained beard, black hair and a broad nose. He has slightly crooked teeth and a deep voice. His eyes are brown and watchful and he is of average height.
Voting sigil: A token with a horizontal line with a pair of dots just above the line near each end.
Spell sigil: Balance (creations tends to be symmetrical or have clearly-delineated sides, control often hovers on balance points)

Enok originated with a prosperous urban family in Thessaloniki, capital of the similarly-named area of Greece. As a child he was raised in a sociable household with several siblings and he had a generally happy childhood.
As he grew up, Enok attended sporadic schooling to teach him some of the basics of social decorum and the simple principles of arithmetic and logic. During this time he also got into a few scraps with some of the other local youths. He did learn to concentrate on his studies and to act according to social customs, though.
Enok's Gift went unrecognized for several years more than usual due to its gentle nature. Eventually his uncanny hunches drew the attention of a keen-minded magus of the Theban Tribunal, and his Gift was finally recognized at the relatively late age of 10 years old. His Gentle Gift and early education in social skills meant that he was hotly contested for apprenticeship, but instead of training in House Jerbiton, he was traded to a Guernicus who leveraged several favors for the opportunity to teach a child with the ability to blend in with the mundane world - a skill useful in certain phases of investigations, such as following a hunted magus and being able to surreptitiously query people about the quarry.
During his apprenticeship it became clear that Enok had some difficulty with the Perdo Technique; destruction was not well-suited to his methodical, constructive nature. He also proved to be incapable of spontaneous magic without making a determined effort.
Enok did not join the Terran cult of the House, but his training did emphasise the Terram Form. He also studied Mentem and Vim in some degree to aid in Quaesitorial duties, and Aquam due to an odd personal affinity. ("Still waters run deep," apparently.)
Because Enok was raised in the Theban Tribunal, he did most of his magical studies in Greek, and his Latin is not quite as proficient as most other magi of the order, though still passable. His mentor also made sure that he was instructed in philosophy and the legal code of the Order, which Enok took most seriously.
Upon his graduation, Enok took the name Timaios, "to honor," and made a personal oath to uphold the Hermetic Code of law.

Timaios has been dispached to find out what happened to Tasia, and make sure that all is well at the new covenant. Given Tasia's mental state when she returned home, it seems likely that bad things are afoot, and Timaios' patrons have decided to have him take a look and determine if anything actionable is going on.

Basic concept looks fine, and it'll be good to have a replacement Quaesitor after Tasia left. Note, though, that House Guernicus does know (at least roughly) what happened to Tasia, as she was last seen going to report to her superiors at Magvillus (and we've had confirmation that this did actually happen). She was, however, not in a great mental state at the time.


  • You should have a Soak of +1, not 0 (as you have Sta +1)
  • You should have a fatigue level of 0 in between OK and -1.
  • Code of Hermes 2 is at the low end for a Quaesitor.
  • I'd encourage you to focus your Arts a bit more - a Quaesitor should at least be able to cast (and know) Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie (InMe 20).
  • More generally, I'd encourage you to make your character good at something, as it's likely to make them more useful in play, which is in turn likely to make them more fun. Right now there's nothing I can point at and say "they're good at that" (doesn't necessarily have to be a particular Art - it could be a particular combination of spells/abilities/virtues that make them good at particular tasks. For example, Scouting like Gregorius, or Spontaneous Magic like Viola, or Shapechanging like Fray). You've still got plenty of free virtue and flaw points - maybe consider picking up a virtue like a minor focus to give your magus a particular theme, or an xp granting one to boost some of the Arts.
  • As a ritual, Aegis of the Hearth has to be at least level 20 (pg 114 of the main book).

There just aren't enough points for a newly-Gauntleted magus to be that good at anything unless you decide to do only one thing and nothing else.

I don't think "nothing else" is a requirement, and there will obviously always be limits to what is achievable, but it does help to limit yourself from trying to do too much. For example, right now you've got xp in 13 Arts. I'd drop that down to 4 or 5 (based on your character background, probably In, Aq, Me, Te or Vi, plus possibly Cr or Re to give you abilities beyond the purely investigative. I'd also be strongly tempted to drop the Terram - yes, it's a reasonable thing for him to have, but it's not required, and spreading yourself over Aq, Me, Te and Vi leaves you a bit thin. You've said in the background that your character is naturally good at Aquam, but you haven't represented that with a virtue - maybe consider taking Affinity with and/or Puissant Aquam?

If you're short of xp, consider one of the xp granting virtues. Skilled Parens gives you +60 xp and +30 spell levels. Educated only gives you +50xp, but it also allows you to take academic abilities prior to apprenticeship.

One trick that may work it to look at spells that fit the character concept, and try to build to cast them. For example, Voice of the Lake looks like it might be useful for an Investigative Aquam magus. It's InAq 25, which is a sensible level for a starting magus without a focus - you've got Int +2 + MT 3 + Aura 3 = 8 as a starting point. Shift your speciality in MT to something useful, and that gives you +9, meaning you need +16 from Arts. Two Arts at 8 should be easily achievable (or you could weight them differently for a greater xp cost). Sticking Intellego at 8 also has the advantage that it's then relatively easy to get to InMe 20 for Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie.

Continuing the Aquam Theme, consider taking Might Torrent of Water (CrAq 20) to replace Wielding the Invisible Sling if you do decide to drop the Terram. Alternatively, Alchemist's Revenge (from HoH: S pg 35) does +15 acid damage, but is level 25 so may be tricky to get in addition to Voice of the Lake if you don't emphasise Aquam. Consider Shriek of the Impending Shafts (InHe 15) for Defense. Drop some of the tiny little spells - the non-combat ones can often be sponted.

Hopefully that's helpful rather than a lecture...

I imagine it's not spelled out explicitly because the writer thought it an implicit assumption: I don't see how a bond as intimate as that between magus and familiar could be created by a third party.

There was another doubled post by someone else--Pralix, I think. I've deleted both the ones I found.


Viola's butterfly familiar Constantine is listed as "flitting about" in his advancement log for most seasons (it's too lengthy to post online, but I post the latest excerpt in the "Seasonal Activities and Advancement" thread ( whenever we advance time)--which is I think more realistic than hitting the books. He does earn XP's on adventures and when assisting in the lab, though, and he's gotten a hold of some vis at least once or twice.

As you'll see from the Google Scholar link, I didn't publish a lot when I was an academic, but I did a fair amount of research on the Baltics, including field research in Riga, Daugavpils, and one other city in 2001.

On the subject of Constantine: I just realized that, during the last story (the trip to the Chersonesus regio), I forgot about the house rule, and didn't give him XP's. Salutor, do you remember how many he was supposed to have?

EDIT: The grogs got 8 for that story, so I'll assume the same for Constantine, unless you say otherwise.


Bonding a familiar or increasing your chords, obviously. You have to do it.

But enchanting the bond? You certainly need to be there but otherwise I could see an argument either way.
Rituals can be done by some one else (mechanically there is no question), but I could see you saying that it's abusive to allow people to have other people cast them on you in CC. "Me and my familiar both are enchanted up to 5 int, lol. Good thing I found that guy to do it!"

I'm mildly worried about offending you by my lack of actual knowledge of the area. He only lived there until he was 7, gimme a break! lol

I think that's one they would have mentioned explicitly had it been intended.

My knowledge of medieval Latvia wouldn't overflow a thimble, so you're safe. I was wondering though if you picked it because of some personal tie to the country.


Not at all, I'm about a quarter Serbian, but nothing else tied to eastern Europe.

When I was thinking of backstories I needed to pick a location and the Baltics came to mind, and it narrowed it down. That's all.

I can certainly adjust the numbers for the weapons and casting totals.
I knew that boosted magic wouldn't work.
But, as it is, the character is falling apart. Of course, I could save the spell by replacing inventive genius with cyclic magic (not unlikely for a maga apprenticed in Switzerland where you better stay inside in winter).

But honestly, she isn't a good maga anyway. The background doesn't feel organic at all, probably because I was/am too rusty when it comes to the rules, so my focus was in the wrong place.

My reason for taking various things is:

  • I took Intellego because it's useful for investigation.
  • I took Rego because it's useful for defense and environmental manipulation.
  • I added the murky, undefined Aquam affinity in order to have a hook to tie into this saga's Poseidon/Neptune temple story - a coincidence that allows the character a way to be involved immediately in one of the mysteries of the covenant.
  • I took the Terram because Guernicus is, after all, originally from a Terra cult, and this still has an influence on their development.

Anyway, I was pretty much happy with where all the Virtues and Flaws landed, but I'll rework the character as follows:

  • Drop Terram from 8 to 3.
  • Drop Muto, Ignem, and Imaginem all to 0.
  • Aquam goes to 7, Mentem goes to 8.
  • Take the Mentor minor Story flaw - Timaios is still heavily guided by his House and often sent on errands, which he feels duty-bound to complete.
  • Take the Educated minor Virtue. The extra points let me bump Latin back up to 5, keep Artes Liberales at 2 and pick up Code of Hermes 3, Order of Hermes Lore 1 and Finesse 1.
  • Rework much of the entire spell list in keeping with these changes. It's interesting that you suggest getting Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie when HoH:TL specifically states that you cannot use Mentem magic to interrogate another magus without their consent, pretty much no matter the circumstances.

I've updated the original post above with edits.

Retrying, this time to really get someone who can use a bow and is a plausible character...

Note, though, that you can use it on them with their consent - and some magi are going to want to use it to demonstrate the truth of what they're saying (or to try to pull a fast one by manipulating the results of the spell, but that'll be rarer). It's also useful for casting on non-magi - you may not be able to use it on magi's servants without permission, but other mundanes can be relevant to a case, and forfeit immunity will often apply there. Posing the Silent Question is also useful, but not quite on the level of the line in the FBotSL write-up "House Guernicus brought the Order this spell, and it is a very poor Quaesitor who is without it".


  • Intellego, absolutely. Pretty much any Quaesitor needs Mentem, and Vim is always useful. The Aquam is likely to be very useful for the covenant (I have a few ideas for things Gregorius is likely to ask for your help for already).
  • Are you aware that you can distribute the 240xp from the apprenticeship how you like (subject to meeting other requirements)? In particular, you can put more than 120xp in the Arts, so dropping Latin from 5 back down to 4 and moving 25xp to Arts is a valid option, especially if you're not planning to write books in the near future (which is pretty much the only thing that really needs Latin 5 - a lot of junior magi will only have Latin 4).

I know you can swap around the apprenticeship points. I'm fine with where things are for now.

So, am I good to continue character creation?

[size=150]Asena, at gauntlet [/size]

Notes: Feels (to me) much better than the other character. Playable as she is (unless my math is as flawed as it was in the last post). If she is too weak for the saga, I can give her 3-5 years in the lab, mostly to create her Talisman

Characteristics: Int +2, Per 0, Pre 0, Com 0, Str +2, Sta +2, Dex +2 Qik +1
Size: -1
Age: 24
Decreptitude: 0
Warping Score: 0
Confidence: 2(5)
Virtues and Flaws: The Gift; Hermetic Magus; Affinity with Animal, Cautious bows, Improved characteristics (2x), Inoffensive to Animals, Minor Magical Foucs: Canines, Puissant bows, Puissant Parma, Self-confident, Subtle magic, *Warrior; Rigid Magic, Restriction (no permanent meat eaten since sunset); Driven minor (protect the Kipchaks), Overconfident (minor), Small Frame, visions (story: of the wolf who will become her magical animal companion)
Personality Traits: brave+2, Protective (Kipchaks) +2, Overconfident +2
Brawl (dagger): Init +1, Attack +7, Defense +4, Damage +5
Horse Bow: Init -1, Attack +15, Defense +8, Damage +10, Range: 15
Soak: +2 (total: +5 with Doublet of Impenetrable Silk, usually active)
Fatigue Levels (human shape): 0, -1, -3, -5, Unconscious
Wound Penalties (human shape): -1 (1-4), -3 (5-8), -5 (9-12), Incapacitated (13-16), Dead (17+)
Abilities: Animal Handling (horses) 1, Area Lore Lower Don (geography) 1, Artes Liberales (ceremonial casting) 1, Athletics (climbing) 1, Awareness (long distance) 1, Bows (Horse Bow) 4+2, Brawl (dagger) 2, Code of Hermes (hedge practitioners) 1, Concentration (spells) 1, Craft: Bowmaking (Fletching) 2, Etiquette (Mongols) 1, Folk Ken (Kipchaks) 1, Hunt (tracking) 1, Kipchak Language (storytelling) 5, Latin (Hermetic) 4, Magic Theory (spells) 3, Mongolian Language (warriors) 2, Parma Magica (Mentem) 1+2, Ride (battle) 2, Scribe (carefully) 1, Survival (Lower Don) 1, Swim (river) 1

Arts: Cr 7, In 3, Mu 5, Pe 0, Re 7, An 12, Aq 0, Au 1, Co 1, He 0, Ig 1, Im 0, Me 1, Te 1, Vi 1
Twilight Scars: none yet
Equipment: Superior Horse Bow, quiver with arrows, dagger, practical clothes, dried meat
Encumbrance: 0
Spells known:
Wizard’s pony CrAn30/+21 (ArM5, p. 117, pony sized wizard’s mount)
Call of the Wolf Cr(Re)35/+28 (spellswiki: Summon the Alpha woodland prowler normal wolf)
Speak to Animals InAn25/+17
Doublet of Impenetrable Silk MuAn15/+19
True Sight of the Air InAu15/+6
Vis: currently none
Appearance: Asena is a small woman with long raven hair and black eyes. Her voice is surprisingly deep for a woman her size. She wears practical clothes of good quality.

Voting sigil: An arrow with a bodkin tip. A closer examination reveals that the stuff on the tip is the blood of a hedge magus
Spell sigil: hairy

Early childhood (Years 1-5):
She grows up in the Lower Don region. Parents are shepherds. They attack wolves and are killed by them shortly before she turns 5. Strangely, the wolves do not harm her. She is found by two Mongol scouts who take the child with them.

Kipchak (storytelling) 5, Area Lore Lower Don (geography) 1, Athletics (climbing) 1, Awareness (long distance) 1, Brawl (dagger) 2, Folk Ken (Kipchaks) 1, Survival (Lower Don) 1, Swim (river) 1

Childhood (Years 6-9):
The Child is kept as a servant of a Mongol Chief. She starts dreaming about a wolf. In the end, she steals a horse and runs away – west, because her people live there and because the wolf dreams say so. She was found by Pjotr, a Flambeau magus from the Novgorod Tribunal and apprenticed there.
Riding (battle) 2, Animal Handling (Horses) 1, Hunt (Tracking) 1, Etiquette (Mongol) 1, Mongolian Language (warriors) 2, Craft: Bowmaking (Fletching) 2

Apprenticeship (years: 10-24)
Pjotr is a follower of the school of Ramius who quickly recognized her talent for using bows and allowed her to make the longbow her weapon of choice. The covenant where she was apprenticed studied and fought hedge magi (“Join or Die!”) and consisted of two Flambeau, a Magus Trianormae and a Pralician.

Skills: 105xp: Artes Liberales (ceremonial casting) 1, Bows (horsebow) 4+2, Code of Hermes (hedge practitioners) 1, concentration (spells) 1, Latin (hermetic) 4, Magic Theory (learning spells) 3, Parma Magica (Mentem) 1+2, Profession Scribe (carefully) 1

Arts 135xp

Future plans:

  • move to the covenant in her home region (reason: wolf dreams, speaking the language, protecting the people)
  • some more spells (the classic repertoire)
  • improve MT to 4, Parma to 2
  • find white wolf familiar (replace story flaw with magic animal companion flaw)
  • bind wolf as familiar (and ride it into battle)
  • create bow talisman (probably a ring that can assume bow form)
  • enchant bow to give it more range and more power and to call it and to have it create arrows
  • compete with the amazons in a bow contest
  • stop the Mongols, protect the Kipchak people

Asena, they called her, Asena, the wolf-child. It’s a name of honor: a Mongol scout had given it to her, the one who found her playing peacefully with a wolf pack, the one who had probably saved her life. Even if the wolves hadn’t turned on her before, unlikely, for wolves are merciless killers, she would surely have perished in the cold season.

And yet, she must have had a different name once when she was still a Kipchak. She couldn’t remember. She had few memories of that before: A mother’s face, a father’s strong arm and sweaty smell, the herds and the hut halfway up the hill, and stories, many, many stories, told in a woman’s voice in the dark.

A tear ran down the face of the little girl sitting in the yurt. Her nimble hands were sorting arrow feathers for the Horde, who always needed more arrows, many more than she could count. Sometimes she tried and failed to imagine the warriors on their horses and their enemies, stuck with arrows. She heard steps outside and wiped away her tears, focused on her work: They’d beat her if they caught her dawdling.

That night, she had her first wolf dream: She was running through the gnarled woods towards a hill through the silvery moonlight, naked. The fresh night air stung in her lungs, a welcome pain. As she reached the top, she saw the white wolf: His green eyes were looking at her curiously and his red tongue was hanging out of his mouth. In the language of her ancestors, he said: “I’m Albo and I have been waiting for you. How much longer are you going to stay in the treeless plains of the east. Don’t you see it is time to go back. I will guide you in your dreams until we meet in the flesh.”

And she knew, with instinctive certainty, that the wolf was telling the truth. So, carefully not to wake anyone, she snuck out into the night, climbed a young horse, and started her journey west.

I do like the concept better as a Flambeau (although I note this version has moved away from the trick arrows).

I think the language of the Mongols is Mongolian (at least according to the Mongol stats in Ancient Magic).

Have you got the lab totals necessary to learn Wizard's Pony and True Sight of the Air? I'm making you 2 short for both.

It's not an inherent problem, but you should be aware there's already one white wolf at the covenant (Alcimus, Gregorius' magical animal companion / familiar just as soon as he can manage the lab total).

Feel free to advance her past gauntlet if you want to, but don't feel you have to. The saga power level is probably at the low-mid power level, with a range of different ages for magi. I'd recommend having a niche you can fill competently, but there's no need (and indeed, little want) for hyper-optimisation.

I feel like Timaios is ready, if there are no further objections.

Still thinking about a companion. I'm leaning toward some kind of talented person, maybe a really skilled woodsman or boatman? Shall I make a pair of grogs as well?