Character Development

You're actually the first person I remember hearing suggest that transformation might not apply to familiars; I'd always taken it as a given, and it was just the issue of whether they got penalties to standard study totals which was at question.

Note that I'm assuming that penalties from Might to transformation study still apply post erratum (since that's not something humans can do).

It's true it'll vary by magus. Enchantment takes skill in a way just chucking vis at something doesn't, though, and there's a (low) limit to how many magi can gain fame by writing the book.

Yes - callen's familiar Vrahos was using the transformation rules extensively (which is a large point of why the House Rule exists in the first place - you're not the first person to come along and say "this is really broken". Though I can't remember how much of the transformation in the final version was gaining new qualities verses Might restoration.

I'd be inclined to keep the House Rule on familiars gaining xp now that's it's in place, rather than substituting it for the erratum, although I probably wouldn't institute it in a new saga (and if I did, it would probably be in the form " subtract 5 x Silver Cord Score from penalty" I've seen suggested previously, rather than the current form). I generally prefer things to stay consistent (and it would add a look of bookwork to Constantine, and result in familiars with even more ludicrous Magic Theory scores than usual).

I'd defintely keep the House Rule about the 5x cost for transformation.


Yes, subject to having the necessary lab totals. I'd want it to be something you did yourself, though, rather than being something you can just handwave an NPC as having done.

Hmm. Hadn't registered the early Parma learning before. I agree it makes a certain amount of sense given his background, but I think I want to raise it to MTKnife for him to agree/restrict.

I find that Ars Magica is sufficiently complex that even very experienced players rarely make a character with no errors whatsoever first try. (New players can sometimes actually do better, because they tend to be following the guidance line-by-line).

In my case, that's because I still haven't quite made up my mind. It has some interesting potential, but it does feel like it might be a bit of a hassle to actually roleplay round.

Possibly a bit redundant if you are swapping him out to avoid clashing with JesseHeinig, but I'll take a look over him anyway.

Comments are as follows:

  • Gauntleting at age 27, I'd expect him to have (excluding native language and mastered spells) 45 + 7 x 15 + 240 = 390 xp. He only appears to have spent 345 xp (80 xp in Arts and 265 xp in Abilities)?
  • To check - are you aware you can still use an Art with a score of 0? There's nothing fundementally illegal about the way he's put at least 1xp in each Art, but not doing so isn't going to make a big difference to what he can do.
  • I'm always a little wary about the Lecherous flaw. It's legal, obviously, but please can you avoid playing it up too much?
  • Is Wither Assailant basically just Spasms of the Uncontrolled Hand (possibly with an arm rather than a Hand)? If not, what's the difference?
  • Is "Circular Ward Against Magic" "Circular Ward Against Demons" but against Magic Realm Creatures? If so, I'd suggest renaming it as "Circular Ward Against Magical Creatures", or similar - "Against Magic" makes it sound like it's doing something else. (If it is doing something else, what?)

This is a Yes and Yes, But you have to do your familiar enchanting on your own?

Right, Like I said, it might be wierd in PbP. I can switch Mastered spells out for the Forgettable Face virtue and then take a different flaw (probably one of the Criamon tattoo ones).

Not unless someone asks me too. I can sit here making characters all day.

45 (age 1-5) + 7 x 15 (age 6-12) + 240 (age 13-27) = 390... huh...

Nope, it is all right
45 + 3 x 15 + 240 = 330 xp + 5 for Rego affinity, +10 for Pen affinity

The forum post script pulls the highest age on the time tracker.

I could pull some extra points there, true.

I wanted him to have a personality flaw that he is resisting to follow apt action. Wrathful and Fury seemed like double dipping.

Different duration (diameter) and basically makes an arm fall asleep, otherwise I don't think there is a huge difference.

That should be correct, I can adjust the title if you want.

Checking the figures in detail now:

  • How are you getting to +8 Atk with the Dagger? I make her total Dex 2 + Brawl (Dagger) 1+1 + Weapon Bonus 2 = +6.
  • Similarly, I make the Horse Bow Atk Dex 2 + Bow (Horse Bow) 3+2+1 + Weapon Bonus 5 + Superior Quality 1 = +14 rather than +15
  • It does occur to me that Rigid Magic means she's unable to use the Boosted Mutantes option.
  • I don't think Inventive Genius should apply when you're reinventing a spell, only when you're actually inventing it from scratch. That makes "Every Girl Wants to be a Swan" tricky (as she couldn't have invented it from scratch, as she has no excess over the lab total).
  • Your casting total for Voice of the Bjornaer Magus should be +25 rather than +20

Sorry - not sure how I ended up posting that twice. It's a "Yes, but you have to do your familiar enchanting (/ritualling) on your own. (Note - this one's probably particularly appealable to MTKnife, since it's me making an unsupported judgement call rather than an actual rule anywhere.

Sorry, yes - forgot about the affinities. Am I understanding correctly that he should actually be 23 rather than 27?

Yes, 23.

I also forgot about them until I looked again.

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).