Character generation and virtue list

Are the large number of virtues an impediment to character generation

  • Yes
  • Yes but only for new players
  • Not for my group
  • Are you crazy? more than 26% of the fun of this game is messing with character generation options. Try to take them away at your Peril!
  • I like voting but have no opinion on this issue

0 voters

Recently I've read a few people say that having a large virtue list serves as an impediment to quick character generation. I've believe that I've read a general idea over the years that messing with the xp is a pain in the rear, but perhaps I'm just projecting my own biases on my memories of others. I also think that finding a good set of appropriate flaws is a real pain and I'd expect to find general agreement on that point as well (although I've never seen a poll about it or anything of the sort. Neither of these two issues is what I'm asking about

Do you find that having a large list of virtues is a problem when folks are creating characters? Would you prefer a shorter list of virtues than you use?

The only trouble I've had is when the list is redundant.

Affinity and Puissant represent essentially the same thing, but are mechanically different, meaning that there's a strange decision to be made. I'd rather just have Puissant, it's the simpler of the two. Oh, and drop the Student of the X virtues, let Puissance grant you the ability to learn any unavailable skill.

Minor and Major versions of the same virtue could be under the same heading, because they're the same virtue.


I think the virtue list is long, such that it can be a challenge to thumb through the list and then thumb through the various books to see the text of the virtue. I don't have an issue with MetaCreator.

FWIW, affinity is a long payoff virtue, puissant is an immediate bang for the buck. When used together, they are like chocolate and peanut butter, but used apart they are perfectly serviceable virtues and accomplish different goals. Puissant is useful for short-lived sagas or an immediate bang for the buck... Affinity allows one to blow past the level limits, or suggestions (for Arts), if you presume that the level limits are experience point based and should scale.
Major Puissant would be really expensive, and if they are truly the same thing, you're taking two minors and making them cost as much as a major...

To work out which is better you have to do maths and work out what level your skill will be at for most of your playtime.

They also don't accomplish different goals. They both accomplish the goal of being particularly good at the same skill, and beating the age-based limits. They just differ in subtle ways that new players don't know about.

I meant as in "Major Magic Focus" and "Minor Magic Focus" being one skill.

I don't actually like the idea of the superspecialisation of affinity+puissant, but if it's going to be there, why shouldn't it just be "Majorly Puissant, +5 to the specified skill" rather than two essentially identical things that you stack?

Ars is a game with about 20 ways to skin a cat. But sometimes, the only way I can get a concept to work is to take Puissant and Affinity, and double down on the virtue. Sometimes doing that blocks me from being able to accomplish certain goals. Certainly you will only see magi with a focus achieving 35th level spells at gauntlet if you remove affinity. Granted, these are rare characters, but I like the possibility that they exist... They are often creations of their masters and interesting characters to play (having someone with Corpus of 18+3 at gauntlet is something).

I do not think the list is too long in the core book. My frustration is that many that I want to have access to are scattered in several many books. The whole list from the entire edition is long though. But that is not a big problem for me. The issue is they are scattered and I am unable to keep aware of them all.

I like the long virtue list. I just wish I didn't have to consult multiple books to see all of it.

It's the humongous amount of "useless" Virtues and Flaws like Portage or Painless Moon. They are necessary if I am making a faerie wizard or a folk witch, but they pollute my search otherwise.

My private index has 1342 v/f:

  • 463 require "tradition" such as House, Amazon or faerie creature,
  • 196 general,
  • 159 hermetic,
  • 12 heroic (aka tradition again),
  • 33 mystery,
  • 67 personality,
  • 129 status,
  • 72 story,
  • 49 supernatural ability,
  • 28 supernatural art/method/power (aka tradition again),
  • 118 supernatural {still includes No Magical Defenses and some others},
  • 16 mythic/special,
    {this includes duplicates across volumes, AtD being the last one}

Having nearly 600 v/f available for a companion is great, but that leaves another 700 "useless" to filter out. Magi aren't better served since hermetic + house ~= supernatural.

So it's more a question of separating the "generally available" from the "amazon-only" et al.

That is lovely as long as you don't allow it for supernatural abilities. :wink:

And to play the broken record:

  • Puissant (Ability) is best to bust the age limit, from 5+2 to 8+2,
  • Affinity with (Ability) is best when you get past 10,
  • Affinity with (Art) is best when you get close to 20,
  • Puissant (Art) is no better than Cyclic Magic, Method Caster, Special Circumstances et al.

IMO, the worst offenders for redundancy are all the various flavors of "get an extra 50 XP" Minor Virtues. A single, generic "Describe something special about your background and gain +50XP for skills related to that background, plus either permanently gain access to one category of restricted spells or gain access to all skill categories for those 50XP only" could replace most/all of them. (If it's "most" rather than "all", then adding more options for the minor side benefit that comes along with the XP should be able to bring the rest under it as well.)

Other than that, I do find the list to be overly large and unwieldy (1300 of them?!?), which I find time-consuming to sift through and find the appropriate V/F for a character. My players, on the other hand, find even the core book's list so utterly intimidating that they make me create all their characters for them. I do like the amount of color and nuance that the massive list allows, but I also question whether the issues created by the list's size may outweigh those benefits.

I understand the need for fluff to help visualise and create a character, but I agree with nDervish comment on streamlining generic virtues, possibly giving example on how to skin it to fit various backgrounds.

Same with story flaw. A generic definition for what mean Major/minor story flaw with a mechanism (malus to some action, or test to avoid it meddling with PC business, impact/consequence). Then the player select the Realm if it is Supernatural one or not, add element of background suitable for his PC and here we go.

The advantage of defining generic virtue/flaws is that when a new supplements is published, the authors can refer to existing mechanisms and apply them to the new background/creature/power/skills.

Yes, we might loose some flexiblity and some flavours, but for a greater consistency and also an easier approach for new players who can be scared by the amount of virtues/flaws that is presented to them.

Bottom line, Erik, no matter what is done, someone will complain about it.

In many ways, I find the distribution of extra mastery abilities and extra enchantment modifications, that are available to the whole order, but are tucked away in odd places in individual books, is much harder to deal with than the range of virtues and flaws. (At the same time, i admit that many of the ideas introduced there are interesting and worth having.)

I had found there were actually far too few Flaws. Grogs are restricted heavily: zero or one Personality Flaw, no Story Flaws, no Hermetic Flaws. If the Social Status is not a Flaw, it used to be really hard to finish off Grogs without making them extremely similar. The growth of Flaws in other categories has been extremely helpful.


The large number of virtues is why I point new players to "Affinity+Puissant in a TeFo, Good Parens and a Magic Focus, then pump your specialty." This isn't the only way to create a very effective character, but it is straightforward and core and even flavorful. "I'm a whiskey magus. What? Not invented yet? Grrrr."

A few design patterns like this (Bjornaer +Quiet/Subtle+Gentle Gift; etc) make it easy to get going. There's time to browse through the 1001 virtues for a second character. :slight_smile:/2

(Flawless Magic is awesome, of course, but gives a new player something else he needs to understand up front.)



for my part I love that I have separate virtues for "I perform beyond my knowledge" and "I'm a fast study". Some of you have said that they do the same thing- make you better at something. They don't feel the same in play to me. I'd be sad to lose the distinction. (But I'd somewhat prefer that they weren't taken together so often, that gets dull.)

Definitely agree with this idea. There's great value in the inspiration available from the examples given, but you can have lists of examples within a single virtue, rather than many separate virtues.

Guaranteed. If no-one complains about something, then not enough people have seen it yet :stuck_out_tongue:

I think I'm the only one actually arguing that position; and I do understand the distinction being made, but I don't think it feels distinct enough.

On the top of my mind, I feel like it'd be better to have the "natural talent"/(puissant) version apply only to a specialisation, thereby making them distinct during both adventures and downtime. So you could have Affinity for Stealth, or Puissant Stealth (Wilderness).

Obviously this would require increasing the bonus, but that's simple.

I would warn against this route. A small bonus across everything has less impact than a bigger bonus across a narrow area. This is why Minor Magic Focus is so awesome, and why people who optimize casting totals tend not to list Great Characteristic (stamina) as a go-to virtue. In the case of MMF, I think it's a good idea because it encourages magical specialization. But in most cases, concentrating a bonus in a specialty creates things like single weapon(longsword) getting a bonus significantly larger than +2.

I think the two virtues work fine the way they are... including rounding up.

This is so true. And it's the reason why, generally, a Virtue that applies a bonus has typically a much narrower scope of a Flaw that applies a penalty of the same magnitude: if you are very good at a narrow field, a lot of time you will be working in that narrow field, so the bonus applies very often. If you are bad at some even fairly broad field (like, say, enchanting items), you'll generally avoid that stuff as often as you can, so it will come rarely into play.

For this reason, I would consider balanced (as Major Virtues) Elementalist if it ruled than whenever you gain xp in one Elemental form, you gain the same number of xp in each of the remaining three (before applying Affinities), and Secondary Insight if it ruled than whenever you gain xp in one Art, you gain 1xp in every other Art as well (that's how we house rule them).

It can be boring, I find it is more boring when both are taken for both a Technique and a Form...