Players of the Saga Castillo Ocultos who read this forum (so, pretty much Brian), please do not read this post.
Repeat, this post contains spoilers for Castillo Ocultos. Please do not read.
Many players agree that Charged Items tend to be broken. 3 main effects combine to this:
- You need only meet the effect level with your lab total, rather than exceed it by a large amount.
- 2-for-1 penetration
- Lab texts let you get multiple copies in the next season.
Much as I've protested otherwise, I can see how this is more powerful than it arguably should be, in that a Magus 10 years out of apprenticeship can pretty easily kill Lord Marsyne, Stellatus, or an Archmagus.
I plan on resolving the problem with Charged items in-game, rather than with a house-rule that makes them weaker.
My saga is set in Iberia. I'm about to initiate the Shadow Flambeau subplot, in which Jaferiya covenant is discovered to be diabolical. I decided to go with the players discovering in-game, rather than having it established already. To make a very long story short, the characters are the ones who first began pointing the fingers at Jaferiya. (The longer story is provided below).
The book describes how the Jaferiya Magi are accused at Tribunal. They cast a smoke-spell and then flee on Infernal Steeds. From then on, they become the Shadow Flambeau and terrorize the entire Tribunal.
I'm altering this a bit. One of the Jaferiya Magi will attempt to testify against the Magi. Thus, most of the Tribunal is seated. The only ones separate are the Praeco, a few quaesitors, the Jaferiya Magi, and the players' Magi. The Jaferiya Mage will be speaking, then suddenly point his voting sigil at the seated Tribunal. The voting sigil has been enchanted as a Charged Item that casts 'Incantation of the Milky Eyes', bumped up to group (+2), and an extra size modifier (+1).
Doing the math, I see that one of the Magi of the School of Apromor at Jaferiya can generate an extremely high lab total Enough to make a Charged Item that can essentially strike the entire Tribunal blind, with enough penetration to overcome the Aegis and most Parma Magica of everyone but particularly powerful Corpus specialists.
Once that Magi makes the attack, a few others pull out charged items and begin sowing mayhem: One will attempt to bring down the roof, another will blow a hole in the wall, a third will engage the few unblinded Magi, etc.
The intent is that a few Jaferiya Magi will escape, a few will be slain, several Magi in the tribunal will be killed, and many more wounded or blinded. As well as Duresca's roof falling.
With this done, the Tribunal will see first-hand just how destructive Charged Items can be. I anticipate there quickly being non-proliferation treaties. Magi, including Verditius, will promise to voluntarily restrict Charged Items' penetration, having seen the damage a suicidal Magi can wreak on a Tribunal.
Thus, there will be in-game reason to make Charged Items weaker.
If you're interested in the longer story: The party was investigating a temple because the ghost of the former priest claimed that a group of diabolists were performing human sacrifices. One of these people was a Flambeau Magi. The group killed him in a fight. There's no question of the party being at fault--the Flambeau was working with diabolists, and made the first attempt to strike with lethal intent. The party is absolutely in the clear, and they've already testified to a quaesitor who pronounced their actions in keeping with the code.
That Magus' parens, a Jaferiya Magus, came and threatened them. Specifically, he threatened to have his grogs torture and murder the sister of one of the Magi. He snarled that just as the code didn't protect his filius, it wouldn't protect a random covenfolk from being tortured. He dropped 5 pounds of silver as pre-emptive compensation for depriving their covenant of its power.
Later, my Companion, a priest, journeyed to Jaferiya and spent 3 seasons there (offscreen). He came back, severely wounded by both an arrow wound and scorching flames from a Flambeau there. He testified that the place has an Infernal aura and that evil practices were going on. Again, this testimony was endorsed by a Quaesitor, who stated that there is now enough to start a full Hermetic Investigation against Jaferiya. He will recommend as such at the next Tribunal.
The Jaferiya Magi haven't been idle, particularly the Magus who threatened the covenant. He has spent some time learning Auram, learning Incantation of Lightning, and Mastering it just for Magic Resistance. (The Magus who killed the renounced Flambeau uses that as her signature spell. The Jaferiya Magi know this because they kidnapped a repentant necromancer and tortured him for information. Long story). He's also spent some time making incredibly destructive spells, as he studies the school of Apromor. He and his covenant mates will unleash this destruction at Tribunal, as described above.
With Magi seeing that Charged Items are the Mythic equivalent of nuclear bombs, I expect there to be in-game debates and resolutions limiting their destructiveness. Not as a house-rule. More like "I, Mateo ex Verditius, swear that I shall never produce a Charged Item that is capable both of harming Magi and breaching the Parma Magica of my sodales unless commissioned by a quaesitor in good standing." (So--a ball of abysmall flame with 0 penetration is acceptable, as is a Demon's Eternal Oblivion item with penetration 70. Wound that Weeps at penetratio 70 is not, since it can harm Magi.)
What think you all?
I'm also working on the logistics of the magi physically attacking the Tribunal. I want to avoid my players saying "Jim... no offense, but any Tribunal that can be taken by surprise this easily are complete idiots." Hence why the items are disguised as voting sigils.