Creating Advanced Magi?

Hi all,

I'm looking to create a couple of detailed older NPC magi for (hopefully) an upcoming saga im going to run - my question is though - how do people do it?

Creating fresh magi is simple enough, but i've never created a significantly older magi before and it seems more than a little daunting, so im asking for any hints or tips for the process? It'd be easy enough to do a detailed creation season by season, but that would require a covenant (and library) and i really dont want to have to create one just to 'level up' a couple of NPC (or is this how most do it?)

Any thoughts or comments are appreicated.



There are rules to create them. I find it easier to simply take sample characters from the diverse books and tinker around with their abilities, art levels and spells. Makes for easier work. The tribunal books and Magi of Hermes are great for that.


The Metacreator character designer can greatly speed things up as well.

But basically make a beginning magus, then for every year after that give them 30 xp to spend as you will and 2 Warping points. That 30 xp can be spent to buy spells, but for learning it is better that you have them do lab time (which means that you need to know the variables available to that wizard; lab, aura, books and lab texts, etc.). For every season in the lab, they lose 10 xp, thus it is most advantageous to do lab work for a year at a time. Beyond that, approximate. If they want to learn a Mystery for example, look at the formula, which should give a decent idea on how long that takes. With an apprentice, make a Perception roll each season you search, etc. Decide how often the magus actually tests for Twilight, and its effects, and don't forget to make aging rolls.

When I've designed old wizards I'd usually go in 5 year chunks of time. It's actually kind of fun.

I will echo the Metacreator comment. It is an extremely useful tool for organizing your characters, covenants, labs, libraries, etc. It is easy to use, easy to learn, customizable and really should be part of any Ars campaign (and I don't work for them btw)

I've never gotten metacreater to work for advancement even a little for me despite spending a few hours trying to get it working (perhaps my copy is corrupted).

I agree that you should take time in blocks. I think that for older characters 15 year blocks might be good. give the character 300xp and then give them 5 years worth of lab time (or 330 and 4 years). I let the magi get lab texts for about 1/2 to 2/3's of the stuff that isn't particularly unique to them.

Taking some of the pre-published characters and moving the numbers around is an easy way to go at things as well.If you're using magi of Hermes (and you should because it is excellent) be aware that all of the characters in there are not the same. Some characters have developed all of their spells using the laboratory rules and some have gotten their spells using the 30 xp/levels per year rules. While both methods are legal the former (lab rules) gives you somewhat more powerful characters. Compare Alexander and Lambert at 45 years each to see this (Lambert has higher arts, more spells, and several enchanted devices).

At this point it is traditional for me to eulogise at length about Metacreator, but others have got there first so I won't. Oh go on then, it's brilliant. Really useful and I have to admit it is a central tool for me when running stories and managing characters.

And as the very learned Erik Tyrrell has pointed out, Magi of Hermes is an excellent resource for a range of diverse magi presented at different stages in their lives. If you don't want to go down the software route then I'd advise taking the characters from that book as your starting points and adjusting to fit.

Or, you could just totally cop out and give em 30 XP per year as per core rules... its a bit lame but it is much quicker.

If you do labwork for inventing spells and enchanting items and the like I don't think that 30 xp per year is particularly lame. It seems about right to me.
A quality 12 tractatus, a quality 11 tractatus, a season of copying lab notes for exposure xp and a 5 xp adventure
two quality 9 tractatus and two seasons with a quality 6 significato
A season writing a cometary for exposure, a season copying lab notes for exposure, and two seasons with a quality 13 summa
Three seasons with quality nine or ten tractatus and one season working to get more

Oh I agree about the quantity. It is not that 30XP per year is a poor quantity, indeed I dont think i have ever actually achieved that as a player... I meant it was lame insofar as it is a cheap and quick method.

A player can, of course, achieve a great deal more than 30xp in a year if he has access to a good library and does nothing else, but no human player is ever going to mange that... unless his mage is not his main character and he is perfectly happy not using him in roleplay sessions.

Thanks for the replies guys, I like the idea of blocking years together for XP.

How do people handle aging rolls, wrapping expereinces and longivity potions (do people assume that they obtain more powerful potionsfrom older magi or work it out as they themselves created the ritual)?


In the basic rules it says in one of the example toons I think that it is recommended you give them two warping points per year as well. Presumably one of those is fromthe longevity ritual.

It seems to be fairly generous regarding access to Vis and longevity rituals. Most of the magi listed in the various houses books don't seem to have problems with aging beyond an ever growing list of twilight scars. Unless longevity rituals are a big issue in your games I would suggest you just allow the NPC to 'get one form somewhere' but keep progressing those twilight points and be ready to consider some scars for flavour.

Whilst I also use metacreator, and sometimes assign xp based on the number of years, I often look at the role the NPC will play: some are designed to be significantly more powerful than the PCs, so I just give them the scores I think they will need; others need to be a fair match for the PCs; others need to be weaker; etc. Then I don't worry about where they got their xp from or how much they have.
Eg someone to take on a whole bunch of PCs who are 5 years out of apprenticeship: look at the highest level spell the players can cast and make sure the NPC has several of that level and a few higher; ditto for the Arts and important abilities. This can, after the NPC is defeated, lead to more stories about how the NPC got the powers that he/she used. As long as the world is internally consistent, and players can access the relevant mechanics it doesn't matter how you make NPCs! (Infernal powers are great for real bad guys - easy to get, players (usually) don't want them.)


I handle aging "rolls" simply by changing apparent age according to what would be likely based on a what a random spread of rolls would cause over 10 years. Ie if 7 out of 10 die results would cause 1 year of apparent aging then in 10 years, add 7 years to apparent age. Adding a longevity ritual at 5 means only aging 2 years apparent in 10 years actual. Once you hit the age where you can get aging points, you simply add the average of that into it as well(if the easiest way to handle it is preferred at least).

Dont forget to adjust this for character style/background though. A character with Flawless magic or Cautious sorcerer as Virtues for example will get much less warping, while someone spending unusually much time in a strength 10 Aura will amass huge amounts and so on...

Again,thanks for the tips folks

Another question - when spending seasons/years doing lab work instead of the 30XP/year, do you earn exposure XP for the lab work?

EDIT: Plus another question - how do people handle reputations? Could i just 'buy' it up with the XP - or just make it up on the fly (I find the idea of having to use a virtue a little crappy for every advanced magi...)


If it's an NPC you're making, the book actually says you can make it whatever you want really.

Exposure in Magic theory or any arts used I believe for lab work.

As for reps you kinda earn them for free, good and bad...

We didn't for Magi of Hermes. (I think that it you'd produce magi more similar to actual play if you did. On the other hand this 30/year system is supposed to allow you to produce elder magi quickly so I might skip it for the sake of efficency)

I have been using a rule of 40xp per year, which equals 10xp per season. The math works out easier that way. I apply it equally to PC's and NPC's. In my "Light of Andorra" saga, I have players create characters that are 10 to 20 years out of gauntlet. I treat 10xp per year as an average; a year could consist of one season in a 12xp adventure, the next 5xps of practicing spell mastery, followed by studying a Quality 13 tractatus. The last season is spent in the lab, which is treated as normal including exposure xp.

However, this admittedly will not work for every saga. I grant up to 15xp for adventures, and use a high quality library. I aim for slightly higher powered sagas, and I wanted to make it easier for players to flesh out the history of their characters. The second part is easilly accomplished by using a yearly bulk xp total that is divisible by four. Say 32xp per year, 8 per season on average.

The tricky part is deciding what resources the character has access too. I take the easy way out, and say they have enough vis to do whatever they need to do as far as longevity and enchantments and such, with a little left over. As for spells, I allow them to take anything published in cannon as a lab text, and when I later create the lab text library I build it up from those spells. Anything new (or that they wish to keep secret) has to be an original invention. No lab text advantage for items though, as these already have the advantage of hand-waving the vis.

It's not perfect, but it is simple and has been used to create a diversity of interesing characters (PC & NPC)

Even spending your life in Durenmar, I cannot imagine you can sustain 40XP per year over a lifetime. The average tractatus - the only book you can use after studying a subject any length of time, is quality 6... quality 8 is fairly easy to obtain through covenants additions, but beyond that is unusual to obtain. Then again, it depends how quickly time passes i nyour sagas. If things run slowly then aarding so much XP seems fine, but if I personally cant see how a mage past 45 can earn 10 XP a season as a matter of routine. Even studying Vis is only gonna get you 7 a season and that gets expensive.

I am not using averages. I am using above averages :smiley:
I am well aware I am off the beaten path. The main idea is that using a yearly average xp divisible by four, such as 32xp oer year, makes it easier to mix seasons of advancement with seasons of lab work.

As for what is considered "average" in my game, as I said, I give out up to 15xp for adventures. 10 is the average.
And I give the players access to a fantastic library, but even RAW supports my averages for a powerful old covenant. ArM5, p. 72, the description of Powerful Covenant mentions a library of seventeen Art Summae with the following scores: L20 Q11, L18 Q13, five at L16 Q15, and ten at L6 Q21.

Now that I look at those figures, that exceeds my library by a few magnitudes. Those are the scores I would suggest you would find in the Durenmar library. Probably much more that that even.