Creating Advanced Magi?

I disagree with some of your statements here:

First my opinion on average quality of tractatus is different. average quality of a tractatus (IMO and in the published material) is not 6, six is the quality of a tractatus written by a person of average communication score. In general tractatus of quality 6 are worth very little in trade while taking the same amount of effort to produce than tractus of quality 9 or more they are therefore written only for aged experts who've exhausted all other options (remember that all other options also includes commentaries and significatos) or folks who are so dirt poor they have nothing to trade (this never lasts long as interesting lab texts and vis can be created by even freshly gauntleted magi). It's my take that low quality tractatus are almost never copied while the higher the quality of a tractatus (in general) the more frequently it is reproduced. In addition the order does have access to ritual magics that can raise and author's communication score. I'd peg the average quality of a tractatus in the order at about 9 perhaps 10 (that's of course an opinion not a fact).

I mention this every time I see it, the covenants rules (sans errata) make it HARDER to create books of a given quality not easier (much harder for books on magical subjects).

Yet while I disagree with these small points, I agree with the overall post in that I don't see 40 xp per year as being sustainable over a long period of time. I believe that a character can't study books 4 seasons a year. He or she needs to do something to warrant the acquisition of more books, and this work will take up (on average) a bit more than a season a year.

(edit: I don't mean to imply that Marko isn't aware that he's got some different assumptions underlying his system than normal)

Whilst I completely agree that a quality 6 tractatus is banal, bland, and about as basic as you can get, we are talking about a long term character here. Whilst I agree completely there are several widely available in the 9-10 bracket and a few special and very valuable ones even a little higher, those books must by their nature be quite uncommon. If you are going to spend a lifetime reading you are going to run out of decent material.

I am simply going by what is said about book levels in the covenants supplement and the experiences we have of a mage trying to push a few arts. In only a few years form gauntlet a magus pushing a particular art hits a wall where he needs to spend time finding frsh resources as you pointed out. A man spending a lifetime in a library is eitehr going to have to spread very evenly, or he will run into shortages.

This also assumes he spends all his life working with the arts alone. Books on non-art materials are generally much harder to find. Especially things like spell mastery. For many magi the only viable option is to practice, and that hits your XP pretty hard indeed.

Again thanks folks

I have made my first 50 year old npc last night - it was very interesting to see that even 30XP/year doesnt go hugely far once you start buying up skills and higher levels art scores, plus spell masteries (flawless magic) (a perdo specialist) - tho I havent rolled any twilight effects yet for him.

As to the discussion of book qualities - after reading Covenants (it has to be one of my favourite books for ArM5), I've also considered Q9-11 to be average, as Q6-8 are considered poor - even with average Com, just having Good Teacher boosts you to Q9, plus commentities on popular Summae give another +1Qu which I consider to be a fairly common form of Tractatus, especially for the Roots and Branches of the Arts. Along those lines, for my own games, I've come to the assumption that within the Oder of roughly 1000 magi, there are about a dozen individuals who have Com 5 & Good Teacher alive at any one time, and I've started to flesh them out, just for my sake (and its fun) - once I'm more comfortable gen'ing up advance magi, I intend to gne them up (some are old, some are fresh out of their gaunlets...)

For some reason I also get the impression that libraries (at least from the PbM games on these boards) usually lack texts on Spell Mastery and Item Texts - evena poor Q6 Tractatus is better than just practicing...

As an aside, with the assumption that the average Tractatus Q is 9-11, I find the role of Realia as study aids unlikely, given their poor Q6 at their hright, but love the idea of them just for fleshing out covenants and characters :slight_smile:

EDIT Btw, what do people consider to be the rough ages of magi for say, middle aged, old, very old etc, as it will help me work out appropirate ages to have my NPCs at (as im currently thinking along the those lines that actual numbers) - I dont have Magi of Hermes to look for guidelines...


Do you mean you ignore the errata? Why? And why would that be relevant to someone who follows the rules including errata?

I figure there were enough magi in the Order's history to make a sizable collection of tractatus in all Arts. Perhaps not enough to take you to level 40, but enough to keep you reading them for many years. The Great Library in Durenmar has been amassing tractatus for about 400 years now; I think it's reasonable it has collected at least 20 high-quality tractatus on each Art, and similar numbers on critical Abilities (penetration, magic theory...). More can be had through other libraries.

I'm personally surprised none of you seem to face players that "push the envelope" to gain higher-Quality sources once the good books run out. I never really reached those levels, but I'd expect players to look for such sources and it would make for fun stories. Going to the Magical Realm to study the True Form of Animal, or beseeching the angel Gabriel to teach the gift of Magic that God has allowed him to pass to mankind, or seeking out the lost Emerald Tablets, or the ghosts of old wizards...

This is essentially asking how old magi can get. With 2 Warping Points per year from age 35, you reach Warping 10 at age 173. I figure most magi fade into Twilight before that, but some linger on (you can live indefinitely by being careful). Only a few die from old age or mundane causes. So middle age is from age 75 or so, old from age 150 or so, and very old at 170 or above. A few magi are immortals, and these can be perhaps 400 years old, but progress post-immortality is slow and rather different. If you want to create a truly old character, you can create one of those - perhaps a 250 years old Living Ghost, or a 350 year old Merinita who was initiated into Becoming by Quaendalon himself...

Here's my back of the envelope calculation:

1 out of 10 magi can produce these high quality tractatus. I think that this is very conservative, in my games it is closer to 1 in 4 and that's just for beginning characters. Remember that the order has rituals that can raise communication to +5 and I think that the magi are well aware that a high communication score is a characteristic that can gain them great wealth in the book market.

A strong writer knows that they can get value from writing books, as a result they write approximately 1 book every 2 years.

the order has had an average population of about 700 magi over it's history

So 700 * 0.1= 70 strong writers in the order

70 writers * 0.5 books/year * writer = 35 high quality books per year

35 books/year * 400 years = 12,500 high quality books

Even if only half of these books are still extant they're hardly rare. Where do your assumptions differ from mine?

Do magi get exposure xp for lab seasons in the detailed character creation?

I'm currently working on the assumption of NO - partly due to what has been posted earlier in this thread and partly as its easier build them without it for me...

I'd like to thank people for all the advice in this thread - I've spent most of the day gen'ing up a 75 old magus thats a lab rat - learning the original research rules in the process (and revising the Twilight rules)

Cheers all



I include the whole post because it's worth reading....

Mine don't, to the extent that the book rules can be simplified to "gain 11 xps per season reading, up to 15 if you have a good library, as few as 9 if your covenant really sucks."

I have two major issues with the 30xp + 2wp per year system.

  1. 30xp/year is probably reasonable for some sagas, but cannot be reasonable for all sagas. If 30xp/year is reasonable for a low-powered saga in which magi struggle to find ink and parchment, and refuse to communicate except challenges to Certamen and Wizard's War, then it cannot be reasonable for a 'typical' saga, let alone a high fantasy saga where magi vie to show the splendor of their works, the incisiveness of their prose, and Redcaps speed their words across Mythic Europe. Moreover, I can trivially create covenants, using the main rules, that obviously grant more than 30xp/year.

  2. Many virtues and flaws have no effect, or a startlingly different value. Whether a magus is overwhelmed by flaws that make him a hopeless reader, even when he's sitting next to the volcano he needs to concentrate on an Art, or is overflowing with virtues that would ordinarily grant xps, it's still 30xp/year. Whether he has a fabulous lab and personal virtues, or has a hovel and is stacked with flaws that make learning spells a Sisyphean endeavor, 1xp equals 1 spell level. A magus with Cautious Sorcerer and Flawless Magic and a focus that covers his familiar will warp exactly like a magus of similar age, who rolls extra botch dice for his spells, has Loose Magic, is always cannot bind a familiar and is Twilight Prone. And what about Reputations? (There's a major virtue in the Merinita section of HoH:MC that lets you learn spells using xps; it is usually a very suckful virtue but not for a character developed using 30/year. Darius from the main rulebook, for example, gains many xps by swapping out Flawless Magic and taking this virtue, but leaving the rest of the character exactly as is.)



I agree with your point, there should be a vast number of books of high quality (10+), even if the authors only write a book once in a decade (that seems more realistic than 1 every 2 years, that is quite optimistic).

In one of our sagas, a magus wrote a quality 6 tractatus : we just told her to stop writing, wasting her time and our ressources on useless stuff that will be never read.

If books are really that comon of that quality then the rules in covenants and core for establishing your library are completely hogwash. Under this system of thinking most covenants would exceed the allocation of total build points in the library alone, even for high summer, in a couple of decades.

I agree one per decade is more reasonable than one per two years, but we are assuming that these books written ar actually useful to all players. There must be masses of written material that is frankly not useful, or strange. Books written about magical avilities, bizzarre spells, spells incorporating particular hermetic virtues which are uncommon, books written in odd languages, books about divine magic, books about houes and other myseteries, books on all manner of what the average hermetic mage would consider... junk. And then there are all those books which were lost...

Assuming one in ten magi take the good teacher virtue is more a sad reflection of the paucity of choices for virtues and flaws and the obvious advantage this offers to a generous player than a true reflection of the likely frequency it would be found.

To reiterate, I am working with the details listed in the rule about how common books are at these levels from the published game material, and it suggests it is conserably more uncommon than most players do here. I also am not inclined mages are as willing to share as players would be. Looking at how much effort one has to put in to get use of Durenmar, for example, yeah they got great books, but you are unlikely to earn 30XP a year there unless you are a resident.

I think the bottom line is that it is all very much an in-your-saga thing. It all depends on saga assumptions. Given that a sound author has +5 Communication, which is relatively easily obtained with the proper spells, a high-vis simulation will "reasonably" create lots of them. A low-vis saga will have very few, as practically no-one will undergo the spells.

I do believe the rules for libraries/covenants do not fit well what actual libraries will look like if we were to simulate Mythic Europe under "reasonable" assumptions. It is extremely easy to quickly build up far more costly libraries. I also agree with the Kaiser that libraries ought to include lots and lots of books on subjects that are of little interest to most magi, probably vain books.

Which brings us to the question of whether you want to decide what Mythic Europe's libraries look like based on such a simulation, or on the covenant-creation rules. I think the latter are better, precisely because they underestiamte the capacity of PCs to create and gain books. This allows them to relatively-quickly amass an "impressive" library, giving them opportunities for trade and therefore faster growth and story potential - both good for the saga.

From Covenants, p94, a sound tractatus has a quality of about 11
p95 it is indicated that such books are very common and often go for a price of 2-3 pawns

Even poor covenants should be able to afford to buy those.

Quality 11 books means "com +3" or "good teacher", that's not your average magus, but it means a significant number magii of each Tribunal can make a living producing books. If they want it to be an efficient work, they have to produce popular books (maybe even on demand). So in my vision, book trading in the Order is one of the main "businesses", with vis exchange.

Unpopular, low quality, books on strange subjects are often created, but they are copied, exchanged, read and repaired less often. I don't think it would be logical for those to represent the majority of the hermetic books, or even a large portion of the existing books.

Ehm, isn't tractatus quality Com+6, so that Quality 11 requires Com of +5, or else Com +2 and Good Teacher? That should be rather more rare. Of course, with a +2 bonus arranged by having a commentary that is written on resonant materials, say, this is alleviated; the supplements push the power level up.

What I find interesting in some of the above posts that the assumption that the Order is full of High Comm magi due to ritual spells....I totally disagree with this assumption. I assume the Order is full of high Comm magi because Comm is THE most important attribute for the Order as a whole, not Int.

Probably should explain that statment a bit...

Intelligence in ArM5 is all about Lab Work - the practical application of knowledge - thats it, nothing more.
Communication in ArM5 is all about sharing Knowledge - the original reason the order was formed.

Lab Totals are very easily improved with age and circumstance. Therefore the importance of Intelligence is reduced further. Only commprending Twilight is dependant almost solely on Intelligence, which can instead be avoided, which doesn't involve Intelligence.

Book Qualities are almost entirely dependant on the author's Communication, with no way for a magi to improve their potential book quality with age and yet high qaulity books are the most important resource within the Order (no books therefore no Arts score for enchantments, longevity rituals, aegis, and with no longevity rituals, no time, the other most vaulable resource for a magus)

Therefore, for the more academically minded side of the Order, they would value high Communication over high Intelligence (even Bonisagus magi, as without good Qualities, Breakthoughts are hard to teach)



True, intelligence in RAW isnt really that important.
Playing by RAW i place the order of importance as Stamina->Communication->Quickness->Intelligence
Last two and Perception or Presence switching places depending on the type of character(a labrat doesnt need Qik, while a diplomat needs all the Pre they can get, as example)

Presence is necessary to initiate others in Mysteries.

I'll now play devil's advocate for the value of intelligence.

Int is used whenever a magus uses his or her lab total. In my experience once or twice a year. Small changes in lab total mean differences of seasons when it comes to inventing spells or enchantments that aren't significantly lower level than the character's max.

The small bonus to casting given by stamina isn't as crucial as a small bonus to lab total can be because it can't cost you seasons and the ways to increase penetration (wizard's communion, talisman, arcane connection, words and gestures, vis) are as a rule far easier to get your hands on then ways to increase lab total.

With ceremonial magic as expanded in the Societates book stamina becomes a very small portion of the spont spell total in matters where every bonus counts, lets not forget that the stamina score is divided by 2 in these instances.

Communication is useful in creating books to sell, it doesn't help with creating lab notes of the novel spells you've created, extracting vis, or crafting enchanted items for trade. Meanwhile, when it comes to trade int isn't good for writing tractatus but it does apply for extracting vis to trade, crafting novel spells and enchantment to trade lab notes about and crafting valuable items to exchange for the valuable items of others. So, by and large, intelligence is more valuable to gain hermetic wealth than communication.

Quickness?, please, when is you SG going to put your characters in a situaton where going first is fantastically critical? Magi care not gunfighters, they have grogs that stand between themselves and danger. Going first is not as important as having the right spell ready when your action comes around and int will lower the difficulty of getting that right spell.

[devil's advocate mode off]

I have an established list of famous authors I use to create libraries. It is a list of about 80 magi, covering a timespan from the founding to the current date. It is my presumption that it is the books by these people that are copied again and again. And guess what? Over half of them have the Good Teacher Virtue. If they had, say, "Inventive Genius" instead, they wouldn't be writing books. They would spend their time in the lab inventing new spells and such. Magi do what they are best at doing. In ArM4, I played a Jerbiton with Strong Writer and Com +1. He wrote new books, the others didn't.
Books written by authors with a negative communication get used as kindling for the fireplace.
It isn't that a good Com score and Good Teacher are common amongst the general population. But these are common amongst those magi who become famous authors.
Having said that, there would be a few crappy authors that get circulated as well, mainly because an extremely high Art score allows them to write high quality summae by pushing the level down to mid-range.
And there is fame & prestiege as well. Heck, a lot of you guys think Tolkien was a brilliant author, when in reality he is at best somewhat mediocre. But he is famous because he was one of the first (though I would point out that it was Robert Howard that invented the Sword & Sorcery genre).

And back again

Lab totals are the easiest general total to increase - 2 Arts, 1 Ability, Lab Customization, Familiar, Apprentice, Material and Shape Bonus's for items, suporting Magi (rare I know).

Vis extraction - by RAW - moderate vis power levels see 10 pawns per year per magus for a covenant, usually enough the average enchanter - plus Hermetic Alchemy is a far more potent minor virtue than Great Intelligence/Improved Attribute for improving vis extraction (plus all the usual lab total improvements)

I agree stamina isnt too important, but if I'm playing a combat type mage, I will invest in it (plus it helps avoid twilight, good for low Int characters)

Quickness - having a high quickness isnt about going first, its about being able to fire off Fast Casts easier (I'm uncertin of how it was meant to be interrupted- but our interruptation is that you can still Fast Cast after your go in the turn sequence as long as you can make the roll)

The Hermetic Book trade is by far the largest trade network within the Order. With good books to trade, a covenant can gain access to any other magical resource it needs or favors or polictical pull. Having 1 or 2 magi that can produce Q15 Tractatus straight out of apprenticeship is a massive boon (im sure all the arts can gain +1 resonance) and makes the covenant very powerful within the primary economy of the Order (as I also assume that new useful summa are very rare, as most, if not all of the Foundations and Pillars are well established, that it is Tractatus trade primaryily driving the Book Trading).

I maybe a little crazy, but I always feel a little bad if I make a character to play that has Comm +0...

Comm for win :mrgreen:


PS Just for interest, the older magus I've gen'd up with the help of this thread has Int +5, Com +5....without ritual improvement...

I call upon Intelligence whenever I have a character make a Lore roll or attempt to figure out a riddle or discern the value of a clue.

Knowing a spell is useless if you can't cat it, and almost useless if it cannot penetrate. Stamina is also important for soaking damage (from combat, lab explosions, or the fury of your wife when she finds out you have been sleeping with your apprentice).

Comminication is also used in negotiations, bargaining, and swaying the tribunal in polotical discussion. IMS, I have one player with a character that has a Com -2. He plays it up, and deliberatly has his character speak in such a way that makes it difficult to understand them.

All the time. Quite often in fact.

Yeah, if your yellow :laughing:
Not everyone plays cowardly magi, and they don't alays treat their grogs as meatshields. I myself prefer to fight alongside my grogs. Or, as is more often the case. I am the one in front and they are there as backup.
Keep in mind that I am the infamous that Flambeau guy :mrgreen: . I am not making the claim that I am unexceptional (in fact, I am quite exeptional :smiley: ). I am simply stating that your presumptions are not universal nor even that wide of a majority.

Having the right spell is useless if you get killed before having a chance to use it. It is best to have your combat and action type spells mastered so as to be able to fast cast them.
I invite you to come play with us over in "Light of Andorra", and see how long you can survive.

Intelligence is obviously very important. The Lab Total is the number one total, and bonuses to it matter when you're pushing the edge, and PCs do. It i far less important in ArM5 than ArM4, but still important.

Communication is also important for the book trade, but otherwise I don't think much of its uses. I'd put affecting the tribunal, and effective bargaining, down to Presence. It' still very useful for the right kind of magus, but not that much.

At any rate, I again maintain that it is probably best to base the number of books and their levels and qualities on the guidelines, rather than on simulations - because said guidelines would be surpassed in a normal saga, which would work to make the PCs matter.