Creating an Adventuring Magus

So I'm wanting to make a Magus who is particularly good at Adventuring. I'm thinking somewhat all-rounder but with a decent emphasis on combat, I was wondering how hard the system would fight me in order to make a Fight Wizard.

Best comparison is sort of Geralt of Rivia.

Additional thing, this would be someone who is straight out of Gauntlet, aged 25.

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Well, I've seen several builds that use Subtle and Silent Magic, or Performance Magic, to make the casting less obvious. Then you either select spells which target your gear or choose a relatively discrete sigil.

One thing to check with your troupe is how seriously they are going to enforce encumbrance.


Ars Magica is a very deadly system, if I were in your place I would start with Quen sign,I over the years go emulating the other signs


Someone like Rotgiers de Gerberoy (The Lion and the Lily p.60f) might be what you go for: as a fighter and a magus, he needs to understand well when to use which skill or spell.
But Rotgiers is a over 50 years out of gauntlet. He started as a Large Rego Terram Tremere with Improved Characteristics, Gentle Gift and Puissant Single Weapon, and needed lots of xp to become what he is. House Tremere might have helped and even made him.

Here is a young fighter magus example: a Muto Flambeau.

Covenant: Triamore
Characteristics: Int +2 (Shrewd), Per -2 (Focused), Pre +1 (Fatal Beauty), Com 0, Str +3 (Stalwart), Sta +1 (Tough), Dex +1 (Deft), Qik +1 (Nimble)
Size: 0
Age: 21 (21), Height: 168 cm, Weight: 58 kg, Gender: Female
Decrepitude: 0
Warping Score: 0 (0)
Confidence: 1 (3)
Virtues and Flaws: Hermetic Magus, Gentle Gift, Affinity with Single Weapon, Improved Characteristics, Tough (Soak: +3), Warrior (50/50)*, Puissant Single Weapon, Deft Form (Corpus) [Form: Corpus], Affinity with Muto, Minor Magical Focus (self-transformation), Knight, School of Ramius, The Gift;
Rigid Magic, Envied Beauty, Bound Magic, Unimaginative Learner (Studying from Raw Vis: -3), Higher Purpose (Code of Garus), Miles
Personality Traits: Brave +2, Chivalrous +2, Confident +2
Reputations: Flambeau House Acclaim (Magi Flambeaux) 1
Dodge: Init: +1, Attack --, Defense +4, Damage --
Fist: Init: +1, Attack +4, Defense +4, Damage +3
Kick: Init: +0, Attack +4, Defense +3, Damage +6
Dagger: Init: +1, Attack +7, Defense +5, Damage +6
Sword, Long & Shield, Heater (AoUW: +1): Init: +3, Attack +13, Defense +14, Damage +9
Sword, Long: Init: +3, Attack +13, Defense +10, Damage +9
Lance & Shield, Heater (AoUW: +1) (mounted): Init: +2, Attack +15, Defense +15, Damage +8
Hammer & Shield, Heater (AoUW: +1): Init: +1, Attack +11, Defense +12, Damage +11
Soak: +17
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: Latin 4 (Hermetic Usage), Artes Liberales 1 (Grammar), Code of Hermes 1 (Wizard's Marches), Magic Theory 3 (Invent Spells), Parma Magica 1 (Mentem), Concentration 1 (Casting Spells), Etiquette 0 (Magi) (1), Charm 1 (First Impressions), Awareness 1 (Keeping Watch), Survival 0 (Woods) (1), Athletics 1 (Jump), Brawl 3 (Dagger), Animal Handling 1 (Horses), Low German 5 (Saxon), Order of Hermes Lore 1 (Flambeau), Ride 3 (battle), Scribe 0 (Copying) (1), Single Weapon 5+2 (Sword, Long)
Arts: Cr 0, In 5, Mu 12, Pe 0, Re 0, An 5, Aq 0, Au 0, Co 5, He 5, Ig 0, Im 0, Me 0, Te 5, Vi 0
Equipment: Shield, Heater (AoUW: +1) (Init: 0; Atk: 0; Dfn: +4; Str: 0; Cost: Standard); Full Plate and Mail Armor (HoA: +2)
with Open Helmet (Soak: 17) (Soak: 17; Protection: 13); Horse: Warhorse (Mounted Combat)
Encumbrance: 0 (3)
Spells Known:
Shriek of the Impending Shafts (InHe 15) +11
Cloak of Black Feathers (MuCo(An) 30) +23
Disguise of Own New Body (MuCo 5) +23
Eyes of the Cat (MuCo(An) 5) +18
Gift of the Bear's Fortitude (MuCo 25) +23
Aegis of Unbreakable Wood (MuHe 15) +18
Hardness of Adamantine (MuTe 25) +18


As well as the sound advice others have already given a solid option for a "fighty" magus is to make them a Verditius.


  • You can prep enchanted items for combat in advance. Most magi will fall back on their tried and true favourite spells in a life-or-death situation anyway, this just fixes them into your equipment. Your advantages as a Verditius allow you to do this better than other magi so you punch above your weight even early on.
  • You can make a number of charged items (potions, talismans, unguents, charged items can be framed in a lot of ways) to cover other bases. Again being a Verditius makes this more effective than for other magi.
  • Either later on or maybe at the start if your saga allows it you'll be able to access mysteries such as Items of Quality that will allow you to improve your equipment further still. A quality sword with an extra +4 to "harm human and animal bodies" drastically increases the capability of a magus in combat before any spells are taken into account. You can also get quite thematic with these items - for example blackthorn has a Material bonus of +6 to "Guardians". A blackthorn shield of quality could enhance this quality and grant +6 to all defence rolls, but only when the bearer is defending someone else.
  • Even if you don't learn these mysteries yourself if your character is a Verditius it's much easier to explain how they might commission some of these items from other Verditii.


  • You need casting tools for formulaic magic so it's essentially useless in a fight. You will have to rely on spontaneous magic to deal with anything your items can't handle. A talisman and some attunements to improve your spontaneous magic is pretty vital (you'd be surprised what you can do with non fatiguing spontaneous magic with a good atunnement).
  • You have to spend seasons in the lab occasionally actually making or improving items which isn't terribly compatible with a roving adventurer lifestyle.
  • This character would not be well regarded by other Verditii if they spend all their time adventuring and making items for themselves instead of doing commissions and so on.
  • To get the most out of the Verditius bonuses and mysteries you'll need to invest experience into getting at least moderately good craft and philosophiae skills so your arts and/or other skills will be slightly lower.

I've played a character like this and it's certainly interesting. Because you generally don't cast magic "in the field" but rely on items the vibe is less wandering wizard and more like one of those saga heroes who has all of his remarkable possessions described across 50 stanzas.


I think you need to decide first whom you want to fight under what conditions. Do you want to beat high MR? Do you want to beat large armies? Or individually deadly foes? Or do you mainly want to gain a reputation as a swordsman as well as a wizard?

My favourite is the Ex Misc Rusticani, but if you are going to fight single-handedly, the Verditius is fine since you will only need one of each item.

I think the main strength of Hermetic magic is the defensive spells which can make you virtually invulnerable. A combat worthy heartbeast, encircling winds of protection, wizard's sidestep, bear's fortitude - there are so many ways to boost both defence and soak with passive effects.

On one point the system fights you. There is a shortage of xp, and if you want to have an excellent sword skill (75-105xp), you have to sacrifice arts and other important abilities for you magic. You have a similar problem with characteristics. However, with a good selection of spells, a weapon ability at 3 might suffice.

The most critical point though, is if the saga will support an adventuring magus. Will he get enough limelight? Will the adventures be long enough to be a source of experience? Etc. etc.

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Hmm, I've looked over these idea and I think I've come up with some kind of potential Sword-Wizard; I think what I've got is to some degree interesting? Hopefully you can all weigh in.

Starting Ex Miscellanea; I think the free virtue's are too good to pass up for this build honestly.

Free Major Non-Hermetic; Giant Blood. Free Major Minor-Hermetic; Subtle Magic (this is so I can cast spells even with a sword/shield)

Virtues are; Mythic Blood (Minor Magical Focus in Self-Transformation with Continence as the Flaw), Affinity with Art - Corpus; Skilled Parens, Independent Study, Improved Characteristics, Privileged Upbringing, Puissant Sword & Warrior.

Flaws would most likely be Study-Requirement, Short-Ranged Magic, Infamous Master, Black Sheep, Major Driven.

So a short explanation of why each virtue in my mind;

Giant's Blood gives you +2 Size which means a greater range of Health Increments. Also Characteristics Boost.

Mythic Blood because it allows me to have a good power for free, and allows me to fall short of spells by 10.

Independent Study gives you a quality boost to your Adventures and Practicing.

Privelaged Upbringing gives you 50 EXP you can spend on General, Academic or Martial Abilities - Combined with Warrior (which also gives you 50 EXP to spend on Martials) that's a total of 100 EXP allowing for an easy placement of 75 EXP in Sword, with an additional 25 to be spent elsewhere. This means I have plenty room for other stuff during Apprenticeship.

Puissant Sword is obvious as it would take that 5 to 7; 8 with Speciality in that specific weapon.

I haven't really worked out spells yet - A lot of self-buffs most likely, with a decent amount being on strengthening ones self. I know with Giant's Blood my spells would have to be tailored in order to affect me being Size 2.

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General advice - have Stamina as a good characteristic, maybe consider Great Stamina - it boosts your casting totals and makes you harder to kill.

Consider what arts you can use most flexibly, and try and think what uses you can put them to.

How are you going to travel to all these adventures? If you want to ride, you'll need Inoffensive to Animals, or an Animal Companion/Magical Animal Companion you can ride, or a lot of animal to control your mount. If you are going to magically fly or teleport around, how is the rest of the party going to keep up with you? Figuring this out will make planning expeditions easier.

If you want to survive dealing with supernatural threats, Puissant Parma Magica goes a long way.

If you want to focus on being a one-trick pony, Spell mastery is really good and allows you to boost your penetration and cast multiple copies of the same spell. Life Boost is excellent for defeating that one really high Magic Resistance enemy but risking exhausting yourself.

Specific things from books:
HoH: Mystery Cults has a virtue "Independent Study" that lets you gain extra experience from adventures and practice, might be useful if you adventure a lot rather than reading books.

HoH: Societates has the Major General virtue "Sanguine Humor's Blessing" which gives you a bonus based on your story flaw, and the bigger your flaw the bigger the bonus. The bonus given for "Enemies" (major story flaw) would be +3 to skills and +5 to spells that attack or defend, whereas "Dependent" gives a bonus to support or protect, and "True Love" gives a bonus to impress or persuade.

That sounds like a good design for immediate power. What you will find, in a long-lived saga, is that other PC magi will overtake you. You have taken three of the flat extra XP virtues (skilled parens, warrior, and privileged upbringing). They help a lot for the initial build, but nothing for advancement. It all depends on your saga of course.

An important consideration is how your group will handle Adventure XP. Even with something like the Independent Study Virtue, you will end up outpaced by the other Magi if they are allowed seasons of uninterrupted labwork and study. If your group uses a HR like a throwback to Story XP (4th edition) rather than Adventure XP (5th edition) it will help keep things more even.

A not mentioned but very important Virtue for combat survival with weapons is Cautious with Ability. Combat comes down to "he who botches first loses" once a certain level of skill and equipment is reached.

Have you considered building an Archer rather than a Swordsman? A skilled and deadly Archer does not require as much of a Virtue sink as a Swordsman.

I have - but it's all about the aesthetics for me hahaha - There's something cooler about a sword-wizard than a bow wizard yknow?

But Yeah being outpaced is definitely something I'm worried about - hence why I took the flat exp boosters for now. I'll look at that House-Rule and discuss with the Saga, I've found for me I kind of don't enjoy sitting in a lab too much, I do like being out in the field and doing things.

Yes, but without making a massive effort your sword-wizard will be more Gandalf than Geralt.

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Yeah, I think going for Geralt is a bit tricky only because the system really wants you to be more Gandalf than Geralt - I'm going to fiddle about a bit more but I think what I've got as a base is solid?

If there's any more recommendations please let me know, I do want this to happen haha.

I will double down that Cautious with Ability is very important if you are determined to have him fight in melee as a primary goal.

Also do not forget that your Arts increase your soak totals. So your Te and He will directly help protect you in fights against other humans, while An will help against attacks from critters.

I've dropped Improved Characteristics and took up in it's stead Cautious with Ability - Also dropped Affinity with Corpus and took Inoffensive to Animals so that I could be on a horse.

How does your group handle Parma Magica/Magic Resistance? Does it bounce an enchanted item no matter what? Does it bounce an enchanted item only while it is under an effect? A not standard but sometimes seen HR is that magic which directly effects the item rather than the struck being is not effected by PM/MR.

Effects like Edge of the Razor can be detrimental or important to the build depending on your groups stance here. If they are firmly in the "any magic bounces" category, then you will need to borrow a Geralt'ism and have a "silver sword", specifically a weapon which has nothing done to it that will make it bounce off PM/MR.

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If you really want a sword magus, do consider a Criamon.

Cautious with Ability!!! Yes, that's so valuable in a few spots, and combat is one of them.


Cautious Sorcerer too. Melee combat is a place that's going to generate extra botch dice.

This is a very good point - a path of strife Criamon makes for a pretty good combat focused magus with access to some unique powers. A big advantage of this style is that you can still pursue a magical goal without sacrificing combat skill and vice versa, because magi on the path of strife can use their Enigmatic Wisdom score as their score in their chosen weapon.

The path of strife also gives access to some very jedi/witcher/(insert mystic warrior archetype here) powers such as being able to sense magic, being able to harm things with your weapon that would normally be immune to mundane attacks by locating their weak spots, being able to pull mundane objects towards you or repel them away from you etc.

Of course you have to commit to playing a Criamon, which isn't everyone's cup of tea. But it's a strong contender.

While a Criamon magus on the Path of Strife can be a very good sword magus, it is not a good choice if you ever want to interact with mundanes.
The combination of the stigmata of Criamon magi, and the Blatant Gift you get from the first initiation on the Path of Strife, is pretty much guaranteed to make all mundanes distrust and/or hate you.
Other magi often think Criamon magi are weird, and even other Criamon magi think the ones on the Path of Strife are odd.

Another option, which does not add much mechanically but is thematically appropriate and quite vanilla, is to make a Flambeau magus following the School of Ramius. The section on them (HoH:S p28-29) has plenty of suggestions on spells and such for them.

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