Critique my house rules?

I'm getting ready to start my first online ArM5 game and I'm hoping those of you with more experience than myself could critique the house rules I'm considering implementing. Some of these were taken from when other people posted similar questions in the past, but all have been adjusted, and most are new.

1) General:
1a) Everything in the Core book is allowed. Anything else requires my approval (which I'll usually give). I will maintain a list of what I've allowed for future reference, so feel free to ask lots of questions, but please look at that list first, in case your question has already been answered.

1b) Magi enter play immediately after graduation and PCs will not have time to craft items, invent spells etc before the story begins.

1c) On any simple or quality die roll, rather than rolling, you may choose to "take 5." You must make this decision before you roll.

1d) Stunt bonuses: If you put extra thought and effort into something, you may get a small bonus on a relevant check.

2) Virtues/Flaws.
2a) Additional Virtues and Flaws can be acquired throughout the game, but it is not easy, and they're typically the effect of something your character has been through.

2b) Gentle Gift may be taken alongside another Major Hermetic Virtue (normally only one Major Hermetic Virtue is allowed).

2c) Personal Vis source grants you a Supernatural Ability: Vis Cultivation, with a Specialty in your chosen Art. Vis Cultivation may be increased by spending experience or taking Virtues like Puissant Ability. For each point in this Ability (including bonuses from Virtues and the Specialty), you get one pawn of vis per year, to add clarity and prevent the Virtue from losing relevance over time.

2d) Minor House Virtues may be substituted for other virtues, as long as they are thematically appropriate and roughly equal in power. For example, Tremere Magi may choose a different Minor Magical Focus than Certamen, but it should still be something thematically appropriate to that House.

3) Abilities:

3a) You may swap Specializations any time you permanently increase the governing score. You may also exchange one Ability point in a language for one Ability point in a different language in the same group per year spent immersed in a culture using the new language. E.g. if you move from France to Germany, you could gradually swap out your points in French for points in German. Likewise, if you spent months studying tomes written in Arameic, you could gradually swap out points in Hebrew for points in Arameic. The same applies to (Area) Lore.

3b) Dual wielding: Apply the best weapon modifiers (initiative, damage, etc) and the worst Ability (Single weapon[dagger] etc). Dual Wielding is now a valid Single Weapon Specialization. You still only get one attack per round - the second weapon is presumably used to parry or feint.

3c) Shields: Add +2 to Defense, so a Buckler now has a Defense of 3. There's a reason shields were so popular, but by default, a staff has better defense than a shield.

4) Progression:

4a) A character can miss up to one month in a season and still get full benefit of that season for purposes of lab work and so forth, but no more than once a year (they can make up for lost time, but doing so continuously will cause burnout). Adventure experience can be added to other sources of experience, and is the only type of experience for which this is true. For lengthy adventures, travels and stories, it would usually be better to send a Companion. But if your magus wants to go speak with a neighboring Lord, that alone should not waste the entire season.

4b) Every season allows a character to remove a single experience point from an Ability and put it into a different Ability you already possess, and likewise for Arts. This happens passively and does not require action on part of the character. If you regret choosing a particular Virtue, Flaw or other character design choice, talk to me. I would rather you stick with your character and work with me to find a way to address your concerns than to scrap the whole character. It may even be a good source of adventure hooks. This is both more realistic, and ensures that Abilities actually reflect the skills and interests of the character.

4c) Familiars gain experience just like normal characters, from reading books and so on. Note that the Familiar must still have sufficient intelligence to read a book; this only changes how much experience they would gain from such activities.

4d) Recover one Confidence Point per season until the number of Confidence Points equal the Confidence Score.

5) Magic:

5a) Magi choose which Characteristic (except Intelligence or Stamina) they use to calculate their Casting Total. Once chosen, this decision is exceedingly difficult to overturn. It is also an indication of the paradigm through which they understand their own spellcasting. E.g. Hermione's emphasis on the proper pronunciation of Leviosah would be an example of someone emphasizing Communication.

5b) A Magus, Companion or creature with Might who drops from healthy to Dead in one attack, instead drops to Incapacitated and sustains five Heavy Wounds. If they sustain one more wound at this point, or if they had one or more wounds before the attack, they die as normal. This should reduce the frequency of PCs, familiars and important NPCs dying from a single unlucky roll. Five Heavy Wounds is still a huge setback with proper medical care, and is essentially a death sentence without it.

5c) Particularly powerful creatures will have higher Magic Resistance than their Might would normally dictate. In such cases, it may be useful to spend some time and prepare, to increase the Penetration multiplier before upsetting them.

5d) Parma suppresses magic as appropriate, but does not cancel it. If a magus is struck by a flaming sword, the Parma may suppress the flame, but the mage would still be struck by a red-hot glowing sword.

5e) If there is debate about which Art should be used to accomplish something, I will often allow either one, but with different outcomes. Example: An apple tree can be made to blossom in winter via Muto (by changing it into a tree that blossoms in the winter), by Creo (by creating new apples or blossoms), or with Rego (by hastening the natural process of growth, though this may cause the tree to wilt and die if it cannot also acquire the nutrients and sunlight it needs). While Creo and Muto could achieve more spectacular results in less time, only the effects of Rego would be permanent without vis, and only permanent apples would provide lasting sustenance.

5f) Vis and Auras may have "Specialties". For example, a single pawn of Mentem vis gathered from a ghost may appear eerie and ephemeral, and would count as two pawns of Mentem vis if used in matters relating to spirits or the dead. Likewise, a Magical aura near the top of a tall, wind-swept mountain might count as one point stronger when doing things related to Auram.

What do you hope t gain from this precision? Are your players not going to respond well to "just write down what's appropriate and don't be cheesy?"

Why are you less mean to the magi than to the grogs? Don't the grogs suffer enough already? Botches are fun. Would you consider letting the players assign stunt bonuses to NPC's. If there's no balance I'd imagine there'd be some added difficulty in providing appropriate challenges.

Are you expecting to run into issues ith regard to the precision of the encumbrance rules?
2) Virtues/Flaws.

Is this in addition to or instead of the suggestions on page 37? I've a;ways been pretty happy with the virtues and flaws without additional guidance.

One common house rule along these lines is replacing the certamen focus of hose Tremere (I've used "Tremere support"something akin to guild trained or skilled parens). It's hard to justify certamen as a social structure if it's inherently unfair and Tremere would really like to have different magical foci.

The downside of this is that it's then quite disadvantageous to leave your magus in the lab or library and play your companion or a grog. Getting magi to take part in stories is not something that I've ever had problems with. People already want to play their magi, I suspect that it will be counterproductive to incentivise this even further.

you mean the starting amount? there is no normal maximum.

That's harsh, if this causes problems for you don't be afraid to bend it

pretty much everyone agrees that penetration on charged devices needs to be nerfed.

I and quite a few others find effect expiry detrimental to fun

It's just there to give an idea of what I consider reasonable. One SG might consider "Wealthy" to mean something vastly different than another SG, and we do have actual prices listed in a few of the books now, so I figured I'd use them.

There's two points here: Firstly, the botch dice and grogs: From what I've seen (which is admittedly limited), grogs come and go. If one of them has a bad accident, it's not such a big deal, but people tend to get more attached to their Companions and Magi, so if bad things happen to them, it's more upsetting than funny. Again, I'm fairly new, so if that's not your experience, please tell me.
Second: Why provide bonuses at all? Because sometimes players put a lot of thought and effort into the game. For instance, one player drew up a schematic for the covenant building he wanted his magus to build. He made sure windows in the arboretum were facing east to improve the amount of sunlight they'd get, and since there was a regular east-blowing wind, he placed stables downwind from the living quarters, so people wouldn't have to smell horse manure all the time. I thought that was really thoughtful, and I felt like he should get some kind of recognition for putting in the extra work. Hence, a small bonus to the building attempt.

Honestly, probably not. But it was a question someone else asked in this forum recently, so I figured I'd put it in. But I guess there's no reason to go to that level of detail unless it comes up, so I'll probably just leave this out like you suggested.

This would be in addition to the rules on page 37. Honestly, I'd just like to let people have the option of distributing more points, since there are so many more Virtues/Flaws in all the books that came out since the Core book. Since I'm prepping for an online game with people I don't know, I don't know how powergamey they will be, and I expect some will be worse than others. So I figured that I could give them a bit more creative liberty, and by limiting the extra Virtues/Flaws to the ones that usually don't cause huge surges in power, it'd be an opportunity that rewards the creative without encouraging munchkinism.

That's the rule that gave me this idea. I just took it one step further. I totally understand the example you listed, but what about a Guernicus who, for whatever reason, lacks the Hermetic Prestige they normally get? Or maybe someone comes from a line of lycanthropes, whose bloodline was cursed by a powerful fae, to prevent those of their blood from killing anyone else, and until they find a way to break that spell, they simply cannot change shapes? The point is just that having more options is never a bad thing, and I still maintain that whatever they choose in place of their House Virtue must be reasonable and thematically appropriate.

If someone wants to play a magus who also likes to explore and adventure, I feel like that should be okay. But I do see your point. On one hand, I don't want to punish players unduly if they want to make an adventurous magus. But on the other hand, if magi can go adventuring without losing out on anything, why would you ever play a Companion? Well, I do have some ideas, but I'd love to hear some suggestions.

Ah, my bad. I meant that they would recover confidence points up to their confidence score. E.g. if you have Self-Confident and thus a Confidence score of 2, you would gradually recover confidence points until you cap out at 2 again.

I love the rules on gaining penetration multipliers based on proper preparation, research and finding and using arcane connections. And in the cases I've seen, beating magic resistance is laughably easy, even with no preparation. Magi should be powerful, and for 90% of the encounters, I'm find with regular amounts of magic resistance. But occasionally I'd like to give them a challenge worth getting out of bed for. Not every fight, just... Really big, dangerous things.

How would you address that?

Would you suggest just removing it as an option?

[Oh, and I'll edit the first post to include the changes I've made after reading your suggestions: Added comment to the Wealth calculations, corrected the Confidence rule, removed the rule on strength and lift limits, clarified the minor House virtue rule, changed the stance on extra magic resistance to mention that it only applies to particularly powerful creatures, limited scope for stunt dice and removed extra botch dice for grogs.]

Make those concurrent adventures a "5th season" that can happen anytime during the year.

Remember also that a story can flesh out a character without giving anything of value. Sometimes dealing with failure can improve motivation like nothing else.

You mean basically one season per year that magi cannot spend on lab work anyway, so they might as well adventure?

While I can certainly see the wisdom in those words, I'm not sure how they apply to the game. Would you mind elaborating a little?

I love house rules, but some of these would make me uncomfortable.

Summarizing it all, you are complicating things a lot in a game that already is quite complicated. I love the inherent complication, but stretching it may be just too much.

Specially the rules for weight and wealth: if I were to play that game that would lead me to think that I'm going to spend a lot of time filling excel sheets to keep finances, which is quite silly in a game when you can grab some Terram Vis an create gold. Just let characters have what's appropiate for them and their wealth virtues and flaws. If you want to complicate stuff with actual economy who can interest magi, just grab Light of Andorra's hermetic economy.

But what made me really shiver was the V&F part:

I think there is already a lot of diversity, just because there are a lot of virtues and flaws and you have to choose which ones you pick. Getting room for even more virtues may backfire, just because you don't need to do such a hard selection, as you have more room for virtues.

But however the most scary part is that you can't balance hermetic or supernatural or even general virtues with story or personal flaws anymore. The possibility of getting a total of 5 virtues + 10 points is an invitation to munchkinism, but having to pick 10 points of flaws not being able to choose from Personality and Story is just too much.

Let's see: the corebook says that you may get one story flaw and 2 personality flaws, only one of them being Major. These are 3 flaws, granting 5 points, if you pick a Major story flaw (the funnier to play) and two minor personality flaws. Social Status virtue is going to be hermetic Magus, and that adds 0. So you end with a balance of 5 points to buy... what, a personality virtue? A Story virtue? To these even exist!?

Also granting The Gentle Gift a special status allowing it to combine with any other Major Hermetic Flaw is counter-thematic to how I see the virtue. It is already good enough as it is, but as I understand it, it makes the magus less bothering to other people precisely because their gift is somehow less powerful than other magi's gifts. How much less powerful? Exactly one Major Hermetic Virtue less powerful.

Allowing every season to be both adventure/lab work will slow the campaign. Having one freebie will push every magus to get out of the lab once per year, only if you do more will you be penalized by slower advancement.

The reactive example: a player wants to shore up a weakness, do a short adventure where his magus fails. This gives him the excuse to have the magus change his ways.

You can introduce the surrounding actors and future story arcs without always giving more. This make for a living countryside and open places where the players can hook their characters. You never know which tidbits can awaken the troupe creative side.

If you keep finding new vis sources ever year, you'll drown pretty quickly.

Hi,

Good rule. Even better, make it Take 6 so that players will use the rule more often.

Either this is already RAW, or it an attempt to insert White Wolf stunting rules, which were a bad idea to begin with and which have only gone rancid with time. They don't even work as well as advertised in Feng Shui.

Avoid!

In general, good plans, thoughts and effort already tend to yield good results. No need for extra rules.

That's already RAW.

Reasonable.

You can even take it further and allow multiple Major Hermetic Virtues. That's not what will break your game.

Bad idea. If vis is abundant, the player has paid both a virtue point and experience points for little benefit. If vis is scarce, bumping up this ability might be too good. Worse, the player doesn't know how prevalent vis will be in your saga, so cannot make a good decision. Worse still, you probably don't know.

Better to declare a static benefit, and let the player decide. Simpler too. The classic 1/season is fine in nearly every saga.

Great.

That's RAW.

Terrible idea. Why add more bookkeepping?

Ugh. Think of what an optimizer will do. I have no problem with the optimization, but with the weapon combos that work best.

Bucklers were not popular in 1220. But improving shields, why not?

Why not just say that you will usually ignore the distraction rules, and that if distraction might ruin a seasonal activity, you will let the player know in advance of some planned absence, since the magus is also likely to know?

It isn't realistic at all, since AM experience rules are not realistic at all. It's just extra bookkeeping. If a player is having an issue with his character, there are better ways to deal with it than pretending any in-world realism is involved.

I don't think Hermione would use Com; she just knows how to pronounce the words because she knows a lot about a lot. But that's a tangent.

Do you really want magi casting with Str?

Do you really want to ban the canonical use of Stm?

I'm not sure you have thought through the good combinations.

Ok.

Ok, but note that this will create a kind of arms race: Any player designing a character intended to eventually go toe to toe with such creatures will design a character able to shred ordinary opposition and who will only get better. And he will be right to do so.

I'm not sure what this means, but I suspect it makes parma even less useful, with only the GM knowing what does and does not get suppressed.

Rego does not actually have this effect, RAW.

If you know this, and are choosing to play differently, that's fine, as are your rules. Whatever works for you is good!

Otherwise, it might be better to play RAW.

How do magi figure this out?

Anyway,

Ken

Good idea!

Yeah, it's one of the rules I removed. When it matter, 1 or 2 extra points won't make a big difference, but adds complexity. When it doesn't matter, why bother having it at all? I'll probably just respond more leniently to good, though-out ideas and consider that enough of a bonus.

Yeah, I removed a previous rule and left this one in its place. But I'll just remove the whole entry.

A minmaxer will always find some way to break the game if that's their goal. Not sure I'd allow more Virtues than this one, but I'm doing a trial run and will see how that works out.

Honestly, I just wanted to give some indication of how much vis the Virtue generated. The rule in the book is 1/10 of what the Covenant makes, but since the plan was to play through the creation of their own Covenant, that'd be 0 pawns. And a starting ability of 2-3 would give about the same amount as you suggest anyway. But I'll have to think about what you said some more.

Ah, I missed that during my previous reading. Dropping it as a house rule.

I've lived in several countries and speak a bunch of languages, and from personal experience, learning and forgetting languages when immersed like that is REALLY quick. Shockingly so. But rather than asking people to keep track of their points, maybe just let them switch out languages at whatever rate is reasonable, and not worry about making rules for it?

I actually wrote this after looking up some Youtube videos where people demonstrate the real life pros and cons of dual wielding, and that's where I came up with the rule. For instance, one of the things they showed was that it was essentially pointless to use two identical weapons in combat. Hence why I stated you only get to add the bonuses of one weapon. And the rule of minimum skill is pretty basic. But maybe I'll streamline or simplify it a little. I'll update the rule shortly.

Honestly, I don't know how popular bucklers were in particular. I just know that shields in general were really popular (and for good reason).

Sounds good to me! I'll do that instead.

Honestly, this is the Frankensteinian horror left behind after gutting a bunch of other parts out of this rule. The original rule was more realistic, but was too complicated, so I kept stripping it down and down, and now it's (as you pointed out) not about realism any more. And the rest of the rule isn't so much a house rule as a general request, so probably doesn't belong on a list of house rules either.

Yeah, it was just the first example that came to mind.

I looked around these forums for suggested house rules, but I didn't find any that were better. For example, the one that seems the most popular indicates that Perdo uses Strength. Which means that shapechanging into a bear makes you better at invisibility spells, and so forth. So none of them really satisfied. I tried adding different combinations, but whatever I came up with, there was always something not quite right. So finally I just said "screw it" and let the players decide on their own what their magus should use. I'd leave it at Sta, but I do think that allowing more than one casting characteristic makes the world a little richer, so I'd like to do something about it. If you have any suggestions, I'd definitely welcome them!

That's the beauty of the Penetration multiplier rules in the core book: You don't have to design your character around an encounter. If an encounter is too hard, you just need to prepare more, or think of another solution Make a horoscope, send spies or companions to steal an arcane connection. Treat powerful enemies with enough respect that they'd put in some preparatory work and it's not even an issue. It just seems way too easy to beat innate magic resistance. Maybe I'll just give a MR-increasing Virtue to particularly powerful creatures and call that good instead. Also, this rule used to be worse - you're actually seeing the third revision.

I always thought Parma was pretty powerful. I mainly put this in because it seems to be a point of contention in a lot of the online games I've been reading (e.g. the "pink dot" problem.

To illustrate what I intended with this rule, think of Parma as an invisible bubble that extends maybe a foot around the magus. You swing a magic sword through that bubble, and during the time the sword is inside the bubble, the magic ceases to function. Then when the sword comes out the other side, it resumes being magic again. The magic isn't "cancelled" (i.e. permanently removed), it's just temporarily suppressed while inside the magus' Parma bubble. Does that make more/less sense?

I didn't think so either, but then I spoke with an SG on here who insisted it did, and I deferred to their experience, since I have very little of it. Basically, they claimed that Rego can only alter the flow of natural processes, while Muto can add new ones. So since it's a natural process for a tree to blossom, Rego could hasten it. Is this wrong? I know text-based media aren't good at conveying tone of voice, so let me emphasize that I'm not being sarcastic here: I really do want to know if I've misunderstood something. It's actually why I'm asking for help here.

I'd imagine the regular InVi spells would do the trick, as would any Virtue that lets the character detect Regios.

Thanks for the feedback! I've got to go to work shortly, but I'll update the list during my lunch break.

Alright, here are the rules after your feedback, especially in cases where a problem was pointed out without a proposed solution.

  1. Everything in the Core book is allowed. Anything else requires my approval (which I'll usually give).

  2. Magi enter play immediately after graduation and PCs will not have time to craft items, invent spells etc before the story begins.

  3. On any simple or quality die roll, rather than rolling, you may choose to "take 6." You must make this decision before you roll.

  4. Gentle Gift does not count as your only Major Hermetic Virtue. It still has to be balanced with Flaws however.

  5. Personal Vis source grants you a Supernatural Ability: Vis Cultivation, with a Specialty in your chosen Art. This Ability may be increased by spending experience or taking Virtues like Puissant Ability. For each point in this Ability (including bonuses from Virtues and the Specialty), you get one pawn of vis per year. So at a score of 4, you'd get 1 pawn per season.

  6. Minor House Virtues may be substituted for other virtues, as long as they are thematically appropriate and roughly equal in power. For example, Tremere Magi may choose a different Minor Magical Focus than Certamen, but it should still be something thematically appropriate to that House.

  7. You may gradually swap out old Language and (Area) Lore skills for new ones. For instance, if you move from France to Germany, you might gradually swap points in (Living Language: French) and for (Living Language: German).

  8. Dual wielding: You only get one attack per round (the other weapon is presumably used to parry), and you apply the lowest of any applicable weapon Abilities/Specialties. In return , you get to use the higher Attack, Defense, Damage and Initiative values of the two weapons.

  9. Shields: Add +2 to Defense, so a Buckler now has a Defense of 3.

  10. Familiars gain experience just like normal characters, from reading books and so on. Might does not reduce their XP gain.

  11. Recover one Confidence Point per season until the number of Confidence Points equal the Confidence Score.

  12. Magi choose which Characteristic (except Intelligence or Stamina) they use to calculate their Casting Total. Once chosen, this decision is exceedingly difficult to change. It is also an indication of the paradigm through which they understand their own spellcasting.

  13. A Magus, Companion or creature with Might who drops from healthy to Dead in one attack, instead drops to Incapacitated and sustains five Heavy Wounds. If they sustain one more wound at this point, or if they had one or more wounds before the attack, they die as normal. This should reduce the frequency of PCs, familiars and important NPCs dying from a single unlucky roll. Five Heavy Wounds is still a huge setback with proper medical care, and is essentially a death sentence without it.

  14. Particularly powerful creatures may have higher Magic Resistance than their Might would normally dictate. If this means you cannot penetrate their Magic Resistance, keep in mind the rules on ArM5 p.84 which specify ways to increase Penetration versus a particularly difficult opponent.

  15. Parma creates an invisible, protective bubble extending roughly a foot around the magus. Magic effects are suppressed while inside this bubble, but will resume their effects when removed from the bubble. For example, if a magus is struck by a flaming sword, the Parma may suppress the flame for the instant it spends inside the bubble, but the mage would still be struck by a red-hot glowing sword.

  16. If there is debate about which Art should be used to accomplish something, I will often allow more than one, though there may be different side-effects depending on your chosen approach.

  17. Vis and Auras may have "Specialties". For example, a single pawn of Mentem vis gathered from a ghost may appear eerie and ephemeral, and would count as two pawns of Mentem vis if used in matters relating to spirits or the dead. Likewise, a Magical aura near the top of a tall, wind-swept mountain might count as one point stronger when doing things related to Auram. Any effect that would reveal the nature and strength of Auras or Vis will also reveal their Specialties.

  18. Enchanting: Item Expiry (ArM5 p.99) does NOT give an Excess multiplier, it just ensures that wayward magic items eventually lose their potency. Penetration can be increased by 1 point (not 2) for each level increase spent on it.

Hi,

Glad I was helpful rather than (or at least, aside from :wink:/2) annoying....

You might find something in core that also bothers you, especially as play resolves. Of course you can change it at will; that's RAW for this and almost any other rpg! But you might want to be clear about this, since core has surprises too. (Note Erik's character threads!)

Still don't like it. Were I advising your players about character creation, I'd suggest they avoid this 'virtue'.

I'll wash my hands of this well-intentioned mistake.

Weapon+shield is worth improving, to encourage players toward popular martial styles of 1220. Improving bucklers and dual wielding is not.

But if you want that swashbuckling, non-1220 feel, this works fine.

I didn't comment about this last time around, but you might want to consider how you want familiars in your saga to behave.

If you want them to act like magi, this is a great rule.

But if you want them to act according to their nature, with cats doing catlike things and learning from it, dragons acting draconically, mooses moosing and gooses goosing, then maybe not, because with this rule, familiars will optimize their behavior.

Once you are changing rules for familiars, maybe give them Exposure and Adventure xp without penalty. This is a clear benefit over existing rules, and encourages familiars to be rped according to their animal nature.

You had asked for an alternate rule in your initial response to my post, so:

New Hermetic Minor Virtue: (Call it what you want)

Most magi cast spells using Stamina, but your style of spellcasting uses one of the other 7 characteristics and not Stamina. Choose your casting characteristic when you take this virtue, and describe your magical tradition to make sense of this choice.

Note that changing characteristics during play is 'simply' a matter of getting this virtue (and possibly losing it also). Initiation rules handle this nicely.

Using the characteristic of your choice really is a virtue. Stm is nice, but you can do things with other characteristics.

Regardless of how you implement this rule, be ready for a Bjornaer using Str and casting in animal form. Be ready for fast-casting Quickness monsters, charismatic Com or Pre monsters, School of Vilano Dex.... If you don't like this and want to heap house rules atop house rules to fix this problem, maybe the original house rule is the real problem. But making it a virtue at least imposes a cost.

I hope you look forward to spending game time engaged in entire new debates about what parma can and cannot do.

Not that the canonical rules are good, but at least there is a decade of rulings to go by.

Reasonable. Magi can now actually use this game feature rather than be surprised by it.

Reasonable. If you allow Talisman of the Soul, I recommend allowing the canonical expiry multiplier for that purpose only.

Anyway,

Ken

First an aside: if you're going back and editing your original post, it does help to keep in some of the things you've changed, using [strike]strikethrough[/strike] so people can see changes you've already made.
If you've run a few games before, and know you want certain things to be changed, it makes a lot of sense to change them. If you haven't run a lot of games, I would suggest running RAW as much as possible instead of changing everything around. I would add one houserule at a time (if possible) instead of lots if you're still testing them.
Now to make snarky comments on your ideas!

Good rule, though I feel it also doesn't need to be said. Still, if you're printing this out and handing it to people as an opening page, its good (or emailing/posting it in your case).

This is a pretty good hand-waving. I see no problem with it.

If this is just 'preparation and good ideas give bonuses', it's RAW, (I believe someone mentioned that). If it's 'bigger descriptions and efforts make better numbers', as is implied by the term 'stunt bonus', then you need to be aware of what you're doing: You're telling your players to be swashbucklers, and to make things flashier and more complicated. Do the extra mile in description and leap off the banister, grab the hanging flag, swing into the middle of the enemy. You're going to end up with very few "I stab him", and a lot of larger-than-life fantastical actions. Realistically, skilled fencers do feints and flourishes to create openings for combat; unskilled fencers doing the same can create openings for their opponent. I prefer to have those larger-than-life actions be the result of good rolls, rather than front-loading the grandiose actions to get bonuses on the attack.
It's a fine rule, if you want to play that game, though.

I don't like this rule, because I consider Gentle Gift to be one of the more powerful hermetic virtues. According to my memory in Covenants book, it takes 15 years for people to 'acclimate' fully to the gift so they can get past the awkward feelings it generates. But it does get your magi out and socializing more directly instead of through their companion characters. With your drive to push magi on adventures (which I assume includes noncombat social adventures) this is a change in that direction!

I don't have a problem with Vis Cultivation as a virtue (though it is a bit of a can of worms) but I don't think need to replace Personal Vis Source. If you want to upgrade that virtue, I'd suggest instead finding ways to increase it when the covenant increases their vis revenues significantly.

This house rule doesn't have any problems, really, and is particularly relevant to Tremere. I don't particularly LIKE it, because I think it subtracts from the flavor of the houses and invites min-maxing. Still, its mechanically balanced.

I don't mind the players asking for a chance to change things around because of how the story developed, but houseruling a static shift like this is dangerous. As a reminder, and why I think this houserule is just unecessary cluttter, is the fact that languages already have some linguistic bonuses for closely-related languages, according to the language entry in Abilities chapter.

You may end up with some interesting combinations, as everyone has 'and an axe'. It makes Single Weapon even more better-er than great weapon. Also, according to this rule, two short swords has zero bonuses compared to a single short sword. I might prefer if a second weapon just gives a +1 (or +2) defense bonus, or some such.

Shields are already very powerful, but if you want them to be more so, tha'ts fine... though, shortsword+round shield is init +1, atk +3, dfn +3, dmg+5 vs a staff +2/+3/+3+2. If you do the expensive Long sword + heater shield you get +2/+4/+3/+5. Staffs are rather defensive.

other people have better comments than I here.

Definitely a good opportunity for players to min-max their numbers. Especially with Gentle Gift. You will get Pre-based casting, Qik-based casting and Com-based casting. The thing I really would be careful about is the fact you denied players access to the default of stamina, and have to chose something else. It does make your magi more powerful and glorious, which a lot of your changes seem to be guiding towards.

A survival mechanism for terrible botches seems fine. Again, gearing towards a less grubby-realistic (I have trouble calling flying castles a gritty setting, but peasants are very dirty so... grubby?) and more towards high-adventure fantasy.

Is there a reason you want to do it this way, instead of just giving creatures a bit more Might? This is a rule I don't have a problem with, but am confused as to its purpose.

There's always many different ways to do things, and I don't think this needs a special house rule. Though your description of Rego is actually more like Creo in my reading; you can Rego to just have the blossoms bloom out of season (similar to how craft magic works!), but hastening the growth of the tree seems... not Rego.

I think this is actually a rule in the books, or something close to it. if it isn't.. then... well, seems like a fun idea.

That's exactly the plan, actually! Still, I think it can be shortened a bit.

Yeah, I dropped this rule. I don't really need to make it a rule - I can just make slightly more favorable rulings, and that'll be good enough I think.

Until I started reading these forums I didn't realize the extent to which magi were chained to their labs. I figured it was probably perfectly fine if they went adventuring once in a while. But every comment I get tells me to keep the magi locked in their tower and never let them out. I think maybe I'll do something in between: Encourage them to explore, but only a little bit. I still like this rule though - a major virtue is nothing to sneeze at, after all.

It's actually been something of a problem for me, for exactly the reason you point out. A virtue is for life, but you're stuck with whatever you had at the start of the game. And if you're not part of a covenant at the beginning, then according ot the text, this virtue does absolutely nothing. I'd like to find some general guideline for how much vis is produced, but which isn't quite so static. Maybe instead of having it as a skill, a magus with this Virtue could simply spend a season to "upgrade" it to whatever it would be, but based on more recent Covenant incomes? E.g. if you had no covenant, this Virtue did nothing. But then you joined a covenant with 20 vis/year income. So you spent one season on your vis source, and now you get vis as if you'd always been part of a 20 vis/year covenant.

For me, it's always been a high priority to allow player as much creative liberty as possible, but within the scope of the setting. This rule is just an example of that: On its own, it does nothing. But in the hands of someone who has a very vivid mental image they're trying to paint onto their character sheet, this change gives them an extra color to paint with, if that makes any sense.

I've actually been a linguist most of my life, and languages are shockingly quick to learn and forget through immersion. But while that makes the rule about changing languages more realistic, it doesn't necessarily enhance game play. I might drop it as a rule, and simply offer it as an option if it ever comes up in play.

On one hand, I understand what you're saying. But on the other, after talking to some people who are life-long fencers, LARPers and so forth, it seems like dual wielding short swords actually is a really impractical idea. But it's another one of those balancing acts between realism and narrative liberties.

Thank you for the examples. I think that actually makes pretty good sense: A shortsword is a lot more expensive than a staff, after all, and the difference in stats isn't that big.

I'm actually watching a game where they allowed a similar rule to this one, and to my surprise, not a single one of the players chose either Pre or Qik-based casting. But I think maybe you're right about allowing Sta. If they're good players, it won't cause any problems. If they're not good players, they're going to cause problems no matter what. So I have to assume they're at least decent players and not too min-maxy. Still, I hadn't considered what would happen when combined with shapechanging, so that's something I'll have to think about for sure. Someone suggested making this rule a Virtue, so they'd actually have to pay to use it, and that makes some sense to me. But on a personal note, the real reason I like it is because it adds diversity. Not every single mage should have to be a beefcake in order to be good at casting spells.

I do love down-to-earth realism, I just don't like it when the story goes completely off the rails based on a single bad roll. The dice should work for the game, not the other way around. If you have a simpler rule to accomplish that, I'd love to hear it, because mine is a little more cumbersome than I'd like.

Adding Might would work just as well - I don't really have a preference for one over the other. I just felt like it was way too easy to bypass Magic Resistance, even with no preparation. It's fine to swat trolls and giants without even trying - magi are supposed to be powerful. But powerful faerie nobles and ancient spirits should at least have some chance to survive the opening spell. I'm really just using this rule as a disclaimer, saying "Don't get too cocky or assume your spells will always bypass Magic Resistance."

That actually highlights why I put the rule in at all: The example I listed is from watching an actual game in action, and the ruling I presented was that of the SG. One person requires X, the other Y. My rule just states that either X OR Y will probably work. I'm also hoping that players might see it as an opportunity to get creative, and to think of new ways to use their Arts.

It might be, but so far I've only actually read (cover-to-cover anyway) a handful of books and I didn't see anything like that so far.

Thanks for the feedback!

Hi!

Does not seem overwhelming, but why limit it to Gentle Gift only? It seems many SGs simply ignore the negative effects of the Gift, you could simply do that.

To me this seems like a great house rule, and the Tremere example is the one that initially comes to my mind.

Players have been trying to maximize Sta and Int for a while, but Quickness is beyond easy. Might lead to all shapeshifter wizards. While Corpus growth can't usually increase/decrease Str or Quickness, Muto Animal Core spells can, in Core. So a bumblebee magus who further shrinks in size can probably get into the +17 or 18 range (Thrush is +7 Quik at -6 size). Or gigantic animal Magi, Bear starts at +6 Str. Still, size reduction seems to be easier and more convenient for Magi.

Faeries have a Virtue to get a +10 Might in their place of power, this can be modeled for other realms. Judicious use of Greater Immunity to different, common effects, taken multiple times may serve better. Anyway, my guess is that this will lead to an arms race, and that the best optimizer magus will simply trample over that +10. Or that Magi will stay in their labs and simply murder potent foes by sending others to collect arcane connections and then Tunneling or just use an Arcane range effect. Not sure if Ars Magica magical combat is exciting for any but the alpha-striking winner, but I don't have too much experience there.

Think what you mention Rego does here is actually Creo. Rego could control the plant's movement/growth as a prerequisite for a Creo growth spell, I'd buy that.

In RoP: M you can find similar concepts in Aligned Auras (p.15), and Dedicated vis (p.122). Really, the whole book has many potentially useful ideas.

I'm not one of those SGs. I like to emphasize anything on their character sheet. It always feels like I'm treating the players with more respect (and less railroading) if the world responds based on their reactions.

I considered growing larger, but did not consider the effect of growing smaller. You make a very good point. I still love the idea of not all mages needing to be beefcakes for the Stamina, but clearly, Quik is going to cause problems. What other Characteristics can a shapechanger get to crazy levels? Can you think of any way to allow a wider range of characteristics, but without also coercing everyone to turn into a bee or thrush?

I have no desire for an arms race. I just think they made MR a little too easy to break through. Maybe a +5 would be sufficient.

That decision was made by an SG with more experience than I, so in my naivete, I trusted him. I still think it'd be okay to have more than one applicable set of Arts though. And the fact that so many people in this thread disagree on what Rego does, kind of underlines the need for it.

I will check that book out next, as soon as I'm done with the current one. Thanks for all your insights!

Remember: It's your game in the end. Even if all of us on the forums tell you one thing, you can always try what you want.

Regarding the House Rule for House Virtues, I agree with the importance to have player creative liberty, but I tend to be much more... cautions about certain open-ended substitions like that phrasing there. Thematically, for House Flambeaux I can make a thematic argument for Affinity for anything they're puissant to, Puissant Single Weapon/Penetration/Warrior, magical focus in some kind of fire or destruction... The house books expand the houses an impressive amount (thanks authors!) and allow many different types of characters to fit in the society of the House.
I would suggest instead just coming up with 1-2 alternate options per house instead, if you really want to expand the options for house choices. Letting Tremere select any mMF wouldn't be untoward.

Rethinking about the two weapons wielding, in my saga we got some options that could be useful; we complicated things a bit more, but it gave some flavor and made combat more options (well, mainly one more option).

It was the sum of two house rules;

  1. All shields' weapons stats are doubled.

  2. Any combatant may use wield weapons whenever his relevant ability (Single Weapon or Brawl) is higher than the sum of the Attack bonus of both weapons minus 2 (i.e., to wield a Long Sword and a Dagger you will need Single Weapon 5 (or 4 with a relevant speciality), to use a Long Sword and a Short Sword you will need Single Weapon 6, to use a Long Sword and an Axe 7, and so on. You will need to designate one of these weapons as primary and the other as secondary. You can switch them in any round. You will have suffer an extra amount of Botch dice equal to the Attack bonus of the secondary weapon: the more extra deadly power you swing around, the more chances you get to chop your own ear.

  3. Weapon modifiers are calculated adding half the secondary weapon's combat modifiers (rounding down) to the primary weapon's combat modifiers. So any combatant with Single Weapon 2+ can wield a Long Sword and a Round Shield, and choose each round between:

  • Focusing on attack, with the sword as primary weapon and the shield as the secondary one, having the usual modifiers: Init +2, Atk +4, Dfn +3, Dam +6.
  • Or focusing on defense, with the shield as primary weapon and the sword as the secondary one, having: Init +1, Atk +2, Dfn +5, Dam +3. We had got to call this choice as "Parry", and the previous one as "Strike".

This allows shield grogs to fight more defensively when protecting their magi, which (at least to us) makes sense: combat stats shouldn't be the same for someone just trying to kill someone than for someone trying to protect someone.

So a expert swordsman could wield two long swords with a total weapons' modifiers of Init +3, Atk +6, Def +1, Dam +9, with a Single Weapon score of 7+, without making him overpowered when compared to a Great Sword wielder, with weapon modifiers of Init +2, Atk +5, Def +2 and Dam +9, just trading one point in both Init & Attack for 1 in Def, and the safety of using 4 less botch dice. This also makes harder the use of shields, as someone without a proper weapons' training (Single Weapon less than 3) won't be able to use a shield and a sword.

After some time using this rule the outcome is that shield grogs had became more useful, combat more tactical (a common scenario when two grogs are facing a common enemy is that one one of them parries and the other strikes). But my overall impression is that the had added some complexity to an act, combat, which places too much attention in something that doesn't really have it in Ars Magica. After all a good combat is that who keeps most grogs' alive until magi end it properly.

I like these dual wielding / fighting stances rules :slight_smile:

Sword (Att+4) + Shield (Att+0) - 2 = 2, no?

Thanks! The whole point was to leave things as they are for the most usual scenario of ordinary attack with weapon & shield, and not angering our Flambeau of the school of Ramius with his pole axe.

And yes, it was just 2. I was translating and typing and messed things up. It’s edited now. And the word “decent” removed.

Could you give me a reference on this being RAW? I'd always thought of it as a (common and sensible) House Rule, but it would be useful to see it if it is written down somewhere in the Rules.