Darius of Flambeau

So, it is just me or are there a few mistakes in the examples of Darius in the second printing of the core book that are not in the errata?

On page 32, Magus Only - Aprenticeship, Example, second paragraph, shouldn't he have 60 xp left?

Then again on page 33, Magus Only - After Apprenticeship, Example, first paragraph, after spending a bunch of points in Arts and Abilities he is left with 20 xp but shouldn't it be 30 xp instead?

I`m currently translating the book to Portuguese and getting a bit confused :slight_smile:

Yes, I think you are correct for both of those.


I'm still unsure on what I should do with these discrepancies on the translation, since there seems to be no official errata...

Niall, did you actually create the character? Any help?

That character is a representation of the things I hate in the game.

You'll notice he's described as frightening, with his -3 presence. So the player uses pres as a dump stat and then can act like he has a positive score. It's like saying your -3 dex makes you great at picking locks.

Then later he joins a cult in TMRE... why would they waste time, he can't initiate anyone.

I don't think that's an entirely fair analogy. I don't see how Darius' frightening appearance is portrayed as a positive feature. Yes, the player might, on occasion, try and use the frightening appearance to his advantage. But I imagine that in the vast majority of circumstances it would serve as a disadvantage (reflected, in part, by the addition of his negative Presence to any appropriate rolls). If Darius makes a Charm check, he's going to subtract 3 from that check because of his "frightening" appearance. And the SG would be perfectly justified in having people react poorly to his "frightening" appearance (quite apart from his Blatant Gift). That doesn't sound like he's acting as if it were a positive score.

One convention for ArM (perhaps from an earlier edition?) is that players will come up with an adjective for each of their scores. You have a high Dex, maybe you're "limber." She has a high Com, maybe she's "eloquent." It's a convention that I don't often see observed (in fact, I rarely see it observed), but it's there nonetheless. Darius' player clearly determined that his -3 Presence represents a "frightening" appearance. To me, that seems a perfectly reasonable adjective to apply to a -3 Presence. He could have picked another adjective: lumpish, shy, unimpressive, but he chose frightening. I fail to see a problem with that. The player is trying to make the characteristics more than just a number. Isn't that a good thing?

I can think of plenty of reasons that a mystery cult might initiate a low Presence person into the cult. (I'd hardly call it wasting their time.) Maybe he has political connections; he might have skills that the cult needs for its goals (magical, combat. investigative); he could have access to resources that the cult needs; or maybe he's just shown true dedication to their goals and they want to reward that kind of loyalty. Why does any group accept new members?

Yes, a mystery cult is going to want at least a few members who can initiate candidates to the various mysteries. And it would be advantageous (though not required) to have those people have a high Presence) But will all members of a cult need to have the capability of initiating other members? I shouldn't think so. (How often will they really be doing these initiations?) Different cult members can bring different things to the table. As noted above, the low-Presence person might bring something else of value to the cult than the ability to initiate others.

In the end, I don't think that the ability to initiate others is a sine qua non for joining a mystery cult. So, I see no problem with Darius (or any other low-Presence person) being initiated to a cult. He has many good qualities that balance out his low Presence. No doubt it was some of those good qualities that made him appealing as a candidate.

Salve Sodales,

It's entirely possible that I made a mathematical error when I was creating the character. The rules were evolving at the same time, so I may have lost track somewhere along the line.

Darius' frightening appearance was definitely meant to be a negative feature. I don't see him as the sort of person that anyone is going to enjoy hanging out with, and this has probably contributed to a sense of alienation that has only made him all the more obsessed with his role as a hunter of enemies of the Order.

I wasn't involved in the later decision to initiate him into a cult, so I can't comment on that.

Thanks! I have no complaints with the character or the concept, and to be honest, if there is a game where flaws and negatives are not necessarily bad things, that game is Ars Magica.

But anyway, still not sure what to do with the math :confused:

Maybe leave it as an Easter Egg? :smiley:

Trogdor, Darius has a -3 presence. A cat has -2. A Lion a 0. Is the cat scarier than the lion? Or is the cat is scarier than Darius?

Darius needs a lot more time invested in him from other members if he wishes initiations. He's loyal yes, dogs are loyal. But dogs are more intimidating. How does he have political ties? Like what? He has a reputation that precedes him, but he's the tv trope "I thought you'd be taller", when he meets people for the first time. Then he speaks with a Com of -1. Then his blatant Gift, to non magi, causes distrust.

He may be ugly, sure, but he isn't frightening. To be frightening, aka to inimidate people, he needs a presence. He doesn't know how to assert himself. Presence "measures how imposing or intimidating a person is", arm 18. The only time he scares people is when they forget he's in a room because there was a cat that stole the spotlight, they turn and jump "dear god ... I thought you left".

Darius is good at one thing. Killing people. You let him in the Cult because he won't go away and knows enough perdo to kill everyone. But no one thinks he'll use it. He's Milton, "if if I don't get my st... stapler, I'll ... I'll burn the building down. It's my stapler and you... hey... hey... I'll burn the ... it's my stapler". He's ignored until he snaps and everyone is surprised.

Darius trying to get initiated is like Milton getting cake.


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lol office space

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As far as this goes, I'd argue that it depends on the person viewing them and their personality. I would say that a +1 presence Lion is scarier than a -1 Presence lion. There's also a balance of game vs story... I can easily see Darius as a frightening figure, but that underworld boss with Presence +2 and the same leadership score probably is much scarier; If Daruis is trying to threaten the underlings for information, he's going to end up killing two or three before they're willing to bretray their boss. I view it a bit more as 'scary but unable to wield properly'. If he yells at someone to surrender, they'll keep running rather than surrender.

aungueard10, we clearly have a fundamental disagreement on this matter. I believe that there are many reasons that Darius might be initiated; you feel that there are none. I don't believe that extended discussion will change either of our minds.

A Prs of -3 is meant to be negative, especially if the descriptor is "frightening". And it is. It won't help with a Leadership roll in order to intitidate someone. Intimidation is threatening with or implying violence, when you don't actually do it, or you may even be unable to. And some people may be cowed into obeying. Darius can simply kill or maim someone, and he looks crazy and scary, but he risks people panicking and doing something stupid and unproductive. And he is unlikely to ever have disciplined and loyal grogs. If anyone obeys him it is because they fear him, and they may betray him. Nobody will be inspired by him as a leader or feel real respect.
Same goes for his opportunities in Hermetic circles. He'll be seen as a crazy nut.

Any player who thinks negative Prs is a hack to get a dump stat and still get good intimidation skills would be in for a surprise with me as SG. No SG should let a player get away with that.

As for the Cult membership, why would they care about his Presence? Not all members are in line to be leaders let alone mystagogues. Cults need foot soldiers and drones. If the cult needs people scared off or killed Darius is quite handy.

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Personally, I would correct it. Perhaps, if possible, with a note that says how it has changed from the original version. There seems to me no benefit in leaving an error in an example.

I just don't think he will be initiated for reasons you provide. He can kill people. He has to prove loyalty by deed because he can't through social interaction. Once he's proved he's loyal, yes, he can move up.

Our fundamental disagreement has been over the how the proof of loyalty is applied across a cult. How trust into inner circles are gained.

Darius is that hard working "company man" working for a place for 15 years that gets passed up for a promotion by a recently hired 20 something "used car salesman". He isn't management material.

It's a problem in my industry, actually. On one hand as a startup we need a Face to go to tech conventions, represent us, and find money. They promise the world. The term Vaporware exists as a thing because these charismatic people convince investors to use thier imagination of what could be. But the actual software that exists is buggy trash if it exists at all.

Meanwhile there are computer programmers, more skilled than I, stuck in places that are absolutely absurd given their skill. But they're loyal, they wait, they get passed up and complain again and again when it happens. They are aces at what they do, but they can't convince anyone of their worth even when the product of their labour is sitting in front of them.

The latter example is a guy like Darius. Great at what he does. But he exists in a different world than the Face. He HAS to be loyal to show loyalty. He HAS to act to prove he can do.

I've met Faces that pretend to be programmers. They get quite far doing absolutely nothing. I'm not using hyperbole here, I met a guy at AEP that hadn't written a line of code in 6 months. Half the time he would be in error as to what the code base looked like. The moment I suggested he never looked at the code... the hammer fell so hard from political manuverings that only my previous work saved my contract. The following 4 months of said project, he had 2 check ins. Then was pink slipped after attention fell on the team. It was an effort to prove the reality of the situation. We were able.

But the hooks he dug in with charisma were very hard to remove from the mouths of his fish.

The virtue Frightening Presence turns -3 into a 3 for intimidation, which I find dumb. But book example just assume -3 is scary.

The rules confuse Magitude and Direction in the vector that is Social Force.

Consider Strength. A -3 Strength means the physical force you apply, its Magnitude, is less. Not that it is strong in the opposite direction. It's like someone taking -3 Strength and creating a void around objects to move them like a +3.

Darius's reputation scares people. Darius doesn't scare people. He's disfigured, yes, but he's Chunk from the Goonies. He's a shy puppy. Poor guy.


You're right, Darius is a foot soldier. The things he has to do to prove loyalty are different.

As a mystigog wanting to send an npc agent to kill a prince we turn to page 144 of HoH:S and see the ease factor to have an npc agent arrange a fatal accident for a prince is a 9.

If I need that done today, +3 and there is a risk of death +6...

That is an ease factor of 18.

My character that Trogdor apparently thinks wouldn't move faster than Darius or your average person in a cult had, 5(pre)+4(leadership(inspiration))+3(inspirational) = 12 without sympathy traits as a specialisation or Faerie tinting shenanigans or other magic.

That's a 12 before rolling, that requires a 6 on the die. She has a 50% chance to inspire a hireling to stop what he is doing and go stab a bishop in the face. Given it has 5 botch dice.

Darius, with his blatant Gift, disfigured, and -3 pres doesn't have an effective +12 to scare people things. He has 12 subtracted from the attempt to do anything with people. If Darius tries to scare people, he isn't believable. He says he'll murder someone's family, but it comes off forced and desperate, obviously a bluff. Given he is only at a -9 to frighten. Unless, it's an animal.

If he steps outside and just stands there ugly, that will do what it does normally. However there is no convincing people he isn't a threat, there is no convincing people he is a threat. People make up their minds and his efforts, his intentions, have no impact.

Or Darius the Perdo Corpus expert goes and murders the bishop himself without bothering with underlings.

Which obviously has its disadvantages, but so does relying on a third party.

I think you miss the point. The point is to show what presence can do and what it represents.

Darius can also do his own laundry, buy his own bread, grow his own garden, etc. However he isn't getting anyone else to very easily. He is going to have trouble getting the gossip of what happened yesterday some time within a week, difficulty 3 +1 within a few days.

He needs a 4 with his -3 - 3 -6 = -12.

I'm sure a mystery cult has uses for a guy that literally can't get the time of day (target 0).

Presence is one way of doing things. For some things, it may be the best way of doing things. For initiation it's pretty much the only way of doing things. But for a lot of things, there are other ways to skin the cat.

A cult generally has a purpose beyond self-perpetuation, and that purpose can often be achieved with (and may need) abilities other than social ones. That makes people with those abilities valuable to the cult - it only needs so many mystagogues. If necessary, Darius can go out with someone with more social skills - that's what grogs and companions are for.

Indeed. Presence is not the be all and end all of ArM. A high Presence doesn't pave your way with gold, and a low Presence doesn't doom you to obscurity. It's just one characteristic out of eight, added to dozens of attributes. Some characters will have a high Presence; some will have a low Presence, and they're all viable characters. I don't see Presence as being any more important a characteristic than any other. No one would say that a -3 Str character is doomed or that a -3 Per character would be in serious trouble. It's a disadvantage, to be certain, to have a -3 in a charcateristic. But it's hardly crippling, no matter what the characteristic.

I'm not arguing it is the end all be all. I'm arguing it's as important as other stats. People ignore it.

I'm arguing the character Darius is not frightening. I'm arguing that in the arena of competition of that particular attribute having a negative should be applied as a negative and the positive should be taken into account.

No one would argue a -3 com makes you better at certain books.

No one argues -3 Str does more damage at times.

But you guys argue -3 pres does this.

Likewise no one argues a 5 Str character can't climb faster than a -3.

No one argues a 5 com writes books the same speed as -3.

No one argues a 5 dex picks locks at the same speed as -3.

When presence is concerned suddenly it's the case a 5 and a -3 have the same impact.