Dipping my toe into character creation

So, I'm finally getting my group to look into playing Ars Magica 5th edition, so now I'm trying to wrap my head around doing well at character creation. To that end, I have a character concept in mind that I would very much appreciate help with making the stats thereof. The idea is that he as a mage of House Criamon (the enigma and mystery cult stuff looks really interesting to me, and it was either criamon or bonisagus). The overall idea is that he's rather taciturn and withdrawn in personality, but very smart, and essentially a prodigy in magic (that is, he learns and increases his arts fast, but is lacking pretty much everywhere else).

So, how would I make this character (let's call him Joda Magnus Ex Criamon) such that he learns and increases his magical prowess as fast as possible (note that fast advancement is higher priority than having high arts right at character creation, if it matters), aged 25, apprenticed from age 10-25?

Also: I am unsure if this is the appropriate place and method to ask about this, so I apologize if I have violated protocol.

There are quite a lot of 'Booster Virtues' although I tend tofind these to passive and prefer actives ones giving me something to do, rather than simply reap more exp.

The trouble is that many of these don't affect newly created characters fresh from Gauntlet! Mostly because some of them are a headache to do the math for (yes, i know some forum user have ways of doing this).
You could also creste the magus season by season from his first year of apprenticeship, this takes into account all the good virtues, although it requires to know what he does every season and you need Qualities of teaching and books h uses.

What is it you want? You want to create a magus fresh from Gauntlet who is highly skilled?

Without stumbling over the aforementioned troubles simply create a magus with Skilled Parens and take Affinities in the Abilities and Arts you want him to be good at. Affinity is easy to apply at character creation, simply increase the exp put into an Art/Ability by 50%. Alternatively do what metacreator does and apply a 33,33% discount (eg. Ability of 5 costs 75 exp, but with an Affinity you pay only 50).

If you create the magus season by season from the start, or maybe just advance him some years post gauntled, you want to look at Secondary Insight and Book Learner, or Adept Student if he recieves a lot of Teaching. A character with Book Learner will in time acceleate past his sodales wo are not so gifted.

Also consider Good teacher for an indirect way of getting good. With this virtue and a fair Com you can write good Tractus which you can trade to to other magi for more books to read, thus increasing Arts further through a good personal library. And with Book Learner this will quickly begin to make a difference.

It's not so much making a mage who's super skilled right out of apprenticeship, but one who learns and raises his arts extremely quickly after character creation (that is, in actual play). Normal character creation, but once his apprenticeship ends, he takes off in learning ability, if that makes any sense. If it's of any help, I have all the 5e books.

Not according to the original post.

Basically you're looking for the 'Unholy Trinity':
Book Learner, Free Study and Study Bonus - all of them minor virtues.

Book Learner gives you extra XPs when you study from books (which tends to be the main source of XP in Arts in my sagas)
Free Study gives you extra XPs when studying from Vis - a more debated and rather more dangerous method.
Study Bonus gives you extra XPs when studying the Arts in appropriate circumstances.

You might wish to expand using:
Adept Student (extra XPs when being taught)
Independent Study (extra XPs from practice and Stories - please note that you cannot practice Arts)
Secondary Insight (Major Hermetic Virtue, might not be worth it).

As Christian so correctly mentions, inderect methods might be a good idea.
Adept Student and Great Teacher makes for a powerful combination, as you can offer to teach others (or sell them books) in return for being taught.

I've also seen a few magi specialized in a single specific Art, using a combination of Free Study, Personal Vis Source (in their favorite Art) and Affinity (same Art), but you can only have 2 affinities (for Arts), so that's more of a specialist's choice.

Aside from Independent Study, these are all in the core book.
Independent Study is in Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults (under Merinita)

These suggestions are all focussed on increasing your Arts.

For a slightly different approach, you might want to consider Faerie-Raised Magic, which allows you to learn spells using (story) XPs rather than seasons. It combines very well with Independent Study.

As mentioned above, there are a number of "booster" virtues that allow your character to advance more quickly in the Arts.
Since the Arts are such an important portion of a wizard's magical prowess, and magical prowess is such an important portion of being a wizard, for game balance you will not have Virtues that give you a very large bonus to advancement in a very large spectrum of circumstances. Roughly speaking, all xp boosting Virtues can be divided in two groups: those limited by the circumstance of learning, and those limited by the subject of learning; the previous posters seem to have listed most of them (I would add Elementalist from the corebook, and Corrupted Arts and Hermetic Sorcery from Realms of Power: the Infernal).

You should consider a combination of the two types; for example, a bookworm, recluse Criamon physician should take a combination of Affinity with Corpus (+50% to xp in Corpus), Book Learner (+3 to his study total when learning from books), and Study Bonus (+2 to his study total when learning in an appropriate environment for the study of Corpus -- e.g. a graveyard). Such a character, when studying a Quality 6 Tractatus on Corpus in an appropriate environment, would then gain 17xp in place of the 6xp of the "average" student. However, he'll be no better than an average student when learning other Arts, with means other than books, and outside the appropriate environment.

One last thing. If you want to play a "prodigy in magic", you may consider taking the opposite route: instead of getting Virtues that increase your knowledge of the Arts, get Virtues that increase what you can do even with scant knowledge of the Arts. This seems, from a roleplaying point of view, more in line with the concept of "prodigy in magic": you can do stuff that baffles more learned and experienced magi. Virtues like these include Inventive Genius (you are brilliant in the lab, particularly if you go off the beaten track and experiment) or Life Linked Spontaneous Magic (you can command much more powerful magic than your fellow magi, but your body is not made to withstand it and if you abuse it you risk wounding and even death), and the always excellent Magical Focus (you have a huge advantage in all magic pertaining to a particular area).

I would add that Apt Student can be very good and appropriate for a Criamon magus because of their access to the Cave of Twisting Shadows.


In addition to the various virtues that give extra xp for satisfying certain conditions and increase study totals and basically make it possible to advance more rapidly than normal, I seem to recall reading something about time dilated areas where one can go to study in their covenant, or something similar. That, and gaining new virtues from twilight. How would I be able to also employ those methods, along with the accelerated experience gains, to advance even more rapidly?

You want as high an Intelligence as you can reasonably manage, at least +3. Affinity + Puissant in Enigmatic Wisdom can help you have a good Twilight experience. Take a specialty in comprehending Twighlight, too. You could also add Self Confident. Make sure you have a good starting score in Enigmatic Wisdom. The start with a fairly high level CrVi spell to send yourself into Twighlight and see what happens.


the time dilations are a major hook (boon?) from covenants.

Long answer:
Basically it's an area where time passes at a non-standard rate.
You'd basically have more N seasons in which to study, for each M seasons on the outside, where the dilation factor is N/M.
Please note that since it is time passing at an odd rate, you'll also age at this altered rate, so in a sense you're gaining nothing.

Short answer: not in any of my sagas.

Twilight is a bit of a gamble.
Basically as long as you control the Twilight, you might get a 'free' mystical virtue, if you've recieved 7+ warping points. You can provoke Twilight within yourself easily enough, with a CrVi 10+ spell. I believe there's a thread devoted to that somewhere.
Main drawbacks: Every time you enter twilight, you recieve not just that Warping that caused you to check for Twilight, but also a further simple die's worth. I believe that's not reduced by enigmatic Wisdom but Noble's Parma on that.
Sooner or later that will get you though.
Also, you cannot control what you gain from Twilight - your Troupe or SG does that.
If you're the SG, too bad, your Troupe (meaning the other players!) get to decide. You should never get to choose this yourself.

YSMV, but this is also an absurdly boring concept to play, since all you ever do is put yourself out of the action for a while.
Minimum Diameter as I recall.
It is also a rather spectacular way to suicide IMAO.

Just answering his question on controlling Twilight. But you can be less boring without changing Virtues. Don't actively pursue Twilight, just do it a few times in your youth to see what it's all about. Later you have a fabulous Enigmatic Wisdom score to use with the meditation circle thing and with whatever your path lets you substitute it.


In my defense, I wasn't really meaning to aim for constantly going into twilight, just exploring more ideas beyond the things already covered in this thread, and maybe coming upon a few extra tricks for the occasional little extra push, similar to that summon and absorbing the essences of otherworldly entities (I was reading Realms of Power - The Infernal earlier today, and always did like the concept of that particular summoning thing, even back in d&d or watching the spoony one's ultima 8 review...)

I remember a guy using Twilight as a safe place to hide from trouble.
When in Twilight you can't be touched/torched, so when trouble reared it's ugly head.. CrVi!

So, I've heard some things about these "Mystery Cult" things, like the Path of Spite for Criamon, or Hermetic Theurgy or Hermetic Alchemy and Talismans. Could someone explain these things to me in a bit more detail? Like, how one gets into a Mystery. Also, there just seem to be so many possibilities and options for these, that I'm feeling overwhelmed by how many there are, and don't know how to begin to choose one.

In addition, while I know such a thing wouldn't be kosher in every saga, what manners of manipulating time (obviously not through hermetic magic, since that's an explicit prohibition, but other ways, like time-dilation regiones or such) are also available?

Edit: Such as perhaps arcadian travel (merinita, Mystery Cults book) to travel into time screwy regiones of faerie?

As I recall, there are no obvious methods of temporal manipulation in ArM5, for which I am very thankful.
Arcadian Travel is probably the best place to look, and pray you can find an SG foolish enough to let you have a time-dilated Regio (which as actually the least silly time manipulation scheme I can recall reading).

It is possible that the Divine might be able to help as well, but time manipulation has generally been avoided - and properly so IMAO, as it not only leads to nothing good, but is also rather out of paradigm* as far as I can tell.

Berk-listers: Yes I used the P-word.
I'll go put on my asbestos suit right away.

So, I've heard some things about these "Mystery Cult" things, like the Path of Spite for Criamon, or Hermetic Theurgy or Hermetic Alchemy and Talismans. Could someone explain these things to me in a bit more detail? Like, how one gets into a Mystery. Also, there just seem to be so many possibilities and options for these, that I'm feeling overwhelmed by how many there are, and don't know how to begin to choose one.


Mystery Cult in essence means two things: One is the Mystery Cult Houses - Merinita, Bjornaer, Criamon, and Verditius. The other is non-House affiliated Mystery Cults.

The Mystery Cult Houses are a secretive bunch, where the Hermtically trained apprentice is inducted into the Mysteries of their House. They offer Initiations where the magi delve deeper into the Mysteries over time. usually this is a thing you can't gain acces to otherwise, so not regular Hermetic of Supernatural Virtues. What you can and should Initiate is dictated by the specific House. Although Verditius also have Confraternities, which are looser associations of magi within the Cult who Intiate less secret and unrestricted things, like Puissant Forms etc. The Mystery Cult Houses usaually don't have a rigid rank based hierarchy with s set order of Mysteries to intiate.

The Esoteric Mystery Cults are associations of magi across houses who Intiate Mysteries in accordance with their basic concept. They are usually based on some rank and soem set order of Mysteries. They could Initiate both esoteric amd restricted Mysteries (like Theurgy) or the regular Hermetic or even General Virtues (like the Cult of Mithras).
Getting into such a cult requires you to either know about it, find a member, and ask to join. Or if they are very secretive they will find you, if you seem to be the type to be interested and who is useful to them. typically it involves interacting with one or more members, do favors to prove one self and so on.

I don't recommend than a Mystery Cult House magus joins yet another cult, as it is increasingly difficult to run cult business and initiations unless the troupe is big on playing NPCs for each other for prolonged periods of time. it may even be difficult if there are two or more players playing Mystery Cult House magi, as they can never involve their sodales in their Intiations since they are secret.

An idea could be to base a saga on a common cult. And in fact this is what we're trying in our Rhine saga, because our last saga had too little common goals to work for.

And which cult to choose do you ask? Well, whatever you find interesting, is the answer I'm afraid.

House Bjornaer has some cool Mysteries, they all involve affecting yourself, with becoming/getting a better Heartbeast. But Bjornaer can be very good in play as their Mysteries are thinsg they can use for most anything they do.

House Criamon is not a favorite of mine. Previus editions had them be odd and enigmatic in most any way you wanted. Now they are very well-defined, philosophically odd, and if you like me don't like that box...I know they have some interesting Mysteries, but I've yet to see a Criamon in play here in 5th ed.

House Merinita are also more tightly defined in their faerie ways in this edition, but most of it seems to work quite well. They have 4 paths to follow, 3 faerie ones (which you really need to be very interested in to make us of) and 1 nature path (which is a favorite of mine)

House Verditius can become ridiculously good enchanters, but unfortunately I find them very, very introvert often see them stay in their lab to enchant or in the library to study. Pity, because they could have potential.

Christian summed them up well. I would only change the comments on the Merinita paths. There are not faerie paths like the Criamon have paths. Rather, there are some categorizations and some subgroups focus on only one while other subgroups use initiations in multiple categories. Each subgroup has its own theme, but there are far more than three faerie themes.



masterjoda, IMO, for ease of game for you or for your GM, its actually better to avoid tricks like the unholy trinity indicated before.

If you want to be a 'prodigy' in magic, my suggestion is take Flawless Magic - lots of bonuses to your spells and special abilities with all of them. Or Diedne Magic if you want to be the spontaneous king.

Nothing really wrong with the xp add virtues unless used as the unholy trinity :smiley:.

If I can make a suggestion, as opposed to just being really good at magic arts in general, pick an art or two and focus on those. The game doesn't usually support a general being awesome at all arts at once.

For a prodigy of 'magic', you could have a Vim (affinity, puissant) and/or Magic Theory specialist. Not a direct magus, but good at manipulating and investigating magic.

Yes, based on what he wants and what I think works best I would recommend Book Learner (or Apt Student if he can get to the Cave of Twisting Shadows with any sort of regularity), Flawless Magic, and Independent Study. That still leaves five points of Virtues available for personalization or specialization.


As a Storyguide, I feel I have to ask you why your focus is for your prodigy to advance so fast in the Arts. You seem to put a lot of emphasis on numbers, but I'm wondering what are the stories you will have fun to play with your magus? My question was brought in by the idea you have of getting to a time dilatation Regio. A prodigy doesn't need that kind of "cheating", does he? It looks to me that you might be focussing too much on the Arts and how high and fast you can raise them, but there are other options in being a prodigy. The Arts are an important parts of what makes a Magus of the Order obviously, but there is so much more to explore.

For example, he could very well have +5 Intelligence, Puissant Magic Theory and Incomprehensible, making him understanding a lot about magic, even cover some new grounds with breakthroughs, but being unable to share his vision he would have to find someone (maybe an apprentice) to translate for him. He could be specialized in a certain kind of magic, like the one that give him access and capacities to travel in the Magic Realm (and come back!), making him a daring explorer quite young and a prodigy in that sense. As a Criamon, he could find an inner calling to a new Path, or rediscover a lost one, and have followers, even some older and more experienced than him.

Having supervised the creation of many character throughout the years, I'm just trying to give you a different perspective. :smiley:

Remember the most important rule: Have fun!