Dislike the Ars5 virtue/ flaw system

I know I'm opening myself up to a flamewar by saying something negative, but I'm really disappointed with the Ars 5 flaw (virtue) system.

I've been playing Ars for close to 20 years now. Loved it so much, I haven't really played much else. When Ars 5 came out, we liked its direction, and converted our campaign (10 years running!) over to it. So, I erroneously thought I was an Ars 5 expert all this time.

So, I recently talked a group of strangers into joining me in a new Ars5 campaign. What I didn't consiously consider, was that I had never actually designed a new character under Ars5. The one's we had been playing for years had been designed (and balanced) under Ars4. So I thought everything was perfect.

I'm shocked at what these players came up with. Major character defining Ars4 virtues are now 1 point. One point flaws are now 3 points. And 2 point virtues are now flaws. And roleplaying the personality that you wanted to do anyway is now multiple free flaws.

Ars has always been difficult to story guide anyway. Characters have always been minor demi-gods. And (at least my) Mythic Europe has always been low-med fantasy, making game balance a challenge. But at least the characters that wanted to be juggernauts in one area actually paid for it in others, giving me the Achilles heel openings I needed to keep them on their toes.

Those "real" flaws turned into the greatest stories, ones we still talk about a decade later. Now, everyone of these new players loaded up on story and personality flaws that are all actually positives things. There's no chink in their Superman-like invulnerability. I gave them the mage templates for the first session just to show them how to play, and they steamrolled every battle. My goal had been to demonstrate the lethality of battle in Ars. Every combat came down to highest initiative defeating the enemy with the first spell (penetrations of 30+ from newly gauntleted magi?). I just don't want to be throwing might 30 critters at the party just so combat can last a second round - not as the opening story post-gauntlet.

"Animal companion" is really a -1 story flaw? Really? I'm working on a story where the character will discover that he's not actually a 1/2 fay with blatent gift like he thinks he is. He's a half undine / half undead abomination created in his master's (a necromancer) lab then raised as if a living human. Now, that's a story flaw. But I will need to interrupted it at some point when someone kidnaps his pet canary, because that is also such a compelling story flaw. I mean... he's a mage expecting to live 100 years (or infinately, as it turns out)... isn't his canary going to die of old age anyway in a year or two (... er... somewhere around session 2). How is stuff like this seriously considered a flaw? And then used to buy what was a 4 point virtue?

I converted every submission back to Ars 4, and found that the average Ars5 character (under Ars4) had 25-30 virtues and 4-7 flaws. If we had made characters like this 10 years ago, our campaign would never have been nearly as engrossing.

I had a -2 flaw, Study Requirement, which - in a game spanning 25 game years - would have been crippling. So, to overcome it I went the route of building the classic flying ship. And the years spent building, enchanting it, stearing our arts for years so as to be able to enchant it, negotiation with specialists, then having it in adventures - was one of the highlights of our saga. All to overcome a 2 point flaw that actually had some teeth to it.

Now, a new player is taking -3, Pagan. He must refuse invites into church ceremonies, and if so, people may get mad. Really? That's it? In our last campaign, the necromancer would never have walked into a church. He didn't have 3 flaw points then used to buy (what is now) 9 virtue points. Actually, he did have a flaw to simulate that -"Suseptable to the Divine," which created real stories and kept him looking over his shoulder everytime he loosed an abomination upon the countryside, which upset people a whole lot more than him not going to church on Sunday. His counterpart in the new saga just has to worry about people getting mad at him for skipping church (which most of our magi do as a matter of policy anyway).

And - having 2-3 virtues (all that you could afford) actually made the virtues seem important and character defining. Every character just submitted has like 8 virtues plus 3-4 more disguised as flaws. It doesn't feel special anymore.

Anyway, I'm thinking of pulling the plug on this campaign. Because they don't have any flaws, their characters seem very cartoonish and one-dimensional. I actually feel that one's flaws actually define the character more than anything. And I've suddenly lost all inspiration. Fresh out of gauntlet, this campaign would have to go monty-hall, high fantasy in order to challenge them, and that's not my style.

I'd ask them to redesign. But they're strangers, and they already started to bristle at the suggestion that I want to cut their virtues by 2/3s and double their flaws "against the rules and for no good reason."

I hope someone can admit that this concept of "flaws that are really boons for your character, used to pay for yet more boons," is a bit unorthodox, probably unbalancing, and a very specific style choice that might not appeal to everyone. And maybe a note in Ars6 can suggest that such "story flaws" (virtues) are optional, so a struggling GM can have something to point to when its him vs everyone else who'd just love to have 25 free virtues (of course, who wouldn't). And I'm not upset with them. I'm upset that I'm fighting the rules at such an crucial juncture (since a good character is the heart and soul of any campaign).

Sorry for the rant.

I think what you're missing is the idea that most "flaws" aren't flaws anymore. They are story hooks. You get 2-6 points in "free" virtues by handing the storyguide plots and storylines. Pagan doesn't just mean that your character doesn't go to church and people get made. Pagan means that there will be an adventure based on the fact that you refuse to go to church... maybe the local Bishop goes after you for heresy, maybe an Angel or Demon tries to convert you, maybe a Faerie God gives you a task. All of those are stories that can come from taking the Pagan "flaw." (I've actually renamed them Hooks for my saga.)

Yes, it is a completely different system that it was before. Yes, you are free to dislike it and refuse to use it. I dislike most of the changes 5th ed did to Magic and use a hybrid of 4th and 5th edition spell guidelines. I'm free to do that. Still, for both of us, I think it's worthwhile to try to understand what the changes really mean before throwing them out... 'cause we might miss some good stuff otherwise.

A large part of that is for the simple reason that if a V/F can result in issues or story-arcs it moves a step in the Flaw direction.

Also, Personality Flaws means that the personality in question is extreme enough that it is likely to cause problems for the character that has them. A character doesn´t have to have "Ambitious" as a flaw to BE it. But if he has it as a Flaw, his ambition is such that it makes him get into conflicts with others, ie. it is bad enough that it can overrule his common sense or logic.

In that case, enforce the suggested limits. Not more than 1 Story Flaw and not more than 2 Personality Flaws, at most one of which Major.
AM5 pg 37 insert.

Personally i´ve never had the need to, nor wanted to use those limits as we always do conceptbased characters anyway and players don´t exploit stuff like that. But in your case you probably want to use them.

I guess that was using either Focus or Life-boost?
If it´s too bad you can have the bonus from Focus halved. You do know that Penetration has changed to Casting total -minus- Spell level?

No. The character will be distrusted to some degree and might find outright hostility from some. In the kind of areas where the Flaw is really worth 3 points at least. If you take Pagan for a character from high up in a Nordic country, and who will also live and work up there, the SG should simply rule that this Flaw is worthless.
Somewhere where it´s not so uncommon but might still cause problems, like the outback in eastern Europe, it might be worth 1 point.

I think you´re not using them as the Flaws they are.

Myself, i´ve seen players running with anything from around 35 Virtue and 15-ish Flaw points, via ~30/30 down to one of my own characters which had something like 9 Virtue points and over 30 pts of Flaws. All works as long as players or SG dont abuse the system, which seems to be part of your problem, with the other part being that you dont seem to know how to make good use of many Flaws. (of course, that´s not the same as the above amount of V/F being normal, 10-18 is)

But again, the insert on pg 37 of the corebook DOES have suggested limits that may be useful for you.

Nah, your only Flaw was not checking it up sooner and ranting here before you started the game. :mrgreen:
Still, i think you might be able to salvage the current game simply by reevaluating how you look at story and personality flaws. Make them count. If a character is Greedy(Major), have her/him go fat in a season or two unless the player actually does something to prevent it. Or if travelling, force the character to have double or triple the normal amount of luggage just for the extra food. And so on.
For example. :wink:

I understand what the authors were going for. I even read David Chart's developer notes on the topic. I simply disagree with the implementation. Personality quirks have been in the game since Ars 2nd edition (page 26). Ars5 didn't add personalities. What it did was give you flaw points for them. And what is the practical effect of that? That characters have less or no general flaws anymore. And THAT is what bugs me. I can make far, far better stories based on someone's suseptability to fay than I can over them having an animal companion.

Better yet, PLAYERS can make better stories out of their suseptability to fay, than they will out of their animal companion. The premise behind story hooks was to

"make the storyguide’s job easier, as he knows how to get that character involved in a story." They don't make my job easier at all. My job is to get players so invested in the campaign and its events that they can't stand to miss a beat of it. If a player takes a "flaw" that is really a virtue in disguise, they are empowered to just sit back. They got 2 free virtues. The ball is now entirely in my court to tailor events around their choices. And my options just got more limited because they're that much more powerful.

Conversely, give a player a crippling flaw, and he'll do everything he can to avoid it. That puts the ball in the player's court. He needs to think of options. He needs to gather the NPCs, the resources, investigate options, craft magic items, make pacts with whatever to mitigate or banish the flaw. Then as a GM, I can sit back as the players take over their own destinies. They get to run the campaign, which gets them invested in the outcomes more than any generic module that I would have run them through. I alternate my stories with theirs and everything rocks. The finest stories I've played are player driven, and what drives players more than overcoming their Achille's heel?

I'm not one to grouse without suggesting fixes. If I were designing Ars5, I could have got David Chart what he wanted without losing what I think was a necessary piece of character creation.

Story Hooks aren't flaws. They're story hooks.
A Personality (and roleplaying it) isn't a flaw, its Role Playing.

Pull them out of the flaw section and state that every character must select 1 story hook and 1-2 personalities.
Done. You don't get free virtues. Its just part of the game.

Now, if you want a virtue, you can start picking flaws. Real ones. You need real flaws to balance the virtues, or you end up with combat masters fresh out of gauntlet with no holes in their armor to give them pause. To me, they come off too cartoony and one-dimensional. To me, its the flaws that give the most character.

Or to present the arguement in another way - these flaws are flaws because they serve as story hooks. OK. Why can't my Mythic Blood be a story hook? And thus a flaw. A major flaw with lots and lots of juicy bonuses.

The third arguement - if flaws can be desireable, then why aren't there virtues which corispondingly diminish you. There are no mirror images because the concept is inherently flawed. Story hooks aren't flaws. They're story hooks.

So, that's it. I think virtues and flaws should balance for the sake of preserving what little game balance there actually is. And story hooks - which are a fine thing - should simply be separate and manditory. Solved and solved.

Of course, my dilemma is that none of that is cannon, and I don't know my players well enough (we've only met once). I hate houseruling on day one with strangers.

Missing a "Get off my lawn." :laughing:
Then don't play 5th. Play 4th Edition. The PDF is free.
Make the story flaws actual flaws if you are bothered. Make them painful. Not too hard to do. Same with personalities. If a player doesn't play ball then yank something.

I like the Fifth Edition V/F system (and spell guidelines, for that matter, although 3E's system has its appeal). Principally, "...if a Story or Personality Flaw will not enhance stories, a character should not be allowed to take it". It appears that you didn't stay true to this guideline. Since you've already allowed them to take said flaws, the key is to figure out how to make the flaws count in a way that fits your play preferences. If you cannot think of a way to do that, you should consider insisting the flaw be demoted and the character altered. In the future, I'd consider restricting each character to one "story hook" flaw (Major Personality, or Story) flaw; that's enough, imo.

In regards to the +30 Penetration, here you have a bigger problem. I recommend announcing that from now on all critters have Magic Resistance set by you, not simply their Might, as you've found that MR is too low. Generally Might x 2 seems to work well, but you may need more if you have high-penetration magi as you describe. (As noted above, penetration is now casting roll minus the spell level; I assume the 30 penetration is using this, correct, calculation.)

Edit: Given your last post -

I think of a "story hook flaw" as a game contract - I give you a story hook, you give me a little perk. I don't think that's so unbalancing, and I like that they beef up the number of Flaws as otherwise I find there are too few flaws so all characters "look alike".

It appears that you're interested in a pro-active game, whereas the flaws system is geared towards a reactive game. Ooops.

While I see your point, I have to disagree.

Yes, currently characters tend to have a few more Virtues than "old-fashioned" flaws than in older editions.
Does that make them "that much more powerful"? Not really. Otherwise, you'd have the same problem with older editions as well, since players could just take a flaw like Weak Parens (or whatever it was called back then) that could be "removed" with a few seasons of work. There's no reason why "old-fashioned" flaws have to perfectly balance with virtues, just like there's no reason why Characteristics have to balance at 0.

I think it now works nicely for most troupes. Personally, I like it better this way. I totally hate Storyguides who can only weave stories based on the PC's weaknesses. I find it leads to a "defensive" attitude that, in turns, strongly encourages munchkinism and rules-lawyering. But hey, if you want your PCs a little more crippled, just tell them that in your games player characters get 5 extra points of flaws. Or 10. Make Arts advance like abilities. Double the vis costs of everything. Make spontaneous spells cost fatigue AND wounds. Where's the problem?

Better still, make them play apprentices. This way you can really keep them low powered, without making them feel they are cripples.

Again, I totally disagree. I'd rather play stories where my character slays the dragon and beds the princess, than those revolving around scrounging the last penny to buy a decent sword and/or a pair of glasses to ameliorate poor eyesight. Starting with characters who are pennyless, myopic hemophiliac hunchbacks cursed with impotence does not make for better stories, at least for me.

Right. So the idea is to tell the player "in exchange for telling me what type of stories you'd be happy for your character to be dragged in, you get two free virtue points." That's it. Get a hook tied to some recurring nastiness (Enemies, a Dark Secret etc.) and you get 2 points for the hook and 1 for the nastiness, i.e. a 3 point (Major) Story Flaw. Get a hook tied to some nice perk (Visions, a Friend, being Heir to the kingdom etc.) and you get 2 points for the hook minus 1 for the perk, i.e. a 1 point (Minor) Story Flaw. Remember it's a one-time bonus, you only get 1 Story Flaw.

By the same argument you could say that being a pennyless, myopic hemophiliac hunchback cursed with impotence isn't a flaw, it's something that should be Role Played. The point is, how can I encourage players to roleplay personalities that will often hinder or restrict their character options? I tell them "Choose a restriction, roleplay it, and you get a few extra virtue points for them".

I think these are really two different points.

The first is: characters are now too powerful. I disagree. In many ways you could say that characters are actually weaker than in 4th edition; but the point is that characters are strong or weak only relative to each other and to the challenges you give them. The second is: you enjoy games whose focus is making the PCs suffer because of their flaws. Personally, I'd never want to play with such a Storyguide (and most of my friends would share the feeling), but if your players enjoy it, hey, just burden them with flaws. Have their library burn to the ground. Have their True Loves die of consumption. What's to stop you from it?

Ah. To this I can answer. As I said, a player gets 2 "boon" points if he states "I want this type of trouble to hit my character". If he gets a minor perk (the equivalent of a minor Virtue) as part of the package, his credit drops down to 1 and the Story Flaw is Minor. If instead he gets a hindrance as part of the package, his credit increases to 3 and the Story Flaw is Major.

Mythic Blood is not a story hook for two reasons. First, the player is not stating "I want this type of trouble to hit my character". Second, he's not getting a minor perk, he's getting a major perk. Let's see how you could modify Mythic Blood into a Story Flaw. First, the Flaw should state what type of trouble hits the character. Let's say that everyone expects him to be a true paragon performing great deeds, so he gets assigned the most difficult and dangerous missions and stuff by his house, the quaesitores etc. Second, let's find a minor perk. Let's say he gets a lot of respect (the equivalent of the minor Virtue Hermetic Prestige) and maybe access to some special "Heroic" Virtues he'll have to pay for, but he would not otherwise be able to access. Check out HoH:TL, p.109; it's the Legacy (minor) Story Flaw.

Honestly, I'd say: just talk to your players. If they enjoy playing pennyless, myopic hemophiliac hunchbacks cursed with impotence, because each of those crippling limitations is an enjoyable challenge, hey, they'll be happy to each get 10 or 20 extra flaws. But if they don't, I think your problem runs deeper, regardless of the number of flaws they are allotted. Because you'll keep shoving petty misery onto them to "challenge them", while they'd much rather have their characters be heroes who slay the dragon and bed the princess(es?).

Is the canary blue? Does it live in the outlet by the light switch? Only then will I find it permissible.

I suggest you read Play Dirty by John Wick. It seems exactly what the doctor ordered. $5 for the pdf.

Hope things improve.


So if you don't like ArM5, play ArM4 (or AD&D), or whatever.

I like the idea of personality flaws and story flaws.
I also like the concept of minor virtues and major virtues.
If you dislike a character, don't accept it. If you think the player is a munchkin, tell him so. If you are too weak for that, go play with cuddly teddy bears.

I wasn't aware that I said that such were the only stories I could run or advocated that stance. I do like them occasionally. Since my campaigns tend to run 6-8 years at a time, I need variety. I need virtues for the grand stories. I need flaws for the smaller gritty ones that explore the human condition. I only mentioned the stories about flaws because that was the topic. And if you were to choose to read more carefully, you'd see that in my examples it wasn't the GM PICKING on someone's flaws, it was the player choosing to confront the issue head on - of his own volition - in a truely player driven story.

Wow. Did I kill your cat in a previous life? Where did you get that I make characters feel like they're cripples? I'm talking about restoring the feel of the Ars4 virtue/flaw balance. Was your character a cripple in Ars4? Then why accuse me of doing or saying something more dramatic than that?

Further, I don't want to KEEP them low powered. I want variety. I want low powered, and high powered and everything in between.

I'm not sure who you're disagreeing with. Because, I also like to play dragon slaying stories. Gasp. But in a suffiently long campaign, I want to play some small human stories too. I want them to have lots of virtues for the one type and lots of flaws for the other. If a campaign runs 8 years, you can only kill so many dragons. I think grand stories pop more vividly when interspersed with simpler (grittier, darker, sad, simple, ect) stories to provide contrast. I love virtues stories, I love flaws stories. I wasn't debating virtues, because they're still there. I just said I miss the flaws because, obviously, I'd need them for flaws based stories. The great variety of these tales makes the campaign feel multi-dimentional, which is what I was getting at.

I've enjoyed Ars adventures from "the inheritance" (scrunging around a dried up stream bed) to "Deadly Legacy" (taking down an abomination in the Arctic Circle).

With total honesty and sincerity - That line just made the light come on for me. I get it now. It may be that I've just been very very lucky. Our group has never needed that encouragement. We've played kind, obnoxious, self desctructive, maniacal, depraved, and worse, and did it for the sheer joy of the stories they produced. It would never have dawned on any of us to ask for something in concession. So maybe we were unique and that I'm lucky since that's my style too. And if that isn't the norm, then yes, some bribery would be in order so as to make that happen, because good roleplaying is a good thing.

Wow. You must realize I've never ever said anything even remotely to that effect. How can intelligent discourse be achieved when you make absurd caricatures of someone's opinions, then rail agaisnt things nobody ever implied. I have NEVER made a PC suffer because of their flaws. Its a far cry for you to accuse me of making people suffer. And I never pick on them for their flaws. If someone takes "study requirement" or "reckless caster", I don't do anything to them. They just have dice modifiers. I actually tend to sit back and let their own paranoias make them act more cautious. To the point where they create their own stories to mitigate or even eliminate their flaws in stories of their own direction. When they are successful they feel great investment and feeling of success. How you somehow turn this into me being a sadist is absolutely ridiculous. Nothing brings me more joy than when a session ends and people keep sitting around talking about how fun this or that was.

Everything I've said to this point came from Ars4. So you and your friends have (and would never) play Ars4?

I'll be honest. I'm getting a little insulted. You're acting like I'm some kind of criminal and/or lunatic for enjoying the way Ars4 did virtues. I'm sure there's someone on this forum who played Ars4. Was Ars4 really so sadistic in the hyperbolic way that this person is describing?

My ENTIRE post was nothing more than indicating my suprise at how much Ars5 virtues/flaws deviated from Ars4 and later proposing a way to keep Ars4 flaws while retaining the the new "story flaws". That it. If you re-read what I wrote, I think that's very clear that what my point was. Nothing more. Nothing less. So... is the above how you characterize characters from Ars4? Because that game was never like that. Or are you just creating a straw man falacy to try to humiliate me anonymously from your desk top. I'm going to assume that you're just being tongue-in-cheek and not sadistic since we both agree that's a bad thing.

I'm trying to have a mature discussion. But that's not going to happen is it?

...and if Ars4 killed your cat in a previous life, then I understand your pain, and am sorry.

And to the guy who thinks I want him off my lawn... if I didn't need my cane to stand, I'd give you a what to for, you hooligan.

I started playing 4th edition Ars, with a group that had been playing every other month for a handfull of years. After this I too haven't really played anything other than Ars. Anyway, I convinced the group to change to 5th edition along the way. Now I'm not going to put up advantages of the new system compared to the older ones, as it seems it's merely (are at least mostly) the Virtues/Flaws system that you find to be unbalanced or 'out of order', so I'll try to just adress that.

You are shocked at what the players came up with. And then you start going on about virtues and flaws having new point costs? The players didn't come up with that, the writers of the rulebook did :slight_smile: Anyway, I agree that flaws come much cheaper in 5th edition, but that is a deliberate move; anything that contributes to stories is cheaper than it would otherwise be. If you go through the virtues and flaws one at a time, you would probably see that this is the only thing that has changed.

That's not the same as saying it is a good idea for every Troupe though! If your players did create characters with background stories that were easy to incorporate for the SG; with personalities that made sure they were played consistently and full of flavor; and enough depth that they became interesting characters that one would remember for years - then I'm happy for you guys. Most of our players did the very same thing and i worked well in 4th edition. But in 5th everyone is 'forced' to create characters with a defined personalities, goals/ambitions, reasons for acting (or not acting) an interesting background etc. and display them through flaws that they pick at character creation. While perhaps being unbalanced when comparing 4th and 5th - it can help balance play between the different players in the Troupe in 5th. It means that they should all have stories with them as the central figure, and it makes it so much easier for storyguides to drag them into stories. For many a SG it can be nice to have the potential story elements of a player character summed up in a few flaws rather than remember the key factors of a 10 page background story.

Seems like you got yourself a nice Troupe there. Maybe you should consider playing D&D instead :stuck_out_tongue: In a recent thread we have discussed Munchkinism at Gaunlet level, something that is very, very possible in 5th. But wasn't this also an option in 4th? I remember making a Merinitae with Faerie Magic, where the Faerie Magic was an ability that added to all his spellcasting. Seeing that Elementalism was a combined Affinity made up of the 4 elemental forms was priced at +5? - and had some flaws built into it, balance it, I can't seem to make sense of the Faerie Magic virtue being a +1. It should have more like +120 vitues. Furthermore, you got discounts here and there, one of them being -10 levels to all Muto spells. What was that all about? Straight out of Gauntlet he cast Soak spells that would have been about level 80 in 5th, and he could turn a group of people into bearded Pigs at huge range, without using any words or gestures.

Munchkinism is possible, in almost every system. Sure you can make powerful Magi straight out of Gauntlet, but it's your job as a SG to keep things in check. Screw the players over for having very low abilities of Magic Theory, Artes Liberales, Latin or even Swim. A high penetration and a good Parma works wonders, but how is their social interaction skills? - low Communication/Presence, no Gentle Gift, low Folk Ken ability etc. There is always something you can do. I'm not saying that you are not up to the task, and I appreciate you just pointing out, that you find these things to be issues in 5th, that you didn't see as issue in 4th.

If your players still want to go the hard way there are a few things you can try. 1) Lecture/show them how much more fun it is to play characters with superpowers AND some kind of kryptonite. 2) Teach them the hard way that the NPC's can do the same, and thus give them challenges through that. 3) Find their weaknesses anyway; they are bound to have some. 4) Challenge them through stories of vanity, overconfidence and arrogance. 5) Reason with your players. 6) Get new players.

I've had quite some luck reasoning with my Troupe. We had too many Giant Blooded characters running around, until I started enacting the (extra) fear and distrust one would get from mundane men. Also I forced them to invent their spells with one additional magnitude for size (as per the rules). One character wanted the best Soak in the world, and was disappointed to hear that the quality chain mail for a giant-blooded was 10 times as expensive as a standard one. After some sessions of not being able to find proper-sized gear, lab texts for Corpus spells to buff themselves, nice sized beds to sleep in - and fighting in places with room heights of less than 10 feet, things turned normal again. One character also (ab)used teleportation spells to the extreme, so I started making a great deal out of the fact that when seeing a completely naked man the Size of a big bear, most people would a) flee in terror, b) get the torches and chase him to the local mill, c) get the clergy :laughing: We had a lot of fun with it, and I can highly recommend this.

In our Troupe we tend to stay away from Animal Companion, Magical Animal Companion and often Visions as well. Mostly because we don't want to play all those damned critters :slight_smile: One of our players actually forgot about his animal companion once, and our SG decided that he should find it dead in his Sanctum one day - starved to death, and buried in its own filth. But please note then, that the magus should get a new flaw to balance things out. Maybe an NPC learns about this and starts to spread rumors of him being an animal-molester. That might turn into a good story given time... We just apply common sense and don't pick these flaws unless they specifically fit the character and his role, but I can easily see this becoming a problem in many a Troupe. I believe the writers got a bit too far here, in order to visualize their ideas.

I'm not really worried about the Virtue thing. Minor Magical Focus = Affinity, +3 virtue? Puissant Ability = Knack, +2 virtue? You could quickly reach a conclusion that 5th allowed for 25-30 virtues, but most of this is just due to a more balanced pricing of the virtues compared to other virtues. The fact that players have as low as 4 points of flaws is somewhat worrying though. This tends to make them overpowered, and worse; a lot less interesting.

Not sure how you came up with those 4-7 points of flaws, but I believe they must have taken quite a few flaws, that you as a SG don't see hindering them in any way. But remember the Central Rule. You decide whether or not a given flaw really is an applicable flaw for that Saga, or even that character just. If the character picks 8 flaws that mess with his changes of working in the lab, the last two flaws wouldn't really have hindered him much, and thus may be considered void. If the player deliberately choose animal companion and keeps it in a cage in their sanctum, disallow it. If they go for Pagan because you are playing in Mythic Finland, remind that Pagan is not really considered a flaw in this region. If you character picks No Hands, and from Gauntlet has a spell that recreates two magnificent cyborg hands of doom to replace them, then please stop them before things get out of hand (pun intended)

As I mentioned in the above Pagan is not necesarily Major flaw in your Saga. Maybe its just a minor flaw, or not a flaw at all; that's up to you as a SG. Same goes for Blatant gifted or Outsider. If the Covenant is located in the centre of Paris, these would IMO be Major flaws. If you are spending all your time on a flying ship, fighting Faeries and Demons in regios, they most likely would not be. You can still pick Susceptibility btw, Pagan is not its replacement. It's there to tell a kind of story.

About that flying ship, it seems you had a great deal of fun out of it. From my point of view, what you describe in the above is no less attractive than having players with only 4 flaw points, though. It sounds like that is just extreme in the opposite direction. One character picks a -2 flaw and suddenly the saga turns into shipbuilding? Now I do understand that you had a blast with it, and probably agreed to go in this direction, but personally I would not like every flaw to have that much impact on my Saga.

I know I don't have your experience with Ars, and I don't even think I've made more than a handful of Magi and a handful of Companions in 4th edition. That being said, none of these characters had less than 5 virtues and most had more! My books are packed away in boxes right now, so I'm carefully invoking Serf's Parma here, but I believe you were deliberately going for as few virtues as possible. If it was a common thing to have just 2-3 virtues did all of your magi have Mythic Intelligence and practice Elemental Magic? That sure would make the saga feel 'special' IMO.

As a player I would not like to be asked to redesign already. And I would surely frown at cutting virtues by 2/3 and doubling their flaws! Especially since many people in this forum make house rules to IMPROVE the rate of which the magi advance, or so it seems to me anyway. I don't like that approach though, but neither would I support a suggestion like yours, unless you would make similar alterations to NPC's, Creatures with Might etc. Before doing anything as drastic as this, I would heavily consider doing some of the many things I mentioned in the above. I'd much rather invoke the Central Rule, than totally rewrite a single aspect of the rules and leave the rest as it were.

Remember that you don't have to challenge the power level of the players, when you could challenge their creativity or their ability to solve puzzles and unravel plots. If they make super-magi, then fighting a rapid horse would not be the best way to challenge them. But maybe a drinking contest in a Faerie Regio or a dangerous accusation at Tribunal will. Remind the players that whatever type of obstacle would challenge them the most will be the stories most likely to take game-time and make the most memorable stories.

If they insist on power-building, and roaming the lands for a dragon to kill with their +50 penetration dragon-killer spell in day 1, then that part of the story is over in 5 minutes. The story would then instead be about a rival magus who had planned his attack on the dragon for years, fixing an arcane connection and creating a dragonslaying sword to best it. He will loathe the players for their insolence and will make political moves against them for years. Also, the players will suffer the wrath of the local villagers for slaying the focus of their deity, and for now leaving them vulnerable to the attacks of the Barbarians in the mountains. The young girls of the village will be especially disappointed as they had been raised solely to be vulnerable and innocent, waiting eagerly to be sacrificed to the dragon. Later they will discover that they need a piece of information about the lands that only the dragon knew, and how are they now to achieve it? Maybe they have also ruined some Personal Vis sources in the area now, or greatly weakened the Aura for a lone magus with a Sanctum near the Dragons cave. Or they could have drawn too much attention to themselves to escape ramifications in the next Tribunal. The options are many, depending on the temperament of the SG (and the Troupe).

Well i don't have to admit anything - I didn't write the rules :smiley: But sure, as already mentioned they found something the believed to be a good idea - and went all in. It is drastic, yes - but it hasn't interfered with the two Sagas I've played so far, so I'm fine with it. To be honest I welcome the simplicity of translating everything into Minor/Major, and the encouragement towards picking flaws that are not all about numbers. Sure they could mention the word 'optional' after every other flaw, but that would probably just lead to confusion. IMO they have already done so indirectly though through - you guessed it: the Central Rule.

No worries. We are allowed to speak openly, and hopefully you will find some answers/solutions in the posts to come... or maybe just someone who supports your view, which I guess is more your concern here anyway.

Flaws are not something that smacks you and make you miserable anymore. They are a mix of that, story hooks to draw the magus into the adventure (make a magus with a story flaw go on a 1-year trip when he is finishing his BIG 2-year project and see him cry like a sissy, or make an enemy kill your fiancée and see the character and hopefully the player burn with hatred for vengeance) and interpretation guides. No more "I kill the brigand I just captured after draining him of useful info" for the compassionate character: he needs to do something else and that both generates stories and restruicts his actions. And probably causes A LOT of trouble with more blood-spiller-happy characters in the troupe. The compassionate character should draw his own sword to protect the brigand, in fact. Look at Saving private Ryan for a flaw of that kind and the kind of roleplaying and story scenes it can bring.

The whole thing of the V&F system is to get advantages to the players AND bring elements to tell more entertaining collective stories by the troupe. A lort of the flaws are a way to get leverage to achieve the later. :slight_smile:

If you just like to get the characters smacked, restrict the number of flaws they can take to general and supernatural flaws. Some mental flaws can be a HUGE problem for a character or troupe. Use a weakness of a character when he is on guard duty and you get a guard-less shift during the night, or make a grog make a disrespectful stand talking back to the count that the characters MUST make comfortable for the survival of their covenant and you get a mess difficult to solve easily. The whole thing is to introduce story shifts and difficulties to make the whole experience more entertaining. :slight_smile:


You've got 5 posts, walk in here tell us how much you hate the system, and then call long-standing members of the community hooligan.

You are good at making friends.

Well, you have to admit that ezzelino posts strong worded opinions with fair frequency :slight_smile: So do others, myself included. :wink: But yes, it tends to be better to enter with a more open minded to accept other points of view. Otherwise it is not a very constructive experience for either party :slight_smile:

Anyway, welcome to the forums. I hope you end up reconciling yourself with ArM5. Take in mind that Ars is NOT a balanced system anyway, since you can play demi-gods (magicians) that get their powers without paying much for them anyway. So some more unbalancing does not break the system, really. Been playing for quite a while and I can guarantee you that using these flaws that you see as breaking the system can be a real booster to the playing experience :smiley:


Okay, okay, we've all had a drink...

I understand what the OP is saying. I've been with fifth from the start (hell, I write for the line too) so I'm perfectly happy with the system.

But I have also played every edition, including first I have to say. Each edition does something slightly different with V&F; in first edition you couldn't have a giant-blooded magus without breaking the rules.

But what to do about fifth? I say, roll with it.V&F are there not just to give you bonuses to this or penalties to that. They are there to help make a character different to the one next door and to help drive the character in the direction the player wants it to go. So as storyguide and player I don't have a problem with the system maximising the return on Virtues by making some key character-story elements into Flaws.

To take the canary problem, you don't need to build one or more stories around the canary as such. Just note that it is something that can help drive or even guide a story. A magus' Hawk familiar may not be suspicious, but when the canary goes missing, does the search for the missing canary lead the magus to an important reveal? In some respects, it's like a personality trait in that it can be used to drive stories or simply to nudge play along. And all the while, it's unique to that character - it tailors that story or that part of the story at least to that character. And his canary.

I like the current V&F system as it means that the Flaws give me just as much interesting stuff to do with my characters as the Virtues without having to just take penalties on a stack of activities.

Well, my guess is that you've made four posts, and the only things we know about you are the things which you post about yourself. You think you're a reasonable guy. If you're an average person, and we need to assume you are because we don't know you, you think you're basically the middle ground in terms of all extreme aesthetic choices. Now, from the little you've said about yourself, if I were one of your players, I'd be angry with you and unless we patched it up in some way, I'd leave your game and tell other people to avoid your game, because you're a bad SG.

Now, you of course do not feel you are a bad SG. So, you wonder why we are all going "Dude! You're a killer GM!"

Let me give you the bit of text which, to me, immmediately made me go "I'd leave his game in a huff." I presume that to you, it'll seem innocuous. Indeed, you seem proud of it. Remember, you appear to be proud of something which would make me leave your game in disgust and advocate others notp laying with you.

Here it is:

Now, to unpack why I'd get angry and leave your game.

I, as your player, have used the character design process to enter a play contract with you.

In the plot above, what you have done is taken the background we have agreed will be played, told me you don't find it interesting enough, and rewritten it without consulting me.

You have, therefore, violated the play contract.

I, who have taken the hours to design a character and play him for a few sessions, deserve better than you redesigning my character via retcon.

You, in real life, have wasted hours of my time, and been really rude to me.

Ergo, I'd get angry, leave, and tell other people you were an old-fashioned, adversarial DM.

You come across as adversarial in other places too: talking about how you need the characters to have Achilles heels or you can't write stories for them. That reads old school adversarial, because I don't want an SG who spends his time hammering my characters' areas of weaknes. In Ars, you and the players are collaboratively creating stories. It's not about seeing where they spend all of their points and then hitting them where they have not made a defensive buy. It's about seeing how they spend their points as their votes on what they want in the story, and you seem to come from the other direction. I spend points on hooks because they are the hooks I'm interested in. They are my vote. You may say "I never said X". No, you didn't. People take the little you say, and extrapolate from there.

A second reason people seem to be leaping on is this:
Because the little we know of your play style seems to not use play contracts. It comes across as if you don't respect the choices your players have made, and that you have agreed to by accepting their characters. You've made a deal: you should keep it unless there's a good reason not to. You want to renege on all of your deals with all of your players, by cancelling the campaign. You have promised them something, and you don't want to give it to them, so you are going to break all of your agreements. That places you in a position of moral disadvantage. We don't know you, but from what you've told us, you're a person who doesn't feel like respecting his players, to the extent of breaking all of your agreements.

That may not be how you feel, but that's how you are coming across, and that may be why people are interpreting what you say in such a negative light.

So, IMO, that's why you're getting so much grief. You're new, and you seem to think your job is poking holes in characters. Ars is more a competence porn game, IMO.

Anyway he gave a cool new story flaw idea: Surprising past: You are something very different what you think about yourself. :slight_smile:
This way the player gives the right to the SG to find him some surprise.
It might be a minor or major flaw. As a minor it gives a new power like latent ability does.

Anyway gamers try to avoid significant flaws in all editions. It is possible even in 4th edition, too. It is easier in 5th, that's all. However it's true those major personality flaws are really too cheap. I see no possibility to use for example an optimistic major flaw as a real flaw. "You lost your favorite grog/relative/love in fight but you must be happy." "OK"
Or what to do with overconfident? Would you kill him because he attacked a too powerful npc? Some npcs like monsters are hard to believe to take him as a prisoner. You might kill the overconfident pc but it is not fun. Bah, overconfident was a 2pts flaw even in 4th edition...

The game should have more interesting flaws anyway. Even house rules would do the job for me.

Your persistent optimistic outlook infuriates others when there is a catastrophic sudden loss. It wasn't his grog that died, it was someone else's. "At least it was a quick death/It was meant to be/It could've been you, not him" I like to think of optimisitc as the guy who is always happy or something. I'm thinking of the episode of Friends where Alec Baldwin was on and was Phoebe's date. That guy. He's too darn happy and pulls the silver lining out of the darkest cloud.

Appear to be happy at a FUNERAL of the major landholder on the region or when your lord is being attacked might get you into all kinds of problems of treason et al. An optimistic character faced by a trial by fire or a trial by water might not be that happy even if he thinks everything might come up great.

The important thing here is that it needs to be roleplayed. It can irk A LOT of characters if you are always optimistic, above all your covenant mates. That causes quite a stir.
If the player is not causing that kind of stories around him, he will get a personality flaw at +3 and be forced to take another flaw before the SG blasts him with missing hand in a farming accident incolving a too sharp razor.

Love the "surprise me" flaw version of latent magical ability :slight_smile:


The optimistic guy is the one who got that favorite grog killed because he was absolutely "oh i´m sure it´s quite safe!".