Elemental magic and similar virtues

I come to you with two questions I got reading elemental magic description, one somewhat mechanic and one more complex. I beg for your forgiveness if they have already been treated (which at least the first might have)
1- How to portray the effect of this virtue and others giving study bonus (such as apt student, secondary insight...) during initial creation after apprenticeship (no problem during play).
2 - Could a virtue/breakthough be developped to integrate in a similar group say Corpus/Animal/Mentem/Imaginem. it would be most likely considered heretic but is it actually possible (althought having a researcher, even an npc, spending season after season for a elusive breakthrought might be interesting in and by itself) ?

1 - my current answer is no problem but the char uses a lab season, max lvl/age is stricty enforced even for art.

You don't, but those gain can be simulated by Skilled Parens.

The 30xp per year system does not allow to select if you learned through Exposure, Practice, Teaching, or Books, nor does it mention Source Quality. Only Affinity is independent of these factors and can be fairly adjusted.

Moreover, only a munchkin would say: "my character has spent 20 seasons being taught by his master and other teachers, therefore I have an extra 100 xp that the other players don't." If your Troupe wants more learned magi, just have them be 5 years post-Gauntlet and give them all 150 extra xp. Or start playing with young apprentices.

In a way it is unfair, since Quiet Magic et al. have an immediate value. But in the long term, Source Quality bonuses offer much more.

That'd be Corpus/Animal/Mentem/Herbam. But there's no aristotelian theory to link "divine" human to mere beasts whereas the 4 elements links are well known and studied. You'd need a high Philosophiae to come up with a natural theory linking them.

BTW, Elemental Magic and Secondary Insight are newbie traps. I'd wouldn't even take Secondary Insight as a Minor Virtue, it's not worth the trouble (been there, done that). FFM or Flawless Magic empowers you beyond what xp can.

Simply saying they do nothing isn't fair. In all honesty those virtues should provide for magi. Apt student probably only procs much during apprenticeship, but study bonus, book learner, or secondary insight, etc? Yeah, those should give you bonus xp post gauntlet. Maybe assume each of those happens once per season.

Flawless magic, affinity, MMF all act as power multipliers as soon as play starts. The same thing should happen for other virtues.

These have been discussed multiple time.

Out of 60 seasons, roughly:

  • 1 * 2 Exposure + open the Arts
  • 2 * 2 Exposure + teach 60 spell levels
  • 12 * Quality 12 teaching
  • 45 * 2 Exposure doing lab work
    = all 240 xp and all 120 spell levels

That does not leave much room for anything to happen.

Dosn't the 12 * teaching mean that i.e. someone with Apt Student actual should get (12*5 exp=) 60 extra exp trough apprenticeship?

Yes, you can see this as a reversed Skilled Parens without the 30 extra spell levels. Or that your parens was Incomprehensible and you only reached 12 because of your Apt Student Virtue. :laughing:

But that inches into the realm of Extremely Complex Character Creation on p33 which, ahem, kinda resolves the issue. :wink:

I'm not much concerned by the apprenticeship time. If a mage teaches a virtue that makes learning faster, it's to help himself teaching less for similar effect. It won't take long for said mage to realise that he has a book Learning or apt student either.
What interest me is how compute these virtues into post apprenticeship/mundane (when revelant) education. A book learner/apt student magister in artibus definitly has an edge over one who is not. That edge shouldn't be too big either as the virtue portrayied have effect over time as opposed to strait 50xp virtue.
Elemental magic as written is only usefull for a very experienced player with real smart ideas about elemental spells.

Yes philosophiae is obviosly a requisite and thanks for herbam. If you remove mentem, and add terram, you have the physical world...

RThey do not add up in the initial writeup of the character because it is a pain in the posterior to work the math. No more, no less. It implies A LOT of assumptions that can make your XP vary quite a significantly depending on you reading a Qality 28 summa for 2 seasons to get to Auram 10 or you read 11 quality 5 tractatus to get to your Auram 10. We had an elementalist (Presteris) in our last saga. The "lack" of these initial XP did not hinder him at all, and we did not feel he was impaired. He was our most efficient combat magus by far (making the sea burn and clouds rain acid was always a cool effect) from the start, really.

Perfect answer for elemental magic, which I'll forward to the player. As for the other virtues (except secondary insight),I have come to consider that they probably evolved from other vertues over time and that a character who would have been a book learner / apt student at 15-20 may have turned into something else (say a rather Young magister in artibus or doctor).
Now what to do with secondary insight which is hermetic and thus opened during apprenticeship ? For that time, the teacher, who has the virtue, will use it to teach either more (skilled parens effect) or as much with less burden for himself. But once out of it, the new maga has the virtue and from the text not a single xp from it for her 30 years of further pre game experience. The easiest way I see it, beyond reserving that virtue to fresh magi, is to had all the years calculated individually and using an excel sheet make the addition of the 4xps by hand. Or am I missing an errata/clarification on that last virtue ?

This is the "Extremely Complex Character Creation" that Tugdual mentioned. It's in the core rulebook, on page 33. Basically, it's just that: you go through season-by-season, all the way from childhood, through apprenticeship, and post-gauntlet, applying each virtue/flaw to your study sources. Make sure your Troupe is OK with doing this, as the character will end up more broadly-skilled than the "default" character will. If your player chooses to go this route, make sure they understand the justifications for when an apprentice learns something, and how much they learn. The links to the previous threads are a good place to start.

Personally, I find this a very useful exercise to do, as it lets you know EXACTALLY what you character can do, and when/how they learned it. As a friend of mine mentioned, "A beginning Ars magi is like playing a level 10 D&D Wizard - without playing up to that level, it's hard to know what they can do." Also, it lets you get things like Language (Latin) out of the way via 8 XP/Season, rather than the 2 xp/season that the default rules mostly assume.

If other players don't want to do this, but are feeling left behind, I'd recommend the following shortcuts. The discussion below is pulled from the Google group my troupe uses for our current Ars game - St. Avery is my character, who is a Rego Vim lab rat. I am assuming certain things here, such as the availability and quality of Roots, for example. In our troupe, these have already been discussed and approved.

When going through season-by-season, I also assume that a character has one "adventure" per year - not necessarily going out and slaying dragons, but some sort of interesting, character-building experience that provides 5-10 XP. You can use these adventures to justify learning various virtues/flaws, or for having background skills that you really don't want to spend 'real' xp on, but the character would reasonably have. (Such as Area Lore or a Profession/Craft or a Music skill or whatever.) The main thing is that the adventure actually has to be described - a short paragraph, basically - in order to understand where the xp comes from and how it influenced the character's growth.

Very good reply, just a few quibbles.

Exposure would qualify here.

There's nothing that says that they are 6q21.

  • "preferred primer for a magus seeking the competence necessary to train an apprentice" means that those 9 have to be 5q15.
  • "Two Roots of the Arts have been superseded" could mean that those 2 are 6q21, or merely that they are adapted to the "modern" mindset.

So, you can only say:

  • there are 9 Roots, 2 of them 6q21 and 7 others 5q15.
  • The other 6 Arts might have 5q15 but are not widely recognized.

Hm... I was copying from the Apprentices book - I was under the impression that Opening the Gift counted as a seasonal activity that you didn't gain XP from (ie, when you do it, that's all you do, and you don't gain anything else). I'll go check again...

EDIT - nope, you were correct - it assumes 12 years at (6 exposure + 13 Teaching) + 3 years of (6 Exposure + 40 spell levels) = 246 xp + 120 spell levels. Without that first season of Opening the gift, it would be 244 xp.

Yep. That's why I put the qualifier right above my big quote:

The reason our troupe choose all of them as 6q21 is that you don't need to particularly optimize to get a 5q15 book. As such, our troupe decided that we'd rather have a 6q21, simply because that was a nicely high enough bar that the average Jerbiton schoolteacher couldn't look at it and say "eh, I could do better". (One of our PC's is just that). But no one at the table wanted their character to be an author, so we needed a reason for them NOT to write a book. Our solution was "set the bar high enough that it's a non-issue." With the in-game justification being that enough high-Com Strong Teachers had come to that exact same conclusion over the past 300 years, and had actually gone out and written the darned things.

EDIT - sure, there are reasons to go the other way for that, chief amongst them being that a 6l21 is actually pretty hard to get, based on nothing but the quality of writing (Com 4 + Good Teacher + a Com 5 editor to gloss the text.) I would imagine that folks like that are pretty darned rare, although PC's tend to skew the curve in terms of optimization strategies. But our group was fine with that.

Oh, a further interesting thing you can do, if you feel like it: check for Insights any time your character learns (or realizes that they have) a Hermetic or Supernatural virtue (or relevant flaw, actually). an Insight roll is (Int + Inventive Genius + Magic Theory vs. 18). Each time your character gains an Insight, you can work with your troupe to develop a spell or enchanted item that incorporates a related non-Hermetic ability. (Insights are more fully discussed in Ancient Magic and Hedge Magic.)

Example - when St. Avery was 14, he was taught Hermetic Divination. He's a lab rat (High Int + Affinity (Magic Theory) + Puissant (Magic Theory) + Inventive Genius), so I was able to make the Insight roll. I worked with my GM, and we agreed that the insight he had would allow him to develop ReVi "Circle of Protection vs. Magic" effect that would, in addition to providing a ward against magic creatures, would also provide (lvl/5) Magic Resistance to Intelligo-like effects. However, he didn't actually develop the effect until he was in his early 20's, as he didn't have the time or resources (or the arts - we established that it was a lvl 50 ward) to do it until then.

Mainly I like doing this because it gives the player a chance to further optimize their spell lists. Even if you don't plan on doing any other research on that Insight, it's still fun to have. Of course, a character is only likely to have insights if they are lab rats, but there's a non-trivial chance that a character will get one for any Hermetic or supernatural virtue they have - so you may as well roll for 'em. The worst they can do is botch the roll, which means they think that they have an insight, but it turns out to be nothing when they attempt to integrate.

EDIT - now that I think about this, this may not be quite as RAW as I originally thought - the rules say you can study a Source, but don't explicitly say what to do if the source is your own magic. Personally, I like the idea, and it worked mostly for my character (who is Ex Misc, and as such was taught by actual Hedge Wizards for some of his Virtues). But it may not fly with your troupe.

The way we've dealt with this is based on the way in which Persephone's Secondary Insight was handled in Magi of Hermes. First, assign all xp as normal. Second, work out bonus xp in the Elemental Arts by working out how many seasons have been spent on each Art based on the assumption that the magus was studying from a Source Quality of 8 (rounding up to the nearest whole season).

So, let's say that you initially assign 6xp to Aquam, 28xp to Auram, 36xp to Ignem, and 10xp to Terram for scores of Aq 3, Au 7, Ig 8, Te 4 (the rest of his Arts don't matter at this stage).

6xp in Aquam implies 1 season of study. This means +1xp Au, +1xp Ig, +1xp Te
28xp in Auram implies 4 seasons of study. +4xp Aq, +4xp Ig, +4 xp Te
36xp in Ignem implies 5 seasons of study. +5xp Au, +5xp Aq, +5xp Te
10xp in Terram implies 2 seasons of study. +2xp Aq, +2xp Au, +2xp Ig

So, in all the character has +11xp in Aquam for a score of 5(2), +8xp in Auram for a score of 8(0), +7xp in Ignem for a score of 8(7), and +10xp in Terram for a score of 5(5). As it should be, the Arts that were studied less have had a greater boost than those that were studied more --- Elemental Magic is great for levelling out the elemental Arts.

The character has had 36 bonus xp in total; a little less than he would have got if he had spent 4 Virtue points on an Affinity in each of the elemental Arts; and a fair bit less than if he'd taken Skilled Parens (for 1 Virtue point). However, Elemental Magic is not really comparable to Skilled Parens since, like an Affinity, it is a Virtue that keeps on giving.

Note that it is entirely possible to get more xp during character creation with this method by tweaking the xp allocation to the elemental Arts. I've deliberately not done this in the example; but what I probably would do is reserve a small pool of xp (5-10) during the initial allocation of xp to Arts and Abilities, and use it to 'top off' those elemental Arts that are close to the score boundaries. For example, another 2 xp in Ignem would push it to 9 without adding any more xp to the other Arts (since ceiling(38/8) is still 5), and another xp in Terram would similarly boost it to 6.


IMS any of the Major Hermetic study virtues (Goetic Sorcerer, Elemental Magic, Secondary Insight etc.) grant the user 50% of the experience they spend in the abilities and arts under their purview to spend as per the virtue. For example, if you had Elemental Magic and spent 30 experience in Ignem, you'd get 5 experience in Auram, Aquam and Terram as well (30 / 2 = 15 / 3 = 5). Makes them marginally more appealing.

I personally think Elemental magic is worth taking for the requisite transparency, and have had a lot of fun making up multi-elemental spells.

Yeah, that's the best reason.