Ex Misc Tradition

Hi! I've been away from the forums for a while, and tend to only post in brief flurries of three or four posts before reverting to lurking, but in effort to actually contribute something...

Here's a couple virtues I made for an Ex Misc tradition in my game. I've only recently become confident enough to try making custom abilities and such for the game, partly inspired by the Societates book, so I'm not sure how well this is balanced. I'd value any opinions the rest of you might have.

As a note, this tradition has no basis whatsoever in history, as far as I know. It's for a fairly high-fantasy game. I'm just asking about the game balance of the virtues, as they could be re-flavored easily enough anyway.

Major Non-Hermetic Virtue: Touch of Decay
Minor Hermetic Virtue: Dissolution Magic
Major Hermetic Flaw: Deficient Technique (Creo)

TOUCH OF DECAY (Major Supernatural Virtue)
At a cost of one fatigue level per use, this supernatural ability can be used to mimic any hermetic Perdo effect that causes physical damage or destruction of matter at touch range and momentary duration. The roll for casting total is (Stamina + Touch of Decay + 1d10), and the effect does not require any vocalizations or any gestures other than lightly touching the target. This ability can be associated with any Realm, though generally not Divine.
This is an accelerated ability, meaning that it gains levels at the same rate as Hermetic Arts.

DISSOLUTION MAGIC (Minor Hermetic Virtue)
This virtue allows you to add your Touch of Decay score to your casting score for any spontaneous Perdo spell you cast that causes damage or destruction of matter. It doesn't help with imaginem invisibility, ignem cold, or vim demon-destroying, for example, but can cause corpus wounds, destroy terram buildings, etc.

Don't have the societates book.

I find the major ability rather powerfull. The minor one is similar to a minor magical focus (would be major, but is limited to spontaneous magic, and needing to be upgraded).

However, I like the concept, and would probably allow it, probably with a substration of the target natural soak, something like that

I like it, it's a strongly thematic power and real useful too. A little strong but for a ex-misc magus it's ok (It is a magus after all !).

I really like it.

Any suggestions on how to tone down the major ability, if it's too strong? While it is intended for Ex Misc magi, I imagine there would also be some Gifted Companions that had not adopted hermetic magic, and so with just the major virtue, in Ex Misc. I want it to be balanced for them too.

The design intent on the major virtue was that it's roughly equivalent to a limited subset of spontaneous Perdo magic. To a hermetic magus, who can simply study Perdo and a given art and add them together for spells, it's almost not useful - hence the hermetic virtue that lets it improve perdo sponts, to help it maintain its usefulness.

I guess one option would be to make it a non-accelerated ability (using the normal ability XP progression), and give it its own list of guidelines (multiples of 3 as for other abilities, rather than multiples of 5 that arts get), so that the penetration will be lower. That would require reworking the hermetic virtue too so it's not too weak, but that's doable.

I don't think the major virtue would be too powerful.
Do you want to see the hermetic guidelines to the ease numbers?
What would be the PeCo part? Diseases, injuries, destroying body parts?

The minor virtue is stronger than the usual but it can be used only with spontaneous spells which is not so powerful I think. A focus is stronger.

Both virtues are limited to a specific subset of Perdo.

In both cases they're limited to Perdo effects that cause physical damage. What this means is that it can destroy or damage a thing, but not inflict diseases, damage minds, banish magical creatures, put out fires, create darkness, make something weightless, make something invisible, or perform other non-damage-based effects.

In the hermetic virtue, it's further limited to only Perdo spontaneous magic. In the supernatural virtue, it's limited to touch-range effects and momentary durations.

For the supernatural virtue, the ease factors for the rolls are the levels of the equivalent hermetic spell. To kill someone with a touch is PeCo35 (base 30, +1 touch, +0 momentary, +0 individual), so the ease factor for the (Stamina + Touch of Decay + stress die) would be 35, with any excess going toward penetration.

The hermetic virtue was based on magical focuses. It's fair as a minor virtue if something as broad as a major magical focus (perdo: physical damage) can be made into a minor magical focus by limiting it to spontaneous magic only. Otherwise, it might be too much.

The goal for the hermetic virtue was to partially integrate the supernatural virtue into their hermetic magic. Otherwise, since this supernatural tradition doesn't have any powers that break hermetic limits, players would tend to either not learn Perdo because they can do so much of it with Touch of Decay anyway, or not learn Touch of Decay because Perdo can do it anyway.

I dislike Ex Misc designs that involve giving a cool supernatural power, and then a reason not to use it at all (for example, if I were to give Puissant Perdo as the hermetic virtue, then Perdo magic would really be better than Touch of Decay.

In some cases it's okay for the hermetic virtue to be separate from the supernatural. I could see someone with Warding still using the ability even though Rego can also ward, because for circle wards Warding is better than the normal hermetic magic version. Similarly, Whistle Up the Wind is better than hermetic weather magic in some ways, so Puissant Auram as Tempestaria's hermetic virtue doesn't discourage them from using their own magic.

In this homebrewed tradition I'm making, though, someone with Touch of Decay is pretty much inferior to hermetic magi with Perdo spells, so I needed something to encourage people to use both their hermetic magic and their supernatural virtue.

See, I think that your "subset of Perdo" is still too broad - we're talking about the scope of a minor focus after all. It's supposed to be within a TeFo combination or similar (q.v. Necromancy, Self-Transformation) - not within a whole Technique; even Major Foci are only within a single Form. If you were to name it Touch of Death and make it wound/kill people, plants and animals, then I think it would be OK.

And for the minor virtue, I'd propose to let them add their Touch of Death score to their MR against Perdo effects that intend to harm them (as opposed to ruin their clothes and the like). That way, even though they can hardly heal themselves (Creo deficiency), they're also harder to harm directly.

While I don't actually like either of the suggestions, in that they both stray from what I'm trying to do with the tradition, they're not bad suggestions.

Looking it over with those criticisms in mind, though, I think the balance is still fine as it is. In the off chance that someone wants to borrow this tradition for their game or whatever, though, those alternatives are worth considering.

Anyway, as to why I think it's still okay...

In both cases the effects are limited to spontaneous magic levels of power, so the penetrations and power of the effect in general aren't going to overwhelm anything. A magus of this tradition will, at the cost of Deficient Creo, be able to spont some Perdo spells roughly as well as a Diedne. A hedge wizard with the supernatural power might be a bit strong, but to living opponents he'll generally be more dangerous just attacking with a weapon than fatiguing himself and hoping for a high roll with his decaying touch, so it pretty much just means he can wreck objects at will. For a major virtue, that doesn't bother me any.

Anyway, thanks for your input. While it hasn't changed my mind on this particular tradition, the suggested replacement for the hermetic virtue is something I might borrow later, and in any case, you at least made me think about this a bit harder. :slight_smile:

Nope, as said before, I find it fine, especially as, contrary to a focus, you must upgrade the ability for it to have any effect.