Extremely old character

Hi all,

I'd been thinking in quite long lived NPCs for a while. Mostly because of Dav'nalleous, being supossed to have been born at the beginning of the VI Century, and thinking how could that be without resorting to regios with altered time or getting lost into Arcadia.

So I came with the idea of an NPC having the virtues of Unaging and Death Prophecy. The prophecy would be something in the line of "will die at the hands of his own child". And the character wouldn't have any child. And probably will have by now the Temperate flaw...

So, with that, I think I can make this NPC live as long as I like, right? Unaging states that the character stats doesn't deteriorate with time, that apparent age may be whatever, and that he still will die from Decrepitude, but Death Prophecy says that the character will only die because of the condition of the prophecy, and not because of wounds or age. Now I just need some way to keep Warping in control, and I can design an alternate Dav'nalleous as a regular sorcerer from any tradition which happens to have that couple of virtues, and XPs to spend in the order of 700 x 15 = 10500 XPs...

So what do you think of that, is if to stretch things too much, even if it's for a NPC? And can anyone imagine a sorcerer with that many XPs?

(By the way, what I like about that idea would be that to end with such a character, may the prophecy be discovered by the players, is that the solution to deal with this NPC could be to make him (or her) fall in love and have a child. Turning a Order-threatening saga into a love romance could be a twist!)

NPC's don't have to have balanced virtues or the same virtues as PC's. Not all characters in the setting are balanced and if you want to have an NPC be unreasonably old, then you need a story explanation not a rules one. There's no obligation to say your NPC's death prophesy works the same as the virtue in the book.

While the death prophesy virtue will work if the storyguide decides that it will work, it needn't have to. Things can go wrong, simply not having literal children may not be enough to save our fellow, they'll also need to beware of figurative children. Here's a quote from page 41.

Given how long Sahirs from tC&tC can live, and they don't automatically exit reality at huge warping, I'm sure someone has. I think someone started a thread called "the four hundred year old sahir" or something like that. It would be a challenge to write, but is about 4 times more experienced than a winter RoP:M character.

As Erik said, if it is for a NPC, you don’t need to work to hard to make it very old. For a PC, that will always be subject to troupe approval to have a 4 century-old PC.

Regarding the prophecy, apprentices can be considered as children of the mage, even some of his creations could be: a major magical item that he spent years to perfect, somebody that he once referred to « as the child he will never have ». A sculpture that represents his potential child (done by him or by somebody else).

If someone has unaging, faerie blood, monstrous blood and mild aging, then throw in some environmental bonuses (arts and academe sets the non-magical limit at +10) and you can easily have a very long lived character who would have a -13 on aging rolls and only take decrepitude, not stat penalties, when they fail. Throw in a high stamina to deal with eventual crisis checks and this non-mage could last a very long time. If the situation allows for strong faerie blood that goes to -15 on aging rolls (nd perhaps a faerie affinity for staying young?)

There are several ways that hermetics can avoid ageing rolls, some of them would be appropriate for other traditions.

Something like Immortality of the Forrest from Guardians of the Forrest or Saoshyant's Elixer from RoP: Divine could easily be adapted.

As long as your sorcerer's tradition doesn't have a warping path that removes the caster from the world at a higher level they should be good.

I seem to remember a discussion about this on the Berkeley list twenty years ago. The best idea which came up was a bargain with the Devil. A rogue wizard from the time of the founding of the Order had escaped and was returning in the 12th or 13th century through some infernal pact.

Then there is the Gruagach (?) of Loch Leglean; I am not sure how old they get in canon (ArM3½), but considerably older than Hermetic wizards.

IMHO, I think the suggested longevity (600 years+) should be limited to the Divine and the Infernal, and then only in cases where it really serves the long-term purpose of the realm. I am sure a character can live for quite a few centuries by maxing out available virtues and environmental bonuses, and I just hope it stops with a /few/ centuries.

if someone had miraculous luck with aging and crisis rolls, and had the maximum +10 in non-magical modifiers, they would still only be able to live to about 275 before hitting 75 decrepitude points (decrepitude level 5) and dying.

Add strong faerie blood, and you have another 30 years. :slight_smile:

Still far from the 7 centuries required to have Dav'nalleous (or his younger cousin or something like that) as an antagonist!

Also luck with the rolls is non an option. When you have to roll over 500 aging rolls the Law of Large Numbers kicks in; in fact I would rather not have to roll at all. Rolling that many times almost guarantees that one deadly roll is going to come no matter what modifiers you apply to all rolls.

The Gruagach part sounds intriguing: my base character would be a Gruagach for sure, but I hadn't found anything of them aging in any special way, though. So, can you recall where did you get that from?

Having to solve this resorting to either Divine or Infernal solutions is something I really dislike. I just don't like them: I just find them exhausting, and they both come with a lot of issues (like the infernal needing to gather souls and people sinning and doing evil, and the Divine, well, doing the opposite). Faerie also have its own issues, so my preferred solution would be to be limited to mundane & Magic realms: I don't want this character's goal to be dictated by something else, like sin, or virtue, or vitality. I want his motivations and goals to be exclusively of his own, and only the m-realms handle that well.

The deep dive into the Magic Realm is my last option: if I don't find the solution convincing (right now I'm testing a Gruagach with the two virtues combo above, Death Prophecy and Unaging, made him start his own Mystery Cult to acquire some extra Virtues, and trying to develop it to see how high warping could go through the centuries, and how his stats could look like), I can always shrug and say that this dude entered or created a Mystery which turn him into a Magic Human, and design him as a Magical Character.

The Gruagach have an initiation for the virtue External Soul (Hedge Magic Revised p 56 for the virtue p. 61 for the initiation). This virtue gives the character immunity to death from wounds and dismemberment and also the unaging virtue. They'll still (apparently) die from decrepitude.

If you're determined that you as the storyguide need to follow published rules for your NPC's, You should really look at the virtues that keep a character from making aging roles, four that come to mind are:
Immortality of the Forrest (Guardians of the Forest page 38)
Guardian of Nature HoH: Mystery Cults p.105
Saoshyant's Elixer The Divine Revised Edition p.117 (it's a ritual not an initiation)
The Avenue of Drinking the Winds of Inspiration and the Station of Spiritual Nourishment HoH: Mystery Cults p.62
The first one could be used without adaptation, the character self initiates through nature lore and does not make any aging rolls as long as they live within the boundaries of their magical forest. This was from a book published prior to nailing down mystery initiation but the method was codified as an aspect of the Nature Lore mystery (HoH: Mystery Cults p.103)

Hi all,

Regarding the Gruagachan, in 5E they are not like in 3E's Loch Leglean book, in particular, from Hedge Magic Revised, p.71: When a character reaches a Warping Score of 10, the transformation to a troll is complete.

Thus, these characters are completely transformed, don't know if they keep their powers, knowledge, but definitely not their motivations. They become strictly SG characters, the writeup suggests that this is a terrible fate, and that either Gruagachan flee to the wilds or kill themselves before this happens. Even UnGifted Gruagachan are subject to this.

That's 275 warping points for those following along. If they're going to make it to 600 as a Gruagach, They'll need to either change the way they deal with warping or become something else.

I think that doing something akin to becoming a Order of Suleiman Sahir at the age of 200 so you can escape your warping is a bit hard to swallow. Ouroboros has said that he doesn't like the option of going with infernal or divine realm.

To my mind, this leaves adapting a true immortality mystery to the Gruagach tradition. I think that preemptively making yourself a sort of half-troll using an invitation to a virtue similar to the Greater Elixir (from Mysteries Revised), or the Becoming (from Mystery Cults).

Alternately, Alchemy isn't a Hermetic specific thing. I think that developing a cult lore with an alchemical mystery might allow the character to develop an initiation to acquire a Gruagachan version of the Greater Elixir would be entirely within the scope and intent of the rules.

The Loch Leglean tribunal book. It is one of the last books before ArM4, but I am not sure if it is ArM3, or if it was supposed to be the start of an ArM4 line which never came to anything. But as others have pointed out, ArM5 gruagachs are different.

It's ArM3 in terms of mechanics.

It's probably the first book that introduced (with brilliant mechanics) a rival tradition of Magic to Ars Magica; Gruagachan in 3rd edition started probably a bit weaker than Hermetic magic, and certainly far less flexible, but over time they would exceed the powers of Hermetic magi because they could live arbitrarily long (while ArM3 hermetics faced a hard limit from "warping", like modern Gruagachan do). "Warping" only ... warped them, giving the equivalent of negative twilight scars: bad smell, glowing eyes, pain when hearing music etc. One of the characters in the book, Brude Deathless, had been around since the war against Dav'nalleous; I think one complaint that was voiced when Hedge Magic 5e came out was that such a character had been made not only "non canonical" but outright impossible by the new Gruagach mechanics.

What happens with Give Blessing: Transformed Being?

From someone else, presumably though?
Noble's Parma, but IIRC, gruagachan have trouble granting blessings to themselves.

Again, Noble's Parma, but IIRC South of the Sun (1991) had a complete (if somewhat limted) magical tradition.

A Gruagachan can't use Give Blessing on themselves (HMRE p66) unless they use tattoo magic, which would require a huge lab total. A blessing cast by someone else does allow the possibility of not aging and not warping, but also the downside of being a magical creature with might 0 initially.

I'm not sure how this would work in play, as the only examples I've seen of Transformed Beings has been for characters with a might score who've become transformed in their backstory and are now characters with Might.

First of all thanks to all of you for the commitment into this little project of mine. I'm not replying back as soon as I would like mostly due to the fact that after reading you, giving it some thoughts and digging into rulebooks, I came back to read some of you already saying what I was going to reply (edit: it even happened twice while I was typing this).

Summarizing things, yes I will stick to the rules even for this NPC. There are two reasons for this. The main one is that if the players are constrained to them, I think it's fair to do the same. I really hate bringing to the table the "this is at it is because I am the Storyteller and you are not". Yes, I will stick out of Divine and Infernal realms because they add contexts that I would like to avoid: I don't want the character goals to be stuff about eternal damnation or saving. I had been thinking about the Faerie Realm (maybe giving this NPC Faerie Magic), which could be handy to get some fun parameters for his Gruagach spells, but I also find myself frowning upon that. When I fantasize about this character, I figure his motivations to be his own alone, and that self focus (let's call it that) is only that only the Magic Realm gives.

I find myself more open to grant him access to Mystery Virtues thought; he would be extremely old; by the time of the foundation of the Order he would be 240 years old, which probably would make him one of the most powerful sorcerers alive in Mythic Europe (and that brings some interesting things to think about: was he known? Did Trianoma visited him? Did he even meet Bonisagus? Maybe he did, but he had his reasons not to join the Order? Maybe he sent an apprentice there, something went sideways and that's why he started to hate the Order and kept himself away from it?... and this can go on and on and add some extra unexpected background to the character). And as Mystery Cults knowledge must come from somewhere, I feel that the guy could had been the source of some Mystery Virtues which later were learned and used by Mystery Cults.

Back to the mechanics, it seems clear that any virtue which gets rids of aging rolls grants 1 warping point per year and just because of that the age limit would be 275 years, until reaching the Warping Score of 10 and getting turned into a troll for good. So no way they can work.

So when I read Callen suggesting Transformed Being I start considering that: getting Might, and so becoming a Magical Being, would get rid of these mundane concerns like aging and warping, wouldn't they?

But there are some issues there as well...

If the virtue comes from a Give Blessing spell, and the spell is made constant (or cast repeatedly with long duration), it would probably also give warping to the character, so once the spell ends or is interrupted then, well, we get the troll again. And there is also the issue of Gruagachan not being able to cast blessings upon themselves, as Tellus and Darkwing pointed...

But the virtue could come from Initiation (more on that and on how I would take any virtue happily later), and with it we would get rid of both the aging and warping problems. The first issue that came to my mind would be that his Might would either be quite low (the base would be 0, or up to 10 if he gets inferiorities and spent the earned qualities in Might), and so an easy target for any Might Stripping spell. OK then, good news is that he wouldn't be quite humpered to keep learning because of he having Might. Bad news would be that an apprentice spont-ing a PeVi Might stripping over him would put an end to his long life quite easily (or would it? Would External Soul work then?). So what I'm thinking now is how to raise his Might, if not constantly (which would be a problem, and probably non required for a being that spent centuries on hideouts), for these times when he rampages the Order every other century.

The Grant Might spell on The Great Elixir section of The Mysteries suggest this could work: it's a CrVi constant effect that grants might equals to half (effect level - 20). Of course it ends saying that it's a unique mystery spell (but as I said, I wouldn't mind using it and claiming that this Mystery Cult actually got this from Dav'nalleous (or whoever this ends up being) himself) and that it may not be cast as a spell, which maybe I could override saying that though it doesn't work with an Hermetic's CrVi it does with a Gruagach's GiBl. Deducing the base is tricky because of the constant duration modifiers, but if the base is (level - 20) / 2 I guess it could be (level - 15) / 2 or even (level - 10) / 2... or going wild, just level / 2. Well, let's say it's (level - N) / 2. Let's do some estimations... if he ends up having 10500 xps, his Techniques could easily come in the range 14-16 (or up to 20 with affinity, +3 if Puissant) and Forms in the range 32-37 (or up to 45 with Affinity, +3 if Puissant), so with N = 15 he could probably put a GiBl spell of level around 65 to toy with the final might, considering spell duration, the N value and such... And there again lies the issue of Gruagachan not being able to cast GvBl upon themselves (and maybe try to get rid of that limit through Breakthroughs? Or a Virtue?).

Whatever can be solved through virtues can happen: the guy is going to create his own Mystery Cult and devote time to invent initiations. Probably he will get Potent Sorcery from Rival Magic, maybe Cthonic Magic (the extra durations and ranges would be quite appreciated, as doubling the lower art), and such. So whatever solutions coming from Mistery, Magic or Supernatural virtues could get in easily.

Actually, let's crunch the numbers for creating a tattoo that grants a major virtue: Grant Blessing tattoos may use any of the durations, so don't have to use Limit - therefore it makes sense to use Sun duration, with 2 charges/day and environmental trigger (sunrise/sunset) to make absolutely sure that you are under a permanent, flicker-free effect. The rules are same as for a Hermetic Lesser Enchantment.

For base 20 (grant a major virtue), range personal (it's a tattoo), +2 sun duration - effect level 30, +1 2 charges/day, +3 environmental trigger - total level 34, so you need a lab total of 68.

Lab total = Technique + Form + Intelligence + Pictish Langauge + Aura modifier.

Let's assume Dave is so old he has Pictish as a native language or was taught to level 5 by a native speaker as an apprentice. Let's assume he uses aura 5, which is pretty strong but on a par with a good hermetic covenant. I don't know how intelligent he is, but maybe we need to conserve virtues for all the really cool stuff you wish to give him so let's limit Int to +3. He can get up to 5 points of shape & material bonus - a salmon tattoo gives +4 to granting longevity, so let's grab that final point by saying he uses mineral cinnabar as a bright red tattoo dye to get an extra +1 (HoH:MC lists +3 long life for this mineral). This gives +18, so you still need 50 points of technique + form, which is pretty difficult when the technique progresses as an ability.

As an alternative: The character is from a remote part of the British Isles, known for strange magical beings and places. You can have a magical spirit grant him powerful virtues that allow for his longevity. Maybe he travelled to the Corryvreckan whirlpool and Cailleach Bheur made a deal.

Maybe he hasn't actually aged through not being in normal reality - he could have gone in to a compressed-time regio, or one where time passes very strangely, so he hasn't aged. He could have been in a regio where you don't suffer the ill effects of aging or warping unless you leave it for more than a week, allowing him to make brief raids or recruiting missions over the centuries. Your heroes will have to find the secret of accessing [strike]Brigadoon[/strike] this mysterious place in order to end the long-lived sorcerer.