Faerie Magus Infiltrator

Timothy and Mark,

While I would not like to make a big deal about it, I would like to state that my sentiments are with ezzelino on this. Saying, "just change the rules" is neither a constructive nor a helpful response to the question, especially when the question is phrased in terms of "how can I do this within the RAW?" and discussions of how hard it is to anticipate player needs in this case ring a little hollow, as 1. Faeries are interested in stories and 2. the stories Ars Magica tells are fundamentally about wizards--this is one the author should have caught, or perhaps the play-testers (note: though I did read and give feedback on part of the draft, it was not this part). While I am not averse to changing the RAW in my own saga, and there are some RRAW which I simply will not allow in my game (I thoroughly dislike some of the book rules in Covenants, and have my own supplementary system for magna opera, for example), one purpose of the rules is to give everyone a standard baseline to play to, and it is reasonable that a new group would expect me to come up with a character which is within the rules, rather than going right to asking for special cases.

TRK, ezzelino, and Xavi,

You are thinking along similar lines to me, surely, and the idea of impersonating a missing magus or redcap is a fine one. Most of the solutions regarding having secretive projects were ones I intended, though I do not necessarily want to make the magus faerie-aligned in his infiltrator persona, as his story is not about a faerie wizard, but rather a Hermetic magus (even as he is too limited to truly mirror the abilities expected of him in such a role). I do think that House Pralix is the easiest one to choose, and I personally assume that a lot of its members are not really hermetic in their grasp of magic. I was planning on giving the character a narrow range of glamours to simulate a specialist wizard, and the main problem is how to avoid detection of the glamorous spells and pretentious knowledge of magic theory, when so many experts will clearly be around him (specialize in Herbam-like effects in a covenant where no one knows any Herbam? etc.).

At least a fraction of them, according to HoH:S.

Note that:

  1. Nobody should be using magic to analyze you, including your magic (unless you run afoul of Quaesitorial investigation): it's a violation of the code.
  2. Wizards of the Order may realize your magic is non-Hermetic (though it's hard if your spells resemble Hermetic ones in effect but are cast without words or gestures). So what? Even if there is evidence it's aligned to the faerie realm, you are a hedge wizard ex Miscellanea, not a respected follower of Bonisagus! You might be snubbed, but certainly not accused of any crime.
  3. For the Magic Theory pretense see above (it's passive, so you can use it to notice stuff without giving yourself away), and just refuse to help other magi in the lab (should any one be willing to steep so low as to ask for your help, you lowly hedge wizard).
  4. Consider not just Lesser, Greater and Personal powers, but Supernatural abilities as well. For example Shapeshifter can easily provide your character with the equivalent of 3-5 MuCo spells (a Bear shape for combat, a Falcon shape for aerial recoinnassance and easy getaway, a Salmon shape for underwater movement etc.) and could possibly be all the magic you need to impersonate a wizard from a shapeshifting tradition like pomeranian witches (see GotF). Alternatively use Summoning (not Faerie Summoning, the Faerie-but-Infernally-tainted one described in RoP:I) to impersonate a dark spirit master, and strike bargains with various spirits to gain access to a wide variety of powers. Enchanting Music, Second Sight, Dowsing are all cheap but useful abilities.

I'm not sure I agree with you on all points (in fact, I'm quite sure I disagree on some, and may disagree on most) but thanks for the explanation - it offers an interesting perspective. Incidentally, I really liked the Criamon from HoH:MC - definitely more than the Verditius, probably more than the Merinita, possibly more than the Bjornaer.

Pfah!

We didn't "miss it", I, at least, chose deliberately not to write about it.

You -can't- do this within the RAW. That's the answer for you right there: it -can't- be done withinthe mechanics of the RAW. It is an exceptional case. The game's not designed to handle it, and the game should not include it, because it is simply too far above the scale of what other players can do with their characters.

Being a faerie magus is the big win for the whole of Mystery of House Merinita. There was no way to briefly address people who wanted all those virtues for free as beginning characters, and there was no 5000 word chunk I felt like cutting out of the bestiary or powers or whatever to do it in a comprenhensive form.

As I said in my previous reply: if you are choosing to play a faerie magus, then you are choosing to play something other than what the game is meant to model. You are playing a US Marine in a game of "Bunnies and Burrows." I don't see that I have any obligation to help you do that, if by doing so I need to cut out 5000 words of stuff that most players will want to use.

This isn't a slip: it's a deliberate choice. Starting characters as faerie magi are an unrealistic expectation for the vanilla setting.

An immortal magi... right out of the box... hmm nice.

No I wouldn't like that either. Although I had not realised that was the motivation for the post. I had assumed it was a story device. I am just too trusting obviously :wink:

Hi!

Sorry for not reading all the posts because i have very few time to post or read lately, but here is a couple of ideas to help with the concept of Faerie infiltrator:

  1. You could always say that you are from House Merinita; there are enough madness in that House (from delusions, strange twilight and faerie experiences, even time runs different in a faerie regio) that you could invent a plausible story of why nobody knows you in the Tribunal (e.g. you could say that you were trapped in a faerie regio fifty years ago in another tribunal, or that you can´t remember your past, or that you are the son of an Hermetic Magus lost in twilight and a faerie princess :stuck_out_tongue: ). Almost every magus will buy that story.

  2. you have a big strength, and it´s that Hermetic Magic can´t guess if you are lying or not. If it´s in your role (and the story of your past will definetly be), every spell from Quaesitores will reveal that "truth", not the real truth (that you are a Faerie).

You would have to avoid the expert peers of your house, but if the SG wants to tell a story of a Faerie Infiltrator, that situation would emerge as an Story Hook, not as an insormountable obstacle. I reason that if there was Faeries Infiltrators in the past of the Order (at least one :slight_smile: ), it was becouse the covenant was sufficiently isolated in the Tribunal and the faerie was smart (for example, not going to Tribunal meetings). The only thing the SG should care for is that not being a player making a Merinita besides the faerie (or an expert in Faerie magic).

Hi,

Hmm. I think AM has tried to offer outcome modeling rules from the beginning; this is why, for example, magi gain more experience by not adventuring.

I don't think it's that simple. Taking Criamon, I find that to be perhaps the best-written House of them all. The prose is tight, the explanations of complex ideas are lucid and the ideas are ingenious. And you do offer various kinds of opt-outs: You left undefined paths, you offered a Wandering Path, you offer Gorgiastics. It is not my favorite writeup, though. I consider myself a decent roleplayer, but I would have a hard time playing one (as do other people, who, admittedly, also consider themselves decent rpers :slight_smile: ).

By contrast, you also offered a new vision for House Tremere, which I suspect went over better. Certainly I liked it.

I don't think the difference lies in the tightness of your conception; as with House Criamon, it is difficult to play a Tremere whose beliefs and actions diverge too much from what the House expects.

  1. Your conception of Criamon is difficult to reconcile with the Criamon of yore. It used to be that Criamons were incomprehensible crackpots, all different. Now they are comprehensible crackpots, with different takes on the same idea. I realize that it is difficult to write a chapter explaining characters who are supposed to be unexplainable. But anyone hoping to migrate an old Criamon to the new rules must be disappointed in them. 'I want to play a misunderstood wacko" is an important character niche no longer explicitly supported by House Malkovian. By contrast, Tremere has become more playable, and there remains room within that House for a few old-school magi who really do want to run the Order, and intend to have their way.... within the rules, of course. (Criamon is unique in this regard, the only House whose essence has changed fundamentally.)

  2. It's bloody hard to play a Criamon. Players are more accustomed to solving problems with violence, and tend to enjoy doing this. Few players want to play a pacifist. (Indeed, the writeup of a pacifist House might have done well with a few pages about how to have fun and be effective as a pacifist in a game where the other characters get to kill stuff and suck out their vis.) Tremere are also a bit more inaccessible than other Houses, since many players hate having their character under someone else's authority, but you present this as a source for adventure and extra advancement rather than oppression.

  3. The Paths make elegant sense, thematically, but the combination of rewards and downsides are often less than alluring. Thus, we have a House that is nice to people, yet disfigures themselves so it is more difficult to be around them. Thus, the only violent path has burning stigmata that makes it difficult to wear armor in combination with abilities that invite magi to get up close and personal, and too-finicky rules for the repel and attract ability, so that every time I read this path I think to myself, "with a few tweaks, this could have been an awesome "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" magus; what was Timothy thinking?" I suspect that were the abilities (other than some of the truly awesome capstone abilities) a bit cooler, and the ordeals less onerous, the House would have more fans.

That is, the Criamon writeup, as good as it is, broke something and offered something new that neither replaces what was or is as easy to use.

Well, you can play a ghoul in Vampire, which is sort of like a house pet. :slight_smile:

That said....

And with RoP:M, you can play a magical sword. :slight_smile:

I think AM would do well to move well toward this paradigm, with X perhaps being a larger set than magi, but not everything that might possibly exist in ME. One of my bugaboos is the list of Abilities, which is far too long for my tastes. Wouldn't it be nice to fit an entire grog on a single stat line? But then there are all the players who want complexity and "realism" so they can play different bit characters in full. As a result, all character sheets become more complex, bogging down the system for the more common cases.

Of course, it probably makes more sense for the NSMArM to read my ideas and then do the opposite.

Anyway,

Ken

Hi,

Well, yes. Very nice indeed. Game breaking. Or is it?

Consider:

  1. If this character is to be played in a PBeM, chances are that he'd do better with major flaws that will kill him within 5 years. (FWIW, I once played an immortal maga/faerie in an early PBeM run by Timothy, and her immortality was not relevant. :slight_smile: Nor was her spellcasting; she cast not even a single spell all game.)

  2. Even if the character is not to be played in a PBeM, his age is never likely to be an issue.

  3. In most games, mortality rules serve two purposes: a) Atmosphere; magi know they die too. b) A reason why there are no 500 year old super-wizards dominating everything.

  4. Agelessness that doesn't protect against an axe to the skull or unfortunate slings and arrows (shouldn't it be sling stones and arrows? :slight_smile: ) tends to eventually balance itself.

Anyway,

Ken

As said, immportality (by age) is hardly an issue in 95% of the sagas out there. Besides, the fae can be retired in due time as well.

I do not like Criamons because the Enigma is not enigmatic anymore. The rest is just window dressing. I prefered when the dudes were searching for the meaning of magic, and had a myriad of ways to investigate it. Having them searching for such a well defined thing is not mysterious to me anymore. They lost several postions in the ranking of "cool houses" and now are competing for one of the lowest positions.

OTOH the tremere Chapter is just a work of art IMO. They went straight from "classic bad guys in the movie because they are... bad" to "one of the top 3 houses worth playing or building a whole saga around".

Cheers,
Xavi

Reading this thread this morning, I was ruminating on the nature of faeries as characters in Ars Magica rules. In the Sympathy rules, becoming a faerie is sort of considered a bad thing, in that it removes you from the game-- a final result of Warping, much like Final Twilight. I was also thinking about how the character creation rules emphasize that you can't play powerful faeries as player characters. The Becoming rules, in the Merinita chapter of HoH: Mystery Cults, being written long before RoP: Faerie, had to avoid what faeries are actually like, but there is the suggestion there that rather than transforming into a faerie, the character is actually being replaced by a faerie. It might make sense for the player to give up control of the character after the Becoming rituals, just like the ultimate step in other immortal mysteries.

The idea running through all this seems to be that faeries should not be player characters. The rules allow it, but you can tell they don't like it, especially when you start getting above Might 15 or so. I wonder, is this a good thing? Perhaps the game is better if faeries are always in the periphery, alien interlopers and bit players who try to insert themselves into the story. Perhaps all faeries should be infiltrators in the saga. I've had faeries as characters in my games before with no problems, but then I've also had very good players. They do sort of become familiar, though-- less alien and more sort of foreign but one of the team. I wonder if that harms the faerie image in Mythic Europe...

They are still pretty mysterious to me. I obviously lack other people's stamina to read everything in print that doesnt affect me directly or my saga when I am running one. If they are gonna print a rule supplement and not include rules for finding the enigma you are gonna be pretty hacked off as a buyer.

The absolute best way to maintain mystery in any game is simple - don't read all the rules that don't affect you. Even as SG you only need to read them under the players direction as he expands into those deeper myseteries. I never felt the need to undertand the enigma to play NPC criamon. Players never complained about lack of depth when confronted by a half naked ancient wizard covered in tatooes and talking a bit like Yoda... on amphetemins.

Reading everything ever written on a particular subject then complaining the mystery is gone is in my estimation, an odd position to take.

Timothy, you seem to be willfully misreading the objective of the thread, which was to play a faerie pretending to be a magus. I am not now interested in (and have no future interest in) playing a Merenita faerie wizard (immortality has never been a real concern in any game I had ever played in--ever--and I am rather tired of all the different rules for achieving it), and I even stated that I was looking to play a faerie that was of a significantly lower power level than a magus, yet could pass as one 'if he played his hand right (honestly, why would you even assume that it is interesting to play an infiltrator who risks nothing by being caught?). It is hard to see where you get your idea that I am trying to make an über-character, and I fail to see why you bothered to write ROP:F and put a character generation section in with rules on PC characters, with an Infiltrator virtue, if faeries infiltrating human societies was somehow something the game is not meant to model. It just so happens that the human society which most concerns the game is that of Hermetic magi, and that is the society which I can assume a game I am going to join is focusing on.

I would also point out that, while many fine members of this forum have offered helpful feedback on how to make such a character (and, for the most part, seem to get the type of character I am trying to play), you have gone on the attack without offering anything constructive to the project. In any case, it might be suggested that an author attacking his readers for not getting his work is rather unseemly.

Hi,

(Strong) Faerie Blood is a favorite virtue; for me, it links a character to the mythology and folklore of the real world in a way I find particularly satisfying. These characters are still human, whose brush with alien influence leaves their motivation and culmination thoroughly human; colored but human.

But an actual faerie... one of the things I noticed about RoP:F is that throughout the book, replacing "faerie" with "NPC" yields a book that teaches (one way) how to run a game. That itself ought to give a player pause; the essence of faerie is being scenery for someone else's game. (Earlier in this thread, Timothy talked about the use of trendy rpg rules in this book; one example that came to my mind when I read RoP:F is how the the rules for going with or against the narrative flow can be generalized as rules for consensual railroading.

The same problem afflicts characters of the Magic Realm, perhaps worse. They are supposed to be aloof from humanity, the naked essence of whatever they represent. Having one of these interact with characters too much, and it might as well be a faerie.

Anyway,

Ken

That is very true, although for Magic characters, they do have to give up some of that aloofness when they leave the Magic Realm. They become a bit less magical, and so they have to do special things to keep their power, like consume vis or sleep in a powerful aura. And really powerful things aren't going to be able to maintain that very long, and will start to lose some of their magical essence over time. Faeries don't really have that problem; by the game rules, nothing bad happens to them if they don't get enough vitality.

But you're right, from a story perspective, the dragon you know ceases to be so terrible.

Once again, one of the many reasons to get rid of the magic/fae distinction and simply get a Legend realm. Solves so much weird stuff it is amazing.

Cheers,
Xavi

I thought it said we don't know what happens if they stop getting their stories played out... maybeI never read enough into the details. But I recall a section offering lots of interpretations to faeries of un-used stories. Which is presumably the main type without vitality - saving those in the cages of dodgy wizards I guess.

Ken, faeries aren't just age immortal, they are "put myself together again after my body gets incinerated" immortal. Slings and arrows create cosmetic effects in the body of the faerie. It keeps them as long as is necessary for its role. It doesn't even feel pain unless it has a Flaw.

Fairies also can't suffer fatigue, do not suffer from load, and do not need to sleep, eat or breathe, unless that muckswit their role. This doesn't balance out unless you say to the player "Breaking role will have serious consequences in game." or load the faerie with Flaws that force role.

Faeries aren't people with a few extra powers. Faeries are amorphous alien things that look a bit like people when it suits their needs. A faerie magus isn't a magus with a few benefits: it's a powerful and alien force wearing a mask, and if you break the mask it probably doesn't care. It can just get a new one.

Play a "faerie daimon" then: if you die, you do not regenerate. Your "character concept" will still exist, but you will not be playing it anymore. There, a cracked skull kills you. :slight_smile:

What timothy talks about reads "NPC" to me. The original concept seems playable, though :slight_smile: The concept of a PC fae infiltrator is just cool, so I would use it without problems. In fact it is the only issue where I (or the other members of my troupe) would allow faeries as PCs, I think.

Cheers,
Xavi

I'm not willfully misreading it: I'm saying that the vanilla setting simply doesn;t support it, and, further, to say that's a slip that the author should have noticed is a failed attempt at divining the motives of the authors.

I get the idea you are trying to make an uber-character because you seem to want to minimize the obstacles to playing a faerie magus. If you aren't trying to do that, then face head on things like the Aegis problem, the visible lack of of a Parma, the fact that some holy people can see you are a faerie, and so on, and get caught, and pay for your Dark Secret. I don't see the difficulty there.

As to infiltrator: Human socities, yes, playing magi, no. Similarly I doubt there will ever be a faerie in the College of Cardinals. The three other great mystical powers tend to interrupt the games of faeries.

The society the game is focused on is the individual covenant, not the Order of Hermes, and I don't see a problem with infiltrating a covenant as a companion.

Well, I apologise for offending you.

I'm not attacking people for not getting my work: I have disagreed when people have said things like "Games should be designed like X" when I prefer Y, or "The authors and playtesters failed to notice X" when this is not the case. I was attempting to explain that what readers want forms a necessary constraint in my work, and that readers want maximum variety of choice, which requires writing in a certain way. I don't even see that as an attack: Ars readers do not like highly tailored rules. I prefer the other way. People differ.

I'm sorry you think I'm unseemly.

I think they should be player characters, but I don't think they should be protagonists directing the party's objectives, no.

Much like in Ordo Nobilis, it warned that if you create a duke as a PC, you are likely not to be playing Ars Magica anymore.