Familiars, learning, and RoP:Magic

No, my point is that they wouldn't bother with learning, not that they shouldn't. In exactly the same way, how much have you learned about anything since you stopped being schooled in it? Learning plateaus as the time/reward ratio changes and people find better things to do. Said better things to do normally involve sitting around, relaxing and drinking at some point. There's always some improvement through practise, but eventually you get to a point where practice just stops your skills fading. The rules ignore the potential for apathy. I don't think the rules are broken, in that they don't render the game unplayable, just ... unsatisfying and kludgey.

That makes no sense. If they don't want to improve or change, they never will, and it is ludicrous to think that an entity whose defining attribute is, "Be the perfect dog" would ever get bored with that. They might find new and different ways to go about it, but that's not the same thing. For a start, if you're unchanging you can never grow bored, one of my main problems with it. Humans might be new and interesting to be around, but at the price of death? You'd need to be very bored before that could seem appealing to any but a very small subset of entities.

As for the rules being necessary to prevent players taking advantage of them, that's a false example. No game lasts ten thousand years, so it'll never matter. Hell, the "Immortal" quality in Cinematic Unisystem costs nothing because it's not relevent except on the time-scale of a specific kind of game where it's necessary and mandatory and therefore effectively free anyway.

The reason such rules are proposed is because otherwise the nasty question of, "why are all magical creatures not infinitely powerful" gets raised. Far more sensible ways to deal with that are to cap practice at level 6, exposure at level 10 and thus require exceptional things to provide extra XP or inspiration. That, and remember that just because the PCs are scraping every second's worth of advancement, some of the locals will just be relaxing and enjoying their mead.

And finally, whilst familiars do not require a might score, I would be very surprised if most did not, from people's experience, have a Might of 5 or 10.

I guess I don't understand your beef then. If it's that potential familiars are de facto immortal, rule in your saga that low Might animals automatically have the Aging Flaw. Quick easy fix. If they are going to age anyway, then dying when their magi die isn't a big deal.

I apologise, by the way, if my previous post sounded a little aggressive. It wasn't meant to be.

My beef, at it were, is that your proposed fixes don't fix the apparent problem and add new ones. Low might creatures being mortal is a minor one, because most magi aren't watching them anyway, and to be honest I'd have thought that unaging would be the Quality, rather than the default, but it does mean that all the Immortality-Through-Transformation routes become, by default, disallowed. Having familiars become mortal just means noone will ever become a familiar except under very specific circumstances.

My proposed house rule is simply, "use XP as before, but require there to be a reason for the magical creature to want to study." The perfect wolf will see no reason to learn more of the hunt until, for instance, he meets a human who shows him new prey. A dragon who finds some books might read them cursorily, but not study them (thus getting the XP) unless he learns that they're valuable to the magi down the valley. The faerie prince will see no reason to learn more guile until a visiting minstrel convinces him to part with his daughter's hand in marriage and half his kingdom.

As for the other forms of advancement available to creatures with Might, I strongly feel that they should be reckoned separately from abilities.

I've never had familiars played as a type of PC in a story on a regular basis, but they are a huge part of the saga and applying the ROP:Magic rules would make a huge difference in their abilities. They would be far less likely to have quirky "roleplaying" Abilities since they would need either help from the magus or dedicated seasons of study to learn such things (neither of which they currently get in my saga).

I'm not really on board with this "all magic creatures are immortal" thing. Mind you, I don't see how it will matter in the game at a practical level, but if it does I'll just assume that "ages quickly" is a the default.

That said, I'm not quite sure what the abuse being avoided with the learning rules is. There isn't really a game balance issue in play with immortal characters getting normal exp unless your saga runs long enough that magi are dying off and being replaced. Otherwise, buying the Unaging virtue ought to be crippling to your xp, too. The 'abuse' is presumably a PC trying to make a character who is a spirit of ancient Ur and so has 7000 years (or whatever) of prior xp in character creation?

When taking a familiar, you need to consider whether you want a lab assistant (low or no might) or to have a more powerful magical being with you -- that may very well not be interested at all in acting as a lab assistant.

But see here for a proposal.

Well, that choice really doesn't occur in my saga. Most PCs get a familiar as quickly as they find a suitable creature, so high might creatures aren't an option anyway. 0-10 is the usual range.

A familiar need not have a Might Score, but now we have RoP:M we know that almost all creatures with a Might Score are in fact Immortal, ageless, and immune to deprivation (lack of food, water, air, sleep (although they do not recover Might and fatigue while deprived)).

However, the core rules tell us that a familiar without a Might score, even a short lived type such as a mouse or rat, will still live as long as its magus, and will age when and only when the magus ages.

The Immortality of Might based creatures overrides the Familiar ageing protection.

Well, I just don't like that, so I think I'll make Ages Quickly the standard for physical creatures. Or maybe physical creatures less than Might 30? I'll think about it....

I disagree. I don't recall anything in RoP: Magic that says almost all potential familiars are ageless and immune to deprivation. It's up to the troupe/storyguide to decide how often magical animals have the Flaws of Aging and Suffers from Deprivation.

If the troupe doesn't want to have the issue of a familiar giving up immortality to hang with a magus for a century or two, then have the setting default be that Magical critters have the Aging and Suffers from Deprivation Flaws.

I designed some of the example animals for RoP: Magic, so believe me, coming up with enough Flaws to buy all the Virtues you want is tough.

exactly - but neither does it say they have to have those Flaws... what it does say is that Age Quickly, and Susceptible To Deprivation are indeed Flaws, worth points, and "optional" in the sense that you (the saga) choose to design them in, or not.

I still don't see the problem. If Aging and Susceptability to Deprivation were the default for magical creatures, people would be complaining because ghostly characters have to buy the Virtues Immune to Deprivation and Unaging.

Just because the default for ALL Magical creatures is one way or the other, doesn't prevent the troupe from saying the default should be different for some subset of Magic creatures. All this wailing and gnashing of teeth is unwarranted. If your troupe wants one set of Flaws or Virtues to be part of the standard template for a set of Magic creatures go ahead. The rules allow for it.

No offense, but I loathe that argument. There's nothing published in ANY rule book that can't be changed to suit your saga. House rules always trump book rules. Period. End of story.

Pointing out you can houserule something you don't like contributes nothing to the discussion, imho. Everyone is fully aware of that. Everyone also seems to be under the impression that future Ars products are going to assume that immortality is the default state for magical critters. So we are discussing the implications of these rules as written.

I'm pretty sure what I'm going to do with these rules. What I am trying to get from this thread is an idea of what other people are going to do and, in particular, what the official line in the future is likely to be and the implications of that for the game world.

Familiars are different. The way you and your familiar share known languages is one example, go by the core book and don't worry about it unless your starting a new game (or no one has a familiar yet)

I just wanted to point out that I myself have not bothered with a Familiar ever since 5th edition. The Familiar rules are, well, no offense, they are lame. I can only enchant the bond with effects that affect the Familiar that I control, or effects that affect me that he controls. Yes, I can MuAn some powers (though there are no guidelines for this, it just says "Level 25, transform into a magical creature"). But this is still weak compared to the old way, with the Bond Qualities and such that could grant powers the familiar could use at will and affect others with.

Here is an idea. Bring back Bond Qualities (and add Inferiorities); minor and major, 3 points or 10 points. Arcane Lore and such could e a BBond Quality. Mortality could be an Inferiority. Retaining Immortality could beb a Quality, and being Independantly minded could be a required Inferiority. A better than normal learning ability could e a quality (better than other creatures with might in that they are not penalized), with the fiat that this learning must be recieved from the magus it is bonded with.

Did you guys check the house rule I proposed? :frowning:

I did just now, and that is also a good idea :smiley:

No offense, but I loathe the argument that "book X didn't follow my interpretation of the core rules, therefore my game is broken, now I'm going to whine incessantly, even though the rules in book X easily allow for a fix that will obviate my concerns." If proposing house rules, which allow you to continue to play your saga the way you want doesn't contribute to the discussion, then what's the point of the discussion? Whining for the sake of whining? Whining about the rules, and then ignoring proposed house rules, is just about as pointless as it gets.

All Divine creatures are unaging. All Infernal creatures are unaging. Everything I've ever read suggests all Faerie creatures are unaging. Why do you think the default for Magical creatures should be any different?

If it makes you feel better, I think that the RoP Magic rules are fine just the way they are. But, if it makes people feel better, I say let them whine and complain. I have done it, I needed to do it, and it ideed helped me learn and adapt. And I agree with both of you to a degree. Saying you can "HR (something)" as a rhetorical form of defense really doesn't help, but at the same time, ignoring all suggested Hs also doesn't help. Part of the purpose of these sorts of discussions is to gauge what the community thinks about "rule X", discover some of the intent behind "rule x", see what HR's others (who are not the author) suggest &/or are using, and the to use all of this in order to make a more informed decision.

And, even though I myself am not understanding the full degree of the complaint (as I said, I think the RoP Magic rules are fine), it helps people to vent and whine. They will eventually adapt. I have. I know that it isn't fair either. The authors are also fans of the game. You put a lot of effort and emotion into your creation, hoping to contribute something important and lasting to the game. And you have! RoP-Magic is the breakthrough book of 5th edition, as much as Mytsteries was for 4th.

Contributing to this game probably means much much more to you than whatever compensation you recieve (I was told you guys get paid with more books :smiley: ), and it probably hurts to have your babby criticized so. But it comes with the territory. You should know that by now, and I reccomend you get thicker skin. Do know, however, that there are fans out there, old timer fans, that really admire and appreciate this book. I can no longer envision playing the game proper without it. It has become an essential core book almost overnight.

I should have pointed this out earlier, but the magical creatures aren't my rules. I created some creatures using the rules, but didn't write them. In fact during the writing process, I argued that Susceptability to Deprivation should be the default. :wink: I had completely forgotten about that until just now. I guess Erik did a better job of convincing me than I remembered.

My beef with the line of argument is that when you set a default you have to make choices. I think unaging and immune to deprivation are the right default choices for Magic creatures. I think some subsets of magical creatures should have the Susceptible to Deprivation Flaw. In fact, I think I gave it to all the animals I created. I don't think all animals should have Ages Quickly Flaw, but some should. I think it's perfectly appropriate for relatively low level creatures. But when you think of all the magical creatures: elementals, ghosts, place spirits, etc. that are unaging, setting the default to aging doesn't make sense to me. Even dragons, do they die of old age? No. They become less and less active, but I don't recall any stories of magical animals dying of old age.

People's primary complaint about this choice seems to be that it changes their preconceived notions about familiars. Well, nothing in RoP: Magic says that all potential familiars have to be immune to aging and deprivation. The troupe/storyguide creates the potential familiars for his or her game. In your saga you can decide that all Magic critters that are potential familiars have the Age Quickly and Susceptible to Deprivation Flaws. There is nothing in the rules that prevents you from doing it.

When we initially used the rules from this book, this subject was a pretty contentious one for our group, and we hashed over it pretty extensively before deciding that we quite liked it.

Requiring the consumption of vis to grow and limiting advancement totals for magical animal companions and familiars is a real change to how we had been playing. At the same time, the approach that we used before (advancing these beings as companions/grogs) was also routinely contentious in our games.

The preexisting argument in our troupe was based on the question "Are you entitled to a 'strap-on character' thanks to the Magical Animal Companion story flaw?" Note that this is where almost all familiars in our games have started out, too. Animal companions and familiars tended to take full advantage of different advancement opportunities throughout the year: when a fellow player's maga spent a season in study, her squirrel familiar was in my scholar-companion's Magic Theory, Artes Liberales, or Philosophiae classes, or reading books to advance in its own right. And so on. This approach translated into a perceived munchkiny power shift, and we argued back and forth over whether this was alright, whether to houserule limitations to the process or ban magical animals from play for awhile.

Once we sorted out different elements in the new Magic Realm material, we found that it solved a lot of these concerns and others. Our magi, in our troupe, tend to be Vis-hoarders. The resulting stockpiles led to discussions of whether we should cut resource levels in our campaigns, etc etc. Now, the magical animals of the game need to ingest the stuff, adding to the ways in which we can use vis and makes it more precious once again. It is certainly possible to advance magical animals and companions, but the rate is slowed, somewhat, which has closed the books on our debates over them as being a "too easy" free advantage.