Finesse for Rego Craft magic

Hi all.

I'm looking at stating upa craft magic specialist and noticed that the targets for craft magic finesse rolls are high. Like, really high.
Assuming an Int of 3, Puissant Finesse, Affinity finesse, Flawless Magic and Spell mastery with the finesse ability in the relevant spells, its still a stretch to make something awesome using craft magic.

Are there any other ways of boosting finesse for the purposes of craft magic that I've not considered?

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Learn Finesse from Mistakes (ArM5 p.44) may be useful and funny.

Few covenants have enough books on Finesse, and few people good with it write books about it.

Try splitting out the tasks you want to achieve so that you do them a little at a time. the dc's are generally lower when you want to do only a few steps of the crafting process at a time.

Personally I dont think that craft magic is well suited to crafting high-end stuff. You are better of using craft magic to make lots of low-end items like stone bricks, planks etc. ideally in spells with a group target.

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Euphemism is right. This is why Conjuring the Mystic Tower is a Creo spell. I came to the same conclusion you did when I was working up a Verditius sword-smith. Use Rego Craft magic to do the work of one day in an instant, like making iron bars. But use Creo magic if you want to do the work of a season in an instant, like making swords. It costs vis, but there is a side benefit: the low mass of many of the items you want to make result in Creo rituals that create a large quantity of items.

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Hi!

•One of the tricks is taking some Faerie affinity that's applicable and raise it, substituting your Finesse specialty with your Affinity score.

•Flawless Magic is awesome in general, and getting to Mastery 5 (the Finesse Mastery x5) on your favorite Rego spell is only 35 xp away.

•Having a Verditius create an Item of Quality for you that's relevant also adds that item's Shape/Material bonus to the Finesse roll (per Magi of Hermes).

•Having an initial Excellent quality relevant item would add its bonus as well. (combine with Item of Quality). In fact, be a tool maker, and create Excellent/Item of Quality tool-making tools. Get some Master craftsmen grogs, prop up their shop, and invoice them an Excellent item/year, or something.

•Learned Magicians can cast Virtues on you (Way of the(), Puissant with(), Careful with(), Sanguine Humor's Blessing (if you have the appropriate Flaw), Major Essential Virtue, etc). So can Gruagach. So can Rune Magicians, but I doubt any vitkar will let a rune near a Hermetic, ever, if he has even the least notion of what Hermetic magic is like.

*Mythic Alchemists can lower the TN of making great items. Also, some materials do? Not sure about that last one.

•Arts and Academe have ligatures, a bonus of +1 to +3.

•There's a Magic Power, Grant Puissance in (ability), get a Familiar that has it for Finesse, or ally yourself with a creature that can grant it regularly in exchange for some considerations. This one can provide huge bonuses, +3/Might point spent on it

•Finally, some simply go for the spam route: rolling, rolling, rolling, until your dice explode. I dislike these spamming methods myself, in general (except for Multicast mastery :innocent: ).

Combine most or all of these and you will have your troupe trying to impose limits on item bonuses, rather than struggle to meet the TN. Finesse 5 +2 Puissant + 4 Faerie Affinity + 3 Int + 4 tool (Excellent +2/Item of Quality +2) + 5 Mastery + 2 Ligature + 3 Ways of the (Land) Learned Magician indentured servant + 3 (lower TN from Mythic Alchemy) = 31

Now all of these aren't necessarily going to be approved by your Troupe, or you might not want to invest in some of these Virtues, but say you get a Learned Magician "pal", who is a Mythic Alchemist...bam! You are in business.

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We have a house rule to be able to add bonus to Finesse per extra added magnitude in such Rego spells. Here is a detailed description: https://ironboundtome.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/substitute-finesse-checks-with-complexity-modifiers/

My recommendation would be to simply accept that you cannot match a dedicated craftsman in terms of quality with craft magic. Dont make a verditius character aiming to use craft magic to make the best sword. Focus more on using Rego, which is already a very useful art, and apply craft magic to improve a mundane economy. There are practically infinite applications of craft magic in terms of improving a mundane economy. Craft magic is also well suited to a somewhat adventurous life. You can practically conjure items out of thin air as long as you have a source of materials.
You could use craft magic to build some very cool indiana jonesesque booby traps a la the giant rolling boulder, to make houses in no time, build bridges, to dig cave houses like you find them in cappadocia in turkey. The only limit is your imagination. There is also great potential in making lesser enchanted items and teaching your covenfolk/travel companions in finesse and having them help you with craft magic. Sure your constructions will mostly not be excalibur but they might very well make your covenant the wealthiest and most comfortable one in the tribunal.

EDIT: I forgot to mention the mcguyver potential in Rego craft magic. If you do it well you can make the kind of character who can whip up all sorts of useful items with a moments notice.

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The difficulty of finesse makes mundane crafters more important for long term tasks. The best suggestion I saw here, in my opinion, is splitting tasks into smaller bits. Rego crafting is best for 'good enough' work. Splitting trees into logs into planks. Ore into ingots. Preparing large amounts of clay for bricks, making bricks. You'll also want Perception for a lot of Finesse rolls.

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or have a grog with arcane lore, specializing in finesse and enchant items for them to use that performs craft magic, and they can switch between items to become a serious jack of all craft trades

Having built and played a Craft Magic specialist, yes, you need Puissant Finesse, Affinity with Finesse, Cautious with Finesse. Spell Mastery is nice but optional. Your target is making things that a craftsman could do in a day. Anything bigger is generally beyond your reach without actually learning the craft skill in question to a high degree, or having tons of models available during the casting, with Finesse Mastery on top.

Flawless Magic is one of the most powerful virtues in the game and I cannot advise against taking it, but I don't feel it is necessary. What very much is necessary is Independent Study, where you get +2xp while Practicing. Because Finesse books are thin on the ground and you can get 9xp a season just by practicing thanks to Affinity with Finesse.

Next up is some virtue(s) that help with either learning or inventing spells. Because you benefit from being a generalist more than anything. Affinity with Rego is basically mandatory and you're probably well off taking Affinity with Creo so you can learn/cast creation rituals, which also have Finesse targets. What Magical Focus you take is up to you - Minor Focus in Craft Magic is what I took but it really is only useful in the lab - if you're planning on adventuring and/or focusing your Craft Magic in an area like Masonry, taking a focus in that is probably better. If you have access to lots of spell formulae, Apt Laboratory Student could be good. Inventive Genius is also good.

Apt Student can also be good for actually learning skills to get that +3 bonus for having Craft skill of 5 in the related area. Probably overkill in general, but if you really want to have high Craft Magic totals in a certain area, it's a good idea. If you plan on that route, Gentle Gift is probably a huge help.

Conversely, I mentioned how thin on the ground Finesse books are and you're going to be Finesse MASTER, so Good Teacher and some Communication score won't hurt. You'll shoot to Finesse 10 in basically no time at all (20-25 years after gauntlet) and being able to write a L5 Q12 Finesse Summae and 5 Q12 Finesse Tractatus will garner you plenty of Reputation.

And remember that the real economic potential of Craft Magic isn't finished goods - because the Finesse rolls get hard and failures ruin your raw materials - it's eliminating intermediate steps and materials. For example, turning clay into bricks or tiles is easy, but requires lots and lots of charcoal. Not for the Craft Magus. Same with making raw glass, tanned hides, any number of metal ingots or anything else that requires either lots of heat or nasty chemicals. You get to skip all that tree chopping and charcoal making and general deforestation.

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There is a very, very, very lengthy discussion on this topics, but it covered I think most of the issues Craft magic has - without necessarily providing final answers as you will see, since canon rules are either contradicting each other, or unclear.

Some of the points to consider:

  • Is Finesse roll done with Int or Per ? (and which virtues can be stacked)
  • How to compare Finesse roll result with Quality ?
  • Does it makes sense to have Craft spell with Conc. duration to make thing more slowly (requiring Concentration roll), to decrease the difficulty ?
  • Obviously, which are the best combination of Virtues to make a good Crafting magus ?
  • How having the appropriate crafting skill can help with the end results (using familiarity bonus for example) ?

Most of these answers can be summarized at the end by "Discuss it with your group" as it is impossible to have a common agreement on this forum. There are some good suggestions also in the thread, like trading a whole season of Crafting magic to achieve high quality results.

A lot of the arguments are based on the premises that magic should not allow to surpass what a skilled craftsman can do, because it will drastically lower the importance and needs of skilled companiosn and grogs. So it is more a metagame call than a real limit of magic (trying to set a balance in a system that any way clearly favors magic).
I do not agree on this statement, since mages are already better at killing than any skilled fighter and better at healing that the best physician so the argument sounds weak to me. But I do not want to open this can of worms again.

Also, if we look at the quantity of optimal virtues you need to stack to make a truly good craft-mage, it is unlikely that there are a lot of them in the Order, so the idea of them "unbalancing" the need of craftsmen is limited. So your mage could be the first one of his kind, or at least the only one of his generation - maybe coming from a rare lineage of craftmages, having unique initiation rituals allowing the proper combination of Virtues. I believe there is good story potential to it, so should not be dismissed just for the sake of metagame balance.

I agree that the premise that magi shouldn't be able to outperform a mundane craftsman is dumb on its face. Even then, magi will have a hard time outperforming truly skilled craftsmen for several reasons:

  • the +3 target for doing it with finesse
  • the familiarity penalty from HoH:S (can be overcome)
  • increases to the target for the amount of time it would take the craftsman (up to +9 to target)
  • if the craftsman uses a lot of temporary materials, possible +3 to target
  • craftsman workshop innovation and raw materials bonuses (up to +6)

So a craft magus is possibly looking at targets being 6-15 points higher for him, and he has to overcome a familiarity penalty (not too difficult). All else being equal (let's assume the craftsman has access to the same kind of craft total boosting virtues), his only real source of Finesse bonuses are Finesse Mastery, and of course, a long, long lifespan.

So it takes a long long time before a optimized craft magus can really compete with an optimized craftsman. If we assume most craftsmen 'cap out' around 7 or 8 before age takes its toll, we're talking around Finesse 13-14. That's certainly achievable, but the magus has spent perhaps as much as a century getting there, assuming he doesn't neglect his other studies.

So the craft magus isn't eliminating highly skilled craftman very much. He's certainly eliminating the need for large amounts of lesser skilled craftsmen, but most magi can do this with a ritual spell and 4-6 pawns of vis, which is a hell of a lot less work than mastering craft magic. And there's still the problem of gathering materials for craft magic, which for most large scale craft magic schemes is non-trivial and you're back to considering ritual magic just to get raw materials in a timely fashion. Learn a masonry spell and you're probably going to need to learn spells to move large amounts of stone and make frequent trips to the local quarry. Craft Magic forces you down the path of logistics.

That's probably why a craft magus should probably be from House Tremere or Mercere, as these are the only two houses that really think about logistics.

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It all depends on what you mean by outperform. Quality of work? The craftsman will win, he has spent his life perfecting his craft, the magus is using magic as an aside. Productivity over time? The magus will win- he can do in a moment what he craftsman can do in a season. Cost efficiency? if he's using rego the magus wins, if creo the craftsman because vis trumps more mundane materials in value.

The other house which produces craft magus is Jerbiton, not because they can do better than craftspeople, but because they can practice one skill- finesse, and produce a wide range of beautifull objects with very low powered spells.

I think the Jerbiton would be into art for the experience of painting/sculpture/whatnot, but there's bound to be a few that try. Basically the math says roughly 1 in 10 of your pieces will be equal to that of an artist of Ability that equals your capacity for Finesse, at least for one season pieces of art. You'll trash a lot of materials to get those few good pieces, but you can still make years worth of art in a single day this way.

Mechanically, I like the idea that raw finesse crafting has a really hard time with super high quality crafts from nothing, but I think there should be a mechanic where having a sample finished product to work from/copy makes it easier, perhaps giving a multiple to finesse skill on a similar scale to Arcane Connections, with the multiple varying based on the craft quality of the sample.

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One of the House rule I am using is that if the craft magus has the appropriate Craft, he can use as a bonus up to +6 . Which means that if he has a Craft of +6, it off-set the +6 penalty set to Rego craft magic on Finesse. I don't find it too much of a stretch since 1) having the skill high enough gives anyway a familiarity bonus, 2) if the mage is willing to sink XP in both Finesse and a Craft, then I don't mind him being the equal of a master craftman. After all, it is only once he has Finesse above +6 AND the craft at +6 that he can start to be on par with a mundane crafter with +6.

This house rule does not offset the extra modifier coming from the time reduction coming from craft magic.

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As a storyguide I would absolutely allow this. Not so much because of whether or not it is supported in canon. But because it gives the craft magus a reason to go out into the world and find master craftspeople and try to gain a piece of their work in order to progress in craft magic. This is an amazing source of serial adventures.
I imagine how that craft magus would assemble a collection of items to use as a guide for craft magic like the collection of plants used by a magus with a study requirement described in the Calebais adventure. This collection can easily take on a life all of its own over time. e.g. people might be disturbed at learning that a magus is stockpiling a massive hoard of the finest quality weapons, or others might come to see the collection of priceless art (paintings, statues, jewelery), some might try to steal it. When the magus dies the inheritance of the collection will the subject of intense feuding etc.

There is also a more general principle. I like to make thing hard enough for a player to achieve his goal, so it explains why he is a unique snowflake, the only one currently alive be able to do what he want, without making it impossible.

So if you are willing to stack all the appropriate virtues to achieve high finesse rolls, sink XP in skills that will be of limited use in adventure (like crafting) and maybe invent & design unique spells to allow "slow crafting" to lower difficulty instead of "instant crafting", I believe you earn the right to be able to do it. Other mages who dedicated that much time and effort in their own project will also be quite specialized and powerful on their own.

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This does not make sense as the rulebook specifically states that having a higher duration than momentary generally just causes the spell to do the same crafting operation on the same materials over and over again. If you do want to go along those lines I would instead suggest following the house rule posted above suggesting that you can increase the level of the spell and in turn get a bonus to your finesse roll. like e.g. +1 magnitude equals a +3 bonus to the finesse roll.

It would also be interesting if finesse could be studied from magically crafted art the same way that regular crafts can be studied from artistic works using that craft ability...