Folk magic: too weak?

Hi all,

Like the infamous gremlin44, I am also somewhat obsessed with non hermetic magic. One of the things that happened recently is that I got hold of The Sundered Eagle and found A LOT of food for thought. And a lot of frustration as well. The book is something I have mixed feelings about (organizationally and from a use point of view) but I am not here to make a review. That will be in another thread :slight_smile:

What hit me is that Folk Magic is almost useless. I REALLY liked the concept, so that was a big downturn for me :frowning:

The formula for folk magic is (Sta + Realm lore + Aura + D10) /2

Let's assume some generous stats for a user:
+2 Stamina
+5 Realm Lore (whatever you prefer)
+3 favourable Aura

That comes up at +10. Add a die and you are at +16. /2 and you are at +8

A level 8 Ward (effectively level 5 with a +3 penetration) is not exactly what I would consider worthwile to protect you except from the most minor enemies; A might 3 creature (4 in the case of the caster IF you do NOT use the "ward must penetrate" rule) can be kept at bay from the guy by youer side (its intended target) for Concentration duration (base 3, +1 touch, +1 concentration). Wow....

A level 5 curse is quite pityful as well (base 3, do superficial damage to a body like removing all its hair, +2 voice range, instant duration).

The most powerful effect likely to happen with this power is a +2 recovery bonus for Sun duration (Base 2, +1 touch, +2 sun; +3 bonus for the user, since it is personal range).

Am I right in my calculations?

I had an idea about having a peasant wise folk built around these abilities (3 ward powers vs all realms except the divine, 1 healing ability) but it seems it is not exactly workable as per the RAW :confused: A pitty since the concept of folk magic is definitively cool.

I dont know the RAW for this but wasnt there an Ability "Folk magic" for it as well? (i might be mixing things up...)

If correct, yeah rather puny if its numbers runs by Hermetic standard.

I don't remember well, but from what I have like memories, I found those very bad as well :slight_smile:

Folk magic may well be weak, but this is not to say Vis Can't be used (Expensive I know). However lets say a person is focused in one of the specific auras such as fearie and has access to a regular fearie aura of 3. Now lets add +2 from Puissant Fearie Lore and take 75xp to 109 xp for an affinity. 2 Minor virtues I know but this would mean the same person would go from 10 to a 13 with a decent diceroll this would give a 19+ so a lvl 10 spell about 40% of the time (As I THINK its the rule to round up).

This is as a starting character too. Add in experience etc and this can soon rise.


Only useful if you do not require wards to penetrate. otherwise you will be stopping creatures with Might 5 only :confused: The division by 2 (and the fact that it uses hermetic guidelines with a single normal ability as the booster) makes the ability so weak as to be fairly useless unless you have a lot of Might 1 creatures in your saga. A pitty since the concept rocks big time IMO.


Sounds like a strong case for house rules to me. If you want it to be more powerful in your saga, change the rules. Maybe don't divide by 2. Or allow them to use shape/material bonuses to add to their "casting total" (like potent magic).

In a game based on history and more folkloric magic you might have creatures with Might 1-5 being significant. The problem is that the game is designed around Hermetic Magi, which are set to a high fantasy level of power. Making the two concepts of magic fit together is tough. Either adjust up the folk wizards to a more fantastic level (maybe don't halve their skill) or ignore the OOH and make faeries and the like much lower level.

Is there any way for folk magi to cooperate? Ceremony solved all problems for the Divine...

I don't have the book but I'm wondering do their wards happen to work like Columbae wards from HoH:Soc. Those dodn't need to penetrate to exclude/confine creatures with might.

According to the book they follow hermetic guidelines. I doubt that means "columbae style"

The use of potent magic (the old school spell foci) are something that I find EXTREMELY characterful, so we tend to apply to everything already. If I was to use this, it is something we would be using, that is for sure. Still, what you can achieve does not boost sensibly. Totals should rise to around 20 at most, so it is not very powerful either: maximum of level 5 spell with 5 penetration. At least the penetration of a ward would stop a spirit able to cause you to have a wet nose. hehe


I think you've nailed it.

I, too, found the idea great, the numbers awfully bad, until I realized the same thing.

I'd also add that, IIRC, this is usable without a virtue, which explains its weak nature. I think it's supposed to stop you from getting a wet nose or a toothache, but nothing else. And not supposed to work very reliably either: This is something any peasant will try, in the hope that it works (and sometimes it will).
Likewise, losing all your hair may be a dumb curse in a RPG, but IRL, it's another matter entirely. Think of your neighbor, that old crone, causing your milk to go sour: This is probably the intended power level.

For the kind of "folk magic" you want, you're probably better off looking for the Folk Witches in Hedge Magic, both gifted and ungifted.

Off the top of my head, I can think of a few ways to boost casting totals:

  1. Confidence/Faith can be spent (if you have them) to give a bonus.
  2. [Realm] Lore isn't a supernatural ability so it should be possible to use a Sympathy Trait in place of a specialty.

Obviously neither of these are useful for grog-level characters, but they do help make "Folk Magic" a bit more viable as virtue for Wise Ones and other practitioners of low-powered peasant magics.

You need a virtue for each one of its potential applications. If it was an "everybody can do this" virtue it would be perfectly OK, but as per the RAW, it is not

You've got it right. This is a Minor Virtue with a fair amount of flexibility. The intent is to keep away demons of the Evil Eye and faeries that sour milk; to grant +1 or +2 to Wound Recovery Rolls, to scare animals and shave cats. A creature with a Might of 5 can do a lot of damage to a peasant; and this Virtue is meant to even the odds a little. It is not intended for any major works of magic - for that you need a proper hedge wizard (like a Folk Witch) or a magus.