Gaining Virtues or Removing Flaws as positive Twilight fx

Hi guys,

I'd like to find out if the following are feasible in a game. I know that magi who go into Twilight and comprehend it are able to gain positive Twilight effects and even Virtues. I have an idea of a magi that went into Twilight who gains True Faith and Guardian Angel as Virtues because he managed to comprehend it. This happens a few years after apprenticeship and he's "religious convictions" are not towards the Church, Judaism or Islam. It's just a generic "I do good things in the name of Good (not GOD)" concept at the moment.

My questions are:

  1. How often do players gain Virtues/Flaws as a result of going into Twilight? I know numerically that if you get 11+ Warping points you can get a Major Virtue/Flaw and if you get 7+ Warping points you can get a minor Virtue/Flaw. But how hard is it to get these numbers? Do the events causing the Twilight need to be suitably momentous for these numbers to come up?

  2. When a player can gain a new Virtue after comprehending Twilight, can he instead choose to loose a Flaw of an equivalent level?

  3. Does it make sense for Dominion Realm beings to intrude (ie, bestow True Faith or a Guardian Angel) on what is essentially a Magic Realm effect of Twilight? I don't have RoP:Magic or RoP:Dominion so I can't read them to find out if this is addressed there.

  4. Can a character gain more than one Major Hermetic Virtue during actual gameplay? I know that a character created using the rules in AM5 cannot start with more than one Major Hermetic Virtue

I know the answers to my questions above may depend on the individual RP group or house rules, but I just want to get a rough feel of the opinion on the matter. I don't have a lot of Ars Magica gaming experience to gauge from. Thanks!

Edit: Edited for clarity and to modify some questions as on hindsight they may have been too general.

I said no. The magi need a conection with the divine, and the upper good can be seen up the Twilight but....
I think that is clear that te twilight is related to Magic realm, not with the Divine.

I said no. The magi need a conection with the divine, and the upper good can be seen up the Twilight but....
I think that is clear that te twilight is related to Magic realm, not with the Divine.

I happens sometimes. Remember, you get a d10 worth of WP "for free", so it's quite possible you get 11+.

No idea about the rules itself, but I would certainly allow this as a SG, if it's fitting.

Twilight is Magic, so I wouldn't let the Divine in on that (unless it's a direct Miracle or other manifestation of God's Will.

For game balance reasons, I would strongly suggest you do not allow this. I know I don't, in my saga.

Yes, mysteries.
And unlike Arulentus, i like playing characters with zero restrictions on what kind of Virtues and Flaws, so dont dismiss it too easily, because i´ve certainly never seen any problems or issues come from it.
By being very selective which Hermetic Major Virtues you pick you can make for a more powerful magi oh yes, but magi are already so powerful that the difference becomes more semantic than important. And it also means NOT getting 3 points of other virtues, and that is definitely noticeable.

Dont know the rules but i would say sure go ahead!

I would say this isnt a rules question but one of how well can the player or the SG make the case for it happening.

Among other things, it simply depends on how cautiously the players play the game. If you never botch, or have a lot of botch dice reduction(like a high familiar golden cord or Cautious sorcerer virtue), you wont get it often.

I would not allow a player to "control" his Twilight like that, unless he has gotten the virtue out of "Guardians of the Forest", the one that allows him to "Control" his Twilight (See paths of the Forest for more details). Then he should be able to remove flaws, no problem.

In Ars Magica, God is real, and the Monotheistic religions are correct. You shouldn't allow for "Generic" faith. Far too easy for that to become a "Path of Moral is whatever I can live with". Leave that to White Wolf......

The way I see character generation rules, is that they exist to balance the PCs between themselves, not with the "outside world". I, as a GM have the duty to balance the outside world according to the PCs stats. The stats are just there to balance the PCs with each other.

Plus, I have 2 non rules-savvy people in my group that occasionally need a hint/help/protection. They enjoy the game like the rest of us, and they certainly enjoy being able to "do something". So I also see it as my duty as a GM to keep them on a level that their characters are able to "do something", some of the times. And not be completely outshone by the character made by the rules-savvy player.

But we're going off-topic. Major Hermetic Virtues are very, very powerful. There is a good reason you're only allowed to take one at character generation. If you do allow two to be gained, you need to be aware of the consequences.

True Faith & Guardian Angel are both General Virtues.

In any case, RoP: TD suggests that True Faith cannot be gained by Mystery Initiations, Twilight or other purely mechanical sources, but instead should only be awarded following profound changes in the character's life that bring him/her closer to God. That said, I personally think that such as change IS necessary, but that some form of mechanic to help quantify the character's progress is helpful so I'd probably allow it so long as the character is sincere in his beliefs - if not he'll lose the benefits quickly enough after a few crises of faith...

Guardian Angel is a bit different. For starters, IIRC the MR doesn't stack with Parma, making the virtue a bit lackluster for Magus characters (Tough gives a similar benefit at the cost of a Minor Virtue). It's also problematic in that the character would be less able to embrace an abstract Platonist-style interpretation of God while he's receiving advice directly from an angel, but I suppose you can find some way around that problem.

Most of them deal with lineage which would make them difficult to acquire later in life. I suppose if someone has a sufficiently good story to explain how they gained a Major Magical Focus or became a Murcurian Magi you can run with it but these should be really difficult to obtain. It would probably also be appropriate if these actions resulted in a Major Hermetic Flaw at the same time. For example, in dampening their gift sufficiently to gain the Gentle Gift virtue they inadvertently acquire Short-Ranged Magic as well.

I agree. I could see the Divine rewarding a very moral person even if the were not very religious, but not with something as overtly religious as the True Faith or Guardian Angel virtues.

Unless they were a recluse it would be very difficult for a devoutly religious individual in 1220 AD to not belong to one of the Abrahamic faiths. One could be devout without being particularly orthodox and some mixing of Abrahamic beliefs is probably fine as well. I could see a Messianic Judaism movement being introduced in to Mythic Europe even if the modern movement is only ~150 years old.

Sure, but the restrictions on V/F doesnt really apply as a balance between PCs anyway.
In the case you mentioned, multiple Major Hermetic Virtues, well in my experience the 3 Minor you´re not getting instead is just as good or bad.

No there isnt. Try playtesting it. I will often take Strong Faerie Blood or Wealthy or Quiet*2/Subtle-Magic as a set, or any three of Book Learner, Good Teacher, Apt Student, Skilled Parens, Affinities, Great Characteristic, Large, Luck, Self Confident, Social Contacts, Temporal Influence, Warrior, Unaging, Tough, Life Boost, Method Caster, Special circumstances, Cautious sorcerer, Cyclic magic, rather than an additional Major Hermetic if i only have 3 points left...

Lets say for example that instead of one Major Hermetic, you pick Cyclic Magic, Method Caster, Special circumstances... This allows you to get up to +9/+6(sponts) to the vast majority of casting rolls if you play well.
Its not entirely easy to equal that with a single major virtue.
For a Major Magical Focus, you need to have at least a score of 9 in all involved Arts, and its very unlikely to affect more than 6 or 7 Arts, and even that is stretching it most of the time.

Unless you exclude mysteriers completely, you cant prevent it without houseruling it out.

I'd say no to him gaining these.

Twilight should grant you virtues that have a magical version. Virtues/flaws that are restricted to some other realm should not be gained from the magical realm.

But this is the divine, so you could say that, while in twilight, God touched him, as a special event. But then, I would say no, non, no and no to him having a generic "I do good things in the name of Good (not GOD)". For these, take appropriate personnality traits and flaws.
More specifically, see Ars p 189: True Faith points represent a person's connection to GOD. The emphasis on God being brought often enough in the whole paragraph. This is FAITH, not personnal convictions.

Really, can't say rules-wise, but I see no problem with it.

Normally, it doesn't.
But this is God almighty, so he can do anything, so you could justify it by his omnipotence.
Save that it needs to make sense.
Moreso, I don't see god bestowing True Faith. You seem to think of it like of a "mechanical" virtue, akin to a Magical Focus. This ain't, in what there are personnality effects in it: The character has Faith in god, and a close relationship with him. This is not like god giving you a shining magical sword you can do what you want with, but more like having a friendship, or being in couple: it needs 2 people.
I guess he could send a guardian angel to watch over someone, but... Read again the paragraph on it: He advises you, and you should hear his advice. Depending on the character, plagued by an angel could be more appropriate.

What I'm trying to say is that these Divine virtues, unlike most magical virtues, also define your character's character, and thus, even with divine fludging, should not be OK for every character.

Noble's parma, yes.
IIRC, the only restriction in on Foci, in that you can only have one. Instead, you gain Potent Magic.

I'd stick with the RAW on this one.

I would allow the gaining of True Faith or Guardian Angel underappropriatecircumstances. For example, if the Twilight is caused by a spell botch in a strong Divine Aura, the character might suddenly understand the Truth in a flash of insight, and gain True Faith.

I would not allow Flaws to be lost. Twilight is supposed to mark the character, not to "unmark" him.

Incidentally, the limits on starting Virtues do not apply to those gained in play, so you can certainly gain a second Hermetic Virtue. I think the reason why more than one is forbidden at character creation is not so much one of "power" balance, as one of "characterization balance" - the one Major Hermetic Virtue you are allowed is supposed to be the cornerstone around which you build the magic of the character, and having more than one would lessen its impact.

In our Saga it so happened that a player lost a Flaw (Deficient Art) after a positive Twilight experience. But I would not let the player choose, it's up to the SG to decide.

If the Twilight was triggered in a Divine Aura, why not. In our Saga we tend to strongly link the effect of Twilight to what caused the Twilight, the Aura being part of it.

I don't remember anything in the rules against it. Same with Major Hermetic Flaws.


I think this sums it up pretty well for most "normal" situations.

It would take a very extreme, almost unique situation for such a change to happen, if at all. What you're talking about is an intentional (and heavy handed?) Story Guide plot shift, a life-changing event for one mage. It can certainly happen, but it would be almost inexplicably rare.

Also, as a SG, be careful about 1) giving away too much, and 2) giving away "good stuff" to one player without balancing that for all the others - "you" may be well aware of this, but all should be.

Lastly, I'll suggest, with big give-aways, to never give 100% "good" - always have a hook or twist in it. Maybe the guardian angel is a pacifist and attached to a flambeau. Maybe they have an agenda, and "a plan" for the mage, that the mage won't happy about. Something to add to the plot further down the story line other than "...And now Fred gets MUCH bigger..."

Now, I disagree on two levels.

First, while it's certainly true that attaching a "hook" to any gain is always a good thing, the "hook" need not be a liability. It should just be something that drives the character into further stories. True Faith is certainly an example. Some hint that looking in a certain direction or pursuing some agenda may be very useful to the character is another example of a hook that does not carry "flaws" but simply interesting stories.

Second, the Twilight system is already balanced. The storyguide is "giving away" nothing - no more than when allowing a magus who has spent vis and time in the lab to gain the use of magic item crafted according to the rules. In order to get a major virtue from twilight, a character already gaining several twilight points (that's always "bad") and the character is "out of the game" for some time (which is almost always "bad"). And, if you fail your comprehension roll, you get a symmetrical result - a flaw in place of a virtue, an experience loss in place of a gain etc.

Out of curiosity, let me ask you Cuchulainshound: when your characters gain a flaw from a twilight -- say the Blatant Gift -- do you also make sure it always has a positive twist to it (say a Mystery Cult that only accepts characters with a "superior" - i.e. Blatant - gift approaches the character and offers him membership)? If not, why?

Beg to disagree. Where in that system (p. 88-89) can one find the rules about "giving two Major Virtues"?

The word I believe you overlooked in my post was "big" - "big giveaways".

The OP was already going well outside the lines - I was talking about what happens there, not within the RAW. (Which I believes negates the rest of your questions. It's those little words that can make such a big difference in meaning.) :wink:

I think the OP meant that the magus went into Twilight twice (and comprehended it twice) to gain the Virtues. I am always assuming that someone is following the RAW unless it's clear that it's not the case. But if the OP meant gaining both virtues on a single Twilight, then I agree, I'd allow only one.

Thanks for all the information above guys.

After digesting all your comments, I've decided that it doesn't make sense for him to have gained True Faith and Guardian Angel. I agree that it would be quite hard to justify a Divine Being intruding into a magi's Twilight, in terms of mechanics-wise. In terms of story-wise, I could write up a story to that extent but it wouldn't fit the over-arching idea of the Storyguide.

The most current idea is that the character will have refined his Gift via his experiences in Twilight. Fresh out of apprenticeship, he had Blatant Gift and Flexible Formulaic Magic. After the first Twilight experiences, he understood how to rein in his magical nature so that it did not intrude on other people's auras (ie, lost his Blatant Gift). After the second Twilight experience, he further refined his control of his magical aura, smoothing out its effects on mundanes (ie, gained Gentle Gift).

At the end of both Twilight episodes, he would have 2 Major Hermetic Virtues which appears to be acceptable to my SG, in return for more Warping Points at the start of the saga.

To Cuchulainshound and ezzelino:
The original idea was that he would have gone into Twilight twice and comprehended it twice, getting one Major Virtue each time. Getting 2 Virtues in one session of Twilight would be against the rules as I understand it.

To Limited Edition:
I don't agree that players should not have a say in what benefits their characters get from comprehending Twilight. After finding out how many Warping Points are gained from the Twilight experience, the players can suggest a list of possible positive effects to the SG (ie, spells, virtues, skill XPs, etc). The SG should have the final decision, but the players should at least have a say in what they'll get. Same situation if the characters don't comprehend Twilight.

The way I see Twilight is as an event that allows the magi to understand his own subconscious mind and abilities. His experiences in Twilight shape him in ways that he may or may not like, but they are based on unconscious desires derived from his characters goals. Different groups may play it differently, but I haven't read anything that actually defines what Twilight is. I don't have many Ars Magica books though, so there are large gaps in my knowledge.

I quite agree - after all, just occasionally players come up with something much cooler than any of your ideas - are you going to simply not listen to their input, or ignore it because it wasn't your idea? Of course not.

It is still the GMs decision to make, but getting input from the players is always an excellent idea - especially if you are adding something which might radically change the characters direction (such as a major virtue or flaw),