General Table Talk

Glad to see that all is not as doom and gloom as previously expected!

As for all of the stuff you talked about regarding players / pms, I can say that I completely agree. Don't take this as me standing up on a soap box of nuthin' cause at times, yeah I can be an ass. However all in all, yes good plan there.

HRs / Character Creation. I have a question, are folks going to be allowed to change characters / revise characters? Because if the rules change, folks should be given the chance to update / change characters as needed. But yes, you know that the lack of defined HRs was driving me nuts mate, so bravo! Also, perhaps you could give a rough idea of any changes to 5th Ed Cannon?

I don't think that every message needs to be posted to the public board. Some questions to a GM/SG would tend to remain private. I wasn't aware of any "PM gaming", though.

Civility is something that I can appreciate.

By all means, a complete listing of House Rules would be VERY helpful.

A few suggestions on House Rules:

  • Make sure to separate character generation rules from general rules. I saw there was some confusion on that upthread.

  • Phrasing the cold, hard, mechanical rules as simply as possible and in separate sentences from (and, preferably, before any) explanations is ideal. For example, if I understood correctly the characters in this saga get 40 XP per year, but this is not stated as clearly as that. Explanations and articulation can come later.

  • I liked the idea of having Mysteries cost a set number of XPs. It makes creating the character easier. I'd suggest setting up XP costs for the other things that have been brought up during character generation: I can think of True Names, finding a Familiar, and obtaining Lab Texts or extra Raw Vis.

  • Based on the input I've received, I'd suggest a list of Requirements and of Recommendations on what an advanced character should look like. You might say "You must take OoH Lore to at least level 2", or "It is highly recommended that you take a Martial Ability to level 5; the Flambeau NPCs will look down on you if you don't". Things like that.

Just letting you guys know the relaunch is coming soon. I have some HR revisions I will post next week for you guys to review and comment on.

Looking forward to it, Marko.

I agree with YR7 on most points except the Mysteries. The system is too complex to reduce to simple XP costs. There are Ordeals to be considered, research to be conducted, Script Initiation and experimentation, etc. I can understand a recommendation with respect to the average amount of time and effort required, but it goes beyond that.

Hi Mark, just wanted to confirm whether you were going to post the HR revisions you mentioned.


The saga will relaunch after the holidays, I promise. I have been overwhelmed, and I am sure others are as well.

Here are some HR ideas I have had. Not set in stone, you guys can feel free to weigh in with opinions and ideas.

[size=150]House Rules[/size]
Deviations from RAW are as noted. Do not presume I am using anything I have used previously.
Always presume that, as far as rules go, Core ArM5 text is the primary authority. ArM5 Supplements may be used, but I would advise players against “over-spicing” their characters with too much or to many “spice(s)”. Rules from past editions have no bearing on this game.
However, the History and Culture of the Order as presented in previous editions takes precedence, specifically the history of Flambeau and the requirement that Archmagi must first have trained an apprentice who is now a magus. ArM5 cannon is used for the rest, drawing from old cannon as we desire (which means only worry about what applies to your character or to a story you want to run, and we will discuss it then).

[u] Character Creation[/u]

Virtues & Flaws:
Personality Flaws:
• Grogs may take up to three Minor Personality Flaws
• Companions and Magi may have up to three Personality Flaws, but only one may be Major.

Story Flaws:
• Grogs may take a single Minor Story Flaw
• Companions and Magi may have two Story Flaws, but only one Major
• On a case-by-case basis, a lesser version of some Major Story Flaws may be taken as Minor Flaws.
• In Later Development, you are still limited to only one Major Story Flaw. If new ones are gained, previous ones are demoted to Minor or a Minor version.

Hermetic Virtues & Flaws:
• Magi must choose at least one Hermetic Flaw (other than Hedge Wizard or Infamous Master).
• The Gift, Gentle Gift, and Blatant Gift are re-categorized as Supernatural. This means magi may take the Gentle Gift and one Major Hermetic Virtue.
• You may not initially have more than one Major Hermetic Virtue. More can come later though.
• Certamen is now (once again) an Ability. Tremere now have an Affinity with Certamen as their free House Virtue, and they often also take Puissant Certamen. Other magi may take this, though this is rare. This means Tremere magi may take a different Magic Focus, though the Minor Magic Focus in Certamen still exists as a mystery exclusive to this House (known as Harenarius).

General Virtues & Flaws:
• Grogs may have the Self Confident Virtue and thus start with a score of 1 and three points. The rational is that Grogs don’t have Low Self Esteem, they are just Minor Characters. Spending a third of their Virtue points just to have Confidence is a big deal.
• Enduring Constitution provides a bonus per individual wound, not the total.
• Rapid Convalescence does not provide a bonus to Recovery. Instead, it speeds up the healing rate. An Interval of a Week passes in a Day, a Month in a Week, and a Season in a Month.

Social Status Virtues & Flaws:
• Members of the Andorran Guard must take the Minor Social Status of Andorran Guard; which combines the effects of the Minor Virtues of Custos and Warrior with the Minor Flaw of Vow. The Andorran Guard is an elite unit that only recruits and accepts veteran soldiers who have had some encounter with the supernatural. They hold the equivalent rank of Custos, and have 50xp for Martial Abilities. The minimum acceptable skill level is a score of 5 in their primary weapon ability (preferably Single Weapon). They may also take Latin and (Realm) Lore (preferably Magic Realm Lore). The longer they serve, the more access to education they will have, and are guaranteed a Longevity Potion after serving for at least five years. They are often equipped with minor magical items, which I the storyguide will assign.

Beginning Experience:
Early Childhood: In the first seven years of life, characters start with a score of 5 in their Native Language, plus 75 experience points for the basic Early Childhood Abilities.
Latter Life: Characters then receive 20xp per year after age seven.
Wealthy & Poor: With a base set at 20xp per year, those with the Major Virtue of Wealthy gain 30xp per year, and the poor only 15xp per year.
Apprenticeship: The typical magus has fifteen years apprenticeship, during which they gain 150xp for Arts, 150xp for further Abilities, and 150 levels of spells. You may transfer points between these categories, but must spend a minimum of 100 on each.
Skilled & Weak Parens: These still add or subtract 60xp and 30 levels of spells (or optionally, 30xp and 60 points for xp &/or spell levels). These may be taken up to three times (using alternative names; such as Guild Training, Highly Trained, Stingy Parens, or Early Gauntlet).
Advanced Development: After apprenticeship, magi receive 40xp per year (10xp/season). Other characters continue on with 20xp per year, but after age 21 they are eligible to acquire new Virtues & Flaws. See the Advanced Development rules below.

Advanced Development: These rules apply to Character Creation before entering the game, not to downtime between stories.
Base Presumptions: The Base Presumption for Magi is four free seasons a year, and an average Advancement Source Quality of 10. For Grogs and Companions, the average is 8, with two free seasons and two seasons exposure (for an additional 4xp, making a total of 20). The Poor have only one free season and three of work exposure (and an extra point so the math works out). The wealthy have three free seasons and one for exposure for managing their affairs (plus 4 extra points).
Development Cycles: Development is broken up into cycles of five to seven years (you may vary the span as you go). Divide that time up between the Lab and Advancement (don’t stack up all of your time in Arts and save the last year to create the ultimate talisman). It will also help pace your development in such a way as to create a history for the character. How many variations of that General Level Ward or Might Stripper do you know? How long did it take you to progress this far in your mystery cult? How long have you been bonded with your familiar? What were your past encounters with your enemy? How many adventures have you been on?
Warping: Magi gain a mandatory two points of Warping per year, plus an additional point per year once they start Longevity. This is not considered an average that a character would normally be presumed to acquire in that time. In game, you might likely acquire much less. It is simply that the mandatory warping rule is the only limiting factor keeping post-gauntlet development within a reasonable number of years. Warping may have come from single magic botches, minor Twilight Episodes, exposure to powerful magic that penetrated your Parma, eating faerie food, etceteras.
Advancement: Whatever the Base noted above is, this is only an average. Sometimes it is less (4xp Practice, 8xp Training), sometimes more (12xp study, 16xp teaching). The particulars are irrelevant. When it comes to Virtues and Flaws that affect advancement, consider the average bonus to be +5 per year (four seasons) per Minor Virtue and -5 per Minor Flaw. Actual values (and availability of favorable circumstances) are different in game. This is just an abstract simplification. The maximum modifier is +/-10 per year.
Laboratory: Normal lab rules are used for each individual activity. Presume that you have an Aura of 5 (same as that of the covenant), and you start with a Size +0 Lab with a Refinement score of +0, though it may have free or balanced Virtue & Flaws (at the storyguide’s discretion). You receive Exposure xp as normal for your time in the lab.
o Vis in the Lab: In any one year, you may use a number of pawns of vis equal to your Magic Theory x 5.
New Virtues & Flaws: New Virtues and Flaws can come from Story Events, Mysteries, or Twilight. Whatever the case, your total of New Virtues & Flaws must balance as of the start of play, and may not exceed +/-10 (this isn’t required during development or in game, this is required at the point in time in which the character enters game play). Virtues cost Experience Points, as an abstract of the time invested gaining it. Minor Virtues cost 20xp (two seasons), and Major Virtues cost 40xp (four seasons). Flaws reduce the cost of Virtues or may represent the aftereffects of an adventure (granting bonus xp’s). Minor Flaws are valued at 10xp, Moderate at 15xp, and Major at 20xp. The way this works out is explained below.
o Story Events: Story Events can grant certain General Virtues & Flaws, some Story Flaws, and maybe Personality Flaws. Virtues represent things the character has invested time in to achieve or gained from an adventure. The xp cost represents that time invested (or adventure experience diverted). Flaws are acquired from misfortune resulting from (or in) an adventure. The xp bonus represents the additional xp gained from an exceptional adventure, thus costing no xp for the seasons (assumed to be spent on standard advancement xp gained from the adventure). A single Story Event may grant one Virtue &/or one Flaw, and each story (and the Virtue &/or Flaw acquired) must be named & dated.
o Mysteries: Mysteries can grant almost any Virtue &/or Flaw, as well as special Mystery Virtues. For Virtues, the xp cost represents time invested in Quests, Service, and comprehending the transformation. Flaws represent Ordeals, reducing the cost of the Virtue (less time spent on Quests). Mysteries may contain multiple Ordeals. Sacrificing magical items crafted using Lab time carres a value equal to an equivalent Flaw (thus sacrificing a Talisman reduces the cost by 15xp). The minimum cost for any Mystery is 5xp. Each achievement and its date must be recorded. Steps must be spaced out (one or two per cycle) unless you Self-Initiate. Self Initiating a Minor Virtue costs 30xp, and a Major Virtue costs 60xp.
o [Twilight[/u]: Twilight does not fit into the xp cost rule. Instead, you take 7 additional Warping for a Minor Virtue, and 10 additional Warping for a Major Virtue (you also gained Warping for the Flaws, but this may be considered part of your base Warping, since having the Flaw is bad enough already).. Choosing a Twilight Virtue or Flaw is entirely up to you. The point is, at the start of game, your overall Virtues & Flaws must balance. Twilight Flaws can be used to balance Virtues in other categories. Twilight grants Mystical Virtues & Flaws. The Twilight Scare for each Virtue & Flaw and the date must be noted. You may have had lesser Twilight Episodes that granted &/or took away spells or xp. This is considered part of your base Warping score, and the effects are presumed to balance out (you lost your BoAF, but at a latter time you gained 7 League Stride). You can detail these at your option.

Well, then...

Why? The Gentle Gift is a bid deal, breaking much of the need to use companions. Why are you making it more common?

I don't know of any Certamen rules that feel right... But why add yet another Arcane Ability to the list magi need to master? Why detract from having Certamen represent the mage's power in the Arts by bringing in this extra Ability? I think removing Certamen as an ability was a good idea. Now if only some interesting mechanics could be drawn up for it... the ones I found most interesting are David Chart's ideas about using phantasms to create a Shift in Arts.

If you're gonna go with this amount of detail in the changes - why aren't you touching the core rules too, then? IIRC there is a similar quibble about the wound penalties for study vs. wound recovery time, for example. And then there are all sorts of minor "improvements" to be made - are you happy with the way items can pick up massive Penetration, for example? I'm not. Anyways, I prefer leaner House Rules, but if you're going with thick rules - I don't know why aren't you looking at the rules beyond V&F too.

Who is brewing all those longevity potions? (Errg... rituals...) A Season of effort, and some raw vis, per Guard.... that's a lot of investment! Creating magic items is also expensive in time, but at least can be assigned to starting magi or even apprentices with a lab text and be accumulated over many decades.

Seven? Why seven? Why not keep the 75+45 X{ @ 5 years that the core book uses?

Well, that's a boost, especially for the Wealthy! Why?

Why the change to 150 instead of 120? Having extra flexibility is nice, but I would write this differently, by total; perhaps

  • The typical magus has fifteen years of apprenticeship, during which they gain 450 points that they can spend on Arts or Abilities (as XP) or spells (as spell levels). You must spend at least 100 points on each category (i.e. you must purchase at least 100 spell levels, and so on).

The extra flexibility is nice.

This is an arduous level of detail. Yes, it will create more realistic magi. Is that really that important? It's just so much easier to add up the totals of XP and work from there. Developing the character in stages like this is much, much more work intensive. I'm against it. The point is to create fun character to play, not to simulate realistic character development outside play. Real character development and depth is added in-game, not during character generation.

That's lots of warping. Why add to the standard amount?

An interesting mechanic. What about Major virtues or flaws, like Secondary Insight?

What about access to Lab Texts? I'd suggest granting free access to low-level (level 30 or less) standard spells and effects/items, and perhaps to minor variants thereof, and demanding a Season [10 XP] per 60 (?) spell levels in access to non-standard spells or effects.

Can this raw vis be accumulated for vis stocks or larger projects? How much raw vis do you start with, anyways?

This means that the character you "start" later advancement with, at Gauntlet, will have less than +10 virtues. Which is not very "realistic" IMHO. I suggest allowing to start the game with more V&F, indeed with an unlimited number of V&F. I'm also not too keen on balancing them - at-Gauntlet V&F should be balanced, sure, but advancing would not create a balanced character anyways - so why the sudden need to balance?

If you're going to demand +/- 10 V&F at start, then you should also offer a cost/benefit to loosing Flaws and/or Virtues. In this way a character that "used" to have a +10 Virtues allotment can replace some with new Virtues (at no cost? Just at the cost of adding the "new" virtue?).

What is a Moderate Flaw?

This is instead of the XP costs, right? And you mean I can pile up Twilight-induced Flaws without cost or limitation, right?

I'd suggest adding a new Minor Flaw: Temporary Twilight - you have lost a year [40 XP] to Temporary Twilight.

Also -

What about a Familiar? How much time does it take to find one? Do we still use the Byzantine rules to devise one?

What about True Name? Is it fair to say in costs 4 XP, and your XP in (Realm) Lore must be at least equal to the number of True Names you know from that Realm?

What about Requirements and Recommendations?

What Equipment is reasonable? Priceless rubies for the talisman - I recommend yes, if you want it. Are Items of Quality allowed? I recommend against them - a needless munchkinish addition IMHO; let magic items be Hermetic magic items!

I've read over the new House Rules. Most seem reasonable, and some are logical. There are a few on which I'd like to comment.

Hermetic Virtues and Flaws

Why do Magi have to take an Hermetic Flaw other than Hedge Wizard or Infamous Master? Should it not be feasible for a Magus to have an "undiminished" Gift? I admit that I'm thinking of Bonisagi with their rigorous training. Some might tolerate deficiencies or shortcomings, but many would do everything possible to see to it that their respective Apprentices were up to the highest standards of the Order.

I like the reclassification of the Gift as a Supernatural Virtue. With the existence of non-Hermetic Gifted magic Workers, this is appropriate. Plus, it finally allows Jerbiton to have Gentle Gift AND a second Major Hermetic Virtue.

Could you please post the revised House Rules for the Certamen Ability?

General Virtues & Flaws

I agree, absolutely, with the idea that Grogs are "minor characters". They may not be the "major players", but they can still be fascinating, formidable, and tale-worthy.

Advanced Development

Warping: I'm concerned about the automatic 2 per year plus 1 for Longevity Rituals. Due to the problems with the Warping rules and with Twilight in 5th Ed. this will shorten the effective life expectancies of Magi even more than they have been already! 1 per year with an additional +1 from Longevity Ritual is what we've been working with. That emulates what is seen in the sourcebooks and is, I think, a much better arrangement.

Remember: if we're working with continuity of the Order from earlier Editions we have to allow for some very old (150+ years) Magi. With the revised Warping rule they would have accumulated an "average" of (150-25, or 125)x3 or 375-10 (counting the years until Longevity Potion needed)= 365 Warping Points. That translates out to a Warping Score of 11, closing in on 12 (which they'd pick up by their 134th year as a Magus/Maga)! At that level, avoiding Final Twilight is effectively impossible. Using 2 per year it isn't as bad. A Magus/Maga of the same age (150, 125 Post-Gauntlet) would have 250-10=240 Warping Points or a score of 9, midway to 10. Difficult to make it that far, but it's possible. Of course, none of this accounts for things like Flawless Magic, but you take my point.

Instead of piling on the Warping, just put a limit on the ultimate starting "age" of the PC Magus/Maga. Say no more than 33 years Post-Gauntlet. That's a full Grand Tribunal cycle and a third of a century.

I still think that Mysteries are more complex and not reducible to XP costs. The increased costs for other methods of gaining Virtues is acceptable, since it isn't easy.

Something not included in the House Rules which may deserve inclusion are the guidelines for designing and acquiring Familiars.

Otherwise, they look fairly good.

I am in agreement with YR7.

Personally, I liked the way certamen was handled in 5th edition as opposed to 4th and earlier and felt that the magical focus of the Tremere was a really strong way to give them an edge in their area of expertise. However, I do agree in a way that it does limit Tremere is everything else since magical focus is almost a must if you want to cast spells with any significant oomph. I don't have any solutions on how to go about that limitation as it has certainly painted the House in a corner without breaking other rules of the game.

Mysteries within the House is certainly fine for the Vampire tradition of it that promotes the Pyramid of Power and ambition to rise within the Clan, but the magi are a more unified house and the sharing of secrets and resources internally to improve the entire House is one of the strongest doctrines.

Mind you, this was copied and pasted from a draft I wrote a while ago. I will prolly discard some of these ideas by final draft. Further, I am not trying to revise ArM5 for all players everywhere. These are only for this specific saga

It isn’t made more common unless it was also made Minor. As a Major Virtue, I do not see why it’s frequency would increase. I just want to make it compatible with character designs from old editions. As for being a “big” deal, well, it always was and still is. As for making companions irrelevant, I would note that only a small fraction of you have made companions in the first place. Further, Hedge Wizards can take these as Supernatural and still take Major Hedgie Virtues. Magi should have the same range of options.

Yeah, that’s the idea :smiley:

The core RAW sets this mandate, I disqualified these two because I sorta think they are cop-outs. But again, this is no big deal. But are there any characters that do not fit this guideline? I think everyone has at least one or more magic related flaws.

With the butt-load of extra xp I am giving you guys, I don’t see how this is an issue. I think removing Certamen as an Ability was a bad idea. I must here and now admit that I am not a fan of some of David’s ideas. Some were great, others have grown on me, but I honestly feel some were just bad ideas. And with the xp scale for abilities, it still is mainly a contest of Arts.

Basically, you may add Certamen to either your attack or defense during a round. Further, for each point of your score you may learn one special Mastery trick. Examples include adding Certamen (again) to any one main total (Init, Atk, Def, Weakening, Resistance, or Concentration). Also, Mastery of any existing Certamen School counts as a mastery trick.

This one isn’t a deal breaker, and I can drop it if you all prefer. However, I myself prefer the Certamen rules from ArM4, so there is a distinct difference in opinion here. But not a big deal.
My other idea for a solution is to allow magi multiple Foci, but ruling that only one can apply in any given situation. I think the Tremere are unfairly punished for earlier edition activity.

I think all Houses should have private mysteries. Tytalus already has one (the Titanoi). Tremere magi should be good necromancers.
As for our visions of House Tremere, I do not see why these concepts are incompatible. I like the pyramid idea, and indeed this is the way I had been playing them all along. Maybe this explains your frustrations with Exarch Marcus.

I agree that maybe this is an unneeded shade of complexity. It is just that these two have always bothered me.

Never run into that problem, therefore it has never bothered me and thus never caught my attention

I do. I really-really do. Allowances for higher power don’t bother me, restrictions and limits do (and I am saying this from a SG PoV).

Most of them don’t bother me. And I do want a minimum of HR’s. Perhaps I have too many here and some should be kicked out.

Yep :smiley:

Potions. Just say Longevity Potion.
There are several sources; Antonio, Rodrigo, the Mercere House (they gotta pay their rent :smiley:), and you guys will have to tackle some.
However, it is not as big an investment as you may think. 60 guards, maybe two-thirds qualify for longevity, most already have it, so that means only one or two new potions per year if even than many.

I have no idea. I thought I changed that. But the math works out the same. 45 + (2x15). Basically, it means that for age 6 & 7, you only receive the RAW 15xp per year instead of the HR of 20/year.

Why not? The average character at 20xp/year is making what a RAW Wealthy character makes, so in order to keep that Virtue relevant (and worth the Major cost), they need a like increase.

Your math works out the same as mine, so I am not understanding. But basically, if the average schmoe is making 20xp/year, Apprenticeship xp should also be increased in order to maintain a balance between them.

That’s my goal :smiley:

Well, basically I am trying to prevent abuses that have cropped up earlier, such as two Arts scores at 20 combined with Parma/Magic Theory 3 and no Order of Hermes Lore. It is much less arduous than sorting out particulars year-by-year or per individual season. I had noticed some people dumping the first 17 years on just xp, then the last three on all these high level spells and enchantments. That seems seriously out of whack. You build your spells as you go.
Of all my suggested HR’s here, this is the one I really want to stick with, as it is the only way I can think of to prevent past problems and abuses.

This is the standard amount according to RAW. Look it up :smiley:
I think Warping is excessive in ArM5, but this rule (from core RAW) is the only way I can see to limit how old you make your character.

I don’t like the excessive warping in ArM5 either. But it is the rule from core RAW, and I can’t think of another way to limit character age (without setting an finish line, which means that every character comes out the same post-gauntlet age since you all push to the max).

That doesn’t work. I tried that. Remember the limit of 20 years? 95% of characters pushed on to the exact 20, little variation.

No one ever takes that one. It is the most retarded Virtue in the game. If anyone does want to take it, I will do my best not to laugh at them, and just wing something.
But basically, this is the same HR Mechanic we had been using all along.

I was planning on using my old rule. Level is irrelevant. You have access to whatever spells that exist in published supplements, others have to be new inventions (though some of your initial 150 may be originals).
Item texts are more rare. Find a published example or ask me for a texts (which means you are then stuck with my design).

You start with zero, and no you may not accumulate.
This is actually the exact vis rule from core RAW. When I wrote my original HR’s a few years ago, I failed to notice the starting vis mechanic. Now that I know it is there, I want to make others aware of it and let them know I am using the old RAW on this one.

This is a reiteration of the old HR. Once play begins for that character, there is no limit and they do not have to balance. Same for an NPC. But to keep the field level for this saga, I do want them to balance initially and to keep some sort of cap on it.
It isn’t about power levels. More so, it is about keeping you guys from fighting with each other and complaining someone got something you didn’t. I also want to have some ability to predict what you can do.

Now, I realize this next bit is pure theory and may be controversial

I am not understanding your question. Please clarify?

The old -2 Flaw :smiley:
Basically, increasing a Minor Personality Flaw to Major counts as a Moderate Flaw.

I understand your apprehension, and suggestions for a better system that is still simple and easy to use would be welcome.

No XP cost, sorrect. But you are still bound by the need to balance and the cap of an additional +/-10

Hmmmm, interesting suggestion :smiley:

I am tossing all that out. That was just an effort to keep Scott happy and it didn’t work anyway. You spend a season, you find a familiar, I don’t care what its might or powers are. However, the cycle thing is important, don’t stack up your arts and bind a familiar at the last season. That’s just gay.

I thought the RAW was 5xp. What are the current printed rules for this?

That is the sort of minutiae I really am unconcerned with.
One IoQ is fine, but I think people are low balling the cost. It should e 3x the vis that the Verditus magus could otherwise distil from their Aura (so at least a rook if not more). And, unless you have the Personal Vis Source Virtue (or spending lab time), your character wouldn’t have any vis to make such a Purchase in the first place.

Noted for consideration :smiley:

By allowing more flexibility you would enable builds with TGG that otherwise couldn't happen - hence, increasing its frequency in the saga. In theory. In practice - probably not a big issue, and you apparently have other reasons to allow this so fine.

Yes, these two are cop-outs. I like the idea that no Gift is perfect, all are somewhat flawed.

However, I would encourage you to make it more explicit where the RAW stops and where your HR begin. For example, you may write this HR as

  • As per RAW, magi must choose at least one Hermetic Flaw. However, we don't count Hedge Wizard or Infamous Master towards this limit.

I just don't see the advantage of having a Certamen Ability. It adds lots of complexity, but makes the duel less representative of magical power (decreasing the importance of Arts in the duel) and does not make the duel really more interesting (the game-within-the-game doesn't become interesting - you're still just slugging it out with your single attack/defense, with little strategy or tactics or, really, any drama except the die rolls). I'm not a fan of every idea David ever had - but 5th Edition certamen I think works at least smoother and better represents a clash between raw magical power.

I hope you're not changing Certamen just for the Tremere's sake! There are any number of possibilities for Tremere. I myself prefer to get rid of the Magical Focus and grant instead a Tremere Training (much like your "extra Skilled Parens", but also allowing lending 5 Build Points per year from the House, to represent the House's support as per True Lineages). Since it appears you want to keep the House's free virtue focused on Certamen, I'd suggest either simply allowing them to take another Magical Focus (only one can apply at one time) or else allowing them to take "Potent Magic" in Certamen - i.e. adding +3 or +6 to Certamen rolls. Whether magi can take multiple foci or not is a matter of taste - I don't think all magi should be allowed multiple foci for the Tremere's sake. I also think keeping to one focus is a good idea - it keeps the character focused, gives it a style of its own.

Quite. I once had an inner-cult think worked out for the Tremere, that culminated in the Living Ghost. The thing was that the founder Tremere botched the final spell and ended up a living ghost in Tartarus, and has been waging a war to conquer the place and rule Hades ever since... Ehm, anyways, back to the program...

Well, ArM5 p. 179 says that if you suffer a wound penalty of -3 to -5 for a month or more, you halve your Study Total. It also says that recovering from a Medium wound takes a month (and that it provides a -3 penalty, putting you in said category). Page 165, however, indicates that losing a month off the season reduces your Study Total to 2/3. So if you study for the whole season, bearing the wound until it heals, you gain 1/2 your Study Total; but if you loiter for a month while the wound heals and only then study, you gain 2/3 of your Study Total.

Ineed, it shouldn't come up in play - and even if it does, it isn't beyond all reason. But it bothers me - I prefer to have the option of working throguh with the wounds be more productive rather than less.

It isn't the higher power that bothers me, it's that it is placed within magic items instead of at the hands of magi. It means that a grog with a properly made device would Penetrate its Magic Resistance just as well as the magus would, so it's better to send the grogs in rather than risk the magi's lives, which is dramatically boring.

I much prefer to cut item penetration short, imposing some reasonable limit on it. This way for high penetration, you still need a magus with a fistful of raw vis, an arcane connection, and perhaps a sympathetic connection or two. Much, much more colorful and story-forming.

Ah, there are many, many ArM5 rules that bother me. But this is not the place...

That's.... a lot....

So... why make the change? I prefer to keep to RAW as much as possible; I don't see the reason to change the end of early childhood, certainly not in this strange way.

They get a +10 increase, whereas everything else got a +5 increase.

But why increase the XP per year in the first place?

Fair enough.

The reason I favor my formulation is that yours is, I think, stating a limit that it's then discarding. You're saying "Give 150 XP to A, 150 XP to B, and 150 XP to C - no, wait, you can divide the XP differently, just give at least 100 XP for each". I'm saying "Divide 450 XP between A,B, and C, with at least 100 XP in each". We're saying the same thing, but I think my way of putting it is less roundabout.

I don't see these as abuses - they are just not your expectations, which would be sorted out by giving proper Expectations and Requirements. The tiered system you propose to build the character won't make it suddenly develop Order of Hermes Lore - the only thing that would do that is a requirement or at least guideline that magi should have OoH Lore X after Y years.

The bit about creating the spells/magic items at the end is an "abuse" of sorts, but only if you treat the character generation as a simulation. I don't. It is meant to create a character to play, not to simulate in-game character development. You might as well require starting magi in the RAW to have spells representative of all their Art growth through their apprenticeship, rather than based on their final scores; it's maybe more realistic, but it's harder to use and doesn't really add to the fun of playing the character IMO. Creating characters is not supposed to replace gaming, it's suppose to enable it.

However, we clearly differ in our views here.

Errgg... ArM5 page 32 says "A typical magus also gains an average of 2 Warping Points [] per year...".Since a "typical magus" has a Longevity Ritual (Yes! Ritual!), I'd say this is included. What am I missing?

I don't think it would be particularly limiting in that regard.

It appears you want a group of varied ages and power levels. Just ask! I'll be happy to make a younger, weaker, character. I'll think about it once the rules are set - it will probably be a younger, and far less effective, version of Propolos.


That's harsh! I think it also misses out on some of that "realism" you value. There is no reason why Propolos, for example, can't render services to the Cult of Mercury and obtain access to a grimoire of basic theurgic spells, spells that every theurgist develops even though they were not published in supplements - things like you basic arcane-connection summoning spell, warding circles, enforcing bargains/coercion, might strippers... Likewise, there is not reason to imagine that a magus can't access "standard" lab texts that surely exist in Durenmar, like minor variants on spells (e.g. changing range to Personal instead of Touch for many transformative effects) or banal magic items (like boots of seven league stride). There is no need for each magus to reinvent the wheel. I strongly suggest allowing to spend time/effort/xp to find plausible lab texts, as agreed by the storyguide (you).

Again, I'd suggest making it clear that you're using RAW here, not stating a HR.

A typical saga starts with magi at age 25, with +10 virtues and -10 flaws. Your saga will start with magi at age... say, around 45, with +10 virtues and -10 flaws. If you're going to maintain realism, this means that the characters started out at +10 virtues at age 25 and gained some virtues and lost others so that by age 45, the start of the game, they are balanced. If you don't allow characters to lose virtues, this means that they must have started at age 25 with less than +10 virtues, which may be "unrealistic". This often won't matter, but might if the virtue lost was something that affects XP gain or so on.

So, for the sake of realism, you should provide rules for losing Virtues and Flaws in later development - the simplest being that losing a Virtue is free, and losing a Flaw is equivalent in cost to gainining a Flaw of the same magnitude (Minor or Major).

I actually think the system seems fine. It's an abstraction, sure, but the purpose is character generation, not game simulation; it creates fair and balanced characters at roughly reasonable costs. If anything, the costs are too high for Mysteries (a year for a Major Virtue, or three seasons with a Minor Flaw/Ordeal - that's no small price to pay!).

Good. I would suggest noting that other players may play your familiar, which may not be very agreeable to doing what you would like it to do, depending on his nature.

You need a source of (Realm) Lore. You study it, and convert 5 XP into a True Name instead of adding them to the (Realm) Lore. But then, you also add 1 XP per True Name learned to the (Realm) Lore, so it ends up costing 4 XP.
[quoteOne IoQ is fine, but I think people are low balling the cost. It should e 3x the vis that the Verditus magus could otherwise distil from their Aura (so at least a rook if not more). And, unless you have the Personal Vis Source Virtue (or spending lab time), your character wouldn’t have any vis to make such a Purchase in the first place.[/quote]
I have no idea what that means. What is the price, in seasons/xp, to gain a Staff of Wizardry +3? (And what will the staff add to?)

You have given me much to consider. I like that. I don’t have a response for everything, as I need to mentalate upon some matters. But I have a few comments

Nope. I really like the old style Certamen, and I think the idea of “Certamen Mastery” as an ability allows for interesting options and a wider range of strategies. Also, as I mentioned, the xp scale for Abilities versus Arts still makes Art scores much more relevant. For example, for example, it takes 50xp to build a Certamen score of 4, but for 5xp more you could have an Art score of 10.
As for the Tremere Virtue, I see now that I posted my old idea. I had at one point changed my mind and thought up an idea for a “Knack with Certamen”, a Minor Virtue that can be taken up to three times by Tremere magi only, each time adding +1 to al Certamen rolls/totals.
Still, if no one likes the idea I can just drop it.

We will have to agree to disagree on this one. I like the RAW for item penetration. It is still the effort of the magus that creates the score, and I sorta like the idea of non-magi holding their ground compared to wizards (so your argument against has become my argument for). And I should mention I have never seen this happen. It is possible in theory, but in the few years I have run this saga I have never once seen it happen.

Well, I initially came up with the 40/year rue because it makes the math easier. I also feel that the “x5” scale for Abilities threw things a bit out of whack and causes people to neglect key Abilities. However, I noticed that, instead of spreading xp around to make their character balanced, people tended to min-max. A little min-maxing is okay, but some people overdid it. Which is not an insult to anyone, we all have munchkin tendencies, it is in our gamer DNA. That is why I thought up the “development cycle” idea, but your “benchmark by age” is also a good idea. Both ideas are good, but neither is perfect. Indeed, both could be replaced by a request that players make themselves well rounded (citing that they have extra xp to distribute, and admonish players not to dump them all in the same stat).

Good point. How about saying you have 120/120/120, plus 90 to freely distribute?

You are presuming a “typical magus” has a Longevity Potion. I disagree. Usually only those over 35 have one, and even then not everyone. For example, Vares has no LP at age 40+. Antonio didn’t start his until after Carmen was born (around 45 I think). Some magi put it of even longer, using alternative benefits such as Strong Faerie Blood or an improved Lab with a large Health bonus. Further, Longevity is an active action, not an automatic gimme (except for my cherished Andorran Guard and the Redcaps). Thus, the formula cannot presume that you have one.

Indeed, many of these HR’s can be replaced by a request to “try to aim for (x)”.

Another thing I would like is to get people not to be obsessed with having a specialized niche. I had one player who was a good healer get all upset when a new player created a corpus specialist. She claimed that in infringed on her specialty, but he didn’t have Holy Magic so I think she was over reacting. Realistically, people have overlapping skills. And it is vitally important to have backup! I have heard people argue that “this is a game, not a simulation of reality”. However, I am somewhat of a simulationist gamer and I feel verisimilitude is as important as story. Further, I have witnessed this philosophy bite people in the ass. Characters lacked overlapping skills and/or back up, the party god divided, and grup A runs into challenge X that is best handed by someone with skill Y, but only one magus has skill Y and he is in group B.

That may be an “average”, but it is not at all typical. Most of my characters start at 30, some as young as 22. I don’t thik I have seen more than a few characters start at exactly 25. And +/-10 is the max, not the average. Soe start with +/-7 (such as Estaban), so te average is closer to +/-9.
And I think you are misunderstanding my stated limit. You can receive an additional +/-10 after gauntet, so your max is actually +/-20.
Losing an existing Virtue is equivilent gaining a Flaw of the same value, and loosing a Flaw is equivalent to gaining a Virtue.

“Wizardry” is not a Form & Effect Bonus.

There's a lot being said, and I don't have time to comment on most of this, but on this particular point I feel that I must.

Most Magi are between 25-30 when they pass the Gauntlet. This gives them only a few short years before the need for Longevity Potions/Rituals sets in. When calculating the careers of most Magi, those "2 Warping per year" almost HAS to include that as a founding assumption.

Point blank, at 3 points per year almost no Magus will be able to make it much past 100. This is ridiculous and seriously at odds with both the original and even the revised canon. I don't want this to read as a sweeping statement, but I don't have time for nuance at the moment. If you make this the prevailing rule then Vares will not be the unusual exception--he will be representative of a tremendous number of Magi who are desperate to avoid Warping. Magi who can't make it past the age of Aristotle when he died (he was just over 100) can scarcely call others "mortal" when they're just as much at risk. The youth-preserving Longevity Ritual doesn't mean as much, either.

This is a very, very big deal. 5th Ed. caused serious grief when it implemented its rule. What you propose compounds it. An assumption of 1 point a year +1 for a Longevity Ritual seems much more reasonable. Without it, frankly, Magi would almost always have to devote themselves to attaining Flawless Magic and be desperately AFRAID of using Vis. The only Magi who would live much beyond a century would be either no longer really human (at a minimum, Strong Faerie Blood if not a full Faerie Transformation) or else the truly paranoid who never experiment, never use Vis if at all possible, and who are utterly reliant on Mastered Formulaic spells. Any Magi of any real Power who doesn't follow this rule would probably blaze out by the time they made 80. I'd have to check the reference, but I think that Reculed Seneca aka Flambeau was older than that when HE died, and that was in battle, not from Warping-induced Twilight (yes, we're mixing editions, and if we do, we have to account for this kind of thing).

Not that I'm keen on them, however, maybe a good idea would be to simply ask Atlas Games on the board whether Longevity Rituals were included in the 2 Warping per year figure or not.

I like your idea much-much better. I agree with you and also thing Warping is a bit excessive in fifth edition.

Does everyone agree to this suggestion?

I certainly agree. I would note that this won't quite create the 2 WP/year guideline, but it comes close, and at any rate leads to lower and more reasonable warping rates.

To the extent that the Ability score matters, it lowers from the importance of Arts, and hence the "fairness" of Certamen. To the extent it doesn't, it's a pointless complication in the rules.

Looking at Certamen as a fun-activity to play out, it kinda sucks. There is the initial uncertainty of how much does the guy have in the relevant Arts, for the challenge. And then there are the rolls of the dice, as in any "combat". There is also the chocie of using raw vis, but that's really for high-drama one-offs. The Certamen-schools introduced in True Lineages add some extra strategy choices for magi who have them, but it's very difficult to assess which tactic is good under the circumstances, when a change of tactics is wise, and so on. Adding an extra layer of Certamen Masteries adds complication, but does it add to this game-within-the-game? Adding +Certamen (Ability) to your Attack means that your attack is stronger, which may make certain schools a wiser choice when fighting you; but does little to add multiple meaningful options to the duel.

And of course, Certamen as an ability does nothing to solve the problems inherent to the format. Certamen still doesn't involve other players in the combat, or allows an inventive use of circumstances or the environment, or opportunities to make dramatic choices (heal grog X, or stop goon Y from getting to wizard Z?), or a progressive series of obstacles for the character to intentionally engage - which are the things that make standard combat encounters/scenarios interesting. As games-within-games go, Certamen isn't a grand one.

I'm just not clear on what the HR on the Tremere Virtue is supposed to achieve. If it's meant to represent their mastery in Certamen, I'd suggest a +1/Minor Virtue is too low an effect and +3 seems to fit the effect of other Minor Virtues.

Very well. I've seen a case of magi crafting a dragon-slaying spear and handing it off to the grogs (well, companion) at one point; maybe that's affecting my judgment.

I really think providing guidelines for what's expected will lead to more reasonable results than imposing demands that don't communicate your expectations. I wouldn't have increased my Parma or OoH becuase of the development-cycle mechanic.

The min-maxing is caused, I feel, because even under your system picking up background Abilities is just very expensive. The x5 Ability costs really did screw that up. I know I had to scramble to get my character concept to work with the XP allotment I had, and had only little to spare towards other aims.

Sure, that will work.

I hate it when that happens. Picking up all the Divine pieces and putting them together again is such a chore!


Aha. Well, that addresses my concern perfectly.

OK... what about a +1 Staff? Or +1 "wizardly robes"?

If, as I (incorrectly?) remember a sensachel's robes can be used to aid diplomacy, can't wizard robes be used to aid win over hearts at Tribunal? Or to aid in lab work? Or in casting spells?

How about a quality staff assisting to affect things at a distance? Does it add to the casting roll?

Again I must say I'm not enamored of this IoQ mechanic. It suddenly becomes more profitable to carry a +6 Armor of Quality around then an Hermetic invested device. Which does not make me happy.

Good. This is what we've been using, so it just means that there won't be any change.

Though we may want to add in modifications for those with Flawless Magic or Cautious Sorcerer to account for their even lower accumulation. And those with high Gold Cord Bond scores.

Maybe have a minimum rate of 1 Warping per year? This is stricatly an average for development. One could theoretically go four years without any Warping and then get several minor accumulations at once.

In regards to Warping, I find myself agreeing, someone like... Titus with Mastery 4-5 in most his spells and a golden cord of 4 isnt likely to botch / gain many warping points. I honestly say that using common sense rather than a hard and fast rule would be better. I mean heck, a lab rat who doesnt experiment isnt likely to gain any at all!

As for YR7's IoQ concerns, I personally think they're totally fine. My thing is, they only affect abilities anyway, skilled craftsmen can come close to / surpass the effects of most IoQs and lastly it is a Hermetic effect (IE a Verditius Mystery). And I disagree, while IoQs are nice, you can easily exceed the effect with Hermetic Magic. Why get +6 soak when you can have armor that wards you against Te and He? I personally think IoQs are a good addition and like how the emphasize the 'skilled craftsman' nature of the Verditius. But to each his own!

Treating Certamen as a Mastery Ability has some interesting twists to it. Previously, one could use Vis to massive effect in altering the outcome of a Certamen duel. This carried a serious risk if one botched. More than one Magus or Maga succumbed to Twilight from such a stunt. With the dramatic reduction in the potency of Vis in 5th Ed. (by 60%; not counting the removal of the Permanent Duration, this is one of THE biggest magic system revision problems in 5th Ed., though well behind the blanket removal of non-Hermetic Magic Resistance) the incentive to use Vis no longer exists.

A potential House Rule to consider: what if a skilled Certamen practitioner can use a number of pawns of Vis up to the level of his or her Certament Ability score at the FULL (pre-5th Ed.) value? E.g. someone with Certament 4 could use 4 pawns of Art-appropriate Vis for a +20 bonus, not just a measly +8. It would still only apply to one, specific roll, but it would represent a major advantage on the part of those who train in Certamen rigorously. Due to the need to still spend the Vis, I don't think it would be that unbalancing. What it would do is turn Certamen from something one might only study to gain a small if persistent "edge" into a much more impressive one.

Another option could be to allow the learning of different "schools" with progress in Certamen Ability. You seemed to have indicated this as a possibility. Currently, the potential to fight in two schools is a Minor Virtue. One would think that with the scope of Certamen practiced within House Tremere and the Order it would be not uncommon for serious students to be fully versed in multiple "schools". I know that they can currently use a "lesser" version of each school. If one takes the Mastery option at each level of Certamen one could add a full-fledged school to one's repertoire.

I must disagree with every House having a Mystery Cult. That is why Bjornaer, Criamon, Merinita, and Verditius are labeled the "Mystery Cult" Houses! This isn't to say that they might not be more common within certain Houses, but they shouldn't be exclusive to them, nor mandatory.

Providing Longevity Potions to elite custos is one of the most intelligent things that a Covenant can do if it has the Vis to spare. I've held this view for years. Think about being able to have an elite guard or even administrator at the top of their game for decades. They can accumulate far more experience and savvy than if they had the short working life expectancies of the normal inhabitants of Medieval (if Mythic) Europe. A Grog Sergeant who is still capable of wielding a sword after a full 50-60 years of service could probably cut down any number of 20some-year-old "heroes" of Companion stature! A Covenant with these intensely loyal warriors and staff could match forces many times their number.

What is more, the effects compound across generations. A Grog with a Longevity Potion can achieve Ability levels that are truly legendary (8+). They can then teach the next generation, bringing them up to a far higher level of Ability. Just as Magi can build up the Arts known in this fashion, Grogs (and Companions) can do the same. Instead of continually starting over at a lower level, the higher levels of Ability can be passed on. The above-cited Grog Sergeant could become a weapon master worthy of his (or her) own saga! This fits in with the view that Marko and I share: Grogs are "junior characters/heroes" in the Sagas of Magi and Companions. "Junior" in rank, sometimes in years, and in raw (much as I dislike the term) "destiny", but with the potential to become so much MORE. Those who nurture their Grogs/Guards stand to reap impressive returns for their investments.

The 150 XP in Ability and Arts is exactly what Magi used to get in previous Editions. With the availability of good-quality tomes, it makes sense for them to retain this benefit in 5th Ed.

Note that in another reference to prior Editions, it is perfectly legitimate to require Magi to have a minimum score in certain abilities, such as Order of Hermes Lore, Magic Theory, Parma Magica, and Latin. Those who don't should be made to take an appropriate Flaw, such as Hedge Wizard. This is exactly how things worked, to great benefit, in prior editions. I approve of the 4th Ed. practice of customising Abilities for each House. Those could be preserved as guidelines.

Speaking as an instinctive generalist, a "well-rounded" character is a flexible character, and periods of prolonged crisis tend to favour the flexible. Specialists have their uses--as long as they don't OVERspecialise. Fifth Ed. rewards specialists, particularly lineages of specialists whose prowess accumulates. Practical experience demonstrates that generalists have an overall greater chance of long-term survival.

Twilight: once upon a time, in prior Editions, one had a Flaw called Twilight Points. Starting with Twilight as a beginning character was a Minor Flaw. Now that we have advanced, experienced characters who accumulate Warping (the new name for Twilight Points, though figured differently) automatically it would seem to be less of an issue. Instead, however, we should classify it as Twilight Episode.

The thing is that we haven't been using the actual Twilight experience tables to determine the outcome. We've been letting people just CHOOSE what happens. That really isn't right. It effectively grants Twilight Mastery, a Major Mystery Virtue. What we may want to do is allow players to choose for their respective Magi to have undergone Twilight. The player recommends the circumstances of it, including the time in the character's career (this affects the Twilight Score and any bonuses such as Enigmatic Wisdom). They must then roll to determine the outcome, the same as usual. For fairness sake, we'll assume that the trigger was only 2 Warping Points strong. They gain those automatically--along with the extra 1d10 Warping Points that accompany Twilight.

Whether one gains a Virtue or not depends entirely on whether the Twilight was successfully comprehended. Insufficient Warping Points (e.g. 5) can translate into XPx5 (this corresponds to the old XP system) or else a unique, non-printed spell equal to the Warping Points in magnitude. It doesn't have to be researched: the Magus/Maga knows it upon emerging from Twilight. It may occasionally push the Lesser Limits like a Minor Breakthrough (one that can't be duplicated because it wasn't the product of research), but must be approved.

If one fails to comprehend Twilight, one LOSES XP. If it is 7 Warping Points, one gains a suitable Minor Flaw, which may be suggested by the player. At 11, it's a Major Flaw.

Twilight Episode should be a Minor Hermetic Flaw which may be taken multiple times. It is Minor because it can yield a benefit but it always forces one to accrue Warping, shortening one's career as a Magus. One DOESN'T gain any extra points for any Flaws that may happen due to the Episdoe. That is simply the risk one takes in going through Twilight.

Twilight Duration should, however, not last more than a season. If it lasts longer than that, well, a Magus can still be the desired "age" in terms of experience. He or she will simply have been "out of time" for a while, with no Aging accruing in the interim (as it does not). Permanent Twilight is NOT a risk. Severe Twilight Duration lasting for decades is an opportunity for a Major Story Flaw, Anachronism (ok, it's not in the canon, but it should be). This COULD be worth points, though it should only happen with approval.