Hi, my name is Juanjo and I'm from Barcelona. I've known Ars Magica for more than 10 years now, but I haven't played a campaign yet. It's not that I haven't played other RPG, it's just that there was not a lot of interest on playing it on my Roleplaying Club. But finally some of the older players in the club have united to play a long campaing if we can achive it. I've been thinking ideas for my Magus character and I discovered this forum, where I had some useful readings.
Now that I have more or less an idea of what to play I have a question so I've registered to ask it and participate in the forum. I want to play a Bjornaer with a Lion heartbest specialized in Auram and I would like him to end up with an inner heartbeast of an anima Storm Lion, but I don't see it with the air elemental form advised in the Mistery Cults: Houses of Hermes handbook. Do you have any idea?
Welcome to the forum!
Why don't you start by telling us what a "Storm Lion" should be like and do, in descriptive rather than mechanical terms? A large rumbling thundercloud with the powers of the character "Storm" from x-men? A normal-sized lion made of pure lightning -- like ball lightning, but lion-shaped -- who can leap large distances in the blink of an eye, and whose roar deafens all who hear it? Something else?
I would also point out that if you play a magus straight out of apprenticeship (as I'd recommend for your first game) it will be some time before he can initiate the mystery of the anima... andin the meantime his goals and priorities may change!
We're all gonna play straight out of apprenticeship, creating a covenant in its spring and I know It will take time but I wanted to be sure to keep on with this idea when creating the character, for example to have in mind the virtues. Speaking of which, these are the ones that I have in mind:
Clan ilfetu (hermetic)
Unbound tongue (supernatural)
Affinity with auram (hermetic)
Free study (hermetic)
Improved characteritics (general)
Personal vis source (auram) (hermetic)
Subtle magic (hermetic)
Mythic blood (hermetic)
Social status: hermetic magus
I was thinking of something in between these two. I was imagining an storm cloud in the form of a lion (normal sized) with lots of lighning, whose roar sounds like a thunder and as you put it " who can leap large distances in the blink of an eye" (sorry, my english is not perfect so I use your expressions ^^U). But no Storm from xmen powers. I was thinking that he could do lightning damage with his claw and bite attacks too. Also, I would like it to fly (I know, I know, I'm asking too much, but these are only a few ideas, I don't need it to be perfect).
I imagine a cloudy figure with the form of a regular lion with lightnings inside (and some scaping) and eyes glowing. I imagine that when he goes through his final twilight he transforms in his inner beast and with a final glance he flies to the sky and disappears in the clouds. I know it will be long until this happens, but I like the idea and the character seems interesting.
Thank you for your quick response and for helping me!
Affinity with Auram is definitely a very solid choice. I'd really recommend to "double it up" with Puissant Auram, and/or possibly an Affinity in Creo.
Personal vis source plus Free Study ... hmmm, possibly not as solid. It seems to me that you chose the two because you plan to do a lot of studying from vis, and want to make sure you have the vis at hand. I think it's really important to discuss the saga with your troupe first.
If the saga and/or the covenant has a lot of vis, you can probably avoid taking personal vis source. The covenant, and the occasional story, will provide you what vis you need. It's not as if Bjornaer are prodigious consumers of vis anyway. Perhaps more importantly, the saga and covenant will dictate whether study from vis is a better option than study from books. Roughly speaking, study from vis is riskier (particularly for a Bjornaer, who can't have a familiar with a gold cord), more expensive (the vis!) and more time-consuming except in high level Auras (Auras 5+) or for very isolated covenants with little access to the hermetic book market. In most sagas, book study is a better choice. Find out from your troupe what's your case, crunching some numbers!
In a "book saga" Book Learner (which gives a bonus to everything you learn from books) might be better, possibly paired with Study bonus.
In a "non-book" saga, Free Study may indeed be better - though I'd rather pair it with Independent Study (from the Merinita Chapter) which gives you an extra +2 to quality on all practice study totals (not just studying from vis) and +2 xp from adventures!
Unbound tongue + Subtle magic is a good pair only if you plan to cast a lot of very different spells in your HeartBeast form (rather than spells in your human form, magic from items in any form, or anima powers in your Inner anima form), and they either require high penetration OR are really pushing the limit of your casting skill (otherwise, just cast without voice or gestures). Is this really the case for a lot of spells? If it's the case for just two or three, you might instead consider Mastering them (to level 3, for 30xp each) taking Quiet Magic x2 and Still Casting. For two spells, Strong Parens gives you (for a single minor Virtue) the 60xp you need for two spells, plus 30 spell levels, and the benefits of Mastery (fewer botch dice, higher casting rolls etc.). Unbound Tongue + Skilled Parens (using Skilled Parens to get 1 level of Still Casting Mastery for up to 12 spells) is probably better than Unbound Tongue + Subtle Magic for most variations of your character.
Summarizing: I'd say Subtle magic is probably a not-so-good choice for your character; Skilled Parens is probably a better choice. Unbound Tongue may or may not be worth it (it's probably better than Subtle magic though).
Clan Ilfetu: Do you plan your Bjornaer to be a visionary and a prophet? Because that's what Ilfetu are. Their single clan mystery involves acquiring the Virtue Divination. For a Storm Lion, I'd much rather see Clan Midusulf (leaders and warriors)! In this case, keep in mind that Study Bonus (see above) is one of their Initiated Virtues. Not going for Clan Ilfetu would have the side benefit of saving you a minor Virtue, but it's mostly an issue of what you want your Bjornaer to be.
Improved Characteristics: this really depends on what you want your character to be. But you can make a very reasonable "lion" character even without it. E.g. Int+2, Per 0, Str +1, Sta +2, Dex -1, Qik +1, Pre +2, Com -2. In my sagas, characters rarely take it, particularly magi. One important consideration: if you want to have one characteristic at +3, a strictly better choice is taking Magic Blood, Human (from RoP:M). That's because it raises one characteristic by +1, and so it "saves" you the 3 characteristic points of Improved Characteristics; but it also gives you a -1 to aging rolls, and +3 Reputation with characters of the same lineage. Plus, I find it cooler
Mythic Blood: again, this really depends a lot on what you want your character to be. Per se, it's not the most efficient use of Virtue points. The "minor magical power" is not really very useful -- you can duplicate it early on with a spell or magical item. The "less fatigue from formulaic spells" is more useful, but it really applies only to a fraction of your magic use. The Minor Magical Focus is really, really useful, but you could take it as a Minor Virtue on its own (I'd probably go with Unleashing Storms: Creo and Rego applied to making and controlling "stormy" phenomena like strong winds, lighting and thunder) or expand it to a Major Focus for a Major Virtue, e.g. the canonical focus in Weather. A focus is really useful, since a) your character's concept magics seem fairly concentrated (so most of them can benefit from the focus) and b) the focus also helps a lot in getting super-powerful Inner Anima Powers!
Finally, keep in mind that it automatically gives you a Personality Flaw for "free". While Personality Flaws (like Story Flaws) are not too limiting and are in fact a nice way to "characterize" your character, you are restricted to two, which most characters (in my experience) take ... meaning that, in practice, Mythic Blood is not only costing you three Virtue points and your sole Hermetic Major pick, but also giving you a non-personality, non-story flaw without recompense.
If you do take Mythic Blood, keep in mind that it does give you access to Heroic Virtues (and Flaws) from the Mercere chapter of HoH:TL, some of which are really nice.
Other Virtues you might consider are Self-Confident (being able to spend that extra point of Confidence for an extra +3 on any roll is really, really useful), Special Circumstances (during Storms!), Gild Trained (for a character who comes from the Rhine Tribunal), Apt Student (a large bonus when other Bjornaer Teach you, or when you get mundane grogs Teach you anything from Leadership to Athletics) and Affinity in/ Puissant House Bjornaer Lore. The latter is really, really important if you plan to progress quickly to your Anima Heartbeast and take a lot of Refinement Initiations (in which case Presence +3 might also be a good choice); it may also be useful if you want your character to come up with new Mystery Initiations beyond those in the book, for new appropriate Virtues such as Improved/Great Characteristics (Presence being particularly appropriate for a Lion) or Regio Network (from RoP:M: you learn the secret ways that allow you to travel quickly between storms all over Mythic Europe).
And let me repeat, make sure you get a magical focus!
Last but not least: a character is defined as much by his Flaws as by his Virtues!
First of all, thank you for your help, you are giving me a lot of ideas.
Secondly, I'm sorry, I'm doing something I hate: explaining my character little by little instead that in just one post. I'm gonna try to fix it:
Luke Skywalker (doesn't have a name, but we can go with this one) had an incident with an storm (to define, maybe when he was born) and since then he's got a special aura. He was unsettling and so there was no problem when Obi-Wan Kenobi of the clan Ilfetus (I'll get to this later) of House Bjornaer took him for apprenticeship (is that right?) at an early age (7-8 years old). He was lucky to assist to the "Gathering of 12 years" at an early stage of his apprenticeship, so he was treated as an "equal" by the rest of bjornaers for the most part of his time as an apprentice. He learned to combine his magical aptitudes with his Heartbeast. He even spent whole seasons in his Lion Form living in the wild, so he grew very attuned to his Heartbest. After his gauntlet he spent a couple of years in his parens' covenant and assited to his second "Gathering of 12 years", where he met a young Bjornaer (another of the players) and they stablished a good relationship, after some communication, meeting new people and talking to their parens, they decided to go off and start a new covenant on their own.
Luke is an elegant and educated man, he tries his best to show to the order of Hermes that Bjoraner magi are not savages (I think this gets along with his Lion heartbeast). Besides Auram being his primary art he tries to focus on imaginem and/or mentem (to decide yet). He is a moderate wilderist, but won't hesitate to take physical actions to protect a sacred zone.
I think affinity is fantastic, as a pre-doc and a major in mathematics I love to crunch the numbers and it is awesome. When I make other characters I usually take a couple of affinities (havent played any of them, but, you know, I had lots of years of fantazising with AM characters). I may take affinity in Creo if I got virtues to spare.
What you say makes sense, I like the combo (and i have used it in my non-played characters) but i haven't really tested it in a campaign, so I will follow your more expert advice. I will speak with my mates to see how we will build our covenant (but they are talking about making it in the ruins of an older covenant, so maybe we have vis sources). I like independent study, seems very nice, but it is not my first priority, so let's see what other virtues will be better.
My standard form for casting is Lion, that's why I wanted this combo, but putting it in perspective, I don't think I will cast a lot of spells and in combat I will usually use my claws and bite. I will probably get Unbound tongue, though, because I like the idea of speaking in Lion form and I think it sticks with the character.
Clan Ilfetu is the clan that fancies me the most for its philosophy and general lore and I need the virtue to be part of it. I like being a mystic and a "leader" (in a different way than a Midusulf) and moderate wilderist really strikes to me. I like having acces to a mistery which gives me second sight. Finally, I don't see my character as a warrior. Sure, he is a warrior, he is good at combat and he is willing to fight, but I wouldn't define it as one, it is not his primary role, neither mecanically nor philosophically. I see Luke maybe as a Wilkis, but I prefer Ilfetus.
With improved characteristics I wanted to get something like:
Int +2, Per 0, Str 0 (I don't need it, since I will fight in my Lion form with Str +6, I could even get with -1), Sta +2, Dex 0 (I dont want a negative in my dex or it will affect my lion form) Qik 0 (I will probably regret this), Pre +2 (I'd love +3 and Magic Blood is really cool to have), Com +1 (I think it goes with the character concept, but I will probably regret this too). I don't know how to do it in other way, if I cast regularly in my lion form I could drop Sta maybe, since a Lion has +3 Sta.
I wanted Mythic blood before getting to the whole Storm lion thing. The minor magical power is the spell "Form of the (temeprament) heartbeast" from the Mystery Cults handbook, if I get the choleric temperament, this translates into a virtually always on +2 Dex and +4 to follow a trail bonus, I thought that was ultra cheesy. But now it does not make a lo tof sense with the character, so I will probably just get the Major Magical Focus on storms, which is really, really nice.
Self-confident is ultra nice and makes sense with the story of my character, because he was introduced in the heartbeast mistery early on his apprenticeship.
Gild trained is ***** awesome and I think it is perfect for the character concept so I will take it for sure.
Apt student is very nice too, if I have space to spare i will take it.
I agree that affinity in/puissant house bjoraner lore is almost mandatory and will probably get puissant, but one of them for sure. I will do some numbers to see which one is better.
We are on the same page with respect to presence, Magic Blood, Human is very cool and I will see if I can get something more.
Regio Network is super cool and is very flavorful with the character.
I usually have more fun with flaws than with virtues in most games (L5R, WoD...), but with the restrictions in AM I'm pretty lost, because I don't know what to take, general and hermetic flaws are very restrictive and I don't see many that fits with the character. These are some that I have in mind:
Animal companion/magical animal companion (story) (but I'm not really sure if I want a companion, I'd rather not in a lot of situations)
Deficient form (I still don't know which one)
Clan Illeftu makes perfect sense, actually. Pursuit of the Inner Mysteries requires lots of Clan Lore and Presence, and so does belonging to Clan Illeftu. You're choosing a decent Presence character anyways, so you're a good candidate for doing Mystagogue duty.
If you like number crunching, remember that an xp Virtue should be worth 60xp or 2 years of Later Life. Compare to Skilled Parens or Warrior which are in that range. In that sense, it becomes good at Art score 19 where it costs 127xp instead of 190xp. That will also save you vis but that leaves 48 pawns of Auram vis to get from 15 to 20 which is still a hefty cost.
Another way is Deft Form (Auram).
Again, Method Caster could cover half your Stamina needs and save you a Virtue. Presence is less useful than Puissant Bjornaer Lore, I'd stop at +1 (+2 with magic blood) unless you plan on being a mystagogue. For combat, remember that to match a mere short sword in the hand of a 0/0/0 mundane your lion would need Dex+3, Qik+1, Str+5.
So Int+2, Per+1, Pre+1, Com+1, Str 0, Sta+1, Dex 0, Qik 0 is a good complement to Lion.
Weather is major, lightning is minor. And MuAn20 FotTH will always succeed with Muto 5 + Aram 5, no need for the power.
I suggest you look at Flawless Magic, FFM or LLSM as your major.
So, you won't recommend virtues like apt student or book learner, will you?
A regular lion has Dex +3, Qik +1 and Str +6, and has very good bonus when using his claws and bites, also, per the rules of mystery cults, when I transform I get the skills of the Lion, that is Brawl (claws) 5.
So, I should get MinorMF (lighning) or MinorMF (storm), or does one include the other?
I like all the Major you propose, but I dont think how the fit with the character, they are good on their own, but I don't see if they synergize with the rest of the character.
Indeed - I'm starting to actually just design my own Major Hermetic virtues, based on Major Focus math - it's 5 minor foci, but only 2-3 of them are functionally useful; the others are mainly there for flavor. Using that basic forumula, you can get some nice character concepts built. Completely against RAW, of course...ah, well.
Anyway - for weather manipulation spells, note that Rego Vim "Intangible Tunnel" can get you touch range to the sky, and "Maintain the Demanding Spell" can get a concentration spell to last a day or longer. As such, you can design a pretty nice set of weather control powers at touch/concentration level, if you have any sort of magical device (or talisman) that has those two ReVi effects in it, and if your magus knows those spells themselves for backup in case you loose your magic wand (or can't cast due to being a lion, or what have you.)
Of course, if you want to throw lighting and air bursts around INSIDE, you'll still need to take the +4 "unnatural" modifier on your spells - but for the whole "summon a mighty storm outside that lasts all day" effects? It's WAY easier if you use those two ReVi effects to power it.
The spells I'd like to affect with magical focus are:
Jupiter's resounding blow CrAu 10
Broom of the winds CrAu 15
Charge of the angry winds CrAu 15
Clouds of rain and thunder CrAu 25
Wings of soaring wind CrAu 30
The incantation of lightning CrAu 35
Wrath of whirling winds and water CrAu 65
The Cloudless sj¡ky returned PeAu 30
Clouds of thundering might ReAu 30
Gathering of the stormy might ReAu 40
I dont really need to affect all of them and I know the lowest level ones dont need a focus, but it's just to give you a sense of what kind of effects I want to affect.
I think that weather is too much wide, I dont need to affect snow spells or things like that, but maybe I need weather to affect the strong winds and I really want to affect "The incantation of lightning".
I've been reading Potent Magic and it is really nice with the concept, but I don't really understand it. Do I get bonus by using items? Or we are talking about object encantations? And using objects in Lion form is tricky. Speaking of which, is there any spell that allows me to transform my clothes with me?
No, thank you!
Wow, that's a really good advice for spell creation! I was thinking in investing in Vim, I'm pretty sure this will pay off.
I don't know what's that "+4 unnatural" modifier, cna you explain this to me?
Indeedie. It's one of my favorite basic tricks - use those two spells (usually in some sort of enchanted item, so you don't need to worry about casting them yourself) and suddenly your lvl 5 spontaneous spells all have sight range, and last for a month.
The disadvantage, of course, is that your casting ends up being a bit more complex. Also, penetration is an issue: for Intangible tunnel, you need to penetrate both with the Intangible Tunnel effect (to get the touch range), and then with the effect you actually wanted to cast. However, if you're just doing strategic weather magic, you may not need to have to worry as much about penetration, so it may be moot.
Also note that for Intangible Tunnel, if you're casting it from an enchanted item, it's the enchanted item that is creating the Tunnel - meaning that you have to have some sort of way of detecting the tunnel itself. However, if you know exactly where the tunnel is being created (such as "6 inches from the end of my magic wand"), then you could use a low-level InVi "taste the color of magic" to figure out where it is. So, yeah - it gets a little bit more tricky to do it this way, but it can be done.
Oh, sure - it's already baked into most of the spells you describe, though. Check out the Creo Arum guidelines on pg. 126, down at the bottom. "Create a phenomenon wholly divorced from its normal context... +4 magnitudes."
The idea is that weather phenomena are natural occurrences, and as such actually pretty easy to create using Hermetic Magic. For example: actually creating a lightning bolt or a tornado is just a base 5 effect. The difficulty comes in creating them in places that they wouldn't naturally occur, or creating them in a way that doesn't get you killed. So for example, your standard lightning bolt effect (base effect 5; Touch +1) is just a lvl 10 spell. However, you'd have to be in a cloudbank (because that's where lightning bolts are naturally created), and you'd have to be touching your target, for it to work - which means you're standing right next to a lightning bolt when it hits someone. Probably not too useful.
As such, the ACTUAL Incantation of Lightning (again - pg. 126) is lvl 35: (Base Effect 5, +2 Voice, +4 unnatural) - because you're forming it between your hands and throwing it at someone.
A sneaky way (if you're outside) to get a cheap lightning bolt then, is as follows:
Use a Sight-based Intangible tunnel to create a cloud in the sky (Create Cloud lvl 4: base effect 2, Touch +1, Duration Concentration or Diam +1)
Use the same intangible tunnel to create a lightning bolt from the cloud you just created (Create Lightning Bolt lvl 10: base 5, Touch +1)
The only real issue is "how do I target the lightning bolt?" - in Incantation of lightning, it seems to be using Voice range, with the bolt itself starting between your hands and flying out towards the target. IMO, a reasonable ruling would be that you have to roll Finesse to hit your target with the lightning bolt that is created in the cloud. Which means that your target has both Magic Resistance that you have to penetrate (because it's a magically-created lightning bolt), AND you have a chance to miss (because you're targeting indirectly through a cloud.)
Which means this version is kind of a crappy attack spell - but it's potentially a one-shot kill spell at lvl 10. So there is some game balance going on.
A variation would be to use Sight range on your lightning summon (lvl 20: Base effect 5, Sight +3). That will get you Sight range up to the cloud, AND sight range to your target. Probably a better solution, if you figure that you're fighting outdoors most of the time.
Yeah - basically Potent spells give you an additional bonus to cast (+3 or +6), AND you have the option of using what amount to mini-talismans with your spells - which lets you add up to your Magic Theory to the casting total, limited by the Form/Material bonus of the mini-talisman. However, the spell has to be designed with Potency in mind, and you can't cast that spell without the mini talisman.
For example: a Potent version of Demon's Eternal Oblivion could have a piece of Red Coral (+10 vs. Demons) as part of the required effect. If you have a piece of red coral on you, you can add your Magic Theory to your casting total, up to +10. However, if you don't have a piece of coral, you can't cast the spell at all.
One way of getting around this is to learn Potent spells for things that are nearly impossible to loose. For example, tattoos are a fully valid thing to use to carry around form/material bonuses: having a tattoo that has red coral as part of the ink, for example, means that you're never without your +10 bonus vs. Demons. However - tattoos are considered a mark of shame in medieval culture - they're like brands that you voluntarily gave yourself. So, it may not be the greatest thing in the world to do to yourself. Also, this does assume that red coral CAN be put into ink - for all I know, it's poisonous. However, failing that, you can have a tattoo of a piece of red coral, instead. While an image of an object isn't as good as the object itself, it will still give you a +5 bonus (ie, 1/2 the original value). Which is good enough for most folks.
However, most bonuses aren't as nice as Red Coral - So you may need to have a tattoo with multiple elements to get a decent bonus. A tattoo of a glove (+5 to touch) with a bronze (+3 to Terram) coin (+4 to wealth) sitting in the palm can give you up to a +6 on a touch-based Creo Terram spell designed to create gold or silver. The spell would have to be designed to work with such a tattoo though.
Or, to go with the ultra-cheese, design a Potent spell that uses the human body itself as part of the casting foci. Of course, there are only a limited number of bonuses that actually come from this - human bone or skull seem to be the only ones. (They look to add +4 or +5 to destroying/controlling a human body, or destroying/controlling a human ghost.)
But if you don't mind twisting the rules into funny shapes, you could always start inventing your own form/material bonuses, using the rules in The Mysteries: a hand could reasonably grant a +5 to touch (just like a glove), for example.
EDIT - of course, I can totally see a GM looking at that, and saying "not only no, but HELL no." Alternately, I could see someone saying "sure", and then using botched spell rolls as a way of destroying your casting foci - and if that happens to be your own skull or hand....well, them's the breaks. So, obviously - talk it over with your group beforehand.
Ah, looks like you're correct. "A magus cannot learn a Potent spell if its Potency exceeds his Magic Theory, so some of these spells are powerful but very difficult to learn." (TMRE, pg. 32) I was under the impression that you had to have the MT equal to the bonus in order to invent it, but that others could learn it without having to have it at that level. Looks like that's not the case.
Oh - and if you plan on going the Touch/Concentration route with your spells - be sure to spend season to design a talisman that has some sort of leather glove worked into it. You can use your talisman to add a single Form/Material bonus to anything you cast, and a glove (as stated above) adds +5 to all Touch-based effects. And it's made of leather, which means it can be affected by any sort of MuCo(An) full-body change without having to add any additional requisites.
EDIT - although now that I think about it - do talismans still work if they're transformed? (Or can they even be transformed?) I thought there was a ruling on that, but I don't recall if they do. I suppose you could just have some sort of loose necklace with a mini-glove pennant (so that when you transformed into a lion, it fit like a collar.)