Hedge Magic Saga

I've heard it talked about. I think every long time ArsM GM wants to do it and I've decided that for my next saga I am actualy going to do it... I'm going to run a saga without the Order of Hermes, without Hermetic Magic, using only the rules from Hedge Magic. Specifically, I'm going to run a saga using the rules for Learned Magicians and Folk Witches in place of Hermetic Magi.

However, while I've read the rules, I've never run a saga that includes a Learned Magician or a Folk Witch. I was wondering if anyone has used, or seen used, these character type in play and would care to share their experiences.

Likewise, if anyone has any tips for running a saga centered on Hedge wizards, in a Mythic Europe in which the Order doesn't exists, I'd be very interested in whatever your thoughts might be.

Thanks in advance


And then there's what YR7 did (tried to do?) some time back, which was turn Hermetic Magic into hedge magic by making every Art an Ability instead.....



I don't know about "where the Order doesn't exit", it's just too rich a concept to lose altogether. But having played in John Post's "Life on the Outside" game at GTSF this year I'd really like to explore Hedge Magic a little further.

There are now so many rich magical traditions on offer that you can very well run a saga using Hedge Magicians as your player characters. The Order can very easily recede from focus and pop up occasionally to offer challenges that must be overcome, alliances that must be forged, and even clients that could be serviced.

I played a Learned Magician for a number of hours, so my experience is limited. What I would say is that there's a lot to get to grips with. We're so used to Hermetic Magic now we pretty much get it. We understand implicitly the difference between spontaneous, formulaic, and ritual magic, and lesser, greater, and charged devices. I didn't find that with the Hedge traditions. You need to know your material so that you can back up your players who may be coming to Hedge Magic somewhat blind. We didn't have time in our session to get into seasonal activities, but I think you'll need to build those into your stories. From what I saw, the Hedge Traditions do have specialisations but I didn't get a sense of anyone being particularly strong with spontaneous effects, which is the lifeblood of most of my Ars sessions.

And I think problems with the Gift are quite interesting to deal with. You might find that much of the story is progressed by go-betweens, messengers, and proxies. And why not? That simply becomes part of the feel of that kind of saga; where the main characters don't generally meet in person unless it is to deal with crunch points that affect them all.

And without the covenant structure, you need to understand the reasons for magi of (potentially) different traditions coming together. It is more likely that those from the same tradition may call upon each other, if only through a shared understanding if not mutual trust.

What I would do is, because you don't want to be lumbered with something you suddenly find isn't working out how you wanted, set yourself a defined month or two months in which to tell an arcing story. At the end of that period, if the Hedge Wizards are working out, keep going. But just in case, I'd build in that natural finish point so that at least that saga can go out on a high.

Really? I would think a Gifted Gruagachan with appropriate speciallizations would be pretty good. Difficult Arts do reduce the efficacy of Cailleach Magic quite a bit, but most spont-afficianadoes seem to like Life-Linked Spontaneous Magic better anyway and that virtue ought to be unchanged from the Hermetic version...

Of course, having only 6 arts to improve (2/5 what Hermetic Magi have to deal with) can't hurt either. The only real problem there is that Gruagachan have such a limited range of effects open to them in the first place...

It is, as you say, every SG's dream. I really like the idea, but don't really have any experience to offer. I would suggest considering using a loose Order, based solely on hedge wizards, so as to not undermine the wonderful opportunities for Hermetic intrigue and the restrictions of the Code; but of course, not every saga has to include those elements, and perhaps it is indeed best to let hedge magi be hedge magi.

I'd also suggest making heavy use of enriched items, from RoPM, spell-like vis, and so on. It seems a wonderful addition to hedge magic traditions.

I tried to do a game based on companions, before HM came out, but I ended up with a few Hermetic magi and buffed companions - not really the same thing at all.

Somewhere in between. I run two adventures, each a few sessions, in two sagas; both sagas imploded due to player problems at that point. I'm on the verge of doing my third, using the same model. But Hermetic Magic is still immensely powerful, even with "difficult arts". I wouldn't count it as hedge magic.

I'm trying to remember back to who was our "best" wizard. I seem to recall that the Gruagachan were pretty tasty but I have a feeling that our wind witch was our most valuable practitioner. But to be honest, that's from one combat encounter that I played a few weeks ago. I got the impression that the Learned Magicians were very good in their field if they have time to prepare. If the story can afford a season of planning and preparation (John's scenario did but we didn't take that opportunity)

Sorry, post got truncated there..

I was saying that a season of preparation opens up the Learned Magicians, just as it would for Hermetic Magi.

And just reading the post on Spell-like Vis etc, I think that's a great idea. I'd use it.

Sounds like an interesting idea but, unfortunately, I don't own RoP: M and due to the current economic climate it will probably be a while before I get it... Still, I gather from the name that we're talking about vis that produces a spell-like effect. Is this something like the old "items of virtue" from the 4th ed Hedge Magic rules?

Will you create a covenant, adventuring party or something else?
In most traditions magi are individual people without any organization.

Salvete, Sodales!

Ah, a hedge magic thread - you would have been surprised if i didn't jump on that train. :slight_smile:

Actually, I am under the impression that learned magicians spend their time for preparations much more efficiently than hermetic magi. Hermetics are better at casting formulaic spells (not at inventing them: In most cases apart from healing the assumption that one learned magician charm is less useful than a hermetic formulaic spell of the same magnitude is wrong), and learned magicians have no equivalent of fast spontanous magic, but they have a kind of slow spontanous magic - chartae. These are basically one charge items which only work for a short time (longest durations are moon and season), but they are built within 'effect's magnitude' hours. A competent learned magician (who has the virtue of strong amulet magic) is usually able to cast enchantments of 8th magnitude on himself. Give him five days, and he has 5 unknown new powers at his disposal. This becomes even more threatening if you use the various (Greater/Lesser/Focus/Personal) Powers from ROPM as supernatural virtues. By gaining these (SuMa base 10 & 20) he practically gets powers equivalent to hermetic spellcasting; and always these effects are tailor-suited to the situation he expects. Add the fact that learned magicians are the magical tradition that has the least problems in foreign auras (even difficult art+normal art is less restricted than a supernatural ability and Entreating the powers works rather well), and they surely surpass the Folk witches (whose powers they could mostly mimic anyway) easily and are at least a match for our Scottish and Scandinavian friends in magical combat. Outside of it, they are surely better of: They have a huge amount of XP (apprenticeship 30 XP/year), are part of an organized structure which has found a way to cope with the Gift (written communication, and they could temporarily cancel the effects by granting 'Immunity to the Gift'), are typically well connected and the most likely tradition to push the limits on their magic (young tradition, academical background,...) - Enough of this promotion speech, I have decided to play one of these guys alongside his hermetic sodales at Ad Fons, I am bound to think that they work well.

On the organizational level I would suggest to scratch the OOH completely from the list. There are just your hedgies, who have some rather loose contacts appropriate to their traditions, have to deal with mundane, clerical and supernatural threats on their own - and might get the impression that a bit more cooperation would be great - not in your test saga, but if you decide to play on. Suddenly they find that they have settled themselves with Bonisagus' job, that should keep everybody busy and justify a great amount of stories of nearly every kind.

I probably will add more to this thread in the future, but for now:

Alexios ex Miscellanea

In regards to the life on the Outside scenario, I agree that the elemental summoner was probably the most potent bu the Gruagachan who could become truly huge were also very impressive. The folk witch didn't add so much, and the vitkir didn't really have a chance to shine.

The game did have a fair bit of combat and was compressed to take place in a few days of game time. Over the course of a longer game the relative impacts of the different characters may well have been drastically different.

The two traditions I'm focusing on - Folk Witches and Learned Magicians - do have organizations of a sort, though I'm not planning on using the Learned Magician background strictly as written. I'm planning on using the Folk Witch model of a coven in place of a covenant... essentially a geographically dispersed covenant. The "magi" have their own homes, labs and lives rather than a shared residence but have agreed to share resources/knowledge and assist each other in time of need.

I had actually considered the idea of having something like the Order of Hermes being born during the course of saga (which is set in the early 12th century rather than the canonical mid-13th)... essentially placing Bonisagus a few hundred years after his canonical time and linking the emergence of the Order to the rise of universities and the recent acquisition of occult knowledge from the East. (Honestly, I think it might make the Order less of an anachronism... but that's whole other discussion.)

I've decided the idea is a bit too ambitious for the first part of the saga - given the complexities of essentially learning a new rule-set - but it will probably be a theme I explore either later in the saga or in a subsequent saga if this one goes well but doesn't last long.

Hello there :slight_smile:

Slightly threadomantic, but I would like to offer my opinion here :slight_smile:

I have had some fun with Hedge Magic recently, preparing some characters to test their possibilities and potential. So, I took a rather munchkinistic approach to character creation here, be warned. I have not cracked the elementalists, since they did not please my taste when I read the rules, so I can't offer my impression on them. Now, the others.

NIGHTWALKERS: not real magic practitioners but still cool. Can make for extremely useful/powerful companions without breaking the game, and can also add a lot of potential to the other hedge magic tratiotions. For 4 virtue points (nightwalker & versatile phantasticum) you have a lot of potential. Half taltos for your companions also boosts them quite a bit vs incorporeal entities.

VITKI: If you do not plan to use hermetics, those guys will be the top dogs of mythic europe. Quite powerful dudes, even if much more centered in a few abilities than your average hermetic. They need to specialize in order to be truly good in their areas, miuch more than hermetics do. They can be really good there. IMO Merlin can be created as a vitki easily and keeping the full flavor.

Those guys can be really cool. Spoecially good at transforming themselves and those near them. They curse their enemies granting them virtues and flaws. Their formulaic magic is extremely good, being flexible and really low level. My designed character can transform to a giant between size +1 and +6 easily, for example, simply changing one parameter of the spell he uses. They are not that good at affecting their surroundings: even their Vision spells deal with them on a personal basis more than changing their environs.

Those guys can rake up a lot of combat potential if they are mindful about that, and can travel fast between locales using shapeshifting spells to transform to birds or sea animals. Their powetic justice touch is extremely cool and can rake some nice SG fiat to achieve an appropiate flow of the story: it is the first time I have seen tjhis "SG fiat" introduced as a rule, and I found it done brilliantly. It was a creation of the robertsons in the old lion of the north tribunal book, but it is still extra cool IMO. When reading about them I found a little bit sad that they mention the diednes kicking them during the davnalleus war, while it is not mentioned that Pralix had any diednes in his army. Thus has biugged me for 3 editions now, so no biggie, though. From a rules POV they are solid and can be very powerful as champions: they do much worse in a mass or boundary target point of view since their magic is strictly personal.

their evolution will not move much beyond this approach, even with massivce ammounts of study. They are limited to what they can do in the lab. Being unable to create items is a pity, but hey.

Wohoo!! Those are my favourite ones by far. They are eminently a lab rat bunch. Their abilities can be divided in field abilities and lab abilities as follows.

  • Flight. Not much to be said there. Your average flying broom stuff. A reason to have a cat familiar is that it can fly with you in the broom :wink:
  • Second Sight. See stuff. Useful
  • Dowsing. Find stuff. Noice to get the lost child, find some buried stuff, or get you some vis. Useful ability to gain some extra resources, specially vis
  • Animal Ken. Talk to animals. Useful if you have the Gentle Gift. Otherwise they will be spooked and likely to bite your ass. Unless you are a non gifted witch, but I have yet to design one of those.
  • Shapeshift. Treansform into a few things. Not a big secret here. Nice, specially if you want some combat power, since witches suck in that sense. A witch has no combat magic to talk about. If you want some of those, go to ROP:M or ROP:I for some trinkets.


  • Cursing. This is THE ability. Much more than Healing. This is what I imagine a witch doing and what makes for an extra cool character. They can do it in a cauldron as well, so you can get curses than cause diseases, misscarriages or aging crises, but also "curses" that are love potions and paralization venoms.
  • Healing. This can be used as a field abilkity, but it is at its top in the lab, creating potions. With Puissant Hedge Witch Magic Theory and Concentrated Potions (MTx4 in vis use) you can rake up LOADS of health potions in the lab. The starting character I designed (24 years old) has a lab total for health potions of around +17 in a level 3 aura. That means that she can create 8 incapacitating-healing potions in one season, at the cost of 6+8=14 pawns of vis. She can manage that. IN fact she can manage that even without the concentrated potions virtue. How's that for a nice healing poition brewer? :wink: The main problem with this ability is that: it is extremely vis-expensive. The rest of a witch's activities are much lower in vis cost, but healing is extremely expensive.

A witch excels if she can prepare. Healing and cursing require pre-planning. If she has time to prepare to kick you in the posterior she can achieve pretty nice effects. The problem is that penetration will not be very high, but in a world without the OoH the other human beings are easy targets.

Witches will never be combat monsters though. If you want one, you'd better be looking at gruagachan and some specialized vitkir

DISCLAIMER: I have not mafde one of those yet, so I might be wrong with my assumptions
I still fail to see why anyone would like to play a guy that mediocre. Way less powerful than the witches IMO. They are much better fighters, if they can get some preplanning time to work on chartae to improve their luck and hinder that of their opponents. Their abilities are limited and their casting totals for sponts are quite laughable. They can create short term magical items, but have no capacity to create long standing items, even low level ones. That is a pity IMO, but it is how they were designed. Their use of vis is negligible so work well in a low vis setting. They can work perfectly well in the dominion (but witches can as well since their casting totals are low).

Those are the guys that can play around with luck AND MAGIC RESISTANCE. The rest are quite powerless when it comes to MR, but these guys can make some inroads in that field better than most hedgies.


  • For most traditions the danger of death is age rather than twilight. Their longevity lab totals tend to be way lower, so they will die of old age. The notable exception are the gruagachan and their troll transformation.

  • Most traditions will also have low penetration totals, since their abilities are only in part acelerated, so their casting/lab totals are much lower.

  • All traditions would gain enourmously from the implementation of the rules for minor magic items in City & Gild. Otherwise magic items will be almost nonexistent in Mythic Europe: no tradition (except the vitkir) can create real magic items. as written. That is a pity IMO, but hey.

Hope that helps.


Nice work, Xavi.

I would, however, like to make a few comments:

Elementalists: I'm not quite sure what a Gifted Elementalist is supposed to look like either, but one gets the distinct impression that they're considerably less powerful than their UnGifted compatriots. Despite this, they can accomplish some fairly impressive feats.
One trick Erik Dahl mentioned that seems very effective is Summoning (Philosophic) Fire or storms into a frangible container and throwing it amongst your Hermetic Enemies. Since the fire is natural and has already been summoned, I believe this would bypass Parma.

Folk Witches: While Healing is fairly expensive, I feel I would be remiss if I didn't point out that a Hermetic Magus curing 8 Incapacitating Wounds would have to spend a whopping 56 pawns of Vis (32 with Mercurian Magic) and FWs can save their potions or send them with underlings something most that most Hermetics cannot do.
My Folk Witches have tended to prefer Enhanced Mandrakes as familiars, but the kitties definitely have those guys beaten in the cuteness department...

I'd also mention that despite having some Difficult Arts, in my experience the fact that most of the hedge traditions have fewer Abilities/Arts/Spells to invest XP into tends to result in Casting Totals comparable to those of Hermetic Magi. Vitkir are an exception to this due to the fact that they use the lower Accelerated Ability in their Totals, but specialists can still be pretty impressive, and they can usually get around MR in other ways...

Healing is vis-intensive when compared to the other abilities of a folk witch, but it is cheap when compoared to hermetic equivalents. In fact hermetics are not the top dog in a lot of areas there, they just are the most flexible ones since a combat magus can cast a healing spell or a ship navigation spell as well fairly easily given a few years of study. The same is not true for most hedgies since their abilities are more limited in scope and the ammount of lab work they can do.

Penetration wise, they can do OK, buyt not amazing. A hedge witch with INt +3, MT of +8 and an ability at level 6 working in a 3 aura gets a lab total of 3+8+6+3=20, 26 if he has strength potions. That is not really high. Even adding a D10 when the effect is actually "cast" most hermetics and supernatural beings will be safe from it. An other hedgie will bite the dust and suffer the whole consequences of the effect, but we are comparing them to hermetics I guess. I am doing it, at any level :slight_smile: For gruagachs let's say they reach level 25 with their form and level 6 with the technique: Stamina 3 and aura 3. 3+6+25+3=37 casting total. Depending on the spell that can come up to 20-ish points pof penetration. That can make a hermetic out of apprenticeship weep, but a medium magus will simply blast the gruagach with a POF (and likely kill him) for making his parma ping. And rightly so since hermetics are the top dogs here. Penetration is a problem for hedgies that want to affect big stuff: hermetics and magical beings of 25 Might or above. For smaller targets that is not that much of a problem. Virtki are the ones that laugh at this restriction, as erik tyrrell demonstrated a year ago or so when I first commented on this issue regarding vitkir: he ran the maths and demonstrated that a dedicarted vitki can be dangerous to fairly much any hermetic out there, even dedicated hoplites. I liked that :slight_smile:

Nice trick with the medieval grenades. Make them chamber pots full of nails with an air whirlwind inside for added fun and a punchline :stuck_out_tongue: LOL Problem is that each "grenade" costs you a fatigue level that you do not regain until the effect is cast IIRC, something that is prohibitive in terms of combat. One shot is not really that dangerous here.

An oversight I noticed (or it seems an oversight to me) is that Natural Magicians cannot Enrich things. That is such a shame! A Natural magician is just what you would expect to be the court wizard of the local lord, and finding that he cannot turn that sapphire into something beneficial for the lord is just a little bit sad. If I ever introduce them IMS they would be allowed to enrich stuff normally to add some more color to their profession.


I think that the elemental theurgical summoners may be the most powerful. their total is stamina + Summoning + form + aura + stress die and they can summon an elemental with a might equal to their total (both summoning and the elemental forms are arts not difficult arts). So even right out of apprenticeship the summoner can have a might 30 or with min maxing 40 elemental to do his bidding. With a few years to study might 60 isn't unreasonable. That's some big mojo even if it takes effort to get to the correct place, time to do the summoning and fatigue levels while you've got the big beast under your control.

Whops I see now (now that Erik Dahl pointed it out) that the Elemental forms are in fact difficult arts (it's not in the virtue description where I looked for it or in the header for elementalist forms, but it is in the description of each form), Erik Dahl tells me that the techniques are as well although I can't seem to find anyplace that it says so.

This makes elementalists much much weaker than I had previously thought.

Techniques are not difficult arts according to the rules. Still weaker than what you said, erik, but more powerful than what I first thought on a cursory reading of the chapter. :slight_smile: Just checked the book to make sure



I don't have my book here, but I'm sure that Elementalist Techniques are "Arts" and Elementalist Forms are "Difficult Arts." :slight_smile: