Help needed: Bonisagus Magi


For a new saga, i would like to play a Bonisagus Magi who will be a Magic Theoricist specialized in Corpus and Vim. Is life goal will be searching for breakthrough in Hermetic magic and more particularly seeking for the secret of eternal life which will probably lead him to a wonderful death :mrgreen: . Beside his researches, he will write Summa mainly on Corpus and Vim in order to trade them for Summa about other Art.

Characteristics: 1Dex; 3Com; 3Int; 0Per; 1Pre; -2Qui; 3Sta; -3Str

-Secondary Insight
-Affinity with Art: Corpus and Vim
-Free Study
-Study Bonus
-Book Learner
-Good Teacher
-Puissant: Magic Theory (Bonisagus free Virtue)
I was also interested by Cautious Sorcerer to avoid Twilight issue. I not sure if it is that interesting but the Final Twilight seems to be one of the main reason for a Magus end.

I was wondering if you would have any advices on the Virtues. It will be my first time playing so there are lots of informations to get and I'm not sure that my choice is any good.

I'm not sure for the minor Hermetic one. Do you have any advice?

Thanks for your advices.

You have the right Virtues to end up writing summae, they will be Quality 12 by default. Now Covenant puts sound summae at a minimum of 28 Build Points, which would require an Art score of 32, or nearly 12 full years of Later Life @ 30 xp. You won't trade until then.

You are paying 3x the cost of Study Bonus for a fraction of the gain. You might as well go with Strong Faerie Blood and get 15 more years before Twilight catches you.

Choosing a Technique and a Form add up better. I don't know how you see it, but Affinity with (Technique) paired with the right Minor Magical Focus could do wonders (self transformation comes to mind).

Not sure how useful this will be, It doesn't help with Decrepitude or Warping. With Corpus, your Longevity Ritual should be good enough.

Yeah, there is an analysis somewhere on that. Pick a familiar and boost the golden cord high (another good reason for dual TeFo Affinity). Flawless Magic is also good here.

Inventive Genius is almost mandatory for Breakthroughs. :laughing:

Note that you can delay some Virtues and hope to find a mystagogue that will initiate you later on.

What kind of Story do you want to live?
What personality do you want to play?
You've stated your goal but not your means. It all depends on how you want to play.

Anything is good, really. For instance, you could go pure formulaic with Difficult/Weak Spontaneous Magic paired with Flexible Formulaic Magic or Flawless Magic and Boosted Magic (HoH:TL).

How will he seek this secret? Will he be doing Original Research, secluded in his lab? Then you won't really need his Art scores, unless roleplaying or gaming-group says otherwise; second-magnitude effects are best. You would, however, really need to pump Magic Theory up, so you may want to pick up Affinity in it. You may also want to increase Concentration, to avoid Twilight.

I'd suggest however being a Seeker and attempting to integrate Ancient/Hedge magic, in which case you'd want the Seeker Flaw; or to be initiated into a Mystery Cult (e.g. alchemists). In terms of story potential, being a Seeker/initiate just has so much more to offer!

That's it for now.


Thanks for your answer.

For Tugdual

I’m sorry but I didn’t get what you meant.

For that, my point was that I could keep focusing on my main Arts while increasing the others. But maybe it’s not worth it in game.

From what I read Minor Magical Focus, seems a little bit to narrow. But like I said, it’s my first time playing this game so I don’t have plenty of ideas that come to my mind.
About Unaging, it was mainly to prevent me from losing characteristic points, particularly in Int which would decrease my Lab Total and then, my Longevity Ritual effectiveness leading to earning more aging points. Actually, I thought Stamina was also important to prevent from aging but after reading the rules again, it seems it’s not. Thus, by taking Unaging, I Thought that I would only have Crisis canceled by the Longevity Ritual each time it occurs. Then, to avoid dying from age, I would just need enough Vis for the ritual. But maybe I’m wrong somewhere.

Ok I understand better now. With a really good Golden Cord, you don’t need Cautious Sorcerer since you won’t likely have more than 3-5 botch dice (if I’m wrong here, please correct me). By the way, is there any way to reduce to 0 the Botch Dice from experimenting? Also, if you remember the topic with the analysis you were talking about, I would be happy to have it.

After reading the rule for Breakthrough in HoH:TL, I don’t see where I could use it for. What I mean is for what I understood (and I’m not sure I got these rules right), the bonus from Inventive Genius increases the Lab Total, but the main problem here seems to be the Extraordinary Results chart. And from what I get, there is no Bonus on the dice roll beside the risk. And the only way to have 11+ results is either by taking risk of by accumulating results during several seasons. But again, maybe I got it wrong.

For YR7

I was thinking of doing Original Research, secluded in his lab, like you said. But maybe sometime going investigating out if he hears about something. Btw, I didn’t really understand the topic you mentioned. Would it be possible to have more explanations (maybe by PM)?

I’m sorry but I didn’t get this at all.

Thanks for your help.

Unaging's no-decrepitude-on-characteristics effect is primarily something that affects companions and grogs. Magi (especially Corpus-focused magi) can expect to have longevity potions with huge aging modifiers, meaning that from when they take their potion they'll be getting the 'no apparent age increase' result on the table for a LONG time - and by the time decrepitue starts catching up with you, the saga will be very well progressed.

So essentially you're taking a virtue to counteract a situation that for the majority of the magus' life is going to have a <0.1% chance of happening, and most likely <0.01%. You might as well take Lesser Immunity: Lightning - you're more likely to get hit by a lightning bolt than have decrepitude be a significant factor.

And finally... you're a magus researching longevity. The chances of stumbling across something that initiates unaging (ancient mystery script, twilight experience, etc.) is fairly high.

As for foci - maybe a minor focus in aging? There are relatively few spells that will benefit from it, but your magus will make vis hand over fist on the contract longevity ritual market - especially if combined with affinities in creo and corpus. Chances are with this combo - and assuming the saga starts in 1220 - that decrepitude will start being an issue for your magus in around 1450. By that point you're at significant risk of final twilight, assuming your magus didn't meet a sticky end somewhere along the way.

Not to mention the saga is unlikely to run that long. For an average-speed saga (1 year / session), we're talking 10-20 real years of regular gaming in that one saga. If its play-by-post, decrepitude will probably claim you the player long before it becomes an issue for your magus. :slight_smile:

If you are striving for a Hermetic Breakthrough, I think the best way forward it to figure out what sorts of effects you will be inventing and working backward from there.

As a thought experiment I have been trying to build a Winter Covenant by starting with four beginning magi and using the Extremely Complex Character Generation rules to advance them. Right now, I am about 40 years into it. The Bonisangus went into final Twilight about 25 years out of apprenticeship because she kept inventing fourth and fifth magnitude spells. She was trying to create a Teachable version of Deft Form, so she was inventing spells that did not require gestures or speech, just like Kiss of Death. She had Affinity to Aquam, Pussiant Aquam, Vis Source Aquam, Mythic Blood with a focus in h a Minor Magical Focus in Ale. So, she was trying to invent spells that dealt with Ale that had an additional + 3 magnitudes for not using words or gestures. Any useful effects had to be 4th or 5th magnitude, which resulted in a vanishing into final twilight when stabilizing her discovery.

Now, for my purposes this is great. A wizard who went into Final Twilight and left research detailing 23 breakthrough points towards turning Deft Form into a teachable Hermetic Breakthrough is a lot better than a Bonisagus having actually figured out how to make Deft Form a teachable virtue. If I was a player who was actually playing this character, I would find blowing this roll and going into Final Twilight anticlimactic.

So, what sorts of projects are you planing on inventing with Original Research? Longevity Rituals seem like the logical item, but there are a number of complications. First, it would seem that the magnitude of the effect would equal your CrCo Lab total. If you think that a Longevity Ritual has +1 magnitude for every +1 bonus, you are probably looking at +3 or +4 magnitude effects, which often cause warping when stabilized. Secondly, how exactly do you stabilize a Longevity Ritual?

Once you have the answer to those questions, you can use them to inform your character design

As fare as I understand the rules there just 2 real ways for eternal life and that is in becoming a magical creature or a fearie. Ok House Criamon might disagree with me on this as they see the Final Twilight as theyr solution.
The other ways keep gaining you warping points from the constant magic effect and so are not real eternal life.

You mean you didn't understand the thread I linked to? It's an old thread, where I analyzed the mechanics of Original Research, as presented in Houses of Hermes: True Lineages. The table indicates that it's best to conduct research on low (second-magnitude) spells, in which case an Hermetic Breakthrough would be achieved in ~94 Seasons of original research and warp you by ~27 Warping Points (including the warping-points accrued by simply having a longevity ritual active throughout the research).

This result assumes that you always go to Twilight on gaining 2 warping points during stabilization. In practice you will want to have high Vim and Concentration scores and work in a mundane aura to minimize that risk, which would allow you to gain less warping points and/or fairly safely develop higher-level spells. You may also find that, from a roleplaying or saga perspective, you will need to do things in mechanically non-optimal ways (setting up a lab in a high aura, researching high-magnitude spells, or so on).

OK, let's back up*. I'll start from the beginning.

The most important thing you need to decide when building a character is what kinds of stories you want to play him through. You have stated that you want your character to seek out the secret of eternal life, but you didn't say what kinds of stories you envision this would entail. There are at least three ways Ars Magica Fifth Edition offers to pursue such a goal.

Perhaps the most obvious one, and the one you seem to have catched-on to, is to conduct Original Research as per the Houses of Hermes: True Lineages rules. All that this requires is acquiring mediocre scores in the relevant Arts (I'd say Creo and Corpus), a very high (11+) Magic Theory score, pumping up Concentration a bit, setting up a laboratory (preferably in a low, or even mundane, aura), and - most difficult of all - having some 24 years free of any obligations or troubles during which to conduct said research. This means the stories told would for the most part be about all the things that conspire to drag you away from your original research. This can be duties to House Bonisagus (such as membership in one of its sub-organizations), duties to the covenant, emotional ties to your family, or so on. But the stories will generally not be about pursuing eternal life, since that is something you do in your lab, not on adventures. There can be exceptions, and at least some stories (especially early-on) will surely be about getting all those texts on Magic Theory to pump it up to 11 and so on, and some stories at the end will revolve around the ramifications of finding said secret - but for the most part, and ironically enough, by choosing to obtain the secret of eternal life through Original Research you are saying you don't want this as the topic of adventures. You're gonna find the secret through labwork, not adventure.

A second, similar, way is to integrate non-Hermetic magic into Hermetic magic theory. To do this, you will need to go out to the world, to seek out traditions that could do this or at least came close and uncover their secrets. This can be done by integrating the magic of living practitioners as detailed in the Hedge Magic Revised Edition supplement, by investigating the relics and artifacts of long-dead traditions as detailed in the supplement Ancient Magic, or even by integrating Rival Magic; none of these supplements actually provide a path to eternal life, but a capable storyguide can use them as inspiration to develop hedge, ancient, and rival magic traditions that would provide the insight to uncover this secret. The advantage of this approach is that your character will get to have adventures about obtaining the secret of eternal life, which I think is very cool. He would still need to be a theoretical genius to figure-out the tradition's magic and integrate it into the Hermetic system; you can see how to integrate Ancient Magic, for example, by going to the product's page and downloading the preview - notice how it still needs lots of research and labwork. Characters who pursue such non-Hermetic magic are often called Seekers, and Seeker is a Minor Personality Flaw detailed in Houses of Hermes: True Lineages page 25 (see also page 15).

A third way is to pursue and develop a Mystery Cult. This is handled most broadly in The Mysteries Revised Edition supplement, which contains several Mysteries and Mystery Cults. Perhaps the most relevant to your case is the Order of the Green Cockerel, which is a mystery cult dedicated to alchemy, seen as the art of self-purification. The cult's Mysteries culminate in achieving eternal life by purifying yourself so much that you become a Magical creature. This fits very well with your focus on Corpus and Vim, and pursuing these kinds of Mysteries certainly involves lots of labwork and focuses on longevity rituals and so on. Pursuing a Mystery Cult is another way of having your goal of finding the secret of eternal life enter the saga through stories about it - specifically, stories about you being initiated into the cult's Mysteries, working at its service, and ultimately working with other top cultists to develop the final Mystery in the path - true alchemical immortality. These are different kinds of stories than the Seeker plots, stories that are more about Hermetic and cult politics.

So you should consider what kind of stories you want. Personally, I'd like to trek into Mesopotamia in the footsteps of Gilgamesh, search for the nectar of the Gods in the desolate Fearie palaces on mount Olympus, locate the Fountain of Youth in far-away India... I'd like to be a Seeker. But for each his own taste. Just choose the option that best works for you, and for your group.

(There are other ways to obtain eternal life in the game, incidentally; but these three ways seem most relevant to the issue and character at hand.)

  • Note: In general, if you don't understand a term I'd suggest searching in the Redcap wiki. Or you can just ask :slight_smile:

Read ArM5 p71, summa level 20 Quality 11 is the best you can get, and it will cost 31 Build Points.
Read ArM5 p165, if you were to write a 31 BP, level 19 Quality 12 summa, you'd need to have a score of 38 in the Art.
Read ArM5 p32, Magus Only - After Apprenticeship {not Later Life, sorry} and assume that you age your character out-of-game until you hit the mid 30s in an Art.

12 years of game time, playing a season once a month, means 4 years of real time. Now, what will you do of those 4 years if you just park him in the lab? If you play him, it will take that much longer before his first summa is ready. Will the other player clamor for summae early or stunt their development for years?

I don't remember why, could be a brain fart.

Hello there. Thanks again for your help.

For Kid Gloves

Do you mean that my character would be able to make really go Longevity Ritual so he will be able to sell them for a good price to others Magi?

For dwightemarsh

I guess you are right and I should think more about the way to reach my goal, the development of my character and how I want to proceed my research toward my goal.

The first think that came to my mind while reading this was : lab rats! Developing Longevity Ritual for rats with CrAn and try to transfert the understanding to CrCo Longevity Ritual. I don’t have An but for rats, I don’t think I would need an high score in it.

I saw that but I think it would be more interesting in a character development point of view to try to go for eternal life by himself by original research or by seeking like YR7 proposed and then, let the storyteller play with that.

For YR7

Thanks for your explanations.

I also really like the second way. I guess a mix of the first and the second could be doable and fun. I have to ask my storyteller if it is ok with him.

For Tugdual

Thanks, I understand better what you meant.

Sorry but I didn’t get it.

I still have few questions. First, does the Golden Cord work while experimenting with original research so the character could use a +3 risk modifier while have only one botch dice? Second, is there a way to reduce botch dice to zero while experimenting?
Thanks for your help and i apologize if sometime my understanding is not really good but I’m not a native English speaker.

For being a Magic Theorist he's surely missing "Affinity with Magic Theory", which also allows you to start with Magic Theory 2 higher than usual.

Oh no it wasn't, found it: Ancient Magic p8, or HMRE p14
"make a stress roll of Intelligence + Magic Theory against an Ease Factor of 18. The Inventive Genius Virtue adds three to this roll,"

Yes. Many magi aren't specialists in Creo Corpus. Most magi don't have a magical focus that applies to their longevity ritual.

Chances are your magus will have a very high lab total in Creo Corpus, especially with regard to longevity if you have an appropriate focus. As such, getting contracts to do Redcap longevity rituals and being asked by other magi is likely. Once your lab total breaks 100, chances are your clients will include archmagi.

How to get a huge bonus to your Magic Theory ability?

You might also look at other possibilities than the regular and well proved Affinity and Puissant Magic Theory Virtues, if you really want to have a high effective your Magic Theory from the beginning.
Like, get Strong Faerie Blood (Blood of a Pagan God RoP:F) select an Old God (Odin?) with focus on Magic and use your Faerie given bonus to Magic Theory ability.
The above virtue already gives you +3 to an ability next to the regular Strong Faerie Blood given bonuses. (It is easy to increase this bonus with a couple of other, even with free, Virtues to a higher at the game start.) Later in your Magi's life your bonus will increase along with your inevitable warping score.

Get a magical companion (a talking raven maybe?) who can help in your lab as you surely would not waste your time with an apprentice (unless of course you are aiming the last point in my post :smiling_imp:).

Later life, bond a dead mage's spirit as familiar (and hide it well from your Sodales).

So far kind-a eternal life listed (and I havn't read RoP:I yet).

  • Become a Lych
  • Magical being
  • Faerie
  • Become one with something great and natural (Hill, Forrest, or North Wind)

Other, rightly not-yet-detailed-way to achieve eternal life, as Tytalus and Tremere could testify to that, is to plant your soul to a younger body... definitely needs a genius to solve this riddle and get this breakthrough.

Because it is mentioned here in what book can I find the rules for becoming a Lych?

The Mysteries (Revised) - page 70 - Living Ghost
I can only offer it to pick 1 or 2 for your game...

Hmm that is just one of the 3 Variations given in TMRE of become a Magic Creature.
With body intact trough The Great Elixier TMRE 43
As Ghost trough Living Ghost TMRE 70
As Ascended Spirit trough Ascendancy to the Hall of Heros TMRE 82
I though there is actual a way to become a Lich, a walking corps that still have its soul and mind and that this maybe wouldnt induct the downsides of becoming a Magic Creature.

Hermetic Projects

Thanks then I just have to wait till we finaly can buy this book at e23 as PDF.

Almost done with my character.

Magus name : Cūriōsus

Parens : Murion from Durenmar

Virtues :
Puissant Magic Theory, Secondary Insight, Affinity with Art (Corpus, Vim), Free Study, Inventive Genius, Affinity with Ability (Magic Theory), Book Learner, Good Teacher

Flaws :
Susceptibility to Divine Power, Visions, Driven (Major), Ambitious, Enemies (Major), Fostered Apprentice

Characteristics: -2Dex; 3Com; 3Int; 0Per; 1Pre; -2Qui; 3Sta; -3Str

My only uncertainty is about Secondary Insight. Between keeping it or taking:

  1. "Study Bonus" and "Puissant (Corpus, Vim)" for more specialization
  2. "Study Bonus", "Puissant (Corpus)" and a "Minor Focus"
  3. Other propositions

My main concern about "Study Bonus" is that after a score of 20, i would cost me too much time creating a way to get the bonus.