Hermetic Sahir: Optimization and Managing Expectations

I've been noodling with a hermetic sahir for a potential upcoming campaign and wanted to bounce some ideas around and get other people's opinions, as well as figure out what hermetic sahir are actually capable of.

In brief, Sihr requires two separate rolls: One for the summoning (Presence and Sihr based), and one for the Bargaining (Bargain and Communication, plus Summoning Strength). Summoning Strength is the Summoning Total minus the Might of the jinn involved.

My first thought on this is that prioritizing the Summoning Roll is way, way more important than the Bargaining roll. Virtues that affect the summoning roll basically automatically boost the Bargaining roll through Summoning Strength. Also, boosting the Summoning Roll boosts Penetration directly. Puissant Sihr might only give +2 but it's valuable, as is Affinity with Sihr. While I'm on virtues modifying Sihr, Cautious with Sihr seems rather good to have, given Hermetic Sahirs are Twilight Prone. Get a familiar with a gold cord score and you can probably ignore most potential Sihr botches entirely unless you're throwing extra vis at the problem.

Also, since Sihr isn't a social roll (while Bargain is), the penalties of the Gift won't apply to Sihr but might apply to the Bargaining (The Cradle and the Crescent certainly states this for regular Sahirs). This still makes The Gentle Gift, Inoffensive to Spirits/Magical Beings and/or Alluring to (Beings) valuable virtues for the Bargain roll. Inoffensive to Spirits is probably the cheapest option to avoid the -3 Penalty. Oddly, since Sihr is a Presence roll, Alluring to (Beings) should still affect it, even if it's not a social interaction, and it will affect the Bargaining roll as well, meaning Alluring to (Beings) is potentially very valuable indeed.

Characteristic wise, Presence and Communication are very close in terms of priority, as both will contribute to the Bargaining roll (Presence through Summoning Strength, Communication directly). Given they're bought on a pyramid cost, having them equal each other is most efficient, but if I was to weight one characteristic, Presence would be higher priority (Penetration), even if Communication is probably more valuable to magi in general (writing/teaching).

In terms of regular Hermetic Magic, well, Minor Magical Affinity with Jinn is what you're stuck with, so you've probably got two routes to consider; either Elemental Magic or Vim specialist. In either case, probably Rego specialist, so you can ward/control Jinn through Hermetic magics. You could go generalist as well, but your focus is pretty restrictive. Obviously you'll want Second Sight, but doesn't everyone want that virtue?

Now, what can you do with Sihr? In general, the math pretty much says you can Summon and Bargain stuff with Might equal to your Sihr score without too much trouble. If you optimize for Sihr strongly, you can probably go almost vis-free (minimum 1 pawn) as long as you don't get greedy on the bargaining. Something like getting the Jinn to instruct you (really it's a significatos effect and should be governed by the Free Study virtue) for one season should be pretty reliable at Sihr=Might. If your Sihr is 5 or more points higher than the stuff you're summoning, it's cheap minions, even if you're limited by your Leadership.

If you took Free Study and Affinity, thats 9xp@Might5, 14xp@Might10, 18xp@Might15 and 23xp@Might20 per season, in either Sihr, (Realm) Lore or (Form) Art. With just Affinity it's 5/9/14/18, so probably not worth doing until you can reliably summon Might 15 stuff, as 9xp/season is kind of low, relatively speaking. The good news is so long as you can keep finding new Jinn, you can keep learning, and Jinn come in all varieties of (Form), so even without Affinity, you can still get a Might20 Jinn for 12xp, or 15xp with Free Study. Hermetic Sahirs definitely benefit when the books start to dry up, especially where (Realm) Lore is concerned.

For everything else with Sihr, it really depends on the Jinn you're dealing with. Most can do versatile stuff with their associated Art, and have Abilities and can fight for you and they don't even die if their corporeal form is 'killed'. You can also use Sihr just to summon stuff almost vis free for other purposes, like Spell Binding, or, if you can get them, Hermetic Empowerment or Spirit Familiar mysteries. Though you could summon stuff the normal hermetic route, Sihr is vis efficient compared to Hermetic magic.

If anyone has any thoughts/experience to contribute, please chime in!


I've recently built an hermetic Sahir. Because we didn't read the TC&TC version and relied on HoH:S at start, we've been going with instruction taking on a literal sense - e.g. the jinn is actually teaching you. For what every jinn can teach (Art, Sihr and Realm Lore once), we've been using Might as a replacement for Com+Teaching, which means you get Might*3+9 xp per season which can be increased by +2 for lab +5 for apt student. Some Jinns also teach other things, on a case by case, but for those we either use the Grant powers (virtues), or regular teaching experience.

As for my Sahir built, my reasoning has been along the same lines you're going with. I picked the following virtues: Affinity and Puissant with Sihr, but I also invested in Cautious Bargain (because a botch on Bargain rolls suck). Other virtues are less related to Sihr - Flawless Magic, Inventive Genius, Puissant Magic Theory (I'm playing a Seeker. Incidentally going on adventure means locating Jinn, which is good) and Puissant Penetration. The last one helps bring powerful Jinns, especially since locating their locus means you have an AC - but it doesn't help with bargain at all which was not my first reading of the virtue. I've found a high score in Bargain to be useful for that reason. Yes, it costs more to raise than Sihr, most of the time. But there are mundane teachers in Bargain, and if you find a good teacher, it's definitely worth investing in teaching.

I've found Rego Vim to be potent when you're actively going out to locate powerful supernatural entities - ward yourself before a deal, it saves on troubles (and it helps on adventures too). This benefits from your focus.

On the other hand, if you are going by the TC&TC version which clarifies that the instruction is significato... then yeah, not only should you go for free study, but you should take study bonus as well. Chances are, it'll apply most of the time when studying from a jinn in its environment. A Might 5 water jinn might be summoned from a stream, for example, but its likely the Might 30 water jinn is found on the open seas or in a powerful river delta.

Also, playing a sahir is depending on vis availability. Having virtues to help with that (personal vis source, for ex) or knowing that you're in a high vis campaign is suggested. Because if you're not spending vis to summon jinns, what are you doing playing a sahir?

I suspect some other virtues may be quite cool with sahirs:

  • Faerie-raised magic: Jinns have a vast array of supernatural powers. Being able to learn them while they serve you and you're earning adventure xp locating other jinns can probably be quite fun;
  • I suspect being initiated into Faerie Magic by House Merinita, and no longer having realm penalties while dealing with Faerie jinn opens a ton of doors;
  • Infernal bent - Ablating, if you still want XP from summoning infernal jinns without actually breaking your oath by dealing with them, Chtonic Magic if you don't mind breaking your oath and dealing with them;
  • If you go with Gentle Gift, Puissant/Affinity Bargain can be attractive to help you both deal with mundanes and jinns;
  • I suppose Special Circumstances could apply, either to summoning Jinn, or to spells while being served by a jinn;
  • Learning Muto Vim to boost Jinn powers could be a thing, which incidentally would benefit from your focus;
  • I suspect the Mercurian Hermetic Sacrifice mystery could be interesting, if your storyteller is willing to allow it with sihr and not just ritual summoning spells, which I think would make sense;
  • You've got Twilight Prone and you'll do a lot of adventuring. You could do worse than learning Enigmatic Wisdom somehow.

Learning Jinn true names while studying Magic Lore with a jinn is one thing I like - for jinns I want to meet again, not having to cross the tribunal to find their locus, nor needing to stabilize an arcane connection with a season is worth 5 xp to me. Now I can summon them wherever I go. Incidentally, this means leadworker could be a fun alternative - find the locus, do your leadworking, summon them from afar.

I've missed the obvious Second Sight, but I haven't found it as essential as it seems, since you can rely on Area Lore, aura levels to guess the realm, realm lore for might, and then Sihr makes them physical for you.

Twilight Prone doesn't apply to Sihr.

Note that Hermetic Virtues and Flaws, including the ones gained by being a member of House Ex Miscellanea, affect only the exercise of Hermetic magic, not non- Hermetic powers. (HoH:S p.103)

AFAIK botched Bargain rolls don't cause Warping like botched Sihr rolls. Cautious with Bargain is definitely useful but there's probably better uses for limited Virtue slots.

Yes I strongly considered Apt Student in the mix, though you need Gentle Gift to make it work properly. Hermetic Sahirs have a lot of peripheral skills that can be raised through teaching, stuff like Artes Liberales (for extra language scripts and Astrology for jinn horoscopes for Penetration), languages (latin, arabic, maybe greek while you're at it) on top of Bargain.

Rego Vim is definitely a strong choice to leverage your Magical Focus: Jinn and being good at Rego and Vim is always useful.

Yeah, unfortunately you run out of space for Virtues long before Personal Vis Source becomes a priority. A lot of Jinn's haunts contain vis sources, and heck, you could summon Jinn to hunt vis for you if you're of a mind to do so. But you're right in that playing a Sahir in a vis poor campaign is just an exercise in frustration.

If you wanted to completely avoid Laboratory work. I'd take Independent Study for more adventure/practice XP were I to do this. Summon Jinn, have them demonstrate all their powers (quick and easy bargaining), build your library of witnessed powers.

Yes, True Name is better than fixing an AC. Get the Jinn to instruct you in Realm Lore for a season, get its True Name with the XP gained.

It's just so darn generally useful - seeing through regiones, seeing invisible stuff, talking to spirits, etc.

Oh cool. Cautious with Sihr is less necessary then, you can get Gold Cord from Familiar and live with single botch dice, though Cautious can eliminate any final botch dice and make some summoning guaranteed, which is nice.

Optimizing Hermetic Sahirs is not too easy; the basic problem being to find synergies between the two types of magic.

As for Hermetic magic, in general I do not think it's worth to compel Jinni with Rego Magics; they won't like it, and will remember the slight. It's worth having some way of protecting oneself, and to augment one's servants. If you assume one can "recharge" Jinni Might with a variant of Fanning the Infernal Flames, that's certainly a worthy spell. It's also useful to have magics that defeat wards/lower MR, to help one's Jinni servants. Low level illusions are also very useful to bring them along.

In terms of Virtues, I'll echo what has been mentioned before, with some twists.

Cautious with Sihr, Cautious with Bargaining, and Affinity with Sihr are well worth their 3 Virtue points, I think. If a Sahir is likely to strike long-term bargains, then Astrologically Mutable Cautious with Sihr doubles the bonus (so two less botch dice, which one can translate into 2 extra fatigue levels lost and a +4 bonus to the summoning roll) but limits the Virtue to one month per season - not worth it in my opinion. Incidentally, I think that Affinity with Sihr is more useful than Affinity with Bargaining, because Sihr is accelerated, and can be learned from studying Jinny but not from mundanes teaching it. I also think that Self-Confident can be quite useful, because it allows one to get that extra +3 in a pinch, when necessary; which is true for both Sihr and Bargaining Rolls, and Twilight rolls (very useful since Sahirs are Twilight prone).

As has been noted, Second Sight is really useful, though Hermetic Intellego magics can provide a poor man's version of it (with the need to penetrate etc. etc.). Better still, and flavourful, is to take Magic Blood (Magic Spirit) from RoP:M, with Second Sight as the associated ability. You essentially get a Second Sight that changes the Sahir in some visible way when used (no big deal), and an extra +1 bonus to Aging rolls. Since one is going to bargain with Jinni, and at that point with humans too, I think Gentle Gift is more useful to a Sahir than to the average Hermetic magus. It's also useful in that a Sahir can benefit from mundane teachers more than the average magus. It's not 100% clear to me it's worth it for just the -3 though. On the other hand, I think that Spirit Familiar would be a great Virtue: Spirit Familiars are better than "normal" ones (and even more so for Hermetic Sahirs: see e.g. the Isis Cord), and a Sahir who binds a Jinni will be able to benefit from the Minor Focus. Unfortunately it's a Mystery Virtue, so it's not clear one can take it without e.g. the Cabal Legacy Story Flaw. Finally, because the flexibility of a Sahir depends on the repertoire of Jinni known ... well, Social Contacts (Jinni) if allowed by the troupe can be a great boon.

The Sahir need not have it - a grog specializing in it is enough - but someone with a good artistic skill and either Free Expression or Inspirational can very effectively change the Virtue set of a Faerie Jinni as per RoP:F. Need that non-Hermetic Ritual power? Presto, a little vis and it's done. Of particular use is the Extended Glamour power, that lets a Sahir bargain with the Faerie to harvest 1 pawn of yearly vis per 10 Might of the Faerie.


I'm not concerned about the Twilights. - HoH:S p. 134: A botch results in the sahir acquiring either Supernatural Nuisance (for a weak jinni) or Plagued by Jinni (for a moderate or powerful jinni) for at least a month.

or you extend your parma to your teacher and you don't worry about the gift.

Another useful set of Virtues for Hermetic Sahirs who want to dabble with Faerie (and possibly Infernal) Jinni are:

a) Either Dark Magic (from FaF) that aligns the caster's magic to Faerie and Infernal Auras as well as Magic ones (but taints the results); or Yatu Magic (tCatC) that aligns the caster's magic to Faerie Auras, without any taint.
b) A (minor) Faerie Sympathy with Jinni (as a Minor Focus, they qualify in scope). Faerie Sympathy can easily be raised with use even without consuming "normal" xp, and can become a significant bonus to all mundane ability rolls when dealing with the Sympathy object; in particular, Bargaining. Furthermore, it allows the character to use Faerie Methods/Powers in connection with the object of the Sympathy (and even to learn new ones if Sympathy is sufficiently high). For example, in conjunction with Faerie Bonding (granted by a Minor Virtue) allows a Sahir to "borrow" the abilities and/or powers of any Jinni; as well as pull of some other interesting tricks.
c) As a Story Flaw, a Jinn Companion (see Quareen from tCatC) is both appropriate and useful.

I've always thought of that as really impractical, given the teacher will experience your Gift before you extend Parma, and most people don't allow creepy wizards to perform 2 minute magical rituals on them. Works for apprentices and covenfolk, but for most others I think you'd have to build up quite a bit of trust first. And if you want to obscure the fact that you're a wizard entirely, it's not a good solution, but YSMV, I don't like downplaying the Gift easily. Subtle use of Mentem magics could probably smooth this out a lot though (make somebody daydream for a diameter while you do the Parma thing).

Faerie Bonding is neat, though it's another Art score to keep up with. At least Sihr has 'summoned' the Jinn for you, so Penetration isn't really an issue, but borrowing Jinn powers seems a bit unnecessary when you can just have the Jinn follow you around, and you're still a Hermetic Magus who can cast spells normally.

1 Like

Tbh, it's not unusual to bring a good teacher into a covenant as a covenfolk, really.

True enough, though generally not for Bargain. Though I imagine if someone is highly skilled at Bargain, they probably have good Communication, if not the Good Teacher virtue.

Precisely. And a merchant can probably also teach Artes Liberales, Area Lore, Charm, Folk Ken, and maybe an extra language or two to booth, depending on background.

If you focus on a specific realm, consider Alluring to (Beings) over Puissant Bargain.