So we're starting a second Ars Magica campaign and one of us is looking into playing a Holy Magi, since it isn't something any of us have done before.
The rules are quite clearly explained for the most part but we're still confused over a few parts of it, namely;
A) When you reinvent the Hermetic spells as Holy Spells, are they identical in function? (ie. do they use the normal Hermetic guidelines?).
B) The use of Power Base Effects, the writing implies that you need the relevant Virtue for the Power in order to make use of the Base effects, but at least one example Holy Magi (from The Contested Isle: The Hibernia Tribunal) doesn't seem to have those virtues at all. Although I suspect that might be due to learning the Abilities post-gauntlet.
C) Likewise I assume you need the Virtue for the corresponding Method in order to use it to offset the words/gestures penalty from not being able to use the Hermetic default?
Thanks for any help with this, and apologies if these are addressed somewhere in the forum; I did try and search but I couldn't really find any.
The only Virtue you need to perform Holy Magic is the Holy Magic virtue - that grants you access to the whole "Holy auras are positive, you can spend long-term fatigue as 3x vis, books now suck, etc." This is the core virtue that represents aligning your magic so as not to be in conflict with the Divine - but it is not powered by God directly, in and of itself. In order to use the relevant Holy Method/Power guidelines though - yes, you need to have those as virtues as well.
Yeah, this will probably get expensive, as you'll have to Initiate or go on Pilgrimages for them. (They're Holy Supernatural virtues, so you can't learn them like Hermetic abilities.)
The easiest solution here is to instead start off with True Faith, rather than Holy Magic. (True Faith acts as The Gift for holy powers - thus, you can Initiate for free into 10 point's worth of Holy virtues with it.) Plus, if you want to be technical about it, you don't even need to initiate into Holy magic - since it's a Hermetic virtue (technically) that has an ability associated with it, you can just read a book and learn it. In that sense, it's just an alternate to regular Hermetic Magic Theory. Note that technically that's an EARLY 5th edition rule that's a bit long in the tooth, but it's never been revoked or updated. (Although it is thematically appropriate: holy magic is there for any mage who wants to learn it - free of cost. Aside from giving up most of your magic power, of course.)
But as a consequence, it really does make more sense just to start off with True Faith, learn Holy Magic from a book, and then go off to find a relevant Holy Tradition to learn.
And yes - you can choose to use the relevant Method (meditation, self-flaggelation, etc.) instead of Hermetic gestures and incantations. However, in this scenario, that means you're casting a Holy magic spell, rather than a hermetic magic spell - which (I think) means you use your Hermetic arts at 1/2 power. Lemme go home and check that one, though. (May be a house rule in my group.)
And speaking as someone who is playing a Holy Mage right now in a campaign - you'll need infrastructure, or else you're going to be left behind by your sodales. That is, you need someone to have written Holy Magic roots (even kinda crappy ones) and maybe one or two branches that aren't your specialty. Otherwise, you're going to be spending the entire time slowly building up your Holy Order's collection of spells by yourself. Which kinda sucks, unless that's your goal.
So - based on that, you'll probably need to design your character's plot points so that they are interested in building up their own Holy Order. (Because that's at least one thing that you're going to need to do, so you may as well be good at it.)
Also, even more than other - be sure to min/max your abilities to be a Holy Mage, and to take advantage of what the actual Holy Guidelines can do - otherwise, you'll just be an ineffectual version of a Hermetic. There are some really nice guidelines in there (such as Resurrect or the Prophecy guidelines, or the fact that you don't need to spend vis for healing) - but you have to optimize on them to be useful.
TCI p.66f box Indrechtach an t-Éigse Measceal, Céli Dé of Paruchia Nerius has the Gift, True Faith as a Virtue, is a Hermetic magus and belongs to the TCI p.138 Divine Tradition: the Céli Dé.
The Céli Dé have the Favored Abilities Invocation, Intervention, Purity, and Transcendence.
, Indrechtach could learn Intervention, Purity and Transcendence without needing the respective Supernatural Virtues, and does not need to adjust their advancement totals down.
Wow, that was a lot of responses very quickly. Thanks for clearing that up for me anyway.
I did catch that Céli Dé probably learned the abilities as favoured from his tradition so that explains that mystery.
That is quite a few obstacles to overcome to play one 'smoothly in a campaign, it might not be something the particular player wants to navigate round. We'll see I guess.