House Rules that Should be Core

After all the threads that David Chart started recently, I think this topic could be complementary. Probably not to David himself because what he is doing it seems to be deeply rooted in canon, but while reading the Is Flawless Magic really so good? topic I thought of something we use and I would love to see in the game. So I thought: what house rules do you not use occasionally or to give a different flavour to a saga, but always use and feel necessary, and so should be core for you?

To start, my thought on that topic was that given that there are some Hermetic Virtues that tend to scale from Major, affecting all arts, and Minor, affecting one Form, we always have Flawless Form, Flexible Formulaic Form, Life-Linked Spontaneous Form and Mercurian Form.

The main reason for these was because players found themselves with a concept that stretched too far away from what they wanted to focus into.

After trying it out for some time, I think the specialists in one form can become quite powerful with it (imagine a Flambeau with Flawless Ignem and Flexible Formulaic Ignem on the top of Affinity with Creo/Ignem, Puissant Creo/Ignem and a focus in creating fire). But then again, it covers just one form.

Simplifying Certamen to a TeFo+dice+aura+vis roll off. As written it takes ages with only a single player involved. Te and Fo are determined the usual way, and the whole thing can be done in one roll-off.

The Aegis of the Hearth does not need to penetrate, otherwise everyone would need to learn a low level version of it at chargen along with the double parma specialty, that's a level 20 spell and 5xp that almost every mage would have to sink...

Magical circles stop being active when moved.


Why? How many magi have Might that would make the Aegis need to penetrate to keep them out?

Not just to keep out, also to hamper the magic. A mage with Parma 3 and the defensive specialisation on AotH could in most cases just ignore the penalty to casting from being in someone else's aura uninvited.

The part on creatures with might does not specify that the spell needs to penetrate to affect them, the AotH stops them pure and simple if it is of higher level than their Might.

The House rule that my groups always use is for XP

Session XP: You get 5 XP for every play session that must be spent on an onscreen ability/Art.

It encourages people to turn up and actively contribute. I have never run a game without it.



If someone's Parma Magica doesn't penetrate your Magic Resistance, do you get to bypass theirs? If a Divine Aura doesn't penetrate your Magic Resistance, does it impose no penalty? I believe this is similarly affecting the spell rather than the magus. However, it's certainly not as clear as it could be. The only place where it specifically affects a being is when the being has Might.

But this does, doesn't it?

This takes a lot out of a certamen minigame. The person in our troupe who's playing a certamen specialist would just hate this. On the other hand, it might certainly be worth to add an option to resolve certamen with a single roll -- and similarly one to resolve an entire combat with a single roll.

(incidentally, your PCs must be really nice folks. In our games, whenever a PC is engaged in certamen, there is always at least another PC actively engaged in ... influencing :slight_smile: the certamen, and a third actively trying to do some other sneaky stuff in the meantime. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating, but...)

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It encourages people not to do troupe play, too. You want your magus to sit in the lab, while you play a bunch of grogs in a way we all enjoy a lot? OK, we'll penalize you for that.


If someone's Parma Magica doesn't penetrate your Magic Resistance, do you get to bypass theirs?

I don't see how that is connected, do you mean Penetration total instead of Parma?

If a Divine Aura doesn't penetrate your Magic Resistance, does it impose no penalty?

A Divine aura does not need to pen, and would in fact lower the Parma magica.

Removing the need for AotH to PEN effectively bring it in line with other "hostile auras".

I do not have access to TTA, but per the title of the thread, it's a house rule, rather than core.

None of us have ever made a certamen specialist, it's something that cropped up just a few times in the two sagas that I played. The certamen only occurred at Tribunal. We also agreed in the Covenant charter to not certamen each other, because we as player are not interested in one person bullying the rest of the party into doing what they want because they optimised their PC for that one aspect of the game...

So, you are saying: because we dont' play this part of the game, it should just be kicked out of the rules? I can't say I sympathize. I mean, how about replacing the combat chapter with a rule where you roll ONCE most relevant Ability(or Art) + most relevant Characteristic + stress die -- win the roll, win the fight; botch the roll, die? People who make fighting types just would hate it.

The question is what house rules to make core. I give my suggestion, you are welcome to make yours.

One roll resolution is a thing in a number of RPGs, so I can't say I find the idea all that shocking, not quite the reductio ad absurdo. For things where only one PC is competing, you can be sure that we do one roll Stat+Ability+stress die off.

However certamen is a minigame that is explicitly played by two people, at the exclusion of the rest of the party. It involves lots of totals to be calculated repeatedly and on the fly, which slows things down even further, leaving the rest of the party to kick their heels for half an hour as a series of numbers are traded.

Now if there were some 5v5 team event, where all the magi are doing their duel (like in a normal combat), then having a drawn out event makes sense.

Fixing one arcane connection is a 7-day distraction.
If he instead devotes a season to the task, a magus can fix as many as his vis-handling limit allows.


Aegis doesn't need to penetrate, it just works.

Adventure XP is given outside of the normal seasonal activity chart for experience gain.

There are probably others but that is the one that immediately comes to mind.


As far as I understand Aegis..., it works as follows.
Aegis of the Hearth has three distinct effects.

  • Resisting spells cast into the Aegis from outside its boundary: (None of these need to Penetrate because they affect the spell, not the spell caster.)
    • In these cases, the level of the Aegis is effectively the Penetration required for the spell, whether cast by a magus or an enchanted item, to affect anything that is inside the Aegis.
    • This includes effects such as teleportation spells that attempt to land inside the Aegis, Intelligo spells that wouldn’t normally be stopped by the Parma Magica, and spells that were cast outside the Aegis before attempting to bring their effects across its boundary (such as an invisibility spell cast upon an intruder).
    • This does NOT include creature Powers that originate from outside the Aegis, allowing, for example, a dragon to breathe fire across the Aegis’s boundary without penalty.
  • Interfering with spells and creature Powers that are cast inside the Aegis: (None of these need to Penetrate because they affect the spell or power, rather than the spell caster or power user.)
    • In the case of spells, the Aegis subtracts half of its level from the caster’s Casting Total. If the spell is still successfully cast, the Aegis provides no further protection.
    • In the case of enchanted items and magical creatures, the Aegis subtracts half of its level from the item or creature’s Penetration score. This provides no protection whatsoever for targets that do not possess Magic Resistance.
  • Preventing creatures with Might from entering the Aegis: the Aegis will bar entry to such creatures if…
    • ...the creature’s Might is less than or equal to the level of the Aegis, and…
    • …the Aegis Penetrates the creature’s Magic Resistance. (This must Penetrate because it affects the creature directly. This is rules-as-written, see Day of Communion, p.137, Through the Aegis.)

So, there's no reason for a house rule for the first two of its functions. I'd be against removing the need for its third function to Penetrate becoming rules-as-written. I would prefer not to make an exception to the rule that magic that targets a creature directly must Penetrate.

Parma! Still debated in a 30 years old game!

If you feel the need maybe we should start another tread about Parma. We might be the lucky ones hitting the 1000000th topic on the subject and win a Teddy bear or something :upside_down_face:


So it boils down to how one interprets

Magi who were not involved in the ritual and who cast spells within the Aegis must subtract half the level of the Aegis from all their Casting Totals.

This is a property of the AotH spell being applied to the casting mage. Once can see it as the area within the Aegis becoming functionally a new type of inimical aura (just as divine one, per ezzelino's example earlier) or one can see it as an ongoing spell that affects the magi.

I (and my gaming groups) prefer the second view point, finding it more coherent with the game paradigm. By removing the need for the AotH to pen the uninvited magi, it reaches the same end point as the first interpretation.

As I mentioned in the thread, I (and I don't think anyone else in our group) do not have access to Through the Aegis, which makes it difficult for our table to use the wording of one specific spell hidden within a character sheet as the adjudication for a core spell.

In general, I find that a number of Vim spells could be written more clearly. Also a sidebar saying if the Meta-magic spells need to be fast cast in the same round, or cast normally in round N to affect a spell in round N+1.

Yes, but I would include the summary statement referring to that as well:

This ritual protects a covenant in the way a Parma Magica protects a magus.

You really don't need this at all, though. All TTA does is point out that there is no exception to penetration written into AotH. You can see that in the core book by reading the spell; you'll find no exception written there.

Some from my recent saga, that I like so much I think should be core:

First, the whole "magic is difficult" thing. It's a radical change, but in my opinion vastly improves the game-setting correspondence:

Difficult Magic : All spell and effect levels are doubled, so that casting the spells or investing powers will be harder. Accordingly, spells over (doubled) level 100 must be Ritual spells (rather than the core book’s 50).

High Magic Resistance : The Parma Magica Ability provides (Parma Magica Score x 10) to Magic Resistance (rather than the core rules’ Parma Magica Score x 5). The Magic Resistance (and penetration) of creatures of Might will be set by the SG (expect MR = Might x 2, and similar Penetration for major powers too).

Then, the Limits of Magic:

The Limit of the Eternal : Magic cannot destroy things that are eternal. This includes spiritual beings such as a person’s spirit (ghost), angels, demons, and titans. If such a creature’s Might Score is reduced to zero, it becomes incapacitated, unable to take any action; but it does not die, and in time its Might and power may be restored.

There is debate whether this applies to Faeries too, or whether faeries that are reduced to zero Might die but are replaced by other faeries that take their role.

The Limit of the Realms [p. 80] : Hermetic magic cannot affect anything in another Realm of Power. A few spells, such as Incantation of Summoning the Dead , are an exception to this; these spells cannot be varied or invented from scratch, only replicated from lab texts.

If a magus somehow finds himself in a Realm of Power, his spells could affect things in that Realm, but would not be able to affect anything in the mundane world or in some other Realm.

The Houses:

House Bjornaer [p. 91] : The Heartbeast Ability may be added to the casting total (or Lab Total) of Muto Corpus or Muto Animal spells, as long as these do not constitute change into or out of other (not An or Co) Forms. In addition, add (Heartbeast Ability x 5) to the Magic Resistance of a Bjornaer against Intellego spells. This stacks with Parma and Form.

House Criamon [p. 92] : Enigmatic Wisdom may be used instead of Philosophiae when casting Intellego spells ritually or with Ceremonial Casting. In addition, a Criamon magus can cast any Intellego formulaic spell he knows using Ceremonial Casting.

House Merinita / Faerie Magic [p. 92]: The spell parameters allowed by Faerie Magic are altered as following:
• Bargain is no longer a duration. Replace it with the following rule:
A spell can be cast as a Bargain on someone who has just concluded a bargain or agreement with the maga. The maga enjoys a +20 to Penetration, but if the spell penetrates the target’s magic resistance nothing happens unless the target breaks the bargain. If he does, the spell takes effect without the need to bypass magic resistance again, and lasts its usual duration from the moment it is activated.
A spell cannot be designed as a “Bargain spell”, instead a maga with Faerie Magic can cast a spell as a bargain.
• Until (Condition) duration is altered. Make the following changes:
The spell ends if the condition is met, or if the caster dies or goes into Twilight or any Realm of Power. The spell can also be suppressed or dispelled by other magic just like any other spell. Until (Condition) is the same level of duration as Year (+4), and casting it requires the same amount of raw vis as a Ritual spell, but the spell need not be a Ritual just because it has this duration (although it may be a Ritual spell for other reasons).

House Tremere [p. 30] : You may take the Skilled Parens virtue, instead of the Magical Focus in Certamen the core rules mandate. In addition, your character may lend equipment worth 5 Build Points from the House each year. These points can be accumulated if not used, to loan bigger items. Note that “loaning” a raw vis source for a year is the same as permanently receiving its annual supply. On the flip side, your character is expected to spend 2 seasons per decade on House-mandated tasks, such as fashioning magic items or books for the House to lend.

And some other rules:

Confidence Replenishes [p. 20] : The character’s Confidence Points return to 3 (or whatever their baseline quantity is) every day, unless he has more points, in which case he retains them. Because this way NPCs can reasonably have Confidence - which some can use to cast magic x-times per day! - and because it encourages the use of Confidence by the PCs.

Fast Caster [p.42]: In addition to increasing your Initiative, this virtue adds +3 to your (Quickness + Finesse) total for the purpose of determining how many fast-cast spells you can cast in a round.

Mercurian Magic [p. 46] : In addition to the core book’s benefits, you may also cast any Formulaic spell you know using Ceremonial Casting.

Code of Hermes: removed (use Order of Hermes Lore). This means magi must start with a score of 1 in Order of Hermes Lore.

Props Needed [p. 81, 83] : Casting a Ritual spell, or casting a spell using Ceremonial Casting, requires props such as drawing arcane symbols on the ground, using specifically-colored robes, lighting incense, placing resonant items at key points, and so on. The character is generally assumed to have the required items on his person or easily available, unless the SG rules otherwise.

True Names [p 84]: When learning (Realm) Lore, the character may gain the knowledge of one True Name per 5 XP gained in the lore.
A True Name requires words, gestures, and inscriptions (drawing out mystic symbols) to be used. This is a house rule; True Names otherwise work like in the supplements.

It is impossible to discover something’s True Name by Hermetic means, and the Order does not know how these were once discovered. Accordingly, this benefit is only applicable when learning from ancient (Realm) Lore sources. Such sources can only contain the True Names of ancient beings, from Roman or earlier times. These may include the true names of demons, angels, Faerie gods, titans, and so on, but also of more minor spirits such as a panes (spirits protecting the pantry from rot) or lares (spirits protecting the family). Also a house rule

Multicast [p. 87] : If you choose the Multiple Casting spell mastery special ability [p. 86], you may cast one more copy of the spell. Doing so lowers the penetration of both spells (the original and the copy) by 10. You may take this special ability one more time, to be able to cast the spell three times in a single action with -20 to penetration.
Because the power-increase of the core rules' Multicast is bananas.

Twilight Time Override [p. 88]: The SG can shorten the time spent in Temporary Twilight arbitrarily, to keep the character in the story and saga.
Because Twilight is cool, but can suck a character out of a saga.

Magic Item Penetration [p. 99]: The penetration of an effect you create is limited to your (Lab Total)/4.
Because magi should be fighting the dragon, not a grog with a "dragon-piercing spear"

Wards [p. 114] : Replace all ward General guidelines with the following guideline:

Level 5: Ward against creatures of this Form from one Realm (Divine, Faerie, Infernal, or Magic). A ReVi spell may instead affect any being of Might from one Realm, regardless of its Form. The spell affects any appropriate creature with (Realm) Might, if it penetrates. (Range Touch, Duration Ring, Target Circle)
Because the current scheme doesn't mesh well with the rest of the rules, and needs far too many essentially-indentical guideliens
As per p. 114 in the core rulebook, wards can be designed with other spell parameters.

Difficult Invisibility [p. 146] : The spell Veil of Invisibility is Pe(Re)Im 30 (Base 4, +1 touch, +2 Sun, +1 changing images, +1 Re requisite, +1 change along with object). The core book’s (level 20) version of the spell is called The Living Shadow , and turns the target into a black silhouette. These are the pre-doubling levels.
Because fighting invisibly isn't fun.

Similarly, the spell Invisibility of the Standing Wizard is Pe(Re)Im 20 (Base 4, +1 touch, +2 sun, +1 Re requisite), and Chamber of Invisibility is Pe(Re)Im 30 (Base 4, +1 touch, +2 sun, +2 group, +1 Re requisite).

Changing Size [p. 192]: For each +1 to Size, add +2 to Strength, +2 to Stamina, and -1 to Quickness [the core rules don’t modify Stamina]. This modifies the combat stats by -1 Init, -1 Def, +2 Dam, +2 Soak. In addition, add +1 to the wound range. Reducing size has the opposite effects (wound range minimum is 1).
Without this change, Size is a disadvantage in combat.

  1. 5xp per session played, and another 5xp when an arc is done.

  2. Language penalties can be bought off with cumulative XP. i.e. French of 5 means buying Occitan is cheaper - Occitan 4 costs 5xp, and Occitan 5 costs 15 xp.

  3. Aegis of the Hearth just works and caster penetration doesn't figure into it.

I have many others that I can't recall at the moment, but likely do not need to be "core."


Didn't go back and reread the above to see if it was already listed but there should be one Spirit Familiar virtue and the stuff in Theurgic Spirit Familiar should just be one way you can use it if you already have Hermetic Theurgy. There are plenty of other mysteries that are all "If you have initiated this other thing you can do this as well" such as Name Magic or Invocation magic and the Greater Talisman or Inscription on the Soul and The Greater Talisman.