House-Ruling RoP:Magic

As I noted in another recent thread, there are things about Realms of Power: Magic that bug me, despite it being one of my favorite books for the line so far. Having had another day to think, I've begun to put together some houserules to make things work in a way that feels more natural to me. Constructive comments are welcome.

First: Balancing Qualities, Virtues, and Experience

I've noticed some odd things about experience values and costs, and these are my house rules to balance them. These are largely based on the premise that a minor virtue is worth 50 experience points, and a quality is roughly equal to a minor virtue in most cases.

So! First thing. One way to spend Improved Powers is one mastery point to five experience points in Concentration, Penetration, or Finesse. Improved Powers grants five mastery points. It seems fair, then, to double the experience value of a mastery point, though the other effects of mastery points should probably be unchanged. This coincidentally means that Improved Abilities and Improved Powers are the same if focused wholly on improving those three abilities.

Another issue. Gaining Qualities from Transformation appears to be too easy. Specifically, 10 XP to get a Minor Quality can earn you 50 XP. The solution seems to be to multiply all the XP values in this section by 5. Sure, it's slow to gain qualities, then, but that seems fair: gaining virtues and virtue-like things should be a challenge. This makes a Mystery-like transformation (a quality and a balancing inferiority) cost 25 XP (minor) or 75 XP (major), but the experience investment end-result still ends up being similar to a Mystery Cult member's expenditure in seasons and investment in Cult Lore.

I'm not sure requiring someone to spend 50 experience points for a single point of Might is fair, but I'm also not sure a single point of Might is equivalent to a minor virtue. Realms of Power: Infernal has a minor virtue giving 2 points of Might, so perhaps improving Might by 1 should be a new option that costs only 25 experience, and the Might-altering qualities (still costing 50 experience) would have doubled effects.

Second: Vis Consumption

The rules are unclear on whether consuming vis for purposes other than fighting Acclimation can trigger a Vis Consumption roll. Having looked at the table, though, it seems more interesting than dangerous, and even potentially beneficial, so I've decided to have it count any vis consumption toward countering Acclimation; if enough is consumed at ANY point in the season, the roll is immediately made. To be fair to the high Might beings with a billion botch dice, though, I'm tempted to make the botch effects temporary (perhaps they heal at a rate of one minor inferiority per season, or something.)

Third: Familiars

An issue's come up in another thread; the new rules make training familiars harder than ever. It didn't cost vis in the past, and now it does. For a compromise, I'm going to assume that the familiar bond allows the magus (and only the magus) to teach the familiar without Might-based penalty. Should the familiar want to practice on its own, or be trained by someone it's not bonded to, the vis cost will still be required. I figure if a magus wants to spend seasons improving a familiar rather than improving himself, that's fair enough, and he shouldn't have to jump through too many hoops to do it.

Fourth: Preternatural Tethers

As written, the math for preternatural tethers is slightly broken. It's not TOO bad, since the error only shows up in one particular case: if you started with multiple low-level tethers, say five strength 1s, your preternatural tether level is 5. If you gain a single tether of more than double the other tethers -- strength 3 or 4 -- your total tether level actually DROPS to that level. So a covenant with many Might 10 magical cats would actually become LESS magical if a Might 40 dragon moved in or something. This doesn't fit, to me.
One possibility is to just take the strongest tether + the number of weaker tethers, without requiring that those weaker tethers be at least half strength. Another is to only count the strongest tether. And another is to count the strongest tether and add one if there's at one or more weaker tethers of at least half strength.

That's it for now. If more houserule things or ideas come up, I'll try to post them here. I hope someone's interested, or has input! :slight_smile:

Improved Powers. It's a poor way to get experience, a great way to improve powers. Which is what it's name say's it does. I don't think it needs fixing.

Gaining qualities from transformation. This was raised in another thread. Someone suggested using Might as a limit for how many times a given quality can be taken.

Vis Consumption. I'd rule only if used to prevent Acclimation. Others may rule otherwise.

Familiars. I'm considering allowing all normal methods of xp gain to be allowed, and adjusting the penalty to something similar to how Load -> Burden works, +1. A 0 Might creature would have a penalty of 1. A 1 Might creature would have a penalty of 2. A 36 Might creature would have a penalty of 9.

Preternatural Tethers. I hadn't thought about it till you brought it up. I think i'd Load -> Burden fix the lower tethers. So, 2+(1+1+1), would become 2+(2).

Those who are quibbling that a PC with a Might Score is "too" hampered in gaining XP might be interested in the following argument:

Aging and and Twilight bring an end to all non-Immortal characters - but Might-based characters are Immortals(*). While the mortal has 1-2 centuries (via Longevity Potions at al), the Immortal has many centuries ahead of them.

The other side of that is that pre-existing Immortals will have been around since centuries back, and that raises the question of whether they should be the most skilled beings in creation (or not!), and if not, why not? The answer from RoP:M is that despite centuries of opportunity, the Might-based Immortals do not just accumulate XP at the same rate as mortals, but instead exist in a state of modifiable unchangingness...

It is deliberately hard for them to change, so that over long, long periods of time they don't just swamp everyone else, and so we can sit back and assure ourselves that therefore they have not already done so!

(*Immortal unless they Age Quickly - don't do it...)

Of course the odd thing about familiars is that page 105 says that "The familiar will not die of old age as long as the magus is alive and it only suffers ill effects from from aging when the magus does"

While page 104 says "The first step in getting a familiar is finding and animal with inherent magic. With inherent magic the beast is likely to have a Magic Might score."

The core was written before the relationship between immortality and might became established.

As I stated in the other thread, I think an easy fix for familiars and learning is a one point Virtue or Flaw that removes the penalties on learning with Might.

The reason for the imposition of the penalties to learning is to keep characters with Might, who are immortal, from having 20s in every Ability and 100s in every Art. Without some restriction on their ability to improve through learning, this is the inevitable conclusion. They literally have forever to improve their abilities.

Of course, familiars don't have this ability. They, in effect, give up immortality when they form their bonds with their magi. The familiar dies when the magus does; therefore, the ability to learn forever is no longer present. Thus the restrictions on learning with a Might Score are unnecessary.

If a V/F is too punitive, then just say it's part of one of the chords and is free. I've not thought it through enough to lean one way or the other.

I propose to mitigate the Might penalty to source quality by five times the strength of the silver (mind) cord.

My dark munchkiny side always saw the silver cord as the least interesting, to a magus, of the three when compared to supernatural botch reductions and bonus to aging rolls. That way, it would be satisfied.

Other options to consider could be three times the sum of cord strength (if you think they are balanced as it is). Or you might want to involve Magic Lore in there somehow. Or to allow the bond to store memories (like for immortal magi) counting any vis spent on the bond as storing 5 xp. Or to allow that vis to be used up for penalty mitigation (almost the same thing).

Immortality issues only concern magic beings which are not naturally immortal (Age Rapidly flaw). For those, the bond just breaks, a psychological trauma which may lead to death, but not a cause of sudden death. Depending on what model what chosen above, the learning acquired during time spent as familiar may be lost. Or not. YMMV.

A few additions to the house rules, so far -- more little tweaks that it seems like would be more good than bad, for the Realms of Power: Magic rules.

First, to address the Familiar thing... having read more of the arguments and such. I propose that Might not be intrinsically linked to immortality. It already isn't, given the Age Quickly flaw; I'm just adding a seperate free flaw, 'Mortal', that works the same as Age Quickly but in exchange for not giving the three flaw points, also negates the Might Penalty to learning (at least for normal abilities; I haven't decided if the Might penalty would still apply to Transformation experience, yet).

I also think it might be worthwhile to allow the option of negating the Might penalty if you transfer XP rather than gaining it, for example by shifting XP from one Area Lore or Language to another as you adapt to a new location. This probably shouldn't be allowed to reduce an animal's abilities below the base level for the animal as calculated by the Mystery Cults Bjornaer rules or the Book of Mundane Beasts, however. A magical cat is a superior cat, and should probably always have skill in Hunt at least matching a mundane cat.

I'm still debating how the new Magical character advancement rules should relate to the old (The Mysteries) ones. I think Living Ghosts and Alchemical Immortals should probably be stuck with the old rules, as part of their hermetic nature, and Daimons should probably use the new rules, using Daimon Points in place of vis for Transformation and dealing with Might penalty.

I've noticed that the new rules don't really cover what happens if a magus acquires Might. Specifically, despite blocking experience they don't limit spell-learning in any way. I think I'll apply the Might penalty to self-improvement lab totals (that is, learning or inventing spells, but not making magic items or other things that aren't part of the magus's own innate ability) and allow vis to mitigate it as normal.