How do magi actually die?

I expect that most magi will actually die of violence, in one form or another, or the saga ends/new characters are played.
However, the rules have 3 methods of killing off old magi: Warping; Aging; or Twilight.

I am curious about what the wise elders of this forum think about this: which of these three is the most likely to finally snuff older hermetic magi?
(I have a follow-up question, depending on the answers to this one)


Given the formulas, very few magi die of old age. They tend to end up succumbing to twilight, tha tit is the same as warping :slight_smile:

That, or they get eaten by a big thing they cannot takle.


Warping doesn't kill.

Twilight : not sure if you do not engage in activities which let you receive warping. If you do not get warping, no twilight check, and no chance of botching a comprehension roll for final twilight. But most magi want to try something in lab, so they will once experiment.
What is the point to invent a whole bunch of spells you never cast or to never do labworking or to never do experimentation, or to never help your sodales, or to never leave your lab? You might as well die.

Aging: even with a good LR? you will crisis someday, cancelling the LR, and will find yourself obliged to recast one if you have the means. And if you haven't, you have to get them... and get aging points during that time.

So, Twilight and aging, for different kind of magi.

Not personally a 'wise elder', but I'll throw my opinions at this anyway:

If you're playing with Mysteries, I'd say of those magi that last long enough to invoke the old-age rules about 20% will become immortal in one way or another (becoming, living ghost, etc). Of the rest, I'd expect more to final twilight than to die of old age.

Final twilight claims more than just ancient magi. Young reckless magi can rack up warping points remarkably fast, so having a magus go final twilight before he's even 100 is quite doable. If the same magus has a decent bronze cord familiar bond and a decent living modifier he may not even get as far as making a longevity potion before final twilight claims him.

For the rest, you can bimble along quite well without doing anything risky in your lab and just slowly rack up warping points until your longevity ritual just becomes unmanageable. Formulaic spells outside of stressful situations don't require a stress die, so you can still be active without placing yourself at risk. Gold cord and spell mastery can mean very low botch dice totals - quite frequently 1 or 0, which means no chance of twilight. Eventually your longevity total will catch up with you, though.

When old age does finally catch up, I'd guess what a magus chooses to do is a matter of personal preference. When sitting on a warping score of 15 it is very easy to opt in to final twilight. How pious the magus is and what they're expecting from the afterlife will have a bearing on how they exits the mortal stage.

Of course, being over 300 years old doesn't make you immune to a toothy dragon death. :smiley:

Some time ago, I spent an excessive amount of time considering this question. The results of my research are at:

Executive summary: Accidents and Final Twilight seem to be the major causes of magus death, with roughly equal probability. A relatively small number die of Decrepitude (aging).

edit: I see you were asking specifically about older magi. In that case, Final Twilight is the major cause.

Thank you all. It seems that everyone (who cared to express an opinion) agrees that it's Twilight and not Aging that ends magi. (Sorry about putting Warping as an option, I was thinking too much about the next question and failing to put things properly.)

The follow-up question: What/which source(s) of warping are likely to be the main causes of the Final Twilight? (ie which sort of warping 'kills'. Own spell botches? Enemy spells? Experimenting? etc)

This isn't just about the ultra-careful types, and the mathematics, but more for me to work out why most older magi are no longer around. (PCs ask all sort of questions and it is embarassing to give answers that don't match up with previous investigations. It's also very hard to show if a death is 'mysterious' or not if we have no idea what is a 'normal' reason for death.) APSmith's charts are excellent (well done!), but I don't understand the maths behind them to be able to assess them and how they might change based on my saga's differences from normal.

I hope that this makes sense - I've just helped finish off a nice bottle of wine!

Longevity Rituals is the main source of Warping for old magi. If you are part of the 10% that manage to go past 200 years, you have at least 150 Warping points from that source. Compare to the 275 points of Warping 10 which guaranties Final Twilight.

As has been pointed out Warping 10 does not guarantee Final Twilight.

This is one of the great advantages of Hermetic "warping" vs. many of the hedge wizard traditions, where a character goes insane/transforms into a monster/is carried off by a powerful mystical being etc. when hitting Warping 10.

While technically correct, the book strongly implies that 10 is the practical maximum:

I have always considered that, in practice, some mishap or another will send a character to Final Twilight shortly after he reaches Warping 10.

A longevity ritual provides half the warping, on average. I consider botches during laboratory experiments or spell-casting to be the major source for the other half.

You need to succeed 2 opposed stress rolls of Intelligence vs Warping. That's what... 15% each, 2% overall? Well below the 19 times of 20 used for statistical certainties.

Maybe I should have said "which about guarantees Final Twilight when you enter Twilight". but it doesn't change the point that Longevity Ritual is the main source of Warping for old magi.

Only one.
The comprehension and the time roll are the same.

It's said: "take the same roll but remove enigmatic wisdom from your comprehension roll to know time".

That is clearly not so. Someone careful to avoid twilight can keep on going, anything else means you´re adding artificial limits or fake the numbers to get rid of anyone going beyond and thats just never fun.
Also, simply raising Concentration and Vim scores heavily can let you keep avoiding all by itself, and after that, spending whatever Confidence you have together with the normally 3 or higher Intelligence score means you have a 2nd chance to keep away from final.
With Int 5 and Conf score 2 that would mean that you "only" need die rolls to be even to avoid final at warping 10.

Not quite. It totally depends on what kind of character it is, if a Magi has Cautious Sorceress and Flawless Magic, achieves high Conf, Vim and Conc scores as well as Stamina and Intelligence AND makes sure to avoid getting warping as much as possible and pays what it takes to get a very high level Longevity ritual, they can avoid Twilight completely and die of old age at very extreme age.
OTOH, someone who has the Twilight Prone flaw and is reckless, probably wont last many years at all.

Only 1, and since its a roll, you can use Conf for it, and since there´s no reason to hold back on using Conf for this roll, you´re going to use it to the limit.

True. I never manage to hit Twilight, I even took Careless Sorcerer to no avail. :cry:

Thank you.

So if I've got this right, when PCs investigate missing/dead elder magi, I can decide from:
an arbitrary violent death;
a small percentage died of old age - corpse probably available;
half the remainder final twilighted (and it is unclear to investigators if this is actually 'final' or not) due to cumulative warping;
and the other half final twilighted due to a magical botch, either spellcasting or experimenting.

My next question is: Do any of you have any general guidelines about how long you leave twilighted magi before someone investigates?

I could see covenant-mates wanting to know/put a clause into the covenant charter about this, so that laboratories/vis/services due can be re-assigned. Lone magi would have to be left until an official investigation is launched (how long should pass before that happens?) or other magi simply raid his stuff.


I'd say quite a number may also simply be "missing". For example, they may have left Mythic Europe for Cathay, or Vinland, or whatever. They may be trapped in Faerie (particularly due to the time differential between Faerie and mundane Europe - see RoP:F), in a Dream (see TMRE), or in animal shape (Bjornaer instead of succumbing to Twilight sometimes lose themselves into their heartbeast, see HoH:MC). They may have trascended humanity and joined with nature (see HoH:MC - this may well have been the fate of Merinita), become a Living ghost (see TMRE), or a Daimon ascended to the Hall of Heroes (see TMRE). And so on.

I'd say it can vary a lot. For twilight, if a magus has been "away" for only a few years, there's a good chance he may return. But the point is that often the character is simply missing, and no one knows whether it's because of twilight or some other fate - a year of subjective time in Faerie can correspond to 365 years in Mythic Europe, so it's quite possible that Tytalus himself might re-emerge from Maddenhofen thinking he just spent a few seasons playing games with the Faerie Queen. I'd say that a few years are the minimum before somebody may start an investigation or make a move for a missing magus' belongings. It may be less if there are specific covenant clauses or the magus is strongly expected to show up at some specific time (e.g. a magus who must collect the covenant's vis every winter and does not come back by spring will probably trigger an investigation). It could be considerably more for a magus living a secluded life in a secluded covenant on the fringes of Mythic Europe - several decades at least, even a century or more.

In my games I assume that of the Hermetic magi:

About 40% go into twilight or similar fates (vituperation for infernalists, heartbeast transformation for Bjornaer etc.)
About 30% die violent deaths - including lab explosions and stupid accidents.
About 20% are "lost" to strange fates (lost in Faerie, ascended as a Daimon etc.).
About 10% die of old age.

I assume that for about one third of these their fate is immediately known (ouch, the dragon ate him!); for about a third their fate (or a good guess) is - or can be - eventually found out after some (possibly lengthy) investigation; and for a third their fate will ever remain a mystery.

A natural consequence of the Twilight rules is that long-term Twilight ought to be a relatively common phenomenon for elder magi, something which (IMHO) has never been sufficiently acknowledged in the published material. If an ancient magus hasn't been heard of for several years, there's a relatively good chance that he's simply standing frozen in time in his lab (or a hidden cave, or wherever), impervious to any outside influence. Of course at some point you will want to try to figure out whether or not the magus is permanently gone, but (e.g.) breaking into the sanctum of a powerful elder magus may not be a particularly good idea, for many reasons. I consider it likely that many such labs are simply left untouched for decades. As the years pass, the chance of a return becomes increasingly unlikely (but you never know for sure!); nevertheless, who wants to be the first volunteer to cross the threshold of a notorious Perdo archmagus's lab? :smiley:

There is at least one Tribunal (the Rhine) that does not officially acknowledge Final Twilight as death. Instead, such magi are described with the euphemism "retired", and their voting sigils are still valid. Here, the default position seems to be that as long as definite proof of death is missing, the magus might still conceivably return, and so his rights (e.g. to vote, to property, to privacy, etc.) are still valid. Of course, this has some wacky consequences, e.g. a filius still collecting vis on his retired master's behalf and "borrowing" it, along with his items and books that he has not technically inherited, but is indefinitely borrowing. On the other hand, it avoids problems in the (presumably very rare) cases where ancient magi actually do reappear after many decades of absence.

In general, I think the uncertainty about Final / long-term Twilight (and other similar phenomena which have been mentioned such as faerie regiones, etc.) is cool and presents many story opportunities.

I reckon the percentage of magi that die is significantly higher.

Twilight is a well recognised phenomena within the Order. As a magus heads towards Final Twilight, he starts 'popping out' for extended periods - indicating his mortal life is coming to an end. Any magus old enough to be experiencing this will be acutely aware of its meaning.

Faced with the prospect of an impending 'end', I would not be surprised if many magi choose to die. This is as simple as letting your longevity potion expire and opting not to brew another one.

To many modern readers this may sound like an odd choice - but lets look at the world these magi live in. The Divine is much more prevalent and obvious than it is in ours, and to deny yourself forever entry into a Heaven you know beyond shadow of doubt exists has to weigh quite heavily on the conscience of any Christian/Muslim/Jewish magus. This makes up a fairly big chunk of the magi of the Order - so it isn't a decision they'd make lightly.

Magi have pleanty of warning that their end is approaching; they have the power to choose their mortal end. I reckon enough of them would choose to die that it would have a significant impact on the percentages - one that can't be modelled simply by extrapolating the rules.

After all, both death and twilight represent a new beginning as much as an ending. This is Mythic Europe.

This seems to assume that, from the perspective of the magus in question, "permanent" Twilight means being forever barred from Heaven; whereas death means Heaven guaranteed. Neither is quite true!

From the perspective of a Christian or Muslim there's no hiding in Twilight on the day of Judgement - Twilight of "indefinite" duration will last at most until the end of the world. Also, Christians and Muslims who die risk Hell - and a lifetime practicing magic (with the exception of Holy magic) may well be a serious sin, particularly for the former. Jewish cosmology is somewhat different, but note that with the exception of the ex-Miscellanea Karaites, Hermetic magic is so full of sinful acts for a devout Jew that I doubt we are talking of more than a handful of jewish (non karaites) magi, if any.

Damned more likely is that they get more cautious, as to avoid getting any more twilight episodes at all.