How Would the Order be Different if...

... The Parma Magica's Magic Resistance-boosting ability was much weaker, but the Hermetic Form bonuses were increased to score/2 (or maybe just score?) instead of score/5 and broadened in scope? And/or Parma Magica added to the (still broadened) Form bonuses, just so people still work towards high scores in it?

Hermetic magi get their entire Form score as Magic Resistance against spells and Powers covered by that Form, which is added to (rather than overwritten) by the Parma Magica. They also, currently, get a Form bonus to certain things, primarily Soak and rolls to resist deprivation, though also including things like Mentem's bonus to overcoming mundane deception.

I was wondering what would change, in the historical and "contemporary" Order, if you drastically reduced the Parma Magica's MR-giving (to something like +PM score [x2?] to MR), or even removed that property entirely and replaced it with a bonus to the Form bonuses, but made the Form bonuses much broader in scope and stronger in bonus?

Mechanical thoughts (feel free to skip to un-spoilered text if you don't care about mechanical reasoning for the discussion): [spoiler]Basically, the idea is that magi still have their Parma Magica's effect removing their difficulty with each other's Gifts, and the lower but still existent MR means they're still not being affected by low-Penetration stuff (or by non-Hermetic standards, even high-Penetration stuff, if it's in your specialty) but they don't have blanket immunity to the magic of opponents who aren't significantly inferior to themselves. In turn, though, they become much sturdier against other phenomena, both mundane and magical. Some of the broadening that I'd have happen would be things like the Mentem Form bonus allowing/giving bonuses to actually fighting off magical control and supernaturally-induced emotions, though this is also probably the most problematic one in terms of maintaining any semblance of normal society because of the already-existing Mentem bonuses; namely, a +2 for non-specialists and +4-8 for specialists (depending on which point in life the magus is at) to detect when other people are lying is actually pretty dang cool, but with this system revving it up to formerly specialist levels for magi right out of Gauntlet and Mentem specialists basically being able to see through anything... Yeah, that in specific needs looking at. Also Corpus, as adjudicating this with spells that just open wounds instead of actually doing damage will be weird.

I do recognize that a major purpose of Magic Resistance in its current rendition is to force magi involved in things like Wizard Wars or less lawful magical battles with one another to use lower-level magic to affect each other, and to make Hermetic magi really difficult to affect with non-Hermetic magic, as that's part of what allows the Order of Hermes to maintain its massive superiority. I feel the second problem actually remains mostly solved (and made a bit more interesting in its resolution) with this rule, as the magic of hedge wizards, while actually affecting and possibly causing issues for magi instead of just being told "no!", is still usually weak enough that most Hermetic magi worth their salt can brush it off. The first one, however, is undeniably a true negative, and quite sad, as the game loses the benefit of encouraging (or, rather, requiring) subtlety against Hermetic enemies and instead encourages a bit of an arms race. It also makes magi seem less and less human as time goes on (though they usually do that due to Twilight anyway). So I recognize that not all is well with this.

However, I do intend to try it out in a real-life game, as I feel it has benefits too. Although MR as it is is very awesome at encouraging lower-level spell use (... Okay, kinda awesome, its benefits are somewhat negated by the fact that spells have way more punch than the Parma actually provides resistance) it also makes magical struggles (combat and otherwise) quite boring and makes magi a bit too, I dunno, inconsistent for my tastes. Creatures with Might, with most exceptions being among strong Faeries in weak roles and deception-focused Infernal beings who I tend to edit to have stronger "true" forms anyway, tend to be greater beings physically as well as supernaturally as their Might scores increase, which is something that is all of sensible, thematic, and in my opinion more enjoyable. Even as they get more blanket resistance to magical effects, they also become more formidable and capable of handling the stuff that does get past their MR. Magi... Don't. Magi tend to increase their Parma Magica scores alongside their magically offensive abilities, but they gain nothing really meaningful in terms of surviving against things their MR doesn't defend against by itself. I find it thematically rather inappropriate that a five-point difference in Might (or, worse still, a single point difference in the Penetration skill) can be the difference between a creature completely unable to affect a magus with some standard defensive spells active and an otherwise-identical creature killing the same magus instantly because suddenly the creature's powers go from no effect to full effect on the magus. Magic Resistance by itself is just way too "all or nothing" to be interesting, in my opinion.

It also means that magi aren't as helpless after their shield grogs go down, though this can be considered a positive or negative depending on your outlook. Actually, it makes magi way stronger defensively in general, which is the point since it makes magi still able to fight against the things they fought against before but in a more active and involved way, but I'm sure most people will tend towards seeing that as a negative since magi being wimpy humans with magic is part of the point and people being able to actually survive the attacks of supernatural creatures is for D&D players.

Plus, that means it suddenly makes sense for magi to devise powerful Rituals and craft strong magic items to use against each other, when such things would normally be inefficient due to total blockage by MR, though this can also be considered a negative.

Speaking of Penetration, it and its boosters would probably be redesigned around the ideal of reducing an enemy's inherent resistance to the spell being used, which would make it useful against mundane things in certain situations too, I guess.[/spoiler]

Anyway, mechanical reasons for me wanting to try it out aside, I'm wondering what kinds of significant changes such a thing would have on the history of the Order up to now, if any. Would having to actively fight magical effects instead of straight resisting them but also being able to weaken and partially nullify the magic that does take effect significantly alter the Order's history? What are your thoughts?

I don't see how any amount of resistance would affect, say, being turned into a tree. Also, wouldn't having Penetration partially negate the resistance defeat the whole point of this by making highly skilled attackers still treat the defending magus as human? Anyway, just to balance magi against each other more, I'd probably have the Parma function as a bonus to all Form Resistances alongside or instead of being a pointlessly tiny MR booster.

I think it would help if you ordered your priorities, because it seems to me that you want to achieve more than one thing.

MR being all or nothing makes adjudication easier, since there are exactly two possibilities. This kind of design decision is consistent with the current rule that the level of sponts must be specified first, and that too is all or nothing; previous editions handled it differently.

Now, the rules for MR also complicate adjudication, but for different reasons. That is a different conversation, The Once and Future Chat.

One variant of Parma that I posted a long time ago has the Parma ability govern the number of protected beings. If you want an apprentice, a Parma of 1 is not acceptable. No -3 penalty, no worrying about who is in sight. But I don't think that helps you.

(How to kill a magus' retinue without worrying about Penetration: Sight of the True Air + Obscuring Fog + whatever you want to cast on the retinue. I might be missing something though.)

Other variants play with the level of MR (double Might for MR, lower Art scores so less gets through, calculating Parma differently, etc), what MR works against, etc.