Hypothetical character questions

Assume the following hypothetical character: a magus who was originally trained by a a druidic lineage (Diedne Magic) of Ex Miscellanea (free Virtues: Entrancement and Cyclic Magic: Positive [Day], free Hermetic Flaw: Magical Addiction). He is a descendant of Shidhe faeries (Faerie Blood: Shidhe), which have made him quite longeve (Unaging, Faerie). Exploring his heritage leads him to switch to House Merinita and initiate in the Merinita Mysteries soon after apprenticeship (Faerie Magic). His affinity with primal magic also makes him quite good at casting spells without need of voice or gestures (Quiet Magic [x2] and Subtle Magic). Unfortunately, his heritage has made him rather lousy at reigning his emotions in (Minor Personality Flaws: Proud and Lecherous) and in keeping his magic under control (Unpredictable Magic and Weird Magic). During his apprenticeship, a lab accident lead to a confrontation with a demon, which earned him a couple of Infernal curses that enhance his natural wrathful impulses (Greater Malediction: Fury [when insulted or hurt], Infernal] and give them full expression under the full moon (Lycanthrope: Bear, Infernal).

During play, he suffers a couple of Twilights, both enhancing the primal strength of his magic and the related control problems, one which he is able to comprehend (earning him the Virtue: Enduring Magic) and which goes uncontrolled (Flaw: Careless Sorcerer)

Now some questions:

Is it possible to have the character's background include switching Houses, and therefore combine the bonuses of two different houses, as long as only one of them is taken free, and the other paid with Virtue points ?

If this character gives in to Fury, can he use destructive magic to attack, either formulaic or spontaneous, or is he restricted to using weapons ?

If he casts a spontaneous Perdo Corpus magic by day, while grabbing the target, are the bonuses added before or after halving ? What if he had Puissant Perdo or Corpus, too ?

If this character botches while being at his covenant (magic 6), in a faerie forest (faerie 6), at a meeting place of diabolists (infernal 6), or at the burying place of a saint (divine 6), where and how does he suffers extra botches dice ? Where, if ever, would he suffer Warping for extended residence ?

Our character later has a Gifted child, which he soon starts training as an apprentice: which of his Virtues, Hermetic and non-Hermetic, is he able to pass on ??

You can only be member of one house. You'd need to come up with an explanation that would satisfy your SG, especially where mystery houses are concerned. It would have to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

I'd quite expect a Flambeau magus to start using spells, most likely those he has mastered. Fury isn't Berserk, after all.

All bonuses are applied before halving.

6 extra botch die in each and every case.

Neither in Faerie (due to faerie blood & related abilities), nor in Magic auras (Gift). Infernal auras could go either way, depending on how you want to handle the curses. The character would still get warped by Divine auras.

There are no rules for this. Nor should there be, IMHO. The child has whatever abilities the players and storyguide want him to have.

Man, I would really hate to meet this character. I mean, he is addicted to magic, wields highly powerful spells, which he can't control and is quick to anger. Man, you'd really have to watch your step around this guy.


You seem to have forgotten Dark Secrets, and Enemy (Order of Hermes)...

In my opinion NO player character should have the Diedne Virtue. Since this character will cast a sponted spell at some time while angry that is beyond his ability he will be found out.

Up to your SG but frankly Diedne Heritage is basically purely for NPCs to my way of thinking.

Dark secrets aren't really a story hook until they are found out and this case that means the character dies very shortly there after, after being mind probed to find out everything he knows. Hardly worth the effort of rolling him up and for this character completely unnecessary anyway remove it and you change nothing in the character.

I understand that switching out of a mystery house would be somewhat of a delicate issue (few like those who bring mystae secrets to unbelievers), but switching from a True Lineage or a gathering of kindred spirits to a mystery cult should be relatively simple, in comparison, as long as you fulfill the initiation requirements. And I was under the distinct impression that some Mystery Cults (like Criamon and Merinita) are rather eager to recruit anyone that shows interest and aptitude for their focus and goals. However, this is somewhat fuzzy until full rules for mystery initiation are released.

And spontaneous magic, too, I'd expect.

So I'd have expected, but I found the new wording of spontaneous magic totals somewhat puzzling. Which bonuses, if ever, would be applied after halving (apparently, from the rule's wording, there are some expected to) ??

Another case of misleading rule text. Page 183 talks about extra botch dice coming from foreign auras, and neither Magic or Faerie should be for a character with Faerie Magic (or Magic and Divine for a Holy Magus).

I understand the issue is purely theoretical (no sane magus except diabolists would likely live in high-level Infernal Auras for years, and they would acknowledge the aura's nature rather soon), but why not, if the Curse is Infernal ? What is the discriminant ?

I have to most forcefully disagree about this. IMO the Diedne Virtue is a most welcome addiction to 5th ed rules, which allows freedom to explore two areas that are IMO wrongly neglected: mages who make effective spontaneous magic a large part of their magic use, and who are grounded in druidical traditions, and, more broadly, in Northern Europe mystical traditions. IMO the empasis of the system and setting on Latin, formulaic, ritual, heritage is far excessive, and emphasizing overmuch the effects of the Schism War is a bad thing.

Apart from some Tremere fanatics, IMO the Schism War should be seen in the present Order as a grevious mistake and a wrong choice, and the re-emergence of druidical lineages in the Order to be unspokenly and unofficially tolerated, as long as the involved mages do not make a blatant, outspoken show of it. Druids should not be subjects to the same ruthless, ongoing proactive persecution that diabolists get.

After all, all that takes to replicate Diedne proficiency with spontaneous magic is a single Minor (or Major) Breakthrough (BTW: Which kind of Breakthrough would you judge necessary to replicate Virtues like Diedne or Mercurian magic, and make them mainstream Hermetic Virtues divorced from their cultural links and their drawbacks, too ??), which any mage can theoretically replicate.

Or at least, a virtue replicating the effects of Diedne magic but without the druidical links should be available for those who wish to play mages that focus on spontaneous magic, not formulaic (maybe linked to some minor Hermetic Flaw penalizing formulaic or ritual magic). No, Life-Linked Spontanous Magic does not fulfill the role adequately.

If it were for me, I'd rewrite the ArM background changing it so that Tremere, not Diedne, become ostracized and purged out. Exchanging the "anthill House", which in the Order is largely redundant since the Militant House Niche is more than adequately fulfilled by Flambeau and Tytalus, for House Diedne would definitely enrich the Order's background IMO.

Paul, what does he do thats different? How would another magus know his Tech is X and his Form is Y?
(The way you are judging it is drastic, it would eliminate the House (PC or NPC) completely, if the first spell you cast gave you away....)

It's your game, play it the way you want.

But the diedne virtue is powerful given that 90% of the spells a normal mage casts are sponted at least in my experience. Situations where formulistic spells are useful are generally few and far between so to allow players to have this virtue signficantly unbalances the game in favor or someone who has it since frankly it is the best virtue going strictly from a utility pov.


Well, I admit I purposefully burdened him with Virtues and Flaws in order to make him the perfect example for my questions. As it stands, he would be the druidic-Merinita equivalent of a stereotypical Flambeau. If I were to recast him as an actual character, it would be something like:

House Merinita

Diedne Magic
Quiet Magic (x2)
Subtle Magic
Faerie Blood (Sidhe or Satyr)
Faerie Magic (free)
Unaging (Faerie)
Cyclic Magic: Positive (Day) or Puissant Creo
Special Circumstances (Touching Subject) or Puissant Perdo

Dark Secret: Diedne lineage (free)
Pagan (Magic Lore) or Diabolic Past
Any two of Ambitious, Lecherous, Proud, or Wrathful (minor)
Loose Magic
Unpredictable Magic
Lycanthrope: Bear or Boar

Wow, you must play with very powerful magi. I'd reckon that spontaneous may become so overwhelming and widespread when characters may have a casting score of 30-40 in most Arts. Or even 40-50 if they often trip to the Dominion.

IMO Flexible Formulaic Magic and to a lesser degree Flawless Magic are more or less the same in term of raw utility. That's the purpose of these Virtues: they allow a big boost in terms of magic flexibility, and, to a lesser degree, raw power. OTOH, one sacrifices potential for greater ultimate Arts advancement, such as from getting Virtues like Secondary Insight or Elemental Magic, for greater flexibility in the field.

Now, if one wishes to say that all not Major Hermetic Virtues are balanced among themselves, I'm all for it: IMO Virtues like Mercurian Magic or Tamed Magic aren't really worth the same category of Secondary Insight or Elemental Magic, much less the big three above. Likewise, Greater Immunity or Greater Purifying Touch are quite crappy in comparison of Entrancement, Shapeshifter, or Strong Faerie Blood.

In all evidence, reducing the granularity of the Virtue/Flaw system from a five-tiered system to a two-tiered one, meant that some significant compromises had to be made with precise game balance. IMO, this is a working, fair compromise.

Uhm no. I often end up casting spells of lvl 5-10. Score are something like Creo/Rego 10-ish Auram: 15 all others 0 or very low.

I think we just play different kinds of games. You don't need high level spells for the most part to do things that we do normally with magic.

But at the end of the day that is one virtue that is NPC only for me...and doesn't come without the automatic flaws. It's simply too powerful due to the use I see of sponted spells.

Hmm, then I guess you would ban Flexible Formulaic Magic as well, since with a dozen of strategically-chosen spells, it ends up fulfilling just the same role. Ditto for Flawless Magic, which takes at least 5 Minor Flaws to partially duplicate, but not quite: Quiet [x2], Subtle, Harnessed, Cautious. Or a combination of Major Magical Focus and a couple Puissant Arts for a specialist, such as a Tremere, Flambeau or Tytalus with a Major Focus in Damage, and a couple Puissant in Creo, Perdo, or Rego.

The magus with Diedne Magic, Flexible Formulaic Magic, or Flawless Magic could instead have chosen Secondary Insight, or Elemental Magic, and skyrocketed his study to generalized high Art scores. The former magus chooses to specialize in flexibility, the latter in raw power. Most Major Hermetic Virtues are very powerful, that's why you only get a single helping of them (barring Mystery Initiation, or a big stroke of luck at Twilight), but Diedne Magic doesn't strike me as especially outrageous.

It's been my experience, and the experience of the rest of my group, that Life-Linked Spontaneous Magic is far more powerful than Diedne Magic. We have two spontaneous-oriented magi, and the Diedne is definitely second fiddle.


Pardon me, You never answered my question...

(You argue against the Virtue and then tell me to "play it the way you want", but I am not arguing with you. I am simple asking a question. I would like to know how/why you think a Diedne casting a spont spell would Automatically give himself away???)

sorry I was rushed and missed it.

The simple fact is that you know what you can do with your abilities, what you can and can't spont...with or without fatigue loss (which is obvious). So if someone comes along that can do more, and whose knowledge of the Arts and techniques does not support that then you ask yourself "how come."

So long at the Diedne mage was careful...well that would work ok...but the first slip up and the questions will come up. The differences between the abilities of a normal mage and Diedne are too great to hide when the Diedne uses that ability. The fact that they can cast without fatigue things that require others to fatigue themselves is a virtual give away. The in game difference between a simple and stress die is also likely to be obvious.

When virutally every spell you cast is sponted that ability will make itself felt in a variety of ways which frankly you can't hide all the time. At least that is my view of it anyway, I'd need to look at the rules again to be more specific. But from my memory those are the things that stand out.

Some other considerations besides:

How can other mages ever tell that the mage is indeed from Diedne lineage, and does not have increased spont ability because of personal aptitude (I hardly doubt that mages of Diedne lineages are the only ones ever to develop proficiency fo spont magic, just like Mercurians qwould not be the only ones to have it for ritual magic), or a breakthrough ??

I also wish to recall that by the Dark Secret wording, it being discovered may cause distrust and shunning. By itself it is NOT legitimate grounding for a Wizard's March. Druidic lineage is not diabolism, and not a violation of the Code. Mages with Diedne heritage are legitimate members of Ex Miscellanea, Merinita, Bjornaer, Criamon, or whatever House they belong.

Last, but not least, I really do not understand all this prejudice against spont-oriented magi. If a player prefers to play the freeform flexibility of spont magic to the raw power of formulaic or ritual, and structures his character to be a spont specialist through Virtues like Major Magical Focus, Diedne Magic, Life-Linked Spontaneous Magic, I'd say that this is strictly that player's business. Character points are character points, if one chooses to invest in Arts and Spont-oriented Virtues instead of Mastered Formulaic magic, it's a legitimate play style.

Hide from what?

The Diedne have been long gone. Those that actually had met one are prettey much down to their last years before passing to twillight. Diedne are becomming more legend than fact & if an apprentice were to meet one, I doubt he would even know that the Diedne were masters of the spontaneus magics. The Diedne subject has been after all taboo for more than 200 years amonst the Order.


uhm because frankly as I said 90% of the spells you cast are sponted and this ability makes them too powerful compared to what the other characters are capable of and if you want to unbalance you game in favor of a player like that, then that is your choice. I frankly find it something I will not do.

It isn't a question of player choice in the slightest, all players will cast far more sponted spells over the course of playing ars magica then they will formulistic ones. Unless your entire game revolves around magical combat as that is the sole significant use I have seen for formula spells...combat. For dealing with the ordinary run of the mill situation you wish to overcome via magic you will just spont something.

Now I am not the SG, but looking through those virtues and flaws there are just some I would not allow players if I was. They can whine to the heavens and I am un moved. This is one of those virtues.

Life linked spontaneous magic has a drawback associated with it. If you "may be shunned" then so what...who cares...for the power of the virtue that is so small a price to pay it's astounding. May be shunned, and obviously not by your sodales. Who will not even have to worry about "Harboring a Diedne" charges. Sure, if you SG is willing to allow this...fine, as we say in my family...Fill your boot.

I reiterate, this does not really differ from having Flawless Magic, or Flexible Formulaic Magic, and a smattering array of strategically-placed spells among one's Arts. Every character will only ever have one of them Big Gun Hermetic Virtues (barring an outrageous stroke of luck at Twilight, or the right Mystery initiation, and both of the loopholes are under the complete control of the SG).

I don't see all that difference between the guy with Diedne (or Life-Linked Spontaneous) Magic, and the one with Flawless Magic, or Flexible Formulaic Magic, and a couple of 10 lvl spells for each of 2-3 Techniques in the most important Forms. Both will have flexibility to spare and export. But all these characters are built to be specialized for flexibility and be able to use magic in most circumstances. That's their magical focus.

Meanwhile the combat specialized guy with Affinity and Puissant in Creo and Perdo and a Major Focus in Damage will be the absolute terror of the battlefields, and their pal with Affinity and Puissant in Creo and Rego, Quiet and Subtle Magic, and Entrancement will walz his way through any social confrontation short of a saint. But flexible guys will never be able at combat or mental manipulation as the latter guys.

Probably what you don't like is that such characters will have great power in comparison to the setting and will likely overpower and dominate any mundanes short of a small army and mos of the banal hardships of the Middle Ages environment, and their only real power check will be other hermetic mages, faeries, demons, magical creatures, and the Dominion. However, given that high-power, high-fantasy, and hermetic-oriented are all legitimate play styles, I fail to see the problem.

So some characters will have any one of the four Big Jack of All Trades Hermetic Virtues (Diedne, Life-Linked, Flexible, Flawless), others will maximize the Virtues that let them spend and recover fatigue more often or maybe will have powers like Entrancement or Shapeshifter that they can use as often and as freely as spont magic, and all of the above will likely specialize in some Arts. I still fail to see the problem; it's NOT that you aren't a True Hermetic and will be Marched if you don't use Unmastered Formulaic or Ritual magic a given % of time.

Then the rest of us can only thank all the gods and spirits that you aren't the ArM developer and your IMO unreasonably strict tastes in play style are not made the canon.

What ? self-inflicting so much Body damage by overextending that you may kill yourself ? Any decently smart mage, unless it's specifically built to be suicidally foolhardy, will take care not to exceed his fatigue reserves, except when being in so dire straits that he would likely be killed anyway. True, Diedne lets use spont more often, but then, a mage with Life-Linked can truly forsake Formulaic entirely, as his spont spells will be much more powerful.

If you ask my honest opinion, the current system for Diedne magic MIGHT warrant including some minor problem with using Formulaic or Ritual Magic, or Mastering spells. Something on the level of Loose or Unpredicatable Magic, incorporated in the Virtue.

That said, yes, the main problem with having the Virtue as it stands will be social, which will cause no end of troubles any time the character has to bring an issue at Tribunal, ask a favor, or strike a deal with non-sodales. Last time I checked, hedge magus and infamous master were Flaws, after all. OTOH, neither of Life-Linked, Flexible, or Flawless has any incorporated drawback Flaw, differently from Diedne.

Harboring a Diedne ?? Which Diedne ?? We are talking about a honest Merinita or Ex Miscellanea filius who happens to have questionable hermetic ancestors, or who sports a magic proficiency which happens to resemble the one of the druids. Crimes of the fathers don't translate into Hermetic crimes of the lineage, or the Tytalus would have been exterminated to the last man.

Sure you can make a "build" that is good in a specific area but someone who has Diedne magic and half decent scores will be good in all areas. As I keep telling you, and you seem incapable or unwilling to grasp formulistic spells are used very rarely in play as far as I have seen. So if you are better 90% of the time then every other mage in the group don't you think that just maybe that is a bit much?

Killing mundanes is so trivial you only score points for it by style. The only real power check to a hermetic mage is what you list.

What I don't like, and clearly stated before, is that the virtue is unbalancing in play. There is no "probably" involved.

ROFLMAO. Unreasonably strict?? Oh God! That is funny. I'm almost tempted to propose a character with that virtue to the SGs just to see the look on their faces.

Oh right...I'm sorry to dissapoint you but you didn't ruin my day with that statement.

Gee shucks...might warrent...oh my.

Oh yes tribunal troubles yes indeed such a worry...such a concern...asking favors of other than you sodales...oh yes happens on a what decade time scale maybe...heaven forbid that cramp your style. Oh please give me a break...

Flawless is perhaps worth another look but on the other hand spell mastery is something actually most players in our group gave up on as it wasn't worth it, a large number of them have the flaw that precludes them taking it. I'm likely the only player with any interest in it...though maybe with the new rules that has changed so others might be more keen on it. But on the other hand given the cost in time as it works on the experience point scale not the arts scale well hmmm...that is brutally harsh. But again given the fact you don't cast the formulastic spells all that often its a dubious virtue.

The war didn't end you know that? They just wiped out the Diedne mages, excepting of course the one that taught your character. And there would be a whole houseful of mages that would be interested in asking your character questions...ensuring the answers were correct and then adding your character's name to the list of dead Diedne.

The virtue does not "resemble" diedne magic; it is diedne magic. Perhaps that is the root cause of your confusion...or perhaps not.

But as I have said time and again(if in slightly different ways)...fill your boot.