Suppose one gains Flawless Maguc virtue during play, at a time well after Gauntled. It could be from a mystery initiation.
How does this affect the spells you already know?
The phrasing of the Virtue sounds IMHO to fit the situation at character creation: "You automatically master every spell that you learn" So from this time on all new spells learnt are mastered. "All your spells start with a mastery score of 1" IMHO only applies when this virtue is taken at character creation.
But in this case it becomes important for the apprentice at which point in his apprenticeship the virtue manifested. By giving mastery 1 for all spells, this assumes that the virtue preceeds any spells learnt.
But this is the same for Afifnities, which is another of the few virtues that affect character creation. Most other 'boosting virtues' affect only what lies ahead; Book Learner, Free Study, Secondary Insight, Elementalist etc. But Affinity affects all the points you put into this ability/art.
So I'm thinking that the magus who gains Flawless Magic *doesn't suddenly master all the spells he already known. He will automatically master any new ones, and when Practicing to master he gets a bonus to Study Totals.
Look at the situation from the other side: A Magus has had this virtue from the get go, but for some reason looses it! Does he suddenly loose mastery in all his spells? And if so, how much? One level or 5 exp from each? Since 5 exp is really what he got for free, that is really what should loose, but I mention this never the less.
I'd say loosing this virtue does not affect the past, so you keep what you have already learnt. But in the future, you do not automatically master spells, and do got get a bonus when practicing them.
And with this I return to my gut feeling that gining it in mid-life only affects the future as well. So it is in the interest og a magus to gain this virtue as early as he can, to get the most bang for the buck. Although he will (relatively) quickly master his old spells with the bonus from this virtue.
And if you for some reason gain Elemntalist or Secondary Insight in mid-life, they will not affect the past - but they don't affect the exp you get at character creation to begin with, so...But gaining an affinity, should that suddenly increase exp put into the ability/art by those 50%, or only those put into it from this time? Again, I'd say only the future exp.
Ugh, I really don't want re-open that can of worms. Let's just say that I think it is difficult, if not impossible, to gauge how often these virtues would have yielded a bonus during chargen. Not unless you create the character using ultra-detail and improve him from Childhood through apprenticeship one season at a time, with ful, stats for the covenant library and the master.
But i think you reasoning only make sense because it's thrown of out a bigger box than just "a virtue". it's a system. And if we apply this system, it means taking into account other virtues aswell since the moment they exist and not only from the moment the game starts.
You can't just stop the reasoning artificially and say: what worth for flawless only worth for it, in a system made of logic.
It is not all that hard, you just use excessively detailed character generation. In our game we assign seasons for character generation and apprenticeship. This of course makes learning virtues much much more valuable. So you see everyone with book learner for example.
As for acquiring flawless magic I would say would give you mastery 1 in anything you lack it in, but would not change any existing experience scores.
Mt troupe calculates affinities and flawless magic as final xp multipliers. We keep track of total xp spent and multiply it by 1.5 or 2. That way we don't have to worry about the evils of accumulated rounding. So if the virtue is gained after creation we just apply it to the total experience invested in the trait and calculate the new score. It makes them good virtues to pick up latter but hasn't proved to unbalancing.
I'd just have the player pick the new mastery ability of the old spells the first time his magus cast the old spells. He gets just a few moments, because it's going to be an instinctive choice.
I don't know that I have a problem with applying the mastery later like that, I suppose it would depend on the manner in which the magus got Flawless Magic. Obviously there was a story involved, the player worked to achieve it, and so while there will be a future benefit, I'm ok with providing a benefit right then by granting some mastery immediately-- perhaps a number of spells by the amount he exceeded the Ease Factor for the initiation, or having him roll with a botch die the first time he casts, regardless of the virtue.
Certainly, I can see your concern with the effects of losing the virtue, but I think that ought to be dependent on the manner the magus loses the virtue, and what the projected outcome of the story is. If it was sacrificed for a specific purpose? Sure, he might lose the mastery. If it was lost through experimentation and a story event, I might just deny their immediate use pending the outcome of the story-- where the degree of success indicates which masteries are regained or lost.
That's the long answer. What are the details of the acquisition?
I'll argue the opposite side here. The description of Flawless Magic says "You automatically master every spell that you learn", not "You automatically master every spell that you know". To me this indicates that gaining Flawless Magic in middle life wouldn't grant mastery of spells learned before then (nor would losing it in middle life detract from mastery of spells learned before then).
What it really comes down to, I guess, is how one interprets the Flawless Magic Virtue:
Does it indicate strong study and learning habits, so great that learning new spells is done much more thoroughly and masterfully than a run-of-the-mill maga?
Or does it indicate some innate awesomeness with Hermetic magic, so great that the exact same spell learned the exact same way as a run-of-the-mill maga just comes out better?
I lean towards the former interpretation, based on the use of the word "learn" instead of "know" in the Virtue description (as well as the other bonus the Virtue bestows towards mastery Study Totals) I also find it weird that a maga who has been multicasting a spell all her life would suddenly forget how to do it if she loses the Flawless Magic virtue.
Still, for people who lean towards the latter interpretation, I can't say that you're wrong; innate awesomeness is a part of mythic stories for sure. (Can of worms: the same debate can be had over Puissant Arts/Abilities, Affinities, Good Teacher, and similar Virtues: nature, or nurture?)
I think you view that the word was chosen with more care than I do. And how does the former interpretation fit with doubling experience toward mastery later? I think it represents something fundamental about the magus's approach to magic.
I think that, as the Virtue description talks about "spells that you learn", then I would be inclined to say that spells learned before the character gained the Flawless Magic Virtue do not get the free mastery level benefit. Although if he subsequently tries to master spells learned previously he does get the double Study Total benefit --- even though he was not flawless when he learnt the spell, he is now. Similarly, if the character lost the Flawless Magic Virtue, then I think he wouldn't lose his existing masteries, but he would have to gain new ones in the conventional way.
I can see that you could read the Virtue as applying retrospectively. I don't think that is the intended reading, it is more powerful, and it is more fiddly. On the other hand, if that is how the troupe reads it, then it is no great drama.
It is true that you either have Flawless Magic or you don't.
The only issue is when the Flawless bit applies is it to the "learning" process or the "casting" process. The wording of the Virtue (and the fact that it applies to learning, and doesn't apply to, for example, spontaneous magic) seems to imply that it is the "learning" (or in other words "inventing") bit where being Flawless is significant. In which case, the relevant question is "whether or not you were Flawless when you invented the spell?"
It seems entirely reasonable to say that a character who is now Flawless can look back on the spells he invented previously and see, that: yes indeed, those spells could have been invented in a better way. However, they were not invented Flawlessly. So, to take advantage of his new insight, he actually needs to go back and reinvent the Flawless version (or he can try to Master his existing not-very good spell, with his new insights --- in which case he gets the double Study Total bonus because he is now has the Flawless understanding).
I agree that Flawless Magic is either a Virtue you have or you don't. So I agree with Richard Love about how it works. It affects spells learnt while having it.
If you have it, all spells you learn - that is invent from scratch, from lab text, gain during TWillight or are taught by another magus - recieve 5 exp in Mastery and thus "Mastered". You have an innate ability to simply be better at casting these spells. All the time spent practicing for Mastery is doubly effective. So you have an easier time furthering this 'better ability at casting'.
If you for some reason loose this Virtue, all exp in Mastery gained is kept. Any spell learnt from now on is as normal, without Mastery. All the time spend Practicing is at normal efficiency.
So if you gain it somehow mid-life, all spells learnt have not been learnt with this insight, and are not Mastered automatically. ALl spells learnt from now on are now Mastered. Any time spent Practicing is for doubly efficiency.
I don't think flawless is a trait of the spell, there are numerous examples of different ways in which spells can be created, and flawless does not fit with those. It is about the mage and not the spell. Otherwise it would be weird with lab texts and the like. This can then get into really weird things like wondering if you can teach yourself your own spells and how many you can do in a season, is it really limited to your lab total?
As this should be part of some bigger event why not just figure that they spent most of the season they got the virtue figuring out how it applies to spells they know? So not instantly but not based on any accumulation of experience either.
Apart from suddenly knowing a spell from a beneficial Twillight episode, aren't all spells in essence always invented by the magus? If not from scratch, then by help of either a Lab text or a Teacher. Both instances gives you pointer but you need to "Invent" your own version.
Not really, the formulaic spell is still invented by the magus. And because this magus has Flawless Magic he develops the spell with the specvial understanding we call Mastery. Otherwise one should say that a Flawless Magus' Lab Texts or spells he teaches others should be known by them with Mastery. Not so.
That argument is invalid, you can't teach yourself something you already know. You can't teach yourself period. Teaching takes at least two people. If you do anything you'll Practice. And that is in fact how Mastery is attained, and the Flawless Magus is doubly efficient at this.
Would you then have the magus know 2 versions of the same spell, with one Mastered (because this is the new one) and the other isn't (being the old one)?
Most Initiations already require the remainder of the season to consolidate what you have learnt and get used to the new thing. If you claim getting Flawless Magic gets this added bonus that you realize (or Practice at extreme efficency) that you suddenly Master Spellsyou already knew you'll be getting a lot more oomph out of this season than someone Initiating Gentle Gift or a Focus.
What about Potent Magic? Once you know this Mystery, you need to invent spells as Potent, to get a speficic bonus if using a certain doodah while casting it. Creating a magus who has this Common Mystery from the start allows him the option to have all his spells be Potens versions. Or only some, his choice. But Initiating this in mid-life this Mystery does not affect all the spells previously known. You need to reinvent the lot to get the benefit.
If you for some reason gain af Affinity mid-life, would you increase exp already put into the Art/Ability or just the exp put into it in the future?
Not comparable as it require different spell versions.
And really, you´re totally wrong about "who´s getting the oomph" here. Gentle gift means you drop a serious penalty instantly. Getting a focus means any spells you cast thereafter that are within the Focus, gets a potentially massive boost. Flawless magic without retroactivity however, then you get... ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Nothing at all until you spend even MORE time, and you have to spend time for every application of the virtue while GG and Focus are ever after giving their advantage without any need at all for spending extra time on them. That totally sucks. So if you want to talk about game balance or something, then you absolutely MUST let it work retroactively as otherwise you´re making it a BAD choice.
Exactly. That really IS the argument. If you "suddenly" know how to apply some degree of mastery to all spells, how come your old spells cant be adjusted to that?
Again you miss the point. Exactly because the mastery does NOT transfer to someone learning it means that its NOT a matter of the spells but of the caster.
Eh, thats a rather strange statement? As I´m the one saying "either you have it or you dont".
That is self contradicting. If its an innate ability then if you loose it you should loose the bonus.
And if it is an innate ability, and in that the rules agree with you as the mastery doesnt follow the spell, then it should affect all spells.