Immortal magi questions

Edit: please assume in this scenario the Grand Tribunal ruled immortal magi are protected by the Code soon after their existence became an established fact.

My great interest for immortal magi as a viable option for powerful and experienced characters and a recognized (if not so common) existence within the OoH led me to consider various topics.

Would other magi demand a political check to their influence in the Order? Or would they be too rare and/or reclusive for the issue to matter? If the latter, a possible compromise would be to limit their voting rights. Other mages expect and assume immortals to have gone into retirement and abstain from Order politics in normal circumstances. They hand over their voting sigils to trusted proxies, much like retired magi in the Rhine Tribunal. Their status as Hermetic magi in good standing is recognized and their rights protected. They can take part and vote in a Tribunal if they are involved in a case or the Tribunal faces an emergency. This issue does assume other mages can easily recognize the value of letting immortals keep their rights in exchange for the insights they can provide and potentially pursuing immortality themselves.

There are various gainful synergies between immortality methods and other kinds of magic. (Durable) External Soul and the Great Elixir seems one of the best ones, since the former can protect alchemical immortals from destruction and the latter makes them immune to Twilight. Mystagogues that are interested in this issue should track down some Gruagach or better Koldun, persuade or force them to share the script, and adapt it to their Cult Lore. An even better course would be to enchant various protective effects on the stone, esp. if the Durable option is not available. Unlike Gruagach or Koldun, Hermetic mages face no serious limitation on this.

The combination of Living Ghost and living corpse seems another excellent one, since it would greatly increase the immortal's resistance to banishment or exorcism, as well as remove their time limit to stay away from the Haunt. Another good idea would be to have enchanted objects for instant travel to the Haunt in emergency situations. An even better solution would be to integrate Canaanite Magic, since it provides a permanent link to the living world that replaces the need for a Haunt or possessing a body. I am not sure if (Durable) External Soul can do anything worthwhile for Living Ghosts.

One of the most important and likely reasons for magi to pursue immortality is to gain unlimited time for research. TMRE covers the issue of immortal mages retaining knowledge of Arts/Abilities and spells by talisman enchantment, but magi can pursue other kinds of valuable knowledge, such as breakthrough insights and initiation scripts. I am tentatively assuming immortals can retain insights by the same method, at a conversion rate of 1 Xp = 1 Insight point.

As it concerns scripts, I tend to assume the Initiation experience itself (including working as a Mystagogue) would automatically imprint knowledge of the script in the immortal by mystical means, since initiation works the usual way for immortals to change relevant aspects of their nature. The only meaningful difference is they cannot use Ordeals (but they have unlimited time to pursue a lot of Quests, so it balances out). If the mage later changes the script they automatically retain it if they use it for themselves or others before it fades from memory. Otherwise they may need to enchant the knowledge in the talisman. A script broadly resembles a spell, but I am not sure about the conversion rate, since it has no level. Tentatively, you might deem it the equivalent of 1 Xp.

Of course, an alternative way for immortals to retain knowledge is to consume vis.

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"You are becoming too powerful and so we are limiting your voting rights" is the kind of move that will never go down well, I'd like to see someone try to hit the likes of Philipus Niger with such a suggestion. See how that goes.

On a more serious note, most paths to Immortality face the same problem. At the end of most, the Magi are no longer, strictly speaking, human. Thus most would consider them to now to be outside of the protection of the Law. They are just creatures to be harvested for Vis. Of course, depending on the path taken, the now immortal Magus could truly become a force to be reconed with. Immortal Alchemist can be handled as well as any other creature of Might; couple Perdo Vim spells and it's gone. Living Ghost is limited to a specific area, unless possessing someone. Ascendancy to the Hall of Heroes? Now that's where the money is! A magus who successfully ascended to Godhood now has a dedicated cult of followers, ready to do his bidding and supply him with power needed to improve further, providing the relation is mutually beneficial of course. And of course, you are outside of the Order's reach, and cannot truly be killed.

However you become an Immortal, if you still care enough to participate in Hermetic Politics, I'd suggest keeping your immortality a secret, and gather allies and dedicated following, so that none may try to strip you of your rights provided by the Code.

This is truly a disappointing view of the Order’s relations with magical beings. Much as I see the Tremere to be amoral opportunists in this manner I don’t even think this is how they view magical beings as a whole and definitely not how they would view a member of the Order who had gained so much power and secret knowledge as to turn themselves into a magical being.

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Even if not for the Vis, it is canon that the Magi in general see themselves as superior to the Magical Beings, even a rare Gifted would be viewed as inferior. No longer being human, they no longer enjoy the Code's protection in the opinion of most, yet they retain their knowledge of Parma (in most cases of Immortality path), meaning that some may very well use it as a pretense to attack them.

That could backfire easilly.
"Well if I am no longer protected by the code I am no longer bound by it"
and parma magica becomes widespread knowledge.

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Or, you know, interfering with mundanes, or killing off any magi that comes within what the being considers "his/her territory".

Kodiak,

I find your predatory view of the relationship between immortals and other mages very unlikely to be accepted by the Order, for various reasons.

First, there are many more, much easier options to harvest Vis than assaulting a being that is likely to be rather powerful and experienced by Hermetic standards.

Second, even if the immortal were not personally much capable to defend themselves, chances are someone else is going to regard them as a valuable source of insights and services, and step in to protect them. Many wizards, if popularity of LR is any guide, are going to look at the immortal and think "there go I, if I play my cards right". You are not going to assault immortals for vis for the same reason you don't a CrCo specialist, even if they are not optimized for combat. If you do, chances are a third party Wizard Wars your head on a pike.

Third, immortal magi look, sound, and feel human. Most mages are exceedingly unlikely to deem mortality or lack of Might essential qualities of human nature, since they use LR and Parma Magica.

Fourth, the vast majority of mages are accustomed to treat at least one kind of magical beings as near-equals and have friendly relations with them: familiars. Making an analogy between immortal magi and familiars as it concerns their rights is easy. Come on, tell the average mage it would be OK to harvest familiars for vis if it weren't for that pesky Code. See how it goes.

Fifth, there is going to be a sizable voting bloc of mages that deeply dislikes this interpretation of the Code for their own reasons, including Bjornaer, Merinita, Criamon, many Bonisagi, and mystae involved in immortality mysteries.

Sixth, and most importantly, this view seems contradictory to my stated purpose to make immortal magi a viable character option. Therefore, please assume in this saga several Tribunals and eventually the Grand Tribunal ruled immortal magi were protected by the Code soon after their existence became an established fact, for the reasons above. Quite possibly it happened after one or three ruthless vis harvesters got slain by the immortal themselves or their allies.

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If there are immortal magi in numbers great enough to become a political issue, and by implication immortal magi who care enough to be involved in hermetic politics, it would seem to me they would, eventually in principle become their own ruling body in some way. If the order is smart about it they will "kick them upstairs" and place immortal magi in charge of things that will matter much more to immortal magi than anyone else, like long term planning for the order, and have a "lesser" council that deals with the shorter term issues.

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This seems a rather nifty solution to the issue.

I think, as it stands, the number of immortal magi in 1220 is likely to be very limited, and many of those are likely to be very reculusive (daimons, ghosts) that their number is unlikely to count, since they may only be accessible to a given mystery cult. I also suspect that the Rhine tribunal elders may like the fiction that the voting rights of the disappeared archmagi should be retained, just in case some of those happen to have transcended their state, and wish that fact to remain a mystery due to, you know, mystery cult requirements. Bjornaer great beasts are unlikely to care about hermetic politics anymore as well, and would be treated much like a daimon or ghost might. Other methods of immortality may differ, and those who underwent the becoming or the great elixir may remain active in the order and not actively publish their new status - but I could also see a Merinita becoming a faerie deciding to integrate full time faerie society and forget about the order.

Even in your scenario, I think it's plausible that the initial case ruling of the Grand Tribunal is an arcane point of law that addressed one case rather than create a grand jurisprudence, and even if mystery cults like that interpretation and use it as case law when new cases arise, they also tend to downplay the idea of immortal magi so that it remains a mystery. Whether the demographics change over time, or whether the knowledge of immortal magi becomes public knowledge through the actions of specific immortal magi is going to be very much dependent on where you wish to go with your campaign. I could see a branch of quaesitors specialized in dealing with immortal magi jurisprudence, while also actively censoring the knowledge of those cases so that the knowledge of immortal magi within the order doesn't become too published, but as additional immortal magi arise over time and don't disappear to twilight due to the activity of mystery cults, it's plausible that, at some point, it becomes a more or less publicly acknowledged fact of life in the Order, even if the mysteries work hard to put roadblocks (or engineer accidents) in front of any Bonisagi wanting to publish a method of immortality in the Folio.

This reminds me of the Stephen Wright joke: "I have decided to become immortal ... so far, so good."

In the sagas I've run in the distant past, I have always made immortality to be fraught with uncertainty, and of course once immortal (or feeling one is), the ability and desire to learn dissipates, and the player becomes a powerful NPC. IN the one time it was played out, I changed "the Gift" into other powers, including a parma like power.

And some Magi would view them as outside the code, and a possible source of vis (at least the greedy cynicalones). The Immortal being might be a formidable foes, but nothing that organized or powerful Magi could eventually take care of.

Whether they can remain in the Order is up for debate. For me, it would be likely cast out since they weren't human anymore. But it would be a fun plot for a House Guernicus to investigate.

Except a good Storyteller would make the knowledge of Parma somehow forgotten, when the parma like power replaced it. As well as most hermetic arts, and the actual Gift as part of the process.

I think most immortals would lose interest in the mundane world as their perspectives turn to the truly long term. Even concepts like morality start to falter since there aren't any terminal consequences for things. Even a magi turned immortal may choose to sleep for decades if not centuries to alleviate boredom.

The one time we allowed Immortality in a saga, the player eventually just had to turn the character into an NPC.

And of course the Divine and Infernal took a big interest in the ex-Magi. As well as the Fae which viewed her as a threat.

And someone mentioned Godhood with worshippers. Hope you aren't in the West, since that's going to attract the attention of relgious authorities.

That is an extremely subjective thing and none of the three methods in Mysteries (rev. Ed.) include losing the knowledge one had before the transformation. Now, sure, becoming a daimon should probably be an end-state for the character, in essence turning them into an NPC, but that is really not such a clear thing for the Great Elixir or the Living Ghost, though the Living Ghost does significantly limit the possible stories with that character as a primary participant.

There are ways to minimize the severe drawbacks of Living Ghost, however. Combining it with a living corpse, using instant-travel-to-Haunt enchanted devices, getting Canaanite Magic. The first two are within the bounds of standard Hermetic magic, and the latter is a single breakthrough. Of course, any mage that pursues the Great Elixir or the Living Ghost without getting Inscription on the Soul first is an idiot.

The thing is that a Magi who becomes "immortal" by some means of gaining Magic Might is still a Magus in pretty much all ways. So much so that if something like a Might Stripper is used on him, he reverts back to a normal Magus.

While gaining Might makes you unaffected by Warping and Age, it does not prevent you from the need to eat, drink, breath, or sleep without gaining serious drawbacks until you do. It also has the drawback of reducing all of your XP by its level, which can slow or stop your development if you go for a high Might. At low Might (which can be as low as 0 by published sources) it is a fragile charm against aging and warping, an extremely powerful LR that makes the Magus affect-able by Might targeting spells and effects.

So distinction between actual Immortal effects and "immortal" by Might is important.

I hardly think that’s true. For the Elixir, at least, all one needs is a high penetration “teleport to my hand” effect in their talisman and an ability to cast the spell that lets you activate a magical device at AC range with good penetration.

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Yah, those may be decent stopgap solutions, but why risk destruction of the all-important storage device that holds an ever-increasing chunk of your knowledge basis? You typically have to initiate a half-dozen Virtues or so to get to the Elixir (a bit less if you follow my example and throw the Vulgar Alchemy and Planetary Magic wastes of ink in the dustbin they deserve). Why not adding the one that ensures your know-how shall be as inviolable as yourself?

Two easy ones are better shape & material bonuses and applicable magical focus.

Not worth the risk if you ask me, also b/c IotS allows the mage to add S&M bonuses to the body talisman, at the price of a little Warping, if you really care about such things. Blending with Substance is mostly harmless if you are pursuing the Great Elixir.