Immunity to Infertility as a Covenant Boon, Major or Minor?

Theoretical question: If a group wanted to have their covenant aura let barren/infertile people (including Magi using longevity potions) have children, ala Immunity in the Covenants book pgs 7 or 8, would the major or minor boon be appropriate?

Major
Within the covenant’s aura, all people and objects are immune to a form of damage, influence, or Flaw. If players designing characters pair their Flaws to this immunity, it becomes a Major Hook. Their Flaw helps define the covenant’s culture.

Minor
Within the covenant’s aura, all people and objects are immune to a specified form of damage or influence, as per the Virtue.

Since Infertility is not a Flaw, I lean towards a Minor Boon.

Immunity to infertility is a strange idea. Generally immunity is something you have to things that can happen to you rather than to a state of being.

you can be immune to dying but not immune to being dead. If you are immune to dying it means that you are immortal but if you are immune to being dead it implies that you would resurrect when the immunity takes effect.

similarly you can be immune to becoming infertile, which means that as long as you under the covenants aura, or however you apply the immunity, any effect which would ordinarily render someone infertile doesn't.

It is possible to imagine a magical aura, especially one aligned to Corpus, that increases fertility or even bestows fertility on those who are otherwise infertile. Such an aura might even be a popular site of pilgrimages or other voyages undertaken by those who are having trouble producing a child. It is a very cool idea for a covenant as it can lead to many interesting stories.

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Do you really want older women to keep getting pregnant, until they die in childbirth? That seems a rather cruel Immunity, IMHO.

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Blocking lycanthropy or leprosy would be on the same scale as blocking fertility.

Now, Unusually Fecund is a lesser benediction in RoP Faerie. That might be a minor boon.

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I would say it could be either a Major Boon, a Minor Boon, or a Major Hook. It really depends on how you want to play it.

The most natural choice is -- I would say -- a Major Boon. It's a great advantage for Hermetic magi using longevity rituals who want to have children (this is certainly big stuff for Mercere). It's also a great advantage for many barren nobles. So allowing access is a great asset that can be traded for all sorts of stuff. In this sense, it's at least as major as the "Exceptional Book" Major Boon.

The flip of the coin: does your troupe want to be dragged into stories about this major thing, with the covenant's culture being defined by it? Perhaps it's the lynchpin of an Hermetic Project to boost the number Gifted children available to the Order. Perhaps it's the only place where some ancient and fell creature can reproduce. Etc. Major Hook.

Or perhaps in your saga fertility is no big deal fo some reason -- magi have children before taking longevity potions, or just don't care, there are alternative ways to achieve the same result etc. In this case it's a nice, convenient thing to have, but nothing huge. It can be used for the benefit of the covenant residents (and might create a few problems, see Arthur's comment), and to help the occasional ally. Then it's a (very good) Minor Boon.
An alternative that makes this a Minor Boon: the Aura is necessary and sufficient for the barren not just to conceive, but it is also necessary to sustain the life of the offspring.

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If we took this in the last saga I played, our SG would have had some gossip about the covenant get out, and suddenly the King and his bride decide to drop by until an heir is born. Suddenly your covenant finances get emptied entertaining the royal court, and you have to hide the covenant library as a large number of people literate in Latin turn up as guests.

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If it undoes the infertility of Longevity potions, it becomes .. very very big as was mentioned. Like, every Mercere visits, along with any magi who want children, ever. Mercere would travel from any tribunal to that aura and possibly live there.

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I agree this kind of covenant boon is a big deal.

Logically if a covenant has a fertility granting power that applies to anyone who enters the covenant or a specific subsection of it that power would logically become the central focus of the covenant. Presumably the covenant was founded specifically to take advantage of its power to grant fertility and either be required to provide access for other magi as part of the sponsorship agreement that the covenant was founded on or make bank selling access to its fertility if the covenant is old and/or powerful enough to claim sole sovereignty over its fertility power.
However OP's saga is already a high-fantasy saga with lots of elements that are not part of the core setting so I see no reason why he and his group could not decided to add "immunity to infertility" to the list of things that deviate from RAW or standard ArM practice.

It seems however that the OP is mostly just interested in playing in a saga where the magi can have children longevity rituals at the same time. If that is the case I would handwave the logical social consequences of such an effect and be done with it. (I am basing my assumptions on the saga of the OP on the number of threads opened by him in recent times).

There is another possibility if I am correct about OP's intentions. In the book Magi of Hermes there is a character named "Aurulentus of Jerbiton" who manages a breakthrough in hermetic magic that allows him to remain fertile while under the effects of a longevity potion. If I was playing in a saga where the players all wanted to have children and none of us wanted to deal with longevity ritual induced infertility I would just decided that a breakthrough like the one made by Aurulentus has been made at some point in the past and now longevity rituals dont render you infertile.

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Wow everyone, great thoughts and replies on this question!

However OP's saga is already a high-fantasy saga with lots of elements that are not part of the core setting...

(I am basing my assumptions on the saga of the OP on the number of threads opened by him in recent times).

Interestingly enough, these are just hypothetical questions I have as I think about the game and use the solo-play rules. I haven't run an Ars Magica game in a couple of years. Though yes, looking through my recent posting history, it is obvious have an OP non-standard playstyle.:smiley:

If it undoes the infertility of Longevity potions, it becomes .. very very big as was mentioned. Like, every Mercere visits, along with any magi who want children, ever. Mercere would travel from any tribunal to that aura and possibly live there.

Good point, I hadn't thought about that!

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While the majority of players I've interacted with (who aren't playing Mercere) and a majority of the magi I've seen, all consider the infertility a minor side effect, or in many cases a benefit, the infertility attached to the longevity ritual is a huge deal in-world. If you can't have kids, your branch of your family dies out.
A significant portion of magi are kidnapped, stolen, or bought away form their family at a young age, but any magus who wants a legacy, or falls in love, will probably want to leave his heritage.

Or, you know, a magus whose goal in life is to become the first of a Mythic Bloodline.

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Really, you don't need to take the LR before 35, by which time most people have had most of the children they may have wanted. I don't understand why players think this is limiting aside from the corner cases of magi that took it earlier out of vanity and later want children.

Yes, Mythic Europe is a dangerous place and having children can be difficult for some, but it doesn't take a lot of Creo Corpus magic to overcome a lot of these issues (and the Aegis will keep out a lot of the sources of infant mortality like disease spirits, faeries, demons, etc). A magus that hasn't had 10+ healthy children by the time they take their LR hasn't been trying very hard. House Mercere probably has multiple stacks of laboratory texts on how to achieve best possible results.

OTOH if you're an overachiever and want something silly like 30+ kids, the LR could be a problem. If you resigned yourself to a solitary existence and find True Love at 80+, you've got a problem. But note there's at least one canonical work around - one of the Dankmar maga used a faerie power to conceive long after taking her LR, so it's not insurmountable. Arguably it's as simple a matter as going off your LR (natural expiry or dispelling it) and using a CrCo ritual to 'cure' the sterility it causes. It's a dangerous stopgap measure (as you're effectively taking a year with no LR bonuses to your aging rolls). Some will argue that the 'permanently sterile' wording means its irrevocable, but then the LR breaks the limit of Essential Nature, so YSMV.

Immunity to Infertility/Sterility might work to bypass the LR's effect. It might also prevent a LR from working at all, as the LR re-routes your natural vitality to preserve your youth at the cost of sterility. That's a YSMV issue as well. Personally I think it's a minor benefit for spending Minor Virtue, so it seems appropriate for the perpetually fecund magi.

While those are generally good points, I think a lot of magi won't be able to plan for a family until after they leave apprenticeship (which by canon example tends towards 25 years old), and younger magi might not think about it until they're right up on the cusp of their ritual.
Especially players, who wouldn't think about that until they're designing their ritual.

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So,

There are many kinds of infertility, so the boon cannot always do anything.

Obviously, in cases where fertility is more than simply letting nature take its course, but is a gift from God, a covenant's boon will not cause fertility if God doesn't want it so, whether Major or Minor.

Somewhat less obviously, if infertility is the result of some curse from a major entity short of God, a magic-aligned boon might not have an effect. Perhaps a minor boon might deal with 'natural' infertility but it takes a major boon to overcome infertility inflicted by lesser faeries, demons and angels, and it takes something more to overcome infertility caused by greater demons, angels, faeries, etc. Or perhaps a minor boon can also overcome some lesser supernatural interference; this is just pushing the scale.

Then there's infertility caused by obvious incapacity. I was about to suggest that a boon should not help here, but Unnatural Law: "Everything is fertile, even when that's not normally possible" ought to do the trick. I leave it to you to deal with the horse/cart hybrids.

As for LR? I think a Major Boon should handle it. A Minor Boon, maybe not. Certainly there are major economic benefits to be had if archmagi and kings are willing to pay to tarry for a time.

Anyway,

Ken

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Or, well, they could adopt.

And that's what apprentices are for, anyway. Blood and genetics are overrated. You can't pick your descendants, but you can pick your apprentices.

I think my Corpus Merinita might now want to find some way to adopt a child and mystically change them to be my blood legacy.

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Possibly, but I think the Gift is probably a far bigger impediment to procreation for young magi (and apprentices) than a pater who won't allow for free time to find a significant other. Houses Mercere and Jerbiton are probably the opposite (pushing these sorts of things on their apprentices) and I think most paters would be pleasantly surprised if their apprentice actually found someone who could look past their apprentice's Gift.

Players OTOH, you're right in that they generally don't think of it in the rush to accomplish whatever else their plans for their magus are, but it's also pretty easy to talk your Storyguide into already having a spouse and children before play even starts.

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