Integrating General Virutes: does that even work?

Is it possible to integrate a General (minor) virtue into Hermetic magic? Specifically, the "Unaffected by the Gift" virtue? My thought is that it should be, as it's obviously a virtue that DEALS with Hermetic magic, but is labeled as a general virtue to avoid being put in the Supernatural or Hermetic categories, with all the restrictions that apply to those.

In context....I was glancing about, looking for ways to improve an apprentice's relations with his soon-to-be Gifted classmates, and I thought of a few ideas:

  1. Extend the parma of the teacher over all the students - which works, but only if you have a really good Student:teacher ratio (like, 1:5 or less), and the infrastructure/willingness of a bunch of magi to do that.

  2. Teaching via telepresence - so that none of the students are actually in the room with each other. I thought this was clever, but a fellow gamer felt it was too sci-fi esque, and made him uninterested in the game. Fair 'nuff.

  3. Give them all Gentle Gift - which requires some serious Breakthough research, but is actually do-able (just study house Jerbiton - they define themselves by finding that virtue in the wild, and would likely be delighted in a way to make the rest of the order less "Ugly". Makes for some easy research projects.) But that's a long-term project, and may not be easily available.

  4. Cover them all with some other form of Magic Resistance - I honestly don't know if this would work. The Blessing power (from RoP:D) can grant magic resistance, and it's easy to do long-term, and doesn't grant warp for low-level effects. But I can't find any discussions of whether Magic resistance grants protection from the Gift - I'm guessing not, as that seems to be a specific power of Parma, in addition to Magic Resistance.

  5. Or give them all "Immune to the Gift" - the General gift in RoP:M (pg. 47). I figure there are a couple of ways to do this:

a. Figurine magic (from HoH:TL) - it's a minor general gift, and so it could be put in a figurine. However, unless he could find a figurine master willing to work full-time on figurines, that would probably take a while.

b. Figure out how to do a permanent ritual to grant it - which I think could be done, but I'm not sure of the power levels: Creo Mentem 35 effect (like Gift of Reason), with a Vim requisite? It would grant a point of warp, but - eh, it's only a point. Make it T:Circle, and everyone in the covenant (all the grogs, at least) would have it as well.

c. Figure out an Initiation Script - which would be amusing, as "going to a school for magic" pretty much fits the bill for a child's Initiation Quest (see: the first couple of chapters of Harry Potter). Give up your Old Life, Journey to a distant and unique place, engage and overcome trials, be taught by powerful, mysterious people, etc.

d. Teach them all Parma - yeah, not gonna happen.

e. Integrate the effect -

My thought is that it should be possible, even though it's labeled "General" - as Bonisagus figured out how to do it with the Parma. So what are study sources, and what would integration look like?

  1. The Parma itself - as it's taught as a not-fully-integrated ability, you should be able to examine Parma for hints on how that aspect of Parma works.

  2. Individuals who have the Virtue - it's probably noticeable via Intelligo Vim, or something.

  3. Might be able to study the Gentle Gift for it's yin/yang opposite.

  4. Any of those figurine magical statues that have the ability built into them - could study for insights into either Figurines, or else the underlying virtue.

With that in mind, what would integration look like?

  1. A variant of Opening the Ways, which prevented the gift penalty from affecting the targeted apprentice. (ie, everyone would gain the virtue, like the Subtle Opening integration).

  2. The above-mentioned Creo Mentem effect.

  3. Modify Parma so that, even if you can't make it work, if you've got at least 5 points in it you can gain the benefit of the Gift-blocking. Which may get him into trouble with the rest of the order, as that's making Parma actually WORK for people that aren't in the order yet. However, the main part of the Parma is the magic resistance part - and if they failed their apprenticeship, they'd be hunted down anyway. So I'm not sure how big of a deal this would be.

  4. EDIT - modify the Aegis so it includes an effect similar to Parma: It surpresses the effect of the Gift, just like it surpresses the ability to do magic. (So it doesn't affect you if you have a casting token.) Which actually means it's beneficial to NOT have a casting token, but it seems consistent.

Honestly, to me any one of these three would seem to work.


A few considerations.

First, note that every continuing supernatural effect, even low level, will warp the target.

Second, general magic resistance does not grant immunity to the effects of the Gift, unlike Parma.

Third, according to Apprentices you can teach Gentle Gift. Not everyone likes that rule, but by the RAW, just have your apprentices fostered by some Jerbiton and you are done.

Fourth, you may consider using a Muto Mentem spell, Base Level 4, that simply reverses the feelings caused by the Gift: so a Gifted person appears, to the target, as someone who is particularly trustworthy and upright and worthy of respect (this is correspondingly strengthened for people with the Blatant Gift, and has no effect on the Gentle Gifted).

Fifth, while communication in writing negates the penalties of the Gift, it's not clear if some Rego Imaginem spell that creates a perfect replica of a Gifted person at the destination does so. Furthermore, it's not clear whether this type of teaching should not impose penalties to the Source Quality - in real life, long-distance teaching is often regarded as less effective even with videoconferencing and such.

One of the rare situations where I disagree with ezzelino. I would not allow such a spell in a saga I was running: its existence would make the bad effects of the Gift absolutely vanish, which completely changes the atmosphere of the setting. No more need for companions/grogs to do social interactions for magi. Every PC takes Blatant Gift, since it's now a virtue instead of a flaw. Every magus would have an enchanted item that just broadcast this "no really I'm a lovely person" spell at everyone around them.

I was a bit perplexed myself when a player in my saga proposed this effect, for the reasons gerg points out; it fits the RAW, but it seems to seriously limit the bad effects of the Gift, the value of the Gentle Gift etc. However, we've tried it out in our saga, and it has far less impact than it may seem, both because it still takes quite a bit of work compared to other solutions to "the problem of the Gift", and because its "coverage" is not nearly as good as that of the Gentle Gift.

Let's look at all the limits of this solution. Unless you are using Sensory Magic with an appropriate Heartbeast, you can't "broadcast" Mentem effects - you need to create the effect on a specific target or set of targets, and maintain it. The target certainly won't cooperate before the effect kicks in (the Gift is exactly the type of thing that makes a target distrustful when you tell him to listen to you, or to look into your eyes). If the target is protected by Magic Resistance - whether it's a bishop, a faerie giant, a ghost etc. - you need to bypass that. If the target is not alone, you need to target the whole group, or the target's associates will certainly notice his strange behaviour, and your Gift will immediately lead them to think you've ensorcelled their associate (this is true even if you disguise your casting or use an unobtrusive magic item, but if you don't it's doubly true). Perhaps more importantly, as soon as the effect vanishes, the target realizes he's been duped: he finds you really suspicious (his natural reaction to the Gift having returned), he remembers initially finding you suspicious, and he remembers his (currently) suspicious change mind of mind about it (doubly suspicious if it coincided with you uttering arcane incantations or waving a rune covered wand). Finally, you'll need one effect for intelligent beings (Mentem) and a separate one for cunning beings (Animal).

You can address some of those issues, but it takes further effort. E.g. you can erase the memory of what happened, but that's another effect. You can cast without words or gestures, but that can easily make the casting very difficult, particularly in an unfriendly aura. Alternatively, you can use an unobstrusive magic item, but you need to decide upfront how much penetration you'll put into it. It will probably take multiple seasons of effort, or require a very specific "build" at character creation; and it's still not nearly foolproof. Attempting to gain the Gentle Gift through initiation or pilgrimage is a definitely more "robust" choice that does not require substantially more effort. A much more robust, and much "cheaper" choice is to simply have a loyal grog with good Presence and Communication who's sunk a sizable chunk of his or her xp in Charm, Folk Ken, Guile etc. act as your spokesperson.

Houses of Hermes: Societates discusses this in relation to House Tytalus; particularly with reference to Aura of Ennobled Presence. According to the rules, this spell makes "[t]he target appears more forceful, authoritative, and believable", and mechanically provides a "+3 on rolls to influence, lead, or convince others". This does cancel the social penalty of The Gift in such situations. However, HoH:S clarifies that the mechanical penalty is just part of The Gift's effects, and that a magus under the effects of this spell might appear to be unnecessarily bossy or overbearing. People might still obey him, but he's not their friend...Similar spells are offered that make it possible for magi to win trust and make friends (but appear suspiciously over-friendly), or make them appear guileless and innocent (but appear sanctimonious or self-righteous).


The Gift is more than a mere -3 to social rolls. It is a reason why magi are not integrated into society, and the way Parma Magica lessens this effect among magi is why the Order of Hermes is more succesful than any other magic tradition why tried to organiza itself.
Also, Gentle Gift is a Major Hermetic Virtue - and you can only take one of those - it is thus integral to the character's core concept that he is Gently Gifted rather than possessing one of the other Major ones.

Isn't this already broken with the Criamon Initation of the Walking Backward Path?
Also considering that bevore the Order of Hermes came into existance there was at last 2 orders that worked as priests then there must be other ways in the past that allowed the mages to work with others without problems despite theyr gift.

Such a character is so very different than what most magi are played as. He might have the Gentle Gift, but he's not using it like most magi would. He's using it to be in Harmony with society, rather than use it for his own ends. Such a character has given up his destructive past and works to build and heal and harmonize. If a character on this path started being combative and using people, I'd probably be bringing their standard Gift penalties back.

And for the most part they stayed apart from each other, spread out. And they were also a priestly/holy order of sorts. They probably, to my thinking, had all sorts of rituals of conduct in the presence of each other, to demonstrate that they are not intending to be offensive...

When you think about it the impression the Gift gives off is the perfect foil for any magical attempt to get around it. You look like your cheating so people will always be wary of manipulation.

As far as the Original topic goes. I know at least one time in a game I played Unaffected by Gift as more of a personality trait then a magical effect. The character was just not that suspicious and always looked for the best in people. Hence the Gift had no real effect on him. So it's not necessarily something to be integrated into a magic system.

As an aside. Unaffected by Gift interpreted as a personality trait is a reasonable advantage a truly talented mundane teacher would have. If you really want to go with a To Sir With Love, please Stand and Deliver to my Dead Poets Society full of Dangerous Minds in a Backboard Jungle situation for your Magic-School.