Is This Overdoing the Power? Or Under-doing It? Neither? D:

Basically, I was planning a more high-fantasy saga for my troupe (first time Alpha SGing, though I've played for three years and have done some Beta SGing) and they wanted to try being "special snowflakes" rather than starting from the same place as everyone else. I got the cogs in my head spinning, and decided to start with the usual prophecy business, to give them an excuse to have special opportunities and lots more power than everyone else of what would be considered their "caliber."

A gate to another world appears, through which any magus can pass, but they are only allowed a single 24-hour period before the world ejects them out, and they must spend as much time outside as they spent inside before they may return (thus removing the ability to do, say, labwork in there), with the exception of the eight chosen children: born within the same hour of the day, same day of the week, over the course of eight weeks, in the same town. All would be Gifted and possess immense power compared to their fellow magi, yet rather than being total outcasts, they would all be born with an immunity to the negative emotions birthed from one another, and through this sanctity with each other they would form deep bonds, bonds deep enough to bind them together as they venture into the strange world with little help. Each magus or maga may gift three other people with the ability to enter the new world and remain there, but the transference will only work on a single Gifted individual, and all must be affiliated with the Magic Realm in some way. Due to the involved mental processes, the Gifted individual's total Magical Abilities and Arts combined scores must be equal to or less than the combined scores of Magical Abilities and Arts possessed by the chosen child.

It's a lot of big words, but what it basically means is that the eight chosen magi each can take another Gifted character (I'm personally going to require a Hermetic mage) and two unGifted with them, but the Gifted characters can't be more skilled than the chosen magi.

So, my ideas were twofold as to how to increase their power right out of Gauntlet. The obvious one is that, seeing how incredibly important the children are, once they're found they'll be given to the most exceptional magi to be trained as apprentices (and we're making an exception to the rules for you Bonisagi, because we can't afford you screwing up these kids' Gifts by studying them!), and I'll play through the apprenticeship to give them what will likely be a LOT more xp than is normally granted to starting magi. Second, and more importantly (as it's the whole reason they have such prophetic power) is that they will be what I call Mythic Magi. I'd like to call them something else, because that sounds redundant, but it's what I've got right now.

A Mythic Magus is much like a Mythic Companion. They get two Virtue points for every Flaw point, and as an added bonus, as Gifted characters, I'm also allowing them two Major Hermetic Virtues rather than the one they're normally limited to. Rules involving things you can only have one of by virtue of the thing itself rather than being a Major Hermetic Virtue, such as Foci, still apply; you can't be a Tremere with MMF for trees, for example. Other than the parts about playing through apprenticeship (or really, more like doing extremely complex character generation as a group) and the Mythic Magi bit, they're generated as normal magi. (Their required Minor Virtue for being Mythic is Unaffected by the Gift, btw. Sorry, kind of a waste once Parma is learned, but it's a backstory thing)

Their companion-equivalent slot will, in fact, be another magus, generated with the normal complex character generation rules with normal amounts of xp, and given the Magical Arts and Abilities requirement they probably won't be more than ten, MAYBE twenty years out of apprenticeship at MOST. In fact, I might cap it at 15 years just so they don't seem too advanced and so that if one player is more Arts-focused at character generation he doesn't also get too nerfed of a companion... magus. Ugh, words.

Lastly, their two unGifted. Hm... They'll be playing the role of grogs, but I'm CONSIDERING having them built as Companions with a stipulation of "no Story Flaws or Major Personality Flaws." They will require a Supernatural Virtue associated with the Magic Realm either way.

Anyway, my big question today is, since my players won't really be familiar enough with the rules to pull off hacks with thousands of free xp during character generation, most of their bonus power will come from the more powerful Parens (I might not stat them, and just give them a base 19 Source Quality for teaching, which goes up to like 23 or 25 if the chosen magus takes Skilled Parens) who will probably teach them more often to boot, and of course their position as Mythic Magi. Do you guys think this will be enough to set them a significant amount above their peers? Or would any magus with a couple years under his belt to catch up xp-wise mostly match them despite their having more Virtues? Is making them "Mythic" a big enough bonus to make them genuinely more powerful, or is their only reason to be considered special, at this point, the fact that they can stay within the gated world for an indefinite length of time? (World in question has an aura of 10, with regios that reportedly contain even stronger auras) Possibly the most relevant question from the players' own perspective, will the Virtues be enough that if they build each of their magi with equal mechanical skill, the Mythic Magus will maintain a notable advantage over their other character to the point where they can feel the difference in play?

And before it is suggested, I brought the very most basic parts of this idea up to the players (I really only got to "you guys and a select few of your choosing will be the only ones who can stay in the new world they found") and they immediately told me they'd like to, through whatever reasonable-sounding Tribunal decision I have to cook up, go into that world right out of their main magi's Gauntlets. So advancing them a few years for stronger everybody doesn't really work. So there's that... Yeah. Opinions?

I don't think you're overdoing it, not as you present your desires. However, I'm not sure if you considered some simpler alternatives.

As to your main question - I guesstimate your PCs to be about 20-30 years post-gauntlet, effectively, so that having a vanilla companion magus 15 years out of gauntlet shouldn't undermine their powers.

However, have you considered that the power of the Order and its magi are entirely up to you, as an SG, to determine? It is quite plausible that most magi have few Virtues, and often ones not well-suited to their magical inclinations. It is entirely possible that raw vis is a rare commodity and the Order treats books as treasures never to be copied, leaving magi with little resources to develop their Arts. It may also be most magi don't particularly care about increasing their Arts or raw power, focusing instead on more esoteric or personal pursuits (from increasing their Enigmatic Wisdom or Heartbeast ability due to their mystic beliefs to tending their garden and cultivating unique flowers). Your PCs can be powerful simply by virtue of having the drive and opportunities to study raw vis and books to increase their Arts, combined with lots of Virtues that are well-suited to further their magical interests.

If your game is focused on the new magical world, and you want the Order to be weak in comparison, you might want to consider also changing the rules for usual magi, while keeping your PCs with the usual core rules. This gives you the advantage of having your PCs play by-the-book, while also providing a weaker Order. A simple way to achieve this is to adopt the Arts As Abilities house rule for NPC magi - have all magi (except the PCs) advance their Arts as if they were Abilities, XP-wise. In this case the PCs can start with Art scores of 12 or so, which only experienced NPC magi can possibly have, and PCs can fairly quickly (with the piles of raw vis and the magical aura that the magical world provides) climb to Art scores of 20 and above, which no NPC magus can achieve. In this way you can fairly quickly establish the magi as extremely powerful magi, well above all that came before, and capable of inventing and wielding world-changing spells - all while keeping your PCs playing by-the-book.

Anyway - the details aren't really that important, all the above approaches can give you a similar game experience. Just have fun, whatever you decide :slight_smile:

Why no story or personality flaws on the unGifted?


Just no Major Personality Flaws, not no Personality Flaws in general. As for why, well, mainly because they're the grog-equivalents, so while I'm considering having them built as companions to increase their power and options (letting their Supernatural Virtue or Flaw of choice be Major, for instance) I may want to limit their story-centrality opportunities. I can only work so many stories into the whole thing, after all... There's a reason each player has two story-central characters in a regular game, and I'd like to avoid breaking that limit if only to keep people from feeling they worked out backstory and story information for their character for nothing because I can't get to utilizing everyone's Flaws after my to-do list doubled in size character-wise.

That's my personal logic on the situation, anyway.

Why not give them extra seasons each year? They work faster, get more experience, that way you can moderate their increase to what power level you want. Half again more powerful, give them half again the starting xp and give them 2 more seasons a year to gain knowledge, make items etc. 2x then double xp and add 4 seasons. You could also add adventure exp to any seasonal activities they do if you want a further boost. This would outpace the normal magi in no time. I however would not put limits on personality flaws, story flaws yes, but personality does little to force story unless you want it to, major personality flaws just make companions and NPCs more interesting imo.

The only difference between Minor and Major Personality Flaws is that Minor ones are "color" while Major ones are strong enough for me to force them into stories with. If the character won't be having it used for that purpose, well, I'm not feeling it.

As for giving them extra seasons... That doesn't make any sense. Then everybody else there would get extra seasons too, right? And the time warping makes "24 hours within, at least as much time without" a bit confusing to adjudicate to say the least. Or did you mean, like, giving the chosen magi all something like the Faerie transformation things in HoH:MC, I think the Mind or Body one, that makes them not need sleep and thus they get two more seasons per year for use on anything other than lab work? Hm... Interesting, but I probably won't do it. Thanks for the idea though.

Perhaps my use of the word seasons was poorly chosen but you may be over-thinking this. Giving your "chosen magi" extra seasons, lets call them time points for clarification, means that they are smarter, learn faster, are more inventive than their brethren. They are simply better at doing what they do and therefor produce more than their peers, thus making them more powerful within the game mechanics and in a way that is controllable by the storyteller as to the power level you want to use. Think of your chosen magi as geniuses. Geniuses do more work, produce more, and learn more than any one of us does in a year. Stephen Hawking or Albert Einstein vs the average PhD scientist. Or think of it as an ability to multitask in a season, running multiple projects productively. So while your average magi who produces 4 time points worth of productivity, your chosen magi produce 6 or 8 time points within that same period of time. It makes is easier to control your power level, because in Ars Magica time vs xp is really the game you play when you determine power. So now your freshly gauntleted magi of age 30 will have the skill and power level of a magi that is 45 or 60 years of age. They will be masters of a field by 50 and achieve archmage by 60ish being able to beat magi of 90-120 years of age.

Hm... Interesting. Rather than alloting extra "time slots" I might just let them acquire xp from multiple sources (or possibly multiple applications of the same source for the same activity, but that's ew) so they can get, say, Adventure xp AND reading xp if they go on an adventure for a few days and then go read, or on nothing-but-labwork seasons they might get double Exposure. That's... Hm. I'll definitely have to think about it a lot more, as that could cause a host of its own problems.

Thanks for the ideas and tips, everyone!

Or they don't need to sleep, like the No Fatigue Major Quality from RoP:M.
Or just make a "season" 2 months for them.
Or multiply their Lab Total and Source Quality by 1.5.

That'd make Apprenticeship 360 xp and 180 spell levels.

And have them get Subtle Opening from HMRE, which'd make it easier to learn new Supernatural Abilities. That would keep the learning useful way past the end of apprenticeship.

Obviously there is a a "power curve" at work here... If I may...
My Verditius trained all his apprentices "Excessively". Most finished Gauntlet with MT scores in the 8-10 range... This was possible by the fact that his MT was so high, and that he had a reasonably high teaching score (which helped out everywhere else). So instead of all the other stuff... Why not just assume that they were taught by the 'Uber powers' of the Order? IE: A more powerful/skilled teacher, provides better training....
Another side would be to have them trained by those teachers at a Covenant with a VERY high Aura. A couple of pawns of Vis, combined with Lucky rolls...High arts.
You also mentioned the fact that they are "Special Children". Why wouldnt the Order break out the VERY BEST books for them to study? Those books that are hidden in Dominus Magna of all those houses that 'break the rules', could be allowed out for them....
With all of that, you could have your training with out changing the rules...
I like the thing about not limiting them to One Heretic Major... that can ramp up the power level in a hurry...

Ah, yeah. We're doing extremely complex character generation and they're getting more time for personal study, and I used the Source Quality guidelines from Apprentices but bumped them up a stage, so their teachers naturally have SQ 19 (that level is usually only reached with the Strong Parens Virtue) and if the apprentice in question takes Skilled Parens that SQ will shoot to 25. So they'll definitely be stronger than pretty much any other newly-Gauntleted magus whose ever lived.

The real question I was trying to ask here is, if those circumstances weren't applicable (for example, they're competing against a magus who has enough years out of apprenticeship to match them xp-wise) then would being Mythic give them a big edge, or would I need to do more to get them to "at their peak they'll be better than magi are generally capable of becoming"? And I think said question has been dealt with very well, so I thank you all.

... Hey, I just had a thought. What if I made them a lot more resistant to Warping? Perhaps I could increase the number of Warping Points it takes to get to the next Warping Score or something. Make their Twilights shorter and more beneficial for longer portions of their lives. Might help a bit, no?

Allowing to Major Hermetic Virtues would certainly go a long way towards making someone stronger. There are numerous character who I would love to see have Major Magical Focus and Flawless Magic...