Looking at Elemental Magic

As others have posted: For a minor virtue, it's great! Unfortunately....it's not.

So: how to improve it? Well, I was taking a look at Hedge Magic, and it mentions that Elemental Magic is basically just the partially-integrated version of Elementalism (or at least the Elementalism virtue of the same name). And yup - they look really similar. And in looking even closer - one of their powers is completely integrated into hermetic theory already: Elemental Therugy. (ie, you can use the Hermetic Elemental forms to summon and control beings associated with that form.) So I thought - why not the other (Medicine and Philosophy) powers? They'd probably end up looking something like this:

  • [b]Elemental Medicine /b - the magi may use one of the four Elemental forms, instead of Corpus, to affect the human humors associated with that form.
  • [b]Elemental Philosophy /b - the magi may use one of the four Elemental forms, instead of Animal, to affect animals associated with that form.

Combine that with a reduction of Elemental Magic from a major to a minor, and you've got what looks to be an Elemenatlist that actually looks moderately interesting - at least to me.

So - what does this do? Well, it makes the game feel more like Legend of the 5 Rings, honestly - they have a similar setup in that. (Earth = Stamina and Willpower, for example.) It also adds a bit of a layer of complexity to the game, as you'll need to know which animal/humor/attribute is associated with which element. However, if this were the case...I'd actually seriously consider playing an Elementalist.

Does having those two as minor virtues work? My initial though is that they should be major, as they're basically getting rid of Mentem and Animal...but they're now spread out over four other abilities.

It appears that Elemental Medicine and Philosophiae should require integration, because they appear to be primarily Middle Eastern knowledge. They also aren't worth Virtues if you do it that way; if they can be integrated at all, they should become teachable knowledge like Hermetic Elemental Theurgy. One Major Breakthrough is all it takes; the reason it's not Integrated is because most Seekers have better things to do with their time.

Anyway, Elemental Magic is in a weird place. It's very powerful for a Minor Virtue but underwhelming for a Major. I wouldn't scale it down myself, but your saga may vary.

I would use it in the way that it's explined on Hedge Magic, with the Pseudo Affinity/Secondary Insight thing, adding experience.

Well, yes - in-game, this would be pretty easy to do. Probably 30 Insight Points and a "minor breakthrough" for each. As a guess, Bonisagus actually stripped out the Mind/Body/Animal/Spirit elements, and made them their own Forms, but someone in the past added the Spirit ones back in.

My issue is that Elemental Magic, as is, simply isn't very good - by adding in these as minor virtues, or alternately calling "Elemental Magic" a major virtue with these two powers incorporated, I would actually be moderately interesting to playing one - as it actually lets me play something that is strongly aspected with elementalism, while not being stuck with just being "the fire guy". So basically rather than doing an in-game Integration, I'm merely talking about house-ruling a chance to Elemental Magic.

However, I'm wondering whether or not doing so (either keeping it as 3 separate minor virtues, or one major one) is particularly balanced or not. Hence my question.

That's pretty much what is in the core rulebook, which is my comment - it's a lousy Major virtue.

What I think I'm doing here is taking the Hermetic Integration section of Elementalism, and doing a full-bore major integration of Elemental Philosophy and Medicine. (The rules there suggest doing it piecemeal: each separate ability as a minor breakthrough).

While I suppose it COULD be done that way - if you set the Insight requirement low enough (ie, 10 Insight points each, or something like that). Personally, I'd rather keep them separate as virtues and (perhaps) combine them into the Elemental Magic - so that Elemental Magic itself is a useful thing to take.

Actually, what I think MarioJPC is referring to, is that in Hedge Magic Revised it suggests that as an added bonus for Elemental Magic you could give the character an additional amount of experience during character creation equal to half the experience spent in the appropriate forms, to be divided as per the virtue (obviously, not stacking with itself).

Personally I use this one IMS, alongside the same benefit for Secondary Insight.

All that being said, I still find I personally like Elemental Magic quite a lot, as it allows for some rather unorthodox magical concepts to be viable. I personally played around with a Lavamancer, which was quite competent, and also a bit scary at times.

In terms of XP, Elemental Magic is less useful than Book Learner or Apt Student (which admittedly are both quite nice). So it has to be judged based on the utility of its secondary power - the ability to ignore elemental requisites.

Personally, this seems to make powers that are almost completely subsumed by other forms, and make them moderately useful. For example: an Elementalist, as it stands now, could create a Farie ward that actually affects most faries (or at least those associated with Earth/Water/Air/Fire - which I think are most of them).

Or, depending on how I read that "can ignore requisites" line, can maybe create a "levitate element" spell that could move earth/air/water/fire without being needlessly difficult. So, yeah - it does save a bit of time on spell creation. Personally, I'd call that another minor virtue.

So, yes: it's a major virtue that consists of a sub-standard minor virtue, and a somewhat specialized, OK minor virtue.

Ah. Got it. Yeah, that does help, somewhat.

Although, in the mental calculation that I do with this virtue, this goes from "crappy minor XP virtue + OK specialized form requisite minor virtue" to "Actually decent XP virtue + OK specialized requisite minor virtue" - which still leaves an additional point of "decent minor virtue" to fill in.

Personally I think that's a little bit limited in terms of what you can do with it: I personally went with Muto Terram on this one, as everybody has got to be in contact with it at one point or another. Turn the ground your enemy is standing on into water, their arms and amour into fire etc., it's just a small part of what you could do with it, but I think it's quite interesting, and at times hilarious.

Exactly. I think that the better point is the Free requisites... the spell of Blood of the Dragons (to make the objective almost impervious to heat and their blood true lava) from Hermetic Projects is a lot of easier with that virtue. The same with others mixed element phenomena like sandstorms, floods, mud and so on.

Another point to make this Virtue more valuable about would be than you ever get the greatest of all the Forms on your Lab or Casting totals with Elemental Forms.

We never really liked Elementalist as written.

First, as noted above, it's considerably underpowered. Second, we found the Virtue somewhat vague on what "study" encompassed. Third, we always found the "free requisites" part a bit fiddly. Remember, if one needs a requisite for a spell to have its primary function (e.g. a spell that turns raindrops into diamonds) then a vanilla mage pays no extra magnitudes (but has to use the lower of the two Arts). But if the requisite adds function (e.g. a spell that creates a flaming sword, as opposed to a normal one), then a vanilla mage must add magnitudes. It was never clear to us how Elementalist would apply to the second case.

So, when a few years ago a player in our troupe decided he wanted to make an Elementalist magus, we redesigned the Virtue so that it was more balanced and clearer (at least in the opinion of the troupe). This is it:

Elementalist, Major Hermetic Virtue
You have been trained in the ability to manipulate raw elemental forms (Ignem, Auram, Terram and Aquam), and view them as a connected whole rather than four separate Arts. Whenever (including during character creation) you increase or decrease your experience total in any one of the elemental Arts, you automatically increase or decrease the other three by exactly the same amount, at no extra cost. Because of your holistic understanding, this Virtue is incompatible with any Virtue or Flaw that would only apply to some, but not all, the elemental forms. For example, you cannot take an Affinity in any elemental form (since a magus is limited to two Art Affinities), or a Minor Focus in creating metals, but you could take Incompatible Arts four times to represent your inability to use a particular technique with any of the elemental forms.

I know that a lot of people who'll read it superficially will scream "It's overpowered! It gives you sooo many extra xp compared to !" A more careful look at it, and many sessions in play, show this is not the case - while it makes a magus very flexible (when dealing with inanimate stuff), it does not make him significantly more "powerful" compared to a magus specializing in a single Form (in fact, the inability to take a Focus or an Affinity is a serious handicap). It is phenomenally good for Tremere certamen specialists, however :slight_smile:

I think that's an amazing correction to Elementalist!

I like ezzelino proposal very much.
We have one Elementalist guy in our troupe, and yes, the virtue is very underwhelming. On paper, it looks like each time you study one of the four elements you get 3 "free" xp, which is more or less what you get from Book learner. Sure, in one case it includes any source of xp, whereas Booklearner only affects reading. However, since it is one single xp in 3 different Arts (instead of 3 in one Art), it is just plain useless, it does not speed up significantly the learning curve as we noticed that the character had still to dedicate significant time to study other Elements when he needed to be somehow effective.

Out of close to 50 seasons of labwork, the requisit advantage coming with the virtue was only useful a couple of time at best and it is not because he is not trying to use it, just there is not that many spells where it plays a significant role to make it worth a Major Hermetic Virtue.

At one point I played around with the following (similar) version. Never tested it though.

Elementalist (Major Hermetic Virtue)
For you, there are no Ignem or Terram as such. That division is false and arbitrary.
You have trancended that understanding of the world, and now embrace fully the fact that these phenomenai are one.
You have no Aquam, Auram, Ignem or Terram Arts. Instead you have an Elemental Art, which takes the place of all four of these, for all purposes, including research, spell casting and magic resistance.
You can study this Elemental Art from normal hermetic books on the subject of any one of the above Arts, but need at least one reference text for each of the other three present.
If these 'reference texts' are tractatus, this does not count as having studied that tractatus.

(I then got stuck trying to handle Study Bonus/Study requirement and Vis study)


Re: The Best and Worst Virtues

Postby Ovarwa ยป Fri May 23, 2014 7:01 pm
Elementalist as Major Hermetic Virtue: You have a single Form that represents and replaces all four elemental Forms, due to your superior understanding of all the elements. You may not take Puissant Art or Affinity with Art with this Form, and the scope of a Focus still is based on distinct elements.

Secondary Insight as Major General Virtue: You gain four xps every season to use freely. You also gain normal experience for that season. (Seemingly not so great, but awesome for magi who get lots of exposure, and always applicable.)

But the rules are otherwise. :slight_smile: