Natural Magicians and ROP:M. Overkill combo?

I have been lurking around some of the online sagas here in the forums searching for cool ideas. It is amazing the amount of cool spells and ability combos one can see there! :slight_smile: One of the characters I have seen has grated me, though. Not for the character itself, that is 100% kosher and legal by all means, but with what the ROP:M book allows him to do. Nothing wrong with the charsacter or the saga it is playing in. it is just that I KNOW my troupe would tear the character appart if I tried to introduce it IMS. So here comes why:

It is a Natural Magician. So far so good. It takes advantage of the creation of CHartae to grant himself a Major SUpernatural Virtue. So far so good. Now, the virtue he grants himself is a Greater Power from ROP:M. That means that suddenly he has 50 spell levels to do whatever he fancies for a moon. Not so far so good anymore IMO.

I would say that this particular supernatural virtue seems to be a tad too strong for what a hedgie is supposed to be. I doubt this kind of synergy, even if 100% kosher by the rules, is what was thought when designing the natural magicians. Give a natural magician a week to prepare and he can have 7 such spells ready for the next 3 weeks of travel. 50 levels of spells divided between the diverse fields give the dude a level 20 spell that costs no fatigue and a nice penetration over that. Not overkill when compared to a magus, but this is extremely flexible (the spell can be ANY Te+Fo combo) and it strikes me that it turns Natural Magicians into a much bigger powerhouse than intended. Am I right here? Or is this what the authors of the 2 books had in mind when designing the Hedgies? I certtinly would not go happily after a natural magician feeling superior if I was a 40 year old hermetic anymore...


Well, It's the same with the give blessing tatoos for the gruagachans.

But I think the magus (natural magician or gruagach) need to study the supernatural power he wants to reproduce.

And these kinds of power are usually in the possession of great, terrible and powerful creatures. Quite dangerous for a natural magician which is more like a weak scholar than a powerful warrior !

If the magus don't have a way to study, or even to imagine the power, he can't get it, of course.

The system should be the same as how you can get mysteries. You can reproduce these powers, but it will be time consumming, and with some knowledges about what you want exactly, so at least a high score in magic lore.

And difficult or dangerous. To get a new supernatural virtue such as summon animals, you need to find and study this virtue from a magus which have it (if he wants ! :laughing: ). The same for power, and to reproduce a fire breath, to study it from a dragon.

If you can, of course ! :smiley:

The Virtues in RoP: Magic are for Magic entities, not for typical characters. Would you allow a Companion to take those Virtues without being a magical creature or having a Might score? I would not allow any of the Virtues in RoP: Magic, Divine or Infernal to be granted via a Gruagach or Learned Magician's abilities. The rules for for both traditions state that the storyguide and troupe have veto powers over any of the Virtues granted by either.

I thought so. Thx for the answers :slight_smile:

As per the rules, it is not exactly right that the giuy needs to know the ability and research it. As written, he could invent a start trek communicator and teleport device without much problems (BTW: the start trek teleporter is a minor virtue in ROP:M). The idea of "needing to investigate and learn from a supernatural being possessing the ability" is really cool, but not supported by the rules. It is the same as fort hermetics: as long as their lab total is high enough, they can do it.


I disagree, Xavi.

You and John Post are on two completely opposites extremes.

You: As long as the rules permits it, no problem.

John Post: No, because I don't want (more or less :wink: ).

I think that the first position can lead to an incredible unbalance, and the hermetic players could be bitter by seeing how much easy it is for these magi to get such fantastic powers (and even hermetic magi can't have everything, there are some limitations to their magic, and if they want to break these limits, it's incredibly difficult).

The second position is unfair for the players with natural magiciens or gruagachan. They have the possibility to improve their magus, but no ? And if you say no, how can you differentiate the different supernatural virtues ? You have to determinate which one is possible, which one is not.

And Xavi was asking about the virtues available in the RoP:M for humans, and not for creatures. To activate these powers (greater or lesser), you just need to spend some fatigue. So it should be possible to get or to reproduce these powers.

I really think that it should be possible to get these powers, but as for their hermetic counterpart: if they want power, they have to work for it !

After, the rules... Well, you can always change the rules ! For example, to get a major virtue, you have to discover it, to learn about it from the original source (at least one season for a minor virtue, three saisons for a major), after do experimentations to get the possibility to reproduce it, and finally invente the spell, chartae, tattoo...

Not a big change, and like this, it's fair and square: You can have power, but you have to work, and spend time and ressources !

And after all it's the same for the hermetic magi.

the problem is that the greater power virtue onced learned can be used to give yourself any 50th level spell for a month. Unless you are going to make every 50 level effect (power) a different project.

Even so, this is still fairly easy to get 50 level spells/powers which is beyond even most mid power mages and still a long project for high powered mages. I think the four power virtues, I would severely limit (greater power, lesser power, personal power and ritual power).

There are a lot of supernatural virtues without letting them basically get any 50 levels worth of spells power they can imagine.

First, I exercise the "no because I don't want to" option because the mythology surrounding the Learned Magicians as shown by the writings in period is not for them to run around casting flashy spells ala Pilum of Fire. See Binding Words: Textual Amulets in the Middle Ages (Magic in History) by Don C. Skemer for examples of the things Learned Magicians thought that their magic could do. There are examples of love amulets--granting Venus' Blessing--or for improving ones ability to perform some skill--grant Puissant Ability--for instance. There are no examples of an amulet giving someone the ability to throw around fireballs.

Second, the Virtues in RoP: Magic are, for the most part, defined as exclusively for transformed humans or creatures with Might. With the exception of Mythic Blood, I can think of none of the RoP: Magic Virtues that a non-Might having characer can take. There are lots and lots of Virtues that exist in the standard ArM5 book that can improve the Learned Magicians without dipping into those Virtues in RoP: Magic. As someone who is runnning a Learned Magician, I can tell you that they can do quite a lot to help those around them become much, much more effective. The things that they can do to themselves are more limited. Think of them as "buffers" in MMORPG terms and you will have a more satisfying experience with them.

Finally, there is such a thing as game balance. I don't think that allowing a Learned Magician to pick any level 50 Hermetic spell he wants every morning or once a month would make for a very balanced game. That's why I would exercise storyguide fiat.

Isn't it amazing what careful reading can make you see? :laughing:

Just reread the Vulnero Fortunam Guidelines. VuFo can only grant General (both Major and Minor) virtues. No supernatural, hermetic or whatever virtues allowed. Venius blessing, tough or Ways of the Land are OK. Gentle Gift, Dowsing or Throw Pila of Fire are not

"Problem" solved. :slight_smile:

And BTW, I have been with John Post all along the thread :wink: I (and my fellow players) would stone to death anyone trying to force that kind of stuff in our sagas. I disagree about how ROP:M defines stuff though: a lot of the virtues are labelled as "supernatural", but anyone can take them since they are listed as such in their own section. That section comes AFTER the section for creatures with Might, be them humans or not. It is the part of ROP:M that I dislike.


I don't think the problem solved.
Succurro Magicam can grant them supernatural virtues. And the problem remains for the Gruagachans.

But I agree with John Post for the natural magician. They're weak scholars, so they shouldn't be able to work on these kind of magic. Why ? Not because of myths, ancient texts, or game balance, but because they're studying their magic in city, where there's not a lot of fantastic creatures. So of course, we can't expect them to find fantastics powers. They can't have these virtues because, well, because of their ignorance about the magical world.

Ok for them.

But I disagree (again ! :wink: ) for the gruagachan, and especially the trollson.

For the trollson, in the supplement about Iceland (sorry, not the 5th edition, :confused: but I'm using this supplement as a reference for this mystical tradition in the game), they could gain jotun magic, which grant them powers similar to the powers described in the RoP:M. So, for the trollson and the gruagachan, I think they should be given the opportunity to get these virtues.

Err.... no, it can't. Read the spell guidelines. The virtues listed in the description states that it can grant a "General virtue", not "a virtue (in general)". Quite a difference here, since General Virtues are a specific category of virtues :slight_smile:

For the sakes of completeness. p90 Hedge Magic Sucurro Fortunam (thx Jionra for the correctrion) guidelines

No other statements made about virtues in the guidelines proper. In the previous text when it talks about virtues it bands any virtues form the ROP:D and ROP:I and says that the SG and troupe should exercise fiat to make sensible elections there.

Gruagachan still can provide major supernatural virtues. That is totally true.


Sorry, Xavi, I'm right. :wink:

You're speaking about Succurro Fortunam. Page 90

I was speaking about Succurro Magicam: Page 92.

And it can grant supernatural virtues: Minor (level 10) and major (level 20).

True. You are right. However, this breaks my suspension of disbelief about the concept of the Natural Magicians in Mythic Europe with the subtlety of a hammer blow. Those are not natural magicians anymore but the precursors of the X Men.

Pitty that a nice setting description of their ppowers is so at odds with their real power as superheroes.



The medieval x-men ? I like ! :laughing:

Well, you can always limit them in the same way as the gruagachan: If they can't give to themself virtues, there's no problem.

And it solve the problem with the trollson, since they can't give to themself blessing and can't have tattoos (but the problem remain with the gruagachan anyway).

I think: we have already an example of gruagachan with these kind of virtues !

Damhan Allaidh !

I think that the ability to get Second Sight or Magic Sensitivity isn't exactly the same as being an X-Man.

No. Minor virtues. Now, the guy gets shapeshifter 4: he can shapeshift into a lion, a whale, an auroch and a camel. he is living in Provence. I have serious issues with that. Or he can grant himself the power to cast POF at will. Both supernatural powers as per the RAW.... Some abilities are OK, some others are not, and natural magicians are not supopsed to be the equivalent of Flambeau or a lion running amok among his enemies or sinking ships with tail flips. That is NOT a natural magician. The Dragon Ball, POF throwing, Gruagach is not cool either.

Davnalleus IMO breaks the moulds, and this is why he is awesome. If anyone can get that kind of power with a pair of virtues from ROP:M suddenly that loses all its awesomeness and becomes everyday stuff in a world that looks like Forgotten Realms and not Mythic Euope anymore. At least to me. YMMV

I think I am gonna auto-ban ROP:M from my saga from now on as a potential source for PC abilities and virtues. I find it a huge failure as a book in that sense. The natural magicians will need a tinkering as well, like the inability to grant Major virtues no matter what AND make virtue-giving an "amulet only" lab activity: cannot be cast as a plain spell.



I think you missed the point, here.

Lion, whales, auroch and ??? CAMEL ? :open_mouth:

How can a natural magician who never left provence be aware of the existence of these animals ? Some of them are considered as fantastics in the medieval paradigm !

If it was falcon, cat, wolf and dolphin, ok, no problem. But here, your player is not playing for fun. He's forgetting what is roleplaying and what is Ars Magica.

I have an example, too. One of my players like a lot Iron-man. 8)
He wanted for his magus the same propulsion, and of course the possibility to use this as a weapon.

I said it wasn't possible since the reaction-propulsion principle was unknown in european medieval times.

And in China ? He asked. My magus is going to China to learn about this principle.

Ok... You have to find the way to China, to learn Chinese, to learn chinese magic... But over all, you need a VERY GOOD reason to go there !

?????? I have a reason ! To learn about the reaction-propulsion !

No ! Your character don't know a damn thing about this principle. He don't even know this principle can exist, and so ignore completely that this principle exist in China. Your character won't go in China if he has no reason to go there !

Finally, my player gave up this idea.

And here, it's the same.

How can a scholar who never left his town be aware of the existence of these powers ? And if he's not aware of their existence, he can't reproduce them, and have no reason to go on adventure to study these creatures. And if he wants some components of these creatures, it's better for him to buy these parts, it's less dangerous.

So, he can live without a clue about these capacities... So, no powers of the RoP:M for natural magicians. Or perhaps one or two in his whole life, if he's lucky.

The problem here is not the RoP:M. The problem is your players... and you too perhaps ! :stuck_out_tongue:

Nowhere in the rules it is stated that the natural magician needs to be aware of the previous existance of a power to grant it to himself. All those animals appear in bestiaries anyway.

As far as you are willing to stretcvh the system (but remain TOTALLY inside it) you can do that kind of stuff easily. this is why I find that kind of powers granted to natural magicians to be really un-mythic and highly DnD in style. Those are not natural magicians to me. Tha tis what the system allows to be constructed, not what I (or my players, for that fact) would allow in our saga AT ALL. I have seen this kind of powers in play in these same forums FYI. What I feared when the first supplements of ArM5 appeared is happening: as you introduce more rules the potential for total munchkinism rises over and over, so we need to start to stop using supplements to keep our suspension of disbelief.

Thanks for labelling me so nicely without knowing me, my troupe or our way of playing Ars in the least.

Have a nice day,

Xavi, I'm not labelling you. :confused:

I'm just saying you have a problem, and your problem is this one:

It's not a problem of rules, but just common sense. You can't grant a vertu to someone if you're not aware of the existence of this vertu. That's all. No need to search this in the rules. It's a question of logic.

And it's the same for the animals. What you know as a player is not the same as what your character knows. Here too, it's the same. Yeah you know what is a lion... But how many french in the medieval times know something about this animal ?

Not a lot.

So, there's no need to criticize the RoP:M. And I think myself that this book is very good. You just have to determinate what you know, and what your character should know. If you're doing this, no problem with this book ! :wink:

No, you are not labelling me... Insulting me perhaps, then? Without any knowledge of how my sagas have played so far and extrapolating info you obviously do not have from the wrong places and introducing rules limitations that do not exist in the RAW. Amazing stuff so far. :neutral_face:

Per the RAW, Natural magicians and gruagachan can have powers that do not appear in their background information at all, and that are far from mythic. As per the RAW a natural magician that has seen a flambeau casting a POF (likely event) can replicate the power and grant himself that ability easily. Good for Forgotten Realms. Sucks for Mythic Europe. In fact, as per the RAW he does not need to have seen the flambeau do it before doing it himself, only know that it is possible do do that. It is a clear point where the syste is broken regardless of what you say.

Besides, natural magicians are not supposed to shapeshift. Witches are supposed to do that, but not natural magicians. Scholars turning to bears is not very medieval IMO.

The only way to avoid this problem is to limit artificially the rules as they have been written: as they are written, this sucks big time and can easily break a "realistic" setting (yeah, one with magic et al) as has been described so far. The academics in bologna come to take the world in a fire strike....


Actually, I would have thought that most would know about lions (and camels and whales). Not many would have seen these things, but these animals appear in stories, on tapestries, in heraldry, etc.

Richard "The Lionheart" (1157 – 1199), for example, was King of England and ruler over a lot of France. His epithet wouldn't make any sense if no-one knew what a lion was.