negating the effect of the Gift

My players seem to enjoy playing adventuring magi, so I expect this to come up eventually: can a Perdo Vim effect suppress the "weird hobo aura" around magi that stems form the Gift?

RAW, tainting a target with the effects of the Gift is possible. I would assume using Vim the other way around should be possible too. Perdo Vim even has a guideline for that, although it depends on the magnitude of the suppressed effect, which is problematic in case of the Gift.

Do you think it's possible?
If so, what should be the magnitude?

Thanks

Generally Perdo cannot make things better.

What you are suggesting is essentially a spell to temporarily grant the virtue "the Gentle Gift".

The ability to do so in canonically outside hermetic magic, because if you could use PeVi or any other TeFo to grant yourself the benefits of the Gentle Gift, it would devalue the virtue, which is currently a major Hermetic Virtue, which makes it also a major investment for a character to have.

Dont let that stop you though.

I would probably rule that doing so is a Creo Vim or Rego Vim spell. As you are either improving your gift (thus making it Creo) or taking control over who it can affect (making it Rego).

Alternatively you could rule that:

There has been a breakthrough based on the "Gentle Gift" that allows magi to permanently or temporarily suppress the effect of their gift.
There has been a breakthrough in Parma Magica allowing magi to "trap" the negative emanations of their Gift within their Parma.
Introduce a Mystery Cult or initiation script that allows your characters to gain the Gentle Gift virtue.
Introduce a spirit, relic, angel, magical beast, familiar or whatever fits your vision that can and will temporarily take on or remove the negative social effects of your player's Gift's, possibly in return for payments or favors.
...
list not necessarily exhaustive.

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What Euphemism said, regarding The Gentle Gift. Think that it is not just a Major Virtue, is a Hermetic Major, which means that any magi picking it will have his Major Hermetic Virtue slot occupied. Any magus taking it won't have Flawless Magic or Major Magical Focus, so it must be worth the price.

Regarding the workarounds, I find the Vim approach dangerous for the virtue, which in turn breaks the game balance. When I read the breakthrough I just quit reading and start looking for my inquisitorial robes, as from there on what he have there is absolutely heretical (except for the Mystery Cult initiating the virtue, which is absolutely plausible).

Anyway you already have canon workarounds! There is Aura of Ennobled Presence, and it's variants across the series, to give you bonus that can deal with penalties in specific situations; Aura of Ennobled Presence if you want to command people, Aura of Beguiling Appearance if you want to look harmless... so you could go on and think of Aura of Saint Valentine Arrows if you want to look sexy, Aura of the Outstanding Coach if you want to be able to motivate people... and these spells have the extra benefit that doesn't suppress the Gift stench, but counterbalance (or try at least), having some quirks and side effects that add stuff into play.

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Well, I mean... Magic can be used to grant all sorts of things that are covered by Virtues. It can easily replicate the effects of Rapid Convalescence, Sharp Ears or even Shapeshifter (which is Major too). I wouldn't rule spells out solely for that reason.

A new Breakthrough is a neat idea, though, especially since I like things that make the players feel the world is developing independently of their characters. In any case, if it pops up mid-play, Rego Vim sounds reasonable.

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I'd say level 75, or maybe a bit more. If you feel generous, you may say 55 (per/conc/ind) making it a ritual. I take it would be a Rego effect. This is hypothetical.

Seriously, the Gift is a key element of the magi's role in society. If negation of its effect is anywhere near trivial, you change the world. As @Euphemism you would devalue the Gentle and Blatant Gift, but that is to me only a secondary effect and less important.

(Thinking of this, L55 would be too low, as an enchanted device would be possible with constant effect at L65, which is just a little too feasible.)

You can tell many good stories about living with the Gift. Cherish it :slight_smile:

The only known solution is Parma Magica which has to be placed on the receiving end. This does tell us that it is not fundamentally impossible, but the Order of Hermes does not know how to do it. The characters may find out, but it should be so difficult that one can believe why nobody did it before. It is good as a long term saga plot, and the approaches are many as already suggested.

I guess the Breakthrough doesn't need to be a free lunch either. Perhaps it could limit the user in some other way: like a verison of Parma which blocks the Gift from affecting others, but also others magic.

Aura is XY spells work, but only stricly mechanically. They don't counteract the Gift, they modulate it, so to speak. Aura of Ennobled Presence will convince a guy you are his natural superior, but the target will still be certain you're up to no good: he just won't openly confront you.

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But these are General Virtues! They relate to the mundane, not to magic. Giant Blood is a waste of Virtue points for any magus because later on he can create not just a spell to alter his size to even higher scores, but also to lower ones, while being able to end the spell and to things like walking through doors.

Hermetic virtues and hermetic abilities are a whole different story: is there any spell which grants you Flawless Magic or Major Magical Focus? (Actually they are: several magical traditions allow their sorcerers to grant virtues or flaws, on the other hand, but that's a different story, and Hoplites and Flambeau are dealing with them probably partly to solve this issue). Also if you let that happen, why not a spell which replicates the effects of Parma Magica?

It is perfectly fine for @Trophallaxis to want to tell stories where the Gift does not impede the interaction between magi and non-magi.

Whether or not the rest of us want to do so is fundamentally immaterial to the issue. I generally dont want to remove the social effects of the Gift for many of the same reasons as you present @loke. But apparently @Trophallaxis does and that is, for me, sufficient ground to offer counsel on how to do so.

From the perspective of running a game, the primary problem I see is as mentioned by @Ouroboros that the true cost of taking the virtue "the Gentle Gift" is the opportunity cost. If you take the Gentle Gift then you dont take any of the other major hermetic virtues, and they are all the type of virtue that you build a character around. Thus the true question is:

Does your group have any Gentle Gifted magi and if so, how are you going to handle that?

If I, as a player, made a Gentle Gifted magus only to have the story guide give the Gentle Gift to all the magi then I would feel cheated, and rightly so.

The next question is: How do you want to remove the social penalties of the Gift?. More specifically For how many people?, For how long at a time? How far back in time and forwards in time? At what cost? Do you want to explain it in the game or do you not want to do that?

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Absolutely. I did not say @Trophallaxis could not do it. I said that if he does, he changes the world.

And changing the world has consequences, such as disrupting game balance, as you say, and therefore should be thought through. One of aspect of this is to consider the story potential in the canon world. Even though I said «cherish it», I did not mean to imply that it is the only right game to play, just that it should be considered seriously before it is rejected.

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So, as SG (and we're a small group, me being the only SG), I'm fine portraying the effects of the Gift, and I'm also fine with stories where the players don't have to face it. It usually creates tension, risk, and conflict, which is often interesting, but, then again, combat is pretty similar in that aspect, and I, of course, wouldn't force combat on players if they took (rules-legal, reasonable and effective) measures specifically to avoid it.

We don't have any Gentle Gifted magi, so it wouldn't hurt anyone, and thus it's chiefly about whether it's allowed for by the rules (which is not that important in and of itself - but it's an indicator of whether it was intended to be part of the game's concept), and whether it makes sense in the game world.

I'm tempted to think, that based on your comments, the answer to the first point is probably yes. The game world is probably a bigger issue here. If the effect is possible and is just inventing a spell of reasonable level (to, say, suppress the Gift for Sun duration), the only rational conclusion is that it must be ubiquitous on the order, because it's so useful. That would, in essence, mean, that magi, in general, should have no trouble passing as mundanes.Which of course should change the whole setting considerably.

I guess then my question is then more along the lines of:
Has someone tried allowing this, and to what results?

Ars Magica has heavy mechanisms to extend the rules and break the limits, most notably original research and mysteries. The rules do not warrant what you suggest from game start, as such, but they warrant the characters changing the rules to allow it in game. (And hence somebody could have done the same thing prior, to allow it from game start, but then we are into your second point.)

We should mention that there are many spells which partially offset the effect of the Gift by giving social bonuses. Having some of those can allow normally Gifted magi to get away most of them time, and you can save a couple of social challenges for when the story needs it.

If you want it to cost something then the easiest solutions are probably:

A magical (possibly Magical, but works equally well for all four realms) being that can grant the virtue "The Gentle Gift" but will only do so under specific circumstances, e.g. in response to payment or favors.

A relic that suppresses the negative effects of the Gift as long as it is carried (but can only be carried by 1 person at a time). Maybe the relic is on loan and so cannot be freely accessed.

A breakthrough as suggested earlier by myself and Loke. I like the idea of a ritual that suppresses the Gift for a time. Make it a mercurian ritual or something else outside of hermetic magic so that the ritual parameters cannot easily be changed. Say you have a ritual with the following parameters

Duration: Sun/Moon, Target: Individual, Range:Touch.
lvl = 5x The amount of vis you want it to cost each time it is used. (I would be comfortable with a price of 6-8 vis for moon duration). That way your players will only use it when they feel like it is worth the vis.

You could also have both the relic and the magical being give the virtue "unaffected by the Gift" instead, that way your players can make select NPC's interact as if the players had the Gentle Gift. This would also be a cool power for a familiar to have.

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No, intentionally so.
You can use Mentem to force people to ignore the Gift, but you can't use Hermetic Magic to just create a pseudo-Gentle Gift. This is the intent - something that I'm about as certain of as I can be without having actually been in the room when the rules were written.
Why? Because the purpose of the negative effects of the Gift is to make sure there's a niche for non-magi in adventuring parties.

Still, if you want the Gift to have no draw backs, here are simple solutions:

  1. Drop Gentle Gift (and probably Blatant Gift) down to minor virtue (and flaw) status. They used to be just 1 virtue(/flaw) point, they could be again. That way a character can have it and still have another Major Hermetic Virtue.
  2. Introduce a non-Hermetic, whose primary skill is to (temporarily) grant people the Gentle Gift. At a price, of course... If you want to tempt, be sure to offer something that's actually worth being tempted by.
  3. Just ignore the social effects of the Gift. It's your game. Just run it the way you like. I like the plot hooks that grow from them. But if you don't, just ignore them. I know we used to, in prior editions.
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We never did so. It is part and parcel of the game world.

There is HoH:MC p.70ff The Path of Walking Backwards of House Criamon, whose first Initiation provides the Gentle Gift for a Major Ordeal: becoming Pious.

Inexperienced players, who perhaps did not know whether they would like to play Gifted people in Mythic Europe and now are whining (or such), can be served well by a Faerie market adventure.
Say, they visit 'Zurenzialle's parlor for discerning magical gentlemen' in a high level Faerie aura and can barter their Hermetic Virtues against other Hermetic Virtues: e. g. getting the Gentle Gift for their Mythic Blood or Flawless Magic. As a SG you need to play out the dialogues, know what just must not happen, and keep the players from exploiting the parlor - but allow them to rebuild their characters instead of just dropping and replacing them. Finally, you make sure the parlor disappears and is never ever found again.

Simple means to acquire the Gentle Gift for nearly nothing

  • set your saga apart from every other,
  • change the position of the Order of Hermes in Mythic Europe completely,
  • prevent your magi to enter other sagas,
  • and require the SG to carefully check every adventure or Tribunal book acquired for the needed changes.
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The answer to your question is largely dependent upon whether a character in the troupe has the Gentle Gift. If you "cheapen" that virtue by allowing a simple Perdo Vim spell to remove the penalty, what does that say?

Generally speaking I dislike negating Virtues, with simple spell effects. Some of this is unavoidable. But generally speaking spells used to add virtue like bonuses do just that, add an additional bonus, which don't make the virtue meaningless and can be combined with the bonus of the virtue.

The negative gift effect is why there is no magiocracy.

Look at how ex-miscellania was formed. Tremere's and Tytalus's back story. Power hungry mages would logically exist, and they exist in canon. The gift holds them back from dominance.

A king who in famine produces food. A king who's wounded soldiers mostly live. A king who just seems majestic (aura spells). Magic, plus an army, plus social skills, would most likely change the world.

Like anything, as SG, you can just decide that didn't happen, or make any "free" gentle gift effect only discovered recently.

I'd only allow PeVi to suppress the Gift if it suppressed it to the point you couldn't do magic any more (and I'm not completely sure I'd allow it even then). I'd also have to think long and hard about whether such a suppression was going to be a temporary or permanent effect - the Gift is arguably something you can naturally lose, which would imply Perdo would be permanent. Harmless Magic (HoH:MC pg 87) would be a potential work around, but you still really wouldn't want to botch.

It would be a pretty high level spell, which would be a good thing - you wouldn't want it to be a favoured attack tactic. Probably a ritual if it was permanent.

There are a few precedents in Hedge traditions for being able to suppress or destroy the Gift. Settuten can use Disjunction (Between Sand & Sea pg 99) to suppress the Gift; the EF starts at 12 for a day for a character who's Arts haven't been opened and has no more than the basic free virtue, up to 21 for a character whose Gift has been opened (on an Accelerated Ability scale). People whose Gift is untrained lose it if it's suppressed for long enough.

Amazons can suppress a Gift as a Base 15 effect, or destroy it as a Base 30 effect (Arts scale).

(Both of those do allow for Suppression without permanent loss, but the relevant magics don't necessarily work in the same way Perdo does.)

[Edit: Fixed the Settuten EF scale to note that it is an accelerated ability.]

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Typically using Vim on any given variety of magic requires a familiarity and understanding of that type of magical effect. Magi can thus design Form dispelling effects pretty readily because they know the fundamentals of how Forms work due to Magic Theory. You can't typically design effects to dispel magic of other traditions however unless you have some reasonable familiarity with them and how their magic works. This is somewhat nebulous but as a general rule applies to all Rego or Perdo Vim effects to affect magic.

My personal stance on things relating to The Gift is that the The Gift is not something that anyone really understands. It is impossible to replicate. Impossible to predict who will have it or not. It does not breed true most of the time. And yet there are families with more than their fair share. In order to have the familiarity to affect The Gift with Vim you would have to unravel these mysteries and many others about The Gift itself functions. And that would be no trivial task.

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I'm thinking the best you could achieve, short of a magical being granting the Gentle Gift or an initiation to gain the same, would be some kind of ReIm or ReMe to make people interact with the Gift in a set pattern- so they may have a -3 reaction, but treat it like a -3 reputation instead, so you could decide they see you as a fool with too much money (which they are then happy to do business with, even if contemptuously) rather than whatever the worst thing their mind comes up with is.

Others weighed in, often with my points. Still, here's my take:
I'm a man who strives for consistancy, and leans towards a slower power creep rather than leaps of advancement. I would not simply allow a spell to suppress the negative effects of the Gift, the primary reason being that if it was that easy, someone would have discovered it, and the history of the Order of Hermes and its interaction with society would have changed. Here's how I'd approach it if you wanted to give it an option:

  1. Question one, is it actually possible in Hermetic Theory? Is it a greater limit or a lesser limit of magic?
  2. If yes: Why hasn't anyone discovered it yet? Clearly, it's already a subject of research by a number of individuals. Even if most of the lab-rats don't care, there are enough magi who would want it that they've studied it. what if this area of study is what destroyed Mercere's gift, and that's why its taboo among Bonisagus?
  3. I don't think you should just easily suppress the gift effects with a simple spell no drawbacks, even if you allow it. After unlocking it with research (which I feel is a must, you can skip this step for your saga) I would suggest Suppressing the Gfift would either take away your magic-casting, or be a modification of Parma Magica that takes away your magic resistance. I'd suggest Muto Vim instead of Perdo, or the Perdo is powerful enough to make it a ritual because you're only targetting part of the Gift.
  4. An alternate route, you can try a Muto Mentem spell apon the target: That creepy feeling you have isn't me, it's towards the problem we're discussing.
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