New Major Hermetic Virtue: Instinctive (Form)

You have an instinctive grasp of a one Hermetic Form. You gain the benefits of Puissant (Form) and Affinity with (Form). Additionally all your spells using this form are automatically Mastered with a starting score of 1, and all Casting Totals and Lab Totals have 1 fewer botch dice (to a minimum of zero). Finally, you gain a +5 on all rolls to Comprehend any Twilight where this Form was part of the roll which sent you into Twilight (and thus gain a beneficial result).

Comments? Criticisms? Thoughts? Rotten fruit? PeMe?

Too many different benefits. Make it a "(Form) Mastery" Minor Virtue giving you "Flawless Magic" in one specific form (or even "art", including techniques). Puissant and Affinity can be taken in addition to it, you get less botch dice through masteries anyway, and the bonus to Twilight Comprehension just seems... well, weird to me.


Also please remember that most groups restrict starting characters to a single Major Hermetic Virtue (because of the box on p. 37), but there are no real restrictions on Minor Hermetic Virtues, so those are generally more useful - and more generally useful too :wink:

I personally find it excessive, as well. As a SG, I'd ask the player to purchase the separate virtues for that, pay for each of them and have them all count towards the maximum 10 points.

Too much. With both Affinity and Puissant, that only leaves a single point of Virtue worth for the rest of the bonuses. And i would say the rest is worth more than 1 but less than 2 Virtue points.

Though i do find the additional bonuses quite interesting.

How about removing the Puissant/Affinity and instead give a straight +3 to +5 to Final Casting Total(ie after dividing if Spontaneous) and lab totals, that would give it a more "instinctive" feel as the biggest bonus would then come to Fatigueless Spontaneous casting. Also possibly make the Mastery effect as if it was Flawless Magic limited to a single Form(ie add the double XP put into mastered spells). If it feels underpowered, add in Deft Form instead?(a generally rather lowend Virtue)

This would remove any overlap with Minor Virtues and give it a unique feel.

Which is completely impossible as the package includes 3 bonuses that you cannot get separately.

This seems a common criticism... I'll address it in another post, shortly. :arrow_right:

I find this too strong for a solo "Minor" virtue. Many specialists (Pe or Ig Flambeau, FrEx) would gleefully grab a Minor Virtue that let them have most of their spells (and virtually all their combat spells!) auto-Mastered. But if I were to allow it, the name would have to be "Flawless (Form)" :smiley:

I intentionally include Spont & Labwork, not just formulaics, in botch-reduction. I thought the Twilight-benny emphasized the fact that these magi have an extra connection to one Form that's almost Criamon-Enigma-like in being incommunicable/incomprehensible but undeniable. :question: :open_mouth: :question:

This is intended to replace any other Major Virtue you might want, not be a 2nd Major Hermetic Virtue for your character.

Sorry, I was meaning that regarding the bonuses that are part of other Virtues. What I actually meant was to remove that part from the Virtue, so that it would have to be purchased separately. Mostly what you already said, TBH. Should have stated that more clearly, sorry...

That's actually about right... see later in this thread. :arrow_right:

Well, some of the Major Virtues are very-clearly supersets of Minor Virtues (again, discussed later). Hrm... I'll think about this, though. :question: :neutral_face: If I stripped out Affinity/Puissant and put in OTHER advantages, it'd allow players to ultra-load one Art by taking either/both of the Minor's... Not actually sure I like that, however: A Major Virtue and several Minor Virtues ALL pointed at one Art? Eeesh... Fragile, a very fragile character. :mrgreen:

So... is it over-powered, or have "too many benefits"? Maybe... but here's the (game-mechanic) logic.

How do we "construct" a Major Virtue? What's in it?

Let's look at Faerie Blood vs. Strong FB... To get S-FB, we take FB and boost the +1 vs Aging to +3 (sort-of/vaguely like a "Puissant vs Aging", but too weak to be a standalone Virtue (even minor a minor one); you get an extra 15 years without making an aging roll (that strikes me as being good enough to be it's own standalone Virtue (albeit hopelessly bland!) . You also get Second Sight (another minor-V). So it looks like 3ish Minor Virtues in a bundle, plus a little bit, and includes stuff not-otherwise-available-via-Minor-Virtue-Purchase. You also have a Downside, in that you look a tad inhuman; often this can be hidden -- with footwear, deep hoods, etc -- but not always.

Let's look at the major "Shapeshifter" vs. minor "Skinchanger" ... Shapeshifter is pretty much a multiple-Skinchanger; potentially, many MORE than 3:1. Shapeshifters have the benefit of not needing a skin (that can be stolen and is an Arcane Connection), Skinchangers have the benefit of +3 Soak (let's call the positive/negative (Soak/Skin) pair on Skinchanger a tie, and count them both out). Shapeshifter thus appears to be rather more than 3 Minor Virtues (especially since the Shapeshifter can go Bear (combat) / bird (speed, stealth) / fish (aquatic) / etc for REALLY amazing versatility... without any built-in downside.

Let's look at Ways of the (Land) vs. Puissant (Ability) + Cautious with (Ability): you get a +3 (vs. Puissant's +2) and one fewer botch dice (vs. Cautious' two-fewer) in a LARGE array of Ablities (combat, social, stealth, knowlege), plus a limited immunity to being attacked. It only applies in your "Land" of course, so it's got that sometimes-off downside... but this can be VERY minimal (e.g. the townie with "Ways of the Town" or the forester-type with "Ways of the Woods" or... well, ANYONE taking "Ways of the Mountains" when the Covenant is deep in the Alps/Pyrenees/Caucasus/etc mountains), etc... So it's MORE than a Puissant's worth of benefit, PLUS half of Cautious-with, PLUS that not-being-attacked bit... but sometimes (maybe rarely, maybe a bit more often, depending on a bunch of Troupe/SG/Saga imponderables) doesn't apply when Puissant/Cautious still would; but it applies to SO FRIKKIN' MANY of your Abilities, potentially WAY more than you could buy with Minor Virtues.

There's Magister In Arbitus; 240XP's (vs 50XP's for most of the XP-granting Minor Virtues (though Skilled Parens is notably better)). You've got that "only Canon Law" protection vs. civil authority, and the prestige/reputation of the "Magister" title. but you've got those Seasons of Teaching on the downside (but can abandon the Seasonal obligation if you want to give up the "Magister" prestige/rep; so call those a wash; 240XP = Major Virtue, vs 50 (or 90) Minor) .

Other examples are available, but get less and less directly-comparable. In general, however, I look at a Major Virtue as being "About 3-4 Minor Virtues' worth of benefits, PLUS something not available for buying as a Minor Virtue" and maybe some bit of downside, depending on flavor & balance-issues.

So... revisiting my original, let's keep the botch-reduction but not to zero dice, so it's a bit weaker.

If people think it's overpowered, let's include some downside, maybe something like a "Warped Magic" with your Instinctive Form creeping into your other spells, extra Form-effects leaking out around your intended magic, etc...

I need to think further about Direwolf's suggestion to strip out the Affinity/Puissant (and add "about two MinorVirtues-worth" of other bennies), allowing them as their own Minor-V's. As I said in that reply, the obvious load-up-on-one-Art scenario is one I find problematic.

But the bonuses from this Virtue is different enough that it allows some selective specialisation, fragile perhaps, but possibly also interesting.
Makes for more options and choices, always good in my opinion.

My house rules has Major versions of many of the Minor ones, and Greater Virtue versions of some Major ones(and likewise with Flaws).
For example, a Major version of Puissant simply giving twice the bonus.

Yeah. If it´s something similar to a minor with just a straight bonus, then i usually start with the Major being equal to twice a similar Minor.
Anything from that range up to your above level is a suitable range.

As long as you can come up with something that isn´t just a directly comparable bonus, then stacking them isn´t really a problem.
Like the one i suggested, sure it´s a straight up numerical bonus, but it´s not so big and with making it apply to casting after dividing for Spontaneous makes it a very interesting bonus.


I think Toa nailed it in the very first response. Flawless magic for a single form is a fine minor virtue. It is not the most powerful minor virtue available, perhaps, but is extremely efficient, since it pays to specialize. If you want the virtue to be a little bit more powerful, then have the minor virtue provide flawless magic for a single art.

A specialist is not necessarily all that fragile. A character who start play concentrating in a single form and a single technique is quite goodgood at nearly 30% of all hermetic magic, and has some devastating capabilities in his niche. A minor focus plus 2 affinities with arts plus 2 puissant arts already extremely effective, and a targeted flawless magic ices the cake, leaving points for good parens, affinity with magic theory, and another major hermetic virtue. Or some other fun combination.

Sometimes a major virtue deserves complexity, but in this case I think the simple version is simply better. it is more flexible and is more apt.

The conversation you have later regarding other major virtues is interesting, but I think it misses the mark.

First, comparing hermetic and non-hermetic virtues, and the way they are constructed, is sometimes useful but not always. They tend to be taken by different kinds of characters. I think it is easier to justify the major version of a regular virtue being more than 3 times as good as the minor version, because grog characters cannot have the major version. The major versions being elite to be justified because only the lead characters get to take them.

Second, your analysis of shape changer versus skin changer is dead on, right until you try to reach your favorite conclusion. Another way to look at this is that just as one shape is a minor virtue and all shapes is a major virtue, so to having a major version of flawless magic cover all hermetic magic is completely consistent with the minor version covering a single form. (By the way, neither skin changer or shape changer is a very effective virtue for magi, who can better achieve this effect either through spells or by being a Bjorn air. also, shape changer costs experience points and only covers a limited number of shapes and requires a skill roll.)

Strong faerie blood is an excellent major virtue when used properly. But it is far from overpowering, and many players want their characters to have a touch of faerie get exactly what they want from faerie blood. Is a strong faerie blood more than 3 times as good as faerie blood? Often it isn't. (If the 15 extra years are used for initial skill points, then maybe, but most players don't use it this way, and get all the bang for the buck they need from having a plus 1 presence, or a crafting bonus, and so on. For wizard characters, a small bonus to aging is often inconsequential.)

Magister in arty bus :slight_smile: (Dragon has been doing pretty well so far today) is not more than 3 times better than, say, good parens. It is not more than 3 times better than the baccalaureate virtue from arts and academe.

An assemblage of benefits into a major virtue sometimes seems to be better than the cost, but sometimes is not; each needs to be taken on its own merits. For example, many players believe that mercury in magic is not worth the cost of a major virtue. Diedne magic certainly is not: life linked spontaneous magic usually provides a better benefit, and does not come with a major flaw built in. Mythic blood is also probably not worth its cost; the minor focus is balanced by an intrinsic minor flaw, leaving 30 spell levels that don't gain the benefits of your art scores (good parens 30 real spell levels and then adds 60 experience points) and sometimes saves you fatigue, when you try to cast a formulaic spell and missed by a little bit.

By the way, if you want to go for a unique and simple major virtue that is plenty powerful, how about something like this:

mastered form – hermetic major virtue

You have an ability that starts at 1 that acts as mastery for all of your formulaic and ritual spells of a single form. The mastery benefits you choose for each level apply to all applicable spells if it is otherwise legal to do so.

(Change this to "mastered art" if this isn't powerful enough.)

But I still think Toa 's version is better, because it is closest to existing game mechanics and is appropriately priced.



While in some ways i agree just fine with you, have you tried or tested it? This would make a Major version of Puissant Art provide a bonus of 9-10... I´ve kept it at 6 and found that to be far more suitable.
Even worse, the Major for Puissant Ability would provide a bonus of 6, that quickly gets quite unwieldy.

This works but is somewhat on the weak side. The bonus is nice, but it´s a rather expensive bonus in XP so, weak...

I have Major Virtue "Elementalist"(and "Life Magic" covering Co,He,Me,An) , where you gain an Ability that covers the 4 elemental Arts instead. It´s fairly decent.

For a little difference i have Major Virtue "Magic Specialisation", where you get an Ability that adds to as much as a Major Focus, or an Art that adds to as wide an area as a Minor Focus. (with the Minor version giving an Ability covering a Minor Focus)