Newbie question regarding Twilight and Criamon

I am a total newb. I am trying to learn Ars Magica by self-teaching.

My first group of questions concerns Twilight and Criamon.

  1. Members of House Criamon can use Enigma skill to understand the nature of Twilight.
  2. Getting through a Twilight experience by understanding it can lead to power-ups (such as spell knowledge or other good effects).
  3. Therefore it seems likely that many members of House Criamon would simply cast Creo Mentem and Creo Vim on themselves in order to boost Intelligence and then give themselves enough Warping points to go into Twilight voluntarily. Once in Twilight, they would use Enigma skill to understand the experience, and thus gain some benefit.

Is this how it's supposed to work? Is there some guideline somewhere that says that characters should not want to go in Twilight, even though they might have a good chance of benefiting? Is there some guideline that restricts Enigma skill so that this tactic is actually not viable once the numbers have been crunched?

If you were running a game of Ars Magica and a player came to you with the stated intention of making a new character who would seek to get a high Enigma skill, then go into Twilight as often as possible, would you award that player with good, desirable outcomes for winning the Twilight roll, or would you discourage this style of play by establishing a new guideline?

My second question concerns Warping scores and Warping points.

Apparently Creo Vim can be used to give someone (including the caster) four Warping points. That in itself should be enough to trigger a check for twilight. Once enough Warping points have been accumulated, the Warping score goes up.

As far as I can see, there is no way for the Warping score to ever go down.

A starting character with high Creo and high Vim could cast this spell repeatedly in a single day without taking fatigue. Thus, assuming that going into Twilight produced more benefits than flaws, that character could take a few days, or a season, and max out Warping score. Assuming the starting Enigmas skill was high, the character might win every Twilight contest and thus gain a benefit every time he went into Twilight. Is this correct?

My third question concerns the Gentle Gift, the Blatant Gift, and Warping. Warping is apparently the distortion of one's essence by magic. Does this tend to make the gentle gift less gentle? The Gentle Gift is a major advantage, and if it were lost by Warping, there would be an incentive to avoid Warping.


I think there is two things there:

1- the benefits... this could be an increased knowledge of craft: woodcrafting. Meaning: a benefit is not always a real benefit. The SG decide so if he thinks the player abuse, he can just say: "you gain 15x2 xp in "covenant lore".

2- it increase warping points which reduce lifetime.

Yes, although at a heavy price. You will burn 15 Warping for 30 xp, that means 15 less year under a Longevity Ritual. Even the best Minor/Major Virtues prolly won't advance your plan for the 8-12 years they'll cost you. From a munchkin POV you are better to convince the Troupe to advance 7 years. From a roleplay POV, it is great fun as long you dont get too powerful for the rest of the magi.

Remember that the Virtues/Flaws for high Warping do not apply to those with the Gift or other magical supernatural powers. The positive effects of Twilight increase your connection to magic but have no visible side effects. If you fail and get some twilight scars, maybe. Still, having green hair or an echo in your voice does not carry the same negative bias as the Gift. It might even be seen as a holy/pagan link to nature or fertility caves.

I think what you are missing is that Warping is ultimately fatal to the magus... once you have accumlated enough Warping you risk Final Twilight which (unless they've changed things in this edition and I missed it again) is beyond death. You don't even leave a ghost behind. Any magus concerned with his life and the state of his soul should be cautious of Warping.

The player is giving me a clear statement that this is the type of character they want to play. I think that part of my job as a storyguide is to enable players to realise the character concepts that they have come up with. I would certainly make good, desirable outcomes available, and I would ensure that the PC's skill is usable in all sorts of different ways within stories. Moreover, I would base entire story arcs around what this PC wants to do.

It works, but you speed up the rate at which the character eventually WILL go into final twilight and not come back.

BTW, have the character take the Flaw "Twilight Prone" if you´re going this way anyway.

Successful twilights can be a very quick way to gain power, but you dont get nearly as much power from it as you would get from living the longer time that those warping points would have allowed.
Perfect for a "live fast and hard, die young and spectacularly" character. :smiling_imp:

The character would be doomed to a very short life anyway so i would probably want "the usual" which are more or less random effects just based on the basic guidelines for good/bad.

By canon rules, nope. And this is why magi tend to regard warping points as the equal of years of age for mundanes.

I would suggest having both Affinity and Puissant for it.

Yup. But its not LIKELY. Sooner or later you will fail a check, and get stuck in twilight, quite possibly forever.

Warping has no direct social effect.

More precisely, you could "win every Twilight contest" in the sense that you understand every Twilight you get in (gaining positive, rather than negative effects). However, even if you do, you will stay in Twilight for a time that grows as you Warping score grows -- months, years, and eventually forever.

One could, however, argue that since twilight experiences do not last a long time at low warping scores, a magus could follow this strategy:
a) go willingly early on into twilight (under "controlled" and "safe" conditions, as much as Twilight can be made controlled and safe), reaping all he can until a warping score of, say, 6 or 7.
b) at this point, despite being very young, start being super-careful about "casual" twilight -- as super-careful as magi past their first century have to be. Note that you are not lost to Twilight if your Warping score equals or exceeds 10 unless you gain two warping points in one shot; if you are careful, you can avoid virtually forever.
Paradoxically, it may well be the magus who plans to live forever and (thinks he) can manage to dodge entering unvoluntary Twilight who takes this route. In this case, flaws such as Prone to Twilight are particularly bad.

Though if I recall correctly, a bad Twilight experience can "scar" your Gift and make you gain the Blatant Gift flaw (or lose the Gentle Gift virtue if you had it).

I wouldn't go out of my way to "award" the character. The character would get the Twilight result that seemed to make sense given the context, and what was rolled, and so forth.

I would think in terms of "rewarding" the player by telling stories where her character is able to do what she clearly wants him to do (which does not have to always be successful from the character point of view). This is subtly different to "rewarding" the character. So, I would work with the player(s) to ensure that there were lots of opportunities to increase the character's Enigma Score (for example, rumours about books that can found/traded to study from, or obscure mystics that can be visited and learnt from) and lots of opportunities to enter Twilight.

The character has a nice clear goal. This is a great way to drive stories. In my experience, characters with clear goals can drive the whole saga in a very natural way. If the storyguide works with the goals of the characters then you don't need to be constantly trying to "create" a story by sending characters out on "missions" or other clumsy plot devices. The characters naturally create their own stories by just trying to achieve their goals. So, I think that this character is a great idea. It doesn't need to dominate the whole saga, as he is just one character. But it gives the character a clear motivation to do some things and a clear motivation to not want to do other things.

Note, that if you want to actually role-play Twilight episodes (which may not be necessary), then you will have to work with the rest of the troupe too. It's important to make sure that the other players have something fun to do (even if if their normal characters don't) when the magus is in Twilight.

1.Thanks for all the responses. My initial confusion was based on missing the duration of Twilight table. A warping score of 5 makes a basic Twilight last one month - which is not disruptive to gameplay. A Twilight of 6 makes a basic Twilight last one season - at which point the character becomes a supporting character rather than a hero with a lot of spotlight time. Such a supporting character could conceivably gain five major virtues - which probably won't be very effective in terms of power, because a character can start with three major virtues at character creation, and there's a limit to how powerful virtues can make a character.

  1. Also, I did not realize that Warping score is comparable to age for long-lived wizards. That is something to remember if I can manage to get players for a long-term campaign. (I will probably have to be the game master because none of my friends will bother to read through the rules.)

  2. If I understand the rules, there is no normal way to buy Virtues with experience points. So if a player wants the "Elemental Magic" virtue, he has to take it at initial character creation. On the other hand, the rules for advanced character ages say, "Virtues and Flaws can only be dealt with by applying your best judgement," so perhaps some Storyguides allow their players to buy some Virtues with experience points after the saga has been going a long time. It would make sense if an experienced character suddenly gained "Secondary Insight," but I would trouble imagining how a player character would start out without "Mercurian magic" and then suddenly gain it. I guess the god Mercury could sweep down and confer the blessing, if the Storyguide thought such things were appropriate to the chronicle.

  3. So a "live fast, die young" Criamon could be a great supporting character to get the chronicle started and drive the plot. However, if I can get a player to run a "live slow, die old" Criamon character for the long term, I should encourage that player to plan to limit warping score, so that the chronicle can cover more than a century. If a "live slow, die old" player character Criamon takes the minor Virtue "Cautious with [Ability]" and applies it to Enigmatic Wisdom, I think that means that the player rolls two fewer botch dice whenever using Enigmatic Wisdom. Normal Twilight Comprehension rolls require ( 1+1 per Warping Point ) botch dice. So for a two-point Twilight, there would normally be three botch dice. If I understand "Cautious with Enigmatic Wisdom" correctly, the player would roll only one botch die when comprehending a 2-point Twilight; he would roll two botch dice when comprehending a 3-point Twilight, and so on.

  4. Just to make sure that I am reading the Warp Points and Warp Score rules correctly, I present a hypothetical case.
    Suppose one has a starting Criamon with a Warp Score of 0 and a Creo Vim of 55. His one known spell allows him to add 11 Warping Points to a single target.

He casts the spell on himself.

He gains a major Hermetic virtue from his 11 Warping points. Ten Warping points are spent raising his Warping score from 0 to 2, and 1 Warping Point is left over.

Suppose he repeats the process. His Warping Points go to 12, which is not enough to gain Warp Score 3. He gains another Major Virtue.

For a third time, he casts the spell. His Warping Points go to 23; 15 points kick his Warp Score to 3, 8 Warping Points remain.

For a fourth time, he casts the spell. His Warping Points go to 19, His Warp Score stays at 3.

For a fifth time, he casts the spell. His Warping Points go to 30; 20 points are spent to get a Warp Score of 4; 10 points remain.

Eventually, when his Warp Score is 10, he will go into Twilight and vanish from the campaign.

Is that the way it's supposed to work?

Yes and no. I think you've got the progression of increasing the Warping score correct. However, the magus would only gain a Major Virtue if you as storyguide wanted to give him one. The positive (and negative) effects of Twilight are entirely at the storyguides disgression. You may instead give them a new spell, or some experience points.

I meant early on/"middleage" while you still have a relatively low warping score... Even if you have a great score in Enigma, if you keep causing twilights, sooner or later you roll really badly and get stuck. Outside of the rest of the game. "-can i have a new character sheet please?" :wink:

Which is why i wrote "no direct effect".

Remember that the time spent isnt automatically determined, it still involves a dieroll. With a stressdie on both sides. Make sure you have maxed out Intelligence(maybe come up with some sort of Mutospell to raise Int even above +5 for the day when you plan to push yourself into twilight). And if possible, have the Virtue Self-Confident and spend points wisely.

Always remember to have Confidence available when going twilight episode.

It can be gained through Initiation. It´s not a game mechanic im fond of but possible, yes. I prefer to have characters having more leeway with what they start out with but with gaining Virtues in play being very hard.
(been in games where characters started out with anything from over 30 points of Virtues and less than 10 Flaw, just as one with a hoard of Flaws and barely any Virtues, something like a total of -20 or something, my basic is that if a player has a good and viable concept, exact number of V/F is debatable and arbitrary)

Rather than buying with XP, it´s probably better if the SG simply awards it if he feels the player has done enough, or something special enough that the character deserves it. Just as the SG might confer bonus XP sometimes, for example if a magi in a covenant acts as librarian on part of his free time, he might after a few seasons or years gain a Score of 1 in "Profession Librarian", or a magi who studies hard and spends a lot of time learning new languages and alphabets might after years get the "Book Learner" Virtue... And so on. If it makes sense, the player has done something to deserve it and the SG feels generous, then it´s SG choice(unless your players have a problem with that, then you may need to codify it somehow(which is a pain in the a**).

Use the Virtue combination of Cautious Sorcerer and Flawless Magic to avoid a LOT of warping points.

The character gets as many Warping points as what caused the Twilight, PLUS the result of a simple die.
Also i think you possibly misunderstood the system.
You add together ALL warping points gained, and that gives you a Warping score at the same ratio as you get an Ability score from XP. At 5-14 total points you get score 1, at 15-29 you have a score of 2, at 30-49 you have score 3 and so on.
So an average roll on a simple die is 5.5, lets say 5. The above spell causes an average of 16 warping points, so after 5 castings you would have around 80 Warping points and probably a Warping score of 5 (need 75 total for 5).

And what is gained with each twilight probably shouldnt be as automatic as "enough points, gain a Major Virtue".

Not automatically. If his adjusted result for time in Twilight becomes 10+, then yes he´s a goner.
If you make sure to always have Confidence to spend you can gain a +3 (or +6 with the Self-Confident Virtue) to the roll and probably avoid final twilight for a quite some time.

As an above poster said, there are rules in the later books concerning Initiation... Mysteries, Mystery Cults, and Hedge Magic all touch on initiation as a method for gaining Hermetic or Supernatural virtues. The mechanics are, in effect, that one must have an ability in a cult lore, and then have a script which grants a particular virtue, often (but not always) with an accompanying flaw.

I couldn't agree more.

I once tweaked out a Criamon character to do exactly this, cast Creo Vim spells on himself to gain Warping Points and all the cool bennies besides. What I didn't count on, as someone has already mentioned, is that every temporary twilight episode involves dice. I have never rolled so many botch die as when this character tried to control temporary twilights. It is also a die roll to see how many warping points the magus gains, and before I knew it I had a Warping Score of 5. While a month in twilight might not be bad if you are seasonally advancing, and I would argue that it is, a month-long twilight sucks when a dragon is chasing you. There are other times when a character must check for botches and has the potential to gain warping points. In this case, the character cast a spell to fly away from said dragon. I rolled a 0 and had to roll 3 or 4 botch dice. I rolled two 0's, which equals two warping points, which meant attempting to control the twilight, which I failed to do, and became dragon bait.

The character survived, all praise to his grogs, and from that point I played him like a temporary twilight junkie. He knew he couldn't control it, he knew it would ultimately kill him, but he just couldn't stop. It was fun, but my experiment to tweak out a Criamon and munchkin my way to kewl powers failed.


Matt Ryan

Funny, I was thinking about this today. It would be pretty interesting flavour for a saga to have CrVi dens, like 19th century opium dens or modern heroin shooting galleries. A seedy underbelly of the wizarding world full of failed apprentices, people with the Gift and no training, and strung out older magi. Twilight does sound a lot like a really intense, potentially addictive, potentially lethal high.