Newbie questions- Elemental Magic and Secondary Insight

I did a bit of searching through the character designs thread, but I didn't see any relevant info on this issue.

There are two virtues, Elemental Magic and Secondary Insight. Suppose a starting character takes both.

Elemental Magic: When you gain at least one experience point in one element from study, you gain exactly one experience point in each of the other three.

Question 1: So if you gain ten experience points in fire from study, you gain one point in water, one point in air, one point in earth? Or do you gain ten points in each of the other three?

Question 2: Gaining experience from study is presumably different from gaining experience at character creation and from battles. So if you gain experience in fire from casting fire spells in battle, presumably you don't gain experience in any other element, right?

Question 3: Likewise, at starting character creation, the character gets 240 points for arts and spells. Presumably it is not possible to spend 100 points on Fire and get 100 points in each of water, air, and earth, right?

Secondary Insight: When studying a Technique from a book, a teacher, or raw vis, you gain one bonus point in each of four Forms.

Question 4: Generally speaking, the book, teacher, or raw vis provides a number of experience points equal to Source Quality (plus character virtue bonuses, minus character flaw penaties). So studying a book on Creo might provide ten points that must be spent on Creo, but would also provide just one bonus point to each of four Forms, I presume. I presume it would not be the case that gaining ten points in Creo would provide ten points in each of four forms.

Question 5:This applies only to books, teachers, and raw vis, not to experience due to age, battle experience, or initial character creation, I presume.

When these two virtues are combined, One might gain multiple bonuses.

Question 6: Suppose a character has both Elemental Magic and Secondary Insight. He gains ten points in Creo by study. He assigns one bonus point to each of Mentem, Vis, Corpus, and Ignem. Then he automatically gets one bonus point in each of Aquam, Auram, and Terram, right?


The virtues work as written, I see a lot of over-interpretation in your question. You study a book, if you're an elementalist and it's on ignem, get full xps from the book in ignem, and 1 xp in aquam, auram and terram, each.

If you have secondary insight, you study a book on creo, you get full xp's in creo, and then go over to the forms, and pick 4 and throw an XP in each. Read a book on a form, go over to the techniques and pick two and add 1 xp to each.

Your premise for taking both is moot. These are considered major hermetic virtues, take one only, please.

Although, I have seen some commentary on here that these virtues might be classified as minor in some sagas.

Sorry, I have just started reading the rulebook and I wasn't aware that characters should only one major hermetic virtue.

Yeah, lots of little rules scattered in odd places throughout the book. This one's in the inset on page 37. Don't feel bad, I've been playing for years and I still miss some of these.

It's ok, the rules are vast. Welcome to Mythic Europe. :smiley:

One each in the other three. IF you have done something that warrants the magi to split the XP you can however trigger it 4 times. And if you also manage to have the magi to do correspondence concerning one of the relevant Arts, you can trigger it once more. There does exist an even more ridiculous exploit but it´s totally munchkin and not something i even want to type up.

Houserule suggested is that either you allow the Virtue to trigger from any XP gained, or allow it to give 2XP in each other Art, BUT in both cases only allow it to trigger ONCE per season. This makes the Virtue more worth the cost and avoids the rule exploits.

By the rules, no.

We missed that part and played with it giving the bonus regardless of the source(but only single triggering) and that was fine though.

Extremely much correct yes! I´ve always played with different versions of getting bonuses though.
One variant that has come up on the forum is to add 50% of the total XP you put in the Elemental Arts and then spread those XP evenly on the same.
It´s much more problematic to figure out a good ratio with Secondary Insight, but take a guess... :smiley:
You can also do a simple "award X XP per year since starting to get XP in Arts, those XP limited to use in Arts only".

You presume correctly.

Good question... I would say clearly NO. Otherwise you could claim that he then also gains 1XP in 2 Techniques 3 times.

Dont go smacking down on his game by changing recommendations and guidelines into hard rules that they are NOT, please.
The guidelines are extremely restrictive, many times very much overly so.

If characters starts running around with more than one of the Greater Virtue´s that i´ve added at 6 point cost, then you might want to worry a bit about getting restrictive, but with just the ones in the main rule book? Not really a big issue. The possible exceptions might be combining Diedne and Life-Linked Spont.M. or Flawless with Life-Linked.. But those combinations are still no automatic "i win" buttons(not even close) and i wouldnt be bothered even a second to allow them as long as the player can give a good reason or concept for it.

Having 2 or 3 Major Hermetic Virtues means you get very little Virtue points for other things, and that often actually makes them worse in overall longterm powerlevel.

But he is right. You're the one who is changing a hard rule into a recommendation. It's one of the "may not" (not allowed) ones, not one of the "should not" (not recommended) ones. If "may not" were not used in contrast to "should not," you could try making an argument even though it doesn't need the contrast. But with the contrast it's even more solid. Taking more than one at creation requires a house rule. He might have said it more gently, but his point is valid.

Now, I do agree with you that taking two of them generally shouldn't be a problem since a bunch of them are definitely on the weak side when compared to three minor virtues.


My intent wasn't to come off as strongly as it appears I did. I saw someone twisting themselves up trying to understand the rules. Been there, done that. On a great many things. I tried to be concise without being pedantic.

Callen, when exactly did guidelines turn into hard rules?

Except those "may nots" may just as well be suggestions as otherwise the insert should simply be noted as "Rules" and only list the "must´s". As it is, the insert CAN be read as all rules just as well as nothing but suggestions. And then we´re back with the "One rule to rule them all", that SG decides what is correct...
So, stating them as hard rules means you´re enforcing strong limits on the game based on one of the two most extreme interpretations...

What annoyed me was that he stepped in and stepped down on a new player to set strict limits. If i do anything near that i try to at least say it as a caution that "you may want to be wary of that" or a heads up that "whoever wrote the rules doesnt like that idea for one reason or another". Because unless there´s a very good reason for it i think it´s highly preferable not to demand others play by "my" rules, or interpretation of rules.

Hence why i never really bothered to stick precisely to the suggested limits.

True of starting characters, but there's no rule against getting one or both after character creation through initiation, so I think at least question 6 still wants an answer. There, I would agree with Direwolf, and expand thusly: the Creo points in your example come from the book, so they would be what's considered when you look at how Secondary Insight and Elementalist apply. If you take some points in an elemental form via SI, those are not "study" points, so you couldn't Elementalist (or, just as sneaky, declare that you should be able to SI those form points).

I'm glad that works great in your saga. It may not in other sagas. There's a saying, oh, yeah, YSMV. Just because you choose to view everything as a guideline you should not look down on others who view things in the rule books "as hard and fast." Suggesting that a new SG adopt everything as a guideline is just as much of a smack down as you accuse me of making.

You are bringing up issues that are relatively advanced for a new player, let alone a new SG. I read the OP in this thread first, before reading any of yfr's other posts. He was, quite simply, and in my opinion over-reading the rules as they pertain to 1) each virtue and what they do and 2) trying to figure out how they should interact, when according to the RAW they shouldn't. Again, in my opinion, a new person stepping into the vastness that is Ars Magica doesn't need encouragement about which rules are flexible and which ones are not. If you don't start with some guiding principles, such as the rules as written, then you're going to end up creating a saga that is run by SG fiat. No one likes that, including the SG. Yes, everything is a guideline, because the goal is to tell interesting stories to the troupe. At some point, rules may fall by the wayside. Early on though, it's best to stick to the RAW. Justification for changes can be made and retconned successfully by resourceful SG's, when they and/or the troupe determine it is appropriate or doesn't make sense for their saga.

I answered based on the OP, in which yfr mentioned character design. Yes, it's possible that these could interplay through some sort of initiation. I would however try and work around that with the individual player. And if unable to do so, then I would need to know which particular virtue applied befor they wanted to study. I wouldn't allow both to interplay in a cascading or complementary manner, or at least I'd force the player to come up with a good argument as to why both virtues would apply on a case by case basis.

yfr: I apologize to you, if I came off brusquely. I read your post without having read any of your other posts, so I was unaware as to just how new to Ars magica you were. When I said take one only please, my intent was not to belittle you or smack you down, but to remind you that the rules are to takie only one major hermetic virtue. i will reiterate that while these two particular virtues appear powerful, several players think that these are nearly worthless majors and might even relegate them to minor status in their sagas. And, you should take note of the subsequent discussion that my comments have caused. The rules are vast, and more than any other system I've played there's a lot of room for interpretation in certain places. And sometimes those places stir controversy (Aegis penetrating, anyone?).
Since you're bringing new people into the system, in addition to being new yourself, you should consider shouldering some greater responsibility for character creation this first time. If possible, if you know your players well, consider creating mostly complete players, letting them flesh out some final details. Alternatively, ask the players, individually, what kind of magic are they interested in, describe the techniques and forms. Suggest complementary virtues and flaws, interesting story flaws based on things you've seen them rp in the past. Try and make the character creation process a story driven event with virtues and flaws assigned accordingly, really get them to buy into their character instead of seeing a mess of letters on a sheet. I'm not familiar with the games you might've played before, but there is a huge emphasis on characters created with a lot of detail in their back story, and in many sagas people try and make everything as authentic as they can.

I think at least part of the doubt may come from what "study" is. In our saga, we assume "study" to be any one of Training (of course, you cannot train Arts), Teaching, Practice (including studying Arts from vis) and Book learning. Nothing else qualifies, including Adventure, Exposure, Twilight, Correspondence and "when you gain an xp here you gain one there" Virtues.

That said, I concur that Elementalist is phenomenally weak as a Major Virtue. In our saga, it's still a Major Virtue (so that it "defines" the character, at least at creation), but it's house ruled to be more powerful: every xp you place in one Elemental Form translates into an xp in each of the other three (these "mirror" xps do not get themselves duplicated) -- effectively, the character has only one Elemental Forms score, and can substitute it freely for Auram, Aquam, Terram or Ignem. To avoid headaches, we assume this Virtue is incompatible with Affinity or Puissant Virtues in any of the four Elemental Forms.

I still think this is somewhat weakish in practice, because having four high scores in the four elemental Forms is less useful than having four high scores in most combinations of four Arts; but it's certainly more worthwhile than in its current version.

I think I see a lot of sense in this. In my mind an elementalist should be proficient in all the elemental arts, more or less equally. This resolves the situation.
The major virtue, as you've redifined it, is self-limiting, too. The player and or the character will tend to pursue these arts to the exclusion of other Arts. There's a huge reward to spend 10 xp in an elemental Art and get 30 more xp, then to spend 10 in a Technique for example and get, well nothing extra. Has it been your experience that players with this virtue, as you've modified it, struggle with improving the techniques? Certainly I can see the other forms, is that your experience with them, as well?

We've seen only one PC take it so far. He spent almost no experience in the remaining forms (just enough to train an apprentice, eventually). He did spend a sizable amount of experience in Creo; a lesser one in Rego, Muto and Intellego; almost none in Perdo. Still, the Elemental Form score was the highest. The PC poured about 35% of his Art experience into it, about 20% into Creo, about 10% each in Rego, Muto and Intellego, and the rest divided among the remaining Arts.

Can't resist a mathematical puzzle....
I'm going with Art scores of: 26 in Aquam=Auram=Ignem=Terram, 19 in Creo, 14 in Rego, 14 in Muto, 14 in Intellego, and 5 in everything else.
Am I close to the actual number of jellybeans?

By sheer chance, you got the total of the "other" seven Arts (Perdo, Animal, Corpus, Herbam, Imaginem, Mentem and Vim) right at 105. Only, it's 0 Animal and Herbam and 21 each of the other 5, because our primers are a little better than Q15, and because the character only plans to eventually get Animal and Herbam at that level as well.

But this stroke of luck did not save you! If 105 xp is 15% (=100%-35%-20%-10%-10%-10%) of the total, then 1% is 7xp.
This would yield:
Elemental forms 21(14) from 357xp
Creo 16(4) from 20
Intellego, Muto and Rego 11(4) from 10*7xp
The actual numbers are pretty close, in fact (remember I said "approximately").

We house-rule both virtues to apply to any experience gained. If you take the three studying minor virtues to replace either of these, you'll gain far more experience. For example, Book Learner provides the same 3 as Elemental Magic or Secondary Insight (on average), though in different spots. But Book Learner applies to non-Arts, too. Apt Student is like Book Learner, but it provides 5 instead of 3. Free Study is the most even. Elemental Magic has one other little thing, but overall I believe the two major virtues pale in comparison to the three minor virtues. So we tried to balance things out by having the major virtues apply more generally.


Heh: I counted that there were 10 other Forms, not 7. :blush: You had me convinced that all elemental forms should count as just 1 (of the 15?) Forms!

don't worry, I'm not trying to enforce a written contract here :wink: