If so, I'd definitely want to use it myself. There's some communication problems here, probably on my side, but thanks for trying to communicate in the first place
Let me see if I can recap your point correctly. To some magi magic is a means towards and end; for others it is the end. The former should reach sufficiency at some point; the latter never. Is that what you are saying?
If so, I totally agree. I'm just asking: how many fall in the first group, and how many in the second? 50% vs. 50%? 90% vs. 10%? 20% vs. 80%? This is not a rethoric question with an implied answer like "surely most will fall in the former group". I really think it is not clear, and I'd like to see what the range of opinions is.
Personally, I'd be tempted to see that the former group ("magic-as-a-tool") is significantly larger than the second ("magic-as-a-goal"). For although for every tool - be it the sword, mathematics, wealth or political power - there are always some people who turn it into an end, well, most people still see it as just a tool. I think it's a natural consequence of the fact that there are many, many tools, whereas people generally have relatively few things that they strongly pursue for their own sake.
In this regard, I think most PCs are atypical, in the sense that Ars Magica provides a richer palette with which to paint the quest for magic than ... say, the quest for the perfect cuisine (hey, it's not called Ars Coquinaria after all!); so it's generally more rewarding fortheplayer to have his character pursue magic than any other goal, creating a bias among PCs in favour of magic. In this sense, I think that assuming the average NPC magus can be modeled after the average PC magus is about as incorrect as assuming that, in a D&D world, the average person an adventurer willing to risk life and limb chasing loot, dragons and damsels-in-distress only because all - or most - the PCs are.
But sure, probably, I would.
I know that "building a 1/8 scale model of Stonehenge from toothpicks", is the sort of goal that some real people might have. It's still inane. Mastering the abstract rules of a game about an imaginary version of the 13th century is quite high on the inane stakes too .
Yes, character goals don't need to be "world shattering". But character goals do need to be interesting to me as a player --- because they are characters in a story. Real people are, of course, welcome to have goals that don't interest me.
Of course it can be. But, I don't think it is a realistic goal for the majority of magi to have. Most magi, I think, would have (like most people) something more interesting as a goal. "Getting better at magic", then just becomes a short-term goal for magi towards meeting this other goal. So, there becomes a point where they are good enough...but obviously, they might change their mind about what "good enough" means. Happily, this makes for more interesting characters too.
"Healing sick people" seems a very concrete goal to me, what is abstract about that?
I suppose you could argue that "hedonism" is a method for choosing goals rather than a goal in and of itself, but that seems to be needlessly entangling ourselves in semantics. Likewise, I guess there is a technical difference between a goal (what you trying to do) and a motivation (why you are trying to do it). But that also seems to be an argument over semantics that is missing the point.
I found this to be an interesting topic and it made me first think of the characters in Magi of Hermes who generally have one over whelming goal in their lives (which is not to just get power). They get power for a reason. To survive alone on the ocean; to save their bloodline; to make a Minotaur. Those are great examples of goals driving a mage to gain power to meet the goal. There are some magic-as-a-goal folks in MoH too who are interesting.
IMHO, healing the sick is an abstract goal. Way too broad. Do you turn anyone away? if so what is the criteria? Healing leapers is more concrete and healing the leapers of Paris is even more. Abstract goals are fine for NPCs because you do not have to deal with these questions.
This is why it is a good goal for a PC character. There is lots of ambiguity, and lots of decisions and compromises to make. This is story.
I would say the opposite. "Healing the lepers of Paris" is a good goal for an NPC, precisely because it doesn't generate story to the same extent as the broader goal.
Personally, I tend to disagree for the simple reason of The Gift. Magi are born with The Gift, a profound, inborn ability to do magic which forceably seperates them from mundane society. Their abilities burst forth, whether they want them to or not and regardless of whether they are trained in Hermetic Magic, in another tradition or simply manifest their powers by instinct. In this, (IMO) magi are like great artists, musicians or poets... people with particular extraordinary talents that must be expressed, that can be improved through training and practice and that are often the all consuming center of their being.
For me, magic-as-a-tool only works for those traditions where one can learn magic through Initiations. Those are people for whom magic is simply a matter of study... through even then, it requires a great deal of study and it requires sacrifice. Not something most people do for "just a tool." That's a bit like saying, "oh, it's just a PhD. No big deal." Rarely, I think, is a PhD "just a tool" to achieve some other goal, but rather is the goal in and of itself.
As for The Gifted, IMO, magic isn't a tool. It isn't even a goal. It's who you are.
Keep in mind the following things:
A mage can spend 10 days every season plus the sabbath (which adds another 13 days) doing things other than working in their labs. This works out to about a 1/4 of the time each season doing outside hobbies, courting their loves, indulging hobbies. Even days they work in the lab, they have a couple hours either before or after labwork getting meals, catchup on news, writing correspondances. If a mage will let lab total slide a little, they can add another 10 days (20 days out of lab) doing these things.
They only get experience in one area any season but that doesn't mean they aren't pursuing the hobbies some and eventually will take some xp to reflect it.
Yes, they are scholars and focused in arts that one discovery or piece of information learned will send them back to the lab to learn another. It is a fascination to magic that does this. That said, most npcs have skills and outside interests that they have spent time on.
I recently created a 60 years post apprenticeship maga. She spent several seasons studying from books because of pregnancy and then picking up the teaching skill as she worked as raising her son. Later in life she spent some seasons studying philosophy and artes liberales.
My offline maga spends her free days each season interacting with the peasants that support the covenant, reading their minds, learning their secrets and trying to understand them some because she sees that as helping in her mentem research. (This is why she is usual judge and was mundane regent for the covenent lands, she always seems to know all the facts in the case).
There are mages who focus on mundane more than magical by nature: the Jerbiton artist, the Tremere politician,the Trianoma Bonisagus but otherwise it is a case by case basis.
When I went to get my masters degree in math, my undergraduate advisor warned me that in graduate school there was a tendency to view everyone based on how good they were with math. He was right, I noticed that deplorable tendency in myself. I noted the same thing when I got my MBA, a persons worth was tied up in how well they understood economics and Porters five forces and such things. Now, I knew that really wasn’t true, but I had to keep reminding myself of that.
I believe it is a human tendency to treat as important skills that they spend a lot of time on, and ignore those skills that they don’t have.
So, consider the Order of Hermes. There was a lengthy apprenticeship, probably around 15 years, where you pick up the ethos of the Order. To be a voting member, you have to have the gift and be able to do magic. If you are in conflict with another member of the Order, you can either settle it with Certamen or Wizards War. Normally, the only people who are not negatively affected by your gift are people who have Parma Magica. All of these things are going to encourage mages to tie their self esteem to being good at magic.
The original poster compared being a mage with winning 100 million euros in the lottery. While it is true that the covenant now supports the needs of the mage, I believe in most campaigns, the mage has some duties to the covenant. In the game I am now playing in, the rule is one season every two years. Now, suppose you have a covenant where four mages spend their time studying frantically in the Arts and Magic Theory and another enjoys life. When it comes time to track services, the one who has been enjoying life may well find his fellow mages feeling grumpy that his services are paltry compared to theirs.
Thus, even if we ignore the idea that (a)the Gift predisposes one to enjoying the study of magic, or (b) the study of magic is really, really fun and those who are able geek out over it, there are mundane reasons that those in the Order would treat studying magic as an all consuming priority.
We have a lot of different magi in our game and a lot of different goals and agendas. One magi wants to be the premier 'mage-killer' in all of Europe and this generates stories as he works with the Hoplites and deals with people who want to challange him in wizards war to test their metal, equally the friends and lovers of people he 'dealt' with framing or outright attacking him in machinations of vengence.
Another Magi is married, and just wants to raise his family, study his arts, master and refine metamagic and seek bloody and brutal vengence on the archmagus who kidnapped his son as a bargaining chip.
A third magi wants to prove the true glory of house tremere by out researching the Bonasagus, outfighting the flambeau, out politicking the tytalans.
A forth wants to make her garden the best garden in all of Europe.
All of these are radically different, but the thing is that they ALL generate stories that the players enjoy.