Parma Magica change

I just had a random thought that I wanted to share.

What if the modern version of Parma Magica was something only those who had their Gift opened using the Hermetic Opening of the Arts technique could learn.

The nature of this means it can be taught to apprentices with no fear of them spreading it about. So instead of it being last maybe it's near first. A change would need to be made so something else represent Gauntlet, but that doesn't bother me. It would allow multiple apprentices to be in the same area with no issue.

I could see a problem with those who join the order from a tradition which already opened the Arts. I guess an answer could be a modified form of the opening can exist to allow one to learn Parma Magica.

I do have think that a more ancient form can exist. This is the origional version made by Bonisagus and it can be learned by any with the Gift. It's hidden, restricted, and even knowing it could lead to censure in Tribunal unless you have good cause.

The benefit of this is that a story seed can exist to protect the secret version from getting out.


Well, that basically takes Parma one step closer to making it a ReVi effect - as you can't cast those without having your Gift opened by a Hermetic wizard, either. Or more specifically, you're changing Parma from an essentially Supernatural ability (which can be learned by anyone with the Gift - although not quite like that) to a Hermetic ability, as those can only be learned by Hermetics.

Or at least, that's my take on it.


My own preference is something like this even for vanilla:

Parma can be had through Hermetic opening of Arts.

Parma can be had through an initiation script, which includes a Major Flaw: Swears Hermetic Oath.

The part of the Oath regarding hunting down one's own apprentice is more than just symbolic: An apprentice who does not swear the Oath technically still has Parma, and the parens personally gave it to him, which in turn gives the parens a special responsibility to hunt down the apprentice and keep the secret.

As usual, just me,


Is that bad? I mean what really changes as even now the only people who use it are Hermetics. But without there really being any good explanation on why others haven't told besides a nebulous 'they haven't'.

This way they cant. But if the troupe wants to then someone can discover some ancient maguc secret.

It's still a special ability, it's not sure standard spell effect.

I like that. It's pretty much water I would like for it to be. It covers all options and still allows for certain plot points.

It's a very good design idea.

Does TMRE p.17f Modifying the Initiation Script still work in your 'vanilla' saga?
So you have the same fears and stories about Parma leaking out, just this time concerning some secret Parma cults (like HMRE p.13 Initiations) among the nonhermetic / hedge traditions?

On further thought: Is Parma a virtue for Gifted characters then, as it can be initiated? Which type?


Or how about the Borrowing Cult Lore and Initiation Scripts/How to Use a Script Without a Cult from Legends of Hermes (p. 49ff)?

If it's restricted to those with the Gift, it would presumably be Hermetic Virtue, mis-named as they are?


Much less severe fears about Parma per se: A rogue magus can open the Arts of apprentices and grant Parma. All of these are secrets. In a sense, a parens has more responsibility for his apprentice than a parent for his child, because the latter cannot choose while the former did choose.

I don't like the way AM5 sets Parma up as a grand secret, while making that secret so tenuous. It just takes one disgruntled, enlightened, deluded or treasonous magus to give the whole thing away. Or one demon or infernal magus, granting Infernally Tainted Parma which works against everything except temptation.


There is precedent for initiating abilities that are otherwise not called out as Virtues.

Since Bonisagus did teach it to wizards of great power, I would imagine that it could be considered a Virtue, probably Hermetic (by definition!) because it requires the Gift, but possibly Supernatural(Magic).




Oops, forgot that one, and it's important:

I love the Initiation Script mechanic, but am far less thrilled with MtIS, just as I am overwhelmingly unthrilled with the Breakthrough rules.

I have no problem with game mechanics being primary for initiating: From the perspective of a mystogogue, the power is often secondary. But for many initiates ascending the ranks, the power comes first and second and third. The Kool-Aid is not drunk first thing, but assimilated.

But game mechanics are tertiary for creating and modifying scripts: Above all, a script must be apt, as the Criamon might say. 'Script' is a metaphor that we use. 'Real' mystagogues wouldn't see it that way.

Better not to have game mechanics for this, I think, though I understand why the authors felt a need for something.

A would-be mystagogue trying to corrupt Bonisagus' script is so likely to fail utterly, that I see rolling dice as a big waste of time. His invention of the Parma Magica is intrinsically tied to his invention of Hermetic Magic and his intention to have a league of wizards joined together to further magic together in harmony. Opening Bonisagus' Arts rather than some other Arts in a sense makes Bonisagus your master and patron, so falling under the master's protection is natural; it makes you the same kind of wizard that Bonisagus was so having the same kind of protective magic comes naturally. Swearing allegiance to Bonisagus' Order, swearing to either follow in his footsteps or to grant him your apprentice (which itself grants sympathy bonuses to your apprentice, when his time comes) and defend that Order naturally makes it rightful for you to receive commensurate benefits, in which Bonisagus defends you and your apprentice through the Parma Magica.

Trying to corrupt that script so that you and your apprentices and other wizards can go against everything Bonisagus stood for surely grants a massive sympathy penalty. Intending to subvert that script and Bonisagus' intent is effective intending to break the Oath, which is one of the foundations of Parma Magica. Starting to corrupt that script is breaking the Oath. More antipathy bonuses.

Easier to invent your own magical defense from scratch!

That line of thought suggests that the script modification mechanics be damned: Want to modify the script? First gimme a Hermetic Breakthrough, representing your quest to master PM so well that it at least as much yours as Bonisagus'.

While we're here, might as well ask the question: What prevents other wizards from trying to duplicate PM? Canonically, the Sahirs have known about it for well over a century, not in detail but enough to know that magi have a defense. With 5000 sahirs who are organized and long-lived, why not launch a few Solomonic Breakthrough Projects?

Like many rpgs, AM5 does not represent individual genius very well. Nothing about Fibonacci's character sheet, for example, suggests that he was a mathematician of genius, not merely great competence. As in D&D, experience points rule the day, which is one reason why the Wheel of Time official D&D book was so wretched: Robert Jordan characters are not supremely capable because they gained xps but because they are special. Egwene and Nynaeve level up far out of proportion to xps gained; Mat and especially Rand level up faster still.

And Bonisagus? Him too. Ordinary rules don't quite work for him, the same as they don't work for Albus "I don't need a clock to be invisible" Dumbledore and even Snape. (BTW, ever notice that the previous generation was far more competent than Harry's? Hermione is considered perhaps the best of her generation, yet struggled with a potions book that young Severus corrected and improved. Harry used the Marauder's Map but his dad created it. Etc.)

I do like having rules to help model a game world. But I find that the rules used to model people who are exceptional by the standards of PCs almost always fail.

In the case of AM, I prefer Breakthroughs and Initiation Script invention or modification to be story-driven, especially since many of these involve changing game rules whose balance is already precarious, or changing the setting into something else. Such matters ought not be settled by a die roll.



:smiley: So it is as usual: if you pull at one modified rule, you find three more.

Don't get me wrong, Ovarwa: a fantasy role playing saga requires a lot of imagination from its SG. But it also requires structured communication on game world and rules - especially if the rules are complex, and were initially developed by a team over a decade.

If you ever set up a web page with the assembled rules and background modifications of one of your 'vanilla' sagas, please give me a hint. I'd really like to take a look at it.


These are just rules preferences. I have not run a game in rather a while.

Fortunately, there is a website where I offer alternate rules (not all of which are compatible with each other):


In this case, however, I have not modified three others. I am rather sure that the rules for both Breakthroughs and Initiations make it very clear beyond the usual Rule 0 boilerplate that any Breakthrough or Initiation Script is first and foremost a matter of taste and aesthetics and preference rather than crunching mechanics, and that endeavors that can be achieved mechanically might be impossible in a given saga.

I'm just using those rules both as written and intended.

(And were I to run a saga, called, say, "Breaking Mythic Europe," I would choose rules and rules interpretations different from my standard preferences.

(But of course, if I were to run a saga, it would probably be online using rules similar to the following:

  • Create your magus however you like. Take as many virtues, xps and flaws as you like. Spells? Sure, they're whatever you like them to be. How do they interact with Hermetic Limits? Up to you. I don't care. Do the same for your covenant. Yes, you can have as much or as little vis as you like. As many Boons or Hooks, including new ones that you make up. Want a bishop as your bitch? Fine, fine. Somehow your lab has a 12 Aura or -3? Great. The only limit is that you cannot control anything or anyone significant in real history. Your covenant can be a city, but it cannot be London. You can control a king, or a land, but it cannot be the king of France or France. That is to say, anything you do to real history must occur within the context of a story, and this can be contested.

  • By default, every player has his own covenant. Magi have no problem communicating, because they have forums and email. Er, special Hermetic magic that works just like our forums do.

  • Magi have Parma Magica and an Aegis. This works differently from the normal rules: No magus can affect another magus or his covenant unless that other magus' player agrees. If you want to look at it through the lens of canonical rules, the game uses a special dice roller, from which the defending magus or covenant always rolls as many 1s as needed to obviate any attack or attempt to change things. Similarly, Certamen among PCs always stalemates. So one magus having all the vis while another magus struggles to get Q6 books while eking out an existence on a rainswept Aura 0 rock in the North Sea is purely a matter of taste.

  • Here's how things happen: Every year, each magus develops his character and his covenant (including any NPC magi he cares to enumerate) as he sees fit. Declare side stories? Sure. Find the Ark of the Covenant? Break a Greater Hermetic Limit? Collaborate with other players? Ok. Have the covenant consumed by a fiery vortex and then saved by mecha-godzilla? Um, I really don't like mecha-godzilla in AM, but.... ok. After all, no real history has been affected. Probably no one outside the covenant even noticed.

  • Oh, but I want to achieve something that makes a difference: Every year in-game (week IRL), you can declare one outcome that your magus wants and a paragraph describing how it happens, preferably involving your magus. It happens if and only if you get more positive than negative votes from players. Every player can support or oppose any and every intention, for any reason whatsoever, IC or OOC: My magus knows about it and wouldn't support it. My magus doesn't know about it but I don't like the proposed mechanism. I don't like the proposed outcome. A player who supports can describe an alternate mechanism by which it happens, or not. A player who opposes can describe how it fails, or not. Remember the special dice roller: It is perfectly fine for a near-omnipotent magus with a Perfect Plan to be brought down by bad luck or an apprentice, or a secret cabal of Tytali that come out of the woodwork and mess things up, or a romantic distraction. In general, if the preponderance of votes go for or against a proposal, the chances are that there are forces in Mythic Europe beyond the PCs who have interest in what happens and who can influence it. The GM can vote as many times as he likes (surely Satan has a say, as do Jesus and Allah and Oberon and Tytalus and Diedne...) but usually no more than once. As usual, Parma and Aegis prevail: The only effects that actually make a difference are those in the original proposal, and these cannot affect another PC or his stuff. The winning player usually has the right to choose the backstory by which his proposal passed, choosing his own or one of the others proposed, though the GM can choose something else. The GM gets to choose why the status quo prevails. The GM can also decide a proposal fails because there aren't enough votes.

  • The only way to affect another magus is by your magus proposing a Wizard's March for the year and winning. The GM is likely to vote against a Wizard's March.

  • When there is doubt about the current status quo, GM decides. (For example, the Diedne do start off apparently destroyed. It takes winning a proposal for anyone outside of a covenant to notice that the Diedne are back. Then it takes winning another proposal to do something about it. If this is a Wizard's March, the GM will not oppose it if the PC is really a Diedne because that's what magi are expected to do, but will probably vote multiple times against Marching a magus who is not really a Diedne. If players decide to recognize House Diedne, that's fine too.)

  • A magus gets four new reputation stats, and these are the only stats whose rules are interpreted by the GM:

  1. Reputation: Magus of the Order of Hermes. You start at 0, and gain 1xp for every proposal you declare, 1xp for every proposal you support and 1xp for every proposal you oppose.
  2. Reputation: Hermetic Prestige. You start at 0. You gain 1xp for every proposal you participate in and are on the winning side.
  3. Reputation: Archmagus. You start at 0. You gain 1xp for every proposal you declare, whether it wins or loses.
  4. Reputation: Greatest Magus in the Order. You start at 0. You gain 1xp for every proposal that you declare that wins.

Obviously, the game depends upon the players. One player can freely unleash mechagodzilla in his own covenant and invent the iPhone and no one can prevent this. But it takes other players voting No to prevent mechagodzilla from escaping the covenant and ravaging Paris and prevent the iPhone from existing outside of the covenent. (By default, there is no iPhone in Mythic Europe. The GM will certainly vote against both, on aesthetic grounds, but only once, because if the players want to give the Pope an iPhone, um, ok.)

So players get to develop magi and their Kool Powerz (with each player deciding his own version of Kool), but AM rules no longer get in the way of gameplay, which is largely about magi talking and negotiating with each other to influence the Order and Mythic Europe.



I see, and begin to understand the nature of the preferences.

I shouldn't think so. Of course, nobody can know true intent of an author, even of a very good one.

The changes you needed to make in TMRE and LoH, and the change you made for Parma being a Virtue and Oath of Hermes a Major Flaw, are not "rules both as written and intended".

While TMRE p.18 Experimental Scripts provides ample space for SG review and judgement in the process, we have:

This makes clear, that modifying a script is business as usual for a mystagogue. And the rules following have no SG intervention beyond Rule 0.

LoH p.49 box Borrowing Cult Lore and Initiation Scripts refers to TMRE p.17f Modifying the Initation Script, with only the caveat:

No special method for SG intervention is provided, but that of every RPG: "Your superiors don't like your actions".



I don't understand what you mean.

Although I think I understand the nature of my preferences! In this case, there is a general game mechanic for creating scripts and another for modifying scripts. These mechanics, applied, um, mechanically, can lead to unexpected and undesirable results. For example, the Merinita Glamour initiation requires a specific flaw to go with the specific mystery virtue. But that pairing, which is necessary to preserve a semblance of balance can be easily dispensed with. AM5 presents Hubris as an integral part of House Verditius. But that can also be easily dispensed with. Trivial. Just modify the script! Casting tools a bit icky? That's a very minor change.

Getting Jerbiton to grant all their magi (and any magus who wants it) the Gentle Gift is a bit tougher, since it is a Major Virtue, but still not terribly hard.

In short, I have a deep preference for mechanics that model the fluff of a setting, and a similar preference for settings that kind of make sense. When the starting situation seems artificial and fragile, I declare Something is Wrong, unless that fragility is itself part of the setting, which is not the case here.


I didn't say they were. I did say that I'm rather sure that the rules for initiation and for breakthroughs explicitly call for SG/Troupe intervention if needed. Unless I'm wrong about that, I'm using those rules as written and intended.

No book handy but that's probably the sort of thing I meant.

I'd not be surprised if you missed something, such as script modification being a kind of experiment. But I'd also not be surprised if I'm wrong about script modification.

Regardless, I've been rather explicit that the changes I suggested are exactly that: Changes.

I am a great advocate of tinkering with game rules to suit a group or to suit a specific campaign, or both. A search of my posts to these forums over the years should dredge up a trove of rules variants, virtues and flaws, which underscores that advocacy.

Unlike a game like chess, in which the rules of the game are the game, the rules of an rpg are not the game, but facilitate the game. RPG rules are a useful tool, allowing communication about how a game world works.

So yeah, I totally support the OP and hope he found my suggestions useful.

The nature of my preferences?

  • The rules exist to serve you. They are not the game. Change the rules when you think it will make your game better.
  • RPG rules serve as a tool for communicating how a game world works. If they are communicating the wrong information in your game, the rules are broken, not your game. Fix the rules so that they work.
  • RPG rules serve to make playing easier. If they are making it harder, the rules are broken, not you or your players. Fix the rules to make life easier.

(Note another of my preferences: I rarely use "broken" in the context of a PC option that might be very powerful, preferring to save that term for rules that don't work, especially in terms of matching the setting.)

Specific to AM5:

  • AM5 has various flexible subsystems that allow expression of various entities that might be utterly wrong in your game, and maybe in any game. Just because something can be expressed mechanically doesn't mean that it is correct. Exercise your judgment. Subsystems of particular note:

** Hermetic spell design: It is possible to create spells that seem mechanically sound but aesthetically horrible. Some of these have even been published. Exercise judgment and discretion, and feel free to say no.
** RoP:M allows creation of all kinds of creatures with all kinds of powers. Many such creations do not belong. Game mechanics notwithstanding, feel free to say no.
** Normal character creation: There are many published virtues and flaws, and an infinite number of character background descriptions. Not all legal combinations of these belong in a particular game. Aesthetics trumps mechanics yet again.



No, it can't because of:

Neither. See:

Neither. See

As all these restrictions are explicitly noted with the description of the Virtues and with the House, they cannot be changed just by modifying an initiation script: such a script would result in a new Virtue, which is explicitly excluded in

Stealing an initiation script from a House and then modifying it is quite another issue, though: this needs some casuistics beyond this thread.
For joining House Verditius, which is based on somewhat stunted magic, these are summarized in HoH:MC p.119 Initiating Hermetic Magi.

AFAICS this requires either TMRE p.18 Experimental Scripts with SG consenting, or finding an initiate of the Criamon Path of Walking Backwards (HoH:MC p.70ff) administering The Avenue of Surrender and the Station of Service to Harmony (p.71 box), modified or not. So this is quite beyond this thread's topic.

Isn't it? Why should the very first fundamental discovery of Bonisagus not be vulnerable to copying?
There was no Hermetic magic with its Forms and Techniques then, with which it could be taught. And the magicians gathering around him, and which together with him created Hermetic magic, did not use TMRE initiations.
So they needed to charge the Order with keeping that basic discovery of its founder a secret.

Your suggestion does not even fit the canonical setting.

That is all quite fine - but such changes would then also need some playtests in that campaign before suggesting them for 'vanilla', wouldn't they?



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