Penetration for Divine Methods and Powers

I've got a player who wants to run a Mythic Companion using the Methods and powers in the Divine book and it seems to be a solid concept.

Today over my lunch I was looking at the methods and powers again and I ran into a problem dealing with cursing and ab-i forgot the rest of the name (sorry). These abilities are supposed to be useful against creatures with mght, yet I cant imagine that the caster would ever be able to get enough penetration to make these abilites even remotely effective.

In general I'm OK with methods and powers not being as powerful as Hermetic magic, bu tin this case it seems to be completely useless because the guidelines specifically target creatures of might and the rules preclude the realistic possibility of penetration.

Am I missing a wrinkle in the rules?

Is my assessment off?

Has anyone had any house rules that worked for them?


Well, assuming a fairly experienced holy character with a 5 in Adjuration or Cursing and a 5 in Invocation, plus Communication, aura, and a stress die, I think it's safe to say a casting total of 20 is reasonable for a starting character. Thus I see your point, it is quite difficult for such a character to affect creatures with Might greater than about 10 with the Divine Methods and Powers as written, unless the character has other bonuses to work into the formula. Faith Points, for example, or Ceremony, or a tempered aura. Even then, though, the character probably isn't going to be able to do much against particularly powerful creatures, because the Ability scores hit diminishing returns pretty quickly-- a total of 40 is probably the upper limit, barring really lucky stress rolls.

The rules for True Names from The Infernal could help you a bit. A holy character with Invocation and Adjuration might strive to learn the true name of creatures he intends to face, and thus have an arcane connection to them, boosting his Penetration. The Infernal describes how these names are learned for demons and mentions that angels have them too, and perhaps other supernatural creatures have true names as well that can be learned through studying the appropriate Realm Lore-- or by praying to the Divine for guidance. If the character has True Faith (and he or she really should if she's going to be a holy character), praying for such miraculous insight is a very good use of her Faith Points.

If that doesn't seem like enough, I might suggest that to give the Divine powers a bit more punch, you do not subtract the level of wholly divine effects from the Penetration Total against non-Divine beings. After all, the Divine is superior to all of the other realms, and the effect is essentially miraculous. Thus a casting total of 20 would have a Penetration Total of 20 before adding modifiers based on the Penetration Ability. I haven't tested that out in game, but there are other powers designed specifically to affect supernatural creatures that typically have that sort of advantage.

Oh, and you know there's errata for some of those effects...? The Cursing ones that say (level - 10) are supposed to be (level + 10), so that at Voice (or Presence) range the effect level equals the affected Might Score.

Can't you just have holy characters get the Penetration ability like magi?

Yes, but the problem is that Angels and Demons lack physical bodies. Hence True Names are the only arcane/sympathetic connections applicable to them. True Names give a whopping +5 multiplier, but have to be learned in advance and so are of limited usefulness.

It is also conceivable that the character might be able to use his Holy Connection to boost his penetration over a supernatural creature, but I don't have my copy of RoP TD on hand so I'm not sure about that.

In my experience though, these options fail to compensate for the crummy casting totals associated with M&P. Therefore, when confronted by a supernatural creature, petition a saint or pray for a Miracle!

I don't know if names are the ONLY sympathetic connections to angels and demons. For some of the older ones, they were called into existence on a certain day of creation, yes? Therefore, with an appropriate Dominion/Infernal Lore check, you can do an appropriate horoscope.

Horoscopes are appropriate for some holy traditions, at least (for example, kabbalists would not be opposed). And they also have to be learned in advance. But they might be easier than true names, given the entity at issue.

I lack my books at present, but are most of these problems not (partially) solved by moving things on to an accellerated abilities mode? The lack of vis and books at high levels should stop things getting too crazy.

Unfortunately, for a horoscope or other sympathetic magic to affect Penetration, you still need an Arcane Connection.

The prevailing aura is the missing element.

If your character with Divine powers can contrive to be in a Divine Aura then he gets a bonus to his penetration and the creature he is targeting gets a significant penalty to its magic resistance (assuming it is Magic, Faerie or Infernal). For example, an infernal creature in a Divine aura of 3 (a typical city) has a penalty of 15 to its magic resistance, and probably a penalty of 25 or 30 in a cathedral.

This means that Divine powers, as written, are powerful in stories that involve defending a place that has a Divine aura (a church, a monastery, a city, a town etc). But are a whole lot less powerful in stories that are about charging around and attacking Might creatures on their home territory. And stories that involve spreading the Divine (such as, colonisation of the wilderness) are quite interesting --- as this effect gives a useful motivation for the foundation of new towns and so forth by bishops/abbots.

Based upon Mr. Love's suggestion, I decided to try running a quick Ars-periment! (please let me know if I messed up on the math or rules anywhere).

Communication: +3.
Cursing 5.
Invocation: 6 (including specialty).
Stress Die: 7.
Aura: 4.
Casting Total = 25.

Level of Effect = 10 (Strip Target of 10 Might levels @ Voice range).
Penetration Score: 3 (including specialty).
Penetration Multiplier: +5 (True Name).
Penetration Modifier: (3x6) = +18.
Final Penetration: (25+18-10) = 33.

MR Penalty from Divine Aura (Infernal): 4x(-5) = -20.

Thus we can assume that the above power would be effective against a Demonic being with a Might of 33-(-20) or 53! Of course the character wouldn't be able to take what he dishes out, due to his rather limited MR.
True Faith = 10.
Guardian Angel = 15.
Divine Aura = 4
Final MR = 19.

Demon's Might: 40 (50-10).
Point Cost of Power: 2 (Pilum of Fire).
Penetration: 2(x5) - 40 = 30.
Aura Modifier to Penetration: 4x(-5) = -20.
Final Penetration = 10.
Our saintly friend's Faith has protected him from the Demon's false powers!

Note, however, that if the demon had attacked first, he would have had a Final Penetration of 20. Just enough to incinerate our unfortunate Mythic Companion... Unless he was in possession of some sort of Relic or another source of additional MR.

EDIT: :blush: :blush: :blush:
10+15+4 is 29, not 19... a significant increase to our character MR.
God's servants have nothing to fear from Satan's paltry powers within God's own house!

Nice analysis! Very well done, very clear. Are you the potential player of this character from Erik's saga? If so, I'd be very curious to read more details about your concept.

The only thing I can find to quibble with is that the character should probably hold his Faith Point until after he rolls, to see whether or not he needs the bonus. In this case, it doesn't look like he does. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the compliment! :blush:

No, I'm not involved in the other Erik's game. I just admire the elegance of ArM5 rules and wanted to try running some simulations.

You're right about the Faith point though. For some reason I keep thinking that players have to spend Confidence/Faith before they know the results. Probably a throwback from some other game system I've played...

I've editted my example so that the sample character doesn't squander a valuable Faith point.

I think it looks sensible, well done.

Also note, even if the character doesn't have an Arcane Connection (which might sometimes be a bit unrealistic), his final penetration is still 25+3-10 = 18. This will be able to effect demons with a Might of 18-(-20) = 38, which is quite good indeed.


Of course, this is assuming a very powerful demon with an original Might of 50. So it makes sense that it is still possibly effective. Of course that just means that the character needs to retreat to the cathedral (higher Divine aura) to fight the demon.