Perfect Healer ?

Hi guys, I was looking at making a healer and I stumbled on a set of virtues whom I am not sure how they interact:
Based on the Ex Miscellanea Pharmacopean, I found:

  • Major virtue: Mythic Herbalism
  • Minor virtue: Root-Cutter

What happen if I had Mercurian Magic ?

Assuming a Mythic Herbalism high enough, would he be able to heal without vis ? Mercurian magic reduces vis cost by half for ritual, Root-cutter allows to use various non-vis ingredient to reduce by his Herbalism score, up to one half the vis usage.

From a background side, it does not seem far fetched that Pharmacopean knows Mercurian magic, since Pharmacopean tradition is from Greece, so some might have been exposed to Mercurian magic.

I do not believe it really breaks the system since Healing without virtus is available from other traditions as well (Divine Magic for example), it still remains ritual casting and it requires 2 major and one minor virtues.
I was considering making him follower of Hermes (also the god of Medicine), like a pagan priest, who whould have been "blessed" with the ability to heal without vis - if I add Deft with Corpus, he would look very much like he is in a silent trance, whereas his patient is Healing.

I'd seen that one a while back. I'm not sure. It could be 1 * 1/2 * 1/2 = 1/4. Or it could be 1 - 1/2 - 1/2 = 0.

There are other ways to do vis-less healing:

  1. Either one of this plus Imbued with the Spirit of Corpus.
  2. Leper Magus, probably best when combined with one of these.
  3. Holy Magic and direct use of Divine Magic, as mentioned.
  4. Faerie Wizardry. (If you can do a high enough ritual the time for any healing can be sped up to instantaneous.)
  5. Faerie Ritual Power, reducing the cost far enough (cannot be done with Magic Ritual Power).


It's a good trick, either way...

...but as you note, it costs 7 virtue points. Then it costs xps to dump into MH. And Mercurian Magic is not normally considered a very good major virtue, to the point that some people like to either add benefits or turn it into a minor virtue. (Mystic Choreography is a good add-on for a Mercurian...)

Considering what other magi can do with 7vp, I do not consider it overly powerful or unduly hogging of the spotlight.

That said, it is broken, in the sense that it violates a basic assumption of the game, that fast healing isn't easy. Of course, as also noted, various traditions violate this assumption already!

(I believe there is a game design flaw, not intrinsic to AM or to this edition, in which creating "usually for NPC" character types who are better than any PC in a single specialty reduces a game to "find the right guy for X when we need X unless we absolutely have to half-bake X ourselves." This provides GMs a lot of control, makes it much easier for him to create stories, but reduces the significance of PCs, which I find especially inappropriate in a game where PCs are supposed to be significant. Many, many games do this in one way or another.)



Well, a healer doesn't NEED to perform ritual magic at all, save for resolving aging crises. Ritual magic just speeds healing tremendously.

Holy Magic probably has the most useful means of totally avoiding vis use in ritual spells, but it adds a lot of lead time to the spellcasting. Mercurian Magic or Root-Cutter are superior as long as you have some vis kicking around.

Thanks for your answers.

I know that Divine magic is the best way to go for virtus-less healing, but it comes with a "heavy bagage" (in term of RP and character restriction). I always found that if the others PCs are not designed to go along the Divine characters the Saga won't work, it is almost the single driving force behind most stories.

I was not aware that Mercurian magic was not considered a good major hermetic virtue. But maybe because the Sagas I played or run are vis tight (which is very subjective), giving a bit more weight to the vis saving benefit ? It is true that you loose as well spontaneous magic (more or less).


You don't lose it, just have to cast it very slowly.

Saving vis is great! But if you have very little vis to begin with, you will rarely get to cast a ritual anyway. And combining with other Mercurians is great... unless you're the only Mercurian in the neighborhood.

Some people consider it to be worth a Minor Hermetic Virtue; I think it's somewhat better than that.

Still, it is better than Diedne Magic, if the included Story Flaw is actually used. :slight_smile:/10



Just for the sake of contrariness, I'll say that they are about equal. Both give you a nice bonus, in line with the best bonuses you can get from the best Major Virtues, maybe even a bit better, coupled with a penalty that's definitely not minor. Let's compare the two.

Let's look at the bonus first. Mercurian Magic allows you to spend less vis on Rituals, which has a crucial impact on botches too. Sure, you also get the free Wizard Communion, but that's really minor, particularly because you lose the main benefit if you Commune with non-Mercurians. Diedne Magic allows you to cast fatiguing spontaneous magic without fatigue, or with fatigue and the benefits of a Magical Focus (cumulative with those of an actual Focus) applying to any spell. Comparing the two is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, but I'd say that the Diedne advantage is not worse than the Mercurian advantage, and in fact may be a little better. It is probably better "on average" on its own, in large part because it can come into play far more often, while Mercurian Magic is better for some specific, highly specialized "builds" (the healer in the OP for example) where it synergizes well with other Virtues/Flaws.

Let's look at the penalty. Mercurian Magic forces you to cast Spontaneous Magic ceremonially. Among other things, this generally means no fast-cast defenses (sure, a formulaic defensive spell mastered for fast-casting works in some instances but...)! This is big, in my opinion. I think it's about half as bad as not being able to cast spontaneous magic at all (which is two Major Flaws). Maybe a little better than that, but not much better. Diedne magic, on the other hand, gives you a Dark Secret. Note that this doesn't mean that the Order is about to March you. It's just a Story Flaw. It's not meant as a death penalty. It means that stories come up where you have to maneuver so as to avoid having your lineage investigated too carefully. I do not think it's nearly as bad as people describe it. A SG could exacerbate its effects, but it would be like having a Black Sheep character who's an illegitimate son of a religious figure get constantly hunted by murderous churchmen and demons throughout Mythic Europe -- not in line with other Major Story Flaws. Of course, depending on how you read it, it could prevent you from taking a second Story Flaw, and thus effectively count as a Major non-Personality, non-Story Flaw. That would be worse, but in line with the penalty Mercurian Magic gives you. Ok, maybe a little worse, but not much worse.

Back to the OP.

Even under the most generous interpretation, this is far from being a game-breaker. Basically, you are spending 7 Virtue Points, including your one allowed Major Hermetic Virtue, to be able to heal without vis (but still taking a long time)? There are many ways to get that for a cheaper price (my favourite is to have a pious grog with you, who will pray for healing :slight_smile:). Sure, you also get a 50% vis discount on all other Rituals. But your spontaneous magic becomes sloooooow, and you have to sink xp into an otherwise mostly worthless (for you) Mythic Herbalism ability.

Still, by the RAW, I think the correct interpretation would be that your final cost becomes 1/4 (rounded up). Mercurian Magic says: "Finally, any Ritual spells which you cast have only half the usual vis requirement." Root cutter says: "The magus may reduce the vis cost of a healing Ritual by his score in Mythic Herbalism, but the cost may never be reduced by more than half." Your vis cost is half the "usual", and it's your vis cost that gets reduced -- to no less than half, i.e. to no less that 1/4 the "usual" cost.

Finally, I dislike the idea of Mercurian Magic getting combined with Mythic Herbalism, from a purely aesthetic point of view. They are two very different traditions. It's a bit like combining the shamanic magic of some Nightwalker traditions with Virgilian magic. That an individual character might have access to both is a bit of a stretch, but that they might synergize just because their mechanical representations synergize ... that's what I dislike. So, I'd take the following approach.

If you want a Mercurian healer, take Mercurian Magic, and a Minor Virtue that allows to further reduce the cost of healing Rituals to 1/4 of the original cost, with no need of another Major Virtue, or xp-eating ability. If you want an even more effective Pharmacopeian, take Mythic Herbalism, Root-Cutter, and a new Major Virtue (named more imaginatively than "Greater Root-Cutting") that removes the "but the cost may never be reduced by more than half" clause and extends the benefits of Root-Cutter to longevity Rituals and stat-boosting Creo Corpus rituals.

Don't forget that the Mercurian Magic virtue is also supposed to give the Road/Road Network ranges and durations as per the update in TMRE.

Also, the Mystical Choreography minor virtue (HoH:S, page 56) can offset some of the time penalties of Mercurian Magic, can't they?

A side note about Diedne magic, or rather, my experiences with it....
Which are none! No one ever plays that in my saga. Wise of them. I am up front in telling people "don't do that, for it is an instant death sentence and I will show no mercy". as far as story goes, the story is thus. The Diedne were baby eathing infernalists and there is nothing romantic or exotic to explore.
So that pretty much kills that.
As for Mercurian magic, I do think it gets a bit nerfed in sagas not designed specifically for thier talents. But they are cool talents and offer cool opportunities for those who like to min/max and optimize. My preference for them is to start with the status quo and ad upon it. Unique mastery abilities and virtues and such.

I don't think this is correct. Even the statement in Neo-Mercurians says those can be taught in a season, but what would be the point if you already have Mercurian Magic and Mercurian Magic provides them?

They can, and can reduce the casting time to 1 min/magnitude. Still not useful for emergency use, but far, far better for utility than 15min/mag.

It's a useful virtue for a generalist magus or one with lots of Artes Lib & Philosophae (such as many Verditus magi), which can add an entire magnitude to every spontaneous spell cast this way with a bit of study.


I think the bonus for each is in line with lesser Major Virtues, not Greater. LLSM and FM are often pointed to as being of the best, and each is better than Mercurian/Diedne, even discounting the Flaw part.

As for the downsides: Fastcasts in AM5 are not all that since it is often difficult to cast them in time. Having to cast spontaneous magic ceremonially? Not a major flaw. Minor. (Slow caster is a minor flaw, and affects all spellcasting.) OTOH, Dark Secret is a Major Flaw by definition, and being considered an enemy of the Order worth killing as soon as your secret is found is very much a nasty secret. Not being able to use Flaw Points on another story flaw just makes it worse. Of course, in sagas where the secret is just cosmetic, the flaw doesn't matter at all, especially if you can take 'another' story flaw.

I think both virtues would work fine as Major Virtues and not include the downside.




Hmm. No, without the included Flaws, I'd probably rank Diedne Magic on par or even very slightly better then Life Linked Spontaneous Magic, and better than Flawless Magic. Though it's a very subjective judgement, because it really depends on what type of magus you want to play and on the saga parameters (on the other hand, Major Magical Focus is often touted as the best Hermetic Virtue, and Diedne Magic effectively gives you a Major Magical Focus in everything as long as your are casting fatiguing spontaneous magic, plus the ability to trade it away for no fatigue -- and it's still compatible with a Focus). I'd also rank Mercurian Magic without its Flaw slightly better than Flawless Magic, and on par with Life Linked Spontaneous Magic.

Slow caster is a pretty nasty minor flaw, and indeed in previous editions it was ranked at -2 points, rather than -1. But one thing is to wait for an extra round, or to have fast-cast spells take a full round. Another is to wait for fifteen full minutes.

It's a Major Story Flaw, and Story/Personality Flaws are not meant to be as crippling as other Flaws -- essentially ArM5 is "bribing" you into making stories easier with a few Virtue points. I'd say 2 Virtue points, in fact, as Minor Story Flaws (worth -1 points) are really +1 Virtues with a Story attached, while Major Story Flaws (worth -3 points) are really -1 Flaws with a Story attached.

And, as I said, nowhere in the description of Diedne magic does it say how easy it is for folks to find out your secret, to prove it true (a different thing), or what happens if it is found out or proven true. Nowhere does it say you'll be "considered an enemy of the Order worth killing". What Diedne magic says is "Your magic lineage and traditions are from the druids and the vanquished former house of Diedne ... You must keep your lineage hidden from the Order, giving you the Major Story Flaw Dark Secret." Maybe you are just a Bonisagus magus, with a respected lineage going back to the Founder himself ... but the parens of your parens was Bonisnatched late into his apprenticeship from House Diedne just before the Schism War. If it were widely believed that through you a very few of Diedne's secrets survived into the 13th century... would you be marched? I'd say no, because you have committed no crime. Would you face suspicion, a greater than normal share of wizard's wars, a glass ceiling on your advancement within the House, that sort of thing. A big version of Bad Reputation.

The reason I'm saying this is that the Dark Secret attached to Diedne magic should be in line with other Dark Secrets and other Major Story Flaws, like Curse of Venus or Dependent or Tormenting Master. Do you assume that Tormenting Master gives your a murderous master hellbent on destroying a PC "whatever it takes"? Do you assume that Curse of Venus means you'll automatically fall in love with an infernal agent or other enemy of the Order, and be willing to do everything they ask including sacrificing your life and soul? If not... well, you should calibrate Dark Secret appropriately. This does not mean that it becomes "merely cosmetic". It means it becomes an inconvenience on par with other Major Story Flaws, not an almost automatic death sentence.


I should cast CrIg on your straw men and leave it at that!

Tormenting means tormenting, which does not mean hellbent on destruction, etc.

Curse of Venus says what it does, which can be a major inconvenience. Nothing about sacrificing life and soul.

OTOH, if people find out you are a Diedne, the setting will indeed set at least 3 Houses after you, hellbent on destruction. Taking a Dark Secret means that your secret is at risk.

But, you know, if you prefer to add miscellaneous verbiage, it can mean fluffy bunnies.

Against which my CrIg still works just fine.



Although maybe PeIg is a better choice, all things considered.

I've gone over the issue of the Diedne story flaw in other threads, but my personal conclusion is that the Dark Secret doesn't make sense, because there are known ex-Diedne lineages (for example, the Melusine) and because having the Virtue is simply not proof of having been covered by the Schism War Wizard's March. But I'm assuming an Order where some measure of the rule of law applies - in Marko's saga, it sounds like the immediate response will be a witch hunt, that the Order is unified in its opinion on the Diedne and that an accused Diedne won't even make it to Tribunal to answer charges.

So I'd personally strike the flaw and let Diedne Magic stand on its own. While Spontaneous Magic virtues are strong in their own right, I'd argue that in general, formulaic magic is better than spontaneous - especially if you want to cast quickly without risking a botch. Someone focusing on spontaneous magic becomes a generalist in a game that normally favors specialists.

Anyway, Mercurian Magic is highly useful, be it in a high-vis saga or a vis-poor one. Mercurian Magic essentially cements your character as the Ritual Guy - reducing the botch dice on large castings isn't to be taken lightly. The only thing I'd really give Mercurian Magi above the pure corebook is to make the Mercurian Mastery abilities part of Mercurian Magic in general, instead of restricting it to the two Cults - though I wouldn't object to Road Magic being made available, it's more the sort of thing that's specifically Neo-Mercurian. The restriction on spontaneous magic is a bit of a handicap, yes - it means that a maga is not going to be throwing around spontaneous magic casually. I prefer to keep the restriction, but more to flavor Mercurians than to balance them.

Back to the OP, for healing I'd actually just recommend a Focus in such and a strong background in Creo Corpus. Ritual healings are not something you ought to need very often - whenever I look at a wound and consider restoring it, I first ask "do I need this fully healed now, or do I want to put a Sun or Moon-duration patch on it and then a Recovery booster when we get home?" Ritual healing is not something to specialize in unless you've integrated Hyperborean Hymns or something.

@Ovarwa: Just for the record, Marko is the one who said that having the Diedne secret is an instant, automatic death sentence. Ezzelino was challenging the idea that having the secret at all is an instant death sentence, not building a strawman. (However, correct me if I'm wrong, Marko, but I think your intention was more to declare that you consider the Virtue effectively off-limits for your sagas than to make a statement on its balance.)

And freezing straw doesn't work as well as burning it. :smiling_imp:

:smiley: But this is fun! Ok, this will be my last post on this issue on this thread. Well, maybe one more post after this one :stuck_out_tongue:

Why not? From the Flaw's description: "you tend to fall in love with inappropriate people, and in inappropriate circumstances."
This could be read to say that assassins, diabolists, and noblemen who have sworn destruction to the Order keep appearing at your doorstep, and you keep falling in love with them; and since when you fall in love with someone you are often willing to sacrifice your life and soul for them... It's not the only interpretation, but it's certainly a possible one if you do not take V/F "balance" into consideration.

As I said, if you have Diedne magic, it does not mean you are a Diedne. You could just be someone who has some Hermetic ancestor who has recovered a handful of their magical secrets, and passed them on to you. If people find out, you could definitely face negative consequences, but not necessarily lethal.

Even if you really are a member of that vanquished House, it does not mean it's easy to find out. Maybe the only way to find out, save for reading your mind, is to have you stand in the presence of the Witching Stone in the clearing where your Tribunal's meetings are held, so you routinely have to avoid going there in person (which creates interesting complications).

Furthermore, even if you really are a member of that vanquished House, and even if someone finds out, it does not mean he can convincingly prove it, nor that other magi will consider the claim credible enough to be worth investigating (wasting time and other resources, including your goodwill).

Getting rid of the miscellaneous verbiage, I guess my points are:

  1. Dark Secret is one of those Flaws that, lacking specific mechanics, are left to the troupe to calibrate.
  2. The Diedne Magic Dark Secret can be interpreted as being virtually cosmetic or a virtual death sentence, or anything in between.
  3. Thus, the troupe should calibrate its incovenience based on that of other Major Story Flaws.
  4. Major Story Flaws create some problems to PCs, but less than e.g. Major General Flaws (this is explicitly stated as true for Major Personality Flaws in ArM5, but can be extrapolated from context to apply to Major Story Flaws as well).
  5. Thus, the Diedne Magic Dark Secret should not be played as "your character's life will most likely end very soon in a very nasty way", as many people seem to think it should (at least in my view).


@Ovarwa: Just for the record, Marko is the one who said that having the Diedne secret is an instant, automatic death sentence. Ezzelino was challenging the idea that having the secret at all is an instant death sentence, not building a strawman. (However, correct me if I'm wrong, Marko, but I think your intention was more to declare that you consider the Virtue effectively off-limits for your sagas than to make a statement on its balance.)
Yeah, he did. Marko's views are well-known. :slight_smile:/324297892

Still, any normal reading of the AM books leads me to assume that a magus does not want to be discovered as a Diedne. House Tremere is sworn to their destruction, to the point of having an organization to seek them out. House Guernicus would have to demand the Diedne's death, to uphold the law. House Flambeau, also. And half of House Tytalus, just because. If you have a Dark Secret, story events carry risk.

But I very much agree that DM works fine without the mandatory flaw. Better even. It becomes worth considering. It become portable to different kinds of sagas: Take it with no flaw? Fine, you're good at sponts, which is associated with Diedne, but everyone know that you are not one. You can even be a Tremere. Take it with Judged Unfairly, because people watch you more closely due to your tainted lineage, but accept that you aren't a Diedne? Ok. With Enemies, to represent a few wackos who insist you are a problem? These can work even in a Marko saga: The magus isn't a Diedne, but only has a little more Diedne Magic than most magi, who do have some.

Having a PC really be a Diedne runs against the canonical ambiguity of what happened to them. In most sagas, they're all gone... probably.

I was thinking of the temperature of the thread. :slight_smile:




In the same way that a quiche recipe that calls for beating 3 eggs can be taken to mean taking a truncheon to your neighbors and then taking their eggs and beating those with the truncheon.

It's not the only interpretation, but it's certainly a possible one if you're on an Internet forum! Surely I'm not the only one with neighbors like that, who taunt at all hours with their eggs?

No. The rules specifically say that you are a member of House Diedne if you have DM.

Don't blame me! I didn't write it! Ok, blame me if that helps.

Sure. It's not an instant death sentence. Except in Marko's saga.

1 agreed
2 agreed, though a cosmetic Major Story Flaw isn't a Major Story Flaw. A Troupe can also decide that Ignem doesn't work.
3 agreed. Note that Major Story Flaws tend to be nasty. Though a troupe can still play them as gimmes, sure.
4 Not stated for Major Story Flaws. Being a full-on major flaw pagan in 1220 Mythic Europe, say, in France, is really nasty, if that Europe even vaguely represents real Europe's 1220. I expect low life expectancy unless said character avoids most places (and having to avoid most places is worth a major flaw, nastier imo than a mere Magical Restriction or Waster of Vis.)
5 agreed: I never said Very Soon.



Yeah, but there's also movement between Houses and even canonical lineages that trace their roots back to House Diedne, which I think is what DM is supposed to represent: "You have to hide the fact that you have Diedne ancestors at all," which is why I raised my red flag on the issue - being a full member of the House is either impossible or a sign of a conspiracy, but there's plenty of ways for one to have a Diedne lineage without there being any legal grounds for a March. (I personally don't mind saying that Diedne Magic is specifically a sign that someone in your magical lineage was a Diedne, or at least received ten seasons of training with one, et cetera. But again, the devil is in what that means.)

I think that the flaw is asserted but not examined - it's entirely unclear what "having Diedne magic in your lineage" will mean for you if it's discovered, leading to Marko's interpretation and mine being so radically different. Mine is: "I proclaim my entire lineage back to Taliesin ex Criamon, who defected from House Diedne two years before the Schism War began. What are you Quaesitores going to do about it?" "Umm...nothing?" (Alternately: "Ward this place against demons, Quaesitor, and then Frosty Breath me: I am not, and have never been, a member of House Diedne.")