Over in the Hogsmeade thread, there's been a rather...spirited discussion about Gifted Companions in the saga.
One argument that was made is that Gifted Companions violate the spirit of the ban on Mythic Companions because, even though they technically have 10/10 V/F, by virtue of having the Gift and Arts in whatever their non-Hermetic magic is, that gives them de facto 5-10 or more extra Virtues. I'm not sure I'm understanding that argument, unless you're counting each Technique and Form or whatever as another Virtue, in which case Hermetic Magi would have 25 total Virtues.
Some confusion (and possibly lack of clarity on my part) on the matter seems to have led people to think that I had vetoed their character (which I don't remember off-hand).
All that being said, I'm putting it up on a poll and discussion on the pros/cons of allowing Gifted companions. Gruagach, Hedge Witches, et cetera.
I will keep the poll up until next Friday evening (30 October), unless I get a clear majority by then.
I don't mind other magical traditions - and would quite like to see them, honestly - but I don't really want them in the companion slot. We have a slot for people with the ability to sling spells freely (the magi slot); the companion slot can showcase other things. Non-magical badasses, people touched by faerie, supernatural gifts, or simply political weasels.
It's possible (probable?) that some hedge traditions really don't offer enough when done this way, but at that point creating non-gifted companions for the tradition isn't going to be awful.
It's not reasonable to compare power levels. Companions in and of themselves can vary with power. The real yardstick is can the character become a magus and if so, does the troupe want players controlling multiple magi at the covenant?
I don't mean equal under Hermetic law, but equal under the covenant charter. Something like the hedgies at the Mac Gruagach covenant, I think. For example, they aren't covered under Sanctum Protection if, say, Whitburgh were to come nosing around one of our Hedge members' laboratories, bu there would be sanctum protection written into the Charter, so that (for example) "every Council Member's private chambers, plainly marked as such, is subject to the same protection as that offered to a magus's Sanctum under the Code of Hermes." Just throwing that out there, because this interests me, now. Of course, I'm tired and I might change my mind tomorrow
Magi will vary greatly in power level too. The point is the upper limit on these companion characters far exceeds non-magical companions. Or like Trogdor said, let's all play one.
A player should have one Magus. Else let's all play two each.
For a magus slot? Sure. I don't see a problem with that. They could even be in ex Miscellanea and have learned the Parma Magica, making them a good bit stronger than their brethren. Or they could not be and some of us might be trying to convince them.
The problem I see is with the companion slot. First, the Gift gives free access to what normally requires 10+ points of Virtues, essentially getting the equivalent number of Virtues as a Mythic Companion. The quick way to see this is to trying building an unGifted Mythic Companion with all those hedge Arts and see how they come out. Second, there are several who are considering hedge traditions, and this would push them all towards Gifted Companions, which means we'll have tons of Gifted hedge magi among us.
I voted yes. If someone wants a second rate wizard to go with their high tier wizard go for it. As long as you don't do something silly like make it a Hedge Wizard with opened arts who strangely got no training in said arts so is perfect apprentice material. But I'm not thinking that's really an extra restriction. If a magus wants to induct them into the Order Hope will face-palm. Look the other way when you have a helpful Hedge Wizard!
P.S. I've decided against a Hedge Wizard so I'm not biased here.
I voted yes and do not have a hedge wizard. The game system already designates these as gifted companions, and has explicitly stated since the beginning that gifted companions are possible, so outlawing them is removing a large section of RAW which has existed from the beginning.
I'm torn on this one. I can't help but observe the following:
Gifted hedge magicians are not as versatile as magi; and
Gifted hedge magicians are more versatile than standard companions.
As a result, if you play a Gifted hedge magician in place of your magus, you're taking a step down; but if you play a Gifted hedge magician as your companion, you're taking a step up. It makes me wonder when is the appropriate time and place to play a Gifted hedge magician. It seems like it's always off in power level.
In my situation, I'd love to play a Gifted folk witch to give those rules a try. But I don't want to give up my magus character because I think a Gifted folk witch would be less satisfying than a magus - interesting, to be sure, but less satisfying. However, I also think that a Gifted folk witch has the chance to suck up more oxygen than a standard companion, and I don't want to hog the spotlight. Hence my dilemma.
In the end, I voted no, though it was a hard choice between that and yes with limitations. I'm mindful of the fact that mythical companions and magical human companions are forbidden, which is keeping the power level of companions down. I'm also mindful that the rules specifically allow for non-Gifted hedge magicians. As a result, there's an acceptable half-way point that allows a hedge magician to be played, but keeps the hedge magician at the same power level as a standard companion. It's not the Gifted hedge magician I was hoping for, so I don't get to explore the concept fully. But I do get to explore the concept to some degree without stepping on the toes of the other companions.
I see things differently than many ( it seems). I am more concerned with what stories I want my companion to be involved in than the power level. The Gruagachan companion ( which I am working on the unGifted version), I see as a tie to the local clan and be involved in stories that spin off of that.
The idea of balancing power level is something of a non sequitur in Ars Magica. Attempts to "balance" companions with other companions or magi with other magi is only going to lead to failure. There is no balance. There is only a framework to build consensus about the stories that you want to tell and be part of.
Does a Gifted companion have more power? Maybe. Depends on whether the Campaign does actually play out the negative social aspects of the Gift. Without Parma, they have no way to ameliorate the Gift's penalties by extending it to someone who is willing. Depends upon the stories that are going to be involved here. With as many players as there are in this game, there's almost going to have to be someone who's going to BSG some things, just to keep the load on PB reasonable.
Can the Gifted companion do some amazing things? Sure. But so can mundane companions. Combat totals in the 20s, soak in the mid teens. That seems pretty amazing to me. Just be cognizant that what might be right for you may not be right for someone else; if someone want's a Gifted Companion, it's to focus on those stories related to that concept, and it may not even involve your characters at all. It's one reason why I said my only stipulation is, and this is a meta-game stipulation, that should the Gifted Companion ever become a Hermetic magus they exit the saga. Balance among players at the covenant is probably the only kind of balance that can be maintained...
I agree with you that it's all about stories not power level. And I think you're right that a Gifted magician will get involved in some interesting stories. But I have often found that power level and story involvement are not unrelated. Someone with a higher power level is more competent at more things and is therefore likely to be recruited for more stories. The end result, I've found (in numerous gaming systems), is that the more powerful characters get involved in more interesting things. What I'm concerned about is a more powerful character sucking away the story oxygen from the less powerful characters.
I want to be convinced that a Gifted companion is acceptable. At the moment, though, I'm erring on the side of being conservative.
This has nothing to do with outlawing existing RAW. Hedge Magic itself discusses how best to handle things for your individual saga, and how it's up to the troupe whether to decide if gifted companions should be treated as companion characters or magi with regards to player allocation.
I'm referring to the core book, p. 36-37 which specifically indicates that Gifted companions are acceptable. If the question is Hedge traditions or Rival traditions that is actually a slightly different question. For example on p.36 it indicates that a Gifted companion may have 1 free supernatural virtue and should buy the rest, which is countered in hedge magic allowing them to take a entire tradition for free...
personally I am for allowing the Hedge magic as well, but to forbid all Gifted Companions is going a bit too far IMO even if we want to restrict or reduce the number of hedge witches.