popularity of Magic Sensitivity and Second Sight

Do any of your characters take Magic Sensitivity, when they could take Second Sight instead?

I found my troupe always chose Second Sight, when they went for supernatural senses.

I made a redcap who was heavily focused on the vis trade side of things and he had both but the more important one was Magic Sensitivity. Being able to sense vis being a huge plus even if it is insufficient since he can’t measure it or determine its Art with Magic Sensitivity. Second Sight was also good because finding one’s way into a regio you stumbled on is a good way to find vis & vis sources.

[EDIT:] But, yes, there are only a few character ideas that would lean towards Magic Sensitivity being more important than Second Sight.

Magic Sensitivity also works well for things like seeing casters cast spells.

Yes, but it is still the case that almost all the PCs opt for second sight. Second sight works across realms, and it detects regione, demons, faerie illusions, etc. It is quite versatile. The vis trader that @dc444 mentions is a good example that magic sensitivity can be important, second sight cannot replace it, but it is difficult to find other uses of importance.


The core book also show Magic Sensitivity working across realms. It also detects regiones.

While Faerie/Magic (most common ones) Second Sight allows the person to see spirits and thus the spiritual form of demons, it is far harder to do so than with other spirits. However, these Second Sights cannot detect demons as being demons, and they cannot see through the illusions of demons.

My general thought on which to take is based on the choice between seeing spirits and seeing through illusions v. seeing supernatural effects. Also of note, though, is that Second Sight crosses over more Forms than Magic Sensitivity does, so it's probably a little harder to roughly replicate with Intellego magic.

You are right. I have missed the point about regione; oddly enough it is not mentioned in the virtue and ability descriptions, contrary to second sight. However, I am not sure how widely it applies across realms; it seems to be so wrt regione, but the ability and virtue descriptions only write «magical» which I read as realm specific, assuming they would write supernatural if they meant any realm.

Is that clear in RAW? The references I have seen only restrict Hermetic magic, so if you remember a page ref, I would appreciate it.

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Of course, we repeatedly see "magical" or "magic" written in the Vim guidelines as well, and there are notes within those Vim guidelines that these can apply to any realm (with some Infernal limits).

Looking at it again, it also applies to Infernal rather than just Faerie/Magic.

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Thank you.
So it seems that the two abilities are a lot more balanced when you manage to digest all the available supplementary rules as a whole.
Reading just core as a typical and relatively inexperienced player making a character, second sight comes across as significantly more useful than magic sensitivity. That, I suppose, is a good answer to OP :slight_smile:

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Like your Troupe, almost everyone I have ever played with (going back to 3rd) has used Second Sight when they wanted a "magical" sense. Without even looking at the mechanics of each (3 editions so 3 versions) you can find the most likely reason in the description of how they work.

Second Sight is a vision enhancer. Magic Sensitivity is a tingle generator which works closer to hearing for detecting and locating things. I know it is not hearing based, but it works at a distance in any direction around the user and is not really super precise unless you focus on it and combine it with vision.

Humans, like all primates, are highly visual creatures. In humans the portion of our brains devoted to our senses is roughly 90% for vision and 10% for the others. Since we are such visual creatures we will almost always favor a sight based enhancement.

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Eh, not exactly. Second Sight lets you hear spiritual speech. Magic Sensitivity is the baby version of Comprehend Magic, which says, "The character is capable of seeing and understanding the nature of active magics. This is a more comprehensive version of Magic Sensitivity." Generally speaking, Magic Sensitivity does the "seeing" part and not the "understanding" part. The core book also says Magic Sensitivity lets you "see into any regio." So the words "see" and "seeing" seem to show up a lot around it.

I'm not saying Magic Sensitivity cannot work off other other senses. But as written, it's pretty similar to Second Sight as a "vision enhancer," to use your term.

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I was purposely avoiding looking at the mechanics and going by the general descriptions in the Core books across multiple editions. Common in Second Sight across editions in both the Virtues and Ability write-ups are things like "vision", "see", and "sight". Common for Magic Sensitivity is things like "detect", "sense" and "identify".

Since humans are such visual creatures, we will by default be more attracted to the one that seems to focus on vision. Yes they both actually can work across multiple senses and have a fair bit of overlap when you start reading into them across multiple books. However by that point the innate bias towards our favored sense has already slanted many towards picking Second Sight.

Then when you start actually taking the mechanics into account for people who actually look into them across multiple books there is the fact that Magic Sensitivity has a penalty to MR. Additionally it might be affected by the targets MR (I disagree with this since it is counter intuitive to the difficulty reducing by the target having a lower difficulty with a higher Might, YSMV) and it might only work on things of the Magic Realm (YSMV).

I am not saying they are not fairly similar when you take in the mechanics across all books. What I am saying is that the initial description of them makes first time readers specifically find one seem like a vision modifier while the other is an additional "sense" with a penalty. This leads to the bias of the vast majority going with Second Sight over Magical Sensitivity.

If instead you called them "Magical Sense type 1" and "Magical Sense type 2" with just all the mechanics from across multiple books and without the "flavor" descriptive the split would be closer (though I still feel favor Second Sight due to the MR penalty Magic Sensitivity has).

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I had wondered if the side effect of Magic Sensitivity in that it reduced your resistance to magical effects, would be a factor in peoples' decisions, but it seems not.

Or maybe yeah, becose people actually default to Second Sight, don't they?

I was thinking about Magic Resistance and penetration and stuff. I was thinking that magic resistance is that, resistance, not immunity, or stealth, or anything. And that Magic Sensivity isn't InVi magic, nor should then follow its penetration requirements. So maybe Magic Sensivity doesn't actually need to penetrate, and can be an useful virtue, not requiring any character with it to spend decades pouring XPs into Magic Sensivity and Penetration.

Though the usefulness of arcane connections seems something quite cool to roleplay the ability in play.

Supernatural abilities in general need to penetrate Magic Resistance, so there is no reason to believe Magic Sensitivity is any different in that regard.

However, a lot of the things one can detect with Magic Sensitivity aren't protected by any Magic Resistance, making the question of penetration moot.

You normally don't need to penetrate any MR to detect vis,or detect an aura or a regio, or detect an active spell, or an enchanted item, since none of those normally have any MR.
Detecting magical creatures does require penetrating any MR they have, but that is about the only use of Magic Sensitivity that does need it.

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But there is a reason for that: because most supernatural abilities do stuff to the target. Someone might entrance a target to jump of a cliff, or music enchant someone to fall asleep. Obviously that kind of result must be covered by magic resistance.

But magic sensivity, in the other hand, don't have any effect on the target, but on the owner of the virtue. The only thing that changes from the target is that it is noticed as magical by the character.

That is equally true for all Intellego magic.

MS, by canon, does not need to beat MR to merely detect the gift or other uses that might be blocked by MR. This is illustrated in the description of Comprehend Magic (its more powerful version) where you get that information even if you don't penetrate.
From HoH:S p129, the explanation of Comprehend Magic:

If observing a being with Magic Resistance, this power must penetrate, as usual; but even if the Penetration Total proves insufficient, the character is aware of the presence of magic if the Ease Factor was met.

Since all you get from Magic Sensitivity is whether there is a presence of magic anyway it follows that MS does not need to penetrate and that is what was intended.

It does not follow. Comprehend Magic is indeed the more powerful version, so just because Comprehend Magic can do something it does not automatically follow that Magic Sensitivity can do the same.

It is a good argument for MS not needing to penetrate, but it is by no means conclusive.

Of course. I'll never take that ability on a magi, and consider it a poor design decision even though I globally dislike the number of InVi spell an average magi might need, which MS could simplify. On a companion... it's not really an issue.

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In the sagas I've played in, people prefer Second Sight because invisible enemies and faerie illusions and ghosts all happen frequently enough that Second Sight's versatility and lack of need to penetrate make it very useful. Frequently we curse the group for not having brought one of the people with Second Sight along, and our craft mage's most popular item is a mask of Second Sight.

On the other hand, in the PBP on here (War of the Schism) I'm playing a companion with Magic Sensitivity. For the autocrat/steward of a covenant, ability to detect and measure out vis is a useful extra to the magi, and the ability to find my way into regiones may come in handy.

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