powerful spell casting questions

We were nattering about how to design a magus who had high casting totals.
After going through the obvious with Magical Foci and Life-linked boosting, we came up with some questions with Method Caster, Special Circumstances and spell mastery (+1 to casting total for each level of spell mastery)

Some of the questions that came up:

  1. Flawless Magic states "Further, your Study Totals for mastering spells are doubled." Would this mean that at character creation that if you took "Flawless Magic", then took the "Mastered Spells" virtue that the 50 experience points towards mastering spells is effectively doubled to 100 experience points at character creation time?
  2. If you have "Method Caster" and virtues like Subtle or Quiet Magic, does the "method" apply to standard spell cating gestures and Voice, or to the level of gesture and voice that Subtle and/or Quiet Magic lets you work at?
    2a) Would Deft Magic affect the above question.
  3. What exactly counts as "Special Circumstance"?
    Which of the following example circumstances would not be appropriate: "casting from inside a circular Ward", "while casting in combat", "when generating Certamen totals", "Fast Casting", "Counter-spelling", "in front of your parens", "in the face of non-hermetic magic", "within one round of the last spell you cast", "when facing the sun", "immediately following failing a bravery roll", "when you Lust after the target", "when your face is (painted) red"?

I somewhat suspect that a +3 bonus for "within one round of the last spell you cast" should probably be under the Side Effect virtue.

Nope, as you are not generating a study total in character creation, you only get the xp. Just like you don't create a Longevity Potion at character creation. Nice try though.

I'd rule that the method must be consistent, and cannot be flexible. ie. the player chooses a strict method, and can opt that the method applies when casting silently, or normally, but not both.

(do you mean Deft Form?) I think the player must still choose what their Method is, and stick to it. In that case it would be fine.

This is up to the SG to decide, YSMV. The key here is that it is meant to be uncommon.

"casting from inside a circular Ward" = Yes
"while casting in combat" = No! :unamused:
"when generating Certamen totals" = No
"Fast Casting" = No, too easy to abuse.
"Counter-spelling" = Yes, don't abuse it.
"in front of your parens" = Yes, but with considerations.
"in the face of non-hermetic magic" = No
"within one round of the last spell you cast" = No
"when facing the sun" = No
"immediately following failing a bravery roll" = Sure, its a waste of a +1 virtue.
"when you Lust after the target" = Yes, subject to other flaws.
"when your face is (painted) red"? = No

Wow. Much more restrictive than our approach here. Uncommon ok, but that list is quite a killer. Special circumstances are when not touching the ground, for example. Can be abused by a magus that prepares to get those circumstances with a flying spell? Sure, but it is just a +3, so no biggie. Your talisman gets you bigger bonuses 99% of the time anyway, and you will be wasting 1 round preparing for it so it is not much of an abuse, really.


I believe there is an example (canon maybe?) somewhere of a Magus with the Special Circumstance "in a storm", and at the beginning of battle he casts an Auram spell to start a Storm.

The try was based on Affinity with (Ability), where it explicitly states it also applies to any experience points spent at character creation.

I thought so but no, it's not a study total. Check the errata though.

Answers in bold

Not sure about canon, but I have a character with that combination.
Not in play yet, mind you.

Flawless Magic is part of Errata and it has been discussed here, as well.

Yeah, I want to say Lion and the Lily but not sure. But I definitely recall the character.

Some other virtues worth considering are Educated (spend those XPs on Latin frees up 50 xp for Arts) and Skilled Parens gives another 60 xp for increasing Arts (30 are reserved for spells) and self confident. Being able to burn two confidence points will increase a total by +6.

Also if time is less of a factor, consider a Magister in Artibus trained magus who spends his XP in Latin 5, Philosophae 5, Artes Liberales 5 and 15 xp in anything else, with ceremonial mastery on a spell its a +10 boost, +12 if specialties are in ceremonial magic. but it does take 15 minutes per magnitude to cast it.

Magister in Artibus
Affinity in Art 1
Affinity in Art 2
Puissant in Art 1
Puissant in Art 2

Spend some apprentice XPs in spell mastery for ceremonial magic and you have some pretty high casting totals...
The question is so open ended one must ask: why do you want high casting totals, when do you want them, and what are you willing to sacrifice?

I understood Ceremonial Magic to only be applicable to spontaneous spells rather than formulaic, so wouldn't that make those bonuses less attractive since (at best) you are going to be halving the casting total?


I didn't write the name of the mastery ability correctly: it's ceremonial casting.

There is a mastery ability called Ceremonial Casting that allows one to cast formulaic spells with additions of Artes Liberales and Philosophae like ritual spells get, at the expense of the spell taking as long to cast as a ritual.

It's mentioned in Houes of Hermes: Societas and Mysteries Revised as being commonly known and available.

I use forumrunner for android, as this phone is my sole internet connection and viewing the forum in a web browser on a phone is near impossible.

Unfortunately, forumrunner doesn't show formatting. Just letting you know. (Wonder how much itallics and other formatting I've missed.)

I don't know I've seen plenty of sagas where combat is uncommon. Heck the saga I'm running taking "while in combat" as a special circumstance would be a wasted virtue.

Thank you.
I hadn't previously seen the errata page (there is quite a bit!).
And my previous search had not picked up the previous topic. Then again, I think I gave up on the results while they were still in 2011.

In response to Tellus:
The question of Special Circumstances (Certamen) was in regards to being better at Certamen than usual, but not as good as a Tremere. Unless it is a starting Tremere character in their poor Arts, a +3 to Certamen totals shouldn't be too unbalancing we thought.

When I asked about "casting in combat" Special Circumstance, I was meaning when the Magus was ducking and weaving mortal danger. From the adrenaline rush/mortal threat supremely focussing the mind of the Magus.

The "fast casting" Special Circumstance was for a hypothetical Magus we were discussing who had Method Caster when not Fast Casting.

I hadn't thought of a non-Hermetic Magic detector. But then again, when a Magus casts a spell, does the character realise there are external factors affecting his casting total, such as Auras or Aegis of the Hearth?

It's not so much because it would be unbalanced (it wouldn't), but because it specifically refers to casting or resisting spells, which is not part of Certamen. You could take it I suppose, but it would only help you resist spells cast on you (by a third party) while you're ocked in certamen. How rude!
You could create a new virtue granting +3 in certamen, but all the Tremere would just hog it.


We have to look at the general case though.

Not defined anywhere I can recall.

Auras and Aegis are often obvious: "Gee, I'm standing in the middle of this church, maybe there's a Divine Aura" or "Gee, I'm standing in the visitors area of Magvellius, maybe there's an Aegis at work here".
Not always, but often.

I'm also fairly certain I've seen references to magi feeling a 'tingling feeling' when they enter a foreign Aegis. It's not in the spell description though, so no garantee.

Actually, it is in the spell description of Aegis of the Hearth (mrb, p. 161, second paragraph of the middle column). "When approaching the border of an Aegis, a magical person (including a Hermetic magus) feels a slight tingle in the extremities."

Now we know two things!

  1. Magi know when they enter an Aegis.
  2. I'm going blind in my old age.

Atleast one of these should be useful knowledge :slight_smile:

Are we to assume that because this is the only explicit mention of detecting spell-casting affecting situation, that it is otherwise implict that magi in character do not know if external factors have affected their spell-casting total?

Well, there are (very simple) spells to detect if you are in an aura (Type "am I in a Faerie aura?") which many magi could spont without stress. So I think a magus would not immediately know if he's in a (non-extreme) aura, but could easily find out.

Until they figure it out, sure? I think that's reflected by the SG not indicating aura strength when he asks for their casting total, and then adds or subtracts the suitable modifier for the aura. Determining the type of aura is Base 1, the power/magnitude is base 2. Add another level for Touch, and you're still 2nd/3rd level. Almost anyone should be able to spontaneously cast that spell.