Question for Mark Shirley


Im tinkering around trying to create my own Ex Misc tradition for Liams online game here but needed to ask you a question about designing non-Hermetic Virtues.

In your chapter (excellent work by the way) you advise that novel non-Hermetic virtues should be "no more flexible than a minor magical focus", but then have give Rustics a non-Hermetic Virtue/Ability which has four separate aspects to it.

Maybe im reading your guidelines incorrectly, but how does one create a multi faceted virtue/ability and yet still only make it as flexible as a minor focus?

Any help to clarify this would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks and again, Great Work!

Mark didn't write the Rustics; Ex Misc had multiple authors.

The abilities in the Ex Misc chapter don't all follow the guidelines exactly because we had the chance to playtest them all, running them past half a dozen groups, twice. Thus, we could check that particular, fairly complex, abilities were balanced.

This is rather harder to do in your own sagas, so the guidelines are a bit more restrictive; if you follow them, the ability you produce is unlikely to cause problems, but there are also balanced abilities that do not follow the guidelines.

Ahh thanks David.

So a novel multi-faceted Major Virtue besides the one mentioned (and possibly others I overlooked) isnt really possible?

It's possible. There's just a good chance of it being unbalanced if you don't have access to at least half-a-dozen playtest groups and at least three months of time.

If I were the SG, I would probably not allow it; too risky

Do what you want and seems cool and post it to the forum.
Write a comment Liam's players dont read this.

People will say if it is over or underpowered.

Fair enough, thanks David and Birbin

I feel I should point out that the Mechanicals' Major Virtue (Craft Magic) requires that the character have some other power in order to use it. On its own, it has very few applications. It works very well with Hermetic magic, since that's what the Ex Misc chapter is supposed to address, though I'd be very interested to see what other rustic wizards do with it. (I imagined an R. Wood with the Way of the Forest Virtue, for example, to ensure that his merry men fight particularly well within the woods.) Furthermore, the four things it allows all build upon each other; it's not like it does four completely different things. I think it favorably compares to the flexibility of Craft Amulets in The Divine (which was a Minor Virtue), or a power like Summoning or Comprehend Magic.

I didnt really understand what was meant by that notation "must have another power for it to work (paraphrased). Seems to me that a Rustic would have a craft ability of a particular type (like a Verdi would) and their Supernatural Virtue (i.e. their hedge magic tradition) provided them with the listed powers to use that craft magically.

What other "power" would one be referring to other than craft ability, especially when talking about Craft Magic?

I do agree that all four aspects build on one another, but then thats the sort of thing I would want to generate if I had a better sense of the concepts that deem that to be NOT overpowered as compared to other listed traditions whose main power only has one overall aspect to it or one aspect with various gradations of ability (by roll or score) rather than overlapping but still somewhat distinct aspects (such as Craft Magic).

At any rate, developments with another player in Liam's saga, who is now creating his character, have caused me to abandon my original idea so as not to be too much of an overlap to his.

Thanks for all the thoughts on this though, its a big help in understanding how to use the novel tradition generation process for possible later characters.

Well, Hermetic magic, for example. Or Dowsing, or even something natural like Puissant Single Weapon. Something that comes from a Virtue, basically. The character has to be able to do something special, and Craft Magic allows him to do that special thing by crafting and using devices instead of whatever he would have to do otherwise.

Mark's general guidelines are simple and conservative, as they should be, but all of us who read the forums can happily give you our opinions on more complex traditions if you have an idea for their powers. Also, the Ex Miscellanea chapter of Societates is still about magi, even if they're very hedgy magi. Presumably another book will deal with magical hedge wizards outside of the Order of Hermes. Until it sees print, I suggest you go with something very general for any non-Hermetics, something like the Methods and Powers system in the Realms of Power books, so that you can easily adapt them later.

OK, I've been away, and I see in my absence that others have covered this material perfectly adequately. As David says, I wrote the general Ex Misc section and a couple of the traditions, not the whole Ex Misc chapter. I wouldn't dare take credit for the excellent work that the other authors did towards the chapter as a whole.

One thing which has not been mentioned is that the guidelines I designed for general Ex Misc powers pertain only if you are designing a Supernatural Ability to be the Major Non-Hermetic Virtue of an Ex Misc tradition. The Craft Magic of the Rusticani is not an Ability; and in fact (as Erik points out) is useless without some Supernatural Ability or Magical system (like Hermetic Arts). The examples given - Whistle Up the Wind, Summon Animals, and so forth are all examples of Supernatural Abilities, and are similar to a Minor Magical Focus. That is what the rule was intended to cover.

Hope this helps,


Thank you Mark and my my congratulations to ALL the other fine authors who contributed to the Ex Misc chapter (whoever you may be).

Going back to Rusticani for a moment, I am curious how any other "power" would then fulfill the role that Hermetic Magic does in powering the magic of their craft? From what I read the various aspects all assume a complete spell system in order to work, which (not having all the books) I cannot imagine possible with any other Supernatural Virtue alone.

What other types of Supernatural Virtues (or non-Hermetic at any rate) could allow a Rusti to craft spell effects into an object?

Perhaps it was designed to ONLY really work as an adjunct to Hermetic magic in which case one wonders what sort of magic they could have possibly had prior to joining the Order.

Any thoughts on that?

The intention for the Rusticani is that they can put their powers into objects that others can use. This is very similar to what magi do when they make a charged item or a casting tablet. They don't have to know Hermetic magic to do this, though, instead they need the Craft Magic Virtue.

An example given in the book is Puissant Single Weapon, to make a 'magic' shield. The rustic designs the effect (Level 20 in this case), spends nine days making the shield, and then makes a Craft roll to see if the enchantment was successful. This produces a shield that, upon being activated, gives the wearer the Puissant Single Weapon Virtue for the rest of the day. It can only be used once, but if the character starts with a shield that has at least four pawns of vis in it, he can make it a lesser device instead.

Like with Craft Amulets (from RoP: The Divine), a divinely-aligned rustic could use Craft Magic with his holy methods and powers, and an infernally-aligned character could do the same with the maleficia or the Goetic Arts. For example, a magus might acquire what is reputed to be a magic lamp, that when polished summons a jinn. This could be a Summoning device, enchanted to summon a particular spirit.

I think there are recognizable similarities between the Mechanicals and the Baal Shem, so it might be that the influence of Hermetic magic helped bring about a change from one into the other. Interesting...