I just spent quite a while advancing Ranulf one of my characters from magi of Hermes another 15 years, largely because I felt like it. The text isn't proofread it has a great deal of my thoughts about the character that didn't make it in to the book. I'm posting it here for feedback but it runs 11 pages even before I put in his revised stat block. Naturally I'm going to post it a little at a time in hopes that at least one or two of you get some enjoyment out of it and it provokes a few discussions along the way.
The character of Ranulf from Magi of Hermes is still on my mind every now and again despite the fact that I wrote him years ago. Perhaps because I think he's lots of fun, perhaps because I'm afraid that people play him as a violent fire mage to scare the PC's and he sucks at it, perhaps because even with an applicable minor focus it's probably more sane to build shelters out of wood than flames, so he comes across as a bit silly.
This apparent silliness is exacerbated because I never in the text talked about one of the motivations that I had for him. That motivation is that he wants to give his fellow practitioners of the school of the founder a set of tools for doing things with ignem, he's developing all of his weird fire applications for the benefit of his fellow fire flambeau. Ranulf's hope is when future fire specialist flambeau want to learn how to do something not concerning ignem such as make a bridge, they won't necessarily need to time away from their study of ignem to delve into arts that they don't care as much about, instead they can just learn a few more ignem spells.
This makes his choices a bit more believable to me.
I've advanced the character another fifteen or so years. I'm posting my thoughts ,spells and enchantments below.
I'd be very appreciative of any feedback you'd like to give.
Here's an overview of where Ranulf is going and what he's doing. As I left him at age 84 I see him having the following concerns:
• He has had his ageing ritual for about 50 years and is probably in need of a stronger one.
• His apprentice is going to gauntlet in a year and he'd like to get a familiar
• He's invested the time and expense of creating the chest of the ember seed and inventing the unified flame, Soon he'll have no one to use them with. (When I wrote Ranulf I put in a statement that he's become enamored with the possibilities of fires that are arcane connections to one another, now I wrote that to justify having him spend the effort of enchanting the chest of the ember seed. I didn't have anything else in mind I just realized that using fires for communication probably was less efficient, even for Ranulf, than using imaginem. True, the linked fires option manages to bypass all of the issues involved with communicating from inside of a strong aegis but you could find a way to resolve these issues without carting around enchanted devices and live coals.) Ranulf has a vision for using the power of arcanely linked fires and he wants to bring it to fruition.
• He just donated an arcane connection to Castra Solis. I had envisioned him as joining the protectors of Castra Solis to be summoned by the horn of champions in a time of emergency. I wrote it in as Ranulf supplying an arcane connection to the domus magna rather than supplying it at their request. I didn't want to pin down the power of the champions to as low as the level of Ranulf +60 if some of the games preferred to make even the least of the champions look like Philipus Niger from Guardians of the Forrest. (Looking at some of the ageing simulations it's entirely possible that Ranulf +60 is of exactly median age in the order so the idea that he doesn't rate is entirely justified). Now whether he's a champion or not, I'd written him in as a Hoplite and as someone who believes in the value of prowess as defined by the Milites. On the other hand, although he preposterously handy to have around, Ranulf +60 hasn't , with the exception of group wizard's boost, learned a spell that was specifically designed to be used in combat in over 45 years. He's not really a combat magus, he can do combat a bit because he studied hard as an apprentice and because fire is inherently dangerous , but he's not really the sort to be able to handle truly dangerous opposition. His increased standing requires that he become a more formidable combatant not just someone who can cast pillum of fire well, (here's some foreshadowing he's still going to get by with just pillum of fire, to do otherwise would be giving up, but he's going to become much more dangerous about it).
Just as a note, the statement "hasn't , with the exception of group wizard's boost, learned a spell that was specifically designed to be used in combat in over 45 years" means that the following spells that look like they were intended for combat really weren't as far as I had envisioned them:
• self immolation,
• stockade of infernos,
• conflagrative servant, and even
• defense of the roaring furnace enchanted on his talisman
Self immolation and defense of the roaring furnace were specifically designed to intimidate people: "You want me to fight the guy who just lit himself on fire? I'm twenty feet away and the heat is painful. Look!, look at that, there's a pool of lava collecting around his feet. There is no way I'm going to start something with that guy."
Nice! Being a classic flambeau lover myself, I liked Ranulf. Well done with him. The "all can be done by ignem, so here you have the spells to do it" bit would have been good to have in the text, that is true. However, you could see by the design that he was trying to achieve everything with fire and I thoroughly enjoyed it
Now, about him becoming more dangerous: what are you doing? Mastering options with POF?
All the core book mastery powers are worthwhile for POF and mastery at that level will let him cast 8 + fast-casts in a round with extra penetration and his hands and mouth full.
Funny - this was so clearly the feel I got from him that I was sure that was what you'd written (and published).
My suspicion is that more mastery options and mastery levels won't make him more that much more dangerous. If a target isn't going be defeated by five wizard's boosted Pillums with penetration 62+ die roll (which is what Ranulf + 60 gets once you factor in method caster, penetration, and penetration mastery but before factoring in confidence or vis) throwing eight pillums at the target with even more penetration is unlikely to make a difference.
True, very true.
So, how do you plan to make him more dangerous, then?
If I tell you now will you promise to still read my thread?
LOL. I am an Ars addict, so I am likely to read it anyway. But I can wait. If the waiting brings cool results
Oh! I KNOW!!! You just made a major fire dragon (Might 75+) into your familiar!! All makes sense now!! No? A fire elemental, then? :mrgreen: Did you make your talisman able to draw power directly from Mount Etna so it shots jets of mundane lava? Jets from the Sun as an alternative? You turn the enemy equipment into wood so it burns better? Turn the equipment into fire? A tunic turned into fire might be funny to see in action (in a fantasy game).
Getting on a hype all of my own here :mrgreen:
Great now I'll have to redo the entire character so he can shoot jets of mundane lava, thanks a lot! He already turns enemy equipment into fire look at Transformation of Fire on page 113. You know that there's no way that what I've written will live up to too much hype don't you?
Got me there. Been a while since I read the characters in that book It is always good to see magi evolve (even if I hate doing it myself). I found the original book specially useful because of this way of giving you people to interact that changed over time without having to devote days to it myself (as a SG) sao I appreciate it a lot.
Ranulf's sixty-first year out of apprenticeship is the last year he has his old apprentice to work with. It's a year for getting one last bit of juice out of the apprentice. Ranulf is going to spend a season of both his and his apprentice's time getting the last bit of payment together to commission a worthwhile longevity ritual. Ranulf and his apprentice will both assist in the creation of the ritual the second season. Ranulf's int + magic theory is 12, his apprentice's is undefined but I'd say it's at least 5. Ranulf is going to pay someone else to get the ritual done I think fair estimates for the sort of magus who he can win the services of are int + magic theory 11, + 3 aura, +3 lab and a technique + form total of 40. That's a bit less accomplished, in ageing than Ranuf is in ignem even outside of his focus area, but I think that someone that good at longevity rituals is good enough to earn whatever price Ranulf can afford. This gives a lab total of 74 (76 with an extra two pawns of vis) which provides a bonus of 15 (or 16 with extra vis) to aging rolls. That bonus coupled with a bonus from a bronze cord and good living conditions should keep Ranulf from ageing until most of the way through his second century (an occasional high ageing roll might send him back to reapply the ritual but a more formidable ritual won't need to be reinvented in the time frame that we're looking at.) I see Ranulf teaching during the third season and perhaps after a fairly large party spending his last season learning Unraveling the Fabric of Terram at level 40 from lab notes (he's just had an apprentice for 15 years and he's likely to have used him or her for making laboratory notes for trade). Unraveling the Fabric of Terram is a spell that he needs because his spell Transformation of Fire is duration sun. It's all well and good to change an object or part of an object into a flame, but it sucks to have to wait until sunset to change it back.
After the last apprentice year I see him taking a few years to learn what he needs for his next set of plans. Six years will give 180 experience points:
rego from 10 to 13 for 36 xp
vim from 18 to 20 for 39 xp
leadership to 2 for 10 xp
penetration to 5 for 25 xp
concentration to 5 for 25 xp
that leaves 45 xp for ignem which due to his affinity garners 68 xp raising his ignem score to 28 (3)
During these six years he's storing up vis, keeping a sharp ear out for any possible familiars, and communicating with his fellow flambeau to see if there's someone willing to cooperate on creating some enchanted rings .
At some point in his sixth year of study Ranulf hears of a regio inhabited by salamanders and spends a season in that regio finding a magical animal that he has a bond with.
I had originally looked at the Bjornaer section of HoH:Mystery Cults to see what sort of temperament would be appropriate. At this point Ranulf personality traits are Inquisitive +2, Brave+2, and loquacious -1. While melancholic critters might have been more appropriate for younger Ranulf, Phlegmatic aspect critters fit the Ranulf+60 personality best (deep thinkers finding affection difficult ) . Yet most of the phlegmatic creatures were aquatic and aquatic creatures didn't seem right. So I went to RoP:Magic to see if there was already something appropriate there. There was a salamander joy! It was a creature that automatically put out any fire it came in contact with, that wasn't right . There was a fire drake woo hoo!, The fire drake desperately wants to be seen as fearsome. Ranulf's voting signal is a source of shame for him because it seems too violent. The fire drake presented was entirely wrong . I played with the idea of a very similar fire drake with a less incompatible personality, but it seemed to me that if one of Ranulf's themes is all of the things that you can do with ignem that aren't about violence, then giving him a dragon familiar is not the right way to go even if you rework the dragon's personality. I then reread the salamander of virtue entry and saw "Magi use it (the term salamander)as a kind of blanket term for various beings associated with the form of ignem".
So I created a salamander of my own and posted it on this board for critique here https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/double-check-my-salamander/5561/1 A big thank you for all who helped me out .
Ranulf spends one season binding his familiar, he immediately spends a second season extracting vis to allow Artesano to study magic theory without a penalty to his study score from his magic might.
Two things here that seem a little off to me:
• The magical monster flaw from the creation of Artesano, Should I not have used a flaw that became inapplicable now that he's a familiar rather than a creature that exists outside of the social order? On the other hand it's an NPC's NPC familiar is magical monster still appropriate?
• The specialization for magic theory, do you think that's appropriate or cheesy?
THe specialization in magic theory is quite common in real games... why not use it.
Yeah, its one of those that you CAN argue is "a bit on the edge", but isnt really bad. I agree its plenty good enough.
Huh? Please run that by me again, will 'ya? Or point me to the relevant pages in RoP:Magic if that's where it's at. Is that the trick to avoid being penalized by familiar's might when wanting it to learn Magic Theory?
Well, if this is the creature's main experience with magic theory, it seems like an apporpriate choice.
I thought that teaching the familiar would be the way to go but really Ranulf is bound to have a better book available and Artisano is literate. Another option was to have Artisano gain the Improved abilities quality but that seemed exceptionally twinky and less believable.
The relevant section in RoP: Magic is page 52 left hand column third paragraph. At this point Ranulf has a creo vim lab total of 52 so he produces 11 pawns per season.
I know that the advancement rules on page 32 say Ranulf can use 40 pawns per year (MT*5), but it didn't feel appropriate to apply this "enchanting vis" to reducing the learning penalty for Artisano.
Sounds like a good development.
Issues about Artesano
Typos. You call it Artisano (title name), Artesano (most cases) and even Artosano (Assumption of the fiery mantle). I would run a query to correct the typo
Typos 2. In Assumption of the fiery mantle there is a "speck" that should be "speak", I guess
I would suggest another specialization in latin: Latin (dated) since he learned it from 4th century monks!! Would be more characterful and make him less one-dimensional. Think about how a salamander talking in Shakesperean English would sound to you. :mrgreen:
I am cool with the MT specialization. Never seen it IMS, but if you are a helper sounds like a normal thing.
Can familiars study from vis? I wasn't aware of that. Our familiars only get XP from exposure, instruction and reading books when they learn to read. We always thought you needed The Gift (something magical creatures do not have) in order to study from vis.
Can Artesano throw himself at stuff when under Assumption of the fiery mantle? If so, how much damage does he do? Does he set things on fire by simple contact when in this form? Can he manipulate himself using his other powers when in this form?
I made all of these changes
He's not studying from vis, he's consuming it to reduce his learning penalty so he gain experience from reading books on MT.
I put down his heat with reference to the table on page 181 of the core book. I didn't elaborate on his use of other powers on himself when he's in the fire form (beyond mentioning that he does it). I think that common sense and the spell guidelines should be the SG's guide here. If he changes himself into fire he should be targetable by either animal or ignem in much the same manner as a human transformed into an animal by a hermetic spell is vulnerable to animal as well as corpus, and mentem per HoH: Mystery Cults.
Thanks for your feedback.
What? When did the RAW standard change to 1/5 instead of 1/10? Or does Ranulf have something that improves Vis extraction?