Rebalance: Seasons into moons, but no longevity.

Greetings soldales. I have had an interesting idea as a curiosity: What would happen to magi if, instead of having access to Longevity rituals, they had effectively 3 times as many seasons per year, resulting from things which are currently seasonal activities instead being lunarial activities (Ie. taking a month to instil an effect etc).

I would hear your thoughts on how and why this would change the nature of magi and their effective leanings in the Order.

I have already speculated on the removal of longevity rituals altering some of the balance of power away from those senior magi who specialise in longevity, and the like. I am curious as to what other thoughts other members of our community can come up with as to how this affects the social politics and structure of the Order.

First thought - it throws the xp curve off for non-magical Abilities. Ie, what first took a full year to learn the fundamentals of a skill now takes only a Season. That...sounds a bit odd, to me.

It also means all those OTHER things you can do to increase your lifestyle would be much more important - and there are quite a few of those, so I don't necessarily see Magi living less - but it would spike the probability curve in terms of how long folks live - now you're basically dealing with 5 points of decrepitude (each of which are a botch away on a table), rather than however many points of Warp.

As a consequence - it means familiars are MUCH more important, as you can put all those Lifestyle bonus effects on them with no warp. And magi would be living the lives of hedonistic luxury, and have personal physicians.

It also means there would probably be some sort of clarification in the rules regarding an aging crisis - do they come on immediately, or are they over the course of a day or week? If it's the former, then magi will need to have watching Wards on them (potentially) in order to keep from dying. However, it's more likely that they come on over the course of a frew days - meaning that the local Creo Corpus specialist will have time to come in and cast that "Resolves a Critical Aging Crisis" effect before you snuff it.

It also means that no magi over 50 or so would ever do anything remotely dangerous during the Winter - because they'll need to be close to their CrCo specialist when they make that aging roll.

Since the overall power increases for everyone with regards to XP and such, though, I'm not sure that's an unbalance so much as a change in flavour. You'll see higher skill levels, maybe, but you're more likely to see a broader spread of skills amongst the non-munchkin players and NPCs :wink:

The familiars and hedonistic lifestyles thing, yes, though frankly many magi do that anyway.

Personal physicians are expensive, but yes.

Aging crisis... which would you say would create better stories? I'd say the over the course of a few days option is best, personally, since the rush for the grogs to go and fetch the CrCorp specialist is an excellent story and adventure to run.

And isn't that also an excellent way to prevent junior magi from just going "We can't handle this, lets run and get the senior magus to deal with it!"?

Does this "tripling" (technically, the multiplication factor is roughly 13/4 rather than 3, and advancement progressively gets out of synch with the solar year) apply only to hermetic magical activities or to everything including e.g. grogs practicing their fighting skills and Sahirs learning their trade? If it applies to hermetic magic only, it throws advancement of magi out of synch with that of everyone else. If it applies to everything the magi may (or may not) still get the same amount of study done in their lifetime (I believe they'd get considerably more), but everyone else sees it at least tripled, and those whose longevity depends at least partially on their skill or that of their associates see it boosted even further - e.g. great bakers and their customers live for centuries:).

In any case, suddenly any other means to longevity becomes that much more crucial. You'd probably see lots of players take Virtues that confer aging advantages (wait till Ovarwa reads this thread and see what he'll have to say about Strong Faerie Blood:) ). From an in-character perspective, since a lot of non-hermetic longevity options are only a breakthrough away, you'll see a lot of research into that.

Personally, I'd see it as a very disruptive change, with little benefit - interesting to think about, but I'd never try it out.

I already tried it and it works well.
The saga I am running is set in the present time, and since I did not want to go to far into the future, yet have the magus progress at a good pace.
Old magus (80 years) have more or less the equivalent of 180 years out of apprenticeship. Older magus are extremely cautious since they are about a sneeze away from their last Twilight.

I had to do a bit of balancing to increase Twilight frequency (which is easier than you think since everybody is so happy to have high level spells :smiley: ).
But I had to do an overall on the aging process to take into account modern lifestyle, medical progress link to magic improvement and so on. At this stage, there is too much house rules to list them, but the conclusion is: it works, as long as you are willing to do a lot of trimming and basically cap aging roll bonus (in my case 8-decades of age: basically, they will age rather healthily, but then it will unravel very fast). It is a bit brutal, but I did not try to fine tune it since it is the first shot and we are not planning to play very old magus (and I have to say, my players are not so much about min-maxing and trying to break the system so I cannot say how robust is this solution).

One of the unexpected side effect is that since magus will progress much faster, you have a large group of young magus (10-20 years out of apprenticeship), with relatively high level in Arts (frequently two Arts in the 20-25 range). I balanced that by reducing the number of high level books and making the writing of tractatus much more difficult (only for succesful experimentation - dice result of 1-4) - hence reducing significantly their availability (sourcing the adequate tractatus is not about paying one virtus pawn, but about succeeding some social skill or Hermes Lore to identify who will have what they are looking for).
Thus, much more magi are into studying from virtus and/or experiementing, increasing significantly Twilight occurrence.
But they don't mind. They are probably also biased since they know we won't play old magus so they are taking more risks and as long as they have fun, I am rolling with it.

Dramatically, I think I'd agree - it also feels more appropriate, in the "Agustus took sick over the winter, and passed away after a brief fight with the auge" - or whatever. That suggests that it takes a few days to weeks. It also allows the magi to go off during the winter, and even if they break a leg (or get pneumonia, or whatever the aging crisis manifests as), the grogs can potentially have time to get the specialist.

I agree - in the sense that the elder magi really are ELDER, in the physical sense, albeit ones in excellent health. That suggests that the aging rolls could be done whenever they go out on adventure, potentially.

There may also be an increased likelihood of someone integrating the "you can make charged ritual items" ability - thus allowing CrCo specialists to not have to travel so much. Optionally, magi could have the "resolves an aging crisis" effect be as a temporary (ie, Sun or Month) effect, so that they can delay their crisis roll until a healer is present.

I'd apply it globally, to everyone, not just magi.

One thing that occurs to me is that magi, especially PC magi, might become even more averse to leaving the lab for stories and adventures that cannot be resolved in a few days. The few games I've played we've allowed magi to get Adventure XP and still spend the season doing lab work if the adventure was short enough to allow magi to get back to the lab.

With a seasonal schedule, an adventure that could take a month of travel to and from might still only result in the loss of a single season in the lab. We never really had adventures that took more than a season to complete.

The same adventure with a lunar schedule could be the potential loss of 3 or more effective seasons in the lab. Would the character get 3 or more XP awards just because the adventure spanned multiple lunar months?

Of course, it is a trade-of magus must be willing to take.
Magi in my saga lost many, many periods of lab work because of adventure lasting a week or a month. Yet because they had 24 periods of lab a year, they did not mind. Possibly because they were not so bent to maximise their lab ouput. The things when something because more abundant, loosing a little bit of it is not painful. In this case, when you have four seasons a year, losing one season a year is a big deal, tha't s 25% of your "output". When you have 12 or 24 seasons and you need to let go of one or two, you don't feel the pinch.
Another advantage of short periods of work is that it can allow magi to go back to their lab, quickly fix a specific solution for an adventure in progress and come back. Depending on the urgency of the situation, it can give an additional tool for magi to play with. Can they invent the counter-curse ? Or after getting severly beaten, can they come back on time, this time prepared (and everybody knows that a prepared magus can be nearly invicible). How long are they willing to be ready for revenge ? A month, 6 months ? The longer they wait, the more prepared/powerful they will be, but will the danger/ennemy still be waiting for them and will it be the same ? It rarely occurs in the normal pace Saga unless it involves relatively "static" element like a kingdom, a guild set in a city and such. But hoping to catch a group of bandit at the same place they steal the precious magi shipment a month ago ? Not a chance.

Finally, if a magus does not ever want to get out of his lab, it challenges the whole concept of RP: Players are supposed to want to go adventuring (heroic, diplomatic, investigation or what not), but if one PC does not want to go adventuring, then the GM can let the player do his little lab math in his corner when the other players are adventuring. I know that magus are supposed to be mostly labrat, but it is an unwritten rule (of any RPG) that player's PC are not the norm and hopefully designed for better, greater thing. If the concept of a character only emphasize this aspect and the player uses this as a reason to never go adventuring, then he does not even need to create a character at all, he is just part of the background like any NPC.

Okay, first off, I find it grating that you consider interacting more with the lab rules than the other players at the table to be "doing it wrong." Also, plenty of RP can happen within the covenant itself, so it's not like adventuring is required for involvement. One of the biggest points behind troupe-style play is that the magus can do what they want and the player will still have a character to play. It's true that roleplaying requires action, but this does not necessitate adventures per se. More importantly, lab rats tend to adventure anyway; they just need different motivations that natural adventurers.

NPC: Yeah, and this hidden part of the long-dead hedge wizard's lair is rumored to have powerful items!

Flambeau PC: Woohoo! Legendary items and powerful defenses to defeat! This will make me famous! Let's go!

Bonisagus PC: Meh, I'd rather keep working on this Breakthrough. It should only take another two years at this rate.

NPC, after SG thinks for a moment: Oh, just so you can prepare yourselves properly, I should tell you that the hedge wizard's magic revolved largely around [insert concept similar to the Breakthrough the magus is trying to achieve here].

Bonisagus PC: Chop chop my Flambeau friend, I want to be ready to go within the hour.

Things like that. Lab rats usually have goals; give them adventure hooks that nudge them towards faster or more perfect completion of their goal.

On another note, I don't see how a month of preparation is any less strenuous than a season if you need to be back somewhere immediately.

Lastly, non-magi get way too much benefit from this, in my opinion. Average skill levels will explode, and the top tier masters in a skill will start having scores of 18 or so rather than the current 12 or so, and a lot of setting tweaks will need to be made to account for that. (It's not like these guys had Longevity before.)

Story flaws are the agreement (implicit or explicit, depending upon how much discussion the troupe/SG has about them) between the player and the SG (if not the troupe) that these are the kinds of stories that will pull his magus out of the lab or library and do something.

Really Bad Idea.
It removes one of the basic superiority of magi over mundanes, and would give many currently highly powered options for mundanes way too much power. Extrordinarilly crafted items and famous artists would litter the landscape, and famous chefs would be helping everyone live longer.

Consider you are an apprentice, the training which took 7 years previously now takes under 2, giving you an ability of 5. By age 12.
Want to improve your workshop? No problem, you now earn 108 labor points a year, if you are an average working Joe, and during that year you will gain 12 exposure experience, so you won't be average for long- especially if you train in the off months.

Also does this affect character creation? If not then starting with a younger character will have massive benefits, since you get 15 xp/yr (30 for mages) to begin with, but even working every single month you would get 24xp/yr after the game begins, and more likely 36xp/yr, before training, education or other 'boosted' methods of learning.

While I would personally prefer to decouple a lot of "seasonal" activities from the seasons, accelerating things across the board isn't how I'd do it.

I'd make study more about the quality of the library at your given level(the more books with useful information on a given subject at a given level the better the quality due to cross-referencing, also means you aren't obsessing over one book for 3 months). Going from 3 to 4 in an Art might not take more than a week or two, with a good enough library.

A lot of low-tier magic, like hedgery, or even charged magic or lesser enchanted items, should take a moon, a week, a day, or a few hours, as appropriate.

The Rusticani thing about enchanting an item as you forge it should be a Thing in the order - the proper Boni/Verdi procedure is more efficient and ultimately more effective, but if you need a magic thingamabob ASAP, this might suffice. And this should work with Items of Quality and items that provide a Virtue to their user.

While it takes a season to train an animal, you aren't training that animal all day every day. Maybe an hour or two. A lot of useful things to do only need an hour or two every day or a few hours each week, so unless a character is getting worked to death they ought to have time for at least one such side activity.

Characters on an adventure who A) behave heroically, B) while under noticeable threat, C) in a way that helps, should get a multiplier to the Source Quality of that adventure. Adjust as appropriate to the degrees of A, B, and C. A high enough multiplier might allow the alternative reward of an appropriate Virtue. (This is mostly for Companions - if a Magus qualifies for B then what kind of meat-grinder did the players end up in, anyway? Or alternately, why is the Covenant sending a more vulnerable Magus into danger?)


Hm. That starts to get into Easy/Average/Hard/Very Hard skills, a la GURPS - where some skills are easier to learn and/or perform, relative to others.

GURPS does it by breaking training down into 200 hours per point of XP. I suppose you could house-rule something down to that level, if you felt like it. From what I recall, one of the previous versions of Ars did XP by the week, rather than the Season.

I tried to do that, but it very quickly became apparent that the book-keeping aspect of it was too much. You start to have charts looking like MS Project or other similar project management tool... that's what I am doing on a daily basis, I don't need that in my game as well.

What I did introduce though was that for potion, it takes one season (or whatever is the reference duration for a period of work) to invent the first brew/recipe and the formula to get it, but afterwards, as long as you have the component, it only takes a day to brew a batch (and the number of potions depends on MT/2). But to balance that, I also introduce the fact that un-consummed potion keeps until next moon only (but their effect last according to the designed effect). I am sure some magi/players will find ways to abuse that, but so far, nobody tried to do it in my sagas.

Well, the entire book system needs overhauling anyway. Like how the upper levels of skill should be less "Here's enough tractati to choke a Bonisagus" and more "Here's a lab text and a commentary on it".


To be honest, the unabalance between magi and non magi always seems a little unfair to me. After all, magi already get access to fabulous books. It makes playing someone non-magical but competent need to be a mythic companion, and there's not that many around. But that's a system design choice, and what house rules are for.

Balance between character tiers aside, any other changes it'd make? That anyone can think of?

So far it's that people are less concerned about losing a 'moon' of work than a season, but older magi are now even less inclined to go out than they used to be.

"Fair?" I don't understand how this word is supposed to relate to Ars Magica. The setting is built on unfairness all the way through. Women are ineligible for many positions in society, the three religions of the book are inherently more right than any other religion, and the primary group the PCs are part of is pretty much based on the ideal of providing egomaniacs who already have power that dwarfs anything outside of that group, humans and creatures with Might alike (Volkhvy shenanigans and certain broken Muspelli options aside), with bunches of money, free time, and ability to lord over and abuse those outside the group. And that's before getting into mechanics, which are intentionally imbalanced to allow the above. Please, don't let your "fair" anywhere near my Ars Magica.

As far as other complaints about your houserule go... I think the hardest part will be adjusting the rest of the setting around it. For example, how quickly do vis stocks replenish? Are people now surrendering even more advancement than they were before when they get hurt? Uh oh, declaring War now takes long enough to fit in a season of lab work. How often do Tribunals happen now to accommodate for everyone not living as many years? Does Diabolism become insanely popular for its ability to trade away that Aging that can't be slowed, or do they lose that advantage too? Which lunar cycle do you age in, and how long does your illness last? How much time do you need to spend training an apprentice each year? How often do you gain Warping points for ongoing effects, or worse yet ongoing powerful effects not designed for you?

I think my biggest problem with this isn't even about setting retributions, though. It's the feelings that come with an extended lifespan. Watching your grogs age and die if they didn't from horrible things you only find in the proximity of a covenant. Getting to play several generations of grog children while your magi forge on with their work. The disconnecting feeling of lab-ratiness, working on projects and items and advancement and being incredibly engrossed until something finally forces you out and you take a deep breath and look around only to find it's been a decade, your friend has a kid, your sodalis has become a political powerhouse, and the covenant's developed a new business. The thematic feel of engrossing oneself in projects that are indeed measured in decades rather than a couple of years. The act of trading away your ability to bring new life into the world for an opportunity to extend your own life, and the trope of ancient wizened wizards.

I feel as if you lose all of the above and more with the change. It's not especially egregious from a balance perspective (magi actually get a bit stronger under your rules, but it's cancelled out by everyone else's power shooting up even more so), but there's just so much flavor I feel you sacrifice by removing longevity.

I guess that could just be my opinion though. I like being a great-great-grandparens, myself.