Saga design parameters and power level

Ok, I will be blunt here.

I do not like initiations. Well, not exactly correct. I actually do like them, but an I do not like initiation into other magical traditions and supernatural abilities being considered something along the lines of a grocery shopping list. And this is how I feel about the characters being put forward.

Getting an initiation into a.magical tradition is a life changing event. Something that even changes your Essential Nature, not something you pick by the wayside. And not something everybody should be doing. Otherwise it loses its mysticism to become mundane.

Don't know.

I am hesitant of banning initiations into new abilities in the saga, but I wouldnlike you all to consider your characters and why they deserve to be initiated. Are you building characters that you do not like perhaps? I have never had a character get initiated or gain new virtues (except social ones for mundane entanglement and flaws for serious injuries) in 20 years of playing ars Magica and the supernatural characters were fine. If this is not the case with the characters you are creating let's talk about it, but initiations and new virtues will not be conceded lightly.

Hope this makes sense, since it has been bothering me for the past few days. Wilhelm's comment that it will initiate mechanica easily by summoning Heron of Alexandria forced the post, but the is was already in my mind before. For the record, I see necromancers getting information from dead people. Lores, secrets. Not initiations.

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Is this a general restriction on Opening the Gift to Traditions, Mystery Initiations, and Initiating Virtues? If so then you've invalidated the core concept of Yannis: Nature Lore + Walking the Paths.

@Xavi I sincerely hope we iron this issue out soon.

A normal Ars Magica saga is in a significant part about growth and power. The reason Magi found covenants is so they can ignore the real world and focus on that. (Naturally, the fun of stories comes with things interrupting that focus, but the backdrop is about magi seeking knowledge and power). The two main methods of that are research/experimentation, and seeking out lost or secret knowledge to be gained through initiation. There is also the basic increasing of arts and invention of new spells, but that is, frankly, dry and boring, and usually done in the service of the other two. I think it is a misunderstanding of the writers' intent to say that initiations are a complete change in worldview, that's not how they're presented in the books that introduce them to the game. They are, in black and white, in Mysteries Revised and Hedge Magic Revised, a commonly used method by which Magi gain knowledge and power, and furthermore they often build on each other.

That said, this is not a normal Ars Magica saga. If you want to have a saga where what we start with is basically all we're ever going to have, in terms of basic abilities, you're the one who started this and you can make that a parameter. But it will limit the characters people can bring to the table, which are already chosen from a limited list.

On the point of Initiations changing world views, that's not entirely correct. It does involve some paradigm shift, but it's not the main intent. Gifted Initiations change the essential nature of The Gift when it grants Virtues and Flaws, which is why un-Gifted characters can only Initiate Supernatural Abilities.

An ArM5 character undergoing an initiation always puts his essence into the hands of another ... being.

Initiations always involve risk and trust, not just checking the Ars Magica books. If the mystagogue is a spirit, a daimon, a ghost or worse, verrry few people in ArM5 would muster that trust - and for good reason!
But it takes quite some faith and courage to even have a friendly friar initiate you: he might be a heretic and estrange you from God forever.

Furthermore, the Restored Order of Hermes will remember many cases of reckless initiations and their consequences: not just sleazy mystagogues testing their experimental scripts on dupes in their cult, but also Tartuffian impostors and groups going against the very grain of the Order. (TMRE p.124ff) The Children of Hermes may become a major enemy in our saga, if not just a few PCs see their future in risky initiations.

I see your problem. Reducing options in a starting PbP saga with players not knowing each other in person is already difficult: moreso, if over 40 books mainly involved with different ways of ArM5 magic use form a huge, tempting candy store in the unavoidable phase of technical character building.

I can only hope, that the characters we now make will come to life during play!

Forst, a general show of what I consider an OPTIMIZED FIGHTER COMPANION in my real world sagas. Mateu de Besalú, Knight Hospitallier - development. It was created for the Light of Andorra saga, that is high power and basically makes everybody Wealthy during character creation, but that is it. He has 4 virtues and flaws, and a further virtue in the form of a +2 attack and defense sword. That might help you understand some of my hesitations.

Basically the problems I see is with getting a whole bunch of supernatural abilities easily. Or not that easily, but getting them anyway. Opening the Gift grants you something in the scale of +10 to +20 virtues for free, and changes completely the focus and capabilities of the character. Same if you can go around initiating supernatural virtues for no cost.

The forest paths and other initiations that require heavy costs for the characters I find to be quite OK (without having played them ever, mind you, so this might not be true in real gaming).

So maybe what I am doing here is putting a ban on Opening the Gift or Acquiring Virtues without a corresponding equal level flaw. Your core character is that, your core. If you are a priest of Arduinna, or an Ars Notoria franciscan that is what you are it is not a "level 1 character" that will raise to level 10 branching into other D&D classes. You can get more virtues and flaws, but you are not getting initiated and BAM! suddenly you also are a Gifted Natural Magician, an Amazon or a Gruagach.

The initial characters that you are creating are far from useless. More than 2 went all the way to get a +9 (plus characteristic) in non accelerated abilities. I am not overly concerned about that, but this is the focus of your character, and I expect it to remain the focus of your character for the saga.

Learning abilities that make no background sense (Wilhelm, I am looking at you and your Mechanica for a necromancer) is also extremely discouraged. And it would have a heavy cost as well. Maybe focusing on material beings diminishes your connection to the dead, dunno.

So, if you want initiations, they will follow the lines of Initiations for Ungifted characters or forest paths. They will come at a cost. I think this is thematic to the approach of the saga and I do not feel that it substracts heavily from what I expect from the characters.

Initiations are well and good. Free virtues and character swaps not so much.

I hope you understand what I am saying and it makes sense to you.

So mechanically, unless it is a Supernatural Ability that is being Initiated, all Initiations require an equivalent level Flaw as an Ordeal, yes?

All supernatural stuff requires an ordeal. They are like intiation scripts for unGifted characters.

Some Supernatural Ability Initiations do not require an equal level Flaw for an Ordeal.

Based on what you have just said, however, your ruling on this is: All Initiations must include an equal level Flaw as an Ordeal.

I can live with that as opposed to what I interpreted your initial post on the matter to mean. :+1:

My suggestion on Opening the Gift, is to automatically nuke all the character's Supernatural Abilities if he has his Gift opened. This way we still have the option to join a hedge tradition without having the burden of previous supernatural baggage.

What if you're not picking up a Virtue? For example, what if you have the Gift and a total of -15 in penalties and find someone who can teach you something like Premonitions with a Source Quality of 20? This is, of course, inherently limited since you not only need to get the teacher but it also gets harder the more you improve what you already have as well as the more you learn, unlike initiations which generally get easier. I'm pretty sure this was mentioned above somewhere.

Premonitions is a Virtue. It confers the Supernatural Ability Premonitions

Sorry for the derp

Both Premonitions and Second Sight are Supernatural Abilities tied to Minor Supernatural Virtues.

EDIT: I see, that you found it yourself!

No, it's just like Second Sight.

...confers the Ability Premonitions..." (p.47)

...This Ability... (Supernatural)" (p.67)

Even if it weren't, that wouldn't invalidate the question. Insert any appropriate Supernatural Ability.

Edit: I, too, see that you caught it. You don't need those Virtues to have the Supernatural Abilities. You can just learn them.

I "mispoke" and corrected my previous post.

Essentially I believe @Xavi means that the only way our characters are going to get any additional Supernatural Abilities is by getting Virtues through Initiation which will require an equal-level Flaw as an Ordeal

@callen @OneShot

To be clear, this is how I read what Xavi meant in this post.

  1. Characters with the Gift can no longer get Supernatural Abilities through Teaching, only through Initiating a Virtue
  2. All Initiations require an equal-level Flaw as an Ordeal

I can see how you read it that way, but Xavi also mentioned separately learning Abilities that make no background sense, and this may well be learning Abilities that do make background sense. And never did Xavi actually address this case, which is why I wanted to gain clarity on it. What happens in the case when there is no Initiation, you're not gaining a Virtue, and the Ability you are learning does make sense?

Separately, how did Xavi get that nice weapon table in there? I suppose I could go reply in that thread, copy the code, and delete the reply. But I'm not in that game and so feel doing the non-existent reply would be in bad form.

Hmm? There are two ways to do it. HTML, like what I did with the table to illustrate the languages in the vicinity of Triamore, or by BBCode.

Thanks. I have a fair amount of coding background (C, C++, Java, and lots of stuff I haven't touched in ages), so knowing which languages to use should solve it quickly for me.

Supernatural abilities are only available if you have the associated supernatural virtue. I had never thought that they could be learned without that. IMS you cannot train a turb of grogs to have second sight, they have to actually have it. That's why they actually require a virtue for starters instead of being general abilities...