Saga design parameters and power level

I was thinking about the creation of initiations because of what you all have been saying. maybe it can be modelled as a lab activity or something. These initiation scripts have to come from somewhere after all. If initiations are to be something in the saga, better be prepared for it. And think of how initiation scripts can be story hooks :slight_smile:

Initiation Scripts are treated as Laboratory Texts and the rules for creating and modifying them are easy enough to understand and comparable to laboratory activities.

The most detailed handling of them is in the beginning of TMRE

Sounds like the books are pretty inconsistent then since RAW contradicts RAW. Some of them say it takes the place of the magus, some say it may or may not. Meanwhile there are places that explicitly say a Gifted companion is more powerful than a Mythic Companion and make the same statement about the magus spot while there are other places that say to use a companion spot. Overall I'd personally rate things roughly this way on a 0-20 scale:

3: Grog
10: Companion
15: Mythic Companion/Gifted Companion
20: Hermetic Magus

On this scale, the tough thing with things like Sahir is where they lie from 15-20, closer to 15 or closer to 20.

Where is this? All mentions of Mythic Companion I have seen so far always have 1) they cannot have The Gift, 2) get (2 x Flaw) points in Virtues, and 3) replace a player's magus character slot. Meanwhile the only references to Gifted Companions I have seen are in HoH:S.

I think both are said to be Magus power level, but in all honesty most of the Mythic Companion virtues fall far short of that.

It runs into the universal Ars problem that consistency of subtleties across books is not 100%.

Do we have other Mythic Companions so far aside from Heroic Companions and Spirit Votaries?

There are a couple but I can't think of what they are off the top of my head.

They can be magus power level if you cherry pick virtues; or if you build a Hyperborean one. (There isn't a set Hyperborean Mythic Companion virtue though).

Found one! Maestro from A&A.

Uh... Faerie Doctor!

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Looking at Faerie Doctor also led me to check RoP:I. The RAW for Mythic Companions are consistent.The free (Mythic Companion) Virtue essentially replaces The Gift and gives them (2 x Flaw) Virtues.

Mythic Companions

  • Faerie Doctor
  • Heroic Companion
  • Spirit Votary
  • Maestro

This troupe is obviously putting the Gifted Companion in the magus slot (and I agree with that) considering the players can create Companions, but the power-level comparison I made is still valid. i.e that Mythic Companions are roughly equivalent to a Magus.

The RAW statement of power rather than spots is what I quoted from HMRE above. And then there are books like RoP:tD, which has a whole section on Mythic Companions and goes with generally a magus spot, but not necessarily, just like HMRE.

Here is the trivial comparison method: Compare apples to apples by making a Mythic Companion Hedge Mage and a Gifted Companion Hedge Mage of the same tradition. You should find they come out about the same in starting stuff because Opening the Gift gives roughly 10-14 points of Virtues worth of stuff. Note three things from there: the Mythic Companion doesn't have the negative social effect from the Gift, the Gifted Companion gets acces to Hermetic Virtues, and the Gifted companion benefits more easily from future initiations or teaching of Supernatural Abilities. Also, though rarely, there are additional limits if you don't have the Gift.

Two others in addition to the General HMRE and RoP:tD ones: Summoner and Kabbalist.

Found more of them.

Mythic Companions

  • Faerie Doctor
  • Blood of Heroes
  • Spirit Votary
  • Maestro
  • Perfectus
  • Zahid
  • Kabbalist
  • Devil Child
  • Diabolist
  • Summoner

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 BesalΓΊ, 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.