This thread is reserved for GM posts about the rules for this game.
Some background information will probably be embedded here.
This thread is reserved for GM posts about the rules for this game.
Some background information will probably be embedded here.
This topic contains supplemental background information and game rules that apply to this saga.
Please read through this section before writing up a character sheet. Although any of the more traditional character concepts remain viable, this material might inspire other ideas and some game rules incorporate changes that are more than cosmetic.
Some key elements I believe a player should be aware of from the outset are:
Stories are largely player- rather than GM-driven, based on what their characters want to do.
Magic is a means, not an end.
Many stories will feature only a single PC.
PCs will often communicate by mail.
Your covenant will have good resources, including vis. As usual, your magus might want more.
No Hermetic breakthroughs. House Bonisagus extends the frontiers of knowledge through initiation and through sponsoring the search for lost and hidden knowledge.
Parma Magica and Magic Resistance are vastly better than usual.
The Divine and Infernal exert immense indirect influence but almost never appear obviously. If you see demons, chances are someone summoned them. If you want a miracle, make one yourself and blame God.
Hermetic Magic cannot distinguish one Realm from another, even indirectly.
Hermetic Magic is better at crafting things but more limited when dealing with spirits.
PCs may not begin play as Bonisagi, Quaesitori or Mercere, though may aspire to join the ranks of any of these.
The RoP books are generally not used, except as inspiration.
The Code is enforced with great inconsistency.
The theme of this saga, if there is to be one, will emerge from character actions and motivations.
Especially at the beginning, I will not initiate stories for player characters. At every stage of the game, a character designed for this game should have desires, needs and intentions that cause him to leave lab and covenant to do things on his own initiative. I will run the stories and populate them with NPCs as needed, but will not come up with the stories until the world takes notice of your character and reacts.
Even from the perspective of character optimization, you will be much better off initiating stories than reacting to stories that come your way. In general, a story that you have initiated and successfully resolved represents a seized opportunity. A story that I initiate will generally represent a threat whose successful resolution represents accepting the least evil among unpleasant alternatives.
I will only accept characters with motivations that are personal and that lead to specific actions in the world.
By personal, I mean pertaining specifically to the character, rather than House or Order. Real people do embrace their indoctrination, but for reasons of their own.
By in the world, I mean outside the lab. I prefer characters who use magic toward their ends rather than who make magic itself their purpose.
By specific actions, I mean concrete plans and doings rather than abstract intentions. “I go out into the forest looking for shapeshifters to kill” or “I want to throw the best party ever for the local nobility” are less favorable beginnings than, “I return to the forest where werewolves killed my brother thirty years ago,” or “I can never tell the world that I am her father, but my daughter's wedding to the count will be perfect, and she will know how much I love her.”
This game is not about the Order of Odin, but perhaps about your character's relationship to the Order of Odin. This game is not about Hermetic Law but perhaps about your character's feeling driven to transform it. This game is not about magic but about what your characters do with it.
The following is an overview of character creation:
(EDITED: The first season is Grand Tribunal, not the last.)
1)Write a character background and corresponding character sheet that represents your magus just after he has been proclaimed a magus in the season of the Grand Tribunal, which occurs every 7 years. A character background should sketch out the character's history and intentions for the future. It should mention and briefly describe any important NPCs in the character's life. Your character must have a living parens, must have a blood family, and must have some kind of relationship with both, unless you take a Major Virtue that exempts you from either or both and does nothing else. Above all, your character background must declare a specific action the character intends to undertake for personal reasons now that he is emancipated from his parens. Please balance detail and brevity; I have to read these. The purpose of your character background should be to convey essential information rather than entertain with a short (or long) story. Background can also be fleshed out further in play.
2)I will describe the covenant that you will be joining. Your character is aware that his covenant will consist solely of magi who have become magi at the same time as he, and that if he wants to be part of a covenant this is his only option. This is standard practice in the Order.
3)Character development will proceed in seven-year cycles, beginning with Grand Tribunal.
4)During each cycle, the following occurs, in order:
1.The first season of a cycle is always the Grand Tribunal. Except during the first cycle, I will pose an issue or two for the covenant as a whole to deal with. A magus might also have a personal agenda to deal with, and we will sketch that out.
2.The player and I sketch out each story planned by the player during the preceding development cycle. For each story, the player initiates the action and I populate it with NPCs as needed. Rather than play it out in depth, we will mostly summarize actions and consequences; I will roll dice behind the scenes as needed. The idea is to sketch out a history relatively quickly. The PC may only use the resources that he had developed during the previous cycle, and these stories may not involve any other PC. Hint: A magus who knows what he plans to do can plan his lab and library time accordingly.
3.I might initiate a story event to which the character must react. The PC may only use the resources that he had developed during the previous cycle, and these stories may not involve any other PC. Hint: A magus who is overtaken by events is less likely to be prepared, yet surprises do happen.
4.The player allocates his seasons to lab work, reading, adventure and so on. Some of these seasons are determined as shall be described.
5.The player decides his magus' plans for the next cycle, and appraises me of them.
5)After at least three but no more than six development cycles, play will begin in earnest, and at a slower pace. I will tell you when this happens, though the progression from story overviews to detailed story might well feel natural. Stories that involve more than one PC become possible.
The ideal product of character development is a magus between 21 and 42 years past Gauntlet, who has some history behind him. In another sense, the game begins immediately after Gauntlet as a “very very fast” saga but matures into something more normal, unless we find the pace refreshing.
Character at Gauntlet
A character's background should correspond to his character sheet. By this, I mean that if a character's background describes how he has many friends and allies or how he outwits merchant princes, the character needs to have virtues and ability scores that reflect this. By this, I mean that if a character's background discusses his cowardice in battle, I hope to see a corresponding Flaw. Above all, I mean that reading one makes the other obvious rather than strained.
Please be sure that your character has personal motivation. Characters who lack such motivation are dull. Motivation is more than a goal, but the driving force behind the goal. Consider a character who wants to avenge his father's death. Suppose he manages to do this during the first session, or suppose everyone involved is killed in a landslide; what now? Or consider a character who wants to discover the secrets of the Diedne. What about him makes him want to do this? If the answer is “I'm a Bonisagus,” or “I'm in the Burning Acorn Vexillation, like my parens before me,” this character is a hollow shell, not much of a person at all. “I'm horny” is not sophisticated as motivations go, but has the virtues of being personal and real. It is also likely to lead the magus into more interesting stories than “I want to build a giant spider automaton because that's what Verditius magi do.”
Please do not write the stats for any NPC; I'll handle that based upon description. Feel free to describe the ones that are essential, but remember that we can always “remember” your brother, or the grog captain of your parens' Tytalus rival later, especially if they make sense in terms of the overall chracter, and their inclusion does not create unexpected Virtues.
We can similarly revisit the events of childhood, apprenticeship and adolescence as needed and desired.
Generating a magus that has passed Gauntlet occurs in the usual way, but Hermetic Flaws do not count against the limit of 10 flaw points, thus allowing a magus to have more than 10 points of virtues. If this limit is exceeded, the magus must have at least one Major Hermetic Flaw. A magus with a Major Hermetic Flaw can have more than one Major Hermetic Virtue. Mystery Virtues are permitted during character creation, and Cabal Legacy need not be taken. Many lineages offer particular slants on Hermetic Magic, emphasizing some aspects at the expense of others, and apprentices are known to show idiosyncratic talents and deficits. It will be a long time before your magus gets to initiate new virtues, that is to say that initiation will not occur during the advancement phase of character creation, so take the virtues you want up front, as part of your character's magical heritage.
Legal Virtues and Flaws include anything in the main rules, various Tribunal books, C&G, A&A, TMRE and HoH:x, except for the following: Nature Lore, Glamour, Living Ghost, Ascension, Great Elixir, Magical Focus or Potent Magic in an Astrological House, Sign or Planet. Other virtues may be permitted on an as-is basis: Ask! Some virtues and flaws from RoP:X books may be permitted, but the mechanics in these books are generally not part of this game. The rules for a few virtues are clarified in other sections of these rules.
Any spell in the main rules exists in the saga as written, and your character can begin with it, with the exception of wards, because they work differently, spells that affect a specific realm, because Hermetic Magic in these rules conflates the realms, and spells that incorporate Finesse rolls, because there is no Finesse. Alternate spells can be created, and your character can begin play with these. Spells and spell guidelines from other books are not necessarily permitted, but also not necessarily prohibited: Ask! Your character can exit Gauntlet with any approved spells. Please see the section about Hermetic Effect Design for more details about all of this.
Your character becomes a magus at the beginning of Great Tribunal, which occurs during the summer once every seven years.
Apprentices become magi at the same time, once every 21 years. Common practice has become to found a few new covenants for these magi, for a variety of reasons. Not all of these covenants last, but the ones that do eventually return the Order's investment of resources many times over. Your characters will join one of these covenants, and enjoy its significant resources (quite beyond what is canonically considered Spring) and much independence. Some magi want even more independence and refuse, preferring to exist on the fringes of things. Even more rarely, a journeyman magus is 'invited' to join an established covenant. Your magus is not one of these, and that is to his advantage.
Please remember to include the first story your magus plans to initiate.
Saying Yes and No
In general, I like to say yes to things that players want. I recognize that I need your help.
Want to combine virtues? To optimize? Please do this. Effective characters can do more stuff, and I'd rather your characters do it than my NPCs. Want to min-max? Please again. Real people try to leverage their abilities and cover for their weaknesses, so why not your character, and your character's teachers? Go ahead: Take those optimal virtues. Take those flaws that work just right, providing the challenges you want rather than the ones you don't. Take the abilities you want to make the character you want. He'll start at least 21 years past Gauntlet, probably closer to twice that; the rules for getting experience and resources are relatively generous; you'll be able to create a character who can do cool things. Please do them.
The list of things I'm likely to say no to is larger than the yeses, simply because I want my default to be yes, and have a very good idea of things I don't like.
I don't want player characters built around miracles. You're a magus! Please create your own and blame God if you like. That said, a magus who is religious is welcome! I promise not to ruin your lab with a pesky Divine Aura just because you're pious, unless you take Flaws to encourage my behaving that way. (If you take a major flaw that has angels plaguing you, you're on your own. )
I don't want weird readings of the rules (other than my own). Please read the virtues and flaws you take carefully, so you know how they work. If I get something wrong, point it out to me, but please accept my ruling if I persist.
I don't favor straining to use an easier Hermetic guideline when a more difficult one seems more in line with the effect being created. If you're not sure, please choose the more difficult guideline; when I see the effect I might allow the easier one, and then we're all happy.
I do not like straining to use weird TeFo combinations to achieve a desired effect, or twisting and ignoring guidelines. Unfortunately, some of these are canonical or popular, and I ought to elaborate with some example spells that I will not allow as written, that hopefully exemplify what I mean:
Witch's Broom: The original version of this spell (I notice it has been changed) was a purely ReHe lvl 20 effect that allowed a magus to fly without use of Corpus. The spell also did not require the magus to hang on to this piece of wood for dear life as it zoomed, dived and darted; nor did the spell account for the weight of the magus, who might actually stop the wood from going anywhere rather than be dragged around with it, or the splinters he is likely to get as it moved in his grasp, or his sore and sorry butt from trying to sit all day on the wriggling, writhing, uncomfortable thing, or the 21+ concentration rolls he needs to cast spells while dodging around on the thing in combat. Even the revised version does not feel quite right to me, though it is much better. I find this spell wholly different from a magus who enchants a broom with a ReCo effect; of course that broom is comfortable, of course it maneuvers nicely (Dodge at 6 under my rules, no botch possible!) What? My imposing unwanted realism doesn't feel “magical?” If you want to do ReCo magic, please use ReCo. The updated version of this spell can be found at spellswiki.wikidot.com/rego-herbam; I do not see the original.
Trust Me: This canonical spell (HoH:TL pg73) has descriptive fluff that doesn't work for me: “This spell only acts to level the subject's attitude to the caster....” And this is not true. This spell forcibly compels trust, and is every bit as unnatural as any other ReMe spell. The description of the spell does not match the guideline used.
Aura of Inconsequence (HoH:TL pg73). This spell thoroughly violates the usual guidelines for targeting, breaking Hermetic limits. Bjornaer can learn a Mystery Virtue to get something similar, and their spell would require a higher level.
I guess what I'm saying is that I encourage characters to be powerful within the rules, but players to keep them.
Actions and Dice
I will roll all dice. Especially in non-stress situations, I will often “take 2” or “take 5” or “take 8” to use D&D terms. This represents situations that I think are far less than random. I will most commonly do this when a character may or may not know something, such as a fact about magic theory.
If you want your player to do something that involves a roll, please put the components of that roll in parentheses (+12: Bargain(merchants) 3+1 + Com 3 + Reputation: Fair Dealing 3 + 3 bonus from MuIm -1 fatigue) as you describe the action. This helps me process events faster. Please remember to include inconvenient modifiers that you know about, such as Blatant Gift or a bad Reputation. We will all be happy if I decide to pull a negative component out of a total, and less happy if I vaguely remember something and have to grovel through your character sheet to find it.
Some common sub-totals are pre-calculated, such as a weapon's Atk or a TeFo. These subtotals do not need to be broken down.
Your character has a much better idea of the world than can be represented by any GM description, no matter how elaborate. You can always ask, “do I think I can do this,” and do not need the Common Sense virtue for me to warn you that something is difficult. If I do not provide enough of this kind of information, remind me of this commitment.
My descriptions will usually be filtered through what I know of your character's abilities, virtues and flaws. A character who is Generous will likely get a different description of a scene than would a character who is Over-Sensitive.
A person's reputation is a prized asset. It runs ahead of him far afield, opening doors that do not yet exist but closing others. The rumor of a man creates unmet friends and enemies, settles or inflames conflicts before they begin, wins or loses negotiations before they begin, seduces or repels, reaches verdicts that will inspire charges to prove them.
Reputation matters no less to a magus than to anyone else. Perhaps more, because magi are aware of the power of correspondence. Some Merinita magi are especially adept at harvesting reputation and associations, but all magi are aware of its subtle effects.
An appropriate Reputation might add or subtract from any social total, at GM discretion, or influence events without the need for a total.
All magi have a Reputation for a Wizard of Good Standing within the Order. This Reputation can reach extravagant proportions, because magi can live a long time. Having a high score makes it difficult for enemies to bring charges against you at Tribunal, unless they are in similarly good standing or better. Your word carries weight. Magi know who you are, and consider you worth cultivating. There is nothing heroic about this reputation, but it represents solidity and reliability. You might be asked to join a conspiracy or even be its figurehead, but unless you have some other reputation, you will not likely be asked to lead it.
A magus builds his good standing slowly, gaining 1xp every season past Gauntlet he remains in good standing. Achieving certain personal milestones in their proper time also provides modest boosts. It is easier to lose good standing; a magus who does not maintain good standing loses at least 3xp per season. There is no neutral setting; a magus is either in good standing or not. A magus who is known to be in away on an extended quest, stuck in Twilight or engaged in some legitimate activity maintains good standing. There is no formal rule about this within the game world; magi are judged in the court of public opinion.
Magi are expected to write worthy books. A magus is expected, over the course of 7 years, to write and publish at least 3 tractati about Arts, Arcane Abilities or Mastered Spells of Quality 8 or better, using the rules in the main book. A magus who does not do this is not really participating in the Order, whose lifeblood is the exchange of ideas. Such a magus loses good standing, unless he makes it up in some other way. That 'other way' usually involves three seasons of scutwork (yielding Exposure xp) and a donation of 7 pawns of vis to the Tribunal. Either way, House Mercere expects a donation of 1 pawn per year from each magus participating in the Order. In return, they make sure that books and texts are plentiful.
Magi who write better tractati have it easier. If their tractati are Quality 10 or better, House Mercere does not ask for vis, and will actually give 1 pawn of vis to a magus for every point of Quality above 10; each pawn earned thusly comes with 1xp in a reputation as a Treasured Writer. For example, a magus who writes and publishes five tractati of Quality 12 over the course of 7 years will earn 14xp of acclaim as a Treasured Writer at Grand Tribunal, and gifts worth 14 pawns of vis from a grateful Order of Hermes. He also upholds his Good Standing. Needless to say, a Treasured Writer is treasured. Powerful magi waiting for his next book are going to protect his interests so that he keeps writing. (This can sometimes cause problems, if he wants to do something other than write for a while.)
A magus can invent useful spells or enchantments and publish them to the Order instead of writing tractati. In general, 50 levels of effect substitute for 1 Quality 8 tractatus, provided that any magus without special virtues or flaws can use them, they do not have weird side effects or drawbacks, and someone else has not already published the same thing. House Mercere catalogs these effects and makes them available to magi who ask. For every 250 levels of a magus' inventions that are requested by other magi, the inventor gains 1xp of Reputation as an Inventive Genius and is granted 1 pawn of vis; this benefit lasts for 7 Grand Tribunal cycles. In general, it is easier for a magus to win a great reputation as an author than inventor, though a particularly useful spell or effect can earn a magus great fame. There are fewer published effects than there might be; many magi are reluctant to publicize what spells they know and thereby provide precise information to their enemies. Furthermore, magi are idiosyncratic: Many have magical foci or know mysteries that make the spells of interest to them less interesting to other magi. From the perspective of game mechanics, a player can 'invent' a spell and ask me if it already exists. If it does, the character can learn it without inventing it. If it does not, the character can invent it himself.
A magus can also win a great reputation by doing great deeds. Different kinds of deeds earn different reputations, and a Flambeau might have a very different idea of greatness than a Criamon or Jerbiton. Being more specific, these are usually lower than Wizard in Good Standing, Treasured Author or Inventive Genius, but also earn a magus a different kind of respect as a leader and even a hero. Magi often write about the things they have done and publish their correspondence; the time needed for this correspondence is already accounted for and does not impinge upon other activities. A magus who does not do this is usually believed either to be plotting nefariously or wasting his talents. From the perspective of game mechanics, there will be a thread to which characters can post their IC mail for dissemination to their covenant-mates, and, if they wish, to the Order as a whole.
A magus who does great deeds might be asked to make himself available to serve the Order in various ways. Bonisagi wage mysterious quests and Quaesitori often need help of various kinds. If he agrees, and if something comes up, his efforts are likely to substitute for the need to write or invent.
This list of Reputations is far from complete.
The social penalty of the Gift is more than a -3 penalty that can be overcome by stacking on positive influences.
Think of it like this: A known child molester with a great voice, sharp clothes, a reputation for giving to charity and beautiful blue eyes is still a child molester.
A social roll is any die roll modified by Pre or Com, excluding Supernatural Abilities.
The SG is always within his rights to declare that a player does not get to roll the die for any social roll performed by character with the Gift involving a character who is affected by his Gift, and simply dictate that the roll has failed. The SG does not need to be "reasonable" about this; a character disturbed by a magus might well act against his apparent self-interest. Spells that add to social rolls or that create 'special circumstances' do not create an exception to this rule. Rego Mentem and similar effects that coerce a response are excluded, because such interactions circumvent the need for social rolls. If the character does get to roll, the die is always stress and he risks three extra botch dice.
Characters with the Blatant Gift have it worse. The SG can also declare that no social roll is necessary, because the magus botched. Characters disturbed by the magus' Blatant Gift sometimes act quite irrationally. If the character does get to roll, the die is always stress and a zero is always a botch, though three extra botch dice are rolled because more severe botches remain possible.
Players may seek to circumvent these rules through roleplay. This can help but can also hinder. When an obvious villain acts all charming and reasonable, it makes sense to trust him less.
A magus who manages to sustain a relationship with someone affected by his (Blatant) Gift will find himself increasingly accepted, or at least less reviled, represented by the SG choosing not to automatically fail or botch his interactions very often. The character nor the player should take this state of affairs for granted, because the Gift and its effects remain.
The bottom line: A magus needs a virtue that mitigates the social effects of the Gift to excel in associated social situations.
Finesse: Aiming, Crafting and Fast-Casting
Finesse as an Ability no longer exists. A supernatural power or spell does things and places its effect, usually without needing a roll.
The default Precision of any effect is 6.
3)In general, if a spell does something that substitutes for a roll or total, the spell's Precision is used for this calculation. Thus, a magus who flies around using ReCo usually has an effective Dodge of 6.
4)The Precision of a supernatural effect can be increased in various ways. During design, Precision increases by +3 per added magnitude. Spells that have increased magnitude for "tricky" or "fancy" effect (but usually not flexible) already have this benefit. MuVi allows the Precision of a spell to be increased by 3, similar to increasing the duration or the target. Flexible Formulaic Magic can modify a spell's Precision by adding or subtracting a magnitude, but not below the default. The Mastery ability that canonically increases Finesse rolls now adds +3 to a spell's Precision. A new Minor Hermetic Virtue, Precise Magic, raises a magus' default spell Precision by 3. This virtue can be taken more than once.
Rego spells that craft items or create artwork, Creo spells that make processed goods (such as leather rather than an unprocessed animal hide, or music rather than thunder) have a Crafting or Art Total equal to the spell's Precision. This total is not modified by the amount of material created or crafted; Hermetic magic (and various supernatural powers) already accounts for the size or amount of material affected in the normal spell parameters. Similarly, the amount of time a mundane craftsman needs to craft something or produce a work of art does not modify the total, since the spell is not actually duplicating the mundane process. Time is only relevant when the thing being produced is a performance, as when using CrIm to produce music (but not when milking a cow), and the spell's normal Duration accounts for this.
A spell can play music but not compose it.
Fast-Casting a spell always occurs on time to meet its purpose. That is, a magus can Fast-Cast as many times per round as he wants, with more recently declared Fast-Casts always occurring before those that came before. However, the penalties are cumulative: The first Fast Cast has -10 casting score and +2 botch dice; the second has -20 and +4, and so on. Furthermore, if the Casting Total for a Fast-Cast is less than 0, botch dice must be rolled as though a 0 were rolled on the stress die, even if no stress die had been rolled, as when Fast-Casting a non-Fatiguing spont.
The virtue "Fast Caster" (I think that's the name) adds to a magus' Initiative for spellcasting.
Magic Resistance and the Parma Magica
These rules are very different:
When an effect fails to penetrate Magic Resistance, the entire effect dissipates. An enchanted device does not lose its magical properties, just as a magus does not lose his Gift.
A being's Magic Resistance can potentially resist any supernatural effect that directly affects that being, and that the being would want dissipated. The being does not need to be aware of the effect or even aware of the consequences of having the effect dissipated. Magic Resistance does not depend on the being's understanding so much as the being's attunement to ultimate and ideal reality.
Opening a pit beneath a character directly affects him. Raining on his parade directly affects him. Using Rego to activate a Rube Goldberg machine that ultimately would harm him directly affects him. Cleverly maneuvering a boulder above a character and then dispelling the magic so that it falls upon the character directly affects him. Killing his heir does not directly affect him. Magically creating bad music that gives him a headache does not directly affect him. Transforming oneself into a dragon in order to scare him does not directly affect him. If iron has been mined using magic, and then forged into a sword using magically created air and fire so that the sword is of the highest quality yet not sustained through Muto magics or the equivalent, and the sword is swung at the character, the magic does not directly affect him. Another way to look at it is that any magic that could be resisted canonically continues to be resisted, and any magic that canonically evades resistance through Finesse can also be resisted.
A character with Magic Resistance only resists when this benefits him. Thus, a character falling upon stone that has been magically created above a large pile of cushions might prefer to resist the stone and avoid the light injury he would probably sustain, but not if the stone were created above a pit of lava. The character does not need to know about the lava. A character who would want to be burned does not resist magical fire; a character who would want to be singed by a small fire but not incinerated resists selectively.
Parma Magica is the ultimate achievement of Bonisagus, for which he is best known. Magi often consider magic a kind of truth. More powerful magic represents deeper truth and wisdom because it holds more reality than lesser magics. Magic Resistance represents a similar connection to ultimate reality, and lesser magics fade before it like shadows before a great light. Because it is bound directly to the Arts, these too are held in great esteem, even though it is generally acknowledged that they lack the transcendent perfection of the Parma Magica.
A magus calculates his Magic Resistance as follows:
Warping Score + 2 * (Parma Magica + Applicable Form)
A magus can only affect a number of beings or things equal to his Parma Magica. A magus needs a score of 1 to protect himself, his familiar and talisman. If he wants to extend his protection to his apprentice, his two mounted grogs and their horses, he needs a score of 6. Anyone protected by Parma Magica receives its full benefit, based on what the magus would want them to resist; as usual, the magus does not need to be aware of the effect. To extend protection to someone or something, a magus must be able to see the target and concentrate for a round, as though casting a spell. To remove his protection from someone, the magus need only concentrate. Consent of the target is not required for protection or removing protection, and the target is likely not to notice either. Parma Magica does not go down at sunrise or sunset. A character under the protection of Parma Magica is never directly affected by the social penalties of other people's Gifts; this is generally considered a side effect rather than a kind of resistance because it is not contingent on the preferences of the magus originating the Parma. Specialties: Any Form, Protecting one more being or thing.
Socially, a magus is expected to protect his retinue. A magus who goes around with a lot of personal grogs is expected to protect them with Parma, and incurs either prestige for showing his power or contempt for doing otherwise. As usual, a magus is expected to protect his apprentice.
Why like this: Parma is too easily circumvented canonically, either through Finesse or by attacking when it fails. No longer. Some situations where the magic is resisted yet the effect occurs seemed weird to me; having Magic Resistance disrupt the magic solves the issue. Both rulings make MR better, which I find good. On the other hand, a canonical magus could easily and quickly accumulate a high Parma score and be invulnerable to most supernatural beings; this feature made Parma in the hands of hedge wizards a grave danger. This system ties Parma closer to the Hermetic Forms; hedgies with Parma is no big deal, and a magus must be a master of the Arts to have a general MR of 50.
It is possible to wage lethal Certamen, inflicting totals as wounds rather than fatigue. Resolving conflicts with such Certamen is considered an honorable alternative to a Wizard's War that might devastate the duchy or to ordinary Certamen, and a magus is never prosecuted for killing another magus in this way. As with any Certamen, a magus who is losing can yield, ending the Certamen. If the yielding magus had agreed that the Certamen would be to the death, the victor is within his rights to slay the loser. Although Certamen is considered a binding means of resolving conflicts, a magus is always within his rights to demand non-lethal Certamen. A magus who insists on lethal Certamen when his opponent prefers non-lethal Certamen is always considered legally in the wrong, though he retains the right to concede the issue until such time as he has slain his opponent in lawfully declared Wizard'sWar.
Because Finesse is no longer an Ability, it is not included in any Certamen totals. This does not cause a participant to risk 3 extra botch dice for not having this non-existent Ability.
Hermetic Magic Effects
When designing an effect, please do the following to preserve my sanity:
1)When referring to a published effect, point me to a page and book.
2)When referring to a published guideline, tell me which guideline and point me to a page and book.
3)Your effect should include all guidelines, durations and so on that I need to understand the effect, unless the effect is explicitly published in one of the AM books.
Thus, I know exactly what the effect is without having to go searching. This helps me approve formulaic spells or enchanted effects faster. When referring to that effect in play, including a link rather than just the name helps me understand what is happening, since I might not know what “Warding the Wayward Warrior” does offhand.
A spell that reaches or exceeds level 50 need not be a ritual. A spell that creates a “big effect” need not be a ritual.
Spells that canonically need to be rituals for other reasons still need to be rituals.
Hermetic Guidelines in books other than the main rules are probably permitted, but please check.
Magic traces cannot be refreshed. A magical effect, once it ends, loses strength immediately, and then again, either every day or after an amount of time equal to the duration the effect, whichever is greater. The amount of strength lost is either 5 levels or 50%, whichever is greater. When the strength has reached 0 or less, it is gone.
In order to alleviate the need for PC magi to keep track of their farts and feces, non-Intellego magic that can be cast at a range of Arcane Connection (or non-Hermetic equivalents) needs a relatively strong connection. This kind of strength belies the table on page 84: Something mundane made by the target is briefly an Arcane Connection, but excrement is not, nor is a strand of hair shed while sleeping, nor is a wound that is inflicted upon another. But a strand of hair deliberately pulled is.
Any AC, but especially a weak one, can rapidly lose its association. For example, Image of the Beast uses the wound a beast inflicts as an AC to the beast itself, but this will not work if even the slightest effort is made to treat the wound. The weak connection to the animal is overwhelmed by the far greater association of the wound to the man with his guts hanging out.
Limits on Hermetic Magic:
Even mundane writing is a kind of ritual magic. Though it does not require the Gift, not everyone can do it. The magical process for scribing is to scribe. Hermetic Magic cannot make this process faster. This is a world where inventing the printing press will take a lot more than mechanical innovation.
The Divine is less obtrusive in this saga. Christian or other religious burials often prevent necromancy, but are quite unreliable. Hermetic Magic can desecrate the Host, even as Christ allowed His Body to be desecrated. Whether said magus will be forgiven for not knowing what he does is a different matter entirely.
Some Hermetic Limits may simply be a “limit of Penetration.” For example, angels have Might, and this can be Penetrated in the usual way. Angels are not immune from effects just because they are angels. They can have their Might Perdoed, they can be summoned by sorcerers, they can be affected by all kinds of spells. When God wants to prevent magi from affecting an angel, He sends an angel with more Might. Being infinite, God can send angels of arbitrarily high Might, as He desires.
Magi often use magi to travel. They become animals, they sprout wings, they move their bodies directly, they even appear where they want to be. All of this works. However, there are side effects not intrinsic to the magic but to the world in which it is cast.
A magus who assumes the body of a normal animal is relatively unobtrusive, and this is a very safe way to travel, leveraging the animal's instincts about the terrain. A magus can sprout wings or gills or whatever physical feature he needs to travel; this calls more attention to himself. A bird flying high in the sky above Paris will attract less attention than a winged man. A magus can fly around without wings, through use of ReCo; this can also attract unwanted attention, and not just from mundanes; magical movement of this kind represents a challenge to the various guardians of domains and boundaries. Finally, the most efficient way to travel is simply by being where you want to be, and a magus with an Arcane Connection to where he want to be can do this; such travel attracts the most supernatural attention of all, and in a mystical way, actually can harm certain beings whose Magic Resistance therefore applies, possibly stranding the magus somewhere he did not expect to be.
The benefits of magical travel far outweigh the risks, which are rare, yet not so rare that magi don't know of them, simply because magi use magic so often to travel.
Hermes Portals are always completely and totally reliable.
A magus who uses Imaginem to hide himself often becomes glaringly obvious to a supernatural being that would never have noticed him, except for that glowing magical spell. Magi therefore do not trust these magics when dealing with faeries, demons, spirits, angels and similar supernatural entities.
Spirits and Hermetic Magic:
For these purposes, a spirit is a supernatural entity in a non-corporeal form that is natural to it. A spirit assuming a physical form that is not a magical medium is not a spirit while in that form. A spirit that is possessing someone remains a spirit.
In the absence of Mystery Virtues, Hermetic Magic is not very good at dealing with spirits. Spirits who do not belong where they are can be harmed (PeVi or sometimes PeMe), they can be perceived (InVi or sometimes InMe), as can some of their attributes, and they can be forced to leave a target area (ReVi or sometimes ReMe).
A magus must take a Major Virtue: Sorcerer, to gain canonical access to Hermetic Magic that affects spirits; this also allows a spirit familiar, and entry to other Mysteries. Such magi are encouraged to also take flaws like Dark Secret, Infamous, Enemies and so on, since NPCs are likely to treat them thusly. Note that it is possible to learn Theurgy without becoming a Sorcerer, though Theurgists also tend to be considered dangerous.
Realms and Hermetic Magic:
Because the Realms are conflated, a new InVi Guideline replaces the ability to determine the kind of Aura: InVi 5—determine the bonus or penalty the local Aura adds to the casting of this spell, as well as the stability of the spell measured in botch dice.
Note that casting a spell using the above guideline at a range greater than Per still only reveals the effects of Aura on the spell itself. This can still be useful.
In general, any guideline that applies to a single realm applies to anything supernatural.
Wards and Rings and a New Duration:
There are no Wards. A ward is an ordinary spell that happens to protect.
Any spell guideline whose target is not the thing or area being affected is no longer valid, since it contradicts a fundamental principle of magic in this game.
A Ring duration spell lasts until the caster or a designated surrogate leaves the ring. Note that the caster or his surrogate is often not the target.
A Circle target acts as a base Room in terms of how much stuff it can affect. This is rarely an issue, since 100 standard Individuals is usually more than sufficient.
Any spell guideline that works against only mundane objects now work on non-mundane versions too, but must penetrate.
Any spell guideline that is described as (or effectively is) a ward against something with Might is no longer valid: Use the mundane version instead and the normal Penetration rules!
All Hermetic spells now have access to a new casting duration option "Repeat." A repeated spell has two durations: an ordinary duration for the underlying effect, and a second duration for how long the underlying spell will be continually triggered. The second duration costs one magnitude more than its usual cost.
Here's a Repel the Wooden Shafts (lvl 15) that actually repels shafts rather than just one shaft:
R: Per, D: Repeat Mom while Sun, T: Ind
Any wooden weapon that is about to strike you fails, with the usual special effects. This spell will not work against particularly large wooden weapons, such as a giant's cudgel.
Here's a ward against wood that also works against enchanted wood:
Personal Ward against Wood (lvl 25)
R: Per, D: Repeat Mom while Sun, T: Ind, size +3
As usual, but using the level 3 guideline "control an amount of wood," the new repeated duration, and an increased size to protect even against the largest trees.
Saruman's Ward against Wood (lvl 10)
R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Circle
Any plant or plant material attempting to enter the circle is immediately expelled out. (Repeated durations aren't always necessary.)
And something that's not a ward:
Treading the Ashen Path lvl 30
R: Touch, D: Repeat Mom while Sun, T: Group, +1 size
This repeatedly casts a Mom duration lvl 3 PeHe on nearby plant, for an entire day. The very largest trees will not be affected.
Aura of Rightful Authority (lvl 40)
R: Eye, D: Repeat Moon while Sun, T: Ind
For the rest of the day, anyone who meets your eye will be strongly inclined to obey you as his natural superior for the next month....
Ring of Warding against Spirits (lvl 20)
R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Circle
Like the general spell, but uses the lvl 5 guideline "control a disembodied spirit." Note that it works against ghosts of all realms. Note the fixed level. As usual, the spell must Penetrate.
Ring of Controlling the Unwelcome Spirit Visitors (lvl 35)
R: Touch, D: Repeat Sun while Ring, T: Circle
For as long as the magus remains in the circle, any ghost that dares enter the circle falls under the magus' control for the rest of the day. The spirits remain under the magus' sway even after he leaves the circle.
Clarified or Modified Virtues and Flaws
This list is incomplete, and may need expansion. My intent is not to perfect or rewrite the virtues. Some virtues remain excellent, and that's fine. Others remain sub-optimal and that's also fine.
Magical Focus in X: This does not necessarily affect all enchantments invested in devices or talismans covered by X. A focus that covers a familiar does affect all enchantments invested in the familiar bond.
Hermetic Theurgy: The spell spirit casts the spell, passes control to the magus, and then leaves. Spell spirits are Aspects and conform to the usual rules. They are not permanently destroyed, they virtually always come when called and vanish rather than be suborned or rendered for vis.
Charm Magic: The magus must have the charm on his person, but does not need to perform the action again. This is because many different craft or performance abilities can be used to create charms, each with drastically different actions. However, a magus must spend one round of mild concentration per charm activated. Concentrating on more than one charm in the same round or even the spell itself is possible; accelerating the use of Charms always requires a stressed concentration roll whose base is 6 and which increases by 3 per charm invoked that round, plus another 3 if the spell is also cast that round.
Mythic Stamina: This cannot be applied to make spellcasting easier.
Cautious with Ability: This can affect ceremonial or ritual magic, rolls to avoid or comprehend Twilight, specialized Criamon use of Enigmatic Wisdom, and any other roll that includes the Ability.
Chthonic Magic: This virtue will probably not be permitted, but if an exception is made, it is important to remember that the Art-doubling bonus applies only when the magus deliberately does something that he knows and believes is wrong, even accounting for circumstance. If the magus believes his justifications, he isn't being naughty enough.
Gild Training: Your character may take an equivalent virtue regardless of his original Tribunal. He may not take this multiple times for different Tribunals.
Outsider: Magi share many of the prejudices of Mythic Europe, though often overlook them. A magus can have this Flaw, which means that other magi find reason to hold his origin against him where they might allow someone else to pass.
Pagan: A character who conceals this cannot have this Flaw. Despite the use of classical names like “Hermes,” most magi are not pagan or very sympathetic. This is really a flaw, even for magi.
Faerie Magic: The outer Merinita Mystery allows Merinita magi to distinguish Faeries from other supernatural beings. Merinita magi can therefore use the canonical Vim guidelines with regard to Faeries and things that pertain to the fay, and can also cast standard Hermetic spells that affect anything supernatural. Note that this is of limited utility, since a demon who is good at pretending to be a faerie will deceive these magics, due to the deceptive nature of demons.
We will not be using the covenant economy rules. You're magi! You probably have better things to do with your time than manage a covenant's economy, in the way of kings and earls. If something goes wrong or you need something the covenant doesn't have, it becomes a story event.
That said, your magus might have grand interests that cause him to use the covenant's resources as more than fuel for his magic and real interests. (Although if he is a necromancer....) Or not so grand, if your character is a hedge wizard. If your character's personal interests are entwined with the covenfolk, or maybe you want to transform medieval economics for some reason (being personal, the reason is more important than the goal), let me know.
As usual, I follow you.
The Seven Year Development Cycle
This discussion expands the outline described in part 4 of the overview of character creation, which is worth reading or re-reading before continuing here.
The purpose of these rules is to create experienced magi with depth and history through a hybrid of character generation and actual play. Magi who have been played through 50 years of their life look and feel very different from magi who are designed to be 50 years past Gauntlet all at once.
The Hermetic Cycle (if any player has a better name for this 7-Year Period and for the greater 21-year cycle, the Order will happily adopt it retroactively) begins with Grand Tribunal and lasts for 7 years, or 28 seasons.
A Hermetic Cycle is essentially resolved in three distinct phases:
Magus makes stuff happen and deals with surprises
Magus gets ready to make more stuff happen
Make Stuff Happen
Every Hermetic Cycle begins with Grand Tribunal. Your magus might want to attend and pursue his own interests and agendas. If he does, treat it as a Player-Initiated Story, described below, that happens to occur during the Grand Tribunal. However, since the Grand Tribunal is resolved before personal stories, please post this story to your personal topic for this cycle during the Grand Tribunal; this allows me to choose whether to resolve it with you during Grand Tribunal or whether to resolve it with the other stories. The other stories can be posted after the Grand Tribunal has been resolved.
The covenant as a whole will also have an issue or two to deal with at Grand Tribunal.
During the first Hermetic Cycle, the covenant is just being dedicated. Instead of issues and challenges, I will post covenant information (I've already played the “Design a Charter” saga; it was interesting but it's not this saga ). Your characters must attend their first Grand Tribunal. Note that any events involving PCs implied by the covenant information occur after the Grand Tribunal.
During each subsequent Hermetic Cycle, I will open a common thread for the Grand Tribunal, for all the magi. As usual, I will assume that most communication will occur via notes delivered by Redcap, or the like, so that a player can say something to another, and then do something else without having to wait as often for a slower player to post.
Players who enter the game during a later cycle or even once slower play has begun will not be able to participate in or influence the common Tribunal thread, but might nonetheless pursue limited personal interests at Tribunal. For example, a player who joins late cannot kill the Praeco or pursue any other activity that might have changed the tenor of the Tribunal that has already been resolved, but that doesn't stop him from declaring Wizard's War against some normal magus, stealing evidence before it gets delivered to the Quaesitors, and so on.
Your magus must spend at least one season involved in personal stories that he initiates, for every point of Story, Status or Personality Flaw he has. These mandatory seasons can include seeking a familiar or apprentice. They can but do not need to be directly connected to the flaws, but they must be personal to the character. You get to choose the difficulty of this story or stories. Player-initiated stories rarely provide as many xps as reading books, but they yield friends, reputation, vis, wealth, artifacts, books, minions, development of Abilities for which training, teaching and practice are either not available or don't make sense, and personal satisfaction. Your magus might want to initiate more stories than the minimum—and can.
Advice: At least half of your stories should be Easy! I have no problem if a player chooses to make most stories Difficult, yet these stories sometimes offer bitter consequences along with the sweet. One Difficult story during each cycle is appropriate for many characters, maybe two Difficult stories, though adventurous characters will have more, and the Warping that comes of it. Your magus will probably survive one Epic story during his entire development. If he plans very well. And has some good fortune. He probably won't survive two.
More information about stories is found in the “Initiating a Story” section of the rules.
These stories are handled in parallel. That is, the player opens a topic whose title is of the form Amplesay Agusmay:1180-1186, and sends a series of posts to the topic, one per story the player plans to initiate.
Each of these posts represents one story, and should have the following format:
I will respond to each of these separate posts, and the stories will begin, in parallel. The rewards or injuries of one story will not carry over to the others. This is not entirely realistic, but it allows us to leverage an important benefit of the online medium: We can conduct many stories in parallel. Online games tend to move slower than live games, but we can do many things at once. And we will.
The magus begins each story uninjured (barring a Flaw that imposes a permanent injury, or something like that ). Mundane resources or vis cannot be consumed twice, but an item that is taken or destroyed in one story is available for the entire cycle.
Please remember that I will be reacting to you. The first post of a story should therefore represent your character's really beginning the action rather than an invitation for me to begin the action for him. Also, please remember to make things easy for me, as described elsewhere in these rules. When I see an ability total in the format I requested elsewhere, I don't have to scratch my head and think “how does the character do this?” Consider the following beginning:
Option 1: “I spend a few days among them, looking for a few capable burglars and ruffians.”
Option 2: “I spend a few days among them, looking for a few capable burglars and ruffians. (My total to get along with them is +2: Carouse(criminals) 3 + Pre 1 -3 for normal Gift; but I also cast Aura of Wrongful Authority, which is on my character sheet (); Total to find them is +9 er 3 + Folk Ken (criminals) 5, and I can cast Posing the Silent Question using Deft Mentem to be sure (). I also have Venice Lore (underworld) 1.)
Please choose Option 2. This will work out better for both of us even if your character is wholly incompetent at what he is attempting to do, if only in that when the plan blows up in his face, you will know that is going to happen before I do rather than after.
A story should generally take one season, which is enough time for a magus to do something or get himself completely messed up. If you are planning an epic for your character, you are best-served by dividing it into chunks, some of which you do in parallel during a Hermetic Cycle, and some of which will influence the stories you choose for the next cycle. Your character is a magus, after all, with cunning and years beyond other men; he will be planning too, and will want to leverage the power of the Hermetic Cycle to his advantage by accomplishing each objective in its rightful season.
If you want a series of linked stories that occurs during the same seven year period, one season flowing into the next, let me know and we can do this. This approach often makes sense, especially when the consequences of one event is intended to immediately feed into the next. However, this counts as only one player-initiated story for the purposes of reaching the minimum, and experience points are not awarded until all stories are wrapped up, as usual.
It is not necessary to specify a series of linked stories when seeking an apprentice; if it does not succeed in the first season, the magus can always go for a second or third.
Sometimes your character is the object of a story rather than its subject, in the sense that it is something that happens to him rather than that he deliberately sets into motion.
Such stories are not necessarily bad, can often be fun to play and even be rewarding. In general, your character probably doesn't want very many of these. A story that he—you—have planned for is far more likely to work out well than a story that, say, his enemies have planned for. Aside from experience and possibly Reputation, the reward of this kind of story is often nothing more than retaining the status quo, or even accepting the lesser evil.
The player does not get to choose the difficulty of this kind of story. As with any other story during development (and usually during play), it consumes a season, and must be resolved with the resources available at the beginning of the cycle.
It isn't possible to always avoid this kind of surprise, but the best way to keep it under control is to take the initiative in your stories to nip problems in the bud before they nip you. When a magus has the initiative, the world spends its time reacting to him.
These stories get inserted into your topic for the cycle. I post them, except that there is no title to give things away, and no hint about the complications, objective or difficulty until things happen.
Correspondence and Reputation
Maximizing Reputation requires correspondence, and the setting assumes that most magi want both a good reputation and involvement with their peers. Being a Wizard in Good Standing is ordinary, and even a Treasured Writer is nothing more than a great resource. Most magi want more.
Once each story is complete, your character might want to tell people about it, either to let them know or to be sure your version reaches other people first! This is a good way to earn Reputation xps in this game setting, where magi communicate. Two threads already exist for correspondence, one restricted to the covenant and the other for the Order of Hermes. You are welcome to add others, perhaps for secret House Diedne correspondence or your cabal or the college of cardinals. In general, however, the OoH correspondence is the most suitable place for your version of the story. Write it up as an IC letter and post it.
OoH Correspondence meta-conventions: If your salutation does not specify a particular correspondent, it means that there is nothing secret about your story and other people know about it as is reasonable for them. If your salutation does specify a particular correspondent or group of correspondents, the story is more private than secret, and is disseminated amongst the correspondents as they feel appropriate with rumors being prevalent outside that more limited circle. You can adjust this attitude in the first sentence or two of your letter that describe how you want it to be used.
For example, suppose your Flambeau magus wants both to boast about the stuff he has burned and to make sure he isn't brought up on charges for molesting faeries and interfering with mundanes. Clearly, his reputation in the House matters most to him, yet he also wants to be known as a bad, er, good mofo within the Order at large, whose actions are justified and not really that extreme after all.
His letter might begin as follows:
And then he'll say what he wants. If he is more cautious, he might prefer to tell his House less, and gain less of a reputation among them, but less chance of stuff leaking out.
In general, I prefer to side with the writer, because I think IC story writeups are cool and should be rewarded rather than punished.
Of course, your character can post two versions, one for his buddies and the other for the Quaesitors...
Even Easy stories (I spend a season with my sister who is getting married; I want to stay in touch with my family and just enjoy a season as an ordinary person; the complications are that my sister is likely to be a bridezilla, and everyone in the village will want to set me up with someone or just hit on me) deserve letters, which can be as short (I spent a delightful season with my family, and I feel refreshed and ready to begin crafting a larger work, which we have spoken about...) or as long (...and then there was Branden. Tall, dark and handsome, graced with muscles that come from honest smithing rather than a Creo Corpus ritual. You did see Benedictus at Tribunal, didn't you? Such a poseur. Those Mercere call themselves a cult of heroes, but they're more a cult of zeroes if you ask me. But anyway, Branden. Mmmm...) as you like.
Remember: The other magi don't know what happens in your topic. They only know what you tell them IC.....
Story and Correspondence Rewards
Discussed elsewhere, but we all like rewards, right? Rewards can include training opportunities, developing Agencies, dealing with enemies, vis, items and developing Reputation, or something that I haven't thought of but you have placed in your story Objective, your Plan and have made happen.
The 5/10/15xp rewards are standard. I might deviate from them sometimes, but it's not something to expect or worry about.
Get Ready to Make More Stuff Happen
Updating the Character Sheet
The activities during a cycle produce experience and other effects that affect your magus and the character sheet that represents him.
Within reason, you are free to optimize the order of seasons to your liking. Thus, Grand Tribunal happens first, there are only seven Winter seasons in seven years that can be used for a seasonal Cyclic Magic bonus or for stories to occur during, and if I spring a story on you I might declare the season in which it occurs. More generally, however, you are welcome and encouraged to push as much of your spell or magic item development to the end of the cycle, after your magus has done all his reading and training. This is not wholly realistic but it does make things easier.
Some seasons are dedicated to stories. There are a few other seasons during a cycle in which a magus cannot do as he pleases:
A journeyman magus begins his career with 0xp as a Wizard in Good Standing within the Order. Your magus is not required to uphold this Reputation during play, but is required to do so during development, because I do not want to deal during development with the increasingly unfortunate consequences he will face for not doing so. Maintaining this reputation consumes a few seasons, as described in the “Reputation” section of these rules.
Also, during any given seven years, a magus is likely to lose three seasons of time, either to scribing, to copying, to unexpected events that draw him away from lab or library yet is not interesting enough to warrant Adventure xp, to convalescence or to something else. Your magus must therefore take three seasons of Exposure for activities that do not produce obvious gain for him; these seasons help him maintain his life, keep problems at bay, and support more noteworthy efforts. You can describe these if you want (a season visiting my nephews and helping my aunt, a season playing WoW, a season supervising the grogs, a season copying spells for the covenant library) but do not need to. Whether or not you describe them, they offer no mechanical or social benefit other than the Exposure xp.
A magus who suffered an Aging Crisis during the previous cycle must spend a season convalescing, per the usual rules except that for ease of bookkeeping it happens here. Given the efficacy of Longevity Rituals, this is not likely to happen very often.
Your magus may use the remaining seasons as he pleases, in the lab, in the library, writing books, training an apprentice, whatever.
If your character wants to invent a spell, write it up in the proper format. It might be available in the covenant library, and even more likely, a Redcap can speed a lab text to him as part of the standard Redcap services during the current cycle. If it is not, he must invent it himself, or if he suspects that some other magus has it, to use a story to find it. Redcaps and librarians are more likely to find spells that are written up in the appropriate format, with page references and explicit guidelines; they get confused when they have to ask for many rewrites, which takes time. They also feel appreciated when a magus actually learns a spell during the same cycle that the Redcap delivers a lab text that he has spent the effort to find.
Lab Texts for Items
These are less common than lab texts for spells, but they do exist. They are also often less useful, because even when a lab text is available, the materials or the form of the enchantment might not be desired. Still, it never hurts to ask. Verditius magi at the beginning of their careers are more willing to ask than haughty Verditius elders, and these magi tend to compensate by publishing lab texts for enchantments of their own.
The preferred format for an item is to first design an effect exactly as though it were a formulaic spell, since once an effect is approved, we might as well add it to the list of effects approved for the saga. Then, describe the device that incorporates it. Accumulate the effect modifiers (constant, penetration, etc) as usual to create a final effect level. Note whether this is an invested device or simple enchantment, since the lab texts are different. List each S&M that the device incorporates and its associated bonus. If it's not in the main rules, page reference please.
With this approved, a magus can either invent the item himself, or let the Redcaps find one for him. They might have a lab text for the item exactly as specified, or something similar. Then again, maybe not.
The covenant is wealthy enough to have access to most materials, yet sometimes a particularly fine material is needed and not available—but might be obtained during the next cycle using a story.
Reading remains an efficient way to gain experience.
A season spent studying a topic rarely involves reading from just one book, even when that book is the focus of study. A scholar refers to other books, corresponds with other scholars, reads commentaries about the book and even chats with other scholars over dinner. A book is much less useful to a hermit than it is to a scholar among other scholars, which is the point of universities, covenants and perhaps even the Order of Hermes. Individual books therefore do not have scores. Instead, the covenant has a score, representing its connection to the Order of Hermes, its scholars and resources and to the mundane world.
Anything can be written about, but many subjects cannot be learned through reading. Reading about sailing is no substitute for sailing. Reading about weaving offers no benefit to an aspiring weaver.
A season spent reading can improve the following, if appropriate books are available:
Any magical Art from a literate tradition
Any Arcane Ability
Any Academic Ability other than a language
Any Spell Mastery Ability
Organization Lores (though books are rarely written about such things)
There are books about other topics, but these are either not truly useful, are only useful in association with training or teaching, or least often, are useful as a kind of practice. Area Lores, Languages and Supernatural Abilities are specifically missing from the list. Some Abilities are best improved by doing.
Training and Teaching
After apprenticeship, training is hard to come by. Indeed, various kinds of apprenticeship are the usual way training is delivered. A magus who wants to learn how to repair a wagon cannot take Coach at community college but learn from someone willing to teach him, and such teachers tend to teach they way they learned themselves: A course of apprenticeship. The same is true for a magus who wishes to learn the sword: There are no drill sergeants in Mythic Europe, except maybe at Coeris. Apprenticeships are not always formal, especially for the distaff arts. Opportunities to be trained and taught are not usual. Opportunities of this kind might be available due to story events, but remain unusual even if a magus is willing to return to the inferior position of being a pupil, and often come with entanglements.
If your magus has access to training or to teaching an non-Academic Ability, you probably already know about it because it came about during a story. And if you want a drill sergeant for the covenant.... there are ways.
This might belong better in one of the background documents.
This does not ruin the Aura. Drill, baby, drill. Exposure xp, as usual.
If the effort produces something other than the xps, it is not Practice. Note that an Easy story is efficient in the sense that it produces xps and other benefits, but comes with mild risks (you can always botch!), the need to think of a story and type stuff, and imperfect control over the benefits produced.
Your magus might want to write a book. A season writing is treated as writing a tractatus using the rules in the main book to determine the quality of the season's effort, and how many he can write.
Lab texts, training an apprentice, binding a familiar....
I make all necessary Aging Rolls to bring the magus up to date. Note that a magus can technically develop a LR after 35 because the rolls occur in a later phase. I'm fine with that. Any reductions to Characteristics or increases to Decrepitude occur immediately. During development, all Aging Crises are assumed to resolve successfully, at the cost of a season of convalescence to be taken during the next cycle. However, reaching Decrepitude 5 is still the bitter end.
Ending the Cycle
At the end of the cycle, you will have an updated character sheet ready for the Grand Tribunal. All updated and approved character sheets will go to a topic with a title like “Summer 1187: Character Sheets.” A separate, corresponding topic, such as “Summer 1187: Characters in Brief” will contain updated character summaries reflecting the characters' evolution.
And then we begin again!
At some point, we will commence play along normal lines.
Optional Laboratory Rules
I have been thinking about lab rules, and it occurs to me that I vastly prefer it when magi spend their seasons either developing themselves or engaging in stories (in which they star), rather than spending seasons refining and updating their labs.
So, you may use the lab rules as written, and worry about Aesthetics and Upkeep and Warping and stuff like that, and spend seasons refining and installing and worrying about whether you manage to retain or obtain the Organized trait....
But you may also use these rules instead, which improve a lab with no additional expenditure of seasons or treasure.
It's one or the other, and it's up to you.
Any season in which a magus performs a seasonal activity that involves a Lab Total, and gains Exposure xps for that activity rather than any other kind, his Lab also gains 2xps. A lab assistant adds only 1xp to the Lab, which is automatically dedicated to Personal Attunement (described below.)
Any season in which a magus enchants his lab whereby to improve it, he gains 2 Exposure xps and his lab gains 1xp per pawn of vis used for the enchantment. The mechanics for how much vis can be used uses the rules for lesser enchanted devices. Note that this option is usually less efficient than simply using the lab, which costs no vis, provides two Lab xps, and produces the usual effects. Any TeFo combination that makes sense can be used for this, and the magus is encouraged to describe how the lab is better. Since the only effect of these enchantments are to improve the lab, feel free to make up anything atmospheric and cool that is consistent with the lab total. If you want the effect to have some practical use aside from adding xp to the lab, enchant an effect in the normal way.
Lab xps can be spent on any of the following Qualities, advancing each as though it were an Ability:
a) Personal Attunement. A lab's Personal Attunement adds to any and all of a specific magus' Lab Totals when he uses that Lab, either as lead or as assistant. It also adds to all casting scores for spells cast in the Lab. A magus can be Attuned to more than one lab, and a lab can be Attuned to more than one magus. However, when a magus uses a lab, either as lead or assistant, all other labs lose 1xp of Personal Attunement to that magus; this cannot reduce Attunement to less than 0xp. A magus may invest no more than 1xp into Personal Attunement per season. Magi are reluctant to use labs other than their own, for obvious reasons.
b) Any Art. This can be taken up to 15 times, once per Art, and it applies to anyone who uses the lab.
c) A magus' Magical Focus. This adds to any lab total within the scope of the focus. The magus must have the Focus either to improve a lab's Focus or to make use of this Lab Quality. A lab can have more than one Focus, but a magus can use no more than one. Note that Potent Magic does not substitute for this.
d) Safety. This adds to the Magic Resistance of anyone in the lab who is protected by the Parma Magica of someone to whom the lab has a Personal Attunement of at least 1. People in such circumstances also add this Quality to recovery rolls and subtract it from the number of botch dice such rolls might involve, possibly to zero.
e) Any of the following Lab Totals, each taken separately: Vis, spells, items (including a spirit talisman), familiars, teaching and opening Arts (taken together). Note that this list differs from "Covenants."
Note: A magus who has works in his lab 1 season per year will take 50 years to reach Personal Attunement 4, and will have 50xp more to spread among other Qualities. Magi who do a lot of lab work will improve their labs much faster than this, and these rules encourage magi who invent spells and enchant items rather than read their way to high Art scores!
Reputation/Personality/Aesthetics. This describes the "vibe" of the lab and how it impresses itself upon the consciousness of magi, and always takes a descriptor to make it specific. For example, lab that is "Dark and Disturbing" will please some magi but not others; a lab that is "Majestic and Impressive" might strike Jerbiton magi as artful and inspiring but a Tremere as gaudy and pretentious. Most labs have only one score of this kind, equal to the Personal Attunement of the magus who uses it most often. A lab that is used frequently by two magi might have two high Personal Attunement scores, and two corresponding personalities.
The labs at Parum Sanctus Bellum have been built specifically for magi as labs. Indeed, you are the first and only magus so far even to have slept in your house, much less perform lab activities there. The site and building is auspicious and surprisingly comfortable and welcoming. However, there is a prejudice within the Order against wooden structures. By virtue of all this, and of signing the oath of blood pinned to your house's door, your lab begins with the following Qualities:
a) Personal Attunement +1: It's your sanctum, has never been anyone else's, and was constructed to be a place of magic.
b) Safety +1: This is a warm and welcoming place, built to be comfortable even in winter. These mundane properties reflect a deeper mystical truth.
c) Rustic +1: It's nice and cozy, but it's a wooden house! A glorified cottage! Real magi live in tall stone towers, don't they? When you increase Personal Attunement, you can change this reputation/personality as the atmosphere of your sanctum shifts to better reflect your presence and influence.