Should Maleficia Be Less Expensive?

While I've dabbled with Realms of Power: The Infernal before, I've never built a full-on infernal sorcerer before, so I'm surprised now by how expensive it seems from a Virtue perspective, at least compared to other subsystems I'd compare it to. With the exception of Elementalist (which ngl wouldn't be very good even if its costs were brought in line with other traditions), most traditions that don't require the Gift and follow the TeFo formula have the Techniques as Major Virtues and the Forms as Minor Virtues.

This is true of Gruagachan and Learned Magicians on the Hedge Magic side, as well as Faerie Wizardry (I don't have a copy of RoP:D on hand, so I can't check as far as the Divine Realm). And given the number of each, this means that a Mythic Companion can, at the player's option, spend about half of their Virtue allotment (a little less for Gruagachan, a little more for everyone else) to have the whole suite of options at their disposal, leaving a fair bit of room leftover for whatever else they want their character to have going on. Heck, this is also the rough scaling followed by the Ars alternatives - the Ars Goetia and Ars Fabulosa both have four Major Virtues comprising their skillset, so again, about half of a Mythic Companion's loadout.

This makes sense to me, as a Mythic Companion is meant to replace a magus, and while none of these traditions can match the power and versatility of the Hermetic Arts (nor should they), the "amount of fun supernatural things you can dabble in" quotient should be similar. It's also affordable enough that regular Companions can, for roughly half of their 10 Virtue slots, still carve out a niche within the tradition - something like four slots for a single defining TeFo, or six to access a breadth of capabilities within one Technique.

But... Malefica don't get that. Malefica have two Methods and six Powers, which is pretty in line with the other groups discussed here, but ALL of the Maleficia are Major Virtues. This means an ordinary Companion gets a single TeFo for over half their Virtue allotment, and a Mythic Companion only gets 3-4. Now, granted, I vaguely recall this being how the Divine side works, and I recognize that the rationale for spreading out those abilities so much is so that individual sects/traditions are differentiated from each other. But in practice, given that neither side of the Malefica TeFo is Accelerated and that each combination has about as much breadth as a TeFo for any other group (albeit more for the individual, since you don't have to design formulaic spells or anything like that), it sort of makes diabolism feel weak and expensive, rather than enticing and oh-so-easy to give into.

I'd also argue that this probably wouldn't be unbalanced given all the huge asterisks that come with wielding infernal power in the first place. Sure, being a sinner surrounded by other sinners can be fun - orgy, anyone? - but the average number of stable relationships a diabolist is likely to have rounds to zero, given that the Divine Realm and its stranglehold on every level of society will get you murdered by your loved ones and everyone else if discovered, the largest and most powerful representative order of the Magic Realm has a similar policy (and since you're not actually a demon they can sniff out your powers just fine), your fellow diabolists are liable to backstab you to get ahead, and your demon benefactors will probably abandon you if a hair-brained scheme goes belly-up or dispose of you themselves if you step out of line. That's a whole lot of baggage, even weighed against the Gift, so I think it's fair to suggest that they ought to get more out of it than they currently can.

So I'd probably take the standardizing approach, keeping the Methods as Major Virtues but changing the Powers to Minor ones.

What do you guys think?


The Infernal stuff seems relatively in-line with Divine Methods and Powers which are all major as well so I believe this is by design. Most Holy Traditions give favored status to 1 method, 2 powers, and 1 other minor supernatural ability such as second sight or Sense Holiness & Unholiness (There is one in Contested Isles that gives favored status to 2 methods and 2 powers and it bothers me). To join a holy Tradition you pretty much need True Faith as well (they mention the possibility of initiations that grant the virtues without it and one can use Pilgrimage or, possibly, Christian Mysticism rules to gain them). So I don't believe characters are really supposed to have the full gamut of Methods & Powers for their realms. Maybe one or two outside of the favored abilities of their traditions but not really more than that. That said, it is probably much easier for an infernalist in game to make some pact and be taught for the first season by some demon than it is for a member of a holy tradition to learn new Methods and powers outside fo their favored tradition.

Faerie Wizardry is the odd one where the Methods are Major but the Powers are Minor virtues. On top of this Faerie Wizardry does not follow the restriction of the other two where what, exactly, you can do with each Power is determined by which Method you use.


Given the fact infernalists can benefit from sacrifice and the possibility of using Ceremony to get big totals, I would keep it as it is. If you want it to be more favourable to solo practitioners, then bump Ceremony up to a major virtue and reduce powers.


The infernal version of Ceremony is already a major virtue. (Infernalists do tend to have a bit of trouble with cooperation after all.)

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Faerie Wizardry is on par with most if not all of the magical traditions, with Major Techniques and Minor Forms. I don't have a particular issue with Maleficia being Major/Major; if anything, the Holy ones are the problem since they require another Major Virtue as feat tax (True Faith).

Note that for Faerie Wizardry you also have to get those Sympathy Traits, so on top of your Major Virtue and a bunch of Minor Virtues, you have an additional bunch of Minor Virtues. Yes, you can manage some through Flaws, but you can get in big trouble with negative Sympathy Traits.

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I suppose more than anything my concern is one of rules not matching setting. Admittedly the best weapon of the Infernal is misinformation, and it's not like the comparative power or trustworthiness of magical traditions compared to diabolist ones is common knowledge, but it still feels sort of odd to me that opening yourself to a life of paranoia, likely painful death, and eternal damnation afterwards all for power on this mortal coil seems to do less for you than waddling over to whatever Faerie or magical tradition happens to be closest to where you live. Granted, there are definitely a handful of cool abilities that Malefica have and those others don't - if you luck into the right MePo, it gets you into the extremely short and vaunted list of people with Magic Resistance - but overall it feels substantially less impressive to me than any other option (except Elementalist, I will continue to badmouth them), while also coming with all the horrendous interpersonal baggage of being a diabolist.

(Granted, I might just be nitpicking - the Ars Goetia are great, and there's no shortage of strong buffs for demons to offer the less sorcerously-inclined diabolist.)

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The big advantage of the Malefica is that it is so much easier to get.

For the Magic traditions you either need to have the Gift and get it opened, or you need to go through various initiations to learn magic.
For Divine Methods and Powers having True Faith helps, but even without it you need to live a fairly pious life.
To get Faerie powers you need to be touched by faerie somehow, and to get much useful out of it you need sympathy traits.

What's needed to learn the Malefica? You need to sin - which everyone does every day anyway - and get the attention of some demon which is usually not hard.

The Malefica is by no means the most powerful supernatural powers you can get - but they are one of the easiest to get. As always the infernal promises quick and easy solutions - and speak quietly of the payment unless they straight out lie.


The other big advantage that the Malefica have is that diabolists tend to have high confidence scores and easy access to lots of confidence points (for the low low price of deliberate indulgence in sin and a warping point which the demon who taught you the method possibly "forgot" to mention).

By the time you're adding 5 confidence points and a +10 sacrifice, you can manage some pretty high casting totals even if your base arts are on an ability scale. The big downside is that you can't do it all that fast or often - diabolists make poor adventurers, but they're mostly designed to be enemies rather than PCs anyway.

So, I decided to double check some of the rules for learning Maleficia- there's something interesting that I haven't seen mentioned yet.

Anyone with a connection to the Infernal, such as a warping point from an Infernal source, a flaw or virtue or deal with a demon, can pick up Maleficia just like a Gifted person can learn new supernatural abilities. Abilities from their tradition both lack a penalty to learn and don't penalize learning other supernatural abilities.

Outside of character gen, an Diabolist doesn't need to take the relevant virtues to pick up those supernatural abilities, provided they can get a good enough teacher. There are demons in the book, such as Aqrab, who can provide a source quality of 20 for single students for some supernatural abilities.

This means that Diabolists could have somewhat more Infernal supernatural powers than their Virtue allotment would indicate.

They're still frightfully expensive during Character Gen, though!


That's the point that ErikT was making two posts up, I believe :slight_smile:

Yes. I view this as a game design flaw. Gaining a Virtue in game should not be so "cheap" compared to spending lots of Virtue points on it, or otherwise nobody would take the Virtue at character generation.

The only interpretation my troupe has found that solves the issue is that gaining these Virtues in play appears cheap, but comes with all sorts of hidden costs which you do not need to pay if you make the deal at character generation. It makes some sense - demons can certainly ensnare you 5000% more efficiently than you can learn stuff from them - but I must say it's not an interpretation I like; as mentioned above the road to Hell should be wide open and with a pleasant wind at your back.


As far as I know there is nothing in the rules which say that you cannot have joined some infernal tradition before the game starts, which would let you learn the favored abilities of that tradition without needing the corresponding virtues.
This is very much a case where YSMV though - not all SGs will allow that.

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While it's not spelled out really carefully, RoP:tI indicates you take the Virtues of you want them at character creation, while you can learn the Favored Abilities/Arts in game without penalty if you qualify.

Infernal Supernatural Abilities are also described as Supernatural Virtues, and thus may be taken during character creation.

This is pretty similar to having the Gift. Just because you have the Gift doesn't mean you can freely dump experience into things like Premonitions and Magic Sensitivity at character creation. If you want them, take the Virtues or try to get them once play has started.


With the silly result that it then becomes better to pick other Virtues and abilities at character creation, and then pick up your Favored Abilities during the game.

Well, actually....
If you just have the Gift you can learn one Supernatural Ability without needing the corresponding Virtue. (ArM5 p36). This does not appear to apply to those who start with their Gift opened - but those who have had their Gift opened have full access to the Favored Abilities and Arts of their tradition. This is how Gifted Folk Witches can start with all of their Favored Abilties without needing all the corresponding Virtues.

But the rules are a bit different for the different realms.


Sure, but that is what was built into the game in many cases.

Now you're conflating things, though. Having the Gift opened is roughly the equivalent to being a Mythic Companion. Now take the Mythic Companion and give them three Malifica and a Minor Supernatural Ability for their tradition. What do you have left? Basically the same set of 10 Virtues and 10 Flaws a Hermetic magus could take.

If we're not talking about having an open Gift nor a Mythic Companion, instead talking about a non-Gifted companion and an Infernalist on the companion level, then we can compare those. The magical traditions get their stuff by picking Virtues. Why shouldn't the Infernalist also get their stuff by picking Virtues?

That is not a fair comparison. A non-Gifted companion do not get any Favored abilties from any magical tradition. A Magic-affiliated character needs to have their Gift opened and have joined some tradition in order to get any Favored abilities, just like Divine-affiliated characters need to have True Faith and have joined one of their traditions in order to have their Favored abilities.

Infernalists have it much easier. They only need to have been touched by evil and joined a tradition to get the Favored abilities of that tradition.
This is the big advantage of the infernal traditions - it is so much easier to get access to their powers.

Fine, how about a different realm? A Faerie Wizard has to buy the Virtues or pick them up later in play. After buying True Faith you still have to buy the Virtues or pick them up later in play. Why would we think Favored Abilities work so differently for the Infernalist, especially when the book points out that they're available at game start because you can buy them as Virtues?

Yup. So why would they need something additional on top of that?

I'll also mention that while in some ways it's definitely better to get Infernal Abilities in play rather than starting with them, starting with them does have the fairly substantial benefit of controlling which abilities you get access to, if you want your character to do something specific. Unless you have a particularly freebie-oriented GM, you'll either have to take what you get from whatever Infernal cult happens to be around, or go on a bunch of information-gathering ventures and quests (all in quite a stressfully clandestine fashion, given most of society will rat you out to the murder-church just for looking) finding Infernal traditions until you stumble on one who has what you want (and maybe still compromising if you want four particular Abilities and they only have two or three of those, depending on just how long you're willing to spend looking), then convincing them they should let you join their cult, and only then starting from scratch on learning the Abilities based on whatever Study Totals they're able and willing to give you, which might not be great prospects if they're a bunch of illiterates with their own selfish priorities. Taking the Virtues gives you control to assume you found a tradition with everything you wanted and that you could spend EXP developing those abilities as freely as anything else, and unless you take a Story Flaw for it, also the assumption that up to this point you haven't left a trail of breadcrumbs for either the murder-church or the Order of Hermes to get tipped off that you're suspicious. Is it worth so many Virtue slots? Eh... Still probably not, but at least it's something.


The experience malus only applies when going from a score of 0 to 1. Once you achieve a score of 1 in an ability you can learn it normally. Starting with your group’s favored abilities means them being favored abilities provide no benefit as their score still count against learning the first level of other supernatural abilities. This can be somewhat sidestepped with initiation, virtue granting by a demon, or demonic instruction with ungodly source qualities depending on the whims of your SG as to whether any of these options are open to you.

I didn't mean the Experience penalty for Supernatural Abilities, I meant just having the right Abilities available or good Study Totals to build up those scores. If you don't start with the Virtues, you have to put in the in-game legwork to find a cult to teach you, and the ones you find first may not have the Favored Abilities you want, or might be bad learning environments due to bad teachers, lack of books on the subject, and the fact that the people who could train you are gonna be other sinners with their own selfish priorities. Whereas if you take the Virtues during character generation, you can get exactly the set of Abilities that you want, and can spend your starting character EXP on them normally.