Spell Mastery

I am about to post proposed rules for Spell Mastery, essentially indicating the availability and ease of learning existing abilities as well as a few new ones. The proposal is open for comments and correction, and is not made law unless the majority of players approve.

Spell Mastery:
The following list includes all existing Mastery abilities and a few new ones. Notes indicate Frequency and Origin. Existing Mastery abilities are given a page number reference, and new or modified abilities are given a full decription.
Frequency refers to how frequently the ability is encountered and how redily available the knowledge is. The scale is as follows:

  • Common: Automatically available to any magus
  • Uncommon: Available to most magi with the most tenuous of explanations
  • Rare: Normally available to a select group, requiring the magus to be part of that group or be taught the ability by one of them
  • Very Rare: Available to an exclusive group, usually requiring a special Virtue or Mystery or at least an agreement to keep it exclusive within the group
    Origin refers to the original development of the Mastery ability. For Common & Uncommon masteries, this may be merely historical reference. For Rare and Very Rare, this indicates the requirements for that mastery.

Accute Sense (1)
True Lineages, p.71
Taken the first time
(Uncommon, Quasitors)

Accute Sense (2)
True Lineages, p.71
This may be taken a second time for improved effect
(Rare, Quasitors)

Adaptive Casting
True Lineages, p.99
(Unommon, Cult of Mercury)

Apatropaic Mastery
Infernal, p.122
(Uncommon, Demon Hunters & Infernalists)

Boosted Casting
True Lineages, p.99
(Uncommon, Mutantes)

Ceremonial Casting
True Lineages, p.99
Though originally developed by the Cult of Mercury, this is redilly available to any magus.
(Common, Cult of Mercury)

Disguised Casting
True Lineages, p.99
(Rare, Cult of Mercury or House Tytalus)

Fast Casting
ArM5, p.87

Choose one Parameter of the spell (Range, Duration, or Target/Size). You can alter that parameter by up to one magnitude up or down (or equivilent yet different). How this parameter is flexed is determined when this mastery is chosen. You can take this mastery multiple times to flex different parameters in different ways. You cannot flex two parameters at once unless Flex (specific combination) is chosen as a third seperate mastery, and you may not stack two flexings on a single parameter.
This mastery is fully compatible with Flexible Formulaic Magic, and magi with that virtue may freely combine or stack those effects with this mastery.
(Rare, Cult of Mercury/Flexible Formulaic Magic)

Forceful Casting
This mastery is applied to spells that have force involved; be it an amount of damage caused, kinetic strength, a volume of energy, or some such. Each time this mastery is chosen, you may opt to add one magnitude of Force to the level of the spell (such as adding +5 to direct damage spells). You may choose this mastery multiple times and vary the amount of increased force, but each magnitude added increases the effective Level of the spell, so you may not take it beyond the tenth magnitude unless the spell is already a ritual.
When you employ Forceful Casting, you must always use a Loud Voice and Exaggerated Gestures (or expend a Fatigue Level instead).
(Uncommon, House Flambeau)

Goetic Mastery
Infernal, p.124
(Very Rare, Goat Magic which is banned)

Harnessed Casting
True Lineages, p.99
(Rare, Mutantes)

Imperturbable Casting
Societates, p.33

Introspective Casting
This mastery is used with spells that provide knowledge or information (mainly Intellego spells), allowing you to add your Mastery score to rolls involving the effects of such spells.
(Uncommon, Quasitors)

Lab Mastery
True Lineages, p.100
(Uncommon, Cult of Mercury or House Verditius)

Learn From Mistakes
True Lineages, p.100
(Rare, Cult of Mercury)

Magic Resistance
ArM5, p.87

Multiple Casting
ArM5, p.87

Obfuscated Casting
Societates, p.34
(Uncommon, House Tytalus)

Optimized Mastery
This requires the Lab Mastery ability, and is generally available to House Verditius (though can be learned from the lab notes of a magus who utilized this mastery in the project). Like Lab Mastery, this only applies when instilling an effect similar to the mastered spell. For the purpose of calculating the amount of vis needed to instil the enchantment, you may subtract your Mastery score from the level. This does not make the enchantment easier, just less expensive. No matter how well the effect is optimized, it requires a minimum of one pawn to enchant.
(Rare, House Verditius)

ArM5, p.87
You may choose this mastery additional times to add another +1 to Penetration (in addition to your mastery score bonus for choosing it the first time).

Precise Casting
Societates, p.34
(Common, House Flambeau)

Quick Casting
Societates, p.34
(Common, House Flambeau)

Quiet Casting
ArM5, p.87

Societates, p. 129
Note: the bonus is to the effect level of the spell (or the roll), not the actual level.
(Common, Lineage of Praelix)

Silent Casting
ArM5, p.87: Requires Quiet Casting (Common)

Stalwart Casting
True Lineages, p.100 (Cult of Mercury, Rare)

Still Casting
ArM5, p.87 (Common)

Tethered Casting
True Lineages, p.100
(Mutantes, Rare)

Societates, p. 129
Note: the bonus is to the effect level of the spell (or the roll), not the actual level. As per those rules, add three times mastery score to rolls to PeVi spells thus mastered to counter or cancel magic.
(Common, Lineage of Praelix)

Vascilated Casting
When you cast a spell, you are able to "hold" it by Concentration, opting to release or decline it later as you choose. When you release the spell, you may choose to do so quickly as if it were Fast Cast. This is inefficient, as the spell had to have been cast and held in a previous round. Concentration is automatic unless something perturbs you. If you fail your Concentration roll, the spell disipates.
(Uncommon, House Flambeau)

If I missed anything &/or you have any suggestions &/or additions/subtractions, post your comments and arguments below.
BTW, I am intending, if approved, to give Carmen back Vascillated Castion for her Fist of Thunder spell (it was like that originally, but I retconned to Fast Casting because I did not yet want to include the mastery HR's)

At first glance, with Serf's Parma on, I see no problem in that list.
No problem either for Carmen.

I have some reservations for Flex (it both diminishes FFM and makes Boosted Magic less useful), but you've trimed it a bit down, so let's see how it flies.

I think, OTOH, that there's a lack of Ritual-related masteries.

  • Hastened Ritual: You've refined your casting to the extreme, improving upon it, so that the time it takes to cast it is no longer 15*Magnitude, but rather (15-Mastery)*Magnitude.
    If you want to make this more powerful, substract twice your mastery.
  • Efficient Ritual: You are much more efficient in using Vis, doing more with less: Each time this is taken, you substract 1 to the vis cost of the ritual. This can, at most, substract half its vis cost, and can't bring it below 1. This happens before Mercurian Magic is taken into account (So a 6th magnitude ritual with 2 masteries in Efficient Ritual would cost 4 vis instead of 6, 2 with MM). However, if botching your spellcasting roll, ignore this mastery's effect on vis.
  • Aura Mastery: You are an expert in using ley lines and magical auras to power your ritual. Add twice the Aura bonus to your ritual casting roll. This doesn't work with formulaics, save if you're casting them ceremoniously.
  • Faerie attunement: Having trained under a Merinitae magus, you may add the full bonus of any Faerie aura you're in to your casting roll. You still don't count as "attuned to faerie", and thus still suffer extra botch dices due to the Aura, although you can substract your Mastery score to the extra botch dices given by the Aura.
  • Secure Ritual: Rituals are dangerous. However, you're an expert at this one. When botching this ritual, instead of substracting once your Mastery Score to botch dices, substract it twice. This is a common mastery among those magi that cast Aegis of the Earth on a regular basis.

Getting Back on this: I've done and saved Arachné's advancement up to 1231, taking advantage of the fact that we can do lab time after Mission Improbable to learn Voice from Hollow Spaces.

Thing is, last season of 1231, she learns Rarefy the Crude Stone, and would be interested by either Flex (to be able to boost it by one size in order to create bigger elementals) or either Efficient or Secure Ritual from my proposed list of "ritual specific" masteries.

To learn Flex, she'd need, say, the tutelage of guillaume, as I understand it, but callen seems to be unavailable :frowning:.
So, assuming I can't count on this, what about the ritual masteries?


You and I (Fixer and Markoko) seemed to be the only ones interested in discussing this, so I never did anything with it and have yet to officially adopt them as HR's.
This was an idea in two parts. First a brainstorm of ideas for new Mastery abilities, which implies that I don't really want to incorporate all of them, and further hoping other people would add their own ideas/modifications to ideas to the list, and that we could whittle it down from there.
The second part of the idea, which is actually the more interesting and innovative part IMHO, is categorizing existing and new Mastery abilities according to their origin and indicating how commonly available they are to learn. So for example, Flex is listed as "Rare, Cult of Mercury/Flexible Formulaic Magic". Rare means that it is normally available to a select group, requiring the magus to be part of that group or be taught the ability by one of them. In this case, there are two applicable groups. First is the Cult of Mercury, not the actual mystery cult, just those of that general lineage (as defined in HoH-Societas). Second includes all those who possess the Major Virtue of Flexible Formulaic Magic, who can also stack this mastery with their natural power (thus the value of their Virtue is not lessened).

So, the way I see it, you have three options.

  1. learn spell Mastery from Guillaume
  2. learn from another Mercurian who knows this Mastery (I suppose technically Carmen, Vibria, and Vulcanus are all Mercurian, but none has bothered learning this mastery). But maybe if you went to Doisettep?
  3. Read a book on Spell Mastery written by a magus who knew this ability at the time they wrote that book. This is, well, arbitrary and uncertain. Take a look at our current texts on mastery and see if any might fit the bill. But this may seem too cheap and easy. However, to obtain a new book on Mastery that meets these qualifications, I would buy this no problem (as long as it all sounds plausible as far as the spell in question and author etceteras).

As far as the Ritual Mastery ideas you brainstormed long ago, I like all of them. The wording would have to be translated to "Rules Language" :laughing:, and I would want to include the Frequency/Origin factor.
I suggest...
Hastened Ritual (Uncommon/House Jerbiton)
Some how link it to the use of props and prepared space?

Efficient Ritual (Rare, Cult of Mercury)

Aura Mastery (I don't know)
I don't think this should be easily available, but it sounds cool in conjunction with a certain type of cult or lineage or societats. Sounds like a Diedne thing actually...

Faerie Attunement (Very Rare, Faerie Magic)
Or does Faerie Magic already do that? If so, then (Uncommon, House Merinita)

Secure Ritual (Common, House Bonisagus)

  1. was clearly my favourite, but without callen, it's out of the picture :frowning:
  2. is a good question. I'd have said impossible first, yet, when one think of it, magi are assumed to know all corebook masteries, so it may be possible. I'd tend towards "impossible", though, like "these are house teachings we don't nescessarily impart", but this would need that Mercurian PC would need to have it taught to them by another mercurian, which may not be desireable.
  3. Sounds more possible, but, IMO, only if the magus wrote about it, which is fluff. So, for our texts, this would be pure chance, so yes, a new book would be a safer bet.
    My, I realise that we agree...

Yes, exactly, save that you don't suffer the botch dices, just like "normal" magi in magical auras.
As I see it, it would be a mastery taught by merinita to their friends, and/or known by those outside magi who take an interest in the fae. It's like a teaser: "look at this, it's cool, ain't it? Well, Faerie Magic is even better, come and join us".

Hastened Ritual for the jerbitons fits nicely.

I'd have put Secure Ritual with the Mercurians, but it's a good idea to diversify a little, and it's fine as a product from original research, especially with the link to the Aegis. Where you're evil is that I deserved a cookie for my work :laughing:

Cookie granted.
Now, should we whittle the list down? Or accept the list as a whole (with the understanding that most of these might never-ever come into play anyway but it is nice to have options)?

I've rechecked the list, and I say let it fly.

The fact that masteries are checkered among different traditions should limit abusive combos, while at the same time serving as a reward for the player who takes time to learn them and improve his masteries.

The only thing is that Efficient Ritual is maybe under-powered (it should maybe reduce the extra botch dices along vis usage).

Efficient Ritual detracts too much from the value of Mercurian Magic, I think. Mercurian Magi pay a big price to be able to save a few pawns of vis, so making that available as a mastery ability (WITHOUT taking up three virtue slots, and WITHOUT crippling your spontaneous magic) really makes Mercurian obsolete... ritual-focused magi would then just take Flawless Magic and pump experience into mastering their rituals (which they would do anyway, to reduce their botch dice for casting with lots of vis).

But this mastery allows a Mercurian magus to double up. You lower the cost with Mastery first, then halve the remaining. Rituals at one-quarter the cost. A level 60 Aegis goes from costing 12 pawns to needing only 3.
The mastery is not as efficient, you would have to take it multiple times to get it up to the 50% discount. The virtue also has the Wizard's Communion benefit.
However, as these ritual mastery abilities need to be written out properly still, what subtle shade of wording do you think would make it more balanced?

I guess the real problem is with the Mercurian virtue, not the mastery ability itself. They don't balance together well because Mercurian is too prohibitive.

If Efficient Ritual were available ONLY to characters who already had Mercurian Magic, I'd be happy with it.

One could say the same about Flex and FFM (actually, I have :laughing:).

This is why I made it compatible with Mercurian Magic, and initially worded it so it did not lessen botch dices despite the reduction in vis (say, you use less vis but your ritual is more unstable). If you think the less vis = less extra botch would be too much, we can leave it as it is, so it only save vis.
Marco made it known to the mercurians, which is a subtle, but real distinction.

Now, for Mercurian Magic, its big drawbacks, as I see it, are:

  • The spontaneous magic thingie. This sucks big time.
  • The fact that people seldom seem to cast rituals.

The first can be easily adressed by a HR.
The second is more complicated, but use of the central rule helps: If every "army-killer" spell (say, anything with too many size modifiers) is a ritual, you will see magi using rituals to rain fire from heaven, not formulaics => When it's time for the big guns, one should turn towards the mercurian, yet this is seldom the case. It may also be a case of player vision, I dunno.

Now, while you're interested, do you have ideas for ritual-specific masteries? I think these are sorely lacking :frowning:

Hey, here's another!

Soft Magic (Rituals only!): Due to their high magnitude, rituals often cause Warping. Yet, that need not be the case. You've learned to release the rituals energies over the whole ritual and not at once, meaning you may sometimes avoid the warping for "powerful magical effect". Each time you take this Mastery, you may substract 05 to the level of the ritual, but only for that purpose.

Compare the Major Virtue of Flawless Magic and use of this mastery to the other Major Virtue.
Flexible Formulaic Magic vs Flex Mastery
FFM lets you flex any spell in any way. Flex Mastery allows only one form of flexing that must be predetermined. Someone with FFM and Mastery can stack these benefits (two magnitudes of flexing at once)
Mercurian Magic vs Efficient Ritual Mastery
Mercurian Magic is a flat 50% off and has the WC bonus. Efficient Mastery has a much smaller discount and would have to be taken two or more times to achieve the max 50% discount on vis required. A Magus with both can stack these benefits and take up to 75% off.

But I just had an idea. What if you apply Mercurian Magic first? A regular magus can get up to half off using Mastery, reducing cost by one pawn per point of their Mastery score (max 50% as I said). The Mercurian takes half off to begin with, and can further reduce cost with Mastery to as low as a singe pawn of vis.
Casting a level 60 Aegis with a Mastery score of 5...
Regular magus lowers the cost from 12 pawns down to only 7. A Mercurian reduces it to only 6 right off the bat, and can reduce it further down to 1 pawn.

If I understand correctly, this mastery ability would not be exclusive to Mercurians, though...

I would like it better if the less vis = less botch dice for Mercurians, but not for non-Mercurians. Mercurians are masters of getting the most out of their vis so this makes sense to me.

Yes, exactly! The Mercurian is never going to be the Big Gun, because his arts are focused on Creo Corpus and/or Rego Vim, because the only time he shines is when he's casting your Aegis or healing you. I like playing support characters, but, it's not very Mythic.

Ideas off the top of my head, with very little thought put into how balanced they may be...

  • Life-linked Ritual: The caster has learned how to link his rituals to his own energy. For every level of Mastery, the caster may choose to expend a long-term Fatigue level in place of a pawn of vis (corresponding botch dice reduction ONLY for Mercurians)
  • Friendly Ritual: The caster has studied how to tailor his rituals to multiple targets. For every level of Mastery, the caster may choose one additional target that this spell is "designed" for, for the purposes of avoiding Warping. (Cult of Heroes)
  • Philosophic Ritual: The caster has tailored his spellcasting towards academic philosophy. This mastery ability lets the caster add twice his Philosophiae score towards his casting total.

I like this. I think I'd phrase it a little more carefully before adding this as a House Rule, but I like the idea a lot.

I like this too. This, plus the botch dice distinction, would make a Mercurian far more useful than they are now, to the extent that allowing non-Mercurians to have these mastery abilities would not detract from Mercurian Magic.

I built a Mercurian for the Hiddenhall game and then realized I'd essentially made a Companion character who will cast the Aegis and occasionally heal people. All his rituals were high level, so he had hardly any spell levels left for non-Ritual formulaics, and he was hyper-specialized (Cr/Re/Co/Vi). His specialized arts and lack of Formulaics, coupled with his crippled spontaneous magic, meant that he would never have the chance to use magic in creative or interesting ways. I am now feeling despair for Mercurian Magic...

I think player vision's a big part of it. Using a ritual in an offensive fashion requires a lot of very careful planning and a cooperative, predictable, and/or stupid enemy. It seems like the kind of thing a SG would do far more often because he can hand-wave all that planning and revise the situation on the fly.

Why is this Mastery option available to the Cult of Mercury rather than Mutantes magi? It's very similar to Boosting, only with no vis cost.

I love this idea.

Never underestimate the potentials of Watching Ward, Waiting Spell, or Hermetic Empowerment.

Both are elements in a house that contains only about a dozen gifted magi, so ideas are going to cross over.
And they operate fundamentally differently.
The Mutantes Boost requires vis, one pawn per magnitude. However, other than ritual limitations there is no restriction on how far you can boost any or all parameters, even with a Mastery score of only 1. Flex is far more limited, but does not require vis. The concept is based on the Mercurian idea "developing different ways of casting the same spell in different situations" (HoH: True Lineages, p. 95).

How about calling it "Affable Casting" or "Friendly Casting"? Have it apply to non ritual spells as well.

Of course. Just like some other masteries, like Tethered Mastery (which enables you to duplicate Tethered Magic) are a group's trademark, but are still learnable by outsiders.

Nice one for the botch thingie, count me in. The mastery is designed to with ancient Mercurian Rituals, so it works fine with non-mercurian but make the rituals unstable, which cancels out the less vis = less botch.

Having it act after Mercurian Magic, I dunno. I'm of two minds about this. It may make healing too easy. Although that's so often overlooked in RPGs, it may work, after all.

  • Life-Linked ritual could (well, IMO, should) replace Efficient Ritual. It's quite similar, only a better idea. And then, it could act after MM magic, like Marko proposed.
  • Friendly Ritual seems weak, so, sure! If a magus wants to do this, it won't break anything.
  • Philosphic Ritual... I'd rather have something not unlike Spell Foci: This lets you add a number of appropriate Shape or Material equal to your Mastery Level as a bonus to your casting total, up to your Philosophiae Score.

Mercurians and Rituals are awesome in theory, but quite hard to play in a game where you often have to act right now. It may indeed be in part a player thingie, where we aren't as proactive/planning as we should be.
I suspect one possible avenue for them is as summoners/conjurers: Create Elementals, Summon Ghosts, that kind of thing. Hey, I may try this some time :smiley: This wouldn't alleviate the in-game problems that they are essentially support characters, of course.

Oh, I realize, in a way, Arachné is headed this way: She has a Watching Ward, and, in 1231, she learns to create Earth Elementals and to Imprison Ghosts. A mercurian would be better, doing more with less.

I like the Fatigue idea that is getting tossed around, having to spend Fatigue to use certain potent mastery abilities as a balancing factor. For example, maybe that can be incorporated with the Flex (Parameter) mastery. Spend a Fatigue to flex a predetermined parameter, versus FFM which requires no Fatigue and allows you to flex in various ways.

And versus Boosted magic, which requires vis. Yes, good idea :smiley:
Only difference with Life-Linked Rituals is that this'd use short term fatigue.