The Best and Worst Virtues

It would be interesting to work backward, from what a newly gauntleted magus ought to be able to do, to apprenticeship rules.

For example, a generic Guernicus ought to have at least 5 in Code of Hermes, because that's a basic professional level. He also needs to be able to Intellego with a solid Penetration, and either have a reasonable offense when a hoplite isn't around to protect him, or excellent infiltration and escape. Then there's Latin, AL, Parma....

Since a good faerie is a charbroiled Faerie, a Flambeau ought to be able to handle a Might 20 Faerie as a minimum benchmark. (The Flambeau do have a (short) oral exam before the practical part of the Gauntlet: What do you do about a large mob of peasants? How would you handle a demon? What about a tricksy faerie? Your first Wizard's War... discuss. How many magi does it take to declare a March?) He needs enough knowledge of the Code to survive his first Tribunal. Etc.

A Merinita without Faerie Lore 5 is hardly committed. It takes more than just knowing the difference between Grendel and a grindylow...

I have noticed, over the years, that proponents of less powerful magi are more vocal than proponents of more powerful magi. Those sagas are easier to run too. It is natural for rules to follow in that direction.

Potential Rule for Far More Powerful Magi out of Gauntlet: Opening the Hermetic Arts creates a mystical bond between master and apprentice. During any year that the master spends at least one season devoted to teaching or training the apprentice himself, an apprentice gains the same experience and learns the same spells as his master during any seasonal activity they perform together, including reading a text, even if the Apprentice's scores do not normally allow such learning. An apprentice is not considered to have read a Tractutus that his master reads from, since he is really learning from the master.

It's not hard, 49 seasons of exposure, 12 seasons of one on one teaching, 3 seasons of spell instruction. That's what an apprenticeship is at a minimum. It can be more, and if you play through it, it is quite often more.

Err. No. Penetrating with Intellego, for what purpose? To violate the code? And having a Code of Hermes of 5? Because it's a professional level. He's a magus first, and then a Quaesitor second (if at all). Is it a good idea for the Quaesitor to have a score of 5? Sure, but it's not required.

A might 20 creature isn't all that hard to get to, but I've seen even well advanced magi of being incapable of handling all possible threats. As to how many magi it takes to declare a March? By code, a minimum of 7 so long as they are from 4 different covenants and there were 12 magi in attendance. That's a legal question that I wouldn't expect a Flambeau to necessarily know, though.

What? This is much like the Code of Hermes score mentioned above. By such reasoning every House should have something that it is better at than everyone else, and thus every House gets 75 xp to that end.

Yes, and?

Ugh. No.

Yes, but 11 seasons of one-on-one teaching, not 12. That would be just how it's laid out in Apprentices.

Dang it did it again

That Flambeau magus I like to keep bragging about, Roberto; in the original saga created using strict RAW, straight out of Gauntlet he was able to Penetrate a Magic Resistance of 20 with his Pilium of Fire. The Virtue choices made in order to do that have served me well down through the years, and are quite relevant to the discussion at hand.

  • Puissant Ignem (House Virtue)
  • Puissant Creo
  • Life Boost
  • Self Confident
  • Flawless Magic

The Puissant Ars add +6 to Creo Ignem, or +3 to just one or the other.
Life Boost adds +5 per Fatigue Level spent, and is the single most important Virtue if you are hoping to yield high Penetration totals.
Self Confident can add a +6 bonus to anything. I would call this the single most powerful and important Virtue in the game for designing characters that take action and actively do things. If you are a lab rat, maybe not so much.
Flawless Magic is a gem, worth the price and a fair value. Mastery grants a boosted casting total, another boost to Penetration, and many other perks. I shy away from calling it the best Virtue in the game because some people have conflicting opinions on how different Mastery abilities should be applied, not every spell is worth Mastering, and the official available mastery abilities are not as plentiful or open as they should be. But it is a powerful Virtue, and I call it fair Value ranked as Major.
As for the other criteria, had it in the bag since day one. :mrgreen:
As for the charbroiled comment, I get dirty looks whenever I quote that :laughing:

I don't say that. I have never said that. I have always fought against that. I am not as vocal as I used to be, perhaps I should be more so again. Have fear of what you have unleashed :smiling_imp:
But I have always had the very opposite experience. A low power level (across the board) makes it difficult for me to come up with stories. I don't like to study the characters, I just make up stuff and gamble that they can handle it or think of something. It is a technique that has served me well. I also like to make presumptions about background details and handwave away nonsense that bogs down the story. If it was a low powered world, I would be stuck with endless calculations to check and see if this or that is plausible or even possible.
I dowant some structure as opposed to all-powerful chaos. But a loose structure that adapts tofit the needs of what is as opposed to worrying about what could be but probably never happen.

Of course, you are so far on the opposite side of the spectrum from low-powered ideas that you make me look conservative!
I am not keen on this idea. Not so much because of the numbers, but because it doesn't seem sensible or thematically appropriate to my imagination. And it is too chaotic. I like medium chaos.

Phft! That's almost trivial.
Even the flambeau example in the core book (ArM5, p. 25) can do that.
Did we forget the 'Frightening Munchkinism thread already?
Everything done in this post can probably be done equally well with fire.
That's a stable penetration over 30 (before dice) on Incantation of Lightning IIRC.

Any roll that doesn't represent a seasonal activity IIRC

For a pure combat mage, it ptobably is the best.
For anyone interested in anything besides combat, probably less useful, but still very good.

Where does that put me then?
I tend to think newly Gauntleted magi should be more powerful, but the powergain over time should probably be a little slower.



Oh, virtually no one ever actually uses any of the rules I post here. (Though I have noticed that some of my perspectives have become adopted...) It mostly really isn't that chaotic; for fast chargen simply provide 30xp more per year but require house by house minima.

As for power, I'm not sure you're right about my preferring outrageously high power. I do prefer capable characters, but for me it is more about the fear of player power and about powerful != broken.

30 xp more? That's another 450 xp. Wow. I could have 6 abilities with a score of 5!

Just razzing ya

As for that Virtue selection I listed, everyone take notice that it does not include any sort of Magic Focus. The package described grants an edge in Creo & Ignem, but a broad number of benefits apply to casting a variety of spells. A Focus would trip the cake and take Penetration to a potential 35 or more.

I'm roughly in agreement with the 'compulsory ability scores' being free, I just think that what those scores would be would vary by house. There's plenty of things that magi 'should' by all rights have but don't take due to lack of points - things like Area Lore for the covenant they were apprenticed in. Mandatory freebies makes for better fleshed characters, as long as you still allow for sufficient discretionary spending. 120xp in arts is plenty, and another 120xp in Abilities would be sufficient if the Latin/Magic Theory/etc were taken care of.

I feel like there should be an optional pre-apprenticeship life block representing the fact that some parentes teach or have someone else teach their intended apprentice Magic Theory and how to speak and read Latin, personally. I mean, that's literally an established (if somewhat dangerous in practice, as your apprentice is unclaimed) method of increasing your apprentice's usefulness as a lab assistant prior to the actual apprenticeship.

Alternatively, a lot of problems are also solved if you consider just how much a Magus might have to instruct their future filia throughout the day so they don't cause a bunch of errors due to their lower Magic Theory and Arts and not really knowing what's going on. Not to mention that the apprentice is in most cases helping the Magus to produce something while not producing anything for themselves. Really, it would almost be reasonable to rule that the seasons spent as a lab assistant are more appropriate as Training experience than Exposure experience. That by itself would add something like 120 or 180 xp to the total apprenticeship, assuming a Master who didn't just get all their Arts to 5 and Parma to 2 two years out of apprenticeship and promptly go searching for an apprentice.

It may end up adding much less. Remember, you cannot train the Hermetic Arts. So the only thing that can reasonably be trained is Magic Theory, maybe Latin, so the only effect of this would be to get the Latin scores to 5 and the Magic Theory scores closer to 5. And apprentices, especially apprentices in play may be greedy for experience points in the Arts and much more interested in taking exposure experience over training experience.

I have noticed that quite a few people start magi 10-20 years past Gauntlet, which pretty much corresponds.

I have also noticed that the HBO saga (the reading of which I have greatly enjoyed) grants newly Gauntleted magi many more xps than canon.

So I don't think that I'm off base, especially since many of those extra xps would go for required House minima.

As for Quaesitors starting with CoH 5, I think it is reasonable for an experience magus to expect that an arbitrator/legal advisor to be better than barely competent. The fluff describes the house Gauntlet as a grueling legal test, so a score of 5 is a reasonable representation of mastery, by the standards of C&G and A&A.

I think Focus is the essential virtue for Penetration, providing 10-20 to formulaic casting total without fatigue loss.

Right, I've noticed that, too. But then they are supposed to buy spells with XP by RAW, or someone has to go through the bother of determining what spell lab texts are available.

Well again, they are magi played through 15 years of apprenticeship. And their masters gave them a lot of free time, something that NPC apprentices probably wouldn't be expected to have.
I'm in that saga, backing out the spells there's 742 XP that my character (Victor Autolycus, formerly Brendan) has. If we back out the childhood and later life apprenticeship of 105 xp (he was apprenticed at 9, 45+60) that leaves 637, which is even MORE than the 450 extra XP you propose. But, the point is that this characters have been played, which only highlight's Marko's point that even when you grant "enough" extra XP to try and model something more is always available in play, which, IMO, is a good thing.
Victor wasn't even one of the apprentices with Apt Student, so he has less XP than some other characters.

Should there be a reward of more xp for playing through something all the way than just whipping up a character? Is that so bad? Are we measuring what the RAW grants for a starting magus against what is possible when doing something in play? Why are we doing that? You're not the first to propose that there isn't enough XP for a starting magus. For game sake, I'm rather glad, because it allows specialists to blossom individual and to find a reason to come together in a covenant.

If there's some ability that's strongly associated with the House, and you want members of that House to have the score, give it to them. If they're NPCs already published shift the 75 xp around to someplace else. But, I don't even know what abilities you're talking about, and what are acceptable minimum scores.

Is a newly gauntleted magus experienced? Maybe you can't afford a magus anymore than barely competent?

I know you're in the saga, which is why I mentioned it.

Sure, you have played through the saga. But character creation -- in theory -- yields similar results, or so it is said. In practice, of course, not. Within the game world, no one knows that one magus is a pc and another of the same age is an npc! (Or, another way of looking at it, I would expect a new character of the same experience being brought into the saga as a new pc -- which happens on HBO :slight_smile: -- would have similar endowments so as to belong, despite not having been played.

My point is that providing canonical xps was less interesting; other sagas solve the problem in different ways. These xps broaden a character.

As for a barely competent Quaesitor, that's totally against the fluff. It would be totally amusing, of course, but if House Guernicus sends out barely qualified Qs, magi will lose respect for the institution. A new Q should know the Code much better than a new magus from another House.

The main rule book is somewhat contradictory here. In the Extremely Complex Character Generation insert, they do say that it tends to produce characters who are close to those generated with the detailed rules.
But I don't think anyone here on the forums has said that playing characters through several years is like generating them to the same number of years.

Yes, they can. Victor has some abilities he may never use again. Again, I don't have an issue with extra XPs to add flavor as you suggest, and you still haven't really described the House minima abilities. If you want to provide 450 experience points, IMO, you can't just grant 450 experience points without putting qualifications on how they may be used, if the intent is to create more interesting, broader characters.

What constitutes barely competent? IMO, barely competent would be a score of 1, or 0 with some xp, IMO. Since it's a knowledge ability, it can't be used if there isn't some experience in it. I would venture that a lot of magi have 1 or 0 Code of Hermes, just enough to get by. So the gauntleted Quaesitor might have a score of 3, maybe 4, but I think 3 is a reasonable start for a new character, certainly not a five. Same with Faerie Magic, another House Minima you suggested having it at 5? But why? No one else in the Order really has it unless they are part of the House, so what differentiates a new Merinita from a 10 year PG Merinita? Not a lot, since the cost of going higher than 5 is nearly half of what it took to get to 5.

I guess what using House Minima would really do is make everyone within the House be much more similar to everyone else in the same House, while differentiating them from the Houses of the Order, generally. I'm not sure that's a good idea.

Someone allowed to practice without being under the supervision of a master ought to have a 5, minimum. 5 is the standard set in C&G and A&A. Blame them!

I didn't specify House minima because I didn't want to type.

And yes, making magi from each House become more similar can be a trap too, but it also lends distinctiveness to a House. Is a Tremere who starts play without Leadership really taught the ways of the House? Etc. Note that packages can be created for lineages within a House; Flambeau comes to mind. Differentiating Houses is good. It also helps new players. If there are ample xps left over, characters will still be unique.

Oh, and what differentiates a more experienced Merinita is more than just Faerie Lore 7 vs 5; it is a higher Faerie Magic, some Faerie allies, more Faerie correspondence, maybe an inner mystery, some unique spells with FM parameters, maybe a Faerie artifact or two, a whole bunch of adventures, some very specific experience that is hard to get with only generic FL, Area Lores for various regiones and Arcadia.... But if you wanted a starting FL of 3, I'd not argue.

Sure, but there's more to being a magus than ability scores. There are Arts and Spells, too. I think any magus post gauntlet is reasonably called a journeyman magus (The Rhine does it like this) until they have taken an apprentice. But being a Journeyman magus is altogether different than a journeyman professional. After all there is much more than being a master magus than there is in being a master professional.

My point is that some things should cost characters. Scarcity of beginning resources is also a good thing and it forces players to make hard choices. If I'm awash in XP, well, I can make a lot of really bad choices and become pretty good at a wide range of things rather than really good at only a few things. With 450 XP at gauntlet, what's to prevent Faerie Magic scores of 10 or more? That's only 275 xp, after all. Is that representative of an apprentice just out of gauntlet?

The rules prevent a starting FM of 10. It is also pretty pessimal. A SG can also add other limits.

(If you're not awash in xp, you can still make bad choices.)