The Best and Worst Virtues

I think Secondary Insight is a great minor virtue. Oh, wait.

Yes, but the breaking point of Puissant Art is so low (40 xp) that it's better to read a summae for an extra year to save a Virtue. Its real strength is that the summae limit is effectively 3 point higher for you.

Puissant (Ability) at 8+2 saves 45 + 50 = 95 xp vs 92 xp saved for Affinity with (Ability) score 10 (275/3)
Puissant (Art) at 12+3 saves 13 + 14 + 15 = 42 xp vs 40 xp saved for Affinity with (Art) score 15 (120/3)

I went overboard with xp Virtues on my Bonisagus and I've come to the conclusion that they are too mechanical and do not improve gameplay fun.

There are also traps hidden amongst the Virtues:

  • Elemental Magic or Secondary Insight will give you the same 3 extra xp than Book Learner at triple the cost.
  • Great (Characteristic) is not that bad, but Intelligence 3 + Puissant MT or Inventive Genius will give you a better Lab Total. Same thing could be said for Method Caster or Puissant (Art) vs Stamina or Fast Caster vs Quickness.
  • Improved Characteristics is not needed, you can min-max a cheesy {int+3, per+2, pre-2, com+1, str-2, sta+2, dex-2, qik+2} without it.


I'd consider Diende magic to be not-all-that-great also because a non-flawed version of it exists in the form of the Gruganch(?) integration virtue. As such, with a pretty easy (IMO) Troupe permission and backstory, you can have the exact same game mechanic.

And since you have to have a backstory to justify having Diende magic anyway (either a secret paren, or reincarnation, or taught by a ghost, or whatever), it doesn't seem to be that much of a stretch.

Nice if you can get it, sure.

Elemental Magic and Secondary Insight would be worth it IF you could apply them to Exposure XP. Alas, you cannot (they both say 'study'). At least Elemental Magic offers a secondary benefit (ignoring requisites) which makes some concepts more viable. Still probably not worth it.

Great Stamina (x2) is boss, however. +5 to Soak and all Casting Totals? +5 to all resistance rolls against those deadly spells? +5 to all Concentration checks? +5 to Twilight Avoidance? Stamina is arguably far more important to magi than Intelligence. One day I'll do the +5 Stamina, Tough, Gift of the Bear's Fortitude/Doublet of Impenetrable Silk magus with +14 Soak, unarmored.

Great Communication isn't as good as Great Teacher, but boy do they stack together.

Improved Characteristics...IMO is an average virtue. Often it suffices to fill out a concept, such as a Giant Blooded magus who really shouldn't have negative STR/STA, but still needs high INT (and maybe PRE), or any concept that doesn't allow for major weaknesses.

Which is funny, because in low vis sagas you need vis savings even more. When somebody needs The Incantation of the Body Made Whole, do you want to use 8 pawns or 4? A lot of level 20 'make stuff' rituals become far more attractive on 2 pawns of vis rather than 4. MM makes rituals affordable, even in low power sagas (whatever that means - how many pawns/year supply per magi?).

The virtues themselves are mechanical, but their product is not. I think of a set of mechanical virtues of this kind as being a SuperMajor Hermetic Virtue: Has powerful daimonic familiar and can make any spirit with Might < 50 his bitch; or, Can dispel anything; or, Master of Weather....

Sure, a magus can duplicate the effects of Puissant by studying longer, but he can study longer and take Puissant Art, or he can do something else with his time.

Pu/Af with TeFo + Strong Parens --> Te20 and Fo20 at Gauntlet, with xps to spare for other things. A minor focus useful within that TeFo provides totals > 60. Book Learner + Cyclic Magic --> 2 seasons of study to keep far ahead of lesser magi and 2 seasons of either labwork or kicking ass. This kind of badassery is its own kind of fun. And it's what the OP was asking for.

Fair point. MM makes playing the cleric more efficient. :slight_smile: Not so bad a virtue after all.

Elemental Magic is, I think, a special case. While it's true that the XP bleed-over into the other elemental Forms is rather lackluster, the real value for me is the option to ignore requisites of those forms. In particular, many of the lava spells in 'Hermetic Projects' are much easier to accomplish for those characters with access to the Elemental Magic virtue. The trick is knowing that it's not useful for every elemental magic concept.

And again, it's like I said, a MM seems to be more a piece of infrastructure, hey he can cast all of our rituals at half cost. We'll make sure he knows 'em all. Not that he can't do other things, but it does grant a major benefit to the covenant as a whole, rather than the player/character individually.

Agreed... in a low powered saga. For high powered sagas, MM becomes a lot more interesting.

On paper (I admit I haven't seen this in play) MM also looks quite interesting if all the player character magi have it.

Each can specialise in a small number of high level TeFo rituals. So, as a group the magi are able to cast a whole lot of high level rituals, cheaply, and (via Communion type effects) they (when required) will have a high penetration, or the rituals can be easily cast in circumstances with big casting penalties --- such as within large Divine auras.

Indeed. My thought experiment back when went as follows: Imagine covenant M whose magi all have MM. Imagine covenant D whose magi all have DM. Who wins?

Being useful is nearly the same thing as being powerful. The covenant having 'left-over' vis benefits you directly; access to more vis for personal projects. You also have a very good argument for why you should get some of it - it wouldn't be there without you. If you're of great use to the covenant, it only makes sense that you get special consideration, as opposed to the Lab Rat who does nothing - or you'd leave for another covenant that appreciates your talents (that, or the other folks get all the crap jobs that gets them killed, because you're too valuable for that).

The point being that there's a large social benefit attached to having an 'infrastructure' character. In a large covenant (NPC dominated), you'll advance the ranks quicker. In a small one your word counts for more. Not just that, but knowing a lot of rituals makes you an exceptional magus; there is a potential for selling spellcasting, just on the basis that you CAN, never mind you can do it at 1/2 cost. Does the average magus bother to learn Conjure the Mystic Tower, given he'll cast it probably once? Or does he hire a specialist? Do you need a ghost summoned? A tower conjured? A forest expanded? A lot of PCs have a DIY attitude, but it's NOT necessary in the Order of Hermes; the Tremere have the good sense to hire specialists as required.

So, outcome of Schism War explained?

Affinity and Puissant work best combined, but individually each has its nuances. The thing about an Affinity is that, sooner or latter, there is a break even point. So when I have spent 150 xp on Magic Theory with an Affinity, instead of a score of 7 it is 9. And this is a teachable score. You cannot teach a Puissant bonus. Plus you can keep going past two points higher. An Art for an example. An Affinity with an Art pays off equal to Puissant Art at 80 xp, a score of 15 instead of 12. ut the gap widens. At 140 xp, you have a score 20 instead of 16. And again on up and up.
Still, they work best as a combination. Puissant Art/Ability is for instant gratification and a consistent edge down the road. Affinity is for the serious investment and long term commitment.

lol Maybe. I remember reading the original Tempest, and comparing the stats of the Diedne (Herrick?) and Mercurian; the latter seemed much more dangerous. Different rules for Diedne and Mercurian magics, of course, and the Flambeau (I think) had more years to study, etc after the war.

DM probably is used more often than MM, but over the long haul MM can have more dramatic results, saving vis (and botch dice) while allowing for bigger rituals for a given MT score, and even bigger rituals with Mercurian buddies.

Moreover, Puissant can be initiated later for the same gain.

Maybe, although choosing Initiations in this way cannot be counted on in many sagas. (Same with starting with virtues that require breakthroughs.)

Moreover, I believe that the real power of the combination is especially felt right at the beginning. The benefits never let up, but the character is expert right out the gate, with a Te/Fo/Focus total > 60. Are you a Guernicus who Poses the Silent Question at >60? A Flambeau who creates fire or wind or lightning at 60? A Criamon who can send magi into Twilight when it is Apt? A Tremere who obliviates demons and faeries dead? Etc. Sure, a Casting Total of 50 is good, but 60 is better! BoaF with ~15 penetration vs ~25.... no contest. That big Total also comes in handy for inventing custom spells in a single season. While that other guy is sweeping the floor for some weird cultist, hoping for initiation, you get to bind a big familiar, invent lots of spells and kick butt. (And then sweep the floor for some cultist in exchange for some other virtue.... :/)