UPDATE: The latest version of this list is now online, at the "House rule" part of Project Redcap: redcap.org/page/House_rule#A ... ouse_Rules
As the Project Redcap wiki is nearing the transfer to the new MediaWiki/Wikipedia format, we're trying to add more content to it. As part of that, I present to you "The Big List of House Rules". It's meant to go on the "House Rules" page of the wiki. Please do comment or, better yet, add to it. Or modify the text - you'd be able to do so once it's up in the wiki anyway.
== A Big List of House Rules ==
The following list gives lots of house rules, as well as an explanation and analysis for each suggestion. The house rules range from interpretations and clarifications to offering major changes to gameplay. The list is organized by the Chapter and page number in the core rulebook. Each house rule's name is followed by the page number where it "should" appear on the core rulebook, based on the rule it modifies, and its "type:
- An '''Interpretation''' is a house rule that does not deviate from RAW, but may interpret it in one particular way rather than another.
- An '''Addition''' is when the house rule adds to existing rules, either by expanding an existing rule or by introducing new rules entirely, but does not change the RAW.
- An '''Alteration''' is when the house rule changes the RAW.
=== Introduction ===
; Take 5 (Alteration) [p. 6]
: Instead of making a Simple roll, you may choose a result of “5” (as if the dice landed on 5) without rolling.
This rule means faster play and more standardized results when using abilities, while still allowing players to roll when higher dice results are hoped for.
; Alternative Stress Roll (Alteration) [p. 6]
: When making a stress roll, a result of ‘0’ on the dice indicates a possibility for extraordinary success - roll again, and double the number rolled, keeping 10 as a minimum. If the reroll is also a ‘0’, roll again and quadruple (and so on for repeated ‘0’ results). For example, if your stress roll is ‘0’ and then ‘1’, then doubling would result in 2, but the result of 10 is used instead. If your stress roll is “0” and then “0” and then “5”, then the result is 20.
: If the result of the initial die roll is a ‘1’, however, you instead have a chance for extraordinary failure - roll a number of dice determined by the situation, called ‘botch dice’, and if any of them show up ‘1’ you have botched. If you roll no botches, the result is simply 1.
This rule replaces the RAW stress die with one that has a better “consistency” - ‘0’ is always read as ‘10’, and always feels good, and ‘1’ is always a low number you should be afraid of. It has a slightly higher average, but that shouldn’t matter for the game.
; Linear Stress Roll (Alteration) [p. 6]
: When making a stress roll, a result of ‘0’ on the dice indicates the possibility for extraordinary success - roll again, and add the number rolled to the basic result of 10. If the reroll is also a ‘0’, roll again and add it again (and so on for repeated ‘0’ results). For example, if your stress roll is ‘0’ and then ‘1’, the result is 11.
: If the result of the initial die roll is a ‘1’, however, you instead have a chance for extraordinary failure - roll a number of dice determined by the situation, called ‘botch dice’, and if any of them show up ‘1’ you have botched. If you roll no botches, the result is simply 1.
This alternative alternative rule replaces the RAW stress die with one that scales linearly, rather than exponentially. This means that exceedingly high results are unlikely, which is more appropriate for more ‘realistic’ or ‘gritty’ games, but would probably do a disservice to ‘high adventure’ or ‘fantastic’ games.
=== Characters ===
; Personality Traits and Flaws (Alteration) [p. 18]
: Treat Personality Traits granted by Flaws (or Virtues, Mysteries, or so on) more strictly, requiring rolls for them when applicable even for magi or companions, not just grogs . Consider a personality trait of a Minor Personality Flaw to be +3 (or -3, as appropriate), while a Major Flaw will grant +6.
Personality Traits generally have no mechanical impact on major characters by RAW, so this rule provides at least some mechanical impact to them. It also helps to elucidate the strength of a Major or Minor Personality Flaw in respect to other personality traits.
; Multiple Applicable Personality Traits (Alteration) [p. 18]
: Allow characters to roll two “opposed” personality traits to see which one wins (perhaps with modifiers to represent the circumstances). Allow one more personality trait roll following an SG-imposed roll to represent internal turmoil. For example, a guard might roll Loyal and Absent-minded against each other to see if he keeps guard, or having failed a Brave check might ask to roll Loyal to keep on fighting even though he is terrified (probably with penalties, representing his fearful demeanor).
This rule allows pious characters to resist temptation (by imposed Lust rolls, say) better, and so on.
; Recovering Confidence Points (Alteration) [p. 20]
: If a major character has less then three Confidence Points, he will regain this total in one Season. Point totals above three don’t reset to three; the character keeps the higher total. NPCs are always assumed to have three points, unless the storyguide decides otherwise.
This rule simplifies book-keeping and keeps characters with a baseline of Confidence Points for the next adventure, encouraging players to use them more.
; No Virtue and Flaw Limitations (Alteration) [p. 28, 37]
: You can take any combination of Virtues and Flaws that makes sense, as long as the troupe agrees it is not abusive. Every character should still get a Social Status. Magi still must take the Hermetic Magus social status, The Gift and a free House virtue.
: Characters still need to balance their virtues by flaws, but may take excess flaws (that don’t count) beyond 10, if they like. Grogs still may not take Story Flaws (they’re not main characters). Other characters may take more than one Story Flaw. All characters may take The Gift and Hermetic virtues and flaws, as many Minor Flaws as they like, and as many Personality Flaws (Minor or Major) as desired, and magi are not limited to only one Major Hermetic Virtue, nor must they take one Hermetic Flaw.
This rule simplifies character creation, and opens the possibility for more elaborate characters. All this freedom also allows one to create characters that are unsuited to their role (such as powerful grogs) or are effectively unbalanced (it’s doubtful whether multiple story flaws will really impact the plot, for example), so that the troupe should be especially vigilant to disallow any character that it feels will not serve the saga.
Because it opens the door to abuse, and because the limitations do make sense, this house rule is relatively rare.
; Alternative Free House Virtues (Alteration) [p. 30]
: Flambeau may gain other virtues in lieu of the RAW suggestions, to represent different fighting styles (see HoHS).
: Tremere magi may take the Skilled Parens virtue in lieu of the RAW suggestion, to represent the superior training the House ensures they receive; alternatively, they may retain the RAW Minor Magical Focus, but be allowed to take another Magical Focus in addition to it.
The RAW Flambeau virtues “lock” them into distinctive combat styles, but the House can afford a broader spectrum of warriors. This suggestion is given explicitly in HoHS, so is not detailed here.
The Tremere house virtue forbids them from having a magical focus, which is a serious handicap; the skilled parens virtue works better at reflecting how the House “takes care of its own”, while the alternative allows them to keep their advantage in certamen while not missing out on the powerful specialists a magical focus allows.
; Arts As Abilities (Alteration) [p. 31, 164]
: The cost of buying (or raising) an [[Art]] to a given score is the same as that of an [[Ability]] (5 XP to raise to score 1, and so on). In addition, make the following smaller changes:
: * Maximum Art scores at character generation follow the guidelines for maximum Ability scores at character generation.
: * In order to train an apprentice, you need a score of 2 (15 XP) in each Art (instead of the RAW score of 5 (15 XP)).
: * The highest Arts in the Order’s history were around 20. As a result, the highest Summa levels are 10. If an Art summa’s level is reduced from the author’s maximum, it still gains only +1 to Quality per lowered level. The Build Point cost of an Art Summa is (Quality + 3 x Level). The maximum quality is (11+(10-Level)).
: * You may write up to Art/2 of tractatus in the Art (instead of RAW Art/5).
: * Puissant Art grants a +2 bonus (instead of the RAW +3).
This simple rule greatly reduces the power of magi, bringing it more in-line with the implied setting. It can be complemented by a few other house rules; see [[Arts as Abilities]] for a more detailed discussion.
; More Required Starting Abilities (Alteration) [p. 32]
: In addition to the RAW requirements, magi must also have a score of 1 in Order of Hermes Lore and Code of Hermes. All characters must have a score of at least 1 in one Area Lore.
It makes in-setting sense for all magi to know something about the Order and the Code, and for all characters to be at least somewhat acquainted with some area. These requirements force characters to invest more XP in these Abilities, however, lowering the scores of other Abilities and Arts.
=== Virtues and Flaws ===
; Reversed Affinities (Alteration) [p. 40]
: An Affinity does not change the amount of gained XP. Instead, reduce the totals needed for each level to 2/3 their RAW values (no rounding).
This allows to keep track of XPs normally, without creating the strange effects caused by rounding. Having to calculate the required totals may be a bit of a hassle, however.
This rule is used by the Metacreator software.
; Fractional Affinities (Alteration) [p. 40]
: Instead of rounding up, keep the fractions when applying an affinity. Fractions don't count towards the gaining levels, as whole scores are required by the tables, but fractions add up from multiple seasons of study so that in total the virtue provides +50% to the XP total.
This is a simple way to eliminate the strange effects rounding up can have on advancement.
=== Abilities ===
; Changing Specializations (Addition) [p. 62]
: Whenever your score in an Ability increases, you may change its Specialization.
The RAW makes you select specializations, but does not offer any word on how to change them. This suggestion seems to be widely accepted. More lenient groups allow you to change specialization whenever you gain XP in the Ability.
=== Hermetic Magic ===
; Social Effect of the Gift (Alteration) [p. 76]
: The social effects of the Gift are greatly reduced. The Gift still imposes a -3 penalty to social interactions, but roleplaying-wise this is its only effect - generally the Gifted are treated as if they had no Gift under the “First Impressions” or “Established Relations” sections in the core rules. The Blatant Gift still upsets nearby animals, and may garner responses akin to those generated by Gifted characters under RAW.
This rule is heavily used by troupes seeking to have magi take a more prominent role interacting with mundanes. It lowers the effectiveness of many companions.
; No Magical Nourishment (Alteration) [p. 77]
: Magically created things do not nourish. As per the CrAq guidelines, water created temporarily does can quench thirst but has no lasting benefit. Food created temporarily from Herbam (as per the CrHe guidelines) and Animal has a similar limitation, quenching hunger but offering no lasting benefits. It particular, such food and drink does not stave off deprivation.
: While seeds (or cubs, or so on) can be made to magically-grow faster than usual, such magic is delicate and will tend to induce Warping in those who consume the produce. Only relatively minor coaxing, such as that provided by The Bountiful Feast, can circumvent this drawback.
: Things created by momentary Creo rituals are mundane, and as such can nourish and do not induce Warping, although they may bear the caster’s sigil.
The RAW says that magically created food is nourishing “for as long as the duration lasts”, which contradicts the Aquam and Herbam guidelines and is difficult to run in-game. Saying it doesn’t nourish is simplest to apply.
The second proviso is required to prevent exploitation of the RAW to create a lot of produce by repeatedly planting seeds, growing them instantly magically (using CrHe guidelines), and then harvesting the produce and repeating the process.
; Eternal Spirits (Alteration) [p. 80]
: Some things - such as souls - are truly eternal and cannot be destroyed by Hermetic magic (if at all). This includes ghosts, angels, most demons, titans, and many powerful magical spirits. (Some Merinita magi believe this applies to faerie gods as well, although others maintain that such gods can be destroyed, but only if they are entirely forgotten.) Such beings can be chained and bound, banished to the underworld, or even reduced in power (Might Score) - but never destroyed.
: Presumably direct Divine intervention can destroy any of these creatures, but generally even non-Hermetic magic cannot.
There is a reason the titans were bound, not destroyed. It also makes no sense for an Hermetic magus to permanently rid the world of demons, and it is boring and mean to let the ghosts of the deceased perish in the hands of the Perdo-Vim specialist instead of continuing in their afterlife. While most demons are lost souls or fallen angels, and as such eternal, demons such as corrupted beasts are more plausibly mortal.
This can be seen as a new Limit of Magic, perhaps the Limit of Destruction.
; Varied Casting Characteristic (Alteration) [p. 81]
: When casting a spell, the relevant characteristic in the Casting Total depends on the Technique (Cr: Com, In: Per, Per: Str, Mu: Dex and Re: Pre).
Stamina is one of the most useful physical characteristics, so removing it from the casting total somewhat balances the importance of different characteristics. It also removes the thematically-inappropriate result of its inclusion, namely that all magi become tough and stalwart. This rule instead encourages more "thematic" magi, as magi focusing on Creo will tend to be eloquent speakers, those focusing on Intellego will be perceptive, and so on.
; Props Needed for Ceremonies (Alteration) [p. 81, 83]
: Adding Artes Liberales and Philosophiae to a casting score (of a Ritual spell or through Ceremonial Casting) requires ‘elaborate rituals’, which is interpreted to imply props are required. These include mundane items such as chalk, candles, colored robes, incense, and perhaps items with appropriate shape and material bonuses. The magi are generally held to have the necessary items on their person, if the player chooses so, unless circumstances dictate otherwise. Circumstances may also make the application of such props impractical, denying the magus of the Abilities’ bonus to the casting score.
This is just a bit of flavor to give magi a reason to conduct colorful rituals, that “feel” like proper ritual magic should feel.
; Using Less Raw Vis (Alteration) [p. 81, 82]
: The limit on vis use in spellcasting is (Art/5) pawns. Up to two Arts (Technique and Form) can still contribute, so the limit is (Te+Fo)/5.
The RAW limit implies that the bonus from raw vis can amount to twice the Art total, allowing magi to wield spells and penetration well above what their Arts would allow, which diminishes the importance of the Arts themselves and raises the option of spending vast amounts of raw vis on each spell casting. In practice, the limit is so high that it is usually irrelevant, as magi will limit themselves due to the vis economy to below the limit. The suggested house rule lowers the penetration magi can obtain with raw vis, still allowing a boost of 2/5 of the Art total - a quantity that is significant but does not allow the magus to effectively ignore Magic Resistance with enough raw vis, and forbids the absurdity of throwing entire rooks of raw vis at the target.
This house rule implies that Rituals cannot be significantly boosted, as most of the vis limit will go to merely casting them. Indeed, it is theoretically possible for a magus to know a Ritual spell that he cannot cast, because he cannot handle the amounts of raw power required. Troupes may want to consider a lower limit, such as Art/3 or Art/2, to alleviate these possibilities.
; Raw Power is Unstable (Addition) [p. 82]
: When using raw vis to boost the spellcasting roll, the added power comes at the cost of less control. In addition to adding a botch dice, each pawn also adds a -3 (cumulative) penalty to any relevant Finesse rolls.
This is just thematically appropriate - pouring raw magic into the spell often means lack of fine control of it in fantasy fiction. It does mean that aimed spells cannot really be boosted with raw vis, however.
; Easy Concentration (Interpretation) [p. 82]
: Combat situations are generally stressing, but not distracting. It takes a surprising, attention-grabbing event to count as a distraction - a “sudden noise” might be a piece of a mountain suddenly tumbling down towards the combat area, not the usual clang of swords on armor. However, if the character has dodged or defended an attack, run or hustled, been hit (jostled), damaged, or knocked since its last turn - the character must make a Concentration roll.
By RAW, characters should make a Concentration roll if they are “distracted”, but it isn’t clear what this means. The table lists “[standing] still” as a condition - but surely there is nothing distracting about that! Should magi that are standing still make Concentration rolls with Ease Factor 0? Is the general mayham and noise of combat distracting? When a magical wolf is lunging at you, and is stopped by your shield grog dashing towards it just a few feet from you - is that distracting?
The above ruling is that magi are generally free of Concentration rolls, unless they are trying to both run (walking is allowed, on the grounds that it’s still trivial at EF 3) and cast, or they get tangled in the combat somehow - or when some truly distracting event occurs. In other words, they usually can forget about concentration rolls, and be concerned with just their spell casting rolls. It appears that this is the common ruling.
; Combat is Distracting (Interpretation) [p. 82]
: Combat is a distracting, attention-grabbing activity. Spell casting in combat requires a Concentration roll. The EF can be low if the magus is unhindered, but if he is attacked - even if this attack is blocked by shield grogs or other defenses - the EF is 9 at least (as sudden noise). Key events like a fellow-magus or valued companion going down or a giant monster rising (since your last turn) are likewise EF 9 distractions.
This is the opposite ruling. It makes Concentration much more important as an Ability, and greatly increases the chances for botching or failing to cast spells in combat.
; No Penetration Multiplier for an Arcane Connection (Alteration) [p. 84]
: An arcane connection does not provide a penetration multiplier. It still allows the magus to utilize sympathetic connections to accumulate penetration multipliers.
Without this house rule, arcane and sympathetic connections can increase penetration by large amounts surprisingly easily. For example, a lock of hair, birth name, nick name, and birth date plus some astrology become a x8 multiplier, which with penetration 4 and specialty means +40 to penetration - which is often more than enough. Arcane connections are useful enough without allowing the magus to effectively ignore Magic Resistance by multiplying the Penetration Ability. Let the magi create stories to increase penetration - accumulating sympathetic connections.
Under this house rule, a [[True Name]] should count both as an arcane connection and as a powerful (+2) sympathetic connection.
; No Arcane Connection for Sympathetic Connection (Alteration) [p. 84]
: Sympathetic connections can be used to increase penetration without needing an arcane connection to activate them.
This is just thematically appropriate. Having learned the magus’ birth name and date, his rival can now affect him more easily - he need not acquire a lock of hair, too, to do so. However, this house rule also means that magi and hedge wizards will make much more use of sympathetic connections, which may drive penetration upwards and create paranoia among magi in regards to relevant details (such as birth name).
; Suppressing Magic Resistance (Alteration) [p. 85]
: Magic resistance suppresses magic, preventing it from affecting the maga, her clothing, and other items that are very close to her. It does not dispel the magic, but does prevent it from having an affect.
This house rule means that a magus can give a faerie lord poison changed into wine, and thus poison the faerie. He can throw a boulder changed into a pebble at a magical wolf, and have it hit him as a boulder. It turns Magic Resistance to a liability rather than an asset, in some circumstances. However, it does mean that the dreaded "pink dot problem" is averted. See [[Magic resistance design]] for further discussion.
; Hybrid Magic Resistance (Alteration) [p. 85]
: Magic resistance suppresses weak magic, but repels strong magic. Magic up to level 10 is suppressed (as above), but higher-level spells and effects are blocked (as per RAW).
This rule is designed to deal with the pink-dot problem while still blocking significant magic, magic that can have significant effect. It is somewhat strange that weak spells won't be blocked where strong ones are, however, and doubtless low-level effects could be invented to exploit the loophole it creates by allowing a range of suppressing magic resistance.
; Casting Mastered Ritual Spells (Interpretation) [p. 86]
: If you have Mastered a ritual spell, it is cast with no botch dice unless the circumstances are stressful (such as in combat).
This interpretation allows magi to more safely cast Aegis of the Hearth, The Bountiful Feast, and other ritual spells, which seems to fit the setting better.
The interpretative question is raised by ambiguous text in the core book: on p. 81 it says of Ritual magic that “The magnitude of Ritual spells, and the need to incorporate many elements, mean that they are always cast using a stress die”; and on p. 86 on mastered spells that “if the maga is relaxed there are no botch dice”. It isn’t clear whether, in the first quote, the intention is that casting a Ritual is always stressful, which would “mean” not only that stress die are needed but that mastery cannot automatically eliminate them; or whether the intention is merely to give flavor to the rule that a stress die is always used, in which case relaxed casting of Ritual spells is possible, which implies no botch die if the spell is mastered. The suggested interpretation takes the latter possibility. If the former is taken, Rituals become much more dangerous (note that spell mastery would still reduce botch dice, however).
; Free Ceremonial Casting Mastery (Alteration) [p. 87]
: All magi have access to the Ceremonial Casting special ability (see Houses of Hermes: True Lineages). In addition, the Mercurian Magic virtue allows the magus to ceremoniously cast any formulaic spell that he knows (regardless of spell mastery).
This popular house rule allows magi a bit of extra power, but feels appropriate and provides another useful spell mastery special ability to choose from.
Its second part increases the power of the Mercurian Magic virtue, but as it is considered a weak Major Hermetic Virtue this isn't too bad, and casting spells ceremoniously fits well thematically with Mercurian magic.
; Weak Multicast Stacking (Alteration) [p. 87]
: The “Multicasting” special ability still allows you to cast extra copies of the spell. However, if two or more copies are used to hit the same target the effect is increased but not doubled; add a “magnitude” of increased effect per extra copy. For example, two Balls of Abysmal Flame will not produce two +30 damage rolls, but rather one +35 damage roll.
RAW multicasting allows a magus to double his damage output (or triple it!) with the investment of a few Seasons to gain the required XP. This house rule still allows the magus to multiply his effectiveness in some circumstances (such as firing at multiple opponents), but greatly reduces the effectiveness of this tactic against solo opponents (which are often the primary foes in Ars Magica adventures).
; Weaker Multiple Casting (Alteration) [p. 87]
: When multicasting, don’t roll separately for each spell cast. Instead, make one casting roll. You may divide your casting total between the different copies. For example, suppose you want to multicast Pilum of Fire (CrIg 15), and roll a casting total of 20. You may cast one spell with an effective casting total of 15, producing a Pilum with zero penetration, and another with a casting total of 5, requiring an expenditure of Fatigue to cast.
This rule greatly diminishes the usefulness of multicasting, especially against opponents with high magic resistance.
; Extended Mastery Special Abilities (Addition) [p. 87]
: Allow all magi to learn the spell mastery special abilities reserved, in the [[Houses of Hermes: True Lineages]] book, to the [[Cult of Mercury]].
This opens up a few more interesting options for spell mastery, such as Ceremonial Casting, which makes the game more varied and interesting. While the Cult of Mercury loses some power, it shouldn’t affect it much if it is in your saga at all.
; Twilight Time Override (Alteration) [p. 88]
: The SG may, at his whim, ignore the dice result for the time spent in Temporary Twilight, and announce that the result is actually some lower time.
Temporary twilight can take magi out of an adventure or even the saga, or mess-up the troupe’s chances of finishing the adventure or the SG’s carefully laid plans. This rule gives the SG more control over the character’s presence in the storyline.
; Safe Twilight Control (Alteration) [p. 88]
: During this time it takes to avoid entering Twilight, the magus is effectively in Temporary Twilight and cannot be affected by any means.
RAW maintains that it takes 2 minutes to avoid entering Twilight. During this time the magus is vulnerable, which creates tension about whether or not to avoid Twilight. This option removes this tension, but also means magi would be more likely to actually try to avoid entering Twilight in the midst of combat. Whether that is a good thing is up to the troupe to decide.
; Certamen [p. 89]
; Changed Faerie Parameters (Alteration) [p. 92]
: The special spell parameters allowed for Faerie Magic are altered as follows:
: * Bargain costs no extra magnitudes. Instead, spells with this duration have +10 to their penetration.
The idea is to make bargains easier to enforce than corresponding curses, not harder. That spells specifically need to be designed as Bargain-spells is deterrent enough for using this ‘duration’.
: * Fire duration is replaced with Midnight/Midday from HoHMC.
Faerie stories with magic that ends at midnight are famous; magic that ends when a candle is extinguished or so on is less associated with faeries, and can be simulated with the Until duration anyway.
: * Until duration does not require a Ritual, although it does require raw vis as a Ritual spell would. The ending condition must be appropriate (as ruled by the SG), and the spell also expires if the magus enters any Realm of Power (but not a regio). Instead of being impervious to dispelling, the spell is twice as difficult to dispel as a normal spell of that level would be.
This allows faerie curses to be cast using this duration, something a Ritual-long casting is not thematically appropriate for. Restricting the ending condition is needed to avoid munchkinism. That the spell expires when the magus is in a different Realm sits well with it expiring during Wizard’s Twilight. And reducing the immunity to dispelling is needed for game balance.
; Extended Vis Limit (Alteration) [p. 94]
: The limit on raw vis use is (Magic Theory x 3) pawns per Season.
This change allows magi to have more elaborate magic items and talismans, and reduces high Magic Theory scores, which are arguably already rewarded too heavily in the rules.
=== Laboratory ===
; Easy New Shape and Material Bonuses (Interpretation) [p. 97, 110]
: Treat the table of Shape and Material bonuses as suggestions, rather than an exhaustive list. The troupe should feel free to add to it new items and associated bonuses, which all magi are assumed to know as part of Magic Theory.
It makes little sense that using, say, a dragon’s scale will not yield some appropriate Material bonus. This rule allows the group to be more creative in designing items, but also opens the door to abuse.
Note that the mystery of Vulgar Alchemy in The Mysteries Revised Edition offers a different, extremely difficult, way to acquire new Shape & Material bonuses. If you use this mystery, this house rule should not be used, and instead the list - plus perhaps additions to it offered in the various supplements - should be seen as exhaustive.
; Limited Penetration Effect Modification (Alteration) [p. 99]
: The penetration of a magic item is limited to at most the (Penetration Ability x 4) of its maker. Alternatively, limit it to the (Lab Total/4).
This rule keeps the penetration of magic items low, keeping magi in the spotlight when dealing with high-Might (or high-Parma) opponents.
; Sympathetic Magical Items (Addition) [p. 99]
: A magic item incorporating a fixed arcane connection may utilize sympathetic connections to increase the item’s penetration. The sympathetic connection must also be part of the item. For example, a rough doll of a person (a quick-and-dirty representation) incorporating a (fixed) lock of his hair, stuffed with a scroll containing his birth name and nativity horoscope, would provide a +8 bonus (+4 arcane connection, +1 crude representation, +1 birth name, +2 nativity horoscope).
: The (bonus x Penetration Ability) of the item’s maker is added to the item’s penetration against the intended target. If the above “Limited Penetration Effect Modification” house rule is used, add the (bonus x Penetration Ability) to the limit on the item’s penetration instead.
This option allows one to construct items against particular opponents, which is more colorful than making generic ones.
; Heirloom Magical Items (Interpretation) [p. 99]
: When using the “Linked Trigger” option to limit the item’s use for a specific group of people, such as “the rightful King of England” or “My designated heir, and all the following rightful heirs down my line”, a catch-all spell guideline is InVi 10; the metaphysical status of the target (rightful heir, citizen of a particular city, member of a certain bloodline, or so on) is considered as the “trace of powerful magic” for these purposes.
The RAW suggests using linked-trigger for such purposes (under “Effect Use”), but does not say how this can be done. This is a suggestion.
; Familiars as Grogs or Companions (Interpretation) [p. 104]
: Familiars should be constructed as Magical Animal characters as per the [[Realms of Power: Magic]] book. They should have the power level of a Grog character if they are played by the same player as the magus, or may be a Companion character if another player agrees to play the familiar as his companion character. The saga’s power level (Legendary, standard...) is set by the saga as a whole.
This rule standardizes the statistics of familiars to some degree. Using RoPM rules is rather complicated, however, and still allows for much freedom that can be abused. Troupes may prefer to simply create familiar statistics that “feel” right.
; RAW Familiar Advancement (Interpretation) [p. 105]
: Familiars can advance (gain XP) just like normal characters, gaining Quality XP from reading books or so on.
This appears to be the intention of the RAW, as per “Familiars can learn Abilities in the same way as humans”.
; Simple Familiar Advancement (Interpretation) [p. 105]
: Familiars cannot independently advance (gain XP) like normal characters. Instead, a familiar is assumed to share the Ability scores of his master.
This appears to be close to the intention of the RAW, as per “Over the years, your familiar learns what you know, provided that you keep the familiar with you when you study and that you share your knowledge with it”. This house rules simplifies the process and removes much book-keeping, eliminating the need to keep track of the familiar’s actions as a separate character, and avoid the awkward situation where familiars tend to develop a keen interest in learning Magic Theory.
Note that the RAW itself makes little sense here, as characters generally don’t learn what the other does even if they live closely; combined with what the rest of the rules on familiars say, this appears to be a bit of color that makes little sense and does not really remove the need to keep track of familiars season-by-season.
; RoPM Familiar Advancement (Interpretation) [p. 105]
: Familiars can gain XP in the same way as other Magical creatures, as per the Realms of Power: Magic rules. This effectively means that XP gains are lowered by Might, although this penalty can be alleviated.
This is the most complicated familiar advancement alternative, but it is also the most consistent with the rest of the rules (as expanded by RoPM).
; Filial Familiar Advancement (Alteration) [p. 105]
: Familiars learn from their magus (teaching or training) without penalty. They learn from any other source quality with a might penalty, as per RoP:M but with the following adjustment: The effective might of the creature is reduced by 3x silver cord strength for calculating the source quality penalty.
This rule enhances the familiar-magus connection and the importance of the silver cord. The latter part means that low-Might familiars can advance quickly. For example, a Might 10 familiar with a silver cord strength of 3 would have a quality penalty of 1 - meaning they would start earning exposure xp.
; Experiment with Learning from Raw Vis (Addition) [p. 107]
: You can experiment while learning from raw vis (p. 165) in the lab. The experimentation adds the experimental dice + risk factor to the source quality. Side and Modified effects generally count as No Extraordinary Effect, unless you have a good idea on how to apply them to the specific circumstances.
This rule encourages learning from raw vis, as it increases the Quality. It means that magi that want to push and learn fast from raw power also run higher risks of disaster and setbacks. It feels right that experimentation should apply to learning from vis, and this rule provides another avenue for risk-loving magi to express that aspect of their character..
=== Spells ===
; Outer Realm Immunity (Alteration) [p. 111]
: A being must actually be present in the world to be affected by magic. It is impossible to affect a being in a Realm of Power except by facing it in the Realm itself. Some beings - such as saints, archangels, faerie gods, daimons, demonic princes, and so on - can send aspects to the world while still residing in their Realm of Power. These aspects can be faced in this world, but that generally has no effect on the being itself.
: Mysteries may allow one to reach into a Realm of Power to a limited degree. The mystery of Hermetic Theurgy, for example, allows one to invent Ritual spells to contact daimons in the Magic Realm (see The Mysteries Revised Edition).
In addition to feeling “right”, this has the benefit of keeping the setting more stable by protecting the supernatural powers-that-be from Hermetic interference. It also leads to interesting stories as such a being makes for an excellent recurring villain, through different aspects, with an interesting “lair” (the Realm of Power) where he can be ultimately confronted and defeated.
This rule demeans the Limit of the Lunar Sphere, as now not just stars (part of the Magic Realm) and angels (the Divine) but also some magical spirits, faeries and demons are beyond Hermetic reach.
It also means that knowing the [[True Name]] of an angel or demon is usually pointless; it will only affect the angel if it happens to be in the world. Mysteries may allow one to affect other beings, however. The [[Summoning]] mystery (and [[Goetic Art]]) may allow one to use True Names to summon demons from hell using Rego magic, for example - like daimons, however, infernal princes should send aspects while keeping themselves safely in their Realm of Power.
; Limited Voice Range for Independent Magic Items (Interpretation) [p. 112]
: Independent magic items that are given a voice for use with the Voice range can only affect things up to the normal (up to 50 paces with a loud noise) limit.
This is maintained so that an independently-playing drum will not be superior to one played by a character.
; Confining Rings (Interpretation) [p. 112]
: The Ring duration can only be applied to what is within the ring at the time of casting, or created within the ring or brought there by the spell. For example, one can cast a Ring-duration CrIg spell to create an eternal light source, or a ReMe spell can summon a ghost into a ring and bind it there.
Without this simple interpretation, players can devise spells that affect targets outside the ring, effectively yielding a permanent duration for free. Disallowing creating or moving things into the a Ring will reduce the power and options of magi, which is an option the troupe might want to consider but was not adopted in this house rule.
; Rings Are On The Ground (Alteration) [p. 112]
: Rings may only be drawn on the ground, or a similar flat large surface (such as a stone slab, or a ship’s deck). Upturning the ring horizontally (or to a significant degree) is considered breaking it.
This option removes a lot of mobile-rings and horizontal rings, which are heavily used in canon, but has a better “feel” to it, for some troupes at least.
; Physically-Broken Rings (Interpretation) [p. 112]
: A ring is a material item, that needs to be physically broken for the ring duration to fail. For a thin line of chalk, smudging it will do; for a metal-inlaid ring, hammers may need to be applied.
This appears to be the intention of the RAW.
; Easily-Broken Circles (Interpretation) [p. 112]
: If so much as a leaf falls on a Circle defining a Ring-duration or Circle-target, disrupting its continuity, the spell is broken.
While this has a nice feel to it, it makes the ring duration very unstable and unreliable.
; No Covered Rings (Alteration) [p. 112]
: Rings must be visible to be effective. Rings covered so that they are no longer visible are effectively broken.
This option means that a Ring cannot be covered by dirt, to leave traps or other permanent magical effects that function without seeming cause. While removing some munchkin options, it also makes breaking rings much easier.
; Casting Circles (Interpretation) [p. 112]
: The targets of a spell with the Circle target must be within the circle’s area as the spell is being cast. Things moving into the circle later are not affected by the spell. Affected targets can move outside the spell, without breaking the spell.
The RAW only state that “The spell affects everything within a circle drawn by the magus at the time of casting” - is the circle drawn at the time of casting, or must the targets be there at the time of casting? This house rule chooses the latter option, reasoning that it would make no sense to emphasize that the circle must be drawn at casting.
; Active Circles (Interpretation) [p. 112]
: The targets of a spell with the Circle target are all valid targets within the Circle, regardless of when they entered the circle. Things moving into the Circle are affected by the spell, and things moving out of it are no longer under its affect (until they return).
This takes the opposite interpretation of the RAW. Note that this interpretation is supported by the ward spells in the core book (which are the only ones using the Circle target), as the warded target must remain within the Circle to keep being warded... but that can be interpreted as due to the Ring duration.
; Wards Need Not Penetrate (Alteration) [p. 114]
: Wards against creatures of Might created with the standard parameters (R: Touch, D: Ring, T: Circle) need not penetrate to function. Instead, wards work automatically as long as long as the warded Might is lower than the spell level, as indicated in the spell guidelines.
This rule means that it is now easier to ward against creatures than to vanquish them, which has a better feel to it.
; Extending Mundane Wards (Alteration) [p. 114]
: All spell guidelines including wards against creatures of Might are deleted. Instead, wards affect creatures of Might by affecting such mundane creatures and adding penetration. Spells must still ward only against one Realm (although they also ward against the mundane creatures of the appropriate kind).
: For example, Protecus wants to invent a ward to protect him from a Might 30 dragon. He invents a Circle of Magical Beast Warding - a Circle of Beast Warding aligned to affect creatures of Magic. Casting it with a penetration of 30 would allow him to ward off the dragon. The spell affects any mundane or Magical animal, as long as it penetrates.
: The base level for warding differs by Form: Animal 2, Aquam 5, Auram 10, Corpus 15, Herbam 15, Ignem 10, Imaginem 10, Mentem 5 (control a disembodied spirit), Terram (dirt) 5, Vim 15 (applies to all Realm-aligned creatures, regardless of their Form).
This is a simple way to make wards easier than killing, while bringing more consistency to the rules. Note that the casting totals required can still be higher than the RAW ward spell levels, however. To ward against a Might 20 human would require a level 15 spell with 20 penetration, for a casting total of 35 as opposed to the RAW spell level 20 and penetration 20 for a casting total of 40. Under the “Wards Need Not Penetrate” house rule, a spell level of 20 with 0 penetration for a casting total of 20 would have sufficed.
Some of the above guidelines levels are in the RAW, but others are invented and you may want to change them or to commit to a single standard level across all Forms.
; Ubiquitous Nonstandard Spell Parameters (Interpretation) [p. 114]
: As the text on p. 114 indicates, it is possible to create Formulaic or Ritual spells not complying with the standard spell parameters, and the cost is judged to be +1 magnitude above the closest category. It is impossible to devise spell parameters more powerful than the highest category, and if the closest category would require a Ritual then so does the non-standard category.
: For example, a spell affecting an area up to 15 feet ahead of the wizard will be equivalent to Voice range, and thus cost +3 magnitudes. A spell affecting an area 300 paces around the magus would be similar to a Boundary target, and thus require +4 magnitudes and the spell must be a Ritual.
The RAW speaks only about Formulaic spells being allowed non-standard spell parameters, but the text implies Ritual spells should also be allowed this benefit. Despite the text’s encouragement, in practice virtually all spells in canon adhere to the standard spell parameters and new parameters are defined and used solely through Mysteries, so that the actual rule in effect seems to be that no non-standard spell parameters are allowed. This rule/interpretation, in a way, reverts back to the RAW.
Note that Mysteries opening up new spell parameters are still generally useful for providing ones at a lower cost (such as Midday at a cost identical to Sun), or ones not otherwise reasonably accessible (such a the Until duration).
; Inefficient Magical Creature Creation (Alteration) [p. 116]
: When permanently creating creatures of Might with magic, such as by using the CrAn level 50 guideline with a Momentary-duration Creo spell, the created creatures always have less raw vis in them than the raw vis required to create them. Creatures should be considered to have Might/5 pawns of raw vis.
For example, a level-65 spell to permanently create 10 magical ponies (CrAn(Vi) 65 Ritual; B50, +1 Touch, +2 Group) requires 13 pawns of raw vis, so only up to ten Might 5 creatures are allowed (as opposed to the RAW allowing ten creatures of Might 65 each); the same spell design could be used to create 6 Might 10 creatures, or so on.
This rule is obviously needed to prevent magi from creating creatures and then harvesting them for vis, as a sort of vis-creating factory. Many troupes, however, would be content to simply disallow such practices as part of the “game contract”, and leave the magi with more powerful creature-creating magic.
; Gradual Might Stripping (Alteration) [p. 160]
: Spells that reduce the Might of a creature first reduce the Might Pool; only once all Might Points are reduced is the Might Score reduced. Note that might-score stripping also reduces the raw vis that can be gathered, if any.
The problem is that low-level Might-stripping spells are too powerful, especially when multiple-cast. A 5-level spell will usually have only a cosmetic effect on a target; a level-5 might stripping spell by RAW reduces the target’s Magic Resistance, and possibly Might Pool and penetration, which is significant. A single round of multiple-cast level-5 might strippers can reduce this by 15 or so, which is often enough to decide the fight with the next spell. This rule forces magi to drain power from their victims more gradually, which largely eliminates this combat strategy.
; Might Soak (Alteration) [p.160]
: When affected by a might stripper, the spell's efficiency is reduced by x times [Target's Might Score/5], where x may be defined by each troupe to have might strippers be more or less efficient. For example, if Might Strippers are reduced by 3*[Might Score/5], a demon with Might 10 will only lose 8 points from 2 multicast lvl 10 might stripper [2*(10 - 3*10/5)].
This means that creatures are harder to destroy with might strippers than by the RAW. This achieves the same effect that soak as to protect your dragon from low-level CrIg spells. More importantly, this goes against the tendency to have destroying a creature easier to ward against it.
For example, by RAW, warding against a Might 20 creature requires a lvl 20 spell with penetration 20. But 2 multicast lvl 10 spell with pen 20 will make short work of it (1 round to deprive it of its might pool and most of its powers, another round to kill it). With a might soak of 3*(Might/5), these become useless. A lvl 20 DEO, comparable in power to a circle ward and multicast twice per round, would drain 16 might points per round, and kill the creature in 3 turns (instead of 1 per the RAW).
; Reducing Might Does Not Kill (Alteration) [p. 160]
: Reducing the Might Score of a being to zero does not kill it - it merely leaves it with no supernatural powers that cost Might points, and with zero penetration with such powers. The reduced creature may regain its Might in time.
: Aspects of creatures are magical constructs, and will be destroyed completely if drained of all Might Score. This includes aspects of daimons, archangels, and so on.
If might-stripping is allowed to kill, then magi could quickly and permanently dispatch ghosts or demons, destroy titans that the faerie gods themselves could only imprison, and so on. Forcing more subtle ways to deal with these beings makes the game-world more interesting. A Might-reduced dragon can still be dispatched by-hand (or by a Pilum of Fire).
=== Long-Term Events ===
; Limit on Virtues and Advancement (Alteration) [p. 163]
: A character can only gain a benefit from a single virtue increasing an Advancement Total. If several virtues apply, the player can choose which benefits. For example, if a character with an Affinity in Terram that also is a Book Learner reads a book on Terram, the player can choose whether to apply the affinity or the book-learner virtue, but cannot apply both.
This rule curtails exploitation of multiple virtues to substantially increase advancement totals beyond what the rules and setting expect, which can send Art (and Ability) scores very high in a long saga. This is only rarely a problem in-game, however, so many troupes forgo this house rule and choose instead to let characters enjoy the benefits of as many virtues as apply.
; Automatic Area Lore (Alteration) [p. 163]
: In addition to any other experience source, you also gain 2 XP per year in your local (Area) Lore, such as (Covenant) Lore, until you reach a score of 2 (15 XP) in that lore. You may start the game with up to two (Area) Lore abilities at score 2 (15 XP) for free; typically your (Village/City) Lore and (Master’s-Covenant) Lore.
This rule encourages some verisimilitude in that characters gain the Abilities to represent basic knowledge of their surroundings. The extra XP are free because forcing characters to invest XP in increasing Area Lore diminishes their already limited Ability lists.
; Writing On Magic (Alteration) [p. 164]
: Books on magic are minor magic items, not mere collections of words. They must be written on “resonant materials”, woven into a book through minor magics. As a result, only magi may write or copy books on magic. This includes books on Arts, as well as Parma Magica and any Supernatural or Arcane Ability (note that non-Hermetic wizards may also write books in a similar manner). This also includes writing or copying lab texts so that they would be readable to others.
Without this house rule, copying books plausibly becomes the business of a cadre of covenfolk trained in Magic Theory to rudimentary levels, which makes a robust book-trade and easily-obtained books extremely hard to plausibly avoid. With this house rule, magi need to copy books themselves, which opens the way to adventures en route or on locale and much more negotiation and bargaining to obtain books.
=== Obstacles ===
; Static Defense Totals (Alteration) [p. 171]
: Character’s Defense total is not rolled; instead of a Stress Die, add +6 to the total. This means that (aside from Initiative), only the attacker rolls in combat: his Attack roll is compared to a static Defense and, if needed Soak.
Static defense makes combats faster and easier, but also means that there is less chance of botch and that player characters can’t hope to evade an enemy strike with a successful dice throw or some Confidence.
; Players Throw All The Dice (Alteration) [p.171]
: Players roll all the dice in combat. They throw their own Attack rolls, and their own Defense rolls. NPCs use a typical (6) dice result instead, with no chance of extraordinary success. At the SG’s discretion, he may still check for botch.
This house rule makes NPCs somewhat less dangerous and combats against them feel more under the player’s “control” as they throw the dice. Some SGs find it makes it easier to run the game, while some find it makes it more clumsy. A lack of botch risk for NPCs, however, would be a definite advantage, so especially when multiple botch dice are applicable the SG should roll to check for botches.
; Clockwork Initiative (Alteration) [p. 171]
: Initiative is rolled whenever a character has to act or react, to determine how long it takes him to do so. It is measured in Ticks, so that EF 3 is four ticks, EF 6 is three ticks, EF 9 is two ticks, and EF 12 is one tick. A botch or zero is six ticks (in addition to any botch effects), and outstanding success (EF 15 or more achieved due to a “1” on the initial stress dice roll) allows the character to act ahead of everyone else on its tick. Otherwise, characters on the same tick act simultaneously.
: Whenever a character wants to act (or react), have it roll initiative. Add the resulting number of ticks to the current tick count; this is the tick number the character acts on. It is recommended to use a pie-chart “slices” on it, and put tokens on the slices to represent the current tick and when each character will act. A character can always change its intended action before it arrived, choosing another and throwing initiative to add ticks from the current count.
: Under this system, a Fast-Cast spontaneous or mastered formulaic spell has a “Weapon Initiative Modifier” of +6, while a normal spontaneous or formulaic spell has a modifier of +0.
: If movement is required, a rule of thumb is to add one tick per (10+Athletics+Quickness) paces. Exceptionally large or small size can multiply this distance; double it for Size +4, and half it for Size -4.
: The Weapon Initiative Modifiers need to be changed for this house rule to work properly. Adopt the following modifiers: all Brawl weapons at +6 except Bludgeon and Kick at +3; all Single Weapon are +3 except Short Sword at +6; all Great Weapon are +0 except the Great Sword and Warhammer which are -3, and the Staff which is +3; all Missile weapons are +3, except for a Sling at +0, Long Bow at +1, and Short Bow at +2.
: Each character is limited to one reaction (reroll of initiative) per tick.
This rule produces more dynamic combat and integrates fast-casting well, but also makes combat more complicated and can be hard to implement in Ars Magica’s rather abstract combat system, especially when movement is considered. It also tends to mean that warriors with high Quickness and utilizing fast weapons (such as the shortsword) will dominate combat, making an attack every tick while the more ponderous warriors may strike once every three ticks or so.
; Declarative Initiative (Alteration) [p. 171]
: Roll initiative each round. The character with the lowest roll declares his actions first, followed by the next highest and so on. Apply weapon modifiers to the rolls, but allow a character to change his weapon after seeing what another character is doing, provided his new weapon initiative modifier still keeps him above the other character’s initiative total. Resolve actions in the opposite order, from the highest initiative to the lowest.
: Under this house rule, fast-casting has a +6 modifier. A character choosing to fast-cast still retains his normal action. No more than one formulaic fast-cast spell is allowed per round.
This rule allows fast characters to observe what others are doing and act accordingly, and to act before said characters. This can lead to more realistic and dynamic combat sequences. It is often a hussle to run combat like this, however.
; Simultaneous Initiative (Alteration) [p. 171]
: All actions in a round are resolved simultaneously. Do not roll initiative; instead, each character declares his intended actions, and may roll to resolve them immediately. A magus may fast-cast in response to any declared action, before it is resolved. Once all actions have been declared, the SG resolves them all simultaneously for the entire round. If he feels they are needed, he may make initiative rolls to resolve conflicts; in particular, they are used to see whether fast-casting was fast enough.
: In the first round, if one side is surprised (not ready for combat), only the attacking side gets to act. The second and following rounds proceed as normal.
This rule makes running play-by-posts easier, but its application can be tricky and it diminishes the importance of Quickness and high initiative totals.
; Limited Missile Range (Alteration) [p. 172]
: Missile weapons have a maximum range of ten range increments. Missiles cannot be shot beyond this range, regardless of accuracy.
Without such a ruling, the range of missile weapons is unlimited. Setting the limit at ten range increments does not necessarily work too realistically for most weapons, but it is a simple rule that arguably works for the long-bow (at 300 yards). Since maximum range is typically only important for shooting volleys of arrows at any army or similar circumstances, working for bows and keeping the rule simple is probably good enough.
; Difficult Longbow Attack (Alteration) [p. 177]
: Change the Long Bow Attack Modifier to -3. Change the Damage modifier to +15.
Long bows are hard to use, requiring years of training to use effectively. But they carry a strong punch when they do hit. These statistics represent that better, by lowering the attack bonus and raising the damage bonus by the same amount so that the damage on a hit is not lowered (it is already high, so adding to it further is not necessary).
; Wounds & Study (Alteration) [p. 179]
: A wound penalty of -3 to -5 endured for a month or more reduces your advancement totals to 2/3 [instead of the RAW 1/2], as if you’ve been distracted for a month (ArM5 p. 165).
Without this house rule, being ‘distracted’ for a month (by, say, sitting down and doing no work) delays you less than carrying on studying during that month.
=== Bestiary ===
; High Magic Resistance (Alteration) [p. 184, 191]
: Increase the Magic Resistance against Hermetic Magic granted by Might to (3 x Might Score).
This change is necessary to make creatures of Might really resist Hermetic magic as the flavor text suggests they should. Because non-Hermetic magic has very low penetration, the RAW MR can be maintained against such magic.
Note that MR is affected by aura. You may want to triple the effect of the aura as well, to keep this modifier meaningful. This would mean, however, that Penetration and Resistance will not affected symmetrically, which can have weird effects. For example, a magus facing a creature with Magic Might creature in a Magic Aura of 3 will have his Penetration boosted by +3 but the creature’s MR will be boosted by +9, so that magi will find it harder to affect Magical creatures in magical auras!