As a Major Hermetic Virtue (of which you can have only one) , the in-game mechanics seem undervalued , or YSMV.
All other Major Hermetic Virtues appear to have clearly defined uses that are not saga-dependent.
Just wondering if people have used any extras for players who take this virtue ,
or if they have any suggestions as to some other possible benefit.
My choice is possibly a 3 favoured social abilities option at character generation only.
Choose 3 social abilities , which you can buy at the same cost as Arts.
Limit is still 05 or 07 with an affinity.
Alternatively , a virtue similar to Linguist (page 25 , HoH: TL) ,
that gives you a 25% increase in xp at character generation and 25% bonus to Study Totals later.
Linguist covers all languages Living and Dead and can be stacked with Affinity (Language).
So this would a minor virtue that covers 3 social abilities only.
Bargain , Carouse , Charm , Etiquette , Folk Ken , Guile , Intrigue , Leadership , Teaching and possibly Animal Ken.
Secondary Insight only applies to xp gained through study, not through adventure, so to take max advantage you need to be a lab rat.
There's little point to Ways of the Forest if you're living in, say, Palermo.
Gentle Gift is really, really useful if you're a character who relies on the ability to go incognito, to blend into a crowd or to operate and and control mundane agents as a primary goal.
Someone with Gentle Gift, Subtle and two quiet magic virtues, and with strong Mentem or Intellego, makes a superb master-agent or ambassador for a covenanent. It also makes it easier for him/her to use other people as his tools in face-offs with his foes.
You've already laid out the benefit: Gentle Gift gives a magus a +3 advantage on ALL SOCIAL ROLLS with all non-magi, compared to the rolls of other magi. That's huge. In fact, to my mind, its the most useful of the Major Virtues. Any further buffing would be way, way too powerful.
If you have a magi that doesn't interact much with mundanes, and they have the gentle gift, then they're presumably wasting it. On the other hand someone who often has to interact with mundanes it's a godsend (maybe literally ). While it would not be impossible for a Tytalus agent or a Jerbiton envoy to operate with the gentle gift having this virtue seems to be a substantial benefit as is.
If a player takes the virtual I expect they'd try and put themselves into situations where they benefit from it. However if the saga doesn't allow this for some reason I don't see any reason not to give them a bit of a boost.
I'm happy with The Gentle Gift as is , because i play the effects of The Gift fairly strictly by the flavour text in the rules (page 76).
I don't treat the -03 penalty as something that can easily be negated with high social ability rolls , short of ReMe spells (or other).
Just that one of my players asked if there was any other possible benefit with taking it.
I said i would see what the board consensus was.
Playing strictly by the flavor text should provide more than enough reason for anyone in a saga that involves a fair amount of mundane interaction. I even take it one step further and have the suspicion caused by the gift eventually undermine most attempts to magically influence peoples opinion the Gifted.
"Hmm, I wonder why I always get a good feeling about this guy after he looks at me like that? He must be up to something maybe he's a witch."
Mechanically there is a fairly good bonus for covenant loyalty if you use the expanded loyalty rules from covenants.
Since the Gift can'be overcome by magic, you can use magic to "look" more charming. But you will remain gifted, and I play it this way:
A blatant gifted magus get 30+ on his charm roll with a peasant... Act: "This man is charming. Yes it's true. But he has that smile. It's not a real smile. He must be faking it. He is without any doubt an agent of the Devil. He will try to get my soul. I will pretend to do what he wants, but I will do the opposite or answer false truths. He wants to know about our priest which is in the next village since several weeks (two in facts ^^)..."
You asked me if there was any priest called JeanPaul in this village?
That's it, answer the magus, with a smile
Oh yes, there was one. He is in a travel. I don't know when he will come back, it has been several weeks..."
If you use magic to have answers (ReMe, InMe), you will have more direct answers... but that won't get ou any good from the people. They aren't aware that you actually used magic, but they know you certainly would without doubt since you are an infamous bitch, murderer, rapist or whatever is suitable to your gift's in this area. And if you are blatantly gifted, you are just a walking target for appels, ires...
Gentle gift avoid all this. You are the nice neighbour, even with 3 in charm.
I mostly disagree with Exarkun. If a character's Charm roll is 30+, even Blatant Gift will not prevent the target from being utterly charmed. That does not negate the effects of the Gift - one still appears a person not to be trusted and who does not deserve one's position etc. But with a roll of 30+ one will look a terribly charming scoundrel, (although still a scoundrel) - the typical friend who always gets one into trouble, but still remains one's best friend.
I do agree with the rest of the board that +3 to all social activities outside of Hermetic circles is still a pretty large bonus, worth a Major Virtue (which one can obviously "waste" by never walking outside Hermetic circles, just as one can "waste" an Affinity by never placing xps in the corresponding Art or Ability).
I would point out a minor, but often disregarded benefit of the Gentle Gift: it makes one harder to track down as a magus by knowledgeable characters. A character with the Gift will leave a distinct impression on anyone without a parma. True, it may be caused by other factors such as Magical Air etc. But in most sagas we've played, when the PCs hear of a mysterious individual which the innkeeper did not like because... well he can't really put a finger on it, but the horsegroom certainly confirms that the horses shyed away from him... Well the first thing everyone thinks is "Gifted!".
Charm ability is not about frienship but about ... charming. If you are good at charming people (and with a 30+ you are), you still are considered what you were.
A blatant gifted person is classified as witch/rapist/thieve/murderer or any combination quickly.
A gifted person is classified as undesirable.
if someone is undesirable and you speak with him - which already mean he forced you in some way, since you don't want to speak with him to begin - you are already in a bad mood : "why does he bother ME and not anyone ?" If he seems charming, it's because he has some sorcerer's trick : otherwise, how would you be charmed by such person?
You need more than one roll to get used to the gift. It takes normally 15 years, not one good roll on charm. And for the blatant gift, it's more about 50 years.
Yes, the gift IS a bother, and for that reason, Gentle gift is a very nice virtue .
Make the penalties -6 and -12 and suddenly the gift starts to be bothersome mechanically. A -3 malus is totally negligible from a mechanics perspective. The Gift is one of those things where the amazing flavor and the mechanics are not well meshed together. it os one of my favourite roleplaying features of the game, but not one of the best mechanics around.
I tend to agree with ExarKun myself: no die roll can simply erase the effect of the Gift. In something like Bargain, you can get a good deal if your roll is high enough; but the other party will insist on seeing your gold first, and will check it thoroughly. A high Charm roll means that you are entertaining and fun to have around - all the more reason not to trust you anywhere within 100 paces of a daughter, since you would undoubtedly use her and discard her. You're obviously that kind of man. And so forth.
One thing that does annoy me is that the Gentle Gift is classified as a Hermetic Virtue rather than a Supernatural one. First, because it is possible to have the Gift, and presumably the Gentle Gift, without being trained in Hermetic magic, or even trainable, and the Gentle Gift has nothing to do with how you are trained. And second, as Ravencroft says, because if you have the Gentle Gift you cannot have any other Major Hermetic Virtue, which to me is the main drawback. A urban magus could really benefit from a major magical focus, or life-linked spontaneous magic, or flawless magic - but those are denied to him if he takes the Gentle Gift.
As house rule, we take gentle gift as minor virtue, as it is in 4th edition, because we don't usally take the gift in account in social contact (but we do with blatant gift).
One of our maga has discovered a way to make parma magica acting both ways : not only protecting the bearer against other's gift, and also protecting others against your own gift.
We use gentle gift for Jerbiton usually.
Counterintuitively, Hermetic virtues/flaws are not limited to Hermetic characters, they're limited to Gifted characters.
pg 36 main book "Only characters with The Gift can take these virtues and flaws, and some are only applicable to Hermetic magi who have already completed their training."
Hedge Magic reinforces this definition, going on to say that unGifted characters take "supernatural versions" of hermetic virtues/flaws that affect their supernatural abilities.
So, yeah, Gentle Gift is a hermetic virtue, but magi aren't the only ones who can have it.
I think he says that as it is hermetic and not supernatural, you shouldn't take another hermetic virtue as you have already one with gentle gift... I actually don't see why it is hermetic and not supernatural...
Hermetic virtues gathers two type of virtues.
Those related to the gift like gentle gift, personal vis source (and we can even ask why this is related to the gift) and those which are not forbidden for hedge magic
And those related to hermetic magic only (deft form for example).
The latter are hermetic, the former re "supernatural" virtue.
This all come from an attempt to avoid a system with requisite virtues to have another one from one part (Like if we say: "gentle gift can only be taken by those with the gift special virtue") and from another part, the need to organize them in groups easy to define and which talk to the players (story, general, supernatural...)
From the various virtue having comments like "this virtue can only be taken by XXX", we already know that this was broken after the core rulebook.
In my game (filled with Jerbiton, who wanted to do magic in towns), I kept the Gentle Gift as a Major Hermetic virtue, but said that in the same way that the Gentle Gift does not offend Man, then neither does it offend God. As a result it ignores the first 3 levels of Dominion aura when casting spells. (i.e. no penalty instead of -9)
Yes... And no.
As Exarkun rightly noted, with Halancar clarifying things very well, the mechanical malus aren't the gift effect. They're in addition to it.
So, for exemple, where a gentle gifted character can enter a tavern, take a drink and find a place for the night, a gifted one will have to charm and bargain his way out to be allowed to sleep with the beasts.
If you only applies mechanical effects and allow magic to offset them, it greatly diminishes its impact.
Note, though, that HoH: S clarifies this, so that even effects that grant a +3 to social skills are still tainted by the gift. For exemple, with an Aura of Rightful Authority, you appear (IIRC, serf's parma) impressive but autoritarian.
BTW, as Vulcano brightly wrote, compared to your sodales, even from a purely mechanical standpoint, it is equivalent to a +3 to all social skills when dealing wih mundanes, animals... that's already quite powerful.
It is hermetic and not supernatural because it can only be taken by someone with the gift. Or else, you could have grogs and companions with the Gentle Gift
If I may, there's a reason this was made Major. The rationnale was that, before, its cost was so low that any player remotely interested in mundane relationship took it, while the others took the blatant gift.
Your saga, of course, but making it major contributes to make it important, and an important choice.
To answer the question of whether The Gentle Gift is useful, or if it should even be a Major virtue, you first need to know how the Gift is treated in your game.
I've seen SGs and sagas gloss this over, to allow the people playing magi to interact with mundanes. Mainly because some players new to ArM can't cope with having multiple characters, and consequently only ever play their magus. I see this a lot. In this case you'd need to just define this as a fact, so somebody won't waste virtue points with gentle Gift, completeley undermining their character concept. And I'll stop before I go on a ramble about why is is essential to have multiple characters and not just always play the magus, that's for another, new thread.
But if you play RAW, then not only wil normally Gifted individuals suffer a -3 penalty on social interaction, more importantly they will still be thought of as unreliable, sinister or even criminal by the mundanes they speak with. Even if they manage a fair Charm+Prs roll. This effect is involuntary and subconscious as I read it. The courtier appears to be convinced by your words, but since his deepest minds still sees you as a wierdo, he might act against you later on, snitch to your enemies or simply spread rumours behind your back. A -3 can be remedied by focusing the ability, various magics give boni to socializing, or you could use bribes. A normally Gifted magus who is politically active and a master among his peers still has a fair chance of rolling well among mundanes. That's why I believe the 'feel' of the Gift is much more important than the simple, mechanical penalty.
I see Gentle Gift as an important part on a character concept, and can see why it is Major. Sadly there are other great Mahor Hermetic Virtues you miss out on then.
But, you cna always just take Inoffensive to Humans for a human-social magus, or Inoffensive to Animals for a nature magus. And those are just Minor, so...
Inoffensive to humans is a minor? I can't get it... Gentle gift + offensive to animals = inoffensive to humans, but it's not a minor (rather it's 1 major - 1 minor).
Can you give any explanation to that statement ?