The Gentle Gift: Benefits?

HoH:MC p86: Inoffensive to (Being), there are 3 of this: Mundane animals, Faeries and Magical Beings. it is notes that you may only take this once, otherwise you need Gentle Gift. IIRC RoP:M also lists Humans and perhaps Spirits, so there are a lot...

HoH:MC has different classes of being for offensive and inoffensive. You can be inoffensive to mundane animals, faeries or magical beings, or offensive to mundane humans, demons or divine beings. RoP:M has animals, spirits or those aligned with the magic realm as options for both offensive and inoffensive. There's no option to be inoffensive to mundane humans, although you can manage those with particular types of supernatural virtue, as faeries and magical beings explicitly include humans with appropriate virtues/flaws (and divine beings and demons explicitly include those with relevant supernatural virtues/flaws for offensiveness).

There's a bit of inconsistency with regards to magical animals - the HoH:MC virtue excludes them, whilst the equivalent core book and RoP:M virtues include them.

I always found the fact that Hermetic Magi have a -3 to interact with supernatural creatures quite weird. Supernatural creatures do not have any kind of social malus, and they are even more weird and aligned with magic than Gifted people.

IMS if you have Might you are immune to the Gift. The maga is just another dude of your (broad) kind. A weak one from the supernatural creature's POV, in fact, since he has no Might himself.

I also dislike the idea of having the gift repel supernatural creatures, for pretty much the same reasons Xavi states. I also find some of the interpretations of wizard-wizard interactions to be too extreme, for example the view presented recently in Rival Magic. For me, regardless of the Gift effects, Magi should act more like wise men and less like tomcats fighting for territory.

For mundane interaction, I put more stress on the long term rather than the short. An innkeeper is certainly going to get bad vibes from a gifted character but is unlikely to refuse his money without a good reason, such as a display of magic. Even extreme situations can usually be handled for the short term through mind control or image enhancement spells. The real problem comes from the fact that the Magus won't really be trusted or liked by anyone, so he'll have trouble developing stable alliances with nobles, or working relationships with the Church, and will certainly be disliked by the populace as a whole (villagers with torches, anyone?).

A Magus with the Gentle Gift could end up trusted by the king, could acquire a position of respect in mundane society, perhaps even gain a role within the Church. The normally gifted mage, no matter how useful he proves, may gain grudging respect from mundanes but will still be regarded as mad, bad, and dangerous to know.

I'd say that having the Gift entirely negate the use of an Ability is incredibly harsh, and overly so. A 30+ in Charm! That sort of result deserves a reward, not a convoluted excuse to obviate a character's XP or rolling.

Honestly, the rules are clear on the subject. I'd say the following two passages are the most meaningful: 1, "If the maga manages to convince or coerce someone into interacting with her, she suffers the -3 penalty to all rolls and totals based on social interactions..." and 2, "have [the unGifted] act as though he has a well-deserved reputation for dishonesty and unreliability, and for undeserved privilege of whatever sort is most important to him".

So, you have to convince someone to interact socially with you. THAT is the penalty of the Gift in addition to the -3, NOT a willful misinterpretation for the sake of punishing magi. If you want the villagers to hate the magi for being Gifted, then have them scatter because he's got the evil eye. But if the magus can corner someone into talking, then the penalty is -3, not -EVERYTHING hAHAHA YOU WASTED XP IN CHARM.

If you don't like the Gift as-presented, simply amend the rules so that the social interaction penalty is larger. If a 30+ Charm result - an Ability expressly designed to "endear others to you" and "win them over", mind you! - doesn't do anything at all what the Ability says it does, then you're adding in a massive penalty to the Gift that is not clear to anyone other than yourself. If you amended the penalties to -10 and -20 then you'd get the results you're going for and players would have an idea of what to expect, rather than the situation you present, which is: Social skills are meaningless for the Gifted, even with +30 to rolls, but really its only a -3 to your Ability check but not really since its really -400 in practice since you will never be able to actually endear someone to you or win them over, regardless of your Charm roll.

Now, is -3 in keeping with the general level of what the Gift is supposed to be? I'd say yes, given what other Major Virtues seem to do. I also happen to think that Aura of Ennobled Presence is offensive and should be removed from the game's spell corpus and has a major role in distorting what the effect of the Gift is, in play. There are better ways to express the Gift's difficulty in play: The Fixer's example of having to Charm and Bargain your way through mundane interactions that an average person wouldn't have to is perfect. But what you're advocating here is seriously rude.

Well it's not punishment, it's more about choices and consequences.
A good roll in charm for gifted or blatant gifted mean he won't be killed by angry mob, nor be accused from the first crime in the large area around the place he is at, nor to be expelled of a village.
Most rolls only have one ease factor: you beat it or not. Doing that kind of roll on a ease factor equal to the degree of misthrust is good since that ease factor would be 12 or more.

And social abilities remain really important:

  • in any contact with those who are not bothered by your gift (either because of parma or familiarity, notably in tribunals, where it seems you forgot a little easily that social skills can make difference between death and acquittal)
  • in any contact with those who are bothered, to avoid, like I say in the begin of this post, to be attacked by the angry mob.

If a player wants to invest in his social ability, it's always payful, but not with everyone at first.

But, for a magus, not to chose the Gentle gift has real consequences. It's why it's a major: you have to choose it willingly, and by the rules as written, in place of any other major hermetic. Hence the importance of companions.

I have no problem with that spell. I don't interpret it as a flat RAW +3 but as being treated like a noble for fear of offending your lord. You are an unwanted noble but we have to serve you and hope you will be gone soon. We'll swear our undying admiration on your noble person but we'll say anything we can to get rid of you. It's all roleplay. :mrgreen:

Tugdual, when you say, "I have no problem with that spell" and then tell us how you've houseruled it, you're sort of undermining yourself. :stuck_out_tongue:

I would rebut ExarKun but he's running a game I'm in and I already piss him off enough so I'm just going to let that one go. :wink:

I'm ok with undermining myself as long as I get somewhere. :laughing:

OTOH, even at +0 penalty they are "suspicious and mistrustful" of you. There has to be a non-Gift non-spell equivalent to a Gifted using Aura of Ennobled Presence.

For the same +X social bonus, you could get very different flavor: lecherous, chummy, respectful, obsequious, servile. This is where the RAW mechanic stops and you have to be creative.

I am trying to find non-Gifted who could get the same reaction, and it seems that nobles of an opposite faction on lands they raid occasionally might get the same treatment. While this is beyond RAW, I feel it is how it should be roleplayed.

Oh mean_liar, don't worry, we're all grown-ups, and can made difference between rule discussion and actual game :slight_smile:.

That's pretty close to the text in HoH:S (House Tytalus), which presents the option that Aura of Ennobled Presence does not override the effect of The Gift. The spell works as described in the main rules, but is coloured by the suspicion and mistrust engendered by Gifted individuals. Two variants are discussed which skew perceptions in different ways, but can still be tainted by The Gift's polluting influence.


Mark: Exactly, and that, IMO, is too often forgotten in favor of mechanics, which is too bad, since it adds great flavor and importance to the gift.

Nope, inofensive to humans doesn't exist, probably because it'd be too much of an advantage.

Well, IMO, the gift's effect is akin to a reverse Aura of Rightful Autority, or a ReMe effect, in that it creates the effect whatever your apparent look: A good-looking and well dressed magus will, in that regard, elicit the same reaction as a filthy and ugly one, that is, he is untrustworthy. It'll just be easier for him to get people to overcome it temporarily (that's where the rolls come in).

So, I see no reason why magical creatures would avoid this. If a guy feels creepy, treacherous and unreliable whatever his appearance, he does so whether you're a human or a dragon.
Note also than IIRC, some magical creatures can have the gift or a magical air, and elicit the same reaction. So this seems to have more to do with a vibe you're giving of than with having magical powers or being aligned with magic. After all, demons, faerie, angels or mundane with appropriate powers don't have similar effects.

Anyway, I seem to recall magical creatures can have a "immune to the gift" virtue.

On the other hand, we humans often act more out of emotion than out of reason. Politicians know this, and use it to their advantage, usually by steering up fear of something.
So I don't see that as being all that unreasonnable.

For a classical exemple of a wise man acting stupidly, Merlin knew vivianne was bad news, yet he was so infatuated with her he teached her nonetheless. Similarly, he knew she was gonna prison him, yet... And merlin is a lot more known for his wisdom than for his lecherousess.

Under that interpretation of the Gift it makes sense as a reaction. Since we don't really have a good description of precisely how the Gift effects people (afaik), yours is a reasonable way to look at it. Personally though, I don't take the gift as specifically making you appear untrustworthy. I think of it in ways shamans are sometimes described in literature and ethnographic accounts, as being otherworldly, not reacting to jokes, conversation, and other stimuli as a normal person would, acting in general like they might be crazy (which they may well be in the real world) or could do anything at any time. You might get the same sort of descriptions about serial killers in the real world - something's just wrong with that person, in a way that you can't really put your finger on. In Ars Gifted people aren't crazy, they're really partially connected to another world. So I don't have other otherworldly beings react badly to them.

Wise men acting stupid, sure. Emotional too. If this discussion continues someone is sure to bring up silly academic feuds as another good example. So I don't argue with any of that.

What I don't want is for Magi to be driven by instinct, like a predator or the protagonists of White Wolf's monster games. Sometimes the descriptions of the Gift give me the same feel that I might get reading about vampires or werewolves. I like those games too but in Ars Magica I want wizards to be reasonably normal human beings, not something with an alien mindset for the players to explore.

The Church , page42:

You do know that Ars was Mark Rein-Hagens run up to Vampire and Werewolf?

All of games are PC's as solitary, misunderstood (from the Gift), creatures of such immense power, with incredible abilities than transcend mortal minds, cursed with loneliness, and solitude and eunnui- unnable to make true human connections and instead banished to the very fringes and shadow of normal society, where they must cluster in their Houses and Covenants against a world that does not understand their secret wisdom, nor empathise with their angst and inner pain?

Thats Ars.


I disagree with that statement, even if we were still in 3rd edition - which was the most angst-ridden edition of the game if my failing memory serves me well.

The Gift as a mechanic is there to ensure magi need others. It creates the social dynamic both with and without the Covenant, and in turn curtails the magus in certain actions. Most Magi portrayed within the game aren't angst-y hide-in-the-dark characters with dark eyeliner and a penchant for black lace. If anything, they are strange and vibrant characters that the regular peasantry find ... weird. And in most cases probably have no desire to interact with the peasantry in return because the peasants are smelly.

The Gift (along with its good friend the Code) provide a couple of necessary brakes on a magus' power, preventing the otherwise inevitable rush to empires ruled by sorcerer-kings and a class divide that corresponds to Gifted / Non-Gifted. While this would be an entertaining setting, and one that many fantasy writers have explored before, it would quickly detract from making the world feel like medieval Europe. The Gift places magi in a role similar to that described by a combination of period literature and anacrhonistic views by the modern audience of what the average medieval person might have thought regarding someone who could sling spells around.

If anything, a campaign using Gifted people who have no Parma would be a bit more like Werewolf/Vampire.

As for using magic to override the Gift - sure you can. There's a ReMe spell listed directly in the HoH:TL book that does exactly that: eliminates Gift penalty. I don't think this detracts in any way from the potency of the Gentle Gift virtue, since social interactions are a lot more than simple 1-on-1 encounters. A magus can also extend his parma over someone and poof, gift penalty gone. This still doesn't detract from the validity of the Gentle Gift virtue. The Gift remains a potent force, mainly because your spells will not last forever and it takes a lot of fiddly mentem magic to ensure that a person never recognises you as Gifted. Even for a Rego Mentem master its just easier to have someone else handle the mundane interaction side of things - and your 'go away Gift' spells can be kept for your interaction with that more trusted friend.

It is easy to forget just how different medieval life is from modern. Animals are involved in everyday life at all levels of society almost everywhere - much moreso than modern pets. Anyone with the Gift is going to be obvious a mile off - and it won't take a smart peasant to work out that the charming stranger is what is making the usually passive family dog raise its hackles and growl. It would take a lot of magic to totally elimiate the traces of the Gift from any social interaction, except in very controlled environments. More magic than the average magus is likely to want to invest.

Chances the end result of such an extended research exercise into mitigating the Gift's effects would be an initiation script for the Gentle Gift anyway. :smiley:

What? Where?

HoH: TL , page 73:

Lol, I hope not. Mr. R*H contributed some great things to gaming but I can do without the angst. Fortunately even the White Wolf edition never took it to the level of Vampire.

As Kid Gloves has said, a mechanic to play the magi outside of a mundane social setting is needed for the background of Mythic Europe. It's also appropriate to much literature about wizards, who tend to be outsiders, regarded badly by mundanes, very rarely regarded as "one of us". I only disagree with taking it to extremes. Having mundanes react badly to the Gift is fine, having the Gift drive Magi themselves in the way White Wolf's inner beasts do is going too far.

Mind control spells can make their targets feel whatever the caster wants. The catch is that you have to have a specifc target in mind. You can't just radiate trustworthiness, at least without a game-breaking virtue. The power of Aura of Rightful Authority is that it does work on anyone who sees the caster, since it is an IM spell. The limitation on this spell is that it only affects your image, not the general distaste that the Gift creates. There's only so much you can do by improving your visage.

edit: I actually mean Aura of Enobled Presence, not Aura of Rightful Authority. I can never keep the two straight.