The Order of the Small

I agree, the Order is not really consistent with the medieval setting.

For my next saga I'm toying with the idea of changing the way the experience scale for for arts to have it identical to the skills. It would lead to the average magus being much less powerful. The Order level of power would thus be much more in line with those of other political entities, and magi would have to rely on their sodales and covenfolk.

May I add a fourth vote "for" ?

We tryed that particular idea (Parma as the "main Hermetic Mystery") in our campaign (now 1 year old) and it works really fine.

Your more general idea could (and will?) make for an interesting campaign, Xavi, I'm sure.
Personnaly, I would prefer the other way around: rewrite those non-hermetic traditions into the hermetic rules. I think the Te+Fo rules are strong and should be used more than they are now. But if one have players able to have fun with many systems of (complex) rules, then there is no problem left with this idea.

Could you please elaborate on what improvements it brings to the game?

That would be my approach too. From the perspective of game playing, having a single set of magic rules is a big advantage and the Hermetic Magic system is better than anything else published for AM.

You'd have to find a way to restrict the power level. This could involve the much-discussed "Arts as Abilities" system, or something less drastic like doubled XP costs for Arts. It certainly should include Xavi's idea of smaller libraries of learning material. As partial compensation, I'd give all Magi the ability to use bonuses from magical materials as in the Potent Magic virtue. That alone would add a lot of flavor as Magi scramble for mandrake roots and wolfsbane. Xavi's specific ideas on Parma, Aegis, and Ceremony all look like solid contributions too.

Then I'd work on redesigning the traditions and the Order. How radical this redesign would be would depend on how much work I was willing to put in. Certainly I'd start by making the Order much smaller both in raw numbers and in geographic spread. This could involve a whole lot of work though.

Well, we have been playing in this "batch" of Ars since 2005. Current saga developing since 2009. It is likely to end in fall, so 2 full real world years of (almost) weekly play. We like the setting, we like the system (more or less) et al, but we are a little fed up with hermetics. We even considered ding a magicless game with only companions with a few virtues at most (mythic herbalism, shapeshift and Hex being almost powergamer abilities in that approach). IN the end we decided to go for "magic lithe". We do not want the hermetic system for a while. We want hedgies. And if the system they use is broken so be it. We are not searching an equilibrium here. :slight_smile:

In general the idea is "The Prince of the Forest is Might 20". We ended up hating how we had to multiply the power of magical creatures by 4 or so for them to be a challenge and nobody rising their parma above level 4 (so we can cover grogs) because it was basically a useless ability anyway except for the removal of social penalties among the Gifted. YSMV :slight_smile: So, if the Prince is level 20, we should have REAL BIG problems simply removing him from the equation.

After (re)reading Ceremony, this is how we are gonna use it. Thanks ezzelino. Only Gifted characters can contribute, unless they are from your tradition as well, in which case UnGifted members can contribute.


I can understand that, something different can always be a good idea after a long campaign.

I also hear you on the Might and Parma point. It's way too easy for Hermetics to penetrate Magic Resistance in the RAW. The core rules already suggest this and the supplements make it worse by adding so many virtues and variants that boost casting total, while giving nothing to defensive scores. I wish I knew a quick fix. Maybe Parma should be 10 per level instead of 5 and we should just double the Might of everything.

That does work. Beware though that a parma specialist can truly become exceptionally hard to penetrate.
While low level magi fights can sometimes become a "oh dear noone can penetrate the others parma" situations.
Overall though, it´s a "perfectly fine" houserule to use.

More. My version is that spell needs to penetrate, spell level damage is reduced by target might(if you reach at least half its might with the spell, you do 1 point of damage, multicasting still just cause 1 damage total this way), and then you first hit Might pool, and only once its empty do you start knocking out might, while a might creature can sacrifice a point of might to replenish part of the Might pool and isnt killed from loosing all might...
Essentially, a different but similar upgrade to Xavi´s "multiply by 4" while allowing Might scores to stay unchanged.
A Might 20 creature requires an absolute minimum of a 10 might damage spell with 21 penetration to do just 1 point of damage. And a 60 might damage spell with 21 penetration to get a single hit "kill".

Arts and Abilities on the same scale, BAD. Doubling or tripling the cost of Arts though, that works.

In fact we are gonna run a few old school adventures 8star wars good vs bad and hack n slash dungeon crawls) with our light homebrew system before embarking in anything serious :slight_smile: But yeah, "normal" Ars (with all saga variance that there is) is not an option right now.


A few years ago, I was aguing against the current many rules for alternative magics (including "hermetic secrets"). As you seem to think, it's better to have one general framework for rules. But when I presented that point, I was opposed by the (correct but irrelevant to the point at stake) fact that those secrets added flavor and adventure opportunities. There you have your main answer.

There is 3 major reasons: fine-tuning the power level; adventures/society opportunities; usefull, fun and game-balanced powers with the Parma.

Parma Magica is the Major Secret of the OoH. It's also closely tied to the "power level" of a character (or magic resistance, more generally).
We have an initiation script that give magic resistance 5 for the Parma (See Xavi's 1st post). Then a few other scripts (5) that add to that number (we give +2/each, but it's easy (easier!) to adjust, YMMV as always). In our campaign, RAW Parma was overpowered (remember always: YMMV).

After gaining a Parma of 15 (this score is the MR), the other scripts needs to be sought for. That's one important way how the OoH control power levels. Also, one important way how the Elder "control" the young. It gives a reasonnable, "down to earth" and game-usable way to build the ties that MAKES the OoH (among others). As a mage advance in it's understanding of this Ultimate Hermetic Secret, the scripts are (or "can be", YMMV) harder to get.

After getting Parma 15, there are many different scripts. You can have a script that give +1 parma, and you can extend to twice the usual number Parma. Another gives +2 and allow you to cast it twice faster. +1 Parma and use Vis to boost MR. Etc, etc. You can see there is plenty to Original Research here. Also, plenty of Scripts produced by older researcher willing to sell them (In our campaign).

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I don't think I would mind having low level magi unable to penetrate each other's Parma. It kind of fits with the old idea of the Order coming together because Parma made Magi feel safe together. A bigger problem, which I hadn't considered when I threw the idea out there, is that Parma is already very good against non-Hermetic effects. Double it and nothing will be able to touch Magi.

Probably it's just better to slow advancement in the Arts.

Seriously limiting the amount of vis in the saga helps a lot, I think, to prevent problems with Might and Parma. Along with making sure that critters have a Penetration Ability Score and the instinct (if not Intelligence) to use it effectively.

Along with placing strict limits on how common in the Order as a whole, combat useful, foci are.

Thanks for the explanation. :slight_smile:

That's really interesting indeed. I guess some other vitues could also be given that way. In my next saga I intend to play the apprenticeship, initiation scripts would indeed be a great way to give magi PC some hermetic virtues and flaws.

Are your initiation scripts available somewhere on the Internet?

So you have decreased the power of the parma? Have you reduced penetration and casting totals as well?


This is really important, although the exact level can vary from saga to saga (For my taste, you've made might-strippers way less effective than a "normal" combat spell, while IMO they should be better).

But having a "soak" vs might-strippers greatly enhance the lifespan of beasties, as it makes those low-level multicast spells useless.
For exemple, in Phoenix, we use a (maybe too low) soak of Might/5.
Thus, while, in RAW, 4 multicasts lvl 5 DEO with Pen 21 (casting total + Pen of 26) would kill a Might 20 demon, they'd only strip him of 4*(5-4) = 4 might there. You'd need, for exemple, 4 multicast lvl 10 DEO (Casting total + Pen of 31).

You can tailor this from saga to saga, but this allow to keep RAW might yet make a great difference.


Another possibility might be to borrow from Hedge Magic and have, for exemple, Techniques as Difficult Arts, and Forms as "Normal" Arts (Although this makes puissant technique more valuable).

Ooooh yes.
IMO, there's always a tendency on these boards to often assume an applicable foci, a tendency we seldom see in published characters.
See also this, on a related note:

Ah, it probably needs to be added that Might creatures also gets an extra soak bonus against "normal" damage based on might.
You need to power up regular damage spells quite a lot to make a serious dent into Might creatures with them.
Trust me, might strippers are easier. Well, actually it´s probably "easier" to pick up and throw a mountain aimed on top of a powerful creature (and bypassing MR in the process). :mrgreen:

Yeah, though as Xavi said, this penalises Tech specialists very badly. It works, but its not a "solution" i´m fond of.
It works well enough though that i have it as one of my "Broken Gift" BIG Flaws.

Indeed. Having been involved mostly in games where Focus are far from on all characters, i was a bit surprised at first on the forum as it seemed so many used it on all their characters.
Although of course i can agree that it can add a little something to the character.
I really dont like the notion of having a Focus in "doing damage" though.

True. It does make specialists with a Focus potentially badly overpowered early on though.

It occurs to me that you could do the same thing with Arts.

So, you might have "Opening the Arts" being an Initiation Script that gives you 0 in all Arts.
Then, you might have 15 different "Apprenticeship" Initiation Scripts that each give the character a Score of 5 in an Art.
Then, a further 15 different "Master" Initiation Scripts that each give the character a Score of 15 in an Art.
Finally, a set of 15 different "Arch-Magus" Initiation Scripts that each give the character a Score of 30 in an Art.

Books about Arts would not give XP, but would instead be Initiation Lab Texts.

Each House could then be differentiated by having variations on the different Initiation Scripts, and possibly some Houses could be missing some of the Arch-Magus Scripts.

No, we use RAW on the effects of MR, penetration and casting totals. We have ONE skill for concentration, penetration and finess together, but the score stay around 3 to 6 for each mage. The focus are not (or, rarely) combat oriented.
I red the posts about Parma being overpowered( or something around that, if I understood well). We didn't encountered that problem. I think this is a matter of YMMV. No. It's a matter of Your Mileage WILL Vary! =)
Each gaming group tailor their way of doing RPG and the rules up to their tastes. I thinks that's a good thing, as the goal is for people to have fun .
Our way of dealing with that, after some thinking on your question, is that each player moderate himself (we're still looking for a female player, btw). We tend to overspecialize our character too much, going for "balanced" (in our point of view) characters. Also, we ban most Virtues, Secrets, etc that multiply power. We allow alternate rules on a case by case basis, and don't allow anything unbalanced. For exemple, we like the Focus Merit a lot, but ban those "Potent Magic" virtues that seems to do the same and adds up. If you want your mage to have a knack with Perdo, you take "Puissant Perdo": but then you can't add up "Affinity with Perdo" over that. Not sure if I'm clear, ask away if I'm not.

It just happen that there was a combat in our last game, between our Flambeau (12 years Out of Appr.) and a demon (Inf. Might 15), among other evils. In Infernal Aura 2 (+2 MR for the demon, -2 casting total for the mage). Our flambeau managed around 15 to 20 penetration on DEO Lvl 5 all along combat, BUT he used Vis (about 3 or 4 each casting). Consider: he's specialised in PeIm, focus on "vanishing". (Also: HR: DEO don't reduce MR ).
It was a balanced (and fun!) combat scene, ending with a tie.
I'm curious: may I ask you a question? In your campaign, did it happen that you played a difficult encounter ? I mean one with an adversary too powerfull for the characters to deal with (E.g.: too high MR), prepared as they where on first meeting, while being an unavoidable obstacle for them? How did the character reacted?

My pleasure! :slight_smile:
No, not available as for now. To tell the truth, I didn't write down all the rules : we just assume the 6 first Scripts (up to 15 MR) are automatic success for a season spent studying.
Here is what I gave my players for our campaign: (sorry, there will be french on this english board, traduction on demand only, but really nothing really new...).

[code]Parma Magica
Vous avez les scripts suivants qui permettent d'approfondir le Parma Magica. Chacun demande une saison d'étude. Certains demandent autre chose (mais pas ceux dans la liste ici). Pour obtenir un Parma supérieur à 15 points, les mages de l'Ordre contactent préférablement leur maître, un membre senior de leur maison, et si aucun n'est disponible, n'importe quel autre mage senior de l'Ordre.

Leçon des Apprentis: Donne les cinq premiers points en Parma. Le maître retient le secret du Parma magica, qu'il donne ensuite à l'apprenti après que celui-ci ait juré son allégeance à l'Ordre d'Hermès.
Pratique de Première Initiation : Donne +2 points en Parma Magica.
Pratique des Initiés : Donne +2 points en Parma Magica.
Pratique des Grands Initiés : Donne +2 points en Parma Magica.
Pratique des Initiés Dominus : Donne +2 points en Parma Magica.
Pratique des Magister: Donne +2 points en Parma Magica.[/code]

Really, that idea you just showed is great. Didn't thought about applying the idea to the arts. You know, maybe we found ArsM6 here... ! =)
I would prefer less powered arts, but's that the beauty of the idea: it's easy to have different scales depending on the power level you want.
Magic Theory could replace Mystery Cult Lore for the Secret of the Hermetic Arts (or be something along those lines). Etc. All could be rewritten that way. Keeping the Te+Fo and spells as they are now. It's doable. The more I think about it, the more I like.

There really should be a subforum "not RAW ars magica ideas" because those tend to stack :smiley:

That is indeed quite a good idea, involving stories to find the scripts and negotiation to have one possessed by an other covenant/house. :slight_smile:

We did indeed. My players mostly explored the following three ways, in that order:

  • use more vis and arcane/symbolic connections!
  • try to negotiate
  • find someone powerful enough to help them (parens, renowned archmagi, etc.)

By the way, thank you very much for the houserule sample. :slight_smile: