Thief of Youth

I'm wondering how to make up the mechanics for a charcter concept. The idea is that of a witch that steals people's youth, keeping herself young. It is based on the witches in Stardust, for those that know the book/movie (both are great). In addition to simply stealing their youth, the witches also use it to power their magic, growing older the more they use magic.

My thinking was to take the Unaging virtue, and combine it with the False Power flaw from Realms of Power: The Infernal. That seems like an excellent fit thematically, but I'm not sure how to "subtly change" the Unaging virtue to make this concept work and be a fun, non-obstructing, element at the same time.

My best thinking at this point is to base things loosely on Personal Vis Source, but kinda letting go of game balance in favor of the mythic flavor. So we have:

(False) Unaging: Minor Virtue
(False) Personal Vis Source: Minor Virtue
False Power: Major Flaw
False Power: Minor Flaw

The character can harvest youth to power his magic. This is an Infernal power, althogh it appears Faerie to Magical or Faerie investigation. Harvesting can only be done once per year, and the amount of raw vis gained depends on the victim:

  • human youth, 1 pawn
  • human youth, innocent (without sin) 5 pawns
  • Divine being, Might pawns
    In-game, the victim is aged considerably, probably to the witche's true age. This may cause immediate death. This requires a night-long ritual, and cannot be reversed save by Divine intervention.

Keep track of Aging Points and crises and their affect on the charcter as normal. However, the stolen youth covers up these failings. It takes one pawn to cover each year of aging, with commensurate decrease effective decrepitue, loss of Characteristics, and so on, as determined by the group and SG. (You might want to simply note at what year these happen, and undo them when that year is 'undone' by the personal raw vis stock.)

You can spend the raw vis as normal, to improve your casting total or so on. However, as you lower your personal raw vis stock the effects of your true age gradually manifest.

Really cool idea!

However, the witches of Stardust do not seem to use much "vis". At least not for Ars Magica terms: if you look at what they do in ArM5 terms, you will not require vis for most of those effects, so the vis would not be spent.

I would make the vis gain MUCH more massive. Something like your number x10 or x100. However, they would have a casting requirement: must spend 1 pawn of vis per magnitude of the spell (or 10 levels or fraction). That would put them in a constantly decreasing slide and they would need to be hunting for yourthful/supernatural victims there. Otherwise few things would force them to constantly use up vis stocks.

Once they fall below 20(50?) pawns of "vis"/vital energy stored, they start losing their youthfulness :slight_smile:



Certainly not a formulated idea but...

Perhaps an aging roll on a "failed" spell casting roll, i.e. a roll which doesn't meet the full level of the effect or doesn't penetrate resistance? That allows for the character to use minor magic freely.

You could have some ritual or some effect to bind the witch to another person and that poor soul bears the effects of the aging, or simply makes the aging roles on their behalf.

I was looking to do something similar with something for Sub Rosa but I haven't gotten round to it yet.

Suggestion, let it exist BOTH as an Infernal and as a real Faerie power.

Make it double might or the "innocent human youth" is so far easier and preferable that you could simply leave out Divine beings from the list.

Agreed. They were supposed to power their magic by it as well.

Since it's Infernal, you could could go ahead and let it destroy aging points. Might need a little more tweaking, but since this is not a PC power (well, I'm sure SOME PCs wouldn't mind using the Infernal, but it's a pretty stupid idea over all) going ahead and letting it remove the penalties of age completely should be fine.

I mean, it's not like some plucky hero won't send them to hell eventually anyway. ;D
Or perhaps at a certain warping event a Demon claims them?

I have a few ideas (shrug I like playing with the game mechanics), but keep in mind that none of them have been tested or received more than a few moments thought.

I'm not much of a writer, but I'll try to describe my thoughts as best I can.

Maybe you could design a Supernatural virtue along the lines of "Caananite Necromancy", but employing the Incantation/Consumption guidelines to transfer decrepitude/aging crises to design the base spells?

I haven't given the matter too much thought yet, but perhaps the yield from the Vis harvesting could be predicated on the severity of aging caused to the victim (similar to how Leper Magus lets a maga sacrifice their health?)

Relevant Characteristic: +3
Thief of Youth: +4
Aura: +4
Die: 7
Casting Total = 18

A maleficia designed to transfer the effects of a minor aging crisis at touch range would be level 20 so the caster needs a 12 or more... She succeeds! A minor aging crises gains the witch 3 pawns of Vis (equivalent to a Light Wound for a Leper Magus).

Or how about this?

Stamina: +1
Steal Youth: +12
Aura: +4
Die: 6
Casting Total = 24.

The victim must immediately make 5 aging checks (casting total / 5). For each check the victim fails, the target (caster) gains a pool (ala Ablation) which may be spent like Vis or to eliminate or spent at a 1:1 ration to lower her actual age. IE the character was 48, now she's 43 for all intents and purposes. Alternately, if you don't like changing the witch's essential nature, the character might spend from her pool to buy off the effects of aging crises using the guidelines from the above suggestion (3 for a minor aging crisis, 6 for a serious crisis etc.)

The character reduce her own age by her score in "Steal Youth" while simultaneously aging another character by the same amount. This power has no penetration. If desired the character may age herself a number of years up to her score in the ability (and make an immediate aging roll) to gain a pawn of Vis...

Part of the concept in the book/film was that only Stars (faeries of the sky) could be harvested for this youth/power.

Make it a weaker variation on the infernal summoner ablation where you might strip magical and faerie creatures, but only physical creatures that have been defeated or are asleep can be might stripped. Instead of spending the power stripped into getting permanent benefits from it, but having to pick which permanent benefit (like your own might, or bonuses to aging rolls), have all the points go into a temporary might pool of your own.

Have the maximum the pool can be become equal to the might of the creature murdered, so a satyr with 15 faerie might can only get the temporary pool up to 15. The witch then uses this temporary might pool for a combination of things:
Magic resistance - fairly standard
Age reduction - the appearance only, for every point of might she holds the witch appears up to five years younger
Aging rolls - for every five points there is a one point bonus to the aging roll

But every spell cast while having temporary might strips that might at a rate of one point per magnitude of spell cast. A witch who only lurks in her lair between might steals can stay young for decades, but one who is active must go hunting often.

Actually, as I recall, isn't there already a Maleficia effect to transfer your Decreptitude to someone else?
Here it is, Incantation/Consumption level 40.

I would make it a major supernatural ability (so it can slightly ignore hermetic limits).

You gain the ability to drain 5 years (as in the PeCo effect) and gain one back. But everytime they cast a spell they make an aging roll penalised by the number of magnitudes cast.


I've decided to stay close to my original version, but simplified it. I further increased the raw vis prize for a Divine being, as per the advice above. I didn't want to complicate matters with an Ability, but did link it up to Consumption as a bonus. I also added that it powers her magic, by requiring spending at least one pawn per spell casting. I don't drain years-for-year as the story in Stardust involved young lasses, not elderly nuns... Finally, I decided to allow this to serve effectively as a longevity ritual; while this lowers the story potential of seeking specialists and so on, there is plenty of story potential in a PC using an Infernal ability like this one already, and it didn't really work otherwise. (Yes, it's for a PC.)

The character can harvest youth to power her magic. As a 'False' power, it appears Faerie to Magical or Faerie investigation but it is secretly Infernal, so that it cannot be done in the Dominion but otherwise works in any Aura. Harvesting can only be done once per year, and the amount of raw vis gained depends on the victim:

  • human youth, 1 pawn
  • human youth, innocent (without sin) 5 pawns
  • Divine being, Might x 2 pawns
    In-game, the victim must be helpless, and is aged considerably, probably to the witch's true age. This may cause immediate death. The harvesting requires a night-long ritual, and cannot be reversed save by direct Divine intervention. If done in an Infernal aura, the witch may add her Consumption score (if any; see Realms of Power: The Infernal) to the raw vis gained.

The player should choose some apparent-age, usually 25. The raw vis stock should always be kept higher than the witch's age past this apparent-age in order to hide aging. (There is no limit to the size of the personal raw vis stock the character can hoard.) As long as this is maintained, the character is effectively immune to aging. She need not make an aging roll due to old age.

You can spend the raw vis as normal, to improve your casting total or so on. However, as you lower your personal raw vis stock the effects of your true age gradually manifest. Every pawn covers one year of aging, and if there aren't enough pawns to cover all years the character visibly ages by the missing amount. Furthermore, she gains 1 Decrepitude Point per missing pawn. If this condition persists for more than a week, the character must make one aging roll per missing pawn (at midnight) and suffer the full consequences; as long as a single pawn remains, however, she cannot suffer a terminal Crises. All these malign effects are temporary, and will be removed if the personal raw vis stock is increased so as to cover all aging.

Unfortunately, any spell casting requires the investment of at least one pawn from the personal raw vis stock. This pawn affects the casting as normal.

While under the effects of the personal raw vis stock, the character gains 1 Warping Point per year and cannot be the subject of a Longevity Ritual.