Things that are rubbish

Alas, it must be terribly annoying to have some silly software jumble your words so badly, Ovarwa -- culminating in changing your name from Ken to Can :frowning: Still, all the points get through, so it's sufficiently effective. And there are some changes that are pure AI genius, like:

:smiley: :smiley: :smiley:
I'm considering using that as a signature!

That said, I agree with you on all but one point. I think that Hermetic Theurgy can be really worth it; I say this when playing a magus who has it. It's just a Minor Virtue. The Spontaneous part can be extremely nice (our magi tend to be paranoid about spell botches and warping). It's a Virtue that enhances a Magical Focus in Spirits greatly. The Flexible Formulaic part can also be useful, particularly for spells that don't require high penetration or speed of casting but that you may want to tweak. True, Flexible Formulaic Magic is better in this regard, because spell-spirits are slow and penetration is a serious problem, but Flexible Formulaic Magic is a Major Virtue and does nothing else. And if what you want is penetration, try to cast a non-spirit spell with the aid of a few spirit-Communions!

Now, I do agree that Rego Vim summoning + true names can be a better way for a theurgist to acquire with relatively little effort a vast and flexible array of powers. But that's just because summoning + true names is really good, not because theurgy is half bad. And there's one very, very important thing to keep in mind when summoning: the summoned spirit has a mind, and goals of its own. It may be just our storyguide, but...

I am NOT saying that is a virtue is useless. But, even though it can be made to work, I don't believe it is optimal. It is better, certainly, if you have a major focus with spirits, but it is not worth getting that focus in order to optimize this purchase. Conversely, if I already have the major focus, I am already willing to deal with spirits in a big way, and also deal with whatever consequences the story guide wants to encumber such dealings with.

A story guide can really screw with you: not only does the spell not work if someone else is already calling on the same spirit, but the spell becomes completely worthless if someone else destroys the spirit. This can be done by summoning it I and destroying it, or using it for an inch and mentor binding or something like that, or even simply as a defense in the round after you cast a spell but before you tell the spirit what to do. Nasty stuff. You also don't get out of having to potentially deal with stress roll to cast a spell.

Unless your saga has very little the,it is probably more attractive to choose a spirit talisman, and for flavor purposes simply describe the the expenditure as the stuff needs to bind a spirit. Then you never had a stressful. You also game other advantages.

I really really want to like hermetic see your G, but it isn't optimal. Rubbish? No. I could see taking it. However, the major virtue that allows you to add to your score is pretty dubious. I forgot the name of that 1, words of power? Something like that.



Names of Power affects only Theurgic spells.
The expansion (Major virtue) that makes it work with all spells is Invocaion Magic.

Names of power I suppose qualifies for this thread. Although I really like it when combined with the other virtues, the fact is, it does nothing on its own. The only advantage to having just that is that you can begin working to discover useful names before you get Invocation or theurgy.

I think this thread has really taken things in the wrong direction. Something that is really handy to some and not so useful to others should not qualify for this thread. Only things that are not very useful to those who really would want them should qualify. Otherwise you might as well list nearly every Virtue there is since each one won't be worth much to someone. So, for example, since Hermetic Theurgy is really useful to a Titanus magus or a Neo-Mercurian magus, it's not at all a bad Virtue. And Mercurian Magic is an extremely powerful Virtue for those characters who are focused on rituals such as healers, which is why I've seen it picked so often. (If you don't like the downside, take Mystical Choreography or pick up Hermetic Theurgy.) Meanwhile Vulgar Alchemy is nearly impossible to use for those who would really want to use it, and so it should definitely be listed here. (Did anyone look at the Order of the Green Cockerel? It's nearly impossible to get past the stage at which you learn Vulgar Alchemy because of how difficult Vulgar Alchemy is. You have to have a Magic Theory of at least 13 and have spent a ridiculous amount of time in the lab messing around with materials. Magic Theory 13 alone is a huge issue.)


My theurgist found it nicely useful actually.

I must agree with callen

I started a thread about automata recently because I have had trouble seeing it's usefulness and thought I'd finally found something.
It derailed horribly, but that happens - perhaps because a certain can of worms got opened.

So far, for this thread I could support:
Vulgar Alchemy (I too thought every magus could do this? And why is it so hard?)
Automata (By RAW they have no Intelligence. We have no idications of how complex their orders can be, They are mostly very expensive, very limited Invested Devices as far as I can tell. This is a major virtue.)

Everything else mentioned in this thread so far has been situational (at worst) but certainly useful to the right character.

Uhmm, I really do not see why you'd need Magic Theory 13. It's true that if you wanted to disseminate your results through tractatus alone, you'd need 7 tractatus -- and thus a Magic Theory of 14. But you can also disseminate your results through teaching.

As far as time spent in the lab goes, it seems to me that as long as you are willing to go for 7 weak narrow bonuses, you should make it with less than 10 seasons in the lab. Note that those seasons aren't wasted -- you get to keep whatever items you make, even though they are "experimental" ones which may have quirks. The same goes with the dissemination of your results: you have to do it, but nothing stops you from profiting from it.

That said, I do agree that Vulgar Alchemy, as written, does not work very well.

The fact that a bonus is so hard to get is certainly one reason. But an even more important reason is that it makes hard to keep track who can use which bonus in the Order at large. The text just seems to assume that a bonus "finds its way" into the Hermetic body of knowledge, but a quick look at how this is supposed to happen shows it can take centuries to reach every magus of the Order. Each new supplement introducing new bonuses further complicates this.

I just re-read Vulgar alchemy, and found myself reminded why I didn't like it.

The bonus provided by an item has very little to do with it's "mythic appropriateness" (sp?) and more to do with the person experimenting. Yes, the SG/Troupe can modify the difficulty, but it's still a fairly small modifier and chance has everything to do with it. It just rubs me the wrong way.

As for the MT 13+ requirement, that appears to be mainly relevant in the context of the Order of the Green Cockerel.

It's 13, not 14, for writing 7 tractatus.

Also, if you read both parts of transmission, you'll see that "teaching" refers to both "direct teaching" and "writing." Only the writing method is provided for the first magus, and that only via tractatus. I do find it very strange that other magi can pass on the knowledge through summas and "direct teaching," while these methods do not seem to be available for the originating magus. Plus the later transmission doesn't have the Quality requirement. I find that whole thing to be a mess. And that was my biggest problem with the section.

Yes, that is the case, assuming you've done the math carefully enough to realize how terrible the Virtue is and that you have to game the system for it to work for you. Let's say that is the case and the troupe is fine with you gaming the system. Let's say you go for 7 bonuses of +1 to a category as narrow or narrower than a Minor Magical Focus. You'll have to have 6 successes with each of the 7 different things. Frequently you won't even get to work with all 7 things at once due to the Experimentation Bonus and perhaps with what you're working on, and you have a minimum of Magic Theory 6 + specialty to include them all at the same time anyway. And then you have to roll for testing, but that can be automatic with only Perception + Magic Lore + specialty of 5 for +1 bonuses. So if you gear everything perfectly you'll probably need 3 seasons to test every one of the 7 twice. So barring bad luck you're looking at 9 seasons in the lab to pull this off if you're optimized for it and going for the ideal 7 bonuses of +1 each. (Perhaps more due to disasters, but let's say there aren't any.) Hopefully no one will complain that you're gaming the system.

From experience, with some lucky rolls before a house-rule changed things, after five seasons I'd pulled off one bonus 3 times, two bonuses 2 times, and a bunch each 1 time. I was working with things my character would be interested in, not just going for the cheesy 7 bonuses of +1. Yet I was working with relatively small bonuses: +2 and +1 within Minor/Major Magical Focus breadth, which really aren't that crazy. (I wanted to be able to write the tractatus, so I needed to keep the bonus below +3, which also seems odd.) I would have been only about a sixth of the way to getting the required seven, and that was with some really lucky rolls for the Experimentation bonus. (On a bad Experimentation Bonus, you'll get almost nothing. I had only one low roll, the rest being well above average.) So it would have taken about 30 seasons at my going rate with luck on my side. If I'd been going for the big stuff, sure I would expect this. But +1 and +2 in the narrowest categories?

OK. True. However, in my experience and lot of does end up somewhat wasted. While you get something out of the seasons, you end up having to create a variety of different things based on the bonuses you're hunting for instead of based on what you would really want to do for yourself. So I did find it fairly wasteful. And if you're not a great writer, then your books aren't going to be really valuable, though they'll be worth more for the extra perk.

I agree. And, on top of that, look at the record keeping for the magus in question. Before you've merged your bonuses, even with the +1s you'll have to record up to 5 different personal bonuses for a single shape/material. I think the flavor won out substantially over the mechanics on this one.


I agree, though I would say the modifier can be large but with small effect. It should only really matter with large bonuses.

Yes, this is true, at least somewhat. But let's say I've got Com+2 (pretty good for a lab rat) and just love Vulgar Alchemy - it's my greatest thrill in life. So after 50 years I've finally made my greatest discovery. I've published a bunch of smaller +1s (4 of them), +2s (3 of them), and +3s (2 of them) along the way. Oh, no! Wait. I need to bump my Magic Theory up another 2, from 17 to 19, and increase my Communication or I can't explain my greatest discovery to anyone! Having been involved in real science research, this is not at all how it should behave. Also, just who was it who was able to write that Q20 MT tractatus to explain red coral? Yes, I do know ways to pull that off, but they require a lot of cheese.


Goodness, I'd forgotten about that restriction. That just makes things even more silly.

It actually looks like it'd be easier to use the Original Research rules from HoH: TL, including those distribution rules.
Maybe as a "very minor" break through.

Good point. That would be very minor project, and it certainly fits within those rules. If the Storyteller only requires a few points, you could get a bonus in a bunch of seasons. This meshes well with a comment above that any magus should be able to do Vulgar Alchemy. It would be nice if Vulgar Alchemy, then, modified those rules so that you could be more successful than normal when looking for Shape & Material bonuses.


Indeed, useful when you have theurgy or invocation, not much cop on its own. In fact, as i've been reading it, it does nothing on its own.

It does nothing on it's own - it has to be combined with either Hermetic Theurgy or Invocation Magic.

Precise and Quick Casting: they both must be taken multiple times for their bonus, unlike any of the other mastery abilities that add to an ability check.

These abilities would be quite useful if the final Ability score was added, I'm just suggesting that these are flawed when compared to the other mastery abilities. Ultimately, there are some problems with mastery, but that's another, bigger issue. But by RAW, the aforementioned mastery abilities are a bit broken.

I'm actually OK with Precise Casting despite it being a little weak because it does two (sort-of three) things: +1 to Finesse use (which includes fast casting) and -1 botch dice to Finesse use. If this were scaled like Penetration and Multiple Casting and others, I would suggest splitting it into two. Yes, Quick Casting is really weak, especially since Precise Casting provides you half of its bonus already.

I can see how you view Precise casting adding to Fast Casting Speed, but I tend to view that as a general Finesse check, to see if you can bring your faculties to bear on the problem at hand, a coolness under fire check, if you will. Even if I agree with that premise, still requires 15 xp to get that +1 bonus to Fast Casting Speed. It's more useful than it was before, certainly.

Fast Casting speed is a general Finesse check using Quickness with Finesse, plus any other bonuses that might apply.

Yes. I'm not sure why 15 xp (Why specifically from a score of 2 to a score of 3?), but I do agree that it's on the weaker end of things. I generally only use it when I have a magus who likes Rego Craft Magic. Even then it's as much for the decrease in botch dice as for the other bonus since if you want a bunch of those spells you're just better off raising Finesse. It seems really useful to someone who uses Finesse and a has a particular Finesse-based attack they love to use. It essentially lets you buy Finesse a little cheaper. Still, it's on the weaker side.

If I were to scale it like Penetration, I would split it into two. For example, Precise Casting adds the Mastery score to Finesse rolls and Careful Casting subtracts the Mastery score from Finesse botch dice.


That's simply not in RAW. The only bonus that is explicitly added is Quick Casting, because it's stated plainly in the description of the mastery ability. That modification is necessary as the Fast Casting Speed is simply listed as Quickness + Finesse + Stress Die. It may be reasonable for other things to modify it, such as Fast Caster Virtue, but it's simply not in the RAW.

Starting from no mastery ability, 5 xp for Fast Casting, 10 xp for Precise casting. Or switch the order of mastery acquisition around, it doesn't matter, as you can't use the spell as a fast cast spell and get the precise bonus until you have both mastery techniques.

(double-post due to board problems)