Thoughts on multiple Magical Focii

My SG has asked the troupe as to what long-term goals we want for our Magi.
I have answered that my character magus wishes to gain enough magical power to be respected and admired by all Magi, while remaining an ideal Tremere Magus. My SG has been asking for a specific example.

So I am thinking about how nearly every magus in our troupe has a Magical Focus in something other than Certamen, I have begun to wonder if it is truly impossible for a Magus to learn a second magical focus.
Perhaps I could tell my SG I want my Magus to work towards a Breakthrough that will grant him a second Magical Focus. Could anyone help me with arguments I could present to my SG.

The first question is - is it only Hermetic Magi who are limited to a single magical focus? ie is this a limitation of Hermetic Theory? Could some variety of Hedge Wizard have more than a single magical focus?
I have argued before that Guernicus managed to change his Terrae focus, into another focus related to finding the wizard who killed his master. But this was when Guernicus was non-Hermetic wizard.

If this is a limitation in Hermetic Theory, then it might require only a Minor Breakthrough. If it is a limitation for all magical wizards, then this may be a Major Breakthrough.

Consider a hypothetical Magus with the following virtues.
Cyclic Magic - During Winter
Method Caster
Special Circumstances - outside while snow is falling
Puissant Form
Puissant Technique
All these bonuses should stack together when they all apply, possibly providing a bonus greater than all but an older mage might get from a Magical Focus.
If a magus can have all these stacking bonuses, why not a second magical focus?

Is it such a problem if a character has non-overlapping focii, say a focus in Certamen and a focus in Self-Transformation or in Familiars?

Have I overlooked anything?

My mage would happily work on giving Certamen extra abilities, if I could think of some. I have read on the forums about extra 'folds' for Parma Magica, is there anything similar for Certamen?

As annoying as it might feel for a magus Tremere (or a player of one, rather) I'm sure I wouldn't want to allow multiple Foci. If for no other reason, then because I would hate to see any overlapping ones added. The problem I think is that it's not a flat bonus, but one that scales with increasing Arts. All the other bonuses (boni?) mentioned tend to be relatively low, and adding a handful of +2' and 3s might be a lot for a young magus. But once Arts are approaching 20 a Focus has more impact, let alone two.

I know that it is not the same, but you could go with Potent Magic to have a specialty.

Edit: Also, ciclic Magic should give you bonuses half the time, so autum and winter seems more appropriate than just winter.

I'd rather allow Tremere magi to take Potent Certamen instead of mMF:Certamen, to free up the Focus slot for something more fun

Pretty sure there are no Hedge traditions that have double Magical Foci (they tend to have fewer things to focus on generally speaking).

Diedne magic should stack with magical focus and it is essentially a magical focus on spontaneous casting, so that would be your rules precedent (sort of)

If you were to gain two I won't actually let them stack under ant circumstances, I'd say only the highest one applies.

It is reasonable to use an initiation to increase a Minor Focus to a Major Focus so maybe you could invent a Supreme Focus or something that is broader than a Major? Increasing your Certamen Focus up to Combat Focus or something?


Disagree on allowing multiple foci. If a Magus wants to research that, fine, it’s a Hermetic Breakthrough.

I do not think Hedge Traditions have anything like this, did you have an example in mind?

Agree on giving the Tremere players more options. (There’s Potent Magic around, not as powerful in the long run, but...)

  1. House rule the certamen focus; PCs are special , less traditional, change the mMF for another appropriate Virtue , the player can now choose a focus that he prefers. Maybe he’s a rebel in House Tremere’s army.
  2. Tremere have lots of secret knowledge squirreled away. Offer the player original research Lab Texts/teacher that provide access to some Potent Magic, in exchange for... something something story Hook
  3. Join a Cult. A traditional Ordeal is losing a minor Virtue to gain a Major one. mMF-> MMF, presto.

Good luck with the SG, hope you can find accommodation!

This becoming a pat peeve of mine when people say "Potent Certamen" without explaining how the rules of Potent Magic are supposed to work with Certamen.

I would be happier if people tried to say Puissant Certamen and explained which parts of the Certamen duel that the +3(?) bonus applied to.

From a game perspective, I like that Tremere can't be as specialized as the other Houses; it forces them to trade and deal, offsetting their insular nature.

However, if you want extraordinary power, just get Chthonic Magic - it will give you a bonus in everything! And the price is so cheap - you won't miss it...


I actually started writing "Puissant Certamen, for +3 to all Certamen totals", but changed it to Potent because that seemed to be the ongoing idea for saying basically the same thing

When reading all of the above and finding mentioned both to Diedne Magic and Cthonic Magic I thought something that might be useful for your argument, Ivgreen.

The problem when looking at these two virtues in any discussion about Magical Foci is that they aren’t that. Their mechanics are the same, but their scope is totally different.

Let’s look at Diedne Magic. First of all, it comes with a Major Flaw, and secondly, it doesn’t fit into the limits of any focus; it spans through all techniques and forms, not just one Form as Major Foci are. And anyone replying “but the limit is that it only applies to Spontaneus Magic” should them be ready for the next player saying “ok, then I’m going to take a Major Focus on Formulaic Magic”. Unless you are ready for that kind of crazyness, Diedne Magic is not a focus. And that’s why a magus may have both a focus and Diedne Magic.

So what about Cthonic Magic? Thompsja said it’s cheap. Well, it could be, if you are in the kind of game were Quaesitors don’t show up much, Intellego Vim isn’t used, no one have Sense Holiness and Unholiness, and nobody cares if you have to perform sins before or while spellcasting, like let’s say chant to pagan gods while slaughtering animals or humans; exactly the kind of stuff that caused the Schism War, what a coincidence! Also it can apply to anything, so it also get rids of the scope limit of foci. So no, Cthonic Magic works like a focus mechanically, yes, but is not a focus. And that’s why one magi may have a focus and Cthonic Magic at once.

So the argument would be that the focus Tremere magi share isn’t actually a focus except by name. Yes, it shares the mechanics of foci, but so do the two virtues above, so that’s not reason enough to claim it’s one. And it ignores the usual scope of foci limits to the point that it doesn’t alow you any spellcasting or lab benefit.

It might work: it had with me! I had always been opposed to Tremere picking another focus, and now look at me.

As a last resort by RAW you can’t have two foci... at once. You might get a new one loosing Trmere’s focus by ordeal, twilight or something like that. Then you probably should take some measures against other tremere finding that out: they might decide it’s a perfect time to show how useful that (alleged) focus is by challenging you to certamen.


The problem you were originally trying to solve, understanding how your magus plans to gain the respect he craves, differs from the question you have asked the forum, which is how to justify a second magical focus.

After all, in some sagas and for some characters, achieving a second focus will garner envy, suspicion and hatred rather than respect. Especially if there's a Story Flaw involved. Especially if the character really ought to be retired once he gets the respect he has craved forever, sort of the way Gilligan's Island stops working once Gilligan returns to Hawaii.

And now, on to the question of multiple magical foci.

RAW, no one gets to have more than one, Hermetic or not.

In some sagas, Tremere don't need a breakthrough to get a 'real' focus; there's no worry about overlap, after all. So that's an argument you can use to make a Breakthrough palatable.

Almost no one will allow a Breakthrough that lets you stack two magical foci. That leads to something like Major Focus with Fire stacking with Minor Focus in Creating Fires, allowing PoF Casting Totals of 80+ right out of Gauntlet. Some people might find that troubling. And there are more interesting combinations.

But not much is lost by allowing two foci when no more than one can be used for any given total, especially if the GM is willing to prohibit combinations he finds problematic (perhaps like one Focus in 'men' and another in 'women'...)

(Diedne and Cthonic Magic have been discussed to death in previous threads. The first is weak and both come with serious drawbacks.)



Yes, I specifically asked about non-overlapping focii, say a focus in Certamen and a focus in Self-Transformation, in Self-Teleportation or in Familiars?

Still, if everyone is so convinced that a 2nd magical focus won't be allowed, I presume my SG will feel the same.
Maybe I will try telling the SG that my character (who has Flawless Magic) wishes to investigate adding Spell Mastery abilities to Certamen combat as his path to his long-term goal. I am not confident of this idea, as spell mastery doesn't apply to Spontaneous Magic, which I suspect Certamen is closer to rather than Formulaic magic.


Hmm. I don't think everyone is so convinced. After all, some sagas do allow it, especially for Tremere.



In a similar vein you could always try to go the L5R Crane Bushi route and research ways to use your dueling specialization outside the bounds of a formal duel.

I am not too familiar with L5R Crane Bushi.

It almost sounds like I should investigate expanding a Minor Magical Focus in Certamen into a Major Magical Focus in Magical Attacks on Magical Defences, which should include Certamen as a subset. I am not certain that would be popular with the Order of Hermes.
Or would you mean a Major Magical Focus in, for want of a better term, MetaMagic - magic that directly affects other magic, which should include Certamen.


I did an addled Tremere veteran of the Schism War on the border of Final Twilight (which side of the boundary he was on was deliberately not defined) who had developed a Major Focus that included Certamen. I didn't need anyone's approval for that, however.