Twilight Comprehension Rolls

Would you allow someone to spend a confidence point on the Twilight comprehension roll?

Background: A fellow player had his mage try to cast a spell in a Divine Aura, in an attempt to save the abbot from being murdered by some fellow monks. The other mage was deep in combat, the grog was deadly wounded and my companion character was busy watching the candles.  The mage rushed in and with his first spell, he rolled a zero, then rolled two zeros on four dice. So, we definitely had a botch here, and we had to roll for twilight. He failed the twilight comprehension roll, and then rolled a 4 on his dice to understand it, (with a +3 Intelligence) whereas he rolled a 9 for the difficulty (with a +1 for warping score)

By my math, if he can spend a confidence point, he should be allowed to comprehend it, whereas if he can’t he is screwed. I have already suggested a trip to if our Jerbiton with the gentle gift has been too badly marked by the experience, but unless the divine aura helps in asking for help from the saints, it is pretty much a long shot.

Sure, why not? Confidence points are for making rolls (not representing a season's effort or anything) better.

To me, Confidence points are a great tool for players to signal where they want the story to go. Is he really interested in saving the abbot, or at least wreaking havoc on the murderous monks? Confidence point says he's still got a chance to do so. (Or, actually, I dunno, since I can't remember how Twilight works.) Does he think that a bad-to-his-character Twilight experience would be a cool story twist, and appropriate given the dubious choice to cast in a Divine aura? Saving confidence point for something else says that's where it's going.

I would not allow this, in the same way that I would not allow Cnf to be spent on an Aging Roll or a Wound Recovery Roll. Twilight is a rare and alien experience; there's no way a magus should be able to tackle it with confidence. From a game-mechanic perspective, since there's so much at stake (gain/loss of XP or even Virtues/Flaws!), allowing Cnf use would become abusive - you would always spend Cnf points if it were allowed, just like you would always spend Cnf on vis study or lab experimentation, if it were allowed (which it isn't).


Yes, without any doubt or question.

IMHO this is the kind of things Confidence is made for. Something vital and important and when under pressure and time contraint. After all, you don't 'recover' Confideicne, new points must be earned by achieving some personal goal.

Sadly we don't really use Confidence in my sagas - but I intent to try. After all I have a magus with Self Confident virtue.

While I agree with Andrew that this has the potential to be abused, I have allowed players to use Confidence Points for Twilight rolls. I don't think I can disallow it. The rule says: Confidence may not be spent on rolls which represent a whole season's activities, such as rolls for studying from vis, (page 20). According that, you could use Confidence on wound recovery rolls. I don't have a problem with that. I'm not keen on a central character - remember that only central characters (magi & companions) have Confidence - dying from his wounds. While it might be "realistic" it isn't often fun in play.

Matt Ryan

There is a saying that hard cases make bad laws. I am rooting for confidence points to be allowed, since the character is screwed otherwise. Still, it seems like a starting Tytalus would have a better chance of having a beneficial Twilight encounter than a starting Criamon, which does not seem right to me.

Let me say that having Confidence: 2 really makes a difference. Adding +6 to a roll instead of +3 changes the game. Not a bad thing, but something. Near the end of a high-powered saga I ran, most of the characters had Confidence: 2 and the self-confident fellow had Confidence: 3. It was surprising how often they succeeded at tasks.

Matt Ryan


An alternative is to also allow purchasing points back with XP(not too cheaply of course) like in Unisystem games, works ok i think. You get to choose between raising skills or getting back the ability to more strongly influence a single situation, usually not such an easy choice.

Very much so. Usually, running as loose a game as possible without harming its functionality tends to be best.
Its not always possible at all, but its a nice goal to aim for.

Well, the Criamon should have a score in The Enigma, and still has Confidence as well, combine those and it shouldnt be worse than double Cnf?

It certainly does, but you have to get those points back before you can use them again, and if you use them too trivially, eventually it may come back to bite you badly.
Dont forget that you can always pick the Virtue for any character.

I agree that according to the RAW, it does not seem like it should be disallowed. However it is worth considering the consequences of making the Twilight Comprehension roll easier; it seems to me that they would be quite profound...

Consider, for example, a Criamon character with Self-Confident, Puissant Enigmatic Wisdom, and the Twilight Prone "Flaw". Playing this character, you'd be jonesing to get into Twilight just as soon as you had replenished 2 Cnf points, because the outcomes would very likely be good. You could easily experience 20 Twilights in your first decade (assuming the existence of some kind of Vim spell to invoke Twilight, or else deliberate recklessness), and maybe 18 or 19 of those would be good. Sure, you'd have quickly racked up a Warping Score of 6 or so, but so what? That many good Twilights is a lot of extra XP, Virtues, and spells. :smiley:

Basically, Twilight currently works in the setting because it is not, on average a good thing. Without going into detailed rules analysis, the comprehension roll looks like it roughly yields a 50/50 chance of a good/bad outcome. Add to that the Warping gain and the time/inconvenience, and it's an overall slight negative, it seems to me. But allow a +3 (or +6, +9, ...) to the roll, and it skews the outcomes significantly in favour of the good. In an Order of Hermes where 80-90% of Twilights result in increased knowledge, why wouldn't magi be keen to try it? The Cave of Twisting Shadows (which one can visit to learn EW) would suddenly become a popular destination... :slight_smile:

Although the concept of an Order of Hermes "on steroids" with many magi seeking out Twilight for its instant rewards (as opposed to tiresome and lengthy study) has amusing story potential, this should not be standard! Now I realise this is a bit of a "slippery slope" argument; you're not going to suddenly arrive at OoH-on-steroids just because you allow one player to use Cnf for Twilight comprehension. However, once your players start to figure out the new cost-benefit analysis of Twilight, you might have a problem...

Yes, like having a political adventure when ther political magus is trapped in twilight, or a dragon rampaging around when the glambeau is sleeping in the twilight void :wink: "Good" does not mean "short"


I would say its a lot worse than "slight negative".

It would be an order with rather much more shortlived members. This in turn would limit magi more than the bonuses would benefit them.

This assumes you will always be able to have those spare Cnf points when you need them.

That spell is already in the AM5 main book, "The Enigmas Gift".

Every time the Warping Score goes up, the risk of spending a long time in Twilight goes up quite a lot and the risk of failing comprehension goes up a bit as well. Overall the risk quickly gets very noticeable.
And if you go out seeking Twilight and spend Cnf intentionally, what do you do if you botch and go into Twilight while your Cnf is at zero? Especially if you have already gotten a fairly high Warping score.

Or what if the SG gets annoyed at the player "gaming the system" and lets a hostile magi hit you with a spell giving 5+ warping points while you have zero Cnf? That could even put your, lets say 40 year old magi into final twilight. Your magi might get more XP and Virtues really fast earl on, but will also get extra Flaws and loose time in Twilight. And Twilight will be a serious danger for a far far longer time as you will have a much higher Warping Score much earlier.

I think i will much rather keep the Cnf score for when i NEED it.

OK, I guess one should draw a distinction between accidental and deliberate Twilight:

The frequency of accidental Twilight would not be changed. And yes, if you are in the middle of battling a dragon or whatnot, going into Twilight could be VERY inconveniencing, with consequences potentially outweighing the issue of whether or not the Twilight outcome is good. And yes, you might not always have the Cnf points to spare. All true...

What about deliberate Twilight? Presumably this is very rare, restricted to a handful of mad or eccentric magi? I am considering the situation where a magus is feeling confident (i.e. Cnf points available), has a day to spare, and is sitting in the comfort of his own lab, hefting the weight of the Enigma's Gift Casting Tablet in his lap... Would casting this spell on himself be a reckless and unpredictable act of madness? Or a somewhat-risky but in general very quick and productive way to increase his magical knowledge?

If deliberate Twilight became widespread, then yes, the lifespans of magi would reduce, possibly with significant consequences for the structure of the OoH. I don't see that that would stop most magi, though! After all, if temporary Twilight is mostly beneficial, then surely Final Twilight isn't to be feared either? :smiley:

Re. the increase in Warping Score, true, as it increases, then the cost-benefit ratio drops (i.e. the chance of a bad outcome becomes more likely). Either you could offset this with an increase in Cnf score and/or gain of Enigmatic Wisdom, or (more likely) you would quickly rack up a Warping score of 5 or 6, before (if you are sensible) calling it quits. I could definitely see many masters casting Enigma's Gift on their apprentices - in most cases it would result in a significant or dramatic improvement in their magical abilities!

In any case, if mostly beneficial, Twilight would surely become a phenomenon of much greater interest to magi than it is now.

Magi characters don't know about the game mechanics.

So they don't know about Confidence Points, they don't know how many Confidence Points they have, and they don't know that they can use them to influence the outcome of Twilight.

Well, yes, this is true of course. However players generally tend to spend Cnf points to the best advantage of their character or the story. I don't think that anyone is arguing that a player whose magus goes into Twilight would NOT choose to spend Cnf on the Comprehension roll, if allowed by the SG and if the character has Cnf points to spare! (As the example in the OP illustrates: clearly the player would very much like to be able to spend the point.) So the PCs, at least, would exhibit "improved Twilight performance". For the verisimilitude of the game, one usually assumes that the actions of the PC magi are representative of NPC magi, and that they operate on the same rules. Thus magi - or at least those who have studied the subject - would be aware of the phenomenon of typically good Twilight outcomes, at least for young (i.e. not very Warped) magi.


Likewise, the NPCs (which are really just Player Characters controlled by the Story-Guide / Troupe) have their Confidence Points spent by the Story-Guide / Troupe in a way that is either to the best advantage of that character or the story.

If you (the players in your troupe) think that it is to the disadvantage of the story for NPCs to spend their Confidence Points in a particular way --- then spend them in another way.

No character PC or NPC does anything that you (the troupe) doesn't want them to.

Not complete madness no. But a VERY risky way to MAYBE get knowledge. Might very well LOOSE knowledge as well, or even gain a very damaging Flaw.

Worst of all however is the question in gameterms at least, how sure can you be that those Cnf points wont be desperately needed the day after?
"In character", the big question is, no matter how confident the magi feels, the risk is still far from tiny that they end up with a bad twilight and "get hurt" in the process. And they probably would have at least some degree of understanding of this even if not in % chance to succeed or anything.

Im sure there would be some crazy enough to take the risk, or better yet perhaps, magi that are thrillseekers and just "having fun", and if just a few of them manage to be successful repetitively(even if most are not), they could easily get a following of "daredevil" magi taking serious chances to improve extra fast.
But MOST magi would probably look at those who fail (even if they are few) and "decline on the fun" because the uncertainty is too big of a risk for someone who might otherwise live a century or even three more if they´re careful.

The risk will still turn the majority off it im fairly sure. Im sure there will always be a minority exploiting it, but as a "normal" way to improve? Very unlikely i think. Humans in general are too risk-adverse for that.
"mostly beneficial" still means some are very much damaging instead. And what if you get stuck in twilight for a couple of centuries? Even a few years is potentially really bad.

So you would have to study EW seriously to be able to improve in some other way? You´re basically just trading time doing one thing for doing another here. Worse still, the indirect way of Twilight has inherent and to a degree unavoidable dangers.

This i totally disagree however. Far too risky. Just spend a couple of Vis to aquire a high quality book instead.
Sure you can get Virtues and special spells etc from twilight, but even though its not huge the danger is still too great.
And, if i were SG, unless there was a reason for it, i could easily disallow an apprentice using Cnf during a twilight, simply because most would quite probably NOT be confident about getting through one unscathed.
A very selfconfident apprentice perhaps, but not most.

A couple of points; First, if you are in a dangerous situation, going into twilight probably is not the worst t thing that can happen to you personally. True, you are out of the action for a while, but you are physically safe until you emerge from twilight. If I am in combat with a dragon and go into twilight for a month, the dragon is going to chew on me for a while, get bored and put me someplace and then move on with their life.

Second, a twilight encounter adds at a minimum 3 to 12 warping points. Warping points from longevity rituals are considered the upper limit for what causes characters to leave the game. So, a twilight encounter removes 3 to 12 years from a characters life. That seems like a pretty big penalty for 6 to 24 experience points.

Honestly, deliberately warping oneself for power seems like a very Tytalus thing to do. Doesn’t seem like something a long lived Tytalus would do though.

Yup, but that could mean that the rest of the people there gets "crushed underfoot" of whatever the danger was, because you´re not there.

Exactly, and every time your warping score goes up, the risk of having something bad happen instead goes up quite a lot.