Twilight Prone

I was looking to a very electrifying Flambeau that magi of Tom posted a few days ago, and taking it as a base to do some NPC advancement. I thought that it would be fun to add some years to the character as use it as a old Hoplite and Legion of Mithras soldier in our saga, but it went a bit out of hands and I ended adding her over 100 years after apprenticeship, looking to develop the NPC until his dead (whenever her decrepitude reachs 4, at 160 years)... or Final Twilight (whenever her warping score hits 10).

And hence my question: the character have the flaw Twilight Prone, and at first I thought that characters use to get a coupe of warping points per year (I think I remember it to be some kind of canon data but I can't recall where I found it), so I figured that maybe Twilight Prone could double that number, and got that she would barely survive a bit over 100 years before passing into Final Twilight. But then I re-read the twilight mechanics and didn't found Twilight causing extra warping points, so she could last 160 years before dying of decrepitude, as it would happen with any other magus like (well, as long as he made exactly the same rolls for longevity and the same longevity rituals at the same time) her but without the Twilight Prone flaw.

So either I am missing some other ways to get warping that she would suffer somehow more, or as rules are a character with the Twilight Prone flaw (a Major one!) have exactly the same chances of passing into Final Twilight that any other magus, which doesn't makes much sense to me.

So am I missing something? Or should I just design a house rule to give Twilight Proned characters more chances to get warping? (a first thought would be to give one warping point per botch dice and double the warping points gained if Twilight isn't comprehended, or something like that) Any other ideas?

Off-hand I note that when you suffer a Twilight episode, you get more Warping points than you got to trigger the event. ArM5, p. 89 notes:

Someone who is Twilight Prone will likely enter Twilight more often, which means gaining more simple dice of Warping Points each year.

So, it seems to me that yes, being Twilight Prone would give you more Warping Points each year, on average.

Twilight prone is nasty. However "vanilla" characters are really flawed when it comes to warping.

  • longevity ritual taken too soon
  • no use of the bronze cord to delay it
  • what is those magi taking 2 points each year? Don't they know mastery for spells ? don't they use items in dangerous conditions.
  • those breakthrough researchers don't they know you should always use leve 25 breakthrough projects to (almost) cancel the ris during stabilization?

Characters creation rules suck for post gauntlet (and some would say even during... but that's another claim), as they are totally wrong by the book compared to what may occur ingame. Better to do a complex creation + review of the SG for PCs.

(Personally I hate those rules for magi after gauntlet. At 90, my PC has only 34 points in warping... because he decided to delay the LR, because he is cautious sorcerer, because use of talisman for most of offensive abilities, because he always motivate other PCs to cast spontaneous spell by hiding his real abilities.

Happily, I created it at gauntlet and advanced it with time.)

And for the record: if NPC A exists in your setting, and NPC A dies due to aging or warping before entering play... just cancel NPC A, and recreates NPC A'. Nobody knows, and that's not even cheating... since "NPC A exist" in the setting.

TL;DR: for NPC, decide on their warping score and decrepitude score by yourself. Mechanical rules are mostly bad if they end up with you tossing a good concept to trash.

I don't consider Twilight Prone to be a huge flaw at all because most games do not run for long enough for it to make a major difference. It's bad on paper but often only an irritant in play.

It's horrific. One of my sagas currently has a maga with Twilight Prone. Due to unfortunate dice rolling, she has a warping score of 4, at the ripe old age of 26.
She does not have a Longevity Ritual. But her player rolls a few '0's every now and then when casting spells. follow that with a single botch, and bam instant Twilight episode, and a simple dice worth of Warping on top.

At 3 years from her Gauntlet, she doesn't have a familiar yet, but she's sure to want to bind one, and soon. And she will probably throw most of her power into that Gold Cord, because she really needs to reduce her number of botch dice.

I'd like to see a few more instances before I change my view, Magi never seem to exit via twilight.

Here are some quick stats for comparison. I'll assume the chance of going into versus avoiding twilight is 50-50. Here are some expectations of picking up Warping Points based on botch dice and assuming you've rolled a 0 to start with (so divide these all by 10 to get a per casting rate):

1 botch die
Normal: 0.1x1 = 0.1
Twilight Prone: 0.1x1 + 0.1x0.5x5.5 = 0.375

2 botch dice
Normal: 0.18x1 + 0.01x2 + 0.01x0.5x5.5 = 0.2275
Twilight Prone: 0.18x1 + 0.01x2 + 0.19x0.5x5.5 = 0.7225

3 botch dice
Normal: 0.243x1 + 0.027x2 + 0.001x3 + 0.028x0.5x5.5 = 0.377
Twilight Prone: 0.243x1 + 0.027x2 + 0.001x3 + 0.271x0.5x5.5 = 1.04525

This could keep going. But as you can see, averaged up through about 4 botch dice you're about 10 times as likely to go into Twilight, which means those 5.5 points show up far more often. Averaged up through about 4 botch dice you pick up about 3 times as many Warping Points from botches. Then also consider that those Twilights will be harder to control and take you out of play longer sooner since your score rises so much faster.

For my style, it's terrible. I like to be able to do Spontaneous magic in a safe spot, like the lab. That can be to prepare for an excursion or to help around the covenant in some way. Normally, I'm looking at picking up 2 Warping Point after 200 Fatiguing Spontaneous spells, with no chance of Twilight. With Twilight Prone, that would be 7.5 Warping Points with one Twilight episode that I'd have to control or suffer from. Depending on the specifics, that could easily be within 2 years or so (typically about 30 to prep for an excursion, and commonly at least 1/week at the covenant, sometimes even reaching 1/day).

Well, this caracter wouldn't have so much troubles due to her Flawless Magic virtue; all that mastery negating botch dice will probably keep her safe: when you roll no botch dice, then there isn't any chance of twilight no matter what. So, for a player character, Flawless Magic counters Twilght Prone to the point of almost negating it, specially if you spend some extra XPs in increasing spell masteries to hight scores of your default spells and then take some care avoiding botch dices (no more experimenting in the lab, boosting spells with vis and casting in big non magical auras, and so on)... Players without that virtue would also get longer lives if they keep small

For this character as I have it right now, she would die of old age at 201 years old (spending mountains of vis in her last years, with one longevity ritual every three years on average for 30 years). So I think that a player with these virtue & flaw could live that long (and the flaw would mostly be happening in play from a handful of times), but for a NPC I guess I can go back to make her live shorten and put her into final twilight earlier...

Wich brings me back to just waving and giving her some warping points per year. But I definetivey cannot do that for every old NPC magi, as even if I adjust the number of warping points per year to make half of them pass into Final Twilight before hitting decrepitude 4, which would seem appropiate, then it would actually put an age limit whenever the fixed rate sums up to 275 warping points and Warping Score goes up to 10.

So it seems that I need another model with a random ingredient and then adjust some parameters may NPCs have this virtue or that flaw. Sounds fun!, but in the short run I'm going to listen to ExarKun and just make up the numbers.

Edit: Callen, your reply caught me typing... I love these formulae and it truly seems like a curse for a player character, but for this NPC I would need another lines, for the flawless magic virtue mentioned above, and considering also something like an average spell mastery:

So it would be...

1 botch die
Flawless Magic (spell mastery 1+): 0
Normal: 0.1x1 = 0.1
Twilight Prone: 0.1x1 + 0.1x0.5x5.5 = 0.375
Twilight Prone + Flawless Magic: 0

2 botch dice
Flawless Magic (spell mastery 2+): 0
Flawless Magic (spell mastery 1): 0.1x1 = 0.1
Normal: 0.18x1 + 0.01x2 + 0.01x0.5x5.5 = 0.2275
Twilight Prone: 0.18x1 + 0.01x2 + 0.19x0.5x5.5 = 0.7225
Twilight Prone + Flawless Magic (spell mastery 2+): 0
Twilight Prone + Flawless Magic (spell mastery 1): 0.1x1 + 0.1x0.5x5.5 = 0.375

3 botch dice
Flawless Magic (spell mastery 3+): 0
Flawless Magic (spell mastery 2): 0.1x1 = 0.1
Flawless Magic (spell mastery 1): 0.18x1 + 0.01x2 + 0.01x0.5x5.5 = 0.2275
Normal: 0.243x1 + 0.027x2 + 0.001x3 + 0.028x0.5x5.5 = 0.377
Twilight Prone: 0.243x1 + 0.027x2 + 0.001x3 + 0.271x0.5x5.5 = 1.04525
Twilight Prone + Flawless Magic (spell mastery 3+): 0
Twilight Prone + Flawless Magic (spell mastery 2): 0.1x1 + 0.1x0.5x5.5 = 0.375
Twilight Prone + Flawless Magic (spell mastery 1): 0.18x1 + 0.01x2 + 0.19x0.5x5.5 = 0.7225

...for that one could think that Flawless Magic more or less halves twilight points, Twilight Prone triplies them, and the combination of the two just doubles it, maintaining the flaw's purpose after all.

Spontaneous magic would still be pretty much suicidal, as experimenting in the lab.

Twilight Prone is a funny one, in that whether it triggers or not depends heavily on luck of the dice. Last time I played a character with Twilight Prone, I racked up over 50 warping points in the first couple of game years and botched our Aegis of the Hearth on year. On the other hand, one character in the same saga who was Twilight Prone never botched a spell roll once by pure luck. I've also seen people focus on the Golden Cord for their familiar to minimise risk.

Twilight Prone can also be fun - if your SG enjoys roleplaying the Twilight Episode, or you create really fun Twilight scars, frequently going into Twilight can bring you more game. Some people like the idea of playing a Criamon with Twilight Prone, just to see how many benefical Twilight experiences they can get.

For Fulminata, Twilight Prone seemed like a good fit because she has Flawless Magic and Mastered Spells to minimise the risk with her favourites, while making casting magic as unpredictable as the lightning she wields.

Here's the catch. Many Virtues and Flaws have a clear mechanical effect in "normal" play, but no way to account for that effect when creating an older character using "standard" advancement rules (that many xp per year etc.). Twilight Prone, Learn from Mistakes, and Book Learner are just a few examples. By a strict reading of the rules, these Virtues and Flaws should be disregarded until the character starts actual play: a character who's Twilight prone will not start with more Warping points, just as a character who can Learn from Mistakes or is a Book Learner will not start with more xp. Perhaps the Twilight Prone character, aware of the risk, was correspondingly more careful?

Obviously, this means that the corresponding Virtues are comparatively less useful for older characters, and the corresponding Flaws less limiting. But not all Virtues and Flaws in Ars Magica have the same impact on the same time-horizon (think Affinity vs. Puissant), so it's really a much broader issue that, from my experience, is ok to wandwave.

Do note that Flawless Magic doesn't help with Spontaneous Magic. Anyone can get rid of botch dice with formulaic spells, though not as consistently as with Flawless Magic, but almost no one can get rid of botch dice from Fatiguing Spontaneous Magic. The specifics I mentioned with the 200 spells comment were for a character with Flawless Magic and Cautious Sorcerer and a Gold Cord.

A better example of when it's basically a free Flaw: already have both Flawless Magic and Weak Spontaneous Magic.