unGifted Learned Magician Companion Creation

I'm looking at creating a learned magician in a new saga, but I've hit a few questions/snags about character creation.

For an unGifted companion learned magician, it says they will need to initiate into the arts.

Taking a look at their example character I became confused (there are two, a gifted learned magician, and an ungifted priest, who is the example I refer to from here on in).

It "seems" like he has actually been initiated, at basically after selecting virtues, but before spending XP, he has a total of 14 points of virtues and a similar amount of flaws. He also has a flaw that is mandated by one of his initiations (incompatible arts) that he can't take, because he lacks one of those arts.

Do I build a character and layer the initiations on top, which seems both to super handicap him, as well as allow an impressive amount of virtues and flaws for a companion, or do I do the initiations as part of the 10 points of virtues and flaws?

If they are a PC initiated before the game begins, then the initiations should be part of the pre-game stats, and subject to those limits. Make it interesting- make a grog then add initiations to become a companion...

I thought that a grog that gains more Virtues and/or Flaws does not automatically gain companion status?

I think he's just referring to the process of designing a companion character:

  1. Design a grog.
  2. Then add on additionaly +/- 7 points of virtues and flaws as pulled from the relevant Initiation descriptions (thus making him a companion, in terms of game mechanics)

One thing to note is that the rules seem to become a bit contradictory for starting unGifted Learned Magicians. The problem stems from the standard of multiple Ordeals per initiation. By the time you pick up just a few Arts, you've exhausted your Minor Flaw limit. But there is really no good reason at all to have multiple Ordeals per Initiation. Between having just a bit of Lore and being able to grant bonuses to that Lore or Presence, they should have substantially better Initiation totals than the listed Initiation rituals expect. (Note, it's the Magicam boosts that are problematic and can have their results fade, not things like granting yourself Good Teacher and writing a book).

Yeah, I've come to the conclusion that General physical or mental virtues are covered by Creo Corpus or Creo Mentem. It's Supernatural virtues that are problematic - likely covered by Creo Vim, but hasn't been discovered/integrated yet.

Thanks for the responses.
The flaw limit is the one core book on pg36?

I guess that would still apply, but its fairly unpleasant problem. It'll lock the character out of personality and story flaws.

Maybe I'll go for an initiation in play for some of the virtues.

Still without books at hand, I recall, that all the Learned Magicians' initiations from HMRE are just examples.
If that's right, your character might have undergone quite different initiations to get his initial allotment of Techniques and Forms, and hence is about as free to choose initial Flaws as other companions are. Just make sure with your troupe, that your general idea of your character's teacher fits into their Mythic Europe.

I'll check in a few days, when back to my books.


I'm still trying to wrap my head around the whole Initiation process but those examples do seem to be quite punishing in terms of ordeals/flaws. However, perhaps that's to show that the tradition is fairly new and hasn't been properly 'refined' yet so the initiations are not as polished as they could be. It could be a good theme for a saga featuring a Learned Magician to try and develop initiations that are less harsh?

As I mentioned, the initiations really don't need multiple Flaws. And there is no rule requiring it, the repeated examples only make it seem that way. However, if you want to stick to everything, each initiation requires an Ordeal of some sort. So what I do is, when choosing initial Flaws, assign a Flaw I start with as being picked up in association with each Learned Magician Virtue I start with. Even then, I'm bugged by how many Flaw points are assigned there, but I can usually make something sensible.

Actually, is there any rule that says that initiation scripts MUST have ordeals? I seem to recall this coming up before, and while I can certainly see it as a matter of game balance, I'm not seeing any explicit requirement that there be a virtue/flaw tradeoff in TMRE. The closest I can see is the descriptions of Ordeals on pg. 12; which says that Minor flaws are common, but occasionally Major ones are used as well. And one of the examples on pg. 15 doesn't even have an Ordeal in it.

Also, the Learned Magician scripts don't seem to take into account the fact that the Initiate may already have already gone through an Ordeal, and thus gains the bonuses from it as described in TMRE. I mean, that first major Ordeal should be applying a -9 to the first, -6 to the second, and a -3 to the 3rd. So it looks like the scripts are meant to be taken in any order - but if you do one after the other, you (as a GM) can reasonably replace the 2nd Script with another that doesn't have 2 minor ordeals; the 3rd can be replaced with one that doesn't have 1 minor ordeal.

Check out HMRE, p.14, "Ungifted Initiations".

Ah. There it is. Thanks!

But for creation its a bit murkier, there isn't really a particular disadvantage to taking a flaw, you would probably have to take flaws anyway. It does prescribe which ones, and seems to introduce some contortions to avoid having too many minir flaws.

One Shot's memory does not fail him on this one, and indeed on HMRE p.88 one reads: "The Initiations described below are examples only, however, and the troupe is free to allow an unGifted character to begin play with other Flaws."

To answer the original post, in my games an UnGifted hedge wizard designed as a starting companion PC must purchase any Virtue giving him access to his magic as part of his 10 Virtue points (each balanced by a Flaw point). Each such Virtue should also have at least one associated "Ordeal Flaw" (that again, count against Flaw points the PC must balance his Virtue points with) that is inflicted on anyone who undergoes the corresponding Initiation. But a PC might have gained the Virtue through other means, or managed to somehow remove the corresponding Flaw (say, through a Pilgrimage); so we do not strictly enforce that every PC should sport all the corresponding Ordeal Flaws, though if one does not there should be a good explanation.

Now, TMRE does tells you how Hermetic magi can be designed as "elder" characters to include the effect of Initiations -- basically, you have to allot the appropriate time and resources out of those you'd normally allot to study and other advancement, and as a result the resulting PC might exceed the usual Virtue and Flaw limit. So, one could assume the same could be valid if designing "elder" hedge wizards and other unGifted companions part of some mystical tradition (from Faerie Wizards to Sahir). But the very choice of allowing such "elder" characters in the game is a crucial troupe choice that has an impact on how the saga unfolds... so if you stick to newly gauntleted magi and other "default" character choices, up-to-10-Virtue-points companion hedge wizards should probably be your choice.

As for the original example, I simply assume that the unGifted hedge wizard given as an example is not meant as a "default" starting companion PC.

I'd personally design him as Ex Misc - even if he's just a companion. That allows you to take the first Major Supernatural Virtue/Flaw combo right up front, for "free"....assuming that fits the character concept, of course.

This doesn't apply to the unGifted, as I recall. The initiations are more important to the unGifted since they can't have their Arts opened. So these are designed to intentionally ignore that set of bonuses.

There are many reasonable answers, depending on what you want:

  1. Virtues and Flaws are part of the character's normal +/-10 allotment. This is expected of a normal companion.
    1a) The character must take the recommended Flaws. It is assumed that he initiated LM virtues before play began. The Cult Upbringing Flaw might also be required to represent the relationship with his Mystagogue, especially if the character hopes to initiate again.
    1b) For a starting character, we do not require the recommended Flaws. Perhaps he got the Virtues in a different and unexpected way, or via a different script. Note that this makes the character much better, since the recommended Flaws are rather crippling. The Cult Upbringing Flaw is recommended if the character plans to initiate.

  2. The Virtues and Flaws must be taken, but they may be taken on top of the usual +/-10 allotment. This runs contrary to the rules, but isn't likely to unbalance anything. The Cult Upbringing Flaw might also be required to represent the relationship with his Mystagogue, especially if the character hopes to initiate again.

  3. Use the Mythic Companion rules...
    3a) .... in combination with 1a. The character becomes more powerful, but his LM abilities are held in check. Better than a typcial companion.
    3b) .... in combination with 1b. This character isn't quite a good a LM as a Gifted LM, but can be extremely effective, especially with favorable rulings regarding what can be done with Magicam. Quite a bit better than a typical companion.

If it were me, for a companion-level character, I'd go with 1b.



Thanks for the response. I think I'll float 1b) with the alpha guide, 1a seems the most RAW, but has weird effects like locking the character out of personality flaws, and minor story flaws.

I originally wrote the concept up using 2) but it seemed a bit generous