Unstructured Caster concepts?

So, I was lying on my head and thinking. Unstructured Caster is the kind of Flaw that would be the kiss of death for most magi's hopes of being useful. But, magi are also not the sort of people who let something so minor as incompetence stop them! So I wanted to see if any of us had come up with some ideas for PCs with this particular flaw?

My ideas just to get us started:

  • A Bonisagus lab rat; after all, magi Bonisagi are not known for casting spells...

  • A Mercere who decides "To Hell with being a magus, lemme put on my red cap!"

  • A Verditius who now has no reason to bother with casting tools, and instead makes a lot of useful items and talisman enchantments.

  • A Criamon who focuses on the Enigma more-or-less to the exclusion of Hermetic spellcasting.

  • A Jerbiton with a thing for Mystic Choreography and performance art.

  • And the most obvious for last: A magus Ex Miscellanea from Stonehenge, or maybe a Bjornaer without a Heartbeast or a Criamon without the Enigma (we're not judging!) who is just really good at spontaneous magic and who inherited his flaw from his parens.


Formulaic Magic is usually THE most powerful tool in a magus' bag of tricks, but like you say, there are many ways to be useful and interesting. You list them in terms of Houses, and cover the space, by and large. I'll relist in terms of mechanics, with some references to Houses, Mysteries, etc:

  • Enchanted Items - Being a Verditius is a fine choice for this, but other magi can do it well too. Various Mysteries improve this even further, allowing ritual magic to be invested, or variant RTDs and so on. But when it comes to enchantments, you don't even need items! Of course, a Verditius need not use the stuff he makes; better to trade it for vis and services, the better to have even more time to make more stuff, since its all about what you make, not about what you do with it.

  • Enchanting Familiar Bond - Go for a great familiar, and then stuff cool stuff into the Bond. You are limited in what you can put in here, but a warrior magus can buff himself up nicely, keep those buffs up all the time without Warping, and wade into battle with his Battle Beast.

  • Warrior Magus - With a great Parma and good combat skills, you might not even need to be the guy who creates your stuff.

  • LR Specialist - You still don't need to be the guy who creates your stuff.

  • Spirit Talisman - A Major Focus with Spirits, or a Minor Focus with your Talisman (or something similar, like Magic Spirits), and who needs to ever enchant anything else? Between doubling the lower Art and doubling the excess Lab Total and getting a bonus for the Talisman, you'll have all the bonuses you need. Goetia or Sahir Magic might interest you :slight_smile:.

  • Magic Powerz - You might not be able to cast Formulaic Magic, but you can grant yourself Magic Powerz. Bjornaer Greater Heartbeast, and to a lesser extent, the Verditius Inner Mystery that lets you grab a power from a captive creature instead of sucking its vis work for this.

  • There's more to the world than Hermetic Magic - The Enigma has power, sure. But having great social skills and many friends/agents/patsies also works. Having Hermetic Law 10 and a Good Reputation will often grant access to the spells all those hoplites can cast, and you can do this straight out of Gauntlet.

  • Spontaneous Magic - This will never be as powerful as formulaic magic, but LLSM, Merinita Charms and/or Magical Foci can go surprisingly far. Boosting AL/Phil isn't bad for a Ceremonial Caster, though Cautious with either is even better. A Spirit Familiar can further boost sponting rolls (there's a rules argument to be had about whether spellcasting is a Stm roll, but we don't have to have it here: I say it is but if you say it's not then a Spirit Familiar isn't useful for this.) LLSM while being an animal with lots of fatigue doesn't hurt either. Diedne Magic is not so good :O.

  • Support - Be a great writer. Or teacher. Or researcher. Or experimenter. Or mystagogue. (Story Seed: A very old magus is charged with interfering with mundanes because 50 years ago, after 2 lifetimes of effort, he wrote a series of subtly subversive books on mundane topics that have slowly and steadily become highly influential in the world at large....)

BTW, once you take Unstructured Caster, why not go all the way? Unstructured Caster, Rigid Magic, Loose Magic and Poor Formulaic Magic to really make the point clear. Yes, I know, many sagas will not allow this because it's too Munchkin, but losing all Formulaic Magic is a very fair -8 or more.



Wouldn't allow Poor Formulaic Magic, as you must cast all formulaic spells as rituals, which you can't do any way because of Rigid Magic. Not because it's munchkin, but it is a flaw that isn't a flaw...

I agree - Unstructured + Rigid Caster is a sufficient drawback. I might allow the 8-point path for Mystery Cults but not for at-gauntlet chargen.

Diedne Magic...I hope we're not bringing up the debate on Dark Secret again. Bork bork...Personally, I as an ST would only make the player take the Dark Secret story flaw if they or their parens were involved in secret-Diedne conspiracies, and then that's their Story Flaw and they get full points for it. Otherwise, the PC may have to deal with some jerk of a Tremere Quaesitor once or twice if they become exceptionally famed for spontaneous magic, but judging by the discussion on conflicting facts, most magi in-setting have not read the Ars Magica corebook and aren't going to assume that some random magus who's really good at spontaneous magic and doesn't know his lineage back to the Schism War is a secret Diedne. But that's a HR on my part!

Anyway, Diedne arguments aside. I wouldn't allow a Talisman focus (it looks too much like a focus in Enchanted Items, which is expressly not okay). Focus on Spirits and Inscription on the Spirit...that's horribly munchkin. I approve :smiling_imp: (Though I'm not sure that a magus' spirit should count as a spirit in the sense "incorporeal being of the Realms.")

One more bit of munchkinism verging on semantic quibbling: Hermetic Numerology. A Rote is not a formulaic or ritual spell...

easy laughter I definitely have the correct incantation for Summon JL!


It could have been Arthur. I've seen him echo the flaw that isn't the flaw statement before. I have less of a problem with Unstructured and Poor Formulaic, and having it apply to formulaic spells that are cast than being completely unable to cast formulaic magic and then taking a flaw for poor formulaic magic.


...and, I do understand that many people will disagree with my "lenient" rules interpretation. Even acknowledged this in my post and suggested that we live and let live. MMVs.

But, since we're talking about "what's right..."

My perspective:

a) Not having Formulaic Magic is worth +8 or +9, easy.

b) If you look at the flaws in JL's order, then sure, the last flaw on the list does nothing. But if you look at them in a different order, then none of the flaws are redundant: Loose Magic, Poor FM, Rigid Magic, UC. Each further restricts the character. I'm not telling anyone to agree with me! Like I said up front, feel free not to. But each flaw is a flaw. From a certain point of view.

BTW, I would consider a rote to be a formulaic spell. There is a formula. It is invented or learned. The thing can be mastered. There's an associated lab text. It isn't enchantment and it isn't spontaneous and it very much seems like a spell. On the other hand, rotes pretty much suck!



Could have been lots of people, potentially a Group... that is centered on you. No, I don't have an AC. I guess I'm a Bjornaer with Sensory Magic that can target based on Sense: Internet?

I have incantations for some other people too. wry smile There are definitely a few that work on me too.



Sure. It isn't simply a statement or an opinion, it is actually RAW.

Here's the reference (emphasis mine). Note that I treat most Hermetic Flaws as being part of the broad category of "General Flaws":

Yeah, I automatically remove "General" from the text you quoted.


A flaw that isn't a flaw isn't a flaw.

The flaws we are discussing though, are flaws, imo. No single one of them is a superset of any of the others. So it all boils down to the order in which they are taken, and whether the total value, at the end of the day, is congruent with the imposed problem.

Again, I recognize and accept that you see it differently, but my version is just as RAW as yours.



The order that they are taken isn't applicable, except in circumstances where they are acquired after character generation.

If you cannot cast a formulaic spell because your virtues or flaws prevent you from being able to do so, it isn't a flaw. Poor Formulaic when possessing Unstructured Caster AND Rigid Magic isn't a flaw, because you can't cast formulaic spells, even as Ritual spells; it isn't a flaw, regardless of how you take them. If one or more of those is acquired after character generation, in play, then I might allow some kind of substitution, trading out Poor Formulaic magic for Rigid Magic at some discounted/bonus rate.

Your version is barely RAW, since RAW only specifies General spells as Arthur pointed out. I'd kick out such a character, and if I didn't, every player at the table would have a right to call me out on allowing a flaw that isn't a flaw to provide an additional virtue point.

I see it differently.

I'm not saying my version is RAW because of "General" vs "Hermetic;" like you, I ignore that part.

I'm saying my version is RAW because I don't agree with you about whether the flaw is a flaw. I'm also saying (since my first post!) that I recognize that other people see it differently from the way I do.

Yes, yes, you have the right to do whatever you like at your table, including to decide what players' rights are and are not.

Explain to me how Poor Formulaic Magic is a flaw with a character who has Rigid Magic and Unstructured Magic. Since you can't cast any formulaic spell you know, as in you are completely unable to do so, I can't see how you can find it to be a flaw.

I don't need to. I merely need to show that Unstructured Magic is a Flaw for someone with PFM and RM.

Which it clearly is.

That was never really up for debate.
From your original post, you stated with...

Poor Formulaic is not a flaw for someone who has Unstructered or Rigid Magic. Period. Unstructured Magic is a flaw for someone who had Poor Formulaic magic, but,if it happened in play, I would drop Poor Formulaic as a flaw, it is now moot. At character creation, which is what you were discussing, I wouldn't allow it.


We are never going to agree on this.

I don't see this as the same situation as when a single Flaw is a pure subset of another.

I also see the final result of "yes, but is the total effect congruent with the amount of Flaw taken" most important.

I do see that you have a different perspective. I even recognize that your perspective is just as legitimate as mine.

Why are we arguing about this?



Sure, and that's fine.

In your saga, a character of this kind should do it a bit differently, taking the flaw from MC that also prevents him from extracting vis from Auras. UC+RM plus that gets you to 9 flaw points. (Drop out one of those for LM+PFM if that tastes better.)

This meets your criteria.

More than one way to skin a cat. :slight_smile:



Because you are arguing against yourself?

If one flaw is a subset of another, then they can only be a flaw if they stack. Since Poor Formulaic cannot stack with Unstructured Caster and Rigid Magic (when taken together) then it isn't a flaw. Can someone who has a flaw of Poor Formulaic Magic later on develop Unstructured Caster, when they already possess Rigid Magic? Sure. That's substituting a minor flaw with a major flaw, and one might even gain a major virtue as a result of such a substitution, which I have no objection to happening.

No, what I have an objection to is the idea of being handed a "complete" character from a player with Unstructured Caster, Rigid Magic AND Poor Formulaic Magic. At that point I turn it back to the player and say you can take Unstructured Caster or Poor Formulaic Magic, but not both, because one of those is meaningless with both are taken with Rigid Magic; it isn't a flaw when taken with Rigid Magic and the other one.

I have no idea what you are saying here.