As an experiment in deviant munchkinism, how would you create a character with the 'unstructured caster' flaw (formulaic as ritual, no ritual spells) that would still be feared by the average wizard? An obvious answer is a dedicated craftsman, with his talisman enchanted with every spell he could need, but how would the numbers work behind a character utilizing Diedne or Life-linked Spontaneous magic? I'm interested to see what you people come up with.
"You people." Ha!
I don't know, I like your idea for using a lot of enchanted items. Maybe a Verditius to optimize that aspect, but that makes formulaic spells even harder to cast. As long as you're shafting the mage's ability to cast ritual and formulaic spells, you could give him rigid magic or poor formulaic magic (although that one really sucks). Then that could make room for virtues. I don't see why Diedne magic or LL-Spontaneous magic would be any more useful to this guy than to anyone else, for, where everyone else has learned spells, he has devices.
Here's a list of ideas from resident forum spont buff:
If your House and background is compatible (no closet Diedne Tremere, sorry), by all means do start with Diedne Magic. It is simply unvaluable to a serious spont specialist.
Enduring Constitution and Spell Improvisation are also good complementary Virtues to have. The former more so than the latter.
Life-Linked Spont Magic is but the poor substitute for Diedne Magic if the latter isn't possible. A Diedne magus initiating it, however, will make for a very powerful combination.
Same deal for Faerie-Raised Magic, to a rather lesser degree.
Chthonic Magic may be a rather better (if socially questionable) substitute, and combining it with Diedne Magic (by initation, or if your GM will let you, playing an Ex Misc with Diedne Magic and Chthonic Magic as the extra Supernatural Virtue, e.g. a Thessaly Witch offshoot) will make for a quite powerful and flavorful (curses and sacrifices !) combination.
A spont specialist magus should in many cases naturally be interested in mysteries that may significantly enhance spont magic: the best ones are the Merinita illusion and charm schools (Faerie Magic, Charm Magic, Story Magic, Animae Magic, Spell Timing and Glamour magic are all very good Virtues for a spont specialist, esp. Charm Magic) and theurgic Name magic (Hermetic Theurgy Form spell spirits make for a rather handy and flavorful substitute for non-Diedne spont magic specialists, while Invocation Magic may allow very siginificant boosts to spont spells; Synthemata Magia may be quite good to have if you often deal with supernatural creatures from any realm). Consummate Talisman and Inscription over the Soul may also be remarkably useful (casting bonuses from Charm Magic, Invocation Magic, and a Consummate Talisman that is incorporated in your body/spirit all stack).
As a general rule, any Virtue that opens up new R/D/T or spell guidelines to non-ritual magic is a godsend to a spont specialist, except Holy Magic and Hermetic Geometry for thematic and rule issues.
Harnessed Magic may be useful to discard sponted spells (typically Corpus, Imagonem, and Mentem) that are no longer useful.
If you often casts spont spells subtly, esp. in the Dominion, or while shapeshifted, getting the Subtle/Quiet Magic combo may be quite advisable.
A spont specialist should do very well to maximize Arts (cases may be done both for a generalist approach or for specializing in 2-3 Techniques and 3-4 Forms, but owning or initiating Skilled Parens and Virtues that speed up Art learning, such as Book Learner, Free Study or Study Bonus may be rather useful; the latter two combo makes for a flavorful thematic combo with the spont specialization), and Arcane Abilities (Artes Liberales, Concentration, Finesse, Magical Theory -for spellcasting bonuses cap if nothing else-, Parma Magica, Penetration, and all the Realm Lores) as they are your dear and valued adventuring friends; pay them the attention and cares they deserve. Remember to develop your Mysteries' Lores to advance.
I am very fond of Unaging and (Strong) Faerie Blood. Plenty of added time to master your mysteries, and standing free invitation into Merinita.
Sorcerous Magic may be a good substitute for Quiet/Subtle Magic to do the sneaky subtle bard/musician-mage in the Dominion.
You might also pick some Flaws that round up the specialization: I suggest Careless Sorcerer, Cabal Legacy, Covenant Upbringing, Loose Magic, Magic Addiction, Pagan, Restriction, either Rigid Magic or Unstructured Caster, Unpredictable Magic, Weak Enchanter, Blatant Gift, Depraved, Fury, Personality traits and Flaws that indicate a problem with impulse control (Ambitious, Proud, Lusty, Wrathful, Optimistic, Carefree, Overconfident, Reckless), Fettered Magic, Poor Memory, Poor Formulaic Magic, Prohibition, Social Handicap, Supernatural Nuisance, Vow, Vulnerable Magic, Warped Magic, Weak Magic Resistance, Weird Magic, Greater or Lesser malediction, Lycanthrope, Sheltered Upbringing, Faerie Upbringing, Chaotic Magic, and Visions. All of them make for either good Flaws to take at creation or initation Ordeals.
For the life of your character never ever pick Enfeebled, Harmless Magic, Unnatural Magic, Holy Magic, Mercurian Magic, Clumsy Magic, Painful Magic, Difficult Longevity Ritual, Short-Ranged Magic, Study Requirement, Weak Spontaneous Magic, Difficult Spontaneous Magic, Deficient Techniques and Forms, Disorientating Magic, Short-Lived Magic, Slow Magic, Weak Magic, Weak Parens. They will all interfere with your chosen spont magic focus to some degree.
Of course, the price to pay for all this coolness, is that you will likely earn no end of enimity from Tremere, Quaesitors, Latin magic purists, Christian zealots (you are a pagan or a heretic, most likely), and the Dominion, since you likely dabble in a lot of magic of dubious origin. Play up your strengths, you are the undisputable master of flexible magic and you can always come up with a spell for every circumstance and situation. Turn surroundings to your advantage. Be creative. Think up in advance. Your adversaries may be more powerful in some niche, but their abilities will generally be much more inflexible. The world is a much better place without Tremere, inquisitors, Latin zealots, and Divine fanatics, so be nice and help them out of their misery.
Sorry, my mistake, don't take Rigid magic, or else your mage won't be able to cast any formulaic spells at all. (You need to use the vis to cast any such spell, but rigid magic wouldn't let you.)
Mercurian magic is highly overrated as a virtue, the flaw is crippling but the bonus is about as good as a secret vis source.
life linked spont magic can give a character out of apprenticeship an extra four magnitudes to a sponted spell. Diedne magic would require a 40 in the character's weaker art to provide that big of a bonus, and life linked works in EVERY art.
diedne magic is the poorer cousin here.
I'm not sure if this is something you were looking for, but here's a suggestion. He might not be a combat wombat, but at least he is something to be vary of if you are just a average magus.
Ater ex Bonisagus
Hans was born under terribly bad stars. His fate would conspire to make him miserable by mishap, but unluckily his future master managed to botch his Artes Liberales astrology roll and thought that this Gifted child was to be magus extraordinaire.
In some sense both predictions were correct. On his last season of work for his old master there was a terrible Perdo Vim accident while doing meta magical experimentation that robbed him of almost all of his previously considerable magical power and left him unable to work even simplest hermetic spells.
Luckily he had already completed his gauntlet work that he still had to present to his master - a CrVi-ring that appears to be enchanted with unknowable magic. (CrVi general 5, Sun +2, Two uses +1 level, Environmental trigger +3 level, total level 19) that succeeded with a lucky roll on experimentation bonus die and had a significant side-effect (Gives magical air to one wearing the ring) with completed lab notes, magic theoretic and philosophical musings about nature of this work that might appear futile to lesser mortals, but a promising start to a great researching career to more enlightened peers. All in all he had had a promising future as Bonisagus.
Practically unable to work magic he was accepted into Order, but his dreams of prestige were shattered by mishap. He plans to make best out of the situation. That might be a challenge indeed, but fear not for he is a genius.
His master tries to make up his terrible mistake to his filii, but Ater feels justifiedly very bitter about his situation.
He has always had natural talent understanding magic and machinations of other people - latter talent of which he plans to put into a great use soon.
Int 5 (Brilliant)Per 3 (Opportunistic) Pre 3 (Commanding) Com 3 (Expressive)
Str -3 (Puny) Sta 1 (Healthy) Dex -3 (Clumsy) Qck -3 (Snail-like)
Personality: Ambitious +1 , Bitter +3, Dedicated +3
Status: Utter failure +3 (among those who know about mishap), Born with a silver spoon +1 (Among those who have noted that his master treats him well), Protected +4 (Local tribunal)
Puissant Magic Theory (Free)
Minor Magical focus (Manipulation of Vis)
Affinity with Vim
Affinity with Magic theory
Great Intelligence x 2
Protection (His master still feels indebted to him - I would give Mentor or similar flaw, but destroying ability to work magic is costly operation - he could have had a Trianoma Bonisagus mentor and thus justifying his puissant intrigue)
Flaw: Waster of vis, Unstructured caster, Weak spontaneous magic, Weak enchanter
Spells: Um.. Irrelevant
(Exp Total: 45 + 30 + 300 - 30 (for not bothering to mention athletics, etc))
Cr 9/5 In 1 Pe 3 Vi 9
Charm (Covenfolk) 1
Bargaining (Magi) 1
Games (Chess) 1
Guile (Magi) 2
Folk ken (Covenfolk) 2
Order of Hermes lore (Factions) 1
Intrigue (Long-term) 1+2
Philosophy (Essential nature) 3
Artes Liberales (Grammar) 3
Latin (Hermetic) 5
Magic theory (Laboratories) 5+2
Lab total for distilling vis before lab:
5 (Int) + 9 (Cr) + 9 (Vi) + 9 (Focus) + 7 (MT) + 1 (Aura, minimum) = 40
Laboratory could be improved with 5 years of hard work to give.. considerable bonus to vis distillation while gaining exposure to MT while doing so. Which in turn could turn into a higher bonus to distillation.
He is relatively flexible character that could easily focus on writing and researching on his favorite topics (He only has problems with actually working magic!), distilling vis and bargaining deals with it to gain access magical items and longevity rituals or just plain old intrigue. Or all that combined. Being smart, relatively rich (after few years he can distill 7 pawns of vis in low magical aura in single season) and protected has its own advantages compared to lesser brethren with no such connections, abilities and talents. Of course he cannot actually cast spells or make items without serious effort, but why should that be a problem?
Except it wont be adding to the total by causing fatigue or more.
Spontaneous only is far nicer than Formulaic only.
I disagree. You can't master Sponts, and a Mastered Formulaic is the epitomee of the use of magic
Reread, i said Spont ONLY is nicer than Formulaic ONLY.
But you cannot improve a spont only. The potential to be mastered makes Formulaic superior.
Spontaneous only vs. Formulaic only! That should have its own whole new debate thread! Let's see, the maxed-out spont only guy could have ultimate flexibility but would have difficulty doing anything powerful, while the formulaic-only guy would have a very limited, but powerful, arsenal of spells. Hard to compare, I would say there is no answer, or it depends on the situation! But I feel like I'm stating the obvious. If you were to put together a covenant, though, I would probably want to include no more than one of the spont-only guys.
Because there is no fun playing this guy.
I do agree, but as far as munchkins go I think it is playable. There is no much point for him to hang around his lab too often and his reading habits would be limited. Two reasons that usually shut magi in their laboratories.
IMNSHO, Diedne Magic is inferior by far to LLSM, except for old and powerful magi. Real power lies in a judiciously selected toolbox of formulaic spells and (perhaps) enchanted items:
Less chance to botch!
Probably no fatigue loss!
Worse, Diedne Magic comes complete with a death certificate just waiting to be punched. I don't like this virtue at all, for reasons I've discussed elsewhen.
BTW, a Bjornaer with a bear heartshape has two extra fatigue levels in animal form. A Boar-naer has three! Now add LLSM for extra, additional goodness, right out of Gauntlet! A Shapeshifter can do this too.
I believe that in the long run, Flawless Magic + Flexible Formulaic Magic is more potent than Diedne Magic + Cthonic Magic.
In the very long run, say, 500 years later, Verditius magi win the flexibility race. An immortal magus has problems learning new spells and Arts, but an immortal Verditius can crank out awesome items forever, and never skip a beat.
I was going to take life linked spont magic... i so should have in the PbP game i'm playing.
Merinita Folk Inner mysteries + Life linked Spont magic + Magic Addiction = Fun
Where a Lifelinked magus can maximize 1 spell before falling exhausted, if not dead (botch power!), a diedne magus can cast all his "normal" spont without fatigue. And if needed, just add your least art, but with 1 fatigue
And you dare to say the first is superior?
In a duel, maybe...
Or not! Hah!
Take my hurting spell (or just this rock i let fall on you (and if not this one, the 56 next ones), you can't cast exhausting spont now, and... THAT'S IT. Your "superhyper" exhausting ability to cast mega penetrative spells is GONE.
Now, DIE, because I can, even hurt, still cast "normal spont".
Who is stupid enough to duel with a magus who exhaust himself as nobody (llsm)... not a diedne still alive.
Exar, Diedne has a free flaw for a good reason, and that reason is that they ARE the masters of spont. And others know it. Remember they were 13 houses? Never asked why only 12?
Because the Diedne lost! They were inferior.
If you create a Diedne right out of apprenticeship and I create a character with the same Arts and Formulaic spells, my character will be able to cast a wider variety of spontaneous magic than yours.
Go ahead, make the builds. Actually try it out. If you specialize in a TeFo, the Diedne will do better within that specialty. But what about all the combinations where the TeFo is less than 10, before division? Diedne is pretty useless, eh? He spent a fatigue to add 0 to the casting score, eh? LLSM dude can still whip up 3 magnitudes for the perfect spell in any TeFo, with any requisites. He won't be doing much else, but that's what sodali are for. Besides, these spells are often cast when there's time to recover.
Real power in AM comes from a judiciously selected toolkit of formulaic spells that a magus uses to solve a variety of problems. Sure, the magus will make lots of problems look like nails, but I see that as a desirable design goal, both for players creating characters and for the game designers designing AM.
I'm not saying that Diedne Magic sucks and LLSM is awesome; I'm saying that Diedne Magic sucks and LLSM is just ok for a major virtue. Book Learner plus two Affinities rock so much harder.
Your team of optimized Diedne will be crushed by an optimized team of Tremere, Tytalus and Flambeau, each with a different specialty, mastered spells and barely enough spontaneous magic to get by. This is one area in which the game rules and the fluff really have it together.
Spontaneous Magic is awesome, yes, but limited.
Fast-cast a mastered spell with a casting total of 60 ftw. Right out of apprenticeship.
(People who have read some of my other material here may wonder at an apparent discrepancy between what I do and what I say, since Iohannes has LLSM! But he isn't optimized to be a particularly powerful magus, especially without lots of backup. His first love is the sea, not magic. Also, he breaks a rule. Also, I didn't know about Nature Lore when I designed him.)
There are no Deidne because there is no material on Druids and historicaly they were wiped out.
So in this universe they were wiped out too.
But some survived because they are powerful.
Take your fast cast 60th level casting spell... nice... one trick poney.
You will never be in a position to cast your ubr dubr flame of doom because you cant intellego your way out of a wet paper bag.
A resourceful Spontanious Genralist would kick a one trick poney's butt.
I think we've reached the point of "Ninjas beat Pirates!" and "No, Pirates rule!"