Unstructured Caster optimization

Can you explain?

I knew that size have a good place with wounds range, but about fatigue??


In the sense that any virtue that provides new casting parameters is great for sponts, sure.

According to the RAW, you still need the physical charm on which the poem or song is written.

Large provides nothing in AM5. Size +1? Yawn.

Enduring Constitution is ok. Fatigue penalties are divided, and don't apply to many sponts, so I don't see it as optimal, but I agree it deserves a place here.


You might want to re-read. My post illustrated the un-desirability of this combo. It's expensive and suckful compared to the alternatives. It's not even awesome for a Theurgist.

Ah, Daimons. That's a whole other topic. And they need rules clarifications! They're cool in theory but not the best way for a character to remain active in a saga indefinitely.

Back on topic, though, I think a spont specialist does better via alchemy or ghosting.

Still, if you're gonna be a daimon and you're gonna be a spont specialist, you want especially to boost your ability with non-fatiguing sponts.

LG can ignore fatigue penalties, which is nice. :slight_smile:

But it only works on spirits... and learning the things consumes seasons of effort! Once you're doing that, you might as well learn Formulaic spells. Much more useful.

I diverged to talk about Daimons, and about optimizing to never fatigue and never botch.
Spont speciality and Hermetic Theurgy tend to work against each otehr, they are mostly alternative ways of doing the same thing since HT only works effectively when cast formulaic. And a Spont specialist most likely picked up either Rigid Magic or Unstructured Caster to balance their Virtues. Hence, I would prefer to pick a MMF in Damage and not Spirits.

Sure, though I prioritize virtues differently. Enduring Constitution deserves more notice than I gave it.



True, but IMO Tethered is not as effective to maximize the effectiveness of spont spells, unless you make heavy use of companions and grogs (in my goup, we do not). If anything, I would get Harnessed Magic and Tethered Magic as separate virtues, which any mage can have, and it allows to spare a couple points. Tamed Magic only allows to have the combo without their built-in disadvantages, and besides the extra two points, it also requires you to Mutantum Magic, which is more difficult to justify getting by initiation, and nails your character to a specific background (messy if you plan to have another type of exotic background, like Faerie or Magical blood). IMO it is not worth it.

How about
Major: Magical Focus 'My Voice'
minor initiation: Performance Magic
minor initiation: Folk Magic, Charms

3 vp and 2 initiations.

Though the Magical Focus is kinda cheap.


Unless it only applies to your voice as the object of a spell :slight_smile:.

Yeah, way cheap. Does it apply to all Voice range spells that you cast? All spells cast while you sing? More than a bit good for a Major Virtue.



True. But you can tether to an object as well as a person.

In principle, I wholly agree (yet another reason why Chthonic & Faerie magic are great for spont-casters). In my experience, though, Spell Timing is even more useful than the rest, thanks to the While and Not durations. While I travel and Not sleeping sponts can be very useful. Of course, Forsaken would be even more powerful here, effectively permanent non-ritual spells (who bothers to be in state of grace with the Christian God ? Certainly not my pagan PC). But it carries permanent Infernal taint, so even I did not dare using it too much.

Doh. You are right. I was oblivious of the fact. OTOH, I still think poem or song charms are superior, since they can be managed more easily (e.g. they are easier to copy and carry than paintings or carvings).

Good point, I was forgetful of that. Stricken Large from my list.

Re-reading your analysis, and reflecting on my own experience, you are right. The theurgy combo is the most expensive option, and should be pursued only after the other more useful combos have developed, if ever.

It depends whether one prefers total immunity to destruction short of a miracle, which Daimon ensures, or optimal freedom of movement, which the Great Elixir ensures. Depending on what one values most, either of them is the best option. LG is kind of close, but not that good, to both (only if you have picked a Boundary haunt, which are the most difficult to destroy, and have a mastered spell or magic item teleport effect always ready to leap back to Haunt in emergencies). Faerie Becoming is only good for formulaic specialists.

All true.

No, it works on all supernatural creatures. However, I wholly agree that it is only useful on beings with a relatively low MR, whose synthemata can be grasped on the spot, without seasons of lab work, otherwise it is not worth it. Again, to be picked last, if ever, like the rest of theurgy.

OK, but if you take alchemy or ghosting instead, they are terribly useless for this kind of specialist.

You can use Major Potent Magic (Spirits) instead. No need to waste your one focus slot on spirits, since when used on damage it does so much more for a spont specialist.

Full agreement here.

Sorry, still oblivious of which virtue it might be. :question:

Only if the SG agrees to let it use without limiting it only to one specific type of craft, which would bind you to use say, only wood casting tools and therefore a rather narrow choice of F/M options. The wording in ambigous and it might be interpreted either way. I think it depends on how the Virtue is applied.

If you can use it with all kinds of F/M boni, yes.

In my experience, Diedne + Chthonic accomplishes pretty much the same, with less hefty of a fatigue bill, 80% of the time. LLSM may be quite useful when you need that extra oomph the 20% of the time. In that sense, it is very useful to have, but only after the other two. With these caveats, I agree. About combat, my experience tells that with 4x lowest art, you need mastered formulaics rarely.

IMO a spont speciality necessary calls for a somewhat generalist approach to Arts, otherwise, why are you bothering to focus on the most flexible approach to magic ever ? Say a spont specialist needs to have decent scores in 2-3 Techniques, 2-3 elemental forms, 2-3 among the living being forms and Vi. Any mage supposedly focusing on sponts with a narrower Arts set than that is a fool IMO. Therefore, an optimized spont specialist should not have too many Te/Fo at 0, otherwise he might as well be a formulaic specialist.

This hardcore Diedne fan would not bother to play in any ArM setting where the slanderous lies of the genocidal Tremere £$%& are given any kind of objective reality, so I dunno what are you referring by "Mary Sueing" the poor innocent druid victims of rabid Latin prejudice. :wink:

Anyway, the only good Tremere is a dead Tremere. If the price of this combo is having to kill a few of them in Wizard War, so be it. The soonest their creepy SS frat house is wiped out, the better. :smiling_imp: :stuck_out_tongue:

True, but notice how the combos I suggested typically assume a 11+ Virtue set, which requires post-apprenticeship character creation development.

From my point of view, even if one does not choose to play one century-old archmagus, if you have the opportunity to round up the character nicely with one decade or two of post-apprenticeship development, why one should bother to play the just outside of Gauntlet novice ?

Following this round of discussion, I may adjust my previous advice, to state that maybe Spell Foci may deserve more value than I gave it, depending on how one uses the Virtue.

Therefore, Faerie Magic + Charm Magic + Spell Timing, Spell Foci, Diedne Magic, Chthonic Magic, MMF (Damage), LLSM, Enduring Constitution, Cautious Sorcerer, and Shapeshifter, in this rough order, is IMO the most effective spont specialist build ever.

True as well. But again, that only makes it more worth to have Tethered Magic separately. Tamed Magic is still a woeful waste of points.


Who would be stupid enough to pick Diedne magic AND leave a bunch of Arts at or close to zero AND then actually try to cast sponts based on those low scores?

Well ok i do know ONE person who might find that fun, but he´s also the kind of person who thinks playing any computer game any time at less than hardest setting isnt enough of a challenge and considers basejumping a nice, quiet and relaxing afternoon hobby. But i dont think even he would do something that ridiculous.

Why would anyone pick such a virtue and then do their damndest best to minimize its usefulness?
No art below 5 and all the character considers their "important" ones should be at minimum 10s, preferably higher but better with an even spread in this case.
A common way to do it is to up a couple of Te alot and then keep the better Fo(and the other Te) around half that of the good Te.

I don't have the books, but wouldn't Chthonic Magic require bloody ritual sacrifices and praise to someone like Hekate ?

To get the bonus, yes indeed it does. Having Chthonic magic doesn't make you evil. Using to its fullest potential does :smiling_imp:

Something tells me thats just not in my idiom.

True as well. On a more practical note, you do not need to do something as cumbersome as performing bloody ritual sacrifices. Something as simple as cursing at the target, or invoking dark gods (hello Hekate :wink: ) would suffice.



I think you still misunderstand.

If you're going for Theurgy in a serious way, nearly every spell you will ever cast will be Invoke the Spirit of Something or Other. MMF Spirits applies to all such spells.

MMF Damage does so much less.

If you're going to be a traditional spont specialist, you're not likely to go for Theurgy in a serious way.

I don't find it ambiguous, but YMMV.

This disagreement has gone around a few times between you and various people, and I don't think you get it:

Build yourself a magus who is two years out of apprenticeship. Give him Diedne Magic and spend ten other virtue points however you like. Don't give him Charms because we're looking at Diedne Magic and sponts.

Build yourself a magus who is two years out of apprenticeship. Give him LLSM and spend ten other virtue points, honestly trying to optimize this guy. Again, no Charms.

Who is going to spont better?

I know that you looooove Diedne, but really create the magi. See what they do.

I stand by what I said above. Build this guy with 6-9 Arts two years out of apprenticeship as a Diedne. Then build him with LLSM.

Mr Diedne cannot boost any spont that involve 6-9 of his Arts (zero doubled is zero). LLSM guy can add a few magnitudes to anything. He's the ultimate generalist. The Diedne can spont only in a narrower Arts set, and--let me see if I have this right--"a spont speciality necessary calls for a somewhat generalist approach to Art." LLSM does this, even with a specialist's Arts scores and the many benefits that brings.

I think this is the heart of it. You love your Diedne. The Dark Secret part of the Virtue gets no play in your sagas. Ok. The Infernal part of Cthonic Magic, I'd guess means "misunderstood by nasty dogmatic church types." Ok. So your character gets to double the lowest Art score all the time, with no risk at all. Your saga, roll how you want. But please understand that I devalue the relevance of 'your experience' because it applies to a specific set of House Rules rather than the general case. It's great that these House Rules work well for you though, and that your troupe enjoys them.

Ok.... LLSM trounces Diedne even ten years past Gauntlet. Build the magi, and give the LLSM guy the same love you give the Diedne.

That's 23vp, and for that he had better be powerful. :slight_smile: Especially since he's hated by Houses Tremere, Tytalus, Guernicus, Bjornaer, Mercere, Flambeau... the Church, anyone associated with the Divine....



I'm guessing you mean:

Charmed Life, Major Heroic Virtue (HoH:TL, page 104)

"Fortune smiles upon you, often protecting you from the random consequences of adventure. You have the Luck virtue, and whenever you roll a 0 on a stress die in dangerous or deadly circumstances, you may spend a Confidence point to reroll it rather than checking for a botch. This should be applied in chaotic circumstances, not calculated efforts, since luck must play a factor to make use of this virtue — for example, charging into a rain of arrows or diving off a sheer cliff are appropriate actions, but not forging a letter or following a set of tracks."

Believe it or not, I know the answer because I was just yesterday browsing the old PdP campaign Unknown Cargo (En Route to Visby, near the bottom of page 1) - where Ovarwa's character used it!



smile That's the one!

I don't raise Iohannes as an examplar of optimized sponts for this discussion because he is house ruled.



Ah, Ok now I see your point. I think we may agree on this. My comment indeed was from the perspective of a traditional spont specialist, which if anything could use the NoP & Invocation part of theurgy as an extra oomph, hence not going for theurgy in a serious way.


Please avoid giving yourself a free phantom cheer in a discussion this way. I do not notice these "various people".

Since I do not deem such pitiful novices interesting and appealing character concepts, I do not bother consider the comparison.

Who says having those Virtues has not its drawbacks ? Even if my group and I do not buy the line that everybody and his dog in the Order still has a paranoid murderous urge vs. the Diedne, and restrict the active Diedne vendetta interest to the Tremere, as implied by HoH:TL, that still means having recurrent problems with one entire House. Likewise, having Chthonic magic means having recurrent problems with character aligned with the Divine and the Church. Fanatical Tremere and "nasty dogmatic Church types" are still an occasional bother that needs to put down, and as a matter of fact, my mage had recurrent occasional problems with both (lucky for me, Tremere and NDCT are kinds of enemies I definitely like wasting). I get you missed the bit where I said that use of Forsaken is dangerous, because it leaves permanent Infernal taint oozing around, which shall be eventually noticed ? Speaking from experience.

Limiting the active anti-Diedne witchhunting paranoia about spont specialists to the Tremere is no House Rule, but derived from HoH:TL, and neither is the fact that in order to notice Infernal taint, you need a character with the right Divine powers, or casting the right Intellego spells on an active Chthonic-enhanced spell. Both kinds of drawbacks do happen, but only occasionally, as it is right to do for Dark Secrets and other Story Flaws. They are not an excuse for the SG to throw truckloads of enemies at the character, all the time.

Besides, have you noticed Cailleach Magic, from HMR ? Same thing as Diedne Magic, only substitutes Dark Secret with Hedge Wizard, as the inborn Flaw.

Eventually, I might just get around to have my char Initiated in LLSM, and then I shall run all the test runs you want for it, as I did for the other virtues. For now, I'm just very satisfied with the current character build, and not going to change it, unless the saga collapses. However, I can freely concede this, about the issue. You have enough of a point that had I be given an option to make a retrospective revision of his V/F set, I'd seriously consider swapping MMF (Damage) with LLSM, just like surely I'd swap HT with either Enduring Constitution or Sorcerous Music.

I'm not saying LLSM is not very important and useful to a spont specialist. It's just that given the hefty fatigue bill and the significant risk of body injury involved, I cannot see as the main tool to enhance one's spont magic on a routine basis. IMO it is very nice to give that extra occasional boost when it's very necessary, but other virtues are necessary to enhance spont on a routine basis.

Acutally it was 21 vp, check your math. Anyway, there I was going for the most optimal build, not the point-sparing one. :wink:

If you want a more point-sparing one, I would say you may go Faerie Magi, Charm Magic, Spell Timing, Spell Foci, Diedne/Cailleach Magic, Chthonic Magic, LLSM. 13 vp. Quite affordable for a character 10-15 years of apprenticeship, the minimum power level I'd take seriously for a character. Even the slightly more ambitious build with MMF (Damage), too, at 16 vp, is not that unreasonable at that level. I would maybe substitute Spell Foci with Sorcerous Music, but I acknowledge that if one embraces your interpretation of Spell Foci, and the SG lets you have it free from Rustic Magi tradition's burden, it may be preferable to Sorcerous Music from a strict spont-specialist optimization PoV.

Rein in your enthusiasm. That build is only going to have problems with Tremere (Diedne heritage), Bjornaer (Shapeshifter), characters associated with the Divine who have SH & UH or similar powers (Chthonic magic), the occasional mage or supernatural creature that uses infernal-detection InVi spells or similar powers on Chthonic-enhanced spells. Still a significant enemy list, but not as outrageous as you make it. Moreover, IMO a spont specialist should only pick Shapeshifter (unless one is interestted in having for other reasons) only rather late in the ongoing character development. If anything, Enduring Constitution works better as a fatigue-stopgap Virtue for its price, and it carries no Bjornaer enimity.



I'm not saying I'm intrinsically right; I'm not saying that more people saying the same thing is better; I am saying that over the past few years I have noticed you in this discussion a few times.

That's probably the source of our disagreement.

When a magus' lowest Art is 20, Diedne Magic crushes LLSM. Absolutely. No argument from me. I'd go for Diedne Magic way before LLSM for my 100 year old canonical spont specialist. (Charms and Spell Foci first, because I hate botches. But if the concept allowed it, Diedne Magic and Cthonic Magic next, absolutely. LLSM comes late to that party. I still wouldn't bother with a focus in damage; I'd rather have 2 Affinities and Book Learner.)

But for the first 30 years past Gauntlet, LLSM is better. Right after Gauntlet, LLSM is much better.

This suggests that an optimized character begin with LLSM and initiate Diedne Magic rather than the opposite.

HMR? Cailleach Magic? Do tell!

Being a Bjornaer instead of a Shapeshifter allows a magus to initiate a virtue to grab his extra fatigue even in human form, and add even more fatigue to an inner heartbeast, up to a total of 5 fatigue levels more than an ordinary human! (5 extra FL for LLSM!!!!! For those of us at home, that's a safe level 40 spont starting from Arts scores of 0!!!!!!!! Yes, I think this deserves Kevin Siembieda punctuation.)



To get the focus-like effect, yes.

More important, it makes your magic clearly infernal, recognisable to all as such.

Never saw it phrased more rightly.


Thanks. :slight_smile: