Variant Rule for Social Penalty of the Gift


Tired of magi who accumulate crazy bonuses to offset the -3 penalty of the Gift (-6 for BG)? Want a game mechanic to simulate the sample effects of the core rule's social scenarios?

The social penalty of the Gift does not affect any totals. Calculate these as usual. But in any social situation involving those who are affected by the Gift that might call for rolling dice for social interaction, regardless of whether a die is rolled or whether the die is stressed, roll botch dice as though the magus had rolled a 0 on a stress die. If the magus actually does roll a 0 on such a stress die, roll the botch dice again and add the botches to the total. If there are any botches, ignore the total and go with the botches. Roll these botch dice for any season spent teaching someone affected by your Gift. Any lab work assisted by someone affected by your Gift is considered experimental.

Blatant Gift: As above. However, the number of botch dice is increased by 3, and any lab work assisted by someone affected by your Gift is considered experimental with a Risk Factor of 3. Yes, if the magus rolls 0 on an applicable stress die, that's 6 extra botch dice.

Gentle Gift: You don't have any of these nasty problems. Feels more like a Major Virtue now, eh?

The result is that social situations have a way of going south very quickly. Note that Hermetic Magic cannot really overcome this. Mentem can force someone to do what you want or convince them that their problem with you has nothing to do with magic, but there's no guideline I know of that can help with this. Aura of Rightful Authority? You're a Rightful Authority all right, but you still get to roll all those botch dice. Force them to like you? Ok, and they will reluctantly ruin your day anyway.

Cautious with Ability can overcome all or some of these botch dice, but only for that Ability. The cost seems fair: 1vp for one Ability, 3vp for all.



I think this lessens the penalty of a normal Gift, because it essentially means that a gifted magus has a 9 in 10 chance of each interaction going “normally”. That’s not really a huge penalty.
I like the fact that spells and such can’t work around the penalty; although that won’t remove the issues of a tricky player trying to meta-gaming the flaw away.

The Blatant gift suggestion is brutal, but so is the flaw. Seems fine.
So overall not sure.


No, no!

  1. It applies to every social roll, even if there is more than one per interaction.

  2. It applies even when there is no die roll, and at the beginning of any interaction in which there might be a social die roll.

  3. If there is a die roll, there is a potential for more botch dice.

  4. Sometimes there is reason to have more than one botch die. (Like when a character has botched a social roll and is frantically trying to undo the damage.)

So, a magus enters a situation in which there might be social rolls. Immediately, the GM rolls some botch dice to get a sense of things. Then the magus starts talking, and as soon as the GM thinks that this might call for a die roll, he gets to roll more botch dice. If this happens more than once in the scene, for Etiquette and then for Charm, and then for whatever, more botch dice.

And once there's a botch, things go downhill fast.

Some non-Hermetic traditions have advantages in this respect, but that's ok since they have lots of comparative disadvantages.

A tricky player can only meta-game the problem away by removing botch dice, or by convincing the GM to not use the rule. But the player has a hard time removing botch dice except by taking Cautious with Ability, and that works fine for me, allowing, for example, Professor Snape to be good at intimidation and disastrous with all other social skills. Hmm. That's not quite his one skill (he is good at presenting himself as a scary Dark Wizard), but you get what I mean.

But the GM can just roll botch dice as he likes, without the player rolling for the relevant social ability. I wrote the rule as I did because a) I prefer it when the GM just notes a character's score and decides whether an action is successful based on that to rolling dice, when possible, and b) the GM does not need to discuss anything with the player or involve him in an argument about whether (or which) social ability is involved, or even look it up against a total; he need only roll a die or two as he rps the interaction.

Hard to metagame that.

The seasonal rules are brutal, regardless. You don't get to account for a -3 to a study total. Instead, you get to roll one or more dice to see if the season is a disaster. That's nasty. And if your magus isn't already experimenting....

Not perfect, of course. Another version is "No -3 penalty, but social interactions start off with a default of having failed a social roll, which means what I want it to; successful rolls can mitigate this; Blatant Gift is similar, but social outcomes start with a default of a single botch." It's what I'd more likely use, were I GMing, since I avoid rolling dice when possible. That's more subject to metagaming, however.



I always thought that RP consecuentes of the gift were more serious than the penalty itself. You have to treat magic users as if you had an innate trust of them. A succeeded charm roll that would have granted a new instant friendship grants you a collaborating person that deep down thinks that you are not to trust but that is too awed by your charming personality to say no. That person will be waiting for you to misstep and confirm his/her suspicious.