Velius ex Miscellanea

Hi everyone!

Peregrine gave me the go-ahead for drafting a character. Below you’ll find the recently gauntleted version of Velius, an ex misc mentalist who has an imposing presence despite his less-than-imposing physique. The Fionnualan tradition that he belongs to has been cursed to work for peace so that they could, paradoxically, engage in conflict again. This is loosely based on or inspired by Irish/Scottish mythology. Velius has a bit of an authoritarian streak – his approach to conflict resolution is to magically manipulate the parties since they obviously just don’t know better. I’ll advance him post-gauntlet a bit and work on the back story some more, but I thought I’d post him here first to see if there are any problems.

On some of the details:

I would define Major magical focus (Domination) as forcefully affecting conduct by influencing the mind. So intellego doesn’t count, telepathy doesn’t count, and memory-tweaking doesn’t count. Enraging and producing debilitating fear do count, as do most ReMe effects, such as mind control and producing inclinations. Appropriate animal mind effects also count. Seem ok?
The Oath of Fealty I had in mind was that the threatened Fionnualan have sworn a secret, overriding oath to aid each other in case of a Wizard’s war. I know mages aren’t supposed to swear oaths like that, but I thought it would fit the backstory. I’ll flesh that out if you are fine with the idea.

Concerning shapeshifting: If I understand correctly, there’s a Bjornaer at the Covenant. This could be a problem. Prince of Boredom, how do you think Astor would react to a shapeshifter? I might reconsider some of this stuff if it seems it can’t work out. Similarly, if the Fionnualan’s general troubledness would make it unlikely for the covenant to accept Velius, I could tone that down a little.

The Fionnualan

The Fionnualan hold they are descendants of Fionnuala, a girl who was transformed into a swan to prevent her from exacting revenge on her stepmother. According to legend, the curse was set to end “when the Woman from the South and the Man from the North come together”. Fionnuala’s life was spent in a vain effort to bring peace to Scotland, all the while dreaming of the revenge she would exact on her stepmother when the curse was undone.

The Fionnualan have traditionally striven to further cooperation between all who are torn apart by their differences. They have embraced the Hermetic Order as a force for peace among magi, but have also shown concern for peace among other beings mundane and magical. To avoid accusations of breaking the Code of Hermes, they have worked with as much secrecy and subtlety as possible. Despite their best efforts, however, they have often been perceived as meddlers of the worst kind. Particularly the Bjornaer have remained hostile toward the Fionnualan, although this may be due to their hatred of shapeshifters more than anything else.

The Pact of Crun Clach and the ascendance of Horsingar have recently rendered life more difficult and dangerous for the Fionnualan. Although none of the tradition’s adherents have yet been successfully accused of breaching the Pact, two of them have been slain in Wizard’s Wars declared by members of Horsingar. The remaining few have been forced to reduce their political activities to a minimum.

The nature of Fionnuala’s curse enables her descendants to take the semblance of a bird and, with experience, other animals. They are also able to cast some of their magic unhindered in animal form. With the curse comes a price, however – the tradition’s magic is unsuitable for purposefully instigating conflict. The Fionnualan hope to change this by exhausting the curse. Accordingly, they tend to select apprentices for intelligence, social talent, and kind heart, so that they might better work for peace.

Major Non-Hermetic Virtue: Shapeshifter
Minor Hermetic Virtue: Deft Form
Major Hermetic Flaw: Restriction (Cannot encourage conflict)

Velius (at Gauntlet)

Int +5 (Brilliant)
Per 0
Pre +2 (Imposing)
Com +2 (Clear)
Str -2 (Small)
Sta +1 (Headstrong)
Dex 0
Qik 0

Size: -1
Age: 24 (24)
Height: 115 cm
Weight: 35 kg
Gender: Male
Decrepitude: 0
Warping Score: 0 (0)
Confidence: 2 (5)

The Gift, Affinity with Mentem, Life Boost, Affinity with Rego, Improved Characteristics, Great Intelligence × 2, Major Magical Focus (Domination), Self Confident (Confidence: +1), Hermetic Magus, Deft Form (Form: Mentem), Shapeshifter (Eider)

Restriction (Cannot encourage conflict), Oath of Fealty (Children of Lir), Ability Block (Martial), Small Frame, Covenant Upbringing, Incompatible Arts (Perdo Corpus, Perdo Animal), Compassionate

Personality Traits: Authoritarian +1, Compassionate +3, Confident +2

Dodge: Init: +0, Attack , Defense +0, Damage
Fist: Init: +0, Attack +0, Defense +0, Damage 2
Kick: Init: -1, Attack +0, Defense -1, Damage +1
Soak: +1
Fatigue levels: OK, 0, 1, 3, 5, Unconscious
Wound Penalties: -1 (1-4), -3 (5-8), -5 (9-12), Incapacitated (13-16), Dead (17+)

Shapeshifter 1 (Eider), Magic Theory 3 (Mentem), Parma Magica 1 (Ignem), Charm 1 (First impressions), Area Lore: Area 1 (Scotland), Artes Liberales 1 (Ceremonial magic), Philosophiae 1 (Ceremonial magic), Code of Hermes 1 (Political intrigue), Faerie Lore 1 (Faerie mounds), Athletics 1, Awareness 2 (Alertness), Guile 1 (Elaborate lies), Stealth 1 (Animal form), Scottish Gaelic 5 (Expansive vocabulary), Latin 5 (Hermetic), Penetration 1 (Mentem), Finesse 1 (Mentem), Scribe 1 (Lab texts), Folk Ken 1 (Nobles), Concentration 2 (Casting), Order of Hermes Lore 1 (Politics), Intrigue 2 (Alliances), Etiquette 1 (Negotiations)

Cr 3, In 4, Mu 5, Pe 4, Re 10, An 0, Aq 0, Au 0, Co 0, He 0, Ig 0, Im 0, Me 10, Te 0, Vi 0

Spells Known:
The Call to Slumber (ReMe 10) +31
Loss of But a Moment's Memory (PeMe 15) +15
Greater Recollection of Memories Never Quite Lived (MuMe 5) +16
Posing the Silent Question (InMe 20) +15
Aura of Ennobled Presence (MuIm 10) +6
Wizard's Sidestep (ReIm 10) +11
Preparing the Receptacle (ReMe 20) +31
Arousing Accord (ReMe 30) +31

Custom Spells:

Preparing the Receptacle (ReMe 20)
R: Eye D: Diameter T: Ind
Stuns the target for a few minutes. The target remains still with a blank expression, fully conscious but unable to act. It is easy to establish eye contact with or touch the stunned person. If threatened, the target may attempt to act with a Stamina roll of +16. Even if she is successful, all rolls will be penalized by -3.
(Base 10, +1 Eye, +1 Diameter)

Arousing Accord (ReMe 30)
R: Sight D: Sun T: Ind
Makes the target strongly inclined to cooperate with anyone present. Although the willingness to work together only lasts for the duration of the spell, any conflicts resolved and agreements reached remain.
(Base 5, +3 Sight, +2 Sun)

Greater Recollection of Memories Never Quite Lived (MuMe 5)
R: Eye, D: Sun, T: Ind
Changes the target's memory of an event into a different one. The target is no more sure of this manufactured memory than of the authentic one, so he may discover strange fabrications to be false.
(Base 2, +1 Eye, +2 Sun)

The restriction, cannot engage in conflict is...vague. And could your Arts be used in such a way as to coerce someone to engage in conflict on your behalf, a bit of a fine distinction, I don't care, just wondering how you see yourself working around it? And wouldn't the restriction kick in automatically during a Wizard's War, which by your back story, is eminently possible...

It's not "engage in", but "encourage". The way I put it in the Fionnualan description is "purposefully instigating conflict". I think that when it's worded like this, it's clear that purposefully coercing someone else to provoke conflict falls within the restriction. I would also think that self-defense in a wizard's war does not count as "encouraging or instigating conflict", although in the medieval paradigm, I guess this could be considered as "perpetuating" conflict by refusing to die - but this does not fall within the restriction. Assaulting someone would count as purposeful instigation, as would being the first to attack in a wizard's war, as would using magic to purposefully taunt or provoke someone to attacking.

I think your general point is valid, though - how does one distinguish between purposeful and incidental, instigation and perpetuation, or conflict and non-conflict? On the other hand, I am not sure this is more difficult than other similar conceptual ambiguities in Ars.

Perhaps it could be put as follows:

  • Cannot knowingly create new disagreements (whether between oneself and other or among others);

  • Cannot knowingly intensify existing disagreements;

  • Can knowingly perpetuate existing disagreements directly or indirectly (i.e. can save a party of a dispute from death; every spell doesn't have to be intended as a solution to a disagreement).

What do others think?

Domination: Sounds like it's primarily Rego Mentem, with a touch of Creo thrown in, and spilling over into Rego Animal. Right? What about domination of other forms of beings (such as demons or faeries that are affected by particular wards, i.e. Terram, Aquam, Herbam, etc.) ?

Concerning shapeshifting: Depends on the maga. Most Bjornaer don't hate natural shapeshifters (i.e. those who don't gain the ability from an item), they fear and distrust them, and are akin to boogeymen.

Question: Why a sea-duck and not a swan? Or does the shapeshifting vary between members of the Tradition?

Oath of Fealty: I had reservations about this at first, because of my association of an Oath of Fealty being to a noble or royal, which would make him something akin to a court wizard. And I was wondering if there was another Flaw which would be close enough to fit what you're describing. But after reading the description, and seeing that the two I was thinking of (Dutybound and Vow) are Minor Personality Flaws rather than a Major Story Flaw that the Oath is, I'm more inclined to allow it. Note that, even though it's not to a mundane lord, it could still cause problems with the Peripheral Code if it comes up under the right circumstances.

Restriction: This one's giving me a little cause for concern, too, simply because of its ambiguity. The example restrictions in the Flaw description are pretty cut-and-dried: touching the ground, when wet, if you have facial hair. This one seems like it relies an awful lot on Velius's perspective and point of view. What happens if Velius is being manipulated by someone to instigate a conflict? From Velius's p.o.v., he's helping to get someone to someplace safe, whereas in reality he's helping to kidnap someone and the result of that kidnapping is that a feud between two clans will escalate drastically. Would his restriction kick in, or would it not? I think I'm going to have to be sold on this one, to be honest.

I haven't plugged him into my metacreator yet, but I'll be doing that tomorrow (I have to go to bed about 4 this afternoon...nimrods who own our store decided it would be a smashing idea to be open 24 hours for the first day of deer season, so I have to be at work at 1am. Fml.)

I think it is just a very problematic restriction... And it is subject to a lot more discretion and figuring out than the typical restriction. I had a Jewish magus with the restriction of not touching the bare earth with his bare feet. This typically happened every Sabbath, because (leather) shoes couldn't be worn that day. It became a predictable and easily testable Restriction. It could also happen at other times, say he was literally blown out of his shoes and landed on the ground... Your Restriction is pretty close to requiring an SG call on nearly every spell cast on another person. It's a high hurdle, and IMO, too difficult.

Define knowingly. :smiley: Seriously, this can be pretty subjective. And it also requires prescience, which I'll discuss below. So, then instead of a test of certainty of knowing something to be true, it becomes more subjective, of thinking that your character's action won't create a disagreement. This has the possibility of being argued constantly, how does it get resolved between the player and the troupe?

What if preserving the life of one of the disputants makes the conflict/disagreement worse? If the person dies, the conflict dies. If the person lives, it's worse. Or you might argue, as a player, that you're trying to prevent martyrdom or somesuch. This requires some amount of future prescience, IMO, something well outside your capability of knowing as a player.
IMO Restrictions need to be mechanical in scope and not tests of story or subjectivity.

Yeeeahhhh....I think I'm going to veto the "Restriction: Cannot encourage conflict." It's too subjective, conditional, and open to interpretation.

If you look at the example Restrictions, they're pretty objective and cut-and-dried.

I like the idea of him (and his Tradition) being bound to resolve or avoid conflict,though.

:bulb: What if his Tradition had a Geas, so that they could not use their magic to encourage conflict or suffer some kind of malady or affliction (e.g. lose their magic for three days)?

Unfortunately, I'm drawing a blank on what the Flaw is called in Ars Magica, but I'm sure it will come to me, you, or one of the other players soon.

I think the closest to your description, Peregrine, is Vulnerable Magic, which still requires a pretty firm description of the circumstances where the magic is Vulnerable. IMO, Vulnerable Magic leaves the decision as to whether the effect ends or continues in your hands, and doesn't make it a case of hand wringing between player and SG before the die is cast, so to speak. The effect ends before the conflict can be made worse. Still not an ideal option, though.