Vitkir Magical Defenses - looking for an example

I'm looking to design a Vitkir NPC as the style of magic fits the story I'm putting together and it makes for an unusual contrast to Hermetic spell-casting.

However, I'm not sure on how Vitkir magical defenses work. The other hedge traditions take a clear line in that with their particular powers mapping to particular magical defenses.

The Vitkir however seem different. Page 127 of the hedge magic book outlines how they primarily use their Runes to provide bonuses to rolls. We then have this:

So, assuming I'm a Vitki with access to any Rune (at any level) and I come face to face with a Flambeau who throws a Pilum of Fire at me. What does my defense look like?

If left to my own devices, I'd look towards the Runes of Kauno (as it affects fire and heat) or Isa (as it affects ice and cold) for help. The guidelines for those Runes don't provide any explicit levels of effect to act as magical defenses. So that leaves me looking at the levels of the Accelerated Ability Runes. Do I apply those as Soak modifiers in some way?

I'm missing something obvious, I'm sure. Anyone have any guidance they can share?

You can use the kauno rune to create a bonus (create fire that causes +25 damage, for example) or its contrary (quench a flame of up to +25 damage). I would use it like that: an active rune that protects the wearer from fire up to a certain level. Pretty much like a ward against heat and flames.

What they lack, like all the other hedgies is a way to get general MR. A system to prevent quite a few eventualities could be Alguiz (the Z rune) increasing his soak significantly, like say by +15 on top of chain mail and a fair soak of +2 or +3 and the tough virtue. (even if that requires a level 75 rune script; dunno if several Algiz scripts can be piled on, I think not) and then get a rune to prevent mind control. That should make him a tough nut to crack magically.

Stamina 3 + tough (3) + Chain main (9) + Algiz 50 (10) gives the guy a soak of +25, so he can deal with physical damage fairly OK, even if immobilization spells and mental tricks should be avoided through other methods.

Cheers,
Xavi

Thanks. I didn't get the quench fire ward from Kauno so I'll go back and look at that one.

I really like the Vitkir style of magic and I was surprised that I hadn't noticed before that the chapter doesn't include the same covering of magical defenses as most of the others (Nightwalkers don't either, if I remember correctly).

That might be faulty memory, but I would bet that runes can be used in negative terms. This is how I used Kauno here. If they cannot, that comment does not work and you should rely in increasing soak.

Your best defense would be using a Algiz (Kauno) 10 runescript, which would ward against all fire. This maybe seems a bit wrong to me, since there is no test against Penetration or spell level, and no "strength" of the defence (it would protect you equally against a candle flame and a Ball of Abysmal Fire); but there is nothing I can see in the rules that limits this to certain damage amounts or only non-magical fire. I might be tempted to define this further if I were to use vitkir.

There are other issues: unless you had this runescript already active, you are not protected. If you always have this runescript active, then you may run into warping problems (continuous effect). Vitkir apparently have no version of fast-casting, so you can't try to beat the attack against you, even if you know what it is. If you are acting before the Flambeau then you can cast your runespell first by drawing the two runes onto yourself, but this incurs a -10 to your casting total. Furthermore, you cant spont runescripts, you have to have invented it. Given all this, perhaps the total protection against fire implied by the rules is warranted*.

*[size=85]I'd still say that the level of the runescript has to be equal or higher than the Penetration of the attack, or something[/size]

Mark

Okay, that makes a lot of sense to me. So I think the answer to my first problem is that Vitkir do not enjoy the same kind of magical defenses as most other hedge traditions.

And Algiz (Kauno) 10 does seem to be the way forward. I don't mind so much about the penetration/level problem as that feels thematically appropriate. As you say, the balance there is that there is no spontaneous or fast cast option and in order to cast in a single round the Vitki needs to take a -10 penalty to the casting total.

I think I'll go along with that.

Thanks guys,

Mark

I forgot... There is the Fast Caster Minor Virtue that does allow the Vitki to Fast Cast just as a Hermetic magus does with a spontaneous Fast Cast defense.

It looks like he take a total of -15 penalty, but it's a defense nonetheless.

You can take virtues to reduce that penalty significantly. The no name, no description options allows for a -5 only, IIRC. In any case I would have this active on me if I was going to meet with Hermetics and knew they are fire lovers. But in any case trying to max out on defence tends to be a losing battle in ArM5: hermetic penetration almost always wins over defensive strategies, so no biggie the vitki can be screwed here if he is not extremely well prepared.

Serf's parma, but you might not need Algiz here: you could take Kauno only as your rune script. A high Algiz also allows you to boost significantly your Soak (and reduce encumbrance so that armor you wear does not hinder you), in any case, so it might be worthwhile as well on its own.

For offence, high dexterity, high othila, high dexterity boost and just kick them in the teeth with a javelin flying over their shield grogs. However, putting water on all the cracks in their covenant's walls, and freezing it is funnier IMO. :mrgreen: We had our siege wall cracked in this wall by the vitkir of Mann we wanted to toy with (yeah, we were being total jerks: being high on vis is what causes to you), and it gave us some pause.

Xavi

Kauno on its own would give you bonuses and penalties on rolls associated with disease, on Ability rolls made when sick, and on recovery rolls from sickness. It has no protective effect against fire. Algiz is the rune of protection and can ward damage potentially from any source, but needs to be combined with a Target rune representing the source of damage in a Method II runescript.
Yes, Algiz can boost your Soak, but it is a lot less effective used this way than using the same rune to ward against a specific attack. I'd much rather have a Algiz (Hagalz) 10 to ward me against missiles, an Algiz (Uruz) 10 to ward against animal attacks, an Algiz (Thurisaz) 10 to keep me safe from (sharp) wooden weapons and so on. The task for my foes is then to find the type of damage to which I am vulnerable (sounds like a story to me...)

There doesn't seem to be a rune that represents a weapon target or generic metal object, fortunately. Algiz (Othila) could ward me against either specific weapons or 'heirloom' weapons, depending upon your interpretation. However, if someone picks up a sword from a fallen foe and uses it against me, my Algiz (Othila) ward will fail, and I'll have wished I'd used Algiz to boost my Soak!

I'd be a bit concerned by the Perth rune as a target, which can represent a spell. I would want some clarity of thought for when a player decides that his Algiz (Perth) 10 runescript makes him immune to all magic...

Mark

Well, going by the rules as presented, Algiz (Perth) 10 does seem pretty effective. There's your universal magic resistance right there. There doesn't seem to be an errata in this area so we get to read it as written.

There also doesn't seem to be anything that limits the Rune script to a particular type of magic or supernatural effect, which means a single active Algiz (Perth) 10 Rune Script does appear to protect the target from all supernatural effects. Again, I don't have a particular problem with that given the other limitations connected with Runes. It does, however, help to explain just how those Rune Wizards gave the Order such a hard time all those centuries ago in Hibernia.

It does break the "nobody with universal MR" unwritten rule of the game, though, no?

It does, I suppose. There are limitations to it, but it is a form of universal MR.

I could see errata for it stating that each Rune protects against a given type/tradition of supernatural power or slightly broader a given realm, but I'll give it a go in my saga as written.

I've actually got a player new to the whole game who really liked the sound of the Vitkir. If he does press on and want to play one (I'm not going to stop him...) then this little discovery does at least give him parity with the other players in the MR stakes.

The vitkir really turn a lot of Hermetic assumptions on their head, don't they? Me, I'd be inclined to let Algiz (Perth) 10 stand as a protection from spells, or specifically being targeted with magic, and specifically NOT including runescripts. I recall Perth being a sort of mystery rune, representing dark forces from outside the tradition, so protecting the vitki who wards against it from being targeted with magic is pretty appropriate. Rune magic makes natural changes, though, so this ward wouldn't protect against a magic sword or a conjured storm, and by extension I think Hermetic spells that create something or change the environment around the vitkir wouldn't be warded against either.

(and just because I didn't find it posted in the thread anywhere) Vitkir don't get any Magical Defenses, other than the spells they cast through their runes-- page 10 of Hedge Magic, bottom of the left column.

-Ben.

I was thinking about this as I was going to sleep last night (any suggestion I was making "Pew pew, raaargh, die evil runesmith!" noises is completely unfounded) and I came to the same conclusion. Perth protects against "other spells and supernatural effects". So, let's take that literally. A Wound that Weeps is a spell affecting the Vitki directly so it would be resisted. A Pilum of Fire creates a medium through which the Vitki is affected and so would not be resisted by Algiz (Perth). The fire is neither a spell nor a supernatural effect - it is a medium created by a spell. This is a distinction that is important in Vitkir magic so let's apply it here as well.

The same thinking can be applied to other types of magic too, including powers of supernatural entities. I'm happy with that boundary. It provides a great deal of personal protection without being absolute.

Thanks. That's pretty explicit. Vitkir have no automatic magical defenses of any kind.

I wouldn't be so stingy. If Parma resists it, I would allow magical vitki defences to affect it. Claiming that POF is not magical is certainly a stretch IMO. Vitkir are definitively MUCH weaker than hermetics, so trying to nerf them is a wasted effort IMO. Their lack of flexibility to a changing situation (they rock to face stable problems, though) or variances in the present circumstances is their doom: no need to kick them in the ass.

Xavi

I'm not sure anyone is nerfing them. In fact, we've uncovered a bit of a boon for them. The Algiz (Perth) Rune script under discussion is pretty powerful - arguably moreso than Parma Magica in some respects as it apparently ignores Penetration and effect level. As was pointed out, a loose interpretation of that does provide universal magic resistance. I'd go with that but there is a more strict reading that preserves much of the power of that Rune script, retains the thematic function, and prevents the Rune becoming more powerful or useful than Parma Magica.

So I'm going to go with this: A spell or supernatural effect is resisted by Algiz (Perth) if the Vitki forms part of the target for that effect, so that could be Corpus and Mentem effects with a Part, Individual, Group, Circle, Structure, Boundary effect (I think). I think effects that target something held or worn by the Vitki might also be resisted, so that could include Heat of the Searing Forge cast on mail worn by the Vitki. But Edge of the Razor is not cast upon the Vitki so the Vitki would need a different Rune to ward against the affected weapon.

I think that's reasonable and consistent so that's the way I'm going to apply it in my saga. Others may choose a different approach of course.

I'd be good with that, personally. I'd probably be good with requiring a second Algiz (Perth) rune to protect against outside effects, and any spell which exceeded that protection would "burn out" the second Algiz (Perth) rune, requiring it to be re-drawn/made/crafted.

-Ben.

I thought the idea was to make the vitki on par with Hermetics. This is why I thought you would not want to restrict the span of the rune use. In general vitki will be way less powerful than hermetics since their lab totals will be lower. They obnly use one rune to calculate lab ototals, not 2 Arts like hermetics, and they have to study 24 runes, not 15 Arts. These elements alone make them significantly weaker than Hermetics, not counting that they lack the access to libraries that skyrocket the power level of hermetics extremely fast. So, even if they can invent spells efficiently they are significantly less flexible and tend to have lower arts. A hermetic can find alternatives if his main trick does not work, while a vitki is generally screwed under the same circumstances (even if his might trick might be better to start with; vitki make excellent dragon hunters, for example).

Since the idea was for the vitki to be a PC I thought you wanted to give him something to put him on par with hermetics. If this is not the case, I retire my comment. I had certainly not seen it before and our (mine and laura's, my flatmate) idea for a lone saga about a gentle gifted vitki infiltrator (or a lineage of them) acting as a redcap did not include that sort of protection in any case.

Cheers,
Xavi