What are the Fundamentals of Hermetic Magic?

I am considering making an NPC Bonisagus mage, one who is better at inventing spells rather than casting them. His master/parens dived deep into the core principles of Hermetic magic, and this Bonisagus apprentice is technically focused in the same areas, and hence impractical outside the lab.
Some advice and criticism would be appreciated.

I will try Virtues first:

  1. Affinity with, or Puissant Magic Theory
  2. Great Intelligence, or Inventive Genius.
  3. Affinity with, or Puissant Parma Magica. (represent studying the principles all his apprenticeship, but didn't learn how to produce it until normal time)
  4. Flawless Magic - the name alone, but I suspect it came from Flambeau the Founder.
  5. Minor Magical Focus in Familiars - Merinita the Founder's major contribution.
  6. Special Circumstances (Certamen) - a +3 while performing Certamen to acknowledging Tremere's input.

Flaws to probably include:

  1. Restriction (needs to possess a "Magic" tome) - all his apprenticeship he always had Lab Notes or similar at hand.
  2. Overconfident - he has mastered magic, why can't he stand beside, or toe-to-toe with a hoplite?

What else?

If he's not going to be good at casting spells, Flawless Magic is probably not for him.
There's a virtue that lets you gain more from Lab texts.

What you want to do is have high Int, and MT, while keeping Stamina low, or even neg. That way he'll have high Lab Totals, but low casting scores.

Whoops! I meant that his lab totals are easily 10+ greater than his casting totals.
Flawless Magic feeds his Overconfidence

Affinity for MT
Puissant MT
Adept Laboratory Student
Inventive Genius
Flawless Magic
Skilled Parens
Arcane Lore
Great Intelligence*2

I'd say both. It's worked for my Verditius.

Both will help, but I'd take Inventive Genius over Great Intelligence. Especially if you want to actually invent spells, rather than simply copy the work of others.


A bit more muchkin than I was looking for.

I am not certain I can phrase it properly, but looking more for an impractical mage whose Virtues reflect someone who has closely studied/trained in all the fundamentals of Hermetic Magic, but is otherwise somewhat unfocused.
Which is why I was thinking of things like Affinity with PM, mMF in Familiars, and even Special Circumstances when performing Certamen (if that is valid).

I get this image of a little, or maybe obese, magus moving slowly and only at great effort around his labs. He has his meals there, because taking the stairs down to the hall to eat leaves him exhausted, not to speak of returning back up the stairs. Maybe enfeebled, maybe lame, maybe obese, maybe stamina at -5. Maybe this is just an annoying cliché, but it fills up your flaw quota.

You ideas seem sound. I sense that perfection of the foundations takes precedence over a munchkin lab rat. That deserves praise. You probably do not want other Hermetic flaws, because it would break that perfection.

Puissant/Affinity with Magic Theory is critical for original research, but for straight forward spell invention, other virtues may be more important, particularly Inventive Genius. Great Intelligence is expensive unless you have other uses, such as lores and concentration.

Cautious Sorcerer may be worthwhile. It makes experimentation a little safer.

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Are you looking for someone who wants to integrate outside influences, or is confident that Bonisagus's work contains all the answers, and we just have to look?


His parens was of the "confident that Bonisagus's work contains all the answers, and we just have to look" school.

then puissant Order of Hermes Lore?

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In order to know who contributes what? Interesting....

As an example, the Alpha SG in the longest saga I played in had as his magus "Oswald of Bonisagus". Oswald had Fear(women) reflecting a monastic upbringing and being very uncertain around the opposite sex, and Difficult Underlings. He had great difficulty getting lab assistance, and at one point was bricked into his sanctum by the covenant builder.

Thinking of your proposed Bonisagus being better at inventing spells than casting them, instead of looking at how much you can be a master spell inventer, you could look at what makes him a flawed caster.
Is it he shouldn't cast spells, such as if he has Magic Addiction or Weird Magic, leading his fellow magi begging him to write down his spells and pass them on to more reliable magi?

Is it too risky for himself such as Painful Magic or Twilight Prone? A Bonisagus with Painful Magic will seek to create a spell that can fix things in a single casting.

Is he of poor competency - hardly anyone ever takes Poor Formulaic Magic as a flaw, but your NPC could just to show the players the effect. NPCs are a great opportunity to make use of the Virtues and Flaws your players reject as not obviously useful enough or a little too crippling in play.


if you're looking at flawless magic, but you want a lab rat, consider another use of flawless magic: writing books on spell mastery for the spells you develop. in that case, you might want Independent Study to increase Practice XP (which is then doubled), and good teacher with a decent communication scores.

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Some interesting points.
While his Lab total (with MT and Int) will be noticeably greater than his Casting total, maybe 10+ is exaggerating.

Still looking for the correct vibe. So far for his superior understanding of Hermetic Magic fundamentals, he is Overconfident (or even Delusion) that he is:

  • better at Magic Theory - Puissant or Affinity
  • better at Parma Magica - Puissant or Affinity
  • better at spell casting - Flawless Magic
  • better at Familiars - Minor Magical Focus
  • better at Certamen (only House Tremere with their focus beats him) - Special Circumstances (Certamen)

Have I overlooked any other "Fundamental" of Hermetic Magic that he can be superior in?

Penetration. Finesse.

And of course the actual Arts, which are the true fundamentals of Hermetic Magic, and without which none of the other virtues matter much.

And with all of that, he wouldn't just think he is good at magic - he would be good

While the virtues themselves won't give him the 10+ gap you might want, consider that such a Magi is likely to arrange his lab to get more bonuses to Spells and Familiar, so that those will help truly create the gap between his research and casting.

No items?

Not yet any items. Recently out of Apprenticeship, traveling around Mythic Europe (well the local Tribunal and a little bit beyond), demonstrating the "proper way" to do things by virtue of his natural superiority.

+10 is easy. Affinity and puissant MT can get a 6 MT at gauntlet for only 34 XP. +5 int, +0 stamina, +11 difference already. Hermetic prestige seems to fit the character concept. Inventive Genius is so obvious, I'm not sure it needs mentioning. :slight_smile: Skilled Parens also seems to fit the bill.

The link to founders, instead of virtues, get some faerie lore for merinita, get some orders of hermes lore. There's 12 founders. there's not enough virtue points to get something for them all. Add in skin changer for Bjornaer? Disfigured (a flaw admittedly) to represent some over the top Criamon style tats?

Isn't it in canon that Bonisagus could not understand Bjornaer's HeartBeast. Hence not part of the fundamentals of Hermetic Magic. Though you could say becoming a Lycanthrope might be closer to a mage of Bonisagus' understanding of HeartBeast.

Criamon the Founder did bring consistent Twilight experience to Hermetic Magic. Though I don't recall there is a Virtue that reflects an improved understanding.

House Merinita's obsession with Faeries and their Magic happened after the Order of Hermes was formed, thus also not a fundamental of Hermetic Magic.