What are your House Rules?

To reduce the amount of high level spells, we use a house rule that prohibits the use of a focus on the lab work. It doubles only your lower art only when casting. Nevertheless none of the players wanted to go without any focus.

Good idea

Foci are just very effective.

Your rule seems to lead to the result that magi will be able to cast the spells they know within their focus very easily - they can learn them as normal, but add the focus when casting. The opposite rule, allowing you to use a focus in lab work but not in casting, will make you know spells within your specialty that are too powerful for you to cast. I think that's a bit more interesting, no? But perhaps not the flavor of "I am an expert necromancer", no.

A focus is definitely too powerful a virtue, IMO, in terms of game balance. I'm not sure how to make it more balanced yet still as fun, though. It's a very fun virtue.

Yeah, it's a matter of game style I think. I don't intend my (so far imaginary) saga to throw distractions from study year after year, certainly not distracting the same character more than once in several years, perhaps a decade.

And I'd like to see those upstart post-gauntlet magi pushed back to where they belong - just overglorified apprentices, not powerful wizards. :slight_smile:



Just out of curiosity, are you planning to set your saga in the Levant (since you are in Israel) or elsewhere?

Probably the Rhine, simply because it's so detailed. Although my plan involves a covenant of no fixed location, kinda like Semita Errabunda.
Setting the game in Israel just seems weird.

But I'm at the early stages of drawing some initial plotlines up and contemplating house rules, things can definitely change.

Well it would certainly be the sort of challenge you seem geared toward. I mean think of the potential for a power limiting setting, The Holy Land! You can't get a higher divine aura than that lol.

Vis supplies would be dreadfully scarce as well, I should think. :wink:

Factor in all those nasty Saracens and Turkish potentates and it might be quite exotic.

Ali Baba and his forty thieves could be talked into serving as the covenant's turb :wink:

Ok, new thought on a possible HR for consideration and comment...

Multiple Seasonal Study Activities:

Appreciating that the core rules touch on this subject (albeit rather superficially) I am nonetheless inclined to argue for an even more flexible approach.

Consider that a season of undisturbed study is, for all intents and purposes, a 7 days a week (religious magi aside) activity for 3 months. Now given that a typical mundane university student of average intelligence is still able to pursue a variety of subject studies in the space of a semester (a bit of modern anachronistic extrapolation, I realise), it seems to me that your average exceptionally intelligent magi should be able to study several differing summae/tractati and/or vis studies by the same token.

My thinking is that the rule for multiple seasonal activities could be expanded to say that so long as:

  1. The varied activities are purely study related (including personal study from texts, under the tutelage of a teacher or from raw vis)
  2. The study is uninterrupted for any total period of less than or equal to 5 full days in a season

then magi could be permitted to divide their time amongst a number of differing subject areas up to their Intelligence score.

Now, to temper this against possible abuse, I would say that the experience gained in each of the subject areas would be the source quality of the text or teacher of that subject divided by the number of total subjects being studied (rounded down).

Of course, other forms of labwork such as spell/item creation, investment of enchantments, CrVi vis collection, InVi item investigations, etc. would not be considered valid additional activities for purposes of this HR.

The only possible caveat to this rule that springs readily to mind would be those magi who have the Secondary Insight virtue. In such cases I might say that their virtue alone is of such a nature as to require deeper focus on one subject area in order to be useable. A sort of either/or option.

Edited to add: If the SG thought characters were advancing too rapidly using this system (tip of the hat to you YR7 :wink: ) then the simple solution would be to just ensure he/she/they is/are distracted from study for more than 5 days.


Perfectly fine. With the caveat of treating multidisciplinary virtues like Elementalist and Secondary Insight like you said, I don't see any problem with it. (I won't expect to see much use of it, either, though.)

Indeed, I wouldn't mind allowing multiple lab activities not in the same arts, or the combination thereof with learning activities. Simply divide each relevant lab total or study total by the number of projects crammed into one season (rounded down).


I like your idea for scaling-down magical power.

Rather than multiply required Art XP by 5, have you considered using the Art advancement table for Abilities and simply dividing all XP source qualities by 5? (You'd have to round the resulting source quality to the nearest whole number, of course.) This would leave you with approximately the same progression rate and would get rid of that factor of five. The only cost would be an increase in the granularity of advancement.

Thanks. :slight_smile:

I have considered it, but the loss of granularity is significant. There would be no difference between Quality sources 4 points apart. Alternatively, one could divide by 5 and keep the fractions, but I figured it would be easier and simpler to just use the Ability scale. It also maintains a more consistent rules system - you use the precise same formulas to calculate the quality of a Summa, how much XP you gain, and how much that means in terms of improving your stats. Easier.

I must warn that I didn't read all posts here, but I'll risk giving my opinion nonetheless, if you care to find it of any interest. :slight_smile:

YR7 idea is good if you want to reduce the fantasy level in your campaign. I'm used to see mages having way more personnal power than any mundane. Your idea would suit well a campaign based on mundane affairs.

For my own part, I prefer to see the adventures and events disturbing the characters advancement in power. That work well to get the power level in check.
Advancing the arts as slow as abilities would have no sense to me. It would basically mean that my character would be much less interested in improving his magical power.

For an exemple, I calculated the time I spent with my own magus over about one year of play. That mean about 10 years of in game time.

#1 - PERSONNAL POWER. I spent only 25% of my time studying summae about my own interests, without taking into account the alliance. Mainly Rego, Vim, Auram, MT, Parmae, Area Lore.
Study totals average : 11
(we are a Spring Covenant, with summae of Q 8-14, average 11. Levels vary between 6(!) and 14. We have a Summan on Vim L:18, Q:7. Our best book is L:14 Q:14)

#2 - COMMUNITY. Another 25% was spent studying things important for the alliance, but that didn't increased magical power or that my character wasn't paticularly wanting to learn. (E.g.: learning Hermetic Law. Usefull to my character, but wasn't in the "plan" of my character. - Learning the greek language, because we found important books written in old greek, etc)
Same study totals as before, but doesn't go along personnal projects, more often than not.

#3 - SPELLS. 25% of time learning and inventing spells. Doing Magic items.
As we were at the beginning of the campaign, those were most often than not for the alliance's profit.
No study totals.

#4 - ADVENTURING. 25% of time adventuring. Travel, Tribunals, diplomatic mission to other alliances, exploring the country side.
Study total average: 4.
Most of them were not played throught, giving a 5 xp/season, sometimes nothing. An adventure played throught would give 8-10 xp.
We play an average of one 6-8hres gaming session for 2 seasons. We play our own magus in about 33% of adventures.

Average of 26 xp per year. Total 260 xp after 10 years.
Of them, 60xp were spent to get Hermetic Law from 1 to 4.
Some more abilities (area lore, Hermetic Organisation Lore, etc) 50 xp.
25xp to Parmae from 1 to 3. (that ability should be further restricted!)
That leave 125 xp to magical power. Rego from 7 to 11 (38xp), Vim from 2 to 10 (52 xp) and 35 xp to other arts...

In 10 years, Fiodor, my magus character, helped establish legally the covenant, fought some other magus, invented some spells usefull for the alliance, and advanced two of his arts significantly.

This is how we run ours games, and so how I see the game. Of course each should play the way it gives them the more fun ! :slight_smile:


I don't run AM at this time, but if I did, and didn't want to diverge too much:

  1. Remove Finesse. Instead, the Finesse target number is taken as a penalty, along with Realm penalties and the like. Fewer dice rolls are better.

  2. Different Parma rules that I posted in the waybackwhen; that's a longer topic in itself. One major result is that a magus will resist an attempt to create a pit beneath him, and the spell will fail completely.

  3. The written word is more than just a pattern of ink or engraving, but is Mentem. Moreover, the act of writing is itself a kind of magic whose Hermetic equivalent is that very act; it requires concentration. Writing can be done through various spells, but no faster than were the magus to do it by hand. A magus without hands can use magic to write at the usual rate.

  4. Mentem magics cannot translate from or to a language a magus does not know. Most magi consider this part of the Limit of the Divine, even those who do not believe that the story of the Tower of Babel occurred exactly as the Bible describes. Those non-Hermetics who can achieve this kind of spell do so (perhaps unwittingly) by summoning entities who can translate transparently.

5a) Hermetic Magic cannot discern Aura types, but can detect the exact impact an aura will have on Hermetic Magic, including extra botch dice. Magi infer the existence of Infernal, Divine and Faerie auras from these results, but cannot be sure. In a similar vein, Hermetic magic cannot distinguish one kind of Might from another and does not need to. Thus, Demon's Eternal Oblivion will work on any being with a Might score. (A very few magi believe that any being with a Might is a demon.)

5b) Other forms of magic, including the Divine as practiced by all human beings, is limited to detecting Auras and influences in terms of itself. Divine and infernal beings sense relative holiness, faerie beings sense feyness. Worse, Christians, Jews, Muslims and whoever else sense holiness in terms of their own tradition rather than sensing the Divine, and are therefore likely to detect alien Divine things as unholy and worth smiting.

5c) The SG is likely to create auras that provide bonuses and penalties different from those listed, and usually aspected to the Forms or even the purpose of the magic (magic that makes things wet might have severe penalties in some deserts, magic that causes death might have bonuses at the site of a massacre, and so on).

  1. A magus can attempt to resist Twilight instantly rather than take two minutes, but gains a +5 bonus if he does.

I exclude minor virtue tweaking from this. I also exclude my variant Arts development rules, since I could easily go with the normal rules for that.



I don't see how this could work. You could get a casting total but what would you do with it?

If you're using a rego herbam spell to build a boat what would the diferent numbers mean?

Without a targeting roll if you're using sling of vilano to hit the broad side of a barn it is no easier than hitting a distant sparrow.

Certainly you could add modifieres for different situations but then you're adding complexity rather than removing it. A second roll (finesse) that fits into the standard mechanics is going to be less burdensome than a whole slew of modifiers added to the already complecated spell casting roll.

Please show me your thought process for this one. I'm clearly not following what the rule is fixing or how it would be immplemented.


It gets rid of an extra die roll, always a good thing.

Right now, there are two mechanics for doing something extra spiffy with a spell. Sometimes a Finesse roll is called for, and sometimes extra magnitudes are added to a spell to represent something tricky, sort of like Finesse.

I want to collapse the two mechanics. One of the changes I like very much in AM5 is the elimination of Aimed spells. I intend something similar here. A spell that does especially fine work is harder to cast. It's that simple.

Other variations on this are possible. As for complications, they are already here, but added to a second die roll. Some simple guidelines for subtracting magnitudes of penalty ought to suffice and be simple.



(I'd also consider to allow magi to increase the size of an Ind at casting time by adding magnitudes to the spell. I hate the idea that a spell that can kill a man does nothing to a big man. Maybe a minor virtue for this purpose.)

It exists - flexible magic... Btw - the spell that affects a man works fine on a big man (virtue: large), but fails on a giant(virtue: giant-blooded). Would you also like to see the spell that works fine on a mouse kill a dragon?

Back to the main point of this thread:

I'm playing in 2 different sagas, and in both sagas, the 2 most effective spells are "Scent of slumber" (make a person fall asleep) at lvl 10 and "Demons eternal Oblivion" (general, but so far not seen it used over lvl 10). I have seen a single 35 lvl spell used ("The incanation of Lightning"), but against supernatural foes it has proven to be less effective than a lvl 3 DEO...
Further - to reduce the power of magi, simply give them less resources to play with - or get them intrested in a Mystery cult... Then they will be doing everything other than studying...

Essentially, yes.

A man with giant-blooded is still a man, and if he's a magus, the standard Corpus spells don't work on him. He cannot be healed, he cannot teleport or use the shapeshift spells....

I'm ok with the size making the spell harder when the target is a large man or a large dragon, but requiring an entirely different spell (or the Major Virtue you describe, which still only allows one step of increase and might allow a spell to affect a small dragon but not a large one) doesn't seem appropriate to me.

But yknow, ymmv.




I was just thinking about rules once again, specifically Diedne Magic, Flexible Formulaic Magic and Secondary Insight. I find these virtues much better in theory than practice.


Minor General Virtue: Secondary Insight
You gain two extra experience points during any season that you do not gain experience either from a book or a teacher. This experience can be used for any Arts or Abilities that you can legally advance, even if you have not used them during the season.

Flexible Formulaic Magic: On paper, this is wonderful, and I have liked the virtue ever since AM5 came out. In practice, it rarely provides the flexibility it seems to promise. Most problematically, it does not allow promoting Ind to Group or vice versa, an application that seems especially appropriate for this virtue. I was originally thinking of a flat improvement to the virtue, but linking that improvement to Mastery provides a pleasing set of increased costs and opportunities.

Major Hermetic Virtue: Flexible Formulaic Magic
As usual, and can also exchange a spell's Range, Duration or Target for one that leaves the spell's casting level unchanged. For every level of Mastery you have in a spell, you may exercise this virtue one more time, affecting either the same or a different parameter.

Diedne Magic: Even before accounting for the Dark Secret, this isn't nearly as useful as Life-Linked Spontaneous Magic. I believe this issue has been discussed elsewhere. I also dislike including a Major Story Flaw in a Hermetic Virtue. This isn't my first stab at Diedne Magic, and possibly not my best, but it's my latest and it's relatively simple.

Major Hermetic Virtue: Diedne Magic
Your lineage is more closely tied to House Diedne than that of other magi. You do not necessarily have a Dark Secret or bad Reputation. You do suffer from the flaws Poor Formulaic Magic and Loose Magic. You gain no points for any of this. You also suffer a -5 penalty to study totals when you learn or invent a formulaic spell, including during character creation. However, when you cast spontaneous or ceremonial magic, your Casting Total is equal to your Magic Theory plus half of your Casting Score. This costs no fatigue and never botches. You have the option to spend a Fatigue and add a stress die to your casting total, but risk botching.



We are entertaining a house rule to eliminate Summae; treat all books as tractatus. This is mainly to make sure every book is valuable to every magus, but it also simplifies accounting.

Certain "books" would be represented under this scheme as multi-volume collections of tractatus. So we might have Aristotle's Physics Volume I and Volume II.

Hmmm, have always lusted after FFM for a combat mage, never put it into play, so never flashed on the "barrier" between Individual and Group- indeed, disappointing. However, that translates into a Virtue that is still quite valuable, just not spelled out - in order to use the "reduce" Target option, it invites a mage to create their spells with Target: Part, and that then allows them to decide whether to affect the whole of an Individual, or a Group, or keep the target at Part (often valuable in and of itself.)

For certain Intellego spells, setting the default Target Sense to "Hearing", and being able to choose between Sight, Hearing or Smell could be huge if one or the other of those is more desirable under the circumstances (a loud noisy environment, for instance, where Sight and Hearing might be less useful?).

You're still able to extend Range or Duration, or drop one and cast a smaller spell more easily and for better Penetration, or decide that a base Effect now affects creatures of additonal Size, or whatever. I'd still say it's quite the call for some concepts, but, as with many Virtues, the big payoff doesn't kick in right after Apprenticeship.

As for 2ndary Insight, I find that incredibly frustrating to take into account when trying to CharGen an older mage - points vs seasons just don't translate.

As far as Diedne... well, that's always been its own punishment, and I don't think it should be ~too~ attractive, iykwim. :wink:

Sir G-
I empathize with the book-keeping problem, but not every book IS useful to every scholar. Some are just too elementary to even bother with, the "Hell, ~I~ could have written that!" reaction.

I mean, "Green Eggs and Ham" was great for learning to read and to rhyme, and my Big Book of Dinosaurs was cool at the time, but...

As far as simplifying accounting, if an apprentice could spend, say, maybe 12 seasons studying a Level 15 Summa, then to replace that would require 12 tractatus of equal Quality. By your houserule those would be equally valuable to the Archmage with an Art score of 30, 12 seasons of improvement. Either way, you'd have to keep track of how many seasons each mage spent mining that Art - not all that different from current accounting, which only deals with Tractatus, not every book.

If you want to simplify accounting, maybe make every text the same Quality, so a mage gets the same Study Total from every one. At least that way each character doesn't have to refigure that each time - read a book, get X Study Total. (Dunno, not a change I'd find worth the loss of flavor IMS.)

(Suggestion: Use modern technology, xerox off a copy of the Tractatus list, one for each Mage. They can literally "cross off" each Tractatus as it's studied. Be sure to leave some spaces for later additions. If most(?) of your Companions wouldn't be expected to study many Tractatus, maybe one more copy where you'd keep track of all of them together, putting their names after anything they've read- smaller list, just mundane sources, not the Hermetic ones.)

Flexible Formulaic Magic:
My magus has it. After some years of study he will be able to learn a good defense spell. There are a sun and a moon version in the library but for him it is enough to learn the sun duration spell and he can cast it to moon duration, too. And the spell has personal range but he will be able to cast it on the grogs, too. Even his older sodales are not able to do this.

He is able to cast voice type spells into sight range. Increasing range is a good opportunity because Mentem spells have very close range.

I think he can change such parameters in the same category, too. E.g. to change concentration duration to diameter. It is also very useful because the rulebook spells have very stupid parameters usually.
Is the group/individual change forbidden in somewhere? In the text of the virtue it is allowed if I understood well.

I think skipping summae wouldn't make the accounting simplier. In the case of the summae you cannot follow what books you read but you need long lists bookkeeping the tractatus you read. I would limit the tractatus not the summae.