Someone please explain this to me? Because it's not clearly explained anywhere I can see.
Leaving aside the bad social effects of the basic Gift and the Blatant Gift, which I think I understand well enough, what difference does it make for someone to have the Gift?
I know it is needed to fully comprehend and make use of Hermetic Magic but there are other traditions, some of which have a mixture of Gifted and non-GIfted members. What difference does being Gifted make to them? Why should a non-Hermetic tradition particularly prize its Gifted members?
Because I think this bit of how the Mythic Europe universe works isn't very clearly thought through.
Well, a Gifted character initiate herself into Mysteries more easily than Ungifted characters which means she's likely to know far more of them and can thus act as a Mystagogue. Beyond that, I suppose some traditions might view possession of The Gift as a sign of Divine favour.
An ungifted member takes a flaw, spends at least one season, and generally has to quest, each time they gain one of their traditions arts/abilities.
A gifted member gets all of them, in one season, with no flaws gained. That means they're generally more powerful and less flawed than their ungifted counterparts.
Gifted members of non-Hermetic traditions tend to be more powerful (or at least have the potential to be more powerful) than their unGifted colleagues. On the other hand, unless he has the Gentle Gift, a Gifted hedge wizard should be regarded as "suspicious" by other members of his tradition (Gifted and unGifted alike).
Whether members of the tradition can fully articulate this will depend on the theoretical understanding of the tradition and / or the understanding of individual hedge wizards (and the accuracy of that understanding). Some traditions are probably aware of the Gift (even if they call it something different). Other traditions are probably just aware that some members of the tradition are weirdos who are suspiciously good at magic; so presumably the others suspect that said weirdos are hiding secret initiation rites or have made pacts with demons, or something.
The gifted members can be opened for all the tradition's abilities at once by another gifted member, no flaws. Even if that doesn't happen, the gifted member can pick up the abilities without initiations at all. Further, the gifted member can pick up additional supernatural abilities if he can find teachers who are good enough. For example, a Gifted Natural Magician, just opened, has -6 to his Study Total (unlike a Hermetic magus, who has -15). He needs a source quality of 11 to learn another Supernatural ability, or 14 accounting for his Gift. That's still possible, all he needs is someone with Communication + Teaching of 5. Once he's raised his Learned Magician arts, though, it's nearly impossible, though he can still initiate like everyone else.
I think that's clear, though I'm not sure why it's that way.
Do any of you have page references for this? So that I can get it from the actual books? Not that I'm doubting you but the actual line writers might have different emphases.
(I suspect that I am spoiled by the comparatively simple mechanics of GURPS: Magery allows you access to more advanced spells and gives you a bonus to all magic related skills including spells.)
There's also something in the new book about apprentices (totally blanking on the canon term) that describes the unintentional spontaneous magic that spews from children with The Gift. While this changes little mechanically for a Hermetic Mage, it does color their childhood more brightly, and explain why so many magi have no families (that they are still in contact with).
The mechanics for learning new Supernatural abilities is on AM5, pg. 166. In there, the observation is that "only Gifted individuals can learn supernatural abilities, using these rules."
Opening the Gift in a Hedge tradition is discussed on pg. 7 of Hedge Magic. How non-Gifted Hedge Magicians learn abilities is discussed on pg. 13 of the same book - basically "you inherit it, or else you initiate into it."
EDIT - I think the idea is that you can treat Mythic Europe as a high mana zone, in GURPS terms: everyone can learn magic. However, to learn a magical Advantage (ie, if you weren't born with it), you have to pay with some sort of Disadvantage. For normal folks, the only way is through an Initiation script. For folks that are good at magic...they don't have to pay that cost. Or, if you want to think about it that way, they've already paid in the form of the social Gift penalty.
So, for a hedge tradition...there's not all that much of an advantage - yeah, they can learn the basicis of magic in a Season, but the Gift makes it hard for them to get along with anyone. They probably end up with an extra Supernatural Ability or two, and ahead of their peers by a year or so, and you don't have to go through the Initiation rituals. That last one may be enough to justify the benefit of the Gift - you have a single, large Flaw (the Gift's social penalty) instead of multiple Flaws due to Initiation scripts.
The average Gifted hedge tradition has 3 major Virtues and a minor Virtue (I think). So - the Gift's social Flaw, versus the four flaws you'd pick up due to Initiation scripts. (EDIT II - although in reading through TMRE, it doesn't say that Initiation scripts HAVE to give Flaws - but it seems that most do. The Questing Initiation, for example, doesn't require that you pick up a flaw.)
So I suppose if, for whatever reason, you had a Hedge Magic tradition whose Initiations were all Quests or "season of service, plus giving up some material possession, in a specific time and place, etc" - basically taking all of the non-Flaw-granting elements, then there wouldn't be as much of a justification for Gifted initiates.
For example, I can see a sort of "mystic knight's order" - where all of the initiation scripts are "go kill monster X" - and you have to figure out where the monster appears (because it's never in the same place), and you have to do it on a specific day of the year, etc. In that circumstance, then no - being Gifted probably doesn't do all that much for you.
However, most Scripts seem to be set up to grant flaws. In that circumstance, being Gifted is a pretty good deal... as long as there aren't too many other Gifted people around. The Amazons are an example of a Gifted tradition that absolutely HATE each other, but are bound together due to cultural affinity...and a charismatic ghost with a major hate-on for the Order of Hermes (I think.)
However, in the groups I've played in, there's usually a requirement for a Flaw in all Scripts - either a Minor for a Minor, a Major for a Major, or a Major for three Minors (this last one using the "a Major Ordeal grants a bonus to the next three Initiation rituals" idea).
Powerful cult leaders - with high PRE and Cult Lore can initiate people without granting Flaws, but these sorts of people are rare. Most will require a script that has an Ordeal that grants Flaws. This is why Mystery Cults LOVE Charismatic leaders.
I thought the unGifted required Flaws for initiations. I thought the lack of that requirement was one of the benefits of the Gift. Maybe I'm remembering incorrectly?
That's what I thought as well, but I couldn't actually find that ruling anywhere. I think I heard it from a friend, who may very well have been remembering from 4th edition.
Indeed - but even those leaders will have inherited the scripts from their precursors, who likely weren't as charismatic and/or knowledgeable as they. Or maybe they are, and the mantle of Mystagouge usually goes to the most charismatic and/or knowledgeable cultist in the group. Which certainly makes sense, but it means that the cult HAS to have such a Mystagouge, or else it would die out in a generation. Or else have alternate scripts: one for a sufficiently-competent Mystagouge, and one (with Ordeals/Sacrifices) for everyone else.
That being said, if you had a high-charisma, high-knowledge cult leader who decided to put together his OWN cult, and started playing around in-game with the Initiation Script rules, then sure - they'd likely optimize their MC around themselves.
From a mechanic point of view at creation, a gifted hedge magician get the whole package of abilities with one single advantage. Whereas non-gifted one has to pick one minor or major virtues for each ability he want to have.
So technically, the gifted one will have several more virtues than the non-gifted one who want to have the same share of mystical abilities.
Sure, you can always decide to create a ungifted character and decide that he will get initiated later on to try min-max virtues vs effect of the gift. However it is unlikely that it will go as smoothly: why somebody would like to initiate this character later in his life when he is already somehow established ? How much will the mystagogue charge for the initiation ? How long will it take ?
When you look at most scripts, it looks like that each initiation can take about a year: between gathering special components, finding clues regarding a rare occurence, rare animal or undiscovered ruins, then waiting for the right stars and getting to some remote location, that's no walk in the park and it does not matter how high is the communication/skill of the mystagogue - that's only numbers behind the system, the character has to comply and spend time. Also, unless he is wealthy, he would have also to spend time supporting himself (two seasons a year on average).
So unless you handwave all that, I don't find reasonable (I am not saying "realistic" we are talking about magicians here after all) to have an ungifted character will all the trimmings of a tradition.
So yes, on paper it is possible to make a ungifted character with all supernatural abilities of a tradition but it does not sounds very likely. At least, he will be much older and because of that his abilities will be lower than a gifted character of the same tradition and the same age.
Ah, there it is. It's in an insert on page 14 of Hedge Magic RE.
Good catch, so yes, the Ungifted must take Ordeals. Sucks to be them. OTOH, the Gifted can initiate without Ordeals if their Mystagogue is good enough and has the right Scripts.
Thank you all for making this clearer for me.
The problem I have with 'for Hedge Magic it doesn't make all that much difference' is that before the Order there were earlier cults and schools of magic all of which seem to have had some sort of advantage for Gifted individuals though perhaps not as much as the Order gives. And there's no sense of exactly what the difference is that the Gift gives. It can be explained to me in game-mechanical terms but there's no sense of it being defined in 'in-world' terms. I couldn't tell you how a magician in Mythic Europe thinks of his GIft. I get as far as "Well, it screws up my social life but in compensation it..." and then can't finish the sentence.
I'm not actually thinking about AM in GURPS terms (though I have a project to try and do something like Mythic Europe with GURPS Thaumatology). I'm just bemoaning the fact that one game system makes sense to me and the other confuses me.
I'm not sure you're articulating your difficulty clearly enough.
Canonically, a Gifted individual gets a free Supernatural Virtue. (Ars5 pg36). For Hermetic Magi, being able to cast Hermetic spells counts as their 'free virtue'.
A Gifted person may learn other Supernatural Virtues without Initiation, though this gets harder the better you get at your existing Supernatural Virtues. That's also core.
Non-core, Gifted individuals have an easier time being initiated (no mandatory Ordeal), and can be opened to all of a Hedge Tradition at once without Initiations. This might not look like a big deal, but a lot of the initiations require one or more seasons of activity, plus whatever effort is required to get the Mystagogue to agree to perform the initiation (many of which take a lot of their time too). So a Gifted Hedge Magician saves literally years of time being opened all at once - years they can spend improving their Hedge Arts/Abilities. And time in Ars Magica equals power.
Also remember that, by default, a character with The Gift is Companion grade or better; he can take up to 10 points of Virtues and Flaws. That's the big reason a Gifted character is more powerful, because he can take extra Virtues to either augment his school powers or entirely different powers that give him radically different abilities. Grogs aren't allowed to select The Gift, so Grog level hedge magicians must initiate almost all their powers. This is probably the 'something extra' you're referring to.
All the things you've said are game mechanically defined.
The problem is that I can't get a hold of what the Gift means to an inhabitant of Mythic Europe who has the Gift. What it makes of them, what it allows them to do.
Part of this is the fact that even now the publishers are allowing multiple possible interpretations of what the setting involves but this is weakened by the great accumulation of detail that the world has gathered over the years.
You may point out that in GURPS (to go back to my other example) Magery is defined entirely in game mechanical terms. Which is true but I would reply that Magery is mechanically simple while the same cannot be said of the Gift. I can use various metaphors for Magery as I explain what magic is in various worlds and be consistent about how I rule on issues involving it.
The same cannot be said of the Gift. If I can't get my head around it then I have difficulty adjudicating the use of it by players.
And it isn't that a Gifted individual gets a free Supernatural Virtue, I think. It's that they will develop a Supernatural Virtue eventually, will they or nil they. I do seem to recall reading that if a potential Apprentice isn't taken in and trained by a school of magic, whether the Order or another, they will eventually develop some sort of magical ability which may not be the one they would have chosen.
And the increasing difficulty of gaining additional Supernatural Virtues is something else that worries me. Because all the founders had been instructed in non-Hermetic traditions before Bonisagus came along. How he managed to 're-open' their potential for magic so they could learn Hermetic Magic is a puzzlement to me: it looks hand waved. If it was possible for Bonisagus to do it, it ought to be possible now to bring in outsiders as 'fresh blood' for the Order. But I've got the feeling that's been nerfed somewhere.
The gift is an inverted form of the subset of Autism known as Aspergers syndrome
Those with Aspergers have a harder time trusting people, and don't pick up on the other party's social cues well, if at all, and often misinterpret them.
The gift simply causes others to have that response to the gifted person