What is The Gift

Hi all !
Stupid question : what is the Gift ?

We have a player who say that a character with all the four Ars Goetia doesn't necessarily have the Gift : for him, the Gift is just the ability to learn new powers and supernatural virtues, and not the manifestation of these power : a character with innate supernatural power (like the 4 Ars Goetia) doesn't need the Gift to use and improve them. However, he would have to have the Gift if he only had 3 of the Ars and wanted to gain the fourth.

I tend to totaly disagree, but I want some other view on that. For me, a character who can do anything supernatural has at least a small gift (a dowsing character has a small Gift, but anyone with the 4 ars goetia has to have a total Gift).
What is your take on this ?

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The four Goetic Arts (RoP:TI p.82ff, 114ff) all are Major Virtues. So a character should not have them all four at character creation.as Virtues, unless he is a very specific Mythic Companion.

What type of 'character' are we speaking of: a Mythic Companion Summoner (p.119)? That character must not have the Gift, but would have the points to buy the four Goetic Art Virtues.

@Zer , you're mixing up the realms a little. Different realms have different ways to pick up their stuff associated with some tradition or beyond that. The Gift is based on the Magic realm. The Divine equivalent is True Faith. The Faerie equivalent is Faerie Rank. More relevant here, the Infernal equivalent is just being "touched by evil" (several qualifiers listed). The Gift is stronger, though. It gives more Favored Abilities than do the others. It also seems to let you pick up some stuff from other realms, but I'm not sure what those limits are off-hand.

That is an interesting philosophical question that has not been conclusively answered in canon. You are unlikely to get a consistent answer from the forum.

I interpret it like this:
The Gift is a particularly strong magical ability (or potential) that exists within people. It is sort of a meta-ability in that the Gift is not the ability to do anything specific, but rather the ability to easily learn a wide variety of different magical abilities.

As you say unGifted people might learn a few magical powers here and there but each of these requires an extraordinary piece of work on the part of the person learning the ability, such as extensive training or an arduous task (mechanically simulated with an intiation). In a way I think many ungifted people who can use magical abilities are either using the magical ability of some other entitity such as ungifted initiates in cults who I assume are actually wielding their patrons powers on behalf of the patron OR they people who are adept at utilizing natural magic. This includes people like skinchangers who use natural sympathetic magic to their advantage or dowsers who are adept at reading magical energies.

It is reasonable to assume that from the perspective of the characters in the game, at least from the perspective of hermetic magi, that the gift exists on a spectrum, some people have strong gifts and some have weak gifts. The mechanics differ but that may just as well be a necessary abstraction because the alternative would be to have a "Gift score" for each character that measures the strength of their gift. In that context the virtue "The Gift" should be considered a statement of "your character has a Gift sufficiently strong to be trained in hermetic magic" rather than a statement that the Gift is essentially binary. Many hedge traditions dont fit neatly into hermetic categories and so it is often hard to determine whether the Gift is necessary to learn the powers of specific traditions, other than to say "If the hedge tradition has strong, varied and/or flexible magical powers they need the Gift", which is IMO a fine solution. Exactly where you draw the line is unfortunately a matter of adjudication that you will have to decide on yourself (along with your troupe of course).

However as stated above, perspectives on this may vary widely, and I am sure that you can assume any number of equally legitimate viewpoints of the underlying metaphysics (metamagics?) of the Ars Magica universe.

I ask with question because we were not sure about the social penalty and the Gift (since the character would not have Parma Magica, the question is : does all the magus know that the character is a non-hermetic magic user because of the paranoïa, fear etc...).
The fact is, the social penalty associated with The Gift seems to apply to all users of supernatural power, or nearly all (hence the trope of the old sorcerer in the wood...) it seems weird to me if a sorcerer master of all 4 Ars Goetia doesn't suffer from it. Of course, you can use demons to hide your nature, but without this...

Here my lack of specific rules knowledge is made apparent. I haven't read the book you are talking about and so cannot tell you whether or not it is possible to have all 4 ars goetia but not the Gift. But if the rules say you can then you can despite how it might seem improper for someone to have so much magical power but no Gift.

However you can be pretty sure that the magi will not detect any Gift via the usual means of paying attention to the normal feeling of distrust as the Parma Magica prevents you from feeling that sense of distrust towards others with the Gift. They still dont trust you but you have no problems with them. Since you have to consciously lower your Parma to feeling that unease of the Gift it is highly unlikely that magi will detect it unless they already suspect it.

If the character is a Mythic Companion, he must not have the Gift.

If in your saga you want a specific type of Mythic Companion afflicted by the social penalties of a standard Gift, this could come from Flaws like Magical Air, which you can make mandatory.

Why? What about Holy, Faerie, Infernal characters? What about the typical Folk Witch?

Technically speaking, you could create a character with 3 Ars Goetia (for 9 virtues points), and have the last initiated afterwards. This is the hard way to become a diabolist: the character had no Gift, no Gift opening into the Dark Arts, yet through sheer stubbornness, he managed to become a full-fledged sorcerer.
When I say through sheer stubborness, it is because it costed him three major virtues and he won't get any benefit from it until he spent a fair amount of XP in it, at the cost of all the other mundane skills.

Now, I think it is by design that you do not need the gift to get these virtues - the Infernal wants to tempt people into using this powers. If it was restricted to gifted people, they would be much less sorcerers :smiling_imp:

If you compare to other magical traditions, there is a big difference between a gifted witch and an ungifted one. Same can be said for most (all ?) traditions.

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You could create a Hermetic magus with all four Are Goetia. For example, a Witch of Thessaly starts with Summoning. Spend 9 points to pick up the other three. You have one point left.

That is a question for the philosophers. I'm pretty sure they didn't explicitly define what the Gift is. It's a virtue, it cannot be bought with points at character gen. It lets you perform feats of Magic. It makes people feel weird around you and dislike you. The cause of all of this is unspecified.

There are three ways people can gain Supernatural abilities: 1) By a virtue. (Bought at character gen or through intiation.) 2) By learning it, if they have the Gift. (p36 'The Gift' and p166) 3) By being granted or borrowing the power from a supernatural creature.

Philosphically, having the Gift ties you to the Magic Realm. sadly, the section on learning supernatural abilities doesn't specify anything about origin Realm, implying they can learn anything people teach them. I don't like that interpretation, myself. Might be clarified in other books, but I'm not looking that up currently. :slight_smile:

Not all supernatural powers cause the social penalty. (p36 clarifies that explicitly)

You might have this reversed: If the magi have Parma Magica, they won't feel the social penalty from another Gifted. Whether or not the Ars Goetia sorcerer has the gift or not(or Parma) won't change how they react to the sorcerer.

RoP:tI does mention it for teaching Goetic Arts to Hermetic magi. But I don't know why since you just have to be touched by evil and you qualify, and if you have the example demon teaching you I'm pretty sure that counts as a touch of evil. So the Gift is ultimately irrelevant to picking up the Infernal stuff, which suits your interpretation for that realm.


Page 63, in the Abilities chapter, does have some relevant text: "The Gift allows characters to learn Supernatural Abilities in play (see page 166). However, The Gift is associated with the Realm of Magic, and thus only allows characters to learn Supernatural Abilities associated with that realm."



So coming back to your original question:

A character with a supernatural ability might indeed have a small gift, just like a companion loaded up with awesome non-supernatural virtues. He's gifted!

But from a game rules perspective, and from the perspective of magi within the OoH, this kind of ability has nothing at all to do with the Gift.

An angel or genii with awesome powers? Not Gifted in the slightest. A summoner with all the Goetia? Likewise, not Gifted in the slightest. And, more than a few magi might argue, not 'gifted' at all, but encumbered.

So the character in question probably does not have the Gift at all, and does not have any of the penalties or benefits that comes of it.



If a character doesn't have the gift or the magical air flaw then he does not suffer the social penalties of the gift, even if he has supernatural abilities. This is how Sahirs are able to exist as an organization.

Thanks for all you answers, this clarify the situation !

Other people have made more in depth and in-character replies, but to state the obvious mechanical determinant: a character has the Gift if they have "The Gift" Special Virtue on their character sheet, along with all that implies, and doesn't if they don't.

Unless you're playing an unusual saga, you probably want each player to have exactly one character with the Gift (possibly replaced by a Mythic Companion if you're being mildly unusual).

Well, the player in question ALWAYS play highly unusual character...

IMO the Gift is a charism. That is, it's a gift in the soul from the Divine.

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Then why does it suffer from penalties in the Dominion? :thinking:

I think the Gift is a Story Flaw in disguise.

The Friends of the Apacei of Vinilandia (sub rosa #19 p.30ff), or rather Bodo the Hermit there, claim to have the answer.