You guys all remember that little blurb near the beginning of the book about how, due to probability, you'll get a x1028 super boost to a die roll a couple of times in any long-running saga? I'd only witnessed it once before, and it was honestly an explosion of disappointment all around because the street urchin character was picking a lock and only needed a 4 to succeed. I imagine most of the instances of such insanely lucky critical successes are in equally useless circumstances. The chance of it happening during an unwinnable fight are quite negligible, and as far as I was paying attention to, social skills were really the only things with significant benefits for upending the die.
I wasn't paying attention to a little something when I made that assessment. Namely, a form of study. Vis study.
I think I've given you guys enough hints to figure out what happened. For lack of books, my Mentem specialist decided to study some vis to improve his score. Stress Die + Aura 9? Probably better than any easily accessible tractatus since I lack Book Learner. So I roll the die...
1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 8. What do you know, nine 1s...
Combined with Affinity, that's (8*512)*1.5 experience... So 6144 exp... Combined with his prior 307, makes 6451...
Pretty sure I broke Mentem.
So two questions. One, can somebody reverse-calculate my current Mentem score? I wouldn't know how to figure it out other than using addition until I reach it naturally. Second... My gosh, how do I make use of this sudden extremely high Mentem!? Obviously I should write the best summae the setting has ever seen and enchant legendary items, but what else? (And what might those items be, anyway? I don't think the lab rules were designed with this in mind...)
His Mentem score is now 139. You can do this mathematically, I used to know how. But computers, namely MetaCreator made this a simple exercise.
This has come up before, believe it or not. And I based an NPC magus on the concept of blowing Rego up like that, in House Tremere. Everyone knew it was high, but he never revealed how high. They had him doing stuff but he sandbagged doing that stuff while pursuing his own interests and delivered his projects to the House "on time" based on what they thought his magnitude of Rego knowledge should be. He invented several high level Aegides of the Hearth spells and also spent some time doing other stuff...
I also put him into a 7 year twilight to represent him processing all that sudden knowledge, and gave him some virtues that were exemplary of Rego, while toning down the final magnitude just a bit.
The score is 113. I erred in entering your final total, including the affinity bonus into Metacreator. Metacreator accounts for an affinity differently, lowering the target level for advancing the score, rather than inflating the XP. I calculated your base XP of 307 as 205 (rounded up) and then added 4096 to that, which results in a score of 113.
6451? 6441 is an Art Score of 113, if I've built my table right.*
A Mentem of 113? Add 5 (assuming you have a 5 in every technique) and the mage can now cast (113+5=118) any ordinary spontaneous Mentem spell up to level 20, without fatiguing except under extraordinarily oppressive auras, and any spontaneous spell up to 45 (where the Ritual limits stop you), and even there with a great hammering dose of penetration.
His sensitivity to thoughts, and mental projection might be an issue - the Twilight scar could be impressive.
*Bonus, I now have an experience table extending to 150.
As for what to do with it, once it's under control: anything. A magus with this sort of Mentem could rule the world.
Problems: Demons will flock to you, to push you toward sin. Faeries are now a regular pest in your life - you are the stuff that stories are made of. I have no idea what your other Arts are, but you are probably quite vulnerable to some or another attack, at the very least a dagger in the back.
Your mage could be subject to a spontaneous ascension to the Hall of Heroes. Some SGs might have you enter Final Twilight right there, although I'd think that a bit heavy handed. It's possible a Regio might have plunged into existence right there.
That's a reality-warping level of Art - it's rule-bending, too. You may have an ineffable understanding of Mentem, not being able to adequately explain the deep parts of it, depending on your writing abilities. On the other hand, it may be of great value to magi with Arts over 20, who otherwise have increasingly poor sources of knowledge.
Oh, 80 points to get to level 114. I wouldn't bother studying from vis any more. I would just wait for 40 seasons of dropping 1 point in from exposure to get there. There isn't much good it would do, but if it doesn't detract from much else why not take advantage of those spare points already in it.
I think I would write two summas after making sure those trivial CrMe rituals had my Communication at +5. Depending on Good Teacher or not and resonances, those would be roughly L30,Q40 and L40,Q30. Make sure a couple copies are made. Think how many magi would pay to study from those!
Tim brings up a good point about attracting the attention of things he might not want to deal with. Mentem will never be a challenge to him, he could easily peer into anyone's brain with Peering Into the Mortal Mind, with 68+ penetration (I'm subtracting hermetic gestures and voice from the roll, assuming he doesn't have virtues or mastery which accommodates that). Even the mightiest Mentem specialist might well be subject to that kind of penetration, and one doubts that the spell is often mastered for magic resistance. Someone with Mentem 30 and Parma 6 could still have their MR penetrated.
I usually mention that I'm not a fan of botches, but today it's that I'm also not a fan of the AM roll-up on 1 mechanic.
"A bit" heavyhanded? Essentially, a good roll is being treated as a multi-botch. Do well on vis study and go to Final Twilight, or just get 7 years. Hey, you weren't screwed by the dice this time -- the game was -- but suffering is good for you.
My rule of thumb regarding dice mechanics in a game: If a group is not willing to accept rolls at one extreme or the other, or is willing to accept extreme results when rolled but not as player or GM fiat, something is broken. Often it is the GM, but usually it is the mechanic.
This often shows up during character creation: The same GM who urges players to play that character with a 3 str, 5 con, 4 dex, 9 int, 11 wis and 8 cha also makes sure to kill off or flatly ban the character with 3 18s and a low score of 15.
In this case, the problem is that AM players usually accept the result of very high stress rolls in play. One-shot a dragon? Ok, it happens. (Though many GMs will find a way to save the precious dragon "for the good of the story.") Infinite range missile weapons? Not so ok, but the ranged combat rules are perceived as the problem. Gain xp? This breaks the usual rules for generating source Quality; the game itself is balanced around the idea that a character's power is based on investing time over the long term rather than through sudden or epochal events like adventure and even Twilight.
Simple rule change: Spend a season and 1-3 pawns of vis to gain #pawns Warping Points and Aura + #pawns*5 xps; don't roll for Twilight. If you manage to do this in the Magic Realm, you gain real xps, not vis. No die rolls, so downtime is very easy to manage.
I thought that was pretty much a setting assumption.
On-topic... Uh... Wow. Definitely enchant some items like you said. At the current rate of Hermetic advancement, they'll be legendary for centuries or even millennia for their power.
If I were your SG, I'd probably cause weird things as a result of this. Like was mentioned earlier, this is reality-warpingly high knowledge of Mentem. I'd probably mix good and bad things. On the bad side, you'd probably have, like, mental shoot-offs, with people constantly catching glimpses of your thoughts if you aren't careful. To counterbalance that, your head might become a Mentem vis source
Oh, and an additional little benefit for this: You're pretty much immune to other people's Mentem effects now thanks to huge Form MR! Rejoice!
Well, some things are only possible with the roll of a 1, or two rolls, or three.
In my defense what I outlined is something that gave the possible mechanics some underlying order. It wasn't actually a roll in my case, it was SG fiat, and it kinda represented what might be possible.
What happens here in this instance is up to the troupe and I was providing some general guidance. The character is now vastly changed from what he was. I'm not even sure what fun it is to play a character who had a score of 24 in Mentem and now has a score of 139 in Mentem. It's certainly up to the player to decide if he wants the kind of character that has to deal with everything that such a score might represent. And what it might represent is wide open, but ultimately up to the troupe. I'm pretty sure that I don't actually want to play such a character, although imagining being such a character is a fun little exercise.
That doesn't appear to be the case in this instance, now does it? Have he heard tale of how they've ignored all those painful botches? Did he explain he was doing it in his lab with Safety +5, and a troupe understanding that the lab's safety rating can mitigate the botch dice, despite studying from vis not being a lab activity? I dunno. That's just not stated here, and it's not even what was asked.
You're making a whole set of statements about something unrelated to the question asked.
Well, it's somewhat "unfair" to change the rules in the event of the huge outsized, but always possible result, once one is confronted with the extreme result. I mean, it happens. Did he ever botch before? Botch from studying vis? I do think that there needs to be some negotiation as to the exact results, because, for my thinking, Mentem 139 is probably not the best outcome here, especially for the long term viability of the character. I had in my Bibracte saga, 15 of these individuals, and they were always a bit cursed by being so good at doing something. And one of them wanted to kill the other 14 and was working on it. I mean, think about a character writing such a high level summa, what does that tell the rest of the Order about what this person knows. Might he just not be marched on principle? Does this mean everyone is scrambling to learn Peering Into the Mortal mind and other Mentem effects, just so that they can withstand his powerful Mentem magics? Is this the sign of an arms race in Mentem?
I'm all for the outsized result of a roll, I rolled a 56+4 for my magic lore roll. My character knew exactly what to do and where to go to find the Hare of Virtue. She's a Tytalus though and kept the info all to herself, let everyone argue about where to go, and just wandered off letting people catch up to her as best as they could based on their ability to figure things out. And this group is free with the botch dice, since the standard botch situation starts at 3 botch dice...
I guess I wasn't defending (even though I said in my defense) so much as further explaining. My use of this was as an NPC, illustrating something that is really possible under the RAW, but just as unlikely.
I think, in order to keep the character playable some result other than Mentem is 139 needs to be selected, and it probably needs to be a result closer to where he started at 24 rather than closer to where he ended up. Even doubling his Art score puts him at 48, which will still likely be the most powerful practitioner of Mentem ever in the Order. Perhaps, instead of Good Teacher, he as Good Teacher as it relates to Mentem, only. Perhaps he also acquires a Mentem focus if he doesn't have one, or a potency if he does. I really don't object to stacking a number of virtues on him, maybe even going so far as to also remove his Affinity with Mentem (what meaning does it continue to have) and allow substituting another virtue for it.
And then all this comes with a possible Dark Secret story flaw, that he doesn't want it to get out about his huge Mentem... This is one of those YSMV issues, to be sure. We're all speculating as to how to handle it.
I guess I'm saying that the way I'd want to handle it is to say something like "this result is borked, and the rule isn't that good either. If you're ok with it, let's fix the rule, so the character remains playable and we don't run into this again."
It's interesting to note that, if dice rolls were truly perfectly random, the probability of rolling 9 consecutive ones would be one in a billion. If we assume there are 100 active Ars Magica players on the forum, playing 5 hours/week and rolling 1 stress die/minute when they play, this event should be reported on average no more often than once every 600 years (or, in other words, the probability of having seen something like this in the entire history of the forum would be less than 2%).
In fact, if you throw the die "just right", you can often keep repeating the same throw over and over. This explains why we see events such as this. It's not the rule that's broken, it's the randomness generation.
In this sense, it's interesting to see what would be the maximum number of xp when studying from vis in the history of the Order.
Slightly more than 1000 wizards studying from vis 4 seasons/year over slightly less than 500 years means roughly 2 million rolls, meaning the highest roll should probably be somewhere in the 400-800xp range. In fact, the number of seasons spent studying from vis is most likely at least a magnitude less, and probably two, with each magnitude reducing the expected maximum roll by a factor 2 -- so, something like 200xp. Nothing to sneeze at -- something that can bring you in a single season from 0 to almost 20 in an Art (24 with an affinity), or from 30 to 36 (slightly less than 39 with an affinity), but nothing that can significantly alter the assumptions of the setting.
I have seen one player (actually seen) roll 8 1s multiple times n the same saga, he routinely throws 4-5 ones for his stress rolls. He is not the first person I have seen with an aptitude for dice- but the other was playing GURPs 3rd ed and managed to get a triple critical success by rolling 31s (on 3d6) 3 times in a row...
once you get past 3 1's the current system does break down, it needs a flatter curve to the die explosion. Maybe just +4 to the multiple for each 1 rolled after the 3rd instead of doubling. Then 9 1s would be times 32 instead of 512.