Who wants to live forever?

Any magus does. Just imagine: You spend decades in your lab to master magic, and when you finally emerge, you are old, ugly and you there is this embarrassing puddle forming where you stand – courtesy of your last Twilight episode. So I find it surprising that the Order in general, or House Bonisagus in particular, hasn't yet attempted to invent a remedy. A "Ritual of the Youthful Archmaga" that reshapes the body to its state at the age of 20 and a "Remove the Warping's Weirdness " Ritual that heals the accumulated Warping points should basically make a Mage immortal to (super)natural causes.
But this needs two Hermetic Breakthroughs, you might object. Still, I wonder.

A freshly graduated research Bonisagus starts out with a Magic Theory of at least 4+2 (Level 2 from fosterage plus 40 xp from exposure to at least 20 seasons worth of Lab work).
She can be expected to have a Technique+Vim of 12 or better (two seasons of reading a good summa can easily provide for this), an intelligence of 2 or better and a further bonus from the Aura, which I neglect so I can't be accused of unrealistic numbers.
That results in a Lab total of at least 20: So even a starting magus should be able to research a level 10 spell in one season and gain a +2 risk modificator for original research.

So let's look at the dice statistics:
There is a 3% chance of a botch (1 stress dice + 2 stress die because of extra risk)
How probable is a Discovery? There is a 20% chance of an 8 or a 9, plus a 3% chance of a 1 followed by a 4, 5 or 6, plus a 0,2% chance of a 1 followed by a 1e followed by a 2 or 3. So there is a total chance of 23,2% of making a discovery for a beginning Bonisagus.
How probable is a stabilization of that discovery?
You must avoid a harmful effect (Disaster, No benefit, Complete failure): 77% of the effects fall under this category (this is an estimate, because it ignores the risk modifier: Since only the direction of the modification is already fixed, but the amount is not, I assume that the exact number is even slightly better than 77%).
So the total chance of a stabilized discovery amounts to about 17,7% (0,77*0,23=0,1771), which means you can expect to spend 6 seasons for one discovery.
You need a total of about 30 discoveries (2nd magnitude) for a Hermetic Breakthrough, which is 180 seasons or 90 years of work (if you work 2 seasons per year discovering), including 5 or 6 botches.

180 seasons sounds like a lot, but a dedicated covenant of 4 magi could solve both the aging problem and the Warping problem in about 45 years, which seems to be a small price compared to Immunity to Twilight and Eternal Youth.
Not a single pawn of Vis is needed! And there are beneficial side effects like hundreds of useful spells.
Since the magi only do low risk projects, they get about 3 Twilight points per Hermetic Breakthrough (divided among all the magi working on the Hermetic Breakthrough).

If all 52 Magi Bonisagi worked on this (which the Prima could order), it would take the ridiculous amount of only 7 seasons to find immortality, plus one season to transcribe the results and 30 seasons for the Prima and one other Magus to read the collected works for each Breakthrough: So in only 38 seasons, less than ten years, immortality could be a reality for the Order!

So why hasn't Prima Murion started yet?
Explanation 1: She doesn't realize how easy it would be since she doesn't know the number of discovery points needed.
Explanation 2: She doesn't have enough control over her House to set such a long-term target and doesn't want a small group to do this research because they might become too powerful.
Explanation 3: She thinks it's hubris. Rather unlikely, but still…?
Explanation 4: She is afraid of the consequences of immortality, like the power struggles that this knowledge could cause or a Malthusian nightmare of too many mages sharing too few vis-sources.
Explanation 5: Deus lo vult! God makes humans incapable of attempting this project.
Explanation 6: This has happened hundreds of years ago. A small clique of Magi achieved immortality centuries ago and has secretly ensured no one else does.
Explanation 7: Other Magi (e.g. Trianorma's magi) stop her.

Would it unbalance the game?
Yes it would, but it would create story material to last for centuries (think Highlander).

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note that 60 breakthroughpoints is simply a guideline - removing warping would probably require a lot more - not to mention that it may be har coming up with enough new effects that serve to move the research in the right direction. Spells that eliminate Might might do so, but there are only 4 different versjons of this...

As for eternal youth, many Bonisagus don't care too much about this - but at the same time they would like to freeze the process - which simply means a more efficient longevity potion... But I'd say most considers this pointless unless the first part had been completed...

Main issue is game balance. How to restrict players from having characters that keep getting more and more powerful. You have more than enough options for immortal magi, Merinita Becoming, Greater Elixir, and binding yourself to a location as ghost or nature spirit. But all of those options give restriction to future learning. No amount of breakthroughs should be enough if it throws the game into being broken.

Of course if your group doesn't want such checks and balances and never intends to advance play that far yourselves, then I suppose it doesn't matter if all of the npcs it deals with keep being far ahead of the players and showing no sign of dying off.

Personally I can't wait to see how they handle the grugach external soul which up until 5th edition seemed to allow the longest lifespan and most security to it's recipients. How will that be balanced now?

Alas, no!!! There are hundreds of them! Even if you anly consider Spells with alevel of 10:

  • reduce magical/faery/infernal/divine might by 10 (R: Voice, D: Mon, T. ind)
  • reduce magical/faery/infernal/divine might by 5 (R: sight, D: Mon, T. ind)
    reduce magical/faery/infernal/divine might by 4 (R: arcane, D: Mon, T. ind)
  • reduce magical/faery/infernal/divine might by 4 (R: Voice, D: Mon, T. Group)
  • reduce magical/faery/infernal/divine might by 3 (R: sight, D: Mon, T. Group)
  • reduce magical/faery/infernal/divine might by 2 (R: arcane, D: Mon, T. Group)
  • reduce magical/faery/infernal/divine might by 15 (R: Touch, D: Mon, T. ind)
    reduce magical/faery/infernal/divine might by 5 (R: Touch, D: Mon, T. Group)....

And so on...
The number will increase even further if you invent spells that reduce the might by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, ...... points.

I have long concluded that the breakthrough rules, if applied as-is, are broken. I much prefer the integration rules from Ancient Magic, or Mysteries (such as the Elixir).

If a player approached me with such a suggestion in a saga I run, I'll tell him two things:
a) The cost in Breakthrough Points is going to be very high. I'd strongly recommend looking for sources of Insight to speed the research along.
b) It ain't gonna be a fix-all solution. Instead, it is going to be a solution that is not overall superior to solutions available by Mysteries.

I'd also recommend considering changing the breakthrough-rules, but that's another issue.

As for why it hasn't happened yet in Hermetic history -
Because it's very, very hard. Perhaps impossible. The number of breakthrough points required is staggering. That said, several magi have made progress, and there is a rumour of a long-banished magician with links to Hose Diedne that has achieved immortality...

Heh. That is a whole lot funnier than I think was intended...

LOL :laughing: Nice catch.

I for one would make Mythic Intelligence award extra breakthrough points. This is why that Bonisagus dude (can't remember the name) managed to make the Aegis breakthrough. And The Big Dude invent the whole system, that is. But tnhis is ranting. As it is, yes it is rather easy to do breakthroughs by pure number crunching. I tend to find Ars characters to be grossly simplistic and driven when it comes to gain XP in the lab, though, and that skews the whole process to making it rather easy in the end.



The largest limitation that you must overcome is the Limit of Essential Nature where the lesser limit of Aging comes from. It is the nature order of things to age and change over time. So unless you are going to go outside Hermatic magic, you would not solve the "Eternal Youth" problem.


I'm a great fan of the Mystery Rules and not a fan at all of the Breakthrough Rules.

The Mystery Rules force a magus to forge ties with people and to get out into the world. The Breakthrough Rules... not so much. The idea that all learning involves scripts (even the Mundane Stuff, like "Apprentice for 7 Years under a Demanding Master and produce a Masterwork which you then give up to gain Puissant Craft, a good Social Status and (pick something?)") appeals to me. The Breakthrough lies in figuring a way to do this, but not everyone can learn everything and there is usually some cost.



The Integration (of Ancient Magic) rules also do the same, and are especially suitable for learning tricks no longer used, like the examples in Ancient Magic. But I agree that discovering an initiation script (and relevant Lore) rather than a virtue is generally better, except perhaps for truly Minor Breakthroughs.

Or inadvertantly following one.

Well, to be fair the state of the art as it concerns immortality and Hermetic Magic is not so limited as you make it look. It is true that the current (AD 1220) development of canon Hermetic theory allows to greately minimize, but not completely overcome, the effects of aging, as shown by the game effects of longevity ritual.

However, it is also perfectly true that the current advancement of magical research in established Hermetic Mysteries indicates Hermetic Magic's limits can pushed to accomplish levels of immortality well beyond that if a mage is willing to take the necessary effort. That's what Hermetic Virtues, including Mystery ones, do: they show ways the limits of Hermetic Magic can be pushed.

Two kinds of immortality effects can be accomplished with established Mystery "expansions" of Hermetic Magic:

what I term "lesser immortality", by which the effects of aging are completely nullified, but the mage remains liable to the effects of warping, which will eventually cause him/her to be removed from the earthly plane. The upside of this method is that up to that point, the mage remains completely human, with all the innate perks that come with human nature, such as unlimited freedom of movement, and unlimited potential to change, learn and self-improve (which unfortunately includes the liability to be permanently diminished or destroyed by violent means), and the ability to draw power from multiple supernatural realms.

what I term "greater immortality", by which the mage is made immune to
the effects of warping and, to a varying degree according to the immortality method employed, permanent damage or destruction. Apparently, this latter result is incompatible with human nature, but requires transformation in some kind of supernatural creature.

By their very nature, supernatural creatures may be sentient, and are static and completely immune to the effects of aging and warping (they are already as "otherwordly" as they could ever be). According to the type of supernatural being, this grants a varying degree of protection from permanent damage or destruction. However, this exacts a corresponding price in that the mage's ability to learn and self-improve without specialized magical effects and/or the ability to roam freely in the mortal realm are significantly limited. Typically, there is a zero-sum relationship between these three features, invulnerability, ability to learn without magical assistance, and ability to roam freely without magical assistance. Also, differently from humans, a supernatural creature can only be linked, and draw power from, only one supernatural realm ever.

So far, Hermetic researchers (i.e. mystagogues) have discovered effective methods to change humans into humanoid faeries, humanoid magical creatures, ghosts, spirits, and, by twisting the effects of Final Twilight, sentient magical beasts as well. Theoretically methods might also be developed to turn a mage into a sentient faerie beast and (but the Code of Hermes makes such research very dangerous), infernal spirits, beasts, or humanoids. It is also theoretically possible that magic attuned to the Divine realm may allow a mage to be turned in some kind of Divine creature, as long as the rules are respected which the Divine sets for those who would use its power (i.e. exacting ethical standards).

In sum, this evidence indicates that according to the metaphysics of the ArM universe, A) it is an integral feature of human nature to be liable to warping, to have unlimited freedom of movement, unlimited ability to learn and self-improve (at least within the limits that warping imposes to a single lifespan), and vulnerability to bodily destruction. It is NOT an integral feature of human nature to be vulnerable to aging, and magical assistance can do away with it entirely B) within human nature, it exists the potential (a "loophole", if you wish) to transform into pretty much any kind of supernatural creature, when exposed to the appropriate supernatural power.

Hermetic magic has the potential to accomplish both of these feats. That it cannot currenlty do it without specialized mystical insight, as provided by the appropriate Mystery Initiation, it is but a flaw of mainstream Hermetic theory that it is but a Major Breakthrough away from being corrected.

Therefore, the Limit of Aging is but a mere flaw of Hermetic theory and has absolutely nothing to do with the Limit of Essential Nature or the Limit of the Divine. Moreover, the Limit of Essential Nature does not prevent the human->supernatural creature transformation. Such a change is within the essential nature of magic and human beings. Cumulative warping does that in an uncontrolled, and therefore typically damaging, way. Appropriate magic can do that in a controlled, and therefore typically beneficial, way. The Divine, for its own reasons, does not interfere in this.

By the evidence in TMRE, HoH:MC, RoP:D, RoP:I, and GotF, what the RAW tells most mages think, the Limit of Aging to be an effect of the Limit of Essential Nature, it is a proven wrong theory. Their mystae brethren know better, it is a flaw of Hermetic Theory. Moreover, the Limit of Warping is correctly thought to be a manifestation of Limit of Essential Nature, with two caveats: while it is not possible to prevent Warping and remain human, the specific effects of Warping can be controlled, and it is a flaw of Hermetic Theory not to have such an ability. Moreover, the Limit of Essential Nature itself does not prevent changing a human into a supernatural creature for good (alas, the reverse is not true), and this is but another flaw of Hermetic Theory. Last but not least, the Divine really does not concern itself with what humans do to themselves with their free will and magic aptitude, except when they try do it by using its own power.

I disagree. Mystagogues aren't Hermetic researchers, they are integrating non-Hermetic magic into their craft. Hermetic magic cannot, IMHO, change someone's essential nature - but Mysteries can. So you can be transformed into a Magical or Faerie creature, changing your Essential Nature and thereby obtaining true ("greater") immortality - but not through the application of purely Hermetic magic. Changing this is not a matter of a Major Breakthrough, it is an Hermetic Breakthrough in line with the invention of Hermetic Magic Theory itself, it is the creation of a new Magic Theory akin to Bonisagus' great brekthrough.

All humans age, it's part of their nature.
When you cease to be human, and then only, you cease to age.

Thank you for beating me to the point. Which is why I said you need to go outside hermatic magic to achieve eternal youth.

This is the Evil Sg in me speaking, You can achieve immortality, just at the cost of human interaction. This means not only you can not tell other people, it also makes those that want it crazy, or going that way.

And this should be distinct from what good old Bonisagus did in his heyday how ? Half of Bonisagus' work was done from grafting together specialized insights from a half-dozen different magical schools and weaving a general theoretical framework around them. Many of the best tools Hermetic mages use, like the Aegis, came from adapting non-Hermetic secrests.

Integrating non-Hermetic magic in the then-current Hermetic state-of-the-art is but an integral feature of Hermetic magic. That is what a whole one-third of Bonisagi researchers strive to do every day. Mysteries are from this perspective one possible way of doing the integration, one that is less burdensome to the researcher, but less easy to spread out the new knowledge. This is a false dichotomy.

Hermetic magic augmented by Hermetic mystery Virtues is still Hermetic as its core, albeit given a wider, somewhat exotic perspective. They still use Arts to do it. The existence of Common Virtues indicate that Mystery insights may slowly get integrated into mainstream Hermeticism.

Anyway, if you check my argument, I propose a different view to the issue. It's not Mysteries that break the Limit of Essential Nature, it's that the Essential Nature of human beings contains a hidden property (a "loophole", if you wish) that allows for human to be turned permanently into supernatural creatures, when the appropriate magic or supernatural power or special circumstances are applied. Magic can just exploit that loophole. After all, there examples of humans being turned into supernatural creatures by non-Hermetic means, such as legendary artists in ArAc (by the way, legendary artists are very much like immortal mages in nature). I am fairly confident that RoP:M and RoP:F will add plenty more examples.

Sorry, YMMY as you wish in your game, but it seems like someone is either privy to unpublished information, or else arbitrarily rewriting major parts of the rules for Hermetic research on the spot. Both HoH:TL and AnM are very clear on the fact that integrating the effects of any single Hermetic (Mystery) Virtue in mainstream Hermetic Magic is a Major Breakthrough, not an Hermetic one. Hence, doing research to integrate say Becoming or Living Ghost is a Major Breakthrough. Conceded, it would be different if one would try to integrate whole blocks of Virtues at once, as it would be required to integrate a Virtue and its perquisites in one fell swoop.

Uncorrect. There are magical ways to make yourself completely immune to aging which don't change a person in a supernatural creature. It's better to say that humans unassisted by magic are bound to die by old age, whileas magic can keep them healthy and vigorous until Warping forces their retirement from the earthly plane. It's an "hidden" feature of human nature, one that reveals itself only when humans are exposed to magic. Much like saying humans are liable to disease, but it's feasible for a human never ever suffer disease in a lifespan under the right circumstances. Or, from a different perspective, to say that magic and supernatural powers can allow a human to take the shape of an animal, without changing their essential nature.

Hmm. Given the Ancient Magic rules (the part about needing to Initiate a Major/Hermetic Breakthrough) I guess that is one way to see it.

A problem is that the Ancient Magic rules are inconsistent with the TMRE rules - creating an Initiation Script requires a Cult Lore score to base it on, which Ancient Magic doesn't prescribe.

I would rather say that it's partially non-Hermetic. The effects of Mysteries vary, and often are not related at all to the practice of Hermetic magic. At least for such virtues, the integration seems partial if it exists at all. At any rate the Mystery is not part of the state-of-the-art Magic Theory, having not been integrated further (as an additional Major Breakthrough), so it isn't part of Hermetic magic proper.

Haven't read AaA yet; it's still in transit from the far shores of the US - for a month and a half now...

I'm afraid I don't "buy" that. That non-Hermetic magic can change a human into something else just means that it isn't bound by the Limit of Essential Nature. YMM(O)V.

This is not my reading.

A Major Breakthrough "pushes those limits, but does not break them". This is the key sentence. Yes, it says "Incorporating hedge magic into Hermetic theory is a Major Breakthrough", but I understand this to imply "usually". If the new capability "breaks one of the Hermetic limits of magic", then it falls under the definition of an Hermetic Breakthrough, and this trumps a Major one.

Coming up with a Magic Theory that breaks the Limit of Universal Magic Resistance ended up creating a new Arcane Ability (Parma Magica) and being an Hermetic Breakthrough.

Coming up with a Magic Theory that breaks the Limit of Essential Nature would require another Hermetic Breakthrough. Is the ability to change a human into a Magical creature breaking the limit, or pushing it? I'm not sure. I think it should be treated as something in between, a particularly hard Major or a relatively-easy Hermetic Breakthrough (the difference is only in the points required anyways, and I'm in favor of increasing their amount anyways).

And another Major Breakthrough to fully integrate it. Well, I can agree with that, but still maintain that these break the Limit of Essential Nature so categorizing the integration as an Hermetic Breakthrough is also fully justified (a relatively easy one, since the Limit is only broken in a specific manner, and otherwise generally applies).

I am inline with what YR7 has stated but I understand what Wanderer is trying to say. I have not read anything that leads me to believe that Hermatic magic can achieve the effect that people would call eternal youth. Now Magic can be used to get something of this effect but at a cost of not really being a magi/human any more.

And I do separate Hermatic magic from other magic in this case. Hermatic magic follows it's rules and is made powerful and limited by them. Magic outside the Hermatic rules, while weaker is not subject to some of the limitations imposed. A SG could say that all limitations in the Hermatic magic are flaws in the Hermatic theory and thus could be overcome by research.

In the case of Gruagachan, if they stick with much of the material from Lion of the North, they would be "immortal" but not immune to warping and damage when they put their souls in a jar.