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Retainer option for a mage

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  • Retainer option for a mage

    I have never created a full retainer for my mage games, and realize I am not clear on how their dice pools work particu,ly regarding their field.

    I am trying to create a retainer which we will just say is a small, magical animal. He is not a supernal creature as such, but he has worked with mages extensively before and has a good observers understanding of how his various (moros) mages have behaved in the past. He will be working as a starting merit for a character and I want him to act as an advisor among other thing.

    If he is hypothetically a 3 dot retainer, can I choose his fields of competence as "occult knowledge (from his experience with mages), stealth, and thievery (he is a small, sneaky creature" and have him get a six die pool for such activities, including possibly giving occult advise to his mage? Is that how it works?

    As an aside, does anyone have any examples of retainers they have somewhat fleshed out for their games?

  • #2
    For a small, magical animal, I'd use the Familiar rules and make its influence "magic" or something.

    If you want to use the retainer merit, then its field would be something like "magical animal" or "witch familiar", and you'd work out with your ST what that means, though three specific skill (in this case Occult, Stealth, and Larceny) is probably a good starting point.


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    • #3
      Originally posted by Newes View Post

      If he is hypothetically a 3 dot retainer, can I choose his fields of competence as "occult knowledge (from his experience with mages), stealth, and thievery (he is a small, sneaky creature" and have him get a six die pool for such activities, including possibly giving occult advise to his mage? Is that how it works?
      I don't believe so. A Retainer seems to be assumed to only have the one field (and even then, it seems like a one dot Retainer has basically no field beyond being available to perform simple menial tasks), with the dot rating determining how good they are in it. Fields don't necessarily correspond to specific individual skills, so it seems conceivable to have a field that could apply to a few forms of actions, but it's still the singular character concept.

      That said, the three you would suggest all sound reasonably like they would function together under the heading of one field, and maybe a few other types of action would come out of that. But otherwise, I think it's inherent to the Merit that it's relatively narrow, in exchange for the character being reliably loyal; you don't have to give anything up to a Retainer to get them to act on your behalf, which I think would end up being excessive if there could be up to five different kinds of functions that they could apply ten die pools to.

      As far as magical creatures go, I would say that if a golem or eidolen functions in the manner of a Retainer, then the Merit can be purchased to have a non-human construct somebody already made and relinquished to perform those functions (albeit not one assumed to be intelligent by virtue of being bound to an entity providing additional supernatural powers).


      I have approximate knowledge of many things.
      Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by proindrakenzol View Post
        For a small, magical animal, I'd use the Familiar rules and make its influence "magic" or something.

        If you want to use the retainer merit, then its field would be something like "magical animal" or "witch familiar", and you'd work out with your ST what that means, though three specific skill (in this case Occult, Stealth, and Larceny) is probably a good starting point.
        I didn't consider familiar rules because I did not want an ephemeral entity for the retainer, as I plan for him to have other roles as well. Though he was going to fill the niche of a familiar, narratively speaking.
        Thanks you for the suggestion.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

          I don't believe so. A Retainer seems to be assumed to only have the one field (and even then, it seems like a one dot Retainer has basically no field beyond being available to perform simple menial tasks), with the dot rating determining how good they are in it. Fields don't necessarily correspond to specific individual skills, so it seems conceivable to have a field that could apply to a few forms of actions, but it's still the singular character concept.

          That said, the three you would suggest all sound reasonably like they would function together under the heading of one field, and maybe a few other types of action would come out of that. But otherwise, I think it's inherent to the Merit that it's relatively narrow, in exchange for the character being reliably loyal; you don't have to give anything up to a Retainer to get them to act on your behalf, which I think would end up being excessive if there could be up to five different kinds of functions that they could apply ten die pools to.

          As far as magical creatures go, I would say that if a golem or eidolen functions in the manner of a Retainer, then the Merit can be purchased to have a non-human construct somebody already made and relinquished to perform those functions (albeit not one assumed to be intelligent by virtue of being bound to an entity providing additional supernatural powers).

          My plan was actually to have the creature be a living artifact. I thought taking retainer (in addition to the artifact merit) would combine to what I wanted. The plan was to make a 3/4 dot familiar and 6/7 dot artifact together (basically blowing all starting merits on the creature).

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Newes View Post


            My plan was actually to have the creature be a living artifact. I thought taking retainer (in addition to the artifact merit) would combine to what I wanted. The plan was to make a 3/4 dot familiar and 6/7 dot artifact together (basically blowing all starting merits on the creature).

            I think what you intend it to be capable of makes requiring so many Merit dots to be invested in it a bit excessive, and you'd be better off consolidating it into a single custom Merit.


            I have approximate knowledge of many things.
            Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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            • #7
              A living Artifact? But that doesn’t need to be represented by the Artifact rules, right?

              I’d have the retainer be a polymorphed Sleepwalker acolyte trying to get back to human form, using the Retainer rules with their field being “be an acolyte to mages.” Explains their experience and competence.

              Combining the Artifact rules sounds a bit tricky… with the Cursed Sleepwalker option I suggest, the Retainer could have been Imbued with spells that they figured out how to exploit.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
                A living Artifact? But that doesn’t need to be represented by the Artifact rules, right?

                I’d have the retainer be a polymorphed Sleepwalker acolyte trying to get back to human form, using the Retainer rules with their field being “be an acolyte to mages.” Explains their experience and competence.

                Combining the Artifact rules sounds a bit tricky… with the Cursed Sleepwalker option I suggest, the Retainer could have been Imbued with spells that they figured out how to exploit.

                Part of the reason I used the artifact merit was that I wanted the creature to have been with the mage from his awakening, in addition to wanting him to have some abilities.

                Suddenly you make me wonder if any mages ever managed to breed Proximi animals....

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                • #9
                  Well then, from the other side of the topic, you could just use the full Artifact rules… then state that it happens to be animate enough. Still falls within Artifacts’ “recognizable but still pretty weird” niche, and Isator Levi’s suggestion of homebrewing a Merit (without homebrewing too much).

                  Proximi animals? Nothing official, but Dark Eras mention that Hellenistic mages theorized Proximi to be descendants of legendary heroes. Maybe someone subscribed to or even still subscribes to that theory, and there are Proximi animals around believed to be descended from legendary animals. Aetherial horses descended from Bucephalus, anyone?


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Newes View Post
                    I didn't consider familiar rules because I did not want an ephemeral entity for the retainer, as I plan for him to have other roles as well. Though he was going to fill the niche of a familiar, narratively speaking.
                    Thanks you for the suggestion.
                    You can still use the invisible entity framework. This animal companion is interesting and is probably much better served using actual stats and not the Retainer dice pools. Since he's an artifact, I'd start with the Artifact Merit, and then use Familiar as a reference for adding stats. Increase the dot rating by half of that of the Familiar Merit and stat it as if it had the Rank of an equivalent ephemeral or Supernal entity, but don't add Influences/Arcana/Numina since it already has its own spell-like effects, and don't add Manifestations since it's a physical being.


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Newes View Post
                      Part of the reason I used the artifact merit was that I wanted the creature to have been with the mage from his awakening, in addition to wanting him to have some abilities.


                      I mean no disrespect, but I feel as though what you want out of this keeps expanding every time you return to it, and it makes it difficult to effectively advise on it.

                      Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
                      Nothing official, but Dark Eras mention that Hellenistic mages theorized Proximi to be descendants of legendary heroes.
                      As a fun intersection of the topics, the Myrmidon Dynasty that is Cursed with service to the General is named for a people in Greek mythology (the followers of Achilles) whose origins alternately lie in being descended from the union between a mortal woman and Zeus in the form of an ant, or literal ants transformed into men by Zeus to replace a population devastated by Hera. Given how Second Edition leans more heavily into the association by giving them actual ant features, those servitors could well have been created from ants themselves.

                      As far as Proximus animals goes, I'll note that it wouldn't really be a matter of mages breeding them in the first place; creating templates is beyond their power, and requires the Imperial Practice of Entity. Even when that's not presented as the sole origin of Proximus lineages, the alternatives are things like mating with gods, some direct divine endowment or originating in an Emanation.

                      Fair enough it's a different matter with any case of happening across a creature that already possesses Blessings through some unidentifiable source and encouraging it to procreate. I don't think those powers would be dependent on humanity given that they don't really come from a soul connection to the Supernal as such (although, the Pangean creatures from before the existence of the Gauntlet were not human and possessed Awakened magic), although I want to say that there would be reasons that archmasters, at least, would be reluctant to endow such power into non-humans. Perhaps an idea that the Blessings don't turn up as reliably across the generations and being difficult to maintain control.

                      Or even to keep from destroying their own bloodlines with those powers. I'm picturing an archmage who gets very embarrassed by incidents along the lines of trying to create a line of tigers that controls fire that kept incinerating themselves.


                      I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                      Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                        Or even to keep from destroying their own bloodlines with those powers. I'm picturing an archmage who gets very embarrassed by incidents along the lines of trying to create a line of tigers that controls fire that kept incinerating themselves.
                        This made me chuckle more than it should have


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                        New 2E Legacies, expanded

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

                          I mean no disrespect, but I feel as though what you want out of this keeps expanding every time you return to it, and it makes it difficult to effectively advise on it.


                          Yes, originally I thought the only thing I needed clarification on was how Retainer worked. As people made suggestions I wanted to explain why this or that may not work for me. In retrospect I should have led with the entire concept.

                          Thanks to everyone who responded.

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