30 Days of Mystery Cult Content

Introduction

The aim of this project is to post a new piece of content every day for the month of November. This year’s theme is mystery cults, something I’m a huge fan of personally and use in every game.

This will be a bit eclectic, because, well, so are the cults in question. A mix of statted Mystagogue’s, supplicants, example initiation scripts, hooks, ideas etc.

Table of Contents:

  1. Disciples of the Worm, Introduction
  2. Desiderius of Verditius - A Junior Mystagogue of the Disciples
  3. Athanasios - A Living Ghost and Senior Mystagogue of the Disciples
  4. Initiations: First Steps, Second Sight, Spirit Binding
  5. Initiations: Hermetic Empowerment, Inscription on the Soul
  6. Initiations: Potent Magic: Ghosts, Spirit Familiar
  7. Initiations: Living Ghost
  8. Place of Power: The Necromanteion
  9. Places of Power: The Great Cairn of Slieve Donard
  10. Story Seeds for the Disciples of the Worm
  11. Neo-Mercurians, Introduction
  12. Malogus of Ex Miscellanea - A Junior Neo-Mercurian Priest
  13. Urbanus of Mercere - A Mid-Ranking Priest
  14. Procla of Guernicus - A Senior Priest
  15. Initiations: Mercurian Magic
  16. Initiations: Divination & Augury
  17. Initiations: Performance Magic, Hermetic Theurgy, Withstand Magic
  18. Initiations: Hermetic Sacrifice, Puissant Neo-Mercurian Lore
  19. A Neo-Mercurian Society: The College of Quindecimvirs
  20. Some Neo-Mercurian Locations
  21. Order of the Green Cockerel, Introduction
  22. Paulus Gorgiasticus of Jerbiton - A Mystagogue
  23. Rachel of Bonisagus - An Aspiring Initiate
  24. Initiations: Planetary Magic, Vulgar Alchemy
  25. Initiations: Unaging, Hermetic Alchemy. Ideas for Using Initiations to Remove Personality Flaws
  26. Initiations: Lesser Elixir, Philosophic Alchemy
  27. Initiations: The Greater Elixir
  28. The Great Convocation: Inventions, Story Seeds, and Ideas
  29. Alternate Elixirs - Ideas for Alternatives to the Great Elixir
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The Disciples of the Worm

First on the billing are the Disciples of the Worm. This sinister necromantic cult has the ultimate goal of mastery over life and death, but keeps its secrets so close that even most of its members are unaware of the ultimate purpose, or of the identities of their fellow initiates.

Coming up for the Disciples of the Worm are two (mostly) fully statted mystagogues: A Verditius necromancer who can act as a junior mystagogue, and a living ghost who possesses the deeper mysteries. A set of initiation scripts are presented for each mystery the cult has, which can act as inspiration or be used as is. Some ideas for “places of power” that can be used in initiations and stories involving the cult are given. Lastly, some ideas for story hooks using the disciples are presented.

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Desiderius of Verditius is an unusually sociable (if awkward) necromancer and member of Voluntas in the Stonehenge Tribunal. He is described in Heirs to Merlin. His necromantic focus makes him an excellent candidate to be a member of the cult and his sociable nature makes him perfect for recruiting interested PCs to the cult and guiding them through some of the mysteries. With a name swap he can easily be transplanted into any other tribunal – I just used Desiderius because my own saga is set in Stonehenge and this is how we’ve portrayed him.

The profile presented below is a suggestion for how he might work as a mystagogue of the cult. As presented Desiderius is a member of the Verditius confraternity of Irene the Younger and a sculptor. His fascination with the human form led him to the study of necromancy, and in turn the Disciples of the Worm. He has abandoned the ways of his confraternity and is considered deranged by his former brothers and sisters. He retains the skills of a master artist, so his carefully sculpted necromantic constructs are often more beautiful in un-death than they were in life.

He is a member of the fourth degree in the cult. His focus on the corporeal, rather than the spirit, and his previous induction into other mysteries mean the masters of the cult have judged him unsuited for further advancement. He is not privy to the true aims of the cult. Still, he can act as a guide and mystagogue for new members and can introduce them to those with deeper knowledge later.

Characteristics: Int +3, Per –1, Pre +2 (Terrifying), Com –2 (Socially Awkward), Str -1, Sta +2, Dex +1, Qik -1

Size: +0

Age: 115 (??)

Decrepitude: 0

Warping Score: 6 (1)

Virtues and Flaws: Cautious Sorcerer, Difficult Spontaneous Magic, Major Magical Focus (Necromancy), Second Sight, Social Handicap (Stench of Death), Weak Spontaneous Magic

Mysteries Known: Verditius Magic, Verditius Elder Runes, Puissant Mentem, Automata, Spell Binding, Hermetic Empowerment, Inscription on the Soul

Mystery Ordeal Flaws: Slow Caster, Vow (Never betray or act against the cult), Visions

Personality Traits: Sociable +3, Smooth -3, Strange Aesthetic Taste +2

Reputations: Terrifying Necromancer +3 (Hermetic), Deranged +4 (Confraternity of Irene)

Fatigue Levels: OK, 0, –1, –3, –5, Unconscious

Wound Penalties: –1 (1–5), –3 (6–10), –5 (11–15), Incapacitated (16–20)

Abilities: Area Lore (British Isles) 3, Artes Liberales 2, Athletics 2, Awareness 2, Charm 1, Concentration 2, Craft (Sculptor) 6, Disciples of the Worm Lore (Initiations) 5, Dominion Lore 1, Finesse 3, Guile 1, Infernal Lore 2, Intrigue 1, Latin 5, Magic Lore 3, Magic Theory (Enchanted Items) 7, Medicine 3, Native Language 5, Parma Magica 4, Philosophiae 4, Second Sight 4, Teaching 1, Theology 1, Verditius Lore 6

Arts: Animal 8, Aquam 7, Auram 7, Corpus 15, Creo 7, Herbam 6, Ignem 6, Imaginem 9, Intellego 7, Mentem 16, Muto 13, Perdo 7, Rego 15, Terram 11, Vim 9

Twilight Scars: The smell of death lingers around him always. He has the pallor of a corpse, making his age hard to place. Corpses sometimes speak near him, though he has no control over when or what information they impart.

Spells and Trappings: Desiderius has a wide array of spells and enchanted items related to corporeal necromancy. He has a smaller number related to Terram and mundane sculpture.

His talisman is his own body, using the Inscription on the Soul mystery. It is enchanted with Coerce the Spirits of the Night and Lay to Rest the Haunting Spirit with high levels of penetration. It also contains several touch range effects which allow Desiderius to sculpt stone and flesh as if they were clay.

Desiderius' Menagerie

His prized possessions are his “turb”. This is a menagerie of a dozen animated corpses, some animal, some human, and some a hybrid of the two. Each is animated using a greater item in the form of a replaced organ made of semi-precious stone (turquoise is preferred). Each organ is hollow and has a ghost imprisoned in it. Which organ is replaced is different each time.

The corpses containing the enchanted organs are “sculpted” by Desiderius into a variety of unnatural configurations. They are preserved using CrCo spells. If a configuration is particularly pleasing it may be enchanted with a constant effect to preserve it indefinitely. Desiderius only has a dozen organs, but has many more of these “sculptures”, so the physical composition of the turb changes as he swaps spirits between different bodies. At least one of the bodies is an exact double of Desiderius himself.

One of these creations, a re-animated bloodhound, is often mistaken as Desiderius’ familiar. While most assume it to be a beast of virtue with the power of speech, it is actually a human ghost bound into the body of a dog. The body has been altered to allow human-like speech.

The organs are each a Greater Item invested with the following effects, each penetration 20 where it is relevant. This is the general template, but each may have one or more additional effects. They are bespoke creations, after all.

Vessel of the Sculpted Servant

Heart of Iron MuTe 20

This constant effect makes the item almost unbreakable by mundane means.

Vessel of the Imprisoned Servant ReMe 44

This effect traps a ghost of no more than might 20, which must be in the same room as the item when it is activated, in the item. Once activated it is a constant effect unless interrupted by an outside force. Two uses per day.

Animate the Sculpted Servant ReCo(An)(Me) 39

This effect allows the body to move, receiving mental commands from the caster for sun duration. It has two uses per day and a linked trigger to the next effect.

Awakening of the Slumbering Servant InMe 44

This constant effect probes the mind of the imprisoned spirit. It is used to trigger other effects based on the mental commands of the ghost.

Punishment of the Reluctant Servant PeMe 21

This effect strips a single point of might from the imprisoned ghost. It has unlimited uses per day and is linked to the effect above. This means it triggers whenever it detects the mental intent to disobey the person who imprisoned it and continues to trigger every round this thinking persists.

This acts as a potent threat for spells like Coerce the Spirits of the Night .

edit: A bonus sketch of the man himself. Look at that lovable smile and big, uh, bulging... eyes...! Who wouldn't want to be friends with this guy?

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Athanasios the Living Ghost is a leading member of the Disciples of the Worm. He was made into a living ghost around 1170 and maintains his haunt in a secret regio containing a temple to Pluto and an entrance to the underworld, which he has dedicated himself to studying (see the Necromanteion below for more on this).

If the location and nature of this haunt doesn’t suit your saga he can easily be relocated to anywhere a reputed passage to the underworld can be found. Just swap his scores in Area Lore (Ancient Greece), Area Lore (Thebes), and Greek to: Area Lore (Ancient wherever his haunt is), Area Lore (tribunal his haunt is in), and the the local language.

Athanasios is obsessed with the Magic Realm, believing it to be the key to a superior form of immortality, with all the power of a living ghost but not bound to an earthly haunt. He possesses 18 points of insight into Magic Realm Magic (see RoP:Magic pg. 26). He has yet to find a way to enter the magic realm directly as a living ghost, because the possession effects which permit a living ghost to leave their haunt expire instantly on passing into the twilight void. Arcane connections cease to function while something (or someone) is in the magic realm, so he cannot even scry on an explorer and must rely on second hand reports. Through his partial breakthrough he has spells which can transport living people into the magic realm, though they must find their own way back to the mundane world.

There is no greater mystagogue in the cult, but Athanasios is not always willing to assist supplicants, considering his research to be of greater importance. Often he will require the magus to provide help with some part of his research which is difficult to achieve from within the confines of his haunt before he will agree to act as mystagogue. In particular, he may demand that the character enter the magic realm via the vestige in his haunt, to return with new insights for use in his research.

Athanasios is intended to be used as a reluctant mystagogue for magi who have reached the higher levels of the cult. The degree of effort required to convince him to initiate a PC can be adjusted depending on how fast you want the character to progress towards the final mystery of the cult.

Magic Might: 37 (Mentem)

Characteristics: Int +3, Per +2, Pre +1, Com +1, Str -1, Sta -1, Dex -1, Qik -1

Size: +0

Virtues and Flaws: Obsessed, Affinity with Magic Lore, Good Teacher, Magical Memory, Poor Memory (People), Weak Enchanter

Mysteries Known: Second Sight, Spell Binding, Hermetic Empowerment, Inscription on the Soul, Potent Magic: Ghosts, Spirit Familiar, Living Ghost

Mystery Ordeal Flaws: Vow (Never betray or act against the cult), Visions, Major Deleterious Circumstances (Living Target)*

*Described below.

Personality Traits: Obsessed with Magic Realm +3, Bad at Remembering People +3, Restless +2

Reputations: Hermit +2 (Hermetic), Master of the Necromanteion* (Disciples of the Worm) +6

*This reputation is only applicable to members of the Disciples of the Worm. Those of below the fifth degree of initiation may know of a master of the cult who inhabits somewhere called the Necromanteion, but not the personal identity of Athanasios or his nature as a living ghost.

Fatigue Levels: OK, 0, –1, –3, –5, Unconscious

Wound Penalties: –1 (1–5), –3 (6–10), –5 (11–15), Incapacitated (16–20)

Abilities: Area Lore (Ancient Greece) 6, Area Lore (Thebes) 4, Area Lore (Roman Tribunal) 2, Area Lore (Magic Realm) 1, Artes Liberales 2, Athletics 2, Awareness 4, Charm 2, Concentration 7, Disciples of the Worm Lore (Places of Power) 12, Dominion Lore 1, Finesse 5, Guile 4, Infernal Lore 1, Intrigue 6, Latin 5, Greek 5, Magic Lore (The Magic Realm) 10, Magic Theory 9, Parma Magica 7, Penetration 4, Philosophiae 2, Second Sight 8, Teaching 6, Faerie Lore 3

Arts: Animal 14, Aquam 7, Auram 11, Corpus 10, Creo 10, Herbam 6, Ignem 6, Imaginem 5, Intellego 15, Mentem 13, Muto 15, Perdo 12, Rego 16, Terram 9, Vim 21

NB: While he is a living ghost Athanasios will typically be possessing a corpse for practical reasons. PCs could feasibly interact with him quite regularly without comprehending his true nature. He is not particularly careful to keep a consistent look to the corpses, which may be a hint at something being off.

Spells and Trappings: Athanasios has a variety of spells for interacting with spirits, both ghosts and airy spirits. He also has a range of commanding spells (Animal and Mentem) which he uses to interact with the physical world.

Remember that as a living ghost, any spell other than Vim, Mentem, and Animal (when influencing animal minds) requires 1 point of might spent per magnitude to make the effect tangible.

His research into magic realm magic, though not yet complete, has produced a single formulaic spell:

Don the Mantle of Charon ReMe 40

R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This spell allows the caster to send one person instantly through a Mentem vestige into the magic realm. This requires the caster to have magic might associated with Mentem. This inflicts a point of warping on the target.

(Base 35, Touch +1)

Of course such a vestige can be found in Athanasios' haunt, and he has Mentem might. The spell would not be especially useful for anyone else, however, unless they also have Mentem might or spells which let them act like they do. Note that because of his Major Deleterious Circumstances (Living Target) flaw, if the target is a living being, Athanasios needs to use 15 pawns of Mentem and Rego vis to boost his casting total to the point of guaranteed success (casting under calm conditions with a simple die).

Athanasios does not have a familiar. His talisman is his own spirit which is enchanted with the following effects. It has the capacity for many more enchantments, but Athanasios’ Weak Enchanter flaw made even these a struggle.

Command the Bestial Servant ReAn 40

Allows for complete mental control of an animal at touch range. Often used in conjunction with an Intangible Tunnel to control distant animals. Concentration duration with the item maintaining and unlimited uses per day.

Commune with the Bestial Servant InAn 45

Allows the user to completely read the mind of an animal at touch range, including the common sense. Concentration duration with the item maintaining and unlimited uses per day.

The Iron Portal

An item commissioned by Athanasios and installed in his haunt before his transition to a living ghost. It takes the form of an iron doorway inscribed with Verditius runes, set into the wall of the chamber Athanasios occupies.

The item contains a level 30, penetration 40 Intangible Tunnel effect, a touch range, penetration 40 Summoning the Distant Image , and a modified touch range Leap of Homecoming (ReCo(An)(Te) 40) . The last effect has no penetration, and is used by Athanasios to summon objects to his haunt. It can summon animals and people as well as inanimate objects, so long as they have no magic resistance.

New Flaw

Major Deleterious Circumstances

Major, Hermetic

All your magic totals are halved under certain common circumstances. This can be your state, such as sober or uninjured, the target of the magic, such as living things or elemental matter, or the place where you are casting the magic, such as on land or outdoors.

This is identical to Deleterious Circumstances except for the likelihood of the circumstance happening. It should be significantly more restrictive than the minor flaw version. The flaw Environmental Magic Condition is equivalent to this flaw.

Major Deleterious Circumstances (Living Target)

Major, Hermetic

Your magic is noticeably weaker when used against living beings, apart from in matters of the mind. Any effects beside Mentem, Vim, or Animal (only to effect the mind of an animal) targeting a living plant, animal, or person have their casting total or lab total halved. Effects targeting non-living matter from these forms (e.g. wood, corpses, leather etc.) are unaffected.

NB: This is just a result of there not quite being a major flaw that fitted what I wanted in terms of penalty. It's basically Environmental Magic Condition but a little broader. By my reckoning having your casting totals halved against most foes is worth a major flaw, and it forces Disciples of the Worm characters to rely on necromancy a bit even before becoming a living ghost. If anyone can think of a better way to get the end result I'd be all ears!

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Initiation Rites

NB: The next few posts are just an example of how the progression through the cult might go. YSMV!

First Steps

The Disciples of the Worm guard the identities of their members closely. Only one magus in all of Europe, Pertinax of Tytalus, is public about his membership of the worm cult. Some people seek him out for an introduction to the cult, to mixed success. This method relies entirely on gaining the approval of Pertinax.

Sometimes the cult, or individual members, notice a magus with the right temperament and interests for the cult. The local cell of one to three magi will subtly sound out the candidate without ever revealing their identity. If they are judged to be suited and willing then they will find be visited by Pertinax, or someone claiming to be Pertinax, and offered membership.

A third, dangerous, approach is to try and find out the identity of a member. This may work, but is perilous – the worm cult is as likely to kill the interloper as they are to indulge them. The more senior the person exposed, the more likely the response will be negative.

Once the initiate is accepted into the cult, they are left to their own devices. It is expected that they will piece together a score of 1 in the cult lore through their own efforts. When this is achieved they will be approached by a single member of the cult, who will act as their mystagogue.

Initiation Rite for Second Sight +12 (Target: 15)

The first initiation new recruits to the cult undergo grants them the power to perceive the invisible world, an invaluable skill when dealing with spirits. A Disciples of the Worm Lore of at least 1 is needed for this initiation.

Because Second Sight is a common virtue some initiates may have it already. In such cases the initiate still performs the initiation and suffers the ordeal, but gains no particular benefit except being allowed to progress in the cult.

To demonstrate their dedication to the cult the initiate must serve the mystagogue for at least a season, acting as an assistant in matters relating to the cult. Typically three seasons of service are given, with any exposure xp gained going into Disciples of the Worm Lore. These seasons do not have to be consecutive. Only one season is strictly required for the script, the number past that is at the discretion of the mystagogue. ( The initiate sacrifices time +1)

Next the mystagogue primes the initiate by spending a season instructing them on the nature of second sight. (Mystagogue sacrifices time +3)

The initiate is commanded to gather ingredients to make a potion: pomegranate, ergot of rye, Syrian rue, mandrake root, valerian, and a live fire salamander. These must be found and harvested by the initiate personally. At least one of the components must be an ideal example (i.e. a thing of virtue). ( The initiate has to complete a specified quest +3 )

When the ingredients are gathered the initiate is instructed to travel to a significant location of the cult. Lake Avernus (Rome), the Necromanteion (Thebes), the great cairn of Slieve Donard (Hibernia), or the Alyscamps (Provence) are good choices. They are met by another, shrouded, mystagogue of the cult who guides them in making the potion. The initiate drinks the potion and is sealed up for the night in a tomb. They suffer harrowing visions of the dead throughout the night. This inflicts the Visions flaw. (Minor ordeal +3)

(Sympathy/Appropriate Rite +2)

Multiple variants of this rite are known to more senior members of the cult, which skip many of the steps. The bluntest version can be done in a single day, requiring only consuming a potion made by the mystagogue and being buried alive for a night (this provides only a +4 bonus, so a very skilled mystagogue is needed).

Initiation Rite for Spirit Binding +12 (Target: 15)

The second degree of initiation grants the power to bind spirits into containers to sustain spells indefinitely. A Disciples of the Worm Lore of at least 3 is needed for this initiation. As before, it is up to the initiate to piece together this lore or convince their mystagogue to teach it. Little formal support is provided.

The initiation begins with the mystagogue summoning three spirits and commanding them to torment the initiate. The rite cannot continue until the initiate has captured all three spirits and bound them to his will. The initiate is not warned of this task in advance. ( The initiate has to complete a specified Quest +3 )

The mystagogue selects a significant site (somewhere different than used in the last script) and an arbitrary date for the next step. They present the time and location to the initiate in the form of a riddle which can only be solved with information lost to the living. The initiate must interrogate the dead and decipher the riddle to reach the site of the initiation on the appointed day. Typically the riddle will hint at where the information may be found, but it’s up to the mystagogue. ( The initiate has to travel far to reach a special place at a special time +3 )

If the initiate reaches the appointed place at the correct time they will be asked to swear fatal oaths not to betray the secrets of the cult, act against fellow members, or disobey a more senior member. The story of Smaragdus of Flambeau is often invoked as a warning here. If the initiate swears the proper oaths they receive the mystery but acquire the Vow flaw. (Minor Ordeal +3)

(Sympathy/Appropriate Rite +3)

As a side benefit the initiate is now permitted to join a cell of cultists and know the identity of two or three other members in their local region.

Lore Snippet: The Torment of Smaragdus of Flambeau

Smaragdus of Flambeau was a 10th century hoplite opposed to what he perceived as the “dark arts” of necromancy and theurgy. He was a dangerous enemy for the Disciples of the Worm in the early days of the cult and came close to destroying it completely. As the cult gathered more and more lost magics, however, they grew in power and eclipsed the straightforward Smaragdus. He was eventually overpowered and captured by a cell of worm cultists in 1023.

Smaragdus was reported dead to the order at large, but was taken in secret to a hidden regio known only to the cult. The unfortunate hoplite was mutilated to impede his ability to cast. He was cursed with the spell Weight of a Thousand Hells, and the ghost of his own apprentice, murdered in secret by the Disciples, was bound into an iron chain to sustain the spell indefinitely.

Smaragdus was kept alive, carefully watched, as a prisoner of the cult for almost 20 years while enduring constant torment. He was eventually killed in an escape attempt in 1041. In his escape he managed to break the chain and free the spirit of his apprentice. The chain is still owned by one of the senior members of the cult. Though it contains no inherent power, it is a potent reminder of the lengths the cult will go to when threatened.

A character may know this story if they succeed on an Intelligence+Disciples of the Worm Lore roll with an ease factor of 9.

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Initiation Rite for Hermetic Empowerment +9 (Target: 15)

The rite of the third degree is among the simplest but also perhaps the most dangerous. A Disciples of the Worm Lore of at least 3 is needed for this initiation. The initiate must desecrate a tomb (or, more likely, several tombs) and interrogate the spirits of those buried within. Their goal is to retrieve a magical secret unknown to the cult. They must do this alone and tell no one of their activities. Many perish in the attempt - any spirit holding a secret worthy of the name will be potent and likely uncooperative. ( The initiate has to complete a specified unique quest +6 )

A more senior mystagogue of the cult will appear, their identity concealed, for the next step. Whatever secret the initiate learns must be offered up completely to the cult. Not only must the initiate tell all to the mystagogues, they must lower their parma and consent to having their memories altered by their fellow cult members. By the end they will be left with no memory of the secret they recovered – though they will still recall having allowed the memory to be erased. If they reach the fifth degree, they may relearn this secret from the secret library of the cult but will be unaware that they were the one who discovered it. (The initiate sacrifices something of great and symbolic value +3)

Initiation Rite for Inscription on the Soul +10 (Target: 15)

The rite of the fourth degree requires a talisman. If the initiate lacks one, they must create one in preparation for this rite. A Disciples of the Worm Lore of at least 3 is needed for this initiation.

The Initiate and Mystagogue travel to the bog known as the Yeun Elez in Brittany (this is fairly close to the Tytalus Domus Magna of Fudarus). The bog has an evil reputation and in the centre is a fetid, writhing pool called “Youdig”. This is reputed to be a gateway to hell. They must attend the pit on the 31st of October, the first night of the year when the pit, accessible only in winter, can be approached.

Other members of the cult will be present also. This is an annual activity of the cult, though precisely who is invited and why is left up to the storyguide. All identities are concealed with robes and shrouds. Offerings are made to the Ankeu of the Pit, a magical being that resembles the local death spirits of the Bretons. Sometimes the Ankeu appears and silently presides over the proceedings. Bodies are also dredged up from deep within the pit sometimes (see the next section for why). The initiate must ritually destroy their talisman and throw it in as a sacrifice. ( The Initiate has to travel far to reach a special place at a special time +3 ) (The Initiate sacrifices something of great and symbolic value +6)

Those being initiated are fed potions and made to inhale the smoke of burning plants. These have the effect of granting them the power to survive without breath, food, or water for a year (a secret the cult acquired from ancient spirits, perhaps the Ankeu of the Pit itself). They are also completely paralysed. The initiates are stripped naked, except for a veil to hide the face, and rubbed with natron or wood ash, giving them the appearance of a cadaver. They are anointed with resins and incense. Finally, the initiates are wrapped in a shroud and lowered into the Youdig. Immersed in the bog and paralysed, they are completely cut off from the world of the senses, which allows them to develop a deeper awareness of their own spirit. Some claim afterwards that the spirit of death whispered secrets to them in the dark, but there is no way to tell if these are true insights or hallucinations. The next year each initiate is dredged up and revived (after the depositing of the next year’s initiates, if there are any). Those who survive the ordeal have gained the insight necessary to “feel” their own spirit, granting the Inscription on the Soul virtue. Others may have gone mad in their isolation. These unfortunate souls are cast back into the pit, where they will drown. It is certain that part of the dark reputation of the Youdig stems from the tormented spirits of those who perish in this ritual. ( The initiate sacrifices time +1)

If the initiate lives too close to the marsh to take advantage of the travel element of the rite, a variant exists which inflicts the Disfigured flaw as a minor ordeal. In this case the initiate’s hair and skin are bleached white permanently, giving them a deathly pallor. Alternatively, if the mystagogue is especially skilled that step can be removed entirely.

This is the last degree many attain. Anyone judged unsuited to advance further will never be given the opportunity. The gift of eternal life-in-death is not to be given lightly. At a bare minimum a cult lore of 6 is needed to progress but more important is the favour of at least one senior member of the cult, and to have no enemies in the senior ranks who can block the initiate’s accession.

It has not been unknown for those denied the higher ranks, but possessing sufficient cult lore, to try and develop their own self-initiation scripts for the deeper mysteries of the cult (or what they think those might be – they may be mistaken in this regard!). In the rare cases this is successful they become an enemy of the cult and are singled out for the most severe punishments.

What is the Ankeu of the Pit?

The “Ankeu” which appears during this ritual has a nature connected to death, but even the cult isn’t sure exactly what it is. Some possibilities are:

  • An airy spirit attracted by the last moments of life.

  • An aspect of a daimon associated with death which manifests due to the ritual, or coincidentally on that night and the cult chose the date to coincide with this apparition.

  • A macabre looking Genius Loci of the bog. Especially applicable if you run the bog as having a magic aura aligned with something appropriate – perdo, corpus, death, necromancy etc.

  • A faerie which the cult has accidentally created, a variant of the local Ankeu myth.

  • The ghost of an ancient human sacrifice (or some ancient druidic parallel to the Living Ghost mystery?) a la Old Croghan Man. No such body has ever been found in Britanny, but they have been found across northern Europe and the Yeun Elez is a peat bog, so it’s not implausible.

  • A demon masquerading as a magical patron. Maybe the pit really is infernal…

The Tytalus Cabal of the Laden Cart (see tLatL p.g. 131 for detail), who have the goal of capturing a spirit of death, might try and disrupt or usurp the ritual to capture the Ankeu of the Pit. Perhaps they might even try, at great personal peril, to infiltrate the Disciples of the Worm to achieve this.

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Initiation Rite for Potent Magic: Ghosts +9 (Target: 18)

The rite of the fifth degree is surprisingly tame compared to the other rites of the Disciples of the Worm. Any initiate offered the chance to progress beyond this stage is now a trusted and senior member of the cult. This requires at minimum a Disciples of the Worm Lore of 6. The nature of the deepest mysteries of the cult and its final goal – mastery over life and death itself – are revealed to the initiate, and they are given access to the secret places and libraries of the cult. They are also permitted to know the identity of members outside their cell. Much of this is merely confirming what someone with a 6+ in Disciples of the Worm Lore already suspects.

From here on everything is aimed towards preparation of the mind and soul for the ultimate transformation into a living ghost. Once this process begins the initiate will be irrevocably separated from the world of flesh, but increasingly potent in matters of the spirit.

Many delay at this stage for a while. This is usually allowed by the cult, but too long a delay will cause suspicion about the initiate’s commitment. Such suspicions inevitably prove fatal if left too long.

Once the initiate is ready they will be provided with the initiation script. Once they complete this step they will become a senior mystagogue of the cult. Because of this they are required to self-initiate to prove their mastery of the cult’s lore. This may, in practice, require a cult lore ability higher than the minimum amount needed for this step, depending on their presence score.

The initiate must prepare a potion and ritual space. The materials required are not especially rare, but the process is complex and no guidance is provided. Setting up the intricate rite correctly requires mastery of the cult lore. The initiate drinks the potion and activates the rite, which if prepared properly will draw out their spirit, locking them into a state between life and death. This grants the virtue Minor Potent Magic: Ghosts and the major flaw Major Deleterious Circumstances (Living Target) (see below). ( Major ordeal +9 )

Major Deleterious Circumstances

Major, Hermetic

All your magic totals are halved under certain common circumstances. This can be your state, such as sober or uninjured, the target of the magic, such as living things or elemental matter, or the place where you are casting the magic, such as on land or outdoors.

This is identical to Deleterious Circumstances except for the likelihood of the circumstance happening. It should be significantly more restrictive than the minor flaw version. The flaw Environmental Magic Condition is equivalent to this flaw.

Major Deleterious Circumstances (Living Target)

Major, Hermetic

Your magic is noticeably weaker when used against living beings apart from in matters of the mind. Any effects beside Mentem and Vim ones targeting a living plant, animal, or person have their casting total or lab total halved. Effects targeting non-living matter from these forms (e.g. wood, corpses, leather etc.) are unaffected.

Initiation Rite for Spirit Familiar +6 (Target: 18)

The rite of the sixth degree calls for the ritual sacrifice of the initiate’s familiar. As with the fifth this degree must be self-initiated. This is a dark and deeply traumatic act that tests the commitment of the initiate to the limit. As in the fifth rite there is no great complexity here – the ordeal lies in the whether the magus has the will to carry out the act. (The initiate sacrifices something of great and symbolic value +6)

If the initiate has no familiar an alternative script is available. In this case the initiate must find a willing, living, sacrifice. This must be a person or intelligent animal – beasts with only cunning cannot willingly take part. The sacrifice must be entirely willing to sacrifice their own life in service to the initiate and must be of significance to the initiate – a close companion, lover, family member, or similar. The victim is killed in a special rite which mimics (to a much lesser degree) the process of creating a living ghost. The result is that the deceased sacrifice always leaves a ghost, which must be bound as the initiate’s new familiar to complete the rite (the initiate can be considered to already have the mystery virtue for this step). (The initiate sacrifices something of great and symbolic value +6)

Unwilling or unable to complete the standard scripts, some choose to invent their own scripts for this mystery instead. This is considered generally acceptable – one cannot have reached the sixth degree without earning a modicum of trust.

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Awesome content so far, Argentius. I like it very very much, it's flavorful, it's got a political element, it's set in specic locales, and it makes you think whether you're willing to pay the price asked for power, there's much to like. I do have one constructive feedback however, and I think you may want to revise the above accordingly, and it's mostly about the Ordeals mechanics. So far, you have:

  • A Minor Ordeal at step 1, which gives a +3 to step 1;
  • A Minor Ordeal at step 2, which gives a +3 to step 2;
  • An optional minor ordeal at step 4, which would give a +3 if the travel is irrelevant;
  • A Major Ordeal at step 5, which would give a +9 to step 5 and a +6 to step 6;

You seem to be missing out on how the ordeals mechanics has an echo effect in successive initiations, typically allowing an ordeal every 3 or 4 initiations. For example, your minor ordeal at step 1 would give +3 to step 1, +3 to step 2, +2 to step 3, +1 to step 4. If you account for those bonuses, you may be able to make the initiation scripts easier. For example, step 2 has a script of +12 which doesn't account for the +3 from the previous ordeal. Since you would expect the mystagogue to have a MCL of 3 (at least as much as the initiate), by requiring an ordeal there you're effectively saying the script was built for a Presence -3 mystagogue, otherwise why add another flaw (beyond the pleasure of torturing initiates :laughing:).
Likewise, the one place where you did account for the echo effect, you did it wrong for step 5 and 6. It would have a +9 in both places. The p. 15 bonus is for an Ordeals in the current initiation, and the p. 14 bonus is for Ordeals from previous ones hence why the bonus is at +9 both times before reducing to +6 and +3.

The Disciples of the Worm initiations here have far more ordeals than are strictly necessary to fit the TM:RE description of their rites as "among the most nerve-shattering and terrifying in the Mystery Cults.". So torturing initiates is right haha... For comparison I've written the scripts for the neo-Mercurians I'll be covering next and they only have two ordeals in total, with one being optional.

The inclusion of the previous ordeal bonus in the most recent ones is an oversight (rather than it being missing from the previous ones), I decided to leave it out as it's not strictly part of the script as I understand it - it helps by lowering the target, rather than adding to the script bonus. Except I forgot to edit all of them, evidently, whoops...

That said I'm really glad you replied because I just learnt that I've been getting the previous ordeal bonus slightly wrong for years... I always interpreted it as "the first ordeal after the ordeal" being the initiation the ordeal itself is part of (because you do the ordeal, then check the script total), as opposed to getting the full bonus again on the subsequent initiation. :expressionless:

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Initiation Rite for Living Ghost +13 (Target: 21)

The final initiation which precedes the transformation into an eternal living ghost. At this stage the initiate is one of the leaders of the Disciples of the Worm, privy to their deepest secrets. The only mystagogues who can initiate this mystery are themselves living ghosts. One of these immortals must be convinced personally of the worthiness of the initiate to begin the process.

Traditionally this requires the initiate to undergo a “second apprenticeship”, serving the mystagogue and learning from them for no less than 7 years. Often much longer. ( The initiate and mystagogue sacrifice time +7 – this would usually be +1 and +3 but a bonus is added for the exceptionally long service demanded)

Some living ghosts act as eternal repositories of knowledge and master mystagogues of the cult. They will require the initiate to participate in the recruitment of new members, the management of cells, and to act as a mystagogue for younger members of the cult.

Others are active in the goals and politics of the cult. They will require the initiate to act as their agents in intrigues both within and without the cult.

A third group are engaged in integrating and expanding the magical secrets known to the cult. Each of these spirits has their own area of research and (often conflicting) views of how to achieve the ultimate goal of mastering both life and death. They will require the initiate to act as lab assistant, test subjects, seek out magical relics and secrets, and engage in their own independent research.

When, at length, the living ghost deems the initiate ready to advance they set the final task any member of the cult must perform – expanding the knowledge of the cult. This could mean the discovery of a new place of power (and potential site for a haunt) for the cult to use and study. The retrieval of some unique artefact related to life and death (examples of things the cult currently covets are the broken cauldron of resurrection of Welsh myth, artefacts connected to Asclepius, Hyperborean artefacts, and things related to the Egyptian cults of the dead). Or the development of a new mystery for the cult through synthesis or original research.

To be worthy of being preserved forever as a living ghost, an initiate’s name must already be immortalised in the lore of the cult. That means doing something unprecedented and unrepeatable. It’s left up to the storyguide whether the goal is given by the living ghosts, or if the initiate chooses and declares a goal. ( The initiate has to complete a specified unique quest +6 )

When (or if) such a mighty deed is achieved the initiate is finally initiated into the Living Ghost mystery and is ready to become one of the eternal masters of the cult. All that is left is for them to prepare the rituals and carry out the dread act.

Initiates who reach this stage are, by definition, already masters of necromancy in their own right and experienced mystagogues. Many find the long delays and onerous duties frustrating and degrading. Convincing immortals to act hastily is no easy task, however, especially when those immortals had to suffer in the same way in their mortal days. It is theoretically possible for an experienced mystagogue to self-initiate into the Living Ghost mystery at this stage instead, but the process would be exceptionally gruelling.

NB: The logic here is that the existing living ghosts have little incentive to increase their numbers by initiation. They gain far more from stringing their subordinates along with the promise of immortality, knowing that self-initiation is close to impossible. This provides an excellent engine for stories, with the living ghosts acting as a mix of quest-giver, adversary, and ally. Do you toady up to one, in the hopes they will “reward” you? Do you struggle against their restrictions and try to coerce the knowledge from them? Do you try and circumvent them? Or do you try and do something so impressive they are forced to recognise you as an equal? All food for stories featuring the initiate character.

Yes, my take on living ghosts is basically "Sith, but hermetic". The Dark Side Mystery Cults are a pathway to many abilites some consider to be unnatural.

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Just reading these makes me want to play a necromancer in the cult.

Place of Power: The Necromanteion

This fabled site was once a temple dedicated to Hades and Persephone and a reputed entrance to the underworld. It is believed by the cult to be the same place where the hero Odysseus entered the underworld to consult the spirits of the dead. It was destroyed by the Romans and forgotten to time until being rediscovered by the magus Athanasios in the 12th century.

Mundane Level (Magic Aura 1):

The temple no longer exists on a mundane level. The remains of the temple are contained in a regio, which can only be accessed through the river Acheron in Epirus. The only entrance is a regio boundary at a specific point in the river. There is no known mundane method of access, so the boundary must be detected with second sight or spells. The Disciples take great pains to conceal this regio entrance.

Regio Level 1 (Magic Aura 3):

Within the regio the mundane Acheron is joined by the two rivers Phlegethon and Cocytus. The Plegethon is so hot it boils, while the Cocytus is so cold it should be rights be frozen over. Contact with the Phlegethon inflicts +3 damage, while immersion in the Cocytus drains one fatigue level per 6 seconds. Where the three rivers meet there is a ziggurat ensconced in stygian marsh and shrouded in clouds of steam. The marsh bubbles and stirs constantly from the clash of the rivers. Because of this and the poor visibility it is very hard to navigate. The Cocytus emits a constant wailing sound that only increases the eerie nature of the marsh.

The pyramid has a single entrance, a square doorway. At this level the inside is an unadorned stone chamber, but the doorway is also a boundary to the next regio level. People who have suffered the death of someone close to them in the last year can pass through the boundary simply by walking through the doorway. Otherwise, second sight or a spell must be used.

Regio Level 2 (Magic Aura 6):

The second regio layer beneath the ziggurat contains a labyrinth of chthonic tunnels. There are no differentiating marks so distance in the labyrinth can be marked only by periodic iron portals and alcoves for offerings. The labyrinth is filled with clouds of poisonous gas that cause delirium and weakness. Characters here must make deprivation rolls as if denied air, but with an interval of 1 minute. It takes about 10 minutes to find the central chamber if the route is known. If it is not exploring the labyrinth takes 25 – (Awareness+Intelligence+Stress Die) minutes. Clever methods may reduce this time at the storyguide’s discretion.

The central chamber is a large vaulted room cut from living stone. Cracks in the floor exude the gases which fill the labyrinth. At the far end of the chamber is a crevice, just large enough for a person to squeeze down. The sound of rushing water can be heard from within. This chamber has an aura strength of 7, the highest in the complex.

This chamber is the haunt of the living ghost Athanasios (see above) and is connected to the magic realm via the crevice in the floor. This crevice is a vestige that can be used to pass into something resembling the Greek underworld in the magic realm, a place aligned with Mentem. Athanasios works without rest to comprehend the connection and learn to use it to either enter the underworld or draw spirits out from it. He hopes this will allow the interrogation of the ancient dead, whose tombs and corpses are lost to time, and for living ghosts to escape their haunts and roam the magic realm freely. Few who have attempted to enter through the chasm has ever returned, but the Disciples don’t know if this is because they perished, were trapped, or chose not to return for some reason.

Things to do in the Necromanteion:

  • Meet Athanasios. He won’t be pleased to have visitors, but he knows many secrets.

  • Investigate the central river. Parts of the Acheron have arcane connections to other mundane rivers for reasons unknown.

  • Enter the magic realm.

  • Drop things into the magic realm. Arcane connections cannot be used on things in the magic realm.

  • Try not to suffocate.

  • Study the Cocytus. Some say the sound it emits is the lamentation of the dead escaping Hades.

  • Use Theurgy. The three rivers are connected to powerful daimones.

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Place of Power: The Great Cairn of Slieve Donard

Slieve Donard, also known by the pre-Christian name Slieve Slángha (or the even earlier Beann Boirche), is the tallest and most prominent of the Mourne mountains in the north-east of Hibernia. At the peak of Donard there is an ancient passage tomb called the great cairn, a place of great mystical significance.

From the outside the cairn appears to be a huge mound of loose stones, each about the size of a fist. Closer inspection reveals a doorway formed from three huge stones about halfway up the east face, leading into a series of internal chambers. The structure is ringed by 27 standing stones.

The great cairn is featured in several legends – it is allegedly the burial site of the mythical king Boirche, a cow-herd with the magical power to command cattle to do his bidding and to call them from anywhere in Ireland to his mountain. Another pre-Christian figure supposedly buried there is Slángha, a son of Partholón. A son of Manannán mac Lir was killed and buried on the mountain as well.

A fairy king rules from the mountain and plagued all of Ireland in the days of Conn of the hundred battles, and the tomb was used by fairy women to flee into the otherworld when being chased by Fionn mac Cumhaill. The current name of the mountain comes from St. Donard, a follower of St. Patrick who supposedly never died but rests under the mountain in a secret cave, as an eternal guardian. Locals make an annual pilgrimage up the mountain in honour of the saint. There is another stone structure on the peak a short distance from the great cairn. This is the remains of St. Donard's cell, an early Christian church. A stone lined well is cut into the mountain here. Because of the height this only collects rain water. Local belief attributes healing powers to the well, with the infirm sometimes making arduous pilgrimages up the mountain to be dipped in the holy well.

Needless to say, it being at once a fairy rath, an ancient wizard’s tomb, and a pilgrimage site makes this location a point of contention between the realms. The peak is a patchwork of faerie and divine auras (especially near the remains of the church) which fluctuate with time. On certain days where the divine and fairy auras both wane an older underlying magic aura reasserts itself. This aura is aligned with Mentem and enhances spells which control minds, be they ghosts, living people, or animals. The aura is usually only strength 1-2 but rises briefly to a 5 on the 31st of October for a span of 4 hours. At this point the aura plus alignment grant an overall +10 bonus to spells summoning and controlling the dead.

In addition the position of the mountain as the tallest peak in the region allows for Sight range spells to have exceptional reach when augmented with vision enhancing spells or powers.

The cairn is an excellent place to conduct ritual spells when the bonus is highest, but the characters will have to contend with truculent fairy monarchs, the spirits of dead kings, and a saint who guards the mountain!

NB: In real life the great cairn was largely destroyed during the 19th century leaving just a rough mound in the present day. The description above is based on descriptions and drawings predating this damage.

Things to do at the Great Cairn:

  • Evade the followers of St. Donard.

  • Perform necromantic rituals.

  • Get accosted by faeries.

  • Study the nature of the aura and the power of the ancient wizard-king Boirche.

  • Be healed at the holy well, or study its power. Is it connected to the saint and his miracles, or some older magic?


The disciples of the worm performing a necromantic ritual at the great cairn during Samhain.

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Some Story Seeds for the Disciples of the Worm

De Vermis Mysteriis

The covenant comes into possession of a mysterious book (it may be bequeathed by a deceased friend/parens, received as part of a trade, or stumbled on in the library of an older covenant). It looks unremarkable on the surface but close inspection reveals it to be a tome of Disciples of the Worm Lore holding necromantic mysteries. Will the magi be enticed by the possibilities hinted at in the tome and seek out this most scandalous of cults? Will they try and comprehend the secrets within on their own and risk the wrath of the true owners? Try and return the book to it’s rightful owners (and risk revealing knowledge of the contents)? Or destroy the book and never speak of it again?

Whatever they decide it raises many questions about the source of the volume and their ties to this dark cult.

No Rest for the Wicked

A PC who is a member of the Disciples of the Worm is summoned to a secret meeting with a senior member of the cult along with the other two members of their cell. The senior member, whose identity is concealed, reveals that a certain magus in their tribunal (or a neighbouring one) is a member of the cult. Having been judged unfit for progression past the fourth degree this magus has been attempting to identify other members of the cult – either to seek revenge or to steal the knowledge that has been denied to them (or both!).

The leadership of the cult have agreed this violation of the cult’s most basic tenets cannot be forgiven and task the PC’s cell with capturing and punishing the renegade. This provides both opportunity and risk – the PC has a chance to impress their superiors in the cult and raise their chances of progression to the deeper mysteries, but should they fail or learn things they shouldn’t know they may face the very same fate as the traitor!

No Rest for the Wicked (Reversed)

A magus in the tribunal the player covenant is situated in has vanished. The Quaesitores suspect foul play and are quietly investigating at the request of the missing magus’ covenant. They recruit one of the player magi to assist them in this investigation. This is especially suitable if there is a PC Quaesitor or Hoplite. Alternatively, the victim may be someone the player magus knows or from a friendly covenant.

Little do they know the victim and the perpetrators are all members of the Disciples of the Worm. The victim rebelled against the masters of the cult and was “suitably punished” by the local cell of cultists at the command of senior members. This necromantic cult will stop at nothing to protect its secrets and the identities of its members. To solve the mystery the player magus and their quesitorial allies will need to unravel the web of secrets surrounding the worm cult, but the deeper they dig the more strongly the cult will resist them.

Will finding the identities of the secret cultists reveal uncomfortable truths? Will they be able to find the truth? More importantly, will they live to tell anyone if they do?

Tremere Trouble

House Tremere are firm believers that the secrets of the dead should stay with the dead. Whenever a member of their house dies they go to every length to recover the mortal remains and pass them into the gate of Eurydice at Coeris, where they are beyond the reach of any magic. Or so the Tremere think!

The minions of the living ghost Athanasios have been exploring the magic realm through a vestige located in his haunt. This leads to somewhere in the magic realm that resembles the Greek underworld. Among the many listless spirits inhabiting the place are a small number of magi – all deceased members of house Tremere. There is even another vestige which Athanasios believes may connect to the gate of Eurydice.

A Tremere member of the Disciples of the Worm learns of this and reports the information to their house. The stage is set for a war in the shadows between the worm cult and the Tremere – one side covetous of the secrets of the dead, the other fervently desiring those secrets remain buried. Depending on their allies and allegiances, the player covenant may be on one side of this conflict, or even both!

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The Neo-Mercurians

Our second mystery cult are the Neo-Mercurians. This reconstructionist cult endeavours to recreate the ancient Cult of Mercury. Eschewing the "inventions" (in their words) of Priamitus, they practice only what they believe to be accurate reconstructions of historical Mercurian beliefs and magics. They view their ultimate purpose to be the rediscovery and preservation of Roman culture and magic, a "pure" magic which they view as a boon not just for the initiated, but for all magi.

In the following posts for the Neo-Mercurians we'll have three Neo-Mercurian priests (mystagogues). As these priests tend to a single temple and have a fixed location they are written to cover as broad an area as possible: one is a celtic convert who can be used in otherwise awkward tribunals like Hibernia or Loch Leglean, one can be located anywhere there is an urban temple (hidden in a regio perhaps), and the third anywhere there is a strong magical aura.

Following this are example initiation rites for each mystery the cult commonly initiates. Unlike many cults these have no particular order and are are mainly lacking in ordeals (a single major flaw may be acquired, depending on the order of initiations). They instead emphasise service to the cult, good character, and ability. An initiate who intends to complete the full range and join the ranks of the priesthood can expect to spend decades proving their worth.

In addition an ungifted group of servants who maintain the cult's knowledge of divination, the Quindecimviri are described, with an example grog provided from them. Lastly a set of story seeds and location ideas are given to help use the Neo-Mercurians in your saga.

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Malogus of Ex Miscellanea (Máel-Loga an t-Éigse Measceal) is a newly appointed mystagogue. Neo-Mercurian mystagogues are geographically fixed to a single temple, which can be tricky if your saga is situated outside the limits of Roman influence and therefore, presumably, outside the influence of the Cult of Mercury proper (e.g. in Hibernia or Loch Leglean). Malogus is intended for just these situations. He can be located in any region where there is (or was) a significant Celtic population.

Malogus is dedicated to the study of the “Celtic Mercury”, the cult’s conception of the pan-Celtic deity Lugus. Unlike most priests of the cult he is not from a Latinate tradition, having been born in Hibernia and trained in an Ex Miscellanea tradition of Fáithe (sing. Fáidh) - the prophetic class of pre-Christian Ireland. This tradition has the Major Virtue Hermetic Dream Interpreter, Minor Virtue Performance Magic (Sorcerous Music), and Major Flaw Weak Spontaneous Magic.

A profound desire to reclaim the lost knowledge of his own tradition led him to kindred spirits: first in the Cult of Mercury and, when unsatisfied with the lack of historical rigor, in the Neo-Mercurians. He has accepted fully the interpretation of Lugh as a Celtic Mercury and willingly adopted Roman customs. This has led to estrangement from his native tradition and only moderate acceptance by the Neo-Mercurians.

He proposes that the Vates (Fáidh/Fáithe is the Irish cognate of Vates) of the ancient Celts were a true branch of the Cult of Mercury, distinct not only in social standing but in magical tradition from the Druids. There is circumstantial evidence for this theory in the magic of his own tradition, and in accounts that Vates once performed rituals and sacrifice to the gods. There is, however, no evidence (material or written) of a tradition of theurgy or ritual magic as had the Cult of Mercury. This causes most initiates to reject the idea, but Malogus fervently explores sites connected to Lugh in hopes of finding proof that definitively ties his native tradition to the Cult of Mercury.

Malogus has a unique initiation script for transforming Performance Magic (Sorcerous Music) into Performance Magic (Neo-Mercurian Magic).

Characteristics: Int +3, Per +1, Pre +2, Com +2, Str -1, Sta +1, Dex +2, Qik +0

Size: +0

Age: 60 (31)

Decrepitude: 0

Warping Score: 1 (4)

Virtues and Flaws: Affinity with (Intellego), Improved Characteristics, Inspirational, Driven (Prove the Celtic Vates were a branch of the Cult of Mercury), Covenant Upbringing, Poor Hearing, Hermetic Dream Interpreter, Weak Spontaneous Magic

Mysteries Known: Mercurian Magic, Performance Magic (Neo-Mercurian Magic), Art of Memory, Hermetic Theurgy, Withstand Magic, Hermetic Sacrifice, Divination (Apantomancy)*

*A second method of divination inducted as a minor virtue.

Mystery Ordeal Flaws: Necessary Condition (Ritual Purity)

Personality Traits: Driven (see above) +3, Romanophile +3, Jovial +1

Reputations: Mercurian Priest +3 (Hermetic), Almost a True Roman +2 (neo-Mercurians)

Fatigue Levels: OK, 0, –1, –3, –5, Unconscious

Wound Penalties: –1 (1–5), –3 (6–10), –5 (11–15), Incapacitated (16–20)

Abilities: Divination (Dreams) 9, Neo-Mercurian Lore (Initiations) 6, Area Lore (Tribunal he resides in) 5, Parma Magica 4, Charm 4, Folk Ken 4, Area Lore (A neighbouring tribunal) 3, Area Lore (Hibernia) 3, Penetration 3, Pagan Theology 3, Area Lore (Ancient Gaul) 2, Survival 2, Teaching 2, Order of Hermes Lore 2, Magic Lore 2, Finesse 1, Guile 1, Athletics 1, Awareness 1, Code of Hermes 1, Concentration 1, Latin 5, Gaelic 5, Art of Memory 3, Profession: Poet 4

Arts: Animal 6, Aquam 5, Auram 6, Corpus 6, Creo 5, Herbam 6, Ignem 4, Imaginem 9, Intellego 17, Mentem 5, Muto 5, Perdo 5, Rego 7, Terram 4, Vim 8

Twilight Scars: None

Spells and Trappings: Malogus favours Intellego and has a broad array of scrying spells.

His skill in divination allows a great deal of flexibility in non-formulaic scrying as well, something usually difficult for Mercurian magi. It should be assumed at any time that Malogus might know any information that could be gained from an In(Fo) spell of level 10 or less, simply by observing animals he encounters throughout the day, or from a portent in a dream he had recently (this is a fudge of how Divination & Augury actually works, to make him easier to run as an NPC. Ignore it if you prefer).

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Whenever they are in an aura, and the realm it is associated with, but not its strength.

  • The presence of vis within a boundary target, so long as they are also inside the boundary (touch range)

  • The composition of metal alloys in objects they can touch.

  • All the properties of mundane plants they touch.

  • The natural and magical properties of any liquid they touch.

He largely lacks offensive spells, relying on superior knowledge to outwit foes.

His familiar is a blackbird called Píbín. This bond has scores of 2,2,1 in the Golden, Silver, and Bronze cords respectively. Their bond is enchanted so that they can communicate mentally and so that Píbín’s song can lull Malogus to sleep or wake him from sleep instantly – very useful for the purposes of his Hermetic Dream Interpreter virtue.

Malogus, wearing Roman dress but an Irish hairstyle. The Cúlán style was very fashionable in 13th century Ireland and amusingly resembles a modern mullet with a shorter cut on top. The Cúlán and moustache were so distinctly Irish that the Dublin parliament of 1297 actually banned settlers from wearing the style, to avoid being mistaken for natives.

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Urbanus of Mercere is intended for use in the Rhine tribunal­ but could be relocated anywhere there is a settlement with a former temple to Mercury nearby. Just tweak his area lores and languages appropriately. He is the scion of an unusual Mercere lineage which possesses the Gentle Gift. The Gift is rare in house Mercere, and the Gentle Gift rare among the gifted, making this improbable to say the least. They achieve the feat through special training during apprenticeship which imparts the Gentle Gift at the expense of Mercurian magic, which must be initiated through ordeal after they are gauntleted.

Urbanus lives in the small town of Heidelberg near to the Monastery of St. Michael, which incorporates the remains of a temple to “Mercury of the Cimbri”. He lives a double life, posing to the townsfolk and monks as a pious Christian with scholarly interests. This allows him access to the monastery grounds and the hidden magical regio within, which contains the remains of the ancient temple (see below for details). Using his trusted position with the townsfolk he helps fellow Mercurians pose as pilgrims and access the regio site.

Urbanus truly believes Mercere was Mercury reborn and proselytises this view to fellow initiates at every chance. He is a true believer. In part this is why Urbanus gets along so well with the monks of St. Michaels – they are truly kindred spirits, despite their fervor being directed at different objects of worship! Characters looking to Urbanus as a mystagogue may be called on to help house Mercere, as Urbanus sees little distinction between the cult and his own house. Other priests, and the initiate, may disagree with this view.

He is careful never to cast magic except behind closed doors and maintains a laboratory in a Mercer house to which he can travel via an item enchanted with the spell “Leap of Homecoming”. Absences from the town are explained as scholarly trips or visits to family. This is not untrue – he has 3 living children who are active redcaps and two more retired, along with a veritable host of grand and great-grandchildren. In addition his skills in Creo make him much in demand as a crafter of longevity rituals. Gifted characters who have no longevity ritual and adult apprentices will have to deal with Urbanus attempting to match-make them with his unmarried descendants, as he believes the gifted have a better chance of gifted offspring.

He has been plagued lately by worrying dreams and visions. Urbanus does not realise it yet but these are sent by St. Michael, to whom the monastery is dedicated. The nature and purpose of the visions and St. Michael’s attention is left up to the storyguide. They may be benevolent and intended to “save” Urbanus. Or perhaps they are a warning that Urbanus’ many deceits will soon be revealed.

Characteristics: Int +3, Per +3*, Pre +3*, Com +3*, Str +0, Sta +3*, Dex +0, Qik +3*

*Improved via ritual magic after character creation

Size: +0

Age: 93 (75**)

**Urbanus can choose his physical age and prefers to look close to his real age. An unusually long-lived old man is less alarming to mundanes than a man who remains young forever.

Decrepitude: 0

Warping Score: 3 (1)

Virtues and Flaws: Gentle Gift, Puissant (Creo), Unaging, Disorientating Magic, Plagued by Supernatural Entity (St. Michael)

Mysteries Known: Mercurian Magic, Performance Magic (Neo-Mercurian Magic), Hermetic Theurgy, Withstand Magic, Hermetic Sacrifice, Puissant Neo-Mercurian Lore

Mystery Ordeal Flaws: None

Personality Traits: Friendly +3, Circumspect +3, Deceitful +1

Reputations: Mercurian Priest +3 (Hermetic), Scion of Mercere +4 (neo-Mercurians)

Fatigue Levels: OK, 0, –1, –3, –5, Unconscious

Wound Penalties: –1 (1–5), –3 (6–10), –5 (11–15), Incapacitated (16–20)

Abilities: Animal Handling 1, Area Lore (The Palatinate) 2, Area Lore (The Rhine) 2, Artes Liberales 4, Athletics 2, Bargain 2, Charm 3, Code of Hermes 3, Concentration 3, Dominion Lore 2, Etiquette 4, Folk Ken 2, Guile 7, High German 5, Hunt 1, Intrigue 3, Latin 5, Leadership 2, Magic Lore 2, Magic Theory 3,Neo-Mercurian Lore (Initiations) 9(11), Order of Hermes Lore 1, Pagan Theology 4, Parma Magica 5, Penetration (Creo) 5, Philosophiae 5, Ride 1, Survival 1, Swim 2, Teaching 2, Theology 2

Arts: Animal 5, Aquam 5, Auram 14, Corpus 15, Creo 25 [27], Herbam 5, Ignem 6, Imaginem 5, Intellego 7, Mentem 13, Muto 10, Perdo 5, Rego 6, Terram 5, Vim 14

Twilight Scars: Urbanus’ skin and clothing resist stains. He looks pristine even after long travel.

Spells and Trappings: Urbanus favours Creo above all other arts. Raised as a mercurian from birth, his magic is designed with preparation time and distance in mind. In a wizard’s war he relies heavily on arcane connections, and on his redcap relatives to help him acquire them. He keeps a small, and very secret, collection of fixed arcane connections to his enemies.

Compared to most magi he has a very limited spell list, focusing on the mastery of a few high level spells.

He has invented or learnt ritual spells to increase most characteristics to +3. He is capable of casting rituals that would give increases up to +5 but lacks the skill to invent such a spell or the influence to acquire a lab text (rituals like that are mainly the domain of the Cult of Heroes, of which he is not a member).

His favoured offensive spells are listed below. They are especially potent if he can enlist the aid of a few assistants who know a high enough level Wizard’s Communion. At the storyguide’s discretion, he will trade lab texts for these spells to fellow members of the Neo-Mercurians. Similarly, if the PCs have made enemies of the neo-Mercurians these may be known to their enemies!

Invoke the Wrath of Mercury CrVi 45 Ritual (Mastery: Penetration x2)

R: Arcane, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This spell inflicts 5 points of magical warping on the target. This forces magi to roll for twilight and is enough to raise a non-warped mundane to a score of 1, and thus inflicts a minor flaw.

(Base 25, Arcane +4)

Invoke the Wrath of Jupiter CrAu 45 Ritual (Mastery: Penetration x5)

R: Arcane, D: Momentary, T: Individual

The target is struck by a bolt of lightning. This is a highly unnatural effect and is not impeded by the location of the target – even if they are entirely underground the bolt will emerge from the roof or floor of their location. This causes +30 damage. Those near the target must make Size stress rolls of 6+ to remain standing.

(Base 5, +4 Arcane, +4 Unnatural)

Invoke the Curse of Furor CrMe 50 Ritual (Mastery: Penetration x3)

R: Arcane, D: Sun, T: Boundary

This ritual requires an arcane connection to the place being targeted. The target location must have a well defined boundary (a hermetic covenant usually does, for the purpose of casting an aegis ritual). Everyone within the boundary is struck with a sudden rage against a particular target of the caster’s choice. A stress roll on an appropriate personality trait (like Calm) vs ease factor 9 can restrain the anger, but it is felt strongly regardless.

(Base 4, +4 Arcane, +2 Sun, +4 Boundary)

His talisman is his hat, which he is never seen without. It is enchanted with several eye contact based CrMe and MuMe effects aimed at helping him deal with mundanes. One in particular instils a sense of trust in the target, triggered by Urbanus saying “Look in my eyes and see I speak the truth.”. This is, ironically, used mostly when he is being deceptive.

His familiar is a magical white cat called Albus. Not the most imaginative name. This creature has the power to turn invisible and to transform into a humanoid shape. Like magus like familiar, Albus has a penchant for deception and disguise and generally poses as one of Urbanus’ many relatives when the fancy to spend some time in human form takes him.

Urbanus has the look of a kindly old grandfather, but underneath his benign countenance lurks an expert in deceit and manipulation. His apparently frailty is also a ruse - he's more physically capable than most apprentices!

The Holy Hill and The Temple of Mercurius Cimbrianus

The hill near Heidelberg, on which the monastery of St. Michael now sits, was once a sacred site dedicated to “Mercury of the Cimbri”, the name given by the Romans to a deity of the Cimbri people living in the region. In the imperial period the Cult of Mercury maintained a temple complex on the hill, taking advantage of the natural magic aura.

Since that time the physical temple structures have fallen into ruin or been incorporated into newer constructions. The temple to Mercury forms the foundation of the church of the monastery of St. Michael.

There is a secret magic regio which contains a preserved version of the Roman site. Some believe this to be a naturally occurring regio but the priest Urbanus of Mercere believes that the Cult of Mercury somehow moved the temple into an artificial regio to protect it during the migration age, leaving a sort of “echo” on the mundane layer in the form of ruins. Despite this hypothesis, no ritual of this type has ever been found.

The regio can only be entered via a “heathen hole”, a well in the south side of the hill. The regio boundary covers the mouth of the well so it can be passed through by climbing in or out of the hole. Inside the hole there is a magic aura of 1, elsewhere on the mountain the dominion is dominant. There are a three stones with inscriptions dedicated to Mercury incorporated into the monastery walls, each of which projects a small bubble of magic aura a few feet across – useful for covert spellcasting without the penalty of a divine aura.

The regio contains an exact replica of the roman temple complex. The mundane monastery and its inhabitants can also be seen overlapping the temple but formed of mist. This shadow monastery has no physical substance and can be passed through easily. The Cult of Mercury tends to restrict ceremonies to night when there is less movement in the monastery, to avoid distractions. People on the mundane layer have no awareness of people in the regio, generally.

The temple, sitting near the top of the hill, is fairly small – rectangular and just 9.5 metres on the long edge. It has a semi-circular apse with an altar dedicated to Mercurius Cimbrianus. It is constructed from stone. Nearby is a large carved column dedicated to Jupiter, with smaller carvings dedicated to Juno, Minerva, Mercury, and Hercules as well as a small altar. Further down the hill is a shrine dedicated to Mithras. It’s possible there is also a subterranean mithraeum, but the Cult of Mercury has little interest in trying to find it (and has not shared details of the regio with the Legion of Mithras).

While the hill is bare, past the base of the hill is an endless expanse of untamed ancient forest. Attempting to enter the forest is impossible – any attempt eventually twists on itself and deposits the explorer back on the temple hill. It is possible there is a secret boundary into a deeper regio level here, but the Cult of Mercury have not yet found it, if it even exists.

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Procla of Guernicus is a senior mystagogue/priest best suited for use in any Mediterranean tribunal (Iberia, Provence, Rome, Thebes, the Levant), but she can be relocated anywhere. The only restriction is that her Bound to Magic flaw means there must be a location with an aura of at least 5 she can live in.

She is a maga of the line of Fenecil and an expert in the secret Mercurian rituals of house Guernicus. As a quaesitor and priest she carefully and diligently separates her duties – revealing no secrets of her house to the cult, nor of the cult to her house. Still, her experience with both magics allows for insights into Mercurian magic others may miss.

She is primarily concerned with the Islamic world where many works of Greek and Roman literature have been preserved, and where many untouched temples remain to be explored. She believes that the cult should focus on gathering and preserving ancient mercurian knowledge before it is lost, rather than worrying about congregations and recruitment. She views the Cult of Mercury as significant in a theoretical and political sense but is not entirely comfortable with fervently pagan members. Despite this, as priest she tolerates the zealots as far as duty requires.

Initiates looking to Procla as a mystagogue may find themselves forced to participate actively in hermetic politics if they do not already. Procla views it as an essential duty of the Neo-Mercurians to act as virtuous citizens in the “hermetic state” and set an example for other magi.

Due to her magical interests and previous activities as a seeker, Procla has several friends among the line of Pralix in house Ex Miscellanea. Many Neo-Mercurians are ideologically opposed to the integration of hedge magic into the order and find this distasteful. She similarly has allies among the Flambeau school of Raghallach in Hibernia. Initiates serving her may find themselves assisting these groups, perhaps to their discomfort.

A catastrophic lab accident while attempting to comprehend what she believed to be a powerful lost Mercurian ritual has left Procla unable to survive outside powerful magical auras. This has forced her to give up many of her active duties and act through intermediaries. She is currently attempting to gather like minded souls to send on an archaeological expedition to Egypt, or elsewhere in North Africa. Initiates serving her may curry favour by volunteering for these expeditions.

Characteristics: Int +3, Per +2, Pre +2, Com -1, Str -1, Sta +0*, Dex -3* (Tremor), Qik -1

*Decreased due to ageing. Before her lab accident Procla did not take good care of her health. Mentioning the tremor in her hands is sure to anger her.

Size: +0

Age: 121 (63)

Decrepitude: 1 (0)

Warping Score: 5 (4)

Virtues and Flaws: Hermetic Prestige, Bound to Magic*, Minor Magical Focus (Detecting Spell Traces), Well-Travelled, Strong-Willed, Clear thinker, Dutybound**, Study Requirement

*The result of a lab accident, she sickens if not living in a magic aura of at least 5.

**Procla unflinchingly upholds the code and will not compromise herself as a Quaesitor, even if her personal goals suffer as a result. This is represented with the “Dutybound Quaesitor” personality trait.

Mysteries Known: Mercurian Magic, Performance Magic (Neo-Mercurian Magic), Hermetic Theurgy, Withstand Magic, Hermetic Sacrifice, Divination (Apantomancy), Theurgic Spirit Familiar***

***This is not a typical Neo-Mercurian mystery. Procla reconstructed an ancient initiation script for this mystery. At the storyteller’s discretion it may be slowly spreading through the Neo-Mercurians or may be specific to Procla.

Mystery Ordeal Flaws: Necessary Condition (Ritual Purity)

Personality Traits: Dutybound Quaesitor +3, Adventurous Seeker +2, Frustrated at Confinement +3

Reputations: Semi-Retired Quaesitor +5 (Hermetic), Crippled Seeker +3 (neo-Mercurians)

Fatigue Levels: OK, 0, –1, –3, –5, Unconscious

Wound Penalties: –1 (1–5), –3 (6–10), –5 (11–15), Incapacitated (16–20)

Abilities: Arabic 4, Area Lore (Ancient Mediterranean) 5, Area Lore (Home Tribunal) 3, Artes Liberales 3, Athletics 2, Charm 1, Code of Hermes 6, Concentration 2, Divination 3, Dominion Lore 1, Faerie Lore 1, Finesse 1, Folk Ken 4, Greek 4, Guile 1, Infernal Lore 1, Intrigue 2, Latin 5, Magic Lore 2, Magic Theory 6, Neo-Mercurian Lore (Mercurian Rituals) 11, Order of Hermes Lore 3, Pagan Theology 1, Parma Magica 6, Penetration 6, Philosophiae 2, Survival 2

In addition, Procla knows all of Fenecil’s rituals (see HoH:TL pg. 76) with scores of 2-4 in each.

Arts: Animal 7, Aquam 6, Auram 6, Corpus 8, Creo 6, Herbam 7, Ignem 6, Imaginem 5, Intellego 25, Mentem 6, Muto 6, Perdo 21, Rego 16, Terram 6, Vim 24

Twilight Scars: Procla glows with a coloured aura when casting. Hermetic magi can recognise the form she is using from this, but not the technique. She acts as a tether of strength 1 for any magic aura she lives in, as if she had a might score of 10. Her gift causes headaches to people near her, as well as the social penalty. Anyone unaffected by the gift does not experience this effect.

Spells and Trappings: Procla’s natural talent lies in scrying magic, especially with Vim. She knows a range of investigative spells.

She has also made a study of Perdo and is adept at dispelling magic. She knows a full range of Unravelling the Fabric of (Form) spells and several different levels of Wind of Mundane Silence. She has a single mastery level in each of these spells, allowing her to fast cast them. She is fond of opening combat with a fast cast Wind of Mundane Silence to negate any low level (and high penetration) hostile magic and perhaps strip the parma from the opponent if their score is low. When working alongside others she instead uses more targeted spells to avoid negating the spells of her allies.

In offensive spells she favours PeMe spells which stupefy, or PeCo spells to induce fatigue. In her opinion it is always preferable to capture enemies rather than kill them outright.

Procla is a skilled Theurge. Having reconstructed and self-initiated the Theurgic Spirit Familiar mystery she has bound an aspect of the goddess Eunomia as her familiar. She views this aspect as her personal tutelary deity, and this is how she frames this mystery to her Neo-Mercurian sodales.

Her talisman is a lead bound grimoire. The cover is the enchanted element, allowing the book within to be expanded as needed. Procla keeps notes on many investigations she has been a part of, magical secrets she has discovered, and various other matters meant for only her eyes. The book is enchanted so that if anyone but Procla opens it they are instantly struck blind (which heals as a heavy wound), with penetration of 10. A second effect blurs their vision so they can’t read the text, healing as a light wound. This was enchanted earlier in Procla’s career, but is much lower level, so has a penetration of 30.

The tome also has several Invoke the Spirit of (Form) spells enchanted into it. These allow Procla to replicate spontaneous magic without ceremonial casting (a limitation of Mercurian Magic which irritates her). She also knows a formulaic spell equivalent for each effect, used to cast the spell and bind the spirit the first time (this allows the enchantment version to not need penetration). Which Technique/Form combinations are covered is left up to the storyguide but an example is given below:

Invoke the Wise Spirit of Mentem InMe 30

R: Arcane D: Momentary T: Individual

This spell summons a spirit of might 25 capable of replicating a single InMe effect up to level (25+Aura)/2 with a penetration equal to ((25+Aura)/2)-(spell level). The spirit knows Procla and will willingly follow her command and cast a single spell, then depart. This spirit may be invoked up to 24 times per day.

This power is invoked by reading an incantation written in Procla’s talisman.

(Base 25 +5 levels 24 uses per day)


Procla presents the image of a chaste roman matron. However, beneath her stern and upright outward presentation is a soul that lives for adventure and discovery.

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Initiation Rites

As before, these are just examples of possible initiation rites.

Initiation Rite for Mercurian Magic +18 (Target: 21)

The principal rite of the cult, used to initiate members who are not already initiated into Mercurian Magic. If the initiate does already possess the virtue this step is replaced with the simple need to study under a priest for a season to learn Neo-Mercurian Lore, followed by a symbolic ritual and celebration.

Otherwise the steps are as follows:

The initiate spends a year living in a Mercurian temple (or with the priest if the temple site itself is not inhabited) serving the priest and studying the Neo-Mercurian philosophy. In many cases the primary purpose of this is to disabuse the initiate of the “false doctrines” of the Cult of Mercury – the innovations of Priamitus and other developments over the intervening centuries which the Neo-Mercurians view as inauthentic dilutions of the true system of Mercurian magic. (Initiate spends time serving the mystagogue +1) (Mystagogue spends time teaching initiate +3)

During this period the initiate lives a life dominated by ritual practice. Every moment of every day is bound by ritual until the elements of those rituals become second nature. This helps the initiate attain the mastery of ritual magic that is the hallmark of Mercurian Magic, but this process also creates a mental block on performing magic without adhering to the norms of Roman ritual purity. The initiate gains the Major Flaw Necessary Condition (Ritual Purity) which requires them to cover their head and anoint their hands with pure water before casting a spell. (Major ordeal +9)

Alternatively, a very skilled mystagogue (Cult Lore+Pre > 12) may alter the script to remove the ordeal. It takes a teacher of the highest skill to impart Mercurian Magic without some negative influence on the initiate's magic. Gauntleted magi lack the openness of apprentices and Mercurian Magic is complex and unforgiving.

After the year passes, if the initiate has performed well, then the other cult members in the tribunal are invited to attend the initiation ceremony (in practice these invitations are usually sent a few weeks in advance to allow for travel). Sometimes other Neo-Mercurians with a connection to the temple or initiate may be invited as well. The initiate is dressed in the garb of an adolescent Roman, the toga praetexta and a protective amulet (a bulla or lunula depending on gender). There is some debate among the cult of the appropriateness of the use of the toga by female members. No consensus on this has yet been reached so actual practice varies between temples. They spend 8 days (for a maga) or 9 days (for a magus) engaged in private rites offering sacrifices to the gods and being purified with water, oils, and incense.

The culmination of these rites is the dies lustricus, the day of purification, which imitates the naming ceremony performed for Roman infants. In this rite the priest (and gathered members of the local cult) perform a procession around the temple before using theurgy to invoke a daimon associated with fate and divination – the titan Leto, the nymph Lasa Vegoia, or one of the Fates are all appropriate. A hermetic sacrifice is made as part of this. The daimon’s power is invoked to read the omens. If they are propitious then the event proceeds. If not, the initiate must serve another year at the temple and try again. The initiate is expected to personally contribute vis towards this ritual, usually 5-10 pawns. The initiate receives a secret name to be used only in cultic rituals, and to be shared only with other Neo-Mercurians. Some initiates take a new public name to mark the significance of the occasion as well but this is purely optional. (The pact with the daimon provides a +5)

NB: The pact with the daimon is not strictly part of the initiation script and can be excluded without having to learn a new script or modify the script. In this case the script only provides the actual script bonus, +13

The rite ends with the initiate being dressed in the toga virilis or stola of a Roman adult, their amulet removed, and a feast celebrating their initiation. This feast is both a pleasant chance to relax after a hard year and a great opportunity for the new initiate to make allies among his fellow cultists.

Mercurian Rites as Story Hooks

The Neo-Mercurians are a fairly social cult, and members will frequently find themselves invited to ceremonies and events. Gatherings like the one described in the script above offer the perfect opportunity to naturally insert interesting story hooks into your saga, thanks to the diverse cast of characters who might be present.

Keep in mind that Mercurian and Neo-Mercurian priests officiate (usually in a ceremonial capacity) over many ceremonies for the order at large - naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals, the taking of oaths, and tribunals are just a few examples. Because of this the Neo-Mercurians can very plausibly know any bit of news or rumour from around the order, and impart it to the Neo-Mercurian player character.

As well as irregular events Neo-Mercurians may celebrate some or all of the following:

  • Agonalia: Three times per year (January, May, and December) a Ram is sacrificed for the protection of the order at the Hermetic Forum in Durenmar. In ancient times this sacrifice was offered at the Regia in Rome for the protection of the Roman state.
  • Each temple celebrates a Dies Natalis on the anniversary of its reconsecration.
  • Neo-Mercurians celebrate the Veneralia at the beginning of April. It is considered an auspicious day for marriages.
  • Mercuralia in May is the most important day of the year for observant Neo-Mercurians, and is the event most likely to be attended by cult members.
  • Portunalia in August invokes Portunus, and asks him to watch over the various regiones used by the cult and the hidden (magical) keys used to enter them.
  • Also in August is Vulcanalia, celebrated by offering sacrifices to bonfires. Some temples invite members of house Verditius to attend these events as a sign of goodwill.
  • A feast and games in honour of Jupiter are often held in September, November, or both.
  • Saturnalia is celebrated in late December. Even if they do not attend any cult events, many Neo-Mercurians exchange letters and gifts with one another.
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Initiation Rite for Divination and Augury +10 (Target: 21)

Divination is much prized by the Neo-Mercurians and those who understand it are respected in the cult. Still, it is not strictly necessary for many of the cult’s activities and is often initiated over a prolonged period.

Those wanting to be initiated into the mystery are appointed to oversee the Quindecimviri, a college of mundane servants of the cult who are charged with the reconstruction and preservation of Roman divinatory methods – Augury, Haruspexy, the Sibylline Books, and other less common methods. While ungifted and not privy to much of the cult lore, their singular dedication means the Quindecimviri have higher scores in the Divination ability than most gifted members of the cult. There are always fifteen members of the college and one or two gifted overseers.

The college is mostly autonomous, and the duties of oversight are not especially onerous. Most magi can manage through correspondence, but some may choose to be more involved to better learn from the college’s wisdom, and to win the favour of its members - they decide when the initiate is ready to progress. (Initiate spends time serving the cult +1)

The initiate cannot advance without the approval of the Quindecimviri, who decide by a majority vote. Once the college agrees, the mystagogue assembles the college and performs an augury personally. If the day is auspicious, the initiate is led through a day long ritual involving exposure to certain vapours and herbs which induce visions. Their awareness expands, and over the following season they will become increasingly perceptive of omens and portents (acquiring a score of 1 in Divination). This comes at a cost, however. As the season progresses they will become aware of their magic ebbing and flowing, able to function at full capacity only at auspicious times. Thus, learning to read omens becomes not just a desire, but a necessity for the initiate. This inflicts the Major Flaw Deleterious Circumstances (Omens) (see below). (Major ordeal +9)

Some magi choose to spend this season visiting some of the Sibyls, seeking their prophetic wisdom. This is purely optional and does not form part of the initiation script. An initiate who does this gains no xp for the journey (their focus for the season is, ultimately, on comprehending their new mystery virtue) but if they return with new Sybilline prophecies they gain 5xp towards a positive reputation in the Neo-Mercurian cult. New prophecy is always a hot topic of conversation among Neo-Mercurians (and an excellent way to introduce plots to a saga…)

Initiation Rite for Divination and Augury +1 (Target: 21)

There is a variant of the script given above which does not give a flaw. As the bonus is only a +1 it is functionally impossible without a highly skilled mystagogue and a previous major ordeal. Many magi who experience the major ordeal to acquire Mercurian Magic subsequently pursue this initiation for this reason. The cult has several mystagogues skilled enough to accommodate this and the character’s mystagogue will strongly encourage this course of action if the character doesn’t think of it themselves.

The mystagogue may optionally add a quest involving the Sibyls (see the script below) to increase the script bonus to a +4, but this is still only viable if the initiation is performed immediately after a major ordeal.

Initiation Rite for Divination and Augury +12 (Target: 21)

Another version of this initiation exists for the ungifted Quindecimviri. It inflicts the Major Flaw The Falling Evil instead (see Grogs pg. 79 – the flaw is equivalent to an incurable case of the disease, described in Art & Academe). Instead of oversight of the cult, the initiate is given a quest to travel between the European sibyls and collect a true prophecy from each. The Persian, Hebrew, and Libyan sibyls may also be visited, but it is not required for the script. The Quindecimviri collect these prophecies, paying special attention to those of the Cumean sibyl. This script has a bonus of +12 (major flaw +9, quest +3)

In theory a magus could also use this rite if they or the mystagogue wanted, but ungifted characters must use this script (or a modified version of it). As with the optional step above, the quest portion of this rite grants the initiate 5xp in a positive reputation among Neo-Mercurians.

edit: forgot to describe the flaw mentioned in the scripts!

Major Deleterious Circumstances (Omens)

Major, Hermetic

Your magic is fundamentally linked to natural rhythms which can only be perceived through signs and portents. All magic totals are halved unless you successfully perform a divination (taking an additional round to do so) before casting each spell. The ease factor of this divination is determined by the stressfulness of the current situation and is equal to 3 times the required number of stress dice. In non-stressful situations success is automatic, but still takes an extra round.

Any number of attempts at divination can be made before casting the spell, and the type of divination used does not matter.

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