30 Days of Mystery Cult Content

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:


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.


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

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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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


Initiation Rite for Performance Magic (Neo-Mercurian Magic) +4 and Hermetic Theurgy +7 (Target: 15)

These two minor virtues are often taught together. Generally, it is expected that the initiate will develop their Neo-Mercurian Lore to at least a 3 first but this is ultimately up to the mystagogue’s judgement.

Initiates spend around two years in the temple serving and learning from the priest. They take on the role of assistant to the priest during ceremonies, learning by example how to replace their hermetic words and gestures with Neo-Mercurian rituals and invocations of the gods. This is an inverse of the process holy magi go through to remove the residual pagan elements from their casting – the Neo-Mercurian initiate learns to remove the secularisations of hermetic theory from their casting, ending with something closer to the original practise of the Cult of Mercury.

Initiates are encouraged to undertake this training at a distant temple to build ties with other cult members. If they avail of this, they will be hosted by neo-Mercurian magus in the tribunal they train in, perhaps the mystagogue.

During this time, they may also be called on to assist in the teaching of Mercurian Magic to younger initiates or apprentices and oversee ungifted messengers, as well as assisting in cult rites. In turn the priest they serve will educate them on theurgy, the daimones, and the corpus of Mercurian rituals for at least one season per year. After the first year they will have acquired the Performance Magic virtue. (Initiate spends time serving the mystagogue +1) (Mystagogue spends time teaching initiate +3)

Towards the end of the second year the initiate is given a vital task – to travel to the Aqua Mercurii (now contained in a small regio in a largely unpopulated area of Rome) and collect the sacred water for use in the Mercuralia rituals for years to come. This water is exceptionally pure and faintly magical (a large enough amount of it would amount to a pawn of vis). Once it is removed from the regio contact with other elements will sully the water and remove the advantageous ritual properties. This makes transport very difficult, as it cannot be allowed to touch earth, stone, metal, or glass for more than a few minutes, nor can it be exposed to air. The use of magic on the water directly also taints it, preventing the use of spells of instantaneous transport.

Neo-Mercurian temples are consecrated with an adapted Mercurian ritual that aligns an aura in the same way as the Aqua Mercurii regio, allowing the water to be stored there without difficulty once retrieved. Once the initiate succeeds in this task they will be taught the final secrets of Hermetic Theurgy over the course of a season of intensive study under the mystagogue. (Initiate spends time serving the mystagogue +1) (Mystagogue spends time teaching initiate +3)(Quest +3)

Initiation Rite for Withstand Magic +7 (Target: 15)

Withstand magic is one of the more useful minor mysteries known to the neo-Mercurians, allowing initiates to better endure the fatiguing rituals that typify Mercurian Magic.

The initiation into withstand magic involves military and civil service, coupled with physical and mental training regimens. Military and civil service were key elements in Roman virtus and the neo-Mercurians seek to emulate this as best they can in absence of a Roman state.

Military service typically lasts at least ten years. The most common form is service as a Hoplite, but there are many acceptable alternatives. For example, service as a Quaesitor, or as a guardian of the Mercere portal network. Some spend this time in service to the cult as assistants to seekers of lost sites or as defenders of Mercurian temples. The only essential element is a physically taxing role with a degree of danger. During this period initiates are expected to train in the martial skills as they apply to magi – Certamen, Concentration, Penetration, the Parma Magica, and so on. They are expected to achieve at least one deed of renown during this time. (+3, equivalent to a quest)(+1 initiate spends time serving the cult)

Civil service often involves the mystical maintenance of the roman road network. The neo-Mercurians believe this was once the duty of the Cult of Mercury. Seeing themselves as the cult reborn, they have taken this duty as their own. Often this is more a case of subtly guiding local authorities to the task than carrying out the work personally. This is a regular duty of the priests of the cult who direct a small cadre of mundane servants in the task. The initiate serves their mystagogue priest for two years. The first year is spent performing the same duties as the mundane servants and learning. At this time road magic is often taught as well. The second year has the initiate oversee the mundane servants, taking on the role of assistant to the priest. (+3, equivalent to a quest)

Alternative forms of civil service might include the repair of ancient temples, the investigation of mercurian sites located by seekers, the creation of spells and items for the good of the cult, or assisting in the reconstruction of mercurian magic as a researcher.

After the second year has passed the initiate is released from mandatory service, but some choose to continue in the task on a voluntary basis. After a final season of reflection the initiate will have gained the Withstand Magic virtue.


Initiation Rite for Hermetic Sacrifice +3/6 (Target: 15)

Hermetic sacrifice is a unique mystery of the Neo-Mercurians, allowing them to replace part of the vis cost with animal sacrifice when summoning daimones. While there is no hard rule, this virtue is less useful for initiates who have not learned Hermetic Theurgy and is often initiated after that.

The initiate spends a season studying under the mystagogue. This is necessary to impart the cult’s knowledge of appropriate sacrifices for various beings, as well as the underlying magical theory. The latter will allow the initiate to determine (with some degree of error) appropriate sacrifices for beings who have not previously been summoned by the cult and do not have known preferences. (mystagogue sacrifices time +3)

The initiate must then acquire the traditional suovetaurilia sacrifice – a sow, a ewe, and a bull. These must be unblemished animals, healthy and pure in colour. These are used to perform a rite at the ruins of the temple of Diana at Nemi during the Nemoralia (between the 13th and 15th of August). In turn the initiate invokes Diana Nemorensis, the spirits of the sacred grove, the nymph Egeria (who taught the Romans much of their religious practices), and the genius of Numa Pompilius (who conveyed the wisdom of Egeria to the people). A divination is then performed to detect if the sacrifice has met with approval (which causes a very slight and temporary increase in the local aura). This requires someone with the Divination supernatural ability and has an ease factor of 15. If this fails, or for other reasons the sacrifice is rejected, then the initiate must try again in a year’s time. (the initiate must travel to a distant place at a specific time +3)

A variant of the rite exists for magi who live too close to Nemi. The steps are identical but the script bonus is reduced.

Initiation Rite for Puissant Neo-Mercurian Lore +12 (Target: 18)

Many Neo-Mercurians who aspire to the priesthood undertake a self initiation into this virtue, as a way of proving their mastery of Neo-Mercurian lore and enhancing their skills as a mystagogue. Some choose to invent their own script as part of this, but at least one script is known to the cult and available to any member who requests it. This version is given below.

The initiate begins by undertaking the open ended task of recovering an item of lost mercurian knowledge. Examples include: The rediscovery of a significant and well preserved Roman site, or one with unique mystical properties. The discovery and integration of some ancient mercurian magic (e.g. a non-hermetic ritual, or an initiation script for a new virtue). The recovery of mundane Roman works of great significance (e.g. the Res Etruscae of Flaccus, some of the missing books of Livy’s histories, the memoirs of Sulla). The reconstruction through original research of a mercurian magic lost to time. (unique quest +6)

Achieving any of the above also qualifies the initiate for eventual membership of the priesthood, its utility in the initiation script is a secondary benefit.

Next, the initiate must determine their personal tutelary deity. This will be a powerful magical daimon which has a nature aligned to the initiate’s favoured technique-form combination. For example, an initiate who favours PeCo might choose an aspect of Saturn, one who favours MuVi an aspect of Mercury, or one who favours CrIg an aspect of Prometheus.

The initiate must invent or learn a theurgical ritual to invoke their chosen daimon. They must also determine a place and time of significance to their chosen daimon – this will always be somewhere with a magic aura and often a regio, so they are rarely easy to find. Determining an appropriate day and time is trivial for a character with high Neo-Mercurian lore. Locating an appropriate magic aura is harder. An InVi base guideline of 4 can determine the suitability, but randomly sampling magic auras is unlikely to achieve results quickly. Many initiates consult a sybil for prophecy to guide them in the right direction.

They must make, or have made, an idol of the daimon in question. A statue, carved pillar, inscribed stone, or mosaic are all appropriate examples. They must open this as an invested item and instil it with the non-hermetic mystery effect Consecrate the Divine Image (see below). The Hermetic Theurgy mystery is required to be able to design a new version of this effect, but lab texts for some TeFo combinations might already exist, at the storyguide’s discretion.

Finally the initiate must travel to the aura and prepare an enclosed aedis , a shrine to house the object. The nature of this depends on the spirit in question – for some it might be a simple open air shrine, for others a small temple might be constructed, for others a cave grotto etc. The initiate waits for the auspicious day and summons their tutelary daimon. They make a pact with the daimon to convince it to “consecrate” the enchanted object as described in the effect below. This will probably require the assistance of other magi to perform the rituals – achieving this is another sign that the initiate is ready to help lead the cult by joining the priesthood. (initiate must travel to a specific place at a specific time +3)(initiate must sacrifice a powerful invested item +3)

Finally, the initiate becomes the guardian of the new shrine. They can consult and honour their tutelary spirit there. Over time they will acquire unique insights that they can incorporate into their understanding of Neo-Mercurian lore, but which are difficulty to explain to others. This grants the Puissant Neo-Mercurian Lore virtue. How long this takes depends on their dedication – a season spent living in the shrine and communing daily with their tutelary spirit will grant the virtue. Otherwise several years of intermittent visits may allow a later season of absorption and introspection.

Sometimes these shrines become regular ritual sites for the Neo-Mercurians, if they have useful properties or are in a good location. Over time they may grow into a larger temple especially if the creator of the shrine later becomes the priest for the tribunal it is located in.

Consecrate the Divine Image (Te)(Fo) 60

R: Personal, D: Sun, T: Individual

This effect opens an object to habitation by a specific magical spirit. The effect must be activated on a day where the spirit’s power is waxing, and in an appropriately aligned magical aura. The effect must be activated by the spirit themselves, requiring their direct presence. The spirit must have might aligned to the technique or form used.

As long as the spirit desires it, they may remain coterminous with the object as if using the Presence power (even if they normally don’t have this ability). They remain aware of everything that happens in the immediate surroundings of the object and possess a constant arcane connection to it.

If the spirit is a daimonic aspect then this persists even if the aspect is dissolved and recreated, but only for that aspect. Other aspects of the same daimon cannot benefit from the effect.

Unlike the Presence power, this effect does not grant an increase to the tether score of the aura.

The spirit may choose to end the effect at any time. Doing so destroys the enchantment – the object remains opened, but this effect (and the vis used for it) are removed.


A Neo-Mercurian Society: The College of Quindecimvirs

Just as in Rome there were specific colleges of augurs, so are there among the Neo-Mercurians. The reason is simple: a Neo-Mercurian priest has to master so many mysteries and learn so many things that the deepest mastery of an ability like divination is not usually possible. No magus, even the most dedicated priest, can devote themselves fully to one supernatural ability at the cost of all others.

For this reason the Neo-Mercurians have revived one of the roman priestly colleges, the Quindecimviri sacris faciundis. In ancient Rome this college guarded the sibylline books and oversaw the worship of foreign gods. The Neo-Mercurian version are tasked with maintaining the cult’s knowledge of divination and with the recreation of the sibylline books through the collection of “true prophecies” from various sources. The most significant source are the immortal syblis themselves, who the Quindecimviri regularly consult on behalf of the Neo-Mercurians (and, indeed, the order as a whole).

The college is led by two gifted members, the Duumvirs. The senior of this duo is a permanent post held by a priest of the cult, while the junior position is generally filled by a magus hoping to initiate the mystery of Divination (see above).

Below these “patrician members” are fifteen “plebians” - ungifted members initiated into Divination & Augury. The actual number may vary, but only fifteen are formally members of the college at any time. These members are typically coven-born grogs due to the inherently pagan nature of the college (recruitment of a pagan mundane from elsewhere would be accepted, but few such people exist any more). The fifteen actively recruit suitable candidates from within the grogs of the order and their skill at divination makes them quite skilled in this task. This is also how many of the messengers, the ungifted servants of the cult, are recruited. Once again, the divinatory skills of the fifteen make them supernaturally good at connecting grogs with like minded magi among the Neo-Mercurians.

The members of the college do not live in one place but are scattered across Europe in the service of individual Neo-Mercurian magi, friendly covenants, and mercurian temples. They maintain correspondence with one another, facilitated by friendly Neo-Mercurian magi. They meet in person once every five years in Rome to exchange knowledge.

It is rumoured that the college maintains a secret library hidden somewhere in Rome where they store any true prophecy they encounter in tomes available only to the most senior priests. The truth of this is only known to the leadership of the cult.

Adrianu of Verdi is a member of the Quindecimviri. Born in the Verditius domus magna of Verdi he has never known a life outside a hermetic covenant. He is a blood descendant of Balento, the famously pagan magus who founded the confraternity bearing his name. Most of his family are forge companions, venditores, and servants to Verditius magi. Presently, Adrianu serves Ruberus of Verditius, the priest of Vulcan at the provencal covenant of Aedes Mercurii. With ruberus’ permission he sought initiation into the mysteries of divination, which took three years to complete. He has only been a member of the Quindecimviri for a little over 5 years and still has much to learn.

Raised as a pagan in the worship of Vulcan, he is fairly earnest in this belief. Moreso than many Verditius magi. Since his introduction to the Neo-Mercurians he has expanded his devotion, but still considers Vulcan to be his personal patron. After all, if his line’s traditions are to be believed, the blood of Vulcan flows in his veins!

NB: If you want to use Adrianu elsewhere he can be attached to any Verditius magus, Ruberus is just a suggestion for where he might be serving in 1220. Magi who deal with fire or forges are especially appropriate due to his immunity to fire.

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

Size: +0

Age: 30 (30)

Decrepitude: 0

Warping Score: 2 (3)

Virtues and Flaws: Magical Blood (Line of Balento)*, Greater Immunity (Fire), Clumsy, Covenant Upbringing, Sensitive to Cold, Weakness (Magi)**

*Grants +1 Presence and eyes which burn with a flickering inner light

**Adrianu’s upbringing in an ancient covenant has conditioned him towards obedience to magi. This might seem like a boon in a grog, but he finds it almost impossible to say no to a magus even if already carrying out a vital duty. This sometimes leads to awkward situations and a lot of stress for the poor grog.

Mysteries Known: Divination (Apantomancy)

Mystery Ordeal Flaws: The Falling Evil

Personality Traits: Tactful +2, Pious (Pagan) +1, Loyal +3, Brave +0

Reputations: Religious Cousin +3 (Line of Balento), Quindecimvir +1 (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 (Greece) 1, Area Lore (Italy) 1, Artes Liberales 2, Athletics 1, Awareness 2, Bargain 3, Brawl 1, Charm 2, Craft: Woodcarver 2, Divination 5, Etiquette (Magi) 2, Guile 1, Intrigue 1, Latin 5, Linga Verda 5***, Magic Lore 2, Order of Hermes Lore 2, Profession: Scribe 4, Ride 1, Single Weapon 2, Survival 1, Theology (Pagan) 3, Thrown Weapon 2, Verdi Lore 2

***The language of Verdi, influenced by Sardinian and the coded language of the Verditius mysteries. It is mutually intelligible with Latin at a -2 penalty. Speakers of Sardinian and Verditius magi may treat this as a -1 instead.

Ideas for Using the Quindecimviri

  • As a character concept for a Neo-Mercurian companion or grog. If there are likely to be adventures focusing mainly on a single Neo-Mercurian magus, it can be useful to keep a stock of grogs for other players to use in these.
  • As a plot device. An unexpected visit from a Quindecimvir with a Sibylline prophecy can be used to lead into almost any story. Or a resident Quindecimivir character can provide a consistent method to introduce stories.
  • As an advisor character. A Quindecimvir can be used as a means for the storyguide to introduce hints or information to player characters naturally in the story, thanks to their divinatory powers.
  • As a dependent. Hosting a Quindecimvir is an honour for a Neo-mercurian magus, and can lead to interesting stories - escorting them to meetings in Rome, helping them search out people with divinatory potential, sponsoring their efforts to collect "true" prophecies (and the stories that might arise from those prophecies). On the other hand they are just a grog, and there may be friction between the "honoured host" and their guest if the demands on the magus' time are too great.

Neo-Mercurian Locations

Below are a few ideas for temple site or places of interest for the Neo-Mercurians.

The Hibernian Tricephalos is a recently discovered regio site in Hibernia, in the southern reaches of Airgíalla in Ulster. There is no sign of anything magical, or even any mundane structures, on the mundane level. The regio boundary is located in an unremarkable spot in open terrain. The regio can be entered very easily by stepping through a specific spot (just big enough for a person). This is how it was discovered – magi investigating the supernatural disappearances of a number of locals over many years.

Inside the single regio layer is a small ring of standing stones. It is not possible to leave the ring. Trying to do so results in entering from the opposite side, a very disorienting sensation. There is no way out of the regio without second sight or magic. On discovery there were around a dozen skeletonised corpses inside, since removed. Also inside is a small cache of pre-christian religious artifacts. Most significant is a three-faced tricephalos idol, sitting on top of a pole in the middle of the regio.

As far as the cult can tell, a priest brought the objects into the regio, perhaps to protect them, and then died inside – unwilling, or unable, to leave. Some believe the head was used in theurgic rituals – each face an aspect of a single being. Others think it was used in divination – another divination stone is held in the cathedral of Clogher to the north. Despite the location and apparent age, there are Latin inscriptions which seem to identify at least one face as a Celtic interpretation of Mercury. The other faces are a mystery, but this inscription is enough to warrant further investigation. Other inscriptions are in some kind of druidic language or secret code and may reveal the true names of the beings venerated if they could be decoded. If this happened, another debate would start about the wisdom of summoning unknown daimones.

Opinions are mixed about this site: is it a sign that the influence of the Cult of Mercury extended even into Hibernia? Perhaps a remnant of some Romano-British tradition that survived the collapse of the Cult of Mercury and fled to Ireland? A Roman artefact misused by ignorant druids? Or, and this is only whispered, might it be younger than it seems – a Deidne idol, hidden away during the chaos of the schism war?

This location can easily be relocated to anywhere in Loch Leglean, Stonehenge, or Normandy - anywhere with a historic Celtic population and plausible Roman influence. It's based on the real world "Corleck Head", part of the collection of the National Museum of Ireland.

The Mons Mercurius , now called the Montmartre, is a hill near Paris where St. Denis was martyred. On it now stands a Christian church and a royal abbey. But centuries before it hosted temples to Mars and Mercury. Early on Neo-Mercurian magi in the Normandy tribunal declared an intent to reclaim this site, in spite of the potent dominion aura covering the hill.

Unfortunately unlike many site of the Cult of Mercury there is no regio or magical remnant of the destroyed temple, though many suspected a subsumed magical aura persisted, smothered by the overwhelming power of the dominion and inaccessible. Building a temple in the open in such a public place would be impossible, so the magi involved hatched a reckless plan to awaken and empower the slumbering Genius Loci of the hill, and convince it to create a magic regio. This process took decades, and hundreds of pawns of vis, but, against all odds, it succeeded.

Today the entrance to the regio is a small house in the village near the abbey. This humble abode is inhabited by a messenger, one of the ungifted servants of the cult, and has a gateway created using the mystery of hermetic architecture – what appears to be an alcove in the back of the house is in fact a mystical doorway opened by invoking Janus. Inside are two temples, one dedicated to Mercury, and the other to “Mars”.

A nasty consequence of the awakening of the Genius Loci through the uncontrolled process of feeding vis to it is that the spirit has destabilised. It has acquired numerous flaws and the delusion that it is an aspect of Mars. Believing itself to be the protector deity of the local region, it demands its “cult” act for the good of Paris at all times. Unfortunately for the local Neo-Mercurians, the spirit is now too powerful to easily cow and its idea of “the good of Paris” is erratic at best as it lacks a clear understanding of the area beyond Montmartre. As the Genius can revoke access to the temple regio, the local cult is forced to placate it. Many desire a more permanent solution, but any solution is by definition experimental here and there is a real risk of making the situation even worse.

This can be relocated quite easily to any site where a Roman religious site was taken over by Christians. This happened very frequently, so a locational like this can be found in pretty much any tribunal.

The Temple of Liber Pater is located in the ruins of Salona, the birthplace of the Emperor Diocletian. Salona was destroyed by the Avars in the 7th century, and the surviving people fled to the ruins of Diocletian’s palace, which formed the core of the new town of Split. Now uninhabited, the dominion aura has faded completely from most parts of Salona revealing a patchwork of magic and infernal auras.

The temple proper was a site dedicated to the worship of Liber Pater, the Roman counterpart to Dionysus. As far as the Neo-Mercurians have been able to tell the local cult descended from a magical tradition practicing a form of nature magic, but that over time this gave way to faerie influence as the local fertility spirits were absorbed into the mythology of Liber Pater, Bacchus, and Dionysus. Some speculate they may have practised something like a precursor to the faerie magic of house Merenita, but the matter is ultimately of little interest to the cult and has never been fully investigated.

Thankfully for the Neo-Mercurians the faerie god departed at some point in the past, leaving only the magic aura resulting from the spells cast here in ancient days. The magic aura in the temple is a 3. The cult has rebuilt the temple but hides its presence with illusions and mentem magic designed to subtly ward off the curious.

Unfortunately, the connection to the great persecutor Diocletian and the violent destruction of the town mean that most of the ruins are blanketed with a malevolent infernal aura of strength 2, rising to as high as 5 in some spots. The cult suspects this, and local Neo-Mercurians donate vis and their services to raise a powerful Aegis around the temple each year. Still, there is always the risk of infernal influence creeping in, and the local cult members severely underestimate the spiritual danger that can be found in parts of the ruins.

The cult owns some property in the town of Split which is available for the use of members. There is an ongoing effort to investigate the palace of Diocletian for any Roman artifacts.

This can be relocated to any Roman town or city destroyed in the chaos of late antiquity and never repopulated. You may need to swap Liber Pater for whatever god the local temple(s) were dedicated to, and adjust the ancient magical tradition to match (it wouldn't make make much sense for a nature magic cult to take to worshipping Pluto, for example).


The Order of the Green Cockerel

The third mystery cult we're looking at are the Order of the Green Cockerel. This fairly new mystery cult pursues the new science of alchemy, aiming to achieve the magnum opus - immortality through the transmutation of the self.

These guys are interesting because on the one hand they are very definitely a mystery cult (the entire approach to the great work is ensconced in mysticism and mystery), but at the same time they transgress hermetic norms in ways mystery cults usually don't - by engaging genuinely with mundane alchemists, and through strong ties to the Islamic world. They have a duality that is at odds with the purely insular nature of many mystery cults.

For the Order of the Green Cockerel there will be presented a high ranking Albatross, one of the members near to achieving the great work and who been with the cult since near its inception. This character can be used as a Mystagogue and link between a player character and the elusive "secret master". Next is a newcomer to the cult, a recently gauntleted magus who can act as an ally or rival to a player character initiate, or as a student to a player character advanced in the mysteries.

Example initiation scripts are given for all seven stages of the alchemical process. Some suggested rules for using mystery initiations to remove flaws, as well as grant virtues, will be given. Some story seeds and ideas for the "Great Convocation" (the meeting of all members every seven years) will also be presented. Finally, some ideas for alternative versions of the great elixir will be given - the secret master has achieved immortality, but only recently. Who is to say their solution is the only possible culmination of the process?

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Paulus Gorgiasticus of Jerbiton is a mystagogue of the Order of the Green Cockerel, holding the rank of Pelican. He acts an intermediary for the mysterious secret master, who has achieved the Great Work. He is intended to be located in an urban covenant, where he can influence and guide mundane alchemists as well as their hermetic counterparts. Schola Pythagoranis in the Stonehenge tribunal or the Coenobium in Provence are good choices, as would be several covenants in the Roman tribunal. A more unusual choice might be the Covenant of the True Cross in Egypt. Alternatively, Paulus can be placed as an eremite living in any major town or city, especially if it has many mundane scholars.

Paulus was trained as a Criamon but left the house shortly after his gauntlet. He rejects the cosmology of Empedocles, and the very concept of cyclical time. He is especially critical of the idea of hypostasis. In his view the hypostasis is no less than the dissolution of the self, the part returning to the whole. He unsure as to whether this is a desirable goal, but he is certain that it is not the escape from time the Criamon believe it to be. He remains on good terms with his former house, many of whom hope he will one day return to them, despite his criticism of their philosophy. He still sees the Criamon way of life to be fundamentally a positive one, even if it is based on what he sees as a flawed understanding of the world.

Having abandoned the Enigma, Paulus instead seeks to achieve a “perfection of being”. His belief is that through a process of transmutation and purification (of which the Great Work is an essential part) an individual can achieve a perfection of the body, and subsequently a perfection of spirit. This perfected being would be akin to the platonic ideal of man, an androgynous spiritual being encompassing within itself the entire essential nature of mankind, and thus transcend the material world, morality, and fate. The perfect being would at once be of one nature with the divine cosmos, and yet distinct from it.

These goals are of course almost absurdly grandiose, especially considering Paulus himself has not yet achieved the Great Work. Still, his goals strike a cord with many alchemists and his proximity to the secret master, who is rapidly attaining an almost mythical quality, lends him authority – especially among new recruits to the cult. This is only enhanced by him possessing a rare gift for teaching and oratory. Those who have been pursuing the Great Work longer remember a younger less confident Paulus and are significantly less impressed. Even they can’t deny that he is among the closest (besides the secret master) to achieving the magnum opus, however.

Paulus cares deeply about helping others along the path. As a mystagogue he is as focused on the spiritual development of the initiate as he is on the mysteries themselves. His compassion for “misguided souls” runs so deep he often becomes wrapped up in the troubles of others to the detriment of his work – initiates may find themselves forced to resolve all sorts of mundane troubles before Paulus can devote his attention to them.

NB: Paulus is (extremely loosely!) inspired by the real alchemist Paul of Taranto, who is one of the proposed identities for pseudo-Geber, the author of the Summa Perfectionis , perhaps the most influential single work of medieval Latin alchemy.

Characteristics: Int +4 (Visionary), Per +0, Pre +1, Com +4 (Talent for Summarising Complex Ideas), Str -1, Sta +0, Dex -1, Qik -1

Size: +0

Age: 102 (35)

Decrepitude: 0

Warping Score: 6 (7)

Virtues and Flaws: Improved Characteristics, Great (Intelligence), Great (Communication), Good Teacher, Inventive Genius, Vow (Pacifism)*, Compassionate, Gender Non-Conforming**

*A remnant of his Criamon upbringing

**Paulus believes the perfect being would naturally be androgynous and has taken on many traditionally feminine aspects himself. Whether he acts this way due to his beliefs or if he is actually non-binary and his beliefs were shaped by this is left up to the storyteller.

Mysteries Known: Planetary Magic, Vulgar Alchemy, Unaging, Hermetic Alchemy, Lesser Elixir, Philosophic Alchemy, Major Potent Magic (Transmutation)*

*Paulus invented the initiation for this himself, but it requires Minor potent Magic (Self-Transformation) as a precursor – a virtue he learned from his parens. He intends to modify the script further to remove this requirement and introduce it to other cult members eventually, but other projects have distracted him. He will willingly induct an initiate into either of these virtues, but only if they allow him to experiment on the script. “Transmutation” means wholly transforming one thing into another thing, but not changing individual aspects or parts of a thing.

Mystery Ordeal Flaws: None

Personality Traits: Compassionate +6, Patient Teacher +3, Enigmatic +1

Reputations: Strange Mystic +2 (Hermetic), Eccentric Master +4 (Order of the Green Cockerel), Secret Master +1 (Academic)**

**Mundane alchemists may be aware of the Order of the Green Cockerel, but only in the vaguest sense. If they recognise Paulus at all, they will only know he is a mysterious figure rumoured to have achieved the great work

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

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

Abilities: Arabic 5, Artes Liberales 3, Awareness 1, Charm 2, Code of Hermes 1, Concentration 5, Dominion Lore 3, Egypt Lore 1, Enigmatic Wisdom 4, Finesse 4, Folk Ken 6, Greek 3, Italian 5, Italy Lore 2, L:atin 5, Leadership 4, Magic Lore 3, Magic Theory 8, Order of Hermes Lore 2, Order of the Green Cockerel Lore 9, Parma Magica 3, Penetration 2,Philosophiae 10, Teaching 4, Theology 3

Arts: Animal 8, Aquam 7, Auram 6, Corpus 9, Creo 16, Herbam 7, Ignem 6, Imaginem 9, Intellego 11, Mentem 6, Muto 15, Perdo 14, Rego 15, Terram 9, Vim 10

Twilight Scars: Paulus’ old Criamon stigmata reappear whenever he gains warping points, and slowly fade over the next few days. Paulus’ sweat erodes metal. He wears gloves while working. People feel a mild compulsion to tell him their problems. He can tell the composition of any metal at a glance, and compulsively lists this property of objects near him (this can be resisted, with concentration). He is mildly resistant to mundane heat (-5 damage, enough to protect against a small fire or boiling water).

Spells and Trappings: Paulus is a generalist, focusing on broad knowledge instead of mastery of any particular art. He has a varied array of spells, mostly conventional and learned form lab texts.

Potent Spells

Paulus has invented several potent spells, each of which uses a potion of some kind for the material bonus. This is somewhat wasteful as it uses up some of the focal items each time as the potion is consumed or poured out, but also allows for the components to be stored compactly as powders and liquids. The specific spells are left up to the storyguide, but some useful material bonuses are:

Mercury: Muto +5, Terram +3, Aquam +3

(Powdered) Magnetite: Animal +3

Electrum (Dissolved in Aqua Regia): Terram +4

(Powdered) Amber: Corpus +3

(Powdered) Jade: Aquam +4

(Powdered) Basalt: Ignem +3

Powdered Bark from a Tree Struck by Lightning: Auram +2

Original Research

Paulus, perhaps influenced by his Criamon upbringing, believes that an essential part of improving the self is confronting personal failings. He likens this to how in an alchemical work the crude material must be putrefied until the prima materia emerges, so that it can be purified and uplifted. This is both more and less literal than students might initially expect. To aid in this quest he has invented the Putrefaction of the Spiritual Matter effect described below, based on original research. This took years of effort even with a highly specialised laboratory and a skilled assistant, so only one lab text for the exact effect below was ever created. Studying this may provide 12 points of insight into an appropriate breakthrough, at the storyguide’s discretion.

Paulus uses doses of the potion as components in initiation scripts he has devised and modified. Confronting the literal manifestation of their worst flaw provides a truly unique quest for each initiate.

Putrefaction of the Spiritual Matter Cr(Re)Vi 60

R: Arcane, D: Momentary, T: Special

This effect is designed to be instilled into a charged item in the form of a potion. It inflicts two points of warping on the target, who must consume the potion. In addition it summons an Eidolon, a spirit of emotion, based on the target’s most significant personality flaw (if they have no flaws the strongest personality trait or emotion being experienced at the instant the effect activates is used instead). This spirit has a might equal to (5 x Personality Trait), with a minimum of 20 for a minor flaw and of 30 for a major flaw. If the might of the spirit would be above 30 this effect fails.

If the target goes into twilight as a result of the effect then the Eidolon has the powers of an adulteration (see HoH:MC) – it will force confrontations with the target character, is mystically part of them and can ignore an Aegis they participated in, always knows where they are, and will have powers mocking or reflecting their favoured magics in addition to those connected to the emotion which spawned it.

(Base 15, +4 Arcane, +1 Requisite, +1 Complexity)

Writings and New S&M Bonuses

Paulus has developed several new material bonuses, using alchemical substances. He has written the following works, but it is left up to the storyguide if they have been distributed or are found only in Paulus’ collection. Paulus can also teach the contents of any of these books. He has undoubtedly discovered more than this, but the rest is disseminated enough to be common knowledge by 1220.

Toward the Universal Solvent is a pair of quality 14 tractatus (on Philosophiae and Magic Theory respectively) bound as a single tome. The first details the process to make aqua fortis which can dissolve any metal other than pure gold and includes a level 15 reagent formula. The second includes the following material bonuses for aqua fortis: Destroy metal (except gold) +5, Purify gold +6.

On the Philosopher’s Tree is a quality 14 tractatus on Magic Theory which deals with the properties of the lunar caustic , a substance produced with silver and vitriol and which can be used to grow an object call a philosopher’s tree out of metal. The creation of the substance is not covered, only the magical properties. It has the following material bonuses: Animate mundane matter +1, Create metal (except gold) +5

On False Transmutations is a pair of quality 14 tractatus (on Philosophiae and Magic Theory respectively). The first half deals with debunking various false claims about the transmutation of gold, including the use of orpiment to give metal the appearance of gold. The second part discusses the interesting magical properties of orpiment. It imparts the following material bonuses: Enhance appearance +3, Muto Terram to change base metal to precious metal +2


Rachel of Bonisagus is a recently gauntleted maga. She is fascinated with the new science of alchemy, and how new understanding of the physical world might allow for advances in hermetic theory. An orphan, Rachel was saved from an anti-Semitic riot by a flambeau magus and later given into the care of a Jewish magus Bonisagus.

After passing her gauntlet she spent several years travelling, hoping to study the cutting edge of mundane knowledge to complement her understanding of magic. Unfortunately, as a blatantly gifted Jewish woman she had little success being accepted by mundane scholars. Still, she has managed to absorb a great deal of information from those scholars who gave her a chance.

She remains determined to study alchemy and natural philosophy, and has a remarkable natural talent for it, but has realised that she will need allies in the Order of Hermes who share her interests. She is currently looking for a hermetic patron, ideally a member of the Order of the Green Cockerel.

There are two suggested uses for Rachel with a player character alchemist. If the player character is also new to alchemy then Rachel represents an initiate under the same mystagogue who rises through the ranks as they do. Depending on the character and how stories turn out Rachel may prove a close colleague or a bitter rival. Alternatively, if the player character is more advanced in their study then Rachel can be used as a protégé, with the player character helping her to follow in their footsteps.

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

Size: +0

Age: 30 (26)

Decrepitude: 0

Warping Score: 1 (0)

Virtues and Flaws: Puissant (Magic Lore), Affinity with (Philosophiae), Puissant (Philosophiae), Affinity with (Finesse), Affinity with (Rego), Adept Laboratory Student, Educated, Outsider (Major, Jew), Blatant Gift

Mysteries Known: None

Mystery Ordeal Flaws: None

Personality Traits: Fascinated by Mundane Philosophy +3, Determined +3, Nervous +1

Reputations: Wandering Bonisagus +1 (Hermetic), Jewish Sorceress -3 (Local)*

*The result of her major Outsider and Blatant Gift flaws. Even if she relocates, a reputation like this emerges eventually.

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

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

Abilities: Artes Liberales 2, Latin 5, Hebrew 3, Native Language 5, Arabic 4, Area Lore (The Levant) 2, Philosophiae 6 (8), Magic Theory 5 (7), Finesse 5, Survival 2, Charm 1, Bargain 2, Guile 2, Folk Ken 2, Order of Hermes Lore 1, Code of Hermes 1, Parma Magica 2, Medicine 1, Theology 1, Penetration 1, Concentration 3

Arts: Animal 4, Aquam 3, Auram 6, Corpus 5, Creo 8, Herbam 6, Ignem 4, Imaginem 4, Intellego 5, Mentem 2, Muto 5, Perdo 4, Rego 15, Terram 9, Vim 5

Twilight Scars: None

Spells and Trappings: Rachel has a strong affinity for Rego magic and has specialised in it early. Her favoured form is Terram. Her spell repertoire is mostly conventional.

The Scribe Stone

Her only unique magic is the following item. After several frustrating experiences where her notes were taken from her or lost on her travels, she spent a year at a friendly covenant borrowing a spare laboratory and making her “lucky stone”. This takes the form of a pocket-sized polished granite stone, with the following effects:

Hand of the Unseen Engraver ReTe 26

R: Voice, D: Conc, T: Individual

This effect engraves whatever words the activator dictates onto the stone, in letters so small they cannot be read with the naked eye. At first glance they appear to be random scratches or a simple geometric pattern.

If the person dictating concentrates and makes a finesse roll the text can be made neat and accurate so long as they maintain concentration, otherwise it is untidy and prone to occasional errors. Correcting these errors means the text takes twice the usual time to copy, if accuracy is desired. This equates to about 2 pages per day’s work for a low-moderate skill scribe (like Rachel!).

The stone can hold an amount of text equivalent to about ten pages of parchment. The effect can be turned on and off with a command word known only to Rachel.

(Base 3, Voice +2, Concentration +1, Item maintains concentration +5 levels, unlimited uses per day +10 levels)

Unmake the Engraver’s Handiwork ReTe 5

R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual

This effect removes all text, returning the stone to a smooth, polished state. This requires a Per+Finesse roll with ease factor 6, otherwise fragments of the old text remain.

(Base 3, Touch +1, 2 uses per day +1 level)

Rachel’s Scarf

To supplement this, at her request, her parens commissioned an enchanted headscarf from a Verditius magus as a belated gift for passing her gauntlet. It is a lesser item with the following effect.

Reveal the Engraver’s Handiwork InIm 35

R: Touch, D: Conc, T: Vision

On whispering a command word the person wearing the item has their vision enhanced to be able to make out tiny details with perfect clarity, for as long as they concentrate. This can be disorientating when not focusing on a single object, so it is designed to be turned on and off as needed.

(Base 3, Touch +1, Concentration +1, Vision +4, Unlimited uses per day +10 levels)

Using the Stone and Scarf

In practice it is quite easy to dictate ten pages of text in a day and fill up the stone. However, it takes Rachel a full 5 days of work to transcribe that text onto paper and proofread it, and 2 days minimum if she rushes through the process. In practice she is very sparing about making notes, inscribing only the most vital information. When she finds the time to transcribe the contents she usually pares this down further to about 6 pages total, which can be hastily transcribed in a single day.

She is not satisfied with the solution and is considering ways to make an improved second version but hasn’t actually done so yet. A skilled mundane assistant to do the transcription for her would probably suffice, but a non-magical solution hasn’t occurred to her.