30 Days of Mystery Cult Content

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.


Hi Argentius! Minor details: as a recently Gauntleted Maga, with no Improved Characteristics Virtue apparent, Rachel's stats seem odd: 11 points spent, rather than the standard 7 in Abilities.
Also, I believe the Outsider Flaw cannot be taken for Magi.

In any case, thanks for all this work, this is great stuff to mine for a game!

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Thanks for pointing that out, I copied her characteristics profile from a character with that virtue and forgot to give it to her. I've lowered her stats to a properly balanced profile.

Outsider for a maga is definitely iffy, as it's not explicitly allowed alongside Hermetic Magus. I felt it was appropriate for a maga who explicitly wants to interact with a section of mundane society. If you'd prefer to stick to RAW I'd swap it for Low Self-Esteem as a major general flaw maybe, or a few minor flaws.


Initiation Rites

The Order of the Green Cockerel are still quite new, as mystery cults go. Their scripts are quite low in terms of bonus, having not had the centuries of repeated initiation to accumulate extra components. As before these are only suggestions, but this goes double for this cult, as the current mystagogues are essentially the founders of the cult and probably have as many initiation scripts for each step as there are mystagogues.

Initiation Script for Planetary Magic +6 (Target 15)

The first step for the aspiring hermetic alchemist is calcination, the exposure of the matter to heat and its reduction to ash. The external heat of fire mirrors the internal heat of initiation. The initiate is cast into the blackness of Saturn, their desires, worldly ties, and even sense of self thrown into doubt.

Before being taught any of the deeper mysteries the resolve and skill of the initiate must be tested. Someone who lacks a sound grasp of mundane alchemy is not ready to begin the great work. The task is simple: endure 40 minutes inside a bonfire, without using magic. A level 10 formula (simple matter, major change) will suffice to create an ointment or powder to completely nullify the heat of a normal bonfire. Success proves the initiate has the basic skills required to enter the ranks of the cult.

The initiate is now set a series of tasks, mostly involving acquiring rare books of eastern alchemy and unusual ingredients. When these are all complete the initiate has finally proven their worth. (quest +3)

After this the initiate spends a season learning the fundaments of hermetic alchemy from the mystagogue, especially the influence and significance of the planets over the sub-lunar sphere. (mystagogue spends time teaching the initiate +3)

Pride is a severe barrier to the aspiring alchemist. Of all the personal failings it is perhaps the most detrimental when pursuing the great work – when one views oneself as superior to begin with, it is hard to earnestly engage in a process of purification and refinement. If the initiate has a pride personality flaw then the mystagogue may choose to add an ordeal here, humbling the initiate with a glimpse of the vast gulf of knowledge between them. This turns a major proud flaw into a minor one, or swaps a minor one for the Humble minor personality flaw.

The initiate has now attained the rank of Toad and is able to serve as a laboratory assistant to a more senior member of the cult. It is assumed they periodically assist the mystagogue alongside other junior initiates for the purposes of the following initiations.

Initiation Script for Vulgar Alchemy +5 (Target 15)

The second step is dissolution, wherein the calcinated ashes are dissolved in preparation for separation into their pure substance. Spiritually, the initiate must learn to perceive their true self, flaws included – to gaze at the most uncomfortable aspects of their own being and not flinch away. The initiate must allow their ego to dissolve, just as the ashes dissolve into the liquid of the solution, and at the same dissolve their worldly concerns in preparation for the work to come.

The initiate serves the mystagogue as a lab assistant for at least one season. Often more, depending on the length of time between this and the previous step. This service is not constant, but is called on only when needed. There are often two or more initiates assisting at once as the number of mystagogue’s is very small relative to the size of the cult. (initiate sacrifices time +1)

The initiate is asked to undergo a “pilgrimage”. The intent is to expose them to things which force confrontation with their true nature and the forces which shaped them. Before leaving they give away all material possessions not related to the great work (initiate sacrifices material wealth +1)

The pilgrimage starts with the place of their birth, then to the covenant they were trained in. Next they travel east, to Alexandria, and then on to Baghdad, before finally returning to Europe. It’s expected, but not strictly required, that they will also use this opportunity to learn from the Islamic alchemists of the east and build ties with them that will prove useful later.

They must travel by mundane means and keep no material possessions, relying instead on the generosity of others – this is a true struggle for the gifted. The wisdom gained from this journey is specific to the individual, but it is acceptable to take companions, including another initiate. Though this extends the journey for both, the company can be edifying. (quest +3)

The final step is a visit to the mystagogue. The initiate describes their experience and what they learned, while the mystagogue helps them clarify the experience with an outside perspective. This can take anywhere from a few days to weeks, but will not require a full season. Even if the pilgrimage did not lead to any deep insights for the character, the conversation with the mystagogue here can lead to startling realisations about the self.

Finally, the initiate is gifted a coded book which contains the secrets of vulgar alchemy (it may, optionally, also contain other tractatus or be attached to a summa if the mystagogue is feeling generous). A season of study will allow the initiate to acquire the virtue.

As before, the mystagogue may choose to add an ordeal inflicting the Humble flaw, but will only do so if they think it necessary or beneficial for the initiate.

Initiation Script for Vulgar Alchemy +7 (Target 15)

An alternative script has been invented by Paulus of Jerbiton (see above). This replaces the pilgrimage with a much more direct, harrowing, and dangerous mystical confrontation with the initiate’s flaws.

The initiate makes whatever preparations they wish, then consumes a dose of a potion with the effect Putrefaction of the Spiritual Matter (see above). This inflicts two points of warping and the initiate must choose to enter twilight. The twilight experience will always reflect the fundamental character flaws of the initiate. A good experience allows the initiate to peacefully come to terms with their own failings, while a bad one has them manifest harsh and painfully.

When they emerge from twilight they are confronted by an adulteration born of their worst flaws. This must be confronted and conquered. This is not easy task, because the adulteration encourages and gains strength from the initiate’s own greatest weaknesses. It is near impossible to truly prepare for this either, because the adulterations is unique to each initiate and its nature can only be predicted through a level of self-awareness few people ever attain. (unique quest +6)

Afterwards the mystagogue helps the initiate to interpret the experience and how it reflects their true nature, before gifting them a book as in the normal initiation.


Initiation Script for Unaging +7 (Target 15)

This is the degree of separation. The mixture is resolved into prime substances. Mercury is split from sulphur. Green is divided from red. Bright Aurora is born from darkest Saturn, under the auspices of Mars. The initiate confronts their inner nature and removes the undesirable, retaining only their pure essential being.

As before, the initiate will have served as a lab assistant between initiations for no less than one season. (initiate sacrifices time +1)

As a precursor to this initiation the initiate must have created at least 7 new shape and material bonuses, adding to the corpus of alchemical knowledge. A deep knowledge of the mystical properties of materials is necessary to prepare the honey used in the next step. (quest +3)

The initiate undergoes a purifying process. This requires access to a large supply of honey produced in a strong magic aura. The magi of Hibernia, who produce honey for cultural reasons, are a good source. Otherwise the initiate must cultivate or find their own. For the next year the initiate consumes only this honey, no other food or liquids. Over time they become partially mellified, all their bodily excretions replaced with a red honey-like substance. In addition, their apparent age begins to change towards their desired value (as if they already had the Unaging virtue).

Each season they receive a long-term fatigue level which cannot be recovered except by breaking the diet. By the end of the year they are almost insensate, and spend the final season in meditation. After the end of the year they acquire the Unaging virtue. Once they return to a normal diet they regain one fatigue level per month until fully healthy again. (equivalent to a quest +3)

NB: Mellification was a supposedly real (but poorly evidenced) historical mumification process. There was a recorded practice in Arabia of elderly men consuming only honey prior to death, then being entombed in honey. After a century the candied corpse was used as a powerful medicine. It’s unclear if this was actually a real practice or simply a legend, however.

Initiation Script for Hermetic Alchemy +6 (Target 15)

The degree of conjunction. Externally, the purified initiate is reunited with the community. Internally, the transformed and purified spirit is unified. The initiate is fully aware of their essential nature, and at peace with it. They are now free to commence the great work in earnest.

The mystery of hermetic alchemy hinges on a deeper understanding of the relationship between fluid vis and solidified vis. The initiate must gather at least one pawn of extraordinary vis of each art – spell-like, lesser enchantment, and dedicated vis are all appropriate. Dedicated vis is especially useful and counts for both the associated technique and form. This exemplary vis demonstrates the interaction between vis and aura more clearly than normal vis. (quest +3)

The mystagogue and initiate spend a season in the laboratory studying the collected vis and observing how it sublimates back into fluid vis when used. This does not provide experience as would be the case when studying vis normally. At the same time the mystagogue guides the initiate through the process of extracting vis of a form other than vim, loaning them their own lab equipment so they can study and get used to the specialised vis extracting tools used in hermetic alchemy. This is the counterpart process, the deposition of fluid vis into solid. (mystagogue sacrifices time +3)

The initiate can now spend a season of their own time experimenting in the laboratory to repeat the process. This fixes the ideas in their mind and grants them the virtue Hermetic Alchemy .

Purifications: Reverse Initiation

Between the third and fourth stages for the Order of the Green Cockerel, it is essential that the initiate purge their being of negative qualities, especially undesirable personality traits. For some overcoming these may be a matter of stories and gradual change. Others may take a religious path, turning to prayer and pilgrimage to purify them. Some may take a more mystical approach, devising rituals to alter their own essential nature and thus excise the undesirable.

Mechanically this works exactly like an initiation, but with the following changes:

  • Success removes a flaw, instead of granting a virtue.

  • The character must act as their own mystagogue. Purification is profoundly personally and individual.

  • Removing a minor flaw has a target of 18. Removing a major flaw has a target of 30.

  • Ordeals which grant another negative personality trait can only be used with the storyguide’s approval.

  • If experimenting, the character can choose to design the script for personal use only. This grants a +6 when checking the validity of the rite, but means the script cannot be used by anyone else even if it is successful.

As a general guideline, using a process like this should be as hard or harder than removing the flaw by other means. This is intended to be a thematic alternative to other options, not a shortcut to bypass stories!

It can also serve as a rough guideline for storyguides as to how much effort is required to remove a personality flaw with dedicated effort. Actions equating to a +4 script bonus are roughly enough to reduce a personality trait by 1 point (so the equivalent of a +12 script should be able to remove a -3 trait, while a +24 script can remove a -6 trait). You can use this to help arbitrate stories of self-improvement, but always make sure the result makes sense. YSMV!

Example Purification Script to Remove Proud (Minor) +9 (Target 18)

The initiate makes a circuit of the order, publicly apologising to everyone they have quarrelled with over the years. (quest +3)

Next the initiate must perform a noteworthy service for the order, in secret, and destroy all trace of their own involvement so that they will never receive credit for the act. (quest +3)

Finally, the initiate undergoes a special ritual designed to draw out the ugliness of their soul. This culminates in the initiate ritually destroying a specially prepared copper mirror. After completing this mystical process the initiate’s spirit is cleansed, and they remove their personality flaw. The internal darkness within has been made external, and they are now disfigured in some way that reflects the source of their pride. They gain the Disfigured flaw. (minor ordeal +3)


Initiation Script for Lesser Elixir +5 (Target 15)

The degree of fermentation. Now the purified and conjoined initiate is tested against the world. Just as the grape must decay to make wine, the initiate must suffer to pare away any remaining weakness, and to bring forth new strengths.

The initiate has a duty now to subtly guide mundane alchemists, providing cryptic hints and guiding experiments towards beneficial outcomes. Many write books on Philosophiae, hiding cryptic secrets in them for the benefit of the clever. (initiate sacrifices time +1)

In addition to personal assistance, the initiates of this rank quietly finance promising alchemists either directly or by sponsoring centres of learning. Anonymous gifts to young magi with an interest in alchemy are also appropriate. (initiate sacrifices material wealth +1)

All the while the initiate tests themself, seeking out challenges and pushing their limits. This provides no benefit to the initiation, strictly, but is an essential part of the spiritual process.

When they feel ready to advance, the initiate must acquire a Flower of Youth . This thorny magical plant grows only in the deepest parts of the ocean. Consumption of the plant removes all decrepitude and restores apparent age to youthfulness, but the effect is unnatural and temporary. Examples of the plant are extraordinarily rare, so much so that at least one cult master had to travel into the aquam province of the magic realm to find one. This plant is fed to a snake, which immediately sheds its skin. By eating the skin the initiate receives a flash of insight. Over the course of a season of meditation and experimentation they acquire the Lesser Elixir virtue. (quest +3)

Initiation Script for Minor Philosophic Alchemy +6 (Target 15)

The degree of distillation. The last impurities are boiled away in preparation for the final step of the great work.

Anyone who has achieved this stage is on par with the masters of the cult and is hot on the heels of the secret master, who has only recently become the first to achieve the completion of great work. Initiation scripts at this stage are the uncertain and experimental scripts used by the masters of the cult to induct themselves, of which the script below is just one example. Scripts for Major Philosophic Alchemy are even more experimental or may not yet exist in 1220.

The initiate begins by preparing or acquiring lesser enchanted devices to match every hermetic form, ten in total. Each must be enchanted with a ReVi 30 (Touch, Moon, Individual) effect which transfers a vis from another object into the device, over the course of a lunar month. The initiate also acquires one pawn of vis for each form. (quest +3)

The initiate assembles the objects in his laboratory and places a pawn of matching vis in each. They activate the first item and observe the effect. At the exact time the effect concludes, they activate the next item and observe again. When that concludes they must activate the third item, and also begin transferring the vis from the first item into the second. The next time they activate the fourth item and begin transferring the vis from the second item into the third and so on. As each item is emptied the initiate ceremonially destroys it, reducing down to just one item by the end. (equivalent to sacrificing a powerful invested item +3)

The final item will have accumulated all 10 pawns, taking 11 lunar months. For this duration the magus cannot leave their laboratory for more than a week per season, or they risk missing a timing and having to start from the beginning. They may perform other lab activities, but count as having a month’s distraction.

This process attunes the initiate to the ebb and flow if vis during a long transfer, making the whole process intuitive. A season of reflection allows the initiate to acquire the Minor Philosophic Alchemy virtue.

As a negative side effect of the experimental nature of this process, the exposure to so much mobile vis over a prolonged period has a detrimental effect on the parma of the initiate. They acquire the Flawed Parma Magica (Vim) flaw. This grants no bonus to the script and a skilled mystagogue may try and remove this from the script entirely. Such are the risks of trying to invent initiations whole cloth.


Initiation Script for The Great Elixir (Target 21, or 30 for self-initiation)

The final degree, wherein the master rises like a phoenix from the heat of the process, their spirit and substance transmuted into an immortal being of magic.

This has only been done once, and very recently, by the secret master. It is likely that whatever script they used to self-initiate contained unique elements that cannot be repeated. There is also a possibility that there is no secret master at all, that they are merely a paragon invented by the cult masters to inspire the members. In this case no initiation script exists for the Great Elixir because no one has yet achieved it! For these reasons and to leave things as open as possible, instead of a script here are a list of elements that could be used in this script:

  • Collect water from the fountain of youth +3
  • Acquire one of the Golden Apples of the Hesperides +3
  • Find the immortal Al-Khidr (or a similar figure), and study under him +3
  • Find Cain, and study his curse +3
  • Journey to Hyperborea, and convince the Hyperboreans to reveal the secret of their longevity +3
  • Enter the magic realm in search of a powerful magical being that can grant immortality +3
  • Acquire the ashes left over from the rebirth of a phoenix and/or be present during the rebirth to study the process +3
  • The magus has to bind a phoenix as their familiar, severing any previous bond if necessary +6
  • An Essential Flaw as an ordeal, representing an imperfection in the final elixir +3/+9 (minor/major)
  • Wanderlust as a major ordeal. Being forced to wander the earth is a common theme in immortality legends +9
  • The secret of the great elixir can only be witnessed under some specific celestial alignment which the initiate must calculate, and which only occurs once per 7/10/100 years +3
  • The initiate has to give up all their worldly possessions, because worldly ties hold one back from becoming a perfected being +1
  • The initiate’s talisman must be destroyed and recreated, symbolic of their immanent death and rebirth as an immortal being +3-6
  • The initiate must perform some action at the exact place and anniversary of their own birth +3
  • Making the great elixir requires unique equipment which requires rare ingredients attuned to the initiate’s favoured arts and/or virtues/flaws +3
  • Making the elixir requires a focal item attuned to the initiate’s favoured arts. This must be the most perfect possible exemplar of this type of object. Only one such exemplar can exist anywhere in creation +6

The Great Convocation

Held every seven years in Alexandria, the Great Convocation is a meeting of all members of the cult. New discoveries, inventions, and shape and material bonuses are shared with a prize for the greatest contribution. Below are a few ideas for the convocation. Some are story seeds, while others are suggestions for the kind of thing other cult members might present as their discoveries.

Foreign Relations

The Order of the Green Cockerel secretly maintains strong ties with the wise men and sorcerers of the Islamic world, a fact which would horrify some magi. Several members of the Order of Solomon usually attend the convocation as guests, and this has always been welcomed – the hermetic magi are happy to share what discoveries are applicable to both magical systems, while the solominic sahirs are comfortable in their own tradition’s obvious superiority in the field of alchemy. Now, however, some sahirs have heard rumours that the secret master of the magi has completed the great work, something which hasn’t been seen in centuries.

A delegation of sahirs at the convocation ask for admission to the cult, wanting to learn this secret. This poses both a problem and opportunity – having them join the order of hermes, if they are even willing, will be impossible to hide. Refusing them will risk alienating other sahirs, valuable allies. Is it even possible for a sahir to learn their mysteries without hermetic magic? On the other hand the potential for new discoveries and insights based on their Solomonic magic is immense. What will the cult do, and what will the player characters think of this development?

The Master Speaks…?

Two senior members of the cult both claim to have received instructions from the secret master. There is just one problem – the instructions are contradictory! It seems unthinkable that one of the leaders of the cult would lie about this, but both cannot be true… unless it is a test? Some clue to the great elixir hidden in cryptic and conflicting commands? Of course, there are some who don’t believe there even is a secret master, in which case this is simply a power struggle clothed in obfuscated language.

True Transmutation

Two magi are collaborating on a research effort to allow hermetic magic to turn one substance into another, as a true change. They are exploring two approaches:

  1. Trying to enchant the items with a constant Mu(Fo) effect without warping them through constant effect. Or create a Mu(Fo) ritual spell which is permanent, like a momentary Creo ritual. This would push or break the Limit of Warping.

  2. Trying to create a spell which truly changes the essential nature of the substance. This would break the Limit of Essential Nature and seems much less probable, but they aren’t discounting it.

Much of their experiments are uninteresting to look at – objects enchanted with constant (sun, environmental trigger) Muto effects to change them from one substance to another.

They are nearing a minor breakthrough – this allows magi to enchant insubstantial things (like a fire, or a quantity of air), but only as a lesser item containing a Mu(Fo) power which transmutes the thing into a solid object. This is more of a curiosity than anything, though the idea of items made of transmuted fire might appeal to certain Flambeau. They have a crystal flask which is transmuted from air to show off.

One oddity they also have is a small lead figurine. The intent was to enchant it to turn into gold, but instead it became an awakened item. The creature, called Plumbeum, has 2 might. It is a dolorous little being which laments (in broken Latin, which it has been slowly learning) the missed opportunity to have become a “noble metal” instead of dull lead. A talking figurine is quite impressive, even if the effect was unintentional. They have not been able to recreate the result – it seems to have been a fluke.

One of their stranger new ideas is that transmutation may not be possible for mundane objects, but it might be for awakened ones. One of the magi believes that an awakened mind might be able to undergo something like a mystery initiation, and be truly transformed. They intend to experiment with Plumbeum. The thought of transforming into gold is the only thing that seems to cheer the little creature.

Plumbeum is a small lead figurine of a man, about three inches tall.

Magic Might: 2

Characteristics:* Int +2, Per -1, Pre +3**, Com -1, Str -15, Sta +3, Dex +0, Qik +6

*Including adjustment for size

**Despite its small size, Plumbeum is a fascinating oddity and oddly compelling

Size: -9

Age: 3

Qualities and Inferiorities: Magic Thing, Reduced Might x2, Gift of Speech, Personal Power, Improved Characteristics x2, Improved Soak x3, Pessimistic

Personality Traits: Living Statue* +3, Morose +3, Wants to Become a “Noble” Metal +6

Reputations: Unique Magical Oddity +1 (Order of Hermes)

Soak: +9

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

Wound Penalties: –1 (1), –3 (2), –5 (3), Incapacitated (4), Dead (5)

Abilities: Latin (Hermetic) 3, Folk Ken (Magi) 1, Philosophiae 1


Like Atlas Writ Small

0 points, Init +4

R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

This power allows Plumbeum to lift and carry an object as if it has a strength of +5. It can carry the object without effort for the duration, but must concentrate to do anything else, such as putting it down.

ReTe 15 (base 3, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +1 constant): Personal Power (15 levels, –2 Might cost)

Hermetic Formulae

Another magus is experimenting with methods to integrate hermetic lab activities with mundane philosophic formulae. This is possible with Rego craft magic, but that requires very high (often impossible) finesse rolls. The aim is to allow a hermetic lab total to be used in place of, or addition to, the academic skill normally used.

Their research to date is mainly Rego craft effects that replicate formulae. Eventually this will lead to a minor breakthrough. This can be taught to any magus with Hermetic Alchemy or Vulgar Alchemy without needing a new virtue, but the effect is much more limited than the inventor is hoping for:

Hermetic Formulae : Any magus who learns this breakthrough may add a technique bonus to their lab total when dealing with formulae, equal to Technique/5 (rounded up). Their lab total is now Intelligence + Academic Ability + Philosophic Bonuses + Technique Bonus. The techniques used are Intellego for Inceptions, Rego for Reagents, and Creo for Theriacs. The technique bonus is not limited by the academic ability, and does not count towards philosophic bonus.

Solomonic Alchemy

Some members of the cult located in the Levantine and Theban tribunals are studying the magic of Solomonic wizards, specifically how they can replicate the products of mundane science magically with seemingly much more ease than hermetic craft magic and resulting in a true (non-magical) change.

This will, eventually, lead to the Scientates Suleimanis hermetic breakthrough described in TC&tC. That is, assuming they manage to get that far. Their studies rely on covert trade with the sahirs, and occasional theft. If discovered, their methods would be highly controversial, as the cult values ties to the Islamic world.

Thus far they have achieved two noteworthy unique effects:

The first is a spell called Speed the Vitriolic Reaction which is a Rego craft spell for creating vitriol. Like all alchemical craft magic it requires the caster to possess the formula, requisite ingredients, and make a finesse roll. Unlike most craft magic there is no ease factor penalty for doing a month’s work in a moment. This is presented as the first step to removing the finesse requirement altogether.

The second is the result of attempts to make a hermetic version of the Solomonic spell What Jabir found inside the rock. This spell purifies a gemstone, greatly enhancing the value and, more importantly, increasing the material bonus the stone grants by +3. Because sahirs cannot take advantage of shape and material bonuses directly these are not considered magical by them and have been freely traded to the Order of Hermes, but their utility for hermetic purposes is immense.

The integration attempt did not produce a usable spell but has produced an alchemical reagent formula to replicate the result.

Refine the Mystical Qualities of Jasper

Reagent Level 20 Alteration: Major

This process enhanced the material bonus of a Jasper by +3, so that it now has bonuses of Healing Wounds +5, Versus Demons +5.

(Base 5, +3 Major)

Ancient Wisdom

The allies of the Order of the Green Cockerel in Egypt claim that the wisest Coptic monks are the greatest practitioners of alchemy in all the world, having preserved much ancient magical knowledge. Of course, the monks would claim this about their Muslim counterparts as well – but there is no way for magi in 1220 to know this.

There is a real desire to build ties with the Copts among the members of the cult, especially among the more devout Christian members. Realistically, this can only be done in Egypt.

The idea is proposed for a “hermetic expedition” into Egypt. Based out of Alexandria, this group would spend the next fermentation cycle (seven years) living among the Egyptians, making ties to local scholars and magicians, and surveying the land of Egypt for supernatural wonders. This may form the heart of a new covenant in Alexandria. The word goes out for any willing cult members or like-minded magi from outside the cult to join the cause. Care must be taken, however, not to start conflict with the Order of Solomon in the region – for this to be seen as hermetic aggression would be a severe blow to the cult’s prospects in the region.

The Question of Universities

Mundane alchemy flourishes in the nascent universities of Europe, an exciting development that many members of the Order of the Green Cockerel actively work to support. In Stonehenge, however, one group has gone far beyond mere support. The covenant of Schola Pythagoranis is coterminous with the new university in Cambridge, and the magi there take an active role in it. To some degree the university is an extension of the covenant, and vice versa. A risky venture which skirts the limits of the code, but one which has undeniably granted Schola unprecedented access to, and influence over, the great minds of England.

One or more of the magi of this covenant attend the convocation to advocate for the success of this method. They hope to convince other magi to take direct roles in some of the new universities so that they can better guide their mundane counterparts. More radically, some members of the cult who are taken with this idea propose that the Order of the Green cockerel should found new university-covenants. Some suggest that the emperor Frederick could be covertly swayed into sponsoring such a venture. If they try this, however, they will soon run up against the Learned Magicians and Virgilian Wizards who have previously gone mostly unnoticed by the Order of Hermes.


Alternate Elixirs

In 1220 the great elixir, the culmination of the great work, is a recent discovery and has been completed by only one person (possibly), the secret master. But just because the elixir grants immortality doesn’t mean it is necessarily the final answer, or the only one! Indeed, if the masters of the cult have been independently working towards their own ideas for the end of the great work it’s likely that some of them are close to parallel discoveries in 1220. These might be the great elixir as presented in TM:RE, variants of that mystery with similar mechanics but a twist, or entirely different means of achieving immortality. Below are some ideas.

The Elixir is a Lie

There is always the possibility that the great work has not been achieved. If this is the case then the secret master is either a fiction or a charlatan.

In the first case the masters of the cult have invented the idea of the secret master. Perhaps this serves as a means to motivate the lower ranks, or to increase the mystique of the upper ranks. Perhaps they have lost faith that the goal can even be reached, and invented the secret master to hide the fact that they are at a loss for how to complete the great work.

The second case has the secret master exist, but their claim of completing the great work is false. Perhaps they discovered another means of immortality and abandoned the work in favour of it, fabricating the fiction of the great elixir as a way to hide their treachery. Perhaps they are not immortal and have simply fooled the other masters for whatever reason. Perhaps the secret master is a magical being or a faerie which is impersonating a master who died, co-opting the cult for their own ends.

The Elixir is a Metaphor

A softer version of the previous idea. In this case the elixir is not the end of the great work, but something is – with the elixir being an obscured reference to this real goal. Maybe the purification of the soul leads to an acceptance of mortality, with the true “elixir” being the realisation that there is no need to live forever.

Perhaps the end of the great work is unity with the divine, which would explain why only one person has pulled it off. Few powerful magi would submit to the divine so completely, or think to turn to the divine to complete the work. Or maybe the secret master has (either correctly or incorrectly) discovered the idea of metempsychosis. Why struggle and strain for immortality in this life when death only changes the substance, instead of destroying it?

The Elixir is a Way to Control Reincarnation

One possibility is that the elixir doesn’t grant bodily immortality. Instead it allows the alchemist to influence their next life (this assumes a belief in reincarnation, but this was a common aspect of real world hermeticism). For inspiration for this version a good starting point is Fertility Magic (from Ancient Magic). Rather than altering the traits of an unborn child, the mystery influences the traits of the not-yet-conceived future reincarnation of the initiate. It may also be possible to carry forward “memories” of their current life to some degree (effectively being born with experience and scores in abilities). Here are four ideas for that:

  1. The character carries forward a fraction of their xp in each ability and art, e.g. ½.

  2. The character’s abilities and arts are recorded at death. The new character gets an xp bonus (+50% or something) to xp gained in this ability, but only until it reaches the level of the previous life. After this gain is at the normal rate.

  3. The character gains an additional point of xp per season, which can be invested in any skill that reached at least 6 (or 14 for an art) in the previous life.

  4. The character gains access to a new advancement method “recollection”. This has a source quality of 8 and can be used to improve abilities that reached at least 6 (or 14 for an art) in the previous life.

If this is the case then the secret master may, in fact, be dead. Somewhere in Mythic Europe exists a (perhaps gently) gifted child that is slowly beginning to recall a past life as a powerful magus and alchemist. The cult may be searching for this reborn secret master.

The Elixir Turns You into a Spirit

Another explanation of why the secret master is so elusive is that the elixir does work, but instead of bodily immortality it turns you into a disembodied spirit. This would be mechanically identical to the described elixir, except that you become a spirit instead of a magic human.

It’s possible that the secret master (or another master of the cult in the future) might have discovered a version of the Ascension to the Hall of Heroes mystery, albeit with slightly different methods, and this is what they are calling the “great elixir”. In this case the secret master has become not only a spirit, but a daimon.

The Elixir is Finite

The secret master is intentionally keeping the secret of the great elixir from even the other masters of the cult. The reason is simple – there are a finite number of true immortals in the world, and the life of one of these beings is an essential component of the great elixir. Considering that the only immortal most members of the cult would know how to reach is the master themselves, perhaps this caution is wise…

Alternatively, as a consequence of the experimentation needed to discover the great elixir it has become mystically entangled with the nature of the secret master. They have, in a sense become a human-shaped magical representation of the elixir itself. As well as the method described in TM:RE, someone who has completed the great elixir must assist, sacrificing one point of might per magnitude of the two effects. This might is permanently removed from their might score and cannot be recovered. The secret master does not currently have sufficient might to do this without being destroyed in the process, which is why no one else has been able to become immortal yet.

The Phoenix Metaphor is not a Metaphor

This one is pretty straightforward – the elixir works exactly as described, but instead of turning the magus into a magical human it turns them into a literal phoenix (or dragon, or some other immortal mythical beast).

Another possibility is that the reborn (magic human) magus returns to infancy and has to age back to adulthood the slow way. This is only a bodily reversion, they retain their mind and all other character aspects.

The Great Elixir Removes Warping

The elixir doesn’t grant eternal unchanging life, instead it provides a way for magi to shed warping points. If warping points can be removed, then magi can live an extraordinarily long time, especially with a constantly improving lesser elixir, but are not truly immortal beings. A “true” version of the great elixir, more like what’s described in TM:RE may still be possible, as a future discovery.


Exemplary Items

Every mundane object is a pale reflection of a truer, ideal, form of that thing. The magic realm is argued by some to be the place where these ideal forms actually exist. Magi, closely aligned with that realm, are able to exploit the mystical connection between objects or materials and their truest essential nature in the form of shape and material bonuses. But are all things created equal in this sense? Are not some objects closer to their ideal form than other, less perfect, examples? The answer is exemplary items.

The basic idea is simple: perfect examples of an item with a shape or material bonus can be enhanced to increase these bonuses. The rarer the item the higher the maximum bonus achievable. This refinement can be achieved through a lab activity or found naturally in some extraordinarily rare natural exemplary items.

In 1220 no major magical tradition is aware that exemplary items can be made with lab activity. The very concept is unknown to hermetic magi, though Vulgar Alchemy , Verditius Magic , and the Verditius Items of Quality mystery all come close. The Order of Solomon have the ability to make limited exemplary items with Solomonic Alchemy but can’t take advantage of the bonuses themselves. Only a few vanishingly rare naturally occurring exemplary items are in the possession of magic practitioners and these are generally viewed as singular unique objects.

There are two breakthroughs that allow hermetic magic to take advantage of exemplary items. These are most likely to be discovered by hermetic alchemists or members of house Verditius.

Exemplar Refinement (Minor Supernatural Virtue) 30 Breakthrough Points

This breakthrough allows magi with the required virtue to refine objects as a lab activity. This requires a season in the lab and expending a single pawn of vim vis. The magus calculates a refining total as follows:

Refining Total = Intelligence + Magic Lore + Philosophiae

For every 5 points of refining total the item’s exemplar bonus is increased by +1, up to the maximum allowed for an item of that type (see the bonus table below).

Once this breakthrough has been made a further breakthrough can be made:

Hermetic Refinement 30 Breakthrough Points

This breakthrough can be taught to any hermetic magus without requiring a virtue. As before it allows the refining of exemplary items as a seasonal lab activity, using one pawn of vim vis. The refining total is:

Refining Total = Intelligence + Magic Lore + Magic Theory + Philosophiae

For every 5 points of refining total the item’s exemplar bonus is increased by +1, up to the maximum allowed for an item of that type (see the bonus table below).

Exemplar Bonus

This bonus adds directly to the shape and material bonuses the object naturally possesses. This is a natural property of the item, not a supernatural effect. This property can be detected by any effect that reveals physical properties, however.

+0: A mundane or unrefined item

+3: The upper limit for refined mundane objects, a perfect example of the type

+5: The upper limit for refined things of virtue and items of quality*

+6: Natural exemplars. No more than 12 of these exist for any given object in all creation. Even “artificial” ones (e.g. swords) are naturally occurring, being birthed ex nihilo by the magic realm itself.

+7: Perfect exemplars. Only one exists in all creation for a given object.

*Any magus with the Items of Quality virtue and knowledge of exemplary items can choose to either create an item of quality as usual or grant the item an exemplar bonus. An item cannot be both exemplary and an item of quality, the magus must choose one. Magi without Items of Quality are limited to a max of +3 when refining man-made objects.

Example Exemplary Items

Servilia’s Pearl – A black pearl gifted by Julius Caesar to his mistress Servilia, valued at an extraordinary six million sestertii. The pearlescent darkness of the stone makes an observer feel the sense of standing over a large drop. It is the finest pearl in all creation. It has the material bonus of “Detect or eliminate poisons +12”

The Hundred Horse Chestnut – This ancient chestnut tree stands on the slopes of mount Etna. A single underground trunk splits into several limbs above ground, each the size of a tree in its own right. Its girth is said to be capable of sheltering 100 knights and their horses. Only a few trees in all the world can rival it. The wood of the tree has the bonuses “Justice +9” and “Honesty +10”.

The Ancile – A shield which fell from the heavens to land near Rome in the reign of Numa Pompilius. The Romans believed it to be a gift from Mars, and one of the sacred objects that guaranteed the security and ascendancy of Rome. Eleven copies were made to fool would-be thieves, but only the true shield is exemplary. It has the bonus “Protection +11”.

The Hide of the Nemean Lion – The impervious golden hide of the monstrous Nemean lion slain by Hercules. It has the bonuses of “Courage +11”, “Pride +11”, and “Strength +11”.

Why, Though?

The idea for this is loosely inspired by one of the effects of Solomonic Alchemy in tC&tC that I thought had interesting implications. It also serves a few functions:

a) Gives magi a use for items of virtue. I think they are really cool, but in a game focused on magi who can gain no benefit from them they rarely feature. Feeds "quest for the legendary thing x" type stories, which I'm a fan of personally.

b) Adds an extra resource to the magical economy. Exemplary items are valuable by virtue of being unique (or close to it) and having a hard-to-replicate magical benefit, giving them value to magi in the same way as vis, enchanted items, etc. Any magus can create pearls, but only one can own Servilia's pearl. I Imagine house Jerbiton would be fans.

c) Allows for some really unique talismans. Magi have incentive to seek out natural exemplars and use them in their talismans because of the powerful talisman attunement bonus. Or to fight other magi for control of especially useful ones, which gives rise to another kind of story.


These have been amazing. Thank you!!!!


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