A book by a Criamon

In coming up with a truly majestic summa for a Winter covenant library, I came up with the following:

I Mageia tou Androitness by Hikmat the Backward ex Criamon

summa focus on Finesse, Quality 15 Level 5

The summa is written in eleven volumes, the entirety of which is dedicated to increasing the skill and precision and control ( Finesse ) of magic describing how to do so with each Form. However, when each volume is taken individually, ten of the tractatus can be read as a Quality 15 on increasing the Art of the ten Forms, with the eleventh and final volume presenting a Quality 15 tractatus on Concentration.

Originally written in Arabic, with copies translated in later years into Attic Greek by the author herself, the expanse and charm of the summa is a work of beauty and enlightenment. However, when read in it's entirety, first reading the summa over a season and then each of the volumes read in consecutive seasons that follow, in total spending twelve seasons in succession, then the tome becomes truly Enlightening. Following this course, the entirety provides a Source Quality of 5 for Enigmatic Wisdom, giving the student the first level of Enigmatic Wisdom.


Any thoughts or comments?

Sounds good. However, I do not understand why the summa is such low Quality (5) when the Tractatus are Q15. And getting EW after 3 years of studying this non stop sounds Ok as well. maybe the books need to be read in a weird order in order to achieve that, or despite belonging to the same author could be from WIDELY different in quality (from Q0 to Q15) and you need to read them all to get the Enigmatic wisdom bonus. The low quality ones are among the first batch you need to read. or maybe you must spend a season simply UNDERSTANDING the books before starting reading them. Without understanding the connections between them (and the weird cross-references you need to do) you cannot get ANYTHING from ANY one of them.

The more I think about this, the more it sounds like it could work like Realia as well...

The actual summa in Finesse is Quality 15 allowing a Level of 5, and the tractatus were initially each going to be simply the same Quality to keep it simple. However I really do like your idea that the Tractatus could and would be of varying Qualities. That does have a more genuine feel of it being truly a path of mystery for the unknowing initiate to stumble upon.

However reading the entire volume and then reading the books in the order that is required, resulting in a mere Quality of 5 for Enigmatic Wisdom, is mostly a act of fear and capitulation on my part to ease the bad feelings of those who would not like the idea of a person reading a book and gaining Enigmatic Wisdom. :laughing:

I admit the Quality is low, and I admit I can't think of a reason why the Quality over all for EW should be so low when the rest of the books are vastly higher, but perhaps your idea of making the the volumes of varying Quality would be a solution to that. Perhaps the volumes are not gathered into a single collection, perhaps it is only rumor that one must seek out and study the books in some arcane order to get something greater. Perhaps a true Quality 15 in Enigmatic Wisdom, but it requires the reader to find all of the books and gather them in some Club Dumas, Ninth Gate fashion, actually sacrificing the entire collection by ripping pages from each volume.

However, on second thought I had imagine this being the life work of Hikmat, something which she devoted decades and all of her wealth in magic and treasure to simply purchase extra sheafs of parchment to write on. So perhaps destroying the books would not be so great a idea on my part. :laughing: However I would suspect there being some story or complication involved to attain Enigmatic Wisdom thusly. Though spending three years straight, allowing for no interruptions is pretty drastic to start with.

Thanks Xavi as always, you provide some good insight and perspective.


  1. Reading the whole lot gives you an "episode", some sort of Alice in Wonderland story that you have to resolve positively. Same mechanic as Twilight without the Warping.
  2. This only happens with the original copy, or under a set of circumstances that you happened to follow.

Q10 for the Forms is more believable, Q15 makes it a munchkin tool. In fact, trying to make it an EW learning tool could impose a lower Quality, maybe all of them are Q12.

How would you handle this in the game? Will the players know the possibility to get EW from the start?
I would make it a surprise.


Have you taken the time to figure out how many seasons to write it? By my rough calc, we are looking at a book that took something like 13+ seasons to put together according to the rules I think (1 season per tractatus x 10 Forms + 1 season for the Enigmatic Wisdom tractatus + 2 or more seasons for the summa itself and all this without additional work for resonant materails to add to tractatus quality and so forth).

If they did nothing but write for three seasons a year, we are still looking at more than 4 years to produce the text, let alone produce the Greek translation thereof. Quite an investment for a magus, though it would bring great fame in the Order, I would think (and maybe 30 points of exposure xp for Profession: Scribe (Hermetic Texts))...

I like the idea of it inducing an "experience" which is basically how I would see it. The character would be studying a single author and set of books for three straight years, at some point you are going to start hallucinating. :laughing:
However the quality level was considered for the implications of what the writer went thru and the dedication she showed in making the eleven volume summa, and not the powergaming aspect of having more cool powers. Besides, finding a tractatus Qual 15 in a Art is not something a munchkin would be seeking out if they truly were looking to game the system... I have seen people's sites with their tractatus Quality 22 and 26 in a Art. :open_mouth:


It is certainly unexpected for most readers of the summa. However within the text of the summa there is basically hints and instructions to guide the reader towards to the goal of reading the 11 tractatus. I did not get too detailed on how the event would unfold, though within my own mind I can see how the words could be read as normal across the page, but then every letter at the beginning of each sentence could also be read going down the page. This new information could begin directing the reader to seek other pages within the books that will eventually lead to enlightenment.

I see it as a fun, unique, and interesting alternate path that a Criamon worked very hard to create for her fellow magi.


Thanks. :smiley:

The story I wrote that went along with the making of this summa details just what Hikmat went thru to create this work of love. She lived in a Levant covenant, beset by impoverished conditions reflecting the difficulty of the times before Saladin. As a aging magi, she collected and created important and valuable magical items and books ect. which accounted for decades of her life's experience. When Hikmat began on her great task at the age of 80, at first she was spending three or more seasons at a time locked within her quarters, working feverishly on her magnum opus. Soon it became years between the moments where her covenmates would see her come out of her chambers.

So the gross volume of materials she was employing to create this massive set of books started to takes it toll on the already stressed covenant. The other magi decided to limit her access to materials, requiring that she procure and pay for her own excessive needs. At first it was simply trading vis stock and minor amulets for a large sheaf of parchments or some material to make ink. As years passed, Hikmat began selling her most valued possessions, enviable prizes of her most legendary of adventures, all of these magical treasure, sold simply to buy paper and ink.

When she finally completed her work, Hikmat had spent nearly three decades trying to accomplish the impossible task of providing a path to Enigmatic Wisdom, through a book. However, the volumes were written in her language of the Art, Arabic. It soon became evident that such a massive set of books would be lost from the Order if not translated into Greek and Latin. The Latin was beyond her skill, however she was skilled enough to translate into the classic Greek of the Theban tribunal, and so at the age of 119, Hikmat spent the last seven years of her life working as her own scribe, translating her great work over and over into Greek.

The story is far more detailed and lengthy, but that is the general idea of how the story went.

Hikmat the Backward truly lived a beautiful life, living until the end for her passion.

An Art primer will be Q15 and give you score 5 in an Art, which is a must for future masters (1 pt toward munchkinism).
Now this is a tractatus, which is even better (2nd pt).
That collection can be read 3 ways to boost other abilities (3rd point)
Mecanically, ArM5 can get your Tractatus to Comm+5 + 6 + Good Teacher bonus (3) = Q14 (4th pt for getting there)
Using Covenant resonances to get that missing Q (5th pt)
Using the story-based resonance... not used, no munchkin bonus point
She has the 15 in all Form to use clarification but was Comm+4... munchkin point trade, but better story
She also had Finesse 10... 10 years of study in her story
Having Arabic and Greek 6 and whatever else for the perfect translation... 5 years of study in her story
Doing a second copy with the same bonuses... well, she's madly driven :open_mouth:
It can't be that bad if others go further (6th pt)

This collection is 6+ points into munchkinism. If as the ASG you have to drive your players into that story to compensate for their lack of munchkinism, that's perfect. Otherwise, caveat emptor.

The story behind it has lots of potential, but I still feel the story would be better if she didn't have Good Teacher et al. and couldn't do better than Q13. Because having a perfect score does not explain why she didn't get support and her work was dismissed. Failure is a much better source of stories than perfection.

And see Tugdual, the funniest thing is that I did not even think of the aspect of making the book to be munchkin, it was a accidental by product of just wanting to come up with a great ending magnum opus written by a Criamon which would make the covenant library not look like a "easy path to super powers" that it can so often look like when on a spread sheet.


Yeah I supposed it would make more sense that the tractatus would be of varying Qualities, I simply did not want the task of figuring out which Arts I should make grand and which should be neglected, since this book is in a library of a winter covenant being taken over by low to mid-power ranged characters. Long story... the library is intact and had been used less than a year before by covenant of magi of quite high skills and prestige.

I concede, my general disregard for mechanics and figuring out where all the "bits" fit into place in the math heavy part of making up a covenant, led me down this path of forgetting to take count of details. Got caught up in the story of it all... :blush:

Of course this is why I send it up the forum-pole to see how my ideas wave in the breeze of Ars scholars.

PS. I had to read and reread your post five times before I could force myself to think of the math. How can I, who loved math for so very many years, suddenly when given the Ars mechanics and guide lines, cannot in the last two or three years understand even a tenth of the math instinctually? Gods, I have to plod along in Ars books rereading sections until I shrug and go off to read the fluffier part of the book. I took like four or five readings to grok the gaming mechanics for books... it seems I need to reread them again. :laughing:

There is a book by Julio Cortazar called Rayuela (the translation into English would be Hopscotch)

Basically what you can do is read the book straight or in an alternating order of chapters (the next chapter is indicated at the end of each chapter). That makes the book into 2 VERY different stories, even using the same chapters.

I can see this book doing the same. Except that NOWHERE does it tell you what is the next text to be read. Only going through a series of (kind of) self-initiations that imply accumulating a few Warping points to get into twilight will you get the hint on what order to read the books. Knowing the order is not enough, you need the Twilight key to "open" it, so someone going through it and writing the order in a sheet of vellum for you to know the order of books is not enough.

Regarding quality I would use something like this. Tractatus Quality:
3 14 15 9 26 (first twilight, 1 warping point Get something about the past)
5 3 5 8 9 (second twilight, 1 warping point. Discover something about yourself, like what your future familiar looks like)
7 9 32 3 8 (third twilight, 1 warping point. Get a Vision about the future of the world, like a pivotal thing of the next crusade, or a vision of the Mongol invaders)
Yes, some of those are impossible by the RAW, but who cares. And yes, it is basically the Pi number turned into quality values.
Summa. L15 Q31, that adds up to 46, the next number in the Pi sequence. You get 2 more warping points and Enigmatic Wisdom after that.

Roll randomly to determine the topic of the next book in the sequence. For each reader the order of books is different. So for example the second book for Viator exMercere might be the Q14 tractatus on Aquam, While Presteris of Flambeau will have to read a (also Q14) tractatus on Muto. The same Muto book for Viator is the eighth book in the sequence, but he only reads it as a Q3 tractatus since it did not resonate well with his inner self.

It can add a level of "this book is a mess!!" to the players that can fit with Enigmatic Wisdom. The collection resonates with the reader and gives him varying degrees of information depending on the subject. Some books might not even be written, but be collections of pictures, random gibberish and pictures (like what you end up writing in the borders of your character sheet) that only make sense after you look at them intently and you start to get a headache (-3 to all other activities for a season) or a play by Euripides that needs to be performed by grogs and observed by the magus while hanging upside down. Lots of potential.

XP accumulation is 156 for the 15 tractatus (average of 10 XP per season, so far from munchkin levels) and 46 for a book that is useless unless you accumulate the XP from the tractatus. 4 years straight (alt least, if you only spend a season reading the book) from your Hermetic life gone into this.

In practical terms reading this book is a self initiation into Enigmatic Wisdom, so lots of story potential and random stuff to have fun with :slight_smile:


Yeah, sometimes the lil' hamster won't get on the wheel :laughing:

I'm glad you took it as constructive criticism. I hope it becomes a fun part of your saga.

I did see it as being really helpful, as you so typically are in most of your posts. :slight_smile: Thanks mate.

Of course as I started reading Xavi's post I suddenly had food burning on the stove but YES!!!! :smiling_imp: That is outstanding!!! I have got to get that book and then re-think my metaplot. hahahah

As a declared follower of Flambeau, happy to be the cause of more burned stuff in the world :mrgreen:

It could be that her work is an Adulteration. Not all Criamon leave behind terrible Adulterations. Some are presumably nice.

This is good as well.

I suffer as Hikmat the Backwards does, doing things the hard, backwards, and complicated way, even though there are easier paths, simply because my imagination becomes obsessed with a single idea. Perhaps, Hikmat was so overcome by her drive, lived her existence so obsessed, that in her final days and as she passed in Final Twilight, she became aware of just how frivolous and distracting her magnum opus had been to her life. Thus the volumes of books and translations that she worked on endlessly and tirelessly, were imbued with the Adulteration...

Again I am doing things in a cumbersome manner, missing broader points, but thank you so much for yet another way of seeing it. I shall run it up the flag pole of my troupe and see if it settles the dyspepsia.

To edit and add this as a after thought. Hikmat in her last day, transitioning into Final Twilight, realized just how much of her life was wasted trying to write this work that would offer Enlightenment to the unwashed. This realization then was shed from herself, as the worries and concerns vanished, they came into existence as and Adulteration. This specific gathering of 11 books, is the ONLY set and translations that will give a student 5xp of Enigmatic Wisdom. All of the other translations both Arabic and Greek, will fail in this regard. The Adulteration version exist singularly as the only written source for such an insight into the Enigma. As such, you still must follow the complicated and time consuming task of reading all of the volumes in a particular order, however the actual Adulteration itself guides you, perhaps even changing the text to lead you in complex and circular thinking and contemplation until you reach Enlightenment!

Sounds fun to me :smiley:

Now to explain the why's and how's this set of books came to be on the small island of Nisyros. :smiling_imp:

Excellent idea on the adulteration. Much liking...