Hello, this is my attempt to rewrite the ArM setting on the assumption that Hermetic research succeeded, and managed to integrate several aspects of ancient and modern exotic magic as Minor/Major Breakthroughs.
Various researchers of House Bonisagus, with the support of some Merinita and Ex Miscellanea magi, have successfully managed to integrate several insights from non-Hermetic traditions (Defixio magic, Fertility magic, Hyperborean magic, Vitkir magic, Folk Witch magic, and Gruagach magic) into Hermetic Magic Theory. Event Duration, 19 Years Duration, Flexible Formulaic Magic as a Spell Mastery Ability, and Subtle Opening of Hermetic Arts have all been developed as Minor Breakthroughs and have spread extensively throughout the Order. Likewise, Fertility Ritual Magic, Figurine Magic, Hermetic Rune Magic, Ritual Items, Cailleach Magic, and Unaging have all been developed as Major Breakthroughs. The Initiation scripts for these Virtues are widely available in House Bonisagus, and Bonisagi readily Initiate other mages into them for a proper fee as part of their duty to spread their discoveries.
Rumors suggest that some Bonisagus researchers are also busy exploring other insights from those non-Hermetic traditions to find ways and break the limits of Arcane Connection, Creation, and Energy (possible future Hermetic Breakthroughs of Unlimited Range, Vis-less Permanent Spells, Energy Magic, Improved Voice Range, and Ritual Effect Enchantment), but in all likelihood, any such great discoveries, if at all pursued, are still many years in the making.
House Tytalus and House Flambeau have transformed into Mystery Houses.
House Tytalus has rediscovered the secrets of the Titanoi Mystery Cult in its midst, and has embraced its theurgic insights. House Tytalus teaches Hermetic Theurgy to its members (although they still develop the Self Confident Virtue as an effect of their harsh apprenticeship), and may Initiate the following Virtues: Names of Power, Invocation Magic, Theurgic Spirit Familiar, Inscription on the Soul, Inoffensive to Spirits, Hermetic Synthemata, Synthemata Magia, Major Magical Focus (Spirits) or Potent Magic (Spirits), Consummate Talisman, Persona, Shapeshifting. Tytalus magi may also learn the Goetic Arts of (Spirit) Summoning and Commanding. Some magi of the House, who want to avoid the Infernal taint of goetic magic, instead learn the Sihr Supernatural Ability, which they have learned from the Hermetic Sahirs of House Ex Miscellanea. Others learn the (Theurgical) Elementalist Arts of (Elemental) Summoning, Controlling, and the Elementalist Forms, which they have gained by contact with a society of hedge elementalists known as the Apostles of Apollonius. Some other magi instead learn the faerie hedge magic Art of (Faerie) Summoning, which they have learned from the exotic practitioners of Ars Fabulosa known as Borrowers. However, with the spread of Subtle Opening in the Order, many magi that are interested in various types of summoning arts simply learn them as Supernatural Abilities instead of Initiating them.
House Flambeau developed its Mystery Lore, as a fusion of the mystical insights of the cult of Mithras, lore from Greek-Roman elementalist societies, the systematization of discoveries from its various schools of magical combat. Flambeau mystagogues teach Major Magical Focus (Damage) to the members of their House, and may Initiate the following Virtues: Puissant Creo, Puissant Perdo, Puissant Finesse, Strong-Willed, Harnessed Magic, Enduring Constitution, Cyclic Magic (positive), Life Boost, Self Confident, Method Caster, Withstand Casting, Life-Linked Spontaneous Magic or Flawless Magic, Elemental Magic or Potent Magic (Flames). When House Flambeau became a Mystery House, and insights from the various schools of magical combat were combined into a unified generalist body of lore, the old Ignem focus was largely redefined into a broader affinity for offensive applications of Creo and Perdo or elemental magic. Therefore Flambeau apprentices typically pick either Puissant Creo or Puissant Perdo (and often Initiate the other at a later time). However, the old insights into fire magic have not been entirely lost and have been redefined as Potent Magic (Flames), which some members Initiate. Many Flambeau, however, forsake a narrow focus into fire magic and may Initiate Elemental Magic instead. Some may further the development of elemental magic in learning the (Philosophical) Elementalist Arts of (Elemental) Summoning, Controlling, and the Elementalist Forms. The House Initiation Scripts for Major Magical Focus (Damage) typically remove any other Magical Focus the mage may have had previously as an optional Ordeal.
House Merinita has managed to fully reintegrate the body of natural lore which the Founder had developed before Quendalon took over, and to expand their knowledge about integration of faerie powers and human magic. Research about familiar bonding with non-corporeal faeries and the relationship between faerie charms and human creativity also proved fruitful. As a result, Initiation scripts for Nature Mysteries, Faerie-Raised Magic, Spell Improvisation, Spirit Familiar, Inscription on the Soul, and Performance Magic (Music) are now widely available among Merinita Mystagogues. Apprentices of the House now pick either Nature Lore or Spell Improvisation in addition to being Initiated into Faerie Magic. Researchers of House Merinita are currently investigating ways to integrate further aspects of faerie magic into Hermetic theory, including faerie healing (Hermetic integration of Weal) and non-ritual faerie spells that last until a given condition is fulfilled (creation of a non-Ritual Until Duration).
House Verditius was sorely disappointed when the integration of Hermetic Rune Magic was accomplished by Bonisagus magi and they failed to make it a Verditius secret, which would have naturally complemented their own Mystery insights into rune magic (Verditius Elder Runes). Despite this, the discovery still spurred the House to research new ways and expand their own mastery of craft magic. As a result, some alchemical, astrological, and spirit-binding insights that prove useful for enchanted item crafting have been added to the Verditius body of lore. Initiation scripts for Vulgar Alchemy, Hermetic Alchemy, Spell Binding, Hermetic Empowerment, and Planetary Magic are now widely known to Verditius Mystagogues. Some Verditius magi have also mastered ancient techniques by Heronâ€™s Mechanicians to craft sentient magical devices (Awaken Device) and are busy researching the way to make them compatible with the automata-creating methods of the House (Automata). There are also rumors that they might also have discovered a way to craft devices with a mutable nature (Craft Mutable Device), but they hide or suppress the discovery, and that the same tradition may also reveal a method of producing items with less vis.
House Flambeau, House Tytalus, and House Merinita may provide Initiation, for a proper fee, in their respective Outer Mysteries (Major Magical Focus (Damage), Hermetic Theurgy, and Faerie Magic) to mages of other Houses . Sometimes, they might do so when a magus from another House manages to impress them with raw potential or established ability in appropriate magic and dedication to philosophies and lifestyles affine to their own. More often, a non-member may instead trade Initiation in the Outer Mystery for a boon (plus adequate compensation for the Mystagogue) owed to the House, callable by its Primus (treat as the Favors Flaw). Members of House Merinita are the most likely to do so, as they wish to spread the affinity with the fae and faerie things in the Order. House Verditius has also adopted the policy, since they wished for the increased influence and power in the Order that such a policy has provided to other Mystery Houses. However the hubris-ridden Verditius were loathe to share any of their craft-magic secrets with non-members, and few mages were willing to cripple their own formulaic magic abilities by gaining Verditius Magic anyway. As a result, they have instituted a policy of providing Initiation into Hermetic Alchemy to non-members (and apprentices) in exchange for a fee and a proper boon. In all cases, magi who receive such Initiations are not necessarily assumed to seek official membership in the House (unless they wish for Initiation into any of the Inner Mysteries), but they are expected to show some degree of respect and support for its mindset and policies. Recipients who show themselves unworthy may suffer the enmity of the Mystery House, up to repeated Wizards' War.
As result of the integration of Gruagach magic into Hermetic theory, some Mystery Cults that pursue paths to immortality have also developed Initiation scripts for External Soul. Likewise, study of the physiology of supernatural creatures caused the discovery of a new Supernatural Virtue: Supernatural Life (see below). It allows magi to eschew aging and basic bodily needs as long as they reside within supernatural Auras that are beneficial to them. However, this transformation also makes them physically and magically dependent on spiritual nourishment from aligned realms. Several Mystery Cults developed scripts for this Virtue, therefore it is fairly known to exist in the Order.
These various magical discoveries have had several significant consequences for the Order. Fairly large numbers of Gruagach, Folk Witches, and Vitkir have been admitted into House Ex Miscellanea.
The membership of the Order has swelled massively, doubling over the last decades, since Fertility Rituals may breed Gifted apprentices from covenant members. Nowadays, up to one-half of all apprentices may be â€œbredâ€ into Covenants, even if many mages may still search candidates for apprenticeship in the mundane population for various reasons (e.g. they lack adequate proficiency in Fertility Magic, they do not bother to pay the fee for a Fertility Ritual from a specialist, or they find a â€œnatural-bornâ€ apprentice more appropriate to their mindset).
The expanded population of magi, with an increasing number born and raised in a covenant, has made the Order as a whole more alienated from mundane culture and much less tolerant about mundane impairment of magical resources. Arguments for aggressive protection of magical and faerie sites and sources of vis now carry much more weight in the Order, while the voices who counsel avoidance of the Dominion and strict non-interference or friendly coexistence with the mundane population often find limited support. As a rule, currently there is a large degree of support for magi which ruthlessly protect wild areas near their covenants against the encroachment of civilization, threatening both vis sources and auras with the power of the Dominion. They often bring the argument that on a local level, decisive and swift action may prevent mundane presence from taking root, and the Dominion from being strongly established, even if the Order does not yet dare to unleash a large-scale attack against mundane society that might trigger a Divine reprisal. Factions that would prefer to minimize confrontation instead remark how new magical and faerie sites may sometimes spring up spontaneously as a result of human activities, and that regiones might effectively shield mages from mundane society. Therefore they eagerly support research into breakthroughs to create and improve magical and faerie auras and regiones at will, which would allow retreat into remote wilderness with undiminished magical resources, or the creation of comfortable havens in the midst of the Dominion.
As the result of a large number of wizards with abilities developed from exotic sources, the old diffidence and scorn, if not paranoid fear, against these types of magic has largely disappeared. Mages descended from House Diedne, theurgists, and users of rune magic can practice their abilities more openly without fear of persecution. Many young magi typically learn a set of exotic Supernatural Abilities to supplement their Hermetic Arts. Houses Bonisagus, Tytalus, and Flambeau in particular have become rather less bound to the ancient Mercurian roots of the Order, growing more sympathetic to non-Latin traditions, and more close in outlook to Houses like Merinita, Ex Miscellanea, and the defunct Diedne.
Nowadays, mundane encroachment upon magical resources and the plots of the Infernal realms are regarded as the main real threats against the Order of Hermes, and the suspicion against supposed rival organizations of exotic mages (now mostly recognized to be much less organized and powerful than the Order of Hermes) has largely vanished. Likewise, the opinion of the Order as a whole about the extinct House Diedne has grown to be much less negative. Nowadays many magi regret the Schism War as an honest but tragic mistake born out of paranoia and political chaos at the turn of the millennium, and regard the Diedne as too secretive for their own good but innocent of any real Hermetic crime. Several even deem House Tremere as the true malefactor, having plunged the Order in a destructive senseless conflict to fuel their prejudices and prop their aggrandizement.
Thanks to their discoveries, the spread of exotic-derived practices, and the â€œopen Initiationâ€ policy, nowadays the Houses of Bonisagus, Ex Miscellanea, Tytalus, Flambeau, Merinita, and Verditius have become the most numerous, popular, and influential within the Order, and have been able to redirect the policy of the Order as a whole on several issues.
Many of the newly dominant Houses stroke an alliance with the Transitionalist faction of House Guernicus, which was on the rise to prevalence among the Quaesitors thanks to heightened concern about mundane encroachment, in order to pass a successful revision of the Code of Hermes at the Grand Tribunal. The revised Code of Hermes (see below) provides for more extensive investigation Quaesitorial powers (albeit with safeguards such as an absolute prohibition of mind-scrying), and endorses vigorous protection of magical and faerie sites against mundane spoilage. For this purpose, it also relaxes the prohibition against interference in mundane affairs, while making an explicit forbiddance of servitude to mundane authorities. Some developments of the Peripheral Code (such as certamen and sancta) have also got explicit coverage in the Code, as well as a more extensive definition of responsibilities about oneâ€™s apprentices and a more nuanced protection for different types of magical resources.
The reformers were also concerned about the ease by which innocent yielders of exotic magic were charged of diabolism in the past, most blatantly during the Schism War. Therefore they managed to add a provision to the Code, by which malicious false accusation of a High Crime is a criminal offense, and a ruling to the Peripheral Code, by which no one can be convicted of diabolism without strong evidence that the magus knowingly made an agreement with an infernal entity or purposefully acquired Infernal powers.
As a result of those rulings, old convictions against House Diedne and some of the Titanoi Tytalus mages charged with diabolism (albeit not Tasgillia herself) have been quashed, over the vociferous objections of House Tremere and Traditionalist Guernicus. Previously frowned-upon magical abilities, such as Spontaneous-focused, chthonic, theurgic, and summoning practices are much more readily accepted nowadays, as long as the practitioner can show that they are exclusively dealing with Magic and Faerie powers and creatures.
In the changing social landscape of the Order, just as certain Houses became more influential and at ease with their sodales, others have found themselves seriously alienated or out of favor nowadays. If a new Schism War was to explode tomorrow, many magi would expect it to involve one of these Houses.
House Tremere, with its history of stubborn persecution of non-Latin mages, is currently regarded as rather dangerous and hostile by many mages of other Houses, who suspect it of having main responsibility in the genesis of the Schism War, out of culpable indulgence in their own prejudices or even a purposeful attempt to grab resources in the chaos of the conflict. As a matter of fact, some mages even mouth that the wrong House was cast out during the Schism War, because the Tremere have been purposefully seeking to seize dominion over the Order since its foundation. For their part, many Tremere are alarmed and upset about the spreading of questionable exotic practices in the Order and the criticism of their role since the Schism War, and are vociferously opposing the â€œbetrayalâ€ of the proper Latin foundations of the Order. Some suggest exploiting the House military cohesion and proficiency in Certamen to reaffirm the Tremereâ€™s social supremacy on the Order with a careful campaign of targeted Certamen and Wizard War assassinations. Others fear that such a militant course would only lead to a new Schism War and counsel withdrawal of the House in the Transylvanian Tribunal where they hold local hegemony.
House Jerbiton, with its fascination for mundane people and institutions, has become suspect in the eyes of the rest of the Order, when the main concern of many magi nowadays is the protection of magical resources against mundane encroachment and spoilage, by whatever means necessary. Some Jerbiton, however, try to lay low, be quiet about their unpopular sympathies, and subtly pursue their dealings with mundane society through the relaxed non-interference provisions of the revised Code. They eagerly research reliable ways to develop Magical and Faerie auras in urban areas, in order to create comfortable places of livelihood in cities, where most others mages would not bother them. This line of research has saw some promise, and it is rumored that some Jerbiton have mastered the secrets of Hermetic Architecture. Others fear that other mages, if left unchecked, would rise up and unleash a massive campaign of destruction against mundane society, which would spell the ruin of much beauty the Jerbiton hold dear. These mages would rather use persuasion if possible, force if necessary, to protect the mundanes from Hermetic reprisals. Their more peaceful fellows are afraid that purposeful opposition of House Jerbiton to the rest of the Order to protect the despised mundanes would only invite retribution against the House itself, and possibly invite a new Schism War.
House Bjornaer has failed to express a unified answer to the changes in the Order: many members of the Harmonist faction have retreated to Bjornaer strongholds, alienated by the widespread diffusion of shapeshifter hedge magic and faerie magic among their sodales, which run counter to the Houseâ€™s own prejudices. However, he newfound militancy in the Order at large about the protection of magical wilderness finds the wholehearted approval of the Wilderist faction of the House, and this common interest has bridged the social rift between the Wilderists and the rest of the Order to some degree.
House Mercere and Criamon, for their part, albeit not among the newly dominant houses, have weathered the changes in the Order better than others. The number of Gifted members in House Mercere is steadily growing, since Gifted members can use Fertility Rituals to breed similarly-endowed apprentices, and there is talk about a long-term project to breed a large number of mages with aptitude for Mutantum magic. However, this is somewhat controversial in the House, as many fear the traditional role of the un-Gifted Redcaps might be threatened. As it concerns the Criamon, they seem to have faced the changes in the Order with the usual aloof serenity. They do not approve the rise in militancy against mundane institutions, but they do not preach against it, either.
House Verditius has also seen its prestige and influence swell significantly within the Order, due to some of the recent discoveries, which have improved the power and usefulness of enchanted items, and also thanks to its own policy of allowing outsiders to gain some alchemical proficiency. Politically they strive to ekpp a middle ground between the reformer and the conservative Houses. They readily see the value of an open mind about exotic magic, their abilities as crafters of magic having been substantially enhanced by some of the recent progresses; at the same time, they greatly value the Greco-Roman roots of the Order, thanks to the own origin in the cult of Vulcan, and are not entirely at ease with the degree that the influence of exotic magic advancements have largely marginalized the Mercurian roots of the Order.
Supernatural Life (Major Supernatural Virtue)
The character's life force is sustained by the power of supernatural auras. This Virtue requires The Gift or a Major Supernatural Virtue as a prerequisite, and grants all the benefits of the Unaging Virtue. You do not make an Aging roll for each year you spend in a supernatural aura that grants a bonus to the powers of the realms which you are aligned to (e.g. to a character with The Gift or Strong Faerie Blood, this means Magic and Faerie auras). You instead gain one Warping point per year. You also do not need to eat, drink, or breathe while in a mystically nourishing aura, although you may do such things if you wish. This does allow moving from one aura to another, as long as the two auras are not too distanced. Characters with Supernatural Life become instinctually aware if they are about to enter or leave a mystically nourishing area, much like normal humans may sense the presence of breathable air. Roll a simple die + Perception + Awareness, or (Realm) Lore, whichever is higher, vs. an ease factor equal to 9 â€“ aura level, only for auras that grant you a bonus. However, this affinity makes you more susceptible to supernatural effects: subtract the sum of realms that grant you a bonus from all magic resistance rolls you make. This form of aura sensitivity does not allow you to detect objects or creatures, nor to see into regiones.
Characters with Supernatural Life become physically and magically dependent on spiritual nourishment from aligned realms; and prolonged disconnection causes them to suffer mystical starvation. After a week of separation from nourishing auras, the character begins to suffer deprivation and must make Stamina deprivation rolls every 3 days, starting at an ease factor of 3, which increases by +1 for every time period that passes. When the character fails a check, he loses the equivalent of a Fatigue level in mystical starvation. This reduces all the characterâ€™s actions (rolls and totals, including magical resistance) by the appropriate Fatigue penalty, which is cumulative with any from actual fatigue or injuries. The first failed check also brings back the need to eat, drink, and breathe. After all the equivalent fatigue levels have been lost, the next failed check results in the equivalent of a Light Wound (even if the character does not suffer any physical damage from mystical starvation, only the equivalent penalties). He also begins to age again. This â€œstarvation woundâ€ gets one step worse for every subsequent failed check. Beyond Incapacitated, the character falls into a deep slumber, a kind of supernatural hibernation. Supernatural starvation levels recover just like Long-Term Fatigue levels, once the character is exposed to a nourishing aura. If the character's powers or nature are aligned to more than one supernatural realm, it doubles the safe period he can spend in mundane areas (but not unaligned supernatural auras) before suffering supernatural starvation, as well as the time period between deprivation checks. Moreover, the character can venture in mundane areas and get sufficient supernatural nourishment by consuming a pawn of a Vis type fit for a Longevity Ritual, every week.
This Virtue may sometimes be the result of a supernatural blessing or heritage, but it is most often initiated by mystae that include a quest for immortality in their practices. Drawing nourishment from the Dominion or Infernal auras requires to affirm one's allegiance to that realm: in Infernal areas, one has to remain in a state of mortal sin, and perform some kind of major sin every Moon duration, whereas in the Dominion the character has to avoid mortal sin, follow the basic behavior prescriptions of his religion, pray daily, and do appropriate Divine worship at least once a week.
Supernatural Life does not protect from aging effects that are caused by Warping or botches of oneâ€™s supernatural abilities; Aging or Decrepitude from other mystical sources inflict one additional Warping point. Aging rolls that are caused by overtaxing of one's body and mind (such as from unusual lab routines) generally convert into extra botch dice. A character who ages, for every length of time, during a year must make an Aging roll at the end of that year, even if the Unaging effects of the Virtue work in any case. Normal Longevity Rituals lose their effectiveness on characters with Supernatural Life. However, one may temporarily regain the protective effects of Longevity Rituals in the year when he must suffer an Aging roll from mystical starvation, by using a modified dose of his Longevity Ritual. This only works for that year, and causes one additional Warping Point. Any mage with Supernatural Life knows how to prepare the modified formula.
Revised Code of Hermes
"I hereby swear my everlasting loyalty to the Order of Hermes and its members.
I will not harm nor attempt to harm the magical abilities of any member of the Order. I will not slay nor attempt to slay any member of the Order, except in justly executed and formally declared Wizard War. I hereby understand that Wizard War is an open conflict between two magi, who may slay each other without breaking this oath, and that should I be slain in a Wizard War no retribution shall fall on the magus who slays me. I will abide by the results of a just certamen in settling disputes with my sodales. I will not harm the places where magic flourishes and its might is reaped, nor shall I hamper their protection, and thereby weaken the Order with their loss.
I will abide by the decisions made by fair vote at Tribunal. I will have one vote at Tribunal and I will use it prudently. I will respect as equal the votes of all others at Tribunal.
I will not endanger the Order through my actions. Nor I will meddle with the affairs of mundanes and thereby harm the peace or dignity of my sodales, or degrade myself by entering into their service. I will not deal with devils, lest I imperil my soul and the souls of my sodales as well. I will not molest faeries or magical creatures nor provoke the Divine and thereby bring their wrath upon my sodales.
I will not scry upon members of the Order nor shall I use magic to pry into their affairs. Nor will I intrude into their sanctuaries or dispossess them of the tools of their Arts.
I will train apprentices who will swear to this Code and be competent members of the Order, and should any of them turn against the Order and my sodales I will strike them with all my heart. No apprentice of mine shall be called magus until he or she first swears to uphold this Code, nor shall I reveal the secrets of our Arts to anyone except an apprentice or a member of the Order.
I understand that should I break my Oath, this Code will not shield my crimes, and members of the Order shall inquire into my affairs and deliver their judgment. I will not presume to be inquisitor or judge of my sodales without the blessing of Tribunal, nor shall I invade their mind, or knowingly make false accusations against them, lest I turn justice into tyranny. I request that should I break this Oath, I be cast out of the Order. If I am cast out, I ask my sodales to find me and slay me that my life may not continue in degradation and infamy.
The enemies of the Order are my enemies. The friends of the Order are my friends. The allies of the Order are my allies. Let us work as one and grow strong.
This I hereby swear on...Woe to they who try to tempt me to break this Oath, and woe to me if I succumb to this temptation."