Alt Setting: A Hermetic Renaissance

That is a quote from True Lineages describing original research. Specifically it succinctly describes the final part of research and perhaps the ultimate goal of hermetic theory. The point where a Hermetic Virtue is no longer a virtue in it's own right but made a part of the generic instruction of Magic Theory.

I realized awhile ago that (at least in some sagas) many Hermetic and Mystery Virtues are basically incomplete integration. Further research into their mechanics would make them part of generic Magic theory and they would stop being distinct virtues on their own. Fully integrating Life Boost is given as a canonical example of this on page 30 of HoH:TL.

So several of the more powerful Hermetic virtues might just be waiting for some researcher to come along and make them part the hermetic whole. Life-Linked Spontaneous, Deidne , Elemental Magic, Flexible Formulaic, maybe even Secondary Insight could all become part of every magi's bag of tricks.

Since incorporated virtues disappear into Hermetic Magus virtue package, “free and unnamed” as described in Hedge Magic on page 117. Integration might even be of benefit for some of those who already had said Virtues. Once Hermetic Virtues become part of the standard package, like say they virtues that allow Magi to participate in Certamen, it they don't seem to count against a Hermetic for the purposes of being taught virtues with the new rules from apprentices. Also disadvantages integral to a virtue would have to disappear in order for a virtue to be integrated into a “perfect system of magic”

So for instance some bright Mercurian researcher might fully integrate her major virtue into Hermetic theory just so she and her brethren can better cast spontaneous magic. Once successful any Mercurian Mage learning magic theory from her would suddenly get the hang of spontaneous magic. But Non-Mercurian magi so instructed would instead pick up all the benefits of Mercurian Magic. Eventually everyone in the order is paying half price for rituals and auto-learning Wizards Communion.

So here is where I'm going with this. Imagine a setting where such integration of many of the core virtues is possible. On top of that a setting where hermetic research original and integration of hedge traditions becomes a fad. Let's say over the course of 50-100 years most of the breakthroughs mentioned in the various books are accomplished and fully integrated. Also over that period of time all of the Hermetic Virtues mentioned above become part of the standard Hermetic Package. Also many mystery virtues end up integrated.

I'll put together a rough list of breakthroughs and virtues, and I will also start a time line.

This is a quick run through of the published virtue's and breakthroughs from each book that are likely to be incorporated in the setting. It is by no means complete. I also may write in a few other unpublished breakthroughs and some other general improvements. There are some double ups where the same virtue is listed twice under the same or different names.

Core Book
Life-Linked Spontaneous
Deidne Magic
Elemental Magic
Flexible Formulaic
Secondary Insight
Quiet Magic
Subtle Magic
Life Boost
The Enigma
Houses of Hermes: True Lineages
Arma Magica
Parmulae-Minor enchanted devices that can confer MR. For an added bonus assume additional research eventually enables a device the can shield the holder from the social effects of the Gift, like Parma protects magi.
Figurine Magic-Subsumed in part by the full integration of Craft Magi. (see below)
Realm Aligned Spells.
Mutatem Magic-All Magi can use boosting, Harnessing, and Tethering as Mutantes can. With the Boosted and Tamed magic virtues fully integrated into Hermetic Theory.
The Mysteries Revised
Virtues fully integrated.
Spell Binding
Planetary Magic
Potent Magic-Any Mage may create or alter any potent spell. The other bonus of the virtue are not integrated.
Hermetic Divination
Vulgar&Hermetic & Philosophic(Major) Alchemy
Celestial Magic
Spirit Familiar
Great & Consummate Talisman
Dream Magic (Not Greater)
Houses of Hermes Mystery Cults
Sensory Magic
Harmless Magic-Any Magi can create Perdo effects that function like Harmless Magic if they choose.
Faerie Raised Magic-The ability to learn formulaic spells like abilities is standardized into standard hermetic theory.
Spell Improvisation
Ancient Magic.
The Language of Adam-It's discovered and integrated into Magic Theory. (Though the Order guards the knowledge as closely as it guards the knowledge of Parma.)
Canaanite Magic
Defixio Magic
Fertility Magic
Mechanica of Heron
Ptolemaic Coordinates
Rune Magic
Houses of Hermes Societas
Mystical Choreography
Warding and Circle Magic-Hermetic Warding spells calculate penetration as Columbae Wards. Also any magi can now treat any well defined area as a circle/ring for the purposes of target/duration as the Columbae do. (The habit amongst younger Magi is to refer to Circle/Ring as Area/Border)
Craft Magic-Magi incorporate the ability to make charged items that can grant supernatural abilities or virtues as craft magicians do.
Art & Academe
Aristotelian/Platonic Magic Theory-Both breakthroughs are made though they have the samr non-cumulative effect.
Hedge Magic
Elemental Magic-Full integration all magi get the benefits
Subtle Opening
Energy Magic
Sense of the Mystic
Ritual Items
Cailleach (Deidne) Magic-Fully Integrated all Magi Gain the benefits
Flexible Formulaic- All magi gain the abilty to tweak spells up to five levels. Spell mastery perks and a new Minor hermetic virtue increases a characters range.
Improved Voice Range
Single Use Charged Items
Hermetic Night Walkers
Magi of Hermes
Aurulentus's Longevity Breakthrough. Now Magi know something about birthing some babies.
Rival Magic
Finesse bonuses in Magic Items
Watching Spells
Flexible Ritual Magic
Aura Alignment
Fire Duration
Binding Ease on Familiars
Greater Longevity
The Spark
Cradle & Crescent
Hermetic True Names
Scientates Suleimanis
Hermetic Realm Initiation

Makes you wonder what the game would be like with everything running.

This all should be possible in the current setting. With a sufficiently high level of Mystery Cult Lore a Mage can self initiate in any number of Virtues.

That's a lot of new options magi have.... running a magus would be enormously difficult, I think.

Why not also integrate "House" virtues and flaws, like Leadworker, or the special Faerie durations, or Arcadian Travel, or so on?

My previous party actually embarked on a project (although it got abandoned once they realised that it was difficult) to integrate Elemental Magic.

It was decided by the characters that there were two good ways to model it. They bickered over this constantly, for some reason having their in-character conversations whenever the players met.

a) Unify Terram, Auram, Aquam and Ignem into a single Art.
b) Create a teachable Ability: Elementalism, which allows you to cast elemental spells of a magnitude no higher than the ability, ignoring requisites.

Nothing came of it, but it was fascinating watching the acrimony which buds from slight differences within academia.

I know I missed a few virtues particularly the "House virtues". Some of thats just not finding them all some are choices for various reasons. I keep going back and forth on how much the Mystery houses will contribute willingly or unwillingly. For instance I feel if Faerie Magic could be integrated so too could Holy and Cythonic Magics. But that's almost a saga in and of itself. And glamour magic just scares me even in a setting where your turning magic to 11.

Yes it would be quite hard to run a Magus once all this stuff gets incorporated. This is partly just a thought experiment into how powerful Hermetic Magic can get. In order to actually play in this setting a lot of rules would have to be consolidated and summarized. Some virtues or combination of virtues might end up looking a little different once fully incorpotated.

For instance the result of combining the study benefits of Elemental magic and Secondary Insight might be a rule like this. "When ever a Hermetic magus spends a season studying at least one art all other arts get 1 point of experience added to them."

I remember a game I had that was like this. The PC's where three magi including my guy who wanted to unite all the possible magic forms into a unified theory of magic. We did manage to fuse the majority of hermetic virtues into one theory though it took them around four hundred years and becoming immortal magi to pull it off. Also yes it is hard to keep all the virtues in mind while fusing it after around the tenth or so it gets confusing. :frowning:

I was thinking about this on the commute this morning.

I would like to offer a theory as to what Hermetic magic will be like with the following four virtues integrated: Diedne Magic, Life-Linked Spontaneous Magic, Flexible Formulaic Magic, Flawless Magic.

With Flexible Flawless magic, you can master a single spell and use it in far more situations. Magi will have smaller grimoires, and will know general-purpose spells which can be tailored to eventualities. Sooner or later, the "best spells" for this approach will become known within the Hermetic community. New apprentices will grow up not bothering to learn a dozen spells, when instead they can just learn the industry standard and work with that.

Meanwhile, with Diedne and Life-Linked Spontaneous magic added, spontaneous magic becomes far more doable. There's no longer as much pressure to learn low- or mid-level spells, because you can just spont them instead. Wizards only bother to learn spells towards the high end of their casting totals.

These two approaches to magic combine quite nicely. If all four of these Major Virtues were entirely integrated, then we'd end up with a world in which there would be a very, very small pool of "go-to" spells which everybody knew well enough that learning any other spell would be foolish, and anything outside of those spells would be the purview of spontaneous magic.

It'd be Unknown Armies.

(As an aside, I notice that you've missed Focus magic and Mythic Blood off the list. Is this deliberate? Mythic Blood plus Life-Linked Spontaneous Magic does something with Fatigue levels, I'm not sure what.)

No, it doesn't. Mythic Blood explicitly states that if your CS is short by less than 10 for a formulaic spell you do not lose fatigue. Anyway, I'm against this whole thread. If I wanted all characters to be the same I'd play another game.

Personally I wouldn't have much interest in this sort of setting because vanilla AM5 magi are already more powerful and flexible than I'd like them to be.

But the title of this thread does get me thinking about what developments would be needed to shift AM5's Hermetic Magic towards a more Renaissance style Hermetic Magic. Bringing Alchemy and Astrology into the mainstream are pretty obvious features. There would also need to be developments to end or at least tone down the antipathy between Magic and Divine, since Renaissance magic was all mixed up with Christian and Jewish beliefs. Some of the virtues from Legends of Hermes might be the right approach mechanically, perhaps with flavor text connected to Kaballah (one of the main elements of Renaissance learned magic, along with Hermetic texts from antiquity). The Order could evolve into the Invisible College or something along those lines.

I'm viewing this thread as an intellectual exercise. Which I enjoy.

My mistake. Thanks for clearing that up.

Entreat the Powers works nicely. Especially since Entreating the Dominion could easily bring in someone to have a discussion with you about exactly why you are doing something questionable.


Yes it was on purpose, for a couple of reasons.

First I tried to avoid virtues that vary from character to character. There is no one Magical Focus virtue just an infinite number of virtues that fall under the magical focus umbrella. The same is true for Side Effect, Special Circumstances, or Mythic Blood. I also tried to avoid virtues that seemed to make Magi better at doing things that all Magi can already do. Like your various puissant and affinities to art. To me these have the same relation to the Arts and hermetic magic as an affinity to single weapon has to do with fencing.

The Virtues I did judge to be "Incorporable" instead allow the holders to do something different that no other magi can do and seam to rely on some sort of methodology lacking in general hermetic theory. Two borderline cases illustrate my philosophy.

Secondary Insight made the cut just barely. It improves study something all magi can do. But it does it in a unique way not matched by any General learning virtues. It is also described clearly as a method in it's splat.

Flawless Magic didn't make it on my list. To me the majority of it's benefit seemed similar to other learning virtues. I've usually viewed Flawless Magic an affinity for a broad range of closely related skills. With a little bit of independent study thrown in.