Breakthrough: Hermetic Teacher

Are you talking about me? Did you call me this for some reason? I wasn't pushing anything. I am so staying out of this flame war. My sole goal was to understand the rules for Hermetic Breakthroughs. Which I now do. The idea of teaching Immune to the Gift as a Mystery Cult Initiation would be neat if I wanted a secret magical school, a mystery. But Oxford Magica, if I ever get a chance to run it, will not be a secret or hidden, and I'll just use the Hermetic Breakthroughs I've been talking about all along because, well, it's easy as a GM to say, "it's a hundred years later and these breakthroughs have been made."


Wasn't calling you out, just pointing out that you started the thread and motivations were not something you asked for help with. As to Mystery Cults, you don't even need to do that. Gentle Gift can be taught, by canon, right now, using the rules for learning Supernatural Virtues (With no minus for Arts because it's a Hermetic Virtue!) and given that your school will be public, a far better bet then "immune to the Gift". As to the group teaching of the Arts virtue, I don't think you need that either. Books work just fine for beginners, which I assume the students will be. You can use some of the book rules to vary things a little, like Correspondence to represent homework, and Annotations from previous students. Looks to be a fun setting, and I hope you pull it off!

Also note that Mystery Cults aren't necessarily secret - the four mystery cults of the Order of Hermes, for example, are very public about the fact that they're mystery cults. Their external mysteries, for example (ie, the first ones granted), are very well known. What's secret about them is how their upper-level magic works. They're like the modern-day Masons, in that respect: pretty much anyone can join, but access to the higher-ranking stuff is restricted.

Also, regarding teaching Gentle Gift - I think there is a penalty for teaching it, if it's not the first Hermetic virtue they have - something like a -9 penalty, or something (someone mentioned it earlier in the thread). But yeah - generally it's possible with a moderately-dedicated teaching staff to do this.

But to re-iterate - in terms of game mechanics, it's actually easier to incorporate Gentle Gift (as a naturally-occurring Hermetic Virtue) into Hermetic theory than it is to try and create a completely new technique: samples to study are easier to find (just go as the Jerbitons), and you don't gain warping points for doing so. But if that would affect your saga in a way you wouldn't care for, then sure - go ahead and do your own Breakthrough idea.

That's a claim that doesn't get any better by repeating it. There are no free for all rules of learning all Supernatural Virtues. For the last try on this thread, see:


Entering House Criamon, espousing the Path of Walking Backwards and attempting (HoH:MC p.70) The Avenue of Surrender and the Station of Service to Harmony, as mentioned by jebrick on this thread, is so far your best choice to convince your troupe to let you have a go.


Alas, One Shot, you missed a memo. My memory was correct, but the remembered location was wrong. P29 of True Lineages, "Breakthroughs in Play", paragraph three. "Major Breakthroughs still work within the Hermetic system, and are often Hermetic Virtues, so that learning one is not as difficult as learning a Supernatural Virtue. You do not need to subtract your total Hermetic Arts score from the Source Quality of the teaching score. A second exception is that, although Major Breakthroughs will most likely teach a Hermetic Virtue that does not have an associated Ability in game terms, they may still be taught in this manner.". The Gentle Gift is a Hermetic Virtue, it can be taught, and easily because you don't have to subtract your Hermetic Arts total. Canon. Cheers!

(Underscore in misquoted rules text mine.) The text you misquote above reads rather

(Underscore of relevant difference again mine.) So the underlined section of the real text refers to ArM5 p.166, which explains how a character with the Gift can indeed be taught supernatural abilities.

No help for your claim of "by canon" in this. Even in the second attempt.


EDIT: You used the same misquote already in your post , but without sufficiently explaining for what kind of argument. So I did not bother to check then.

Saxononus, the rules for "what do you do after you've got a breakthrough" are more fully listed in Hedge Magic, pg. 16.

Pg. 16 also discusses the difference between Breakthrough rules in HoH:TL, Hedge Magic, and Ancient Magics - the main difference being where the breakthrough points come from. For Original Research, the magi is making stuff up, and so it's more dangerous. For Hedge Magic and Ancient Magic, someone has already done the heavy lifting, so it's easier to get the Breakthrough points, but you've got to leave the lab to go find sources to study.

Or somebody did that for you, and provided you with a lab text for an Insight.8)
This kind of sharing the effort for a Breakthrough tme works very well in a campaign. It keeps a key character for each Breakthrough, who commits and tracks the research, and will finally publish its results, and represent them to the Order. But it lets others - like seekers, experts for exotic magic, mystagogues and initiates - contribute, and make the research part of a story.


Ah, one shot, you missed part of the quote, " A second exception is that, although Major Breakthroughs will most likely teach a Hermetic Virtue that does not have an associated Ability in game terms, they may still be taught in this manner.", so no, it does not "only cover supernatural abilities". Hermetic Virtues can be taught. Canon.

A second canon source is Houses of Hermes, Mystery Cults, P.128 Automata (Major House Mystery). Knowing this Mystery grants the Major Hermetic Virtue Craft Automata,
an Ability with an initial score of 1. Verditius magi learn this through Initiation and Ordeal, but other Hermetic magi can learn this as a Supernatural Ability. Because this Mystery was developed with Hermetic magi in mind, magi wishing to learn it do not have to subtract the total of their Arts scores from the source’s Study Total (ArM5, page 166), although they do have to subtract the total of any other Supernatural Virtues they may have.". While an ability, it shows the difference between Hermetic and Supernatural, Hermetic was developed with Hermetic magic in mind, and so they do not have to subtract their Arts scores from the Study Total. Cheers!

The specific example you give is indeed an example of learning a hermetic virtue (that has an associated ability) as an ability. The rules seem to say that if you're learning a Hermetic virtue that has an ability associated with it, you only have to subtract the levels of Supernatural Abilities your character has from your source quality.

However, in reading through the HoH:TL rules, I have no idea what they're talking about regarding non-ability-based Hermetic Virtues. That is, It's not clear to me how they're describing how one might learn a hermetic virtue that doesn't have an ability associated with it.

Therefore, we can look to later publications for clarification - specifically, both Hedge Magic (pg. 16) and Ancient Magic (pg. 9), which also have rules for Breakthroughs and Integration. In fact, both books have callouts that describe how these rules interact with the Breakthrough rules of HoH:TL. They describe them as being different primarily in how the breakthrough points are discovered. (Which heavily implies that AFTER the breakthrough is discovered, all three rulesets are identical.) And both HM and AM are both very clear regarding how non-ability-based Hermetic Virtues are learned: either being the magus who made the breakthrough (and you get it for 'free'), or else via mystery cult initiation.

Alternate rules for learning Virtues would be the Apprentice rules, pg. 40 - which we've discussed in this thread.

It seems real clear to me, that to learn a Hermetic Virtue without an associated ability, you do the same thing you would to learn a Hermetic Virtue with an associated ability. Generate a teaching source total, and if it exceeds zero after subtracting your Supernatural Virtues, both with and without abilities, not including the Arts (because it was designed for Hermetics), you've learned it. Very simple, yes, but it's supposed to be. It would be a heck of a thing to spend 60 years on a Major Breakthrough and then have to create, over decades, the Mystery Cult to teach it.......

My understanding of the "teach a Hermetic virtue" rules in HoH:TL was that it was a way of teaching a Virtue gained as part of a Breakthrough, not just "any old" Hermetic Virtue. Interpreting it otherwise relegates the rules for teaching Hermetic Virtues in Apprentices to uselessness.

Now, if a magus wants to investigate how to more seamlessly integrate the Gentle Gift into Hermetic theory, and generates a Breakthrough to do so, the Gentle Gift he gained from his Breakthrough would then be teachable under this method. Even if the magus had the Gentle Gift previously, he could still generate such a Breakthrough to make his Gentle Gift "teachable."

I would be very resistant to having something like this work in any saga I'm participating in, but that's a "rule zero" reaction and not a RAW interpretation. I personally feel that Gentle Gift is something inherent, and it would take something along the lines of a Mystery initiation or Twilight effect to change it. This isn't just about teaching a Breakthrough - I'm similarly against teaching Gentle Gift to an apprentice, because even though it has a tangible cost, it feels "wrong" to me. In my opinion, if a magus wants an apprentice with the Gentle Gift, he should go find one - "making" one shouldn't be an option IMO.

It doesn't say that, and seems to be the difference between Hermetic and Supernatural Virtues, so I think, in canon, there's no "special" breakthrough Hermetic Virtues. As to "zero rule", oh sure. I don't agree with canon allowing Mystery scripts to be re-written to taste. Mind, given what I know of players, I think the only real effect of people realizing they can learn "The Gentle Gift" is a vast increase in 'Blatant Gift" flaws.......

Well, the example on TL, pg. 30 does seem fairly clear:

However, as both HM, AM, and Apprentices don't mention this version of teaching (and they are published later), I would argue that they are clarifications of these rules. In particular, the Apprentice rules seem to match up extremely closely to this version, as it's pretty much "how to generate a teaching total to teach a Virtue".

So - yes. You are correct in that there is an early 5th Edition rule stating that Major breakthrough virtues can be very easily taught. However, later rulings in later books seem to indicate that they can be taught only as mystery Initiations, through double-breakthrough research, or else by the Apprenticeship rules.

Well, if you want to have a ruleset that uses all of TL, TM, AM, and Apprentices without contradiction, then you'd probably need to have the special rule for breakthrough virtues. Otherwise, TL and Apprentices directly contradict each other in terms of how they teach Virtues.

Again, I find it easier to think of TL as an early beta version, and Apprentices to be the latest version. If you WANT to use both the beta and the RTM, you've going to have to do some re-jigging to get them to fit.

I too prefer the Appentices' approach to learning Hermetic Virtues.

Now, some Supernatural Virtues were converted to Hermetic Virtues by Breakthroughs. Those can be taught using HoH:TL. It becomes the Troupe's decision as to which they will accept.

The Gentle Gift can be taken by outsiders from HMRE and Rival. Criamon can gain it through The Path of Walking Backward. Those are good reasons to believe it was integrated in the past, but no RAW assurance.

I suppose you could, as vimcdonald implied, think of the "it's easy to teach" benefit as a side effect of doing Breakthrough research - a sort of game balance/reward for doing some actually pretty dangerous stuff, in terms of warping.

That's kind of an odd reward, but if I turn sideways and squint at it, I can KIND of justify it in-game. in the "I did a lot of research on this subject, and so I really understand how it fits into someone's magical abilities, so therefore I can teach it easier." As opposed to someone who absorbed it via osmosis when being taught Magic Theory, or whatever.

That being said.... nah, I still think of it as an early 5th edition rule vs. a later re-write/clarification.

In order to be an exception, something needs to be outside the normal rules.

So that quote, right there, shows that Hermetic Virtues without associated abilities can't be taught unless they result from major breakthroughs.

Well, all Hermetic Virtues came from Major Breakthroughs in canon, as far as I can tell. A Hermetic Virtue is a Supernatural Virtue that has been adapted to Hermetic Magic by the only means in canon, a Major Breakthrough. That's my reading, of course this is not clearly spelled out in canon, it's mostly implied (as on P.29), so your mileage may vary. Cheers!

The gentle gift most definitely didn't.

It can occur naturally in gifted individuals who haven't ever even met a hermetic magus. So it hasn't come from a major breakthrough.

Special circumstances (when on a boat)? Not from a breakthrough. Magical focus (teeth)? Not from a breakthrough.

So, no, not all Hermetic Virtues came from Major Breakthroughs.

To my undestanding the Gentle Gift can only achived via a special opening procedure that is diverent from the normal Hermetic one or by the apprentice having it already.