Can you teach the Hermetic Arts piecemeal to a Gifted person, rather than Opening

What the title says.

For example, a Gifted Companion with a number of useful Supernatural Virtues, most/all of which have no score, that make it difficult if not impossible to Open without losing, but for whom a Hermetic teacher can be found and paid, that can teach him, say 2 Hermetic Techniques and 2 Forms, because the teacher is good enough to overcome non-favored Supernatural skill penalties a number of times.

Guy has read a MT primer and has MT 1 at least, so he knows the basics, prior to the teaching.

Obviously, this is not ideal or optimized, but that is not the point.

Each different Technique/Form being taught would take a Season of 1-1 Teaching as normal, yes?

Such a character would gain Form bonuses, MR from Forms known, and even be able to potentially participate in certamen, yes ?

Canonically the answer is no.

To be able to learn any hermetic art your gift must be opened to hermetic magic.

However if you analyze the extended ArM universe you will not, as I am sure you have, that many hedge traditions with TeFo type arts, e.g. the learned magicians and the Augustan brotherhood, have initiations into individual arts.

This begs the question, why are there no such initiations for hermetic magic?

The question has no answer in canon, so you will have to come up with one for yourself.

I think that the real reason is an offgame/metagame reason, namely that very few people want to play just a part of a hermetic mage. Whereas ungifted learned magician or augustans can be companions and they can use the partial initiations into their respective arts. Players playing gifted learned magicians will want to have all their learned arts opened at the same time in a similar manner to how hermetic magic is opened.

You could argue that the Order of hermes does not have such partial initiations because it is not open to the ungifted, but I dont think that the order is only open to the gifted. If memory serves house Ex Misc has a small number of ungifted members who joined because they have supernatural abilities and were presented with an offer of "join or die" and chose "well the one that isnt death".

If hermetic magic is not fundamentally different from say learned magic or augustan magic then initiations into individual arts could exist. So why dont they? Is hermetic magic fundamentally different from all other magic? I would say no. Maybe those initiations into individual arts exist somewhere but were never published in an existing splatbook. Maybe the Order of Hermes forbids development of such initiations, but it was never specified in a splatbook?

As you can probably see the true answer is that there is no definitive answer. you have to make your own.

However assuming you decide to initiate the arts individually like for certain hedge traditions you would be doing a gifted person a disservice. Such piecemeal initiation is decidedly inferior to the whole initiation that is only open to the gifted. But assuming you did so I would say that form bonuses do apply, I would also allow certamen but only in the opened forms.

You would probably be better off paying a hermetic mage with a high InVi total or even a pralixian to open the gift of said gifted companion.

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You could build a character close to this with RoP:M p.38 box Crafter of Form as one or more p.44 Major Supernatural Focus Power Virtues.

But piecemeal divulgation of the secrets of the Order of Hermes for payment is quite certainly a High Crime - and likely even impossible or verrry risky. So I'd suggest to find another background story for such a character.

Thanks all for your answers

p.107 in HoH:S posits such a rare character as a full member of the Order (albeit with the “Hedge Wizard” Flaw), so no crime need be involved.

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HoH:S p.107 has rare Gifted Companions with Reputation 'Hedge Wizard' as members of the Order.

Do you assume, that your character joined the Order first as a Hedge Wizard, and then shopped around there for instruction in some Arts? In that case no crime against the Oath might be involved.

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If there is a crime then the gifted companion is the victim.

There is nothing against a situation where someone with supernatural powers is inducted into the order, e.g. via a "join or die" before being initiated into hermetic magic.

But you could perhaps argue that opening that person to a single art constitutes taking them as an apprentice and giving them a flawed opening. See also how it is a low crime to open give an apprentice deficiencies by opening them to the arts without having a score of at least 5 in every art. In a sense by opening them to only one art you are preventing them from learning all the others. This at least provides a social reason for why magi would be reluctant to open someone to just a few arts. In addition in almost all situations it is better to be opened to all arts and lose a few virtues in the process. In most cases hermetic magic can copy those virtues given enough time to study.

There is no specific reason as I see it why this couldn't be done - true, canonically the order doesn't do it but that doesn't make it impossible. It is likely to be viewed as a crime in several ways by the order and as such I don't think initiation scripts are likely to exist already. So you would likely have to devise new initiations to do it.

There is also one thing in canon which implies this is possible within the rules of the setting - the hermetic breakthrough of Hermetic Realm Integration in C&C (emphasis mine):

"This research eventually leads to a breakthrough with which the magus may initiate others into new Supernatural or Hermetic Virtues without the secrecy and lore of a Mystery Cult. Soon powerful magi may even learn to teach Hermetic magic to the unGifted, by initiating them into each Art."

This breakthrough is about granting virtues the way Solomonic wizards do (which doesn't inflict virtues like mystery initiations) so the hermetic breakthrough makes it practical to take someone through 15 different virtue initiations, but it should be possible to make regular mystery initiations for them even if doing all 15 would be impractical.

edit: forgot to clarify at the beginning, I think you would have to initiate each as a virtue just like non-gifted hedge wizards initiate hedge arts.


Thanks, Argentius, Euphemism.

However, Initiations are outside of my query. Just interested in seeing if the Hermetic Arts could be taught to Gifted individuals, as they can learn new Supernatural abilities (with a score) from a teacher through Practice (which if I remember correctly does not work for Hermetic Arts) or Teaching, as long as you can meet an ever increasing threshold (see Core p.166 Learning Supernatural Abilities).

Also if said individual, once he has a score in at least 1 Technique and Form (as well as MT and access to a lab), can use these normally, create items within that TeFo, wage certamen with their available TeFo, gets MR of 0+ and Form bonuses/resistance from their Forms, etc. The usual.

Even the mightiest Pralician, with help, may be hard pressed to reach a 150+ Lab Total to Open an individual with 2 Major Supernatural Virtues and 1 Minor and preserve them.

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Argentius' example works, but you need to
(1) assume a specific Hermetic Breakthrough has happened in your saga,
and (2) accept initiations.

Unless your character first has his Arts opened, your character - by the books, without huge Breakthroughs, Divine interventions, or such - cannot learn the Arts

  • from a master as an apprentice would (see ArM5 p.107 "You may teach Magic Theory before opening the Arts, but you may not teach Arts or spells"),
  • or from a teacher as Supernatural Abilities (because Hermetic Arts aren't Supernatural Abilities).

The character could somehow - e. g. by character creation, initiation, RoP:M p.38 box Grant Major Virtue by a selfless (?) Magic being, or such - have acquired RoP:M p.44 Major Supernatural Focus Powers bestowing RoP:M p.38 box Crafter of Form on him.

Thanks, OneShot, this is more in line with what I was seeking, as this text specifically forbids teaching Arts and spells before Opening.

(I knew Arts ≠ Supernatural Abilities, but wanted to see if others tended to treat them similarly for Teaching purposes.)

The reason is the same as the reason that a rocket propelled by iron filing being driven by an electromagnetic accelerator taking them to 80% the speed of light can't be launched- nobody has invented it.
The culture of the order doesn't encourage such an invention, and it is presumably a non-trivial breakthrough....

The magi don't NEED to invent unGifted initiations. They can associate thanks to Parma Magica. Other traditions, if you are not Gentle Gifted, have no society and two Gifted people getting together will end in ruin for one or both. Making unGifted initiations allows you to create a society of magic users - the Gifted will still suffer socially, but not nearly as badly as among other Gifted folk (and their extra power and knowledge means that unGifted people will still suck up to them - possibly long enough for them to become used to their Gift).

However, Initiations are outside of my query.

In this case I would agree with the other poster who have said no, you can't learn arts as an ungifted person without having a supernatural virtue that gives you the art. That's how it works for every hedge magic tradition - gifted people get their arts opened, ungifted get individual arts through initiation. You can change the method of acquiring the virtue, but ultimately you do need the virtue for it to work.

As you say Arts do not equal Supernatural Abilities. That's why Hedge Magic RE makes the distinction between supernatural abilities, difficult arts (which must be acquired/taught as arts but advance at the rate of an ability), arts, and accelerated supernatural abilities (which advance at the rate of an art but are acquired/taught as supernatural abilities).

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The fact is that you can get arts "opened" though supernatural virtues- touched by magic, for example, or Hermetic Inclination in (form) both give limited access to the arts. Craft Magic is described as a supernatural virtue, which by rules of ex miscellania it must be (Rustica tradition) but it also specifies that only people within the Rustica tradition have the virtue, which by definition would make it a major hermetic virtue instead... so that is a bit of an odd duck in the mix.


If memory serves me correctly, I think it might be in the Guernicus chapter of HoH:TL, apprentices are guaranteed 15 Seasons of training, because inducting a lesser trained magician into the order as a full member is against the dignity of all Magi, or some such. And is judged to be a significant crime.
An apprentice who has failed their Gauntlett is not granted the "Join or Die" option, and is not allowed to go free with Hermetic secrets.

So I have difficulty seeing anybody being trained in 2 Techniques and 2 Forms, less than an apprentice who failed their Gauntlet, being allowed to happen.

This is assuming Hermetic Magic can be broken up. Bonisagus seems to have created Hermetic Magic as a single integrated Tradition, rather than as separate supernatural abilities synergistically combined.

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Learned Magician magic and Gruagachan/Druidic magic are both represented exactly the same as Hermetic magic (consisting of a set of arts you get all at once when the gift is opened) but they have initiation scripts to grant individual arts as supernatural virtues. It seems more consistent that such initiations are possible in theory for Hermetic magic too, but have never been invented or are not used because hermetic culture doesn't see them as good or useful to have.

In Apprentices it actually discusses what happens if an apprentice is abandoned or cast out by their master. While it is seen as generally "cleaner" to kill the apprentice it's not universally applied, and there isn't really any legal penalty either way so long as they don't know the parma (which they shouldn't!). Indeed it implies that while not common people who are trained in hermetic magic but are not magi are not vanishingly rare or persecuted more than any other hedge wizard:

"Other abandoned apprentices disappear into the woodwork. Such an apprentice considers herself trained enough, capable of continuing her arcane studies privately. She has all the capabilities of a maga, but is not a member of the Order of Hermes and cannot use Hermetic society as a resource for books, additional instructors, or other traded commodities. She cannot join a covenant or participate in any Hermetic functions. Having not sworn the Oath of Hermes, she is not bound by it, but neither is she protected by it. An abandoned apprentice is not necessarily doomed to a life of isolation. Sometimes groups form, outliers of the Order, who accept such members. The mock covenant Fenistal in the Rhine Tribunal is one such group." - Apprentices, pg. 59

The parma is secret knowledge that must not be shared outside the order, but magic theory and the arts are not secret in the same way. In fact, I would argue that it should be possible for a gifted person who acquires some hermetic knowledge (by reading a book on magic theory or some of the arts) to devise a self-initiation into some of the arts exactly the same way you can self-initiate into other supernatural virtues by inventing your own mystery cult. Very inefficient - but possible.

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Both Gruagachan and Learned Magicians can be without the Gift: so the Supernatural Virtues providing their arts are necessary.

Vitkir - who do require the Gift - do not have Supernatural Virtues providing runes. They must have been opened to the 24 runes by a master, very similarly to Hermetic magi and to the Apprentices you talk above, who have "all the capabilities of a maga".

In practice there are no Supernatural Virtues for runes or arts, and there are not needed for abandoned Apprentices either. I don't see why you would wish to introduce them in your saga.


Fair points but I would point back to C&C where it is certainly implied such virtues can exist for hermetic arts and would not require the gift just like for LMs and Gruagachan: " Soon powerful magi may even learn to teach Hermetic magic to the unGifted, by initiating them into each Art." Note that the breakthrough in C&C doesn't create these virtues, it just makes it easier to initiate all supernatural virtues and hence makes initiation into 15 arts more practical.

I would also point out that the virtue "Hermetic Inclination in (Form)" exists and literally allows a character to learn a single form without the gift - hermetic magic theory even helps them study it! Though they can't cast spells, having only a form and no technique, and have to apply it similarly to craft magic into items. Still, this implies that supernatural virtues can grant someone the ability to learn and use hermetic arts in the general sense as this virtue isn't simply using a form to represent a non-hermetic type of magic but is actually giving a non-gifted person a hermetic art that they can study using hermetic sources and which fits into hermetic magic theory.

I would argue that it is overall more consistent if equivalent virtues exist for arts in all magic traditions, including rune magic (which like hermetic magic doesn't have the initiations for the virtues - that doesn't mean those virtues can't exist). Otherwise you need an explanation of why some magic traditions have this hard requirement that only opening the gift can grant their arts while others are completely unrestricted in this regard. I personally can't think of one that's as simple and to the point as "the virtues can exist in theory, they just aren't used in practice in 1220".

In practice there are no Supernatural Virtues for runes or arts, and there are not needed for abandoned Apprentices either. I don't see why you would wish to introduce them in your saga.

The thing about abandoned apprentices was just a response to the idea that abandoned apprentices get hunted down and killed, I agree you don't need any new virtues to represent them. As for why to add it to your saga - if you wanted someone to have hermetic arts but not be gifted, as simple as that. I personally am just spitballing ideas about what's possible in Mythic Europe, I don't have any particular desire to do anything with the idea. That said, I could see an interesting hook if a group managed to figure out a way to initiate one or two hermetic arts and formed a new hedge tradition around it, like a group of pyromancers is encountered and it turns out their entire tradition is based on one primer on Ignem and a pilum of fire lab text just like Learned Magicians got their magic from one book on Egyptian Craft magic. How would the order react? Would these hedge wizards try and purchase or steal further knowledge from the order? What would house Flambeau think of them?


Virtues are rules constructs. If no player or SG can use a Virtue as such (in character building, initiation or other), discussing its 'existence' just doesn't make sense.

Now lets go into the details.

Look up TG&TC p.45 again: Hermetic Realm Integration is an Hermetic Breakthrough. "This research eventually leads to a breakthrough with which the magus may initiate others into new Supernatural or Hermetic Virtues without the secrecy and lore of a Mystery Cult. Soon powerful magi may even learn to teach Hermetic magic to the unGifted, by initiating them into each Art."
There is no statement, that Arts as Virtues to be initiated can be used before the Hermetic Breakthrough is achieved. To the contrary, it is the Hermetic Breakthrough, which enables magi to initiate the Arts as Virtues, and thereby teach the Hermetic Arts to the unGifted.

Lets look up A&A p.107 Hermetic Inclination in (Form), a Major Supernatural Virtue available only to the Maestro, a Mythic Companion: "... he can study one Hermetic Form and use that knowledge in his profession. <snip> However, since he doesn't have an understanding of Hermetic magic, ... <snip> He may also instill some magical effects into his artwork."
So the Maestro can study an Hermetic Art, and use his Art score in a very specific way available only to a Maestro, but cannot use it to work any kind of Hermetic Magic.

The Maestro can indeed study an Hermetic Form and Magic Theory, but uses it to work magic in a way an Hermetic magus can't. This is not an argument, that somebody already can initiate an Art as a Virtue.

There is no statement, that Arts as Virtues to be initiated can be used before the Hermetic Breakthrough is achieved. To the contrary, it is the Hermetic Breakthrough, which enables magi to initiate the Arts as Virtues, and thereby teach the Hermetic Arts to the unGifted.

This simply isn't the case. The hermetic breakthrough is from the integration of solomonic magic and grants the ability to "initiate others into new Supernatural or Hermetic Virtues without the secrecy and lore of a Mystery Cult.". The breakthrough is just a new method of acquiring virtues. The latter part is just an example of how this might be applied. The breakthrough doesn't create virtues, or create a new category of virtues that require this kind of method to be used. The virtues being granted are exactly the same as if you used a mystery initiation, but you don't suffer the costs of an initiation using this method - that benefit is why it's a hermetic breakthrough.

The importance of the second part is that it implies that supernatural virtues can exist that grant each art, and that as a whole these are equivalent to an opening of the gift. If the virtues can exist then they can be initiated via any method that can grant supernatural virtues. As the methods of initiation don't exist in 1220 it would take some work to invent them but there is nothing to say they can't be invented.

To turn the question around - is there a good explanation for why the arts of some magical traditions can be acquired via virtue as well as opening the gift, but for other traditions they can't be?

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