One of my players has expressed an interest in gaining one of the Bjornaer Inner Mysteries (The Mystery of the Chimera, HoH: MC, p. 31), and I want to be sure I'm understanding the process before I give a final yay or nay.
First: from looking through the Bjornaer mysteries, it seems to me that one does not need any of the Clan or House Mysteries (aside from The Ritual of Twelve Years) to pursue an Inner Mystery. In fact, it seems that the mysteries are all pretty much independent of each other – there's no sequence to follow, and that one can pursue any Clan, House, or Inner Mystery one wants. Is my understanding correct?
Second: "The mechanics of Initiation" section (ibid, p. 4-5) only reference a House Bjornaer Lore with reference to the mystagogue, and imply that the initiate doesn't need any Presence or House Bjornaer Lore. The section on "Initiating the Inner Heartbeast" (p. 28), however, seems to indicate that a magus must have at least a House Bjornaer Lore of 5 before they can even realize that an Inner Heartbeast is possible, let alone start pursuing the Mystery. Is this a case of the preface being a general rule, and the Inner Heartbeast being an "except in this case," or is the part in the preface correct?
Third: Am I correct in assuming that Clan Mysteries are only available to members of that Clan?
(Tangent – does anybody use Septs? It seems to me, from reading the description, that any given sept would either be very small and wide-spread, if all members are of the same Temperament, or may wind up being from one of Birna's apprentices if it's "all Bjornaer in a geogaphic region. And if you do, how does it work?)
Yes (or at least it matches the understanding of our troupe).
The preface is correct; to be initiated, one never needs any Mystery Lore perse*. However, in this case to know about the Mystery, one needs the higher level of Mystery Lore. So, if some Great Beast decided that it was absolutely vital that a young Bjornaer magus learn the Inner Mystery to prevent a magical cataclysm, it would be able to initiate him even if he did not know any Mystery Lore -- but in general this does not happen.
It is common for many Mystery Cults to have ranks, with a minimum level of Mystery Cult Lore a prerequisite for high ranks, and a high rank a prerequisite for Initiation in some Mysteries. Mystery Cult Lore in these cases is not a mystical prerequisite, but a social one.
While it's never mentioned explicitly, we assume that to be the case. Again, not for mystical reasons, but for social ones. Technically, it would be possible for a member of another clan to initiate you in one of that clan's mysteries, but he'd need an overwhelming reason to do so.
First: the three inner heartbeast mysteries are each a way of developing the heartbeast. All that is needed is to have a heartbeast (been through the ritual of twelve years) and then develop enough experience to realise you can do more with it (in game terms, have house bjornaer lore 5), find a Great Beast and persuade it to change you, then spend a season as it tears you apart (giving you a major flaw) and then get put back in the shape of your Inner heartbeast, which is now one of the three types corresponding to the three different mysteries- Chimera, epitome or anima.
Second: Using the rules from the Mysteries, you can have presence -5 and know nothing about a mystery cult and still be initiated, only the mystagogue's skill counts. Generally they insist you learn some to prove loyalty to the cult. You could go around initiating like crazy and indeed the house Bjornaer book has a story seed along such lines where someone gives every peasant in a village a heartbeast.
Third: HoH Mystery Cults page 12, sidebar, says "Each clan's description lists the Initiation Scripts for the Clan Mysteries available to the members of that clan." So my reading is people in that clan can get the script to initiate themselves or have a fellow clanmember initiate them. Theoretically, they could initiate someone from another clan, or share scripts...but you'd need a good reason.
Bjornaer Lore was necessary to actually find a Great Beast of Legend to initiate the Inner Heartbeast. Due to the highly personal nature of this Mystery, (and all Bjornaer mysteries, really) this must be done alone; nobody can help you with it.
As I recall, the Great Beast must be an ancestor. This means knowing one's genealogy and the history of it in order to even begin seeking a Great Beast in the right area.
Furthermore, different ancestors would have different characters and magics associated. Finding one which might deliver a non-crippling kind of flaw is necessary.
So, he created a mechanic for it:
Minimum Bjornaer Lore 5, Heartbeast 4 to even be able to consider the quest (require sufficient understanding of the Bjornaer mysteries and Heartbeast to understand and even desire this greater refinement) - unless someone specifically tells you about it for some other reason.
Roll Int + Bjornaer Lore + Simple (or Stress) die to identify an appropriate Ancestor.
Ease Factor 9 - you find a suitable Ancestor Beast. Flaw chosen at random.
Ease Factor 12 - you find a suitable Ancestor Beast, and may veto a certain number of unsuitable flaws
Ease Factor 15 - you find a suitable Ancestor Beast who will give a flaw of your choosing.
Roll Per + Bjornaer Lore + Stress die once a season in hunt for Great Beast, accumulating a total of 24 to locate.