Common Mysteries

What do you folks think of putting together a "mini-initiation" script for a single virtue?

Here's why: We have a Verditious Astrologer PC in my group, who would love the Hermetic Astrology Virtue, however we've been playing for a while and I don't really just want him to re-do his character to acquire it.

I'm also not really interested in making up (or using) a whole Mystery Cult for this purpose. We have another in our saga that everyone will have to deal with, and I don't want to muddy the waters too much.

I was thinking of just using an NPC who has it to teach it to our PC, using the guidelines for a Minor script to entail the cost, and emphasizing the "teaching aspect" over the "mystery aspect". That is no cult rituals, just an intense couple of seasons of training.

The script would look something like this:
Teacher's (Mystagogue's) Order of Hermes Lore (as this is a "Common Magic") 4
Initiate must travel to a far Astrological significant place at an Astrological significant time (+3)
Sympathetic Bonus (+1)
Mystagogue sacrifices time to teach (to pay back a debt) (+3)
Initiate sacrifices a self-made magic item to dissect (+3)
Initiate must spend a second season studying Astrology (only exposure experienc) (+1)

This give a 15 script, enough for a Minor Virtue.

An excellent idea. I would make it a little more costly, but that's just me. Maybe making him take the night owl lab routine for a while or a minor flaw ordeal where his daytime magic is slightly less powerful -- that sort of thing.

I know. No big cult show, but a new virtue needs a good story to gain it in my view.

Just my two cents (pennies?),

Oooh, good ideas.

Consider them stolen :smiley:


while sounding plausible I would strongly recommending NEVER allowing OoH Lore (or similar common Lores) as a Mystery Lore - not only is it too general and broad (in-game reason) but it lacks the OOC property of "an additional cost to bring the Cult into existence". Cult Lore is definitely meant to be a cost imposed on the Mystagogue - something they had to work on for a long time, to get into a position where they can initiate others.

Note also that the Mystagogue's Lore and Presence are never part of the Script (although there's always a "and you will need a Pre+Lore total of +N to add to the Script" factor in the background).


that had better be a HUGE debt.
The function of this Script Quality is to add to the cost to the Initiate, by imposing a cost on the Mystagogue who will want extra recompense, over and above the already generous donation for Initiating Junior in the first place.


no - that's a bad idea, disguised as a superficially good one. Yes, it's symbolic that the Initiate study - but heck -he's going to do that anyway! That's why he wants the new skill... so it's just munchkin to do that.
The "Sacrifice of Time" item is meant to be, eg "spend time in subservience to the Mystagogue" (yes you get Exposure during it, but it's a sacrifice now).
Making it "study the desired Astrology but get no real benefit" is just "odd".

What this script needs is a fat juicy Quest, something to bring the Story into the Script, to give this player, and the other players, an adventure which has parallels to the desire for the Virtue, but is a story in itself.
This give a 15 script, enough for a Minor Virtue.

(Thank you, A!) :wink:

This is a far, FAR more elegant and intriguing solution than many others, inc rebuilding/rewriting the character, or just saying "yeah, sure, whatever", as some SG's might be tempted to rule.

However, be cautious of setting precedent! If one mage does it, will the others wish to as well? And what's to stop them? And if it can be done with Astrology, why not some of the others? Just be careful that it doesn't adopt all the "mystery" of a CCG. :wink:

(One answer, natch, would be to "personalize" it for each mage - some are attuned to the possibility, some just aren't, and the effort/obstacles/path are not the same for all, nor the outcome predictable.)

Also (and this is a general caution, which may or may not be applicable to your saga/troupe), be careful of unspoken resentment in the other players. Be sure there is at least the appearance of balance, that if this mage character gets an 11th virtue, he's handed (the equivalent of?) an 11th Flaw as well.

why must the Flaws balance? 5e does not require this other than for char-gen...

TMRE presents a system, expanded from the brief system defined in core 5e, in which stories are the long-term payment for many things - Story Flaws pay for Virtues (and Minor Story Flaws can be an advantage from the beginning), and Mystery Initiations are primarily paid for by Stories.

Mystery Stories, and the other Quests Sacrifices etc divert a character from the study that his peers stick to, so they fall behind their peers in other ways, too.

The Initiation Scripts should have enough cost (including outside, unwritten costs - like favours and debts incurred to the Mystagogue) to more than balance a Minor Virtue.

See TMRE for details.

I would disagree! If the virtue was gained by the process of a story, then likely that story involved a level of risk, of danger, the possibility of loss, injury, death, or worse. If the character took a chance, succeeded, and gained the virtue as a result-- especially if that result is in conjunction with a further initiation script-- then that character is in balance.


Nice to know you both agree with me, but you don't have to post to say "me too".

I said (specifically), the appearance of balance, and the equivalent of a flaw. Risk of death or many seasons of effort could easily fall into that category.

The point was not perfect mathematical balance, but, as the paragraph stated, a caution against being seen as giving stuff away to one player/character but not another.

Thanks for playing. :wink:

Technically, yes. But Cuchulainshound was (IMO) referring to the player level, and at this level the game isn't balanced. The player got a nice story about his character, and got a virtue to boot. Gamehog, DMNPC, Mary Sue bastard that he is.

The extent to which this is a problem depends on the group dynamic. Generally it shouldn't be. If it is, or might be, it would be better to make sure the costs to the character are obviously significant (loss of time, say two seasons possibly with more to come, and/or a flaw as an Ordeal).


Exactly- thank you.

(Deleted- doublepost)

Thanks for the tips guys, I think I'll try the script as written, maybe with a few tweaks as suggested.

Especially the idea about a new Lore....OoH Lore doesn't get a terrific work out in my saga, but I can see some problem with PCs teaching PCs...I wonder if I should just remove the lore completely from the equation, as sort of penalty to adding a virtue outside on all the rigmarole that goes into a Cult.

  1. the Lore should not ever figure in the Script Bonus - it's in the Initiation Total which is a different (but related) animal.

  2. if the Mystagogue has no Lore, how did they devise the script?
    2a) they found an ancient script, which specified XXX Lore -- so the Mystagogue better swot up on XXX Lore and teach a single level to the Initiate too
    2b) they invented the Script themselves using Experimentation... Have you looked at the TMRE Experimentation rules? (You can do it, but it may drive you nuts doing so if you get it wrong along the way)

thus the obvious option of "rule that no Lore is involved" does not work for Initiation (it was not designed to work with no Lore)

Initiation was also not written to allow OoH Lore - if we had intended that we'd have included an example... as it is it probably needs an Erratum:

You cannot use the common "Order Of Hermes Lore" or similar non-Mystery Lores for the purpose of Initiation

  • no OoH Lore, no Covenant lore, no Church Lore ... none of those.

Following the 'Ancient Magic' teaser on the Atlas site ( ... review.pdf ) might fit your purpose better than cobbling together an initiation without a group of mystae.
Your hopeful magus would have to get his hands onto a text which gives insight into a - not quite Hermetic - effect for a lab project, which, when completed, again provides sufficient breakthrough points towards a very Minor Breakthrough bestowing the Virtue Hermetic Astrology.

Kind regards,


A worthy suggestion, however further research finds that teaching a virtue simply defaults back to the Mystery script.

Right. But does your astrologically-minded Verditius, once he has learned Hermetic Astrology, really want to found a cult and teach it, too?

Kind regards,


If he wants to teach it to anyone else, he is given two choices: a) devise an initiation script for the virtue ad research an appropriate mystery lore for it, if you don't happen to belong one already or b) research a second breakthrough that allows to fully integrate the lore into standard Hermetic theory, then write a magic theory book detailing the discovery. The first option starts a new cult, or expands the lore of an existing one; the second revolutionizes Hermetic theory to some degree.