daimons and mystery cults

It occurs to me that anyone looking to create a new mystery cult would benefit greatly from contact with a daimon who has had mystery cults dedicated to them in the past and thus would be able to teach the related mystery cult lore instead of having to invent it, and likely be able to teach initiations as well. It also occurs to me that there should be some way, eve if you are not following a given daimon's cult lore, to "attach" an initiation to a known daimon (possibly after calling them) in order to make it easier to initially invent. I'm thinking the final initiation would have to have a feature like a sacrifice of vis to the related daimon. Thoughts, suggestions?

Well, it's an awfully specific trick, isn't it? It requires your would-be cult founder to already have theurgy rather than be seeking it, to contact the daimon in the first place, and for the cult to be intended as a theurgy-focused one if future successors are also expected to be able to interact with the daimon.

But yeah, if both of those apply, it would work very well; you might even be able to arrange for the daimon to act as mystagogue (particularly if it has high Presence to go along with its Cult Lore) for one or more of the inner mysteries of the cult, though depending on the daimon's Might that might put an uncomfortably-high lower bound on any would-be initiate's ReVi score. Probably expected for a theurgy cult, honestly, but something to keep in mind.

Technically you do not need the Hermetic Theurgy virtue in order to summon a daimon - though having the virtue makes it a whole lot easier.

Actually you can learn and cast invoke the pact of daimon without the virtue, you just cannot invent the spell( TMRE p.81). There may be other ways for them to encounter a daimon as well, as part of a story. Also there is nothing to prevent someone other than the summoner from trying to strike a deal with a daimon.

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I've always taken the view for my own games that while theurgy is the most direct way to form a pact with a daimon, if it suits the daimon they can voluntarily manifest an aspect and interact with "summoners" who do some specific thing to get their attention.

Not every daimon will care to manifest without an explicit pact, and it might be very hard to attract their attention, but you don't need to be a theurge.

For example a daimon connected to a place in the mundane world (an ascended genius loci or similar) might appear for you if you do something attention grabbing in its place of power. Or an ascended human might watch over their descendants, or their own tomb, and likewise appear if you do something suitably impressive near them.

Once they appear I see no reason why a daimon wouldn't accept a pact within reason if you offered vis comparable to what the theurgical rituals would take. Obviously this is all very story driven, but a daimon being involved with a non-theurgical mystery cult either as a backstory or in the course of play seems perfectly plausible.

IMS we had an ascended member of the Cult of Heroes appear, entirely voluntarily, to a magic-blooded but non-gifted character and send him on heroic quests to "prove his worth". In return (and with an offering of vis) the daimon used its powers to increase his relevant ability scores. Each time he succeeded the next quest would be more difficult than the last. This was because we figured the essential nature of an ascended mystagogue of the Cult of Heroes would be to, well, cultivate heroes and the character in question had the blood of heroes but was far away from anywhere the still mortal members of the cult could reach.

So I guess the rough guide we've followed on this is:

  • A good explanation for how the daimon notices the mortal in order to manifest
  • They expect vis offerings comparable to what the rituals spells in theurgy would cost or more before actually concluding the pact
  • They will probably throw in some extra conditions/effort for the supplicant in line with their own nature. That keeps theurgy from being devalued (proper theurgy allows making pacts faster, easier, and with minimal vis) and provides plot hooks.

For that matter the above rules might well apply to some non-daimons as well- for example the genus loci of an ancient holy site might well have some mystery cult knowledge and be able to make pacts regarding initiation (though this will likely require going to their location as part of the initiation) as part of their bid to become a daimon.

There is at least on example Daimon that provides a bonus to initiating Divination when she is summoned as part of the initiation - It's Lasa Vegoya (I think) in the mysteries revised appendix.