[color=red]Stonehenge Saga players – read at your own risk.
I have a few questions about the Virtue Diedne Magic and how it's acquired. Very doubtful that it's covered in the RAW, per se, but I'm fishing for ideas and input.
In my saga(s), we use the character building and developmental rules from Apprentices, including "teaching" new Virtues. Thus, it is theoretically possible (although, likely, rather difficult) for a magus to teach his apprentice Diedne Magic.
Given that, technically, every apprentice runs the risk of being taken by a Bonisagus, would a maga "initiate" her apprentice into Diedne Magic at any point before the last season of apprenticeship, in the hopes that their Initiation/Teaching Total is high enough to compensate for any Hermetic or Supernatural Flaws the apprentice already has?
Is it more reasonable that a Diedne Magus look for an apprentice that already has the Diedne Magic Hermetic Virtue (i.e. being exceptionally skilled with Spontaneous Magic) or that they look for a Gifted apprentice and trust in their abilities to teach Diedne Magic?
If the latter, would there be anything above and beyond the normal "has the Gift" requirement for the apprentice?
From reading the rules on "teaching" Hermetic Virtues from Apprentices (p. 42), it seems much more reasonable to my simple mind that the better approach would be to treat learning Diedne Magic as a Mystery Initiation (The Mysteries: Revised Edition pp. 10-16, roughly), with a Major Ordeal inflicting Dark Secret on the Initiate (even though you get it for free with the Virtue, it's still a Major Flaw) which grants a +9 to the Initiation Script. Does this seem reasonable? And if so, does it seem the "best" way to do it, or can my sodales see a better way?
I had thought about this. There are a few good ways to handle this, I think, beyond the equivalent of what happens with Parma (which I don't like at all though works fine and is canon). My favorites:
House Diedne always slid around Bonisagi trying to take an apprentice by either delaying or by declaring such apprentices as having passed Gauntlet or whatever. This is one source of distrust that led to the War.
House Diedne let the Bonisagi have the apprentice, already initiated into Diedne ways. This is almost pure win for the Diedne. A Bonisagus who wanted to learn the full secrets would find himself buying into the Diedne worldview perforce, because that's how the virtue works. Meanwhile, Diedne has a foothold among the Bonisagi. Maybe that's where the Diedne are hiding today! And there are fun story possibilities as the War gets started... or ends, either at the Order-scale (try to purge Bonisagus? what does the House do? etc) to the personal (each B/D hybrid having to choose sides... and do they get a choice?)
IMO, there is absolutely no way that someone would "naturally" have Diedne Magic any more than they would "naturally" have Mercurian Magic. It was originally the power of a particular magical lineage that no longer exists in its pure form. It's not "a generic talent for Spontaneous Magic."
Hmm. With the proviso that this particular initiation script would have to have been created post-Schism War, and would only work as long as the Order of Hermes continues to blacklist House Diedne, I'd say it would be reasonable. My gut reaction was that a flaw that's purely a social dynamic wouldn't be appropriate for an Ordeal, but in Mythic Europe, it really does make sense for a script like that to work. (Do your troupe the favor of coming up with some magibabble to explain it.)
Not having Apprentices myself, I can't say which would be the best way mechanically, but thematically, it definitely sounds like it's best initiated as a Mystery. Also, doing it this way means that you can use it as a starting point for more Mysteries, if that's your poison. This is a bit beardy, but this is Ars Magica, so it's okay to break the system a bit; the time and stories spent on exploiting the loophole usually compensates for the benefit that the loophole gives you.
Note: I would not allow something like this with Minor Story Flaws, as the latter normally provide benefits of their own, and aren't something you should be able to just magic up as an ordeal. I might make an exception for Minor Story Flaws linked to organizational membership, though.
This is another reason to keep it a Mystery and only initiate it post-Gauntlet.
They won't naturally have Diedne Magic. Its definitely nurture. Not sure about the past, but in the "present" order anyone teaching that magic would want to do it post gauntlet. Initiation would be probably best if they have the cult lore since they can add flaws like "prohibition: do not reveal this magic to anyone". However using the rules in apprentices you would want to look for a kid that doesn't have much in the way of existing Hermetic Virtues, so that way teaching the person your magic is as easy as possible.
I think it's most plausible to have the Diedne Magic Virtue taught by master to apprentice in a style similar to Apprentices p.40f. Druids were reputed to be good at oral one-to-one teaching - so to teach this specific Virtue I would give every master with Diedne Magic the effect of the Good Teacher Virtue: +5 to Teaching Source Quality. If he has a solid Teaching skill, this might then suffice to reach a Target Level 21 without inflicting a Hermetic Flaw. I would then give an apprentice of a master with Diedne Magic the appropriate Dark Secret Flaw for free.
I can also imagine a shadowy figure with good Com and Good Teacher Virtue traveling Mythic Europe: the last of the Diedne, who visits the apprentices of masters still adhering to the old Diedne ideals, teaches them Diedne Magic and then disappears again.
As for the "Bonisagus magus can take your apprentice after you have initiated him into the inner mystery", I'd say two things, maybe already said:
1- that still applies to the 4 existing mystery houses;
2- IIRC, Bjornaer gauntlet is not the same as Order gauntlet, and a Bjornaer magus (in Bjornaer house eyes) could eventually be a Bonisagus magus (in Order eyes). Perhaps the same goes for the 3 other, I don't recall, but that would make sense too.
In fine, only the magus can decide where is loyalty lies... but, if you were a Bonisagus intriguing with the mysteries of those house (attempting to integrate their mystery in the hermetic magic system?), you would have spells to check where his loyalty goes while your apprentice is still an apprentice (a thing, not covered by the code ^^), just in case he favors his "origin" house more than you... or you may not care.