The Arts of Ablation, Binding and Commanding are all infernal Arts, but Summoning can be aligned with Magic or Faerie instead. It allows the summoning of spirits of any sort, and unlike plain Hermetic magic, it can summon spirits that the sorcerer cannot perceive, without an Arcane Connection. If you have a character that likes to bargain with spirits, I'd imagine this is something you'll really appreciate.
And use of Commanding for enslavement of spirits for power. However, arguably, magic could do these things, too. For example, who knows what Becoming entails exactly? It might be that you replace a faerie, sucking its very essence into yourself and taking its part. And since you can power magic with living beings, you can in a sense take the vis out of them in the lab, which is a lot like eating them alive, I think.
Executed? You think? And yet, magi usually have no problem taking the vis from faerie corpses. For a Merinita, isn't taking a faerie's magical power and using it to fuel spells or other magical activities sort of like cannibalizing her relatives?
The Goetic Arts are much easier to learn than Mystery Virtues, because they're considered Supernatural Abilities. Unlike Magic Abilities, where you need The Gift to learn them, or Divine Abilities, for which you need True Faith, Infernal Abilities don't have any prerequisites. Anyone who has been exposed to the Infernal in some way can learn them, and characters who already have a lot of Supernatural Abilities can join a tradition to gain access to its Favored Abilities. For example, the Witches of Thessaly favor Chthonic Magic, Commanding, Hex, and Summoning.
Hmm, under that purview Summoning might indeed be of great interest to a Merinita theurgist faerie/magical summoner. As I was saying in another thread the principal (slight) defect I percevie in TMRE so far is that it lacks a general-purpose Mystery Virtue for summoning spirits, somthing much like Summoning seems to be. If I understand it correctly, Goetic Arts are learnt like Hermetic ones, and they are treated as Supernatural Abilities. Which it means that an Hermetic mage needs a Mystery Initation anyway to effectively learn it. I may be mistaken, but I've always taken the Favored Ability mechanism as a provisional placeholder rule for when TMRE would have available. Ditto for Forest Paths (they are effectively proto-mysteries where the Quest and the Ordeal are the only elements of the Script). I assume every Goetic Art should be treated as a major Virtue. Am I right ? IMO it is preferable to have a unified rulesystem to buy Virtues, including Methods and Powers and related stuff from RoP:D and RoP:I books, than 3-4 different systems.
I take you are referring to the Spirit Magic Virtue that allows to power a ritual with the lifeforce of a spirit. yes that can be rather creepy, too. On a second thought, this leads me to think that Chtonic Magic and Goetic Arts might have more diffusion in the Order than I've thoguth, with many users not being diabolists. However, this reinforces me in the conviction that Tremere were loathsome hypocrites with their supposed moral outrage at Diedne practices.
You know, this argument has much merit. I might do some hair-splitting and state that the average magus typically tries to harvest vis from renewable, non-harmful magical or faerie sources like plants, pools, or minerals, and only stoops to harvest vis from the fallen bodies of enemy creatures, and that doing the pragamtic thing and recovering valuable stuff from the bodies of enemies you'd have killed anyway is rather different from purposefully hunting them down, just the same difference there is between picking up innocents for sacrifice and using sacrifice as the execution method of criminals.
See my previous comments. I'd rather prefer to unify rules for learning Mystery Virtues and Supernatural Abilities post-character creation in a whole choerent set, and treat all of them as Mystery Initation, rather than to have two separate systems. In this purpose Favored Abilities should just be the Mystery Virtues a group makes available. This at least for Gifted Hermetic characters, in order to keep some coherence to the rules for Supernatural Abilities.
The Witches of Thessaly, you say ? Groan, Sigh. I remember them as a rather cool cult concept in old Mysteries. After reading these spoilers, I'd like to add Chtonic Magic and/or Summoning to my planned Mysteries-oriented character, but his background already has to justify a Diedne heritage, membership into House Merinita, and enrollment into a theurgic Mystery Cult. Now I should also fit some dealings with the Witches of Thessaly and a third Mystery membership in the poor background ? That's some suspension of belief. I'd probably better make up some homebrew pagan cult that combines theurgic mysteries with some Goetic and Chtonic insight. Actually, that should not be too difficult.
I assume Hex has become one of the Infernal Methods/Powers in 5th ed. Is it right ? IIRC, I've heard about Incantation, Diablerie, Hex, and Consumption.
Some Merinita mages affiliated with Dark Faeries might very well purposefully hunt other faeries, then render them down for Vis. The Wild Hunt ain't very nice. Sure, others in house Merinita might bring charges of Molesting the Fay, but if he's acting within the proper context and following the proper rules, there might not be too many complaints.
I respectfully suggest that this perspective is preventing you from appreciating the incredible coolness that is the Favored Abilities.
Let's imagine you have a magus character who is interested in learning, say, Chthonic Magic and Summoning. Learning these Abilities from a teacher or a book like hedge wizards do would be impossible, because you would have to subtract all of your other Art scores from your study total. (This is why most magi initiate them as Mysteries instead.) However, if you were to join the Witches of Thessaly, becoming one of them, you would gain access to their Favored Abilities. You could learn Summoning or even Chthonic Magic from a teacher or a book with a Quality of 5 or more, opening the Art in that one season, with no ordeals, quests, or sacrifices necessary.
Yes, all four of them can be taken at character creation or Initiated through a Mystery Cult as Major Virtues.
At this point, there are basically three different ways to get new Virtues outside of character creation: research, initiation, and study. All of these are in the main book, in fact. Characters with The Gift can develop new Virtues in the lab through experimentation, or initiate them as mysteries, or study them as magical Abilities. TMRE and HoH:MC (and arguably GotF) use the mystery route. RoP:D and RoP:I primarily follow the study route.
Possibly. Or perhaps they value (what they perceive as) human life more highly than they value (what Diedne sympathizers perceive as) the life of magical or faerie beings.
Here's an interesting question: if it's morally okay to take the vis from the bodies of your enemies, is it morally okay to take vis from the bodies of infernal creatures? Why or why not?
No, not difficult at all, in fact it's made clear in the text that there are other groups spread throughout Mythic Europe that are very similar to them. There's a sample character from Iberia who could as easily be associated with the Diedne as the Thessalians. And actually, I'm certain the Thessalians would be interested and/or involved with the different spirit-based mystery cults. Why wouldn't they Initiate Mysteries that make their summoning magic even better?
No, Hex is a stand-alone Supernatural Ability, similar to the Fourth Edition Virtue.
That's a reasonable point, and I take it. I suppose I should qualify my statement better "purposefully hunting down for no other reason than harvesting them for vis", which for sentient magical/faerie beings is no morally different from making human sacrifices of innocents; for non sentient magical/faerie beings the point would be to be mindeful of long-term "environmental" sustainibility of hunting. I assume the concept, if not the word, is well clear to Merinita and Bjornaer mages. If you hunt down dangerous magical and faerie crearures that are actively causing trouble, I think the Order should find no qualm with your harvesting a little vis from the bodies for your trouble. It's not different from hunting down renunciates and taking their possessions as spoils, a time-honored practice.
I am mindful (and thankful) of your insight. I was just troubled by the possiblity of two (actually three) different systems for getting Virtues post-charcter creation might get confusing. As you put it, it's more clear. I recant my objections. I was assuming favored Abilities was just a placeholder while the Mystery rules were being written.
Another question: is Chtonic Magic a minor or major Virtue ? At a guess, I'd say major, but then Faerie Magic was minor, and Holy Magic major, IIRC.
Yep, as you state it here, it is much clearer, and I indeed see how they may work together (besides, far from me to deny a useful player option!). It was far less easy to discern the distinction from the main book, but I assume it's the unavoidable effects of it and those other four books having been written over two years.
And given that my sympathies definitely lean towards the Diedne/Merinita side (sentient is sentient), I cannot but find the Tremere unsufferable butchering hypocrites, best fit for a quick Wizards' War. 8)
I really don't see why it shouldn't be okay, provided one knows what he's doing and how to deal safely with infernal vis, so that one does not blow up half the Covenant or churn out a cursed enchanted item. If you allow me the non-peroid comparison, it's like recycling radioactive or chemical waste to a productive use.
Thanks for this insight, it's quite useful to me. Therefore I'll put a Thessalian-like group in the background and Chtonic Magic plus Summoning, alongside Merinita and theurgic/spirit magic mysteries (alas, there's a dearth of proper Diedne virtues bedies that one in the corebook), in the list of virtues/supernatural abilities to be eventually learned either in post-apprenticeship development or during play.
I'm still struggling to understand what a proper and balanced pace might be for picking up Mystery Virtues during post-apprenticeship character creation development if a character belongs to multiple cults. HoH:MC guidelines only indicate an Initation takes a season.
Hmm, kudos to your creativity folks, but I'm starting to deem some things rather necessary to a completist ArM player (even now, and likely more so when the HoH and RoP book series are complete, too): a general index of all Virtues/Flaws and Abilities, a complete list of all Shape/Material Bonuses, and a unified set of all R/D/Ts from all the books. For a Mysteries-centered character, it's already almost a necessity.
Anything would do, I think, even a wiki, as long as isome version of ts pages are organized in formats (ideally, PDFs, too) that can be easily donwloaded and looked up on laptop (or much better, printed) during play. Needing an ongoing net connection would be too much impractical during a game session.
It should have 4-5 main areas in a printable format: a list of all Virtues/Flaws, but expanded to all books; a list of all Abilities from all books, both to be listed by type and in consecutive order; a list of all possible R/D/Ts from the various Virtues. These, I think, would be easy to do, just by leaving out the rule details, at most only adding a brief general description. The fourth one, a list of all possible Shape/Material Bonuses would be even more necessary (it's the most cluttered out and fastest growing area) but it's difficult to do without challenging copyright, I fear: either you state what the bonus is, or you don't. Also a unified list of spell guidelines would be quite useful, but I fear it would be difficult to summarize in a useful way without challenging copyright. Spells are too many to be manageable in a list, but given the highly structured nature of ArM 5th ed. magic, spell guidelines would be a valid substitute.
South of the Sun? Now there's a name I haven't heard in many years [/star wars quote]
They increase at 1xp per pyramid point, but I think that some of the infernal methods and powers can do stuff that's as impressive or more impressive than the powers of ars Goetia, they just do it with lower numbers (meaning that they'll never get any decent penetration on powerful effects).
I cannot say about infernal Methods and Powers (are they comparable to divine ones in power ?), but "weak" is not an epithet I'd use for divine Methods-Powers; their guidelines indicate they are comparable to Hermetic Arts in power. Rather they use lower numbers than Arts, so it's more difficult to achieve high penetration with big effects. It is also rather more difficult for a Divine Mythic Companion to have a complete set of Me/Po than for an Hermetic mage to have scores in all Arts.
I guess technically they are "Supernatural Abilities that are increased as Arts." You only use one of them at a time, though you also add in the appropriate (Realm) Lore as a kind of bonus. Penetration also works slightly differently, incorporated into the effect rather than calculated afterward, so that amateur sorcerers who have nothing but an Arcane Connection to a powerful demon can still summon it.
No, not at all, unless you want to learn it through play (you have to have The Gift to learn Magic Supernatural Abilities). Otherwise it's just like Shapeshifting or Entrancement, for example, but with the faster experience scale.
I'd say the Infernal Methods and Powers are comparable to the Divine in power, but more limited in scope. There's fewer of them, and they all have interesting (and very evil) drawbacks. As you say, Penetration is the hardest part; infernal "casting totals" don't get divided in half like spontaneous magic, so they're about as versatile as the Hermetic Arts, and there's a number of ways that experienced characters can increase their totals enough to make extremely high-level effects feasible. A group of dedicated infernalists with several months to prepare is incredibly dangerous, though not very versatile.
I think the intent is to have them take one Method and two Powers, as evidenced in the example traditions. That brings you on to a similar level of expenditure as a generalist hermetic raising all 15 Arts equally.
Using the slow experience scale reduces the numbers by a 2.23 factor (square root of 5). On one hand, the total isn't reduced for casting "spontaneous" spells but, on the other, neither do they appear to have formulaic equivalents to actually be able to achieve the greater effects: I don't really see how you can ever achieve a total of 40 or 50, which is the base for some guidelines, unless you have a horde to assist you, spend months fasting, or are a Holy Magus and thus get to also add the appropriate TeFo to the total (they get to do that, don't they?).
One Method and two Powers give a quite limited amount of power and versatility. The player of a Divine or Infernal Mythic Companion (supposedly on a comparable level of power to a magus) would well do its damned best to load up the character with some extra Me/Po, either by using Virtues or buying the favored abilties of the character's group, or both. Otherwise it's mundane with a one neat magical trick or so, and they have far less post-character creation potential for diversifying than a magus (admittedly, hermetics are meant to be the most versatile ever magic-users in Mythic Europe).
IIRC, they don't but they don't need to, since Holy Magic both turns the aura penalties of the Dominion into boosts and allows them to use the Divine Me/Po guidelines for Hermetic magic. So they use the Arts and formulaic magic for the big effects.
Are there preordained mystical drawbacks for Chtonic Magic or Summoning ? I mean, the really dark stuff like human sacrifice for power or summoning a powerful demon for bargaining likely does, and so being the spiritual predator with Ablation and Binding, but what about the more neutral stuff like using infernal R/D/Ts or infernal auras or summoning a demon to battle it or slighter peccadilloes like uttering a curse or killing a cat for power ??
I'd suggest that a holy Hedgie should have at least one Method and two Powers. Since Favored Abilities don't count against them when they're learning other Supernatural Abilities, they could easily learn one or two more over the course of their lives.
Infernal guys have this a little better, in that there's more they can do to boost their totals, but holy folk still have several arrows in their quiver, so to speak. You mention most of these: Ceremony, Purity (with relics or True Faith), and Holy Magic. These three are pretty substantial. There's also a couple more options: if they have Invocation, they can roll a stress die, with the possibility of doubling their roll. If they have spiritual authority, they can change the temper of the aura to give them another boost. Some Blessing effects can give a small bonus, too. Granted, huge effects are unlikely, but they are possible.
Sort of... they can use the guidelines with their Hermetic rituals, and add the appropriate Method and Power instead of Artes Liberales and Philosophiae. So it's coming at it the other way, and they need to use vis (or long-term Fatigue) to do it.
I'm not quite sure what you're saying there at the end, but I think I get the gist of your question. I don't want to spoil it for you-- there's a very slight drawback to both of them, but I doubt it's enough to make you change your mind, because it has to do with how other characters generally perceive the character, not the character's inherent morality. Let's just say that these characters tend to have a bad reputation, kind of like magi with Diedne Magic. But unless you activate the evil side of Chthonic Magic or use Summoning to bargain with demons, I'd say there are no real drawbacks, apart from a bit of social stigma. They're good Major Virtues. They just always tempt you to go a little further down the path to evil.
I meant that even in activating the "evil deeds for power" part of the Virtue, there's a clear degree of difference (albeit one might always be tempted to go on a sliding scale) between say animal sacrifice or uttering a blasphemy and the more serious stuff like human sacrifice. E.g. among pagan magic practicitioners, animal sacrifice was a normal act of religious piety, the equivalent of giving an alm (especially to the most primal dieties of earth, death, and life, hence the term Chtonic), so a pagan mage would see no moral proablem with it. Likewise, using sacred names in questionable ways was a typical important component of magical rituals (albeit the line is murky here between using Names for calling their assistance and showing power and using the power of breaking a taboo. In game terms, the border is murky somehow between Theurgy and Chtonic uses of names, and I expect some mages to have both, esp. pagans). This to explain that I expect Chtonic M. to stand on the border between covering the most dark, but not evil, parts of magical practice, and outright exploitation of evil deeds for power.
Hmm, how bad it would be to have both Virtues ? Because that would be the case of my planned character. Diedne/Merinita/Theurgist/Chtonic (for lack of a better epithet... what might be a good one for a follower of a Witches-of-Thessaly-like group ?) exquisite summoner/elementalist and conoisseur of the secrets of body and mind, no-good peregrinator... err, seasoned explorer and travelling scholar, always ready to solve a mystery, right a wrong, or lend an hand, for a good friend, a further glance to the innumerable tantalizing secrets of the most exquisite art ever, magic, or the kiss of a fair maiden (not long such, hopefully). 8) Ready to be completed as soon as I get these two books.