HoH Mystery Cults: what's in it

I recieved my playtester copy of the final product on Saturday and I've spent a good deal of time reading it both yesterday and today although I haven't really gotten all of the way through the Bjornear chapter yet I thought that I'd share the contents and my first thoughts with the rest of you.

After a quick read-through, I very much like the book. The mysteries of the mystery cult houses are all that you'd want and far more extensive and interesting than I would have expected if I hadn't participated in two rounds of playtesting. There are a few choices that I would have made differently but that could be said of any book.

Introduiction: Here we get a stripped down look at mystery cult initiation mechanics, i.e. the rules on what it takes to gain virtues and flaws. What I think may come as a surprise to some is that these rules are sufficently open ended to alow characters to create their own mysteries (that's characters not players and storyguides) it's difficult to do but easier to pull off than adding new virtues to hermetic theory by original research (as it should be, you don't get the benefit of shareing your discovery with the rest of the order). The chapter also has mechanics for the potent magic virtues because they don't really fit anyplace else.

Chapter 1 house Bjornaer: We get as much history and philosophy for the mystery houses as we did for the true lineages and the Bjornaer have changed quite a bit from their 2nd and 3rd edition selves (much like the Tremere and Guernicus did). Bjornaer has seprate "clans" within their house (6 of them) each of which has three clan specific mystery initiations. These clan initiations are all of virtues from the main book or from mysteries revised (one or two of them) so while it's really cool that Olaf Corvus of Clan Marhus has undergone the trial of the chains, It's not particularily exiting that he limped away from the ordeal with a puissant art and unpredictable magic rather than something that we haden't seen before. This in its own way is good in that it leaves us page count to see the house mysteries and a critter statting system. As far as the house mysteries, we get more detail on the heartbeast, we get three minor house mysteries (Secret name, Theriomorphy, and sensory magic), Three major mysteries ( the inner heartbeast, the inner heartbeast, and the inner heartbeast) and a path for further intiation after achieveing the inner heartbeast that allows Bjornaer to make their inner heartbeasts more kick-ass than they already are. all of this stuff looks solid mechanically to me. Sensory magic in particular looks to be a virtue that players are going to have fun with (I fully expect it to become a target for original research and self guided mystery initiation in many games). The major mystery (all three different flavors of it) is really cool but I don't think that young characters will get a great deal of power from it when you consider that every season that they spend working on it is a season they spend not doing something else that very well might benefit them more. However, I think that it is neat enough that at some point before they turn eighty most bjornaer will want to look into it.

There is also a section characterising heart beasts in terms of the four humors, some beast-o-matic system that I've not yet had a chance to read and a complete mystery that is a relic of the merinita who joined the Bjornaer after they were ousted by Quendelon.

Chapter two the Criamon: The criamon have changed a great deal from their 2nd and 3rd edition selves. I think that this is all to the good as I sense that criamon were mysticism for the sake of "look at me I'm confusing and therefore mysterious and interesting" in previous editions. The fifth edition Criamon take material from sanctuary of ice and run with it. The house Criamon exists for one purpose: to break humanity free from the circle of time. We get ghosts of the primi, enchanted tatoos, and physical manifestations of the impurities in the minds of the magi. We also get four initiation paths; one that focuses on the body, one that focuses on perception, one that focuses on strife and one that focuses on harmony. I thnk that Criamon who have traveled the avenue of the spherical mirror and arrived at the station of the microcosm are fantastically cool. But lingering at the station from which to ignore the real seems like gobs of fun as well. It would be hard to choose a path of enlightenment for a criamon they all look fun.

Chaper three Merinita: We get a good deal on what the hermetic magi think about faerie here. I enjoyed it. The merinita and the Verditious are a bit less structured in their mysteries than the bjornaer and the criamon.
The merinita have four collections of mysteries one of which (nature mysteries) is not based on the outer mystey of faerie magic but instead nature lore (and therefore interfaces with the forest paths in guardians of the forrest and the mysteries of the huntress in the wood back in the bjornaer chapter)

All of the Merinita mysteries access a mystery virtue called "binding of the gift" which pulls more use out of familiar cords. The three faerie based mystery "groups" are: Arcadian mysteries from Quendillon dealing with arcadia, creating faeries and becomming a faerie; Folk mysteries (by a character who is introduced in the book) dealing with folk wisdom, stories, and symbols; And Illusion magic (brought into the order by our old friend Mr. Pendule who I don't think we've seen since first edition) which is very poorly named because while it does intiate the virtue of glamour magic the other secrets it teaches are all new spell durations, whch are pretty darn cool but don't have a darn thing to do with illusions.

Chaper four Verditiuos: We get a fine rundown on house verditious that touches on less material outside of the houe than any of the other fifth edition house writeups to date. We also get verditious mysteries; four minor (items of quality, enchanted casting tools, reforging enchated items and verditious elder runes) and four major (automita, Bind curse, Bind magical creatures, and item attunement).

From having just zipped through the book in a few sittings, the verditious chapter pings my "bad mechanics sensor" hardest of the four chapters. I haven't worked out the numbers yet, but I susspect that by enchantng a device with a bunch of effects drawn straight from the guidlines a magus could create an automita more easily than someone using the major virtue of automita (major virtues should IMHO be beneficial to the characters). On the other hand, at first glance, verditious elder runes seems to be more valuable to a verditious character than any other major virtue in the game. I haven't really pulled apart the numbers in detail yet but if any of the authors want to chime in with their thoughts I'd love to hear them.

All in all a book I never want to play a saga without again. There's tons and tons of stuff in here. Darn near all of it looks great on first glance. What I see as the biggest deal withthe book is that each mystery house now has more mystery initiations than any character could plumb in a hundered years and they're all dripping with flavor.

(edit: I really need to fix the space bar on my computer so it works every time I press it.)

Thanks, this sounds great!

If you don't mind some questions - do the Criamon mysteries include interpreting dreams (like the 4e Dream Interpretation), deciphering strange and seemingly unrelated events (like the 4e Augury), and further improvement in utilizing/undergoing Twilight? That's what Engimatic Wisdom is supposed to be about, and I'd like some support on that.

Yair the Isrealite, whose book will arrive at late May at best. I hate living so far from, well, the world.

I'm at work at the moment and without the book to check so take what I say with a grain of salt. There is I believe some further discussion regarding enigmatic wisdom, but none of the provided mystery paths (I believe that it is explicitly stated that there are others) to my recollection grant additional control over twilight.

Hm, are there any new virtues or flaws mentioned in the Merinita section? One of my players wanted some sort of iron flaw for their Strong Faerie Blooded mage.


Erik's review makes me want to move to the Twin Cities.

BTW, that's a good thing.

There are new virtues and flaws in every section.

That's a good point. Perhaps in House Merinita, time is an illusion? That's how I imagine Mr. Pendule viewed it, with age, like appearance, being an accident of nature that can be manipulated with faerie magic. For the innermost mysteries of Perpetuity, the Pendule maga transforms another kind of supernatural power into something that can autonomously maintain a spell, which is kind of like creating an illusion of permanence. Though another group (the Shadow-Masters, for example), might see this as bringing illusions to life, the ultimate expression of faerie glamour.

Verditii get quite a lot of cool stuff, but it's most valuable in the lab, and not so much out in the field. You really can't beat magic items made by a Verditius magus who's come into his own.

It's neat, too, how a magus can follow a particular path through his House's mysteries, exploring an entire magical philosophy and all the magic that goes with it, and yet even then he's only touching on the surface of all the neat stuff he can discover. It's also impressively tied to the way he thinks about magic, so that he has to develop further as a character to gain more power. (Kudos to Neil and CJ!)

Thanks for the run-down. I can't wait to get a copy.

One of the things I liked about True Lineages is the authors did a wonderful job of moving characters away from stereotypes. So often in 4th ed. it felt like once you knew a character's house that was all you needed to know about them (to me, of course). After reading T.L. I thought it would be awsome playing an all Bonisagus campaign (which is a good thing because that's nearly what I've got).

Do you think Mystery Cults does the same thing? Could one have a group of Verditi or Merenitas and have them all feel different?

(And could Mystery Cults support the idea of a lineage of Merenita that hate the fey and basically want to hunt them down?)

Question one, oh heck yes there's tons of room for different types within each house. To sum up what I perhaps wasn't sufficently clear about in my post. There isn't just one path of inner mysteries for the Merinita there are four. An Heir of Merlin style storyteller will not seem all that similar to a pendulian glamour weaver or a Quendelonian Animae specialist. In truth, I believe that there was enough room even before this book came out, but there is certainly more room now.

There is a mystery initiation group of "true Merinita" who believe that Quendelon (whatever he was) took the house in a poor direction and the house would have been wiser to follow the natural magic path of Merinita. To this end they have tried to recreate her ancient mysteries (and have certainly created some pretty cool abilities based upon their records of her (awakening, wilding and guardian of natureare all pretty useful).

there is no published group of fae haters in the Merinita, there is justification for Fae hatred for Bjornaer characters however and you could easily fit a group of Merinita renegades into this house (See the huntress inthe woods mysteries).

Good review. Any chance you could post it on the Berklist?


I dropped off of the Berklist a month or so ago because I was spending too much time reading and responding to e-mails from all of you interesting folks and it was affecting my work. (It was a more practical choice then developing self control).

Please feel free to forward anything that you'd like on to the berk list.

Thanks, this sounds great!

If you don't mind some questions - do the Criamon mysteries include interpreting dreams (like the 4e Dream Interpretation), deciphering strange and seemingly unrelated events (like the 4e Augury), and further improvement in utilizing/undergoing Twilight?


I hope you'll pardon my late intrusion into the thread. I'm the author for this version of the Criamons.

To answer, EW does not have more information on these fields in an explicit way. It cross-references to appropriate places in "Mysteries: Revised Edition", which was designed to see publication first.

That being said, Enigmatic Wisdom scales up in another way. It still lets you do all of the things you suggest. It's just that this ability, to read the world through a sieve of symbolic understanding, is now the first step on each of the Paths of the House. The Paths are series of linked mysteries that are revealed to the character as his Enigmatic Wisdom score increases, and he undergoes mystical initiations.

So, no direct support, and yet in a sense EW is vital to the rest of the chapter. It sits at its foundation and now has a real, and useful, scale of difference of outcome. Before there really wasn't much difference between an EW score of 5 and a score of 7, in terms of game use. Now there is a clear advantage, in the sense that you require certain thresholds to continue toward the deeper mysteries of the House.

Oh. Well, I hope "Mysteries: Revised Edition" will have relevant information. All that ArM5 says on EW is that it is "added to rolls to interpret dreams and riddles, and to understand phantasms and arcane or mysterious situations", but I find I need more support in deciding what rolls are appropriate for such circumstances and what would be their results.

As you say, reading the world through a sieve of symbolic understanding is the first step of the Paths of the House... and for it to be more than just words, this should be backed up with mechanics.

Don't get me wrong - I'm sure I'll drool over and immensly enjoy the Paths and the House. I already love what little I know.

Hi there. I didn't describe a group that specifically hunts down faeries, but there's certainly room for it. House Merinita basically explores what happens when Magic overlaps Faerie, and while that usually means they are very interested in faeries, it could be extended to being interested in killing them, sure. :slight_smile: I can think of a great many of the inner mysteries that would facilitate that. For example, one of the Arcadian mysteries allows the maga to turn things into faerie things. She could then use those artificial faeries for target practice, perhaps. There's also a spell in the book that forces a being to become the caster's familiar, which could also support such a character by allowing her to enslave faeries -- that might be what it was originally intended to do, since it's called Faerie Chains of the Familiar Slave.

If you're interested in the more sinister and dark aspects of Faerie, I think you'll find a lot of things you can do with this book. For the most part, all the mysteries are tools that give characters more things to do, without limiting what they do with them. They're basically more Hermetic Virtues, and there's a bunch more of those, too. Also, while every Merinita has Faerie Magic, they don't just have to explore the mysteries of their own House. They might fall in with Sol Invictus, for example, another group interested in eliminating faeries. Or perhaps they start their own cult? This sounds like a really interesting character, and I'd sure love to hear more about it.

If you've got any more questions about the Merinitae, fire away. I'll see what I can do. :slight_smile:

If I may add some questions of mine...

Are characters from other Houses allowed initiation in House mysteries ?

Can characters mix and match Mystery paths in one's House to forge one's personal paths ? e.g. Can a Merinita initiate Virtues from the Arcadian and Pendulian paths ? Or a Criamon pursue Virtues from the path focused on the body, and the one focused on perception ?

Can you shed some more general description on the kind of powers granted by the Quendalonian and Pendulian Mysteries, as well as the various Criamon paths. That's the ones that most interest me, and likely I won't be able to get my hard-earned copy of HoH:MC for at least other 10-15 days or so :cry:

Also, what's this Potent Magic stuff ??

by and large no. The Criamon would welcome it but if you don't subscribe to the underlying philosophy you won't get the mysteries to work for you (you'll see the bit in the book regarding the gorgiastics)

Merinita, and Verditious: sure mix and match whatever initiations you want

Bjornaer: don't mix the clans mysteries but feel free to mix the house mysteries

Criamon: These are paths to enlightenment, going half way down a path and then deciding to tread a different path might be difficult. (However it would be encouraged if the character has only taken the first step or two down the path of strife). The path of strife and the path of walking backwards are more or less completely incompatable.

There is perhaps a better way to "forge one's personal paths" and that is to have the characer create their own mystery. Why go for a superficial understanding of other people's secrets when you can forge your own understanding and have people follow your trail?

Quendelon; create temporary faeries, create paths to and through faerie regios or Arcadia (don't remember which), become a faerie.

Pendule; give your illusions real effects, and two mysteries each consisting of a whole mess of new spell durations (including rituals for essentially permanent spells)

I don't think that I could do the Criamon mysteries justice.

An area of magic similar in scope to a magical focus within which the character gains a puissant-like bonus and the ability to use shape and material bonuses in his or her formulaic spells.

Well, not all sterotypical House philosophies are ncessarily incompatible. Merinita and Criamon, or Flambeau and Tytalus, are blatant cases.

That's great since I find Quendalon's and Pendule's Mysteries of almost, but not quite, equal interest.

Really ? Then what's this secret name, theriomorphy, and sensory magic stuff (I was not so keen on Bjornaer mysteries since I see their form of Twilight -becoming an unintelligent beast- so pathetic) ?

OK then what are the main features of the body and perception paths ? The former I surmise includes magic tatoos and bodily immortality (as in, you don't age, you only warp).

Is it true that Criamon mysteries include theurgical elements ??

Really ?? That's so groovy. This means I can get my Diedne Merinita or Ex Miscellanea to structure his own personal mystery of Diedne magic, focusing on spontaneous and druidical magic ?? . Master of spontaneity, here I come !!

Hmm, that means the old HP 4-7 ArM4 House Merinita Mystery got splitted in two paths. It looks like Pendule would be the one of most interest to me, but Quendalon might be of value for its ultimate prize: escaping mortality in Arcadia; unless Criamon Mysteries do not allow for equally powerful ways of escaping mortality, such as becoming a Magic spirit; Do they ??

Well, you're such a bright boy. Please, please do your best try.

Is it true that Criamon mysteries include theurgical elements ??

No, that's another book.

OK then what are the main features of the body and perception paths ?

Just to be clear, you can't mix these two paths. You don't get to dilentante arounmd on the Criamon paths. You need to believe in them and pursue them earnestly. That means you don't get to go part way down one and pop off to another while keeping the powers of the old one (except the Path of the Mirror, which is for Primi, but ignore that for the moment.)

Each path is a string of five stations (virtues) with intitations, leading to an end point, called a repose. The one of the body is a form of bodily immortality, yes. That being said, escaping mortality is simply not the point of the Criamon mysteries. You are already immortal. Death's not the problem. "Becoming a magic spirit" is simple: fall into Final Twilight and there you are.

The problem is that, for Criamon magi, living forever isn't enoug anymore. They have more important things to work toward.

Tatoos turn up on all paths.

Sure thing. :slight_smile:

Well, you have to initiate the Outer Mystery first, and you need to know the mystic lore of the House to initiate its Inner Mysteries, so doing so is basically joining the House, as I see it. For Merinita, there isn't much they can do to you or your Mystagogue if you are brought into the secrets but don't formally join the political entity that is House Merinita, though. Anyway, if you aren't interested in faeries, why would you want to initiate their mysteries? Once you've got the powers, you're effectively Merinita, even if you claim to belong to a different House. :slight_smile:

That said, there's a group called the Followers of Quendalon who Initiate other magi who have an interest in the fae, and there is a maga named Farrago Bonisagi considered to be a famous figure in the history of the House. So the precedent is there: at least some Merinita magi were not raised in the House, but joined later. And of course Merinita herself, if she still lives, probably wouldn't consider herself a Merinita maga, because she reputedly had so little to do with faeries.

For Merinita, yes. All of the House Mysteries are covered by House Merinita Lore, and as long as you can find a Mystagogue willing to initiate you, or you can initiate yourself, you can explore the Mystery. It's a lot easier to do this when you have an Initiation Script, sort of a specific ceremony that leads to a particular Mystery, and so there are many different established groups who have Initiation Scripts for certain mysteries. You can always make your own Script by modifying another, though, if you have a high enough score in House Merinita Lore or your own custom Organization Lore.

For the other Houses, like Criamon, you usually have to follow a particular path to initiate a particular Mystery (Criamon calls these Stations). So for example, the Path of the Body has five ceremonies (Avenues), which each transmit a new power, like the Station of Spiritual Nourishment or the Station of Perfect Economy of Movement. Bjornaer splits it between clan mysteries, which are a set of specific Mysteries, and House Mysteries, where you can basically take whichever suits you, including the Mysteries of the Inner Heartbeast, which change your heartbeast in really interesting ways. Verditii can also initiate what they like, but also have "confraternities" that initiate magi into specific Mysteries, like the Confraternity of Himinis the Mad, which initiates (in order) a Minor Magical Focus in wands, Verditius Elder Runes, Item Attunement, and Bind Curse.

See Erik Tyrrell's excellent summary. :slight_smile:

I'll add that the Arcadian school is the Merinita Mysteries that Quendalon supposedly brought back from Arcadia, and the Illusion school is the Mysteries that Pendule gave to his Merinita followers. The Line of Quendalon usually initiates their followers into the Mysteries of the Arcadian school, and the (Merinita) Followers of Pendule initiate all of the Mysteries of the Illusion school, but there's other groups that mix and match, like the Shadow-Masters, who pursue some of the Arcadian Mysteries and some of the Illusion Mysteries. I imagine you'll like them especially, since they've also got a bit of a classical philosophy bent.

I hope this whets your appetite! If you're creating a Merinita character in anticipation of getting the book soon, I suggest you might put some of your Ability experience into House Merinita Lore, and perhaps a little into Faerie Magic too, if the character is interested in faerie-oriented lab activities. You don't need a whole lot of points in these, but a score of 1 or 2 will probably come in handy later. Though it's also perfectly reasonable that a Merinita character might not have developed these yet, since they're part of exploring the Inner Mysteries of the House.

(Edited to elaborate on Bjornaer and Verditius.)

How hard does it look to incorporate the material into already existing characters? If we have characters 6 years out of apprenticeship are my players going to be reading this and saying, "But of course I should have X already!"?