HoH Mystery Cults: what's in it

Nice punchline.

That was not my impression. A character still will want arts, spells, and skils. I wouldn't be surprised if you players get excited about the book when they see it but still say. "I'll work on this once I get my creo up another 3 levels". Mysteries more often then not, don't have a immediate payoff. Ssix years out of apprenticeship to me has seemed like a character will get both immediate and long term payoff out of arts , spells, and skills.

If your characters are twenty years out of apprenticeship they would likely feel a bit cheated (especially the Verditious) but sytudying arts spells and skills is never, in my experience, a horribly unwise way for a characer to spend seasons.

The biggest cost of Mystery advancement is time

Although the actual Initiation ceremonies are short, nearly all take place at special (hard to reach) locations and specific times, so that the magus loses time to travel;
the rules are set up to bias Initiation requirements (in Scripts) to use one or more Quests - and a Quest takes a Season (or more) in which you don't do anything except complete a complex and risky task, and contemplate how much better it makes you spiritually;
also any new Virtue which brings a new (Supernatural) Ability needs a season of Teaching to bring you that first skill level.
Some Initiations require a sacrifice - which has to be valuable to be meaningful... for a magus that usually means something that took them time to create or obtain. (Raw Vis is valuable, but time is more so).

Add to that the requirement imposed by almost all cults, including the Houses, that you should study* Cult Lore (House Lore in the case of the Houses), so that you better understand your position in the Cult, and you see that advancement through the Mysteries takes a definite toll on other advancement - time when you could be studying other, traditional aspects of magus-hood, such as Arts, Spells or Abilites (or working in the Lab).

[* The first Initiation requires Cult Lore 1 - easily reached, and acquired as part of initial experience (in Houses) or in demonstrating your commitement to the Cult... most Cults expect inner Initiates to have a higher level - typically level 3 (30 Ability XP) - before progressing further. (HoH:MC has specific details for each of the 4 Houses, and for the myriad paths through them...)]

A magus who has advanced several steps through the Mysteries will have fallen quite a few seasons behind those in non-Mystery activities...

Secret name, theriomorphy, and sensory magic are all house mysteries rather than clan mysteries

From memory; secret name breaks all AC's to the magus and may make it more difficult to establish more (not too sure about that one)

Theremorphy allows the magus to take on physical aspects of their heart beast while still in human form.

Sensory magic is a big bundle of spell targets based on the spell recipients sensing the magic. You can make spells with targets such as "anyone who catches a scent of the caster" or "anyone who looks at a particular object".

Once again all of those are from memory and I could be wrong about particulars.

Speaking about Criamon magi, your character might be on the Wandering Path, which is when the magus takes time to work out what part of the Enimga they are going to grapple with for their life, and gets the skills they need to get to grips with the thing. Also, an Enigmativ Wisdom of 3 or more helps a lot, so you could do worse than get the extra points up.

All of the authors have specifically written in a way that does not make established characters in the books impossible. Now, in some cases, like Bjornaer, the published examples come from a facet of the House which doesn't represent the new mainstream, IMO. All of them still fit, though, and the change is, IMO, most severe in my own chapter, but not for mechanical reasons.

Criamon magi are no longer a pointless string of Discordian jokes pretending to be a House. You now have a good reason for some magi to treat them as wise, and other magi to think they are out of their trees and short a coconut. I like that. I think that gives us play potential.

I'd just like to make clear though that even mainstream members of House Criamon think there are some real madmen out there in the House, and this means that if you have said your character worships hedgehogs as a method of working at the Enigma, the chapter, mechanically, doesn't penalise you.

In terms of play, the strengths aren't so much the virtues, which are fun, but in terms of characteristation, we get a lot more depth in Criamon now. We have stuff about how medieval society viewed tatoos. We have reasons why magi might side with or against Criamon magi. We know what the "Enigma" is, to a sufficent extent that you can now sensibly play a magus talking to a Criamon. We have an origin for the Criamon riddle tradition that's real-life historical, and not simply based on bad Zen (although those of you who are familiar with Greco-Buddhism or Sufi...you may well like this.) Bascially, its not just weird stuff for the sake of weird. It does deal with mental illness, but on a vaster sort of scale than the sort of "untreated schitzophrenic treated as a wise man" that we had in a lot of previous material.

So this means the big changes aren't that you may think you deserve Virtue X (in which case you get it as a freebie in House Criamon and gain some back story. That's the advantage of a highly-strucutred House. You can peg yourself into the system of progress quite easily, really). The difference is that if, before, you assumed that Criamon magi were essentially insane, and have been playing your character as hyperactive ball of id, then suddenly you might find out that, no, the rest of the Criamon aren't like you in the core setting. They may well be in -your- game, of course.

You have no idea how glad I am to hear this, it is exactly what I was hoping for out of the book. Sadly, I have already redlined by excitement factor for a new book, so this can't make me more eager to finally get my hands on a copy (my entire group has reserved copies from the local shop, I believe) but it makes me much more confident in what I'll be getting.


I'm a game mechanics freak but even so the refocising (or should I say focusing) of the criamon is probably my favorite aspect of the book.

Wow. I must have been in very differerent sagas! None of the Criamoni we had in our various sagas were Discordian or anything else of such a modern bent. Instead these were some of our best characters, usually based on personal development of classical and contemporary philosophies and theologies.


I guess my games are out of step with the mainstream again.

Well for me it was more the published material from white wolf and the HoH writeup than anything that I saw in play.

Well, I'm talking about the rules given in the core books, not individual people's campaigns. It's always possible for people to say "Oh, criticism X never applied to us, because, well, basically our campaign is better than the coire setting." Sure, I agree with that.

My problem with the old Criamon is that some versions, particularly in 3rd ed, clearly look like Discordianism. Remember that WW didn't care as much as the modern publisher about historical accuracy. You have the bad zen, you have the pointless sayings, you have the philosophy of non-violence except when you want to be violent, and the philosophy that sex is silly unless you want it.

You get this in -all- of their games. Take away the vampirism and how do Malkavians differ from Criamon magi?

Sure, there's nothing about hot dogs...

But wouldn't most Merenita and Bjornaer, even out of apprenticeship, have some score in Fairy Magic and Heartbeast (which are new abilities and therefore our characters don't)?

Heartbeast was already an ability in the core rules. Faerie Magic also was, but got errataed away -- it would seem it's back. That's probably a situation where you can give players a one-shot opportunity to move a few experience points around. Otherwise, they just have the basic score that comes with the virtue.

Not necessarily. Bjornaers should already have the Heartbeast Ability, since it appeared in the main book, but Faerie Magic isn't something that every Merinita magus does, so I would imagine that a lot of them don't even have the Ability. Like learning House Lore, it's something you only start to pick up as you begin to explore the Inner Mysteries, typically from a Mystagogue. I suppose you could move some experience points around if it's really important to the player or seems particularly appropriate to you, but I think it's probably better to play out the character discovering this new branch of knowledge and learning it from others within the House.