I'm currently running a small covenant project on a group of holy magicians to see how far they can bootstrap themselves and what sorts of resources they might leave for their successors. One of the things I'd like to explore through this is breakthroughs. Holy magic replaces Magic Theory, so in theory holy magicians can pursue original research, or study other traditions (e.g. users of divine Methods and Powers) for Insight, then pursue integration. Though since its only partly Hermetic, does the Hedge Wizard research penalty (double breakthrough points required) apply?
I can think of a few obvious research projects:
Holy words and gestures
Holy mages cannot use Hermetic gestures and words as they are idolatrous. This results in significant casting penalties unless the magus has appropriate virtues or mastery abilities. There are two ways around this:
- using prayer, which is very difficult (simple die + Pre + Theology vs 15 - which is still only a ~25% chance of success if you're a charismatic expert theologian).
- if you know a holy Method, using that Method's casting techniques (e.g commands and spending a confidence point for Invocation). This isn't always better - having to spend confidence every time you want to cast a spell seems pretty limiting - but having it as an option when you need a decent penetration could be useful.
Each of these seems like an obvious avenue of research. And because they already work, the breakthroughs should not be too difficult. Adapting a Method into Holy Magic should be a minor breakthrough, with Insight available from Method texts or users (effects would be spells which could or must be cast by that Method). Once complete any holy magician could use that method's casting technique for any spell, on the fly.
Prayer is the one I'm uncertain about. Its basicly trying to find a new vocabulary for magic, one consisting of standardised prayers and ceremonies rather than Hermetic words and gestures. So, would this fall into the "translating Hermetic magic into another language" category (in AM, so a minor breakthrough needing only 15 breakthrough points), or would it be a standard minor breakthrough (or two minor breakthroughs, one for words, one for gestures?)
Incorporation of Ceremony
Ceremony can be used to boost holy methods and powers. Could it also be used to boost Holy Magic (replacing the idolatrous Wizard's Communion )? Or vice versa?
Holy magi with Ceremony and other methods and powers can already use Ceremony to boost their casting totals when casting a ritual spell using Method / Power guidelines (but Hermetic Arts), so as with holy words and gestures, this is something which already works, and the breakthrough is getting it to work with generic rituals. I'm not sure if this is a major or minor breakthrough. Effects would probably be rituals designed to be cast with Ceremony. A straight adaptation would add individual and group ceremony bonuses to the casting total (so this may not be worth the effort).
Going the other way, and using Holy Magic to replace Ceremony, would be a minor breakthrough (you can boost Hermetic rituals with MuVi, so it doesn't seem to be a huge stretch to be able to use it to boost non-Hermetic spells, if it little "why would you bother"). Effects would be MuVi spells designed to boost specific Method/Power combinations. The result would be a general MuVi effect which added its magnitude (or twice its magnitude; normally its Ceremony + characteristic plus Method) to the casting total.
Incorporation of Holy Powers
Holy mages can cast holy spells using the Method / Power guidelines, but only if they possess those Methods and Powers (effectively this means they use their arts to generate a higher casting total). The powers could be studied for Insight, allowing them to be incorporated into Holy Magic, and allowing these guidelines to be used by any Holy Magician. By analogy with Elemental Magic in HM:RE, this would be a major breakthrough for each Power, but would require Insight from each Method used. But could an individual, not obviously Limit-breaking guideline be adapted with only a minor breakthrough instead? (this would be less efficient, but at the same time many guidelines mirror Hermetic magic, or are inferior to it)
Do people have any other suggestions as to what sorts of research or breakthroughs holy mages might want to pursue?