I've been looking at TMRE and HoH:MC and am going through the math for creating initiations for a new virtue via Experimental Scripts (TMRE: 18) and the math for validation seems wrong to me.
Namely, the more complex the script the harder it is to validate. And by complex i mean a script bonus of 9 for a major ordeal is prohibitive. Conversely, there is an easier way which feels... cheesy to me. Not that its safe; it still has all the risks of an experimental mystery initiation, it just doesn't have the risks of failing the validation check.
First, remember that Modifying the initiation script (TMRE: 17) to add a new component is fairly safe and easy. Stress + Int + Lore vs 9 (Though I feel I should point out that that hardest, removing a component, is still easier than inventing the the easiest initiation script printed with an ease factor of 15)
" If the attempt fails, the new Initiation Script is onfunctional (and the Mystagogue knows this without attempting the Initiation), but the original Script works as normal."
So if they fail, they try a different modification, they go study Cult lore for a year, undergo a creo ritual to increase their characteristics, ask a fellow cultist to try, but the cost of failure is minimal.
This leads to the relatively easy way to create your initiation scripts.
You have a minor and major virtue you want to use to start a cult, and have enhanced your Int, Per, and Cult Lore such that Pres + Lore is at least 12, and Int + Lore is at least 11. This is for optimal safety; Lower numbers can work but it gets risky really fast.
You create an outer initiation script to initiate the minor virtue
You use the Modification rules to add a major ordeal.
Potential cultistsGuinea-pigs undergo your unnecessarily brutal initiation
Taking advantage of the ‘prior major ordeal -9’ modifier, teaching a new major virtue that you know has a target number of 12.
You create an empty imitation script using the experimentation guidelines and a risk factor of +3. That is, one with a bonus of +0, because you don’t need one. and initiate your
cultistsGuinea-pigs with the new script. Sure some of the cultistsGuinea-pigs might get… strange… experimental results, but their getting a major virtue out of it.
Repeat step 6 untill the experiment is good enough to refine using modification rules.
You modify the empty script to include the major ordeal.
Repeat steps 6-8 with new
cultists Guinea-pigs to generate new scripts – that is, they get some of the more risk-tolerant cultists right after a major ordeal and use the -9 bonus to the next initiation to add a known major virtue, then modify the empty script to add the desired components for the ‘real script’ based on where in the initiation chain via iteration using the modification rules.
It seems to me that that shouldn’t be a better than developing the script the right way with the very meaningful Major Ordeal in the experimentation, but it does because the validation check (TMRE:18, last two lines of the second column and start of the third) is SD > 15 or 9 + script – Risk – Lore – Int.
unfortunately, using the 9 is more difficult. 9 is for self-experimentation, which only works if you don’t have the virtue being initiated. In that case, the Target number goes from 21 to 30, and either the script needs an extra 9 points of components with the validation being3 points harder, OR you have a Pres + Lore of 21, which implies a cult Lore of at least 16... so no. Ergo, we will initiate another into a virtue we discovered by divine revelation/twilight/research. If we have Lore + presence = 9, a risk modifier of three will let the 9 point script for a major ordeal will be sufficient.
Yes Lore + Pres = 9 seems very low. that's because this is the easy part; its the Lore + Int in the validation step that is difficult.
SD > 24 – Risk – Lore – Int.
This is why we let Risk = 3.
- To get the same surety as the previous method, then you need Lore + Int = 20
- For a 50% chance of success (excluding the experimentation results) (SD >=6) then Lore + Int need to be 15
- And for the faintest, slimiest wildest chance (SD = 10), you still need Lore + Int to be 11.
Remember that Int + Lore of 11 and Pres + lore of 12 were the requirements for the same level of safety using the previous method, and that this is still only a +9 script; that's on the low end.
While experimental mystery initiation shouldn't be safe, I feel that the experimental results do a pretty good job of that (though I would like some guidance on how to handle conflicting results on 'roll twice more on this chart' -- complete failure and Major Benefit just don't work together). The validation check seems much more punitive.
I feel, and the sources seem to agree, that Cult Lore is a difficult ability to advance. There just aren't many people with it, most of them have other interests; both magic and whatever the cult is dedicated to (enigmatic wisdom, heart beast, faire stuff, making stuff); there is a reason why none of the scripts i checked required Pres + Lore be greater than 6.
Judging by the lack of 'leader of the cult' initiations for Puissant Cult Lore and Affinity for Cult Lore, creating scripts to initiate those seems munchkiny, so I'd prefer not to consider them.
All together, the experimentation method gives the cults a feeling of... stasis and decay. These aren't magi who are gathering or progressing in their chosen magics, they are holding a few secrets close and pretending they aren't dying out or hoping for the next brilliant mind who can hope to breath new life into the cult. In the past these initiations were easier, cult leaders more skilled, people were adding to the secret knowledge. These days we need you to sacrifice more, do more quests, undergo more Ordeals, and if you want to add to our accumulated knowledge, well. You need to spend a mortal lifetime getting 300 Xp in Cult Lore on top of discovering the virtue.