Immortals' Learning โ€“ is there a point without them having a

Salvete Sodales!

Compared to my previous post this one is straightforward. Is there any use in the rules for immortals' learning unless they have a spirit talisman? Ususually a talisman is limited to a number of enchantment spaces equal to the best Technic+Form combination of a magus (Core rules). Even if the magus in question is pretty specialised and very experienced when he transforms himself this probably won't succeed 90. If the magus doesn't instill any other effect into the talisman, this means that he has space for 90 XP รขโ‚ฌโ€œ the equivalent of three years of normal learning. Sure, this will last a bit longer for an immortal learner รขโ‚ฌโ€œ perhaps up to ten years รขโ‚ฌโ€œ but still this is close to nothing, considering the fact thatthe magus in question probably has already accumulated some 1000 XPs at this stage.
There seems to be but one way out of this problem: The magus has to initiate the 'Inscription of the Soul' virtue before his transformation, because the spirit talisman doesn't seem to be limited in the same way. (TMRE)

Did I get everything right? What would you think about a minor virtue 'Endless Talisman' (you can enchant your talisman with as many pawns of vis as you can lay hands on) as an alternative?

Alexios ex Miscellanea

Look at the errata, all immortals have infinite talisman place for this kind of learning.

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Thank you for the fast reply!

Nonetheless, it is a quite stupid mage who undergoes immortality without initiating Inscription Over the Soul (and Spirit Familiar if they ever want a familiar) first: although immortals can theoretically initiate new Virtues, too, it's going to be a much convoluted process for them, since they can't use Ordeals anymore. The talisman is going to incorporate a large part of the immortal's being over time, and a spirit talisman can't ever be destroyed or stolen.

Well, you may know that this exists, but your magus may very well not. Mysteries don't share their secrets, so if he's in a mystery cult that's unconcerned with spirits, he's unlikely to ever have it.

Mystery Virtues are not strictly confined to any school, therefore IotS is not confined to mystery cults that focus on spirit binding, and mystery cults can and do develop Initiation Scripts for any Hermetic, Supernatural, or General Virtues that are significantly useful to their goals. Since IotS is so vital to immortal mages, any mystery cult that has immortality as a goal would have Scripts for IotS. Typical examples would be: Green Cockerel, Merinita, Disciples of the Worm, Philosophers of Rome, Children of Hermes, Legion of Mithras, Fraternity of Samos, Bjornaer, etc. If the mage is pursuing immortality by any means, he will know it through Mystery Cult Lore.

Please, could I have the link to these errata? Thanks :smiley:

However if you're a verditious with the virtue of greater talisman then the advantages of your additional bonuses would outweigh the disadvantages of having a talisman that can be stolen.

In fact if you have the virtue of the greater talisman and a talisman with 500 levels of effects enchanted in it already, going down the path of inscription on the soul might not be worth it even if the magus is aware that the option is available.

Agreed. This would be a good exception to the rule (I suppose; I rather dislike House Verditious, so I've never cared to play one and I'm no so cognizant about the nuances of their methods) make myself fully , provided the mage put all that effect goodness in the talisman and initiated great talisman before he decided to pursue immortality. Otherwise he would have likely initiated IotS first, then Great Talisman on his spirit. The justification you mention would be a rational one, not the nonsense that only mystery cults focused on spirit-binding know or care about IotS.

I'm with The Fixer - mystery cults may be able to develop new initiation scripts for new virtues by-the-book, but in practice they won't IMS, for the most part. The mysteries they teach, and the scripts they developed for them, are what's there - although these may change in practice according to saga needs, and mystagogues may experiment with variants on existing scripts in response to the initiate's needs.

Specifically for my upcoming saga, the living-ghosts won't know IotS. I'm going for the "lich" motiff. :slight_smile:

The Bjornaer, on the other hand, will.

This won't change what I argue for, namely that IotS is so useful to immortal magi that most cults that pursue immortality ought to know it. Some may not, for whatever reason (ideological blinders, overreliance on crafted enchantments...), but most will. Magi may be many things, but not stupid, nor generally fanatics (although there are exceptions, such as Bjornaer's paranoid hate of shapeshifters). We know that TMRE intent was to make the Mystery Cults in the book, and their rooster of scripts, but polite suggestions, and we know that a significant amount of cult examples, and initiation scripts, was cut from the book for space reasons, so I find rather well silly to go rigidly by the book.

This may be a reasonable motive for your choice, but may I kindly suggest you a variant ? To replicate the "philactery" motiff, instead of forbidding IotS, you may use a variant of the Living Ghost mystery (or an additional Mystery Virtue), by which the (un)life force of the LG is tied to an enchanted item, instead of (or in addition to) an Haunt. The LG won't be "killed" if he is ousted from a possessed body outside the Haunt as long as the item exists. OTOH, if it is destroyed, he's snuffed out. This has precedent in ArM (External Soul), good folklore ground, and would make LG easier to use in sagas.

Great Beasts don't have much use for hand-held enchanted items. :wink:

I do not share your opinion regarding the rarety of mysteries. The number of folks who are aware of a given mystery is small and restricted. Cannon provides no certian examples of anyone ever initiating in an immortallity mystery (even Quendelon with the becomeing and Merinita with guardian of nature are not set in stone).

Mystery cukts are by nature occult and they do not share their information.

If an immoratality virtue is know by cult in your game (say the green cokerils and the greater elixer) as their deepest virtue a character would need to spend decades in the cult before that most inner mystery is available to them. If they then wish to learn inscription on the soul (say from the cult of mithras assuming that they exisit in the same saga) they have to learn about the new cult, ingratiatie themselves with the new cult, gain entrance, and go through three or four levels of initiation before they gain the virtue of inscription on the soul. Additional decades, of work. The character might not have that long even if they can manage to jump through all of the hoops.

I am certainly not locked into the book's description of the mystery cults, House cults or otherwise.

IotS is extremely useful from a player's prepsective. And I would certainly allow interested players to uncover it, one way or another, if they so desire. As I would allow them Consumate Talisman or other virtues, too - if they want it, and we can weave some fun out of that, great!

From the SG's prespective, however, IotS is inapproriate at times. As for my liches, below. In those traditions, IotS would certainly not be present - at least until the PC comes in.

An interesting option. I would consider it. (It isn't like the liches will make an appearnce anytime soon anyways... it's in the distance.)

I find the need to remain in the Haunt highly limiting in a good way saga-wise. It will keep those living ghosts out of sight, as secret and distant masters rather than magi roaming around the tribunal.

Guardian of Nature is strange, but at the end works similarly I think - a magus limited to a single locale, slowly growing in power, but able to exit when needed. Ascendancy to the Hall of Heroes achieves the same effect - eternal magi as distant movers and shakers - by having the ascended magi in another plane of existence entirely. Bjornaer seems to achieve a similar result although it isn't clear how, precisely; the Great Beasts certainly seem to merely guide current magi, distancing themselves from this world. Criamon achieves practically an identical result by pure flavor (which is rather impressive).

Alchemy is problematic in that regard, allowing eternal magi to roam around freely. Becoming, of the Merinita, too.


Edit: I'm thinking of making it the FIRST initiated virtue, right after the outer mystery. Or an early one, for sure. Hand-held enchanted items are very inappropriate for your regular Bjornaer hearbteast-form too. :frowning:

I think the idea is that they can experiment to self-initiate themselves or others with a virtue they don't have. It's exceedingly difficult, but possible.


Wanderer, you seem to play in a game in which almost any virtue can be easily initiated in any cult, and in which these same virtues seem to be somewhat common knowledge.

Fine if this suits you and your game, but this is not the only vision of the game, and, in games where this isn't the norm, IotS may very well be almost unknown outside of a few circles of initiates. So, even if you can self-initiate it, you could very well have magi that don't, just because they don't know this is possible at all, for exemple.
=> Immortal magi without IotS :wink:

Not so radical, except for cults that are purposefully syncretistic like the Children of Hermes. Rather, I do assume that any cult has Scripts for any Virtue that would highly useful for their awowed goals (since past Mystagogues would have been spurred to develop them), and that the existence of all the main Mystery Virtues is known within the Order to any mage that has a decent OoH Lore (peculiarities of the Gift and special insights do get noticed by sodales), and that any mage with a decent Mystery Cult Lore knows all the Virtues (and Ordeals) that such a cult commonly initiates.

I do expect mystae magi to be secretive where it matters: i.e. not to share Scripts or to perform an Initiation without due compensation. It is true that as rule I would not expect hermetic magi to indulge in secrecy for secrecy's sake, mystae included. It does not vibe well at all with the mentality of a magical researcher. I do expect mystery cults to work more like elitist colleges with expensive tuition fees than conspiracies. Mystery Cults (except the Infernal ones) do stand to gain very little from trying too hard to suppress widespread rumors about their very existence or the abilities they can bestow. Therefore I do not expect Mystery Cults to be any more than an open secret.

The "few circles of initiates" you mention ought to include the members of a mystery cult that has immortality as a goal. The main cases when I would expect an immortal magus not to have IotS would be a) when a Cult purposefully shun it for ideological reasons or because the other methods of the Cult make it unpractical (e.g. a Verditius cult) b) a mage wholly self-initiated his path to immortality and was not even cognizant that it existed c) he gained immortality as the effect of an unpredictable and unplanned sudden saga event, such as eating the fruits of the Garden of Hesperides.

This is fine :smiley:

In cases like this, I suppose that the character's perspective closely mirrors the one of the player. Both want the character's abilities to grow in a specific direction. It's just like studying an Art or an Ability: very likely, the PC and player want it for pretty much the same reasons.

You see, here you give a specific reason for the sake of saga's plot to want an exception to what would be the most reasonable course. As a player in your saga, I would be much more open to accept such a specific plot-driven reason than "it happens because mystery cults are secretive because well they are mysterious", which would put me in a rather bad mood.

Ahh, you want the immortal NPC to be distant and hidden masterminds instead of roaming forces of nature. OK, I understand it now. In such a case, I would strongly advice your "liches" to have plenty of ready LoHC effects in spells and devices, ready to go off whenever the host body is exorcised/destroyed/killed, when they do leave the Haunt (which they ought to do in the course of the saga, sooner or later; metting the Big Boss only at the end in the lair, like a Boss Monster in a video game, is rather boring).

Well, if you look at the big picture, there is a nice balance between the features of the various immortality methods: Ascension offers the maximum security and the minimum freedom of movement: they are essentially indescrutible, secured in the Hall of Heroes, but they only can (apparently) roam the earth in their Aspects and grow in power when they are summoned. Alchemical immortality, faerie Becoming, and Bjornaer Great Beast Twilight remain on Earth, can study to advance in power as much as they like (even if they have to through an additional loop to reatain what they gain), but they can killed or destroyed as easily as any other magical or faerie creature. Becoming is rather inferior to the Great Elixir because the mage inherits the crippling faerie inability to create, which magical immortals do not have, so the mages that take that route are advised to postpone transforming the mind as far as possible. Living Ghost are a middle of the road option, since they are rather more difficult to slay, requiring PeVi magic, but they can only exist wholly safely in a fixed location, and can only roam at manageable but considerable risk, and can advance themselves as easily as Elixir and Becoming users.

Guardian of Nature and Immortality of the Forest, differently from the above, belong to the lesser immortality methods, where you are freed from age, but eventually felled by Twilight, and they have a strong difficulty to leave. The former gives a dtrong protection from harm, where the latter gives no special protection. To this category belongs Goetic Binding, which leaves one free to roam, and gives no special defense. Neither gives any difficulty to learn, which is the hallmark and the balancing price of the greater Immortality methods, which bestow full agelessness.

Bjornaer apparently have managed to pull quite a unique trick, namely turning the ultimate end of Final Twilight into a new beginning. All the greater immortality mysteries turn the mage into one type of supernatural creature: magical humanoid creature, humanoid faerie, magical beast, ghost, spirit. As for Criamon, their Path of the Body has two stations which correspond to lesser and greater immortality, with none of the usual limitations to learning and freedom of movement, but come with crippling and strict limits to behavior, which more than enough balance them .


The main idea is that most cults that hold immortality as a goal, would have some scripts for IotS and Spirit Familiar, since it's just the smart thing to do if you plan immortality, and past Mystagogues would have realized it and experimented to develop such scripts. But assuming no one did it yet in your saga, any PC member of a cult can indeed use his Mystery Cult Lorte to experiment and self-initiate. It's difficult but possible, since all Cults are ultimately born and developed that way, with the help of some non-Hermetic insights at the very most.

While I'm persuaded there's good pragmatic reasons for mystae magi not to share Scripts or perform initiations without due compesnation (for the same reasons why magi do not share Summae ort Lab Texts for free), and so keep ther details of their methods secret, there's no reason for cults to be any more secretive than that, or at the most trying to keep details of their organization private, but noit their very existence or the broad nature of their methods.

Somebody did create all those Scripts. As far as any piece of history about the Order can be assumed to be set in stone, Quendalon did create the Becoming, the Master of the Green Cockerel adapted the Great Elixir to hermetic magic, Merinita (re)discovered Guardian of Nature, Bjornaer Great Beasts are a well-known if elusuive presence in the Order, at least two Mystery Cults (Disciples of the Worm and Legion of Mithras) regularly create Living Ghosts. I'd say the evidence is pretty impressive.

Sorry, I do not buy such a circular "they are secretive because they are secretive" argument.

It depends on how much effort the mage wishes to dedicate to the accumulation of Mystery Virtues, to the detriment of developing other aspects of their power, such as Arts, Abilities, spells, devices, politicking... The vast majority of initiation scripts take 2-4 seasons each to accomplish, Quests and everything. Typical paths to immortality do require to initiate from 3-4 Virtues (for the most free-formed cults) to 7-8 (for the most structured ones). To be generous, let's calculate an equal amount of time to develop those abilities and perform those non-initiation tasks a cult may require of an adept to qualify for next initiation. This means a mage who focuses most of his efforts on advancing a Mystery can do so in 10-20 years typically, sometimes 5-10 years if most of the favourable factors align or they put everything else on hold. A mage that wished to give equal attention to develop mysteries and more conventional Hermetic powers can double that time. 10-20 years to rush it, 20-40 to take it slow and easy. It's still but a fraction in an Hermetic lifespan.


This is precisely what I'm trying to explain to you!!! :laughing:
you take this kind of thing as a logical rule. And it is, from a player's perspective.

But imagine an alchemical cult. Would these guys dabble in spirit magics? No. Are they likely to think about something like IotS? Nope. Would you have thought of something like it on your own? Maybe, maybe not.
So, although this is the best logical solution from a player's standpoint, there's nothing illogical per se for a non-spirit MC to have no such thing as IotS.

Unless, of course, the existence of maguses with this virtue is widely known, which is saga-dependant. After all, if any MC includes your great secret, your own theurgic cult becomes rather uselless and will soon die out, doesn't it?

Thus, while your vision of MC seems coherent and workable, there are other visions, no less coherent and workable, which can explain the scarcity of such mysteries among immortality cults.
That's all I'm trying to say: Other visions are no less logical or coherent than your vision, they are just different :wink:
If this may help, picture this as saying that a vision of (say) Tremere as guardians of the order is no less coherent or logical than a vision of Tremere as conspiratists wanting to dominate it.

Well, let's say you create the Great Elixir script after a lifetime of research and a major breakthrough. You may very well die before having successfully used it, and may have been killed after this.

Then, if only a handfull of magi learned it, a fraction of them succeeding...

You may very well want a game with lots and lots and immortals, and this can be explained. But a game with few immortals can be explained also, and, AFAK, is closer to the raw.

They are secretive in order to ensure that their powers remain their own and are not taken by any other MC :wink:


You assume that you can just enter a MC, and then take an initiation after the next, doing in total what? At most 2 years of real service to the cult, spread through 10 years?
Once again, this may work for you, and there is nothing wrong in it.

But if I was a MC leader, I would slow down initiations, and make sure the greater one are only handed to dedicated members of the cult. To do otherwise would mean... Well, just ask the verditius what they think about the dissemination of the Automata mystery :wink:

That's not necessarily so.

"All of thiose scripts" amount to perhaps two or three in a typical vision of the setting, and they could have been granted by a powerful spirit, or developed by a magus who was too old to ue them, or developed by a magus who had been too scarred and warped by their experimentation to put them into practice.

"Quendalon" is quite explicitly shown to possibly be a faerie imposter rather than a character who has undergone the becoming.

The Green Cockerel cult is not a part of canon

Merinita's "postmortem" appearances could have been explained as an actual ghost, a faerie imposter, a message from the past, a divine visitation or any of a thousand other things.

The Disciples of the Worm and Legion of Mithras are, like the green cockerel, not a part of canon.

Great beasts are not immortal magi they're magical animals.

Secrecy may be why their mysteries work. They're secretive because that's what gives their mysteries power.

Your analysis only takes into account time spent by the character to be initiated, It does not take into account when the cult is able to provide a mystigoge or the initiate.

Your assumption of an equal time for initiation and other cult work seems about right to me but it isn't generous. Between running initiations, performing work for the cult's ends and studying up your appropriate cult lore a case could easily be made that a ratio of 1 to 3 is warranted.

I don't see that the resources would reasonably be available for a character to have the opportunity to devote themselves to a cult full time, even the house exoteric cults much less an esoteric mystery. How big are the cults in your setting? sixty magi each? I see six to twenty as a more typical size for a cult.