Initiation and Mundanes

Is it possible to initiate mundanes into a secret if the virtue (and any flaws imposed by ordeal) are applicable? Can I initiate a magister in artibus into good teacher for example; perhaps with the flaw higher purpose or something similar?

If I understand HMRE right its possible to initate people lacking the gift at last into supernatural virtues.

Yes you can, BUT people without The Gift must] take a flaw to balance a virtue gained. Theoretically, if you get a high enough initiation total you can give Magi a minor virtue with no balancing flaw, or maybe even give someone a Major virtue with only a Minor Flaw in return. (For example, see Criamon paths and how they have flaws at certain stages along the paths, but the total number of virtues gained is bigger than the number of flaws). However, mundanes must take a flaw equal in value to any virtue they gain.

UnGifted may both initiate others and be initiated. According to HMRE, all standard rules apply, with the following exceptions:

  1. Ungifted cannot serve as mystagogues for Virtues they do not themselves know (thus, they may not self-initiate).
  2. Ungifted can only be initiated if undergoing an Ordeal (i.e. they must gain a Flaw, though not necessarily of the same value as the Virtue they obtain) and this Ordeal provides no script bonus for subsequent initiations (it does provide a bonus for the initiation inflicting it, though).

Cradle and Crescent also has some stuff on it. My copy is on loan right now but I believe it even discussed incorporating it into Hermetic Theory.

The Church doesn't have the restrictions on ungifted getting bonuses from previous ordeals that HMRE has. Nor are ordeals required. Presumably self-initiation or even developing new scripts would be possible. (Although most characters probably wouldn't realize this without dominion lore.)

So I think the requirements in HMRE are unique to those traditions. In general if it makes sense (story guide permission) you can self-initiate sans or initiate someone ungifted with no ordeal issues. Arguably it could lead to negative sympathy modifiers though if its nonsensical. "By the power of Empirisicm I grant the the holy method of blessings!" Probably has a -5 due to not making any damn sense.

If you are referring to the examples of Franciscan initiations, that allow a bonus for a previous ordeal and/or do not require an ordeal, I assume they are an editorial mistake. They certainly contradict the statement in HMRE, which is stated in very general terms and not restricted to specific magical traditions.

If you are referring to Pilgrimages or Spiritual Paths (I don't think you are, but just in case...) those are entirely different things from initiations and, although they do follow "script" mechanics (that have the target accumulate a certain number of points by taking significant actions) they are bound by different constraints, and indeed one needs no Gift or mystagogue.

Presumably however, HMRE was only talking about Hedge Magic traditions. Especially seeing as how it contradicts The Church book. The Mysteries Revised Edition also makes no mention of requiring the gift either. It would be odd to entirely miss something that important.

Hmm, I'm no longer fully convinced of the validity of my position, but I'm still not convinced of the validity of yours either. When a general statement and an example are in contrast, I tend to think that the example got the numbers wrong. In this case, it's also weird that such a limitation be placed only on some specific Hedge traditions - what about others not in the book? Finally, I would point out that TMRE is entirely, if not explicitly, devoted to Hermetic mysteries, so it kind of makes sense for it to sidestep the issue of unGifted initiations. Still, as I said, you do have a point.

I think that you are right. TMRE was a) written some time ago, and b) written explicitly about Hermetic Mysteries. So, (despite the existence of Redcaps) the issue of non-Gifted (or even really non-Hermetic) initiations was just not considered at that time (apparently).

The authors of HMRE (i.e. me and others) were however thinking about the possibility of non-Gifted / non-Hermetic Initiations. In particular, while we wanted it to be possible for non-Gifted hedgies, we didn't want it to be as easy or as effective as it is for the Gifted ones. That's part of the power/benefit of being Gifted.

You do have a good point about being wholly devoted to Hermetic mysteries so they may have sort of forgotten it. OTOH, RoP:tD points to TMRE being used as a base for initiations characters in divine abilities.

What probably happened is there was never a clear idea across all the books for if it was allowed or not and thus you have differing systems. (Indeed RoP:tD they hadn't come up with the system yet!) Worse in the main books with initiations it was never brought up at all, and probably not even considered.

IIRC when TMRE was published nobody had even THOUGHT about ungifted people being able to enter/be part of magical traditions (and that is still a hotly contested point in my troupe), so this might not have even been an issue back then.

I was about to argue with Xavi - then I double-checked the books. There's very little mention of ungifted people - TMRE page 23 says "many cults prize even unGifted members if they know how to fight or possess useful skills." The Neo-Mercurians have a rank of ungifted messengers. And...that's about it. So, theoretically unGifted people join cults but it makes no mention of if/how they gain special powers. Hedge Magic discusses it in a sidebar on page 14 as some traditions use ungifted people. (Vitkir are all gifted, nightwalkers tend to be ungifted, and elementalists/folk witches/gruagachan/learned magicians have both, with Gifted members getting six favoured abilities when their Gift is opened and unGifted having to initiate each one).

Cradle and The Crescent also mentions initiating ungifted people as the majority of "the order of Suleiman" are unGifted.

The idea of pilgrimages is an interesting one, as it uses a purely story-based mechanic and once players have played through enough stories to accumulate the points they reach the end of their pilgrimage, with the Divine (ie SG choice) deciding whether the players get the virtue gain/flaw removal that they want, or whether a different choice would be more suitable. You could easily adapt it for mystery cults, so when the players have done enough Quests and travelled to exotic cult-specific locations they undergo a mystical experience.

No, you're right. There is at least one group with initiations for unGifted ranks. I'll find it later.