Integrating Theory itself?

This is a bit of a weird one, but hear me out. Hedge Magic Revised Edition has a small section on page 16 about hedge traditions integrating stuff, and says that without a (Hedge) Theory, the only thing a hedge mage can try to invent is (Hedge) Theory. But given where it was listed, and the mention of hedgies getting Hermetic artifacts, it got me thinking. Rather than purely doing Original Research, might it be possible for a hedge mage with access to books/teachers on Hermetic Magic Theory to use the integration rules to try to integrate a Theory skill into their magic system? Basically using the way Hermetic magi standardized their own capabilities as a template for performing the same standardization process with one's own magic?

Regardless of your answer, I'd like to hear your reasoning. I think it's a really fun way to get a Gifted hedge mage companion actively involved in the lives of magi characters, and I have yet to find anything conclusive in the rules pushing me one way or the other on this, but I could be missing something.


I expect any theory for a hedge magic would need to be learned through practice until such time as it was developed enough to leave tractatus and summae for other researchers, rather than requiring a breakthrough.

Silveroak, according to the rules it requires a breakthrough but, obviously, without the benefit of having a Hedge Magic Theory to work from. Side note: when a breakthrough results in an ability it’s generally stated it grants xp in said ability equal to the BP needed for the breakthrough.

To respond the the initial question, I don’t know that insight from non-Tradition effects or abilities will help create a theory for a different tradition. Studying Hermetic things (Hermetic Theory or effects) does not help formulate a coherent basic theory around magic that encompasses what a Gruagach can do (effects and limitations). “This is how they think magic works but it obviously doesn’t work that way for me and folks from my tradition.” That said, trying to create a “unified” theory or a theory that tries to take into account other ways of doing things as Hermetic Magic Theory did early in its development would probably be able to gain some insight from a variety of sources but you might want a magic theory for every tradition you want to “unify.”

Yes, sure. Somehow the Sahir's can do research without having a Solomnic Theory ability.

I see where you're coming from, but it seems buck wild to me that formulating a combined theory of multiple traditions should end up easier to do than inventing just your own tradition's theory, by virtue of how much more efficient integration is than original research. I dunno.

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I like the idea. The Order's beginning were Join or Die, and those who joined were taught the new way. All the founders had their own traditions, but learnt the Hermetic Way. While I appreciate the founders were the greatest of their age, the join or die group were not, and they still became Hermetics (or dead). There is an underlying concept Hermetic magic is the easiest magic tradition to learn and the most flexible.

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There is nothing indicating that Hermetic Magic is any easier or faster to learn or master than any other magical tradition.
It is, overall, the most flexible and powerful tradition though. (Mostly due to the fact that the game is written to make that true.)

It's possible that Bonisagus had a theory of his own tradition, but in his quest to expand it, he created Hermetic magic theory, building on knowledge of other Traditions from the other founders.

That means that others can do the same, and I can definitely see a similar organization rising in China, for example.


I like the idea. I think it can be part of a good story-line. I would allow a basic grounding in Magic Theory - perhaps a Season of talking to a magus about it - to provide Insight into developing a certain (Hedge) Theory. I might further suggest allowing something like a quest to find Bonisagus' first research notes into Hermetic Magic Theory to provide another Insight.

Overall, however, the development of your own tradition's magic should rely more on Original Research, or on integrating varied forms of magic into a single magic theory.

Whatever Bonisagus did when he created Hermetic Magic is probably impossible to replicate using the existing rules.
Bonisagus was a genius, and even so it took half a century from when he started his work on a unified theory on magic until the Order of Hermes was founded.

My impression is that Bonisagus didn't so much integrate any one tradition into another, but rather tried to find the common aspects of a great many different traditions, and from that created a new tradition.


It does bring up the question of how the order was held together and held to its traditions when the "joined or dead" crowd had all learned hermetic magic and outnumbered the founding traditions. An uprising would have been expected yet never occurred...


Why would there be any expectation of an uprising?
There is no obvious reason to expect such a thing.

Quite. There is not even a reason for most of those joining under threat to embrace Hermetic magic.

I've got an NPC attempting to develop their own tradition (or rather, revive an old one), so I've thought about this a little before.

The section on page 16 of Hedge Magic also says that inventing a Magic Theory for another tradition usually costs around 60 breakthrough points, but you can reduce that by your highest score in an existing Magic Theory. So there is some benefit from knowing Hermetic Magic Theory when inventing your own theory, but it's not huge.

The real benefit to integration comes from having Gifted teachers with a Hedge Magic Theory (and I suspect it's what Bonisagus did for at least the latter parts of his developments of his theory, assuming that the Cult of Mercury remnants had (a?) Magic Theory(ies)). Firstly, they can give you a number of Insights in each breakthrough associated with their tradition equal to their Hedge Magic Theory score (HM pg 15). Secondly, if they assist you when you're trying to develop the Insight lab text they give you a bonus to your Insight roll equal to their Int + Hedge Magic Theory (pg 15 again).

To achieve an Insight you need to achieve an Ease Factor of 18 with a Int + MT + bonuses stress roll. Assuming that Bonisagus had Int + 5 and Inventive Genius, he's got a base +8. Assuming that he hasn't currently got any bonus from his own Magic Theory (i.e. that it doesn't exist at all, rather than it existing to an extent but still being refined), that means he's got a <10% chance of getting an insight in a season. Adding in a Gifted assistant with Int + HMT = 5 makes his chance >50%. So a Gifted teacher with a (Hedge) Magic Theory will drastically speed up the process of both finding Insight sources and developing them into actual Insights.

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Because when the number of people pressed into joining an organization by force reaches a critical mass in terms of percentage of the organization their resentment at being forced to join tends to lead to rebellion. If even 60% of the mages have joined under "join or die" than at minimum their votes are no longer likely to continue to support the code.


The majority of those joining the Order during the early years (and afterwards too for that matter) weren't forced to join.
Diplomacy was much more common than "Join or die!" ultimatums, and many were quite willing to join since it meant they could learn Hermetic Magic (which was typically more powerful than their own magic) and the Parma Magica, and would be protected to at least some extent from attacks from Hermetic Magi.


First I don't know that anywhere breaks down what the ratio of voluntary vs "join or die" admission was, I do know that in the US south they feared slave rebellions when the population of slaves reached a total of 20% of the population. Admittedly slaves and magi forced into the order are not the same thing- the magi were not forced into harsh conditions or to perform labor for the order, but they are by their nature people who have a sense of their own superiority and a history (pre-order) of individualism. Personally it seems like a probable issue that was glossed over because either the authors didn't consider the possibility (assuming a video game style assimilation where those forced onto your side then recruit enthusiastically for you) or did not want to be bothered with considering it. Certainly it is a reaction I would have expected.

Take look at the complete HoH:S p.8 box Join or Die, which e. g. states:

The one documented case where Flambeau used his famous threat was in 771. <...> Even so, Flambeau believed that bringing new wizards into the Order should be a gradual, diplomatic process.
Magi in 1220 - especially young magi - should be aware that demanding hedge wizards "join or die" is neither a common nor a recommended recruitment technique.

So no numerical breakdown, or course - but just a clear avoidance of this procedure even by Flambeau, and a general deprecation of such methods in the rest of the Order as well.

See also HoH:S p.10 The House under Apromor:

One of Apromor's major initiatives was to continue his pater's effort to recruit non-Hermetic magi. <...> In an effort to increase the number of magi within his House, Apromor embarked on a long-running, consistent campaign to ensure, that pagan wizards recruited by House Flambeau remained there.

and in the core book p.10 "magi of flambeau and Tytalus criss crossed the contient, giving all magi they found the simple choice, join or die.", which if they are criss crossing the continent and challenging every mage they find that suggests a large number of mages...

Wait, wait, am I reading the Original Research rules correctly? The special rules for risk modifier on Original Research say the amount of risk you can apply is based on your Magic Theory. So if you're a hedge wizard trying to invent your own theory, you can't even add risk modifier? And the Experimentation chart puts Discovery on 10, which, since this is an unmodified stress die (for which the 10 result on the die is a 0 and potential botch), means... you have to roll a 1 followed by a 5, every single time you want to make progress towards a Hermetic Breakthrough? And, going off the HMRE page 16 guidelines, not even a normal Hermetic Breakthrough, but possibly one with the point threshold doubled???

I haven't mathed it out, but this seems like you have a rounding error from 0% chance of succeeding even if you devoted your entire life to it. Which, like, is fine for NPCs, but sucks if you want to give a character the goal of advancing their tradition by making a formalized theory for it. (And also begs the question of how the heck any of the traditions that do have Theory skills could possibly have gotten them.)