I've recently tried in play the rules for creating new initiation scripts for mystery cults, since in our saga a player is thinking about playing a Criamon character forging a new path. Criamon paths are essentially a set of five Major Virtues. A Mystagogue who does not know a Major Virtue he wants to initiate must reach a script total of 30:
House Criamon Lore + Presence + Script Bonus vs. Ease factor 30
Unless the House Criamon Lore score is exhorbitant, the Mystagogue needs a high Script bonus. This would not be a problem (lots of quests, possibly ordeals etc.) except that ... designing the script requires:
Simple die+ Risk modifier + Intelligence + House Criamon Lore roll vs. Ease factor of 9+Script Bonus.
Can Confidence be spent on such a roll? I assume not.
Since there are significant costs for just for trying (you "pay" the costs of the Initiation whether you succeed or not), it seems reasonable to look for situations in which Simple die + Risk modifier needs not be larger than 9. This means that the Mystagogue's Intelligence + House Criamore Lore must at least equal the Script Bonus. Plugging this back into the original formula, we get:
Intelligence + Presence + 2x House Criamon Lore vs. Ease factor 30
So, with Intelligence and Presence both at +2, our mystagogue needs a whopping House Criamon Lore of 13+. This seems very hard to achieve relatively early in the magus career, disqualifying the concept as a "starting character" concept. I guess the problem comes from the fact that Criamon paths are all Major Virtue paths. As such, it's impossible to start by Initiating a Minor Virtue (which lowers the Ease factor by 9, and thus the required Mystery Cult Lore down to a more reasonable 9) plus a Major Ordeal, which then would lower the next initiation Ease Factor down to 30-9=21.
Any avenues (pun intended!) I have missed?
I'm sure Timothy Ferguson will say that Criamon paths are meant to be hard to create, since the Criamon are, after all, wrong about the nature of the universe -- and a player can, in any case, negotiate with the troupe that the path he wants to take is one of the four "missing" paths and there's a spectral Primus happy to teach it. Still, I somehow wish this were a feasible starting character concept.
Actually, I had failed to notice two important things which do make the whole thing a little easier.
First, for the experimental initiation only (i.e. this does not apply to other characters following the script) the Risk Modifier is applied to the Initiation script total, and not just to the Int+Mystery Cult Lore to see if the script works as intended. So if you take a Risk Modifier of +3, the ease factor for initiating a Major Virtues "effectively" becomes a 27.
Second, the SG assigns a "sympathy bonus" (or penalty!) to the script to reflect how well it matches the Virtue sought. This does become part of the script bonus, but "after" the Int+Mystery Cult Lore is made. A conservative SG may reward the creative player with a +1; a generous one with a +3. Assuming a Risk modifier of +3, the necessary House Criamon lore drops to 11 and 10, respectively, which is still pretty high but somewhat more reasonable. Still, higher than that of the spectral primi mentioned in HoH:MC!
Yeah, I seem to recall that the "sympathy" bonus rewarded tight Initiation Script concepts. The other thing I thought was that the default "easy" option was to use existing scripts, and modify them. (And hence why you should go out and study other mystery cults for their scripts, and to go adventuring, etc. etc.)
Or alternately, start with the once-in-a-generation PC character who is stupidly hyper-optimized in Script creation.
Hmm, ok, let's see if and how we can make this work with a starting character.
First of all, it really seems one should push Int and Pre to the limit achievable without Virtues, +3.
Second, Affinity in House Criamon Lore, and Puissant House Criamon Lore. With 93 (!) xp in House Criamon Lore, this yields a starting score of 7+2. Obviously with a specialty in "experimental scripts"
With a Risk Modifier of +3, and Sympathy bonus of +1, the Script bonus for the first Avenue of the Path (without the Sympathy) must satisfy:
+3 (Presence) +10 (House Criamon Lore) +3 Risk Modifier +1 Sympathy + Script Bonus = 30
i.e. Script Bonus = 13.
To devise it the character must go through its steps and then roll:
Simple die + 3 (Intelligence) +10 (House Criamon Lore) + 3 (Risk Modifier) = 9+13=22
i.e. one must roll a 6+ on a Simple die (a 50/50 chance).
Not easy, but somewhat doable. I wish I could scrounge a few more points somewhere without starting to consider Intelligence and Presence in the +4/+5 range ... One possibility lies in a higher Sympathy Bonus, but current paths don't have high ones, so I'm somewhat reluctant to rely on that.
If you write the script in a beech wood bound folio you can get a +3 Knowledge bonus from a Beech Item of Quality. There might be other IOQs that qualify, but this is the most applicable I can think of.
Well, it's not much of a goal if he can do it right out of apprenticeship, right? Maybe it's not such a bad thing to have to spend a few years working towards the ability to effectively buy Major Virtues with time.
It's easy to assume that the majority of Criamon paths were absorbed rather than invented. Criamon magi study sufi-ism, adapt sufi magical powers into hermetic magi via initiation.
Secondly, with their propensity for Twilight and the possibility of gaining Major and Minor virtues from it, many of the paths may have started with a Twilight, followed by that Criamon preparing scripts for a Virtue that the magus already knows, so that he can pass his new insight onto others. As that path matures and gains more followers, assume that followers suffer more Twilights and introduce more new 'revelations' to their path. They could also gain virtues from Nature Lore paths and pass those on via mystery scripts.
It's not quite true. Remember that the character still has to go through all the steps of the initiations himself.
In terms of game balance, compare it with a second character who simply "rediscovers" the same path from a ghostly primus, and so obtains exactly the same Virtues "over time": the first character needs a lot more House Criamon Lore, needs highish Intelligence and Presence, risks failing several initiations (both on account of the stress die+risk modifier roll, and on account of the simple die+Int+House Criamon lore roll) and risks having his successful initiations marred by extra Ordeals (due to experimentation). Sure, the first character has some more flexibility in deciding the script, and will be acclaimed as the founder of a new path ... but it's a hefty price to pay for those two benefits.
Another comparison that could be made is with Original Research. Original Research (or Integration) can be carried out, fairly effectively, by a character straight our of apprenticeship, even without any special Virtues or Flaws (though Puissant Magic Theory certainly helps). It can be started immediately, even though its fruits may take some time coming. I'd like the same to be true for a character trying to forge a new Criamon path.
The fact that paths are created to "pass on" Virtues acquired elsewhere does make the whole process easier, but only very marginally so. Sure, the Ease factor for the script is now 21 instead of 30, so you need a Script Bonus 9 points lower (and of course, you need the Virtue too:) But the ease factor of Int+House Criamon Lore to see if the script works goes up from 9+Script Bonus, to 15+Script Bonus; in other words, it ends up being just 3 points lower. Or, seen another way, the necessary House Criamon Lore to manage the whole thing drops by only 1 or 2 points.
Perhaps more important, however, is the fact that Virtues acquired through Criamon initiations are really the "byproduct" of the wisdom gained on the path. So I don't really see a Criamon mystagogue saying "cool, I got this new shiny Virtues from this other source, let's see how I can create my own little path about teaching them".
I agree that Integration and Original Research can be done right out of the gate - however, to make (for example) Integration viable, you need to consistently be able to hit an 18+ on a Magic Theory roll. To do THAT, you'll need the following:
And...and then put your points into MT. That gets you +8 (Magic Theory(Labwork)) +2 (Puissant) + 5 (Intelligence) +3 (Inventive Genius) = 18
And in looking at that build, it seems that the difference is the Attribute Virtues, and Inventive Genius.
You said you wanted to avoid the Attribute bumps; fair enough. However, Inventive Genius looks to be an implementation of "General Ability bonus is +2, specialized ability bonus +3". As such, you could probably get away with using one of the generic "grant a +3 to a specialized use of an ability" virtues to grant a +3 to your Initiation Script roll.
EDIT - call it "Natural Mystagouge: gain +3 to all attempts to invent, develop, or use an Initiation script; +6 if you are willing to accept a Risk factor to your roll." ie, basically the exact same thing as Inventive Genius - only for Scripts. A generous GM might actually allow you to just use Inventive Genius, as well. Probably not RAW, though.
I'd also note that while Original Research can be done immediately, it's restricted by at best an 11% chance of success every season - you have to roll a 10 (exactly) on the Laboratory chart in order to get something; as such, being able to get a 50% chance of success is actually pretty good, comparatively. (Which is one of the reasons I don't care much for the Original Research rules - it's gated by that roll, which basically just comes down to nothing more than luck.)
I'd allow Inventive Genius as a generous GM interpretation - but by RAW, I don't think it can technically apply for script generation. (Inventive Genius only for Lab totals, and Script generation isn't technically a Lab roll? I thought was something like that.)
But hey - if the language of Inventive Genius allows it, then sure: +3 for the base, +6 for increased Risk.
Faerie Sympathy had immediately come to my mind. Mechanically, it can work. However, I think it's "aesthetically" rather inappropriate for the concept.
I can't really explain why, but it's the same reason why I think that a Mathematicus (or a related tradition) giving the character a bonus to his roll would not be very "appropriate".
Items of Quality appear a bit of stretch to me. Remember, for the bonus to apply, it must be a S&M bonus for the object AND the object must be one that, even unenchanted, can significantly aid the action (swords for cutting down enemies, jewelry for impressing onlookers etc.). What object would significantly aid the design of an initiation script?
I agree that something like "Inventive Mystagenius" would be a nice solution. I think I'll go with that if it's really necessary, even though I was hoping to go by the RAW.
There's obviously the possiblity of taking an Essential Trait Virtue ("Natural Born Mystagogue!") at +3 for a minor Virtue and +6 for a major. A bit overpriced for something that will get used, like, half a dozen times, but... hmmm....
And of course, there should be a daimon somewhere who can help. Why does a daimon feel ok to me and not a faerie or a mathematicus? I can't really say why.
As I stated earlier, Beech has +3 Knowledge S/M. To qualify for an IOQ it needs to be "used appropriately" as the only condition - it does not need to significantly aid an action. That's a very easy hurdle to overcome. The only question I would have is whether the ST would accept "Knowledge" as appropriate to discovery of a new Path. I would certainly expect so, but STs have surprised me in the past. Assuming the answer to this is yes, you only need to decide what sort of tool might you use in the discovery of a new path? I went the route of a folio to hold notes and protect your script, but many other ideas could work as well, creatively applied.
Other option - give yourself an Outer mystery. That is, a minor Virtue (such as Merinitia's Farie Magic) that has some sort of corresponding Flaw (such as "must take a point of Warp") - that'll give you a couple of bonus points to reduce the difficulty of the 'real' ritual.
...with that in mind, doesn't "being a Criamon" count as a minor Ordeal, or something? If it does, there's a -3 difficulty, right there.
Subrosa #16865AD: Voventes Centennales p.51 upper box has a Minor Hermetic Virtue Creative Mystagogue, which eases the validity check for some new initiation scripts designed in close cooperation with the storyguide. Perhaps you wish to discuss this with your troupe?
Personally, I (and my troupe in general) disagree with your interpretation of "used appropriately" (which is admittedly a somewhat vague term). If one were to follow it, earrings of quality would "easily" give a bonus when attempting to spy on someone else's conversation by listening behind a closed door. Just use them "appropriately", i.e. by hanging them to your earlobes rather than chewing them, and voila, you get the "hearing" S&M bonus.
No, the way I read it is that an item of quality is so good at what it does, that it provides a bonus to any action that would (significantly) benefit from a really, really good specimen of that item. So a sword of quality helps on attack rolls when using it in combat, because having a really really good sword helps in combat (and the S&M bonus is appropriate), but an earring of quality does not help overhear conversations, because in general overhearing conversations does not benefit from wearing really really good earrings (even if the S&M bonus is appropriate).
Indeed, as I stated earlier, starting with a minor Virtue + major Ordeal would make things much easier. However, none of the Criamon paths is structured like that. And we'd like to stick to "standard" as much as possible (another reason why we'd be stingy with the sympathy bonus).
Unfortunately, "being a Criamon" is not an Ordeal by the technical definition of Ordeal in Arm5. Though it certainly appears to be by the common definition of ordeal!
One Shot, your wisdom is encyclopedic as always Thanks for the pointer. Unfortunately, I don't have the latest Subrosas.
Still, as I said, I agree that houseruling some Virtue that gave a bonus to "mystagogy" would probably be the best course of action. In particular -- as you point out -- a bonus to the validity check and/or to the "experimental results" check. Still, I was hoping to be able to do it "by the book".