Iosephus ex Criamon

Iosephus is a Welsh magus who is a member of the Mystery House of Criamon. He is a tall, friendly-looking man, apparently in his mid-30's. He is strikingly thin, but strong in a wiry sort of way: his body is all taut muscle and tendon. His greatest magical talents are in the area of self-transformation.

Like many Criamon magi, Iosephus is covered from head to foot in arcane tattoos. His tattoos seem very dark at first - almost black - but when he moves, or when the light changes, they seem to shift and ripple. Sometimes they seem the colour of dark, tarnished silver. At other times, they seem iridescent like a fish's scales, or like the feathers of a kingfisher. Then at other times they seem to shimmer like wavelets troubling the surface of deep, still water.

Iosephus is very warm and personable, but he is also used to living alone. He grew up in a small fishing village on the South coast of Wales, and spent most of his youth swimming in the surf or running wild along the rocks of the shoreline. He was treated well by his mundane family, but something about him troubled them. He had visions - sometimes at night, but other times in broad daylight - and insisted that they would prove to mean something of crucial importance, if only he could learn to understand them. He was happiest alone, constructing weird structures out of seashells and driftwood - structures that he felt had some deep significance - a significance that he was always just on the edge of being able to see.

At the age of 10, he was taken in by Guinevra ex Criamon, a kindly maga who recognised his potential as a student of the Enigma. She took him to her covenant - a small Summer covenant on an island just off the Welsh coast - and explained the first elements of the Enigma to him. Once he understood what she was telling him, he eagerly agreed to become her apprentice.

In the thirty years since he became a full magus, Iosephus has travelled a little more widely - most often to the Cave of Twisting Shadows, the Domus Magna of House Criamon, where he has been instructed in the Mysteries by a spectral primus. Always, however, he has returned to his home on the coasts of Southern Wales. Nominally, he has always been member of Guinevra's covenant, but in practice he has lived alone, keeping his own laboratory in a small cave inside a regio in a remote part of the Gower peninsula. His need to study Magical Arts in appropriate surroundings has meant that he has spent much of his time away from his laboratory, transformed into something else: drifting as water in the ocean, perhaps, or floating as air amongst the clouds. He is a mystic, an initiate in mysteries, and a follower of visions. He feels that these methods bring him real insights into the nature of the Enigma - insights that could never be gained in a more traditional way.

Recently, his visions have begun to suggest that it may finally be time for him to leave his homeland. Strange allegorical dreams - mystifying at first, but succeeded quickly by sudden flashes of understanding - have led him to believe that the ancient city of Bibracte might hold some of the answers that he seeks. A letter has arrived, unasked-for, from one 'Apollodorus', inviting him to join a covenant there. It is surely no coincidence. There is, he thinks, some deeper meaning here.

Here's a preliminary version of Iosephus' character sheet, for SG and troupe perusal. I'd very much value your opinions on to what extent I've managed to do this right.

EDIT: In line with Jonathan's comments, I've changed his old Mystery Path, the "Path of the Body," to a new one, the "Path of Transformation", as outlined in a later post.

[size=150]Characteristics[/size]
[table][tr][td]Characteristic[/td] [td]Value[/td] [td]Description[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Intelligence[/td][td]+3[/td][td]deep[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Perception[/td][td]+1[/td][td]sensitive[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Strength[/td][td]+1[/td][td]tensile[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Stamina[/td][td]+2[/td][td]driven[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Presence[/td][td]+2[/td][td]mesmerising[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Communication[/td][td]-3[/td][td]cryptic[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Dexterity[/td][td]+1[/td][td]deft[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Quickness[/td][td]+1[/td][td]poised[/td][/tr][/table]
Warping: 2 Warping Points: 22
Confidence: 3 Current Confidence: 3

Wizard's Sigil
Iosephus' spells all tend to manifest a slight shimmer of silvery iridescence, like his tattoos.

Voting Sigil
A small fish made of dark silvery metal, with very shiny scales. When the light catches the scales from a certain angle, it seems to have the wings of a flying fish.

[size=150]Personality Traits[/size]
[table][tr][td]Carefree[/td] [td]+3[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Driven[/td][td]+3[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Kind[/td] [td]+2[/td][/tr][/table]

[size=150]Virtues[/size]
Strong-Willed (+3)
Enduring Constitution (+3)
Improved Characteristics
Premonitions
Puissant Muto (+3)
Affinity with Muto (xp x1.5)
The Enigma
Puissant Enigmatic Wisdom (+2)
Affinity with Enigmatic Wisdom (xp x 1.5)
Study Bonus From Surroundings (+2)
Minor Magical Focus: Self-Transformation (double lowest applicable Art)

[size=150]Flaws[/size]
Study Requirement: Appropriate Surroundings (Major)
Twilight Prone (Major)
Weird Magic (must roll an extra 'weird' botch die)
Visions (Story)
Driven (Personality)
Compassionate (Personality)

[size=150]Cult Mysteries[/size]

Iosephus follows the Criamon Path of Transformation, a form of mysticism through which Criamon magi learn to transform their body into and out of basic Elemental substances in order to reach a more complete understanding of the universe as a whole. He has also received instruction in the cult mystery Inscription On The Soul, which has enabled him to open his Criamon tattoos for enchantment and make them his talisman. He has used the Blending with Substance process to incorporate Mercury and Platinum inks into his tattoos, thereby making the normal talisman attunement bonuses available. He has devoted a total of ten seasons, at various points in his career, to gaining initiation in, and then working with, these various Mysteries, including one season spent as Mystagogue (or rather, 'Guide', as the Criamon put it) for another magus.

The Path of Transformation
The Station of Acceptance of Transformation
[table][tr][td]Virtues [/td] [td]Flaws[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Minor Potency in Self-Transformation (+3)[/td] [td]Carefree[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]May use Enigmatic Wisdom as Survival and Swim[/td] [td]Pious: Believes in the Ethic of Criamon[/td][/tr]
[tr][td][/td][td]Disfigured by ritual tattoos[/td][/tr][/table]
The Station of the Inner Spharios
[table][tr][td]Virtues[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Regular daily transformations replace the need to breathe, eat, drink, sleep, and age[/td][/tr][/table]
The Station of Aptness
[table][tr][td]Virtues [/td] [td]Flaws[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Deft self-transformation[/td][td]Pious( Major): True Faith in the Ethic of Criamon[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]May end self-transformation spells at will[/td][td][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]May spend long periods in other forms without mental damage[/td][td][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Access to four special Elemental Transformation spells[/td][td][/td][/tr][/table]
The Station of Roiling in Change
[table][tr]Virtues [/tr]
[td]May study Arts, Magic Theory and Enigmatic Wisdom without the aid of a laboratory[/td][/table]
Inscription on the Soul
[table][tr][td]Virtues[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Criamon tattoos function as his talisman[/td][/tr][/table]
[size=150]Talisman[/size]
Iosephus' talisman is the shifting pattern of tattoos that covers him from head to foot. The tattoos are basically dark, but shimmer and ripple with a slight silvery iridescence. Part of this visual effect is a result of the inherent magic of the Criamon tattooing, part is due to the magical energies involved in creating a talisman, and part is simply due to the Mercury and Platinum inks that he has incorporated. Whether or not the Mercury lacing his body has contributed to the strangeness of his mind, who can say?

Talisman Attunements
[table][tr][td]Mercury[/td] [td]+5 to Muto[/td][/tr]
[tr][td][/td][td]+3 to Aquam[/td][/tr]
[tr][td][/td][td]+3 to Terram[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Platinum[/td] [td]+4 to Air[/td][/tr][/table]
Talisman Enchantments

Yielding Body When the body is about to be damaged, the tattoos create a muto corpus effect to momentarily transform the threatened parts of the body into air and/or water, thereby avoiding part of the damage.
Basically, this just means +5 soak.
MuCo(Aq)(Au) 45 (base 25, +1 Conc, +1 Part, +1 item maintains Conc, +1 uses 24/day. I've treated the requisites as cosmetic)

Carefree Body This effect allows the body to resists sickness and disease, as well as granting it near-immunity to the adverse effects of extreme weather conditions, such as frostbite, sunburn, heatstroke, pressure-sickness, and so on.
This means +15 to resist sickness and disease, and +4 soak vs damage from the weather conditions mentioned.
MuCo 45 (base 10 for resistance to sickness and disease, base 20 for soak, +1 Conc, +1 item maintains Conc, +1 for 24 uses/day)
NOTE: I wasn't sure how to build this last effect - is this build plausible?

[size=150]Abilities[/size]
Welsh (Southern dialects) 5
French (Norman dialects) 2
Athletics (running and leaping from rock to rock) 1
Brawl (dodging) 1
Swim (rough surf) 2
Survival (coast) 2
Folk Ken (fisher-folk) 2
Profession: fisherman (sailing) 2
Enigmatic Wisdom (twilight) 7 (First level free, Puissance grants +2, Affinity multiplies xp by 1.5 )
House Criamon Lore (mysteries) 5
Premonitions (imminent danger) 4 (First level free)
Teaching (acting as mystagogue) 1
Magic Theory (muto) 5
Parma Magica (mentem) 4
Latin (Hermetic usage) 4
Artes Liberales (ceremonial magic) 1
Philosophiae (moral philosophy) 1
Finesse (precision) 3
Penetration (muto) 3
Concentration (spells) 3

[size=150]Magical Arts[/size]
Creo 0
Intellego 10
Muto 20 (Puissance grants +3, affinity multiplies xp by 1.5)
Perdo 0
Rego 10

Animal 10 Ignem 10
Aquam 10 Imaginem 0
Auram 10 Mentem 0
Corpus 10 Terram 10
Herbam 0 Vim 10

[size=150]Spells[/size]

Muto Corpus Spells
Shape of the Woodland Prowler [MuCo(An) 25]
Cloak of White Feathers [MuCo(An) 30]
(Same as "Cloak of Black Feathers", but transforms into a white seabird - a tern - rather than a raven)
Curse of Circe [MuCo(An) 40]
(This version has had the target increased to "Group")
One with the Wind [MuCo(Au) 45]
One with the Water [MuCo(Aq) 45]
One with the Fire [MuCo(Ig) 45]
One with the Stone [MuCo(Te) 45]

Muto Auram Spells
Cloud Walker [MuAu 25]

Muto Imaginem Spells
Aura of Ennobled Presence [MuIm 10]
Image Phantom [MuIm 20]

Rego Animal Spells
Circle of Beast Warding [ReAn 5]

Intellego Vim Spells
Scales of Magical Weight [InVi 5]
Sense the Nature of Vis [InVi 5]

10 left
355 levels of spells total (125 from apprenticeship, 230 from xp)

[size=150]
Notes on Character Creation
[/size]

Experience Points Earned
[table][tr][td]Early childhood (ages 1-5)[/td][td]45 xp earned[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Later childhood (ages 6-10)[/td][td]75 xp earned[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Apprenticeship (ages 11-25)[/td][td]240 xp earned, and 120 levels of spells learned[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Adulthood
(ages 26-55)[/td][td]1100 xp earned, and 10 seasons spent being initiated into mysteries, acting as mystagogue, and enchanting his talisman[/td][/tr]
[tr][/tr]
[tr][td]TOTAL XP EARNED[/td][td]1460 xp, plus 120 free spell levels[/td][/tr][/table]

Experience Points Spent
[table][tr][td]Abilities[/td][td]590 xp[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Arts[/td][td]635 xp[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Spells[/td][td]235 xp plus 120 free levels[/td][/tr]
[tr][/tr]
[tr][td]TOTAL XP SPENT[/td][td]1460 xp, plus 120 free spell levels[/td][/tr][/table]

Comments so far.

I have a couple of issues, characteristics and your self-transformation potency. You have 10 points to spend because of the Improved Characteristics Virtue, you've spent 12. This can easily be resolved by adjusting a +1 to a -1.

I'm not able to reconcile The Path of Body with your Self-transformation potency. It doesn't fit in my mind. If the perfect form for hermetic magic is the human form, and given the Criamon's believe that the human body mirrors the structure of the universe, then transforming yourself into another form is problematic in my mind. Transforming to non-human form is not an apt act and would cause you all sorts of troubles. I'm leaning in the direction that transforming into another human form (being an imposter) is not an apt act.
The only place transformation is mentioned on the Path of the Body is the Avenue of Subduing the Meat. It's used by a small group of Magi, and then once completed isn't discussed again. In my mind, it's similar to fasting, avoiding nourishment of the human form to better understand the human form. Once completed, I don't think there's a need to revisit it. I'd like to see what your plans and reasons are for continuing to use self-transformation before you get to far along.

Thanks for those thoughts.

Is this right? I keep checking and checking the addition, and coming up with 10 again.

This is interesting - I'd never thought of it that way. I can see your point. It's certainly true that the Criamon see the human form as unique and special: it's a microcosm for the universe in a way that other forms - animals, natural things - are not. Thus I can definitely see how that could lead to the idea that it's an 'inapt action' to take on other forms. But Criamon are pretty paradoxical, and that just seems a bit too straightforward to me. I don't want to be a troublemaker, but for what it's worth, in my mind the justification goes like this:

(Cue long essay)

Criamon magi are in search of the Hypostasis, which is a way out of the world. Achieving hypostasis would involve leaving behind everything that makes up worldly life - time, space, the body, the spirit, the soul - everything. Their philosophy, like Buddhism and certain forms of Gnosticism or Manicheanism, is ultimately a kind of rejection of existence, and everything that existence entails.

From this perspective, the interesting thing about the Path of the Body is that it is based on one of the traditional paradoxes that you see in many real-world mysticisms: in order to escape (bodily) existence, you have to embrace it more completely. It's a bit like buddhist yoga that way - an embrace of the body in order, finally, to transcend it. Thus, in the Path of the Body, the Criamon magus embraces bodiliness, as a microcosm of and allegory for worldiness, in order, finally, to move through and beyond it. The Criamon magus tries to become even more embodied, in order to move towards a final escape from bodiliness/worldliness.

To put this another way, and thereby take it a step further, we might say that in this view the Criamon magus is embracing the body, and becoming more and more embodied, in order to embrace the world, worldly existence - all forms of embodiment. It thus seemed to me that it would be possible to pursue this Path in a very deep manner by embracing all forms - not just the uniquely microcosmic human form, but also the forms of natural things. To someone of this mindset, what could be a more thorough embrace of existence than to take the human form and run it through all the different possibilities of form, in a kind of continual deepening exploration of forms of embodiment? Following the path of the Body in this way would be appropriate to Criamon's philosophy in the same way that the more Sufi-influenced Path of Walking Backwards is appropriate to Criamon philosophy: as a "form of complete surrender to the harmonic force, which draws the magus into spiritual unity with the universe" (Mystery Cults 70)

The transformations of the human body are thus a way of connecting the microcosm through to all the different parts of the macrocosm, if you like. It's a mysticism of imminence rather than transcendence, if you get my meaning - like the kind of paradoxical embrace of the world and its possibilities that you get in Taoism or Sufism - not to take it too far from Mythic Europe.

Thus I'm envisioning him dissolving into water and spending weeks lying on the sea-bed, or floating with the clouds as air, becoming one with the wind and rocks, and such like - all in a pursuit of a more thorough embodiment, a more thorough embrace of existence in its more physical forms - the better, finally, to transcend it. I'm not envisioning him transforming to impersonate other people as his main shtick, although I suppose that would be possible in emergencies.

Anyway, that's how I'd thought of it initially. And look, in the end, you're the SG, of course - if this 'path of the body'+'bodily transformation' thing just doesn't work for you (or if it just doesn't seem right to the troupe) then I'm very willing to come up with a new character concept. Anything for a fun game!

My mistake on data entry, it's fine, I misread your stength as 2 like 5 different times.

There is a difference between appearing paradoxical and being so. Everything with the Criamon mystery makes sense. Actions to those not initiated within the mystery may not think it makes sense. Additionally, certain members of the House take up actions which appear paradoxical, but are actually in furtherance of the goals of the house as a whole. Perhaps they find their skills imperfect to understanding the Enigma and therefore take inapt action more often so others (more able) don't have to do so.

Until this point, I agreed with your essay. The mystic on the Path of the Body is focused on the body. From HoH:Myster Cults, pg 61:"The path of the body focuses on the human form." In my mind, that seals it. Any other study of transformation is considered unnecessary, beyond the initial transformation that you experienced in your initiation rite. Your continued actions of transformation, by other Criamon, in my mind would be seen as unorthodox at best. At worst, you'd be a Gorgiastic, that no one has confronted, waiting for you to realize the situation and resolve it by seeking membership in another house. You cannot continue to experience the human form when you are out of it, and your initial experience being out of it should've taught this.

So, ways to do what you want to do...
Delay. Pursue the path of the Body through all the stations, experience its imperfection fully, then conduct "research" and discover and create a new path along the vein of what you want. Pick a different potency for now, and then your potency could change due to your "research." Research is an imperfect term for what is described. This new Path would be the antitheses of the Path of Body and create internal strife within the house. You'll have to attract adherents to your cause. However, this will require significant investment on your part to work with me on creating a new path, and may not perfectly fit with your vision. Additionally, you'll have to achieve what amounts to a Hermetic breakthrough amount of research. This is a very long character arc.

How about Hermetic Alchemy, you believe the universe is perfect, by expericing more forms of the universe manifesting you come closer to immortality, develop understanding. Change to an ex Misc, Bonisagus, even a Jerbiton would be good starter houses for this path. You could choose Tremere, too, but expect to see some sort of conflict between the House and the Mystery cult at some point. Regardless of the House chosen, this is an imperfect match for what you want to do. As to Bjorners, I'm unsure

For the sake of continuing this interesting discussion:

I totally agree with this - that's what my little essay was about! - I just don't quite see why it necessarily leads us to conclude this:

Is this prohibition on transformation mentioned in the books somewhere that I've missed?

But look, apart from the fun of having a very interesting discussion about Criamon philosophy, this is all a bit academic. The idea obviously doesn't work for you. That's cool; I'll take the character down and think up something else.

Thinking about it a bit more, this concept seems better suited to a nature based (not fae based) Merinita.

I think the concept is interesting, it just fit my understanding of apt action with someone on the Path of the Body. It's the disconnect between the House and the magic... I hate to see hard work wasted, and it's apparent you put a bit of effort into it.

Oh, and I'm more than willing to let the troupe overrule me on this one, by the way. :smiley:

Yeah...I got lost on this discussion awhile back, so I doubt I'll overule anything here.

Haha thanks for saying that - helps to salve my brutally shattered ego - but I don't want to be the troublemaker who calls for the first SG overrule! It's always more fun if the SG is happy. Plus, just from a selfish perspective, I always think that you get better stories thrown your way if the SG is excited about your character. But thanks again.

I had one more thought - not sure whether or not it would work for you. Clearly, the Path of the Body is causing a lot of the problems here. How would you feel about me coming up with a new path (the Path of Transformation? or similar?) - clearly with heavy consultation with you, since creating one's own path is an invitation to munchkinism in the wrong hands.

I can understand that you might want to say that this should be left to be done in play - if so, no worries. But given that we're creating our characters 30years into their careers, you might feel okay about waiving this proviso. It's a bit hard to get super enthusiastic about starting a character on an established path, walking it for 30yrs, and then changing, since you lose all the benefits of the old path when you transfer to a new one.

I wouldn't want the character to be the inventor or initiator of the path - just a follower of it. Two moments in the Mystery Cults book get me excited about this, and seem like invitations to do this sort of thing:

Mystery Cults p 73:

There are four paths that no longer have living travelers. Each is represented by at least one spectral Primus, who waits for an appropriate time to revive his tradition

This seems an obvious invitation to create characters who follow the other four paths.

If having character who is reviving a dead tradition with the aid of a spectral primus seems to be going too far, here's another option:

Mystery Cults p 73:
The house currently has magi active on nine different paths
Of these, only seven are accounted for, unless I've missed one (or two) These would be:
The Path of the Body
The Path of Seeming
The Path of Strife
The Path of Walking Backwards
The Path of the Mirror (Primi only)
The Path of Beacons (For magi who create sanctuaries away from the world)
The Winding Path (describing those who follow no formal path)

This leaves two paths unaccounted for - two paths that the book tells us already have magi active on them. Another clear invitation to creativity!

Anyway, just a thought. It just seems as if the Path of the Body is what's causing the problems, so it could solve everything to just put him on another path. Plus I find path creation loads of fun! Again, I'd do it without any intention of powergaming or the like, which is not my style anyway, and of course with the understanding that you have the right and power to veto the whole idea if you find it's not working for you once you see the first draft of the path.

That would be fine, if handled appropriately, as I indicated in a previous response. Go ahead and start creating a path of transformation. We'll handle this outside the game topic, via pm's or something, we'll figure out the details later. However, in the interests of getting things moving, I'd like you to either stick to the Path of the Body (change your Potency) or do another character entirely who pursues the path you're interested in within the framework of the story. My only issue with your character is a philosophical one, if the followers of the Path of the Body believe that the human form is perfect structural reflection of the Universe, then they would want to experience it fully, and not spend time away from that form. And yes, I get that one can gain a different perspective by spending time as a different form, however that process should be a struggle (i.e. not Potent) and involves a rebirth much as was described for some followers of the path. The entire process is not one that the applicant wants to experience frequently and in my mind that precludes potency.

I'm all for walking down a new path for a Criamon, but doing so is going to require a heavy investment of time, and I'd much rather see it be devoted to stories sooner rather than rush it into place. Creating a whole new Path is not without some time investment, and right now, that investment is going to the games I'm currently playing and preparation for this one. You uncover a mystical text, or you go to the Cave of the Twisting Shadows and run into one of the former Primii and he recognizes your struggle. Again, this is something we can do together, but I'm going to put the burden of heavy lifting on you.

So to sum up, stay with this character, adjust the Potency to something more appropriate and walk down the other Path at a later time through the story of the game. Or make another character, not initiated in a mystery preparing to follow the Path of Transformation.

Ah, great - thanks for the kind words, Jonathan. No worries about getting a character done in time - that'll be no problems at all. I'm pretty fast with this stuff.

So - I know it's by no means top priority, but having started playing around with it before I read your email, I've finished a draft of the Path of Transformation, if you'd like to see it. No hurry, of course - I understand you have plenty of other things to look at, and it's not top priority.

Should I post it here just for when you feel like taking a look, or do you want me to PM or email or something?

(In truth, I am rather hoping that you might look at the Path I've mocked up, say "gee, that really works!", and then let me just sub it into my existing character in place of The Path of the Body, thus solving all our problems and completing my character creation process. But that's a bit cheeky... :wink: )

Go ahead and pm it to me.

You legend! Thanks muchly.

(Apologies if it's a bit overdone. I was getting into it.)

So in line with Jonathan's instructions I'm posting the custom Criamon Mystery path I've mocked up here, so y'all can take a look at it and see what you think. It's pretty long, so don't feel obliged! I just enjoy writing this stuff.

I'm extremely happy to accept suggestions for changes or improvements and so forth. I certainly don't want to have it in the saga if the troupe doesn't like it - that's a recipe for no fun at all. Plus it would just be nice to know what you think.

[size=150]The Path of Transformation[/size]

Summary
Criamon magi who walk the Path of Transformation try to reach the Hypostasis (roughly the Criamon version of nirvana) by transforming themselves, physically, into other forms - particularly into the Elemental forms of Fire, Air, Earth, and Water. That's the gist. See below for more details!

A Bit of Philosophy

As the name suggests, the Path of Transformation focuses on the magic of self-transformation. Criamon magi following this Path believe that Empedocles’ most important insight was his discovery of the Four Elements, and his theory that the constant Change and Transformation of those Elements makes up the world. Magi following this Path put great stock in the words with which Empedocles opens Purifications, his great treatise on the origin of the world:

[Note: Yes, these are actual quotes from the real Empedocles, lightly adjusted]

Empedocles thus believed that the world is, in essence, a continuous process of transformation of the four basic Elements. To Magi on the Path of Transformation, this means that the best path to mystical understanding is to learn to directly experience the transformations that make up the world. This involves learning to dissolve the corporeal body into its constituent Elements of Fire, Air, Earth, and Water, and to resolve those elements into other forms. Magi on this Path hope that their embrace of the materiality of the Elements, and their surrender to the transformative force that drives the Elements onwards, and will eventually lead them to a complete understanding of the universe, and thus to an escape from it.

A Bit of History:

The Path is an old one, much associated with pagan practices of self-transformation that pre-date the Order. For this reason, it fell out of favour during the Schism War – in the firmness of their rejection of House Diedne and all that it stood for, some even within House Criamon saw the Path of Transformation as tainted by its old association with druidic practices. Still, a number of spectral Primi who followed the Path in centuries past remain in the Cave of Twisting Shadows, ready to Initiate any suitable Criamon who wishes to follow them.

[size=150]The Stages of Initiation:[/size]

1 – The Avenue of Attunement to the Elements and the Station of Acceptance of Transformation

Finding the first Station on the Path of Transformation involves giving up the vast majority of one’s worldly goods and spending a season living entirely unprotected against the Elements. This season involves a great deal of physical hardship, as the magus must live naked in the wilderness, regularly immersing himself in the turbulent waters of the sea during storms, sweating next to raging fires, and climbing sharp and painful rocky cliffs in order to expose himself to the harsh winds. The magus must come to accept that the hardships he faces are only the result of his failure to properly attune himself to the Elements, and his unwillingness to surrender to the process of their transformation.

The process of finding the first station teaches the magus to attune himself to the transformations of the Elements. He may thereafter read the signs of that transformation in the world around him, using his Enigmatic Wisdom score in lieu of the Abilities Survival and Swim. He also learns to internalise the profound truth of transformation, applying what he learned of the Elements to himself (Minor Potency in Self-transformation). In order to succeed in the initiation, the magus must cultivate a profound fatalism - an attitude of cheerful acceptance of whatever life has to offer (Minor Flaw: Carefree). In addition, the difficulty of the initiation reinforces his belief in the philosophy of Criamon (Minor Flaw: Pious). The sign of the success of the initiation is the manifestation of the first of his Criamon stigmata (Minor Flaw: Disfigured).

[size=85]Initiation Script for the First Station:

Target Level 21, as Major Virtue (Minor Potency in Self-transformation, may use Enigmatic Wisdom in lieu of Survival and Swim)

Script Bonus +13: Major Ordeal comprising 3 Minor Flaws (Carefree, Pious, Disfigured) +9, Sacrifice +1, Quest +3.[/size]

2 – The Avenue of Attunement with the Microcosmic Transformation and the Station of the Inner Spharios

In search of the Second Station on the Path of Transformation, the magus must take a long and difficult journey, making heavy use of the skills he acquired during his previous initiation. The actual details of the journey vary from magus to magus – some magi are called to make a long sea voyage, alone, in a tiny boat; others to go by foot to a distant mountain – but it always takes him into a place of deep solitude, where he can rely on nothing but the raw Elements. He suffers from weariness, hunger, and thirst; in response, he must not despair, but instead turn his attention inwards, to experience the transformation of the Elements inside him. The emotional and spiritual acceptance of the fact of outer change that he learned at the First Station is now brought to bear on his inner changes. The deriving of nourishment from food and drink; breathing air in and out; passing from weariness to sleep; even aging from youth to old age – all of these things gradually come to seem mere processes of transformation, neither to be loved nor feared. He comes to accept the fact of his constant change, and to cease longing for or resisting it. This surrender grants him a certain mastery over these kinds of transformations.

A magus who has attained this station learns to take substance from the Elements themselves, taking pure Elemental matter into himself in a process of endless change. Gradually, in place of sleep, food, and even aging, he comes to spend time each day simply changing from form to form, relishing the flux of the Elements. As long as he is able to engage in regular and sustained transformations for 6-7 hours per day, he may go without a longevity ritual, air, sleep, food, or water. Such constant use of magic is not without its price, however: the magical energies being called up accumulate in the body, causing the magus to add 1 warping point / year.

[size=85]Initiation Script for the Second Station

Target Level 12, as Major Virtue 21 (replaces the longevity ritual and the need to eat, drink or sleep as per HoM 62, except that meditation is replaced by transformation and immersion in the Elements), first Initiation after Major Ordeal -9

Script Bonus +6: quest +3, special time and place +3
[/size]

3 – The Avenue of Disciplined Instruction and the Station of Aptness

Once the magus on the Path of Transformation can sustain himself through transformation alone, he is deemed to have proved himself capable of advanced instruction. In search of the Third Station, he spends a season learning directly from his Guide.

This is a difficult process, but often a very fulfilling one. Criamon instruction is not a hierarchical process, so the Initiate and the Guide deem themselves, not master and student, but fellow-travellers. Often, they become friends; and sometimes the Guide learns as much during the season as the Initiate. The Guide enjoys seeing the Initiate gain in mastery, and the Initiate relishes the chance to play the game of Transformation with the Guide. Together, they tumble joyously from form to form. This kind of co-operative instruction, combined with the Initiate’s new-found sensitivity to both the outer and the inner changes of matter, allows both to unlock new aspects of self-transformation.

By the end of this happy period, the magus will have lost the need to use either words or gestures when casting spells of self-transformation, and will have learned to end his self-transformation spells at will, so as to avoid being trapped in uncomfortable forms. In addition, he will have become accustomed to spending long periods of time in strange forms - doing so will no longer pose any threat to his mental stability. Close companionship with the Guide is also a kind of moral education, and the Initiate ‘s commitment to the ethic of Criamon deepens (Change Pious from a Minor to a Major Flaw).

[size=85]Initiation Script for the Third Station

Target Level 15, as Major Virtue 21 (This major virtue has four aspects: Deft self-transformation, May end self-transformation spells at will, Long periods in other forms pose no threat to mental stability, and Access to four special “Elemental Transformation” spells, as outlined below), second initiation after Major Ordeal -6

Script Bonus +9: Intermediate Ordeal (change Pious from Minor to Major Flaw) +6, Mystagogues’s time +3[/size]

4 - The Avenue of Joyful Surrender to the Tumble of the Inspiratio and the Station of Roiling in Change

Once the time with the Guide is over, the Initiate is ready to re-enter the flux of the transformation of the Elements alone. In order to proceed, the magus must leave any settled home and immerse himself in the wild energies of the changing Elements for a season. This is like his first journey into the Elements, in that he goes naked and unaided – but this time he is aided by the power of transformation he has so acquired, and so he is able to go much further and deeper. The magus must spend time alone in nature to harmonise himself with each of the Elements. He might harmonise himself with Water by lying, for weeks at a time, at the bottom of a sea or lake; with Air by floating across the heavens as a cloud, and so on. He learns to take joy in the pure movement from form to form; both around him and inside him. At this point his greatest satisfaction lies in the feeling of the rapid fluctuations of his own matter as it runs though its endless transformations.

In so doing, he achieves a new level of understanding of the materiality of the elements, and of the constant changes they undergo. At the end of the process, he returns to his Guide, who initiates him with a long dance of mutual transformation on the anniversary of the day he first asked the Guide to aid him in his journey along this Path. He gains the ability to study all things as they transform into one another, without any external aid save his immersion in the Elements themselves. Once he reaches this Station, he is able to study Arts, as well as Magic Theory and Enigmatic Wisdom, without the aid of a laboratory. He must still use a laboratory for other magical tasks: the creation of magic objects, the binding of familiars, and so on.

A magus who has reached this station has learned to appreciate the mystical significance of the play of the Elements in nature. Everything the Elements do as they change and transform seems to carry some deeper meaning. Wild storms; high seas; forest fires; deep caverns: these things become, for him, significatios - magically enlightening events. By spending time outside the laboratory immersed in the play of the Elements, the magus may study the Arts of Aquam, Auram, Ignem, Muto, and Terram as if he were studying them from an appropriate quantity of raw vis.

[size=85]Initiation Script for the Fourth Station

Target Level 15, as Major Virtue 21 (May study Arts, Magic Theory and Enigmatic Wisdom without the aid of a laboratory; may study Arts from natural Elemental phenomena as if studying from raw vis), first initiation after Intermediate Ordeal -6

Script Bonus +6: quest +3, special time and place +3[/size]

5 – The Avenue of Ceaseless Transformation and the Threshold of Repose in Change

At the end of many years of investigation, experiment, and research, the magus begins to feel that he is on the verge of achieving a true understanding of the Elemental transformations that make up the universe. At this point, he is ready to try to reach the final Station on the Path of Transformation – the Threshold of Repose in Change.

The process is long and arduous, and no Guide can help him with it. He must go on four journeys, each to a site of vast elemental power; and he must immerse himself in the Elements there. At the end of the process, he must return to some place of overwhelming significance to him – often, by this stage, the Cave of Twisting Shadows, but it could be elsewhere – on the anniversary of his first manifesting the Gift. A brief ritual, and the process is complete. He is ready to achieve Repose.
Magi who remain on the Threshold, rather than accepting Repose, manifest a nearly complete power to dissolve into the Elements that make up the Spharios, transforming themselves at will. In addition, they seem to all intents and purposes immune from harm delivered by way of any Elemental form. Usually, however, they do not remain in this world long, but instead pass into Twilight, and presumably on into the Hypostasis.

[size=85]Initiation Script for the Fifth Station

Target Level 26, Major New Virtue (Repose in Change) 30, second initiation after Intermediate Ordeal -4

Script Bonus +16: four quests +12, special time and place +3, must discover the day he first manifested the Gift +1
[/size]

[size=150]Four Spells of Elemental Transformation[/size]

These are the special spells you get access to once you reach the Third station. Three of them are basically the same as existing spells, but with duration increased from Sun to Moon. (They’re for transformative types who like to stay in Elemental form for long periods, just for the sake of it)

Just as a cosmetic matter: I also want to describe their effects a bit differently from the standard. With the existing “transform into water” and “cloak of mist” spells, you imagine the caster’s body turning into water, or mist, and then moving around as a big lump of that substance. I’d like to imagine these spells as acting a little bit less mechanically, a little more metaphorically or magically, than that.

So, for instance, rather than imagining that the magus is just transforming his molecules into water molecules, as it were, I’d like to have us imagine that the magus is truly becoming one with the water around him. If he turns into water while bathing in a stream, for example, he shouldn’t be a discrete blob of water floating within the other water – he should just be a vague rumour of magic playing around a particular part of the river. He's part of the river, now - which is to say that he’s actually dissolved into the river; he’s not a blob of magus/water floating in it.

To make the point again: he really is water, now, not just a vaguely man-sized lump of it, so there's no problem with him being all split up into different parts, or anything like that - water does that all the time. Of course, if people were targeting him with attacks, he would still be right in that part of the water for targeting and damage purposes.

So that’s an idea for a cosmetic effect that would have, I think, no effect, or exceedingly minimal effect, on actual gameplay – but that I think makes the character’s magic feel a bit more special.

[size=85]One with the Wind
MuCo 45
Req: Au
R: Per, D: Moon, T: Ind
Allows the caster to transform into a gust of wind. Exactly the same as ‘Cloak of Mist’(Ars Magica p131), but with Moon duration rather than Sun, and caster takes the form of rapidly moving air marked by his sigil, rather than mist. Magi who have become wind in this way can move up to 40mph in open skies, though headwinds and other adverse weather may reduce this considerably. The gust of wind may blow fallen leaves about, scatter loose papers, and so on, but is not strong or sustained enough to knock a person over.
(Base 30, +3 Moon)

One with the Water
MuCo 45
Req: Aq
R: Per, D: Moon, T: Ind
Allows the caster to transform into water. Exactly the same as ‘Transform into Water’ (Ars Magica p131), but with Moon duration rather than Sun.
(Base 30, +3 Moon)

One with the Fire
MuCo 45
Req: Ig
R: Per, D: Moon, T: Ind
Allows the caster to transform into fire. Treat the fire as doing +15 damage to those it touches. Naturally, any Criamon in a position to learn this spell would be a devout pacifist, and so would avoid this.
(Base 30, Moon +3)

One with the Stone
MuCo 45
Req: Te
R: Per, D: Moon, T: Ind
Allows the caster to meld with any stone in range. Note that this is not transforming into a stone statue, but actually melding into the substance of the rock itself. It is the same as ‘The Silent Vigil’ (Ars Magica p 132) except that you cannot hear or sense anything going on outside the rock, and you can exit at a different point from which you entered, as long as you could have moved there at your normal speed.
(Base 25, +3 Moon, +1 special effect of movement through)[/size]