Issue with Criamon

Okay, so I'm reading through the Mystery Cults again and I'm running into a wall. It's an inset box called Pacing. Second paragraph:

The first thing that leapt to my mind was the cult of the Hale-Bopp Comet folks who all killed themselves when the comet smashed into Jupiter. They're all completely mental.

It just struck me as odd that a tradition would survive that is based upon a falsehood, especially since there are so many other traditions whose methods work so very well.

It just leapt out at me.

That aside, I like the labyrithine meditations and the Path of Walking Backward is appealing.

How are other people feeling about this chapter? I don't care to invite Timothy bashing, mind you. I'm actually very fond of Tremere. Having read 4th and 5th editions only, Tremere became much more attractive to me in this edition. Much more playable, certainly. It's just that some things about Criamon leapt out at me as... well... odd.

Thanks to any who care to reply


The Criamon are supposed to be odd. :slight_smile:

I haven't read the book, but I like the chapter already. :smiley:

Seriously, the book will take about a month to reach me and I'd love to hear about your impressions from the Criamon chapter.


Yes: Empedocles was wrong.

You don't have to be completely mental to believe in a religion that's wrong, Eldragil. Indeed, some of the nicest people believei n religions that are wrong, because it gives them a frame of reference complete seperate from their own selfish desires.

Criamon's methods do work, though. They just don't work for the reason that Criamon magi believe they work. Also, you'll note that because they don't have guys going off to start their own Treehouse Club, they have great scripts, and great places to do their scripts.

Also, as a person, rather than as an author, I dislike the idea of being able to come up with your own scripts for religions. Other groups, sure, but when God says "You take the chalice and you say this, and do this" I don't think you should have the power or right to say to him "OK, that's a good start, but I can't afford a chalice, so I'm going to use a saucer, but use it on the holy mountain!" Criamon magi are religious: you don't get to tell the underlying principles of the Universe what to do. You don't get to mess with the scripts.

Well, you do if you are on the Wandering Path, sure...

I like it: it's the ultimate in terms of the writer not making his House a special pet that the world treats nicely because the author says so. It also gives you a reason for titanic changes in the the one you mention below.

What happens if the Criamon come to agree with you, and the Axis Magica becomes a Muslim, Eldragsil?

The chapter I like, but that Timothy's a bit of an odd one... :laughing:

It's meant to be something you've never really seen before in Ars Magica, so some of your expectations will be challenged by it, yes.

Normally I would take issue with the notion that any religion is right, but this is of course Ars Magica where the Church IS right (and Judaism and Islam etc). :wink:
MC is coming to my FLGS tomorrow and I cant wait to see it! What I do want at the moment however is Societas as I currently play an Ex Misc and hope that it gets a reimagening of the magnitude that Tremere got.

That's cool, Timothy. I'll buy that for a dollar, as the saying goes. I also noticed another issue, one which I will illustrate here and which has already been adjusted within our saga.

It's with the flaws. The one with the glowing shadow and the other with the contagious stigmata. Those are seriously MAJOR flaws, unless your character is a complete hermit. Wandering through town with either of them would be a bit of a death sentence, wouldn't it? It would certainly be enough to have people pointing and screaming about possession, which would get the church involved, especially if previously unscarred people started pointing at the loony who gave them the scars and then tried to tell them of a very non-Christian/Islamic/Judaic way to fix them.

Interesting ideas, mind, I just think they're rather more flaw-y than a minor.

Eldragsil, the Ars playerbase, if I can judge from the straw poll I ran here, is split about half and half between those who play their magus characters all of the time, and those that frequently play their companions. I'm guessing you are in group 1.

Anything that scares the mundanes is only a minor flaw, because in the standard setting, you don't -need- to send every magus to every adventure. You have companions. So, scaring mundanes isn't a major flaw, because for most characters, will have few consequences. That character (who, let us recall is already tatttooed and has the Gift, and so is hopeless negotiating with mundanes.) is just slightly more useless at something he was already hopeless at.

Now, if in your game, every magus goes on every story, yep, that's a bit harsh and you should house rule it away.

Do your characters often wander about towns? I'd have to say its a rare sort of experience for mine, what with the Dominion, and the general tendency toward getting the servants do to anything that may take time away from more entertaining pursuits.

I dunno there. In my current saga, we use companions about as often as magi. If a magus walked into a village with a glowing shadow, or with a bunch of tattoos that started spreading onto mundanes, whether that character is played once in a while or all the time, the reaction would be pretty much universal fear and revulsion. Looks like work of the Devil to most peasants, as far as I can see. For purposes of my sagas, that would make it a Major Flaw, simply because keeping good realtions with mundanes is very important and people in the villages think like rural villagers -- this really limits the magus' ability to go outside.

Well it depends how you play, but basically if you have the Blatant Gift and tattoos you have a -9 Presence anyway. How low can you go before it becomes a Minor Flaw? How deep in can you get? -12, -15?

In the Saga in which I play, I have played my companion about three times as much as my maga. She's a research bunny and only really gets out to "field test" her work. Beyond that, I've got my studly semi-fae knight to go galavanting about our smallish dominion.

Now are you assuming all Criamoni have the Blatant Gift? I ask because I have yet to see that Flaw appear in our story. So that's only a -3, which is still biting, true, but isn't any worse than the town drunk.

My mistake was I thought you were looking at the Path of Strife, which gets glowing stigmata after Blatant Gift. You are talking about the independent Flaw one, right?

Look, if in your game, in negotiation with your Troupe, it does cause this sort of problem, sure, it's major. In general, though, you can ignore the problems it creates by just ignoreing notmal people, which given that you have the Gift, is a pretty good idea anyway, IMO.

IMC, if you aren't chased by mobs with pitchforks regularly, though, I'd scale you back: Flaws you never play through are not Flaws. Leprosy's a major flaw: people chase you out of town and your skin falls off.

Actually, I'm pretty sure leprosy is a minor flaw as well, though another player has my books at the moment so I can't prooftext that one. Go fig.

But I agree that any flaw that isn't played isn't a flaw at all. The exception to this, it seems, are the minor story flaws, which seem to give you the extra flaw point by virtue of (A) giving the SG an easy story hook that will spawn a number of stories and (B) in order to take a minor story flaw you have to give up a major story flaw, which is a big drawback for companions especially, given their lack of hermetic flaws.

As for the Paths, I was looking more into the Path of Walking Backward, which is the Path I find deeply groovy. And I must give massive kudos to the labyrinth meditations, because those just feel right.

But thanks for replying, Timothy. :smiley:

I got the book. I read the book. It's... definitely not what I expected.

I think the House works, but is very much not appropriate for some of the character concepts I used to associate with Criamon. Playing a Criamon with MC is simply not the same as playing him with just the Core Book. Which I guess is good, the book makes meaningful contributions.

My initial impression was actually rather dim, as it invalidates so many Criamon character concepts. For example, my first ArM5 Criamon character (which I never got to play) was a simpleton (Int -2 IIRC) former pig-herder specializing in Perdo magic. His gnostic worldview and penchant for destruction would contrast with this new depiction of the House.

After giving the matter some thought, however, I believe things are not as different as they first appear to be. Even my simpleton can still fit, with only minor changes, along the Path of Strife, at least as an initial character (he can turn Gorgiastic later on, if the story calls for it).

I am about to start playing another Criamon, and I am going to try to play him according to cannon (even though the saga is somewhat noncanonical in that it takes place in the early days of the Order). I have not decided on a Path, but he is mostly a Seeker so that narrows things down considerably. We'll see. It should be interesting.

Which raises another question for me: my pre-MC writeup included Second Sight, and my SG depends on that so I ain't gonna drop it. What's the deal with Enigmatic Wisdom serving as Second Sight through mysteries for someone who already has Second Sight?

Basically , if you already have a virtue, and you should gain that virtue, arrange with the troupe for your character to get something else instead. This is a play fairness issue, and removes a roadblock on the Paths. This is meant ot be covered in the general bit at the front ofthe book, IIRC.

Thje seomthing else need not be mystical: it can be a sort of gift from the Tangential Magi...a sort of piece of wierd luck, if you like, that leads to a virtue.

Well, after reading the chapter, I actually want to play a Criamon, something that has never happened before. I'm even happier that some random choices I made during a session (specifically that a visiting Criamon NPC didn't have imprints... and a cold, vindictive personality) not only made retroactive sense (her vindictiveness has led her astray from an apt life), but offered up new story ideas (her liason with a PC will eventually produce a wassname, and she has to recruit his help to resolve it).

All in all, that counts as a success in my book.

I'm glad to hear that, Rodger. In our group, the new chapter on Criamon has driven the two players who were considering Criamon to other Houses. On the plus side, the same book attracted them to Bjornaer and Merinita. And hey, I love Tremere. I was wondering how everybody else felt because Criamon rubbed our group the wrong way.

Thanks again,

I haven't purchased the book yet, but my friend insistes the Path of Strife is right up my playing style and has suggested I play a Merinita in his new campaign. So there must be something in this book that my friends like.

Like I said, three out of four ain't bad. =) Criamon just doesn't make much sense in our Saga, and we feel there are some pretty deep flaws in it, especially in the Path of Strife. Still, there are bits of Criamon that I've already stated that are sublime.

But Bjornaer, Merinita, and Verditius are all great, though each can complicate an ongoing Saga pretty easily. Fortunately, we've now played in our current Saga four times, so there isn't much back story to mess with.

I found the Criamon chapter to be delightful. Very different from the other houses, and very flavorful. I just wanted to chime in and applaud Timothy.

My next character will certainly be a Criamon, but I am uncertain whether to play the Path of Strife or the Path of Walking Backwards.

I think it's a credit to Timothy that both extremes are very interesting.

I started with that chapter, hated it. My character is a mystic, not me. Furthermore, I envisioned Criamon magi as scholars studying various philosophies to try and answer the Enigma. Now the Enigma is their philosophy, the mean rather than the goal. And worst, they're wrong! 8) (So why does their magic work?) Wanted more background, house history, tatoos and not magical imprints (why this change?). Maybe I was tired, but I found the whole chapter confusing, unclear, and boring. Overall, this new view of House Criamon went too far away from what existed, for me.

I found Merinita better, but somewhat flat. Loved Verditius (save the Hubris). I'm reading Bjornaer, think I'll like it too.