Well, that's a fair comparaison, indeed the same thing could be said with the time "wasted" initiating a virtue from a mystery cult compared to the time spent studying. I can see different magus choosing different options and that's for the best.
A dedicated Theurgist would much rather have the true name of "Lasa Vegoia the Matron" than 5xp in any art but I'm not sure he would push It to 24 true names. It's all about what you get from each invocation I suspect he would try to achieve a specific goal with each true name It's not a linear progression like improving an art. Eg : If a player has been cursed it would be very beneficial to get the true name of Hipta the Nurse, much better than any 5xp in any arts, but I don't see him researching her if that's not the case It would then be a waste of time. Comparing It to initiating a virtue is probably more accurate IMHO.
It also depends a lot on vis availability, magus power level and Daimon powers...
My point isn't that "you need a tank to learn about tanks" it's that obviously you need something, you don't sit in a chair and meditate about tanks. I mean you can gain exposure experience from reading a fictional book which includes the ability (art and academe) being learned, but it is at least something. similarly to learn a daimon's true name you have to have some kind of appropriate reference- a poem to the daimon, a book on magic lore which is (or could be assumed to be) related in some way, someone to talk to who has heard a few stories, etc.
Even this is too generous. It's not enough to know something about the spirit. You have to actually have access to the True Name either through oral transmission or because it's in some text that you're reading. The 5xp represents the effort to internalize the True Name sufficiently to employ it, in the same way that a Lab Text for a spell requires a season of study to benefit from.
If you just know something about the spirit, then you can use the "Hermetic Synthemata" minor virtue from TMRE to learn something sort of like a True Name but not quite as good, albeit with more effort than 5xp represents and with the need for the aforementioned virtue.
This is all IMO, since I don't believe there's anything more in the rules than has already been mentioned (pretty much nothing). To make learning True Names easier would be overpowering, since the ability to target a spirit at AC range and with a +5 Penetration multiplier basically means a competent magus owns the spirit in question.
To my modest understanding, Synthemata gives you penetration bonus, It doesn't target the Daimon It target's the magus so. Unless I'm mistaken the ONLY way to get an AC to most Daimon is to get his True Name otherwise you simply don't have an arcane connexion to It.
It implies that you can get his true name somehow in the first place, sure It's easier If someone did the job before but there has to be a first one...
I think you're right about Synthemata. I like to believe ACs other than True Names exist to spirits and daimons (RoP:M notwithstanding), such as ancient temple idols, and that these ACs lack the overpowering +5 Penetration bonus of a True Name. There should be a way to contact and summon otherworldly beings without necessarily being able to easily overpower them.
Or you or some ancient magus could simply have run into the spirit in the past and used magic with range of less than AC to force it to reveal its True Name.
If you want to be still more accurate, it ought to be compared to learning/inventing spells. After all, if I have access to 24 spirits, I am really getting their powers. Instead, I could learn a bunch of spells and use some similar suite of powers myself.
So, 12 seasons of learning True Names (at 10xp/season)... or 12 seasons learning spells (plus 24xp from Exposure). Using True Names often involves spending lots of vis on stressful rituals, competitors for the spirits who also know their TNs, and stories about vengeful spirits who plan to do something about your getting good use out of your investment.
Indeed, most of the appeal (to me) comes from the fact that Daimons :
1-Have access to powers you can't replicate with Hermetic magic (grant virtues for example) )
2-Have access to powers that are very distant from the magus speciality : As a Theurgist you're probably more or less proficient at ReVi and MuVi and you might prefer spending seasons finding a suitable Daimon instead of learning 15 levels of aquam for which you don't have any interest except resolving the problem at hand.
The amount of vis, the risk of botching, specially while using wizard's communion is indeed a major drawback and calls for dedicated magus with appropriate virtues to mitigate part of It.
For the rest on the contrary, Daimons are exceptions among spirits, they can have multiple aspects summoned simultaneously so there isn't any problem with "competition" among theurgists, unless you want to summon It at the same place because there can only be one aspect of the daimon at a given place to avoid two aspects "meeting" each other.
Also Daimons are also generally happy to be summoned (unlike other spirits) because the get xp from the ritual, so unless you use Synthemata (which is more or less a threat, casting it is like saying to the Daimon : I can do whatever I want to You), the Daimon is normally willing to exchange his summoning (and the prospect of being summoned again with additional vis to gain experience) against one/some use of his powers. It doesn't really cost him anything and that's the only way he can become stronger.
What do you want to do with the spirit you have at your beck and call? That +5 penetration bonus, plus the ability to cast at your leisure that comes with an AC range means you can basically control any published entity short of the archangels in RoP:D. A Kosmocrator spirit with a Might of 50-75 is easily overpowered by a skilled Hermetic. A Might 75+ Protogonos is even with reach for the right magus. Ditto for Dukes of Hell (around Might 40) and even Hell's ruling Electors (75). Published Faerie Kings and Queens seem to be around Might 60, also within reach (I raise you a "Rumpelstiltskin" if you tell me Faeries don't have True Names). Let's not even think about Angels, whose supposed True Names are a staple of real-world occultism.
How about summoning the Jinni King of the East and raising an army of Ifreet? Or simply using lesser Daimons like Lasa Vegoia to grant you all the virtues you like, without the need for tiresome pacts. Just pronounce that Name while casting your favorite ReMe spell.
That's the question for any magic a spellcaster invests time into. So you've spent two seasons on that spell that makes your horse fly, now what?
Yes. I was talking about the general case. If we focus on daimons, then spending 5xp from any Magic Lore source is still not too cheap.
Investment (not counting needing good Art scores and a lab, since nearly magi want these):
You need to learn a unique summoning spell for that daimon. That costs time.
You need to spend 5xp for the TN. More time.
You need to spend a handful of vis per summoning/request/service. Ouch, especially considering the conversation about how much vis is available per year.
You need to cast a ritual that is probably risky. Cost unclear.
If you fail to penetrate, you need to recast. (IIRC.)
You aren't going to do this very often! So why worry about the 5xp?
At this point, you have a daimon that is well-disposed to fulfilling your request. But:
The daimon can always refuse if it (or the GM) does not like this particular request... or this particular magus. Vis wasted! The magus has no recourse either, because the daimon cannot be harmed and the Aspect can be dissolved should the magus attempt to coerce it.
The GM gets to decide what daimons exist in a saga and what powers they have and what their Might actually is. So the magus has access to nothing that the GM hasn't created or accepted. This isn't Amber, where a magus can walk the Pattern to find the Daimon of My Desire!
The daimon can always demand something from the magus beyond the vis spent to summon it.
As I look at it, I think that spending 5xps for a daimon's TN might be too expensive, rather than too generous!
Invulnerable daimons are, IMO, a misunderstanding based on the very vaguely written description of daimons in TMRE. The same book refers to "magics that force the spirit (such as True Names)" (pg. 117), which suggests that True Names work pretty much as they do across fiction and folklore (cf. Faust).
If your position is that True Names only exist for daimon spirits, only work with Theurgy (and not Goetia, vanilla summonings, or anything else), and that daimons are free to laugh at the spellcaster, True Name notwithstanding, then, yeah, even 1xp for the True Name is too much. Maybe we need to invent something called Truer Names that work the traditional way.
That thread - and others like it - were mostly about the generic "spell spirits" facet of Theurgy. I basically agree that this isn't of much use. The mastery of named daimons is a whole different animal.
Sure, they force the spirit... which is the Aspect that the Daimon instantly dissolves. The rules are not vague at all, but quite clear about the invulnerability of the Daimon itself, unless you go to where it actually is.
Nope nope nope!
Or not, since I didn't notice anyone in this thread offer the position you describe.
That's a reasonable reading of the printed rules but is also kind of silly. Forcing a daimon to pop into existence momentarily and then dissolve away laughing isn't really forcing a daimon at all. However, we can disregard daimons entirely in our discussion of True Names if we agree that the phenomena works for other sorts of entities.
Your argument that True Names are no big deal seems to be based around the idea that the Theurgy rules, as printed, basically suck. I don't disagree with you on this. Other magic systems such as Goetia may or may not be better at working with daimons. There's also the possibility of casting magics on the daimon, rather than the aspect, if a magus has a way to enter the Magic Realm.
However, True Names also work on other magic realm entities, such a djinn and powerful ghosts, including those in their Afterlife rather than walking the Earth. One doesn't need Theurgy, just a spell that works at Arcane Connection range. I presume they work on Faeries, although I think a few may disagree. They certainly work on demons and other infernal beings of all levels of power. I believe they even work on divine angels. None of these beings have the niche protection that TMRE assigns to daimons. In almost every case, a True Name facilitates enough penetration to master a being without niche protection. That's a Big Deal, IMO, and warrants a story event requirement to learn the Name, not just a season or two thumbing through Tobin's Spirit Guide.
That's not what happens. The daimon does not pop into existence. An Aspect of it pops into existence, which the daimon can dispel at will.
That's not what I wrote, not at all.
I am saying that the 5xp cost is not too cheap, and that RAW work fine.
I have written that Theurgy is generally not worth pursuing from the perspective of optimization. In other threads. Nothing I have written in this thread is predicated on that assumption. I have also not said here or elsewhere that the Theurgy rules suck. For one thing, they do a great job of simulating a world in which magi don't bother with Theurgy.
And finding the Daimon, if it even resides in the portion of the MR that has been entered.
provided the magus is designed to be a master of these entities
So, let's build our Spirit Master, 0-10 years post-Gauntlet.
He has big ReVi so ((Aff+Pui)*(Re+Vi)). He'll have some kind of Major or Minor Focus. He doesn't need to be a Theurgist, so we're good. Not surprisingly, this fellow so far is following my advice for AM beginners, because it's good advice that happens to work for this concept. He has Virtue Points to spare. Affinity with Magic Lore is particularly interesting if he wants to learn lots of True Names of Magical Entities!
We'll give him a ReVi Casting Total of 45 generally, and 65 in his Focus. Penetration(Vim) of 4(5) because ok. Seems back of my hand reasonable to me.
For each and every entity he hopes to pwn, he will need to:
a) Know that the entity exists
b) Spend 5xps that would otherwise be spent on the appropriate Lore. This investment can be compared to fixing an AC, but unlike fixing an AC, no one else can do this for you and you need to start with an existing transient AC.
The actual entity is defined or approved (or approved and then modified) by the GM. What is its Might? GM. Powers? GM. Etc.
And it's only one entity. Not a type of entity, such as a generic spirit of anger or volcanoes but exactly one entity. (In some sagas, it is completely appropriate to get different entities depending on the Name by which you summon the Virgin Mary....)
If that entity is slain or destroyed, the investment is lost.
So, we're now ready for pwnage.
We get a final penetration of 80 + die minus the cost of the spell. So this guy isn't about to do much to Michael, but can certainly deal with all sorts of major and minor entities.
Except that these things have agency and associates. Pwn a Might 35 angel or demon? He'll remember. You're now on its bad list, and you'll eventually stop controlling its every action. Also, there's always a bigger fish, and in such cases, it is reasonable for those to be called in. Not all the time, not every time, perhaps never. But if it does happen, it's not a case of the GM screwing the player any more than it is unfair for the GM to have a human prince take umbrage at a PC who abuses one of his vassals.
So, congratulations. You have a potent power, and with that kind of total investment it damned well better be potent. But it is best used judiciously, because it comes with some real drawbacks.
Oh, and did you mention Faerie? Learning a TN for a Faerie might well (RAW) create that Faerie, being the moral equivalent of begging the Faerie Realm to pretty please come and feast on the magus' vitality. 5xps represent a small but excellent beginning, a casting call. Using the TN to cast a spell is the opening act.
Not such a big deal. The magus has spent his career learning to traffic with eldritch entities. He has a repertoire of 10-40 of these to call upon at need. If he needs too much or too often, they will turn on him, misconstruing every command, reaching out to friends and superiors, conspiring behind his back. On the other hand, if he treats them well, offers them gifts, finds out what they want and help him, you get stories of a very different kind.
Not overpowering, totally self-limiting, oozing with flavor. I think it's a great shame to discourage this kind of character design by making it even harder.
And finding the Daimon, if it even resides in the portion of the MR that has been entered.
What spell with an AC will let you traverse an arbitrary number of Boundaries/whatever, if the AC even works at all, since ACs from outside of the MR are wonky within, IIRC?
And the Daimon itself might have utterly different (ie much higher) statistics than its Aspects.
And that, of course, if the True Name is really that of the Daimon itself, as it exists within the MR, as opposed to that of that kind of Aspect. (Which makes sense if a Daimon can have more than one kind of Aspect, and there's no reason why it shouldn't, since otherwise, spells to summon an Aspect break the moment it increases in Might....)
EDIT: Although I have never said that the rules for Theurgy suck, I have said that the rules for the MR suck, and I'll stand by that. Utter rubbish. Anything associated with these rules, including that Daimons live there and can be found, and how ACs work, and what happens to Daimons if found there, are bound to be bad, or worse. So any conversation that starts with your having a problem involving the Magic Realm will involve at least some agreement and sympathy from me, perhaps lots. I'm attempting to justify something in this category, to support my main point, which I stand by, but I'd just as soon ignore the MR as written.
You don't need to traverse anything, just cast the spell at Arcane range and order your target to do the traversing.
I freely admit that I can't figure out the MR rules in RoP:M but to my understanding boundaries and vestiges do not block ACs once you're inside the Realm. All I can find looking through the rules is a reference to ACs degrading, with the exception of indefinite ones (which True Names are per RoP:I) and being interrupted when one but not both ends of the connection are in the Void.
So make sure you spend your 5xp learning the True Name of MR Loki rather than Aspect Loki. Which is sort of what I was getting at about not just choosing to learn the True Names of anything you know something about.
I wish I hadn't used the word "suck". Overall I like TMRE very much, along with other work of those authors. What I meant to say was that Therugy is written to have such weak game effects as to be nearly useless. I generally like it when books present weaker rather than stronger abilities but Therugy (along with a few other features of TMRE, such as Vulgar Alchemy) goes too far.
The Spell Spirit side of Theurgy has been discussed at length in these forums. If the Daimonic side is interpreted as meaning that it only results in contacting a Daimon, with no assurance that a given Pact will be made without extra cost and with no possibility of coercing the Daimon, then the ability is useless for anything other than throwing away time and vis. If you're worried about nerfing the concept of spirit summoners, that is the problem, not a requirement to make names or other secret information harder and more interesting to obtain.