Making Some House Mysteries into... Not House Mysteries?

There are a few House Mysteries that either don't make sense as House Mysteries or that just don't seem to thematically fit with what the Order as a whole stands for... I mean, what it stands for from a metagame perspective, as the magi of the Order are, among other things, a chance for players to be the wizards sitting atop their towers (or whichever structure your covenant takes the form of) performing acts of magic that the little mundane peoples can't comprehend, instead of the ones dealing with those wizards and the fact that they have no idea what to expect.

A really big example of this, for me, is one of the Verditius Major Inner Mysteries in HoH:MC, Bind Curse. It really just strikes me the wrong way that only Verditius magi are capable of something like cursing items, despite cursed items being such a popular thing in stories revolving around medieval magic-users. That seems like the sort of thing that any magus should be able to learn how to do, and aside from the whole thing with required Hubris and Verditius magi not liking other people taking their stuff (which other magi can feel too, Verditius magi are just the only ones required to feel that way/have that trait) there don't appear to be any thematic reasons for the Mystery to be limited to Verditius. This seems like the sort of thing, to me at least, that would be a "general" Mystery, that any magus can learn in play or even start with by spending Virtue points.

A few others, for me, are the Charm Magic and Symbolic Magic Mysteries from Merinita, which I feel should honestly be part of Hermetic magic in general if they're Hermetically possible, but I understand this one a bit more due to the Faerie hegemony on anything that helps focus stories in a certain direction.

So... Would there be any immediate concerns, in terms of balance and keeping each House relevant, if some of the House Mysteries (I'm thinking maybe Sensory Magic, Charm Magic, Symbolic Magic, Items of Quality, Bind Curse, and possibly but probably not Bind Magical Creature) could be turned into generally accessible Mysteries, or in the case of Items of Quality and Charm/Symbolic Magic maybe just integrated straight into Hermetic Theory? I don't really have any players that I need to be on good terms with on this right now, I just want community opinions. If I made those Mysteries regularly accessible, would those Houses lose a lot of their current value? (I mean, I'm pretty sure people were still choosing to be part of Mystery Cults even when only the Core rulebook was out, so they'd probably still be played...) Would this have any unexpected effects in the Order as a whole? Do any of the things I want to add in not actually make as much sense as I think when added to the whole picture of the Order?

I definitely sympathize with your perspective, even though I would prefer the Houses to differ more rather than less.

I'll let other people describe why certain mysteries best belong to one house rather than another... but the whole point of having Mystery Cults is having secret knowledge worth having. (Well, and the fluff too :wink:.) There's no point being from a weird house if you don't get unique weird stuff to go along with it.

That said, because I like having diverse styles of magic, the solution I adopt is to create an Ex Misc tradition that has access to a limited set of virtues that are mechanically the same as canonical mystery virtues because of their tradition, though the fluff around them might differ... and the price paid for being a special snowflake is having to take a Major Hermetic Flaw. Which seems very fair to me.

I certainly agree with the notion that there should be greater House diversity, but I feel as though that should come from things that don't belong in the Order as a whole; things like the ability to invest curses in items and specially design spells and items for combating specific opponents or types of opponent seem like things all magi ought to be able to do, especially given the lore used when designing those Mysteries. I feel like Bjornaer is a great example of a House that has very little that doesn't seem like it should be unique to them. Heck, most of Merinita and Verditius have it too; it makes sense that the people associating with creatures of story are the only ones who can create solid illusions, and that the crafters are the only ones who can break down items for materials and improve them once they're already forged. I just feel some things don't match and seem like abilities the whole Order would sensibly be able to do or at least learn how to do, given their fluff and their metagame purpose.

The Ex Miscellanea idea is certainly interesting, but I feel the blow of an extra Major Hermetic Flaw is somewhat offset by the fact that any magus would probably need to pay such a cost simply to Initiate more than one or two Mysteries, even the Minor ones.

There's an easy (well, not easy, but you know what I mean) way to make a House Mystery into "not a House Mystery." Steal it.

Cursed items are a part of the Verditius-exclusive Mysteries because only the Verditii know how to do it and how to initiate the Virtue. That's it. If the Mystery leaks due to a rogue apprentice or someone sneaking into a sanctum (Verditii are not known for their abilities in Wizard's War, which is the usual way to keep Mysteries secret) it's a leaked Mystery and people can try to come up with new ways to initiate it.

As it is said in mostly (all ?) books, those are guidelines, feel free to adapt/change/keep/discard as much as you want.
After I went through every Mysteries and House books, I was even wondering if there was enough mages in the order to represent each every possible factions :smiley:
Look at Mercere: between the Mutantum lineage, the Mercurian lineage, the secret of Mercere Portals and the various possible permutations, considering that there is about 12 magus, you wonder how they manage to maintain every traditions alive...

So to come to your point, you can decide if certains virtues need to be initiated or even are integrated into magic theory. But in this case, my advice would be don't just stop there: wave a story around it.
Why/How those Verditius/Merinita Inner mysteries became common knowledge ? Was it under pressure from a political move who wanted more sharing of tradition (similar to Bonisagus oath who have to share their findings) ? Was it a leak from a disgruntled Verditius arch-magus ? Or was it an Ex Miscellanea lineage who always new this Mystery and made it available to the whole order to show that Ex Miscellanea know a few things as well and should not be dismissed as just a bunch of slightly educated hedgies (or maybe to get back at house Verditius for some despicable acts) ?
Merinita virtues could have been disclosed because of the tension between the Quendalon/Merinita factions dispute: "let's weaken our enemies by sharing the secret we stole from them" - then was it recent (an only a few non-Merinita have been initiated: then they might under pressure - Wizard's war, but also offer of virtus, books or more knowledge - to change house to keep the secret from spreading, or it is already a few centuries old and "Pact" duration has been heavily used by Quaesitoris as a way to enforce some rulings or sentences, by Mercere or Jerbiton magus as ways to guarantee deals ?

On this forum, we refer always as what is cannon because it gives a common base for all discussions. I believe it is extremely useful when discussing about spell level to maintain consistency (I am carefully not using "power-balance"), but when it comes to fully designed virtues, they have been designed to be used as such. The rulebooks provide a frame to integrate them in a story, especially for magi which were created when the troupe did not have those books. Initiation allows magus to get something that they wished they had. It is also a way to develop a magus and give him a goal. But outside of that, go ahead, use them !

I recently created a magus with some minor mysteries virtues out of apprenticeship (Hermetic numerology and geometry as well as Planetary magic): my GM agreed because it was minor virtues which required dedicated education but could reasonably be taught to an apprentice with a good competency in Artes Liberales. Is it cannon: not really, will it clash with any of the published material: hardly.

Most magi wouldn't bother inventing a cursed item, because it's a waste of vis, IMO. However, cursed items could still be made by magi who are experimenting in making the item.

As to the idea of integrating some of the Mystery House abilities into the Order at large, I'm with Ovarwa.

Whoa.... :wink:

:laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

Possibly, but I'm certainly in favor of at least sometimes if not always requiring both the mystogouge and the initiate to have the proper understanding of the ritual. If someone just goes through the motions without the proper mindset and understanding then they don't (necessarily) get the virtue.

To make thieving work I'd (at least in many cases)require not only theft of the script but also theft of the mystery cult lore. I know this goes against the background of one of the example cults in Mysteries Revised but I kind of hate that cult so making it impractical is an added benefit.

I love the idea of initiation, and have suggested before that it applies to all sorts of learning not normally considered initiation (Apprenticeship for a mystical 7 years, gaining v/f suitable to the occupation, etc.)

But as with breakthroughs, I very much don't like the idea that any script modification that can be achieved according to the rules actually belong, regardless of the skill of the inventor. Like, an ex-Criamon (not strife...) who decides to alter a House script that he knows to involves killing stuff (quest: find a relatively happy and virtuous village and kill everyone in it (+3), and then continue to commit heinous acts of mayhem until you achieve Ordeal: Infamous....) should either really have a big problem or Infernal assistance, despite the rules for altering and inventing scripts.

Also note that some mysteries, in-game, are Mysteries because no one has bothered to integrate them yet, rather than any specific reason to keep it secret - that's the case with Sensory magic, via Bjorner. According to the fluff, Bonisagus got the first half of Intelligo Sensory magic from Bjorner (the ability to enchant your own senses), but hadn't got around to the other half (the ability to target others through sensory experience).

As such, I would imagine that most Bjorner, if they ever found that their Sensory Magic had been "stolen" and integrated into Hermetic Theory by some enterprising Lab Rat, would likely shrug, and say something like "Huh. Yeah, it's about time someone got to that.".

Of course, the alternate take is that Bonisagus' failing to get to everything on his To-Do list was centuries ago, and that tradition may have built up around the Mystery Cult virtues, outside of the original intent. As a consequence, one could easily see Traditionalists getting upset that something that had been "theirs" had been taken - despite the original intent of it to be a gift to the Order.

Personally, I see the Mystery Cults as the organized groups with significantly different magical traditions that haven't yet been fully integrated into Hermetic Theory - for whatever reason. For some, it's actively seeking to keep themselves apart. For others, they've simply been too busy.

And for others, the Cool Powers are a mere side effect.

Pretty much implied by "Apprenticeships" only with teaching instead of mystery cult lore and no special circumstances. So a more generalised initiation script.

Ah, that's not what I mean. Rather:

To those unaware of how the world truly works, it might seem that the master really teaches or trains the apprentice. Actually, all he is doing is generating a very good correspondence, along with an initiation bonus for "The Master spends lots of time" and a smaller bonus for "The apprentice spends multiple seasons..." If the apprentice has to give up his masterwork, then he gets a bonus for Sacrifice. Any flaw gained during apprenticeship is not an accident but an Ordeal. In other words, I'm saying that even a mundane apprenticeship is an initiation that provides skill points, virtues and flaws, and the "teacher"
unknowingly acting as mystagogue, following the procedures he learned back in the day.

(This is why a montage can be just as good... It all depends on the "script!" Of course, only a true master can act as mystagogue via montage, since his script loses out on all sorts of bonuses!)

Hmm. Or maybe that's what you meant.

Generally speaking, I think taking some Mysteries from the Houses won't really harm them, no. It depends on the extent of course - taking Greater Verditius Runes from the House will definitely hurt it. But generally - no problem. And of course, you can add other Mysteries (and inner-House Cults!) back in.

The first Mystery I'd steal is Bjornaer's Secret Name. Yeah, Bjornaer are secretive - but that has nothing to do with erasing past "true names". Turn it into an Hermetic Mystery, accessible through the Cult of Mercury to anyone with Order of Hermes Lore. And in compensation give Inscription on the Soul (from TMRE) to the Bjornaer as a House Mystery; I'd modify it to have inscription on the body carry over to the heartbeast, too. Because having the heartbeast of a huge bear with human skulls and branches of wood embedded into it is cool.

But honestly, if I have my way I'd seriously modify the Houses' Mysteries anyway. Even the core ones - I'd remove the Fire duration from Merinita and give them Midnight instead, for example. And probably add that Fire Duration to House Flambeau somehow. And House Criamon - give them Dream Interpretation & Divination keyed to Enigmatic Wisdom as a House Mystery, already! The Ability's description practically screams for it. And so on.

I've been thinking about it on and off for a decade now and I still don't have a really good idea for a duration fire spell. The best I have is MuIg(An)turn a fire into a watchdog ( I suppose the dog would have to eat wood in order to continue to "burn"). You'll notice that there isn't a single duration fire spell in all of the 30+ volumes of Ars Magica 5 (unless Scipio in MoH has one) and there's a good reason why, it's very nearly useless.

Well, that comes with the territory. You need enough Presence+Cult Lore to perform the initiation script, or you have to experiment and invent a new one with unpredictable side effects (which will be harder if you don't have anyone with the Mystery Virtue. Anyone want to be a champ and take a Major Ordeal for the team so we can all learn Greater Verditius Runes? :smiley:)

The best way to steal a cult's lore is to corrupt a mystagogue, of course.

EDIT: I suppose in theory you could Integrate the Mystery Virtue without knowledge of the underlying mysteries, thus creating a teachable Hermetic virtue, just by gathering up a lot of items and lab texts from multiple highly powerful and secretive magi and spending a decade or two trying to stabilize the insights. Frankly, developing a new Initiation Script is easier...

What happens if you do a duration fire creo ignem to keep the fire going? do you end up with an unending fire?

While perhaps not 100%, in this case I would point to RoP: M and the "Abuses of Storms" box. :slight_smile: