Making the Setting More Theurgy-focused

I'm struggling with my setting skills. Mostly because I don't have any setting skills. I am working off zero experience in my Craft (setting) skill. I need halp.

So the initial idea is simple enough. I wanted to replace the OoH (or maybe just move way out of Europe so I can ignore the Order, but Europe's superstitious beliefs play a large part in my thing) with a different organization, composed of Magic, Divine, and even Infernalist summoners. Basically, I want a group of theurgists and summoners to be the predominant supernatural power, and for most other types of supernatural power to be inferior, much as most traditions are to Hermetic magic in the current rules. I'd probably codify Mythic Companions in-world under a similar distinction as the Gift and True Faith are and maybe even remove them both (the Gift isn't as necessary here and would cause problems with them coming together into a group with unGifted people, and True Faith just interacts annoyingly with everything, as it allows Mythic Companions to have a free tradition, which would give Divine characters a lot more Virtues than the other Realms, but if I restrict it to regular Companions then those characters will have to deal with True Faith's fickleness in terms of their powers sticking around). Outside of those very vague and open-ended guidelines, I really have no idea where or how to push forward with this.

What kinds of events would be necessary to bring an order of theurgists/summoners together compared to bringing together the several different Gifted traditions that made up the Order? What kinds of benefits could I add for the different-Realm-aligned characters working together so that they have an incentive to be a team rather than just do their own thing while nominally being part of the group? (I can accept that there will be conflicts within the group, I mean there's Infernalists and Divine characters in the same place, but I don't want antagonism or separatism to be the natural responses for everybody) Should I actually limit the group to being just Faerie and Magic summoners so that there won't be annoyingness with the different auras people might want? And either way... What might the theurgist traditions look like? There are some Supernatural things from each Realm that can be worked into this, and Infernalists have a pre-made tradition just for this (I think the Divine realm has this too, but it's been a little while since I looked at RoP:D, and I know the non-Hermetic Sahir is described online) but I really don't know how to work this all out to make it function well.

Any help in answering these questions and providing tips for how to go about this would be much appreciated.

Get The Cradle and the Crescent. The Suhhar Suleyman is an organization exactly like you describe, and they indeed have infernal and divine summoners. Mostly because the Suhhar's rules are even looser than the Order's. (The main thing is that Solomonic magic, as opposed to summoning arts, is always Magic Realm unless you have a virtue or flaw that says otherwise.)

After that, if you decide that the Mythic Middle East isn't your thing, you at least have some idea about how a mixed batch of summoners linked only by a partially-common spell-set might work.

You can also simply reskin Hermetic Magic so that each spell really commands, cajoles or begs a spirit to do something. Botches happen because sometimes the spirit is displeased or improperly invoked. Instead of simply "going Twilight," for example, an irate spirit sends the magus there. (And they find Criamon especially annoying :slight_smile:.) To align with realms other than Magic, the usual Holy/Cthonic/Faerie Magic virtues still work.

This lets you keep the usual balance of Hermetic Magic, if you want it, but with everything revolving around spirits. Then let some of the hedge traditions be the premier spellcasters of ME, utterly inferior to your theurgists.

I did this with a character, adding the "Slow Magic" flaw as I both had to summon the spirit and ask/order it to perform.
Worked well enough.

Though, if the price of a book is acceptable, I would really back Ramidel's suggestion of getting the Cradle and the Crescent (tC&tC). I find it to be very good value for the price and it really fired my imagination.

First thing, you need to make sure that theurgists are not priests, and those invoking demon are not cultists.
There is a distinction between calling entities to do your binding and worshipping them. If one worship one realm, it is unlikely that he could collaborate with anybody not following the same entities/deities. However, somebody who is using entities from the Magic Realm should not necessary "hate" a colleague used to deal with Divine or Infernal Realm.

To have the four "factions" coming to an agreement and form an Order they cannot be sworn ennemies, or it ends before even starting.

Member of each faction should start with an affinity with one Realm (instead of having just "the Gift", the have the Wild Gift, the Dark Gift, the Sacred Gift and the Umbra Gift), where they get full bonus of the aura, without penalty. You can even decide that it is not a choice, but it is a birth that a person gets this affinity. It is not a virtue that you can initiate, nor get rid off. So you can be born kind hearted, but unfortunately you powers are really good when dealing with the infernal. So then how do you manage to use Infernal tools for the greater good (with a little imagination, Granny Weatherwax from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel could be an example of such character).

Another way to differentiate each Realm practitionner is that spells are not invented, they are taught by beings of the appropriate Realms. To do so, you just need to do a little tweaking:

  • Replace in lab tot Magical theory with Realm Lore
  • Grant bonus/malus to get spell depending on the Realm. For example, Infernal entities are much better at destruction spells (+5), and good at misleading (+3). Divine entities are good at healing (+5) and protecting (+3). And so on and so forth. Expand the list to you heart content.
  • Maybe some unique benefits for each "lineage".

By having such approach, you won't have to handle four different magical systems at the same time, It will be both easier for the players and for you to have one single explanation/mechanics for everything. And also, it will keep thing "balanced" (or as much balanced as Ars Magica can be :smiley: ).

Then nothing prevent you to keep the houses system of the Order on top of it. You can have Guernicus from all four Realms, and Dark Guernicus are known for being the most efficient interrogators, Faerie Guernicus, the most devious lawyers and so on (okay, I am a bit doing caricature).

As long as you differentiate faith/belief from entities usages, it is doable.

I would say taht you need to upgrade the presence of supernatural beings in the history of the Order. Wars can be fought for posession of an arcane connection to powerful entities, and instead of an Aegis you will have a Guardian spirit protecting your covenat, one that needs to be feed with vis.

You an have both people that uses entities, and people that worships them. i see no problem here. Probably Ablation is seen as a bad idea by most magi of the Order. However, I would make the other 3 summoning arts non-infernal by default (summoning, commanding and binding) if the creature agrees to collaborate with you.

Bargain will become the hermetic ability.

A uninfied magic theory is not necessarily true anymore. The knack of bonisagus was inventing the parma, and nothing else. Parma allows negotiation with spirits on a more secure level, and the secret to be able to do that was the siren call used to lure everybody to swear the Oath.

The oath is really a contract with a Might 150 creature: he gives you parma, you give him obedience to the rules. You break it, you are smithen when he becomes aware of it.

If the Gift does not exist, then there is no social barrier to theurgists working together. This, coupled with the rise of the universities in the medieval period, suggests that a scholastic Order of some kind seems quite plausible for your setting. This may have grown into Houses, either based at particular universities like Paris and Oxford, or else cross-continent and instead grouped by tradition -- so the divine theurgists who studied at Theology universities and summon angels would see themselves as rivals to the (relatively) secular theurgists who are more interested in elementals and other spirits of the Magic Realm. And then there's the wicked infernal theurgists who hide in schools of other sorts and secretly communicate with one another in a kind of shadow-House which may or may not be officially recognized by your not-the-Order, depending on how tolerant those other magi are.

Similarly, urban magi become much more plausible and cooperative in a world without the social drawbacks of the Gift. Depending on the amount of integration you want your theurgists to have in your new society, they may have formed guilds in the major cities.

Without the Gift, magi are seen as more trustworthy by nobles and the church. You are more likely to have court wizards and Vatican wizards, again creating potential Houses.

Add all this together, and you have quite a few Houses: one for Christian scholastic magi, one for secular academics, one for the guild wizards, one for the court wizards, one for the Vatican (non-academic) Christian magi. And that's not counting older Theurgist traditions which were already entrenched before the rise of cities and universities.