Mystery Cult Skill books...

All the Mystery cults have their own skills. i.e. Bjornaer Lore, Merinita Lore etc. Some parts imply that these books may be written in the cults own code. Lets say one of the PCs finds a cult lore book and is not a member... He/She decides to keep the find to themselves. How long would it take to crack the secret code and get a skill of 1 in the lore? I would assume they have to know the base language the lore is written in at a level 4. I was thinking maybe a int+Artes Liberals ease factor of 12 to start gaining xp for a season of study. Part of the question is how many seasons would fair to gain 5 xp for the 1 skill level. Thoughts?

I really don't know. I just thought you might consider that language 6 in both languages is required for perfect (meaning no loss of Quality) translation. Outside of lab shorthands, that's the only place I know of where anything like this is mentioned, but I could easily have missed some.

As for lab shorthands, the problem there is the only method shown is to decode them in the lab. By canon they have been used as a cipher (Cipher of Trianoma) and can be taught, but the method is not described (end of page 20 in HoH:TL). That one is buried enough that I don't think anyone brought it up, including myself, when I made an argument long ago that a magus could teach his lab shorthand to someone to have them translate lab texts.

I don't know if these books should be encrypted or not.

If they were, the encryption method would probably be something known to the Mistery Cult house, so you'd need a Cult Lore roll to decipher it, and then it would only be useful inside the Cult to get the score increased for current members already having that Cult Lore... which doesn't makes sense to me as the Mistery Houses doesn't require high Cult Lores to gain access to their Misteries.

I'd let these books work as any Mistery Cult lore book. If you let these books exists, anyone who reads one gains XPs in Cult Lore as usual. To get the initiation into the House Mistery you'll need to devise an Initiation Script to a unknown virtue... which isn't such a big deal, as they are minor virtues. The problems and the fun would arise later. Probably Björnaer and Verditius would react badly to the intruder, maybe bad enough to get him the Dark Secret flaw and make him aware that he can expect a rainstorm of Wizard's Wars if it's revealed that he got the Virtue. Probably Merinita would just shrug and accept him as another Merinita. And maybe his original house would also see it as some kind of treason. Almost any of these scenarios is a pretty good source of good stories, anyway.

But if you want to make things dangerous, the book could include a trap: an already designed initiation script, designed to grant a dangerous Major Flaw to anyone trying to gain the House Virtue (as rightful readers would already have it and thus be safe from the trap) without the outsider knowing it.

Totally shameless plug... Sub Rosa 20 (the issue out in a couple of days) has an article on making and breaking codes...

That could be applied to this.

If you find such a book I think you would get xp same as reading any other book.

There is a part about becoming a initiate into a cult, and that you can do it alone (risky) and be initiated by a member. Having such a book would help with becoming a initiate if the magi chooses to do it solo.

If you can learn the skills of a cult without being a member, yea I guess you could. But depending on the cult I would argue that there is a small or a big risk if someone ever where to find out (a good story element / plot hook). What would the cult do if they know their secrets where becoming common knowledge.

I think Mystery cults would like to keep their secret mysterious, and therefore prefer to have supernatural teachers (great beasts, ghosts, helpful fairies) or have massive works of art hidden in cult holy places rather than something as stealable and copyable as a book. If they must have books, they ought to be the sort with enchantments to only reveal the words when the magic phrase is spoken, or if the person opening the book satisfies the same requirements as using a cult magic item.

I reckon, that this depends on the Mystery cult. Sub rosa #19 has a - very atypical - one, whose cult lore books can be ordered through the Redcap network.


Or of course write them in a secret language, though obviously cult members would need to learn that language to at least 4. It would probably vary depending on the size of the cult- the house cults for example have more "muscle" and therefore less need for subterfuge- after all there are wizard wars or certamen to deal with those who transgress, and enough members can pile on to make that a truly unwinnable situation.

So if someone gets their hands on Cult Lore the reaction will depend on the cult. Verdi would probably flip out. Criamon would not care. Merinita would probably have mixed reactions, but they don't seem particularly unified, and some will actually initiate members of other houses.

Criamon and Merinitia proselytize, so there are probably books out there in plenty.

Heck, I can imagine some enterprising magus creating an initiation script that can be unwittingly followed....

With Criamon and Merinita you might be asked to switch houses if you learn their lore- possibly with a line of certamen challengers if you are disinclined...

Who would do the asking, even if they found out? Not Criamon. And probably not Merinita.

Yeah, the "initiation" of Merinitia is "take a point of warp from a farie" - that's really easy to do accidentially. Sure, there's probably some mystic meditation you need to do to examine the warp itself for a season, but I would imagine that Merinitia probably prints out pamphlets and distributes them to anyone who even has a hint of maybe pretending to care about it.

And I would imagine that, rather than demand that a magus join house Merinitia, they'd just assume that you WERE in house Merinitia. And just keep sending you the yearly newsletter, and inviting you to the parties, etc.

Criamon Mysteries protect themselves. You can know as much as you like, but you can't use any of it until the Personality traits grab you, and once they have grabbed you they don't need to fight you. They've got you.


One thing that can be done is to modify the Initiation Script, given a sufficiently high score. That could make an amusing story, to be sure.

(In a sense, all four Mystery Houses protect themselves. Learning EW is easy, no personality changes required, to the point of there being a Virtue that grants it in opposition to Criamon teaching. But getting beyond that, yeah. Verditius? Like it or not, you are now subject to Hubris, and will become more Verditius-like to the extent you use even the outer mystery. Bjornaer? Accumulate all the cult lore you like, but you'll still learn that only Clan Ilfetu knows how to perform the Outer Mystery Script... and if you've experienced that yourself, then you have been put in touch with your ancestral Heartbeast and you know. Merinita? Nothing to protect! They want you to combine magic and faerie, and as soon as you get the Outer Mystery, you have begun to do that: Please, take the pamphlet and the free personality test. What Faerie are you?)



There is a difference between "learning the cult mysteries" and "learning about the cult mysteries".

If a magus starts to learn and practice the cult mysteries, then they effectively become cultists, as you suggest. Therefore maybe not especially bothersome, except perhaps to any control freaks in the House hierarchy.

But a (possibly hostile) magus who learns about cult mysteries is something different. The intention of that magus might be to use this knowledge to interfere with or attack the house mysteries (or simply to better wage Wizard War against a specific magus). For example, knowing that a Bjornaer under-going the Initiation of Theriomorphy must forego the protection of Param Magica for a year would be useful for an enemy to know.


Agreed. House Bjornaer is probably very protective of its secrets. Criamon and Merinita... not so much. Verditius, somewhere between.



I suspect House Verditius is a lot more protective of its secrets post-Icilius the Traitor.

The other thing to keep in mind is that for a lot of mystery cults (especially non-house ones) the initiations scripts are the foundation of their power. Those will tend to be a lot more secretive and try to keep any of their books out of libraries (and possibly use an obscure code or language as well).

On that subject, my first question would be "are these mysteries be explained in books" ? It seems that it's initiation with a mystagogue.
An initiation script is not a book, it's a short explanation, a recipe, path to follow with your mystagogue.

Indeed, you could self-teach, meaning you don't have any knowledge of the script and no mystagogue. That should be very difficult (don't have my books to refer to), even for the outer mysteries.