I found this on the berklist and since I found it exceptionally useful and likely of interest to gamers that do not subscribe to the list, I reposted here:
I still have not seen TMRE as a book, but as one of the authors I thought
I'd re-read the Name Magic (aka Hermetic Theurgy) chapter last night. It is
a"crunch" heavy book, and there is much in it which may remain mysterious
until you use it in play. I have seen two characters using Hermetic Theurgy,
including my own character Raymond who I get to play this Sunday. Note we
had to cut large amounts of text to fit the stuff in the book, so in places
it may seems a bit thin on examples, and I am saddened by how much had to be
excised... Anyway this is NOT a full description of this chapter. It's
mainly a few thoughts, and strategies I devised for using the magic therein.
I have given a few descriptions...
Anyway, re: Name Magic, a few thoughts, but note Neil is the true authority
First up - "schools". A school is just a game term for a collection of
associated Mysteries. Fort hose who remeber 4th ed Mysteries, Theurgy,
Astrology, Alchemy etc were in our terms "schools of thought". Mystery
Cults do not in fact draw from one school only: in fact most, though the
"example cults" in the chapters tend to for obvious reasons. So a mystery
may teach virtues assocuiated with Name Magic, Astrology, Spirit Magic and
Talisman Magic for example. You can use the crunch to write any mystery
cult you want, at leas that was the plan. Furthermore not only can SG's
create new mystery cults for their game to fit their story need s - the
default, preferred option - player characters can create a new mystery cult,
and set themselves up as cult leaders if charismatic enough. The example
cults are just that - examples of ideas you can use if you want, and vary
widely in tone and atmospherre. I think it highly unlikely any SG woiuld
find all of them suitable for their game! I deliberately tried to cover a
We also tried not to be dogmatic in our approach to how the ultimate
cosmology works. the default assumption was Ars 5 Dominion trumps all, but
those interested in pagan and heretical ideas can easily I think fit them
in. There are plenty of explicitly non-Christian paths to power in TMRE,
not least Apoteosis and Ascendancy to the Hall of Heroes. If that conflicts
with your vision of the game, you can of course drop it. TMRE was designed
to be a toolkit to allow you to tinker with your saga.
So let us turn to the School of Name Magic, or Hermetic Theurgy. I was
heavily influenced by what I knew of medieval collections of Names, and
Gnotic Synthemata which appear in garbled forms in later grimoires here, and
Neil stayed true to that with the mechanics. This comprises the following
Mystery Virtues, and here I have listed them in the order I think they are
most likely to be initiated, along with a few basic hints for creating a
Hermetic Theurgy (minor). This is really the base virtue, giving you three
options, involving summoning spell spirits and making pacts with potent
named entities for various realms to further your "spiritual ascent". It's
great fun to my mind, and allows you to do odd things with having spirits
hanging aroound, but don't forget to invite them in to the Aegis when you go
home. Always carry a "casting key" or token to allow you to invite them
in th first time you pop back after summoning them, and mention to the SG
you are inviting them in ot the Aegis when you try and summon them! Don't
forget whjen casting AotH to create some of these tokens - see the spell
description for details. Form/Technique and Spell Spirits do have great
utility in play: you can build penetration in like a LED, and they also get
Flex. Formulaic Magic. I doubted how useful they would be till I tried the
rules out in the writing period, and the answer is very useful.
When you summon the spirit for the first time, you will need to oevercome
it's magic resistance. If you fail, you can retry though by casting the
spell again, but failure is unlikely with any decent level of Penetration
ability - both these types of spell explicitly give you an Indefinite Arcane
Connection, so you are on at least Pen x 5. You alos know the magical name
of the spirit you are summoning.
One oddity here is that spirits can only be in one place at a time. Copying
other magi's lab text si not ideal therefore: the spirit may be
unavailabkle, particularly if they have chosen to bind it at moon duration.
Personally my character always bound Spirits at Sun duration minimum - I
therefore only had to spend one round instructing them to cast. Bear in
mind also that Spirits are visible to Second Sight. The rules allow for
Spirits of any relam you have an association with to be contacted . I'm
not sure personally about Divine Spirits (SG call) , but evil spirits,
faerie spirits and plain old magical spirits can all be called up.
The last part of Hermetic Theurgy is the ability to make pacts with Daimons.
This does not unlike the other two parts count asan Indefinite AC, so you
are going to have to find a way to get through the magic resistance to
ensure you can call up the potent entity you wish to bargain with. Creating
pacts is ReVi: however fi you are considering a careerin Theurgy/name Magic,
I'd personally advocate a high MuVi score. If you intend to make full use
of the spell and form spirits, being a generalist helps. there si something
for a mage with any combination of Arts in here though... Anyway, dealing
with that pesky MR, to llow pacts. Well if you are insanely powerful you
might pounch through - if not use the Minor Virtue Hermetic Synthemata (see
Names of Power (Minor Virtue) There are very few Virtues in the book which
do not work at all except in association with other Mystery Virtues, but
this is one. It gives you the ability to learn Secret Names fo Power of the
great magical (etc) entities. Normally it is dealing with pagan gods, be
they Faerie or Magical. You know can invoke these Names in your magic, to
give you bonuses to spells with in the scope, which are actually quite
potent - they are always capped however by your Magic Theory, so Bonisagi
and those like my character with "Affinity with Magic Theory" are going to
benefit most. Raymond has MT 12, so was effectively getting +12 to Theurgy
lab totals by researching apprpriate Names of Power. Each one takes a
season, and is a MuVi spell - remeber I suggest MuVi as a speciality? This
works well with the Talisman Mysteries, and can be used in Hermetic
Theurgy,and with Invocation Magic (see below). An example of this virtue
use might be invoking the Secret Name of Chaaron in a Necromancy ritual. I
imagine the season spent "inventing a spell" as actually spent in bizarre
meditations, reading ancient fragments of grimoires, or talking to minor
spirits to try and learn the Name of Power. Whole Grimoires exist filled
with these names, though knowing exactly which realm the creature you are
invoking is allied with may require rolls from a sadistic SG? The problems
with Names of Power is they are clearly not Christian, and may well attract
unpleasant attention from those who can't tell a demon from a daemon at
voice range - ie. pretty much everyone in Mythic Europe, I'm guessing?
Still, although you have to shout them out nice and loud, you do get +2
rather than +1 to your CT for your efforts.
(more follows if anyone interested)
To the author: please by all means, do. I've already found these explication notes of yours exceptionally useful (Name Magic is my preferred magic school), and I would absolutely love to see your insight about the other theurgy mystery virtues (and eventually, any other TMRE magic school for that matter). A couple question bits of mine: some virtues from other magic schools (e.g. the Great and Consummate Talisman and Inscription Over the Soul) really look like thematically complementary and pragmatically very useful to any theurgic magus walking the path towards immortality. Shouldn't they have theurgic versions, just like Spirit Familiar ? Just the same might be said for having Puissant Ability or Potent Magic (I'm unsure of what would be most appropriate, though I'm leaning towards Puissant Ability) in Synthemata Magic. Synthemata Magic looks like theoretically very useful to theurgists but hitting an hard cap very soon, while I'm dubious about the general effectiveness of Hermetic Synthemata, except for summoning Daimons (and demons...) and very occasional dealing with a powerful long-term supernatural enemy.
Another magic school that I see as very thematically complementary and pragmatically close to Name Magic is the Folk Magic Merinita subtradition from HoH:MC. They just seem like the other half of the sympathetic magic school to me, using the power of the sympathy in stories and creativity instead of names to empower magic. Shouldn't there be some mystery cults that would purposefully try to combine Name Magic and Folk Magic (really, I think the name is not appropriate... Sympathy Magic or Story Magic would be more fitting) ?
Also, what is the relationship between Angelic and Demonic True Names and the Synthemata ? Could you please shed some more light on this issue ?