New initiation scripts: Confidence, Enigmatic Wisdom, etc.

A member of our troupe was thinking about bringing a new character into our saga, a Criamon magus set on developing a new Path. Note that it's not just about having a character who follows a Path not listed in HoH:MC. In that case we could simply design a new Path and declare that the character is not the first to follow it and some Mystagogue is available. No, it's about the process of developing a new Path, which we realize should be significantly harder and uncertain than following an existing one.

It's just that it appears very hard to pull off unless the character is already very experienced in House Criamon Lore. And in some sense it should be, because a Criamon Path is all Major Virtues, and the first one (when the PC House Lore will probably be at its lowest) must be tackled without a previous Ordeal to lower that big target number of 30. Now, the problem is not really the Initiation itself: you can always add one more quest to get a larger script bonus. No, the problem is the Int+House Lore roll (+Risk Modifier), that must at least match Script bonus + 9. So, if your House Lore is not very high, you'd need a big Script bonus, but without a high House Lore, you have little or no hope of designing such a script.

So we started exploring ... what kinds of bonus can a magus look for to boost the Int + House Lore roll?

Spending Confidence seems a possibility. The only prohibition would be if the roll represented "an entire season worth of effort", but at least for an Initiation that does not require a season it should be ok. Even for longer initiations, the design of the script itself seems to take negligible time, so Confidence should seem applicable.

How about Enigmatic Wisdom? A little used Ability in our games, in theory "score in this Knowledge is added to rolls to interpret dreams and riddles, and to understand phantasms and arcane or mysterious situations." Does this seem applicable to understanding how to properly "piece together" an Initiation? We think it does.

On the other hand, a labyrinth meditation seems to involve too short a timeframe to be applicable. Or not?

Of course, V&F increasing Int or House Criamon Lore all apply, as would Essential Virtue (from RoP:M) or appropriate Faerie Sympathies.

Ligatures from A&A? They seem a bit too specific: a particular action at a very specific time. It seems to us that they could work if they targeted the Initiation itself, but the design of the Initiation Script? Not really.

Objects of Quality (from HoH:MC), or Exceptional quality items (from C&G)? Well, again, if the Initiation were rolled, they might affect that, but what item would be central in the design an Initiation Script (we rule that if an item is not central to the activity performed, e.g. an earring when listening for a soft noise, it can't provide a bonus to the activity)? They do not really seem applicable.

Anything else?

Incidentally, suppose the character tries to design a new script but the Int + House Lore roll fails. In this case, Ordeal flaws are still inflicted. Would such an Ordeal count as a past Ordeal to lower the target of the following three Initiations? And if so, would failed Initiations count against the three? Let me make it clearer with an example. The PC designs an Initiation Script for the first station including a major Ordeal; the target for the Pre+House Lore+Script bonus total is 30. The Int + House Lore roll fails. The PC now designs a second Script for that same first station, without Ordeals. Can he aim for a Pre+House Lore+Script bonus total of 21 (first initiation after Major Ordeal) instead of 30? If so, suppose the second Script also fails and the PC tries a third time. Should he aim for a Pre+House Lore+Script bonus total of 24 (second initiation after Major Ordeal)?

You're looking at it from only one point of view? Consciously picking and choosing the Virtues you want as a coherent Path and designing the initiations and then experiencing them.

Wouldn't it be more likely that the Initiation scripts are designed after the first person has walked the Path? For example Harbinger of Criamon has a full career as a magus, experiences numerous Twilight episodes, more positive than negative, that provide him with a number of Virtues and Flaws with a common theme, as well as a valuable insight into the Enigma. Only then does he decide that this knowledge is important and codifies it as a Path, with Initiation Scripts that other magi can follow to similar enlightenment without as much time and sacrifice as he originally did?

Just diverge after the first Ordeal? If you make it the Vow, then a lot of them get it very early regardless, which may demonstrate that they are themselves divergent from a core root of mysticism.

Subrosa #16 865 AD Voventes Centennales on p. 51 introduces the Minor Hermetic Virtue Creative Mystagogue for exactly the purpose your describe.

Cheers

You can also ask what motivated the young (I suppose ?) Criamon to start a new path ?
It is unlikely that he just woke a morning and thought "Mmmh, and if this season I was creating a new path ?" More likely, some event triggered a vision or inspired him to look for a new path that would supplement the House' paths.

From that point, start building up the path:

  • The initial vision or event could have given a Flaw (Major) that mechanically will act as an ordeal (Driven or Ambitious as a Major character flaw for example, or Curse/Plagued by one Realm).
  • Mechanically, if the character is a young mage, you can make him start with 10 flaws/7 virtues - when he will complete is first station (assuming no too far into the game), he will be at 10/10, with a major Ordeal already complete (which will still give him dimishing bonus for the next two initiations).
  • Obviously, he will struggle for the next station, but opening a new path is a lifelong commitment (the player should be aware that it won't create a path within 10, 20 or even 40 years out of apprenticeship).

Since it is a form of original research, he probably cannot benefit too much of existing knowledge (house lore), he needs to build his own knowledge, that he will finally integrate into the house. The way I would manage that:

  • When he studies from a source appropriate to help him discover his new path, he can decide to allocate XP to "Path of the Convoluted Thought" instead of Artes Liberales/Philosophae/Criamon Lore/Persian Lore or what ever you decided would be appropriate. It is the skill he uses for Script creation and Self Initiation.
  • Once he complete his path he can merge it into House Lore, and gains half of the XP spent in his Path into House Lore.
    It means that until he complete his path, he will be rather lacking in house knowledge - after all, he is not sure yet that his not walking into a dead end. But once he complete the path, it becomes clear to him (and the House) that yes, he was truely onto something giving new insight into the mysteries of the world.

Virtues like Inventive Genius or Free Expression (maybe more) are providing suitable bonus for this kind of original thinking.

I would first try to tinker with the math. (Hopefully I have the right numbers without the book on hand.) You have Int+Lore+Risk+roll>=9+bonus and Pre+Lore+Risk+bonus>=30. Assuming you can get the +5s, we want to be efficient, don't want a bad roll, and minimize risk (see below for several points), that's 5+Lore+1+(1 or 0)=9+bonus and 5+Lore+1+bonus=30, or Lore=(2 or 3)+bonus and Lore=24-bonus. Substitute to get Lore=(13 or 13.5) and bonus=(11 or 10.5). Let's go with Lore=14. Looks hard, but with the appropriate Virtues it gets much easier. Without Faerie Sympathy, that's a score of 11 plus 3 from Puissant and the specialty. With Affinity that would cost 220 experience or slightly less due to rounding. Definitely doable, but hard early without great access to books/teachers and maybe Apt Student or Book Learner. But with Faerie Sympathy it's trivial. With Dark Magic or a nice Faerie Aura, that's at least +3 to Lore with ease, maybe +4 or +5 or more. You can start with Lore 6 and Faerie Sympathy 5 without taking Affinity/Puissant or lower if you take them. You're all set.

So, if you want to do this early and leaving as much flexibility for other things, here is the route I would take:

  1. Convince the troupe a +5 aura is worth it. Probably not hard.
  2. Int +3 and Pre +3. This will cost a little in other places, but not too much. And that Int +3 is so useful.
  3. Cautious with Criamon House Lore, Faerie Blood (Dionysus), and Dark Magic. That still leaves you 7 flexible points, and Dark Magic is more generally useful.
  4. Purchase Criamon House Lore 6 (105 points) and Faerie Sympathy 5 (70 points). Faerie Sympathy only costs under 5 years prior to apprenticeship. 105 points out of apprenticeship is a bit rough, but if you're hurting you can swap in Skilled Parens to cover over half this while giving up one Virtue point.

The initiation always takes at least one season. True, the design may not. But I'm not sure how you design one without seeing the whole thing through.

That would seem to be the problem with this.

Yes. Affinity + Puissant + Cautious are very useful here. Virtues for Int/Pre are not as useful - pay someone to do CrMe rituals. Since you can get Int/Pre to 5, Essential Virtue isn't so great. But maybe there is no one to hire.

Look in TSE at the faerie gods for Dionysus; there is a particularly apt Faerie Sympathy. While this can add botch dice, it also adds a bonus from the Aura. Doing this in a Faerie Aura or having Dark Magic works particularly well.

I agree this is not likely to work.

The design is a roll, but I agree with problems with tool. This isn't likely to help.

Yes, this is a great option. Already having a Major Ordeal brings down those targets so much.

Use the Grant Puissance in (xxx) guideline from ROP:M for an additional +3. Either have your familiar grant it or design the hermetic equivalent.

Also for any situation where confidence would apply, either self confident or Essential Virtue (minor or major) will add boni very quickly. Edit - already mentioned

I think most troupes would rule that anything that serves an an inspiration for a hypothetical Breakthrough could serve as a tool or IOQ as central to the use of the skill. For example, almost any item could serve as a meditation focus to start the magi on his Path. I think more specific information on the nature of the Path could lead to specific item suggestions, but generic ideas might include a beech (+2 knowledge) ring used as a focus, or a bed (+6 dreams) could be used to reveal to the character what steps they must take to initiate.

It's a little straightforward for a Criamon, but a quill gives +8 scribing....

Also,

A Learned Magician can give you Puissant Whatever, can make both your Int and Pre effectively +6 for this activity through an Essential whatever, can add bonuses to rolls for an Ability and for a Characteristic, can turn the stress die into a quality die, and so on.

That's gotta help.

Anyway,

Ken

With due respect, I think you're going about this in the wrong way. Mystery scripts should be used to pass on knowledge, not discover it. Even in the case of initiating virtues unknown to the mystagogue, one usually follows an existing script developed by someone who did possess the virtue and the knowledge. Using mystery rules to pick up desired virtues "out of the blue" is appropriately nearly impossible, as your example shows.

A Criamon who wants to teach a new Path should first acquire the mystical knowledge (virtues) himself in whatever ways are possible, ideally through play for a player character. After that he can use the mystery rules to pass on this insight to his disciples. Teaching a major virtue requires a much more obtainable target number of 21, rather than 30.

I supposes there are way to stack up bonuses using unrelated rules such as faerie affinities or hedge magic, none of which was written up when Mysteries was published. To me this feels munchkin, especially since the Mysteries system starts to break when a mystagogue can accumulate enough bonues to start teaching virtues without ordeals or scripts at all. That only requires exceeding a target 15 for minor virtues, which is easy once you start stacking bonuses on top of cult lore.

First of all, thanks for all the responses. Many interesting ideas there, even beyond the scope of the OP (e.g. I had never quite realised the implications of using Faerie Sympathy in terms of Aura effect). Let me clarify a few points / make a few remarks.

First of all, I do realise that I could look at the Paths as something that some magi, who already have obtained a given set of insights through other means, create to share those same insights with other magi. But we wanted to see if that was not the only feasible way, and instead "design from scratch" was a possible, if arduous, choice. So, Virtues Unknown to the Mystagogue :slight_smile:

Second, I fully realise that forging a new Criamon path is quite possible leveraging the right mechanics. However, we wanted to see if/how it could be done in a character as "vanilla" as possible. This means, for example, that we'd rather not use Faerie Sympathies if possible, because it just feels ... a very peculiar way to forge a Criamon path, save possibly one that involves faerie (I know I was the one who mentioned them in the first place; I really wanted to say "I've already considered this, any other ideas?"). Similarly, we'd avoid taking a path that branches from an existing path, because every current path seems to reflect a distinct, unique worldview. And for the very same reasons, we'd like to do it without having a character who piles Affinities, Puissancies, +5 characteristics etc. Considering that the Primi who founded each path are assumed to have (now, not at the beginning of their journey!) House Criamon Lore of 9, while the other mystagogues a Presence + House Criamon Lore of 6 ... I think we'd like to see if and how the task can be achieved with a House Criamon Lore of 7-8 (maybe 7+1 specialty) and Intelligence and Presence of +2 each. At the same time, a high Risk (+3) for the first Initiation would be perfectly acceptable, as would occasionally failing Initiations - Ordeals and or slightly higher House Lore scores would make taking subsequent steps on a path easier.

As callen suggested, if we put together the Initiation formula and the "script design" formula we obtain that:
Intelligence + Presence + simple die + 2x Risk Modifier + 2x House Criamon Lore + other bonuses >= 39, or
2 + 2 + simple die + 6 + 16 + other bonuses >=39 i.e.
simple die + other bonuses >=13
So we are looking for maybe 10 points of bonuses, including possibly a few points for a script that truly resonates with the character and his background (maybe a +1 or +2 sympathetic bonus). It seems to me that this is feasible if we allow just a) Confidence and b) Enigmatic Wisdom to apply to the roll (assuming an Enigmatic Wisdom score of 5-7 including a specialty).

As for Confidence, even though callen correctly says that Initiation always takes at least one season for the Initiate, it is generally only a seven days distraction for the Mystagogue (unless the Initiation requires, and accrues a bonus for, the Mystagogue sacrificing more time). Since the Int+House Lore roll is a roll of the Mystagogue, I assume that it does not reflect a whole season's worth of activities but just a week's worth, so Confidence should be applicable. Do you see any flaw in this line of reasoning?

As for Enigmatic Wisdom, note that I'm not talking about Labyrinth Meditations here. I'm talking about plain old Enigmatic Wisdom, whose full score (according to its description in the core book) "is added to rolls to interpret dreams and riddles, and to understand phantasms and arcane or mysterious situations." It all revolves about ruling whether the Int+House Lore roll to "check the validity of the mystery rite" can be classified as a roll to "understand an arcane or mysterious situation". To me, it seems that's the case. I must also confess that this would be very appealing in that it would make creating a new Mystery easier for Criamon magi (who have the toughest time with their Mysteries of all magi, since their Paths are all Major Virtues) but not for anyone else. What do you think?

Last but not least, let me restate a question that maybe I did not state clearly enough. As I said, I think it's ok if occasionally Initiations do not work for a Mystagogue forging a new path. If they do not, however, do Ordeals Flaws incurred still count as Ordeals for the purpose of lowering the target number of future Initiations? This can make a big difference.

Hi,

Yes. :slight_smile:

Confidence doesn't work on anything long term, iirc. So even if it is a 7 day distraction, that still seems pretty long term.

But it might be longer than that, because in this case, the Mystagogue is the initiate....

Even worse for me.

If this is an arcane or mysterious situation, then so is every lab total and casting score. The mystery of rightful authority over the unruly peasant! The mystery of restoring the mangled grog to essential health! The arcane perfection of the mysterious tower created from a dream I had last night! Certainly every single InVi qualifies.

I also don't think that interpreting a dream applies either. For that to work, the dream has to already be about the mystery. Forcing a dream to be about a mystery when it is probably about something else is not understanding anything. There is no applicable dream or riddle to interpret, unless a Story Event creates one, and even then, that only either discovers a script or provides a clue to the script; the value of the dream depends on the underlying information content in the dream, which might be more or less than the EW score; EW is used to get at that knowledge.

But, mileage varies. Certainly it is fine to change rules to make EW apply to scripts, and might even be reasonable, since EW on its own is a pretty bad Outer Mystery. I just don't think it applies naturally.

I don't think so. If the script didn't work, the Ordeals are just flaws, rather than part of the process of enlightenment (or endarkenment, as the case may be.)

On a tangent, I don't notice anything about it in the rules, but I also don't think that an Ordeal gained from one Initiation ought to help with an utterly unrelated Initiation. So if I am both a Criamon and a Merinita, quite possible since both Houses are happy to accept believers, I think it very weird for flaws gained on the Path of Strife to help with learning Charms. That's not RAW, however!

Anyway,

Ken

As far as I can tell "Confidence doesn't work on anything long term" is an (admittedly natural) extrapolation from the single, very specific statement that the corebook makes on this issue: "Confidence may not be spent on rolls which represent a whole season’s activities, such as rolls for studying from vis." (p.20) Anything (significantly) shorter than a seasonal activity should then be eligible for Confidence "boosting". Or am I missing something else?

I might be the one missing something. Although I don't know if I can miss something that was never there. :smiley:

+1xp for me in EW

A few points that haven't been raised:
You don't have to use all Major virtues - the first station on the Path of Seeming bundles three minor virtues and teaches them as one Major virtue. Your Criamon should be able to learn three related minor virtues and then argue the connection between the three and use that for the Path. This is simpler.

Criamon roulette - when I first got 5th edition, one of my friends immmediately created a Criamon who was Twilight Prone so he could try to benefit from Twilight, and people occasionally suggest deliberately inducing twilight to try and get bonus xp in exchange for warping. If you get 10+ warping from a Twilight, you could get Major virtues. In the rules as written, whether players gain or lose xp, virtues/flaws or spells is entirely up to the SG. You could offer the player of your would be Criamon an understanding that if they have huge positive twilight experiences, you will look favourably and give them appropriate virtues to their path, with the downside that you will give them flaws rather than removing xp for large negative twilight experiences.

Actually, given the existence of Twilight Mastery from Guardians of the Forest (at the higher level, the player can choose their benefits from Twilight - I'm never letting a Criamon have that again) it is possible for someone to quest for that mystery, then deliberately try and have twilight experiences until they get 5 positive ones with 10+ warping each, and choose the virtues for their path. This makes teaching it much simpler.

If you find the Mysteries ritual creation and teaching rules don't offer what you want, there is an alternative - The Church has rules for Pilgrimages (using stories to build up to a reward) and Spiritual Paths (building Quests to reach a goal) for Divine-oriented characters to get the virtues & flaws needed to be a miracle worker. If you find these more to your taste than the mechanics given in TMRE, you can adapt them for Mystery use quite simply. Tell your players that you feel the style of those rules fits your personal vision of how self-directed spiritual progress would work than the mystagogue-oriented rules from TMRE.

For what it's worth, I disagree with Ovarwa on the "if a script fails, should the flaw taken still count as an ordeal?" I want players to volunteer to mess their characters up with ordeals rather than try to add more and more quests and specific times and places, so would use this to encourage them to add Ordeals to their experimental scripts. From a game-feel point of view, I want them to add the mystical purgatory of their character's suffering to make it feel more like Odin hanging on the tree or Orpheus descending into the underworld.

Make sure that your SG thinks that you can rely on that kind of ritual before you try to buy it. Level 60 rituals don't grow on trees and most Tribunals don't have min-maxed Cult of Heroes celebrants. How many magi in the Order can pull off such a thing and what kind of price would they charge?

You don't have to be min-maxed to pull that off. You may be to invent the spell on your own in a reasonable time. But learning it from a lab text and casting it are not nearly so difficult. Consider this:

Intelligence +3
Affinity with Creo --> Creo 24 [300/1.5=200]
Mentem 10 [55]
Magic Theory: +6 (could include a specialty, so this isn't hard)
Intelligence of the Followers [CrMe35] +7
Aura +3
Lab +7

How hard is that to pull off? Starting character with Affinity with Creo could be most the way there right out of gauntlet, and that's with the whole min-maxing of having Affinity with Creo, a whole single Minor Virtue. What more would be needed? One more Minor Virtue like Puissant Magic Theory would do most the rest, and that's just by having a Bonisagus. Yes, you'll spend a few seasons on your lab, but that lab bonus could be for Creo or for Mentem or for inventing spells or mixed between them. Those certainly serve other benefits. And you could have someone else build the lab for you. And then if your Aura is above +3, it just gets easier. When it comes down to it, someone from the Cult of Heroes doesn't really have to be min-maxed at all to learn the spell. So how about casting it?

Stamina +1
Affinity with Creo --> Creo 24 [300/1.5=200]
Mentem 10 [55]
Aura +3
Artes Liberales +3 (could include a specialty, so this isn't hard)
Philosophize +3 (could include a specialty, so this isn't hard)
Loud +1
Big Gestures +1
Mastery +1

That's close enough that a point of Confidence could save you. Meanwhile, there are other bonuses that could be used, such as from a Talisman. Again, this isn't that far out of gauntlet for a magus who is a Creo expert, not even min-maxed very significantly at all.

So how many magi could pull this off? Basically, anyone who is an expert in Creo or Mentem, but not necessarily both. If half the Order is specialized, that's 2/15 of the Arts so 1/15 of the magi. So 1/15 magi in the Order should be able to pull this off with no problem and without any significant investment to be particularly good at this ritual over other things they're choosing to do, meaning it's a trivial thing to pick up on the side if they wish. The only real question is if they can get a hold of a lab text. Well, that's 1/15 of the magi in the Cult of Heroes at very least. If a single non-Cult-of-Heroes magus invents the spell, then that broadens it quickly to potentially dozens of casters. For Vis-saving reasons, I would expect it to be more likely among those with Mercurian Magic.

Anyway, the point is that saying this requires min-maxed Cult of Heroes members is really inaccurate. If there is a market for this in the Order, it will happen with ease over time, and the Order has had centuries. How much will it cost? The actual casting is trivial. You just need return on investment for the two seasons (learning and mastering) and for acquiring the text. You could charge 2 pawns per casting in addition to the vis to actually cast the ritual, and you'd probably see a great RoI. If you charge too much over this, there becomes an imbalance in the market and someone will come in charging less since entry into the market isn't really that difficult. Then you get come Mercurians competing by taking their profit out of the savings. They can drive out competition (except from other Mercurians) by charging 12 pawns to cast the spell. So with any reasonable economic assessment, I can't see the cost being anything over 12 pawns for the spell, which is the same cost you'd pay to cast it on yourself.

Hi,

Mostly agreed, although the Hermetic world is not flat enough for the price to totally stabilize.

Fortunately, the people most likely to have ready access to all the stuff described above live in House Mercere....

Unfortunately, the people in House Mercere are the ones most likely to drive the price upward, and most able to punish competitors.

So I expect an inflated price, with fluff text (Mercere marketing!) about how House Mercere provides excellent service for reasonable prices.

(I also expect magi to want to circumvent the high prices Mercere charge for exchanging vis, and envision that Hermetic Tribunals have significant Settlers of Catan -style trading sessions. Sure, you can exchange rock 2:1 at the right port, but what if some other magus needs that Terram vis, and has the Imaginem you crave?)

Anyway,

Ken

First off, your assumptions are kinda fuzzy on the Cult of Heroes, since Cult magi would be Mercurian magi Mercere with a likely specialization in Creo (this is House Mercere we're talking about); indeed, one could say that the purpose of a Cult magus is to be the guy who performs these rituals for the Cult Redcaps. That quibble aside, said Cult also has a vested interest in guarding their secrets, and so does any other magus who invents a spell like this. The cartel only breaks if someone (most likely a magus Bonisagus doing his job) releases the lab text to Durenmar, and whether that's happened is a saga question. It's not an "of course yeah," because there's a limited number of Creo or Mentem-focused magi Bonisagi, most of them have other interests, this is the kind of spell that a lot of them wouldn't share regardless of the Oath (if you think a Bonisagus isn't holding back some secrets, you've been played), and it's entirely possible that the Redcap that the magus signs his text over to will feed it to his dog. So as I said, Level 60 lab texts don't grow on trees.

And if the cartel does hold as of the start of your saga, then they'll charge an arm and a leg for such a "gift."