New Mystery Cult : Or : Do you like the Order of Hermes ?

I want to say this for some time now. When reading another thread who use a Mystery rules to make a magical item, I've come to the idea of a new mystery cult.

The idea is that the basic rules are good. And that the multiplying mysteries make me thinks that they are underestimated by many.

In that thread I read (as in many others) the two mystery could have been eliminated by the simple addition of a breakthrough. A really simple, intuitive (it existed in 4th edition!) and game-balanced breakthrough.

But it's not rare anymore: many thread I see here are about some of those mystery cults. Even in my campaign, mystery cults are creeping in...

But if those mystery cults continu to multiply like that, I warn you that I will start mine! I will call it "the Order of Hermes Cult". :stuck_out_tongue:

It is a strange cult, with a few followers, who study a theory make centuries ago, be a theorician genius. The knowledge is transmitted by books, and the center of the cult is some remote covenant in the Black Forest.
The bonus it gives, is in exchange for the sacrifice of a few seasons reading the old books, you get some bonus to an magical Art.

You will find the rules for that cult in the book Ars Magica 5th edition: the best magic-oritented game I ever knew, with superb game balance.

I would like to know if I am the only one to feel that way ?

Mostly its based around circumventing the limitations of Hermetic Magic. Hermetic Magic as presented in ArM5 is neat and useful but also not up to performing a lot of powerful tricks that people want to do with their characters. Ars Magica's codified magic system is just more restricted than the expectations of wizardly power generated by fantasy literature and gaming.

The use of Mysteries allows effects that would otherwise be considered too powerful or too useful to allow characters to have access to through Hermetic Magic. With Mysteries and Breakthroughs such effects can be justified because there has been some 'cost' paid.

There's also the roleplay potential of Mystery Cults - secret inductions, ancient rituals and what-not that, for veteran players of Ars Magica, adds some flash and import to proceedings that are otherwise well into the realm of the known.

LOL> Nice cult Iudicum!!

Ummmm.. I think however that you should quickly secure the services of a good Quesitorial defence attorney before the Great Arch Mage Johannes Nephewus brings charges against you for plagiarism at the next Grand Tribunal! :wink:

Thanks! It is very well defined: there is 12 houses, etc.

As a Tytalus, I would gladly personnaly meet him to tell him exactly what I think. ;p Around some good table, of couse ^^

I know this is how mystery cults are intended to be. But I disagree a lot. Most of the time, the end result is creating new powers/way to do powers, by cutting it off from classic hermetic power.

I'm ok with Ancient Magic that breaks the very Limits of Magic. They can be added to a game with great effect!

But the limitation you speak about, I don't see them in Hermetic Magic.
Most effects done by mystery cult could be worked out by inventing a new Guide Line Base level of such an effect. Or by a new Duration, Target, Range, etc.
Bonisagus and others have made researches about Hermetic theory of magic for centuries. I would see it more reasonnable that most (but not all) of those new powers be Hermetic breakthrought invented by hermetic mages. And as such accessible to all Hermetic mages who wants it and can pay the price for it.
Most of the time, I think it should even not be a breakthrough !

The expension books would expand the game, the core rules. Currently, I feel those are simply cut bit by bit, and that those bits are used to give substance for the mystery cults.

What is the Order of Hermes about if this is not the case ?
There are the hermetic mages who know a mystery, and those who don't. This mean that a mage that don't had the bad luck to have a master who don't.
It would be a "Minor Flaw: No mystery. You master don't know any mystery, so you don't either. "
A "Major Flaw would be: Because of the way you learned magic you can't never use any Mystery."

I am a veteran of Ars Magica and I have not yet seen the end of what I can do with the 15 Arts. My utmost limitation is when I discover the existence of a mystery cult: then I know I can't do what the Mystery Cult can.

So, in that point of view I present, the less Mystery cults there is, the more secret they are, and the more Hermetic magic (those who follow the path of the Cult of the Ordre of Hermes !) can do.

I think I long for a ArsM book that expand the existing spell guide line, and talks about what can be done with basic, hermetic, core rules, magic.

Don't get me wrong: I say all this because this game is really interesting me !

Huh. You and your crazy esoteric tiny cults.


I like mystery cults. And ancient magic. Strange and unique things. I like having options, too, like a Breakthrough using Original Research.

What I don’t like is limiting wizard’s powers. It should be possible to create an effect with a duration of a Season without any special virtues, breakthrough, or so on It’s just using non-standard spell parameters (ArM5 p. 114, lowest paragraph on middle column). Likewise, a magus shouldn’t need to be initiated into the mysteries of Dream Magic to affect someone’s dreams. And so on.

I also dislike sticking too much to the rules, although I tend to do so myself. There is nothing wrong with deciding a Boundary target would suffice to make the spell affect the fields of all those present for the casting of The Bountiful Feast, as the core book does despite it not fitting the regular rules on how to use targets and Boundary.

ArM5 has a wonderful magic system, but increasing arts and developing new spells is… well, not boring but bland in comparison with other options. I much rather have the option of investing more diversity and life into the saga with secretive, slightly non-Hermetic powers, tempting cults and magical secrets, and so on.

At the end, mystery cults and similar elements are just ways to codify what would otherwise be an ad-hoc rule into a more robust framework. Instead of having the strange seer guide you in a dream-quest, you have the strange seer… guide you in a dream quest using the Dream Magic rules. Same difference. The advantage is that the codification allows for more robustness and consistency in the rules, and helps inspire people with the new ideas. I think those are great effects.

That would make for a cool book.

Societetas was impressive in that regard, but it too lowered magi's power. It introduced the need of Finesse to create new memories, for example, and to fashion things with Creo magic. The latter, at least, I think is a good idea.

I agree with your central theme - the expansions shouldn't be limiting the power and flexibility of vanilla Hermetic magic, and there is plenty of interesting things it can do.


Ummmm.. I seem to recall a certain YR7 who proposed just that at great length some month or two back! :wink:

What, someone is using my name?!


I agree with almost all of your points, but this particular one sticks out as so perfect it couldn't be more wonderful.

And that's why its my new signature.

I don't know anything beyond the documents in the Open Call, but I believe this is one of the goals of that book.

Firstly I must admit that I only recently bought the HoH: mystery cults and haven't completely read through the Criamon options. I am designing most of the enigma for another players criamon though.

Her maga has a virtual/mental laboratory and her enigma revolves around a dreamworld (Oneiros). When she had a nice mystery adventure, traveling through dreamland, I made up some extra's again. Things like transportation, entering others dreams etc. One of the other players said to me: " don't stray too much from the RAW, the system is broad enough as it is." I took his advice to heart and shaped this dreamworld into a regio.

The maga's mental lab is a regio, that she can enter mentally (by meditating). She can therefore not take anything with her, neither in nor out. This regio is only the first level. With great effort she might be able to travel to higher levels of this regio (read advance in her enigma). The true Oneiros (Morpheus, Phantasmos, etc.) reside in the innermost regio, able to affect the lower regiones.
The nice thing is that others might be able to enter her personal regio. Especially since she now has a twilight scar: people with second sight can see an entrance to a magical regio in the maga. Which can create nice character-character interaction.

There is also a mystery of enigma described in the HoH that touches this: a sort of astral traveling. But that has its own rules and things. This way, nobody else can really interact with the maga. It just becomes a way of scrying and getting somewhere.

So, I'll continue reading the HoH, but I am already disposed to think you shouldn't add too much to the game, since it has enough freedom already. IMO you want other magi (or even companions) to be able to share in the adventures of your mystery magi.

Sounds very cool. :slight_smile:

I like the coolness of certain mystery cults, but I sometimes find them a little hard to believe.

Magi in my mind tend to be rather prideful, and reading up on some of the cults, I find it rather hard to believe any magi actually going -through- with the initiation/joining.
Sure, it's one thing if you're a member of a mystery house and you've been -raised- that way.. but.. a cult you know practically nothing about, wanting you to do all weird things and such.. how many magi would be that trusting?

I like better the mystic sociaties as a principle than the houses.
The role and rule of the houses are too rigid for my taste but maybe they help the game with their fixed archetypes.

Hmmm this is an interesting point, even though in the end it becomes a matter of opinion only.

I for one am rather fond of the idea of a myriad of mystery cults imbedded in the very essence of the Order of Hermes, for a series of reasons.

The first of them is that I don't buy any of the founders surrendering their secrets that easily to Bonisagus, which would surely lead to che creation of inter-house secrets and cults, but those are somewhat present already to a greater or lesser degree in the canon setting.

But then, there are breakthroughs that are kept secret. There are boons granted by faeries, the divine, the infernal or even the magic realms that can translate in deviation from standard hermetic theory. Eventually a cluster might become a cult, where initiates must prove themselves loyal and secretive and worthy to join before they are thought the secrets of their... art.

Also, it creates an atmosphere of secrecy and mystery that is quite suitable to the way magic works, IMO. Magic is secret knowledge, and regardless of some of it being shared, I can see many magi not wanting their enemies and/or rivals getting their hands in those powerful rituals or ancient texts they have found...

It is about flavour and setting, I think...

And please forgive the overall disorganization of my train of thoughts, no only in this but the last replies I just posted, I'm very tired and my mind is somewhat numb from it and the wine I've added to the mix...