New Mystery Virtue: Sacrificial Empowerment

The Topic thread on the Deathbed Curse gave me an idea for a special Mystery Virtue. I don't know if it would be major or minor, but I would like some input.

Mystery Virtue: Sacrificial Empowerment (Major Hermetic Mystery)

This Mystery allows a maga or magus to empower or cast powerful spells, including those with ritual guidelines, by inflicting him or herself with an Ordeal inflicting a permanent flaw. The magus can power up to (Ordeal Modifier) Magnitudes of effect in this way. This also allows the Magus to bend the limits of Hermetic Magic. For example, the magus can use the effect to power an Aegis with Target: Room or Duration: Moon in this way.

Further, the magus need not spend time or vis to cast the effect. It is cast as a Formulaic spell, initiation as normal. The sacrifice can never be reversed, except by highly, highly unlikely Divine Intervention.

The spell can be of any technique/form and may be beyond the scope of the magus's thechnique and form.

To count as a sacrifice for this purpose, a Familiar or Talisman must have been subject of at least 4 seaons lab work. Items which took less than a season dedicated to creating it and it alone cannot be used in this way.

Invocation of this mystery does not itself destroy an object, talisman, etc; the magus must do that independently to activate the power.

Sacrifices may be stacked.

Sacrifices of time, wealth, the completion of quests or travel to specific locations and other such initiation script items do not apply to this Mystery.

Penetration is calculated as normal.


Confronted by a horde of powerful faerie in the castle of a faerie Lord, a troupe faces near certain annihilation. Help is on the way, but will not be there in time. Johannus, who has the Mystery Virtue Sacrificial Empowerment decides he needs to cast an Aegis to defend the characters until help arrives. He decides on an Aegis of T: Room, D: Moon, and needs to make it a level 50 effect to hold off the most powerful foes (wow, they should not have gone into this castle.)

He immediately snaps his wand talisman in half (+6 sacrifice) and cuts off his left hand (+3 modifyer) and makes some mystery gestures and invocations which ravage his Gift, inflicting him with Deficient Aquam, (+3) for a total of 12 Magnitudes (60 levels) of empowered effect. This easily poweres the level 50 aegis, and Johannus collapses, bleeding and weeping, applying a salve from the Pharmacopean healer as the troupes enemies are helplessly repelled from the door.

The troupe must pray that the invisible bird familair sent with an arcane connection and Aegis token (one of Johannus's fingers) can alert the Covenant in time, so that Arianna can use her powerful Rego magic to teleport them home.

The Covenant owes Johannus some serious compensation!

For the sacrifice part, I think it's fun. But I don't see why this mystery would allow to bypass the limits/breakthroughs of hermetic magic... It's just... unrelated.

Compare to Leper Magus, HoH:S p 93

A permanent Flaw? Thats VERY nasty.

I´m using something similar as "Blood Mages" where they can raise their casting totals by inflicting wounds on themself. Greater wound, greater bonus. IIRC i also had it allow some special effects like casting rituals as formulaic, or something like that, but breaking limits, hehe thats BIG.

And of course the "dark side" of the above is getting half the bonus by inflicting the wounds on others. :smiling_imp:

You can already boost Casting total by inflicting wounds with Life boost (though you have to wash through your fatigue first. A minor virtue could mix this up a bit.)

Wounds heal, and chicks dig scars. I'm looking at permanent, serious damage that leaves the magus or maga permanently messed up. That's why the boost is so big and why you can bend the rules of Hermetic Magic a little.

The reason I want to be able to bend the limits of hermetic magic is allow Magi to do truly impressive feats and to create wondrous events in a story. Such things should, of course, carry a terrible personal cost. For example, the Deathbed Curse thread describes a woman who forces a noble family to charity, by placing a perpetual curse on the family bloodline forcing them to give to the poor or face the consequences. The perpetual duration really stretches the limits of Hermetic Magic. However, since the woman gave her life to power the spell, I think that this is a reasonable thing to happen in Mythic Europe.

European Mythology is lousy with legendary curses and enchantments lasting forever, usually associated with a powerful event. Note that this Mystery would also explain, for example, how Trianoma boosted the aura of Durenmar (an effect which can be achieved with high-level Hermetic Architecture... or the sacrifice of a life in with this Virtue...) so also has a place in the canon history.

This will also allow the SG more freedom to put the troupe in truly sticky situations, without worrying about the very real possibility of offing them all and thus prematurely ending the saga.

I might, maybe, allow those with this virtue to accept the freely offered sacrifice of another, but sacrificing another being or harming another to empower an effect is a branch of infernal magic, in my opinion, and an entirely different kettle of fish from the intention of this virtue.

So, stuck in a corner, a troupe who had one magus with this virtue, could all toss in their talismans, all take a minor flaw and have one make a Major Ordeal sacrifice (like Crippling himself) to teleport them all out of danger in a level 6 dominion aura, for example.

Players would be reticent to use this virtue more than a few times in an entire saga, but its one hell of a trump card. Its also a splendid way to go out in a blaze of glory.