Opening your own Gift?

I did a search for this, but couldn't find any discussion. What are the options for a person who wants to open their own Gift (Hermetic or otherwise)? The only one I'm aware of is the Vitkir Odin-ritual.

I don't recall how that ritual works but with the name Odin on it and thus dealing with pagan gods or daemons probably means that there is something else actually opening the Gift. So I guess that maybe it could be possible, but you would probably end with some flawed Gift, and it is quite more probably to get someone or something to open it for any gifted person.

I don't know if this is relevant, but ArM5 p36 states that every Gifted character gets a free supernatural ability with needing to buy the corresponding Virtue.
For Hermetic Magi, this free ability is Hermetic Magic.

Have you given your Gifted character such a free supernatural ability yet?

I haven't created the character beyond a vague sketch yet, but I'm certain a rando person with the Gift can't just learn to have the Hermetic Arts opened like it was Wilderness Sense or something. There's a specific process for opening the Arts, and it has specific requirements. But it is possible to bypass that sort of thing, as with Odin's Sacrifice; I just need something that'll do it for the Hermetic Arts instead of the Vitkir runes.

I can't think of anything in canon. There are canon ways to develop a tradition and then Open the Arts of your successors: have the Gift and self-initiate all of the Supernatural Abilities/Arts of the tradition, then you can Open the Arts of your apprentice. But normally for Opening the Arts you have to already have the Arts; note that with Hermetic magic even just having them isn't enough to avoid serious problems, you need them at 5 to Open them properly. But just because I can't think of anything doesn't mean there isn't something there.

But Odin's sacrifice does bring up an interesting other idea: [strike]Take a Gifted Hermetic magus whose Arts are already Opened to Hermetic magic and go through the rituals. It looks like you would end up with both Hermetic Arts and Vitkar Runes opened.[/strike] Nope. Turns out it's just mentioned elsewhere what could happen, and that's not it.

There isn't a way of opening your own Gift to the Hermetic Arts (or to most traditions really), and there are reasons why.

The entire premise of Ars Magica is that there is an Order of Hermes, a society of wizards passing down knowledge from the founders, codified into a unified whole by the genius Bonisagus. Other openings of Gifted magi (like the Hedge Traditions and Rival Magi) also exist to pass down ancient knowledge. The Vitkir do have the possibility of the Odin' Sacrifice, and Muspelli get initiated by their giant patrons, and Soqotrans learn spells from magic spirits, so there is the possibility of learning from supernatural creatures. However the main focus of the game is on magical traditions passing down their knowledge.

If you have people who opened their own Gift and got the Hermetic Arts, why would such characters interact with the whole structure of The Order of Hermes and Covenants and the like? There is no incentive for the authors of the game line to introduce mechanics that bypass the main structures of the game, so they haven't. The Odin Sacrifice allows for Hermetic Magi to possibly learn runes as a way in to including them in your game, and to allow the possibility of someone rediscovering Rune Magic in a place where it has died out, both of which add potential to the game without raising too many problems. Having a method for someone to reverse-engineer Bonisagus' work in less than decades raises questions of why nobody else has done it and why there aren't stories of Magi running across independent practitioners who seem to have very similar Arts to the ones they practice. It is sufficiently canon-altering as to require serious thought before you let it in your saga.

If you've thought up an excellent reason to introduce such things into your story, and can adjust canon to fit, then go ahead and create a mechanism equivalent to Odin's Sacrifice or having a supernatural being bless you. Who knows - maybe Bonisagus actually just found the shrine to an ancient spirit of Magic and they showed him the secret.

I personal find the idea brought in with Ancient Magic and RoP:Divine Magic interesting that the Magic was thought to the humans by the angels what means the Hermetic Magic our mages use are actual developed from the Holy Magic of the Grigori.
So the first opened gift of the humans was done by angels and from there the different magic variant developed over the millennia.

Well, Bonisagus invented the Magic Theory and Parma Magica, unified concepts and worked with these Founders which, in turn, already belong to their own traditions were they did their magics... I mean that even before meeting Bonisagus, Flambeau probably did knew the Arts of Creo and Ignem. Even the Greeks started talking about the elements, which were four of the Forms. I think the name "Hermetic Arts" is a bit possessive from the Order's side, as I can imagine some of these arts already being used before Bonisagus. Maybe not optimized, maybe with higher base levels or something like that, but they were probably well known, if only some of them pretty disconnected from others.

Well, the Founders did joined Bonisagus mainly for the Parma, some of them pretty explicitly (and also, and mostly because of Parma getting the Gift penalties out of the way, because they could work together and learn for each other). Also the Marketing campaign of the starting Order, with the slogan "Join or Die", was a good incentive.

Wasn't Adam the first magus? In Ancient Magic the chapter about Adamic language said something like that, I think I remember. In which case the Gift was probably opened by God himself. And the stigma it carries probably comes from the time when Adam was cast out of Paradise.

It also depends on whether your campaign assumes the Christian historical context as well- there were Pharaohs who commissioned experiments to try and find the original language of humans as well. Fundamentally, however, you come down to 2 possibilities: 1) someone self initiated or 2) the original initiation was performed by a supernatural entity. If it is the second then presumably supernatural entities can still perform initiations. I doubt however that any of these would be into the hermetic system (unless a hermetic living ghost performs an initiation or something along those lines)

I am not certain if this is relevant, but since learning the Hermetic Arts needs a Hermetic Teacher, have you considered a ghost might be able to provide the knowledge, either deliberately or inadvertently?

I once played with the idea of what happens if the cavern where Guernicus sealed his master's murderer in were accidentally opened, and and an untrained Gifted character tried reading the revealed magical tracts next to the centuries old corpse. The books could be considered an arcane link to the Hermetic Magus that Guernicus became, while the ghost of the thief is perpetually trying to learn the secrets in the books, causes a resonance in your Gift to learn to cast the magics.
I didn't really go any further with that thought.

You could however extend the idea. Perhaps there was a magus who died unfulfilled, never having taught an apprentice. Your Gifted character encounters the magus' ghost who eagerly teaches your character the Hermetic Arts.
Or maybe a Great Beast decides to impart knowledge to a Gifted character who pulled a thorn from its paw.
Or maybe years before, a Magus entered Final Twilight on the very spot your bedroom was eventually built upon, and your untrained Gift resonates with the Hermetic Magic that had its one, last brilliant flare in that spot.

Well, as others have implied, if you want to re-create Bonisagus' work, you can. The place to start would likely be the Folk Magic of Thebes. These are 4 minor virtues that grant 4 minor (and in some cases, VERY minor) magical abilities that are modeled using low-level hermetic effects. Gifted individuals can "learn" magic virtues by themselves, via a source of some sort (such as a book - at least, according to my copy of RoP:D), and these four virtues are relatively easy to figure out - mainly because their control ability is Lore: Supernatural. As such, a Gifted individual can read a book of Magic Lore and learn how to cast ritual magic. (Technically. They're sucky rituals, but rituals nonetheless.)

From a meta-narrative standpoint, this was likely done so that the entire Folk magic system could be fit on a single, small call-out. However, in-game, that means that the basic "i figured the basics of magic by reading this book of Fairy Tales" style of magic looks very similar to Hermetic ritual magic. In turn, this suggests that many of the Range/Duration/Target aspects of spells aren't uniquely Hermetic, but rather fundamental to the nature of magic. (Same with some of the guidelines.)

From there, you can build up the eqivalent of a Folk Magic Bonisagus - Gifted, Int 5, Puissant Folk MT, Affinitiy with Folk MT, Lucky, Cautious with Folk MT, and Inventive Genius. And from THERE:

  1. Figure out spells.

  2. Figure out Techniques and Forms - likely a refinement of techniques in the relevant (Supernatural) lore, stripped of all the irrelevant information and placed in an extensible framework. (This was likely Bonisagus' core discovery, as well as the distinction of Technique and Form in such a way that made sense, magically.)

  3. Figure out additional guidelines.

  4. Find other magic systems to integrate.

  5. Repeat until you've got Hermetic Magic.

I've got a (non-Gifted) Companion character doing this in the saga I'm currently in. At the moment, he's studying some Hermetic lab texts to truly understand the concept of "memorized, practiced spellwork". We've determined that it's probably a minor Integration (as it's really just practicing a ritual a bunch, and formally figuring out what is necessary every time you cast the spell, and what is situational), but it's still going to take him a few years to get it down.

An interesting concept here- opening gifts in hedge magic is also paralleled with initiating the non-Gifted into the same mysteries, albeit more slowly and with more difficulty. Self initiation is possible for those mysteries for the non-initiated. Of course the Gifted could just learn the abilities, admittedly with a penalty as they develop more abilities... I guess the real question is how "opening" fits into that framework and whether it could be self-opened the same way you can be self-initiated or self-taught (in those traditions)

Yeah, I was trying to figure out if you could use the "Learn Supernatural Abilities if you're Gifted" rules to (say) read a Root and teach yourself a single form.

My conclusions was "it's unclear. However, it probably would be possible, if the ability to initiate individual TeFo's was integrated from the Shahirs. Without that...probably not." (Serf's Parma - is that one of the Integration abilities from the Shahir?)

EDIT -ah, yes, it was. "Hermetic Realm Initiation".

No. Arts are not abilities.

I honestly would like to know how the first magic traditions started.

My opinion is that much of what constitutes magic in the 13th century setting has been carried down from the Grigori (from ancient magic).

I see magical traditions as analogous to different media of art. They may reflect reality but they are entirely a human construction. Some have more range than others. Hermetic Magic, the most broadly applicable and powerful magic in the game, might be analogous to Theater in that it can get a lot of stories and emotions across to its audience and can communicate a whole ton of ideas. Traditions like the Transylvanian Witch Hunters or the night walkers would be analogous a more limited art, like macrame, which can do its thing in a way that theater may not be able to duplicate, but its thing allows for a much smaller range of communication.

It is said (someplace, I think, noble's parma on that) that gifted people tend to develop supernatural virtues if they aren't initiated into a tradition. The more supernatural abilities they have, the harder it is for them to get a new one.

I believe that many traditions form when a few folks who each have a spontaneously developed a few abilities get together and find a way, through initiation, the intervention of spirits, amazing brilliance, or just dumb luck to teach their abilities to one another. Their version of magic theory probably is born in this effort. The Folk Witches from Hedge Magic revised were IIRC intended by their author to be a tradition that came about in this fashion.

That's my take on it.