Ordo Familiaris

AKA: The Secret Life of Familiars
I was thinking of having my familiar start a familiar mystery cult to teach virtues like Affinity for Magic Theory and Skinchanger (I turn human when I pick up "magic" quill).

A) I don't think I can't do this but is there a reason someone can think of?
B) What other things might a Familiar Mystery Cult want to have as initiations?
C) I could use help coming up with cool things to do for Initiation Scripts.
D) It is worth noting that we don't allow transformation of familiars in our saga so doing something like this is necessary to get virtues like that.

For A), I have checked the rules given in TMRE and HMRE and there's nothing explicitly saying new scripts can only be invented by people with The Gift. However, HMRE p14 mentions Ungifted characters cannot act as the mystagogue unless he knows the power that the Initiation develops. Therefore, you really need a familiar with The Gift (ie the Gifted major magic quality) in order to develop the scripts.

Also your familiars will need to understand each other - if they are animals, there are going to need to learn human languages and be able to communicate in them with each other as animal languages don't cross species (unless of course you have an all-cat mystery cult or the like).

Ungigted sahirs learn their abilities through what are, essentially, initiations lead by magic creatures? Serfs para and all that jazz by CatC might give you some ideas

Those are for actual magic powers sharing out virtues doesn't have anything to do with the Gift. Not being able to spontaneously generate new forms of magic is a sensible limitation on the game as a whole I would think.

Every familiar knows their master's languages by default, so they all know Latin. They can't necessarily speak but most have some way of speaking or turning into people. It is worth the mention that with as variable as familiars tend to be there could be logistical issues. But generally as long as the mystagouge can speak everything should work out. The scripts could always be devised in such a way as to not require verbalization by the initiate.

"Do you Beary the Grizzly swear to serve your covenant to the best of your ability" says Tom the Cat. Beary responds in the traditional silent nod of the head.

Binding the Gift in HoH:MC allows a magus to "share the supernatural quality of her Gift that affects social relations with others" with his familiar to "moderate some of the penalties'. You could always have a side effect of this be that a familiar so bound shares enough of the Gift act as a full Mystagogue for other familiars.

Homonculus wizards from RoP:F might be an option as well. The text talks about being seen by human eyes causing homunculi to shrivel and they already grant power to their magi, so maybe they are a force behind the scenes, conducting rites in the dark corners of the meetings and gatherings of the Order of Hermes.

A daimon could be involved, allowing aspects of itself to be bound as familiars who then work in the Ordo Familiaris? Or, although it has many problems rules wise, the thought of a bunch of familiars running around nicking enough vis from wherever to use an Invoke the Pact of (X) casting tablet to negotiate with an ascended familiar for a service (like the granting of the skinchanger virtue?) sounds like an off beat adventure.

One thing of note might be Shared Senses and keeping magi from finding out (It's supposed to be the Secret life of Familiars after all!)

How does the Ordo Familiaris feel about House Bjornaer? Do fanatic Bonisagi familiars advocate snatching Bjornaer apprentices before the Ritual of Twelve Years to prevent valuable Gifts from being wasted?

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RoP:M in an insert on page 52 has rules for writing initiation scripts for Magic qualities. These would definitely be part of such an order.


I would say Faerie Familiars (fromHouse Merinita Magi) might be an important part of the plot. They may be trying to free them, or finding way to lighten their suffering.

Magic Familiars may disdain mundane and Faerie Familiars the way Magi look upon mundane people, leading to other problems, issues and plots.

Evil Familiars (some might exist, even if the core rule states it is a really bad idea; a demon may lure a Maga after all) could be the instigators of the Ordo Familiaris.

Don't forget Folk witches and other Hedge qizards do have Familiars too. These ones may be a part of the Ordo, and they may have a lot more liberty (without bonds and enchanted effects).

This whole thing have to be a full supplement book !

The Order considers familiars to be property of their magi (HoH:TL, p.46):

This means that initiating a familiar into a mystery without their magus consent is a High Crime, because the time needed is time that the familiar is not helping in the lab.

Far as I can tell, we’re not talking a kidnapping and forced initiation plot, here. If the familiar is busy with magus-helping, then it just won’t be getting initiated that season. Most magi don’t spend every season of every year in their labs (EDIT: or at the very least, if they do, they probably spend some of that time doing stuff other than lab work, like reading), after all. And heck, that’s also presupposing most magi won’t be in favor of their familiars spending their free time becoming more awesome, because, seriously, what’s the downside here?

AFAICS, finding/getting/having familiars with the RoP:M p.37 Major Magic Quality Gifted is a verrry tricky thing. Such beings can be designed, but their Magic Qualities should be subject to SG/troupe approval even if player characters, and far more so if to be bound as familiars.
Why should such a most rare being desire to be bound as a Hermetic familiar? They can be opened to the Hermetic Arts and thus might wish to become magi instead, even if the Order of Hermes would perhaps not like that - while binding them as familiars would (ArM5 p.105 The Bound Familiar) prevent them forever from learning magic.

So the logical first Mystagogue of such a Mystery Cult of familiars would be - a magus, who makes this his life's work: perhaps a failing Bonisagus researcher or a magus Trianomae using his Puissant Intrigue to get familiars in line and organized, starting from his own one. Perhaps such a Mystagogue of familiars is also a Gifted Folk Witch (HMRE p.33ff) and Convert to the Order (HMRE p.6), or a (HoH:TL p.15) Seeker who studies such Folk Witches. Both can start - baby steps, baby steps - organizing first their (HMRE p.42) Familiars, and only later coopt Hermetic familiars.

Once such a Mystery Cult of Familiars is established along the lines of a (HMRE p.43) Coven and (HMRE p.13) Initiations, familiars might perform (HMRE p.14 box) UnGifted Initiations also. Thereby an Ordo Familiaris might even survive the disappearance, Final Twilight or death of their founder and become an independent coven-like Mystery Cult - and then search for a magus or a verrry rare intelligent Gifted Magical Animal to accept the burden of being their head and Mystagogue in Chief.

Any takers of writing up such an Ordo Familiaris for sub rosa or Peripheral Code?


I don't disagree that it is completely reasonable for a magus to have started the Or do. It's not impossible depending on the powers being shared for it to be entirely 'grass roots'.

You don't need a Gifted Mystagouge you need a Mystagouge who already has the power. Familiars with Puissant or Affinity for Magic theory aren't that rare. Same with limit break Int. Any power A familiar has could theoretically be shared with enough time investment.

I think it is more fun for it to be familiar developed possibly with magus oversight at the beginning.

HMRE p.14 box UnGifted Initiations does allow the Ungifted to initiate other UnGifted in an existing tradition.

Better ask your troupe, whether an UnGifted person can found a hedge tradition in your saga. Just that this is nowhere explicitly excluded does not imply that the rules allow it: quite to the contrary. But if your troupe likes it, go ahead!


IMHO an Ordo Familiaris would not be about initiating other familiars into magical hedge traditions, but rather granting them virtues improving their function as familiars (e.,g. as assistants to their magus, for one), or their powers. So having or not having the Gift is irrelevant. It's a mystery cult, not a hedge tradition. Supernatural virtues may be initiated, and they need not be part of a tradition.

As for whether magi would mind if their familiars are inducted into the cult, IMHO that depends on whether it would make a good story. If a player magus holds a grudge against a PC, then it might spur some conflict if the PC's familiar does this. If a player magus has a Story Flaw needing activation.
Sure, if it takes time away from the familiar's function as lab assistant, the magus may have a reasonable complaint. When not used in the lab? Well, some familiars train or study - and a cult takes time away from that as well.

The problem with this is, that

So it looks, as if mystery cults initiating the unGifted need to be hedge traditions, or (compare also TMRE p.5f Bonisagus and the Mysteries) would require a house rule approved by the troupe. In other words,


There's a major flaw with your logic. Written as an if-then statement for clarity, the book says:

If it's a one of certain hedge traditions, then it can initiate the unGifted.

Your logic is using it as:

If it can initiate the unGifted, then it's one of certain hedge traditions.

As we can see, you're assuming a logical statement implies its converse, which is not true. For example: If this is a cat, then it's an animal. Does that mean all animals must be cats? No. And we can see the verification of this if we look elsewhere. For example, Initiation of the Simple Heartbeast (first mentioned in HoH:MC p.27 and detailed in Hooks p.39) is not done by a hedge tradition. So we know for sure that initiating unGifted does not require a hedge tradition.

Not quite. The book writes first

and then

So, HMRE calls out hedge traditions as the current exception to the usual case. HMRE does not explicitly say, that this is the only exception. But unless another book lists another exception we have only this one.

Your other example (HoH: MC p.27 Story Seed: A Thousand Heartbeasts and Hooks p.31ff Into the Valley) is a Story Seed: it posits a ritual which a rogue Ilfetu uses to turn Mythic Europe, the Order of Hermes and House Bjornaer upside down, so PCs need to stop him. This is an option for the SG to introduce as a rules feature to his adventure, but certainly not a mandatory feature of Mythic Europe to use without troupe placet in your saga for character development or advancement.

In other words, in general you follow the usual case. As for going beyond

(Yep, we have that already.)


It's pretty reasonable to think Hedge Magic is generally talking about itself in the side bar. The entire book is about different types of magic and how those traditions function. An ungifted rando shouldn't be able to give himself the Give art out of the blue.

The Mysteries revised talks about virtues that can be initiated. It only talks about the Gift when it mentions Hermetic virtues and learning supernatural abilities the normal way.

It seems completely reasonable that there is a guild of masons or something that give Puissant: Craft (Masonry) through mystery initiation. Having a guy that has the virtue and done a lot of research be able to come up with a rite to pass it on seems reasonable.

Guardians of the Rhine basically has a simplified mystery system using genius loci.

So basically what i'm saying is that it's not so far off in the weeds to let a Magic creature act as a regular mystagouge.

This whole thing got sort of into the weeds.

Assuming they can because your table says they can. What would be cool rites and virtues for them to do?

I was thinking of them swearing a mirror of the Hermetic Oath.

You said before that it must be a hedge tradition according to HMRE, stating this as the only possibility. What is really said is that there are exceptions (note the "usually"), and if offers one exception. This does not say this is the only exception. As your yourself say, an exception to the "usual case," so how about those unusual cases it is not an exception to? What your are taking as an implicit, not an explicit, statement, is not such an implicit statement at all by proper logic. As for the examples I gave being story seeds. Sure. But they follow the rules and illustrate what the rules allow. And Sir_Swindle has offered another. As multiple canon sources provide for initiations of the unGifted outside of hedge traditions, I think it's pretty clear that canon does not require a hedge tradition to initiate the unGifted no matter how you try to spin what HMRE says. Now, developing such initiations is a whole other matter.

That, indeed, is what I see as the bigger problem. For this to work someone have to invest a whole bunch of XPs into Cult Lore, but having all these familiars with Might will make that quite hard to get. Even without that problem, having all the time required to get a decent Cult Lore is probably unrealistic for most if not all familiars...

As for the hedge traditions requirement or not, I think the title of the referenced book gives a hint about why it's focusing mostly if not only on hedge traditions.

What about the Transformation section of RoP:M page 52 and the insert on the same page titled Magic Qualities and Initiation Scripts? If familiars don't suffer XP penalties for their Might, then an appropriate 10xp transformational study source can grant the Minor Quality(Minor Virtue - Affinity with Magic Theory), can't it?