Origins and development of Magic Theory

I have been pondering the origins of and evolution of Magic Theory with a view to figuring where it is likely to develop next. Somewhere in the process I have started to wonder what has been taken out.

The secular Magic Theory of Bonisagius was based on the rituals and artefacts of Rome (Mercury, Diana, Mithras), Greece (Hermes, Dionysus), Egypt (Osiris, Thoth, Ra), Persia and included various mysteries (Chaldean, Gnostic, Christian and Jewish) – HoH-TL p5

The first developments of the Theory easily incorporates the sorceries of Trianoma, a prophetic Witch of Thessaly with magical powers based on the Goetic arts of Summoning and Commanding spirits alongside hexes and Chthonic magic. HoH-TL p6, RoP-Inf p140 and HoH-Soc p109

A flurry of other developments incorporates the magic’s of the other founders notably:
Advances in Terram (Guernicus)
Development of spontaneous magic’s (Diedne)
Shapechanging and fertility magic (Mercere)
Divination / spirit magic (Tremere/Tytalus)
Certamen (Tremere)
Mithratic battle magic’s (Flambeau)
Iconophile Imaginem and Mentum (Jerbiton)
Familiars (Merinita)
Enchanting items (Verditius)
The various mysteries of Bjornare (heartbeasts), Criamon (enigmas), Merinita (nature lore) and Verditius (runes) weren’t incorporated into Magic Theory. Despite this one could claim that Bonsigaius completed his universal Magic Theory around 800.

Over 400+ years from simple (but elegant) beginnings, Magic Theory has developed further, incorporating the breakthroughs associated with original research (HoH-TL p26), explorations into Ancient Magic’s, and various Hedge traditions. For example the incorporation of ring/circle durations/targets from the Columbae tradition (HoH-Soc p110) sometime in the 9th century?

In 1220 the Order of Hermes may well be reaching its peak with 1000+ wizards active across Europe and accordingly the rate of new breakthroughs may well even equal that of the early years of the founders.

However somewhere in the evolution of the Theory, various powers seem to have been forgotten (or censored) notably those concerned with the summoning of spirits, ghosts and faeries. Trianoma, Tremere, Tytalus and Merinita all possessed these abilities but modern wizards are not taught the ability as part of orthodox Magic Theory.

The ability summoning is still found in House Ex Miscellanea (HoH-Soc, p109) as a major non hermetic virtue. The Goetic arts of Summoning, Ablating, Binding and Commanding (RoP-Inf p 114) all deal with the summoning and manipulation of spirits.

The Summoning, Controlling, Divining and Refining of elementals (Hedge p22) use a similar set of abilities and virtues.

If a wizard possesses one of the Goetic arts it is a fairly simple conversion to Hermetic magic, using the arts of Rego and Vin (RoP-In p124).

So simple that it is as if Bonisagius incorporated such abilities in his finalised Magic Theory back in 800AD.

In the intervening years the teaching of this particular function of the Hermetic arts has been censored, by those meddlesome wizards who think they know best. Presumably House Guernicus and Tremere around the time of the corruption of House Tytalus 961AD, as per Titanoi mysteries HoH-Soc p96

So it should be a relatively simple breakthrough to incorporate such functionality into Magic Theory once more.

Sources of insight would include texts on Magic Theory published before 960, notably uncensored folio’s of the Colens Arcanorum and that ultimate prize an unedited, uncensored version of Bonisagius’s Principia Magica.

And if players start noticing that such works have been censored how could they fail to start investigating. The road to hell being paved with good intentions.

Flambeau wasn't Mithraic. He was Mercurian and Visgothic (ToH-Iberia, and Sub Rosa issue #3). The idea that he was Mithraic is a lie spread by Apromor. But everyone knows how I feel about that already. Anyway, Societates also makes reference to the idea that he invented the Penetration ability, and presumably the incorporation of Arcane Connections and Sympathetic connections in order to boost Penetration. I also figure he may have had much to do with Spell Mastery.

But as for the rest of your post, concerning summoning and other spirit magics, I would point out that you can do most all of this with simple Rego magic. This represents the portion Bonisagus incorporated into his unified Magic Theory. Those with special specific virtues are merely closer to the source and origin, and thus somewhat better at this specialized function of magic.

However, your idea could make for an interesting story if you have players specifically interested in spirit magic, theurgy, and making breakthroughs. If they are not interesed in said subjects, you may feel tempted to make it the goal of an NPC enemy or rival. This could work, but I think it would be easier and more rewarding to make this enemy a flat out theurgist. That is, if they are interested, then your time and effort spent creating materials will be rewarded. If they are not interested, you will be dissapointed as you spent all that time writing pages and pages of material no one will ever read. I have run into that situation before. You can reuse the material later, but at first you will feel discouraged and frustrated. The trick I suppose is to entice and interest the players first, then create material as you go that will fit in as you progress. The key to being a good game master in any game is remaining flexible, yet maintaining the illusion of vast detail.

Or maybe he didn't integrate these specific virtues because he didn't want to have anything to do with infernal powers?

You may say that summoning isn't nescessary infernal. Sure. But not only are the others, but he would still have had to meet a non-infernal summoner... Which could have been an infernal plot to corrupt him...
Of course, you could still have this happen in the past. What if bonisagus was an infernalist? :laughing:

That's an interesting conspiracy plot you've got there.

In general I think just assuming regular Rego magic covers it works fine, but youre version sounds more interesting :slight_smile:

While I like that idea, I tend to think that the ease of incorporation is more a matter that the Devil wants it to be easy.

And still, it's not that easy. Sure, you can use rego and vim as your goetic scores. But still, to integrate the virtues into hermetic magic would require an appropriate breakthrough.

It is strongly implied that the ability to access Twilight is due to the incorporation of Criamon's learning into the Hermetic Theory.

Summoning ghosts is Rego Mentem. and the Tremere do it a lot.

I agree Rego effects could (and should) control the arts of summoning but they don’t. There aren’t standard spells to do so, and you need a non hermetic virtue to access such abilities. The obvious exception being ghosts and Rego Mentem effects.

The ability to summon (and control/bind) magic spirits using ReVi, and nature spirits/faeries/elementals using ReAq, ReAu, ReIg, ReTe could easily be part of the Hermetic package deal that Magic Theory represents.

Yes, but the argument is that it should be a pretty easy breakthrough as the original Hermetic forms incorporated such abilities. It’s easier to rediscover something that’s badly hidden than to invent something new. Accessing older Tractati on Magic Theory is an easier source of insight than a quest to the Garden of Eden.

And if the end result is that one (or more) of the wizards is tempted to the infernal, bringing ruin on his sodales and threatening the order, well that’d be the point.

Actually, they do and are. The guidelines in the core say that ReMe summons spirits, and the example given the the (legacy) spell for ghost summoning. TM:RE and HoH:S repeat the guidelines and state that they're general for all Forms, with Mentem governing spirits with Intelligence, and the relevent Forms governing, well, things of the form.

The guidelines in the core are not the limit of Hermetic magic, merely guidelines for how difficult things are to an hermetic magus so that you can judge spell levels more easily. The only limits of Hermetic magic are those of the Limits of Hermetic Magic (There has to be a less clunky way of saying that, surely?). If a spell breaks no Limits and doesn't require non-standard ranges, targets and durations then it can be done. It just might be very, very difficult. The various mysteries all introduce non-standard things - summoning spirits of spells without an AC, for instance, or enchanting things you can't fit into your lab by enchanting bits of it and rebuiling or building it.

Exactly. Base 15 and 5.
I fail to see your point here, emptyhand. Maybe you weren't aware of these?
See in the wiki, there's an exemple ReVisummoning spell using these

That's assuming Goetic Arts were integrated in bonisagus original MT, which isn't RAW

Hmmm, I’m not sure I agree with you. To my mind the abilities of orthodox Hermetic Wizards are very much defined (and limited) by what’s in the core rulebook. Spells that are the result of base effects that aren’t listed in the core, are the developments of specific wizards and those spells have yet to become generally available across the order.

The primary means for new spells, and developments becoming universally available, is the Colentes Arcanorum. As a consequence I reckon that any folio published before 1100 would invariably simply contain spells from the core rulebook.

The core rulebook doesn’t list any effects or spells for the summoning of magic spirits, elemental spirits, faeries, demons etc and so that suggest to me that these are not part of orthodox Hermetic Theory as taught across the order. The core rulebook also includes several lifetimes’ worth of game time to explore the abilities as written.

There’s a base ReMe 15 effect to summon a ghost but nothing more. I’d suggest spells in the wiki are also not part of orthodox Magic Theory, and are simply the developments of individual wizards.

Equally in our saga’s wizards do not routinely summon such spirits, and I’d be interested to hear from any saga where wizards do commonly use such abilities. What effect does it have on play balance, flavor and what do you use as guidelines for power levels of spirits so summoned?

Ah but Bonisagius’s Magic Theory easily incorporated the abilities of Trianoma and her sister who were Witches of Thessaly specializing in either summoning (as per House Ex Miscellanea) or the whole range of Goetic arts (as RoP-Infernal)

In any case the idea that Magic Theory has changed, evolved and developed over the last 300 years is interesting. The conspiracy view that various aspects have been erased from orthodox Theory is a good story hook. Thinking about what developments have been incorporated adds more hooks.

A cursory bit more pondering on the back of an envelope suggest that the following abilities/functionality may not have been part of Bonisagius’s original Magic Theory.
Form Bonuses
Non fatiguing spontaneous magic
Vis boosts to spells
Determining form of magic effects
Twilight comprehension
Vis extraction/transfer (maybe a secret Verditius kept)
Target: base part
Various base effects
Help in the laboratory
So if these were new developments, who developed them? When? How? What records did they keep? And do those records suggest a more effective way of using those effects?

That's not how I understand things. What isn't forbidden by the Laws of Magic is, in general, possible. Only some guidelines are given in the core book, and the storyguide has to extrapolate from them to guidelines not given. The various base effects that aren't listed in the core are not necessarily new developments in Magic Theory, they are just more esoteric and hence presented in more specialized or later books. They are, usually, available throughout the Order, to any magus with an inclination to use them for any magic. Exceptions are guidelines who truly require an understanding of new phenomena, like the Magic Realm guidelines presented in RoPM or the tiny tidbits of abilities related to a better understanding of Philosophiae conveyed in Art & Academe

Yes, those are interesting options. I don't think they're appropriate for the core, official game, though.

Well, what can I say, save that these guidelines are given in the mysteries as core guidelines available to basic magic theory, just as the corebook guidelines, alongside with a exemple fire spirit summoning spell?

It is there, is is RAW hermetic magic.

Of course, in your saga, this may not be true, and this is fine, but, then, you differ from the RAW.