self-transformation and Mysteries

In the 5th Ed book is an example of a minor Magical Focus in Self-Transformation.

Perhaps it is just a coincidence in names, but would this mMF help when a magus attempts certain Mysteries that transform the mage into something else? eg Living Ghost, Becoming, other forms of immortality?

Yeah, I think would for the lab work involved in those, making the greater elixir or inventing the rituals for Ascendency or Living Ghost.

1 Like

I read a self-transformation minor focus as a something that covers MuCo with Range: Personal, arguably MuAn if you're a Bjornaer. I've never really considered it for such mysteries, but you bring a good point. On review, the one I was doubtful about - the living ghost, explicitly allows self-transformation as well as necromancy. I would allow it for the 4 mysteries you speak of.

Definitely for the great elixir, as what the great work of alchemy but self-transformation? The Living Ghost explicitly mentions it. much does it count as self-transformation, and how much as a team effort of your friends helping you? That's arguable. Becoming - I would say transforming yourself into a faerie counts as self-transformation.


Would the mMF in self-transformation aid in situations where Hermetic Lab totals weren't involved in the transformation Mystery? (if such a thing exists)

Sure - if it involves casting a hermetic spell.

The way a magical focus works is:

When you cast a spell or generate a Lab
Total within your focus, add the lowest applic-
able Art score twice.

So if you are not casting a spell, not generating a Lab Total, or not using any Art - then a focus does nothing at all.

1 Like

As ErikT points out, a magical focus only applies to hermetic totals. Now Potent Sorcery (as mentioned in Rival Magic) can apply over multiple Supernatural Abilities, so could possibly apply to a range of totals where there aren't hermetic lab totals. Ponders a Bjornaer with Potent Sorcery claiming he can use animal hide bonuses to his Heartbeast ability rolls and also for slightly boosting alchemical transformation

1 Like

Actually, there are canonical non-Hermetic cases that use Magical Foci. So canonically it really isn't limited to Hermetic totals. But it does require Arts.

Here, in answer to lvgreen's question, it could apply. I think some of the Mysteries have Rituals that are cast, and applicable Magical Foci would apply to those spells.


A magic focus is basically saying that, for some reason or other, you are particularly good at a certain magic specialisation.
Perhaps I am also curious if a magical focus that applies to Hermetic Magic will also extend to cover the same specialisation in a non-hermetic magic systems, if the Magus happens to learn another magic system.

Mind you, Mysteries are supposed to be add-ons to Hermetic Magic, rather than a separate magical system.

eg if a particular mystery required you learn a couple of Mercurian skills and use them to cast a Mercurian ritual whose magic would normally be covered by your Hermetic focus if it was a Hermetic ritual, does your Magic Focus apply to the Mercurian casting?

Note that Hermetic Virtues and Flaws,
including the ones gained by being a mem-
ber of House Ex Miscellanea, affect only
the exercise of Hermetic magic, not non-
Hermetic powers.

-- HoH:S p103

Also, if whatever you are doing does not involve any Art, it does not much matter if a particular focus would apply or not, since there is no Art score to double.

To add to ErikT's comment and clarify my own: Magical Foci do not need to be Hermetic Virtues, they can also be Supernatural Virtues. (I would have preferred a new category such as Tradition Virtues, of which Hermetic Virtues would be a subset.) Those Supernatural Virtue Magical Foci can apply to things like Learned Magicians, who have pairs of Arts. The Hermetic version would not apply to Learned Magicians.

Oh, no, I'm actually wrong. HoH:S is straight-up contradicted in HMRE. Those Gifted hedge magi can actually get Hermetic V/F that apply to their stuff, though not all Hermetic V/F.

Yeah, the wording makes things very confusing.
Some hedge traditions can take certain Hermetic virtues and flaws - except they are of course not really Hermetic then.
And some traditions can take the same virtues and flaws - except to them they are Supernatural rather than Hermetic.

Yes. The game qualifies many as still being Hermetic V/F for the non-Hermetic Gifted practitioners. There seems to be a realization that some need to be available to unGifted. But sticking them inside Supernatural Virtues specifically for them creates a whole other mess (or maybe a could messes). That's why I would have preferred "Tradition" V/F with subcategories like "Hermetic" which might overlap with some other subcategories for other traditions. Mystery Virtues could potentially also be in subsets of that, too.

But that's not how it's written. I feel like the two books' statements were made very focused on their own things. It's clear what HoH:S was trying to deal with, as they didn't have other sets of Arts to which the Gift could be opened. It's clear what HMRE was trying to deal with, as they did have those sets of Arts. But both statements are a little too broad as actually written, which is where the contradiction shows up. If they were made a little more narrowly, there would be no conflict.

1 Like

Except it is not so simple as if they have Arts or not.

Of the hedge traditions in HM:RE the ones that can have hermetic v/f are
Folk Witches (no Arts, only Supernatural abilities)
Gruagachan (have Arts)
Learned Magicians (have Arts)

The traditions that have some of the same v/f but as Supernatural v/f rather than hermetic are
Elementalists (have Arts)
Vitkir (no Arts, only Supernatural Abilities)

And then we have some Hermetic virtues and flaws that are specific to the Order of Hermes (e.g. Hermetic Prestige), and some that are only applicable to people with the Gift (e.g. Inoffensive to Animals)

It is a bit of a mess.

Yes, that is true. Also, there are those that have both Hermetic and Supernatural versions. All of this is why I prefer my "Tradition" V/F approach, with Hermetic V/F as a subset. That could have been done even after the core book was written, just introduced with HMRE and RM. Too bad it wasn't.

1 Like