So, I've decided to found my own cult...

In context: one of the other players in the Troupe has a Story flaw whereby his legendary satyr father has said "OK, kids - only one of you can inherit my throne. Feel free to fight it out amongst yourselves." So, all the half-satyr, half-(whatevers) are in a Princes of Amber-style fratricide fight to the death.

The player has asked each of the other players to take the role of one or two of the other siblings, and occasionally come at him in some sort of way. One of the ones I made was a half-human Tytalus magi who has no desire whatsoever to become a Farie queen, but doesn't just want to give the title up without the others earning it. So, she's used political maneuverings to sic the Knights Templar on the rest of the family.

So, now a band of Templars show up, the leader of which as a point of True Faith - and so I started to take a look at Power/Method Divine magic, which in turn pointed me to The Mysteries and Initiation scripts. And as such, I've got a few questions about them, based on some of the previous threads here on the forum:

  1. So, True Faith is to the Divine what The Gift is to Magic - ie, it allows you to study a single supernatural tradition (essentially) at no penalty. For True Faith, that's basially 2 Divine Powers, a Divine Method, and an related minor supernatural Ability (empowed by the Divine). For The Gift, that's the Hermetic system of magic, and the 5 Forms/10 Techniques. For anything else, you start taking penalties for learning new supernatural traits (of any realm) after character creation.

  2. ...which gets into min-maxing, and not taking your Tradition's virtues during character creation (because you can learn them later without spending Virtues), but that's more a Storyguide issue than a rules issue. (Personlly, I'd rule that it's OK to create your character normally, then get initiated via seasons spent in your Backstory, as long as the narrative is plausable - which is sort-of what Magi do when they have 0 levels in a Form or Technique.)

  3. The penalty for learining a new supernatural virtue, even if it's not part of your Tradition, can be avoided if you've got some sort of Mystery initiation script, which allows you to teach it to whoever you want to, for free - assuming they can go through the script.

  4. Folks without True Faith can also learn Powers and Methods - but they can't just pick 'em up like people with TF can: they have to be taught the hard way. (Ie, through Initiation, or else get them during character creation). This is one I'm not sure about. I mean, grogs can have minor supernatural virtues, just not major ones, but I'm not sure if they can be Initiated or not. This becomes important, because....

  5. Holy schnikes, the Ceremony Ability is valuable. But I'm not quite sure if you need to have the Power/Methods associated with the ceremony you're doing.

5a. Can Ceremony be used for the "normal" ways to call upon the Divine - ie, Miracles, Invoking God's Aid, or calling on the Saints? It looks like it can. But if that was the case, then it becomes really easy to Call on the Saints (ie, ressurrection, mass heals, one-shot insta-kills), as even a few folks with Ceremony end up bumping the focus character's roll to +20 or so, easily.

5b. Can it be used on any relevent Superntural Ability (such as Second Sight or Sense Holiness/Unholiness) - again, this seems to be the case, assuming the Supernatural Abilities were powered by the Divine. But in those sorts of cases, I imagine the "ceremony" would be fairly quick, such as everyone singing a hymn, or calling on God's name in a sort of call-response ("Can I get an Amen?" "AMEN!") sort of way.

5c. Can folks with Ceremony, but without points in the relevent Method, join in a Ceremony? The rules above seem unclear. In the beginning, it implies that everyone needs to have the Method - but later on, it says "if the character does not have the Method, only the characteristic is added." I'm guessing this means that all the characters involved have to pay the Method cost (such as a Faith Point or Confidence point, or fatigue or Health levels), but if they don't have points in the Method they can't add it to the combined roll.

5d. Looking at ways that this is limited:

Invocation - can only be done by folks that have Faith or Confidence points (ie, not grogs). Exception - if someone loaned their Holy Relic out to a grog, or if someone used a Blessing to transfer a point of Confidence to one. (EDIT - even if a grog was loaned a Confidence point, could they use it if they did not have a Confidence score? I'm guessing the Blessing power could temporarily grant them a Confidence of 1, but if this is the case it'd probably be a magnitude more difficult than just transferring a point.)

EDIT II - OK, I've been thinking about this one a bit more, and I've determined that a Method that only Companions and Magi can use doesn't make too much sense. As such, I think I'd rule that if you ever get to the point where a grog needs the ability to spend a Confidence point to use an ability they've spent XP on, then by definition they've got the ability to use at least 1 Confidence point: ie, he gets Confidence 1 (1) automatically.

EDIT III - OK, appearently, going to Mass gets you a Faith point, and Confession gets you a Confidence point - which implies that anyone can gain them. Which, in turn, implies that they can spend them, as well. So maybe gaining a Confidence point grants you a temporary Confidence level.

Meditation - the larger the group, the more likely it is somone will botch the Stamina roll. No real way around that, except to limit the size of the group. However, the rules don't explicitly say that it has to be a stress die. Therefore, it potentially could be a simple die unless there is extenuating circumstances.

Purity - everyone's hurt at the end. So unless it's a long-term buff, or you have some way of healing yourself, this one is isn't one you would want to use right before a fight.

However, Calling on the Saints allows for insta-heals and buffs, and doesn't seem to have any sort of Method requirement - although I'm guessing "Arrogance and Greed" ends up being the narrative reason why you wouldn't do that. (ie, you sacrificed something and recieved the blessing, and now you're trying to get back what you sacrificed. God Says No. Although one could argue that it is the strenuous activity that gets one to a point where one can more easily percieve the Divine - as such, the wound/fatigue level is an incidental cost, rather than a sacrifice. I'd go with the former, though, just for game balance.

But really - it's just a single level of long-term fatigue. It'll come back after a night's rest. Suck it up.)

Moving on to Initiation Scripts...

  1. Can Grogs be initated? I'm guessing yes, although they're narratively supposed to be background members. Hey, every cult needs faceless, hooded minions chanting in the background...

  2. Can Grogs be initiated to recieve Major Supernatural Virtues? Again, I'm not seeing anything rules-wise that says they can't - but it imples that there is a narrative reason why you would want to promote someone in such a way. But in looking at the narrative, the reason is "so they can chant more effectively in the background." Of course, the Initiation scripts that would be required to teach Major supernatural virtues would be prety hefty, and justify making them (basically) Companion-level folks in their own right...

8... except that I'm looking at the scripts, and for the group I'm putting together, the script is going to be "can you survive fighting against the forces of darkenss for a year at our side, and show that you can maintain the standards of Justice, Chastity, and Mercy while doing so?" Which is basically consists of variations of quests and picking up some Personality Traits. With the Leader having a Pre +2 and Mystery Lore (Initiation) 6, that makes learning minor virtues pretty simple. (Just surviving and contributing is enough - which may be simple, but not necessarily easy). The Major Virtues would require a bit more time, and accepting the Personality flaws. Does that reading work?

I'm sleepy and am not quite sure I understood all of your questions, but here's my take on things:

  1. Yes, a character with True Faith is able to learn any Supernatural abilities associated with the Dominion (including Divine M&P). She must, however, subtract the sum of her Divine abilities from the Source Quality unless the ability being studied is one of her Tradition's favored abilities or she possesses the corresponding Virtue.

  2. Yeah that's a recognized feature of the rules, but not one I think is necessarily problematic. Incidentally, however, Hermetic Magi start with all of their Arts at 0 having been opened during their apprenticeships and can be improved normally from there. By contrast, a character lacking a given Holy Power cannot use the the corresponding Method as though he had a score of 0 in said Power.

  3. Sort of: The penalty to 'learn' an supernatural ability only applies until you get a score of 1 in that ability (at which point, I suppose it's considered learned) - it doesn't matter how that score was acquired - Miracles, initiation, books etc.

  4. Yes, other characters can have Divinely oriented supernatural abilities - including Grogs though as noted, they must be minor. "The Church" includes rules for gaining such powers through Initiation (the chapter on St. Francis of Assisi).

  5. Yeah it's a good ability to have! For what it's worth, the participants in a leaderless Ceremony don't need to know the Power in question to contribute to the Group modifier (though obviously it's better if they do).

5A. According to the description of the Ceremony ability, it's only useful with Supernatural abilities or M&P, but the book also clearly states that it can be used with Holy Influence or Invoking God's Aid, I can't find any reference to using it for the other applications you mentioned, but I'm open to correction.

5B. Yes, explicitly so.

5C. Yes, explicitly so.

5D. Invocation: not really an issue since grogs can't have major virtues (like invocation). Meditation: I believe only the focus character has to roll for the ability, but noble's parma on that for now. Purity: True, but in ArM5 a single Light Wound isn't necessarily that debilitating.

  1. Yes, rules for initiating UnGifted characters are included in HMRE and The Church. In fact, one of the books, "Grogs", I think stresses the danger of a group of peasants initiated into "Ceremony" can pose.

  2. Yes according to Grogs and and The Church, grogs can acquire Major virtues through various avenues, but in doing so cease to be grogs - they become Companions instead.

  3. Noble's parma, I might look it up tomorrow.

Nope, it sounds like you answered 'em all in the spirit they were asked. I think the confusion I'm having is on "How does everyone join in on a Ceremony" - I was assuming that everyone involved in the ceremony, even if they didn't have the Method, had to pay the Method cost, either in Confidence, Faith, Damage, or Fatigue - which means that in a 15-person Invocation Ceremony, (A bunch of people yelling "God's Will Be Done!" at once, I guess), all 15 have to simultanteously spend their Confidence and/or Faith points. But, as I discovered, going to Mass gives you a Faith point, so it's not like they're difficult to get, even for a Grog.

Narratively, I suppose at any given time not everyone will be in a state of Grace to actually use the Faith point, however, so you'd have to assume a percentage of folks are unavailable. But in your interpretation, only the focus character is paying the cost; which makes the whole thing quite a bit easier.

Also, where does it say that Grogs can't have Major virtues or flaws? I thought I had read that somewhere, but in looking in the book, I could only find the "no story flaws" rule. They're allowed 3 points of virtues/flaws, but it doesn't seem to restrict what type, except for "no Gift".

ArM5, page 17, last paragraph. Yeah, they should have repeated it in the sidebar on page 37.

Cool, thanks.

There are some exceptions. Giant blood, for example, seems to be allowed, based on Metacreator's application of the rules.

It's "should not," not "cannot" nor "may not." It's a strong recommendation, not a system-wide rule.


That's good. Giant blooded grogs are entertaining.

Hi Kevin, hope the cult-founding is fun.

Yes, like The Gift, True Faith allows characters to learn one tradition's favored Divine Supernatural Abilities without requiring them to somehow gain the Virtues. I designed all the traditions in The Divine to favor one Method, two Powers, and a related Ability. (This same system is used in The Infernal and Faerie, too, as well as by Elementalists in Hedge Magic.) Also, keep in mind that a character who has opened his Gift to a magical tradition (like a magus) can still "open his True Faith" to a divine tradition as well. This is why there are traditions that are both holy and Hermetic.

In Faerie and The Infernal, it says that the character's scores in the tradition's favored Abilities don't count against the total when learning any Supernatural Abilities, rather than only other favored ones. I think this works better, because there is less incentive to game the system and take other Supernatural Abilities during character creation, planning to learn the favored ones in play. I suggest players apply this change to The Divine rules as well. That way they can advance as far as they want in their tradition's Abilities without necessarily blocking other Methods or Powers should they come across a study source.

Yes, though note there is no penalty for learning a new Supernatural Ability associated with your tradition. It is learned just like any Ability, as long as you can get five experience points in one shot. Initiations almost always involve an ordeal, and gaining too many Personality Flaws will cause characters to go insane, at least in my games. :slight_smile:

Folks without True Faith cannot learn Divine Supernatural Abilities. The only way they can get them is by somehow gaining the Virtue, usually through mystery initiation, or by taking it during character creation, or because of some story event that awards it. So the limitation on whether or not grogs can practice Methods and Powers depends on whether or not they can get the Virtues. Personally, in my sagas, I figure that once a grog character has gotten important enough to the covenant that it has the equivalent of Major Virtues or Flaws, it should become a companion.

The focus character must have the relevant Abilities. Those participating in it do not need it, though as you mention below, they do have to do whatever the focus character does to activate the power, or they cannot participate and their scores aren't added to the total.

Yes, I believe so, any supernatural activity associated with the Divine.

Yes, any divine Supernatural Ability. I don't think you should lessen the length of the ceremony, however. Like a Hermetic ritual, I imagine it should be at least twenty minutes long, and probably longer the more people who participate.

I'm going from memory here, but isn't it that the leader's Ceremony score determines how many people can participate? The later books have ways that groups can perform a ceremony without a leader, so my recollection is a little confused. Anyway, I think anyone can participate as long as the leader has a high enough Ceremony score to accommodate them. And yes, they all have to meditate or invoke Confidence or undergo the ordeal of Purity or whatever the Method requires.

Not much I can clarify here. :slight_smile: If a character can't spend a Confidence Point, it can't meaningfully participate in an Invocation ceremony, yes. I mean, it can go through the motions, but it won't add its stats to the total. Oh well. In character, I doubt anyone will even know the difference, it just won't be very powerful when there's grogs involved.

Grogs can't learn Supernatural Abilities unless they have True Faith. As for whether or not grogs can gain True Faith or other Virtues associated with Methods and Powers... well, theoretically, yes, though in my sagas the initiation ceremony would basically elevate the grog into a companion. Keep in mind, though, you don't have to have the Methods and Powers to participate in the ceremony. The chanting, faceless, hooded minions still have their place without being initiated into the inner mysteries. :slight_smile:

I am not as familiar with The Church, but Hedge Magic Revised has ways to initiate folks that don't have The Gift into Supernatural Abilities, and I imagine it should work the same way.

Sounds good to me. I was thinking, these grogs you want to initiate are kind of like apprentices. They may not be much right now, but they are going to become much more important in your saga as time goes on. :slight_smile:

A number of characters equal to the leader's Ceremony score can participate in a Led Ceremony, but there's no limit to the number who can join in a leaderless Ceremony, but since you subtract the number of participants from the sum of Ceremony scores to determine the Group Modifier, adding more characters doesn't necessarily increase the potency of the ceremony...

Ah yes, that's good. I vaguely recall there being a design reason why the divine version is Minor and the infernal one is Major, and I thought it might have been because the divine version didn't get un-led ceremonies, but I guess it's just because the Divine realm is really good at ceremony. :slight_smile: