Teaching Breakthroughs

So, I'm looking through the books to figure out what is required to teach a Hermetic Virtue created via Major Breakthrough to another, and I'm getting seriously mixed messages.

Ancient Magic and Hedge Magic seem to indicate that the Breakthrough must be initiated as a Mystery.

HoH:TL instead indicates that it can just be taught as a Supernatural Ability, except that you do not subtract Arts from the Teaching total/Tactatus quality, and that you can teach things that do not have associated Abilities. Although it doesn't bother to tell you what any target numbers are.

How is this actually supposed to work? I guess I could just give it all a miss and go for another Breakthrough to fully integrate it, but it would be nice if I could teach other people in case anything happens to me before I can finish.

My understanding, which may be incorrect, is that it requires no target number. That you write a book on the ability if there is one or a related ability or art and when a magus reads that book they both gain xp in the ability or art of the book or teaching and the virtue for the breakthrough. For instance, a magus creates a hermetic breakthrough to make their Intellego spells see through the deceptions of demons they likely would write a tractatus on Intellego that imparts the virtue as well as teaches the reader a bit of Intellego. Another example might be one of the folds of Parma Magica in which case the book would likely be a book on Parma Magica. If the breakthrough is a more general thing, not related to a particular art then the relevant ability would likely be Magic Theory.

As an alternate option for those involved in or creating a mystery cult is to develop an initiation script to impart the virtue. From AM, emphasis mine:

A new Virtue may be Initiated according to the normal rules for Mysteries.

If that is the case, then what is the point of the second Hermetic Integration Major Breakthrough? You can make a second Breakthrough so that people don't need the special Virtue to use whatever it is. But if imparting the Virtue just takes writing a tractatus, and distributing the Virtue-less Breakthrough would... require me to write a tractatus, otherwise no one would know about the Breakthrough, it's not like Magic Theory just spontaneously updates in everyone's mind.

I just don't see how this can be the case, otherwise that was a massive waste of ~45 Breakthrough points.

First off do not mix up Original Research (as found in HoH: TL) with Hermetic Integration (as found in AM). They are two completely different processes working from completely different bases.

While OR might be an expansion of Hermetic Magic Theory, they work from within that framework to expand it. Everything generated through it is fairly easy for others skilled in it to understand, since it is in effect written in the same language.

HI on the other hand takes things that are completely outside of Hermetic Magic Theory, in effect written in a completely different language, and attempts to merge them into Hermetic Magic Theory. That first breakthrough means the Magus has figured out how to translate it enough that they can use it. For others to use it, they have to learn how to translate it as well, thus the need for initiation to the Virtue. It takes a second breakthrough to fully translate the HI over into the same language as the rest of Hermetic Magic Theory and make the Virtues "free".

When first comparing them it might seem like an OR would be easier, but that is actually often not the case. While you might have only a single breakthrough to make rather than two for general distribution to the Order, that single breakthrough is much harder to generate points for. If you can get enough Inspiration for a HI, you can fairly regularly get both breakthroughs in less time than an OR without the other drawbacks like warping.

While the block in AM, p.9 tells you that you can combine points from the two different methods to generate a Breakthrough, what it does not do is tell you that said Breakthrough will always be an HI. It is no longer strictly Hermetic in origin once you attempt to add something from outside of Hermetic Theory.


That helps, it makes the integration of external stuff make sense, anyway. I guess the thing I still don't understand is the Hermetic Integration part of Original Research.

Not sure if I'm allowed to quote from the book, if it's not okay please let me know and I'll remove it:

"Major Breakthroughs create Hermetic Virtues, which must be learned, granting the use of the Virtue with an accompanying Ability. Breakthroughs may be further researched to allow a magus access to the Virtue without learning an Ability. Thus, making a Major Breakthrough on an existing Major Breakthrough will change the nature of Hermetic magic.

For example, a maga achieves a Major Breakthrough and invents the Hermetic Virtue Life Boost. She can teach this ability to other magi, granting each the Hermetic Virtue Life Boost once they learn it. A second Major Breakthrough would integrate Life Boost into regular Hermetic magic, meaning that every practitioner taught Magic Theory using this new technique would be able to use Life Boost"

So, what am I/The Order actually getting out of this? Is this all down to not having to spend an extra season on a Apprentice or something? I have to be missing something, because it looks like it's my choice of:

Step 1) Write Book
Step 2) Disseminate to Order
Step 3) Order Learns New Way to use Magic


Step 1) Research Major Breakthrough
Step 2) Write Book
Step 3) Disseminate to Order
Step 4) Order Learns New Way to use Magic

Still very confused.


It is a matter of degrees.

OR Integrated has to be specifically taught by someone who knows it or specifically written about in a book. However they have to specifically be attempting to teach that Virtue or write a book about that Virtue. In effect one season or one book per Virtue.

OR Fully Integrated is just part of MT to anyone who knows it. So any book they write about MT will give anyone who reads it every Fully Integrated thing the writer knew at the time of writing that the reader does not know without specifically having to write about them. In effect one book or season for all of the Virtues.

EDIT: HI Fully Integrated is roughly the same as OR Integrated.

Also Magi who get and exchange books on the regular will end up with any Fully Integrated OR since it spreads. However if they want to learn an OR that is just Integrated they have to actually seek out specific books or a teacher.

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I don’t believe it is correct to consider OR and HI to have different end results considering one can use HI on mostly hermetic insight sources, like those created by Conciatta in Legends of Hermes, to reverse engineer the breakthroughs.

Except the rules for their end results are different which means their end results are different.

OR is more difficult to accomplish but has an easier to teach end result. Once you include anything outside of hermetic in it, then it is an HI and uses the harder to teach HI end result.

But in the example I mentioned, Conciatta’s breakthroughs, they are only not hermetic in that they are themselves the products of Hermetic Original Research. Also, you keep ignoring that the result is not different, they just mention another way in which one may transmit the the new virtue, initiation. One could also hide the results from OR behind initiations in your mystery cult but I think when HoH:TL came out the Mysteries was not out yet or just came out and they smartly chose to not reiterate those rules or an early version of them in HoH:TL. Remember the bit I quoted above states one “may” initiate the virtue.

The "may" is the only way given without a second breakthrough.

The second breakthrough (Fully Integrated) "may" be done with the HI or OR rules. At that point it can be learned from a Lab Text for Major or Hermetic level, putting it at roughly the same level as an OR. They do require that Lab Text and inventing an effect from said Lab Text to learn, compared to just studying a book.

Even Fully Integrated, HI are not spread the same way as OR.


Passive aggressive much? I'm done talking to you.

I think the difference really comes through in the second generation.

After only the first step has been taken, anyone who has learnt the new technique does so via a specific Virtue. After the second step, it becomes an inherent part of "Hermetic Magus".

For the first generation, this doesn't make much difference - it makes it slightly harder to be taught future Hermetic Virtues using a teaching approach, but you probably weren't going to do that anyway. There may be a few other obscure cases where it matters as well, but overall it isn't a big deal.

However, when you come to teach an apprentice, if it's fully integrated then it becomes part of their abilities the moment you open their Arts. If it's only partially integrated, then you either have to spend a season teaching them the Virtue yourself (using the rules in Apprentices), with the inherent difficulties and downsides that comes with, or if you can, you give them the tractatus.

That's still not too bad, as long as that is the only new technique you're trying to do that for. Suppose some of the other fully integrated virtues in the Order's history hadn't been, though? Would you also want to be spending a season teaching them how to end Muto Corpus spells early, and another season teaching them how to use Vim to affect non-Magical Realms, and another season...It gets unwieldy fast, and bits of it will start getting dropped. Integrate it fully, and everyone always has it.


Just to add, Parma Magica is one of those fully integrated virtues. It is a "Hermetic Breakthrough" Arcane Ability Virtue, as described in HoH:TL, p.27. An interesting side effect is that every Magus actually has a 0 cost Virtue "Parma Magica" which they receive when their Gift is opened. Without that Virtue, the Ability is impossible to learn.

This would make non-Hermetics actually learning the Parma Magica a far more difficult proposition then most people expect. If their gift is not opened Hermetically, then they have to take all the source material they can find and perform an Integration to gain the Virtue. As came up in another thread, not that many organizations actually have a Magic Theory which is a required part of OR or Integration. Even if they did manage the Hermetic Breakthrough difficulty, it would still most likely be incomplete if a Magus did not give them the final "secret" part of the ritual not taught until after the Oath is sworn.

Sure a Magus might be able to teach it to a non-Hermetic using the rules in Apprentices (very YSMV), but in general that will be the only way for it to slip out of the Order since other methods will be extremely difficult if not impossible. While you would not want books on the ability to get spread around outside the Order, in general they are not a risk.


I don't think that's right - Hermetic Virtues [Breakthroughs] "represent their own problems of integration" (HoH: TL pg 30) rather than using the double integration approach of Major breakthroughs. The fact that the Parma Magica has its own Arcane Ability rather than hanging off Magic Theory also suggests it's separate, as does this statement:

(There then follows various stuff about how exactly they'd make use of the books, but these mostly come down to either "feed Viea enough vis to offset the penalty from her Might to learning, or teach the sorceresses to read Latin or Greek", rather than integration projects.)

[Edited for typo.]


The quoted line is actual "Hermetic Breakthroughs represent their own problems of integration", the last line in the opening paragraph of that section. The other two paragraphs in that section only talk about Minor Breakthroughs and Major Breakthroughs, providing nothing for Hermetic Breakthroughs.

I believe you might have been looking for Breakthroughs in Play (HoH:TL, p.29) which has "A Hermetic Breakthrough is a legendary event and its transmission depends on the nature of the Breakthrough. If it is an Arcane Ability, like the Parma Magica, then it must be taught just like any regular ability. If the Breakthrough exceeds one of the Hermetic limits of magi, then it must be taught like a Major Breakthrough, either through personal instruction or a written tractatus."

Reading that as allowing anyone to learn and use Parma Magica rather than just other Hermetic Magi does not seem right. That entire section is describing how to teach other Hermetic Magi your Breakthroughs. Does a non-Hermetic magic user who reads a spell text providing a new R/T/D gain access to that new R/T/D? Does a non-Hermetic magic user reading a tractatus about a Hermetic Virtue gain that Hermetic Virtue? YSMV but nothing seems to suggest or imply that.

Quoting text from a Story Seed in the SG's Book of Big Bads is not in any way a counter to what I said. Story Seed material is often not in line with the Crunch of the game, often having things that would not be possible with said Crunch.

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Sorry, yes - typo, I meant "Hermetic Breakthroughs", not "Hermetic Virtues".

Whilst I don't tend to take examples and story seeds as overturning clear Rules text, they can be useful for clarifying ambiguity, and I'd generally follow them where there's not something explicitly contradicting them. I don't think there's anything explicitly (or evenly strongly implicitly) contradicting them in this case.

Another example of a Hermetic Breakthrough is (Hermetic) Magic Theory*, which can be taught to anyone regardless of whether they even have the Gift, let alone have it opened to Hermetic Magic.

*Probably - True Lineages (pg 26) describes the Parma as the only Hermetic breakthrough that's occurred in the 450 year history of the Order of Hermes, but Hedge Magic (pg 16) describes creating a (Hedge) Magic Theory as a Hermetic Breakthrough - you can sort of reconcile them by considering Hermetic Magic Theory to have been invented before the foundation of the Order (although so was the Parma, really).

The description of the Parma Magica in the core rules also states that:

Parma Magica can only be learned by Gifted characters, although they learn it as a normal Arcane Ability, not a Supernatural Ability. It is only known by Hermetic magi, as the Order enforces the “Join or Die” choice rigorously on anyone who knows it, as well as declaring a Wizard’s March on the magus who taught it.

Which doesn't explicitly state that they didn't need to integrate it before learning it and being "Join or die"-d, but does make it seem more common than would be likely in that scenario.

If you want crunch, the description of Parma Magica says
"Parma Magica can only be learned by
Gifted characters, although they learn it as a
normal Arcane Ability, not a Supernatural
Ability. It is only known by Hermetic magi, as
the Order enforces the “Join or Die” choice rig-
orously on anyone who knows it, as well as
declaring a Wizard’s March on the magus who
taught it."

You need the Gift to learn Parma Magica. That and some source of teaching (teacher, book) is all that is needed.
It is an Arcane Ability - no special virtue is needed to learn those.

I will accept defeat on this since learning the Ability can be done by anyone with the Gift. Can I point out that just having the Ability (and the Gift) does not let someone perform the ritual? Without someone actually teaching the secret key, it is an Ability that does nothing. BTW, this is the part that Rivals completely skipped over.

That is not clear. The rules may equally well be read as meaning that the 'final key' is what gives the new magus a score of 1 in the ability. In other words, learning the Ability includes learning the secret key.
Which is the interpretation I favor - then you don't have the odd case of an ability you can learn but not use.

"Regardless of a character’s score in Parma Magica, she will not be able to invoke her own Parma Magica until after she receives the final key, which happens after she has sworn the Oath of Hermes." Apprentices, p.61

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Hm, that is a slight change from what it says in the core rulebook, but okay.

It is also something published after Rival Magic, which is why the story seed in there couldn't take that rule into account.