Teaching virtues

Question time.

Mage A does some research and discovers a fantastic new virtue that lets hium do something.....cool.

His amici (mage B) expresses an interest in learning the virtue and mage A decides to teach his beloved friend the virtue. All he asks in return is the same number of seasons work that it takes to teach the virtue. i.e. if it takes 2 seasons to teach the virtue, mage B gives him two seasons of service as compensation.

So my questions,

  1. how long does it take to teach the virtue.
  2. Where are the rules for this?

Mystery cults (and TM:RE) have rules for this but they always involve ordeals, binding oaths, mystagogues etc, etc. This doesn't seem appropriate for a pair of friendly magi agreeing to a simple teaching bargain.

Hi there

IMO, those ordeals, binding oaths etc etc. are more or less required requisites for learning the virtue. They're not in there just because the Mystagogue (the one teaching the virtue) is an annoying bastard. There are some "mystical" factors involved, powers to appease, etc.
As fas as the mechanics are concerned, those ordeals and sacrifices are there to help the pupil learn that virtue. Some of them, of course, could be considered (in-game) as imposed by a mystery cult willing to impose special penalties on the supplicant (e.g. for assessing loyalty)

If both magi are friendly enough, and not members of a mystery cult, they could come with a script which does not require too much sacrifice... but that may make it more difficult as the Ease Factor increases (which in-game may reflect that the powers-that-be are not convinced by the supplicant's efforts!).

On the other hand, if the virtue teaches a supernatural ability, it can be teached as per ArM5th p. 166 'Learning Supernatural Abilities'

Then again, if one PC gained it during an adventure (some supernatural being involved?), couldn't the other PC just try and do the same? (Of course, the supernatural being in question may start to get annoyed if magi keep pestering him!)


What bra78 said. Those ordeals, quests, and sacrifices aren't a power trip by sadistic mystagogues, they are a necessary and clever magical process that bright and resourceful mages have invented to sidestep and overcome that kind of mystical inertia that makes harder and harder to learn new Supernatural Abilities and Virtues the more ones a character already knows (Hermetic Arts definitively counting).

One cannot escape the need for Initiation the same way one cannot dodge the need to be cut open if one needs surgery.

What a friendly mystagogue CAN do for another mage is a) absolutely to cut all that stupid, bothersome, and counterproductive (sorry, caribet :stuck_out_tongue: ) conspiratorial, secret-society stuff, and immediately go to the actual Initiation process itself and b) vary the script, or even experiment to create a new script, to customize the initiation for the character. The Ordeals, Quests, Sacrifices, etc. have to be real and meaningful, or they don't count; but a friendly mystagogue can definitely allow the applicant some serious choice in which ones to pick.

I believe that Bras 78 and wanderer are answering the wrong question

The rules for teaching a virtue discovered through hermetic research are in HoH:True Lineages. the researcher (mage A) prepares a lab text with an effect that utilizes the breakthrough. The student (mage B) produces the effect from the lab notes and, as a side effect, picks up the virtue. Although I don't recall that the option was given in the rules, I see no reason to disallow direct teaching of the virtue instead of using a lab text. [/serf's parma]

Well, it is quite possible :slight_smile: BUT

The rules on hermetic research, in HoH:TL but also as expanded, clarified, and updated in Ancient Magic (which is more recent and fully integrates original research with Mystery rules), actually state that Major Breakthroughs create new Hermetic Virtues, but ONLY the original researcher can learn them automatically as an effect of the breakthrough. All other mages need Initiation if they want to learn them, and the researcher has to create an Initiation script in order to teach them to others. If one want to bypass the need for new Virtues and Initiations, a second Major Breakthrough is necessary to fully integrate the discovery into Hermetic magic and make it a part of normal magic theory that a mage can teach to another, just like Minor Breakthroughs.

The rule you quote is only valid for Minor Breakthroughs, which don't require Virtues at all. You are correct if the OP plans to use a Minor Breakthorugh in play, but since he talked about discovering a virtue, then it is a Major Breakthrough and then you need Initation scripts to teach/learn. So my answer is correct, too.

Another option, though painfully slow, would be to let the magus without the virtue use the magus with the virtue as a source of Insight, using the Ancient Magic rules. It's a bit of a stretch, but it could work with some houseruling.

And yet another possible option that some rule-stretch might allow would be to experiment to develop a totally new Initiation script for a Virtue you don't have, by directly using the rules for script experimentation in TMRE.

Both options are IMO within the spirit of the AnM and TMRE rules, but presently I have no clear idea (serf's parma, and without some decent testing) which option would be more safe, or less slow, to use.

The only thing you shouldn't ask me to do is to explain how teaching a Hermetic Breakthrough to others works. I have a fairly clear mental picture of the workings for Minor and Major Breakthroughs, but I've reread HoH:TL and AnM several times, and still couldn't get a decent understanding of how to transmit an Hermetic Breakthrough. It must be the reason why nobody has done the feat since Bonisagus, that we know of. Even if he had, he wouldn't have known how to spread his insight. :confused:

Thanks for the replies here, they've helped muchly. I shall have to get my mitts on a copy of ancient magic.

Another thought occured to me though. If magus A wants to share his hermetic virtue with magus B, he can simply give magus b a copy of his lab notes. Although not completely complete it should at the very least give an immense boost to the other mage and would only require a small time investment from the teaching magus (to copy his notes out neat rather than shorthand).

I'm at work (serf's parma) but i'm gonna hit the books tonight and see how viable this is.

About the lab notes... that's a good point.

When something is invented either through original research or integration, lab texts containing 'breakthrough points' are a side-effect. So someone else could probably duplicate the research without too much difficulty, though I think it would take a little time.

I don't have any of my books in front of me, but I thought there was a difference in the game mechanics between teaching a Hermetic Virtue and a non-Hermetic one.

Teaching Hermetic Virtues is easier because they fit within the framework of the magic that the student already knows. Non-Hermetic Virtues require initiation or another Breakthrough to make them Hermetic because they are outside Bonisagus's theory.

That's my memory of our discussions of the topic anyway.

As far as I know, having the the lab notes of the mage that accomplished the breakthrough would indeed significantly help to re-duplicate the breakthough with research of their own. Since those lab notes would work as a source of insight and studying it would add a lot if research point. However, such a character would benefit even more from having a copy of the initiation Script for that Hermetic Virtue, since that would allow the second mage to directly proceeed and initiate the virtue, bypassing the need for duplicating the research.

Well, unless that discussion was with the developer, and it did include info that revises the published material, this is not quite true. As for the current (HoH:TL + AnM) status, there is no real difference between Hermetic and Supernatural Virtues as concerns learning. Both require initation or another Major breakthrough to be learned.

there's a difference in game mechanics between (Supernatural) Abilities and other Virtues: ArM5 p.166 - "supernatural abilities can only be taught if they have an associated Ability, in game terms. Enchanting music can be taught but not Unaging". The core mechanism for teaching such Abilities means it is primarily useful for a junior hedgie learning a set of Ability Level 1 scores, as the total score in S.A is subtracted from the Source Quality. (And magi subtract the total of their Art scores!)

Mystery Cults use Initiation to get round the subtraction, so they can learn even when they have high scores in S.A or Arts.

Ancient Magic Breakthrough does one of several things

  • easiest is to extend existing Hermetic stuff, such as adding a new Range, Duration or Target, which is easy to teach afterwards.

  • harder is to integrate Ancient Stuff into a new Virtue or such, which can be taught or initiated

  • hardest is to rework non-core-Hermetic stuff (eg Virtues) so that normal Hermetic Theory encompasses and integrates it, and any magus can be taught it.

once integrated, it makes little difference whether you label it Hermetic or non-Hermetic. (The AM special stuff is that as "lost magics" it needs to be reconstructed, as in general you can't learn it from any practitioner...)

Right, i've consulted my books and heres the gist of it.

If you make a major breakthrough with original research what you get is basically a hermetic virtue.

This can be taught WITHOUT the penalty that the main ars5 book has for teaching virtues. You can also teach virtues without abilities. Both these points are in true lineages.

However, the actual mechanics for teachings virtues without abilities are not in either true lineages or the main rule book.

The mystery cults initiation scripts in mystery cults are deeply unsatisfying as they almost require a mystagogue with a high lore ability in the relavant cult, not at all appropriate for scholarly sharing of information. Also without this high ability it is very hard to reach even the minor virtue score needed (15).

The rules in true lineages refer to a tractatus for teaching virtues. Since a tractatus can be read in a single seaon that leads me to believe that it would teach the virtue in a single season. However, still no rules for actually training the virtue.

So we are left with basically two methods of sharing major breakthrough virtues.

  1. Share lap notes. This will require several seasons of copying time for the teacher, and probably a few years of recreating the lab work from the lab notes for the trainee but is otherwise relatively easy and safe.
  2. write a tractatus to share with another magus. Maybe a season to write and another to read. Not sure about you but this seems a little too easy to teach a major hermetic virtue.

I think therefore IMS i shall be using the sharing of lab notes as the primary method of sharing major breakthroughs.

Please let me know if i've missed any other possibilities.

Hi, looking through Ancient Magic, I have to disagree. On page 7 it states "A Major Breakthrough pushes (Hermetic) limits, but does not break them; these include creating new Hermetic Virtues for Gifted characters. Incorporating hedge magic into Hermetic theory is a Major Breakthrough, and the incorporation can then be taught to others as Supernatural Virtues.

On pg 9, it clarifies this blanket statement somewhat, saying that Major and Hermetic Breakthroughs must be taught to Hermetic magi directly. An Ability may be taught in the usual way, either in person or through books.

A new Virtue may be Initiated according to the normal rules for Mysteries. (The discoverer) does need to design an Initiation Script...

Further, inventing a Major or Hermetic Breakthrough that does not require teaching necessitates another Major Breakthrough... If this succeeds, any magus may creat an effect using the Breakthrough as long as he has a Lab Text....the same applies to any magus taught Arts or spells by a magus who understands the Breakthrough.

It's clear to me the powers that be (and authors) do not want Virtues to be exchanged in the same way Tractatus, spells, etc are. These are very special, difficult, and rare abilities, and you can no more add them easily than you can pick up "Elementalist" (from the core book) by studying with one who has it. Before "Mysteries" came out, you were simply stuck with the virtues you had a character creation (Storyguide intervention aside).

What you decide in your saga is fine, nay great. I'm simply talking about the "vanilla" rules. As for my suggestion about a Saga where such things were simply lore to be learned, like a spell, I would try to come up with a High Lab total for each effect, requiring a typical magus several seasons to learn.

I kind of like it that way - not having studied this thread intensively I did however pause just long enough to think that making virtues into bare teachings was sort of unfittingly. If I were to decide that the cap on making ones discoveries general knowledge I'd prefer to lower the demand on the Breakthrough Points rather than to water down the Virtue-mechanics. IMO. Thanks for the clarifications Angafea.

Not so. True lineages p26/27 states

P29 states

Both these quotes clearly state that the results of major breakthroughs can be virtues and they can be taught.

Well, ALL relevant sourcebooks successive to HoH:TL (RoP:D, RoP:I, TMRE, HoH:MC, AnM) consistently AGREE that you NEED Initiation to get/learn Virtues after character creation (with the only exception of learning the ones that are part of your holy/infernal tradition, which are four per life, period). And AnM STATES that this includes teaching Hermetic virtues you get from research breakthroughs, to others. The spirit and the intent of the UP-TO-DATE overall version of the rules seems rather plain to me, as it seems obvious that this HoH:TL bit you obses... err, focus on, which was written way before the mystery rules, is obsolete and has been revised and superseded.

Of course, as they say in my country, there is no worse blind, than the one that doesn't want to see. :unamused:

Heard about the blind carpenter?
He picked up his hammer and saw. :slight_smile:

Even a blind chicken can find a grain :astonished:

Oh my - all the parables on blindness around! Which kind of reminds me to get back at making my blind magus character :blush: