The magic of Diedne

A player in my group would like his Bonisagus character to rediscover the lost magic of Diedne (lost in the Schism war, that is, perhaps going even further and tracing it to its very roots - recovering those secrets of the druids that never made it into the Order).

Ideally I'd use a mix of the Mysteries and Ancient Magic rules (with every 2 points of insight being worth a +1 bonus on the script to get the appropriate virtue). However, I am somewhat stumped about what the character will find - what was the magic of Diedne about? I'd like to come up with 2-3 minor and 2-3 major Virtues, either already published or to be written ex-novo, that can form the basis of a new mystery cult.

Well, the Diedne Magic virtue is certainly there :slight_smile:; Life Linked Spontaneous magic also seems a good match. But what else? Faerie Magic (in the past editions I seem to remember lots of references about the last of Diedne retreating deep into Faerie) ? Theurgy (the druidic religion was animistic)? Divination (the druids were seers)? Chthonic magic (human sacrifices and all that)?

And what about Flaws to be taken as Ordeals? Necessary condition (purification, mistletoe and the like)?

Any ideas?

Keep in mind that Diedne Magic is actually two Major Virtues combined with a Major Flaw. Fatigueless spont magic and Potent/Focus in Fatiguing Spont Magic.

An Idea I have used for a long time: Blood Magic (Major Virtue). Requires Diedne Magic, and allows you to cast Cerimonial Spontaneous Spells that can have a Ritual effect, requiring the normal amount of Vis and an appropriate sacrifice.

Theurgy/Spirit Magic seems like a good idea, as does Divination. Maybe Astrology even. Stonehenge is a giant Atronomical calendar after all :wink:

Ah, this is brilliant. Incidentally, it really seems to work well with a bunch of other pagan traditions - the Volkov, for example. Though at first glance it seems a tad powerful - you can easily use it for all those rituals that you would cast once or thrice in a lifetime, without having to get a casting tablet or spend a season researching them. How did it play out in your games?

LOL, no one cared. We never had much interest in playing Diedne magi. I had one hiding in Iceland that Cornelius of Bonisagus was keeping secret. But many decades later I played out Icelandic Wars and the Obsidian Temple, and had the poor young lone Diedne magus tortured and brainwashed by Davnavelous, turning him into a Diabolist. The players had to, um, euthanize him.

So really, it had no impact on the game whatsoever. I would need a PC Diedne magus to test it out some more, but that is difficult. I am the Flambeau nut, and to me, "Diedne" translates as "Short Lived Character".

So if you want to test it some more, try it out and let us know the results. The key limiting factor is requiring an appropriate sacrifice, which is an open ended concept.

I tend to agree with Marko. There are just silly ammounts of people that will come looking into any rumoured Diedne presence. A Bonisagus wanting to research into Diedne stuff isn't the same thing... but... I wouldn't expect a lot of help or popularity with the same crowd. In fact, I think they would worry about a resurgence and that the missing Diedne would use it as a smokescreen... or... that it was in fact a smokescreen. Are you 'sure' you are not a Diedne? Maybe the Tremere here should kill you and summon your ghost under compulsion to be sure. We may have found them.

And isn't it enough?

I certainly don't mean to be offensive, but it seems to me that a natural bias is to just give the "true diedne" a lot of uber powers just because we know next to nothing about them. You don't have to try making them that uber.

Compare it to "the magic of flambeau", or "the magic of tremere"... They don't get that much house-specific extra v/f. Mostly, only the MC houses do.

On the other hand, there is strong circumstantial evidence that Diedne WAS a Mystery Cult House rather than a True Lineage or a Societas.

I'm in a hurry so please excuse me if I'm just going to re-post my long-standing guidelines for Spont specialists, they ought to be appropriate for Diedne in most cases.

If your House and background is compatible (no closet Diedne Tremere, sorry), by all means do start with Diedne Magic. It is simply unvaluable to a serious spont specialist.

Enduring Constitution and Spell Improvisation are also good complementary Virtues to have. The former more so than the latter.

Life-Linked Spont Magic is but the poor substitute for Diedne Magic if the latter isn't possible. A Diedne magus initiating it, however, will make for a very powerful combination.

Same deal for Faerie-Raised Magic, to a rather lesser degree.

Chthonic Magic may be a rather better (if socially questionable) substitute, and combining it with Diedne Magic (by initation, or if your GM will let you, playing an Ex Misc with Diedne Magic and Chthonic Magic as the extra Supernatural Virtue, e.g. a Thessaly Witch offshoot) will make for a quite powerful and flavorful (curses and sacrifices !) combination.

A spont specialist magus should in many cases naturally be interested in mysteries that may significantly enhance spont magic: the best ones are the Merinita illusion and charm schools (Faerie Magic, Charm Magic, Story Magic, Animae Magic, Spell Timing and Glamour magic are all very good Virtues for a spont specialist, esp. Charm Magic) and theurgic Name magic (Hermetic Theurgy Form spell spirits make for a rather handy and flavorful substitute for non-Diedne spont magic specialists, while Invocation Magic may allow very siginificant boosts to spont spells; Synthemata Magia may be quite good to have if you often deal with supernatural creatures from any realm). Consummate Talisman and Inscription over the Soul may also be remarkably useful (casting bonuses from Charm Magic, Invocation Magic, and a Consummate Talisman that is incorporated in your body/spirit all stack).

As a general rule, any Virtue that opens up new R/D/T or spell guidelines to non-ritual magic is a godsend to a spont specialist, except Holy Magic and Hermetic Geometry for thematic and rule issues.

Harnessed Magic may be useful to discard sponted spells (typically Corpus, Imagonem, and Mentem) that are no longer useful.

If you often casts spont spells subtly, esp. in the Dominion, or while shapeshifted, getting the Subtle/Quiet Magic combo may be quite advisable.

Oh yeah, I also forgot to mention that a spont specialist should do very well to maximize Arts (cases may be done both for a generalist approach or for specializing in 2-3 Techniques and 3-4 Forms, but owning or initiating Skilled Parens and Virtues that speed up Art learning, such as Book Learner, Free Study or Study Bonus may be rather useful; the latter two combo makes for a flavorful thematic combo with the spont specialization), and Arcane Abilities (Artes Liberales, Concentration, Finesse, Magical Theory -for spellcasting bonuses cap if nothing else-, Parma Magica, Penetration, and all the Realm Lores) as they are your dear and valued adventuring friends; pay them the attention and cares they deserve. Remember to develop your Mysteries' Lores to advance.

I am very fond of Unaging and (Strong) Faerie Blood. Plenty of added time to master your mysteries, and standing free invitation into Merinita.

Sorcerous Magic may be a good substitute for Quiet/Subtle Magic to do the sneaky subtle bard/musician-mage in the Dominion.

You might also pick some Flaws that round up the specialization: I suggest Careless Sorcerer, Cabal Legacy, Covenant Upbringing, Loose Magic, Magic Addiction, Pagan, Restriction, either Rigid Magic or Unstructured Caster, Unpredictable Magic, Weak Enchanter, Blatant Gift, Depraved, Fury, Personality traits and Flaws that indicate a problem with impulse control (Ambitious, Proud, Lusty, Wrathful, Optimistic, Carefree, Overconfident, Reckless), Fettered Magic, Poor Memory, Poor Formulaic Magic, Prohibition, Social Handicap, Supernatural Nuisance, Vow, Vulnerable Magic, Warped Magic, Weak Magic Resistance, Weird Magic, Greater or Lesser malediction, Lycanthrope, Sheltered Upbringing, Faerie Upbringing, Chaotic Magic, and Visions. All of them make for either good Flaws to take at creation or initation Ordeals.

For the life of your character never ever pick Enfeebled, Harmless Magic, Unnatural Magic, Holy Magic, Mercurian Magic, Clumsy Magic, Painful Magic, Difficult Longevity Ritual, Short-Ranged Magic, Study Requirement, Weak Spontaneous Magic, Difficult Spontaneous Magic, Deficient Techniques and Forms, Disorientating Magic, Short-Lived Magic, Slow Magic, Weak Magic, Weak Parens. They will all interfere with your chosen spont magic focus to some degree.

I appreciate the distinctions between True Lineage, Soc. and MC types of Houses, but with so little information posted on the Diedne over the years of Ars Magica, it's hard to peg down what they were.

They could have been an MC, and if that's the case, you can play it a lot like that. Note that the Diedne didn't seem to use Blood Sacrifice of humans as their entry level stuff. It is unlikely the Order would have ever accepted them if this was so. Very likely, use of their own Blood and devotion to Pagan Gods would be the entry level. The problem is that Diedne Magic is nowhere on par with Faerie Magic, Verditius Magic etc. It's a big bonus (ignoring the Dark Secret flaw, as that's simply a social condition of the present). I would not hesitate to say the Deidne is a True Lineage.

There is evidence that the Diedne tradition is still creeping around, passed from parens to apprentice to keep it alive (whether this is part of the Diedne's master plan to have their revenge or not), because it has an obvious use. There is nothing in the Virtue that indicates you actually take part in evil practices either. It's a magical technique employed by a House that the Tremere demonized and destroyed (a modus operandi which the Tremere mirrored in their Vampire:The Masquerade counterparts). I don't think the Diedne were guilt free; I've always seen them as like the Druids portrayed in Mary Stewart's Merlin series (his tutor in France under Ambrosius' care, to be specific).

To return to the point, the Diedne are implied to be something you learn during your 15 years of apprenticeship by the Virtue itself. To my knowledge, there has been little development on the nature of the Diedne in the history of the game. So, in this case, you could make this into a serious, multi-story quest to track down the secrets of Diedne spontaneous magic. My suggestions;
a book that contains the lore of Deidne and their spontaneous magic. Possessing the book is dangerous, as the Queasitors believe `reading it influences the magus/maga to follow the damned beliefs of the Diedne'. In fact, or course, reading it leads the reader to see how wise the Diedne were, and question the Order's involvement in destroying the House (which makes the Queasitor's usually have some treason to uncover in the end). Give it a high ease factor which the magus/maga must exceed with an Intelligence+Magic Theory+Artes Liberales total, likely taking several seasons. Then throw in some being snoopy, make the player work to keep their secret, even perhaps cross a line. You can thereby insert the "curse of Diedne" element into the story; those of the Order can never possess the secrets of Diedne without coming to harm.
a quest to hunt down a surviving magus/maga of the Diedne, in the process uncovering a respected magus/maga to possess the secrets (ie: the Virtue) of the Diedne. This magus/maga then offers to teach the young Bonisagus, but is keeping this secret requires several acts and sacrifices to earn and keep the trust of the Diedne. And when this wizard goes into Wizard's Twilight and lashes out at the Bonisagus and his/her Covenant, things get complicated.
A general rule of thumb with gaining Diedne magic is it should be difficult, dangerous and of dubious benefit. Most importantly, it should be a good story, and possibly lead the magus/maga to question the destruction of the Diedne. You can always follow this up with a plot down the road the exposes the less savoury acts of the Diedne (for they were up to something, for sure), but I would emphasize playing up the moral element of the plot.
The Diedne are not, however, Cthonic style magic. The Order has it's roots in Mercurian, pagan magic as well, and the basic spontaneous magic of each and every magi is a reflection of the compatibility of these elements. What (perhaps) lead the Diedne astray was (as taken from the 3rd edition Ars Magica section on diabolism) was a worship of pagan gods that became increasingly susceptible to demonic corruption and subversion. More likely, the acts of the stubbornly pagan Diedne put them at odds with the increasingly Christian mainline Order, leading to a perfect schism to stage the Schism War (which was an act of political convenience between the Tremere and Quaesitors to reunite the Order and remove a sticky thorn in their side). This itself is fertile ground for story and plot; poking around those histories will attract all the wrong kind of attention.