Wrapping my mind around the game

Hi everyone!

Ars Magica has sat on my book shelf for many years now. Deep down I have always wanted to be involved in a game but the people I regularly game with never seemed to be interested. But that has finally changed and now I have a bunch of people not only interested but gung-ho about starting a game of Ars Magica! :smiley:

So the book has come off the shelf, the dust brushed away and I'm the process of re-reading it and most important, 'groking' it as the kids like the say these days. But man, there is a lot to take in! But thats's okay, I'm an eager student. And that is why I am here. I was hoping to bounce some questions/concerns I've developed while reading through the book (to clarify, core 5th Edition Ars Magica is the book being referenced here). Any and all feedback/help/examples/etc., would be greatly appreciated!

Here is my first wave of questions:

Could you guys extrapolate regio (regiones) for me? Reading through the book I got the basic concept: there are areas in the world that are magical aligned (or divinely/infernally/arcadianly). Places of stone hedge or the pyramids of Giza. I'm cool with that; i've read enough fantasy fiction and real-world conspiracy theory stuff to get that. But then in the back of the book (pg 184 or around there I believe) I get thrown a curve ball. So regiones are like... hyperbolic chambers? You 'disappear' while in them like Narnia? Is it a whole different world in there?

What's up with ritual spells? I'm assuming I'm just being a dolt and missing the page, but do you learn/create them just like a formulaic spells? What purpose do they serve over formulaic spells?

What are the inner mysteries of the Mystery Cults? Is this something purposefully left out for the storyteller(s) and/or player(s) to create? Smooth marketing move to get me to buy those supplement books :confused: ? Furthermore what do the other houses really do? Are magi in Mystery Cult houses magi that all seem the manifest some supernatural ability together? Like, "Oh hey, this is pretty weird. We can all turn into animals. Must be we share something in common! Let's all study it and explore this together more!" And what about the Society houses? What binds them together? The book has a just a 4 sentence explanation for Merinita, Flambeau and Criamon. And I mean aren't all the houses really True Lineages? Okay maybe not Ex Misc., but all the other ones technically had a single founder and numerous apprentices down a line...

Whoo, alright I'll stop at those three for now. I look forward to reading what you guys have to say about it all!

EDIT: Oh, one more! This is sort of a personal preference issue. Would it break the game if instead of having a 'floating' ease factor, you made 9 the number to beat on any die role, and gave either bonus or penalty in +/-3 steps? So an Easy role would be: (Stuff)+(die)+3 > 9. A Very Hard role would be (Stuff)+(die)-6 > 9 (since very hard is 2 steps away from average, so two -3 penalties). Or do you think that would just add more confusion?

Hi and welcome to the exciting world of Ars Magica!

I like to think of regiones as "pocket dimensions" that exist with supernatural auras if that helps.

Ritual spells allow for the creation of permanent items (Touch of Midas or Chirurgeon's Healing Touch), Year Duration or Boundary Target and of course, any spells over level 50 are Ritual by default. Ritual spells are indeed learned like formulaic spells. If forced to guess why they exist, I'd say it's probably to make Vis more valuable to magi.

As for the Inner Mysteries; they're not really important enough to be included in the core book since they're completely optional as the houses mentioned aren't themselves Mystery Cults per se. If your characters do wish to be initiated into the mysteries, Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults has the relevant rules (The Mysteries - Revised Edition) is useful too). Both books are quite good, but they're far from necessary (I play Criamon, Bjornaer & Merinita almost exclusively and have never delved into the Inner Mysteries).

True Lineages are those houses where all members must be descended from the traditions of their founder (Bonisagus, Guernicus, Mercere & Tremere). By way of explanation, any magus with appropriate interests can become a member of a Societate (Ex Miscellanea, Flambeau, Jerbiton & Tytalus) and any magus willing to undergo initiation can join a Mystery Cult (Bjornaer, Criamon, Merinita & Verditius).

  • kids don't like to say grok these days. Maybe 40 years ago it was popular. But only old people like me even know what that is a reference to anymore. Your use of the term indicates to me that you are in your late 30's at minimum, prolly in your 40's or older (kids nowadays say "prolly", because it uses less characters in texting than "probably").

  • you seem to grok regios well enough. They are layers of overlapping reality. As you move through them, it is sort of like moving through worlds within worlds. Note that they don't always work that way, just most of the time. Places that are simply aligned with a realm are simple Auras, not regios.

  • Ritual spells are more powerful formula spells. There are certain parameters that require a ritual; Duration of Year, Target Boundary, permenant healing and creation of objects, and etceteras.

  • Mysteries were not a clever marketing ploy on purpose. Mysteries began in 4th edition, and when 5th first came out they wanted to leave the door open for players to retrofit things, as well as prepare the concept for future releases. Mysteries are further Virtues gained after creation, often requiring an ordeal (a new flaw), but not always.

  • I simply do not grok your last question, sorry.

The one about the dice?

Trying to put this in the least common denominating terms for my simple self: the Societate Houses are like gentleman and ladies clubs for magi? Anyone can join these. What exactly are the interests/goals of Flambeau and Tytalus, other than 'blow %*#@ up'? I grok Jerbiton and Ex Miscellanea. But they other two seem a little out of place without further context.
The the Mystery Cults are like Fraternal/Sorornal (is that even a word?) Orders like the Free Masons, Elks Club, VFW? Do magi have to inherently show signs of the cult's outer mystery to join? This seems false as characters can later learn supernatural abilities can't they or is that something different? Anyway, these houses are interested in some supernatural ability that magi seem to be able to manifest. If you can manifest this power and want to study it swing on by. Is that the deal?
And the True Lineage houses are like the 'true blood' lines then? The aristocracy of magi. When you say descended, do you mean by birth or just by being the apprentice of the apprentice of the apprentice of the apprentice of the apprentice ... of the first apprentice of Bonisagus himself. Cause the apprentice-lineage seems implied in the book. At least I think I remember reading a passage like that.

As for the houses (and please keep in mind that magi may only belong to a single house at any given time - something I'd negelected to mention previously), Flambeau's primary interest is protecting the Order from external enemies through military or politics. Tytalus are more about the pushing limits of whatever they're doing (the law, magic, etc).

Your analogy for Societate houses is essentially correct in that a Bonisagus interested in art or politics for example could switch his house to Jerbiton without any special formalities (apart from recieving permission from the Jerbiton Primus and informing the Red Caps).

Mystery Cults are sort of as you describe except that, as mentioned above, the houses aren't quite cults themselves, but rather associations of different cults sharing a common theme (Faeries, Enchantment etc). Members of those Cults (and their filia) are members of the respective Mystery Cult house...

True Lineages are also as described, though it should be pointed out that aside from Bonisagus and Guernicus there is no particular prestige attached to membership. In most True Lineage houses, membership is passed down from Master to Apprentice, but Gifted Mercere are always blood descendants of their founder... It is impossible for an outsider to become a member of these houses.

Hope this helps.

Yeah, that one :slight_smile:

You are reading to far into it. These divisions are artificial and a new invention of 5th edition. Every House has a True Lineage somewhere within its ranks, every House forms or associates with Societates, and magi from all Houses persue mysteries. In fact, there is a mystery cult exclusive to Tytalus, a societas house, known as the Titanoi.

Societas are groups of magi with similar tastes and interests. These can form within houses and accross houses. The 4 Societas Houses are an extension of that concept, extending membership to those who have a similar mindset. It is they who are the most like the VFW or Masons. They congragate because of similar interests, and invite others who are similar to join. You grok Jerbiton and Ex-Miscellanea. Tytalus is focused on conflict and struggle, overcoming challenges, challenging others to excellence, and are very independant. In fact, an apprentice who murders his master is elevated to the status of Magus right away, for Tytalus magi admire gall and tenacity and bold action. Flameau is simply the best magi that the Order has to offer. They are warriors as well as wizards. Not just blowing stuff up, disintergrating or freezing stuff also :laughing:. They also focus on personal martial prowess. They stand for glory and honor and doing the right thing. They are also the best dressed of all magi :wink: (btw, you are talking to the resident Flambeau nut).

As far as Mysteries, there are mystery houses and mystery cults. The cults cut accross houses, a group focuses on the mysteries of Alchemy cound include Verditius magi, Flambeau, and Bonisagus. Mystery Houses are entire houses focuses on a specific set of mysteries, such as the Heartbeast or Enigmatic Wisdom. They are all sort of like members of the same church, they have a common set of beliefs and esoteric rites.

True lineages are about your magical lineage, not blood. There are some bloodlines involved in House Mercere. But for the most part, it is just about the line of teacher-apprentice. That is why I say that all houses have a true lineage. It is just that these four (Bonisagus, Tremere, Mercere and Gurnicus) focusl almost exclusively on descendants of their line of schooling. A societas accepts memers of various lines if they fit into their house philosophy.

Smurf's Parma! This is just my take on things. YVMV.

I think of regios in two ways:

  1. Alice in Wonderland type, where you enter via some strange method and end up in a crazy world (or like Narnia)
  2. Silent Hill type, where some action (my take for this movie was she actually died in the car wreck) and you end up in an "alternate" world, similar in many respects, but with obvious differences.

Of course, you are free to make regios anything you want. This is part of the greatness of this game.

Ritual spells. Learned just like formulaic. What are they? A few purposes.

  1. They can make things permanent (Creo rituals make healing "last", make objects permanent).
  2. They let you do things outside of what formulaic magic can do (level higher than 50, target Boundary)
  3. They let you get a bunch of magic folks together to make the big wammy (using Wizards Communion, for example). Think of movies where all the priests are chanting over the dead god's body trying to bring him back to life.

Other's did the Mysteries justice.

Ease factor rolls. You are doing the same thing as the book, just looking at it from a different perspective. I would leave it the way it is. Think of it this way. 3 = anyone can do this, 6 = you need some skill, 9 = you need descent skill, 12 = boy you better be mad skilled 15+ = hope for a miracle.

Actually, House Tytalus accepts in its rank Magi belonging to other Houses. What the original House of the Magus will do when/if it learns about one of theirs being a member of House Tytalus, is another issue.

More new players? Superb!

I think most of your questions are petty well covered, but as I'm around...

Layers of reality that get progressively more aligned to and representative of their Realm as the regio strength increases. These layers sit over the top of each other, from the weakest to the strongest. Traditionally, as you go further up the stack, the area covered by the regio gets smaller, as though the power is more focused. This isn't really necessary though as regiones are there for you to pretty much do what you want with.

Each level has a boundary, which you need to cross in order to enter the regio. Sometimes you can blunder across, sometimes you have to search for the boundary (seeing the boundary, through Hermetic magic for instance, usually lets you cross), and other times there are rituals, ceremonies, conditions, items, times of special significance, etc. that must be met before the way can be opened. Do whatever fits the story, and what may be true of one set of regiones may not be true of another.

Ease Factors:
As has already been stated, you can make the Ease Factor whatever you think it should be for the given situation. You've sent your jongleur-hired-killer grog out to deal with a contact-gone-sour, but he needs to make a stealth roll to flit between the shadows on his way through the streets. It's night and your Rego Auram has brought in the cloud cover that's blocking the moonlight. So it's pretty easy. Most people could do it, so call it 6. He's reached the contact's house. It's a two story affair with his home above his notary office. The jongleur is going to climb the outside of the wall so he can reach the shutters. It has been raining and the second story overhangs the first. So it's a 12. But the jongleur has spotted a barrel outside the shop next door. He decides to use that, and the SG gives him a +3 bonus. That makes things easier.

As you can see, I set the Ease Factors to a rough order of magnitude based on the situation, but I'm also looking out for modifiers (mostly in the character's favour it has to be said) to help them tell the story they want to tell.

The distinction between the three types of House is interesting. Apart from allowing a nice packaging of four related Houses into each of three themed books, the idea that House Bonisagus is a True Lineage while Verditius is a Mystery Cult adds flavour and starts to add depth to the House and character interactions. I remember the old Houses of Hermes book from before fourth edition. Each House in the book had a sidebar that described their attitudes to the other Houses, faeries, mundanes etc. It was pretty cursory, at best.

But once you identify a House as a True Lineage, you recognise that no matter how aligned to their ideals you may be, you aren't getting in; you are not of the blood, so to speak. Does that make them elitist? Does it make them biased towards their own? And when you understand that a Mystery Cult really does practice magics that you have no comprehension of, you start to understand their secrecy, and perhaps their value. Old-school, you went to a Verditius because he was a little better at making stuff than you. New-school, you go to a Verditius because he can make stuff that you can't. And being bound by secrecy over their magic, does that imply that they are bound in other ways too? Can you trust a Verditius friend, if suddenly you acquire a Verditius enemy? Where do their loyalties lie?

And the Societates are not without flavour, though they're arguably the most unchanged in terms of broad concept. After all, why would House Tytalus be willing to accept you with open arms despite you continuing connection to House Bonisagus?

So the assigning of a broad descriptive category to a House immediately says something about the way they conduct their business, which then suggests how character interactions may also be affected. It's a very cool, very succinct, and very useful idea.

I appreciate all your responses and thank you! 8)

With regards to regio.

So if the boundary of a regio is hidden from the mundane eye (and perhaps even a magi's eye too in some cases?) how do they function with the 'real' world around them? Where do the grogs live, in the regio with the magi or outside it in a mundane village? When a visitor (coughplot hookcough) comes to the covenant how do they find it in the first place if it is tucked away in a pocket dimension or behind some unseen barrier? Are regios physical space? For example say the Statue of Liberty had a regio about it. Could people go and visit the Statue never entering the regio like normal since they were not looking for it? Instead needing to walk behind a specific tree and then 'disappearing' through the other side (you know like in movies where someone walks behind a tree, sign or other thin structure and then disappear behind it instead of coming out around it)? Or is it involuntary once they hit a certain radius/border? If a regio is a pocket dimension of sorts, what are it's dimensions inside? Is it boundless? Why would a magi or anyone else for that matter ever leave it, if it is supposedly a 'better version' of the real world?

All interesting and fun questions. As with all these answers, mine come with "unless you want it to be different" attached.

A typical regio is just sort of "in parallel" with the mundane space - they occupy the exact same spot on the map in a supernatural way that can't happen with mundane geography. In your Statue of Liberty example: it could certainly be possible for visitors to walk around the statue like normal and never know there was a regio there at all, if they didn't pass behind that specific magic tree (or, for another example, if they never said "Frédéric Bartholdi" aloud). For some regiones, perceiving the (invisible to most people) boundary is enough to pass through it; for others, even if you know it's there you still have to do a specific thing, or pass through at a specific time, or both. Some regiones can even be accidentally entered; others require that you're trying to enter it.

Inside the regio: your typical regio will have the same size and shape of the mundane area it overlays (such as the 15 acres of Liberty Island). It seems like physical space, although probably with accentuated properties depending on its realm (Magic, Faerie, Divine, or Infernal). Trying to leave that shape while still staying within the regio should be impossible - you either just leave the regio, or there's some physical barrier around the regio, or perhaps you think you're going straight outward but find yourself back in the center again. Leaving is like entering, in that it could be based on certain actions or certain timing, or just seeing the border and traversing it. Whatever lies or lives within it, it's not another entire world - it's just a little bubble of (Mythic) reality.

So if a covenant were to lie within a regio, that would probably have the effect of making it much less commonly visited than a typical covenant. A troupe should choose to have a covenant that's rarely visited only if that matches the sort of stories they want to tell. In this case, it's very true that plot hooks based on random visitors (or perhaps even on invited visitors!) would be hard to arrange; other hooks would be necessary to get stories started. (Fortunately there is no shortage of hooks in Ars Magica!) The magi might enjoy the regio's solitude for their daily routine and seasonal study, but they still need contact with the mundane world for consumables, tools, laboratory equipment, skilled craftsmen, tavern-carousing, finding spouses for their covenfolk, and whatever else. The grogs might or might not live within the regio, depending on what's in there and what the magi want.

From your wording I think you may be confusing auras with regiones. Apologies id that's not the case.

Auras are not quite the same as regiones. Auras are patches of heightened supernatural significance. They can be of any strength (up to ten) but they exist within the mundane world; you can walk into or through them with no barrier or impedence. Most covenants are found within magic auras, and there's something very wrong with a church that doesn't have a Dominion aura.

Regiones are different, though related to auras. While auras exist in the mundane world, regiones are their own self-contained world accessible by the various means we've already discussed. They usually arise out of the related auras, in which case the lowest level regio is actually simply the are covered by the aura itself. But if a stronger supernatural aura comes along, the base regio may be subsumed, and the second level suddenly becomes disconnected from the mundane world. It's still accessible, but harder to get to. It doesn't float or drift away, it stays where it is, but there's less chance of things getting in or out.

Regiones are not, typically, boundless. As already described, they have a defined size and it's up to the storyguide/troupe what happens if someone tries to leave that area.

So if a covenant is based in a magic aura, the grogs and covenfolk are very likely to live within the aura. If the covenant is based in a regio, then the covenfolk are likely to live within the lowest level attached to the mundane world (essentially just a magic aura), and have to cross the boundary to serve their masters and go about their tasks.

There's no end of approaches you could take if you place a covenant within a regio. After all, it could be any layer, not just the first or second. And the covenant buildings might exist within all or some of the layers, so what do you do with them? How do the covenfolk get around the place?

Ah thanks marklawford and gerg. Going back to the book, yes it seems Magic Auras are the 'places of power, but not necessarily pocket dimensions' idea I originally had in my head while reading the book.

A bit more on regios:

As said above, auras are areas in the world where certain magical influences are strong. The Vatican, for example, has a very strong Divine aura.

In contrast, I think of regios as alternate worlds, like Narnia or Alice in Wonderland, that can be accessed through the right means (unique to each regio) or by magic. Unlike my two example, regios are generally bounded, rather small, and often very much like the lower level (such as the mundane level). So a typical regio might hold a temple of Hermes, and not extend beyond that (bounded and rather small), be situated geographically on the ruins of the old temple (much like the mundane level), and be accessible only in a limited manner (perhaps only walking on the steps while closing one's eyes and praying for Hermes' leads you to the temple, all others enter the ruins). But all these qualifications can be false for a particular regio. A a non-typical regio can be anything - it might be a whole world, vastly different from our own's (like Narnia), and might be easily accessible (say, through a closet - or a gateway).

For a further complication, top-level regios can lead into the Realm in question, i.e. into Heaven, or Hell, or Fearie, or the Magic Realm; these act like super-regios, unbounded "alternate planes" with higher auras and stronger effects and a reality essentially unrelated to the mundane realm (at least, that's how I think of them).

On Ritual spells: You, as a magus, would obviously prefer making non-Ritual spells if you could, but there are some things only Ritual spells can do, as explained above. The important point, however, is that Rituals allow for more grandiose in-game feel. They take lots of time and resources to pull off, so they're a major event. Making something a ritual is saying "hey, this is important stuff, not something that is easily come-by".

Mystery Cults: I think of mystery cults primarily as akin to the secret societies you mention, yes. They're like religious cults, with "enlightened" teachers (not necessarily a single leader or chain of command), and the idea that they alone understand major things about how the world works. They differ from the greater religions, however, in that they're generally gnostic - only the elect few can really come to learn the truth, they're not religions for the masses.

This applies to secret societies as well as the Mystery Houses. However, some of the Mystery Houses are rather... diverse. A Merinita can have virtually any belief and mysteries; being the head of House Meinitia I see as something akin to being chosen to represent all Christians, from near-atheistic ones that see Jesus as a wise moral counsel to evangelical literalists - you won't really find too much in common there. Pretty much all Merinita have in common is a shared belief in the importance of faeries. IMHO.

You can come up with your own inner mysteries, or give in to the marketing ploy and buy the books. I actually generally like the books, and recommend them - some good ideas there.

A True Lineage House ideally doesn't accept members from outside, it accepts only those trained as apprentices by its current members. In practice, yes, tat may not be entirely true - but it is still probably largely true, especially in the modern era. What distinguishes it is the mentality of lineage, not so much the practice - the idea of tracing one's magical tradition to the Founder, of the importance of lineage. This is unlike a Mystery Cult, which in principle would be willing to accept anyone that wishes to learn its mysteries and is of the right disposition. This is unlike a Societates which accepts anyone with the right disposition and/or aptitude. While it is true that lineages exist in all Houses, and perhaps even that some lineages reach the Founder in every House, this does not a True Lineage makes - it is the ambience and feel of "bloodline" that marks a True Lineage, IMHO.

Incidentally, I personally prefer to play Tremere a little different. If I have things my way, Tremere would be something of a Societates, willing to accept new recruits, and something of a Mystery Cult, teaching various mysteries and secret magic it has accumulated to its loyal members.

Ease Factor: I don't see a difference, it's just a matter of how to apply the modifiers (to the roll of the Ease Factor).

Adding a little to regiones, while they can be a separate "overlays" on an area in the mundane world with any entries or exits and possibly more or less of the terrain as well perhaps corresponding geographically, there is no reason for this to be so...

A regio for example, if you enter it in one place, walk 10m and use another exit, you might end up 1m away from where you entered just as you might end up 1000 miles away.

Or like the example in RAW, Semita Errabunda, whose entry jumps around randomly all over Europe at a regular interval (dont be late getting back home!!! :mrgreen: ).

Ie. connections from regios to the regular world or to another regio can essentially be unlimited geographically.
This use of regios also gives a BIG dose of incentive for mapping and exploring regios, as finding one that allows easy reduction of actual distances traveled between major trading points could make for a nice place to set up business, being able to move around very quickly or perhaps to find "new lands".

Yeah, I feel the same way. Originally you could cross over to House Tremere by winning against a Certamen Champion, you could join House Bonisagus if you made an increadible discovery or breakthrough, Merinita was more of a societas for any and all magi interested in the fae, & etceteras. I simply do not like the division of True Lineage / Mystery House / Societas. It is artificial and feels forced.

I feel they are good and useful means of getting a general feeling through, actually, but they shouldn't be taken as gospel truth. Just like the House is meant to be a rough archetype to spring your character ideas off, and not constrain character concepts, so too the division should be seen as a rough outline to desctibe Houses, which should not constrain what Houses are actually like. I think the supplements kinda erred on the side of caution here, adhering too closely to the dry definitions. Tremere obviously is very well suited to act as a Societates and Mystery Cult; Bonisagus is likewise fitting as an elite Societates, and so on. But these are minor glitches in what I think are generally very good books.

You're missing the point of having player characters. Imagine them like characters in a book or a film. They break the normal rules. They get to be the maverick cop in the wrong place at the wrong time. They get to be the old warhorse called out of retirement for one last job. They're the ones who pull off the perfect heist. So if one of your PCs wants to leave House Tremere and join House Bonisagus, then tell the story of how that happens. That it shouldn't happen is all part of the story!

There's nothing artificial or forced about it; in fact, to take that line does the current generation of contributors a huge disservice.

I apologize if I offend. But it is an aspect of 5th edition that I really don't like, and though I shall here in this post refrain from stating the full extent of my thoughts, I cannot pretend that I think is is a good idea. And I don't want to make a story about a member of House Tremere joining Bonisagus. In previous editions, it is something that I simply presumed happened all of the time. Nothing special about it.

Look, if the four divisions were your idea, then I profusly apologize for casting derisions upon you. But I just don't like it. I think it was a bad idea and causes more confusion that it is helpful. I am sure you contributed other things that I think are wonderful. You can't win them all. You need to have thicker skin.

I'm not offended.

That's what places like this are for.

But what if one of your players does? What if the guy next to you has a cool idea about his Tremere wanting to join House Bonisagus? You either just say, "sure, you're in", or you follow through the ramifications. And that's one thing that the different styles of House support; instantly, you have an idea of the reactions before you even start. And if your player suggested the idea, chances are he does too, which is part of what he wants to play through.

In an earlier post I made reference to the old Houses of Hermes book and the sidebar for each House listing their attitudes, and they also have a list of three or four priorities. In and of themselves, they do a job, but they're a bit basic ("the only good faerie is a charcoal faerie", "distracting, pointless, silly beings" - a couple of House opinions on faeries) and while a couple of them are amusing (I laughed for minutes at all the Flambeau entries) they feel as though they've been arrived at by looking at the superficial aspects of the House.

Blimey, you give me too much credit. I had nothing to do with that. I wish I had. It's a great idea. I'm simply saying that by dismissing it out of hand you're not giving credit where credit's due.

I don't think there's much confusion around the styles. Sure, they might need a little talking around the subject, but we're not talking far-out concepts here. And they are, as I'm sure you do, easily ignored if you can't reconcile them or simply think that the differences between the Houses already speak for themselves.

But I don't think the inclusion of the Houses in their categories is arbitrary, artifical, or forced. I think it's pretty clear that the Mystery Cults are a natural fit, so it's only the Lineages and Societates then that need a little more thought. Tremere smacks of exclusivity to me, so that's an easy Lineage fit. Bonisagus too, given the prestige. Ex Misc are a clear loose banding of magi, so Societates there. Interestingly, I might have gone down the easy path of having Jerbiton and Flambeau as Lineages. Jerbiton because it would echo the feudality of mundane nobles, but I would have been wrong as that's my reliance on previous editions creeping through. I think there's a stronger case for Flambeau being a Lineage as we've always had this strong sense of the founder and those within the House who specialised in the different Arts, so that's perhaps one I personally might have done differently.

But whatever the ultimate divisions, as with anything in any RPG book, use what you want and discard what you don't. Personally, I tend to do that if it gets in the way of a story, or is simply never touched upon (I can't say the issue of whether House Criamon is a Mystery Cult or not has been a particular topic of conversation).