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Mortal Sorcerers in the Realm

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  • Mortal Sorcerers in the Realm

    So, I noticed that one of the rulers of House Nellens, Nellens Sabine, is a mortal sorcerer, and it got me thinking about the role that mortal sorcerers play in the Realm. I think that they could be divided into four primary groups. First, those who are scions of the Dynastic Houses or patrician families, who use their sorcery for the benefit of their Dynastic Houses or patrician families. Second, those who are mortal monks within the Immaculate Order, who use their sorcery to protect the spirit of the Realm. Third, those who are mortal specialists within the Imperial Legions, who use their sorcery to protect the security of the Realm. Fourth, those who are mortal bureaucrats of the Thousand Scales, who use their sorcery to protect the stability of the Realm.

    Now, how common are mortal sorcerers in the Realm? Probably more common than Dragon-Blooded sorcerers, maybe more common than Dragon-Blooded, but they are probably rare rather than merely uncommon. Basically, they are as common as an ST needs them to be.

    Regardless of how rare they are though, I doubt that the Scarlet Empress would have left much to chance, so I suggest the following system. Early in her reign, the Scarlet Empress created a semi-independent office within the Thousand Scales that was devoted to finding and testing mortal children with strange talents called the Guardians of Hidden Potential. When a potential sorcerer was discovered among the lower classes of the Realm, the office gave the parents an adequate payment for their mortal child, and the mortal child found themselves developing their potential within a dozen occult schools where they were indoctrinated into the service of the Realm. One-third of the schools were run by the Immaculate Order, one-third of the schools were run by the Imperial Legions, and one-third of the schools were run by the Thousand Scales. The mortal children of Dynastic Houses and patricians families were exempt from such recruitment, as their parents would have had sufficient resources to see to their training.

    The occult schools were fairly typical primary schools other than being devoted to developing mortal sorcery. Students who failed to develop sorcery ended up in the associated service as a monk, recruit, or bureaucrat, but they were monitored by their superiors to see if they blossomed into sorcery later in life. Students who did develop sorcery ended up in relative positions of prestige and power, in a place between mortals and Dragon-Blooded, using their talents for the benefit of the Realm and the Scarlet Empress. After twenty years of service to the Realm, they were allowed to chart their own fate, though the majority of them stayed in service to the Realm.

    Since the disappearance of the Scarlet Empress, the occult schools have been largely ignored by the Dynastic Houses, as they never had anything to do with them during the reign of the Scarlet Empress. The Scarlet Empress did not trust her descendants with control over mortal sorcerers, so she made sure that the office was controlled by mortal sorcerers who were loyal to her first, the Realm second, the service third, and the community of mortal sorcerers fourth. The Guardians of Hidden Potential have ruthlessly used its connections among the Immaculate Order, the Imperial Legions, and the Thousand Scales to protect the occult schools and to continue to serve the Realm in the best of their capabilities. While the Dynastic Houses are largely dismissive of the threat posed by mortal sorcerers, there are tens of thousands of them, and they could represent an important wild card any future civil war.

  • #2
    Mortal monks learn occult to combat spirits. They do not learn sorcery. Sorcery is uncommon and magic in general is treated with distrust in the realm. It is also impossible for a mortal to learn sorcery without the sorcery merit. Which is also a hard limitation.
    Last edited by Epimetheus; 04-19-2019, 09:30 PM.

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    • #3
      How does this ministry go about testing people?

      Originally posted by Epimetheus View Post
      Magic is uncommon and magic in general is treated with distrust in the realm.

      That doesn't matter. This is already a departure from the books from a person who has introduced themselves with a number of such things with a clear and common priority, so just... explore it.
      Last edited by Isator Levi; 04-19-2019, 09:29 PM.


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      • #4
        That is a good question. I imagine that there would be a number of tests involving games of chance, pattern recognition, strange drugs, etc. The Guardians of Hidden Potential would probably have a hundred different methodologies, though they would probably only bother testing children who were known oddities to their communities.

        As for learning Occult, I think that is impossible in 3e, as it seems to be an innate supernatural sensitivity. You are either born with the potential, have it invested in you through a process like Exaltation or Exigence, or you do without. I agree that Immaculate monks would probably claim that they were not doing sorcery, that they were merely receiving the blessings of the Immaculate Dragons through the piety of their prayers, and their method of initiation and their merits would reflect such a philosophy, but their effects would mechanically be identical to sorcery.
        Last edited by The Fool of Creation; 04-19-2019, 09:50 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by The Fool of Creation View Post
          That is a good question. I imagine that there would be a number of tests involving games of chance, pattern recognition, strange drugs, etc. The Guardians of Hidden Potential would probably have a hundred different methodologies, though they would probably only bother testing children who were known oddities to their communities.

          As for learning Occult, I think that is impossible in 3e, as it seems to be an innate supernatural sensitivity. You are either born with the potential, have it invested in you through a process like Exaltation or Exigence, or you do without. I agree that Immaculate monks would probably claim that they were not doing sorcery, that they were merely receiving the blessings of the Immaculate Dragons through the piety of their prayers, and their method of initiation and their merits would reflect such a philosophy, but their effects would mechanically be identical to sorcery.
          Learning occult and actually practicing sorcery are completely two different things and you can learn occult and be an exorcist without being a sorcerer. In fact, sorcery doesn't really have a way to banish spirits if I remember currently. Regardless having everyone use sorcereres kind of causes it's mysticism to go away and you can't do something that's similar but equal. Regardless of how you learn it. Sorcery is Sorcery is Sorcery. There's no way around it in this edition.

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          • #6
            Exorcism is a form of thaumaturgy, and mortal thaumaturgy is exceedingly rare (Exalted 3e, p. 490). The most common form of mortal thaumaturgy is tea ceremony, which is 1:10,000 in regions that drink tea. Thaumaturgy can hardly be considered common enough to account for all of the mortal magic in Creation, which is why I suggest that mortal sorcerers are more common than mortal thaumaturges.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by The Fool of Creation View Post
              Exorcism is a form of thaumaturgy, and mortal thaumaturgy is exceedingly rare (Exalted 3e, p. 490). The most common form of mortal thaumaturgy is tea ceremony, which is 1:10,000 in regions that drink tea. Thaumaturgy can hardly be considered common enough to account for all of the mortal magic in Creation, which is why I suggest that mortal sorcerers are more common than mortal thaumaturges.
              Mortal sorcerery is even more uncommon than that of thaumaturgy though. Unless you plan on completely changing the setting, sorcery in the realm for dragon blooded is limited to one school. Until the Realm comes out we might not know what the numbers of mortal sorcerers are in the realm but one would guess it's probably low maybe enough to get one or two schools going but with the immaculate philosophy, mortals learning sorcery would probably be an even bigger issue.

              The immaculate philosophy is actually all based on a strict hierarchy. In first edition, at least, everything about the hierarchy was set in place. You had a place in life and you couldn't move up or down it. Beings such as farmers owe the dragon blooded and honor him by paying taxes just as livestock owed it's life to to the farmer. Now at the same time the dragon blooded still had to be respectful to the farmer and the farmer respectful to the livestock. Disruptions to this hierarchy is basically the same as breaking the ten commandments. That they happen in an imperfect world is of course the subject of philosophical debate but as the religion of the realm it is of very defining importance.

              The point is, that mortal sorcerers are a huge gray spot. It's not hard to see them as attempting to move above their station. I could see a lot of other locations that don't practice the the immaculate philosophy to have a number of sorcerers but it's hard to see the realm as it is. At least openly.
              Last edited by Epimetheus; 04-19-2019, 11:13 PM.

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              • #8
                Sorcery among mortals is more rare than thaumaturgy. Yes, you have to be born with the potential for the latter, but it's still more common occurrence than a mortal who has the right stuff discovering that he has the potential to shape the mystical forces underpinning reality, and successfully awakening himself into that strange world.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by The Fool of Creation View Post
                  Exorcism is a form of thaumaturgy, and mortal thaumaturgy is exceedingly rare (Exalted 3e, p. 490). The most common form of mortal thaumaturgy is tea ceremony, which is 1:10,000 in regions that drink tea.
                  Tea reading is "at least one" per ten thousand, not an average of one per ten thousand. Further, this leaves unspecified the ratio of tea readers to other thaumaturges in tea-drinking regions, and thus entirely fails to tell us the overall rate of thaumaturgy Creation-wide. If we reasonably expect an average of three tea readers per ten thousand in places where tea is important, and four other kinds of thaumaturges (divided among lower-frequency gifts) per tea reader, we get a rate of fifteen thaumaturges per ten thousand population, or one per 667 mortals.

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                  • #10
                    Also if the Imperial City was the size of the ancient city of Rome, that’s still be 100 legit tea leaf readers spread throughout the city there. Since Exalted is a fantasy world I wouldn’t even be surprised if the Imperial City was double that. Or at least has a higher concentration of thaumaturges working there in the big smoke.

                    So if we have like 200-250 tea leaf readers alone, then we could still have like 20-30 mortal sorcerers and say “for every ten tea leaf reader there is one who got far beyond, a true sorcerer.”

                    I also think it’s a bit silly to have a ton mortal sorcerers around anyway. They still have the power to part seas and summon thunderstorms. Terrestrial sorcerers are EPIC. Plus with how many exorcists and hedge witches and stuff that the setting requires having that many more mortal sorcs is just a lot.

                    THAT being said, would Big Red want to capitalize on that? Absolutely! They’re mortals so they’re easier to control than dynasty, and they can friggin turn a severe storm into a straight up hurricane! So a school for them is not out of the question whatsoever.
                    Last edited by DrLoveMonkey; 04-20-2019, 12:45 PM.

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                    • #11
                      This approach creates a power bloc of empowered peasants and indoctrination doesn't stop that from being a problem, it arguably makes it worse.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Verzio View Post
                        Tea reading is "at least one" per ten thousand, not an average of one per ten thousand. Further, this leaves unspecified the ratio of tea readers to other thaumaturges in tea-drinking regions, and thus entirely fails to tell us the overall rate of thaumaturgy Creation-wide. If we reasonably expect an average of three tea readers per ten thousand in places where tea is important, and four other kinds of thaumaturges (divided among lower-frequency gifts) per tea reader, we get a rate of fifteen thaumaturges per ten thousand population, or one per 667 mortals.
                        The issue is how many of these tea-readers do anything besides occassioanl read tea. Or how many can do it and never try. It's notable as bit that this points tea-readers are rarer than identical twins on a couple order of magnitude. I would assume the subset of them who even do anything with it or more so is less so.

                        Of course, this is a bit of an example of how giving numbers to things like this leads to brain spiders <_<


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                        • #13
                          How much is the "rate" of sorcerers affected by the Realm doing lots of suppressing things towards magic being understood and practiced by mortals? It makes sense that they would manage and co-opt those that they do come across, but that number may be less than elsewhere.

                          That said, I'm fully down with a version of the Realm where they have lots of "Imperial Wizards" of a sort about, used in the service of military campaigns, industry etc. with lots of control at a high political level, prohibitions against too much fraternization, etc.

                          (Not least because it makes the destiny of the Sorcerer more useful for Sidereals).

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                          • #14
                            Unless the Realm book says otherwise, I'll probably go with with the following: mortal sorcerers in the Realm are overwhelmingly dynasts by birth, and every single one of those went through the Heptagram. A few patrician sorcerers are allowed to practice sorcery with permission from the Empress. Some of these are directly overseen by a bureau of the Ten Thousand Scales, while others are allowed to pursue their own careers.

                            Mortal sorcerers who don't fit into these categories are dealt with extremely harshly (despite persistent rumors that the All-Seeing-Eye employs at least a few)
                            Last edited by LeTipex; 04-20-2019, 01:41 PM.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                              So if we have like 200-250 tea leaf readers alone, then we could still have like 20-30 mortal sorcerers and say “for every ten tea leaf reader there is one who got far beyond, a true sorcerer.”
                              I'm going to note here that there's no indication that thaumaturgy and sorcery are correlated among mortals. While Exalts who get Terrestrial Circle Sorcery become thaumaturges for free, mortals do not.

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