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  • Errol216
    started a topic The Mysterium and their Contribution to Mage Society

    The Mysterium and their Contribution to Mage Society

    So, over in the other thread, we had this comment, which I agree with:
    Originally posted by Michael View Post
    I kinda agree. I like the Mysterium ideology a lot, but their book seems to be rather unsure of what exactly they do for the wider community. They're scholars, but that doesn't really seem to matter all that much in a society of scholars (it's somewhat useful to have an actively maintained library but it's not obvious that magi would be any less able to practice their magic without them, and they're presented as being incredibly defensive about it, to the point I kinda wonder why the other orders put up with it). Plus, their book actively excludes other magi from their internal structures. I mean, the SL get by because they actively work to make the Lex work, and they include everyone in it. The Mysterium could have a really interesting role as a regulator of the trade in magical items*, but the book chooses to say that that only applies inside the Mysterium. I also always wondered why the Mysterium didn't offer it's athenaeums as storehouses for other magi's use; there's a trust issue perhaps but if you can get past that, your artefact is probably much safer inside the ancient magic fortress defended by a cabal of Arrows than hidden under your bed.

    *It's one of the interesting bits of the setting that the Mysterium actually enforce an idea of right price that resembles a sort of price control or market oversight. Meanwhile it's the Free Council who seem implied to be ok with people being ripped off.
    I think that's worth exploring in more detail.

    I had the idea of likening them to the Federal Reserve, but I have absolutely no idea how that'd work. I have another idea of framing them as priests-for-mages, but I need some time to hammer that out before I try posting about it.

    For reference, here's the 2e Spoiler for the Mysterium: http://theonyxpath.com/endless-wonde...the-awakening/

    Discuss some ideas to create detail for this kind of thing, and especially things that the Mysterium can do for the larger Pentacle society that mages generally can't on their own. Make it so that, if the Mysterium vanished from the setting, the setting would seem like there's a hole that needed filling.

    Please keep this thread positive. If you want to talk about how evil the Mysterium are (and they totally are), either make it their contribution to the Pentacle (um..) or take it to the other thread.

  • Michael Kenner
    replied
    I think you're right, they're both very similar views.

    Most Mages (other than Banishers and maybe the Seers of the Throne) wouldn't ever disrespect magic by their own standards, but for the Mysterium doing something simple like "You're my friend of course I'll share my spells with you" is a disrespect to magic. Each of the orders has their own ideas of how to respect magic that the others don't necessarily believe in, The Silver Ladder think you should use it frequently to defy the Lie, the Guardians think you should keep it covert to protect it from disbelief and paradox, the Adamantine Arrows believe you should use it for good causes and the Free Council believes you should acknowledge it in all its strange and varied forms.

    Unfortunately for the polite Mage it's a bit of a minefield trying to observe all of these at once and not offend members of any of the other orders.

    Originally posted by ckobbe View Post
    you are giving out unearned lore like an over excited Pez Dispenser
    This expression made my day. I'm going to try to find a way to fit this into my next Mage Chronicle in honour of you.

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  • ckobbe
    replied
    Ah, I see where you are coming from, although I still interpret it slightly differently.

    For me, I tend to see mages are highly unlikely to disrespect magic/magical lore itself since they have all experienced the Lie and had the profound experience of Awakening and have had to invest incredible amounts of energy into mastering it. Disrespecting the individual mage or Mysterium as an Order however I can certainly see. Even dismissing another mages obsessions is likely (although very kettle calling the pot black).

    I tend to see this as either self correcting (I know what you need, but you haven't shown the maturity to value me, my Order, and the value we provide - enjoy being demon chow) or a failing on the mage's part that is the responsibility of the Order to correct (you are giving out unearned lore like an over excited Pez Dispenser, the Hierphant <sp> will see you now, please let your cabal know you will be unavailable for the foreseeable future (says the Acanthus Censor)).

    I actually don't see the two views as incompatible, rather I see them as two sides of the same coin, one overt, the other covert.

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  • Michael Kenner
    replied
    Originally posted by ckobbe View Post
    Is the Mysterium evangelical about their mystery religion? I imagine some of them are, but I also imagine a lot of them are not. After all if it was likely to be other's religion they would be part of the Mysterium already. I imagine, that for the majority of Mysterium mages what is important is that they know they have followed their tenets, not that others know it. After all they have invested the time and energy into learning the truth that Magic is Alive, ect, ect.
    You're quite right. In fact the main difference with a mystery religion is specifically its exclusivity. It divides the world between those in the the know and those without. I certainly agree that your interpretation makes a lot of sense with everything we know about the Mysterium, but I do view it a slightly different way. I'll explain my view, but I'm not arguing here as your interpretation there is definitely valid.

    Imaging you're meeting Don Corleone from the Godfather or some other important figure in the mafia. He doesn't expect you to join the mafia, hold his same code of honour or go through the initiation rights to become a made man. However he's only going to grant the favour if you're respectful. The situation doesn't matter, he has to defend his own honour and respect because it's where his power comes from. If he tolerates disrepect he knows that his authority will vanish.

    I think of Mysterium mages as the same, but rather than demanding personal respect (the more arrogant might want this too of course) they want you to respect the magical lore that they're offering. They know that tolerating disrespect to magic has the risk of the power and authority of those symbols being eroded. They don't expect you to join their religion, they're not going to explain it to you, but they will expect you to match the code of behaviour that they set down for how their exchanges work.

    Edit: The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of including your view there as the interpretation of some of the Mystagogues in my setting who can disagree with some of the Mystagogues holding the view I'm describing. It's good for there to be multiple views within the setting.
    Last edited by Michael Kenner; 12-27-2015, 11:46 PM.

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  • ckobbe
    replied
    Is the Mysterium evangelical about their mystery religion? I imagine some of them are, but I also imagine a lot of them are not. After all if it was likely to be other's religion they would be part of the Mysterium already. I imagine, that for the majority of Mysterium mages what is important is that they know they have followed their tenets, not that others know it. After all they have invested the time and energy into learning the truth that Magic is Alive, ect, ect.

    What I said above about the knowledge gained, preserved, and shared - should be a consideration before it is given out, but I doubt that most Mysterium mages would feel the need to explain it to those outside the order. In that examples the Mysterium mage would know that his actions serve those truths. All that is required for other orders to know is the the Mysterium is likely to want something for anything they give and if they don't think you have earned a right to the knowledge it wont matter what you offer. It's almost like they are a cult that way .

    In a mixed cabal any Mysterium mage should be recording and sharing his cabals learning specifically because it is his religion. It would be a sin against it if his cabal was lost and their knowledge with it. This should cause conflict, but when the Mysterium mage is able to come back with information only his order can provide their role in Mage society is reinforced. This is what I see as "generally understood in advance by their colleagues." not the deeper motivations behind the Mysterium actions.

    EDIT/PS: And for clarity, I'm not saying that playing them as evangelicals who make sure everyone knows that they are honoring magic with their actions is wrong (every group is different and should play the game the way that brings them the most entertainment), rather I am saying the above is closer to my interpretation of the Mysterium
    Last edited by ckobbe; 12-27-2015, 11:26 PM.

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  • Michael Kenner
    replied
    I agree with both of those points, but the way it's being presented risks distracting from what the example is intended to highlight. The technicalities, practical considerations and potential personal failings of Mages are all very real things, but they get in the way of showing how the Mysterium is unique or illustrating their value system. The point is that a (loyal and devout) Mystagogue wouldn't give the information for free or that their first concern should be that the information is perceived as valuable. This is about symbolism rather than greed (well it should be) and they need to make sure that the information isn't disrespected.

    Debt, doing it for the information or many other ways of invoking equivalent exchange is all fine but the Mystagogue should make sure that they're considering it when they offer the information and doing what they can to ensure that it's understood and respected. These shouldn't be retroactive justifications used after the event to excuse a lapse (although they almost certainly are sometimes, Mages are human after all). A Mysterium Mage making sure that the value of the information is respected, even in a life-threatening situation is just like a ravenously starving Christian pausing to say grace over their meal. They might forget under the stress of the event, but it's an important duty in their value system and it has all the more meaning when it's truly a dangerous sacrifice.

    The advantage to the Pentacle alliance is that this is generally understood in advance by their colleagues. They don't need to stop and explain because it's most likely been taught to them by their masters as advice on dealing with other orders. They've also set up principles in Mage society that allow them to collect on debts and helped set up the Lex Magica with protections for their own values too where possible. So yes, they make keeping to this important duty as flexible and reasonable as possible, but it's still important to them.

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  • ckobbe
    replied
    Originally posted by Michael Kenner View Post

    I don't really agree... if they're not hard-nosed about the exact purpose their order exists for and one of the primary principles of their religion, then I'm not sure exactly what they would be hard-nosed about.
    Personally if I was the Mysterium mage in this example, I would probably take confirmation that the specific bit of information is true and effective (in such that is saves my life/soul) as a fairly effective payment. Write up the entire encounter and add it to the greater Mysterium archives. Knowledge is gained, preserved, and shared. With Mysteries, having verifiable first hand data that can be added as primary source material to the order archives is a pretty good deal.

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  • Mrmdubois
    replied
    You're missing the point of my post. I'm saying that the Mysterium would consider you to be in debt to them and would happily hold you accountable because they are hard-nosed about the value of their knowledge. However, if it's an emergency, they don't expect payment up front, and a favor held over you can be just as valuable as squeezing something out of you in the moment.

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  • Michael Kenner
    replied
    Originally posted by Mrmdubois View Post
    The Mysterium aren't so hard-nosed about the value of magical lore to ignore the practicality of expediency.
    I don't really agree... if they're not hard-nosed about the exact purpose their order exists for and one of the primary principles of their religion, then I'm not sure exactly what they would be hard-nosed about.

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  • Mrmdubois
    replied
    In that specific scenario the Mysterium member would immediately tell you the information and then expect payment at a later date.

    The Mysterium aren't so hard-nosed about the value of magical lore to ignore the practicality of expediency.

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  • Michael Kenner
    replied
    Originally posted by Michael View Post
    I know. I said so on the first page of this thread. To repeat myself; the tools are there in the book, but the book undercuts them by saying how reluctant the Mysterium are to actually let others participate.
    Ah yes, good point. Sorry I missed it first time around.

    Personally I think the reason most people have difficulty with this aspect of the Mysterium is that it makes no sense from a logical perspective, unless you assume the Mysterium world view is correct. The Mysterium believe that magic is alive, fragile and intensely symbolic. Half the time they're more concerned about the symbolism of an exchange than practical considerations. At least the idealists within the order would be.

    Someone mentioned earlier about how people were acting like the Mysterium were the only ones who would do this and saying that the Arrows and Guardians would be just as likely to do it but I don't think that's true. The Arrows and Guardians have a much more logical, understandable philosophy behind exchange of magical power than the Mysterium does.

    I think the classic example is you're somehow in a room with a demon of some sort about to kill everyone. The Mystagogue knows a single piece of magical information that could somehow solve the problem instantly in the hands of someone with the right Arcana (which he doesn't have himself), the information is so specific that it could never be abused in any way and has no value outside of this very strangely specific circumstance. Despite how ridiculously I've stacked this hypothetical example so that him telling you (since you have the right Arcana) that piece of information is the only logical option, if he's an extremist he might follow the ideals and still refuse to tell you for free. No Guardian or Arrow would do that, because they wouldn't be approaching it from the same philosophy. (To be honest, most Mystagogues probably wouldn't stick to the letter of the ideals in that situation either, but it's still useful for highlighting the logic the philosophy of the Protocols is built around).

    Then you've also got the intense arrogance of Mages to deal with. So many times Mysterium Mages would undervalue the contributions and exchanges of other, or hold back non-mystagogues from participating just because they think other Mages don't have the same understanding of the Mysteries as they do.

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  • Michael
    replied
    Originally posted by Michael Kenner View Post

    I'd say it's pretty clear, pages 57-59 of the Mysterium splatbook explain exactly how Mysterium mages share knowledge.

    They do try to actively get their information into other hands, so that Mages can learn from one another and thus reduce Pancryptia. However they do not do this by simply handing their research out to everybody or selling their research for cash. They attempt to regulate a fair and even exchange of information, involving the duplication of the information every time this happens so that eventually the knowledge will have spread to all those worthy.
    I know. I said so on the first page of this thread. To repeat myself; the tools are there in the book, but the book undercuts them by saying how reluctant the Mysterium are to actually let others participate.

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  • Michael Kenner
    replied
    Originally posted by Errol216 View Post
    Yeah, you guys are right. I should stop trying.
    Not in the least and I'm sorry, I was rude with how I pointed out that some of the book covered the same territory. I just thought perhaps you hadn't given them enough of a chance and wanted to encourage you to take another look. I didn't mean to discourage you from exploring your ideas about the game or the order.

    Edit: Also thankyou for the idea of a 'Surfer Guru' Mysterium Mage. It reminded me of the character of Baldur from the Almighty Johnsons (a New Zealand soap opera about the Norse gods having retired to New Zealand and living quiet lives in suburbia, words cannot explain how strange and wonderful this show is) and made me realize how wonderful he would be as a Mage character, so you've definitely given me inspiration with your ideas.
    Last edited by Michael Kenner; 12-25-2015, 09:48 PM.

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  • ckobbe
    replied
    Originally posted by Errol216 View Post
    See, the issue I have with this interpretation is that it implies that the other Orders don't do this, especially the Arrows and the Guardians. The principle itself is sound; you do not hand out weapons to the untrained without training them. But that principle isn't missing from a group of people who tend to be more intelligent than your average human. It's the essential problem, IMO, that plagues the Mysterium as a whole: they're very flavorless, in contrast to an interesting Mage society, precisely because they're a very generic Mages' Mage.
    I like a lot of your interpretations that followed, however, I would point out that in no way am I implying that other Orders do not vet those they teach their knowledge too, rather I am implying that in the context of what the Mysterium brings to Mage Society (i.e. orders other than their own) is the sharing of knowledge. I tend to view the other orders as much more closed about their order specific lore/knowledge/magics, while part of the Mysterium's function in Mage Society should be sharing knowledge with others outside their order if the seeker is worthy/contributes back to Mage Society (often by sharing back knowledge for the greater good of Mage Society). The arcana levels I used were just a "for instance" benchmark to demonstrate the difficulty comprable knowledge would be valued at by the Mysterium when shared with others.

    Also, Happy Holidays to All !!

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  • Eolirin
    replied
    I mean, I feel perhaps the books didn't do a great job expressing this, because my read of them is basically what you described when talking about changing them too, but given other people's responses in this thread, that is obviously not a universal interpretation. So I think, at the very worst, it's accurate to say your descriptions are clearer than the way the material was originally presented.

    There's a lot of value in your post, even if it's congruent with what some of us already arrived at from the books.

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