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Initiation process for each Order

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  • Initiation process for each Order

    I'm running a PBP game here on these forums, and my PCs are soon going to have the opportunity to seek initiation into the Order of their choice. Across the 6 PCs, we have the entire Pentacle covered (2 want to join the Mysterium). I'm excited about the opportunity to showcase this process "on-screen" and give them the opportunity to RP their initiation. However, I haven't led this part of a game as a Storyteller before, and I want to make it really engaging and enjoyable.

    What I'm looking for is a good general summary of the process for each Order and/or specific page numbers or references for where I can find the information for each Order. I was able to find some of these already from the Mage 1E Order books, but I'm still missing some helpful information, especially for the Free Council. Also, I'd love any general ideas or story hooks on how to go about this process.

    Here is what I know so far:

    Adamantine Arrow
    I think this is the Order that is most clearly described in the Adamantine Arrow Order book, written in thorough detail on p. 94-101. This is incredibly helpful, and I already have some cool ideas about how to bring it to life for this particular PC.

    Briefly, there are multiple stages of the initiation process, which starts from the time the mage formally requests entry up until they are formally accepted. Prospects must petition a ranking member of the Arrow; undergo a thorough evaluation of their magical prowess, physical fitness, strategy tactics, combat skills, and ethics; receive training in deficient areas until they meet acceptable standards; and then utilize all of these skills to a complex, multi-step test. If they pass, they are welcomed into the Order; if they fail, they are either sent back for more training or told that they have failed and cannot join.

    Free Council
    I haven't been able to find much detail in this book. Because the organization is built on democratic principles, I assume that formal initiation is more straightforward, probably includes some kind of petition or presentation at an Order meeting for the local chapter or at a caucus, and that there is some vote or consensus to allow them in. New members are considered "voters" and required to swear allegiance to the Free Council, as well as swearing off any old ties or superseding loyalties. Details about the different roles are on p. 54-56 of the Free Council source book, but I can't find specific references to how initiation occurs specifically.

    Guardians of the Veil
    This one also seems clearly laid out in the Order book. There are varying levels of trust assumed with Guardians, based on the various Veils of initiation (Guardians of the Veil, p. 48-49). Brand new members are trusted with the Black Veil, where they learn the Exoteric Tenets (publicly available rules of the Order). However, they don't know the general inner workings of the Guardians yet and haven't learned the Esoteric (secret) Tenets. Once they reach Status 1, they formally learn these secrets at the White rank, and they are trusted with all but the most important secrets of the Order. Those are obtained at the Colorless rank after reaching Order Status 4. The actual process of recruitment and "indoctrination" to the Order is described in more detail on p. 85-98.

    Seems detailed fairly well in the Order book, although I haven't had a chance to review it in detail yet. Actual recruitment is described on p. 90-92; advancement through the Ladder of Mysteries (the various levels of status and initiation within the order) is detailed on p. 98-116. Prospective mages are led to an Athenaeum and invited to use their magic with increasing complexity until they create a small Paradox; after that, they are shown a more severe consequence of Paradox. As long as the mage shows understanding of this lesson and heed the importance of safekeeping dangerous knowledge, they are treated as an initiate.

    Silver Ladder
    Recruitment is described on p. 88-102, with p. 100-102 focusing on the process for newly Awakened mages (which is most relevant to my game). Prospective mages undergo a formal apprenticeship program and tutored using the Socratic method, with mentors guiding the prospect using tales from Silver Ladder successes (and failures). These lessons are grounded in the Lesser Elemental Precepts of Earth, Water, and Fire (described in the book). Once the mentor believes the student is ready, they submit a formal petition to the local chapter or caucus with an application portfolio, and acceptable members are offered membership with a simple initiation task of social or political duties -- which they are strongly encouraged to accomplish without the use of magic.

    Seers of the Throne
    Recruitment is described on p. 78-79 of the Seers of the Throne source book. Due to the nature of the Order, recruiters tend to be more subtle, looking for targets who are likely to appeal to greed or thirst for power. They use more of a marketing approach, selling up the benefits of joining the Order and serving the Exarchs. Most recruiting is done from Apostates, those who have no connection to any Order and haven't been indoctrinated in any way by the Pentacle. Their goal is to sell the Order to people in a way that's sensible and practical.

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  • #2
    The Orders I'm most familiar with, myself, are the Mysterium and Silver Ladder. You seem to have read the books, though, and they go into any and all authoritative detail the setting has.

    Generally speaking, a good guideline is that every Order has at least one task they require of a new initiate, sometimes more, before they're recognized as a full member. Thearchs have to place themselves into some position where they'll be useful to their Order; mystagogues need to bring in some useful piece of knowledge; Guardians need to undergo their Veils, etc.

    If you want anecdotes, personal experiences, and opinions, my own games have led me to the following conclusions:

    1. Leave the Abyss out of it. I cannot imagine the Awakened are blase about the Abyss under any circumstances. Paradoxes are dangerous and scary things that've only gotten scarier in 2e. They're not just minor accidents with a spell; they're unpredictable and devastating intrusions by a terrible and unholy darkness. The Guardians of the Veil outright believe they push reality ever closer to nothingness, and the Mysterium sees the Lie as the source of Pancryptia. Playing with the Abyss is a doorway to madness and I cannot imagine any sane Order sees its Awakened play with it freely; especially now that Reach is so clearly a part of the setting.

    2. Mystagogues advance through the ranks by demonstrating a mixture of mundane and mystical knowledge; a combination of intellect and intuition. Their introduction to the Order is probably best done by being given access to some puzzle or another; some small Mystery kept by the Order that they like using for apprentices. The task might not be to even solve it but to maintain curiosity when the answers turn up incomplete, instead of succumbing to frustration. Or just have them turn over the research notes of the latest Mystery they chased. If they're satisfactory, formally accept them as an apprentice.

    3. The above applies to any Order, really; give the Mage their introductory tasks by doing the thing the Order naturally does. Arrows can join by beating a challenge; Guardians have their Veils already; the Mysterium gives you a chance to think; the Ladder, a chance to lead. You want to test them in the thing they're going to be doing.


    • #3
      To add to what Axelgear has already said, you will want to have a special ceremony once your players beat the challenges imposed to them by their chosen Orders:
      • Mysterium: play through the Mysteriorum Arche, it really shows the Order as a deeply spiritual and intimate experience with magic.
      • Guardians of the Veil: once the novice passes the Grey Veil, the Order rewards their initiates with trust; masks are off, the inner circle revealed at last, a vow of secrecy is demanded.
      • Silver Ladder: once the novice proves himself, there is a very public and very ritualized ceremony of joining; all the pomp, all the speeches and formalities are really a show of power and authority, an authority the Order now gives to the new member, who shows commitment to the Star Precept.
      • Adamantine Arrow: as in all good martial traditions, a feast is in order! Food is eaten, licquor is drunk, tall tales are told, solemn oaths are sworn and a strong camaraderie and esprit de corps shows the strengths of the Arrows.
      • Free Council: as the weakest of all the Order books, the Free Council supplement has little to say in the matter of initiation. I'd personally suggest a highly eclectic and personal initiation ceremony, depending on local culture, Assembly trends and occult fashions. A key theme that should be highlighted is innovation and upheaval; perhaps there is contest of innovative praxes held at the time of initiation, or all the Assembly go on a pub crawl through the city while chasing mysteries, or there is a mock-ball held at the local Lorehouse complete with top hats and fake moustaches, everyone trying to outshine the rest.


      • #4
        Slightly biased because I'm in the PBP game in question, but here's my take.

        Some things a prospective Free Councilor might be asked to do: work with Libertines with 3 different Technes, assist them with an Obsession or team ritual casting, ask each one their opinion on Free Council ideology, and learn a free Rote from each in the spirit of Lorehouse sharing and community building. Attend Assembly and speak publicly on an issue being considered. Contribute something of value to the local Lorehouse. Frankly discuss the Nameless War and the Great Refusal and why they are significant in the present day, or not.

        The Diamond teaches their philosophy, the Free Council discusses it. They need active buy-in from new Libertines or the system doesn't work. Think Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New initiates should know what the local Assembly is working on and how they can get involved.

        General tip for all Orders: pose hypothetical situations and ask open-ended questions in-character, and show how NPCs feel about those issues. It's fun and gives players a chance to get inside their PC's head. This is a good way to introduce the history and philosophy of the Orders.

        For the Silver Ladder, pose a complex legal question and ask how the PC would respond, presenting some relevant laws and example answers as a guide. Sanctum and Sigil has a great chapter on the Lex Magica that's useful here.

        For the Guardian of the Veil, pose an unpleasant ethical dilemna, something that happened to a real Guardian and has become oral tradition. Force the initiate to choose between two Wisdom sins, or ask how they would act five seconds after doing something horrible. Look to the Integrity questions as a guide, or the Voight-Kampff test.

        The Kobayashi Maru is a cool concept because it shows how a character thinks they would act in a crisis situation without actually raising the stakes that high. What's really fun is presenting the character with a recognizably similar "real" situation later and comparing how they react. Imagine a PC coming with a clever trick to escape a hypothetical no-win situation, then presenting them with a similarly grave dilemna and discovering that actions are harder than words.

        The 1E Ordo Dracul book had a really cool in-character personality test that asked lots of either/or ethical questions to determine Virtue and Vice. If you can get your hands on it, that would be a fun model for an Order initiation. The chapter has lots of ideas on how to incorporate such a test and its responses in play.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Zooroos View Post
          [*]Mysterium: play through the Mysteriorum Arche, it really shows the Order as a deeply spiritual and intimate experience with magic.
          I wanna agree with Zooroos in general here, it's a great list, but I wanna give special emphasis to this: The books give you a beautifully laid-out series of initiation rituals and associated symbolism for each. Might as well use them.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Axelgear View Post
            1. Leave the Abyss out of it. I cannot imagine the Awakened are blase about the Abyss under any circumstances. Paradoxes are dangerous and scary things that've only gotten scarier in 2e. They're not just minor accidents with a spell; they're unpredictable and devastating intrusions by a terrible and unholy darkness. The Guardians of the Veil outright believe they push reality ever closer to nothingness, and the Mysterium sees the Lie as the source of Pancryptia. Playing with the Abyss is a doorway to madness and I cannot imagine any sane Order sees its Awakened play with it freely; especially now that Reach is so clearly a part of the setting.
            The Mysterium does reference some monumentally stupid hazing practices among Neokoroi Superior involving paradox which the Daduchoi are nominally supposed to stop, but tend to covertly help. Can't say that's my favourite part of the book.


            • #7
              Hello! I'm your friendly neighbourhood Anthropology student and I'm taking a course titled Myth, Magic, and Shamanism. Let's take a dive into what initiation actually means shall we?

              So, You Want To Make A Ritual?

              In Anthropology, there are the Four Ritual Categories (Prescriptive, Situational/Crisis, Periodic/Calendrical, Occasional), and the Seven Ritual Typologies (Technological, Therapy/Anti-Therapy, Ideological, Alteration of the Human Body, Salvation Ritual, Revitalization Ritual, Pilgrimage). The Category is the Why & When of the ritual, the reason for doing it. Periodic/Calendrical Rituals are basically self-explanatory. Situational/Crisis is your Exorcism, your Soul Retrieval, the other stuff that comes up when someone goes "Oh crap! The Bad Thing happened, we must appease/fix/banish/etc." Occasional is the stuff that you do when it comes up, stuff like tossing spilled salt over your left shoulder when it spills, or running around the theatre three times and knocking to be let back in if you accidentally say 'Macbeth' while within the building. Prescriptive is far, far more relevant to this scenario, a Prescriptive ritual is an enforcement of a rule of society or other norm, it's a way to reinforce group bonds and maintain long-established traditions. An Initiation is, by its very nature, Prescriptive.

              The Typology is the How of the ritual, the way it's expressed. A Technological ritual is an attempt to control the environment, typically in pursuit of food. They're connected with hunting, planting, seasonal cycles, regulated food gathering, and conservation. The more natural danger is involve (such as fishing farther away from shore) the more elaborate and detailed the ritual. Divination is technically Technological. A Therapy ritual is your bog-standard healing/blessing type deal, though what is being healed and why depends on the Category of the ritual. Anti-Therapy is your cursing/hexing. Alteration of the Human Body can be part or an Initiation, but that's meant to enhance the ritual rather than being the focus of the ritual itself. Salvation rituals are about personal religious experience, and Revitalization rituals are about purging foreign influence and returning to a native way of life. Ideological Rituals are what you want though- they're all about group norms, all about condensing the rules of the group, focusing them in. A Rite of Passage is an Ideological Ritual that more or less forces a new individual's status into the group unconscious.

              So, now you know that an Initiation is a Prescriptive Ideological Rite of Passage, whew, that's a mouthful, isn't it? But how does one establish an Initiation, and how does one force status into the group unconscious? Well, now we need to define what 'Status' (the social currency and the Merit) actually is.

              STATUS: A social position that is defined in terms of appropriate behaviour, rights, and obligations, and its relationship to other statuses.
              • ACHIEVED STATUS: A status that one has because of a factor other than automatic membership due to gender, age, kinship, affiliation, etc.
              • ASCRIBED STATUS: Status attributed automatically due to gender, age, kinship, affiliation, etc.
              So, what an Initiation does, through the course of the ritual, is grant Achieved Status to the new group member, and hammers it into the current member's skulls. In order to facilitate this, an Initiation Ritual/Rite of Passage generally follows a fairly standard set of stages that apply to most other rituals, just not as strongly. How does it accomplish this?
              • ISOLATION: The group is isolated from their feelings of normal society, and all the expectations and norms that forces on them (IE. It's just Awakened, doing an obviously Awakened thing. Replace Awakened with the group term of your choice.) The overall feeling and sensation of societal norms, your awareness (or unconscious awareness) of status, and the way you respond to those things in others is called societas. What you want to induce in the participants is communitas, a state of awareness/being where all the feelings of societas are suspended, and you're aware of being able to create a new way of life and consciously (or unconsciously) suspend, ignore, or even flout your typical, everyday norms. This is traditionally symbolized by death.
              • TRANSITION: The group is in a liminal state. They are not yet the group they'll become, but they're outside of societas and in communitas so anything can happen. This is when intermingling, testing new statuses/boundaries, establishing new norms, etc. comes into play. In other words, this is where the meat of the Initiation happens. The initiate has to try and prove that they can internalize and take on the group's norms, or something about the way they engage changes the group's norms. Either way, the communitas mindset means that, generally, whatever the initiate does leads to them being accepted and a change in the group norms and dynamics. Traditionally a journey to an Other World.
              • INCORPORATION: The group tests out their new dynamics and norms, with the initiate an initiate no longer, but an accepted part of the group. In doing so, the group stops thinking of the initiate as being 'other' but rather starts treating them as though they've always been part of the group, and as though whatever norms they've changed and whatever dynamics have shifted have always been that way. This feeling is liable to change outside communitas, but for now, congratulations! You're One Of Us now. Symbolic rebirth.
              And that, ladies, gentlemen, and individuals who do not conform to a binary, is how you do an initiation. Really, the actual meat of the ritual depends on the group itself, they're highly unlikely to be standardized unless the group is somehow centralized or hierarchal (like, for example, the various societal rites of organized religion. Or a driver's test. Both are equally initiation rituals, it's just that one is more overt than the other.) So, what does that mean for you rwknoll? The rituals of the Orders will always, always, come back to the symbols of the Order as a whole, and the group in particular. Find the core symbol of the Orders (it isn't hard, Dave B did a pretty good job making them into snappy sentences in each splat spread) and determine things that could conceivably be Yantras for that outlook. Tailor them depending on the values and group norms of the local Order and boom- Initiation ritual.
              Last edited by Arcanist; 10-28-2016, 01:30 PM.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Arcanist View Post
                Find the core symbol of the Orders (it isn't hard, Dave B did a pretty good job making them into snappy sentences in each splat spread) and determine things that could conceivably be Yantras for that outlook. Tailor them depending on the values and group norms of the local Order and boom- Initiation ritual.
                Amazing post!!

                Could you give a random example? Of any order from any where. Just a brief example so that I can see the steps playing out in a small paragraph.

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                • #9
                  I, too, have read Victor Turner's "Liminality and Communitas."

                  e: the cool thing about the Transition stage in the Mage setting is that you could literally transport the initiate to an Otherworld of some kind for the initiation rite. Maybe a prepared space in the Shadow or the Underworld, or a Temenos realm controlled by and symbolic of the Order itself. Or use Space magic to send them to Siberia or the middle of the Pacific for a few hours.
                  Last edited by Caladriu; 10-28-2016, 02:27 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Arcanist, I hope we have you around for a long while. That was lovely.

                    It also helped me put my finger on why the Ladder initiation felt kind of wrong to me: There's non-thearchs there. The sort of annunciation that comes with joining an Order feels like it needs to build an intimate kinship with the Order itself. Having others present degrades that kinship.


                    • #11
                      I think the Diamond Orders have the clearest outline about what Initiations look like, and what's required. But then again, that's primarily because the Free Council is still essentially a coalition of Nameless Orders, Legacies, and Cabals that allied with the Diamond against the Seers. I would recommend highlighting that by having the Free Council initiation be completely different and entirely customized to mirror the local Assembly (or Consilia if enought Libertines aren't present to have a proper Assembly.)


                      • #12
                        Alright, so, here's what I've got. Let's start with the Guardians of the Veil, seeing as they're amongst the most distinctly and rigidly ritualistic of the Orders.

                        ISOLATION: So, we've got a Mage who sought out the Guardians, maybe they've been courting the Guardians, maybe the Guardians have been leading them on, either way, they know that the local Guardians of the Veil are more than just a hypothetical secret police of the Awakened, they have a genuine presence in the local Consilium. They follow the hints out to an extensive tunnel system- old Prohibition smuggling routes, expansive sewers, abandoned subway, natural cave system, etc. Upon arrival, the would-be Guardian (of Grey Veil rank) enters a chamber that is obviously the entrance to a makeshift Labyrinth. Two Guardians, masked (probably Masqued) and robed in black or dark red. There's a white robe and a grey veil, perhaps a bandana, folded on an altar with a bowl of some kind of liquid. The Guardians are carrying torches burning certain herbs.

                        TRANSITION: In the darkness of the Labyrinth, blind from a veil, drugged by whatever they drunk. They must rely on their wits and Awakened will to find their way through, proving their worth. They must be humble, they must know when to push themselves, and when to dare to challenge the Guardians who are testing them along the way. Eventually, they make their way to the centre of the Labyrinth, where the Initiate learns the Esoteric Tenants. There's probably some flagellation, maybe some ritualized scarring with a blade in order to incise runes that teach the secrets of Guardian rotes. Either way, they get a mandala painted over their third eye, and their eyes are rimmed with khol.

                        INCORPORATION: The Grey Veil Initiate is now a full Guardian of the Veil. New robes, a mask, and they're probably taught the secrets of using a Masque right then and there. Probably earned enough Beats resolving Conditions and fulfilling Aspirations in order to buy a dot of the Merit right then and there. They gain a new identity, separate even from the one they use amongst the Awakened, and there's a religious service where the Esoteric Tenants are expounded. The new member is referred to only by their chosen Masque, and they are just as much a participant in the service as anyone else there. Then, Order business is attended to. The new member is probably asked, or encouraged, to speak on a few things in order to get their views across. There's likely a little bit of debate, as the group either accept the new member's ethics and standards, or the member finds their ethics and standards adhering to the group.

                        And ta-dah! An initiation ritual into the Guardians of the Veil. Flavour as appropriate given the history of the local Guardians and the beliefs of their members. Path, personal beliefs, and shared history will really come into play here.


                        • #13
                          I like how you just casually throw in "There's probably some flagellation..."


                          • #14
                            Arcanist - Thank you so much for offering some in-depth examples and the academic information behind how rituals like this are organized! This type of information is exactly what I was hoping to gain from this discussion.

                            Part of me is really intimidated by how much everyone else seems to know about the Orders. I really didn't play much of 1E Mage, but I always loved the system. Now that I'm a Storyteller, I'm trying to incorporate all of this info and just hoping that my players are having fun and feeling thoroughly immersed. I think this thread will help me accomplish that.

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                            • #15
                              I want to only point out that Order Initiation Ceremony should be after few weeks of starting trening, at the near of it. Arcanist, you make great ceremony ideas, but before any one will make you Grey Veil or Neokoroi Superior only after they will look on you and see that you jive with Orders goals and duties.

                              Guardians are known extremely of that, putting Esoteric Tents in non-Grey imitates need to restrict Paradoxes or that serving others helps mages, so even when they end in other Orders, they will at least understand a role Guardians do in Diamond alliance.

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