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  • #16
    Wyrd, I think you're referring to the Exoteric Tenant, not the Esoteric ones. The Exoteric Tenants are stuff like "Paradox Strengths the Abyss, Punishment Answers Pride" and "Merit Must Guide The Fallen World". The Esoteric Tenants are things like "The Hieromagus will fulfill the Diamond Wheel." The Exoteric Tenants are the values of the Order as presented to outsiders, the Esoteric Tenants are the core beliefs of the internal religion of the Guardians, something that most people never find out about.

    Alright, so, moving on to the Silver Ladder. It's worth mentioning that, while the Ladder are more obviously stratified and hierarchal than the Guardians, they're also significantly less ritualistic (of course, they're still Mages so it's not like that goes away entirely), and there's likely to be significantly more variations in Ladder rituals than in Guardian ones. Everything in a Ladder ritual will likely come back to the Elemental Precepts, whether Lesser or Greater (or both).

    ISOLATION: The thearchs gather in a private hall, the would-be initiate waiting in an adjacent room. Considering the needs of the Ladder, the way they comport their philosophy, and sheer practicality, I wouldn't think it would be out of the question if they rented a Masonic hall to use in their Awakened ceremony. Either way, stone is a major factor in the construction of the building. While the thearchs in the larger gathering space host a (likely ritualized or formalized) debate/vote as to the worthiness of the individual in question, the Initiate is still waiting in the other room, meditating, likely upon a Silver Ladder grimoire, a ritual ladder, or a gilded pillar of some kind, while using different breathing exercises. Eventually, they're brought into the new chamber. One of the already-ranking thearchs casts a ward around the location (whether with a spell or otherwise, it's part of the ritual).

    TRANSITION: There's probably a traditional call and response, question and answer thing going on between the ranking Magister and the Initiate. The other thearchs wait off to the side, standing or in seats, some are probably carrying ritual maces or sceptres of some kind (in a lot of cultures, the two objects are often one and the same), but beside the ranking Magister (for this purpose a ritual position rather than a formalized rank. Regardless of Status, if you're the senior-most thearch at this thing, you're in the throne, and you're addressed as Magister) is a beautiful, glorious, conspicuously empty, throne. It's likely seen at every Ladder gathering, but is pointedly empty, a symbol of the Oracles and the Ascended. There's likely a bit of a debate between the Magister and the Initiate on the Lex Magica, on the Elemental Precepts. The Initiate must comport themselves well. This is where they either concede to the Magister (which, given the ethos of the Order is probably not the correct response) or, more likely, they make the other thearchs acknowledge and/or incorporate their own interpretations into the group norms. Either way, when the debate is done, the new thearch takes a blade and cuts themselves, bleeding into a chalice of wine that will be passed around the group. They are then crowned with a silver coronet, and ascend to the empty throne beside the Magister for the first, and only, time. In later ceremonies, they'll have their own seat, and that throne will remain empty. Much of the stuff written in the Silver Ladder book (pg. 106 on) likely happens here as well.

    INCORPORATION: So, after the new thearch goes through that shared experience, they go out and have another ceremony, this time a mock initiation, one that looks much more like the one from the book. The Consilium is involved, the other Awakened are involved, any Sleepwalkers in the Orders are involved, if the local Consilium is on good terms with the local Spirits, some members of the local Courts are involved as well. There's pomp and ceremony and the thearchs present a united front to the Consilium. Full regalia, full ceremony, the Initiate is presented as a full 'mantled' member of the Silver Ladder, and that they should be recognized and accepted as such. They probably earned enough Beats from this whole debacle (and the Elemental Pilgrimage/whatever task their sponsor gave them before it) to buy the Lex Magica Merit.

    And that's the Silver Ladder done for. Silver Ladder has probably one of the most elaborate descriptions written down, and a lot of it stems from actual occult lodge ceremonies that we know of. Silver Ladder very much has a Theosophical/Golden Dawn/Thelema feel to it, especially in their rituals and symbolism.


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    • #17
      Originally posted by Arcanist View Post
      Wyrd, I think you're referring to the Exoteric Tenant, not the Esoteric ones.
      Yes you are right, I meant Exoteric Tenants, sorry. Still, main point is still valid - Intiation Ceremony comes after few weeks of normal Order trening. Ceremony gives you this last Status 1 dot on char sheet, in the end.


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      • #18
        Arcanist - These write-ups are top notch! Thanks so much.

        If possible, can you do your interpretation of the Free Council next? That's the one I'm the most stuck on in terms of incorporating into my game.


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        • #19
          I like the blood wine and the masonic symbolism. Good stuff.

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          • #20
            Axelgear thank-you! The Silver Ladder always came across as more of a proper occult lodge in the Real World sense to me, and they sort of absorbed a lot of the hierarchal, traditionally Western Tradition concepts and Legacies, stuff like the Claviclarius, Bene Ashmedai, and Thrice-Great. With the Greater and Lesser Elemental Precepts, and the potent Yantras surrounding one of the most preeminent theological structures of Western Civilization, it seemed just too easy to pick up on. Also, a lot of stuff written down in the Order books as "oblations" or "mudras" make a lot more sense as Yantras now, which I think is the point.

            rwknoll I can certainly give it a shot, but the Free Council is... tricky, to say the least. The difficulty with them is that they aren't one, consistent, initiatory tradition with a clearly defined internal symbolism and culture- they're a coalition of Legacies and Nameless Orders based on disparate and varied cultures, traditions, and mystery cults that collectively united under the revolutionary mages who branded them the Free Council. Technically, they're a patchwork of cultures, beliefs, and ideologies held under the influence of one particularly charismatic faction. The "Democracy, Hell Yeah!" revolutionaries are the face of the Free Council because that's the group that brought all these people together, and they're still the face of the organization.

            Here's where things get super difficult. What your Free Council looks like depends heavily on the cultural composition of its local membership, which will in turn influence the symbolism of any of their ceremonies and rituals. Individual Mages will be eclectic, with their own personal practice of symbolism and culture. There will be Libertines who are very into the techno-magic, and there are others who will be more into magical traditions generated by Sleepers/Sleepwalkers alone. Other Awakened pick and choose Yantras from various cultures and traditions all the time, but they filter and translate them into Supernal/Atlantean vernacular, while the Free Council is liable to pick up cultural traditions wholesale.

            This makes any attempt at creating flavourful Libertines who aren't using techno-magic or being science geeks a little difficult, as their big schtick is that Humanity is Magical, and Culture is how that magic expresses itself. And since the Free Council is all about using the new, the cutting edge, they're likely to pick up ideas from living cultures, and this is where things get messy, and you can get into some of the problems regarding the difference between cultural exchange/adoption/"borrowing" vs. cultural appropriation. In an ideal scenario, the Free Council Mage would be participating in a cultural exchange, incorporating ideas from a culture of their choice into their practice with full understanding and respect of said culture. This probably isn't always the case, so it might be worth figuring out which cultures, and which occult traditions, are open cultures vs. closed cultures, and which are initiatory traditions vs. participatory traditions.

            Most forms of Wicca, for example, are participatory traditions, which means that most Celtic-flavoured neopaganism gets painted with the extremely broad brush of 'Wiccan'. Vodun, on the other hand, is an ATR (African Traditional Religion) with a strong initiatory tradition. Alternatively, you could take the Chaos Magick approach. This particular post-modern occult/neopagan tradition is very light on the ritual paraphernalia and initiation, and is very, very heavy on picking whatever works, translating things from complex ritual actions to simple symbolic ones, and generally having a generalist "whatever works for you" attitude. Obviously this is all fairly reductive, but I think you can run the Free Council by thinking of what Legacies make up the majority of their senior membership, and having a strong undercurrent of that Chaos Magick "whatever works for you" stance, saving the specifics for individual practitioners.


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            • #21
              I also love 'Chaos Magick' attitude of Libertines - Maybe trying to make general Intitation based on this tradition? Or just rip-off The Invisibles.


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              • #22
                I think a good way to highlight the difference of the Free Council would be having a really different initiation system from the Diamond, sending the initiate to work with several different traditions before some kind of group discussion on "what did we learn? what do you think of all this?" Maybe the prospect works with their seniors to develop their own initiation ritual based on what they find magically significant, or at least offers some suggestions and symbols that the other mages build upon. Maybe speaking before the Assembly to justify why they should be a member, and taking audience questions on the stand.

                The Council just doesn't strike me as the "darkened room with chanting and candles" type, generally. I could definitely see them doing self-consciously wild magical spectacles like teleporting to an exotic location though. Like say, if the initiate expressed interest in Tibetan ideas about souls and reincarnation, the other mages might Co-Locate them to a Tibetan monastery, or even use Postcognition to view a centuries-old Nameless ritual in person. Or now that I'm thinking with creative thaumaturgy, some combination of those two spells that lets subjects physically walk around and explore a past scene as phantoms, but not actually affect anything.
                Last edited by Caladriu; 10-31-2016, 03:23 PM.


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                • #23
                  I was thinking more along those lines, Caladriu. To be precisely, I was thinking that Initiation process should be more connected with Order's Obsessions that Novice is chasing in their training - and later, Order's life. I made topic to sum up those, here is essence of it:

                  Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                  * Adamantine Arrows - Oaths
                  * Free Council - Techne
                  * Guardians of Veil - Persons and beings - Abyssal Intruders and Hieromagus are particular examples
                  * Mysterium - Disciplines of Order
                  * Silver Ladder - Persons and institutions - Elemental Pilgrimage and Lion-Sage-Stag are particulars in here
                  * Seers of Throne - Signs of Exarchs - Mystery Commands are particulars here.
                  In Novice stage, Libertine mage should get to know Technes, probably on few examples. In the same stage Guardian is checked in Labyrinth ( if he started it before ) or is tested under Veils, probably still for Grey Veil, leading slowly to Crimson Veil ( if he was Awakened when taken by Guardian Mentor). Arrows should get to swore Oath and must complete 'mission', future Silver Ladder got their Elemental Pilgrimage tests. Mysterium Novice should bring to Atheneum some lore about one of Disciplines of Order ( i.e. lore about Fallen World ) to advance in Egregore ( in 1E called Atlantean Mystery ).

                  Interesting things come when you understand the process of Initiation in terms of Orders recruitment. Like we all asserted that Order Initiation ceremony gives you proper Status 1 in Order.

                  Guardians of Veil books sums Order Status Merit of them in Levels of Trust section:

                  Originally posted by Guardians of Veil, page 48
                  Gray (Sleeper)
                  Gray information can be shared at will. It consists of everything from common knowledge to the occult knowledge of most interested Sleepers. However, policy dictates that order members should twist the facts slightly even when they discuss “common” occult trivia with Sleepers. Intelligent seekers will soon see past the lies, and fools follow them out of potential danger.

                  Crimson (Sleeper, Labyrinth Status •••)
                  Crimson information consists of anything a Sleeper Retainer would need to know to carry out a mission for the order. Guardians can tell those who have passed through the Gray Veil about some of the illegal or morally questionable aspects of a Labyrinth. These Sleepers can be sent to perform illegal acts themselves or spy on areas of interest for the order. The Sleepers themselves know nothing of the Guardians of the Veil. Sleepers only know of the front Labyrinth. Sleepers who are willing to kill without question are sometimes given additional privileges; they are told enough to serve as sanctum Retainers once it is established that they are unlikely to ever Awaken. Fanatics are excellent servants, but should not be mages.

                  Black (Guardians of the Veil member)
                  A fully initiated Guardian learns the order’s Exoteric Tenets, the Law of the Mask and about activities specific to his caucus. He is usually barred from learning what other caucuses are doing so that a cell structure will prevail. If he is captured, he cannot compromise mages outside of his own caucus. He does not know the Esoteric Tenets yet, but will learn them at this level as his reputation improves. These secrets are not heavily guarded. Rather, the mage seeks them out for himself by convincing others that he is worthy.

                  White (Guardians of the Veil Status •)
                  The White rank leaves behind the Veils of initiation. The mage is now trusted with all but the highest secrets of the order. These secrets do not come free for the asking, though. Guardians must convince their co-conspirators that they need to know particular facts. Guardians of this rank are sometimes entrusted with information and missions that might imperil or even betray mages close to them, but the order prefers to avoid this whenever possible.

                  Colorless (Guardians of the Veil Status ••••)
                  Colorless secrets are considered to be so dangerous that they need to be hidden from the rank and fi le of the order. In fact, the name of this security level is not even confirmed to exist. Some Colorless knowledge includes most secret teachings of the order. Unfortunately, the most common use involves missions to root out internal treachery and resolve power struggles between Guardian masters. If the order knows its true role in the fall of Atlantis, this would be a Colorless secret.

                  True
                  A mage from another order whom Guardians of the Veil consider to be True (see “Merit must guide the Fallen World,” p. 42) is sometimes allowed to know more than most. If the order engineers the purge of this mage’s cabal, he may be told how to save himself. If his talents would help resolve a sensitive matter, Guardians will give him enough information to assist the order. This privilege is almost never granted to members of the Free Council. Even if some of them are True, most of them loathe the Guardians of the Veil and have turned their
                  backs on Atlantis.
                  With Mage 2E change that just passing Order training gives you Status 1 in Order, I would say that after it new Guardian surely pass Crimson Veil and probably Black ( remember that Black is simple event of ‘doing right thing’ and many Novices can not get there, leaving Order after failed training ). Basically, in 2E both Crimson and Black now is at Status 1 and White is at Status 2. See also as the Veils of Grey, Crimson and Black are Isolation, Transition and Incorporation, outside of single ceremony, Arcanist.

                  What I propose is that in Order training, character start to work with their Order Merits. Free Council research various Technes of local members, even Grey Guardians start to learn about Masques, Mysterium Apprentice get the Mysteriorum Exemplum and need to come back with new knowledge to Order. They may not get any dots in Order Merit – yet – but they Initiation depends on following Orders Obsessions.

                  Like Mystgouges needs Mysteriorum Exemplum first in private, then to have Initiation Ceremony in proper Order, when they are ‘declared’ Order member to Caucus. Guardians, on Initiation, are stopped to be referred as ‘Crimson Brothers’ and start to work properly for Order.

                  I have other problem with Libertines Novice – What about setting where there is really only one FC cabal, and it’s shares it’s one Techne all around members? ( I have in mind here Boston Unveiled setting I run and Dead Wrens cabal that is only one ‘legal’ Libertines in city )
                  Last edited by wyrdhamster; 11-01-2016, 03:09 AM.


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                  • #24
                    Someone can help me understand each Egregore Initiations? As I seems to be more straight forward wired. Am I right in this interpretation?

                    ​0. Mysteriorum Exemplum – Theonom is showing future Neokoros some ( anyone ) Mystery? Like examples of any Disciples of Mysterium ( page 51-53 ) – maybe showing specimen for Teratology? He probably points him to his first real Obsession.

                    1a. Mysteriorum Arche – Theonom is locking drugged Initiate in Mithraeum and make him sacrifice noble animal ( bull, most often ) so he can see the Mana overflowing him and world, yes? Initiate need to have at least Active Mage Sight on, to see Mana Patters ( I would suspect that even Focused Mage Sight maybe needed here as Mysterium book describes Mana Patterns dancing before eyes of mage ). At the end, 1 Mana returns to Initiate, pointing that Magic is truly alive and has will on it’s own. Do I get this correct?

                    1b. Mysterium’s Order recognition – if it is still needed. I would put it on nearest Mysterium Caucus, just after Mysteriorum Arche. On the other hand – I do not think it is, as each Egregore has secret signs and marks of accomplishments, so Initiated just after Arche would be seen by members as ‘Status 1 person’.

                    2, Mysteriorum Anima – Theonom leads Initiate on to Astral Journey. In Initiated Oneiros, they seek his Daimon that is in weird form of it – with horns and sword or spear and alike. Daimon then show vision of Anima Mundi, pointing how Initiated is connected to Living Magic.

                    3. Mysteriorum Barathrum – Theonom and Initiate are making Duel Arcane – with 2E rules on this ( page 294, Mage 2E ) I imagine they summon visions the way they ‘debate’ about Times Before and it’s end. Initiate summons various ‘truths’ about Times Before and Theonom is shattering them by unveiling misconceptions and envisioning the Fall of them.

                    4. Mysteriorum Calamitas – Theonom creates drink for Initiate with hallucinogen and make him drink it. Initiate turns on Mage Sight and scrutinize himself as Mystery, like other mages would.

                    5. Mysteriorum Focus – Both Initiate and Theonom are past 4th Mysteriorum and Initiate starts ritual – they ingest large portion of drugs and Initiate release Mana, like in 1st ritual. They watch as Mana goes to Tapestry and by following them, they end in Temenos. They chase some Mystery that represents Living Magic. Then Initiate returns to Mithreaum and spends days analyzing it. He then goes out of it, and find himself in Atlantis Temenos realm, where world did not Fallen. He returns to world to understand he need to recreate this ‘Atlantis’ in real life.

                    Do I get correctly all those steps in Egregore?


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                    • #25
                      Almost one week and no responses? Not any from rwknoll and Arcanist? I was hoping on some discussion on points I shown...


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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                        Almost one week and no responses? Not any from rwknoll and Arcanist? I was hoping on some discussion on points I shown...
                        I'm still here. Haven't really had anything helpful to contribute to this discussion. I have been incredibly appreciative of the comments posted here so far, as it has helped me to brainstorm more ideas and get a better sense of what the Order initiation process looks like.

                        As I said before, my main reason for making this post was to hear more from experienced players/Storytellers what the process for joining an Order looks like, so I can make my PBP game richer and more detailed. The thread has already helped me with that. The biggest thing I've been doing in addition has actually been going back and reading the Mage 1E Order books. However, I haven't had a lot of free time in the past week with work and real-life stuff, so I haven't had a chance to do that yet.

                        I finished reading the details on how the Mysterium recruits and the first few rituals for Egregore, and your post looks pretty accurate as far as I can tell. I also read through the initiation process for Silver Ladder and am working on reading about Guardians (up through the Crimson Veil, reading next about the Black Veil).

                        I'm still a little unsure of how to make Free Council work. Given their approach to society, could it make sense to just have them invite potential recruits to lots of social and intellectual gatherings, have them participate in debates (to get them into the habit of defending/advocating for their belief systems), maybe a formal vote for them to be admitted into the group?


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                        • #27
                          wyrdhamster your interpretation of the Mysterium appears to be correct. The thing about the Mysterium is that it is, nominally, a fusion of two Orders thanks to the Corpus, and while their rituals will have changed since they joined into one organization, they're still going to be steeped in the ritual, symbolic, and initiatory traditions of two different Orders that had centuries of independent operation under their belts. Also, the Mysterium seems super-jazzed about Mithraism, and as a proper Mystery Cult they have different rituals for each level of initiation. The Guardians of the Veil do too, but the same basic ritual structure applies to each Guardian initiation, it's just the information transmitted and the social group you're bonded to that changes.

                          I'll tackle the Mysterium over the next couple of days.


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                          • #28
                            Returning to topic after three months as I will just run online ( by Google Docs 'novela' ) my Boston Guardian player initiation ceremony, from Crimson Sister to proper Black Veil. I was thinking in terms of Arcanist proposed ceremony. I still mark that this ceremony should be, in my POV at least when character is Crimson Brother/Sister or probably when they are Black, as they are both Status 1 positions. Question is what tests should initiate be taken in the maze? Meeting 'monsters' as other Guardians? Some dogma tests?

                            Originally posted by Arcanist View Post
                            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.


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