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> Hermetic mages with mentor spirits?, Just seems odd to me.
Knight Saber
post Feb 17 2009, 08:26 AM
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Perhaps it's because I started with 1st edition, but the idea of hermetic mages having mentor spirits in 4th ed. seems odd to me. Sure, it's legal, but is it "right?"

The whole hermetic tradition is based on a rational approach using the scientific method. Everything can be explained and quantified, eventually. So having a big part of a mage's life be an unknowable spirit doesn't seem to add up. It's like Stephen Hawking making his discoveries with the help of the spirit of the ocean, or a talking bear or Odin. It seems like the first thing a hermetic would do is try to figure out exactly what the voice in his head is and how it can teach him new magic that he himself doesn't know. Shamans don't mind this sort of thing... for them, it's just the way things are, part of the natural order, but it strikes me as the antithesis of the hermetic path.

Who's run a hermetic mage with a mentor spirit? How did it go?
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Synner667
post Feb 17 2009, 08:33 AM
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For me and others, the whole Hermetics and Shamen are just flavours of the same magic system is one of the biggest changes between versions of SR.

I maintain those differences, because they're more than just flavour.
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Degausser
post Feb 17 2009, 08:50 AM
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You could just think about it otherwise. Instead of saying 'Mentor Spirit' say 'Intensive study.' Hermetic mages, instead of having mentor spirits, have areas that they are very good at (representitive by extra dice) and they have certain personality quirks, such as tendencies towards actions (like being vindictive or flying into a rage) or areas that are not too good at (rep. by negative dice pools.) Just have to rewrite the fluff and everything works out fine.
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Hagga
post Feb 17 2009, 11:21 AM
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To Hermetics, these spirits are things that help them to explain their science. Muses, an extension of their mind, beings they can learn the science of the world *from*. They might eventually label them as psychic civilization avatar manascape imprints, but these still help them explain the world, learn their figures and diagrams.

Something like that.
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Synner
post Feb 17 2009, 12:03 PM
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It helps if you don't make the mistake of identifying Mentor Spirits with Totems/Idols and think of them more in terms of abstract archetypes that each tradition interprets in their own way. A lot of people seem to have a problem with SR4's common core mechanics for all magical traditions and overlook the fact that each tradition remains a distinct paradigm, cosmology and perspective on magic. Mentor Spirits for followers of the Hermetic tradition could be expressions of subconscious Jungian archetypes (to use a reference that goes back to SR1), they can be updated Renaissance Hermetic/Qabbalistic dominions, they could be mental constructs/ideals, they could be avatars of initiated masters and muses that have Ascended in the Tree of Life, and they could be Faustian-type spirit patrons, or they could be incarna of facets of the collective subconscious imprinted on the Gaiasphere. Take your pick (though the approach should reflect the Hermetic school the Hermetic mage hails from).
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Degausser
post Feb 17 2009, 12:22 PM
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While we are on the subject, it says in the book that a mage can only summon 5 types of spirits (For hermetics, it's fire earth air wind water man). And it says that Hermetic Mages summon Fire for combat.

But what if I am going up against a bunch of guys with fire-retardant armor, or a bunch of bots that won' be affected by fire? Can I summon an earth spirit to fight instead? I'm confused about this point.
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Hagga
post Feb 17 2009, 12:27 PM
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Yes. Yes you can. Spirit alignments are for things like aid sorcery.
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AllTheNothing
post Feb 17 2009, 01:03 PM
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Once I had a phoenix hermetic mage, he almost died in a car accident, the same accident killed his father and left maimed his sister, who had lost the use of an arm and both the legs; he did grow up watching hers mother slaving herself away to feed him and his sister (low, near squatter, lifestyle). The day he awakened his desire of a new (better) life came to have its own life in the form of the phoenix (which later became the magician ally spirit).
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paws2sky
post Feb 17 2009, 01:11 PM
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You can also look as Hermetic mentor spirits as astral beings/presences the magician has allied with. This could be as simple as making a deal (You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.). Maybe it has something to do with the character's awakening (see the Phoenix magician, above). Maybe the Hermetic doesn't practice "purist" magical theory (they've blended in something from another tradition). Or maybe the magician is just slightly bonkers. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)

-paws
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ornot
post Feb 17 2009, 01:43 PM
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I like that mentor spirits are not exclusively animal totems anymore. Sure, it would make no sense for a hermetic mage to commune with and follow Bear, but striking a deal with The Adversary is perfectly feasible.

Personally I've been toying with a house-rule to have each tradition require a specific geas, to further distinguish different traditions from each other. Incantation for Hermetics, performance for Shamans, prayer for the various religious traditions etc. Anybody care to comment?
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Synner667
post Feb 17 2009, 01:49 PM
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I've always been a fan of the packages that HERO uses for Characters.
A Mage would take the Mage package, which could include skills advantages, disadvantages, limits, bonuses, etc at a slight discount to the overall cost.


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The_Vanguard
post Feb 17 2009, 02:08 PM
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Mentor spirits also go very well with theurges. Christian theurgic magicians view the world as being governed by fixed rules that can be analyzed and understood, while often allying themselves with a "guardian angel" or dedicating their magic capabilities to a higher religious power.
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AWOL_Seraphim
post Feb 17 2009, 03:09 PM
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Most of the points I wanted to make have already been said, so I'll just go with an example of my own. (Keep in mind that I know that there are lots of traditions in Street Magic, but I don't have it, so I just simulate most of them using the core book as reference.)

Since Hermetism doesn't just represent western ceremonial magic, playing a mage with a mentor spirit could represent:
-a Faustian mage (mentioned above)
-a Christian theurge blessed by the Archangel Michael (Hermetism + Firebringer or Dragonslayer)
-a Gardnerian Wiccan (Hermetism + Moon Maiden)
-a Chinese geomancer (hermetism + you get the point...)

If you only think of Hermetism as western ceremonial magic, adding a mentor spirit may not be a perfect match, but as you can see, it does wonders when creating a non-traditional hermetist. It may not be perfect, but it works (for me at least.)
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BlueMax
post Feb 17 2009, 03:59 PM
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QUOTE (Synner @ Feb 17 2009, 04:03 AM) *
It helps if you don't make the mistake of identifying Mentor Spirits with Totems/Idols and think of them more in terms of abstract archetypes that each tradition interprets in their own way. A lot of people seem to have a problem with SR4's common core mechanics for all magical traditions and overlook the fact that each tradition remains a distinct paradigm, cosmology and perspective on magic. Mentor Spirits for followers of the Hermetic tradition could be expressions of subconscious Jungian archetypes (to use a reference that goes back to SR1), they can be updated Renaissance Hermetic/Qabbalistic dominions, they could be mental constructs/ideals, they could be avatars of initiated masters and muses that have Ascended in the Tree of Life, and they could be Faustian-type spirit patrons, or they could be incarna of facets of the collective subconscious imprinted on the Gaiasphere. Take your pick (though the approach should reflect the Hermetic school the Hermetic mage hails from).


Everything in the above quote is correct for open minded and open armed players who are ready to accept the changes in fourth edition.

And yet, its absolutely wrong for older dogmatic players. We, as I am a long time player or old player, need to get over the fact that everything is unified. Yes, I can see that Synner went into a wonderful long winded explanation of the color differences but I know that you lurkers and whiners aren't after the color ( I have been both ). Calling for the days of yore when Shamans were thought to need a crutch to use magic? You are after distinct mechanic related to spirits for Shamans, powerful obvious shamanic mask and elementals for Hermetics. Feeling your pain for years and struggling against it, I have some advice

House rule it, or get over it.

I've tried both and after successful counseling, I am over it. I have embraced the simplified magic system. It runs on the same core mechanic. Everyone at the table needs to learn one mechanic, and because of that I have more new Shadowrun players. This, is a good thing.

BlueMax
/ who still needs to get over these new fangled Technomancers
// played and old school technomancer 19 years ago
/// doesnt see any reason for a new fancy Technomancer (dogmatic++)
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Speed Wraith
post Feb 17 2009, 04:44 PM
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Heck, if I played a Hermetic, I'd probably focus a great deal of my research on the study of the so-called "mentor spirits". They obviously exist, as any rational mind can observe the unnatural grace of a cat shaman and the enhanced control certain mages exert over spirits. Acquiring a mentor spirit, however such a feat is actually accomplished, would be a top priority in conducting research...
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Demonseed Elite
post Feb 17 2009, 05:30 PM
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It's a troubling change to get used to if your framework is earlier editions of Shadowrun. But keep in mind that earlier editions of Shadowrun had a very limited view of magical traditions. Shamanism was pretty much Native American Shamanism. Hermeticism was one catch-all flavor of rational, Western magic.

Early SR's distinctions between shamanism and hermeticism tend to fall apart, or at least get unwieldy, when you add a lot of other global and historical traditions into the mix. Which is one of the reasons it was changed for SR4.

My perspective has always been looking at the SR magical traditions from a real, historical perspective. In that perspective, mentor spirits for Hermetics can make perfect sense.
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hazemyth
post Feb 18 2009, 01:49 AM
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In actual hermetic/gnostic philosophy, some believe that people have a daemon, genius or even 'holy guardian angel'. Such beings are individual to each person, like the Jungian anima (to which they are often likened), and are either formless or anthropomorphic. They either have no names or have magical sounding nonsense names (Crowley called his Aiwass). I would allow a Hermetic magician to choose a Mentor Spirit and fluff it has his personal daemon.
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Prospero
post Feb 18 2009, 02:15 AM
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Actually, the unified magic system that allows for the creation of new magic traditions that better fit various world traditions is maybe my favorite part of 4th ed (I've also been playing since 1st ed). It really allows the difference between traditions to stand out, IMO. A Crowley-esque Black Magician and a classical Arabic alchemist, for example, can really have some major difference besides just the fluff, whereas before the fluff might have been most of it.

Anyway, lots of good examples in this thread - Faust, Cowley, a personal idyllic image... Also, Hermetics vary in terms of how 'scientific' they are, but at some point, all but the most obstinate have to accept that there is more in heaven and earth than they can account for using other branches of science. What about an acheology-obsessed hermetic (perhaps a parageologist and/or spelunker) who hears the voice of Pluto in his head (Dark King)? Would he turn down that knowledge and power because he couldn't 'prove' this ancient god exists? Yeah, hermetics look at things rationally, but magic still isn't arithmetic. A good magician of any tradition trusts and follows the Talent first, IMO, and then tries to explain it.
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BlueMax
post Feb 18 2009, 02:38 AM
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QUOTE (Prospero @ Feb 17 2009, 06:15 PM) *
Actually, the unified magic system that allows for the creation of new magic traditions that better fit various world traditions is maybe my favorite part of 4th ed (I've also been playing since 1st ed). It really allows the difference between traditions to stand out, IMO. A Crowley-esque Black Magician and a classical Arabic alchemist, for example, can really have some major difference besides just the fluff, whereas before the fluff might have been most of it.

Please describe the major mechanical differences.
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Shinobi Killfist
post Feb 18 2009, 03:03 AM
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I just view it as a pact of some kind and then it fits the hermetic flavor.

While I preferred the greater distinction of the earlier editions thematically, it is easier and the traditions are balanced in this edition. Before Hermetics were a pile of suck on a suck sandwich compared to Shamans.
Need a rating X library to improve sorcery skill to X.
Spirits were no more powerful but took hours and tons of money to summon. Yeah the I brought in 3 spirits for the fight in this clutch moment is cool, but not as cool as I can summon a spirit any time to handle a wide variety of situations not just fighting.
Oh and then totem benefits were almost always better than the negatives.

Its easy to say the old way was better when you preferred playing shamans, but for Hermetic fans the balance of 4e is a blessing.
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Warlordtheft
post Feb 18 2009, 04:08 AM
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QUOTE (Demonseed Elite @ Feb 17 2009, 12:30 PM) *
Early SR's distinctions between shamanism and hermeticism tend to fall apart, or at least get unwieldy, when you add a lot of other global and historical traditions into the mix. Which is one of the reasons it was changed for SR4.


Once they started throwing out druids, vodoun, wicca and other possible paradigrams for magic, the need for it came much clearer.
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ThreeGee
post Feb 18 2009, 07:54 AM
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QUOTE (Synner667 @ Feb 17 2009, 03:33 AM) *
I maintain those differences, because they're more than just flavour.

The differences, flavour or not, aren't really historically accurate.

Dr John Dee was the quintessential Hermetic Mage, an accomplished mathematician and geographer, advisor to Queen Elizabeth, he was regarded as one of the great scientific minds of his day. He also spent a fair proportion of his life trying to communicate with angels.

The word 'Hermetic' derives from a supernatural figure 'Hermes Trismegistus', a combination of Hermes and Thoth, a god of magical knowledge.

The Hermetic magician as portrayed in early editions of SR never really existed anyway.
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TheOOB
post Feb 18 2009, 08:36 AM
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Hermetic mages would certainly have mentor spirits less often then other traditions, but there is no reason they can't have one. As mentioned above, the spirit could be something like a muse or esoteric concept rather then an embodied spirit. A hermetic may have also made a deal with a spirit to help them learn magic(or perhaps a spirit took interest in them and just won't leave them alone).

And keep in mind that just because the universities teach a structured, rational view of magic, not every hermetic sees magic as just a bunch of math equations. While they certainly use their equations, theories, and formulas to work their magic, a hermetic would have to be a fool not to realize the spiritual component of magic. The simple fact that the shamans magic is just as effective of their own is proof of that, and any good mage quickly learns that spirits do have a mind of their own and powers beyond what they could ever hope for.

There are countless reasons why a hermetic mage might accept the help(or be forced to be helped by) a powerful spirit. Sure some of the professors at MIT&T might scoff at the idea of accepting such help from an elemental being that is by nature subservient to mages(which is an opinion not all mages share natch), but when have students always done what their teachers told them.

One other thing of note, I personally think that Christan theurgests are best represented by the tradition of the same name, even if they come from a hermetic order like the order of the golden dawn. Their magic is much more about a connection with the angels and spirits(charisma) then about theories and complex formulas(logic). Just my 2 nuyen.
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Synner667
post Feb 18 2009, 08:49 AM
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QUOTE (ThreeGee @ Feb 18 2009, 07:54 AM) *
The differences, flavour or not, aren't really historically accurate.

Dr John Dee was the quintessential Hermetic Mage, an accomplished mathematician and geographer, advisor to Queen Elizabeth, he was regarded as one of the great scientific minds of his day. He also spent a fair proportion of his life trying to communicate with angels.

The word 'Hermetic' derives from a supernatural figure 'Hermes Trismegistus', a combination of Hermes and Thoth, a god of magical knowledge.

The Hermetic magician as portrayed in early editions of SR never really existed anyway.

Well, considering that I don't think SR v4 is meant to be an accurate historical re-enactment, I'm not sure that repeatedly quoting "real" mages and magical traditions is actually worthwhile...
...Especially as people pick and choose which bits of reality they want to include in SR.

It's a game.
It's a stereotypical representation of reality.

If you want absolute historical accuracy [which is fine, if that's what you want], then I suggest that you apply that to all of SR - and disallow any "hand waving" to avoid those awkward diversions from reality...
...And then not complain when much of the game falls apart and stops working because SR does not and cannot accurately represent reality.

So make your mind up, use SR to represent reality or not - but don't pick and choose, make some bits real and allow other bits to not be.
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TheOOB
post Feb 18 2009, 09:27 AM
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Historical accuracy don't mean squat for magic. It's 2070, and magic has been around for some over 40 years, what we used to know about magic is pretty much meaningless, and practices from some traditions have been melded into others(hmm that person can summon spirits but I can't...maybe if I copy them I will be able to do that too.)

Also keep in mind that the mage tradition is more of a generic university mage then any specific order.
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