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Forma was a term used by the mages of the Order of Hermes during the Dark Ages, to collectively describe the four Pillars of their magick: Anima (Command of Life), Corona (Command of the Mind), Primus (Command of Quintessence ), and Vires (Command of Elemental Forces). It should be noted that the Craftmasons eschewed the use of Primus, and instead practiced a Pillar known as Materia (Command of Material Substances).

OverviewEdit

Each Pillar of the Order of Hermes is a Forma. Each Forma embodies a fundamental aspect of Creation, a pillar that shores up the world itself. These four ancient Forma are: Anima (the "Breath of Life" that flows through every living being), Corona (the "Crown" which grants control over the working of the mind), Primus ( the raw power of magic itself) and Vires ("Forces", mastery over the energies of the Universe). Although the four Formas encompass a great many potential powers, in no case can current Hermetic theory violate certain precepts set forth by the Church (precepts which Bonisagus himself subscribed to and set forth in the founding doctrine of the Order): The resurrection of the dead, the creation of true life and travel beyond the Lunar Sphere. Further, though many scholars of the Order have truck with various spiritual entities, both benign and malefic, their control of those being hinges mostly upon mastery of the energies that sustain those beings, rather than power over ephemeral matter.

Sample Foci: Conjunctions or other astrological phenomena, Enochian language (chants, recitation or text), numerology

Anima (Command of Life)Edit

Life is a breath. The ancients knew that breath is the only thing that separates the living from the lifeless. Just as the soul escapes with a gasp at the moment of death, so too did God make Adam live by inspiration (literally, breathing into). Thus, it is unsurprising that the Order's Forma of life derive its name from this sacred breath. This is the power to heal, the strength of the ox, and the speed of the wolf, it is mastery of sickness and health and control over all flesh, from the smallest ant to the mightiest oliphant of Araby. When first setting our upon this path, the mage must content herself with curing or bestowing fever and dispelling the need for sleep and sustenance. As her experience grows, she can summon and unmake plagues, restore lost limbs as a salamander does and quell heartbeats with a word.

Rating Description
  • 1
The wizard can detect the presence of life and living beings of an earthly nature (even if they possess supernatural characteristics, such as a werewolf or Hermetic consor) and can also discern states of health and well-being (such as knowing what Health Level a subject is currently at). Conspicuous absences of life (such as barrens unhallowed by a demon's presence) may also he detected, though the mage must be specifically searching for such unless they are exceedingly pronounced.
  • 2
At this level, the mage is capable of altering lesser life patterns (such as those found in flora, fungi, insects, invertebrates and the like), mending or ruining (healing or inflicting up to two Health Levels of bashing damage or one of lethal per success), or of changing such patterns as he. pleases, so long as he does not elevate them to higher states. Also, he may, to a limited degree, interact with the pattern with which he is most familiar, his own. The mage may freely heal or harm himself as he does with lesser beasts.
  • 3
Now, the mage is capable of healing and harming other higher beings (including people) with magic alone; just as with the previous level she could affect herself and lower beings. She can also alter the parameters of higher (nonhuman) life and those of her own living pattern. She can freely create alterations that move between higher and lower pattens, augment or stunt physical capabilities, and bend the shape of such patterns to her liking (such as adding a dot of Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, or Appearance per success).
  • 4
The Hermetic wizard can now alter the patterns of other human beings and can restore life to a failing pattern or snuff out a healthy one (healing aggravated damage as though it were lethal). She may manipulate the forms of fantastic creatures as well (this includes the ability to shapeshift), provided they possess fleshly bodies (coupled with Vires, it can allow for transformation into various, basic energies). Permanent changes may be made to non-sentient life, changes that will carry over to any offspring, though these effects may not enter the realm of the blatantly magical (a rock is possible, whereas a gorgon is not).
  • 5
The mage can create life our of nothingness. She can fabricate a human (or any other terrestrial) body out of magic, but it is an inanimate husk, unless inhabited by a spirit of some son. She can conjure a plague or eradicate one over a wide area. She can control the actions of all manner of dumb beasts by exerting influence over their bodily humors. The alterations she makes to living beings may he truly fantastic, so long as they have a basis in Nature (such as using the regenerative capabilities of the earthworm to make a hydra grow its heads back when they are severed).

Sample Foci: Cup or chalice, mandrake or other mystic plant , mercury, pentacles of Venus, stave wands of green wood

Specialties: Creating Life, Healing, Human Form, Hybridization, Lesser Creatures

Corona (Command of the Mind)Edit

Hnrking back to the wisdom of Solomon himself, the greate t crown a ruler might don is that of a puissant mind. Building upon that precept, Corona enables the llcrmetic mage to enhance rhe quali ty, the quantity and the forcefulness of his thoughts. At its most basic levels, the C rown of Kings helps the mage to hone his intellect and to pe1form subtle manipulations of perceptions and the intellect. When wielded by a Master fluent in its ways, this power can be used to extingui h or create entiencc, eradicate free will, forge genius from id iocy or set consciousness free from the shackle of the flesh.

Rating Description
  • 1
By taking the first step upon the path of mental clarity, the mage finds himself able to perceive thought and intellection. All thinking minds, whether sentient or feral, are known to him (provided they are not concealed by stronger magics). Though, at this point, the mage cannot read minds or control thoughts, he can hone his own consciousness by analyzing it and acting upon what he sees (thereby creating, for example, a simple mind ward that adds dice to Willpower rolls to resist intrusion or allowing for one parallel thought process per success, up to a limit of the mage's Wits score).
  • 2
Now, the mage can exert his will outward, to encompass other minds. He can speak with emotion alone (creating basic empathic contact) and appeal to directly to the thoughts of his desired subject (by impressing a psychic imperative, such as obedience, fear, or joy, that influences the subject's actions). He can perceive the spiritual auras of other beings, reading their emotion as he might read a book. He can forge bonds between minds, allowing one party to know the feelings and general state of another over vast distances.
  • 3
True mental communication is possible at this point and the mage is no longer fettered by the crude barrier of language and speech when she chooses not to be. Thought and memories may be explored, tampered with, or even severed from a subject's conscious mind (though they continue to exist in the subconscious) . Emotions can be created, though those inimical to the subject are likely to be pushed aside quickly.
  • 4
The mage learns to tread the aether, casting off the chain of flesh to walk in the Astral Umbra as a being of pure thought. Mental afflictions can be created and cured, and the mage is capable of altering deeply held convictions in another with little more than a single enchantment (the subject may, however, attempt to resist with Willpower). He also discovers the means by which the mind might be made to betray the body, assailing it with confused impulses such that damage to the physical form ensues (inflicting a Health Level of bashing damage per success).
  • 5
To create and annihilate consciousness, to project one's mind across the world , to control utterly the will of another -- these are the powers commanded by the master of Corona. The mage can selectively manipulate any aspect of the mind that she wishes, including advancing her own intellect far beyond the capacity of ordinary men (changing Intelligence and Wits by one dot per success). She can move mind between bodies or exist long after physical death as an astral shade, moving from body to body as the mood takes her.

Sample Foci: Circler or crown, dagger, diamond, mirror, silver

Specialties: Creating Consciousness, Subtle Intrusion, Subverting Wills, Telepathy

Primus (Command of Quintessence)Edit

A Form perfected becomes an Ideal. It is this perfection to which the student of Hermes' arts aspires, this elevation to the status of the Ideal. Magic itself, its cause, it effect, its very substance, exists in this exalted state. Composed fundamentally of the unblemished Fifth Essence, magic itself may well be the greatest power a mage can control. It is the Prime or foremost element of the Universe. By mastering this Forma, the mage finds herself able to sculpt and manipulate the elusive threads of mystic force itself. Whereas apprentices are capable of altering the flow of Quintessence and sending gentle ripples through the arcane channels of the Tapestry, those who are truly adept in this art can give life to new places of power, destroy the Gift in another or set in motion enchantments that stand for a thousand years.

Rating Description
  • 1
At this level, the mage is able to sense the flow of mystic energy around him: Magic of all kinds, sorcerous creatures, and those with the Gift, as well as anything else that contains excess Quintessence (thus, the energy bound up in a normal pattern, such as a chair or cat, cannot usually be discerned) and is not expressly concealed and warded against detection.
  • 2
Now, the mage is capable of altering the flow of magic to some small degree, gathering and storing free Quintessence (that which is not bound up in extant patterns) above and beyond that allowed by her Fount Background. Also, he may, for example, infuse a weapon or garment with Quintessence, in order to enable it to harm or be warded against magical beings, respectively (thus inflicting or defending against aggravated damage and harming or warding against fully spiritual beings). She can also create purely Quintessential ideal forms visible to those with the appropriate mystic perception and which might act on and be acted upon by mystic phenomena.
  • 3
The Hermetic learns to manipulate any source of Quintessence not directly protected against such tampering, such as those bound up in living patterns or those of objects, or any Quintessence warded by magic more powerful than the mage's own. Such sources may by bolstered or drained (one point of Quintessence per success), at the mage's discretion. He may create Tass (by distilling it into liquid or a powder, for example) and spells of any type may be directly attacked (dispersing successes accrued in the casting on a one-for-one basis).
  • 4
The mage can assail nonliving Quintessential patterns, drawing their energy out and using it as one would any other sorcerous power. Naturally, the patterns of such forces or materials crumble out of existence (suffering an unsoakable Health Level of aggravated damage per point of Quintessence drained; note that most objects have only a scant few points invested in them). Also, she learns to create self-sustaining Quintessential patterns. Alone, these arc unimpressive, but they can be melded with physical patterns to create self-sustaining systems fueled by magic alone (this allows the creation of ongoing spells, such as talismans, for half the normal cost in Quintessence and Willpower, rounding up).
  • 5
This, the final authority over magic itself, enables the wizard to completely cease or destroy the flow of magical energy that pervades all things (inflicting a Health Level of aggravated damage per success that may be soaked only with Willpower). It is by means of this process that the dreaded Gilgul rite is used to forever sunder the Gift in a mage. Permanent enchantments might be dispelled and sites of power torn apart for the Quintessence they contain. Likewise, threads of power might be manipulated, with great care and at great risk, to beget new crays where before there were none (an extended spell with no roll limit, one roll per day; every 10 successes equals one level of the new cray)

Sample Foci: Books and scrolls, gold, fragrant oils, rings, sunlight or sun-imagery, the number 1

Specialties: Creating Ideals, Dispelling Magic, Drawing From Unusual Sources, Enchanting Items

Vires (Command of Elemental Forces)Edit

A wizaid's wrath is a conflagration and his laughter warm and p lca~anl unlight. Certainly the most fantastic and vistually stunning of the Forms commonly taught to mages of the Order, the way of Forces summons the storm, masters light and darkness, bends the tides and grants the mage flight without wings. Though it is considered the least subtle of the Hermetic arts, Vires is as well suited to the spy, the courtier, and the assassin as it is to the blustering mage. After all, this Forma is as capable of conveying whispered words across leagues or gathering a mantle of shadows as it is of raining lightning down on the heads of those who displease. At first, disciples of this art flicker candle flames and send chills through the air and, later, transform moonlight into flame and tear castles from the Earth to set them atop the clouds.

Rating Description
  • 1
At this level of knowledge, the mage can follow the movements of various terrestrial energies (light, heat, sound and so on). She is capable, for example, of discerning how long a candle has been extinguished by its residual warmth or feeling out where lightning will trike even as thunderheads gather.
  • 2
Now, the mage can manipulate what she could perceive with the previous level, if only on a small scale. Thus, she can conjure a candle flame, increase the force of friction to the point that a wall could be scaled with hands and feet, or whisper her words directly into the ear of an ally from across a dining hall. The effects at this level must be small and subtle, but, when targeting visible energies, are obvious uses of the Gift.
  • 3
At this point, the mage can direct Vires on a wider scale. The control of terrestrial forces is within the wizard's grasp. He can project a thunderbolt from his fingertips or wrap himself up in shadows that hang like a cloak (adding a die per success to Stealth die pools). Further, he can defy his own earthbound nature to take to the skies, or he can sap the heat from an enemy's frame, turning blood to ice in another's veins. The many martial applications of this level of power inflict either a Health Level of lethal damage or two of bashing per success.
  • 4
Now, the mage learns to harness some of the most potent of forces. She can create true sunlight or transform a scream into a conflagration (inflicting two Health Levels of lethal damage or one aggravated per success). She can make an object "fall" sideways, with as much or as little force as she wishes. If she wishes, she may fly above the sky itself, out to the limit of the Lunar Sphere, or she can freeze rivers solid at midsummer and bat aside an entire volley of arrows with a wave of her hand.
  • 5
The true master of Vires can shake the heavens themselves with his awesome might. He can bend the tides, topple mountains, and create raging storms. If he chooses, a blow from his fist can shatter steel and tone, or the raging power of a landslide might strike his town with no more force than a mass of falling feathers. When the Master is angered, lava flow erupts, thunder rains on all sides, and foes fall screaming, embraced by withering flames (two Health Levels of aggravated damage per success ) .

Sample Foci: Electricity, Fine Manipulation, Fire, Flight, Physical Contact

Specialties: Candles, fire, iron, pentacles of Mars, swords

Materia (Command of Material Substances)Edit

Materia is the art of alchemical and philosophical(i.e,scientific) shaping, and forging. With the craftmason's dedication eclipsing their dedication to the world of matter eclipsing their dedication the the subtle magical workings of magic, they gave up the study of  Ars Primus in favor of Ars Materia, the control of material substances. Most applications of Materia beyond the perceptual (i.e., discerning properties of matter) require extended spells. Rarely is matter easily changed with but the wave of a wand. This is not to say that materia cannot be worked in the field, just that it is most appropriate in a laboratory. In general, the Storyteller should assume that any of the spell effects listed below require more than one success, and might need 10 or more. At the storyteller's discretion, certain mages of the Order of Hermes can also learn this Pillar, such as the magical smiths of House Verditius.

Rating Description

  • • The mage can sense integrity and weakness in objects and structures. Even the smallest flaw in a tapestry, the merest imperfection in a crystal, or the thinnest crack in a wall can be discerned with but a glance. At this level the Craftmason can also disscern the balance of the four classical elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) in all non-living things
  • • • Now the mage can tamper with items in the material world. Substances can be nudged toward or away from the direction of their true nature: The mage may make liquids more or less viscous, metals harder or softer and mineral spirits more or less flammable. One substance can be transmuted into another, similar substance: copper into bronze, for example, or urine into water. He may nudge the elemental balance of a substance with his will, turning stone to clay(by making the stone more malleable, like water) or air into a thick black smoke (by making it darker and heavier, like earth). The mage can make powerful poisons at this level as well
  • • • • This is the beginning of true understanding of the nature of matter for the Craftmason. He can make substances that perform in a wondrous variety of ways: powders that flash like lightning or explore. Oils that burn even under water. He can melt stone, cause glass to burn and stil lwater into a beautiful blue crystal at room temperature. He can make opaque substances transparent and vice versa. These changes aren't permanent (unless made so with an ongoing spell), but they might be permanent enough
  • • • • • High manifestations of alchemical science are possible now; the Craftmason may distill Orichalum (true Gold) and Lunargent (True Silver) from such common elements as lead and dirt. He may forge highly precise and tiny objects, allowing him to create scale and chain mail as fine and smooth as velvel but as hard as adamantium. He can make oils that nourish, potions that dissolve metal, poisons that cause flesh to evaporate, and beautiful liquid gems that bead and roll like quicksilver. He can make whole walls evaporate. He can animate matter to create strange golems of clay and wood. With the proper formulae and practice, the Craftmason can transform base elements like dirt and stone into leather, wood, milk, food or nearly anything else he may need.
  • • • • • • At this level of understanding, the Craftmason, having mastered all the rules of matter's working, can now, with enough preparation, break all of those rules at will. With enough experimentation, he can subvert any natural law pertaining to the material world. The mage may alter the density, volume and weight of a substance at will. He can make two items exist in the same space without interfering with one another. He can give matter any propery he can imagine - buoyancy, viscosity, impermeability, conductivity, etc, - or he can unmake it entirely

ReferencesEdit

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