The Outer Order Curriculum

This section describes how existing investigators can be augmented to reflect their membership in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. This additional character development uses a point system with which players buy grades and skills from the Order’s curriculum. Investigators can either be brand-new members of the Dawn, or can be veterans, as the player desires. They may thus have accumulated some of the specialized knowledge and magical abilities taught by the Order. It is recommended, however, that players only be allowed to initially start in the Outer Order. Players who desire to start off in the Inner Order (assuming thereby that they have been in the Dawn for a lengthy period of time) may do so if the Keeper allows it, but it is not recommended.

The Point System

To reflect the knowledge and magickal ability an investigator possesses, the following points should be totaled (rounding all fractions to the nearest whole number):

POW x .5
INT x .3
Credit Rating x .05
Occult x .2
Cthulhu Mythos x .04

Example: Sir Arthur Jordan Grimm has 13 POW, 14 INT, 55% Credit Rating, 45% Occult, and 11% Cthulhu Mythos. Using the above formula, Grimm gets 7 points for POW, 4 for INT, 3 for Credit Rating, 9 for Occult, and nothing for Cthulhu Mythos, for a total of 23 points with which to buy grades and skills in the Order’s curriculum.

Outer Order Point Costs

Outer Order Grades
Point Cost Grade
1 0=0 Neophyte
3 1=10 Zealator
6 2=9 Theoricus
10 3=8 Practicus
15 4=7 Philosophus
18 Portal (an un-numbered interim grade
Outer Order Curriculum
Point Cost Skill/Spell Prerequisites
0 Pentagram Ritual None
2/level Alchemy Pentagram Ritual
2/level Astrology Pentagram Ritual
1/level Cartomancy Pentagram Ritual
2/level Esoteric Languages Pentagram Ritual
2/level Geomancy Pentagram Ritual
Contacts Within the Order
Point Cost # of Contacts Ally or Enemy?
1 1 50% chance of either
2 2 1 Ally, 1 Enemy
3 3 50% chance of either, plus 1 Ally, 1 Enemy

Expending Points

When buying grades within the order, the player expends only the number listed beside the grade he wishes to be. For instance, if Sir Arthur Jordan Grimm wishes to be a Philosophus he expends 15 of his 23 character creation points.

The remainder of the points can be used to buy skills and abilities as the player desires (and the Keeper agrees) as well as contacts within the Dawn (see below). Many of the Outer Order subjects are purchased by level. That is, additional points can be spent to gain additional levels in that area of study (usually resulting in additions to various character skills). Note that certain skills and abilities must be taught before another — such prerequisites are listed for many of the items in the curriculum.

Golden Dawn Contacts

Players may expend character points to create relationships with various prominent members of the Golden Dawn. Some of these contacts may prove beneficial, abetting an investigator’s rise through the ranks of the Order, offering magical instruction, or giving financial assistance. Some contacts, on the other hand, may seek to hinder the investigator’s progress, defame him, or even seek to do away with him by means of force or magic. Still, such contacts are certain to make for interesting roleplaying fodder.

Either the Keeper or the player may choose the contact or contacts, but who chooses is the Keeper’s choice. Alternately, a die roll may be made for each contact. The Keeper will guide you in either the appropriate selection or random choosing of these contacts.

The Grades

To move through the grades the initiate was expected to study occult material provided by the Order and later take an examination on those materials. The curriculum was strict, and the study material compiled in such a way that the student only learned what was required for that particular grade.

The culmination of each grade was an examination. After completing the required period of study the member must make a successful Occult or halved Idea roll, whichever is higher. If the roll succeeds they have passed, and advance to the next grade. Those who fail the examination are allowed to retake it (with no point cost, just a die roll) after a revision period of not less than two months at a bonus of +5%. Successive failures are allowed (with a cumulative +5% for each attempt), though an investigator who fails again and again will no doubt be looked down on by other members. Note that when a starting grade is initially purchased, the examination roll is not necessary. It only applies to grades gained during the course of play.

The time taken for each period of study and examination varied from person to person. Dedicated occultists such as A.E. Waite and Aleister Crowley progressed through the Outer Order grades within a year or two. William Butler Yeats was no less an occultist but progressed through the grades much more slowly due to his outside commitments. Some were members of the Golden Dawn for years but still did not complete all of the Outer Order grades.

A part-time investigator with a full-time career is unlikely to progress rapidly through the grade system and it is up to the Keeper to decide how much campaign time each investigator has for his advancement studies. As a rough guideline it is reasonable to say that it would take an employed investigator a year or two to complete the first five grades and still fit in a couple of months investigating.

Members of the Golden Dawn studied numerous avenues of occult knowledge, ranging from the codes used by occultists to keep their secrets from prying eyes to the meanings of the signs of the zodiac. Also studied were the Tree of Life from the Jewish Cabala and John Dee’s Enochian system of magic.

Occult Skill Increases Per Grade Achieved

Each grade achieved by an investigator adds 1D6 to his or her Occult skill, though not above the maximums listed below. For example: before joining the Golden Dawn, an investigator has an Occult Skill of 5%. On reaching the Neophyte grade 1D6 points are added to his skill level, to a maximum of a 10% total skill. If a player uses enough of her additional character creation points to reach the Practicus level, she adds 4D6 to his Occult skill, though her skill cannot exceed 40% from these added points; if the investigator already has an Occult skill of 40 or higher, she gains no points at all. The following table shows the maximum Occult skill that can be gained in this manner.

Grade Maximum Occult Skill Achieved
0=0 Neophyte 10%
1=10 Zelator 20%
2=9 Theoricus 30%
3=8 Practicus 40%
4=7 Philosophus 50%
Portal 55%

For details on the subjects taught by the Golden Dawn, see the page on new Skills.

Golden Dawn Mottoes

Once all points have been expended, all that remains is for the investigator to create his Golden Dawn motto. All members of the Order had mottoes, or secret names, which they used instead of their own in order to preserve a more mysterious air. Members almost never used true names, even in correspondence, always using mottoes instead. In fact, members may not even actually be aware of each others’ real names in many cases.

The mottoes used by the Golden Dawn were primarily Latin phrases such as Anima Pura Sit (Let the soul be pure), De Profundis Ad Lucem (From the depths to the light), or even simply Vigilate (Be watchful). There were also a few mottoes in Irish, Scots-Gaelic, Hebrew, and perhaps some continental languages as well. Players should create their own mottoes (possibly with the use of a Latin dictionary), or at least their English equivalents. A handy source of many likely mottoes is as close as your local library: Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (and no doubt others of similar size) contains a lengthy selection of foreign phrases in the back, a large portion of which are in Latin.

Members were then referred to as, for instance, Frater Anima Pura Sit, or Soror Vigilate; fraters being “brothers” (or “friars”) and sorors being “sisters.” Abbreviations were often used as well. W.B. Yeats (“Demon Est Deus Inversus”) was known as DEDI or Frater DEDI, for example.

Investigator Improvement

Once the initial membership and curriculum points have been spent, the investigator is ready for play. Over time, more points can be gained and spent; this is how an investigator can rise to higher grades in the Dawn, or improve skills and magickal abilities. These points represent time spent studying, learning, and practicing the knowledge taught by the Dawn. For every four weeks (consecutive or not) that an investigator is actively pursuing study, he or she gains zero, one, or two points to spend as shown on the table below. These points can be saved up or used immediately as desired.

1D6 Roll Points
1-2 0
3-5 1
6 2

It should be noted that in buying grades the character need only expend the point difference between the grade he or she was at and the one desired.

Example: Sir Arthur Jordan Grimm is a Portal and wishes to become a Adeptus Minor. The Adeptus Minor grade costs 21 points, but since he previously spent 18 points to become a Philosophus, he would expend only 3 points to advance.

The Outer Order Curriculum

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