9th century magi?

Now that all the Houses of Hermes books are out, does anyone have any ideas about playing/designing Hermetic magi of the 9th century ie. apprentices of the Founders and their initial followers, raised as Hermetic magi firstly, with non-Hermetic backgrounds second?

There are many canonical references to magi from the early ORder being quite different to those of 1220. I'd be interested in what people think...



I suspect that many would not be so rigidly limited in range of powers and virtues as later magi of the Order. With non-hermetic traditions being the norm in the early days, many Houses would likely have had a wealth of powers that have been lost to their descendants by 1220 through successive Hermetic sanctions, wizard wars and simple disuse.

By the same token, I would imagine many Hermetic developments would as yet be non-existent and the base range of Hermetic spells would be much slimmer than what is available for starting characters in the 1220 canon.

Well I think everyone with hermetic magic and the 15 arts is far weaker than 13th century mages. Imagine that the number of good books is extremly low and so many mages have to use Vis or other methods that arent as good as reading a 6/18 Summae or something like this. So their arts should be far lower than "today"! But because of this the mages should have higher teaching scores, because there should be far more mage to mage teaching than "today".
They should also have LESS supernatural abilitys because the lineage of Pralix and her Comprehend Magic didnt exist and because the InVi Lab totals of the mages are lower than today, what means even minor Virtues are a very difficult task to preserve.
And of course: no Aegis.

I think the powers would be a lot more fractured overall. Since we are talking about the early days, there would be many "magi" trained outside the Order still, being brought in under "Join or Die", but not necessarily Hermetic themselves.

This would lead to individuals with very great power in very narrow fields, less overall range and strength. As already mentioned, the books available would be of lower Level (and probably Quality as well) and, more importantly, there would be far fewer of them.

In any ways the Order and the Houses would still be sorting themselves out. There would probably be more House-covenants, those dedicated to a single House (at least this seems to fit with the bits and pieces of history gleened from the Tribunal and House books).

The Hermetically trained magi would start to shine in this era due to their ability to handle a wide range of magics. They would still be outclassed by individuals within specific fields, but their confidence with such diffuse Arts would eventually come to their aid.

It is an intriguing notion...

I've always found this era interesting to speculate on but it came up again the other day when I was thinking about Mercere magi at the start of the 9th century, prior to the formal admission of Redcaps at the Grand Tribunal of 817 per the HoH:True Lineages timeline...

For instance if the Order is founded in 767:

Mercere loses his Gift in the Winter of 773 and after an initial period of denial and desperation, disappears for "more than a decade."

His only 2 Gifted apprentices, Priamitus and Hermes Triceres / Mutant who are also his sons, are both noted to have not finished their apprenticeship when he loses his Gift Both finish their 15 year apprenticeships through self-study and the tutelage of other magi who took an interest (probably followers of Bonisagus/Trianoma), say by about 780 or so. Mercere takes no other Gifted followers, forfeiting all other potential apprentices to Houses Bonisagus.

Priamitus may be in his early 30s at this stage and begins to reform a version of the Cult of Mercury primarily with the help of House Flambeau.

Mutant is probably early 20s at this point and becomes a metamagic theorist (probably with close links to House Bonisagus) and is noted to have little interaction with his father or the House until the birth of his Gifted great-grandson which is probably not until after Mercere himself dies in 818 even with the suggested fecundity of the House.

Mercere reemerges in about 885 or thereabouts and calmly begins to adopt unGifted apprentices and tutoring them for 15 years.

At the first Grand Tribunal of 799 then there are only 2 or perhaps 3 Gifted Mercere magi - 1) Priamitus, who is unlikely to have completed the training of more more than one Mercurian apprentice and 2) Mutant whose ultimate first apprentice his great-grandson is likely no more than a twinkle in his father's eye...

Mercere has lost the Gift and his first unGifted apprentices may have only just be finishing their unconventional apprenticeship.

This is perhaps not that dissimilar to the modern House in some ways, but by the time of the 2nd Grand Tribunal in 817 there are only a handful of Mercurian Mercere magi (associated with a larger group of lineages within House Flambeau that form the nucleus of the reformed Cult of Mercury) and perhaps the beginnings of the Mutantes lineage.

It means that I can't really have an NPC Mercere magus as a founding magus of my conception of Urbs Rubra easily as it was founded in 802! (damn)

It also means that House Flambeau would partly consist of an odd collection of almost Ex-Misc style Mercurian magi and some Mithraic cultists as opposed to the more recognised military types of later conceptions.


I just thought this was interesting to develop.



Well you can...it just means a small bit may have been left out...like Mercere's illagitamite gifted son or step brother that gets marched or something. This has obviously been left out of the histories to preserve the memory of one of the founders.

Amusing and entirely in keeping with the House's tendency to Hero-worship!

The point is that the Houses in the early Order even up to 50 years after the founding are quite a bit different - Mercere with no recognised Redcaps and only 2-3 magi, Flambeau a bunch of odd Ex-Misc type Mercurians etc.

In some ways the only thing odd about Ex-Misc is that they were non-Roman...



Another thought that occurs is that many of the current Hermetic Flaws might represent the then state of the art. Magic and Hermetic Theory has after all be improved on over the years.

E.g. Difficult Longevity Ritual or Twilight Prone

Changing one of those (presumably requiring a breakthrough to achieve) would have a dramatic impact). Shorter lived magi, poorer potential books, much weaker effects... A huge plot point when the development is completed. After all who would not want that.

Great idea, I love it :smiley:

We could have a combination of... well, great power and great flaws. Like, sure, flambeau could level a mountain, but he had a host of major hermetic flaws :laughing:

Personally I think most of the mid-aged mages are equally and sometimes even stronger than any one of the founders if they share simular foci. And every archmage should be much, much, much more powerfuller than "his" founder!
I think Philippus Niger would clean the floor wih Flambeau...

I too like the idea of the early order in the 9th or 10th Centuries. Has any come up with the House parameters for House Diedne? I am sure others have thought about the House that shall not be named. They probably get the bonus to spontaneous magic found among the House's heirs. What about other virtues and flaws?

Yeah, the Diedne thing has been washed out...don't recall the result off hand...

One day I'll persuade the powers that be that my Diedne book (and only my Diedne book) is the one true way...

Of course, I haven't actually written it yet but I'm full of ideas. Well, I say "full", I've worked out the virtues, the ideology, the reason they succumbed to suspicion, the history, etc. I just need to expand on those ideas.

You never know, if Sub Rosa is taking submissions on Diedne, I might even give it to them.

I'd send it in. You never know what might come of it...



Not sure I'd agree with this, only because I'd expect the founders to have perfected their mysteries to a degree that the currnt magi, with a wider range of arts/skills to spend tme learning, dont have the time to do.

Tyatalus his mysteries carry on with the titanol who are versed in spirit magic, I'd assume tremere knew similar, if to a lesser degree.

Guarnicus? knew mercurian rituals that have been lost (was he also the one that knew a terrum based mystery?...was mentioned in a few lines in a book and ignored since)

Hmm most of the existing magi, PCs or NPCs, are spezialized: every PC in my group and most of the NPCs in the existing books like Phillipus or Immanitos Mendax or Falke and so on. If I assume that the ex misc hede mage Virtues (and the founders were hedge mages) are something simular in power to the hedge magic powers of Flambeau, Tytalus or Merenita (like Flambeau have 10 in his "Whistle up the Flames" skill) than they arnet very good.
But even if they would be simular in power: most of their powers if not all were lost at the time they obtained hermetic magic! Even the preserving of ONO Major Virte is very hard for most mages, but at this time preserving two major and some minor Virtue sof the Founders? I doubt that. So most of the founders would stat at a high age with Art of ZERO, with only a tiny amopunt of available books (but peraps much more Vis than today) and some hermetic Virtues like foci, puissant, affinity in their former hedge magic.
And even if they had their hedge magic virtues after they learned hermetic magic, they are forced to either push their new hermetic powers in their seaosns OR their hedge magic abilitys (and I doubt many of the founders pushed their hedge magic!).
And even if theyx had extreme powerful hedge magic powers: if you use the standard rules they should bounce off every today parma magica... getting penetration with supernatural ability without an arcane connection ist nearly impossible!

With this thougt I think the second hermetic generation was much more stronger than the first in hermetic magic AND their speciality.

The only unique powers the old founders might have had are things like items, beasts, daimon/spirit pacts and perhaps some mysteries. But an 13th century magic with his focus, affinitys and puissants should be capable of magic 10 or 20 times stronger than the founders.

This isnt Vampire with godlike Anteduvilians or something like this: the founders were the best mages of their time and with the new parma magica they got even stronger. But in terms of raw magical power they were weak compared to modern mages.
But this doesnt limit their coolness or importance: they were the one which pilosophies created the order, who build up their houses, who had many loyal and powerful followers and so on.

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Actually I believe that this is one issue the fifth edition material has been silent about. I think that htis is left undefined on purpose. Certainly the Houses books would have been the place to pin it down if David had wanted to pin it down.

The idea that the founders were great beyond the scope of modern magi is a setup with lots of mythic resonance.

The idea that both hermetic theory and the supply and quality of books and laboratory texts is significantly improved in the 13th centrury when compared to the ninth is pretty much a given in the setting.

To leave the choice to the individual troupes whether to go with the logically consistant story or the story that is resonant with themes of a lost golden age seems to be the best of the available choices to me.

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I guess I wasn't clear...I meant I think the founders were equally powerful because they had skills todays magi dont.

Look at "The Spider" that took on an army of hermetics in england/scotland...Not a founder but a magi from the period with skills unknown to the order.

Either way Erik is right, and I like the openends of the setting that allows it to be customized as wished.

Davnalleus did NOT take on an army of hermetics. _ The giants_ that were allied with him dealt with a bunch of hermetics, most of which were first generation hermetic apprentices, so not incredibly powerful.

What he did is deal with a rabble of other hedgies, and most of the stuff was made by his followers.

The only "OK Corral, Far West style" engagement between Davnalleus and the Hermetics was at Carnac, and I guess that they were not hermetics, but first generation hedgies attached to the hoyuses under the join or die recruiting policy. Quite a feat,. but far from "taking on an army of hermetics all by himself" John Wayne style :wink: