archmage challenges

I don't see any discussion of this in the archives...

I'd love to start a list of the status challenges that Archmages have put forth in your sagas. I'm trying to generate some ideas myself, and would love some jumping off points.

Specifically, what would a Jerbiton Archmage, who's life has been dedicated to building the world's greatest (mundane) library, have as his challenge?

Thanks in advance,

Houses of Hermes: Societates is due out in April.
There could be useful info in it , if you can wait that long.

Perhaps "write a summa level 5, quality 10 on any academic ability, and give me a copy."

I would imagine you could easily work in something about the Tower of Babel (which i was reading in Ancient Magic just moments ago!) that he would have to discover. After all, didn't they gather to share knowledge, which is the purpose of a library? Along the same lines of gathering knowledge, tricking a dragon into giving some tidbit of knowledge or some such? A spyhnx?

Perhaps said Jerbitron has written a book(or copied one of his books) and given it away/sold/hidden it some place. Your mission is to aquire that specific book of which there is only 1 copy in existence out side of the Jerbitrons possesion.

Ooooh I like!

Yeah, that's great.

Perhaps the mage started said library years and years ago with a fellow mage. The Jerbiton gave his fellow the copy, to travel to the Levant (or some similar, exotic place) to trade it for something of equal value... but the mage was never heard from again.

Return with the book, and you pass.

I also like the dragon idea.

Writing the summa is appropriate, but doesn't have a "Story" hook to it.... I could see however, that GAINING the knowledge in the first place would have plenty of stories.



I'd love to start a list of the status challenges that Archmages have put forth in your sagas. I'm trying to generate some ideas myself, and would love some jumping off points.

Specifically, what would a Jerbiton Archmage, who's life has been dedicated to building the world's greatest (mundane) library, have as his challenge?


Hm. OK, second question first:

Where I'm coming from: An Archmagus challenge would need to include creative use of magic and be sufficiently challenging that they are only likely to be challenged by the most serious and accomplished of magic users and then not all of them succeed.

Given that, put a magical twist on the summa suggestions, above. How about writing a learned summa on any mysterious (sic, notice the small "m") or Realm Lore -- better than any in the library at time of challenge -- AND invest the book with self-healing effects and a forceless InMe effect that 'tests' the reader to see if they are worthy of additional knowledge AND reveals on the backside of the the summa pages at least 150 (?) spell levels of lab texts for spells useful in investigating said Lore and a sound tractatus on Magic Theory on how knowledge of this Lore is useful in the pursuit of the Hermetic Arts or a sound tractatus on OoH Lore that talks about the history of use of that mysterious Lore in the Order.

In this, the magus is tested on enchanments (MuHe(Te), ReAn, etc.), academic knowledge in a particular Lore (could be something as 'simple' as Divine Lore or as arcane as "On Sufi Mystics in the Holy Land"), compels the magus to share mystical knowledge as well as mundane, and be competent at communicating it ("sound", "learned").

It's very difficult, but not impossible. The challenge will identify the magus that successfully passes the challenge as a peer (or nearly so) of the Jerbiton Archmagus. It's a challenge that has "credibility" in that the Jerbiton Archmagus would likely pass it themself. And, finally, will generate many stories for the player who commits to the pursuit of this particular challenge particularly when the player considers that the Archmagus' library already has peerless summae in the more popular and/or accessible Lores just from his own activities.

Oh, and NO ONE could pass this challenge by (admittedly, highly unlikely) accident -- unlike beating a Tremere Archmagus at Certamen. Sure, the player could cheat by playing editor by compiling the writngs of a bunch of specialists but if you want to prevent that, simply have the Jerbiton insist upon direct verbal communication of the challenge (surprise!) that "Oh, and I have provided a laboratory here for you to use since once the project of putting the book together begins, you may not leave my covenant until you are finished except with my specific permission." Personally, I would level the cheat available to the player and see what they do with it and what might happen if the cheat is taken.

Other challenges...
An archmagus known for her stategic military or political vision, sitting in his own collection of glittering chess sets: "Make me a chess set that I would be proud to put in this collection. Each piece on each side shall be enchanted so that it should move at the player's command, shall hold -- with the exception of the king -- one pawn of Magic-realm vis of an Art and each side should represent all Arts, and the kings on each side should hold five pawns of Divine Vim vis. None of the vis may come from your own stores or those of your covenant, and each piece should represent the Art that it holds. Upon completion of that set, you have six months to beat me at the game." The two seasons playing against the archmagus could count as training or "practice with immediate feedback" in Intrigue depending on the petitioner's skill level.

A Criamon archmagus: "Discover ten mystic riddles that I have not heard, solve them, and then teach them to me." Could be weak or strong, depending on the storyguide's skills.

A (True) Merinita: "Bind a dragon or a griffon as a familiar, swear to defend it with your life {so no Mystery sacrifices} and convice it to allow me to raise its next-born young." The 'easy' way would be to find a very young example and hope the Archmagus dies or FTs before the bill is due. Doesn't have to controversial. The Archmagus may just want to assure survival of the particular magical species instead of having it get killed for the vis.

A Queasitor archmagus: "Defend a covenant from this list from mundane damage and encroachment without breaking the Code for 5 years. I'll be watching..." Whew! Come to think of it, knowing the list before hand and what the characters best options are could require a LOT of stories...

C'mon folks! Chime in!

A Verditius archmage challenged a would be archmage to research THREE of Archimedes fabled items and make improved versions of them using verditius runes. The problem hjere is that none of them could be any of the already known archimedian items: they must be new knowledge.

The items then needed to be entered into the verdi competition AND win it, so you must be sure that they were the best ones at the time of the challenge. talk about underhanded movements, WW and intrigue to achieve just that. There were 3 tries: one per item, but at least one of them would need to win the verdi competition.

The good side of this is that the verditius is likely to develop enough breakthrough points to integrate archimedian magic into hermetic theory after that.



A Bonisagus Archmagus and Seeker: Uncover a previously unknown magical tradition and bring it into Hermetic Theory. I would only inflict this challenge on a troupe if they were willing to play this one as an over-arching and very dominant storyline.

An Archmagus that has the rep as the best in an Art: Write the premier text on that Art.

I'm resurrecting this thread as a few folks in my saga are suddenly interested in Archmage status - namely the lovely Pellegrina Circe, and the stern Quaesitor Helios Excelcis, and perhaps Renoir of Flambeau, Terram Master.

Now, besides challenges, which I'd love more examples of, especially for a Jerbiton candidate, I'm also curious what feats people have had to perform to gain a Hermetic Reputation worthy of Archmagedom.

Any thoughts, sodales?


A rego craft magus:
Use rego craft magic to create a statue of yourself that looks more realistic than this statue I've created of myself.
(finesse contest)

A longevity potion maker:
Make a better potion for me than I could myself.

In general, there should be challenges that not only involve arts, but also arcane abilities (finesse example see above). Many challenges should be useful to the archmagus (see example 2).

Archmage Bosi of house Bjornager's challenge is changing form to a bull, and beat him in combat.
Only spells of personal ranges is allowed.

The challenge of Pallas ex Tytalus, an expet in Rego (including the usual use of teleport spells) and imaginem is to cast a touch range spell on him (your choice of which one) that affects him. Yes, you have to know where he is and be able to touch him to cast it. And beat his parma, yes, that too.


Here are a few that have come up in my saga:

I have cut out the ones listed in the Rhine Tribunal book, to avoid copyright issues, but I have included challenges for some magi in both the Rhine and Normany books who did not have challenges listed.

The list of number of times attempted and passed does not reflect PC attempts.

Provencal Tribunal
Archmagus Karl Vertoff of Bonisagus (Doissetep)

Penetrate his full magical defenses with a fifth magnitude (or higher) spell that will not do him real harm. (He knows a point of warping may result, but is willing to accept this).

This challenge has been attempted a reported six times. One applicant was successful.

Archmagus Oxioun of Tytalus (Doissetep)

After formally making the challenge the applicant has one moon to steal his talisman and keep it from him for one full moon. For the duration of the challenge Oxioun will not slay the applicant for violating his sanctum, but he may use non-lethal means of injuring them while they forfeit immunity.

This challenge has been attempted three times and never successfully completed.

Oxioun is not known to HAVE a Talisman (though he must if this is the challenge). In one reported case the applicant managed to get into Oxioun's sanctum and was placed in a magical, season-long sleep.

Archmaga Kerka of Merinita (Doissetep)

Kerka's challenge is to best her and her storm elemental familiar in a race, without the use of teleportation. The race is from a temple of Zeus outside Athens to the pillars of Hercules. During that time your feet may not touch land nor sea.

This has been attempted twice, neither successfully. The race takes her about four days.


Archmaga Geirlaug of Flambeau (Montverte)

She does not seem to have been challenged in some time. Access is reported to be difficult.

Her challenge is a battle in the style of Dimicatio (L&L p. 32)

This has been attempted ten times, and three have succeed.

Archmagus Mathieus of Constantinople of Jerbiton (Eboris)

Demonstrate a mastery of urban spellcasting. The precise challenge is different for each magi, but it often involves casting multiple subtle spells (which do not breach the code) within the great cathedral of Paris. These spells are often harmless illusions but they must overcome the aura, and be cast silently and without gestures.

This has been attempted thirty-one times (at least) and has been successful once.

Archmagus Igor Rastvan ex Miscellanea (Radhost)

Using a ritual spell, and without help from any other gifted person, slay a condemned prisoner (slave) located in the courtyard of the temple of Razhost. The date and time of the challenge must be agreed on. This must penetrate the Aegis of Rzhost, and any other magical protections Igor chooses to place on the prisoner. An arcane connection (a single hair) will be provided to the challenger. The casting of the spell must be witnessed by a mutually agreed on group of magi who confirm the rules are followed. The challenger is expected to cast his spell from somewhere far from Razhost, and is not permitted to damage the temple.

This has been attempted four times, never successfully. (If the challenge fails, the prisoner is executed by Igor.)


Does a challenger need to tell him before accomplishing the deed, or can he succeed and then say, "By the way, I won the challenge?" :slight_smile:




A twisted Criamon challenge might involve the archmagus and his challenger to be subject to a CrVi spell cast by the archmagus that grants two points of Warping; the winner is the one who comes out with the better Twilight effect. Ties go the archmagus, the contest is not complete until both participants have emerged from Twilight, and the Criamon will only accept challenges from candidates who have already completed the other archmagus requirements. (This is both a test of Enigmatic Wisdom, and a commentary on the institution of archmagus.)

A Jerbiton challenge might involve a quest--and not being allowed to use magic of any kind!

Another twisty challenge, by a Longevity Ritual expert: Outlive me while retaining your essential humanity.

If magi who have achieved immortality are permitted to retain the status of magus, a challenge could involve "get a higher Might than mine."

A Tremere who has gained facility with spontaneous magic might post a challenge of that kind, grant the winner the status of archmagus and then send the acorn (?) vexillation after the newly minted archmagus, who must surely have some Diedne connection.

Perhaps some Guernicus sees six or seven legal issues as intractable, and might challenge archmagus wannabes to solve any one of them before he does. (He won't work on any of them, because he thinks they are intractable, but inserts a "before I do" clause to satisfy those who believe there must be some kind of competition. Problems that are generally considered impossible are probably frowned upon as challenges; a Bonisagus might lose some regard if his challenge involves breaking a Greater Limit. On the other hand, a Merinita archmagus challenge that seems impossible might be more acceptable. After all, faerie tales often involve either achieving the impossible, or cleverly recasting the problem so that it is both possible and thematically appropriate.)



An Archmagus in the Normandy or Rome Tribunal:

Develop a new means of permanently bestowing the Gentle Gift on a Gifted magic user that (a) does not violate the Code, and (b) does not violate any oaths the challenger has taken.

An Archmagus with a reputation as one of the premier researchers in the Order:

Invent a new Range, Duration, or Target (selected by agreement) before the Archmagus does and submit two Magic Theory tractati (one to the Archmagus and one to the great Library) discussing the breakthrough that are unencumbered by the Cow and Calf Oath.

<as a side note, even though this will "only" require approximately 30 breakthough point (IIRC),this challenge could cause some really serious Warping given the speed requirement so be prepared to take a couple trips into the Twilight Realm>

An Archmagus with an interest in Spirits and other Magic beings:

(a) Cause -- by whatever means you see fit -- a Magic Being designated by the archmagus to serve the Archmagus for a year and a day.
(b) Collect fixed (or "indefinite" duration) arcane connections to several individual, unique, and powerful Magic beings.

An Archmagus from Ex Misc or Trianoma or someone with a phenomenal Vim lab total:

Identify a magical tradition/lineage that has not previously been incorporated into the Order and bring them in by (a) Opening the Arts of at least three of thier practitioners, (b) teaching each new member the Parma, and (c) convincing the senior member of the tradition to join the Archmagus' covenant.

A very political Archmagus (perhaps a Tremere, but not necessarily)

Successfully collect the voting sigils of ten magi in the Tribunal through the use of Certamen. Voting rights should be unencumbered.

A terram specialist

Raise a new mountain.

Those are way beyond the requisites for being an archmagus. AN archmagus challenge is supposed to be what you can achieve after inventing a level 35 spell. Breakthroughs not required here.


An interesting perspective. I never really thought of the "original 7th-maginitude spell" requirment as a benchmark. Kind of thought of it as a minimum. So, from your perspective, Xavi, what guidelines would you apply? Not being confrontational, here. Just curious.

For me, the challenge has to be something that would require years of very specific focus researching what the target Archmagus is likely to ask, developing a capability to address that likelihood, and make the rest of the Order -- with the possible exception of the most jaded or accomplished senior magi -- sit back and say "Wow, that is pretty darned amazing!" If less than 5% of the members of the Order are Archmagi, then I think that there should be a few reasons why and apathy or indecision do not strike me as terribly likely.

That said, working original research into a challenge is on the high end of "difficult" even for my conception of the Order. A very good point. Perhaps limiting it to, say, three original spells of sixth maginitude or greater that yeild breakthough insights would be a better, more achievable, goal.