What sort of character stats should an archmagus have, in your saga? Do you determine this by total experience, highest lab total, or what? Roughly how old should such a character be? What else should I consider when stat'ing out an archmagus NPC?
It's a case by case process I think since the rank is given to those who have achieved some things.
For example, now, I'm designing a Guernicus magus who will be an archmagus.
His age is not really decided but it's at least 216 (only for timing purpose).
How do I know he would be an archmagus?
- he has trained an apprentice, thus achieved to respect his Oath to train at least one apprentice
- he has proved his insights in investigation (with skills such as awareness, stealth, folk ken, guile, charm, intrigue, leadership, code of hermès at good scores). One of those is also at 16 at the moment, and others are all at more than 5.
- he is not relying on magic to solve cases : he has agents, social contacts and a very good reputation (at the moment, quaesitor in good standing at 4 (instead of 3)) as well as a reputation of being just and impartial; but when it comes to magic, he is not without strength. He owns the most acute of all intellego spells, with so much masteries that he may cast them in the worst conditions
- he has taken the archmagus challenge (which will be decided) and succeeded which would have required powerful investigationnal spells.
I didn't bother with other NPC magi to do them as archmagi, but some of them could have been... Novgorod is not a land of archmagi anwyay.
The best bet is start from age, and work out experience from that.
How old would such a character be - or, more precisely, how young can such a character be? Technically, a freshly gauntleted magus could take less than two decades to meet the requirements, but that is highly unlikely. From the examples in GotF, one gets the impression that the minimum experience to have a good shot at it is about four or five decades after gauntlet. Three quarters of a century seems certainly quite enough. E.g. Murion, prima of Bonisagus and archmage, is 98 and thus about three quarters of a century post-gauntlet, if I recall correctly; and her filius is planning to challenge her for her title sometime soon (I'm just going from memory so I may be wrong). Keep in mind, however, that the archmagus status is "for life", so the "average" archmagus is probably quite a bit older than the minimum age.
IMS the criteria to become an archmage is:
Be at least 50 in hermetic age (younger people that apply for archmagehood are considered upstarts at best)
Having invented a level 35 spell or achieved a breakthrough that advances MT or opens up a new area of hermetic development (a new spell guideline, for example) or another achievement that furthers the Order of Hermes in achieving greatness. Individualist magi that do not search for the greater good need not apply.
Having trained an apprentice.
Be known to the Order at large: have an hermetic reputation. It does not need to be a good reputation, just having one at level 3 or so. You can be the most infamous necromancer alive, for example.
Pass the archmage challenge.
We had great fun with this in the case of Severin ex Tytalus, our own archmage He was challenged by Faun Merinitae (his archrival and a member of the Gloom covenant, our ex-enemies) to help end the conflict between the tytalus primi. He did so by beating them at their own game. He made them both promise to defer to an incumbent if they were convinced he could bring peace to the house. He then advanced Ciarann ex Tytalus, his own filius, and a Hyppian skilled in spirits and diplomacy (this is the skill set you develop if you talk regularly with spirits that can smash you easily!!) as a challenger for primus-ship. he and archmage Maris ex Tytalus backed the challenge to provide muscle in case it was needed, and quite a few other tytalians and non.-tytalians voiced their support for the movement as well sice they were fed up with the conflict. Both primi were promised to keep a pre-eminent position as advisers and envoys fot he primus. It was a tongue in check plot, but the Tytalus primi thought it was a good one, specially once Ciarann got control over the elementals of Fudarus. The hyppian philosophy is currently getting hold of the Tytalus as a house.
As an other challenge we have seen, Maris ex Tytalus did beat the spirit of the north sea.