Spring of what year?
Do you mean the end of the spring season? Everyone else has advanced their characters to the end of Winter (beginning of spring).
Stats and concept look fine. I can't think of any problem with him being a member of the Cult of Mercury (the only possible niggle I can think of is that Jerbiton is one of the more traditionally Christian houses, and the Cukt of Mercury are technically pagan. Then again, the Flambeau are the other traditionally particularly Christian house, and it's not as though they're in short supply in the Cult. HoH:S also makes it pretty explicit that a lot of Mercurians don't take the pagan trappings very seriously, and still consider themselves Christians. So all in all, a fairly non-existent niggle).
Looks like I'll be submitting the next sodales - working on the full write up, but the rough draft was okay'd by MTK.
Concept is inspired by the various references to "selling apprentices" in canon - this character will (among other past times?) be a dedicated hunter/seller of apprentice-quality Gifted children. (That may not keep him busy full-time, so I'm considering what to dovetail into that. Perhaps something ala Pralix, perhaps a procurer of other talent/covenanfolk, or other specialized Coven raw materiale, perhaps... see where he ends up, and what tools he has, and then work backwards to the backstory.)
o Tytalus/Bonisagus Parens (with an adoption/fostering/claiming or three in there - work the Hermetic/Bonisagus apprentice adoption/claiming circus to create someone who (at some level) interprets the Trianoma "builder" role as seeking/providing apprentices. (Longer term plotlines could deal w/ the question of whether he is expelled from House B, but that's a question for "down the road".) Possibly dual-House membership (willingly or no), or that could be "in his future" considering we have a Tytalus in da house.
o Arts: Early emphasis In & Re, with Co, Me & Vi, and then some misc. for utility spells - and maybe 5+ across the Arts to qualify to take an apprentice himself.
o Standard Gift - a fagin/slaver/child-snatcher (even for non-perverse reasons) should be a creepy guy.
o Magical Focus in either simple InVi or something along the lines of a Pralician - Intellego + non-Hermeticized Gift.
o Spell mix would be Intellego to find/qualify the prospective (and see below), plus Mentem to effect the snatch easily (sleep, memory wipes, etc), plus misc. utility effects to maneuver in a broad range of social environments. (He would be weak re "magical combat" - not a complete muffin, but certainly not a robust blastum type.)
o Am considering the "Personna" Virtue (HoH:Soc, Tytalus chapter) - which has some advantages over any combination of spells, and could help with a broader Agency that seeks such children (those Disguise rolls - so unpredictable).
o About 10-15 years PG, so perhaps a reputation (or two) and some acquired Virtue - pro'ly Contacts.
o Maybe a (low-level) Mystery Cult of some sort - Common knowledge type? Custom? Some are pretty handy...
o (What kind of familiar might a child-snatcher have?...)
There are 3 questions central to this concept that should be Troupe-discussed:
- What are your views of "legality" of this? References (that I can find) in Peripheral Code imply it's "discouraged but not illegal", and GotF describes that Coeris practices it (insert, p 102). (We could start a Forum thread if you want... never hurts, and hardly ties your/our hands - ysmv and all that.) I don't see it as a bad Rep across the whole of the Order - opinions would differ, with some just not caring, and some supporting it.
Tied to that: does the Covenant (and esp. our Guernicus) want to know about this, have it all on the table and in their face, or should it be more of a "Dark Secret" (at some level?)???
b) What Base InVi to Detect The Gift? (5? 10? I can see arguments for both) (Is there a canonical spell for it somewhere? Or was that for ArM4?)
iii) Is it possible to use InCo & InMe to determine "Characteristics"? Specifically Intelligence (for this character), but others as well. Corpus has "Base 5: Sense a specific piece of info about a body", so Mentem should have something parallel. I could see bumping that up via Central Rule for this specific purpose.
At one level, it could be called "metagaming" - but everything in AM is quantified in numbers - wounds, magnitudes, durations, rounds - and Player Characters respond to these as such. "Characteristics" should be equally quantifiable - magic that tells whether a prospective Apprentice is Int -2 or Int +5 is pretty central, and certainly within Hermetic bounds at face value.
If the InCo were Base 10 (Base 5 for "specific piece of info" plus 1 mag "just because"), then making InMe one magnitude higher (Mentem Guidelines seem tougher than Corpus, and that makes some sense) would effectively be InMe Base 15. I'd think that the spell that determines this "specific piece" would have to be specified re which Physical/Mental Characteristic is analyzed (or an additional magnitude for more information, and get all 4 of whichever, physical or mental Characteristics).
Quantify the Body
Determine all 4 Physical Characteristics - Strength, Stamina, Dexterity & Quickness.
(Base 5, +1 Touch, +1 mag complexity (for all 4), +1 Central Rule bump)
Quantify the Mind
Determine all 4 Mental Characteristics - Intelligence, Perception, Communication & Presence.
(Base 10, +1 Touch, +1 mag complexity (for all 4), +1 Central Rule bump)
Then there are questions that apply to specific Characters - the Guernicus and the current Tytalus - but I'll just say I recognize there may be some, and let you ask/respond as you prefer.
This is a very interesting concept, and such a character makes a lot of sense in canonical Theban Tribunal, with some small changes if we are in a canonical Theban Tribunal. If so, potential apprentices are presented at Tribunal, and then are given out to worthy masters. Your character could have found some interest in candidates not typically found in the usual means, and probably has garnered several tokens by finding apprentices over the years and presenting them.
I'm not sure what legality you're asking about. There are mundane laws that need to be considered, sure. In light of that insert, I'm sure those slaves are purchased, probably at a premium by Coeris, over other comparable slaves. It's silver, who cares. The real legalities come when you try and entice a Gifted child away from his parents. Is this bringing danger to the Order through his actions? I seem to recall mention of magi kidnapping their apprentices, but I would think that's a rare apprentice and/or a powerless and penniless family that can't do anything about it.
I'm skipping the a) question, as that is addressed more towards a specific player.
Here's one that has it as level 15 https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/nestor-ex-misc/5053/1.
I have a bit of a problem with that, as Base 10 is detecting Magic, either Weak and recent or powerful. Is the Gift magical? I tend to think it is not. I think you could perhaps detect that such a child worked magic recently, and that's about it. Thinking about it another way, if there were a simple spell to detect the Gift, House Jerbiton would've long ago invented it, if only to find those Gently Gifted souls who never get discovered because they blend into society and don't get noticed.
This goes hand in hand with the interview period describedin The Sundered Eagle, but to a magical degree. Unfortunately there is no guideline that currently exists. Perhaps no one has thought of it it, and it is some original research your character needs to accomplish? A Trianomae conducting original research would be a hoot, scandalous and something to be expected of one with a Tytali heritage. I can see the comment now, "Well why can't I conduct research?!"
Sure, but I think you have an excellent in character reason for wanting to know the capability of the apprentices you present to the Tribunal AND you can use that as an edge and turn the apprentice process on its head by controlling the flow of information about the apprentices you have discovered to the individuals you wish.
Cool - but I'm not familiar w/ canon Thebes material. I had envisioned a pan-Order sort of enterprise (and for profit as much as to serve The Order), but if a local tradition exists, so much the better. "tokens"?
Yes, I was talking re The Code (a mage who can't evade mundane laws - pffft!). And there are many ways to skin this particular cat, and leave the family not knowing what to do, or even unaware there is anything to do. (ie, fake a death, change memories, etc etc.)
Since it's "peripheral code" land, it invites Troupe/SG interpretation. It clearly(?) happens on an individual basis occasionally, but for one mage to make it a practice rather than to perform it once for personal reasons is a different matter.
(It may be that he will (eventually) bring about a Tribunal Case and new precedent established one way or the other, but for now we need to figure out where the "starting point" is in the eyes of the Code (which is "theory") and The Order (which is "practice").
So everyone can opine, here are the references that I have.
- Guardians of the Forest (insert p 102)
[style=Times New Roman]
[size=120]The Slave Trade[/size]
[size=120]Prague is home to a large slave market. The word “slave” derives from “slav”... The Church forbids making Christians into slaves. The trade in slaves is controlled by the (corrupt) Knights of the Sword, and is a lucrative source of income... They transport the slaves to Prague and sell them to Jewish merchants, who then transport them to Muslim lands and sell them again...
... a trusted companion of Roznov covenant (see below) uses his Magic Sensitivity to spot and filter out any Gifted children among the slaves. They then find themselves delivered to Coeris, the domus magna of House Tremere in the Transylvanian Tribunal.[/size][/style]
- Then, from the (4th ed) Timeline posted * on these boards...
(* by Erik Tyrrell : https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/hermetic-timeline/1003/5 )
1188 1327 Provencal: Magus Teslil of Jerbiton finds a Gifted girl and, already having an apprentice of his own, sells her to Magus Gentric of Jerbiton. [WGRE] See 1331 for additional developments.
1192 1331 Provencal: Magus Gentric dies. His property is disposed of in the manner of his covenant, and his apprentice taken by Magus Alarmon of Tytalus. [WGRE] See the Provencal Tribunal of 1333 for additional developments.
1194 1333 Provencal Tribunal of 1333: Magus Teslil claims that the former apprentice of Magus Gentric, who died 1331, should be granted him, as Gentric had been of his House and he had found the girl to begin with. The Tribunal rules that Teslil, having sold the girl, had given up all claim. [WGRE]
Regarding Magus Teslil, the Tribunal noted its disapproval of selling apprentices, but did not forbid it.
(WGRE = Wizard's Grimoire, Revised Edition)
And that's about it.
Note that The Order does not see taking apprentices "as slaves", and so to be "endangering The Order" that way - if it did, there would be chaos in the Tribunals. The "Slave" info is included to show that Coeris has an active search machine in place full time, not because a particular mage is searching for an apprentice of their own. (Whether or not this is "common knowledge" in The Order may be a different matter.)
Yes and no - I believe all Players should help write - and plan - the Story. Do you, as a Player, think it would make a better story to have this mage try to keep his activities under the table and discrete from his sodales, or to have everything out in the open? If your character wouldn't care either way (and this may depend in part on what we decide on the peripheral code), then that's that, but otherwise...
Which simply uses InVi Base 10 - very straightforward, yep.
Interesting. But if not "magic", then what is it? Mentem? Corpus? None of the above - but then, again, what? Something outside and beyond the 10 Forms?!
To me, The Gift is a bit like vis - it's magic, in its purest, unfettered, rawest form. The negative social aspect is described as "creepiness caused by an unconscious awareness of magic" - or words to that effect. The InVi Guidelines imply that it is magic, or certainly could be, unless "having ones Arts opened" is somehow a change in the magic within a Gifted child that changes it from outside of InVi to within the Guidelines.
Sometimes the Gift is "latent" - but that only means it hasn't done anything overt. Often, it's described as creating "unintentional" magical effects, sometimes none at all. It's certainly variable, that's clear - but at the same time "it" is The Gift, and so has something consistent. (I believe that it's not impossible that The Gift appears later in some children, so a child with no (discernible?) Gift today may have one tomorrow, triggered by some immeasurable variable. Altho', once manifest, it's there for life.)
Iirc, non-Hermetic spellcasters can be detected using those same Guidelines - so, again, we're back to Base 10. (Altho' The Central Rule could certainly be applied "just because".)
Not every spell that has been invented, or even that "is common", is listed in the books. There are many details that the editors/writers simply recognize as more approp to "ysmv", and so do not want to make canon one way or the other. Their omission, however, is not in turn a canon statement that they do not exist.
Well, as I pointed out, the InCo "specific piece of information" seems to cover it, and InMe has clear parallels to InCo, even if not all are listed.
If, otoh, this requires individual research... can do. (Not sure it would be "scandalous", but either way.)
From what I can see, there's a fairly consistent viewpoint in the Order that apprentices are basically property (granted, a certain amount of that perception does come from the case rulings in the 4th edition Wizard's gGrimoire, but even in 5th edition there are statements like ""Strictly speaking, magi are allowed to obtain apprentices in whichever manner they wish", "the apprentice belongs to the master", "Masters who abuse their apprentices are not well regarded, but it is not against the Code to do so" and "A magus may choose to pass an apprentice on to a second magus, provided that both magi agree to the transfer. The apprentice's consent is not required. (All from pg 106 of the main book).
Valuable property, mind.
(On a side note, according to C&G, the treatment of Guild apprentices doesn't seem to be all that different. Albeit usually involving less potential for coercion into the position in the first place - although it's not unknown for parents to sell their son as an apprentice to repay a debt.)
I'd think that the Order's attitude would depend a bit on how apprentices are acquired. If you're doing it by using your Bonisagus perogative to steal other magi's apprentices, and then selling them on/back, you're likely to find yourself on the receiving end of a Wizard's War before too long. Similarly, you need to make sure you're not endangering your sodales by stirring up the wrath of the locals. Avoiding outcomes like that, though, and you could well be seen to be providing a public service. I mean, it's for the apprentices own good in the long run, right? Being a magus has to be better than whatever they would have been otherwise. And going out into the world to find apprentices is such a hassle.
Even with the Gift it can't be that unusual for the parents to be relieved to have someone take weird little Jimmy off their hands, especially for a sum of money. Basically, I think he's unlikely to be doing things all that much worse than a lot of magi would be doing to get their own apprentices (unless he's doing anything that's particularly dreadful, at least). In more bulk, and near other people's home territory, admittedly.
The canonical Theban system is quite different from the rest of the Order. Rather than each magus finding their own apprentices, potential apprentices are collected during each inter-Tribunal period, and given preliminary non-magical training until the tribunal. Prior to the tribunal, there's an opportunity for all interested magi to meet with each potential apprentice, and find one (or more) they think would be a suitable student. They then given them a token (or more). Once the tribunal starts, the apprentice decides which of the magi who have given them a token they want to study under. Typically it's the one that's given them the most tokens, as they can then keep them for after they've gauntletted, but it doesn't have to be. There are various tweaks to the system to avoid infringing the rights of Bonisagus, since the Oath trumps the Theban peripheral code.
(Tokens are essentially an extra form of currency in the tribunal. They can be exchanged between magi (subject to a Redcap witnessing), or awarded by the tribunal for acts of meritorious service (such as donating an apprentice to the apprentice presentation). They can also be used to cancel out shards, which are given as a mark of censorship (and have various negative potential, such as potentially being kicked out of the tribunal). Refusing to surrender an apprentice to the tribunal would land you two shards. Deals may therefore occur along the lines of "I'll spend a season creating a longevity ritual for you if you provide the vis and neutralise one of my shards".)
I think it's reasonable for magic to be able to give you an idea of how intelligent someone is, albeit IC you wouldn't get an answer that was "yes, he's Int +2 and Comm -4". You can probably also hazard a reasonable guess with sufficient Folk Ken.
I'm sure I've seen a spell to detect the gift in canon somewhere, but I can't remember where.
What about a Cuckoo? In many ways, it's the exact opposite of what you're doing, but it seems somehow appropriate.
Oh, no, no - he'd sell them a different apprentice, to replace the one he claimed for himself. Nothing if not considerate. 0:)
And not for his own use, but for his own gain - that's the sticking point.
I was considering setting up a "training program", to prep them for the larger market. (The obvious problem is that they could be "claimed" by any other, if/since he isn't "claiming" them himself. But I'd think this would have been a problem with the canon example of "selling" the apprentice - one mage's property vs. another's would-be claimed apprentice. I doubt if simply "claiming" could steal what is claimed as property, but I also want to say that I remember provisions against "hoarding" Gifted children as non-apprentice lab assistants (Anyone else remember such - know where that citation might be found?). Wonder where this would fall in that whole spectrum...)
(What happens to the "left over" apprentices, the ones that don't get picked?)
I would think there could, also, be complications (or loopholes?) if the apprentices came from or were moved out of Tribunal - hrmmm... lots to think about...
Ya know, I was thinking the same thing (both pro and con)! I think that may be a lock - thanks!
In Hermetic law everyone who's part of a covenant and not a magus is property. The real limit on that is the interference with mundanes clause.
I remember when I was in law school, and doing research on a case, somehow I stumbled on a very old British case about a girl who'd been apprenticed at the age of 13 to a musician, who proceeded not to teach her to play music. The ruling of the court was that the apprenticeship contract was void because he'd never taught her music--not because he molested her or anything like that (that, apparently, would have been OK had he taught her music). And that case was from the 18th century or so, by which point mores were considerably more advanced than in the Middle Ages.
Let me preface what I'm about to say by admitting that, although I own it, I have not in fact had time to read The Sundered Eagle. That being said, I would submit that whoever came up with the token thing was likely on crack, or, at least, entirely ignored of politics and economics: vis may well be plentiful in Thebes, but (apart from the fact that the amount of vis required to make the stuff worthless would have to be unimaginable) Theban magi interact with the rest of the Order, and that means that vis is valuable as something to trade to magi in other tribunals. Saying Theban magi don't value vis and would rather trade tokens is like saying that the Saudis don't value oil. I could certainly see tokens trading alongside vis, though since they're essentially what economists call a "fiat currency", people would really have to believe in them to make the whole thing work; mind you, if they can be redeemed for something by the Tribunal itself, the system might work, because they wouldn't really be a fiat currency.
As for the apprentices...I find that system fascinating. I can however see that it might impair the type of apprentice-seeking stories that a lot of people enjoy playing. I'm therefore going to ask the rest of the troupe how much of the Theban canon we should incorporate into this saga.
Found the canonical Gift detection spell.
"The Numbness of the Gift", page 6 of Hedge Magic. Uses the base 10 guideline for detecting the traces of powerful magic.
But do the Saudis value water, food and arable land, too? The idea behind tokens and shards is to encourage good social behavior amongst the magi of the Tribunal. Since vis is so plentiful it is unlikely to be a motivating factor in encouraging good behavior. Vis isn't worthless, but they consider it more like food and water, something essential to life that everyone must have. And it is plentiful enough in the Tribunal that there's little reason to fight over it.
One gains tokens for performing services that benefit the community of magi. That's a very Ancient Greek kind of thing to do. Reading Page 28 of The Sundered Eagle explains how tokens and shards work.
I don't see it as being an impairment at all. Go out, find a gifted child. Teach him a bit (or a lot, but not opening the Arts) and turn him over to the Tribunal and compete for him as the apprentice. In the Theban Tribunal, apprentices choose their masters, see page 32 and 33.
Maybe you don't keep the apprentice you found, but you find a better one, more suited to your gifts and arts at the interview? Maybe this character becomes adept at matching the right apprentice to the right master? I think this opens up many more stories for finding apprentices, without the need to actually take on an apprentice!
The Saudis value food and water, too--and like the rest of us, they're willing to pay for them. I have to say I simply can't fathom this sentence from the book: "...vis is so bountiful that it is more like food than coin, essential for life by easily obtainable." Historically, food is not "easily obtainable"; it is in fact the thing most likely to be bought with coin, and the thing most likely to be bartered in times and places where money isn't used much, but maybe the author is referring solely to magi. Even so, in terms of economics, for vis not to be worth trading, it would not only have to be cheap, but also hard to transport (the latter is the problem with trading food). Vis makes a good currency because it's easily measured (by a magus), easily transportable, and nearly impossible to forge. Given those attributes, the amount of vis that would have to be sloshing around Thebes Tribunal to make it not worth trading would easily be enough to break the game--and even if the Thebans did have that amount, they, like he Saudis, would end up trading it to other parts of the Order for other valuable things (the Saudis, in fact, trade a lot of their oil for food).
I admit that this sort of thing is my personal pet peeve, because I'm a political scientist with a lot of training in development (hence, traditional economies) and economics, but it drives me nuts when an RPG present some social feature that would be completely unsustainable in the real world (or as real as Mythic Europe gets, anyway--and don't get me started on the loopy political psychology of gilds in Rhine Tribunal).
Anyway, as for tokens, I don't see why they wouldn't work as a currency, since they're linked to shards--that gives them a value which doesn't have to rely on sheer faith in the currency itself (like modern fiat currency, or for that matter gold, both of which are inherently pretty worthless). I think they're an interesting feature, and we can use them. I just don't think they'd work in as meritocratic a fashion as seems to be intended (see below), and I don't see how they could possibly completely replace vis.
Since it's in large part a bidding war, what probably happens most often is that the richest magi get the apprentices: even those who might not otherwise have a lot of tokens can trade other things for tokens. Since tokens are alienable (that is, they can be sold), they'll be concentrated in the hands of the magi who are rich and powerful in other ways--yes, the author seems to have intended them to be a way of making the meritorious rich, but that's not how it would work in practice, even if the exchange of tokens were limited to meritorious services to other magi, since powerful magi are more capable of providing such services.
Also, since Tribunals happen only once every seven years, the system also means you can't play out the entire training of an apprentice.
Frankly, though, I personally just like the story of a maga seeking out an apprentice and "adopting" him--despite the meritocratic appeal of the canonical Theban system, and its obvious potential for giving apprentices some power over their masters (anyone who mistreats one is going to have trouble finding another in the future), I enjoy that very personal story of the wizard finding an apprentice.
Without trying to defend the details of SE (which I have no more familiarity with than from reading the above), I will mention that there have been some very odd and non-intuitive "money" systems in the world - the Yap island stone wheels, among others. A combination between tradition and pride in that tradition, "being different = being better", can support some very jaw dropping practices.
That said, the magi of Thebes are not going to trade vis for a string of pretty beads - vis has value, pro'ly almost the same as elsewhere. (If not, then RedCaps would travel and trade aggressively for it, and the price would inflate to stabilize, leading to the same end point, or close to.) But tokens have value as well, if on a different level. Was it Nietsche who argued that those with the strongest will in society dictate reality? If every senior mage believes in it, then it becomes "real", and trying to pretend that it's not just doesn't have a chance.
(Altho', I can't shake the image of a military academy where "merits" and "demerits" can be traded, and then some enterprising soul corners the market on them. King Rat and all that...)
As far as apprentices... I, personally, have a harder time seeing that as a feasible process. A mage busts ass to find a good apprentice - there has to be a mechanism to reward that effort, to promote it in the first place on a practical level. As pointed out above, the powerful few will accrue more tokens one way or another, and then control who gets the best apprentices. So "finding an apprentice" can be an adventure, same as anywhere else - but, then, it will also require a political/Tribunal circus, with all the ugly back-room dealings and doubleshuffles and bullying and blindsides and majority rule - and grudges and pure spite - that can come with such.
"Apprentices ala socialism cum bidding war" just doesn't click with me, and on several levels. Maybe for some magi, maybe as a "Oh, I found another Gifted child... third one this week... well, I'll donate them to charity" - that would work, and for those who can't find any on their own they have an easy source of apprentices - if sold "as is", no guarantees. But if a mage puts out a concerted effort to find "just the right apprentice" for their own purposes, then they should not have a high risk of then losing them, nor have to pay to keep the fruit of that effort. (There are too many unique traditions that require specific and/or rare qualities in an apprentice to rely on luck of the draw, or to risk losing such a find in some open auction. Bjornaer, Merenita, Tytalus, and many Ex Misc traditions - they require a child who is just right - nothing less will do.)
If I were a mage in such circumstances, I'd move out, claim my apprentice under a different Tribunal, and move back - call it win. Something has to keep that from happening, other than social expectation and "shards".
Sweet - check.
I didn't say vis wasn't worth trading. I said that it was plentiful enough that there was little reason to fight over it. I'm sure trading of vis still happens, a covenant has a surplus of one type, and trades with a covenant who has a surplus in a different type. Also, vis is given as gifts quite a bit, and is discussed in the book, almost as though they are so rich they don't know what to do with it, and throw money around.
Looking at it another way, tokens and shards are an attempt to institute a fiat economy, divorcing the currency value from a commodity value. Tokens and shards are used to establish a sense of civic duty to the Tribunal as a whole. It may not be viable, but plenty of nonviable things have been attempted in the span of human history.
That tokens can't be traded, and that they are awarded by the tribunal administration, that almost anyone can be a part of?
As to shards, if you have a shard, you're at risk of being ostracized. If you're ostracized you're required to leave the Tribunal within a season. If you fail to leave the Tribunal you can be prosecuted under the charge of a High Crime, and if convicted, be renounced. So, magi with shards typically try and get rid of them if they have them. To get rid of them, someone with a token has to put up his token, and ask the person with a shard for the service, such as help in the lab, or some other service that doesn't require a cost except time. A Redcap witnesses the event and accepts the shard and token. And failure to give up a gifted child is worth two shards. Shards cannot be removed by members of one's covenant, either.
I have no issue if we don't want to adopt any or all of the trappings of the Tribunal. It's what is written and what I'm familiar with, although I haven't been in a saga that used it, yet. Barring that, having some sort of Tribunal structure might be helpful, unless we're so far out on the fringes that we can't be bothered, we are close to the Novgorod Tribunal, as I understand it. I can see, for a character who wants to go out and ferret out apprentices, that the system as described in the book is a pretty good fit. He finds apprentices, acquires a bunch of tokens, and when he finds the one he wants, he cashes a hoard of them in on apprentices. He can also acquire resources (gifts of vis?) by informing certain magi of the capabilities of an apprentice. Of course, this is interferring with tribunal processes and a form of manipulation. But take any human designed system and there are any number of people who will figure out a way to manipulate it. Some of them will go so far to do it for their own personal benefit.
And ostracize and alienate any who are not of that bent.
Ah - I had mistakenly got the impression they could be traded. If they are only to/from the "Tribunal"... then I'm not sure who makes those decisions, or...
...or how one would "acquire a bunch of tokens" if they are not tradable. Sounds like a lot of brown-nosing and jumping through the right hoops - some magi, some personalities, are going to be more likely to fall into them, and some would not except by accident.
To look out across the Tribunal and announce "Any and all anti-social, non-socialist magi are not welcome" is an odd statement, and an even odder mechanic. (I think the authors are trying to implement some classic Greek ideals of social duty and cooperation here - and of the type that work best in theory and not in practice.)
And that simply is not realistic, given the value of vis in other Tribunals--or for that matter, given the value of vis in Thebes. I've played in multiple sagas, with some having much more vis than others, and in none of them were magi "so rich they don't know what to do with it". The number of ways in which one can use vis to do use things is absolutely enormous.
A "flat" money supply (or at least, a regulated one) is the objective of fiat money, but, unlike true fiat money, the number of tokens and shards in the economy relies on the behavior of magi at any given point in time. Indeed, given that vis supplies are typically more regular than those of other commodities, and given the fairly static demand for the stuff, the vis supply is likely flatter than the token/shard supply.
In any case, I think the point of the tokens and shards is more to reward merit than anything else.
Tokens can be traded--and if they can't, they're worthless as currency, and suddenly you need vis again.
Since the covenant was set up by the Tribunal, to serve a function for the Tribunal, I expect that Tribunal politics will be important, and so yes, that structure will end up getting defined.
+1. Being in a a Tribunal means Tribunal politics. This ain't Stonehenge.
Okay, whether or not they can be, to require them to claim an apprentice that is a "perfect fit" and that a mage has already spent effort in locating is painful. To expect magi to seek out apprentices on the off-chance that they can then keep them is unrealistic. To expect magi to find "spare" apprentices to donate to the program is relying on pure luck and the goodwill of your fellow magi - a poor bet on both counts.
I think we should use a (tradable) Token system, just to see how it works, but insert some mechanism whereby magi can claim apprentices they find if they really want - a sort of "right of first refusal" sort of thing. (Altho', charging even 1 token means no truly anti-social magi will easily acquire an apprentice. The model of the "isolationist" or "gruff" or "labrat" or "curmudgeon" mage just doesn't fit this model, and that's a harsh statement for an entire Tribunal to make.)
The idea is that by using the apprentice system, you can find an apprentice that better suits your particular needs than if you'd relied on just your own efforts - there's an entire tribunal's worth of apprentices rather than just the one you managed to find yourself. I've got the impression that apprentices in a lot of games have been found by magi happening to notice a gifted child whilst on another adventure, rather than as part of a specific search, still less one with particular attributes for the child in mind (possibly slightly less true for Jerbiton and Merinita). If push comes to shove, you also can refuse to surrender the apprentice you found, there's just a moderate consequence. Alternatively, you can cut a deal with a local Bonisagus to cheat the system.
Potential apprentices not being awarded any tokens is fairly rare, but does happen. In this case, any member of the tribunal can claim them, even if they have no tokens or have shards. A fair number of these children tend to get claimed by Boustaphan, the local Tremere tribune, on the basis that after they've been rejected by everyone else they can be given a place and purpose in the House (and also, he wants to train a lot of apprentices).
Whilst tokens can be exchanged betweem magi, there are restrictions: the exchange has to be witnessed by a Redcap, and it's forbidden to exchange tokens for vis.
I'd quite like to try a reasonably canonical version of the tribunal, although I'd encourage MTKnife to read at least the relevant sections of the book (mostly chapter 3) before coming to any firm decisions, as there's a fair amount that is non-standard. For example, we should really have started thinking about covenant patrons by now, which is a bugbear for the Tremere (due to the connotations of pagan idolatory). I think there's a lot of flavour there, and I'd like to at least give it a go.
My understanding is the character is good at finding apprentices. I think such a character has a lot going for him in a canonical Theban tribunal. He finds a gifted child and presents them at tribunal, acquires two tokens. He finds 5 potential apprentices and he has 10 tokens. He decides he wants one, he takes one. Being a Bonisagus he has rights within the Code of Hermes that trump the local Peripheral Code. Typically, a Bonisagus will give that apprentice two tokens, even though he doesn't have to. It's customary.
If you find an apprentice that is perfect for you, great. You can likely acquire him at Tribunal, you have a better shot than any other magus who isn't Bonisagus. Once an apprentice has been acquired, there's nothing that prevents you from selling him, either.
So, a character who is good at finding apprentices, and develops them a bit, learning about them, understanding their temperament. He then sells that information to magi looking for apprentices, manipulating the apprentice system. Perhaps the apprentice is promised something outside of tokens to choose the right master. Or perhaps the whole enterprise blows up. So many story opportunities...
The whole token system is perhaps being taken out of context. When I said currency, I used language that the book used. Honestly, it's just a means of enforcing socially acceptable behavior amongst the magi. Making them be good citizens of the Tribunal. Some magi could probably care less, and never earn a token or shard. Those who want to extend their lineage by taking an apprentice will likely do much to earn some shards, and then take an apprentice. Perhaps they end up finding two before they can get one. Those are good opportunities for stories.