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".
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.
He can be rewarded, but he may be not as viable as in any other tribunal. This, again, is simple economics. Let's say the apprentice has a certain value, which, for the sake of this discussion, we can express as a number of tokens. One token is paid to the finder, from the tribunal (this is, in effect, a subsidy, since the money isn't coming from either the finder or the new master). There's then an "auction" for the apprentice; it's not clear from the text whether the apprentice gets to keep the token(s) from all the magi who bid, or only from the one he chooses. We'll examine both cases. In the case that the apprentice gets to keep only the token(s) from the winning bidder, that bid will be roughly equal to the apprentice's "market value" (I say "roughly" because the apprentice will also place a value on the sort of training he'll get and how well he expects to be treated). If the winning bid is two or more tokens, the finder will have received only one token of the total value, that is, less than the full value of the apprentice; in the case that the winning bid is zero, the finder gets more than the value, but this seems not to be the typical case. If, on the other hand, the apprentice gets to keep all the tokens, including those from losing bidders, his real value is harder to calculate, because no magus is going to risk the apprentice's full value to buy only a chance of winning him over, but if we factor in the probability of success, the total value of bids should roughly equal the market value of the apprentice. If that's the case, and at least two magi bid at least one token on the apprentice, the finder again gets only a fraction of the total value. One other factor, which would apply in both cases, is that if the finder doesn't get the whole value, there are probably fewer apprentices found in Thebes Tribunal than would otherwise be the case (if the return for some activity is lower than it would otherwise be, people won't invest as much time and effort in it, which is why in the real world price controls never work correctly: if you insist on paying producers less than the product is worth, you end up with a shortage), which will (in a vicious spiral) drive the value of apprentices up even further.
So, it depends on your interpretation of the canon, and a few other assumptions, but there's a very good chance that a specialist apprentice-finder would get more profit looking elsewhere, especially since Thebes isn't the only fringe Tribunal: Novgorod and Levant would be better places to work. The one saving grace is that the finder isn't required to train them the apprentices: the archai give the Gifted children their initial training, or pay someone else to, and given the value of a season of lost lab work a year, that's not going to be cheap. While that takes the burden off the finder, any such fees are likely to be paid in tokens. Indeed, anything the Tribunal wants to get done is likely to be paid for in tokens. Since it can create as many tokens it wants, by fiat (hence the term "fiat currency") we get...inflation, unless something is done to control the supply of tokens (or increase the supply of shards). And since the Tribunal's governors don't have degrees in late-20th-century economics, chances are they won't know what measures to take, and eventually things go boom.
In other words, with this system in place, as cool and fair as it sounds, Thebes Tribunal will be badly undersupplied with apprentices. No one will ever go out of his or her way to find one, meaning only those that are stumbled upon by chance will end up being taken in and brought to Tribunal. It will probably also be afflicted with token inflation. (Oh, and in response to Salutor's point about the difficulty of trading tokens: the harder it is, the less they'll be worth, and the more people will have to resort to other valuables as currency, most probably vis and books.)
I'm sorry to be Mr. Pedantic Buzzkill here, but before I went for a PhD, I got my master's degree in development, and with a couple of hours of digging through books and articles in my office, I could give you literally dozens of schemes, similar to this one, and constructed by highly educated people, that sought to rationalize the distribution of some valuable resource by controlling the price paid to producers and giving the product to the people who could best make use of it. I have never read about one that actually worked correctly. In most cases, the difference between buyer's and seller's values is pocketed by the government, a government official, or a government crony; in this case, where the "good" in question is a human being, the good itself is pocketing the difference (or actually, more than the difference, since the two-token fee is paid by the tribunal), but for the purposes of determining how the market will function, that detail isn't really important--the bottom line is that Thebes will have fewer apprentices than Novgorod or the Levant, because the incentive to claim them, let alone actually look for them, just isn't there.
In theory, you could fix the scheme by adjusting the number of tokens upward to increase the incentive, but hitting on exactly the right number is going to be difficult, doubly so since it has to be done by a tribunal vote that can only take place every 7 years, and there's going to be a political problem in that members of the tribunal may refuse to raise the price paid to those "greedy bastards" who find apprentices, because they think a higher price just isn't fair, and there's the additional difficulty that the non-rich members of the tribunal (that is, the ones who can't win auctions) won't actually benefit from increase the supply of apprentices, and therefore won't have any incentive to vote for such a measure. Add in the likely inflation, and even if you do hit on the right number, it'll be a wrong one by the next tribunal meeting.
Well, for one thing, that's not how it works in canon: they're supposed to be turned over the the archai. Otherwise, sure, maybe, but it's the kind of behavior that I'm sure would be censured by this tribunal.
Mind you, despite how badly such systems work in practice, governments have often stuck with them for decades, to the point of bankruptcy On the other hand, what makes such schemes persistent in the real world is that the difference between buying price and selling price (what economists call a "rent"--that is, income that doesn't derive from the production of economic value) is, as I pointed out above, pocketed by people in power, and that gives them an incentive to keep such systems going. In Thebes, by contrast, the rent is pocketed by the apprentices themselves, which means that no one with an actual vote at tribunal has an incentive to perpetuate the system.
Plus, I just don't want to play out those stories--for me, part of the idea of having a covenant on the fringes of the tribunal is to let the PC's do their own things, rather than getting heavily involved in tribunal politics. However, if the rest of the troupe wants to play those kinds of stories, I might be able to figure out a way to do it, such as declaring that the apprentice system was only adopted a tribunal or two ago, and people are only now realizing just how disastrous it is. My personal preference, though would be not to bring my work home with me, and playing out the collapse of a political and economic system would be bringing my work home.
I do like the idea of the tokens as a way of rewarding meritorious behavior, and as long as there are shards they can be traded for, they'll have real value, though I'm quite concerned about the inflation problem (which will likely exist with or without the apprentice system). The book though suggests that in some way tokens willl replace vis, and I just don't see that's happening; sure, they'll trade alongside vis (whether or not you can trade one for the other), but the idea that vis won't have value isn't tenable.
And yes, I'll read Ch. 3 as soon as I get a chance--I can start it next week.
For the record, the character's name is "Leno". (From Lat. lenonis - "procurer")
As originally conceived (before I was aware of any of this Theban eccentricity), the character was going to (attempt to) be a pan-Order purveyor - he would find apprentices, perhaps have them trained up a bit*, and the find the right buyer to fetch the best price - anywhere in The Order. A number of obstacles, challenges, difficulties and precautions are predictable with this character concept - but let's call those moot for this discussion. (Once our interpretation of the Tribunal/Code is resolved and then the character is developed, then comments will be more relevant to the situation as it actually stands.)
(* Latin, Artes Lib's, perhaps some MT, Concentration, OoH Lore, even Finesse - there are Arcane Abilities that can be taught by non-Magi, and since he is not claiming them as apprentices, there is no prescription regarding him training them himself - they are just mundanes at this point. But a year of intense training would up the asking price, and with relatively little overhead or downside. The final details are mutable at this point - the goal is to establish a rep for a high-quality product, and make the process viable within the (socio-political) environment. So, first, that needs to be defined...)
And there's the hiccup that the Theban Tribunal brings. Leno''s not doing this out of the overflowing charity of his heart (altho' at some level he's rationalizing it via his Trianoma upbringing) - he wants to get a "fair price" for his trouble and the valuable service he's providing, same as any mage would for a season of custom-ordered labwork. (I'm currently conceiving of him having been originally apprenticed by a Tytalus, and then claimed by a Bonisagus - so elements of both philosophies will vie in the final character concept. Maybe more complex than that - maybe he'll join House T after his gauntlet, maybe House T will want to "adopt" him despite his objections - lots of options. I think this is a canvas I/we can have some fun with.)
...because the producers will either seek other items for production, or (more relevantly) seek markets elsewhere.
And the Roman Tribunal is moderately corrupt, and just across the Adriatic... almost any Tribunal could be a marketplace, really.
Within the Theban structure, Leno (or any such) would most likely donate only the "non-marketable" apprentices to the Tribunal, and smuggle the more valuable ones out where the price is more attractive. If he gets caught, he pays the Shard fine w/ the Tokens he's acquired from his cast-off donations. (And I'm not envisioning dozens per year, here - this is all "over time".)
Erm... I just have a hard time accepting the premise. Which is - that someone will have found the apprentice that you wanted to find, and at the exact moment you wanted to find them.
But why would that happen? By chance? As you (and others) point out, many (often unwanted) apprentices are found by chance, but (Apprentus Ex Machina aside) most "special interest" ones must be found intentionally and only after much effort. IF (big "if") an apprentice with a heartbeast, or a fey apprentice, or a particularly strong-willed one (for Tytalus) or a King's bastard son (for Jerbiton) or the 7th son of a 7th son (for some obscure and specialized Ex Misc Tradition) were found by accident - or just one that was not needed by the finder - then to send them to a more appropriate master is all well and good. But to assume that a Bjornaer, or Merenita, or Tytalus or Jerbiton or Ex Misc would sit around and "hope for the best" once every seven years... I have a hard time buying it.
And an equally hard time from the opposite view, that if one of those "special" apprentices were up on the auction block, but no Bjornaer/Merenita/etc magi were seeking apprentices, that they would then be taken by some other mage. Virtues that are desired by some Parens would be an anathema to others.
And I'm also having a hard time believing that an apprentice would be shelved for up to 6+ years just to wait for the next Tribunal.
Those magi that need apprentices seek them out, and do so when they decide the time is ripe - if there are some "up for bid", then that just adds to the pool, but sept-annually is a long time to wait, and, as pointed out above, there are other markets and other considerations, and "a Token" (or two or four) is not the most enticing price to every potential finder of Gifted children.
Which is not a dealbreaker for this character....
... If he has a Tytalus' obstinance and ingrained resistance to random rules ("nomos"), he'd be happier not conforming, and welcome those particular challenges. Not that they're necessary for the character, but if the whole "selling apprentices" thing is (at some level) frowned upon in general across The Order, then sooner or later something Tribunal-ish may well come up - and if so, then Leno says "Bring it". 8)
Rationalizations might be found. If one group <cough Tremere cough> were dominating, and had enough Tokens that they could pass them out and guarantee who got the cream of the crop - that might do it, or play towards it. Meh.
And if Tokens worked fine on other levels, then adding the "apprentice" mechanic may not by its addition bring down the whole machine. It may be that, on paper, that is how it works, but in practice it's more realistic, with a lot of under-the-table deals. I mean, if all it takes for a Token to be traded is that "a RedCap must witness it" - then who is to say what the real arrangement is? If the Quasitores are not investigating and validating trades, then vis, no vis - who can prove something that neither party is going to make public anyway?
If the system must be corrupted to work, then maybe that's where we are, and the archai are either blind to it or part of it, as best fits.
No, I know how you feel. Languages is my background (well, one of them) and can be a real kneejerk.
If there is a dealbreaker for the SG, then that's a dealbreaker for the Saga - everyone has to be "interested" in the story, and if they are not, if there's a dealbreaker, then that's all that needs to be said. Be realistic and selfish rather than generous at the cost of your own enthusiasm - save your energy for stories, not struggling with suspension of disbelief/etc. Without a SG, there is no Saga at all, canon or otherwise.
So - Players should not expect a "consensus" to be reached (if one is, great - that can be a "hope", but not a fair expectation). The goal is for the SG to find a working model for the storyline, all premises and underlying background included, that they can get excited about. Then, the Players can decide if they're excited about what the SG wants to run. Because the other way around, the SG gets bored or frustrated (even despite the best intentions) and the game falters - and that's a predictable flaw that we can avoid right now, and too easily.
I'm not sure if this is at all relevant or useful, but I'm pretty tired at the moment, so I might have missed a good deal of the discussion. But here are my 2 cents:
in another story in which I am a player, there is a "School for the GIfted" around Venice, which takes in children and teach them the basics of Hermetic Theory, a magus may then stop by and have a look at the children and if they find someone they like, may offer them apprenticeship. In return for this service, the school asks a sum of vis and a relevant Summae/Tractatus to be added to their libraries, the vis price is considerably higher if the prospective master hands over a Tractatus as part of the deal.
Perhaps the character could find and ship these children to such a school, or establish such a school in the tribunal. If Thebes is being particularly eccentric about how apprentices are chosen, then the character could always present his "merchandise" in another Tribunal.
(Yeah, we've discussed the topic and other tangents back and forth quite a bit, and some of us (read: "me") can be pretty long winded.
These topics begin with my arrival and first post, mid page 57, Dec 14.)
That had crossed my mind, altho' more as an informal institution, but I suppose with House Boni/ Trianomist then formalizing it to that extent is not out of the question. Perhaps not a lot of Hermetic Theory (as some rare Ex Misc traditions may have less use for that), but some of the predictable foundation, certainly - Artes Liberales & Latin, perhaps a little Philosophiae, Concentration - whatever. Same idea, something to make the apprentice that much more valuable (and more easily valued) re the prospective buyer.
But a lot of the character - what is critical to make the character work (well), is dependent upon the dominant view of this practice in The Order for this Saga. I could only find 2 references to the practice ( https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/character-development/5173/855 ) - one from 4th ed that stated that "the (Provencal) Tribunal noted its disapproval of selling apprentices, but did not forbid it", and another (in GotF) that House Tremere practices active apprentice hunting for its own purposes (but says nothing of "selling" per se, nor even whether this practice is publicly known).
Then the whole Theban "apprentices to magi according to their need, apprentices from magi according to their ability" thing arose. So also waiting for a final Saga ruling/interpretation from MTK on that schmozzle.
I'm considering the virtue "Personae" (HoH:Soc, p 89-90 et al) for the character - which in part could help solve any problem of anonymity (by creating a diff mage in a more liberal Tribunal), but raises another question. In that section (p 89, central column insert), it suggests that a persona could be a different mage, and that mage could (in theory) join a different covenant etc etc. How are magi vetted in The Order? Does no one check on their backgrounds, the veracity of their claim that they are, indeed, who they say they are? A persona has no history, no names, no background, no references (unless fabricated separately, or adopting a pre-existing identity). "Papers? I... I seem to have lost my papers...."
To be honest, I don't see why they'd exclude Hermetic Theory from the curriculum, just because some ex Misc have little use for it, they're silly hedgies!
It's a staple for everyone else, so catering to the common denominator would yield a more reliable profit.
As far as I understand it, the Order isn't that organized, by virtue of most magi not wanting it to be. People come and go from tribunal as they please, and there isn't any kind of paperwork. You get your voting sigil, and that's proof of you being a magus of the order. You being you is a matter of people recognizing you. If you use the same sigil in two different tribunals, under two different names, people are only going to start asking questions if they find out, it's not like you can attend both tribunals and vote twice with the same sigil, at the same time anyway. There are certainly a number of hoops you'd have to jump through to be able to maintain appearances, but I don't see why you couldn't make up another magus persona.
If you impersonate another magus you'd get in serious trouble. Making a whole new persona for whatever reason, could probably get you chastised if found out.
Not "exclude", just "not a lot". Otoh, you've got a good point - I was just thinking RP-wise, that teaching MT would be a rather personal thing for some Parens, even if the rules don't reflect that.
But you can't teach them everything - smooth the rough edges, polish them a little, and off they go. More than that and you do start to risk adding something that prospective buyers simply don't value, or not so much to make it a worthwhile investment. Meh, lots of options - the sort of thing that circumstance, RP and the character himself will all help determine.
By the way, how does this troupe handle pre-game initiation? The idea with my Criamon is that he's a prodigy of the Enigma, who to the great sorrow of his parens stepped onto the Path of Strife to avenge his brother in apprenticeship. (It's also from where his Hermetic Name is derived, it means Second Sorrow)
There's no mention of how long a given initiation takes, so I treated it as being taught in the Lore of the House, it just doesn't seem entirely right. Anyone got a "better" setup?
I'd be inclined to assume at least a season per initiation for travelling, preparations and the initiation itself. Initiations which require the initiate's time would take longer (usually an extra season); those that require the mystagogue's time might take an additional period of time due to time spent compensating the mystagogue (but they might also be compensated in a different way that doesn't take substantial amounts of time, or not require compensation).
Look in the thread for magus characters, and have a look at Viola's advancement log--there two or three pre-game intitations in there. I think the rule in Mysteries though is that an initation always takes up a season (it might not literally take up the whole season, bu it prevents anything else useful from being done for that season.