Consequences of producing wealth with magic

Hello everybody.

I have some doubts about this topics that I couldn't answer to by reading Covenants or HoH:TL.

One of the player's character in my saga is a CrTe specialist and can create gold, transforming 1 pawn of vis into 20 punds of silver. I told him that he can use this gold, but that if he goes too far people might take notice and troubles could follow. Asked for examples, I told him that:

  • inflation might push the prices up;
  • if the covenant shows off all this mysterious wealth people could become curious and start sniffing around to find out whence this money come from;
  • if the coventant hire a mercenary army the local lord or even the king himself could respond to a potential threat;
  • the Order wants to prevent its member from flooding the economy with magically created silver.

He replied, regarding the first three bullet points, that if the covenant spends this money incospicuously (moving to neighboring counties to buy stuff, often changing identity etc) and restrain from showing off, it will be very hard for people to understand that there's one entity behind this silver, and to find out what it is. And if they do, that's just some interesting story hooks.
Regarding the fourth point, he asked why does the Order even care? There's nothing in the Code of Hermes about this. And, after all, that's just another use for magic and it should be regulated like any other magic tool: until it's done in a reckless way and endangers the Order there's nothing wrong with it.
You could say that pumping a lot of new silver into the market can cause major economy issues, but our saga is set in 790 a.D., and there are no banks, very limited long distance trade and so on. Economy at this point is very local and very basic.

Now, as a story guide I'm not interested in managing the details of the finances of the covenant if the players don't want to. And I don't want to say they can't use magic to create gold just because reasons. I'd just like to have a realistic environment for them, and possibly use some good story hooks.

Any thoughts or manuals references are welcome!


Depending on the tribunal, it may be in the peripheral code- especially in Stonehenge
People don't notice so much the spending of silver a the accumulation of stuff. If you have wealth with no identifiable source of income, people might start accusing you of infernalism.

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This is in fact expressly addressed in Houses of Hermes: True Lineages, which discusses the Stonehenge Peripheral Code as something that has since promulgated throughout the Order. Covenants are allowed to magically create silver -- but only a small amount of it per magus per year. This amount is so little that a single casting of, say, The Riches Rightfully Mined, will be enough to last your covenant for decades.

Your PC can totally do it, within the Code as established in canon. But he can't spend much of it. If he does, he will be in violation of the Code. This would be a Low Crime, because it breaks the Peripheral Code, not the Oath.

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Argentarium's saga is set in 790, however. You could argue that the peripheral code for this has yet to be written. Perhaps the results of the player's actions are what cause the restriction on creating silver to enter the code.


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In 790, the Order of Hermes is tiny. Everyone is making it up as they go along. On the one hand, magi probably have a lot more leeway. The Peripheral Code barely exists.

On the other hand, the population of Europe is much smaller. Without big towns and cities to hide your silver expenditure, it is much more likely you will be noticed. Indeed, it's hard to imagine how hundreds of pounds of silver get spent without getting noticed.

Prices will rise (Covenants has a simple inflation rule), but the Founders may not give a crap. And if they don't care, no one else will.

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Mmm... I see that in Covenants there's a spell to create silver coins, and in the box it is said that "recent rulings in many Tribunals" set the maximum allowed expenditure of magical silver to 2 pounds of silver per mage per year. The reason for this ruling being "inflationary troubles".
I don't know... I feel that this issue could be elaborated more.

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The story hooks you have listed seem fine. To add to them:

Large amounts of silver are more valuable to the rich than to the poor. If you want to trade with ordinary local merchants, they are more interested in trade goods. Using silver, especially a lot of it, will reduce the value of the silver even more than simple inflation. Turning that silver into tradable objects may buffer against that, but there's a limited market.

Using simple spells to generate ephemeral trade goods may work: the best example I know of is firewood. Supply a cord of firewood at a time, moon duration effect, for credit against food. The firewood is meant to be burned and works fine to produce heat. As long as you mix with real wood, especially if the real wood is laid down first, the mortals are unlikely to notice any vanishing in about a month's time.

This being so early in the history of the Order many rules against selling magic services and items do not exist. One suit of magic chainmail should be worth enough to keep a covenant in food for years.

Good point, Tim, there's a lot of stuff that magi can sell and that can be even more valuable than silver. Not all of these businesses are honest, but... :wink:
So I think that I'll let my players free to experiment until they make some big mistake.

In a campaign set in the late 8th century, "free to experiment until they make some big mistake" could be the theme of the whole campaign.

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Mmm... I see that in Covenants there's a spell to create silver coins, and in the box it is said that "recent rulings in many Tribunals" set the maximum allowed expenditure of magical silver to 2 pounds of silver per mage per year. The reason for this ruling being "inflationary troubles".
I don't know... I feel that this issue could be elaborated more.

Heck, maybe your own PCs could become the reason the Peripheral Code ruling is put into place, because they cause long-term damage to a large area's economy while using whatever clever tactics they have to avoid the negative repercussions inflation would have back on their covenant. A few years of "well we haven't noticed any inflation in our trading" and then you turn back around and the country as a whole and everybody's suffering from economic breakdowns at every level and the Order is like, "Oh, gosh, that seems like it'll cause a lot of problems if we don't stop that."

Just depends on how your saga goes.


Actually those who suffer from inflation are the people who have large quantities of silver stashed away, and those who own silver mines. The poor people that count only on their labor aren't directly affected.
So, the silver of bishops, counts and the King will lose value inside the region interested by the local inflation. But, on the other hand, the extra silver circulating in their markets will fall into their hands, sooner or later. And they may find themselves (and their lands) richer than the neighbors. So I guess it's a mixed bag for the rulers of the land where the magi live... I'm not sure they would be upset. But no doubt they would be curious!

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Until those Bishops, nobles, etc try and raise more money through taxes, church fines, etc...

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I will see it from a different angle:

  • Did the covenant have a boon linked to wealth ?
    If yes, then the creation of silver by magic is how the covenant generate its income. Then no need to go more into details. You can assume that the Code does not include a chapter on this topic.

  • Did the covenant have a hook linked to wealth or poverty ?
    Then remind the PCs that when they selected the hook it was because they wanted to have some elements of the Saga dealing with resources challenges, financial troubles and debt. Then, the hook should not be simply removed by discovering a low level ritual. It probably means that there is already rules existing to prevent generation of large amount of money.

The approach I am suggesting is more linked to the consequence and/or the story than the real feasibility of the spell itself:

  • Did you build your saga around mages struggling to go by ? then make sure than a spell is not going to spoil your story: they have large mount of silver, but they need to travel to place where they can spend this money. Then they need to come back with their expensive goods. Both case show opportunity to be robbed. Even a dragon might be interested in so much silver (if mundane brigands do not present a good enough challenge). Demons of greed or sloth can manifest if magus rely always on easy magic to generate wealth. Another covenant, with more political leverage is using the same trick and does not like the interference (shortage on goods to buy with this silver) - as it escalates, it might lead to the ruling of 2 silver pounds/year/magus (as large influx of money could be considered as interfering with mundame, especially with the nearby noble minting the coin... and bringing trouble to sodales).

  • If you did not build your saga about struggling magi, but want to control their wealth, then you can control what they want to do with unlimited wealth by putting another limiting factor: time (the most precious currency to any magus).There is only a few master glass craftsmen, and there is a long lead time to get the laboratory equipment they need, same for the armoury and weapon they want to buy for their grogs. And transporting large amount of weapons will raise some concern from nearby nobles: who is building an army that will challenge their authority. Etc.. etc... Can you trust these craftmens, merchants and intermediaries ? So much wealth, a little skimming here and there... Taxes... The local church wanted substantial donation (disguised into another tax)

Finally, as a Deus ex machina tool, you can decide that magically created silver shrivel and disappear in Divine Aura. There is nothing cannon to that in the rules, but your saga, your rules :wink: . You can say that it is God action to prevent laziness, greed and sloth to spread in good Christian communities. Thus the mage would only be able to use the silver in area without Divine aura: it excludes any significant city, thus prevent access to the most skilled craftsmen. Merchants will be suspicious of people wanting to trade outside of city wall and even when it worked, the news of vanishing silver will quickly spread and merchants might start to sprinkle holy water of silver they find suspicious before accepting a deal.

And so on and so forth.

Basically, are the players trying to go around the story you want to tell and is the use of this spell preventing you to tell a story ? if yes, use any of these suggestions to make them "earn" their money by spending time and other resources. If your story is not about PC in financial trouble, then handwave it. You can also be open about it:
"Listen guys, I planned that the first part of the Saga was about managing resources tightly, so the rule of the 2 silver pounds/year/magus is in place, ahead of time"
If the mages have enough capability to teleport anywhere in Mythic Europe, bring back their goods and generates large amount of money, then material resources is no more an issue. Then focus on mystical resources and assume that given time they can have access to anything that is mundane.


It's worth noting how much silver 2lbs per Magus per year actually is: roughly the yearly wage of a moderately skilled labourer (someone like a thatcher). Probably a bit more as two pounds of magically created silver doesn't need to take any Sunday's off. But the fact remains, spent over the course of a year, it's not actually that much wealth. It'll keep a roof over your head, and food on your table, but it won't be buying you any sanctum sanctorums! With how few mages there are in Mythic Europe, you could easily push up how much wealth you make by two, three or maybe more times without having any real disastrous effect on the local economy at all. Indeed, it seems to me that the prohibition on quantities of magically created wealth is there to encourage magi in the Order of Hermes to amass actual (non-magically created) wealth instead of relying on their magic; simply because it makes things easier (and more easily explainable) in the long run if their wealth and standing comes from business and holdings.

The economy jive feels like more of an easily digestible short-hand for us, as players.

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Keep in mind as well the power under False Gods "The Wealth of Nations" which would allow a demon to simply summon the silver away after it was created. Quite likely this would be after the magi had spent it (especially if they are known to be magi...) so the local merchants will suspect them of using glamoured coins instead of real ones (same concept, but the coins have moon duration)

I once played in a saga where I deliberately produced a lot of magical silver in the early 1200s just so our covenant could be named as one of those in Stonehenge who contributed to the magical inflation. Our alpha SG then decided to have my redcap (who had become an NPC at this point) sneaks back in to steal 1000 mythic pounds and use it to buy himself the title of Bishop and then try to become Pope. The magi may be above such petty concerns as a bit of extra wealth, but the companions and grogs might find it tempting.


Hey there!
Thank you guys for the input!

We didn't use the point system to generate the covenant. They are building it from scratch and we'll manage everything through roleplay.

No. There are a couple of overarching storyline that are quite long and demanding, and there's the characters development in the mystery cults which will take some energy too. And a lot of other stuff that I think is more interesting, like the shaping of the Order. So we'd skip the micromanagement part. Maybe I'll use some of this thread's great ideas further ahead if it fits the story or if they use a large amount of silver inconspicuously. Or in another saga :slight_smile:

The question for me isn't what 'really happens in the world" or "how the game is meant to be played" so much as "what's interesting about this?"

That varies by group.

The game's not an economic sim where you use money to keep score.

Basically though, if your group find it interesting to own a flying castle, then that's a cool thing, and don't sweat the pennies. If they want to be Pharoic god-kings, then there are rules for that. If they want to run a jellied eel business there are rules for that.

Why not just choose MOAR POWAR!?

..because it doesn't change the level of interestingness, IMO. It just makes it harder to write. I've had really fun campaigns about people trying to build an underground railway system in Britain, and really fun Amber campaigns about ruling the multiverse, and really fun games about becoming saints after the Grail Quest in Pendragon, and really fun games about being a gingerbread man who needs to survive until Christmas Eve and the arrival of Santa.

Consequences matter, stakes matter, players matter. System matters only insofar as it supports those other things.


In Transforming Mythic Europe, the Silver Consensus subchapter talks about how, in part, restrictions on magically-created silver exist for the benefit of established covenants with nonmagical holdings and wealth, giving them another lever of influence over younger and weaker covenants (who would be tempted to just summon a giant vault of silver) by forcing them to engage in some kind of mundane commerce or to do business with richer magi.

So yes, while the rule was canonically sparked by out-of-control inflation in Stonehenge, consider the politics behind it...