Critique my Ex Misc lineage part 1

Hello,
In my saga, my SG mage belongs to the original London Covenant and is the liason to the PCs where they are "renting" their location on London Bridge.

Turns out one of the PC scholarly Companions is planning on researching and writing up the History of my mage's lineage. Up till now I had a few broad notes and a lot of hand-waving, but now it is crunch time, and I have been rushing out something that I hope should cover all my previous hand-waving, plus hooks in my notes.

Could I get a second pair of eyes to go over it and see that I haven't written anything too ridiculous or inconsistant. There is probably spelling mistakes and bad Latin. And I am very disorganised.
Lee - consider this the Beta version.

Here is part one, the overview:

Aegidus lineage

The Aegidii claim descent from the last Cult of Mercury high priest of Londinium, Ioannes Constantinus Aegidus, who stayed in London after the Roman legions withdrawal. They were among the original members of Pralix's Ordo Miscellanea, and then House Ex Miscellana.

According to the (mostly oral, as most written records were destroyed at the time of the Schism War) History of the Aegidii, Ioannes Constantius was one of the most powerful magicians of his era, having rededicated the Temple of Mithra to house a murderous spirit of Bacchus, found and made contract with the Genius Locus of Ludgate Hill, and tamed/befriended the local magical population, among other deeds. Though since he worked within the reigning civilisation and was not boastful, and avoided antagonising the Christians too much, he was effectively unknown outside the Cult of Mercury. Unlike the later Merlin.

The next great wizard of this lineage is Martellus Aegidus. According to Pralix, it is almost certain that Trianoma would have tried to recruit him to be a Founder, if she had ever visited Britain. He apparently fought off Damhain-Allaidh, to the point where Damhain-Allaidh promised to stay out of London and Martellus promised never to leave London. Whether this agreement would be honoured for long is moot, as Damhain-Allaidh went off to deal with this group of threatening wizards on the Continet, calling themselves the Order of Hermes.

One of Martellus' apprentices, who named himself Formidus Nullus, was one of the first to heed Pralix's call to arms, and fought well in the War against Dav'nalleus. Though at one point he was ambushed by some of Dav'nalleus' magical supporters - they couldn't land a Death Curse through his magical defenses, but in the ensuing magical battle (that he won), Formidus Nullus was cursed, hexed and geased with so many lesser magics that a contemporary claimed that he all but glowed in the dark. Several of the curses have stuck to his blood and are known to randomly affect his descendents. The more commonly appearing curses his descendents face are Curse of Venus (to try and break his loyalty to Pralix), and Fear (of Spiders).

All apprentices taught at London/Ludgate Hill/Rotas Yard covenant are taught Mercurian Magic. All magi initiated into this lineage must buy from their normal allotment of Virtues and Flaws the virtue Magical Blood from the godly-like being/genius Loci located deep in the regios under Ludgate Hill. Which has to be balanced with with the minor supernatural flaw - Lesser Malediction - perform Aegidus "duties", which requires the character live up to various binding magical Oaths ancestral holders of the magical blood made. The knowledge of what, but not why, is in the magical blood, as the character instinctively knows when to pour a libation to the river, or avoid walking the wrong way down a certain street at night, or how to properly greet the king of the bees and what to bring to his coronation, to always defend against that which approaches from the North East, give succour to the dragon of the fens, pay back a single favour to a certain magical beast if requested, how to maintain the Well of Nodens, support the head Aegidus in their "duties", etc.

This magical blood is ceremonially transfused to the apprentice while at the Well of Nodens in the lowest level of the regios, as the Apprentice Gauntlet. If the apprentice survives the ordeal with Gift intact, they have passed the Gauntlet. Otherwise they normally die, or occasionally live with their Gift destroyed (there are a couple of recorded cases across the centuries where the apprentice is transfomed into a animalistic magical creature). Perhaps 2 in 3 pass the Gauntlet successfully.

On successfully infusing the Magical Blood, they gain this Ex Misc tradition's "free" virtues - they receive the blessing of Lud in the form of Ways of the Land (Towns/Cities), can draw upon the mystic fortitude of their new blood (Special Circumstances - involved in Magical Conflict), but with the penalty that their new blood is somewhat incompatible with Longevity rituals - Difficult Longevity Ritual. They are marked in that their right hand gains a silvery sheen, is stiffer to move, and the touch of this right hand seems annoying to shapeshifters.

After the war with Damhain-Allaidh, the war hero Formidus Nullus Aegidus, filius Martellus Aegidus, gave his 3 eventual apprentices names that could be interpreted as containing the number one (Anna Primadonna, Primula, and Marcellus Princeps). Similarly, his apprentices gave their apprentices names that could be interpreted as containing the number two (ie Dianna Beatituda filia Anna Primadonna, Rosaria Beta filia Primula, Aemillia Secunda filia, and Marcus Secundus filius Marcellus Princeps), and thus the tradition was born that each mage's name would contain information regarding how many generations of descent from the war hero Formidus Nullus. While his parens Martellus Aegidus had another apprentice, only Formidus Nullus' line has survived past the 11th Century.

Currently there are 3 Aegidii - the aged and decrepit Valeria Quinta, her second apprentice Henricus Sextus, and his newly gauntletted apprentice Rupertus Septimus. They trace their lineage from Martellus Aegidus by Formidus Nullus, then Primula, then Rosaria Beta, then Severus Tertius, then Isadore Quadraticus, who distinguished himself in the Schism War when he was young.

Should the character become the senior Aegidus, the Lesser Malediction becomes more onerous and Greater, including stay with the walls of London (can't leave for more than a few hours, unless can convince another Aegidus to become temporarily Senior), perform the necessary rituals at the Well of Nodens, and ensure there will be a backup Aegidus ready to take over the "duties" (ie take apprentices).

The senior Aegidus is usually the first Aegidus to present themselves at the Well of Nodens after the previous senior Aeidus dies. All the Aegidii feel the call through their blood when this is needed.

The original London Covenant

Due to a very effective memory wiping ritual centuries ago, very few in the Stonehenge Tribunal realise it exists, and those that do tend to keep it a secret. First and foremost, the Autocrat of Cad Gadu knows, since it is written in his book of lore that it has been tradition since the time of Pralix that every 7 years Cad Gadu and London Covenant exchange certain ceremonial gifts. However Prima Immanola, early in her reign, arranged it so that the other magi of Cad Gadu would not hear about London Covenant, and only the autocrat would keep the ceremonial connection alive.

If you scour the Tribunal records and Peripheral Code, you can find assorted references to various Aegidii magi, but rarely do any mention they are from London.

The London Covenant that most Magi know from History is due to the actions of the highly charismatic, extremely Optimistic and rather Overconfident Marcus Secundus Aegidus who, on his journey across Europe, using extravagant promises he was certain his superior would honour, managed to convince several magi to join him in London to form a multi-House Covenant.

However, the senior Aegidus would not honour all of Marcus Secundus' promises, primarily access to the regios and resources on Ludgate Hill. Thus Marcus' Covenant had to take other lodgings in London. Until then the Aegidii magi had not been aware of how much extra trouble the Blessing of Lud averted, compared to the problems "normal" Gifted Magi had within a city. Eventually not even Marcus' charm could keep the Covenant going, and the Magi dispersed acrimoniously, each believing that Marcus Secundus, and by extension all the the Aegidii, owed them a lot.

One of the disgruntled magi, either the Criamon, the Diedne, the Jerbiton, the Mercere, or the Child of Pralix, cast a ritual that caused everyone in Stonehenge to forget the Aegidii and Ludgate Hill. It didn't have much Penetration, so many Magi were not affected (including all the Aegidii). Most of the covenfolk at Ludgate Hill knew it as Rotas Yard and the "masters", so they weren't noticeably affected. However, the Redcaps, who were entreated to tell all they knew of the fall of London Covenant, found they had a very spotty history to recall. And thus the mystery of London Covenant became widespread. The Aegidii remained insular and didn't hear this version of the news because they thought the disgruntled Mercere mage had used his influence to have Redcaps avoid Ludgate Hill.

It wouldn't be until after the Schism War, when war buddies from continental Europe wished to exchange correspondence with fellow veteran Isadore Quadraticus Aegidus, that any Redcaps regularly visted Ludgate Hill again. By then, no outsider associated it the mysterious London Covenant.

Obvious issue- the ex misc traditions are supposed to be recruited hedge wizards, not descendants of Mercurian sects.

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You've done a lot of work detailing the magi society and background!

When I read "Mercurian Magic", my first thought was similar to silveroak - "Nope". Ex Miscellanea lineage should have obscure and unique abilities and somewhat non-hermetic traditions. They should not be using a mainstream power that had been thoroughly integrated in the Order of Hermes, but happened to be located in the British Isles when Pralix invaded.

So my recommendation would be as follow - keep most of the lore you worked, discard or rework the links to Pralix and ex Misc, and otherwise consider them to small subset of either House Mercere or House Flambeau, and then treat the Mercurian Magic / Lesser Malediction + Magical Blood as a local initiation script into a mystery cult that is possibly a branch of the neo-Mercurians which is common in both Houses. What you described sounded like Ordeals to me, not a non-Hermetic practice that I would expect to find in Ex Misc.

Whether I would place them in House Mercere or House Flambeau would probably depend on whether you're okay with the cult being passed down only in blood relatives as is typical of House Mercere. House Flambeau would be easier to adapt your lineage to, as you would not need to adapt your lore to work out a link with Mercere.

If the lineage has to be in Ex Misc, I don't think it would be crazy if they also had to take the Dark Secret flaw or similar to represent the fact that they are a remnant of the Cult of Mercury. Perhaps they also hold an interesting Fencil Ritual. The Lineage could also just be reworked into a preexisting cult that absorbed some members of the Cult of Mercury, similar to the Cult of Orpheus (and have a Fencil Ritual like the Cult of Orpheus). Some people might consider Mercurian Magic a step too far, so perhaps seek something else.

What I don't get is why not just have them be a cult of Mithras or Bacchus instead of Mercury...

Of course I'm also unsure why there are a bunch of Greek and Roman gods congregating in Britain... why not Welsh or Cornish gods?

I will provide more responses later tonight..
Remember that Londinium was an important city in Roman Britain, for at least 3 centuries. The milestones on Roman roads measured the distance to Londinium.

Historically it had a Temple of Mithra that seems to have been rededicated to Bacchus, and a Temple of Isis. These were built after Boudicca's rebellion.
So in my Saga I am saying it had resident Cult of Mercury wizard-priests.

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I hadn't realised that people would feel that way.
Technically, I constructed the SG mage to cover a potential weakness in the PC magi, and then wove a backstory to justify it.

I had actually been thinking that the original Mercurian wizard (Ioannes Constantinus Aegidus) who gained the Magical Blood, made deals backed by magical oaths to the Genius Loci of Lud (Londinium/London), but expressed them in terms of his training in the Cult of Mercury. Thus in order to uphold these oaths, his magical descendants were all but compelled to retain skill in Mercurian Magic by their "inherited" malediction - perform Aegidus duties.

Also, the Aegidii can trace their lineage back to a known member of the Cult of Mercury, in more detail than the Bible describes the lineage of Jesus. Something none of the Founders seems to be able to do.
The Aegidii have retained control of their ancestral founder's site of Mercurian triumph. The Aegidii who met Pralix had more than a bit of pride in this, and had no intention of submitting themselves to the somewhat-lacking authority of the Founders from the continent.
Pralix had proved herself to them, and they had sworn to her cause long before the recruiters from the other Houses arrived.

OTOH I fully expect these early Aegidii to have exotic magical abilities, as Ioannes Constantinus seemed to the kind of wizard with an open and acquisitive mind. I can't see them successfully fight against Damhain-Allaidh or the Diedne in the Schism War with only Mercurian Magic.

One of the story hooks that I have in the background, is that by the 13th Century the senior Aegidus maga (Valeria Quinta) is desperate enough for aid from continental magi that she is deliberately making herself appear as "Roman" and non-Hedge Wizard as possible, to the extent that she has not taught her apprentice any exotic magics, though there is also reasons why she doesn't know many (which is part of why she is desperate). More details in a later installment.

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I think people can get way too caught up in how members of a house must be. Wow, a Flambeau with his highest magic skill is penetration and he has bang spells. A Bonisagus who's highest skill is Magic Theory. So fascinating.

When a SG is creating a world, a significant subset of magi should fit the tropes of the house, however, occasional characters who break the mould are fine. There's nothing wrong with a Criamon who has gentle gift, a heap of social skills and is embarassed about how weird the other Criamon are. A Jerbiton who doesn't care about Constantinople. An Ex-miscellania who has a refined magic heritage and is as far away from a hedgey as it gets.

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The difference between the others and the last is that you are talking about a whole tradition, something with history and an origin that have to be worked into the background, and not just an individual magus, that violates all expectations. It's the difference between having one ninja show up in a robin hood movie and a whole clan of ninja assassins living in Nottingham for generations in a Robin hood movie.

To go with your Robin hood Ninja theme, there are 4 ninja turtles, because one ninja rat taught 4 turtles.

This starts with a high priest from the cult of Mercury in Londinium. Everything can logically flow from there.

This starts with a high priest in Londinium several hundred years ago- that is my point here- not four ninjas living in a sewer but a family which has been in place for centuries. That seriously impacts history and the back story. It's the centuries that are the problem, because now you aren't talking about a single mage or a handful of mages going against type but a serious rewrite of the backstory.

  1. I have set it up so they don't spread beyond London, and have a Regio they stay in.
  2. At Saga start there are 3 of them - Just Gauntletted mage, his parens, and his parens parens. I am not envisioning at any point in history that there was more than maybe 6 or 7 living magi of this line.
  3. I am writing the history so they stay in the shadowy corners of Hermetic History. And fit the various backstories of the Player magi.
  4. My other post should explain relationship with London Covenant of 4th Ed.

If there is anything specific I have broken in canon, I would appreciate it being pointed out so I can fix this story.

The fundamental issue is that Praelix goes to recruit hedge wizards against the Spider, and one of the first groups he recruits are a lost branch of Mercurian wizards rather than the hedge wizards of cannon. This would have been a huge deal, on the order of the war itself in terms of impact. If such a hidden tradition had joined the order a century or two later and not mentioned their Mercurian background that would be one thing, but the way it is currently written would be something akin to "and the druids had gunpowder since 750 AD" being added as an incidental point in mundane history.

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I will not repeat silveroak's point as to how this would change ex Misc significantly from an history standpoint and strictly limit myself to answering your question about what you've broken in canon, from a game mechanics perspective.

First, on the ex Miscellanea guidelines - Normally ex Miscellanea lineages receive one Major non-hermetic virtue, one minor hermetic virtue, one major hermetic flaw. If I understand your reasoning, you would receive:

  • Ways of the Town & Cities (Major non-hermetic);
  • Special Circumstances (Minor hermetic)
  • Difficult Longevity Ritual (Major hermetic flaw)
    So far so good. This could make a fine ex Miscellanea lineage, except you also build the following into your lineage as automatic:
  • Magical Blood (Minor non-hermetic virtue)
  • Mercurian Magic (Major Hermetic virtue)
  • Magical Blood (Minor non-hermetic virtue)
  • Lesser Malediction (Minor non-hermetic flaw)

This brings us to a total of 9 virtue points and 4 points of flaw. You also list a number of optional flaws for the lineage. It isn't clear to me whether you intended every character to also have their normal list of virtue and flaw to personalize their character, I'm assuming you didn't intend to break the rules on virtue balance for character creation, but with an additional pre-requisite of 5 virtue, that leaves just 5 for the character to select.

As to the lore itself, there is a problem with your description: You present Mercurian magic as what is being trained. Mechanically, you're not supposed to train a major hermetic virtue within an ex miscellanea lineage - you're supposed to train a major non-hermetic virtue, which as I pointed out above, could be your ways of the Town - this should be the training of the lineage. Likewise, your lore points to Magical Blood, Ways of the town, special circumstances and lesser malediction as the result of what seems to be a mystery cult initiation, rather than an apprenticeship.

If you want to keep that lineage within the ex Miscellanea and follow the setting more closely without changing too much of your lore, I would suggest the following:
Make the following your ex Miscellanea virtue set which is part of their training:

  • Ways of the Town & Cities (Major non-hermetic);
  • Special Circumstances (Minor hermetic)
  • Difficult Longevity Ritual (Major hermetic flaw)

This would follow canon, where Mercurian Magic as part of their training explicitly would break from canon.

Then have a mystery cult, which is either local in nature or affiliated to the neo-Mercurians, initiate the other virtues such as Magical Blood and Mercurian Magic. You would need to design scripts for the cult. I highly recommend not making this many virtue part of a normal apprenticeship, as it severely prevents a magi from designing his character, and forces the story flaw of being part of a mystery cult onto the character as well. This mystery cult could have induction controlled or expected by the covenant, but an ex Misc member of the lineage who would leave the covenant would not end up with that virtue and flaw set necessarily. And this could fit with your lore of the curse - the former covenant mates who made the curse were promised entry into the cult, but denied by a bigot of a mystagogue who wanted to preserve those magical secrets. Finally, your lesser malediction... that actually sounds like Vow to me, later upgraded to Oath of Fealty possibly, rather than a lesser malediction. Normally, the lesser malediction is the result of breaking a vow with a genii loci, not the decision to honor that vow :smiley: The vow / oath of fealty here would be ordeals inflicted as part of initiation.

You have counted Magical Blood twice.

I specifically stated that the Magical Blood and Lesser Malediction had to be bought from the normal allotment of V&F.
I thought it was implied that Mercurian Magic was also a normal buy. If there is some canon reason that Ex Misc characters can't buy Major Hermetic virtues, I have missed it.

Still, the comments have enlightened me a little.
I had been envisioning this lineage as a True Lineage, but you have successfully convinced me it should be an exclusive Mystery Cult
ie when Pralix met the Aegidus, she saw unknown but mighty magics mixed with something that strongly resembled old Mercurian practices.
Then when Aegidus was taught Hermetic magic, he effectively gained the Mercurian Magic virtue. The exotic magics became Mystery initiations.

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Another possibility is that he could be a remnant of the Mercurian tradition left stuck in Londinium, and had his magic slowly warped/changed/shaped to be the guardian of the place. When the Ordo Miscellanea joined the order of Hermes, the members of this tradition found allies in the Hermetic version of the Cult of Mercury.
Ways of the City is the major non-hermetic virtue they gain as their magical tradition, and the lineage also happens to have Mercurian Magic which is often taught to apprentices, but not a linked part of the tradition itself.

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Litterally the description of ex misc. is "a major hermetic flaw and a major non-Hermetic virtue. That's about as explicit that it cannot be hermetic as it gets.

And once again, the Ex Misc package free V&F are:

  • Ways of the Land - Town & Cities (Major non-Hermetic)
  • Special Circumstances (Minor Hermetic)
  • Difficult Longevity Ritual (Major Hermetic flaw)
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sorry misread this:

to where I thought it was saying as part of the package.

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