I'm gearing up to run an Ars game soon and I was wondering if there are any good suggestions or examples somewhere for gauntlets. I know they can be specific to each house. Any good guidelines or suggestions would be appreciated.
In my saga, a Bonisagus magus held an event during the Tribunal where any present magus could question and test his apprentice's knowledge of Magic Theory. At the end of the event, the Bonisagus magus was to judge (fairly) the worthiness of his apprentice based upon his successes or lack of successes answering the questions of the crowd of magi.
An example mentionned in - I think - True Lineage involves a Flambeau magus abandonning his female apprentice naked and without any money or item in the center of a large harbour city, and her having to reach another city by the sea by whatever mean she deemed appropriate.
I suspect a large number of magi just judge for themselves if their apprentice is fully trained, rather than resorting to a so-called 'gauntlet'. After all, the last few years of apprenticeship is generally when they are taught spells, and that's got to give the master an idea of where their apprentice is sitting, arts and Magic Theory wise. Mostly these gauntlets are about the master showing off more than whether or not their apprentice is 'worthy'.
This isn't to say that a master might not 'test' an apprentice (at any point in their apprenticeship, not just the end), but I suspect tests of character would be more common than tests of ability.YMMV.
EDIT: Probably wasn't clear enough...many masters setting gauntlets will want to show off their apprentice in a public fashion, rather than doing super-secret hush-hush stuff. Gauntlets should be showy.
The first apprentice's Gauntlet in the Order was in House Verditius, in which the apprentice literally created magical gauntlets. (Of ogrekind, naturally.)
The second gauntlet occurred when a Tytalus apprentice stole those gauntlets and ran off with them. (His parens said it didn't, but changed his mind after the apprentice slugged him in the face with the Gauntlets.)
The third gauntlet belongs to House Criamon, in the form of a riddle about whether the stolen Gauntlets grant sufficient strength to break the shackles of fate and the prison of time.
The fourth gauntlet belongs to House Flambeau, who hunted down and killed the Tytalus (now a magus) for the Gauntlets he had stolen fair and square, to give them to her friend in House Criamon who thought that having the Gauntlets would help her solve the riddle.
The fifth gauntlet was given to an apprentice in House Guernicus by his parens, who wanted to see how he would investigate and perhaps adjudicate the case.
The rest is history.
The three Houses of Hermes books give suggestions for the gauntlets, which in some cases are themselves story seeds. Not for all houses though -- e.g. Merinita. The Apprentices book summarizes this information, provides the missing gauntlets, and gives some story seeds.
House Bonisagus has the apprentice take a difficult test of Magic Theory.
Story Seed: at your gauntlet you argued (on a purely theoretical basis) in favour of the existence of particular magical phenomenon. The committee laughed your thesis off, and to the great shame of your parens, declared you had failed your gauntlet. You are determined to prove that they were wrong, and (perhaps with the secret approval of your parens) set off to find an example of the "impossible".
House Guernicus has the apprentice prove his knowledge of Hermetic Law and investigative abilities, perhaps with a mock case engineered by the parens.
Story Seed: at your gauntlet you are given a mock case which you diligently investigate... but as you delve into it, seemingly by accident you find evidence of a Hermetic crime committed by your own parens. What do you do?
House Mercere has the apprentice navigate difficult terrain, typically delivering a message to destination.
Story Seed: your gauntlet comes with a time limit. But as you travel to your destination, you encounter a village that needs your help. You face a difficult choice: arrive late, or abandon those in need. It turns out that your "passing of age" attracted the attention of the faerie world...
House Tremere has the apprentice challenge his parens to certamen. The apprentice is not expected to win, just to give a good show. But if he does win, which does happen very, very occasionally (after all, even an archmagus can botch), he gains his sigil and significant "standing" in the house.
Story Seed: you are determined to win your gauntlet's certamen. By playing dirty. How can you engineer you parens to lose concentration?
House Bjornaer considers a full magus any apprentice who has participated in the Ritual of the Twelve years and gained a Heartbeast.
Story Seed: your parens is very proud of his heartbeast and the type of character it shows. And terribly ashamed of yours. Perhaps he is a lion, and you are a rat. In a difficult situation that would be ideally suited to his heartbeast, can you find a workaround based on the strenghts of yours, proving its worth?
House Criamon's gauntlet is a riddle, the riddle of the Magus, though almost any answer will do. From the point of view of other Houses, it is a mere formality.
Story Seed: on the day of your gauntlet, your parens fails to show up. Is this the riddle?
House Merinita's gauntlet is not described in HoH:MC, but, as suggested by Apprentices, it probably involves interaction with the faerie world or, for "nature" Merinita, with ... nature.
Story Seed: Your parens tasks you with converting back to pagan ways a village recently converted to Christianity by a holy hermit... with whom you've fallen desperately in love with.
House Verditius' gauntlet is the creation of a "masterpiece" magical item, in a season, using the lab and vis provided by the parens (who generally gets to keep the item).
Story seed: Every eighteen years the House has a great contest of magic items. Apprentices have their own sub-contest. Your proud, proud parens praises your piece profusely, and insists you enter the contest with it ... and win ("easily"), thus passing your gauntlet. But your magic item gets stolen, along with others. Worst of all, you get accused of doing it, so that you could have a good excuse with your parens for not winning. Maybe the accuser is even right.
House Flambeau has the apprentice in some situation where he has to prove his martial prowess. In one case, an apprentice was gauntleted "in the field" after slaying a renounced magus, with a mundane spear.
Story seed: Your parens has a long-standing feud with some powerful mundane lord. Technically, the lord initiated it, so it's not in violation of the Oath, but the quaesitores have issued more than one warning. Your gauntlet is to destroy some portion of the lord's estate or body of evil servants, e.g. his ruffian tax-collectors, openly declaring yourself but without leaving witnesses or evidence leading to the Order. But you have grander plans. How large a bang can you make for your gauntlet? Can you destroy an entire city in a seemingly mundane disaster? Of course, you will boldly proclaim to the city its doom, and it's imperative no witness survives to "bring ruin upon your sodales".
I do not recall House Jerbiton's gauntlet being described in HoH:S (though I may be wrong), though in previous editions it was mentioned to involve proof of understanding philosophy and the arts.
Story seed: For your gauntlet, you are supposed to make a perfect copy of some famous piece of art -- possibly held under lock and key -- and gift it to your parens. But ... why not bring to your parens the real thing as a gift, and leave the copy to the uneducated owner?
House Tytalus involves forcing your parens to accept you as a magus. This is sometimes done at an eristic moot; sometimes by assassination (considered perfectly legitimate).
Story seed (stolen from Hitcock's Dial M for Murder): The demon you summoned to slay your parens failed. But you have a backup plan. You will now frame your parens for diabolism, and get her Marched by the Quaesitores and holier-than-though Hoplites, while you disappear until the next house meeting (in less than a year). Returning at the next house meeting with proof of your diabolically clever scheme will get you acclaimed as a full magus.
Ex Miscellanea gauntlets are as varied as the House, with each sub-tradition having its own.
Story seed: Your parens has decided you will pass the gauntlet of another House, better than most apprentices of that House. Perhaps he is an orbus of that House. Perhaps he was shamed by a member of that House and wants to prove his superiority through you. This involves not just passing the gauntlet, and brilliantly, but first of all convincing members of that House to administer it to you.
Great answers above, here are some rambling thoughts.
I think the gauntlet should generally test (or show-off) either broad magical skill or focused skill. So, something like pulling off weak spontaneous magic in many Arts combinations or demonstrating a reasonably-high Tech+Form total through casting a formulaic or powerful (say, level 15) spontaneous spell, or through certamen or building a "masterpiece" magical item, or so on. The scale of competence however should be that of magi without many or any Virtues, aside from House ones; one of the reasons PCs are exceptional is because of their Virtues. Thus, a level 25 formulaic spell might suffice to prove competency, for example, so that casting a level 35 or higher spell in gauntlet would be seen as an impressive gauntlet.
I don't think the gauntlet works well in-game, not at the start of the game. It's too focused on one player, and one character. It works better as background. PC gauntlets might have been very exceptional. They're PCs, after all. They're marked for greatness. (Or they can be brushed aside with "you passed your gauntlet" without any description, whatever works for the player.)
House Bonisagus: I think of their gauntlets as being like a PhD dissertation test: the apprentice formally submits a tractatus on Magic Theory (or some other topic), and takes an oral exam before a House committee.
House Bjornaer: While the official word is that it's easy to reach the initiation's site, I would suggest that the initiation into the heartbeast requires a quest into a remote ancestor site (regio?, Realm?), where the initiate meats an ancestor spirit rather than the House's Mystagogue. The Mystagogue may aid send the character off (perhaps in a dream?!), and to the sept and mystagogue can help her comprehend her mystic encounter and come to control her new powers and accept a new perspective following it, but the heart of the initiation is a mystic encounter with an ancestor spirit (or Great Beast). Exceptional gauntlets might include encounters with Birna herself, or hitherto-unknown, myterious, or extremely powerful spirits, perhaps against the Mystagogue's expectations.
Perhaps for example the Mystagogue sent the apprentice to a Pripet Maior march and waited for her there. While traveling the marsh, however, the apprentice has somehow apparently wandered into a regio or perhaps even the Magic Realm, and never reached the marsh. Instead, she appeared at the next Gathering of Twelve Years, in an eagle form engulfed in lightning. She told of meeting a mysterious figure who the Mystagogue interpreted to be Saturn. No one was sure what he wanted with her and what this enounter had to do with animal spirits at all, but after internal consultaton and dream-quests the House's Mystagogues accepted her into the Cult.
House Tytalus example (again, an exceptional gauntlet): A young Tytalus maga was scheduled to appear before the Grand Tribunal for her gauntlet. But her master appeared alone, and proclaimed his student wasn't ready yet. The young maga, having escaped his castle and snack into the Grand Tribunal, then revealed herself and claimed she was ready and that he was attempting to illegally lengthen her apprenticeship to exploit her. Due to a dispute between House Bonisagus and Tytalus her claim was accepted, and her master was tasked by the Quaesitors to issue a suitable challenge; warning him that presenting a too-difficult one will lead to the Quaesitors replacing it with a fair and standard one. The master then chose to require she defeats him in certamen, relying on House Tremere's tradition to establish that this is a fair test. Reluctantly, the Quaesitors agreed this was well-established. The young maga then proceeded to use a huge quantity of raw vis in her first round, obliterating her master's defenses and winning the duel and the gauntlet. (Her master later complained that he meant the duel to be without raw vis, but his complaint was not upheld; he became a Tormenting Master to her. Many magi from all over the Order also wondered where she got the raw vis from; it wasn't her master's).
In previous editions, the traditional Flambeau Gauntlet consisted of the apprentice being dropped off alone and without supplies in an unknown location, with instructions to find their way back home. To join the House, one had to face and defeat seven champions in magical combat.
In fifth edition, these were both switched to a show of skill at tournament.
I like to imagine that it used to work the previous way in days past, but the customs have changed in the last generation or so because of the problems caused by the old way. Juch as when Trentus torched the harbor in Barcelona (as detailed in the old WGRE
Tytalus is fun. You can graduate by successfully murdering your master and escaping. Or just by escaping and getting other Tytalus magi to support you. Or simply by walking off the job and boldly deciding you are ready.
Actually, Apprentices has this Story Seed exactly. A crusty old Flambeau, grumpishly complaining "ou sont les Flambeau d'antan", manages to goad some magi to give their apprentices exactly this sort of "dropped into hostile territory" gauntlet.
Thanks for the helpful ideas. I wanted to give each player a summary of what happened at their particular gauntlets and these suggestions were helpful in that.