Faking Magus Status

Greetings, fellow Mythic Europe enthusiasts!

I've been reading this forum your wise rethorics for a while but never had the courage to join in, even if only for a single question.
But, alas, here we are! And i must press a topic I've been pondering for a while now:

Personas external to the Order of Hermes masquerading as one of its magi.

There are multiple mentions of it in the fifth edition books:

  • In the core book, seferiel the angel is said he/it pretends to be a magus of the order in order to fulfill his divine mission.
  • A story hook, presented in RoP:I, introducing a demon of the deluder order having taken over the place of a magus.

Those are just two examples of such an endeavor, and many more must be present in the whole line.

And we can make up some of our own:

We can think of a faerie doing this sort of thing:
A cognizant faerie could perhaps infiltrate the order and write books about itself, spreading its legend far and wide.
An in-cognizant one would just believe itself to be one in the first place.

Or a magical being:
Lets take Polymathes the Draconic librarian from RoP:M, he could be seeking some legendary book from a winter covenant.
An old familiar, seeking revenge towards the magus that severed his bond with its master could also be a contender.

Or even a mundane, but that would be an even greater feat, perhaps a legendary spy from the king of [insert kingdom the covenant is located in].
Maybe an unGifted Redcap who's had enough of his life and faked his own death to be reborn as a magus.
A non-hermetic gifted character (or any mythic companion) would also find safety in a covenant, provided he can pull it off.

So i think we can all agree that it might be possible to some beings to want to achieve such a feat, and perhaps succeed at it.
These would surely make great stories, but then this brings me to:

The theoretical implications:

This subject brings me a lot of interesting inquiries, that i'd like to present you all so we can ponder these together.

First, the powers.
The two AM5 canon examples i cited both have a way to duplicate (or fake) hermetic magic to some extent, which would probably help them convince onlookers.
Polymathes, to a lesser extent, is able to imitate imaginem effects.
Appearances are key too, and visibly nonhuman characters might want to consider it strongly (looking at you, magical beings).
Last but not least, magic resistance would be key to safely interact with magi without loosing one's temper.
There are surely other supernatural powers that would help "blending in", but i think those three provide some decent bases for our impersonator-to-be.

Second, the lore.
Having knowledge of the order itself and its internal workings is quite surely a must.
Books of the order itself are hard to come by, and are probably the only one talking of the intricacies of its justice system, so it isn't an easy feat.
Artes liberales and Latin are also a must, and philosophae/teaching/(nearly any usual wizard's abilities) wouldn't hurt.
As for the arcane lore, this is where it gets tricky.
Magical being would probably have some ease in the heated conversations about the nature of the magic realm. Other denizens not so much: an argument with a demon (and its lack of faith) would be quite spectacular to say the least.
The arts, however, are the real breaking point:
In game terms, only opening the arts could permit someone to learn them, so any non OoH being, even gifted people, would have trouble keeping up appearances in that field, although hedge wizards might have some insights.

Third, the character.
Our impersonators have two main venues:

  • Pretending to be an already existing magus who would've have met his fate (or not!) without anyone else knowing. This is the example we find in RoP:I.
  • Forging an identity ex-nihilo. Which i find might be the most interesting but also way trickier:
    Having no master, no contacts, and never having presented themselves to any tribunal beforehand, they will need something to prove their status.
    And status they need!
    Maybe playing it low and never appearing at any tribunal would help, but he/she/it would always be at risk of one of its fellow sodales mentioning them.
    Also, missing on its vote would miss a lot of fun, albeit the order would be very annoyed it it knew.

Fourth, a bunch of random points of interest, in no particular order:

  • What about the Aegis of the Heart for might bearing impostors, most importantly during the first contact. A sufficiently powerful being could walk through, a less powerful one would have to find a way to get a token.
  • We all know of the players's obsession with DEO, and this would indeed be a concern for our friend, unless they are really good at hiding the fact that their being is literally being torn apart, they'd have to find a way to avoid such checks. Obviously the ban on scrying would keep most code adherent magi at bay.
  • In the tribunals, would they have a way to vote? Should they have to provide evidence that they've sworn the oath?
  • For the particularly enterprising, apprenticeship is surely a point of concern, they would obviously have to pay another magus to open the arts, and teaching parma is impossible.
  • Certamen, due to their lack of appropriate abilities (game-wise) nor experience (lore-wise), they would be utterly powerless against certamen bullying, forcing to forfeit each duel.
  • What about confessing to a close magus friend of one's true origin, that would surely make a great story, but there has to be a lot of implications in it.

I believe that is all i can bring up on the matter.
For those that don't feel like reading all of this or answering each point individually, here is a recap question:

  • How, in your point of view, a being from outside the Order of Hermes would go about and masquerade as one of its members for a respectable amount of time.

Feel free to use any example, or even dismiss it all as something only within the reach of immensely powerful beings such as seferiel.

All in all, thanks a lot for your attention. And thank you all for those interesting talks you're having, who warm up my day like the dawning of the sun over the dominion.
Love you all!

As for myself, despite never having played a single saga (the only saga that was played in my group was a bunch of nonsense which i thankfully managed to avoid being a part of, although it was fun watching this trainwreck) nor having the courage to start one (too many other projects going on at the moment), I've found great pleasure pondering about the intricacies of this wonderful setting and would be delighted to discuss them with all of you.


A couple of things to keep in mind here:

There are a number of Gifted hedge wizards of various traditions that are members of the Order of Hermes, but that don't have access to the Hermetic Arts. They joined as adults, their Gift already opened for their own tradition.

There does not exist any real register of the members of the Order.

So if some wizard showed up at the doors of your covenant and claimed to be a member of the Order - it would not be easy to prove him wrong without using magic, which is a crime if he actually is a member of the Order.
The only tricky point would be the Parma Magica since that is not taught to people outside the Order - but there are careless magi who write books about the Parma, so it is not impossible to learn it on your own.

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The story seed on p92 of RoP:M implies another method of infiltration, actually being inducted into the order as an apprentice, either via House Mercere or, for a Magical Being with the Gifted quality, a full magus in fact in the story seed Vinaria, the ex Primus of House Merinita reveals herself to be a Loam Walker with a written warning and that there are others, hence perhaps how she was trained as an apprentice in the first place.


Erik and I are on the same track here. Ex Miscellanea is infamous for both a) accepting anyone who applies, and b) not keeping good track of its own members. An imposter could claim to be a member of Ex Misc and, even if someone suspicious sent a Redcap to verify it, an answer of "We have no record of this magi" would not necessarily prove the imposter was an imposter. Being able to demonstrate the Parma Magica might be a successful test, but if the imposter has Might, can we really tell the difference? Your Saga May Vary.

One interesting way to resolve this, and something an imposter would be wise to prepare for, if they even know about it, is Certamen. This duelling technique is unique to the Order (but does have roots in the bone-biters). A magus suspicious of an imposter could challenge them to Certamen, and while a refusal to duel is not solid proof, it is more circumstantial evidence, because an imposter probably can't even participate in Certamen at all.

I'll add one other possible example to your comprehensive list above: adulterations like the one of Flambeau in Faith & Flame. An adulteration (HoH:MC) could think it is a Hermetic magus and, depending on its nature, might be able to convince others, or even just slip into the life of the magus it sprang from with no one the wiser. It could even have Parma!

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I believe that Certamen does not constitute solid evidence, if even circumstantial. As you previously mentioned, House Ex Miscellanea will accept just about everyone; and the Order does have a history of rampant expansionism. There are those in Ex Miscellanea who became members of the Order, swore the Oath, and learned Parma.....but retained their original system of magic and thus lack Hermetic Arts.

The Certamen is unique to Hermetic Magic, it cannot be performed without Hermetic Arts. This is a disadvantage shared by all "Hedge Wizards" that joined the Order, but chose to preserve their own magic.

I like the potential for a character showing up and claiming to be the apprentice of a particularly reclusive hermetic wizard.

I think the avoiding the gauntlet is quite important- since it requires some display of hermetic power or knowledge.


The Criamon might be a solid choice there - they don't really have a Gauntlet internally, you learn until you feel you're ready to go on your own and can always come back to the "apprenticeship" to learn more if you find you aren't actually as ready as you thought. Their substitute for the conventional Gauntlet isn't much of a barrier at all either. Criamon magi are typically stereotyped as harmless weirdos with strange codes of conduct and incomprehensible mystery magic, you could use the stereotype and probably get away with a lot by saying x or y Hermetic specific action that your interlocutor is asking you to demonstrate is not apt according to your master.


Hell, the Criamon may welcome this person/being/fellow seeker of The Enigma with open arms, perhaps eventually even making them their Primus.


Their status as magi mostly incidental to their self-identity as a House and they already have a canon practice of adopting outcast magi for humanitarian purposes. Obviously that isn't the same as adopting someone who isn't a member of the Order at all but together with TYO's and null's points, I think an eloquent plea for acceptance into the House from a non-mage could find sympathetic ears among the Criamon. I know Dies Irae is not canon, and I would not use that portrayal of the House in my own game, but I think a part of it that rings true to even the canon House is that the Criamon are likely willing to stand up to the rest of the Order on things they consider core principles and equally willing to use typically inapt subterfuge if it is required to further those principles. A "fake magus" would be hard-pressed to find likelier or more loyal allies than the Criamon if they argue their case well.


status wise a redcap is a magus, so someone pretending to be a redcap is pretending to be a magus, which is a lot easier than pretending the Gift.
Though a mundane showing up claiming to be a magus who was stripped of their Gift could be quite an interesting story as well...
I can even see a Tytalus plot here, to use mentem magic to convince a mundane that they are a magus who was stripped of their Gift by a rival of the Tytalus. I don't think it even technically violates the code since the mundane is obviously not actually a magus....


Just having the skill does not allow one to perform the Parma Magica. The final key part of performing it is only taught after someone has sworn the Oath. Notes to this appear in multiple places but the clearest stated is in Apprentices, p. 61.

"Regardless of a character’s score in Parma Magica, she will not be able to invoke her own Parma Magica until after she receives the final key, which happens after she has sworn the Oath of Hermes."

Earlier on that same page it even discusses reading books on Parma Magica before being taught the final key, which allows gaining XP in it and raising the score but still being unable to perform it.

Which directly contradicts what is written in Rival Magic p. 46 where it is an important plot point that stealing a book on Parma Magica will let them learn the ability.

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You can learn the ability, you just can not perform it without the final key.

Rival Magic states that using stolen books you can learn and perform it - gaining all the benefits of it.

Sounds like fodder for the Errata thread.

Sorry but I will take the word of the book describing the education of Hermetic Magi over the word of a book describing saga ideas which can deviate dramatically from cannon. Additionally Viea would fit into the small group able to figure out the key before it was taught to them.

I don’t think it’s worth errataing since it allows folks to choose two options for their sagas:

  1. there is some “final key” to the ritual that can be easily left out of books so books on Parma Magica will be available even outside of the most secure covenants.
  2. There is a “final key” when you reach 5xp but books that provide 5 or more xp can’t keep it hidden. In which case books on Parma will not be traded and will only be stored at the most secure sections of the most secure libraries.

If anything the errata should be to make these options explicit YSMV things. Personally, I prefer there being few books on the topic and having someone teach you be the common-ish fast method of learning it but that the primary method of learning it is practice or adventure xp.


Alright, i see this thread flourished overnight!

Albeit true, i was thinking about less official ways to get into the order, but this is certainly a safe way for gifted people to get allowed inside. Although hedge traditions close to the infernal (or divine, since they are very close to mundanes) would surely have a hard way getting accepted.

Great catch! I completely forgot about that one. It is indeed a third way to get in, probably sustainable in the long run. But that brings up another point: allegiances, as i believe Vinaria hints that great harm could be done to any magi harming one of her/its kind.
This resonates strongly with the mundane interference talks, as one's true kin might request favors from the impostor.

Ex Misc would surely be a prime choice, i guess Criamon would come second thanks to what TYO said.
Mercere however seems unfit, as would do all True Lineages. Since they would be the first to keep track of their members.
Considering the certamen and voting sigil implications, i'd say Tremere would be the worst to try blending in.

Oh, completely forgot about those, i'd say they would be the most fluent in that kind of endeavor, as they wouldn't actually have to fake or approximate an hermetic wizard's abilities as those ARE their abilities in the first place.
Also the OoH probably wouldn't mind as much, since their objectives are exactly that of the most stereotypical magus of their respective house.

Certamen would indeed not endanger any magus officialy inducted in the order. But it is certainly a threat to any copycat trying to pass as a genuine magus.

As i'd say earlier about True Lineages, i don't think house Mercere is a good idea, are you sure even they don't have a register?

As for the parma talk, i'm more inclined towards this option:

Altough i don't think any book on parma outside of a covenant would be tolerated, omitting its key is surely a common practice in the order, given its their most guarded secret.

That does sound like something a Tytalus would do, although they would have some answers to give to god once in the afterlife.

Now i am wondering about a full on infernalist / divine conduit, provided they can hide the taint/untaint of their powers, could they try to realistically imitate hermetic magic results. A divine practitioner may be able to pass off as a CrCo expert, while an infernalist could maybe use phantasms as a means to pass off as an Imaginem genius. A sorcerer could bing a spirit in order to get MR.

Last but not least, this brings another interesting question: wizards's sigils, does a non hermetic supernatural practitioner have something that could be likened to a sigil? If not, could try try to fake it?

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House Mercere tracks all children born of and fathered by their bloodline. How exacting and complete that register might be is YSMV, but there is at worst a record of all the children born by Mercere females and children fathered by Mercere males with stable partners (meaning the partner is known and seen on a regular basis, not a committed partner). This is important to the survival of their House, since only those of their bloodline with the Gift can become a Mercere Magus and even the ungifted members of their House are primarily of the blood.

In general the only ungifted members of their House not of their blood line are those inducted into a Hero Cult. Those serving as Redcaps will receive a high level of interest, if for no other reason than to find any bastards fathered by them since they are the members of the House who in general are the most traveled.

That is most definitely not my understanding of redcaps. The original redcaps were not of Mercere’s blood and there is no stipulation about taking someone related to Mercere as an apprentice redcap. I imagine there are plenty of lines that are related but there are also folks just brought in as children, that urchin that was hungry and tried to pickpocket a compassionate redcap for instance.

I am sure the house has fantastic records so impersonating a redcap at a Tribunal is impossible but creating a “route” and traveling between covenants collecting intelligence on the order and possibly packages is all unlikely to be noticed for a few seasons if not longer.