Finding Enough Apprentices to Ensure the Order Survives

Finding enough apprentices to not only maintain roughly the same size, but to ensure the Order continues growing in size seems to be something generally brushed over within Sagas.

Background Numbers
ME has a total population of roughly 68,000,000 people scattered over 4,066,000 square miles in 1220.

There are roughly 6,800 people with the Gift scattered about ME at the standard start date of 1220. Of those, roughly 1,360 will be in the age range or younger to be taken as a Hermetic Apprentice. While that might seem like plenty, we are talking about roughly one in every 50,000 people and one in roughly every 3,000 square miles.

Things get even rougher for most of the Order when you consider the population spread. France accounts for nearly a third of the total population, so its two Tribunals have an easier time. However there are several Tribunals in which the total Order membership in residence there is larger than the total Gifted individuals that occur due to their population.

While the Order is the largest organization of Gifted individuals in ME (accounting for almost 20% alive), even with their non-Gifted support personnel they are a small drop in the bucket of the total population. Additionally many members of the Order rarely if ever interact with mundanes or even travel. So how does an organization that must maintain roughly 20% of a very small and difficult to identify group actually find enough of that group to maintain itself.

How Can We Fix It (Without Major Changes)
So what are some ways we can fix the difficulty of all the Order who wishes an apprentice to gain one, without creating changes that would cause some drastic change in Hermetic culture?

To achieve this we need some method of testing thousands of youths spread out over thousands of miles, while not requiring some change in how Magi normally act. So no setting up Tribunal appointed jobs as "apprentice hunters" for Magi.

The easiest way I could find would be to task part of the mundane support in the Order who already travels all over with the job. The Redcaps seem to be the obvious choice here, though some Covenants who would rather local(ish) Gifted children will task a few of their Grogs with the duty.

So now that we have a rough idea of who will be conducting the search, we need to design a rough idea of how they conduct it. Magic, by enchanted items, is the most likely method. Without it they will almost never find those with the Gentle Gift.

The InVi Base 10 (Detect the Gift) enchanted into items is the easiest way. It will have to be more powerful than Individual and Touch (Group and Voice/Sight) or as Sense (Vision, Hearing, or Smell). The effect will generally be powerful enough to cause Warping, so Sense magic can be damaging for the user unless it is crafted specifically for them.

A Voice Range, Group Target version that only allows the user to detect who has the Gift in range is Level 30 plus Uses/Day modifier. Bumping up the Range to Sight would raise it to 35 plus Uses/Day modifier. Items like this (with possible levels of Size to improve the search speed) would be the most common since they do not have to be custom enchanted for their user.

If we are trying to avoid major changes, the Redcaps will only take note of all the Gifted children they find rather than trying to collect them all up.

In general play this should not have any noticeable effect. Magi who are looking for an Apprentice can still do the search on their own if desired. Or they can ask the Redcaps for assistance, paying some small nominal fee (a few pawns of Vis perhaps).

Some of the effects that will show up are that some portion of Redcaps will carry enchanted items for identifying the Gift. Creating these items will be a talk the Redcaps most likely hire out, with any Vis changed for the service used to create new items.

So a small portion of Redcaps have a task, a type of enchanted item that Redcaps might possess, and a new concept for Redcaps (Gifted Hunter).


I'm a fan of the hand-wave. It just works. If the percentage of magi in RAW seems to be wrong, increase it. Saying that, part of the fun of the forum is going deeper and thinking about making things be more elegant and make sense.

I've seen enough fairy tales about poor people selling off children, leaving them in the forest to die, etc, that I have to imagine children can be a burden in Mythic Europe. Even in the modern day, the only redeeming features to combat the stinkyness and sleep deprivation effect of a newborn is they are cute, and they may be a worthwhile human being in the future.

Why am I dissing newborns? Apart from that they deserve it, consider adding to the general displeasure of a newborn, the effect of the gift. People will be handing off children with the gift to the order at the earliest possibility. All the order needs to do is put out a tiny effort communicating we will take the unwanted children, and they will come flooding in.

The gentle gift are the only ones who may need some effort to find.


Nice considerations. Are you assuming the age range for apprenticeship as up to 20 (the Redcaps could keep notes about child too young and come back later), and an average person lifespan to be 100 years? I'm almost sure the setting assumes a 60 year lifespan for a mundane, but I can't recall why right now.

I'd further the calculations with the following: I have in my mind that at any given time there are about 1/8 as many apprentices as magi (this comes from HoH:TL stating that there is on average one apprentice and 8 Guernicus on each Tribunal). If these numbers hold for the entire order, this means the order has around 105 Gifted apprentices (1000 - 150 Redcaps / 8), and needs on average 7 new apprentices every year (105/15).

If my math isn't wrong, an average person (0 or +1 in Perception) has about 6% chance of succeeding the Per roll of 12+ described in the book to search for an apprentice. This assumes the entire season is spent on that. In two seasons of search, there is about 11.6% of chance of finding a Gifted person.

There are about 150 Redcaps through ME. If we assume that 1/5 of these are Apprentice Hunters, who spend half their time delivering letters and the other half searching, they locate 2 apprentices every year. If they spend their two seasons of work searching this goes up to about 4 potential apprentices every year.

Things get even better with magical items to help in finding apprentices. If we assume the right equipment can lower the EF to 9+, 30 Redcaps with Per 0 or Per +1 will find on average 7 Gifted children every season. Way better than what I thought things would be when I started this analysis.


I was actually looking at 15 or younger, ignoring babies.

Average lifespan of ~64 years for mundanes. Average lifespan for the Gifted can be anywhere from the same as mundanes to somewhere north of 100. Pull the Order membership out of the total (they mess up the calculations) gives you ~5400 people with a lifespan roughly the same as mundanes.

Population percentage by age in ME would be similar to Africa. The youngest group is the largest and they get smaller every step of the way moving up in age. Ignoring the babies and taking the next several youngest groups gets you in the ~26% range. If you add in babies it would jump to over 33%, but then you have infant fatality and actually trying to scan newborns.

EDIT: A lot of the math was done in an older thread where me and Silveroak were discussing the rate of the Gift and requirements to sustain the Order. We also pulled a bunch of the math from an older Sub Rosa were one of the developers helpfully did a lot of it. If memory serves, there was a need for roughly 10 apprentices per year to meet the growth rate of the Order which was slightly higher than the growth rate of the mundane population.


If memory serves, covenants are canonically scanning the big European slave markets (Prague, Venice...) in the hope of nabbing new apprentices.

I dont have much to add to the general thread. But the following I think you are making things worse than they have to be.

IMO there is no need for a Gift detecting item to target the person using it.

Lets say you have an item that casts a variant of Numbness of the Gift with target Sight instead of Touch. (increasing the spell level to 35). This should be enough to cause warping in the target. It also allows the item to detect any Gifted individual that it can "see". However the person who activates this Gift-detecting item (I like to imagine it like a harry potter Sneakoscope) is no the target. The item itself is the target. Meaning that your Gift-detector will suffer a warping point whenever it is activated. This will cause it to go weird in the long term but the weirdness is probably less of an issue that suffering repeated warping is for a person.

Why wouldn't the Order want red caps to scan newborns ? Saving those from increased infant fatality due to the Gift and poor living conditions could increase the number of Gifted child by a non negligible margin. Infant fatality seemed to be as high as 25% during that period (and half the children never reached the age of 10).

The Target for Warping is the detected if you are using traditional Ranges (Touch, Voice, Sight, AC) and Individual/Group Target.

The Target for Warping might be the user if you are using Intellego Magical Sense (Taste, Touch, Smell, Hearing, Vision) since it is changing their sense. I could see some groups allowing you to say "It is targeting the Species" and thus Warps the item. The example spell is not one that would fall under that category since it is Range Personal.

To pull off the no Warping Magical Sense item, you would have to do something like my group does for a few of our enchanted items. Something that uses Sight would have to be an object you look through (a crystal, a tube, a band of lace worn over the eyes, etc). Something that uses Hearing would need to be something you placed to your ear and listened to (a cone or ear muffs perhaps?). Smell would be something you smell through (so a covering for the nose). EDIT: This type of item is not as easy to use, but does have the advantage that it is enchanted as Personal Range rather than Touch Range.

Scanning children is far easier since they are generally out and about. Playing, working, etc. Babies tend to be more sheltered and not generally accessible for casual scanning by enchanted items. So our Redcap can easily hit most of the children in a community with only a little effort while traveling through it, while they would have to specifically search out the newborns.

I was also trying to avoid things that would require some noticeable change in the Order. Children under 5 are not really usable as apprentices. And the Order collecting up every Gifted they find would require a change from "apprentices as needed" to "housing/raising host of future apprentices".

I kind of want to give a round of applause to the thoroughness of @InfinityzeN 's OP! But on the other hand I'd take...

... and push it further. Less of a mere wave, and more of a grand gesture!

Apprentices are (should be) cool characters, who appear in cool stories, to help build cool sagas. The numbers really don't matter.

  • Apprentices should be memorable and notable. E.g. ... There's a boy in the village who freaks the animals out when he walks past and has a really unsettling gaze... there's a girl who everybody seems to just overlook... a boy who has temper-tantrums that seem to be infectious... a girl who the villagers have cast out of the village because her touch seems to sicken animals.... a boy who seems to have a healing aura, but when the village priest took him to see the local abbot the abbot had a seizure and a terrible vision.... Each of those characters can be identified as gifted or not (e.g. demon-touched, faerie-blooded, etc.) by whatever method works well for the story. Maybe there is an investigation story to be had here - perhaps one child can be trained, but only once freed from a curse; another is natural apprentice-material but with most of their virtues already defined (so the character who finds her might not be the most suited parens); one is actually a changeling, and investigating her gests into a whole new story; etc. (And yes, I am 100% in favour of taking a big red pen to the line in the rule book that says you need to roll 12+ after a season's search blah blah, and replacing it with "you find an apprentice in whatever way makes the saga better").
  • I'd expect a mage to be able to get an intuitive sense just by hanging around or looking at the kid (yes, no, maybe/complicated). I certainly wouldn't want a spell to be necessary - partly because "learn a reliable effect and make a die roll" is boring / lacks flavour, and also partly because it leads to exactly the same conclusions that the OP is heading towards - that logical processes and bureaucracy are the obvious step forward. Identifying freaky people should be based on memorable experiences - not on whether or not someone has efficiently organised the manufacture or functional tools that can be distributed to conscientious employees. This is purely personal choice, and YMMV, but personally I'm not a fan of Ars Bureaucracy.
  • I wouldn't expect Gifted folk to be spread evenly through all populations. I'd expect freaky people to appear around where freaky things happen.

(This very much YMMV!)


I was actually trying to do multiple things with my original post. The one you picked up on was to add some elements that should actually exist (enchanted items Redcaps have and the additional duty of looking for future apprentices).

However I was specifically not trying to remove the "Apprentices should be memorable and notable". That is another reason for the Redcaps to only take note of these individuals rather than collecting them all up. When you ask your local Redcap to help find an apprentice, they give you a list much like all the examples you gave in the "memorable and notable" section of your post rather than trotting out a group of youths for you to directly choose from. So your Magus armed with the list would travel and visit several of them to see if any meet their requirements. It will still take a season or more of time depending on how exacting their requirements are.

Children have a large range of abilities, with it quite possible that many of the discovered would not make a good apprentice. Maybe they have a negative Int (even lower than the negative a child their age should have). Maybe they have some virtues/flaws that make them unsuitable. The Redcaps who are just scanning and noting would not gain this information. Collecting them all up would require a change in the Order and also add a whole host of individuals who never become Magi.


This sounds like a cool and logical interpretation but I am not sure how canon it is, where do you get it?

I personally would prefer hearing or smell for an item, and have the spell effect come with an added cosmetic effect that causes the item to somehow signal that it has detected something, e.g. emitting a sound or changing temperature.

Since you can then enchant it with range: Personal the item itself is the target.

duty? Hardly. Redcaps are magi, and thus free to do as they wish with their time.
Interest OTOH, quite likely. A good rumour is worth a handsome tip.

Why? My impression has always been that there are more willing masters than available apprentices. OK, that may be a 3ed impression. Does 5ed actually say something?

Can an item smell or hear at all? How?

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(Functioning on minimal sleep so I might be a little wonky in the post you commented on and this one)

The magic sense and species section of HoH:S. It gives you six "Stages of Perception" that a Magi can manipulate. Range Personnel sense spells use the third (species strike an organ of perception), forth (the organ signals the brain, though rarely used since this requires Corpus), or fifth (mind interprets the signal, not stated but requires Mentem).

The stage of perception you want to manipulate for manipulating a sense through an object is the second one (The species travel through a medium). For example Iconic Species can be manipulated as they pass through a medium (like crystal or glass) to have an effect such as Eyes of the Eagle or adding something which you can not normally see (such as making active magic or those with the Gift seem to glow when looked at through the medium).

Two things I missed in my sleep addled state, for the item to change the species that pass through it you need Muto Imagenem Base 1 Requisite (+0 Requisites should be sufficient, since giving the additional information in usable form is what the spell/effect is for) and requires Range Touch.

Eyes of the Eagle normally works during stage three of perception (species strike an organ of perception). To make an object have that effect when you look through it requires it to affect stage two of perception instead, requires Range Touch, and needs a +0 Muto Requisite.

No but manipulating species as they pass through an item falls under the allowed types of sense magic.

Right, so we are not talking about Intellego, and not about sight/hearing/smell targets, but rather Muto and touch range and individual (?) target, IIUYC.

Only for the part of the effect that is modifying the species in the medium. It is some Intellego sense effect (with sight/hearing/smell/etc) that the user is using by looking/listening/smelling through the medium. If you are using Sight for example then it is everything the person looking through the medium can see.

It has a Muto Imaginem (R: Touch and T: Individual, +0 Requisite) element that modifies the species as they travel through the medium so that the user can actually get the information.

The enchanted object does not actually have a sense. If using Sight for example it can not actually see things, but instead provides some additional information to the sight of anyone looking through it. This has a few advantages for which the higher difficulty of creation is justified. The enchanted object is the thing suffering Warping, rather than the user or things they are looking at. While the effect is active, anyone who looks/listens/smells through it can gain the information which allows you to hand it to the guy next to you and they can just use it without having to activate it.

The effect is rather simple in description (the Iconic Species of all beings with the Gift gain a faint blue glow when they pass through the crystal) but more complex in math (InVi Base 10 "Detect the Gift", R: Personal 0 [while some might say it needs Touch, this does not really matter since the Requisite requires Touch], D: Sun 2, T: Vision 4, with a MuIm Base 1 "Change Sight" R/D/T T+1/S+2/P+1 Requisite +0 and Constant +4). You use the highest R/D/T when doing the math so it uses R: Touch, D: Sun, and T: Vision. It ends up being a In(Mu)Vi(Im) Level 49 effect.

EDIT: Just thought of an easier way to explain. It is using one of the "Stages of Perception" for Sense Magic, specifically the Second (species travel through a medium). Since it is Intellego Sense magic, you use the Target appropriate for the species. Iconic Species is Vision.

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One possibility to consider is that the number is simply outdated. If the 1 in 10:000 was a rough headcount done by Bonisagus within the Rhine after Charlemagne had wiped out scores or hundreds of pagan priests, many of whom were likely magical practitioners, and did not account for regional variations such as the apparent relative abundance of Gifted folk in Hibernia then there could be far more Gifted people running around than what the order believes there to be.

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Magic. = P

There are a few examples of granting senses to items with Intellego. The two I recall, off the top of my head, are a bell invested with InVi to hear Invisible Tunnel-like spells (used as a linked trigger to a ReTe that rings the bell, alerting the magus) and an InIm to grant vision to a stone gargoyle (and aftwerwards the image was projected into a mirror using CrIm if I'm not mistaken).

Both items are from Hermetic Projects.

I think there is also an example somewhere of a stone that allows a blind Criamon to read. The stone is invested with an InIm effect with range touch and a CrMe effect to projected the sensed image (the letters touched by the stone) directly upon the magus mind.

One thing to consider is that the Order isn't exactly a secret; some nobles are aware of it and likely anyone with Magic Lore (i.e. hedge magicians) is aware of it. It's entirely possible that potentially Gifted children are directed to the Order (or Redcaps) by 'those in the know' who might not be willing or able to take them as apprentices.

For example, a Folk Witch is training her own daughter when some other child in her region starts having turbulences, so she directs their parents to bring the child to 'the castle full of magicians' over yonder.

Magic spirits or faeries might do the same thing for their own inscrutable goals.

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I imagine demons passing off False Gift children would be even more common.

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64 seems generous. I was under the impression that modern lifespans didn't reach an average of 64 until after vaccines and penicillin became widespread.
Or are you not including all the ones that don't reach 5 yrs old from the average?