Flambeau and Guernicus. How would you mod them?

Hello all,

in my real life troupe (before it collapsed) we played some early games of the OoH. You can read about some of our approaches here: (The Order of the Small)

As a consequence of that, we discussed what pre-hermetic magic system could model each founder's tradition. We feel we were generally successful, except for one glaring case tgiven its popularity in our troupe: Flambeau (and Guernicus, but nobody in our troupe gave much of a damn about that one mystically).

We tried to build him using Elementalism from Hedge Magic, but the feeling using that was below subpar. We could not play around POF, and other high theatrics magics with elementalists. In the end we used the Ancient Magic Hyperborean Hymnists as a mechanical stop-gap, and it worked for the stories we had in mind, but the nagging feeling still was there.

So the question is, what non hermetic system would you use if you had to build Flambeau at the time of meeting with Trianoma?
As a helper, here you have a list of most non hermetic traditions in the books: Non Hermetic Traditions: a compilation


None of the examples listed in that thread strike me as the correct flavor. In my own view, I see Flambeau as Cult of Mercury trained (as was his master Delendar). Maybe some Alchemy. The high theatrics could be simulated by preparing spells and effects ahead of time. Delendar was also a Visigoth, and from what I remember (looked it up long ago), their magic mainly consisted of charms and magic items. I am guessing it would be a mixed bag of tricks.
In history, "modern" Hermetic philosophy can be traced to 11th century Iberia, but with roots that extend back to ancient Greece and even further to Chaldea and Egypt.

So Flambeau was originally trained in the magic of the cult of Mithras. To my best knowledge there is no real details on this type of magic except for two details:

It used incantations:

"...[Flambeau] kept trying to modify the incantations so they would work without mentioning the pagan gods."

And at least one spell was an incantation to light braziers:

"...he adapted a simple spell Laberius had taught him for lighting ceremonial braziers to produce ever-larger sparks and flames."

From the above excerpt we also know that the Pilum was not a spell of the Mithraean tradition but one Flambeau invented via original research. So it's not certain that the Mithraean tradition was fire focused at all. We also know Flambeau was not fully trained in his tradition:

"He tried to find a member of Laberius’s magical tradition with whom he could complete his studies..."

I would argue based on this that Flambeau's contributions to hermetic theory were not really from the Mithraean tradition at all, but the product of his own independent research into fire magic.

As for how to represent his magic? I would go with the assumption that Mithraean magic was similar to Mercurian and use something like the rules for Fenicil's rituals to represent it - each ritual/incantation must be learnt separately and improved as an ability with the casting roll being Sta+Ability+Aura+Die Roll. You can then use a rough guide of each degree of magnitude for a hermetic effect being an ease factor of 3 so Flambeau's Pilum of Fire would be an ease factor of 12, for example.

Flambeau was trained by Delendar who was of the Cult of Mercury. I know, I am stuck on previous editions. If you are an ArM5 purist, then your interpretation is correct. But I stick with the original version, and I have a hunch that Xavi does as well.
I do apologize. Very much. I just seriously dislike the whole Liberace / Mithras thing. It drives me nuts. It is so very contrary to the original vision of the guy who invented House Flambeau. I have matured in wisdom enough to not flame-war about it, but not enough to where I can hold my tongue.

I like the old Flambeau character better too, but I would keep the 5th edition house instead of one dimensional flambeau house of old. If I kept the houses, that is.

Now, I am happy with any take on the character. My troupe had problems producing ANY flambeau equivalent, be ArM3 or ArM5. He just wouldn't fit. So feel free to contribute your wild ideas :slight_smile:

I had not thought about looking to it the other way around, through Guernicus. Nice approach.

As much as I claim to be a purist for the original, I have merged the histories. It is somewhere on the Andorra wiki, an unfinished origin story. In that tale, I have Laberius as a mundane teacher to Reculed, who taught him natural magic. Then after his household is overrun, he is captured and kept as a sorcerers slave for a few seasons, forced to harvest Vis, where he learns alchemy. Then rescued by Delendar who teaches him real magic of a Mercurian flavor. Thus, I view pre-Hermetic Flambeau as having a mix of styles.

5e is the most recent and, for me personally, the best edition of the game. If a question is posed without specifying the edition I'm going to answer it based on 5e. For Flambeau as presented in 5e I stand by my answer.

If you were to use Flambeau as he was in 3rd edition (I personally have no strong feelings one way or the other) I still think something like Fenicil's rituals mechanically is a good way to represent Mercurian magic, it only changes the source of his knowledge (original research vs being taught by Delendar).

Looked at Fenicil's rituals. I remembered that they are not my cup of tea. For starters they are (surprise) rituals, so I quite fail to see someone like flambeau using thinking of magic regularly. He had POF at the ready as a regular feature the way I see it. Will need to keep looking for alternatives.

I didn't really mean to just use the exact rules from Fenicil's rituals, I just meant they could be used as a rough guide for how Mercurian style magic might have looked.

Imagine they are examples of ritual spells and extrapolate what a formulaic spell equivalent would have looked like - learnt as an ability, roll of Sta+Ability+Aura+Die, and then some sort of penalty for it being faster than a normal ritual. I would suggest that the downsides could be that:

a) non-ritual mercurian spells can't benefit from multiple participants.
b) they are limited in the same way as non-ritual hermetic spells (no true creation, limited duration and target, can't be higher than a certain ease factor in power)
c) unlike the slow but safe mercurian rituals these spells can botch
d) a division of the roll similar to spontaneous magic for hermetic magic - maybe divide by two like fatiguing spontaneous magic for hermetic magi. This might make it too weak to be useful, depending.

That gives the same vibe as the examples of Mercurian rituals but at the speed of a formulaic spell. It also isn't too powerful if you include the divide by two, as even a pilum type spell would be pretty hard to cast (making Flambeau with it at the ready a suitably scary enemy, keeping in mind none of his foes will have general magic resistance so penetration is not as big a concern). This fits with the very ritualistic nature of mercurian style magic - formulaic style spells are to mercurian magic as spontaneous magic is to the more flexible hermetic system.

Something like this is how I would do it, anyway.


I think I would combo that with a pseudo-hyperborean hymn approach. You make the incantation for the spell and then you can cast it for Sun duration. Casting the spell is a small ritual, full of referències to the Roman gods, the powers of the air and earth and stuff like that, as well as chanting and dancing. Say, the invocation lasts for Diameter per spell magnitude. After that you have the spell ready to go and can cast it as a formulaic for Sun duration.

One ability per spell sounds feasible. I guess I would make them Accelerated Abilities, so I can keep the hermetic spell guidelines.

Sounds more right than what we used (pure hyperborean hymns) in our previous saga.


Consider using the Vigilian Rites of the Augustan Brotherhood (perhaps advance as Arts, rather than Difficult Arts) for "Mercurian" magic.

That said, Mythic Locations does have some actual Mercurian magics in the temple chapter, but they do seem closer to Fencil rituals. But funnily enough, the magic used by people claiming to learn from a Roman poet is much closer than any other published tradition (Fencil is not a tradition) to the arts wielded by the Cult of Mercury.

The fact is, the Cult of Mercury doesn't seem to have done a lot of 'fast' magic. Pretty sure that was one of the improvements incorporated into Hermetic magic. Though it might have been something a combat junkie like 'old' Flambeau brought to the table.


I memory serves me right, then the history section from HoH:TL House bonisagus specifically describes how Bonisagus was able to overpower Trianoma and Viea through a combination of Parma magica and his ability to cast formulaic spells. To me this indicates the the formulaic spell is the key practical invention in his system of magic or at the very least the tradition of Trianoma and Viea did not employ formulaic spells. In other words I find it quite likely that the formulaic spell originated with Bonisagus or perhaps with the successors of the cult of mercury.

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Trianoma and Veia were both witches of Thessaly (it's identified as their original tradition in RoP:tI). Non-hermetic witches have three supernatural abilities: summoning, commanding, and hexing. So formulaic spells are something they definitely wouldn't have had an analogue to but it doesn't really mean that other traditions couldn't have had something similar.

To play devil's advocate, Learned Magician charms are very similar to formulaic spells (pretty much identical, in fact) and they are not in any way derived from Bonisagus' theories or the cult of Mercury (they have an Egyptian origin). So even in 1220 it's not only magic descended from Bonisagus or the mercurians that have something like formulaic magic.

On the other hand maybe Bonisagus himself learned of such spells in his time in Egypt and used that knowledge to turn mercurian rituals into the first formulaic spells. It's not impossible.


Honestly, I would model Flambeau closely on the existing hermetic system, just with less arts. Maybe change the base spell level guidelines than standard to reflect his ease of use with the magic. I haven't read societates in a few years, but my approach would be to give him a few fire spells with lots of spell mastery, and the skill Penetration.