I am trying to verify "by forum consensus" the premise of a story I plan to play out with my troupe. Take your most recent (possibly the current one) saga played in a "standard" Ars Magica setting. Imagine that your PC covenant is seeking to establish a new source of income -- either because it's a new spring covenant still without any, or because the old one is drying up, or perhaps just because the covenant is expanding.
The visiting Redcap hears your plight, and suggests that, basically, you should not bother: House Mercere is willing to provide you with the income you need -- as long as it's "reasonable", a Typical source of income (100 yearly Mythic Pounds) or perhaps a Greater one (250) if you have grander plans/needs. They'll directly ship to you the goods you need, rather than say, providing the silver, so you can avoid inflationary erosion of your purchasing power (see Covenants) or the hassles of dealing with mundane merchants.
If you ask why, the Redcap points out that House Mercere has plenty of mundane wealth to spare, and it values stability -- which covenants hungry for mundane resources often undermine. So they are not really asking for anything in return.
Would your covenant:
- Accept the offer?
- Reject the offer?
CRUCIAL EDIT: The question is from the point of view of the characters, not of the players. So, if your PCs would accept it, but your troupe would reject it because it wants to play out the stories focusing on the money-making scheme, the answer should still be "Accept"!
That is a question of the politics in your saga and the trust Redcaps and House Mercere enjoy in it. So "forum consensus" will not help your decision too much.
Our covenant would likely accept it - though of course I didn't run a vote.
I would accept the offer for bad reasons. I (the player) would live to see what kind of political price We would have to pay for It !
View it then as a poll on the trust Redcaps and House Mercere receive in other people sagas
See the edit I added above! The question is from the point of view of the characters, not of the players.
Also, let me stress that it really appears to be "free money". The Redcaps are not asking you to pay any "political price" for it (other than refraining from violating the Code with it -- but that's implicit).
My character would reject it, but only because the covenant she's in doesn't need the extra cash.
Well, that violates the initial premise: "Imagine that your PC covenant is seeking to establish a new source of income"! What if your covenant were to lose its current source of income, and needed to replace it? Would it accept the offer? That was the question I meant to ask.
They would first seek to either restore the source of income they had, or find another. They might entertain this if it was limited in time offer.
Just curious: what would make them spend the effort, time and other resources to establish a new source of income on their own, rather than take what is freely given? There are many reasonable answers to this: "a sense of pride", "mistrust of the redcaps" (as suggested by OneShot), etc. I'm just wondering what yours would be.
Sense of pride would be part of it, but I think mostly it would be a desire for self-sufficiency. They are newly gauntleted Magi, and were given their own covenant to build and nurture, so being able to support themselves is an important consideration. And in out case, we've been blessed with a Typical and Poor income sources, and with few wizards, and few specialists, for now, we have a lot of surplus every year.
In the game I am currently in as a player I would accept it, but that is because my character has already discovered Fertility Lore and is working on fertility magic so the Mercere house has become very helpfull as a reflection of these developments (plus she is savvy enough to name her tractatus on fertility lore "Heredity of the Redcaps")
For a "just because we value stability" there would have to be some clear benefit beyond 'just because' for the redcaps- maybe the covenant's location makes their delivery route safer or something, but failing any apparent motive no, my characters would not accept it.
Mythic Europe being what it is, "free money" is usually the devil's work so any covenant I was in would be very wary of anything that seems to good to be true.
Assuming that the redcap in question is verifiably not the devil. My character would most likely accept but see it as a stop-gap measure. My character does not like the idea of being dependent on others, but also would not look a gift horse in the mouth. Accepting would mean the ability to spend the gifted wealth on trying to build a real source of income in order to become independent of gifted wealth long term.
The reason why my character would not want to depend on the wealth long term is because wealth acquired tends to become part of the budget and sooner or later it will be used to pay for something that is essential and thus over time the covenant would come to depend on the money thus giving the redcaps control over the covenant that my character would rather they dont have.
That however is a long term problem and a lack of money is much more immediate, and generally both me and my character would always want to exchange an immediate and pressing problem for a future or long term problem.
how would you verify that the redcap in question is not infernal? Or influenced by the infernal...
In one saga I've got, our characters had already accepted at the start of the game. We took an Income Source of Charity (from House Mercere), and also Dwindling Resource to represent the fact that it was only meant to be an initial booster that would be wound down as we establised ourselves.
I believe the standard average character I tend to play would not accept it. Either (1) the character would be worried about hidden political ramifications in the future, or (2) The character is worried about the reputation of their covenant in the eyes of their sodales, or (3) the character wouldn't like the one-sided assistance ad infinitum with nothing in return.
A grog with high Per+detect unholiness (devil) looking at them for a while.
The most likely problem with the offer, which the magus characters in our saga might suspect, is the following:
Could House Mercere leadership be pollyannish enough to try isolating the mundane humans outside of covenants from the other Houses and thereby monopolizing mundane relations?
Our magus characters' mundane relations are far more articulated than just business deals, and some of them pursue plans for further integration of the Order with the mundane world.
But one of them is a Mercer Portal builder: so they could ask him about the likely motivation of House Mercere leadership.
or just vetting.
If you can get a bunch of different merceres and other sources to verify the redcap then he/she is probably not the devil. e.g. find a record of their birth/apprenticeship, get the house to vouch for them independently, talk to their old master, friends, other magi with whom the redcap has dealings etc.
Show me the money.
While somewhat implied, it does not stop the covenant setting up it's own income source. I'd be focusing on self sufficiency in the long term, as house mercere could remove the cash at any time.