General Table Talk

Ugh, is there a way to do colored speech in our posts without having to actually type the code in? A shortcut or something?

I feel your pain. I use copy & paste a lot. I even invented a "Tab" using "font color=white" ______"/font". I have been going through the Charter and HRs and stuff, fixing tabs, correcting links and other format issues. Slow work. I fix a post or two here and there. The Charter is finished. The Covenant data is almost done (needs some updating with accurate numbers).

Color is an issue. It is fun to use, but not as easy as it once was.
What other features are we missing or have become more difficult? I will make a summary and try to help Michelle Nephew identify what can be done.

It's an interesting phrase, "at cost." I'm not entirely certain how you mean it. For example, are you implying that a Mercere magus would do a longevity ritual for a 35 year old Redcap for only the 7 vis it takes to implement the ritual, taking nothing for their time? I'm not sure that's a reasonable expectation for how a Mercere magus should behave.

A good analogy that's near and dear to my own heart is legal services. Now, I'm a patent attorney and I mostly write patent applications and shepherd them through the US patent office. In my career I've done this both as an in-house attorney working directly for a company (much like your supposed Mercere magus working directly for the house in devising a LR) and as outside counsel (much like your non-Mercere magus being hired to devise a LR).

With outside counsel, the company pays the patent attorney either hourly or on a per application basis to get the application written. But that's all that the outside counsel gets from the company. With an in-house attorney, the company does not pay anything to the attorney specifically for writing the patent application. Rather, they pay him a regular salary with benefits for whatever he might do for them that year. In each case the company is paying the attorney. It's just that the outside attorney gets paid based on the work he does while the in-house attorney gets a regular salary regardless of what tasks he's given over the year. If the company didn't pay its in-house attorneys, but instead wanted them to write the applications "at cost," all in house attorneys would leave to go work for law firms that actually paid them.

The trick with getting Mercere magi to devise LRs "at cost" (or create magic items "at cost") is that House Mercere isn't paying its Mercere Gifted magi a salary. Any Mercere magus who was trying to decide what to do for a given season might find that they had several options: (1) study or do lab work; (2) device an LR for a magus of another house for 5-10 vis; or (3) prepare an LR for a Redcap "at cost" and get paid nothing. I think we can see what they're going to choose.

Now, I could see House Mercere saying that instead of spending their one season every seven years in service to the House carrying messages any Gifted magus could instead use that season to do some kind of lab work. That would give the House a better benefit. (Though it would ignore the ostensible reason of having the Gifted magi carry messages - to wit, reminding them of what the Redcaps do every day.)

Now, as I understand, House Mercere is just about the only house that requires regular services of its magi. In return the Mercere magus typically gets two benefits: (1) he can pass through Mercere portals for free; and (2) he can trade vis with House Mercere without penalty. Alas, these are benefits that are granted to all of the members of Andorra covenant. So, Lucas isn't really getting any additional benefit from his extra service to House Mercere. But I digress.

There are two places in official sources that state the requirements of Mercere magi for delivering messages - one for unGifted magi and one for Gifted magi. In describing the Virtue "Redcap," the core rules say:

Page 94 of HoH:TL states:

Based on this I've always had Lucas spend one season every seven years carrying messages for House Mercere. If that's not a requirement in your sage, please let me know.

(Also, FWIW, this is typically how Lucas operates. He looks and acts like a Redcap in his day-to-day life, rarely being obvious about his magic - Subtle Magic and Quiet Magic help.)

That's a very interesting question. Let me give that some consideration and post my thoughts.

As you contemplate, keep in mind that Lucas is an influential leader amongst the Mercere. What does he think is best for the House? And remember that Redcaps get an equal vote in House matters. What do you think they want?

The role of House Mercere has evolved rapidly over the decades. It is written into our history as a troupe. I am extrapolating from what I did in our sandbox and how that sand got moved around. Now I am pushing sand in your direction again. I want to see if you guys can transform mythic europe.

Which is NOT a theme of this game. I am playing in the sandbox, and I may change my mind and do something else and let you guys deal with it :smiley:

Which is as it implies. Other players who see Trogdor and I tossing balls around can join in with ideas.

The Verditius price for items set in HoH:MC need not be set in stone. To me, it is simply a starting point to decide how much their enchantments are worth. Prices could be higher or lower in this saga, so long as they are consistent.

With the years, the concept of long-term contracts and other adaptations may have been taken into account in those guidelines. So if we want to establish an agreement that is a bit different than what is standard, we cannjust say that it is a recent addition.

Though I appreciate the promotion, Lucas introduced himself as a Master, not as a Pontifex.

:wink:

Let's make this as an in-character mistake. Too many names and titles at once. :wink:

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(As far as I know, this would be the correct thread for this.)

Guiverna, in a council meeting in the Spring of 1243. "I was in the library recently, and I noticed that we don't have any Summae for either Medicine or the field of Apothecary. Do we have any other tomes tucked away that I didn't see, or should we inquire about acquiring some?"

I'm still working on Guiverna's advancement, and I just noticed a couple of things.

  1. We have a book (Voice of the Nile) that's a Summa on Coptic Egyptian and written in Roman-era Greek. If Guivernan finds out about it, she'll want someone to teach her Roman-era Greek so she can study it. Because Egypt is cool.

  2. That got me off on another mental tangent, which made me realize that one of the languages that Semsuhfaw knows is listed as "Egyptian." Looking at the house rules on Language, Egyptian doesn't seem to be really an option. Coptic, under "Other Languages", has Coptic, Demotic, and Ancient Egyptian. A quick Wikipedia glance has me thinking that Ancient Egyptian is probably the one that he knows, seeing as how it was granted him by "an ancient Egyptian god". Since this hasn't come up in play, may I change Semsuhfaw's Egyptian to Ancient Egyptian? (This has nothing to do with point 1, but still.)

"That is a good point," Lucas replies. "Perhaps we could have Bashir start writing one for his covenant service. He's an excellent teacher and well versed in medicine. He could probably write something about apothecary as well, though I'd have to check."

OOC: Bashir could write a L3/Q17 Medicine summa in two seasons. He could write a L5/Q11 Medicine Summa in four seasons. He could write a L2/Q11 Apothecary summa in two seasons, but that's because he's only just curing a deficiency in Apothecary that I didn't realize was there until just before the break. Better, I think, would be for him to write one or two Q11 tractatus on Apothecary. Of course, looking for a good Apothecary summa is not a bad idea either.

So here are a few of my observations/assumptions on House Mercere:

  • A hundred years ago passing messages was a key part of what House Mercere did.
  • Passing messages is still an important part of what House Mercere does, just not the only part.
  • House Mercere has become more involved in banking (both money and vis) in the past few decades.
  • Redcaps have a lot of kids in the hopes of making more Gifted Mercere magi. Page 78 of HoH:TL cites 150 unGifted Redcaps. That seems low to me. Page 94 of HoH:TL states that “all Merceres are strongly encouraged to have as many children as possible, whether married or not.” I would assume from this comment that House Mercere should have no shortage of Redcaps.
  • Thus, there could easily be more than 150 Redcaps in the house by now is such were needed.
  • House Mercere must devote a portion of its Redcaps to delivering messages to keep things running in the Order of Hermes.
  • There is also a need for Redcaps to perform a variety of administration and banking duties.
  • Given the number of Redcaps we probably have now, there should be plenty of Redcaps to both pass messages and perform admin/banking duties.
  • When possible, House Mercere will try and help its members out.
  • There are not enough Gifted Mercere magi to meet all of the magical needs of House Mercere.

From this I draw several conclusions:

  • Redcaps should be required to give two seasons of service to House Mercere. These may be spent carrying messages or may be spent in admin/banking positions, as determined by the needs of the house.
  • It is perfectly reasonable to assume that older Redcaps might settle down after a few decades of passing messages and start taking on more sedentary duties.
  • It would also be reasonable to require Redcaps to spend a season every seven years passing messages to remember their roots (though this could be waived for older Redcaps and Redcaps in critical duties).
  • If Redcaps are no longer solely passing messages then that’s not as much of a key part of the Mercere experience. Therefore, it may not be necessary for Gifted Mercere magi to be required to spend one season every seven years running messages. It should be sufficient to say that every Gifted Mercere magus must spend at least one season passing messages sometime in the first seven years after their gauntlet. That should at least give them an idea of what Redcaps do.
  • It’s reasonable to require that any Gifted House Mercere magus devote at least one season every seven years to giving a magical service to the House. They should receive payment for this service.
  • House Mercere should give preference to Gifted Mercere magi in performing services for the house. Payment for these services should be no less than what an outside magus would receive for the same service. Any other policy would imply that House Mercere valued outside magi more than it did its own.
  • For needs that can’t be met by Gifted Mercere magi, the house should contract out to magi from other houses. Preferably this would be done by regular contracts rather than one-off deals. For example, a magus (or a covenant) might be contracted to provide one longevity ritual per year for a certain number of years at a set fee. Another magus might be contracted to craft one magic item per year for a certain number of years at a set rate.
  • House Mercere should try and negotiate rates that are slightly below regular market value since they come with a guarantee of multiple tasks. For example, in a five year contract a magus might be offered 6 or 7 vis per longevity ritual rather than 8 since the contract guarantees the purchase of five LRs. This is clearly a goal and would be dependent upon finding magi willing to accept such a deal.

I think those are a set of rules that both Redcaps and Gifted magi would find acceptable. It requires no more service than previously, but allows a little more flexibility. Members of House Mercere can now serve how they are best suited rather than in a lockstep manner. Furthermore, I think this would serve the current needs of the house better.

So those are my basic thoughts. I’ll continue to think and refine my opinions.

Also, I’m curious about your assumptions, Marko. How many Redcaps and Gifted Mercere magi do you think there are in 1245? Page 78 HoH:TL posits that there are about 150 Redcaps and about 12 Gifted magi in the house. Is that still a valid assumption or do you see the numbers as being different? As I said, I assume that there could be more Redcaps if such were needed by the house. But the question of how many Gifted magi there are is not something I can answer, since it is essentially random.

Ballpark of 150 seems about right to me, however I tend to think that the Redcaps are the favoured mundanes of the ungifted people working for House Mercere, and they would take messages in a complex rotation that also includes training, study, politics, etc. A redcap probably also has a good sized staff of people working for them to ensure their duties are properly performed in their "home" covenant too. The lore is written from the Magus perspective, so that they only deal with the Redcap, and that reflects that the Magi would only wish to speak to the best; following that underneath all that is a staff that makes the Redcap effective in their role. Big covenants might still only have 1 or 2 redcaps, but they would have a huge mundane staff. Small covenants don't have a redcap at all, so when they arrive its seen as a big deal and the Redcap gets spoilt.

According to the information on the wiki, there is a direct portal from Harco to Andorra. No need to go through Majorca.

  • I think 150 Redcaps is way to low. I doubt growth would remain so stagnant in an era of Recap prosperity. My imagination figures at least 200. As for Gifted Mercere, it had been established that there are now 20 or so at this point. I think that was 3 or 4 years ago IRT, at around 1240 in game time.
  • Passing messages is always important. It keeps the Order united and the Mercere very well connected.
  • Thinking in terms of "Seasons of Service" is a wise move. And i like the way you weave history and duty together (even Pawn Brokers have to serve as Herald once in a while).
  • I am not buying your idea of "They should receive payment for this service". Okay, paid by who? Who pays? Does Lucas pay?
  • Paying Premium "in House" is also a bit hard to grasp. Though I do get it from the PoV of "stick it to the outsiders". But stacking premium prices with preferred partner is a bit much. I say it should be one or the other. Either a) fellow Mercere are preferred but a deal is expected, or b) shop where you like, but always pay fellows premium.
  • As we think of all these things, we need to remember that these are evolving customs and not laws. There is also going to be regional variation and individual exception.
  • House Mercere has a lot of leverage in negotiating rates. Remember, Vim = Vim. But Redcaps get two-for-one rates when swapping Forms, even if one is Vim (boy not if both are, the system depends on a standard and there is no reason to trade Vim for Vim). So say a Verdi needs Form X, and trades you twice Form Y to get it from you. Now he wants to sell it. His price is three X. You can pressure him for the Venditior price of two X. You can trade the two Y even in-House, pay him two X, thus your true cost was the one X he needed to make it. You paid Cost.
  • Having said that, this is not the new way of things. As I am playing the voice of twenty other Mercere magi and 200 Redcaps, some of them are saying that is what they want to do. Maybe some Redcaps have married into Venditior families. I can say it is reasonable to say that Redcaps can squeeze non-Verditius magi down to "Cost". This drives the Verdi to compete harder. Some may even add the Venditior fee on top of the three X price.
  • This has got my imagination going. Gue Bono? Who profits? Are the Mercere a mafia or a commune? Or both?
  • Don't forget there was a minor fiscal confusion a few years back. House Tremere withdrew most of its assets to pay for reconstruction after the Dragon Wars.
  • Andorra's exchange rate is not a deal with House Mercere. For example, Vibria can't walk into Harco and expect to trade Ignem for Vim at an even rate. It doesn't directly apply to the Quarter either. There is a special account that was set up by Carmen back when the Portal network deal was made. Members of the covenant essentially have a free exchange rate with this account. Further, most of the covenant's Vis resources flow directly into this account. The Sa Dragonera Vim. In reality, it is the Mercere that benefit from a free exchange rate. Having actual Vim vis as a hard asset at hand in quantities such as this is what sustains the system.

Some years ago my Troupe set up a saga in Scotland, close to the English border. We attemptted to get some synergy between player characters' backgrounds, so de decided on a Two-House Covenant. We let a completely new player to ArM decide which Houses, and made a concept after thatM he chose Mercere and Merinita.
So the saga was that two Gifted Mercere twins were sent to found a new covenant in Scotland and take over managment of a mess of degenerated Redcap routes. We were backed up by some local magi Merinita.
The one magus Mercere was combat oriented, so he took responsibility for the safety of Redcaps, and went to face threats. My magus attempted to be the spymaster, as well as the builder of home and hearth. BTW in the "More Magi of Hermes" thread some years back I developed Janus of Mercere, which was sort of the same concept just taken a lot further.

Anyway, since we included a lot of Mercere and Redcap matters in the saga, we took some decisions and made some conventions. Gifted Mercere did still carry messages one season every 7 years. If they performed a service for the House (i.e. for a Redcap, but sanctioned by the managment), maybe enchant a device or longevity ritual, they would get paid by the House. If any member of the House required Longevity or a decice, which no Gifted Mercere could provide, the House would pay a magus of another House to do it, at their asking price with a little room for negotiation. Simple as that. Magi Verditii always loved working for the Mercere, because they made good on payments, and whenever the Verditius needed specific vis it never hurt to be on the good side of a Redcap. The exchgange rates may not be better than standard, but the time to procure the vis sought might be shorter.

As for our saga, our two Magi Mercere were allowed to trade any vis 1:1, and we ruled that vis lending was possible. For every 10 pawns we had in our vault we got an annual profit of 1 pawn, limited to our score in Hermetic Reputation. We did this last thing as a balance mechanic, because the more time you spend promoting yourself the more probability of customers.
And we spent a lot of seasons in service, some also benefited the new covenant, but some only the House. The two magi often took messages around, and spend entire seasons (often the winter) in other covenants, also with the purpose of sowing the wild oats.

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From the Verditius side of things, if I got contracted to enchant an item, I would expect the buyer to provide the specific vis required to enchant the item up front, with the remainder (2x the initial amount) to be paid on delivery. (The types of vis used to pay for the remainder is negociable.)

I don't want to have to trade vis to enchant the item. That cuts on my profit margin. That is particularly true if I deal with House Mercere, who has vis from every Art available. Why should I have to trade at a 2-to-1 for something that they are buying? That sounds like them trying to cheat me from half of what they are supposed to pay me. That would be a deal-breaker for me.

Note that customers are already getting a deal on the price of invested item (not a lesser enchantments), since Verditius require less vis to prepare the item for enchantment. In a way, Verditius are getting a raw deal from improving their Craft score, as it means they can paid less for an invested device the better they are at their Craft.

Unless the price for the item is based on the base cost, before it is reduced by the Craft score?

That’s how I would price it.
My current Rhine saga has a resident player character Verditius in the covenant. When orders are placed he named a price, and indicated that “x pawns must be y or z or a combination “ and whether he needs it up front.

I've always assumed that when you purchase an item the vis payment includes vis of the proper type needed for enchantment (i.e., 1/3 of it). As you say, the remaining 2/3 is negotiable and could end up being anything. But the person who orders the item should give the enchanter what they need to actually enchant the item.

I've also assumed that the Verditius are the ones getting the deal on crafting. I've assumed that the Verditus charge based on what the vis cost would be for a normal magus. In other words, if it's a level 20 item that would normally cost 2 vis to enchant, I assume that the Verditius would charge 6 vis for the opening of the item even if it only cost him 1 vis to actually enchant it (meaning he might make 5 vis on the transaction rather than just 4).

Perhaps I have expressed myself poorly. The point I was trying to make is that time is very important to magi. They have a million things they want to do and never enough time to do it. In fact, time is almost more precious than vis to a magus. So, forcing a magus to spend a season doing something they would prefer not to do without recompense is something that should be done very carefully.

Now, covenants often impose a requirement of uncompensated service. But aside from House Mercere, I can’t think of another house that forces its members to devote a season to something that they would otherwise not want to do. (I’m prepared to be proven wrong on this; I just can’t think of anything else.) So, the default seems to be that most houses don’t require uncompensated services from their magi.

So, consider what would happen if House Mercere needs a longevity ritual done. They have two options: (1) get a Mercere magus to devise it; or (2) get a magus from another house to devise it. If they get a magus from another house to devise it, they must pay him. They might quibble about the price. They could even make it a non-monetary, non-vis price if they wanted, But they would certainly have to pay the magus something for his effort. No magus from another house would devise a longevity ritual for House Mercere for free.

What happens, then, if they get a Mercere magus to devise the ritual? I see two options: (1) they pay the Mercere magus for his time, same as they would for a magus of another house; or (2) they require that the magus devise the ritual without payment.

In the first option, the Mercere magus is happy because he’s being paid for his time. And House Mercere is no worse off than if it had been forced to hire an outside magus to devise the longevity ritual. In this case it would pay a fee to the Mercere magus. But it would have had to pay a fee to the outside magus if there had been no Mercere magus available.

But what about the second option, i.e., forcing the Mercere magus to devise the ritual without payment. Now the Mercere magus is annoyed. Not only does he lose a season of work with no recompense, but he’s being treated worse than a magus of another house. Consider a wrinkle on this hypothetical in which House Mercere needs to devise two longevity rituals in the same season and only one Mercere magus is free. They’d pay a fee to a non-Mercere magus and not to the Mercere magus. Now the Mercere magus sees that he’s not being paid while the non-Mercere is being paid – all for the same work.

It’s even worse if there was a Merinita maga who wanted to hire the Mercere magus to devise a longevity ritual that same season and would have paid him. Now the Mercere is actually giving up payment for a job in favor of doing the job for free. And he can’t help but think that if he hadn’t been available, House Mercere would have simply paid two outside magi to devise the two longevity rituals. As the Mercere magus sees it, House Mercere is saving vis by short-changing him. They’re taxing their own magi to save a few vis.

Of course, House Mercere can justifiably say that they are giving their magi some non-vis benefit (i.e., they are paying him something). Mercere magi do have the ability to trade vis at cost and travel by portal for free. That is definitely worth something and House Mercere could quite reasonably value that non-vis payment as a free season of work every seven years.

What I was trying to say was that House Mercere has to be careful about demanding too many services from its own people without some benefit (whether a direct payment or fringe benefits resulting from being in the house). It’s like the in-house counsel versus outside counsel analogy I made earlier. A company doesn’t provide any per task payment for its in-house counsel the way it does for its outside counsel. But it does pay a salary and benefits to the in-house attorney.

So far as I know, House Mercere does not pay a salary to any of its Gifted magi. (Lucas has certainly not received a salary from House Mercere in the past twenty years.) House Mercere does give its Gifted magi some benefits, as I noted. This is akin to hiring an attorney and agreeing to pay their health insurance but not offering her a salary. The attorney is definitely going to do some work for you in exchange for the health benefits, but she won’t work full time for you since she’ll need another job to pay the mortgage, buy food, etc. Maybe she’ll work one day a week for you and four days a week for someone else for a salary.

So too, a Mercere magus might say that he’ll perform a season of lab work for free once every seven years in consideration of the benefits he gains from House Mercere. But he needs to be getting some compensation for his time beyond that or he’s being treated worse than a non-Mercere magus.

I do see where you’re coming from. I guess I wasn’t thinking so much as “stick it to the outsiders” as “don’t try and chisel your own people.” And I’m not talking paying a “premium” to House Mercere magi. I’m just talking paying them fair market value and not bargaining them down to a discount rate. There’s a difference there, though a subtle one. It’s the difference between agreeing to pay you the Bluebook value for your car instead of offering 10% below Bluebook value. I’m not saying that you must pay 10% above Bluebook value for the car, just the standard Bluebook value that any other person might get. (Yes, I know that the Bluebook value is not always a great valuation for what a car is worth. But I was using it as an example of a “fair market” price.) I was proposing that Mercere magi get exactly what they would get if they performed the task for another magi hiring them off the street. No more, but no less.

I guess it really comes down to whether the Mercere magi want to do the various tasks to support the Redcaps or if they’re doing it out of a sense of duty. It’s also a question of how much of the work they want to do. Most magi I’ve seen care far more about their own projects and typically do jobs for pay in order to fund their own research. I don’t see Mercere magi as being very different. So, a Mercere maga is likely to want to do just enough work outside of her own research to fund that research. She may not be interested in getting bulk orders from House Mercere that she does at below market value.

Now a Verditius maga might be different. She may want to be crafting all the time and find it beneficial to take on bulk orders to guarantee the work flow. In the end, it’s all about how much bargaining power each side has. What other options does a maga have aside from making a deal with House Mercere? That’ll determine who has the advantage at the negotiating table. If magi want the work, there are more magi who want to do the work than there is work to do, and House Mercere has a lot of the work, then House Mercere has the advantage and it can demand a discount.

If, however, fewer magi want the work, there are more jobs than there are magi to do them, and the amount of work House Mercere has is not a significant portion of the total demand, then the enchanting magi have the advantage and they can demand fair market value for their services.

My problem is that these are fundamental facts that I don’t have solid information on. How big is the demand across Mythic Europe for magic items/longevity rituals? How many magi want the work? How much of the total work is for House Mercere? These are vital pieces of information to determine how negotiations between House Mercere and enchanting magi will go.