General Table Talk

So, I was looking at some of the Mercere Quarter stuff and I realized that while the Mercere Quarter has been around for a while, we seem to have developed very little about it. Specifically, aside from some old PCs that have since departed, I could only find three actual names for Redcaps stationed in Andorra (Cecilia, Pheidippides, and Rilcheaux), and Silveroak has said that he was thinking of moving on from Rilcheaux. I went back over many, many previous posts that dealt with Redcaps and it seems like we always refer to them as generic Redcaps. ("The Redcap delivers a message" or "He sends the package via a Redcap.")

I'd like to see a bit more detail, so I made a page on the wiki for the Mercere Quarter in which I named a few more Redcaps. That way, if people want, they can refer to Redcaps by name and we might even develop a personality for some of them. That'll certainly help me when Lucas has to interact with the Mercere Quarter.

So please take a look at what I wrote up and let me know if anyone has any comments. I welcome anyone else's input on how the Mercere Quarter might be fleshed out.

I have vague ideas about it. There would be a core group on permanent assignment. They would not be messengers, not primarily anyway. They take care of business; accounting, logistics, records, financial management, etc. One is Postmaster.

Then there would be other Redcaps that are in and out, regular visitors. Sometimes they may post here for a year or two.

Lucas is the one that oversees it all. The big boss. You are also responsible for Redcap Benefits; Longevity Potions, Magic Shoes, and so forth. This can all be contracted out, and it is likely that you specialize in just one thing (you make Longevity Potions for anther Mercere who sets you up with the Magic Shoes you need).
And their is a young Verditius named Marcellus who could use some experience and build his reputation.

Remember this. This Mercere Quarter is mainly about Hermetic Economics. Banking and finance.
Oh! Majorica! I forgot about that. Majorica is the Hub. Andorra has a direct link there. I need to look into the weird Regio phenomenon over there. That has something to do with it.

I guess you have to make an exception to the general Redcap rules for them, then. According to the general rules for Redcaps, they have to work two seasons a year running messages. Of course, that could be a general rule for most Redcaps. It stands to reason that they would need people to sit in place as well and run the business. If everyone is using their two seasons of Redcap work carrying messages, then no one is providing the infrastructure to make sure that the messages actually get sent.

So, figure three or four permanent Redcaps - a postmaster, a finance guy, a portal master and an overall manager (though maybe the manager could double as one of those jobs). Add two Redcaps on long-term assignment as messengers whose home base is in Arans and others who come in and out on assignment. Does that sound about right?

Lucas is pretty good at longevity rituals (he can get a lab total above 50). But just to know in case they have to get contracted out, what does a longevity ritual pay? If it's enough I'm sure that Fleur would be interested in picking up the odd longevity ritual. And so I can quote things to Marcellus, what do the magic item contracts pay?

It's in True Lineages. Some Redcaps have duties other than messaging. And we are twenty-five years after that date. Pawnbrokers are where the rising action is at. At least here it is. The MQA is a bank. After the hit the covenant took back in '30, Mercere assets were untouched. This is the most secure magical vault the Mercere have.
But there are messages too. They do a bit of everything around here. The form and function has evolved over time.
Lucas is in charge around here. What does he want to shape it to be?

Well, the price of magic items is calculated in a pretty standard way by Verditius magi. My concern is with longevity rituals and making sure they don't unbalance things. According to the economic guidelines, a level 50 LR for a Redcap at age 35 would cost a person 35 (target's age) + 25 (half the level of the LR) = 60 q.p., which is equal to 15 vis. Such a ritual would cost 7 vis to enact (35/5 = 7), which would leave a profit of 8 vis. I suppose that's a bit high for one season's work, but not unreasonably so. And really, how often will a Redcap turn 35 and need a new longevity ritual?

According to the economic rules it's 6 q.p. per magnitude to buy a lesser magic item. A lesser item costs 1 vis (4 q.p.) per 10 levels (or two magnitudes). Since it costs 0.5 vis (or 2 q.p.) to enchant a lesser item, that leaves the enchanter a 1 vis (4 q.p.) profit per magnitude of the lesser item. That means to make 8 vis per season you'd have to craft a magnitude 8 (level 40) item, which requires a lab total of 80 to do in one season - much higher than the 50 LT required to make 8 vis with a LR. A 50 LT for an item would make the enchanter only 5 vis.

I guess I just wanted to confirm that it's acceptable for House Mercere to pay fair market value for those things? I don't want to make promises that the House won't back me up on.

Of course I suppose Hosue Mercere could look for a discount on LRs since it contracts for a fair number. Maybe shave 1 vis off the top as a finder's fee. That's still 7 vis for a season's work, which is 2 higher than you'd get for a comparable item. I know better than to try and negotiate the price of magic items with a Verditius. My understanding is that their prices are set in stone by the House and that Verditus are not allowed to charge less.

I need to check the source. I do believe that somewhere I have rules about special Redcap prices. A level 50 LP is free at at age 35+. If they want a higher level, or to start up younger, they have to pay as normal.

As for Fair Market Value, that is what Redcaps charge other magi. The Mercere pay wholesale, and they have been using their influence to drive that down as much as possible.
As for Verditius prices, how is that working out for them? Twenty-five years ago, they were giving Venditiors a discount of a third just to get an business. I imagine by now that the Redcaps have muscled in on the Venditior business.

The Mercere can put pressure on Verditius with the Vis exchange rates. Not at Andorra, the members here get the privileged Mercere rate as part of the lease. Harco has floated the idea of renegotiating that term, but Carmen will not even consider an offer. Maybe another Pontifex?

That's true. But it's just the person getting the LR that gets it for free. The magus designing the LR still gets paid - it's just House Mercere that pays him rather than the Redcap getting the LR.

It's like health insurance (in the US at least). Once person might have his employer pay for his heath insurance while another person might have to pay for it herself. That doesn't matter to the health insurance company. They get paid by someone. They're not giving out their health insurance for free to the guy who gets it through his work just because he doesn't pay for it.

I like the analogy. We just need to scale it back to fit the times. Not culture wise, but in terms of financial thinking. Which may have evolved a bit from the base.
LPs are a benefit due, the Redcap pays nothing. Or rather, they paid with their labor. House Mercere foots the bill.That is why they probably prefer to work with magi in House. Keep it at cost.
Now that I think of it, there isn't anywhere that says that Mercere magi owe any service time. That is another thing that would have changed over the last 25 years. To some extent I imagine. What do you imagine is happening?

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.


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

1 Like

(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.