General Table Talk

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.

I’m not sure I understand precisely how that works. Is there a reserve of vis somewhere that Andorra magi can freely swap vis out of? Are we limited to what’s in there? In other words, if I have Corpus vis and I want Ignem vis am I out of luck if the vis reserve doesn’t have any Ignem vis in it? If so, how do we know what’s in the reserve and what’s available for swapping? I confess I haven’t worried too much about it since Lucas is a Mercere magus. And I haven’t paid too much attention to how others have handled their own vis use.

I do note that the description of the covenant notes the following major boon:

I’ve always read that to say that we could trade freely between forms on a one-to-one basis and between Form and Technique on a one-to-two basis. For example, if I have a pawn of Corpus vis and I want a pawn of Ignem vis, my pawn of Corpus vis is worth 1 Vim and a pawn of Ignem vis is worth 1 Vim. Therefore I can make a fair exchange between Corpus and Ignem on a one-to-one basis since they are both worth 1 Vim. Likewise, if I have a pawn of Rego vis and I want two pawns of Herbam vis, my pawn of Rego vis is worth 2 Vim and a pawn of Herbam vis is worth 1 Vim. Therefore I can make a fair exchange between Rego and Herbam on a one-to-two basis since the Rego vis is worth 2 Vim and the Herbam vis is both worth 1 Vim.

If this is not how it was meant to work, please let me know. I suspect that I’m not the only one who has misinterpreted this description.

I can see how having a steady supply of Vim would be helpful if it’s used as the basis for exchange. But that presupposes that every exchange actually involves a transfer to or from Vim. Is that the case? I may not fully understand the system. For example, if a maga has some Ignem vis and she wants to trade it for Rego vis, does she have to first trade Ignem vis for Vim vis (at a loss), then trade the Vim vis for Rego vis (again, at a loss). Is the Vim a necessary intermediate step, even though the maga has no need for Vim vis? If so, it’s great news for House Mercere (who gains double the surcharge for trade) but terrible news for magi (who have to pay a double surcharge for the trade).

Furthermore, I note that Vim vis is the most common type of vis out there. Anyone distilling vis from their Aura is going to get Vim vis. It stands to reason that there would be more Vim vis out there than any other vis and that it would be far, far more common for a maga to be trying to trade Vim vis rather than any other vis. A magus who needs vis but doesn’t have any is going to distil Vim vis from their Aura to trade for what he needs. And any maga looking to increase her vis reserve will distil vis from her covenant Aura, adding to her Vim vis. Vim vis must be piling up across Mythic Europe. It’s true that every covenant needs Vim for its Aegis. But beyond that it’s no more desirable than any other vis (and possibly less so). As a result, I’d imagine that House Mercere typically has an overflow of Vim vis not counting what comes in from Sa Dragonera.

And consider, once House Mercere has a pile of Vim vis, they don’t need a constant influx of more Vim vis unless a lot of people are using up the Vim vis. If it’s used as a medium for exchange, it’ll be given to House Mercere at least as often as it’s received. And with the favorable exchange rate, the amounts of Vim will keep rising based solely on exchanges without the need for more Vim pumped into the system from a Vim source.

In the end I find that I don’t understand how the Andorra vis economic work or how the Mercere vis economics work. Any further explanation you can give would be extremely helpful.

I defenitively agree that a Mercere magus who performs a season of work for the House get paid. However, that should not include the season every 7 years when they traditionally deliver messages. I believe that should remain.

Mercere magi have several special privileges, described in HoH:TL p.94:

Magi of House Mercere do enjoy several special privileges. They receive preferential status when Redcaps hire magi to make magic items or longevity potions — these contracts always go to Mercere magi if they are interested. Likewise, they can order and purchase these items, just
like Redcaps. They may borrow up to 10p of vis from their House without paying interest, or exchange vis at no additional cost. Redcaps will generally do their best to assist them; service to a Mercere magus is generally considered a worthy cause, worth neglecting Redcaps’ other duties. They are allowed free passage through Mercere’s Portals. Finally, Mercere magi are always welcome at
Mercer Houses, and are often supported by them. A Gifted Mercere without a covenant need only follow the Redcaps to find a place to live comfortably and work magic.

There are other Houses that require regular services from their magi:

  • Guernicus will investigate crimes and other things, as assigned by the superiors.
  • Trianoma (Bonisagus) will travel to visit magi Bonisagi and keep a watch on Hermetic magi. "They are also occasionally asked by the Tenentes Occultorum to monitor a nosy mundane or
    retrieve a missing text." (See HoH:TL p.20) No mention of payment either.
  • Tremere will assign mission and tasks, and may even go so far as to assign a magus to move to a specific covenant. Though the House provides support, it is not per say payment.
  • Verditius magi will initiate other Verditius into Inner Mysteries and HoH:MC does not mention needing to pay the Mystagogue, even though sometimes that involves sacrificing a season.

Now, I know that each of these can ignite a debate on how each should be considered in a specific saga. My point is that numerous Houses do in fact expect services from their members. And none of the relevant rulebooks mention payment for these services.

So, to repeat myself, I believe that the "one season of carrying messagesevery seven years" should not be shifted to a different kind of service. This is described in HoH:TL as a tradition put into place to help Mercere magi stay in touch with the reality of their non-Gifted berthren. Shifting this service to work in the lab would defeat that purpose. That season is not paid for by the House, though the Mercere would certainly receive the same kind of traditional payment from covenants that regular redcaps receive.

On the other hand, any season of magical service (such as doing a longevity ritual for a member of the House) should be paid for at the same rate as would be paid to an outsider. The Mercere magi simply have first dibs on such contracts.

Also worth mentioning, I believe that payments for LRs will come out of the House coffers, which are filled by the profits from vis trading.

I would agree with Trogdor that the Mercere magi get paid for their time. I would also agree with Arthur that they do not get paid for the 1 season in 7 but do for any contracts for Redcaps( LR or enchanted items).

I would add to Arthur's list that any mystery House has members that must act as Mystagogue. I am sure they are not paid for that but perhaps it is rotating.

I do have a question on Ikelos. He is left hanging in a story in 1242. We seem to have moved to 1245. Should I add 3 years of experience?

Where did we leave off with him? We can tinker with these three years and lay the groundwork for what we intend to do with him. I presume that at some point he wants to join Andorra for some reason. Does he have Visions or anything I can use to esoterically motivate him?

If I remember correctly, there was a Flambeau magus named Alclaron or some such, from Estancia Escarida. His wife/lover is Ex-Miscelllanea? I remember there was a book of his work, I don't remember how much I told you about it. Something to do with integrating Alchemy. I know I mentioned that much.

To make life easy, let us say he spent some time wandering &/or researching whatever. It is within the last year or so that he came to Andorra and petitioned for membership. Less than seven seasons. That way we can induct new members all at once.

To make my life easier, it would be awesome if you did something that gave you the Blatant Gift. :smiley:

I agree with your comments, though I'll quibble on one thing. A Mercere magus is getting paid for his service every seven years. It's just not a cash or vis payment. As you note, he's getting paid in valuable fringe benefits, which is absolutely a payment, though of a different kind.

I suspected there were. I just couldn’t recall any off the top of my head.

My comments about altering this requirement were made in response to Marko questioning whether the house has changed sufficiently that old rules need to be changed. A hundred years ago the defining feature of House Mercere is that it passed messages for the Order. According to Marko, this may not the case anymore. His comments imply that banking is now a more import part of the house than sending messages (or at least is rising in importance to where it challenges sending messages as the most important aspect of the house). I wanted to explore what it would mean if that was indeed the case. Would there be an absolute requirement that Redcaps pass messages and that Gifted Mercere magi carry messages during the one season every seven years that they devote to the house? Maybe, but maybe not. If House Mercere has reached a point where over half of the Redcaps are not passing messages (I’m not sure if it’s reached that point, though Marko states that banking is extremely important to it now) then perhaps the reality of non-Gifted magi in the house is not centered around passing messages.

But I do take your point. It seems like the one season every seven years is intended to help ground the Gifted magi in the reality of the non-Gifted magi. You’ve convinced me that for this reason the season of service should clearly not involve any lab activities. Maybe it should still be passing messages; maybe it could involve doing an administrative or banking job. But either way, it should involve a mundane task that lets the magus appreciate what the non-Gifted magi do every day.

And I agree with what you say that there should be no additional payment for this season of service beyond the fringe benefits enjoyed by a Mercere magus.

As for magi required to perform Service for their House, there are all the examples others have given and maybe more. My primary thought was House Tremere.

Which then begs the question of how House Mercere is organized? Who makes what decisions in such and such a circumstance? Who can force who? Is force needed? Are the a mafia or a commune? What aspects of their culture would get them to want or not want to do such and such? What would inspire an individuall to do more than just the maximum minimum?

And who controls the coffers? A lot of this is good game material. Maybe the system is about to collapse? Who murdered the Primus? Or was it suicide?

I am in favor of the idea of non-vis benefits. That makes the most sense. In abstract, as you increase in power and influence, you can voluntarily put more of your own time and resources into the commonwealth. This would justify many side benefits and appropriations. A longevity specialist who devotes extra seasons to benefit Redcaps can probably write off their lab upkeep. And more. Lots of side benefits for going above and beyond.

That is what I mean by the maximum-minimum.

There is an Account. The Merecere vault does contain hard assets, but if Andorra cashed out all at once, they could not pay in exact Arts. It is the Sa Dragonera Vim.
The system is based on Vim, because not only is it the easiest to obtain, it is in the highest demand and the most universally useful. It is needed for Greater Enchanted items of the sort that Verdi command high prices for. And Tremere/Transylvania has been investing heavily in reconstruction in the aftermath of the Dragon Wars.
The Art identity of hard assets on hand changes on a regular cycle. At least annually, if not seasonal.
As for what individual members of Andorra do, the scale of our activity in practice is too small to even matter. Most magi just leave their Vis in the group account until they need it.
Except Vibria. She demands every coin (her preferred container).
The point is that, in game practice, it is working the way you imagine. In game theory, the system could break either way if we make a story of it. But that would require circumstances more extreme than endured already.

No. It works out on paper, which is how these trades are mostly being done. I Trade 4 Terram for 1 Creo works out the same on paper as trading 4 Terram of 2 Vim then 2 Vim for 1 Creo.
The Value of Vim is half way between Form and Technique. That's the theory behind the idea.

As for the supply and demand for Vim. There is a greater supply than for other Forms, but the greater demand far outstrips that. Every covenant in the Order needs it for their Aegis. Every magus needs it to open Invested Items. And Coeris is trading for all the Vim they can get.

Probably in the Andorra saga. In the official book he is one of the trio of Crimons in the covenant. No flambeaus in estancia es karida in the ArM3 iberia book.

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I will read over the pre tribunal (Delivery to Barcelona) thread. IIRC, we were escorting a hedge mage to present the now dead Flambeau's work to the tribunal. His lover might have been ex-Mish but I think she was a hedge. 2 groups wanted to steal the documents. We were protecting the documents and the hedge.

He does have visions which got him into his first trouble :slight_smile: Trying to enlighten a Redcap.

From the Barcelona thread:

I am working on what these documents are, as the idea fascinates me. So we understand what we are dealing with and to know why certain mystery groups seek to silence this knowledge, I will explain what I am imagining. And as always, I am open to suggestion.
There are seven tractati on Magic theory, all low quality (Q5), yet each one in succession imparts knowledge of one of his Breakthroughs. These are...

* A Minor Breakthrough teaching an inferior form of Craft Magic in the form of a pair of new Spell Parameters; Dose (Delay/Expiry); the spell is held in an object for a limited time before it Expires and becomes inert, and when activated there is a slight delay before it takes effect.
  • Another Minor Breakthrough in the form of a new Spell Mastery Ability that allows a magus to incorporate Casting Objects into the spell. This is similar to Potent Magic and Spell Foci, and the effects may be combined.
  • A Major Breakthrough! Alarcon has integrated Vulgar Alchemy into the fabric of standard Hermetic Magic. Anyone who studies this will now understand this process and anyone he teaches Magic Theory to and/or reads Magic Theory books he later writes, will also absorb this knowledge. This new wisdom will spread rapidly once released. Those who already know Vulgar Alchemy as a Mystery or latter learn it as such, learn an advanced and simplified variation.
  • The next idea seems a little wonky, and I rate it as a Minor Breakthrough. Call it Vis Alchemy. The amount of vis one may use in the Lab equals Magic Theory times two, OR Magic Theory times Magic Lore (or appropriate other Realm). Further, Lab Specializations add to this limit when matching.
    I need three more ideas. At least one that really freaks out one or more cults by revealing a major secret.
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