Hermetic Generations

If a mundane generation is 20-years (take as a given, please), how long do you imagine a Hermetic generation?

Or perhaps put another way, after how many years after gauntletling would one assume that a generic magus is prepared to take an apprentice?

Hmm, Under 4th edition, it would have been just under 4 years past gauntlet. You take a 4 in everything, and study up all 15 arts to 5 or better. In under 4 years, you're ready. You can't cast much in the way of spells, but you can pass on your tradition to others. Our saga's Bonisagus was ready to train an apprentice waaay before everyone else.

You'd have to do some extra work under 5th to get the same effect, and take a couple of virtues related towards extra xp to do it. Skilled Parens comes to mind, maybe an affinity or insight...

I think the reality is 10 to 15 years past gauntlet. So, A hermetic generation is probably 30 years, to the mundane 20.


A Bonisagus extreeme generalist? Must have been of line Trianoma then. Not much original reasearch going on with 4 in each art...

Maybe the Hermetic generations would tend to vary from house to house?
And some houses, like Tremere perhaps, might put a grater emphasis on training apprentices early?
But without having considered the issue too seriously, 30 years out of gauntlet doesn't seem so crazy.

I'm in the same troupe as Kryslin. Our resident Bonisagus 'nearly' cheated.

Yes, he had 4's in everything when he was created, but that's not how he got started so young teaching. As soon as he had a 5 in ONE Art he began teaching an apprentice.

The rules say you need a 5 in ALL arts in order to teach them. In Ars4 rules basically required that you have a 5 in all Arts in order to teach, this is because mechanically stats less than 5 are unable to teach anything at all.

The player (my brother) argued that if he has a 5 in anything, he could teach it. If he could keep to the in-game rules (provide a student with a season of training) it shouldn't matter if he met the mechanical rule of 5 in ALL Techs and Forms.

So what the mighty Bohdi Lee (my brother) did, was teach an art to a student one season, then the next season study an art. He was literatly reading the books and learning from them as he was training a student. He trained his apprentice 'by the book', and the apprentice became a generalist, like the mighty Bohdi Lee.

As Gm at the time, I let him do it just to see if he could. At the end of the day, the rest of us started considering apprentices as early as G5 (Gauntlet+ 5 years).

I think that you're all underestimating. We're looking for the average hermetic generation , not the "thirteen year old mother" scenario.

A magus who isn't set on becoming a teacher ASAP isn't going to fill out their arts to 5 until twenty to thirty years out of apprenticship. It has been my experience that magi can get by with three or four techniques and a similar number of forms (in the more than one way to skin a cat manner) indefinately. They'll branch out to other forms when they need to do a specific effect and it may take them decades before they say "Hey, I'm pretty close to being able to take an apprentice I could shore up my last few techniques and be good to go."

Also I believe that a typical magus will hope to line up several huge high level projects before they take an apprentice in order to get the maximum benefit from the lab total boost. Lab help really pays off when it can shorten a four season project down to two seasons. this involves lineng up the correct sorts of vis and perhaps aquiring lab texts.

Then, once the apprentice is found (more time) they have a fifteen year apprenticship.

So to compute what I believe to be the typical age for a magus when their first apprentice is gauntleted:

age 25 when leaving apprenticeship
+20 years for learning arts
+3 years for finding an apprentice/tradeing for vis and lab texts
+15 years training

age 63

a typical magus may then gaunlet apprentices thereafter at an average rate of one every 23 years.

So going even farther into my back of the envelope calculations of Hermetic generations I'd guess that the difference between magus age and apprentice age breaks own in a similar distribution to this

<20 years 3%
20-30 years 6 %
31-50 years 40%
51-70 years 30%

70 years 21%

If a generation is a single step in the line of descent from an ancestor, then the length of a generation varies massively by the House and the individual magus involved. It might be possible for one lineage to have an average of a 100+ year generation gap, and another to have an average of 50 or so.

It's perfectly possible for a magus to train an apprentice quite young (my character in an AM3 campaign took their first at around 60), then perhaps train others much later in life (he started training his last apprentice age ~130). By that stage their first apprentice had trained sufficiently to take their own apprentice (making his 'nepos' the same age as his 'filius') [note: my Latin is probably wrong]

In the same game the Flambeau only took one apprentice, and then only much later in life - he was far more concerned with becoming powerful than passing on knowledge.

This might suggest that large Houses might have small generation gaps, but this ignores the fact that most Houses are not True lineages, so can effectively adopt magi from any age group.

In short - 'vulgar' generations are fairly easy to calculate because of the relatively short reproductive span of time. Magi can have apprentices until they die or go into final twilight (another highly variable factor), so the average 'generation' length for the Order might be too generalised to be of much use when deciding which group form Generation X ..

The definition I'm using for generation is, roughly, a group of cohorts who go through life stages together. (Or more specifically, are of a like age when certain events happen.) So, it's not actually each step in a line of descent. For instance, Generation 13 (As defined in The Fourth Turning, a book I can't recommend enough, William Strauss and Neil Howe) are people (roughly) born between 1963-1980. Their parents might belong to either (or both) the previous Boomer or Silent generations... and siblings can easily straddle the line.

I'm finding their theories to be very useful while thinking about the way the Tribunal looks for my new saga... "I want these people to all feel like grandparents to the PC... that means they should be how old? And that means they all were about this age when X happened."

I guess one way to look at the question is, when does a magus start feeling like someone X younger than him is a 'kid' or neophyte.

Think of it like this. Say there is a major event within the Order or Tribunal, like Schism War or whatever. There would be, perhaps, roughly five or six groups of where people are in their magical lifespans:

Recently Gauntleted
Young Adults
Super Elders

Thus Generation A would be the group who were roughly 1-X years out of gauntlet when the war happened (the Recently Gauntleted), and Generation B would be the group who were roughly X-Y years out of gauntlet (the "young adults").

Now, take it as a given that those divisions should be roughly the same length, how long do each of those life stages last? As far as personal development is concerned, are apprenticeship and recently gauntleted different enough to be seperate cohorts, or are they actually the same cohort, making the category more "childhood"?

Or maybe this way: does an elder magus really stop treating someone like a child when he's gauntleted? How long does it take?

Sorry for all the poorly formed thoughts and questions, I'm still working through the whole structure in my head, let alone the specifics of numbers.

Yep, I'm looking for the average. Of course, which type of average might be up in the air.

Sorry, I got lost. What are these percentages of? Ages at which someone takes an apprentice?

These are my guesses at the "hermetic" age of a magus when their apprentice passes their gauntlet, which also happens to be the difference in age (both physical age and hermetic age) between a magus and their apprentice and thus the length of a hermetic generation.

Most won't take an apprentice until later in thier hermetic careers, true, but it's still quite possible inside the first decade. The second chracter in our saga happened to be our flambeau, who did it at the 10 year mark. Again, though, there was a 'hack' : between 2nd and 2rd editions, spell levels changed, and in order to be able to cast some of the spells in my grimoire, I had to take Extra Arts (twice).

The Flambeau in question was a generalized specialist (I had a score in everything, with some stronger combinations), but I still had to do 7 years of solid study before I had 5's in everything (I didn't start early, unlike my sodales, and had score of 1 in several).

Granted, we were more concerned with studying our arts than anything else the first decade or so, then came the big projects...

Still, that's for our saga - YSWV (Your Saga Will Vary).

For 5th edition, it's going to take much longer - Perhaps 20 years post gauntlet - to be able to train your apprentice.


Erik Tyrrell wrote:
<20 years 3%
20-30 years 6 %
31-50 years 40%
51-70 years 30%

70 years 21%

I'd say that Erick's numbers are a good figure. I'd customise them for specific Houses sine they grow at different rates.

If you want house some houses to have a bigger population in your saga, increse the numbers. If some houses are restrained like the tremere might be, reduce them.

I'd say magus rate themselves as follow

Apprentice | 0 years
Young magus | 0-50 Years
Mature Magus | 30 - 100 Years
Seasoned Magus | 80 - 150 Years
Elder Magus / Archmagus 100 + Years

Then reputations kick in. These include boodlines, lineage, influence in guilds / houses / tribunals / etc.

Between stating that your are 7th hermetic generation down from Bonisagus or that you are ArchMagus, blood decendent of Bonisagus, Leader of the Tomato Guild (7th hermetic generation), I'd choose the later.

That may be a more profitable way of looking at generation, I agree. In the AM3 game I run I started with some of the very old magi having taken part in the schism war. The PC's belong to a post-schism generation, in that effect; not around at the time, their elders being tight-lipped about the whole thing, and them beginning to ask themselves questions about it.

Rather than worrying about strict generation length - it might be more profitable to consider those who were taken as apprentices after such major events and who would have been of significant power at the time. It would be much easier to plot the maximum ages of this form of generation ...

So if the Schism was 70 years ago, a 50 year old magus would belong to the post-schism generation, whereas a 120 year old magus would have memories of the events that took place (but probably very little active role or awareness of the deeper politics), and a 170 year old might have personally taken an active role in the conflict.

Generation length (in the same manner as used for mundanes) is pretty pointless. It is useful only to statistical use, and not really useful when you can generally name every magus in your linage since joining the order.
As for the actual time before the first apprentice, that can easily be as little as 20 years after the master began as an apprentice himself. And the last apprentice would probably be close to the end of the master's life.

Read the aforementioned Fourth Turning, or Generations: The Future History of America. It may change your mind.

I have found their theories to be very useful in interpretting history and even contemporary interactions.

Gotta agree with RaRodger on the influence of generations. In terms of play, a classic story hook is some older more powerful and influencial magus comes and orders the troupe on a mission. Rather than having a random Magus a more interesting approach is the introduction of a Pater or Mater.

The introduction of 'relatives' into the game is a great way to deepen any character, plus relatives have influence over characters without the need to say, 'Magus X is statistically your superior do this or else.'

In addition to older magi being benevelant magi who assign missions, they could be alchoholic gambers that need a warm bed and some extra Vis. It's hard to say no to parents, brothers and sisters, and lineage/family is a great way to press the influence of others on to characters.

Finally, thanks for the suggested the reading. I looked up both books and they seem very interesting.

i think that the idea of trading or selkling apprentices is under appreciated. a magi that has a five in all arts can open an apprentice then trade or sell them to other magi. in roleplaying terms a magi wont seek an apprentice till he needs one to help with research or until he wants to care on some aspect of magical knowledge he gained. i would say most people i know start thinking about an apprentice at 30 to 40 years old, which is 10 or more years out of gauntlent.

The previous edition of Heirs of Merlin lists Magus Ages as follows:

Young Magus: Gauntlet + 0 to 30 years (actual age approx 25-55)
Mature Magus: G + 20 to 70 years (45-95)
Old Magus: G + 50 to 100 years (75-125)
Ancient Magus: G + 80 years (105+)

I think Mages age "better" in this edition, and tend to enter Twilight later, but these seem like a good place to start.

In our 5th ed game we have a generalist bonisagus with the works (study bonus, book learner, free study and secondary insight) who could have trained an apprentice 8 years after her gauntlet. Secondary insight ready speeds up the process

We were having a very similar conversation in my game a couple weeks ago. Two players pointed out that it is possible to create a starting character with a 5 in all arts and therefore be technically able to train an apprentice right out of gauntlet. I argued that it most likely wouldn't happen i my campaign becuase A: who makes a character like that, and B: it's not just ability, but also social presures. I think that older magi would be highly offended that some young upstart thinks he has earned the right to train an apprentice at such a young age and would deal with it in a number of different ways. Of course my view of the order may be a little different then others.