Hermetic "Generations"

I've seen a number of posts were folks make reference to it being only 4 or 5 generations from the Founders to the present. I'd tend to think a Hermetic Generation is about 50 years. 20-30 out of apprenticeship getting capable and 15 to actually train the poor kid.

Sure, some of the antiques lurking in covenants are 4th or 5th generation, but I think the Order on the whole is running at something like Generation 9. So there's a lot more room for generational change if you need that for some story idea you have.

Probably should get to sleep. I'm posting random thoughts... :open_mouth:

I think 50 years may be a bit short, but I've always liked the idea that longevity potions have becomes steadily stronger over the history of the Order, and so the early generations were shorter than modern generations.

But the actual longevity of the magi doesnt have to have anything at all to do with the average time it takes for a new generation to appear... It just means more generations exist at the same point in time.

45-65 years between generation renewals sounds fairly good.

I would think that if a mage thinks he has longer to live then he pay put off training his first apprentice a little longer.

I've seen in some biblical commentary that there were only seven generations between some great figures and various epochal events (I can't remember now which, exactly) - and a short but not entirely illuminating Google search shows me this is a repeated theme.

Also, of course, Psalm 90 and all the other signs that the "seventh" thing, timewise, will be special.

Assuming that Bonisagus was a definitive Generation 1, one could put the seventh generation at certain leaders at the end of the Schism war, or put the seventh generation in 1220 proper, which would mean that a potential eschaton is nigh.

It does in that there is less pressure for you to train an apprentice to help you get a "good enough" longevity potion and that you may delay taking one from pure psychological factors as you feel you have plenty of time to do so. Higher availability of decent books also make the apprentice lab total bonus slightly less attractive in the beginning.

If it helps at all, the two Primi of House Tytalus represent the 9th and 10th generations. Or more accurately, the 9th and 10th magi to achieve the post.

I think that 20 years out is a reasonable time to start training your first apprentice if it is sufficiently important to you that you expend some effort to get your arts up to training levels, but I can easily see even magi who very much want to train apprentices not getting around to their first one until age 50 because of other concerns getting in their way.

The reason that the top age of a magus is important is that magi can continue to train right up until they leave this world behind. A magus who is 90 years out of apprenticeship is probably more "fertile" than one who is 25 years out.

So when I think about generations while I'd probably place the average age of a magus when they gauntlet their first apprentice a little bit higher than Vormerin's 50, I'd definitely place the average age of a magus when they gauntlet an apprentice (first, second, third or whatever) significantly higher.

So while some magi may be tenth or even 14th generation other may be only 5th or 6th.

For me, the question is: Is it better to be a higher or a lower generation?

pro higher:

  • Evolution often favors fast generations - some of humanity's biggest enemies are short-generaration beings: from DDT resistant insects to the HI Virus.
  • younger Magi might be more progressive and incorporate new ideas into their teaching
  • they might be less selfish


  • it might be a question of prestige
  • less loss of ancient secrets between generations
  • old magi make better and more competent teachers
  • the fittest reproduce

I think the whole generation thing is a moot point.

It can vary widely how many Apprentices a given Magus trains, and when. What's the practical upper limit of age with Longevity in 5th ed? I can't quite remember if I did the math, or some one else did (I was hoping that! :slight_smile: ). But in 4th ed, Twillight points accumulated at 1 per 20 years on Longevity IIRC. And the final curtain call was at 24, so with minimal Twilight episodes and low Vim score (which also contributed some, back then). So 400 years would be the max, and most never reached that by far. Perhaps 200 would be a fair age.

A productive Magus could train many apprentices in his lifetime. Perhaps starting as early as 5 years out of his own Gauntlet. For a generalist aiming to do this. Various Virtues could make this even faster, but perhaps the Exp in Abilities would be skimped a bit. What if a Bonisagus continually has an Apprentice, from age 35 to age 200, that's 11 Apprentices? How's that for generations?

Still, the concept of generations could easily be a matter of pride in certain Houses. That would be True Lineage houses. Those, who recruit like-minded hedgies with interesting abilities, might not care. Also, the pros and cons of being early or late generation are interesting. Magic is evolving, the Founders' way may differ from the way things are done now.

I know there have been - and surely will be again - many heated debates about the magic of the Founders. Was it stronger or weaker than magic now? Was it more narrow and specialized, as opposed to the highly variable hermetic system now, where magi chose whether to concentrate or spread widely. Etc.
IMHO, an early generation magus could easily have some Supernatural Ability, some thing, not completely integrated with Hermetic magic, but a force none the less. Perhaps some innate power, like Mythic Blood gives. Perhaps the concentration of Mythic Blood is higher with the early generations???
And the later generations, perhaps they have an easier time justifying learning some of the newer innovations. Perhaps the older magi have troubles harmonizing this, what with their not-quite-integrated powers.

Yes, but it's interesting nonetheless for all the reasons you cite.

I think I may have asked this on the Berklist at one time, but here's a previous discussion from 2006 on these forums with some interesting ideas:



(would comment more but on dialup as ADSL broadband SNAFU currently thanks to TPG)

because we've been playing our saga for 7 years and there is the room for it, I run 2 Magi...

A young Gifted Mercere who is about to start training his 1st apprentice (his son) and is less then 10 years from gauntlet. His is quite capabable of being an adaquate (not great) teacher.

The older Magi is a 56 year old Flambeau and is 33 years out of apprenticeship. He is about to start training his 2nd apprentice. His has trained one competant (again not great) apprentice, but his second apprentice will be in every way better because of the first such as the fact that my Magi has spent 15 seasons gaining exposure in teaching (well actually mroe through training other covenant mates). This is of course a 3. So this is up to 45 extra XP. He also has better arts being older and a better spell selection. Drusilla (his 1st) started competant but Jocelyn (his 2nd) will be much better.

I think that you can have apprentices from quite early on, but they will not benefit from the sheer weight and depth that an older magi can give. But a magi needs to start at some point and to get to a level where a 2nd or third apprentice is actually noticeble when leaving apprenticeship, the magic needs to start teaching when they are quite young.


The fact that some people have their first child when 18 (or younger :frowning: ) and others have their first at 35+ doesn't really change the length of a human generation.

Its certainly possible for someone to be only around 4th generation from the Founders if they happen to have a chain of 'last decade' apprentices. But equally, there would be a lot of apprentices trained fairly early in the magus' career... after 20-30 years. Just as with children, the view of magi towards apprentices is going to vary. But given the rate at which the Order has expanded, even assuming massive growth from adoption of non hermetics, training of apprentices is pretty widespread.

I'm not saying every magus is 10th generation or anything. I'm just arguing that a lot more generations exist than is often argued when people discuss innovation and change in the Order.

I think that the typical first "generation" mark for Magi is twenty years out of their own Apprenticeship (this is especially true within House Tremere and in the Rhine Tribunal, both of which embody tradition). With a median starting age for Apprenticeship of around 13, this would make the Magus around 48-50.

One has to consider that, with Magi, that isn't the same thing as a "reproductive" cycle. That begins at the start of Apprenticeship, not the physical birth of a Gifted individual. So, in effect, from the start of a Magus' own Apprenticeship to the start of taking another is going to be about 35 years. The same interval separates the Gauntleting of the Magus from that of his first filius.

Personally, I think that it makes sense for a prolific Magus to start training an Apprentice as soon as he is able, and to grant the Apprentice extra time to experiment during Apprenticeship. Having the Apprentice perform original research, create new spells, and, yes, write Tractatus (think grad papers) would expand the resources of the Parens as well as make the Apprentice that much more effective when he Gauntlets. Due to the sheer number of untapped Gifted people in Mythic Europe (the Order constitutes maybe one-sixth of the Gifted population, if that much when one considers Hermetic lifespan and therefore membership versus the birth incidence of Gifted people) any aggressively expansionistic lineage could quickly come to dominate a Tribunal without violating Hermetic Law. They could simply out-reproduce the competition, creating a large number of very active Magi.

That's actually the fastest way for House Tremere to dominate the Order. Train more Apprentices in the Transylvanian Tribunal, work them hard, and then start shipping them out to other Tribunals while retaining their sigils. Within a century the Tremere would hold a major voting bloc and could probably control the Grand Tribunal.