A couple of threads recently have got me thinking of the sort of stories you can tell if Hermetic magi are separated from the Order for one reason or the other. I'm not talking about one shot adventures or short trips, but multi year, several decade, potentially saga long events. Events that leave Magi without contact with, support from, or potentially responsibility to the Order of Hermes.
I'm also not suggesting nonstandard sagas with Magus analogs native to weird settings. Rather having a situation or event transport canonical Order of Hermes Magi to a nonstandard setting. Sort of a Mythic Lost. There are numerous way to do this. Just to brainstorm a few.
Social Separation. The Order is still exists but is not friendly to the characters. The sagas and is still set in the canonical Mythic Europe though perhaps on the outskirts. The troupe would have to decide just how much of an enemy the Order is to the characters, and how often they show up. Do the characters just need to keep a low profile or are they constantly on the run. Not exactly the same idea as my other examples but still practicing Hermetic Magi who can't deal directly with the rest of the order.
The easiest way to do something like this would be to play Marched Wizards of one form or the other.
Lesser versions of this might be Transient wizards kicked out of there respective houses but not marched.
Or perhapes apprentices raised by Marched Wizards with no knowledge of the order except as enemies.
Geographic Separation The Saga is set in some other part of the Mythic World outside Europe. They might be in a Mythic version of the 13th century location complete with non European cultures and magic. Or it might be the legendary places the Europeans believed existed on the edge of their maps. Lacking an easy way to return the Magi must adapt or perish. It would be a very high research saga but potentially interesting. Interesting places in a Mythic 13th century are a few wiki searches away
Pre Colombian North or South America
Central African Kingdoms
Same place New world For less research what about having a Covenant of standard magi somehow end up in a version of Mythic Europe where the Order of Hermes never existed and hermetic magic is unknown.
Maybe Bonisagus was never born or died early.
There migh be many small traditions of Hedge Magicians squabbling all over Europe
Or another Tradition developed Parma and Magic Theory has taken the orders place.
For a real departure what if Hermetic Magi where to end up in a nearly magicless Historical Europe where magic has never really existed. Perhaps the Magi's appearance sparks a magical awakening or maybe they have only the magic they bring with them. Back in Time Have a group of 13th century Magi travel back to an earlier period in Mythic Europe's history. High research but less need to reinvent the wheel. Though there would be a lot of work hashing out the various pre-hermetic traditions. Magi could end up back in some very interesting places before the founding of the order.
The Time of the Founders
A Mythic (As apposed to purely Arthurian) Pendragon
Early Christian Rome
The Future If some force could send Magi to the past why not the future. Extrapolate the Mythic world forward or borrow from the Same Place New World idea and have Hermetic Magi appear in the modern world with no magic apparent.
A Hermetic future where super advanced hermetic magic replaces technology.
A secret magic future where history turned out more or less the same because magic stayed out of the limelight
Real world, If integrating hedge theories boggles the mind just try doing it with Einstein Fantasy World How would Wizards from Mythic Europe adjust to a more standard pseudo-medieval fantasy world. I think it could be fun creating "Hedge" traditions that more closely follow your dungeon delving adventuring wizard types. Perhapes Hermetic Magic is still more flexible but the adventuring types might be a match in raw power. Other things that I would consider having in a fantasy type world for Hermetics to deal with.
Pervasive Magic and/or Fae auras but no Divine or even Infernal
Dwarves and Elves as races but no might scores
Everyone is unaffected by the Gift although a Blatant Gift is still a bit of a problem.
Almost no knowledge of magic theory. Mages just do magic it whats wrong with that.
Magic Swords that don't need to penetrate.
Economy based on large piles of gold.
For this you can pick more or less completely or combinations of published fictional worlds, just about anyone could potentially be used interestingly.
Like the stuff you can find here: fanfiction.net/crossovers/book/
China and Japan especially have a major advantage here because there´s lots of relatively easy to get information.
The far east is definitely fun to play with and in though.
Africa, mid and south at least(not just the central African kingdoms), is quite a bother to get good info on, most people dont really have a "mythic view" of the area and so tend to be woefully underused.
Korea, Vietnam, Mongol areas, Indonesia/Australia and Greenland are other potentials.
For fun, you could retroactively say that the temperate zone that was once (probably) over part of Antarctica(with polar ice still on most of the rest) didnt go away thousands of years ago...
Another variant is where the covenant has simply managed to make political and/or personal enemies of all nearby covenants, in all possible tribunals before their covenant has been accepted by a tribunal.
I think, if someone's going to do a saga where the magi are going to be separated from the Order, I would let the players know in advance that's what it's going to be. Save a whole lot of heartache later.
That being said, I think a saga set in Iceland or Mythic Vinland would be pretty neat. Not having to share any Vis you come across with anyone else...assuming you survive. And if the Vinland covenant prospers, then there would be all kinds of Great Tribunal intrigue as to which Tribunal it belongs to...or if it plays things to where it can claim to be its own Tribunal. Iberia, Novgorod, and Rhine would all have good claims to it. And if the magi going to Vinland belonged to, say, Stonehenge, then that one could have a valid claim as well.
Yes , things did take an unforeseeable turn.
A potentially great game , let down by too strict initial conditions (imho anyway).
All of the magi were placed (with no preparation) on an island (via Leap of Homecoming) with none of the trappings that Hermetic Magi might expect.
The only study source on the island was vis , no books (a small cache was introduced after much player angst).
No abandoned labs or ruined covenant to scrounge anything from.
Everything was going to have to me made from scratch: parchment , quills , inks , etc.
Many spontaneous spells per day were being required just to establish somewhere to live , let alone build even a basic single task lab.
One to research spells was most likely.
We all got too fed up and the game was abandoned before we had a chance to get to the really interesting stuff.
I am running a saga essentially alone these lines right now. The PCs are a loose coven of essentially Ex Misc wizards who have never heard of the Order. In our first adventure, they have unknowningly encountered and aided a companion and a troop of grogs from a nearby covenant. Even now the covenant magi dismiss the coven as mere hedge wizards unworthy of attention... thought that may change depending on what the PCs do.
Yes it takes a fair amount of planing as well as a good rapport with your players to pull off something like this. I've used character guidelines to good effect for things like this.
Social Contacts and Enemies ect... not allowed
Book Learner discouraged
Arts A.B.C useful in early part of saga.
Have at least one character who speaks Welsh.
Another option is to allow a little character editing in the initial adventure.
"Puissant Creo no I meant Rego and my finesse specialty is craft magic. Did I mention my shield grog was apprenticed to a glass blower before he was exiled from Venice". This actually meshes nicely with the whole Lost on a Desert Island genre.
The point is to make sure that the players are signing up for the game that they think they are.
Fooling the players about what the setting is an OK trick for a one-off adventure, but it's a bad way to begin a saga.
Although you don't need to tell the players all the details, I think that it is wise to let them know something is going to happen. The risk, of course, is that the characters will be optimised to deal with the upcoming problem, rather than being "normal" characters. But that is still solved, I think, by being up front and honest with the players. If the saga is going to take a great leap sideways, the troupe should really talk about it beforehand and decide together whether it would be more fun to have characters who are easily able to cope with this change, or whether characters who are relatively hopeless will be more fun, or whether some middle ground is preferable.
I have done a similar mistake when we stated playing Ars. The 3rd edition guidelines to establish a covenant were extremely restrictive, and (as a lot of people when they start) we made the mistake of jumping straight to a spring covenant with freshly gauntleted mages and players. It floundered very rapidly. If you want islolation, give them enough resources to survive in that environment. Even over the top starting ones, like a good library for a weaker covenant. Vis sources can be scrounged and achieved through story, but a good library is much more difficult to come by if you cannot trade easily.
If you do the wiziards on the run escenario, maybe you could consider a kind of Mental Covenant, with the library, council chamber and other features being located in a kind of mental limbo created by the parens of the players. So you can have a secret and movable covenant. If you are on the run warping is not going to be a real problem compared to the boulders and fireworks throwin in your face, probably, so that should work.
Possibly like a mobile Regio? One which more or less travels with one of the Magi (perhaps he has some kind of mystical/fae/infernal link to it, and he can access the part he has access to from anywhere?
Actually, the basic theme from LOST would work very well, in many ways.
Two Ascended Magi fighting it out. Lost temples with Hermetic Theurgy spells contained therein. Ship-Covenant pulled into moving regio. Dark Tytalus cabals fighting in secret back home to find it.
A tribe from former wrecks, as both of the Ascended look to rebuild a cult and destroy the other.
For the Hedge Wizards, I don't have the book Hedge Magic, but I figure an easy way to do this is for each character to take 9 points worth of Supernatural Abilities, free--
i.e. Second Sight, Sense Holy/Unholy, Magic Sensitivity,Warding, Banishing OR Mythic Herbalism, Fertility, Ways of the Forest OR Shapeshifter, Animal Lore, Animal Ken, Alluring to Animals, Beast Summoning