Hermetic society

Without having an official viewpoint I can make guesses only how violent the magi's society is.
For now I see the magi as a basically peaceful people where the conflicts happen during communication and the worst consequences are less resources. Violent incidents between magi are rare maybe one affair in every 10-20 years.

What do you think, how common are wizard wars between two magi and whole covenants, murders, stealing vis, books and such?

What about the cooperating part? Will a bunch of magi (covenant mates, mystery members, parens and filii etc.) accompany to invent great magic items or spells?
Is the concept of hireable specialists, (longevity, magic item creator) logical?

How do you imagine these?
Both psychological and rule considerations are welcome.

  1. IMS Wizard wars are not that common. You REALLY need to piss someone out to force that. otherwise even the option of moving to an other tribunal is better. Peer pressure works here. if the powers of the 2 magi are matched it is dangerous for both to enter WW. If they are completely unmatched in general the smaller party will submit to the larger one unless he really has a powerful champion to back him up. Still they happen from time to time, specially if your covenant mates are experts in stepping in people's toes :wink: A WW can backfire, so other approaches (arbitrage, private negotiated civil agreements and tribunal rulings) tend to be prefered unless you are a psycho.

  2. Hireable specialists are 100% kosher and a logical development in a mage society. That gives the experts both an extra "do not mess with this guy since it is not in your favour" and improves the living standards of the magi as a whole.

  3. the level of cooperation varies. I imagine covenants like University departments. Sometimes 2 magi dislike each other, or have ego problems and will not collaborate. Sometimes they will for the Greater Good.

  4. Stealing et al is common if you have morons (read:tytalus) testing the limits of the Code and WW-level provocative actions in your area. Otherwise it tends to be fairly uncommon.



I see Hermetic society is largely peaceful, too. Wizard War is dangerous and hard to pull off, what with mages being able to fade literally off the face of the earth and living right next door to other magi. I think it is limited largely to ego-fights where both sides actually want to face off. Even a powerful wizard will find it very hard to find a magus that escaped to Arcadia, or to a secret regio only a few know about, has flown off and hidden in a cave in the Carpathian mountains, or took up temporary residence in St. Peter's... And when he does find him, he will find his foe equipped with a home advantage, allies, and an escape plan. Usually even the mighty wizard will have weaknesses in his defenses, and his opponent will set traps based on them. No, I don't think a resourceful opponent that is determined to survive the WW would be outmatched, almost regardless of his opponent. While some violent magi or egomaniacs will pursue them, nearly all conflicts will be taken care of by other means.

In some Tribunals, however, things would still be rather violent. In Normandy I think looting other magi's equipment outside of a covenant is fair-game, and certamens and violent duels of all sorts would, I reckon, be common. In the Rhine the Quaesitors are not respected and so crimes can be committed quite easily, with politics rather than law determining what is allowed. And so on.

I see the Order as largely a loose collection of eclectic traditions, each pursuing its esoteric goals. From Merinitia magi who seek to create great fables to Bonisagus magi who study Magic Theory for its own sake (like a person might enjoy learning history or science), most wizard's goals are somewhat, ehm, detached from practical considerations.

Since most of these mad schemes do not involve other magi, at least directly or by coercion, conflict and therefore violence is rather rare. The most likely source of open violence flaring up is through Houses devoted to fostering violence or conflict, such as Tytalus or Flambeau or in some-stages Tremere. These are calculated acts, if sometimes miscalculated. This also means they are rare.

Also due to the same background, cooperation is common in small groups but rare in the Order as a whole. Criamon magi may cooperate on a plan pursuing the Enigma, but only rarely will this plan have any relevance to the Jerbiton Iconophiles seeking to preserve works of art. Bjornaer magi may cooperate with Durenmar against the faeries of the Black Forest, but will have little in common with these scholarly savants. The order is too fractured and idiosyncratic to form more than temporary, ad-hoc, alliances, and the power of secrets and self-concealing nature of Mysteries means that even these will be tenuous and rare.

An armed society is a peaceful society, at least when Laws are added into the mix.

Any magi who adopted the attitude of a wild west gunfighter would be volunteering for that life expectancy - others would be more hesitant to associate with them, and like-minded individuals would tend to seek them out for some form of confrontation.

And on the other hand, cooperation is the road to power - even in a semi-competitive world, trading knowledge is the way to guarantee that you are growing, and at the marginal cost of guaranteeing that 1 other is growing too.

In canon, the mage wars I've seen described tend to last several seasons and then get resolved, as neither mage wants to die, and neither wants to fight a war where both side are losing time and energy during the war. (Many SG's and players find "simple" solutions to mage wars - I think they underestimate the paranoia and raw fear that would come with such a declaration, but that's just me.)

So - conflict would be the exception, rather than the rule, imo.

Only the weak warriors have a short lifespan. Old soldiers never die, they just fade away :wink:

I don't have as peaceful an image as most, but i am not imagining the wild-west extreme either. I figure that in an Order of some 1500 to 2000 magi, there is at least one Wizards War a year if not more. Youngin's are more likely to engage in such, but when elders go to war it can be a truly spectacular conflict.

I imagine that it is about the same as the mundane society that magi are born of.

Magi are people too. So I'd expect quite a lot of semi-organised conflict over resources (vis), ego, and belief. On the other hand, as there are tribunals and certamen available as means of advancing conflict escalating to wizard's war isn't the only or first option.

But think how well-nurtured a grudge between covenants can be after a century or two...

Considering that magic is feared and outlawed, effect of gift on mundanes, magis have reasons to cooperate for survival. It is similar to way jewish quarter is usually more peaceful because there is a us vs them mentality.

Magis also spend lots of time in labs on various projects that they only need to socialize when they want to. They tend to live fairly lax lives in that most of their needs are supplied, they eat well, living conditions are better than most people so they are comfortable.

There is the certamen and tribunals for settling conflicts and the oath blocks a lot of aggression or channels it outside the order (You want to fight, go hunt some demons to kill or find some hedge wizards to order join or die).

In general, your average mage lives as well as a noble without nearly as much responsibility or duty.

People in the middle ages were very violent. Today in the modern civilizations there is a thin cultural layer around the people which can disappear easily.
Everybody knows crimes will be punished even today. Still there are people who do illegal acts.
The quesitors have a great power to investigate - magic. It resembles to the modern police in the sense it has a far better chance to catch the criminal than the medieval people had. Thus a magus must consider twice before he commits illegal acts than a mundane.

I think a more violent saga is better because it brings more story ideas.
At least scrying and stealing should be common. Some magi might disappear mysteriously. :unamused: There are spells to erase sigils from the casted spells and this possibility might encourage some greedy magi.

I think something like that is more likely yes.
Too many BIG ego:s rubbing really backwards on each other.
Not quite as bad as 1+ per year but maybe 1+ for every 5 years.
Certamen(beyond whats needed or "for fun"), tribunal cases and minor conflicts of one sort or another would probably happen every year though.

Between covenants however, VERY rare indeed.
Murders, uncommon at least, (risk of getting caught is far more serious with magic around) but happening on the rare occasion.
Thefts, happening whenever someone willing to do it thinks they can get away with it.

Yes. Sometimes no, but cooperation is so beneficial that deals will be made and carried through with.

Extremely. Perhaps not super common and everywhere, but they will exist here and there.

No they were not. Where do you get that from?

I almost said, "just like in medieval times", but thats actually wrong, because the "cultural lining" is stronger when you go back in history, simply because of need, and because smaller "societies". The cultural lining tends to disappear the fastest when in an area where noone knows who you are and you have no connection to the area, like big cities, which is where you get the most "rowdyness", today and in medieval times...

Thats from where you have gotten "oddball" and "friendly" customs that have become more or less official laws, like someplace in Scotland where there´s still an old law that if someone comes to your home and asks to use the toilet, they must be allowed to do so.
Or arabic customs of hospitality(because next time it could be you that is lost in the desert).

Generally. As long as you dont overdo it, and go for some medieval version of Mad Max world(unless you want to off course), its generally a better idea.

From Eisner: bjc.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/41/4/618
Murder rates all over Europe show a twenty to hundred fold decrease since 1300. Eisner offers many possible explanations, but I like this one best: 'As institutions enforcing the state monopoly of power became more stable, heightened levels of security in social life bring about more intense social interdependencies.'

Interesting reference. Thanks.

I imagine the order a society of weird, egoist people who accept a law meanly for own interest (generally speaking). The founders may had an idelogical wiew of the Order, but as all things, as time past, the serch for power brings the order to be a structure who assure the olders who follow the "unwritten rules" of power. A magus who wants to achieves a position of control, has to accept the corruption, justified as a way to protect the order or to maintain it.
So there are actions who brake the code, but if they where made by a magus with power, nobody will truly investigate, except in rare cases.
All this to say that in my "italian" way of imagine the order, power and his control is central and this doesn't permit to share knowledge, to trust each other and so on...
I'm agree that now violence is rare, like wizard's march, but if something will appen that could menace the balance of power inside the order, take for sure that will explode another war....


Good point.

This item requires a subscription* to British Journal of Criminology Online.

Also the above does not support the claim "People in the middle ages were very violent." even if the claim about murder is true. Even that is not an unchallenged view, because the data pollution that claim is based on is severe.
The risk of ending up on the wrong side of violence doesnt say anything about the average tendence for violence of people.

However, the big problem about murder rates is that the biggest reductions happen at the same time as access and quality of medical assistance is improved...
If everyone today who ends up injured would only have access to medieval medical help, that alone would make up a part of the difference instantly.
There are plenty enough of other problems, especially in interpretation that i find it to most likely be yet another variant of "primitive must be violent and brutal". Which is a logical fallacy as the connection is usually the opposite.
Just as medieval people not being more violent, but violence being less unacceptable.

You seem to make the opposite fallacy, that the "primitive must be noble and pure". The truth of the matter is a fact to be discovered scientifically, which from my reading is precisely what the text does - it tries to look at the data and see whether homicide rates had indeed declined and if so what this indicates. This is homicide rates, not death rates, and homicide is generally a highly successful activity even at our times, so I don't believe modern medicine aids as much as you think. Your thesis also doesn't seem to fit the data, which shows huge improvement from around the 17th century yet occasional increases as in, e.g. the 60s - the homicide rate in England around 2000 seems to be that estimated around 1800, although far smaller than that around 1700 and grossly below that of 1300. While I haven't looked at the article in detail, I'm convinced this is honest science and not trying to fit the facts to some agenda; it seems that homicide was a more common social event in medieval times.

This isn't the only such data I have seen. Progress in the number of deaths in war (yes, including the two world wars), literacy rates, and all sorts of things is evident. Only a few areas, such as happiness and to some extent free-time, have shown no progress, and only rarely and partially is progress reversed, such as the homicide rates increasing in the 60s. That's what the evidence as I know it indicates - the West is enjoying the closest thing to a utopia that mankind has ever been able to achieve. (Scary that that's the best we've achieved, isn't it?) If you have some evidence to the contrary, I'd like to see it - but I'd be surprised.

Apologies, I didn't realise it wasn't open access. Direwolf, if you're interested I'll send you the article. It adresses many of your points, including the one about 'primitives must be violent and brutal.' That is another conclusion that doesn't follow from the data, even if you don't question their correctness. Just pm me an e-mail adress.

Keep in mind that those numbers aren't accurate as deaths in war, deaths in trial by combat, death for executions aren't included.

bandits could and sometimes were hung back then but in modern times they are jailed. There was not as accurate census or forensics that poison deaths weren't necessarily caught as homicide, some people were killed and it was not known as a death (they just moved away).

Yes, by modern standards it is violent and brutal but they also don't have any modern communications, modern law enforcement techniques and such. They also didn't have the production levels that modern farming can produce and building techniques for modern building that they could jail people the way we can.

I suspect they were as humane as was practical.

Wherever did i say ANYTHING in that direction?
I opposed the claim of "People in the middle ages were very violent."
As that was written as if in opposition to today, its simply wrong.
Because people today are most likely neither any more nor any less inherently violent than in medieval time.

Oh boy, you missed some important parts of what i wrote it seems...
THINK for a second please will you?
Exactly which is the direct connection or correlation between homicide rates and people being inherently "very violent" or not?
Answer is, there isnt one. Homicide can be the result of violence but it says absolutely nothing about the relative degree of violence of the murderer.
Both violent and nonviolent people commit murder.

And that there are thousands and thousands of cases of severe injuries from street violence ending up in hospital every year, many of which had had a great risk of dying if they had NOT ended up in hospital, tells you nothing?

Did i say it was the only thing affecting the numbers? No.
Ill quote myself if you´re to lazy to read it:
that alone would make up a part of the difference instantly.

Its both. Trouble is when its used incorrectly, like here.
Again, violence can cause murder, but absence of murder is no proof of absence of violence just as absence of violence wont mean absence of murder.
As i said, its a very basic logical fallacy of using a fact to prove something which it has no direct bearing on.


Never claimed anything of the sorts. Your interpretation only.

I dont question the raw data, but i question how its been used and that its being used to "prove" something it simply cannot prove.