House Mis-Fits

Please consider this an offshoot of the "HoH: Societates, First Impressions - Jerbiton" thread. The discussion there is about how some folks (player characters, in this instance) don't quite "fit" the stereotype of their house.

I was having a discussion with another guy in my Ars group about a similar subject a few weeks ago.

Not thinking about rules mechanics, but instead more about the fuzziness of human nature, we might assume that certain personality traits are there at birth, waiting to emerge. Those of you with kids will almost certainly agree that you can see differences in kids, even at an early age.

It seems to me that the unique nature of acquiring an apprentice in Mythic Europe could lead to many magi being 'misfits', or more literally 'miss-fits' for their house.

What if you're a Flambeau, but as your apprentice ages, you come to realize he's just not very brave?

What if you're a Tytalus, but you come to learn over time that your apprentice is just fundamentally kind and compassionate?

There are virtually no game mechanics for this, but how much choice does a GM give a player when choosing not only virtues and flaws, but personality traits of a newly-discovered apprentice?

When searching for a new apprentice, how many magi take the first gifted child they can find? How many would "toss the fish back into the pond" because it was too timid/scrawny/dumb/lazy/etc ?

We could take this a step further and debate whether a 'secondary market' exists in the Order for misfit apprentices.

Flambeau mage: "Scintilla of Merinita, what do you offer me for the rights to this boy I've been training for 5 years now? His hands tremble every time he attempts an attack spell, but he loves getting lost in the woods and casting his little spontaneous Intelligo Herbam magics..."


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If the Order had the brains God gave a peanut, it would recruit the Gifted children into the Order first, train them until they were ready to start learning magic and then arrange for Magi to train them. Try to match people to people. Give the newcomers a chance to say yes or no.

But that way House Tytalus would probably be extinct in a generation, so politically it's not going to happen.

There's probably good story material in political moves to improve the training and status of apprentices.

The harsh master would toss the apprentice away like a discarded cloak. Perhaps kill him, if the master is a paranoid sort. Or lock him away indefinitely as an embarassment to the lineage.

Trading away obviously misfit apprentices could be a quite commonplace bit of tribunal backroom business, for the more compassionate masters. There will always be a tribunal meeting at a convenient third/halfway point of the apprenticeship, after all.

There's the bonisagus apprentice-grabbing right as well... so there's certainly precedent for being taught by several masters in sequence.

IMS my magus (the nasty necromancer) has an apprentice about to gauntlet. This apprentice comes seriously close to having the pacifist flaw.


The master treats his apprentice poorly, punishing him harshly for minor infractions and makes him assist in thoroughly unpleasant research (dead bodies and such, ichk).

The apprentice also sees how the other apprentices at the covenant get treated by their masters, which is far, far better.

Thus when he gauntlets he makes the decision to renounce his masters wicked ways and seek his own path. Since he master is a criamon that also leads to a (rather undeserving) rejection of criamon philosophy.

Hence the apprentice is different from his house, very different from his master.

Extrapolating this to the other houses it is easy to see how individual magi could reject their master and house, in deed if not in name, and strike out on their own. I also see a mellowing of attitudes to the house, if not the master as they age and meet more of their house who treat them better.

Hmm, isn't this why societas houses should be so much bigger than the other houses?

This is a good motivator for that, but keep in mind that Mystery Houses have means for accepting other magi and that those Houses can be very appealing to the right person for a whole host of reasons.

I'm more of a mind that Houses are politically motivated to not deliberately push out members (or potential members) and are not nearly so monolithic in thier make-up as one might conclude from reading various books. All this because the Gift is very very rare.

Said another way, I don't ascribe to the idea that all members of a particular house are deeply and idealistically committed to the philosophies as stated in the core book or expanded on elsewhere. To be sure, those that aren't great examples of stated house philosophies may have reputations as slackers or under-acheivers, but then again, they might not.

So, for a magus to come to the conclusion that he or she can't teach a particular apprentice or, at the very least, that it is too much of drain for them, I really doubt that many magi would pass up the opportunity to sell or trade thier nominal apprentice to someone else.

Some might do it generously: "Alfred you'd do better with a different teacher. Let's see who might be interested." Or, at the other end of the spectrum: "You're no use to me except as commodity to be traded."

Killing the apprentice because they are a waste of time and energy would be wasteful is, I believe, legal relative to The Code. True, intelligent people can be very wasteful, but if the Gift is rare, then it is valuable and I would argue that ANY magus killing an apprentice would be tagged with a very negative reputation in thier House let alone the Order and would be watched very closely by Trianoman magi so that should this wastral find another gifted assistant, they could swoop in and take him or her before another gifted child was lost.

The sole arguement for killing a "useless" apprentice over trading/selling him that makes any real sense to me is that of letting certain secrets out. But even if that were the reason, it is a weak one unless the putative master has no real skill at Perdo Mentem.

Just my two cents,


For a Tytalus there is no such thing as an apprentice that doesn't fit. There are only challenges to be overcome. It's obvious that your apprentice needs the proper experiences to grow into the potential you see.

Agreed, but to go farther. For Tytalus, the unacceptable apprentice would be one that is either remarkably stupid or utterly lacking in confidence and unable to develop any.


we like a challenge. Not a hopeless cause :stuck_out_tongue:


Um, Personality Traits
IIRC: Flambeau are united in their love of fire...just because he is a coward, doesn't make him a misfit. There is a use for everyone..perhaps this 'guy' would be a creator of Fire spells, books, or a good teacher.

For Tytalus, perhaps 'coward' might be prohibitive, but perhaps not...A challenge doesn't always involve someone trying to kill you...

We like both! :smiling_imp:
I am enjoying playing a Tytalus.

I think the master will seek a Mentem expert who casts a Creo Mentem Ritual to give the proper personality traits to the apprientice... and of course the Vis must paid by the young magus after his gauntlet. :smiley:

Well said! :smiling_imp:

And, as the master might see a challenge in training such an apprentice, it might be a challenge for the apprentice to overcome his fear.

I find this idea horrific, akin to mental rape.
It might very well be done by some masters. Well thought.

It's for his own good, after all.

Ultimately, I think all of these reasons are why House Ex Miscellanea exists, survives, and expands,

Ex Misc. is not simply there for newcomer hedgewizards and those who want to preserve non- & semi-hermetic traditions, but also for all the magi who do not feel like they really belong in a given House.

House Ex Miscellanea -- it's the future of the Order! :wink:

I have always found that all the houses are too small in their philosophy to match an order of 800-1200 dudes that live for a century. There must be quite a broad range of variation inside each house, especially considering the aggressive recruitment of completely alien traditions that happened in the first years of the OoH.

Given that, I would consider that smallish lineages (around 100-ish of them) would be way more normal than only 12 houses. SO yep, I consider exmisc to be the future of the order. And also the present (1220 setting), but that is more a personal preference not seen even IMS.



But remember that regardless of the aggressive recruitment, there were supposedly only a few really powerfull magi ie: the founders and direct disciples. So regardless of the wide range of traditions they would be quickly integrated/forgotten.

True, but things can go the other way around. For example, fire-loving exmisc can convert to Flambeau. Only True Lineage-houses should go extinct over time.

I'm not so sure. Bonisagus and Mercere don't have to. There is no requirement of the Gift for the Mercere and all a Bonisagus has to do is take an apprentice from someone who has already found one. Further, I would argue that Tremere's organization would make them very efficient in finding gifted children (relative to other Houses, anyway).

The real puzzle for me is Guernicus. That might serve as an in-game reason why they allow apprentice-selling. True, according to canon, they are largely Christian and Chirstians cannot buy or sell other Christians as slaves. But an apprentice is not a slave (despite what the apprentices may think) so maybe that's how they dance around that.