I agree there are definite tragedy of the commons issues with leagues of book-sharers. The answer, of course, is for the far-sighted founders of such a league to require them to admit new Covenants, and impose such an obligation in their oath, which lets cheats be prosecuted for breach of contract. Of course, there are ways around that too - can't admit new Covenants if there are no new Covenants (because you banned them and young magi end up in Chapter Houses). But the founding magi trying to keep their creation true to their ideals is what stories are made of
One thing were even Spring Covenant can contribute is in writing tractatus. For example, each new magus must write 5 tractatus by the time the third Tribunal occurs since they had their Gauntlet - which leaves them between 15 to 21 years depending to produce those tracatus.
Sure, they will be lots of duplicates but with time, two things will occur: the common spells will have Tractatus of the highest quality (12-13) and there will be plenty of other tractatus available, which will be valuable for those specialists who are scrambling to get any source of XP to go above 35-40 in an Art, and therefore won't mind having a Q7-8 Tractatus as long as they can get something out of it (so even mage with low Com can still contribute).
In return, young mages can have access to these nice Q21, L6 Summae and other base books that can save you so much time at the beginning.
Secondly, those tractatus written by Spring Covenants can be sorted and collected into portfolio (not the same as the Bonisagus Folio), but a collection of 10 tractatus on one Art worth 100-110 XP in total. Such portfolio will be of high interest for elder mages.
With such kind of "echange", both elder mages and young mages see benefits in the system.
I've thought about a Tytalian cabal to transform the order into a more modern academic society in which the administrators hold the power, preferably with a poor understanding of the subject matter competing solely for external third-party monies. This may include a fiat currency and introducing covenant valuations.
I must confess, I'm really interested in Medusa's idea about create a new class of magi, like an associate member. One of the issues in the Hermetic system is that some tasks are very easy but take a gifted magus a season to complete. Fixing Arcane connections, churning out low level enchantments from lab texts. These are all the kind of things you might want an apprentice to do while you spend a season reading a book. But maybe a class of professional lab technicians might be an idea. They could even assist in the lab when the magus is in.
Obviously they'd need to be gifted, so this would rely on an abundance of gifted kids. They'd also need to be well trained, with excellent latin and magic theory, although they wouldn't need such high arts scores or things like finesse, penetration, maybe even Parma magica.
One can imagine a tribunal where so many gifted kids are found, maybe due to professional networks set up to do just that, that the supplyof gifted kids vastly exceeds the number of mages wanting to take apprentices. All the surplus gifted kids could be trained up by interested covenants and sold on as lab technicians, given a standard education to get them to a certain level. To be sure, this would be a vastly better life than most non-magi and they'd be high status employees, living in comfort.
Theres a decision to make over whether it would be appropriate to teach such lab technicians spells, they don't need them for their work after all. Although a handful of technicians might be taught the Wizards communion, that would be helpful. But spells might be the dividing line between magus and technician.
They'd have to be protected under a peripheral code ruling, with the hope that eventually it could be an order wide thing.
I like this idea.
The administrators should also be given more personal resources and higher salaries than any of the researchers. The Administrators would then ask grogs to fill in huge amount of paperwork, which the Magi in turn would need to summarise every moon and send back to the Administrators for evaluation.
The Administrators should attribute the Vis funding in unclear manners, that mostly benefits the older members of the Order who happen form the committees that decide on the Vis allocation for the four years to come. These older magi would invite each other to the Gauntlet ceremonies of each other's Apprentices and shower each other with gifts of fine food, rare alcohols and medals which the Tribunal pays for.
The elder magi should also abstain from doing any labwork, but instead spend their days procrastinating, pestering their apprentices and days before the deadline to apply for more Vis, write to the Vis allocation committees to demand extensions. At this point the Apprentices would have to leave the lab to urgently write out Vis requests to the Committee.
Each magi will cite their own work as many times as possible in their books. They will also cease writing Summa in favour of Tractatus, in order to produce more citing/citable documents.
The Administrators, unable to understand the academic value of the Tractatus and Summa will resort to ranking the Magi by their Hermes-index (h-index for short), looking at the number of citations and publication but ignoring their actual impact on the community.
No, I do not miss academia that much, why do you ask?
When talking about apprentices my wife and I once had this idea of introducing a step in-between apprentice and magus. We got the idea when talking about changing the rules to allow for a hermetic school.
Essentially we would cut short the apprenticeship so that the apprenticeship ends just as the apprentice is reaching the level where they are truly useful as lab assistants.
The apprentice would be taught communally and as much as possible by mundane teachers during the first part of the apprenticeship. Then after initial apprenticeship the apprentice would become sort of a probationary member of the order until they could demonstrate their worth to the order lets call it a hermetic doctorate (HD) that they would have to achieve, usually by a combination of paying older established (lets call it tenured) magi who have already become full members. This payment would take the form of doing shitty work that magi normally dont care to do and have apprentices do for them, like fixing arcane connections, assisting other people in the lab, copying texts, contributing to the library by writing tractatus, harvesting vis etc. Then to become a full (tenured) member of the order a HD student would have to create some feat of magic that is considered worthy of a tenured magus and then become full magi. The idea is that you would spend some 7-10 years as a an apprentice being schooled full time, then some 8-5 years working 2 seasons a year while having 2 free seasons to develop your own project and then after passing the second exam you are full magus who can spend your seasons however you like, join covenants as a full member, vote at tribunal etc.
The advantage to students is that they receive much better schooling, as they would get 3-4 seasons of tutelage a year for the initial period which figures out to between 21 and 40 seasons of tutelage depending on how exactly you decide to divide the cake, and magi get to spend less on their apprentices, having them only for the good period where they actually contribute a lot to labwork. This would coincidentally improve the average quality of magi as they receive considerably more training.
And soon the lab slaves (err.. I mean... "technicians" or "assistants") organizing an uprising that destroys the Order of Hermes.
Remind me why we want a more powerful Order? Or for whom?
The elder magi always dismiss young researchers' concerns with "I got my first vis grant on my second try back in the day, and so can you." Also ensure that the administrators are primarily not magi, but rather unGifted members like the redcaps but with decent oratory and intrigue scores.
So far the popular uprising of systematically exploited young PhDs has not happened in the real world, why would it in the Order of Hermes with the elder mages wielding immense personal power instead of institutional power?
My Tytalus's plans are to repurpose the peregrinators.
My wife and I came up with the idea based on many sources of inspiration and the peregrinatores were absolutely one of them.
The reason why PhD's dont rebel is because they are offered the promise of a chance to rise into the system that they are at the bottom of in the moment. They have a chance to rise to the top or use their qualifications to get good jobs in other sectors.
That is, not coincidentally, the same reason why the hermetic doctorate students would not rebel either. The idea was to formalize the process of advancement, and also, my wife and I envisioned it as a part of a system that affords greater rights to apprentices. There is really no mechanical reason why you need to afford greater rights to apprentices under our scheme we just want it to be like that in our saga.
Also because ACs aren't so useful in the real world.
Of course not, time striking or being away from the lab is time you could spend in the lab trying to get a bit more data for your next tractatus. If you go on strike, the others who didn't will have more tractatus by the end of their PhD and a better recommendation from their handlers...
An acolyte by the name of Spartacus could develop a very high PM as well as leadership, allowing him to lead the lab helpers into revolt against the elders of the Order. What a story that would be!
The Magi in power (would) want a more powerful order for themselves, with a more pyramidal structure, allowing them to pass on the wasted seasons to some less powerful members.
AC's as in Arcane connections or...?
Regarding the concept of qualified lab assistant (eg: with some magical abilities), it could a major breakthrough to partially open the gift. There is already the unique Verditius ritual that allows a mage from another house to be initiated in Verditius mysteries (at the price of his spell casting abilities).
So it should be conceivable to design a gift opening that grant only limited ability to handle magic, following the principle of initiation script.
Various reasons could justify to design such ritual (in the broader sense, not the hermetic ritual casting):
- it could work with people who only have a hint of magic, who could never become full mage
- the person always has the gentle gift
- it prevents the lab technician to ever be a rival (Punishment)
- it allows to preserve more or all non-hermetic abilities - suddenly hedge magic become very valuable
- it allows to learn parma magica.
Depending which benefits this gift opening grants, although not full fledge mage, it can become an interesting alternative, and really birth a kind of mid-level class of mages-assistant.
Because they have a gift, longevity potion will fully work on them, so a century old mage assistant can claim some serious payment for his skills.
They could form a House akin to Mercere, with only a few full fledge mages, responsible for the initiation, and renting their services for a period of 7 years to a covenant, or for the wealthiest mage, hired permanently. Maybe this House would have different initiation scripts granting specific advantages.
Of course, they would need to have a special status to prevent them from spilling secrets of the mage they worked for, like Mercere are trusted with secrets.
Eat the Archmagi
Sorry, I've been wanting to say that since this thread started
Sounds like a lot of people in this thread should try out Pigsmoke:
And to pull it back on track: aren't the peregrinatores basicly Hermetic postdocs? No home, no vis supplies, forced to do onerous scutwork (like vis extraction, scribing books, or even helping Covenant members in the lab) for lab space?
Though on partial members: the Code says you must train your apprentice. It doesn't say you have to train them well. If you focus that training on Magic Theory, then a little bit on Vim, and deny them books or lab texts on spells, then you'll have someone who really has no choice but to do additional service to someone post-Gauntlet for real training. Hell, you don't even need to conspire: if someone in your Covenant is incomprehensible (or the apprentice is a poor student), then it all just happens naturally.
The real problem is why the rest of the Order would put up with it. If Gifted children are in short supply (as is strongly implied by the setting), then every Apprentice is seen as valuable, and mistreating them in this way results in prosecution (e.g. its a low crime to give your apprentice a deficiency, and really bad to give them two), or in snatching (you can take someone's apprentice if they fail to train them; its an easy hack to build this to being able to take an apprentice if they are trained badly), or in House Bonisagus stepping in. But beyond that, there's a social attitude: the apprentice is a reflection of the master. So there's a strong incentive to train apprentices well, so everyone can see how great and powerful a magus you are. And that latter bit is what would have to change, even if the gifted children became more numerous and the Code evolved to meet the new circumstances.
Legitimate objections have been raised against everyone just cooperating, but it doesn't take everyone, not nearly.
Suppose House Tremere decided to uplift the Order. Or House Mercere. Or both.
Books and texts. Why not commission some? Pay 15-20 pawns of vis for each unique q11+ Tractatus on a Hermetic Art or Magic Theory, with the agreement that the author's name shall be retained to ensure he gets the appropriate prestige but that in all other respects the book is owned by House Tremere... which is happy to give any magus a copy for a mere pawn, no questions asked. Do similarly for any spell you want to see made common throughout the Order.
Integration of stuff. This is not so promising. Although there are rules for breakthroughs, the rules are also explicit that following these rules do not guarantee a breakthrough. All breakthroughs are optional, at the whim of the players. So if someone invents something cool, great, and it's a fine idea to offer prizes for moonshots (which, if taken literally in ME, involves a significant breakthrough), because nothing is lost if people fail. But it is probably wiser to invest resources in other endeavors.
Vis. Philosophical alchemy is definitely a great thing. But here's the thing about Mystery Cults and Virtues: You really need to drink the Kool-Aid. So first the uplift cabal would need to know about the mystery virtue, and then either find a compatible cult or develop a script. Of course, in sagas where this virtue does not exist, it doesn't matter. (As with breakthroughs, any given mystery cult or virtue is very optional.) As for distribution... if you want to encourage better distribution, you need to have House Mercere or someone else pay you something to hold onto your vis, similar to a modern bank, and charge you interest for giving you vis that you need right now. Some questions do need to be answered. How much is it worth to give up vis, knowing that you won't get it back until next Tribunal? How much will you pay at Tribunal to get some vis right now? If a magus cannot answer questions of that kind, he will stuff the vis in his mattress. But if a sufficiently large and trusted group of magi do answer those questions, I'd expect magi to keep some vis in reserve and bank the rest. Naturally, I also expect a story about the Great Vis Panic of 1256....
Numbers. I think that magi are more likely to be concerned about the right kind of numbers. More magi with the right attitude and the right virtues (Gentle Gift, teaching and writing virtues, Inventive Genius, Affinity with Art/MT...) who are most likely to help out with the great work. So if you're part of the cabal and you have the right stuff to teach great apprentices, you might expect to spend quite a bit of time training them up, as other members spend time and resources finding or buying them for you. For the right price, magi who are not part of the cabal will happily sell you Gifted Children in good condition... And once there are enough of you in the cabal, you can start passing laws that make it a High Crime to keep an apprentice if you don't train him up to some high, objective standard, rather than 15 seasons of whatever, or if you lack the Arts for him to retain his cool virtues...
Infrastructure. Moving big things is hard, but if you have a device that lets you teleport at will with anything you can carry, then most big things are really a bunch of smaller things, becoming a matter of bamf bamf bamf bamf bamf from one side of ME to the other. At two minutes per round trip, one device can move 1500lbs/hour (because I'm American ) and of course you'd want to keep this device in use 24/7, rotating Redcaps (or Tremere flunkies) as needed, having people prepare loads so that there's always something ready. That's 18 tons per day. Not much by modern standards, but enough to make a big dent in the Hermetic (or even medieval) economy, if you transport the right stuff (like Venetian glass rather than herring or salt.) And then you can use the lab text to build a second device in less time than it took to build the first...
One real problem is vis. In a saga playing with RoP:M rules, extracting vis from an Aura is dangerous and destructive and not sustainable. At some point, the size and power of the Order becomes limited by the amount of vis created by the natural world, which in most sagas is either constant or diminishing, rather than the amount of vis magi can create, which would scale with the number of magi you have were it not for the aforementioned rules. (This is the world of Star Wars, in which one faction believes there should only be two magi, one master and one apprentice, and the other faction believes all possible magi should be brought into the Order, where they can be watched though perhaps not trained, but should be discouraged from procreating, and in the end there can be only one.)
Of course! With a good AC to penetrate the master's bigger Parma, it is not so hard to rebel against the master. After all this is something all Tytali had done to pass their gauntlets.
Ovarwa raised an idea I hadn't had, that certain houses are much more pre-disposed to this kind of behaviour and that it is entirely concievable that they might make common cause. One could imagine a Tremere, Bonisagus (Both bonisagus and Triamora), Mercere alliance. Possibly Guernicus too, although likely not since they'd probably want to maintain objective independence. A tri house alliance though to share things more fully between them, well that could be very powerful.
I don't see the associate magi idea as one that would foster rebellion. Remember that compared to literally everyone else they meet, except the magi, they will be living wonderful lives full of education, great living conditions and wealth. They are protected physically against other people (remember they will be gifted and hence people hate them naturally), against famine, disease and poverty. They will have respect and, with age, considerable power.
Remember also that this is a society that has class divisions in law. Peasants don't expect to be treated as the equals of the churchmen or nobles, they are literally beneath them and have always been so (or at least for long enough that it makes no difference). Humanist ideas like the equal worth and standing of all people haven't come about yet.