Is a Magus Mercere a Redcap?

Redcaps are, by Code, magi.

Gifted Magi Mercere are expected to serve as functioning Redcaps at least once every seven years. Are Magi Mercere Redcaps in general? Or only when "one duty"?

I think, in canon, it's fuzzy. Pretty sure that anyone with an ounce of sense treats them like a Redcap, or better, as the case may be. Are the Redcaps very respectful of their few, terribly important magi? Yes they are. Do you want access to the Redcap "bank" and messenger service? Yes you do. Pretty sure everyone is an adult about this, like Redcaps are formally "magi", but don't push their luck over the issue either.

Mercere Magi keep their link with their non-Gifted sodales by following a few guidelines (which are more ways of conduct and not a strict obligation):

  • performing as Redcap a few seasons here and their,
  • avoid casting their votes.

They do that out of respect for the Redcaps, which technically are considered magus by the Code, but also refrain to vote since they cannot practice magic.

Would a magus order a Mercere magus to dispatch message ? Not if he hopes to ever receive any relevant messages on time :mrgreen: ...
I believe it belongs more to tradition and unwritten rules that formal code.

Magi Mercere are magi. They may vote in Tribunal if they have an issue (they usually don't, but their right to do so is more recognized than a redcap's), and whenever they're not serving House Mercere and the Order as Redcaps, they're generally treated like any other magi (except that they tend to be on very good terms with the bankers and mailmen).

If a magus Mercere decides to make a business of being a Redcap, then he's treated as a Redcap with magic. A few do that, though most of them hide their magical abilities while doing so.

No magus can order a Redcap to do anything, except for perhaps the more senior Redcaps. Most Redcaps are happy to do stuff for magi (as this gets them stuff), but they're actually under very few obligations. Carrying messages is just how they make a living. Magi can't even expect Redcaps to deliver messages within a certain time-frame, and I expect that the delivery declarations of Wizard's War require special payment for timeliness (i.e. the Redcap is doing you a favor). The Redcap's status as magi is more about preserving the privacy of the mail system than anything else - they're considered magi so that other magi CANNOT interfere with them.

As to the original question, Mercere Magi aren't under any obligations to carry messages - they do so once every seven years to honor their ancestor. If a magus hands a message over to a Mercere Magi, he will almost certainly treat it with respect (i.e. not read it), and put it on his shelf until a Redcap shows up. In other words, he'll act as a post office, but not a postman. This could be useful if you need a message sent but can't wait for a Redcap to show up before you leave an area; the Mercere Magi can be trusted to hold the message and anyone trying to read it would be accused of scrying, sanctum violation and so forth, just as if it was in the hands of a regular Redcap.

OK, my question was narrow and uninformative.

My new magus Mercere, Enrico, has established his lab and is interested in scouting the area and routes in general pursuit of one of covenant's missions: to provide and support a Mercer waystation on the Via Domitia. Enrico has a larger goal of setting up a series of waystations as inns and resting spots, minor trading posts, and so one, similar to the Roman mansiones. One midway between covenants on a major route is a reasonable mid-term goal.

So, the first chance he gets, he picks a couple of grogs (not being Gently Gifted, or an idiot) and starts looking for sites between the two established Mercer Houses in the area, Barcelona and Arles. It would be mighty convenient to just drop a red cap on; this is effectively a badge of office and has certain privileges, including a warning and threat of retaliation if attacked, and hospitality at covenants just by showing up. The privilege comes with a duty to deliver messages; that's fine, it's part of the package.

But I should not simply assume that a magus Mercere is a Redcap whenever he says so. One of my troupe mates asked if he wears the red cap generally, and my prompt answer was 'yes,' but I may have been a bit hasty about that. It's a badge of a minor office, after all. I tend to think most magi Mercere would wear the red cap if for no other reason than it's the mark of the House.

So, I was seeking opinions. Seems the general opinion is "Sure, if he wants to be."

Come to think of it, Enrico should take a pouch of vis, in case of trading needs.

If he works as a Redcap and acts like a Redcap, and is a magus Mercere, then he is a Redcap.

Doing that is actually not uncommon among Merceres. So yes, "if he wants to be."

I have a feeling that the Prima Mercere won't care that a Merceris Magus is acting as a Redcap more than the traditional 1 season out of 7 years, and may, in fact encourage that behavior any way she can.

I wouldn't take too much vis, but a few pawns of the most valuable forms (to the covenant's being visited, of course) to do some trading, but I wouldn't take more than a rook or two. Large trades probably need to be arranged in advance...

This is a concept I'm keen to explore further.

There was a Mercere magus in the original ArM3 Houses of Hermes supplement named Enomil who was making a 7 year stint as a Redcap as a sort of Mystery Inititiation (or series) - this was before the original Mysteries were published. It was considered unusual but honourable in the text. I'm planning to detail either her apprentice or update her 23 years from ArM3 1197 AD stats to current 1220 stats as I like the concept of Mercere Mysteries esp those involving travel / pilgrimage - it's something Timothy and I have been discussing eg. "Why do Redcaps Walk on the Roads?".

The main issue is whether using Gifted magi as Redcaps works for the House - unGifted messengers are likely to have less issues. YMMV but a Mythic Companion Redcap (Cult of Heroes / Blood of Heroes) may be a better option for a "Magical Redcap".

Interesting discussion - I'll link to this on my blog under the Redcap section.


I'm curious what kind of ... Mystery effect, I guess, my Mercere can generate. The Gifted of Mercere are much too small to have an internal Mystery, and the four-way split it has (Mutantes, Mercurians, Heroes, and other) isn't particularly sustainable.

I suppose the Mercere could walk the Road of the Thief, Road of the Guardian, Road of the Trader, and so on, but as individual seekers. Most of Hermes acts were alone, although often at the behest of others.

Mercere's main contribution to Hermetic magic was the Hermes' Portal spell, IIRC. Which was never really properly integrated.

The Cult of Mercury and the Cult of Heroes are both trans-House, albeit iconically associated with the Mercere; the only magic that is Mercere-exclusive is Mutantum and that's because of the Mercere bloodline. (Also, the Cult of Heroes is partly a Redcap cult, and the magic side is a subset of the Mercurians.)

So I agree that the Merceres shouldn't have a family Mystery. Obviously, individual Merceres can make or adopt Cults if they want, but Mercere isn't a Mystery Cult but a True Lineage.