Let's Design a Hedge Tradition - Step 1.5: Design Theory

It came to my attention between Step 1 (https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/lets-design-a-hedge-tradition-step-2-set-parameters/8161/1) that perhaps I'd perhaps gotten ahead of myself and more attention ought to have been given to certain aspects of Mercurian Magic that, while seemingly minor, exert a strong influence on other mechanical aspects of whatever our homebrew magic system is going to wind up looking like.

To whit, the questions I pose to you all are:

Question #1. While it was agreed that the CoM should be weaker at formulaic magic than the OoH, little discussion was given to the extent of the differential. If we take for granted that a Hermetic Magus can achieve a Casting Total of 25 or 30 at Gauntlet, approximately what level spell should a similarly specialized Mercurian be capable of performing?

Question #2. As a corollary to Question #1, What level of ritual spell should a solitary Mercurian Wizard be capable of achieving in his specialty near the beginning of his career?

Question #3. While discussed several times in the above threads, which method do you prefer to model the cooperative nature of Mercurian rituals, Wizard's Communion or Ceremony and why?

Question #4. Should the CoM have been able to violate any Limits of Magic? If so, which one(s) and why?

Question #5. Should Mercurian formulaic spells require expenditures of Vis?

Well, that's it for now I think. I look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts! :slight_smile:

#1 Formulaic magic should be much weaker. Either require all spells be cast as rituals with vis requirements, or no greater than half the casting total you might see out of a similarly specialized Hermetic magus.

#2 There should be very little potential for solitary casting at all. Mercurians should be less effective than even the weakest hedge traditions when not in a group.

#3 I would prefer if Wizards Communion was no more than a crude approximation of what Mercurians could do in group casting.

#4 The cult of Mercury should have had some some serious power. As this is a game about wizards, I would expect that they were a critical part of the strength of the Roman Empire. On a similar note to other "forgotten" Roman secrets, these powers should require the sort of widespread resources and infrastructure that simply did not exist in Europe after the fall of Rome. These secrets would not necessarily break the any limits, but they should push beyond traditional Hermetic magic. Perhaps a way to reliably create and manipulate regios and auras, improved versions of Mercer Portals that can pass legions of soldiers, spells that give general purpose MR to entire armies, methods to supply whole cities without warping, etc. However, the most useful of these should not be possible unless an an entire tribunal decided to pool its resources. The very best effects should be the sort that might require nearly the entire OoH cooperate. This doesnt mean the entire order joins hand and starts casting, but rather requirements for vis, supporting spells, materials, and components should be so great that dozens or hundreds of wizards would have to work together for long periods of time.

#5 See #1. There needs to be a reason that the CoM collapsed and scattered. Without infrastructure they should be little match for rival hedge wizards. Outside of an organized group they should be almost helpless.

Level 10 at most. So a third to a 6th would be adequate.

We can go for 25 as well.

Ceremony is easier to implement. WC has always been a clunky spell at best, one that introduces a lot of submechanics. Ceremony is way more elegant and more powerful for dozens of participants. THis is the kind of ubber ability that Mercurians should have.

I can see them violating the limit of time (portents) and the limit of the lunar sphere so they can affect the astral powers. Not just petition them, but direct them.

Not necessarily. Formulaic spells should never be above level 10, though. Anything above that needs to be a ritual.

Thanks for the feedback thus far. For what it's worth, my own thoughts were very much in the same vein.

#1. I too was of the opinion that 10 or 15 level effects should be about the maximum an optimized starting Mercurian should be capable of by performing himself.

#2. While I don't necessarily think the rituals of a solitary Mercurian should be more powerful than his formulaic spells, I am willing to entertain the possibility.

#3. While HoH: TL does seem to suggest a Communion-like effect was at work, I agree whole-heartedly that Ceremony is the powerful (and probably more elegant) solution.

#4. Although your replies were rather different on this point, I think we all agree than if the CoM could violate hermetic limits it was in extremely minor and limited ways.

#5. I'm not married to either choice, but since Ars Magica is a game about wizards, I'm a bit hesitant to make spellcasting too costly. One option I've toyed with involves allowing them to ignore a certain value of Vis cost. Perhaps as part of their Magic Defense or one of their Mastery powers. Thus, a starting Mercurian might be able to cast a Level 10 Ritual as if it were formulaic while more advanced members of the Cult might cast higher level effects at a reduced cost or even at no cost whatsoever. Thoughts?

OK I've got a couple of ideas percolating, but do have two other questions I'd like to ask of those participating in this project. Mainly because they're strictly issues of preference and thus it doesn't really matter which tack I select to pursue save perhaps aesthetically.

  1. Do you prefer to Levels or Ease Factors when it comes to adjudicating the difficulty of any given spell?

  2. Do you care at all whether the levels or EFs ascribed to Mercurian magic have any discernible connexion to Hermetic guidelines?