Mecere portal creation

So this is an issue that has come up with a friend of mine and I have no real answer other than "Because that's how it works?"

In both GotR page 26 and HoH:TL pages 100-101 the mecere portals are said to be enchanted devices with effects similar to the Hermes portal spell in the core book. However, the effect still is effectively a ritual and so we are trying to understand just why it gets around the ritual restriction in enchanting. There are other such issues with this interpretation of enchanted device where the duration of the effect or it's triggering or other such enchanted aspects are not accounted for in the description of the enchanted effect in HoH:TL.

any assistance or explanation towards an understanding of how this works beyond just a simple "non-hermetic so it works" would be appreciated.

Note that, ultimately, the latter is really the explanation: it's stuff with pre-hermetic roots, so it works that way.

You could argue that it's the Hermes Portal Ritual that's an adaptation to Hermetic Magic of "less Hermetic" Mercere Portals, and it needs to be a Ritual exactly because it's translating non-Hermetic stuff. Or you could argue the other way around: there's a Mercurian Ritual designed to create a D:Year "magical Item" that produces a certain effect an arbitrary number of times during that year (because that's the way the Mercurian priesthood did their stuff), and the Hermetic adaptation is an enchanted device with Unlimited uses of that effect. Note that this is not really enchanting the Ritual into an item: it's enchanting a single simple effect into the item (to be produced unlimited times), which the Ritual itself (when cast but once) can also grant an unlimited number of times. For something similar in the corebook, check out the Enchantment of the Scrying Pool, and note that you could replicate something similar with an invested device with Unlimited uses of a ReIm effect.

Last but not least, note that a spell that is a Ritual solely because of its level can be enchanted into a device. This is clearly not the case with Hermes Portal, which is a Ritual because it's non-Hermetic, but it's worth keeping in mind.

I had totally forgotten about this fact. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

My understanding is that "non-Hermetic so it works" just about covers it. IIRC, it's explicitly written that Merecere the Founder fashioned the first one and no one knows how he managed to pull it off and people just cribbing his lab text to re-do it. It's supposed to be this thing that's not supposed to work, but does, as part of the flavor of just how great the Founders were. And it's also there as part of the line's continuity, having had Mercere portals in past editions. (Note that power-wise, the portals aren't that great - instantaneous travel is great, but isn't really all that superior to fast travel, which vanilla Hermetic magic can accomplish in numerous ways that will be cheaper and less reliant on House Mercere. So including the portals is a way to increase the importance of the House, without greatly upsetting the setting.)

An option to consider is to have it be related to a Mystery-Cult of geomancers, like the Terrae-Magi. Perhaps it is the fruit of a partial integration of Terrae mysteries into Hermetic Magic, that Mercere never finished integrating. As such, it could serve as a source of Insight towards integrating virtues and mysteries ranging from Affinity with Terram to magical coordinates (from Ancient Magic).

Hermes/Mercere Portals are a - both the spell and enchanted device - a huge ball of poor definitions.

There are no casting requisites on the spell either, though it can transport almost anything. The spell isn't even well described - 'magical portal' can be interpreted several ways. Can you see through this magical portal? Can air pass through it both ways while active? Can you stand in it half-way? Could you be cut in half when it closes, or are you ejected in one direction?

They run on pure, 100% handwavium. All we have is general assumptions. Based on the wording, it basically creates a VERY short tunnel which people, animals and objects can 'pass through'. This would be the reason it doesn't seem to cause Warping (anymore than passing through a regiones portal/barrier does). Aside from that, it's very unclear - even the general size of the portal isn't listed.

I wish the Order used the precursor Theurgy spell (4th edition) where a giant snake spirit swallowed you at one end and spat you out at the other. At least you knew what was going on. :laughing:

The spell has no requisites nor causes warping because it's not a teletransportation effect. It's a Rego Terram ritual that bends the Earth itself to create a shortcut between two places. It creates what you'd call a "wormhole" in sci-fi. Which is interesting because in this context, Terram is used as the Art that governs "space" itself.

I'm pretty sure I've read in some of the books that Mercere's Portals were developed through a breakthrough, which allowed enchanting that particular effect into a device despite being a ritual. If I recall it correctly, it was used as an example for one of the integrations suggested in Ancient Magic, since there were a couple of them that dealt with enchanting ritual effects. Don't quote me on this though, because I'm not sure where was that line, although I'm certain it's mentioned somewhere.

If the spell is doing it the way I understand, then it should allow air to pass through, you'd be able to see through it, and you'd also be able to stand in between the two ends. As to what would happen if the effect ended right at that moment, I guess that's open to interpretation. Personally I'd say you get split in half.

A start for understanding Mercere Portals is here:

Both the Aegis and the Mercere Portal are constitutive for the role of the Order of Hermes in Mythic Europe. Both are rooted in Mercurian magic and more powerful than standard Hermetic magic.
Any improvement of one of them would be a breakthrough, celebrated and exploited by the Order in no time. So fiddle with them as a major topic of your saga, at your own risk and responsibility.


It's funny, in all the Ars game I was involved either as player or GM, there was a silent agreement from all GM that no PC, no matter how hard they try, could secure a few scoops of this rare mystical handwavium...

I guess, it is one of this many loops/opportunities left for GM to stir their saga wherever they want. Like a lot of possible integration or breakthrough it has not been done, to leave some challenge for th PCs. Sure, it does not solve the question on how these portals work and how can it be customised for other purposes, but on the other hand it gives you free reign to decide what works for your saga.

If I remember correctly, there is a lingering belief in the Order that all the great works that was achieved in the past cannot be improved and magi should only be recreating what has been done. But as soon as you start scratching the surface of things with a modern, inquisitive mind, you see the potential from improvements. That's were PCs can make their marks.

Moving Aegis or Ward, Hermes Portal, large class of apprentices and so on...

Hermetic Magic is the most powerful and flexible supernatural force in Mythic Europe. Except for all the really powerful and useful stuff - that has to be declared "non-hermetic".

Really all you have to do is make a guideline sufficiently high enough and it becomes equally inaccessible.

Also, 'Non-Hermetic' isn't even required to keep things out of player's toolboxes. Plenty of spells would have non-replicatable experimental results

I'm not so sure about that. See the thread about the Level 130+ (!!!) spell from Dies Irae.

And this was something easily achieved in play? No, it was NPC handwaved, just like an Original Research could be handwaved. Even learning Hermes Portal is a big deal for a PC magus, a 75 lab total isn't trivial even for an old magus unless it's in his area of expertise (and even an ancient magus won't be able to under most circumstances). If a magus must focus to achieve an impressive result, it's out of reach of most PCs - only those that really want it (build their character for that purpose) will gain access. And that's fine.

I disagree. Some storyguides (this guys 8) ) do not mind or pay much attention as players super optimize and spread their wings. I know of at least three characters in my saga that if they had a mind to do so, could build one of those things in about five years or so. Not overnight and it would take effort yes. But they are not starting out specialized for it nor would they wind up that way.
And I don't find it that impressive anyway. I liked it better when it was a Perm duration Ritual spell called Hermes Portal. I think the real reason MP works as it does is because someone realized they screwed up the setting and the Order needs some sort of standing portal system to function the way it does. Or at least in my mind it does, and I make extensive use of it. Maybe the author just thought it was cool and he made a command decision. That is something I respect :wink:

I think that between the super duper labs from Covenants and the ability to team up with a little Leadership skill just about anything (ok, probably not 130 but certainly 75) is within reach. That's without foci or other uber specializations either. Lab Totals have gotten a little out of hand, IMO.

See [POSSIBLE SPOILER] Dies Irae - high lab totals - #28 by Berengar .


Your point? Mentioning the existence of a 130th level spell spoils nothing and doesn't even remotely respond to his point made earlier, in response to Marko's point, that lab totals have gotten out of hand.

In its context, DI p.31 box certainly doesn't show, that lab totals have gotten out of hand.


I'll take your comment as generally non-responsive, thanks, One Shot.

:question: Anyway, an understanding needs two. And certainly the conversation I quoted and answered with the link was between Jabir and John Prins. :confused:


I don't see any spoiler in pointing to a thread that's been ongoing for around two weeks now. The participants in that thread have pointed to several viable ways to create Level 130 effects, so I don't think I'm the only one to see extremely high lab totals as being possible within the current rules.

I wish that the game worked in the manner that John Prins suggests. I remember playing early editions where simply assigning a high level to an effect made it impressive, out of reach and, effectively, a breakthrough. This let players remain within the system of Hermetic Magic and the basic, imo well thought out, magic rules, rather than requiring clumsy systems for original research or regular handwaving sessions.

The requirements for archmage status, a holdover from earlier editions, still require that the candidate develop a Magnitude 7 (level 35) spell. That used to be a big deal. Not so much now.