Mercurian Aegis contractors - is this remotely plausible?

How many magi, in their current sagas, are getting up before sunrise to start their Aegis ritual so it is cast precisely as the previous one ends at sunrise?
It's more likely that it's being handwaved and treated as a year being a year. It happens on the equinox/solstice or whatever. Might there be a gap? Sure. Could some brand new spring covenant have gone several months without an Aegis, where some demon came into the covenant during that time and has been biding its' time, building power slowly, tempting people to sin, and 20 years later it's some horrible monster, and it has always been within the Aegis? Sure. That could happen.

Or it could be like the canonical Durenmar, where the magi were greedy for the Perdo vis from the pine cones of the Black Fir, they just extended the border to include the Black Fir and it inches ever closer. There are any number of ways, from a story perspective, of getting something into a covenant that the characters don't want. Separating the players from the characters and discussing it resolves a lot of these issues. If the player knows something is going to sneak in then you can rid the overall discussion of how things are sneaking in, as long as there is an agreement that something will sneak in. The How of that is really not all that important, and ends up being a discussion point the derails the overall story.

Taking myself as an example, started ReVi specialised, mercantile heritage and Trianomae lineage, I could see myself doing this for a starting covenant to gain their thrust, or for a good compensation at other places. I spent time to be good at it, and am spending time and taking risk to perform it, 1 Vis per magnitude is a given, I would charge more if my aegis was a rare commodity (like the L60 with full penetration).
Look at the Verditus selling their specialties, you'd pay more to them than you would doing it yourself, which is logical.
If I have to start casting before sunrise and thus am without aegis and parma before completion, I'd charge more again.
I have only four days a year to benefit from this specialty, so that will cost extra.

L30 for a starting covenant could be at cost the first three years, just helping them along, I'd give lab notes for about 3 Vis if they are ready to do it themselves, or charge 6 Vis after the first years (or some time from the magi)
L40 without a stringent timeframe in which it would need to be cast would cost 10 Vis (full price +2 for the few times I could benefit from it)
L50 with that restriction would cost 13 Vis (Full price + 2 for the few times I could benefit +1 for risk)
L60 Without restriction would cost 18 Vis (12+2 +4 for rarity)
L50 in a regular day because you received a wizard's war would cost 10 Vis, with more added if I lose some effectivity from my season's work.

With a need for penetrating aegis this would increase quite a bit.
L20 for a starting covenant could be at cost the first three years, just helping them along, I'd give lab notes for about 2 Vis if they are ready to do it themselves, or charge 4 Vis after the first years (or some time from the magi)
L30 without a stringent timeframe in which it would need to be cast would cost 10 Vis (full price +2 for the few times I could benefit from it +2 for the rarity of a CT of 60)
L40 with that restriction would cost 15 Vis (Full price + 2 for the few times I could benefit +1 for risk +4 for the rarity of the 80 CT)
L60 Without restriction would cost 24 Vis (12+2 +10 for rarity)
L50 in a regular day because you received a wizard's war would cost 15 Vis, with more added if I lose some effectivity from my season's work.

I would say you've answered own assumption on that if we're using the ArM5 Year duration:

Thus your assumption (though perhaps not intended) is that all magi get up before sunrise to start their aegis if they cast once per year.

My problem with this is that I don't think it's so easy to coordinate a whole bunch of persons to get the Aegis ritual to be finished just after the previous one expires, especially since ending it a tiny bit early will really mess you up. I could see starting a two-hour Aegis ritual an hour and three quarters (or something like that) before dawn and just accepting that you'll be vulnerable for a little while.

If you really want a continuous (not even a short flicker at dawn) Aegis, you cast it every three seasons, so about 9 months apart on average. That does not seem to be the standard interpretation based on the winter solstice statement. Thus the standard interpretation is that magi in the Order generally always agree to go without and Aegis for a short amount of time. The question then becomes how short a gap is acceptable. If the assumption is that most magi won't try to time it perfectly by making sure everyone is awake well before dawn, then the answer is that a few hours is acceptable to most magi.


I'm not making an assumption. I am asking a question, in response to One Shot's post. :smiley:

I typically view it as it happens sometime during the day and is some sort of festival/celebration for the covenant. Does this leave the covenant under some risk of being attacked? Sure...but then you do as you propose... 9 month rotation. I agree with your view that a few hours where the Aegis is down is acceptable to most magi.

Which would then imply that our Mercurian Aegis master has time to cast a few (at least two, probably not reasonably more than four) Aegis rituals in a day, especially if he works from east to west. And this could be done four times per year.

For the paranoid, they'll have it done on a different day, so our Mercurian Aegis master can handle those, too. Of course, they're paranoid, so they might not want to hire him...


slightly off topic...

It would be an interesting story if Fae or demons would line up on the boundary as an AoH is being cast to trying an bother the caster(s). Or even one who can do illusions of many. Nothing like a little extra pressure.

You exaggerate here: this is not necessary.

So there is a time window in which you have to complete the Aegis Ritual. Coordination problems occur only if the sunrise occurs quickly after the equinox / solstice, so this window gets small: this happens rarely, but it can happen. And then Artes Liberales (astronomy) - anyway useful when casting Rituals - and Leadership might come handy to finish the Aegis precisely on time.


It's "sunrise on," not "sunrise after," right? Usually that indicates the sunrise of the day on which something occurs, not usually the sunrise after the event. This does throw a little kink in things that I had not considered, that being what a day is versus when sunrise and sunset are. Most hours in a day are after sunrise, not before it. But was a day measured differently?


Something I've not seen mentioned yet in this thread is the warping such a large spell will cause. Presumably an Aegis cast yourself is made for those in the covenant. Is the travelling Mercurian going to recreate the spell for each covenant? Would it really be worth his time then? If not I think the magi who paid him will be really angry with the extra warping.


I'm pretty sure it's stated somewhere, it was stated by David, or because the Aegis doesn't affect persons who can be Warped (just things they do) that the Aegis doesn't cause Warping. I believe the same is true of Parma Magica. But I can't say more than having a feeling this had come up and been answered.

On the equinox/solstice thing, I looked into it further. The solstices necessarily happen after sunrise because the sun needs to reach its highest/lowest point at midday in the sky on that day. So the solstices have the trouble I was mentioning. The equinoxes might sometimes have a little leeway... sometimes. Unless we find something that says otherwise, of course.


So the casting of each year's Aegis is followed by a magical pest hunt.

I was thinking about this a little more. Such a gap is very common with Hermetic magic. Look at Parma Magica, for example. It happens with repeatedly cast Sun-duration spells. I think it happens with Moon-duration spells if you try to keep them going for a full month instead of overlapping them. So this would appear to be a normal issue magi face.


But is equinox/solstice the exact moment?

  • If the equinox happens at 1 AM and sunrise is 6 AM, you have 5 hours to finish the Aegis ritual.
  • If the equinox happens at 1 PM and sunrise is 6 AM, you have 7 hours without Aegis.

The exact moment at which the Sun is above the tropics or the equator does not depend on where your live. In that sense it is a very modern concept. Moreover, you could have up to 18 hours without protection. That doesn't sound like a "fun" interpretation.

So, it seems more logical to use the day and not the moment. I would guess that astronomical measurements were taken at sunrise, and therefore the solstice was considered to happen at sunrise. It would also explain why the Duration is said to last until sunrise.

{Yes, equinox was defined as the highest/lowest noon sun which is not sunrise. That'd bring back the 6-hours-without-Aegis.}

Yes, but I'm pretty sure you meant "solstice," not "equinox."

I haven't found how equinoxes were defined in the appropriate time period yet. I have found it for many centuries of the Roman Empire, but those are all nearly a millenium early or earlier. Also, those were just assigned based on roughly when they should be and by decree, which really isn't what we want.


The varying and sundry customs about when a day starts where in the middle ages, or how to determine the calendar day of a solstice/equinox, should not be an issue here. Hermetic magi will use astronomical data when determining the time of expiration of spells with Duration: Year - if only, to not be dependent for their magic of the next city council's decree on legal calendars. :smiley:
So the times of solstice and equinox are the times of the astronomical events proper. And what is the sunrise "on" an astronomical event? It is the one following it.

We know, that (ArM5 p.161) the "Aegis is typically cast on the winter solstice, since magical auras can be slightly higher at that time, and the Aegis then lasts for the entire next year". We also know, that (ArM5 p.112) the "spell lasts until sunrise on the fourth equinox or solstice after its casting". If we used a local calendar to determine that sunrise as the one before the next winter solstice, the two rules above would contradict each other, as the Aegis would indeed not last a year even if cast on the winter solstice.



Is this a necessarily true assumption? For Diameter, Sun, and Moon we use earth-observer (I'll say "solar" after this.) data as opposed to astronomical data in that sense. Must this change for Year? If most Hermetic magic behaves one way, why the change for Year? I'm not saying it wouldn't be based on something measurable as opposed to an arbitrary decree, just that I don't see that this assumption is necessarily valid or even likely valid.

We could also ask, if the exact moment of the astronomically-defined event is so important, why is it that sunrise is the actual trigger instead of the event itself, especially since sunrise varies so much in its timing based on geographic location? Could it be that what is important is that it is the strongest sun (longest day), weakest sun (shortest day), or balanced, not the precise moment in astronomical one? Just as for Diameter, Sun, and Moon, there is a correlation between the astronomical and the solar one. But if the astronomical one is so important, why is the actual trigger more precisely tied to the solar event?

First, we need to realized that with any relation to a solstice or equinox and a calendar year, lasting to within a few hours of a full year is the best "entire next year" can mean with any interpretation.

They would not contradict each other from what I'm saying. Note that you're changing what I'm saying. I'm saying there are days/dates of the equinoxes/solstices. If one is the 21st of December, then the 20th has the sunrise before it, the 21st has the sunrise on it, and the 22nd has the sunrise after it. This makes much more linguistic sense to me with the words "before," "on," and "after." Notice you're even switching between "on" and "before" within your statement above, and that switching is what creates the apparent contradiction.

Let's say the previous one fails at sunrise on the 21st of December and the 21st is the winter solstice and that the winter solstice is always on the 21st for ease's sake. We cast a new one on the 21st. This winter solstice is not after the casting - the casting is on the solstice, not before the solstice. The first equinox/solstice after the casting is the vernal equinox. The second is the summer solstice. The third is the autumnal equinox. The fourth is the next winter solstice. So it would fail on the sunrise of December 21st of the following year, having lasted a year. Thus what I'm saying does not create a contradiction.


You realize that your "earth observer" data are just the same as the astronomical data, do you?

That is a good question. You better ask that from the editor, of course - but to me it looks like a short period of grace was needed in the rules system to account just for things like the Aegis, so that it can be working continuously. EDIT: That Aegides are meant to work continuously you can see e. g. in the faerie plot on GotF p.52ff.

The "entire next year" in plain English means just that: an entire year, with not a second missing. And that is also what the reader of the rule is interested in.

You are aware, that you cannot even state on which day an equinox/solstice happens, before you define just when a day starts: like at sunset, midnight or sunrise? The middle ages used in different times and places all these definitions, depending on culture, legal and economic needs - and magi or game book authors will not wish to depend on that mess to find out the sunrise when a Ritual expires.
Lets take as an example the winter solstice 2011, which happened at 05:30 UT on 22nd December our time. This depends on 22nd December beginning and ending at midnight, of course. If by a common medieval convention a day in a place in Britain would begin at sunrise instead, the same solstice would have happened on 21st of December there.

Your example is unprecise in many respects. It does not specify the calendar conventions in use. And worse, neither does it tell just when on December 21st the new Aegis is cast. So checking whether that runs really for an entire year is not possible. Does your example assume winter solstice to be a state of a calendar day some way? Does it - for simplicity's sake - make some unrealistic assumptions on winter solstices always happening at sunrises?


No, they're really not. For instance, a solar day and a sidereal day (a day as measured by the other stars, what would be called astronomical data) are not the same thing. For this same reason, the longest day of daylight in one place on earth does not necessarily correspond with the longest day of daylight in another place in the same hemisphere. If you measure things using my "earth observer," you will get different results than if you use astronomical data.

Are you going by strict logical wording (paying attention to singular, too) or using common parlance as far as "plain English." If the former, this was my point. No matter which method you use, the ritual only truly lasts one entire year if you manage to time it perfectly with sunrise/sunset. Otherwise it's not one entire year. Therefore either there is an internal contradiction, meaning this is likely not how the statement was intended. If you're talking about common parlance, I would have to disagree. For example, my wife said roughly, "Can you believe we've been married an entire year?" on the morning of our anniversary. In my experience, that would not be judged incorrect "plain English" even though we got married in the afternoon.

I'm aware of what you're saying, but no, what you are saying is only conditionally true. This entirely depends on the definition you are using for an equinox and solstice. For instance, if the summer solstice is marked by the day of longest daylight, then there is no requirement to define when a day starts as whenever the days starts it is the appropriate day if it is the day with the longest daylight, and if it isn't that day then it's not the solstice.

Part of that is because I wasn't clear enough, and part of it is because you removed that from the piece you were examining. I should have specified "whole day" to clarify "day." That is, suppose the solstice is the day with the longest daylight, not a specific moment within that. We might even specify "day" here as "daytime" and not nighttime. Not only does this avoid contradiction, it leaves the Diameter-Sun-Moon-Year part of Hermetic magic consistent.


This differentiation I do grant you. For the subject at hand it is not relevant, though. A medieval astronomer does consider the rotation of the earth with respect to the sun his province just as the rotation of the earth with respect to the stars, and a magus would consider both measurements astronomical.

To be utterly precise, in the ArM5 p.161 description of Aegis of the Hearth "The Aegis is typically cast on the winter solstice, ... , and the Aegis then lasts for the entire next year" is a summary of the working of Duration: Year for that spell. Since ArM5 does nowhere tinker with medieval calendars, it makes a statement just if the Aegis is "cast on the winter solstice".

Why that? ArM5 p.161, quoted above, states the contrary - and you know that winter solstices do not usually occur at sunrise/sunset. Apparently your reasoning isn't quite aligned with the rules then.

You are again tinkering with medieval calendars here - this time apparently rather medieval farmers' calendars, of which there are many. Feel free to do so IYC, of course - just do not claim that the ArM5 rules need to be read with a specific type of farmers' calendar in mind.
Because such local calendar conventions and definitions are - for very good and obvious reasons - not explicitly stated in the rules, when reading them we need to rely on the common astronomical terminology: which for determination of spell duration works excellently and needs no second-guessing. And luckily Hermetic magi know their astronomy well enough to figure out spell durations this way, too.