Mundane's knowledge of Magi in Mythic Europe?

I'm curious to know more details about HOW MUCH mundanes know about:

  • Magi?
  • Covenants?
  • Tribunals?
  • the Order overall?
  • magic creatures
  • faeries
  • the fact that magic is REAL?

Obviously the mundanes can/will know as much as they did in the real world history... with superstitions, myths, etc...
But I'm curious to know just how much (and how they learn of) all things magical in the setting of MYTHIC EUROPE for Ars Magica?

How much do the ruling class know?
How much do the general population know?
(meaning... they may "believe" in the myth of magic and "that old wizard in his tower" ... but how much have they actually witnessed?)

I am also curious to know how much mundane rulers would KNOW about magi... because my first thought is that if they knew - many might look to contact and contract magi to help them in endeavors. Defense, Attacks, general aid with their kingdoms/region, aid in politicking, etc... Mundane rulers wouldn't care (or understand?) the "rules" set down by the Order to not interferring with Mundanes...... so they'd likely look to USE magi (or faerie or magic creatures, or the politics of the Order) in any way they could make it happen.

So how much "should" they know?
Any examples of rulers doing these things??

I bet you would be mighty interested in reading the ArM5 supplement Lords of Men ( There's a section on pages 40-41 called "How Much Do Nobles Know?" with dozens of specific bullet points. A sample:

  • Almost all nobles know that magi are served by messengers who wear red caps; have animal companions with human intelligence; and sell magical items.
  • "Senior nobles of scholarly inclination" know the names of prominent Houses of Hermes in the local area, as well as the name and approximate extent of the local Tribunal; they also know that the Order is democratic, and that relics can resist their spells.
  • House Jerbiton likes to spread certain misconceptions, like all magi make people feel uncomfortable, silent magic is impossible, and magi lose their power if their staff is taken away.

That last point does raise something that Lords of Men only touches on briefly: most mundanes' contact with the Order would be Redcaps. As such, for them it is entirely true that their powers are diminished when you take their staff.

Ungifted Redcaps make up a majority chunk of the Order as a whole and on top of that move around and through mundane society all the time. For that reason there are probably many mundanes who think that wearing a red pointy hat is a symbol of being a member of the Order at large, not of House Mercere. For the wealthier and more educated nobles they probably think the senior magi wear blue pointy hats (Jerbiton). There's every chance an elderly unGifted Mercere would be greeted and treated not unlike Gandalf in the Shire.

As for other aspects of magic (faeries, magical beings, etc) - it really depends on how much contact a person has with them. Your average farmer or peasant will either know about hearth-fae and fields-fae or at least know someone who knows. If a dragon comes out of a cave every 15 years and terrorises the local villages you can bet the locals for miles around are quite aware of it, and tales of its presence will probably travel quite a distance.

Aaahhhh... the world before Wikipedia.

Remember that the general knowledge of the vast majority of people of the outside world be extraordinarily limited. Many would be hard pressed to know:

1: The ranks of nobility, properly in precedence
2: Major centres of countries beyond their borders
3: The names of most major centres in their own country
4: Major elements of Christianity (most Christians knew very little of their faith)

The list goes on.

Most knowledge of the world in this vastly illiterate society consisted of rumours and rumours of rumours.

People would know that magic exists. Presumably some people "have" magic. Beyond that.... nothing really.

Very learned people might have a clearer idea.

However, we still have to content with two facts: 1. Magi do interact with mundanes (especially within covenants) and 2: They do wonderous things.

These wonderous acts would, of necessity, spread out as rumours. There would definately be legends in Sardinia, for example, of a city of wonder, where people fly, where wounds can be healed, where thieves burst into flames. Many an adventurous person would seek such a place. Merchants, priests and paupers probably all seek these centres of wonder. They certainly do IMS.

The Order's great "secret" lies in the extent of its organisation, its exact numbers and what its capable of. These things would not generally be widely known.

In my sagas (my current one excluded), mundanes know:

  • that magic is real, though becayse they have far more contact with hedge wizards (espcially folk witches or astrologers) then tend to think of magic in those terms.
  • quite a bit about faeries and magical creatures. After all, all our our RL faerie tales and myths come from the stories told my medieval peasants. Again, they know more detail about they creatures they come into contact with.
  • about the Order, though not a lot. Generally, mundanes know a bit less about the Order of Hermes then they do about the Benedictines or the Cistercians... and tend to think of them in similar terms. After all, the Order is a powerful group of landholders, with an average covenant controlling as much land as a weathy landed noble (or small monestary). So the mundanes tend to think of them in terms of secretive landlords with secluded holdings, focused on their mysterious studies and generally not involved in mudane affairs.

One thing, in my sagas, that has a huge impact on mundane relations especially noble relations is the Schism War (and to a lesser degree Pralix's campaign in Britain). While it was magi fighting magi, it couldn't have been entirely secret. The noblity and clergy of Mythic Europe caught at least a glimpse of the power of the Order roused to battle. The Order firmly reiterating that they would not interfer in mundane affairs was something of olive branch. On the whole nobles know what could happen if they Order turned it's power against them. So, they are just as happy letting the Order continue its policy of non-interference. Of course, many want an exception "just this once, just for me" but by and large a secluded and uninvolved Order is a safe Order.

I like Lucius' vision :slight_smile:

Yup. And since its close enough to how i play, i dont need to say any more than this as description. :mrgreen:

The mundanes can know as much or as little about the OoH as your troupe and Storyguide want them to know.

Here is an old thread where different folks talk about the different styles of their game.



We tended to play like Lucius' troupe. However, in our current saga we have 2 covenant sin the isle of Mann, and until very recently we have been quite at odds (read: wizard wars have become a sport around here, with 2 per decade or so). Mix into that the presence of a few powerful vitkir and gruagachan in Mann, as well as dragon and the fact that the Calf of Mann has been terraformed by us to have a pretty impressive harbor and you have some mundanes that are QUITE aware of what can happen when magi go out to have fun.

Yes, this saga is being quite high powered. Nothing that the current power level of ArM5 would not consider to be normal happenstance for magi at work, though.