It occurred to me at some point that it wouldn't take much of a leap for a group of magi to start rallying with the idea that the could run mythic Europe better than mundane kings could. Lets face it, the hermetic order has only had one real war. They have managed to not declare war on different tribunals and leave them to govern themselves for the most part. They are great at managing resources. Hermetic Magi have run their own "countries" (covenants) for hundreds of years in some cases. Lastly it wouldn't take to much to convince lords they would be better people to swear fealty too, given they can cure sickness and ensure crops with the wave of a hand. So why haven't they? Even with a quarter of the noble lords siding with a large group of magi they could easily overpower any mortal enemy. That leaves me with a few ideas.
A crusade would be too hard to stop.
-Could the magi convince the church they would be better stewards of the land?
The orders political squabbling keeps everyone to busy to form a large enough group to pull such a stunt.
-Except maybe house Tremer who is still licking their wounds from the last try.
I think this could be a rather fun saga idea. The most likely instigators would be the Ash Guild of Rhine, the Tytalis, or the Tremer. Maybe a combination of the three. If they started by forming secret alliances with lords, the church and nobility, they could make one big push to try and topple the current order and take over mundane rule.
It's possible, and an interesting saga idea. I see three main problems, but these can be good story potential.
Over the long term, only "good Christians" can be accepted as legitimate overlords. The magi can squabble with the Church, perhaps even set up opposed ones (Cathars? An anti-pope?), but they must publicly be pious. Since crusades are bad (for the people and for the stability of the government) and setting up a non-Christian Divine religion is almost unthinkable, I think the best strategy here for the magi is to get the Church to accept them as legitimate overlords. I don't think the Church would mind much. The magi will have to install chapels in their covenant, but given a high-enough Magical aura that won't really matter: the Dominion will be submerged beneath the stronger Magical aura, except perhaps at the chapel itself. There would be some problems in weak Magical auras, but these can be abandoned or the problems worked-around.
Magi will be expected to act against their non-Christian brethern. Much like mundane lords are. But it isn't like mundane lords were generally eager to do so; they only did so when it fitted their interests. So I don't see a lot of trouble with magi stubbornly not doing more than token efforts to curb paganism or heresies in other covenants.
Of course, the Gift presents a big hindrance to this plan. Magi can generally work through intermediaries and cover key decision makers with Parma before meeting them. But making public appearances and generally interacting with the populace will be a problem that can erode public trust in their leadership. When you fly over your military camp and people start murmuring that you got your overlord status unjustly, or when your lords start wondering why you must cast a spell on them each time before they address you, and why you never meet more than a few at once - you've got a problem.
Thank you for the insight. I think the first 2 problems are easily subverted with careful lip service, as you said, building chapels at least near covenants, but not necessarily on the grounds near the lab work. The gift is where it gets tricky. Some spells can help with public speaking, "aura of ennobled presence" comes to mind. Or just spells that make people like you a little more than they should. But you could also use ungifted Mercere and gentle gifted magi to be the face of the order. How often do the people actually see their leaders. Dealing with lords that will become use to you in time and you can maybe instill rituals or a sense of duty into family to make the transition through the lineage as heirs take over easier. Or just require that the heirs be raised on convent grounds so they grow use to their leaders as they grow up perhaps? Simply replace them with your own people as they die off?
You may wish to aquire and read "Transforming Mythic Europe", as one of the scenarios from that book (The Fourth Estate) is relatively similar to this idea, and another (The Island of Wizards) is an alternative take on it. When playtesting it, my sodales and I encountered many a tangential thought on such a subject which could make Mythic Europe completely unrecognisable.
Thanks, I ordered it a week ago actually, should be getting delivered soon. I'm considering using the group trying to take over as idealistic antagonists who are willing to go to great lengths, and even to do horrific things as the saga goes on in order to make a "better world". If the players agree with the ideal, it might make it harder for them to stop them until they start doing extreme things in the name of "the greater good". But then again, no story survives first contact with players.
Fun fact: A Creo Herbam ritual of sufficient size can make enough grain to feed EVERY PERSON IN MYTHIC EUROPE for a relatively low amount of vis. A creo animal ritual in the same vein can probably supply enough meat, eggs and such to make variety in meals possible. Add in a creo terram for salt and the like and the Order as a whole could feed the entirety of Europe every year on the vis income of a decent mercere house.
Those who carry relics have a certain amount of MR, which is usually going to include your higher level church officials.
Secondly...well, there's God and Angels, who might not agree with this change in the order of things, if you can't get characters crowned in the proper ways. The mundanes have massive armies and 100s of agents, and the Parma doesn't stop a brick to the face or four horses and rope. Yes, there are magics you can use to stop a lot of things, but angels are going to be able to just show up at times when you have no parma and no aegis. (And you can't just stay in an aegis, or you're not really an overlord of anything.) When this happens, you're going to have real issues.
Certainly possible, but it requires planning, negotiation, and stories. (You need ACs to everywhere, people ready to receive the shipments, reasonable assessments of what is needed where, and so on. Even glossing over the boring bits of logistics, there is plenty to do.) Your magi cannot solve world hunger with a single spell.
I.... don't think so. I tried to create such a covenant, and ultimately decided it's not possible because any reasonable life would require just too many kinds of things. Even if you create just raw materials and let the covenant's artisans work them into everything else, there are just too many kinds of raw materials that you would realistically need. Several kinds of wood, stone, wood, precious stones, salt, plants for food and cloths, animals for food and skin and fur and wool, minerals and other exotic materials for ink and laboratory equipment... There are just too many raw materials that go into creating technological goods. You can make-do with less, sure, but as soon as you seriously think about it the technology you have to develop becomes very weird and stunted. Even just arranging for a decently healthy diet - which takes significantly more than just "wheat" - would require quite a large selection of spells, that the covenant will need to develop, learn, cast, and store the produce in preservation-chambers (you have to have those, for casting the spells regularly is just insane) which themselves have to be invented and invested.
You could perhaps conjure a few types of raw materials, which together will account for the bulk of the economy: wheat, oak, marble, iron, beef, and sheep, say. Supplement this with poaching of wild game and herbs from the magical forest, and coal and gems mined from the magical mountain, and some small gardens in the city-covenant providing further medicinal herbs, vegetables, perhaps an apple orchard... And have a large cadre of mundane craftsmen that can work all those raw materials, to maximize self-sufficiency. You still end up with lots of materials that have to be imported in - from chickens to fine glass. I decided a self-sufficient covenant would be too impoverished and limited to be interesting.
At any rate, a self-sufficient covenant fits well with isolationist tendencies - a covenant that basically tries to hide away from the mundanes, not rule over them. My idea was to make this covenant a "hidden" covenant that is scheming along with the Muspelli to return the world to chaos and basically destroy human mundane society, leaving in its stead isolated city-covenants that live off raw vis in harmony with nature and the powers of Magic instead of despoiling the land with agriculture. That's yet another new world order...
Never said it was worth the effort, YR7. Just possible
It's a matter of how much of your magi's time you want to dedicate to producing materials and learning spells to make those materials, as opposed to doing their actual lab work. But having spells like that in your library might be less uncommon than you think.
Wouldn't it be counter productive to have people who don't trust you handling your mail, your packages, your secret correspondences? HoH:TL doesn't really touch on this at all as far as I remember. Maybe one of their rituals helps them?
You may harbor ill feelings, but still do your job out of a sense of duty - like the loyal old steward with a spoiled prince child.
Also, some covenants may have a Gentle Gifted magus who does the talking on behalf of the other magi.
And eventually, you grow accustomed even to those ill feelings. You know, like that guy whom you detested when you first met him, but eventually you grew best friends with? Covenants has mechanics for this.
But yes, I guess most Redcaps think that the majority of Hermetic magi are arrogant, capricious, hard-hearted fools who think they can lord over mundanes just because they can summon hurricanes and turn into beasts and read minds. That's why it's better if the really important stuff - the information network, the dealings with mundane society, the procurement of goods etc. is left to sensible, down-to-earth folks like the Redcaps. And hey, some of those sorcerers are not so bad after all. And even those who are preening bastards have their uses: they can stave age off your bones, and can give you a cloak to make you invisible or a pair of boots that cover a league with every stride. Just drop by and move on before they start really getting on your nerves.
As for the magi, yes, they do know that Redcaps don't like them... but so does virtually everyone else, right? At least the Redcaps have this strong tradition of trustworthiness, and as long as they do their job...
In every saga I've played in, there have been two important things about redcaps (ungifted Mercere):
they all have motivations and personality traits just like every other character - PC redcaps frequently pursue other things than helping the order as much as they could, and some NPCs are too busy drinking, lusting, spending money to spend any more time in covenants than they have to, and spend as long on the road as possible.
The amount of redcap mail you receive is directly proportional to the amount of preparation your SG feels like, and not in proportion to your character's popularity within the order, how much mail you've sent and are awaiting replies to, or how much the order needs to tell you.
I think I read somewhere official that redcaps are trained to know the effects of the Gift and take them into consideration when dealing with magi. So this is how I think of the redcaps - they're still repelled by magi, but they get over themselves, grit their teeth, and do their jobs. Which leads to occasional cults and subterfuge amongst redcaps against these undeserving magi, but still in the main the redcaps are adamant about doing their job and doing it well.
If I remember correctly, according to the Covenants rules redcaps or vassal lords will not generally get used to your Gift. That takes prolonged and constant relations, not the occasional meeting that liege lords will have with vassals or magi with travelling redcaps. And a public leader does need to make public appearances and meet with people to be effective.
A way to get around that is actually to use Imaginem spells to make public appearances and audiences. A la Sith lords (or is that Tytalus lords?). That's great for public speeches or for meetings, but actually casting spells through the things will require things like Opening the Intangible Tunnel, which is a whole different kettle of fish.